Ireland 2008

Heading off to Ireland

Saturday 3rd May

We left home last Sunday, visited Tina’s brother whom she hadn’t seen for two years and then arrived at Halla’s for dinner with Rod and Elaine as dinner guests. We had a lovely evening catching up and eating lovely food especially Elaine’s home made pear cake and custard. Mmmmmm.

The following day, we drove to the farm via Jean’s for the battery. We reunited with our van which I have been so excited about doing. It’s always such a joy to bring Daffy out of storage. Clean her from top to bottom and inside out. Linda came for dinner and we stayed in one of the farmer’s wigwams. Daffy went for an MOT and passed with flying colours and new brakes! Yes, we’re on the road for another year.

Breakfast and lunch with Jean Elliot, dinner with Linda. The next day, we drove up to North Wales. Dinner at John and Lucy’s and the mud! Lovely time. Beltaine fire. Good food. Lovely trees.
Great to spend some time with them.



Yesterday, we awoke to views of the mountains and sunshine.
Met Linda at Holyhead train station. All very excited. Lovely smooth crossing on the boat (1h50m). No customs but did pass a roadblock with a guy with a machine gun. A little alarming! Our friend Marina was flying in to Dublin. We drove round and round the airport whilst Linda met Marina.


Then off we all went in Daffy up to Slane Farm Hostel where we all set up camp.
Right on the corner of an ancient crossroads (according to Linda).
Very noisy neighbours – lots of crows in their nests
– calling, talking, swarking and noisily
defending their nests from bigger birds of prey.
We are the only ones camping so we have the place to ourselves
and a kitchen is provided for campers. Food, wine and be merry. Smiles all round.

Walking to Slane

Today, we had a leisurely morning – up at 8am and left by 11am.
We walked up a wooded trackway and over fields to get to Slane Hill.
The weather started out grey and misty and slowly changed into a lovely sunny day.
It was absolutely beautiful up there. The trees were amazing and very majestic.
Lush, green and fresh. Vibrant and alive. Lunch on the top of the fort.
Three cycles around the hawthorn tree to earn ourselves a wish (Marina’s idea!).
I wished for clarity,,,,, Very beautiful place and largely untouched. Brilliant yellow gorse, bluebells, hawthorn, oak, ash and beech. We connected to the earth and nature in pure bliss.




After checking out the ruins of an old monastery, we headed down into the village of Slain and eventually found the right place to go for a drink in a lovely garden.
Beautiful weather, hot and sunny. Then a trek home. Rest, tea, shower, cook dinner, eat, drink, and be merry. Spent the evening in the van. Stove warming and snuggly; rained a little.




Today, we visited Newgrange and Dowth.
We were dropped off at 9am by Joanne, the owner of the campsite.
Newgrange was absolutely amazing.
It is thought to be older than the pyramids and is Ireland’s most famous monument.
It is best known for the spectacular phenomenon of the passage and chamber being illuminated by the sunrise on the winter solstice. Every year, it is visited by thousands of people which was a little over-whelming and the controlled atmosphere of guided tours was unexpected.
However, being inside such an ancient monument was absolutely fascinating
and completely awe inspiring.

Whilst there, we were aware that the front of Newgrange is a reconstruction of its original form. However, the passage and chamber are still nearly in their original state and was amazing to experience. The passage of the tomb is long and thin and travels up into the chamber where the winter solstice sunrise penetrates. Such accuracy of alignment shows a highly in-depth knowledge of the cycles of the Sun, Moon, stars and planets.

A place with such history gives such a sense of awe. We spent some time outside looking at the outer kerbstones and evidence that there was once a wooden henge which has left behind some pole holes but everything else had rotted way. Unfortunately, it was cold and rainy so not possible to draw or take many photos. We sat in a round stone structure and read our Boyne valley book out loud to each other whilst Tina fell asleep. The cold eventually encouraged us to leave and catch a bus back to the visitor centre.




After lunch, we walked to Dowth. A mound with two passageways,
one that points to Newgrange and the other, to the Hill of Tara.
They are both blocked up but good to see. By this time, the sun was scorching and we were lugging around our warm cloths and waterproofs. From the top of the mound, we could see Newgrange and the Hill of Slane. A beautiful view up there.

The Seven Suns stone was fenced off and with the bright sunshine we could only just make out the engravings of the sun. One of the meanings of Dowth is “the darkening” which is appropriate as apparently with this astronomical centre they could measure the lunar cycle and calculate when an eclipse would occur.

The immensity of the place was sometimes overwhelming. The whole complex covers miles with so many mounds, henges, hills and sacred places all connected and interrelated.




By the time we had walked back to the visitor centre it was too late to go to Knowth, so we visited the museum, had tea and left for our mammoth 10km walk back to the campsite. We were able to walk next to the beautiful river Boyne for a while which was brilliant as we could see Newgrange on the other side of the river as we walked and from afar you can see how majestically it sits on the top of the hill.  Unfortunately, the lovely walk along the river came to an abrupt end
and the walk on the road begun.  A local land owner has closed their land off which includes the river. We walked for two hours in the glorious sunshine and collapsed in the garden of our pub in Slane for a wonderfully refreshing cold pint of Guinness and then floated home!








Had a very relaxing morning in the glorious sunshine.  We decided to hire a car so we could go off and see the Hill of Tara and other places.
Also, Tina has bad blisters from the mammoth walk we did yesterday.
The first thing we noticed when we got to the Hill of Tarawas the
amount of people that were enjoying themselves on the open expanse of the hill.
A very glorious afternoon. It feels like you’re on top of the world.
The churchyard had a very special feel and had the most majestic trees.
The sheela-na-gig was found on an ancient stone.  It was obvious that this church had been built on a very ancient site.



The mound of Hostages is on the top of the hill.
The passageway is barred so you can’t enter but you can peer in to see a decorated stone.


The Stone of Destiny stood proudly erect at the summit of the Hill. It was moved from the outside of the passage tomb some centuries ago.
Made of sandstone, it was lovely to touch and glistened in the sunlight.


A perfect day to come to such an exposed site. It was such an uplifting place to be.
Linda pointed out two trees, a hawthorn and an elder
which had grown twisted around each other, supporting one another.
Beautifully entwined.

We then visited the White Calf Well which was absolutely divine.
Clear, clean and very refreshing. Calm and tranquil.
Whist we sat there, people came and went.
A local girl told the story of how the King’s men would come to this well
to cleanse themselves before battle for good luck and after battle
they would wash the blood away with the water from the well so that all the rivers
below would run red with blood in the honouring of the men that had lost their lives in battle.


We then visited the Calf Well which was more of a hole in the hill which water flowed from into a little stream which had cut a gully into the land with healthy looking trees all along it.

There’s a protest camp up the road full of people who are passionate about protecting this sacred area from a big motorway that is planned to run through it.
We had been invited back to the protest camp but unfortunately it was late by then
and we had to get back for dinner and a good nights sleep before our early start the next day. We ate together at the campsite in the kitchen which was provided for campers.  We talked about our dear friend Suzie and how much she was missed
and how much she would have enjoyed our journey.
We laughed, cried and shared memories.



This morning we spent time at Knowth. What an amazing place.
Full on amazing artwork engraved into the massive slabs of stone.
So many mounds, the main one being massive with two passageways
with many other smaller mounds surrounding it.



Then there is the penis stone again made of sandstone which casts a shadow into the passageway on a particular day penetrating the mound. Honouring fertility beautifully. The place felt gentle and uplifting.


Again Tina fell asleep, this time on one of the outer stones.
I could have stayed there all day as the weather was blissful and the place amazing.
I really loved Knowth. We stayed for a couple of hours.


We then headed to Drogehda to do a quick food shop and a visit to Millmount.
However, time was limited as Marina was leaving to go home  in the afternoon and Linda was driving her to the airport.  Also, the weather was gorgeous and we didn’t want to be in a town with all its hustle and bustle so we only drove past Millmount and I honoured the mound  for it’s part in the alignments of all these sacred sites.
After a quick shop which was really expensive as the pound now only gets 1.21 Euros– everything is really expensive. In fact a lot of it is double the price we pay at home and not as good!

We then drove on to Fourknocks which is small and looks like an upside down pudding. It’s fenced in so I felt a little caged in. We had to go and get a key from a house one mile up the road! The inside was surprisingly large.
Newgrange is a massive mound with a long passage and a small chamber.
This was a small mound with a short passageway and a large chamber with 3 recesses and some beautiful stone carvings.


It’s amazing to sit in a chamber and to realize how much history is there.
To imagine (or try to) what it was like 5000 years ago when these mounds
were built and all the many comings and goings since then.


Linda took Marina to the airport whilst we lay basking in the sun.
The weather has been like a good summers day since we got here. We’ve been really lucky.
May it continue as we head to the mountains.
We gave back our hired car and will be driving Daffy tomorrow onto the next stage of our journey.

Leaving for Loughcrew

Wednesday 7th May

A slow relaxing morning. A lie in ‘til 10am! Gloriously sunny day yet again. We are so lucky. Amazingly, Tina’s bad blisters had been miracurously healed by walking barefoot around Knowth yesterday, so walking can go back on the agenda!

We had only just realized that the campsite we were supposed to be heading off to was shut until June. I tried to ring but there was no answer. Luckily, they rung me back and gave me the code to the gate and said we could use the site anyway.
Then the campsite owner, Joanne, gave us permission to take loads of food
that had been left by her hostel guests which was brilliant as we have been really astounded at how expensive food is in Ireland.

We left at 1pm onto our next stage of the journey – to Loughcrew.
Located 40 km from Newgrange. Loughcrew, known as Sliabh na Caillí or the Mountains of the Witch, stretches over three hills with each one being capped with a group of cairns. Over 30 sites remain, with possibly over double that originally built forming the largest complex of passage graves in Ireland. They are probably older than Newgrange, dating back 3000–4000BC, and many containing astronomical symbolism like that at Brú na Bóinne.

The drive was easy and straightforward. One road all the way via Kells and a turning off.  We passed through beautiful countryside and enjoyed listening to Martha Tilston.  We sorted out our camping spot. The sun was shining like a summers day. Linda put up her tent and we sorted the van. Crackers and Brie, juice and fizzy water. The high life.


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We decided to go and check out the route to Loughcrew as we are now off the OS maps we have. After being given good instructions, we wove our way around the country roads and ended up at Loughcrew. What a beautiful place. An old man sat at the bottom of the hill – a jolly Irish man in his nineties.
He asked us whether we had the key to get into the passageway which we didn’t but we were eager to walk up anyway so off we went.

Absolutely gorgeous. Green grass, yellow gorse, ancient stones, henges, amazing views, fresh air and bird song. Peaceful, inspiring and uplifting. It’s so nice to get away from the hustle and bustle. Newgrange is near a town and Dublin and it’s really busy. Here, it’s peaceful countryside. When we reached the top, we were blown away.

Right at the top of the hill, there is a large cairn (T) with a passageway aligned to the equinoxes. It has craved stones in the entrance. Then there are a number of smaller mounds with stone passageways. The views are amazing and we’re not being guided around with time limits.

Tomorrow, we’ll sit up here and draw, weather permitting. How exciting.
I love how these cairns haven’t been preserved and are let to deteriate naturally. There is an amazing energy there. You can see so many ancient stones, cairns and henges. You can clearly see the hills all around and the cairns on them. Blown away. We’ll find the key tomorrow and go inside.We walked down stopping to sit on the bench and take in the views.
I stopped to ask at the first house where we might find the key.
If it hadn’t been for the old man we would never have known that a key was available. A very friendly lady gave me clear instructions which we shall follow tomorrow morning. We retraced our tracks home successfully.
Tina made a delicious dinner and I took photos of the crescent moon whilst Linda pointed out Mars and Saturn. The stove was lit and hot water bottles made!!!
Let’s hope for good weather tomorrow. Should be as we had a red sky tonight.

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Thursday 8th May
Today, we spent the day at Loughcrew. First, we went on a search for the key to open the tomb passage. We went to the coffee shop but it didn’t open until later so we went in search of anyone to ask and came across the gardens which had loads of amazing yew trees and a beautiful old church and cemetery. We spent some time here and then asked one of the gardeners who directed us to the main house. Unfortunately, someone had already taken the key so we’d have to come back later. We went back to the car park and went on a full on walk up the rolling hills to Loughcrew West. I’ve done drawings of my favorite three cairns. It is incredibly windy up there. Sometimes it was a battle just to say upright! It was lovely to sit and sketch and be in such an amazing place. We are again blessed with dry and sunny weather. Good thing really as we couldn’t have spent much time up there otherwise. There was lots of haze so the view was limited. On a clear day you’d be able to see for miles and miles. This time, both Tina and Linda both fell asleep despite the wind. I don’t know what it is about all these sites but Tina is falling asleep at all of them!!! We all caught the sun as you forget how hot it is in the wind. It’s great to walk on the land and get right into walking up hill. Fantastic. After a couple of hours we walked back down. We’d had enough of the wind and as soon as you come down from the summit, the wind drops and the jumpers come off!

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We had some lunch and then went again in search of the key. However, a German group had booked having the key so again we were turned away. We were advised to go up with the Germans which is what we did. So, finally, we got to go into the main cairn passageway and chamber. It was definitely worth going up Loughcrew East again just to go in. Amazing stone carvings on lots of the stones. The passage is aligned to the equinoxes and to the Hill of Slane and Millmount which are on the equinox axis. The weather started to look a bit iffy and had become very close so I didn’t get to do anymore sketching and we decided to leave. We went and checked out a restaurant for my birthday dinner, went to Oldcastle for some milk and wine and then went back to the campsite, exhausted by another brilliant day.

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Friday 9th May
The only day to rain all day was today and it’s my birthday! I had a lovely lie in. My breakfast cooked for me, my Solar Return chart drawn out and a lovely card drawn for me. Thank you Teen. Linda gave me a card, a yew twig, a triple spiral magnet and read my Solar Return chart. It was 1pm before we left the campsite. We went and had lunch in a parking layby on top of a hill with a view but because we were in drizzly mist there was no view. We tried to go and see a stone circle but gave up when we couldn’t find the farmer to ask and there were lots of cows in the wet and muddy fields. We went back to camp and rested.

In the evening, we went to Boolies which was an excellent a la carte restaurant. Absolutely divine food. I had crispy duck with caramelized orange and a raspberry sauce. Soooo delicious. Then Tina had secretly arranged for a cake to be made for me which was also divine – strawberry, sponge and cream – very light and not too sweet. Yum yum yum. After talking to the owner for ages (a famous musician) we went back to the van and carried on celebrating. A lovely ending to a lovely day even if it did rain. It was just a rest day.


This morning, I got talking to an old guy who was painting the campsite toilet block. I said to him that I found it strange that there were so many brand new grand detached mansions with pillars. Apparently, people had been given EU grants to do up their decapitated cottages and had just bulldozed them away and built new ones that did not fit in with the countryside environment. Some cottages were left standing, slowing becoming ruins. A lot of them then sold up and made a fortune. The guy told me that the people that had bought these houses were now in so much debt trying to pay up to €3000 (about £2500) a month in mortgage rates. Lots of people were in trouble now. Apparently, the housing market has been in a decline for 18 months and in that time some houses had lost €100,000 in their value so people were getting into negative equity. He said that people couldn’t remember the 1950’s when there were poor times and they never thought there may be poor times to come but now it’s here. We had noticed a lot of FOR SALE signs and FOR AUCTION signs and had wondered why. These new mansions were so over the top with their multiple pillars. On one little country lane there was a cul-de-sac of about 10 huge detached mansions absolutely massive, their garages were bigger than the house we live in! So out of place. Anyway, it seems that the recession hit Ireland before England..



Had the worst night’s sleep I’ve had since being away. The stove was too hot which can usually be easily remedied by opening the doors. However, there were so many midges. Luckily, not biting ones but there were so many of them you could hear the beating of their wings. We were in a massive swarm of them. When I got out of the van in the morning, they were in my mouth, nose and eyes. Full on. We decided to pack up and leave. We were driven away by the sheer quantity of insects. Still, warm and damp – perfect for them. Thank goodness they didn’t bite as we would have been eaten alive!

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We spent the day at Fore which was lovely. An old ruin of a monastery which had been set up by healing springs. A very tranquil place out in the Irish countryside I had had the remainder of my birthday cake which made me feel a bit sick so I drank lots of water, sketched and climbed the hill, all distracted me temporally. A Nux Vom homoeopathic remedy soon sorted me out. We drove back to Slane and the first campsite which feels like home! It’s such a relief not to have swarms of insects. Now we’ve got the noisey crows and the noisy donkey! Anyway, off to bed as we’ve an early morning. If the weather is good we’ll be going back to Knowth and the Baltry Stones before heading south.



What a glorious day. We have been so lucky with the weather. We got up packed down, had showers and breakfast and off we went to Knowth for the second visit. I was so excited to be back there especially as the weather would allow for peaceful warm sketching. There was a problem with us spending time there as strictly speaking you are only allowed an hour and that has to be with a guide but because I had pre-arranged it, the main office accepted and we were let in. Knowth has such an amazing energy. Very powerful and gentle with it. When we spoke with one of the guides there, she said how she had grown up in the area and had always loved it at Knowth. She absolutely loved working here and having the opportunity to be here nearly every day.

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I really enjoyed our time at Knowth. We could have stayed longer but the sun was so hot it wasn’t advisable to sit out in it all day. I loved sketching. I no longer worry about it being perfectly correct and just enjoy the process. Being a perfectionist has always stopped me drawing as I was never OK with the outcome. Tina has taught me about proportions so I just play with it. We stayed and had lunch and then said our goodbyes.



We then went to see Dowth henge which was amazing. Very large and set in beautiful countryside. The walk on the thick lush grass was gorgeous. The sun made the whole experience such a pleasure. The henge is massive in a nearly round shape with two openings possibly aligned to the summer sunrise (?) The space inside the henge is expansive and open whilst the banks of the henge hold and contain the space. The henge banks were covered with vibrant yellow gorse and trees. I could have stayed there for longer to. It’s so nice to be in the beautiful countryside. The trees here are really beautiful especially the beach, the queen of trees. The place was very much like a meadow, gentle and enchanting.


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Then we drove off to the Baltry Stones which took some finding but we got there in the end. Two stones by the coast, at the start of the Boyne River. One stone was absolutely huge and pointed to the summer solstice sunrise point out at sea. This was the first place introduced in our brilliant book ‘The Land of the Setting Sun’ and it was to be the last place for us. The stones were set on private land with cows in the field so we didn’t stay long. We went back to where we had parked the van and had tea, toast and marmalade before leaving for the campsite down south, near Dublin so that Linda could get to the port early tomorrow morning.


The road systems aren’t very easy to follow as names of roads don’t match the OS map and road sizes on the maps don’t always match with the reality. We got to the campsite about 6pm. In the brochure and on the website, this campsite sells itself very well as being a lovely place on a gorgeous beach etc etc. When we arrived we were met with a site on the beach surrounded by houses, mobile homes and lots of people. There was a car and motorbikes on the beach. My first reaction was to want to turn around and leave but we didn’t have much choice as we needed to be near Dublin so we continued and set ourselves up at the campsite. The owner was very nice and as time went on and the numbers of people died down, it actually became quite nice. We parked up with our back doors to the sea. It is lovely to be next to the sea again. The owner had pointed out someone else who was going to the port in the morning. So I went to see if they would be up for taking Linda which they were. That’s fantastic as it means we don’t have to go to town really early with her and she gets a lift straight there. It turned out that they were going back to the UK because their aunt had died who they were very close to. It’s strange as we keep meeting people on this journey who’ve had death touch them recently. This is the first time Linda has really stopped since Suzie’s death and the numbness is wearing off a bit so she’s been really feeling it. At the restaurant on my birthday, the owner was saying how ten people had died last year that were close to him and that he had realized how precious and short life actually is. The exact words we had been saying. Suzie’s death has highlighted just this – life is too short to be battling with yourself. Enjoy and appreciate. We had our last dinner together and made plans for tomorrow morning. Linda had to be packed up and ready by 6.15am. What a lovely day for her to end her journey on. She appreciated us loads for looking after her.




Linda packed up and left with our neighbours to the port at 6.15am whilst we went back to sleep. We had packed up and left by 10.30am. The plan was to check out another campsite and chill out for the day. Well, things don’t always go to plan and today was one of those times. What a horrendous day.

We set off looking for a campsite on the West outskirts of Dublin. The traffic was horrendous and we missed our junction off the main M50 ring road. Then had to double back on ourselves on big main roads. Not knowing where we were as our basic Ireland road map was nearly 10 years old. I had only got OS maps for where I knew we needed them. I hadn’t really thought about being near Dublin. Anyway, we eventually arrived but to our horror it was positioned right beside a main artery road into Dublin and the traffic was non stop and loud. We went into the campsite reception hoping that there may be somewhere on site that was sheltered from the noise. We were greeted by the manager who challenged us immediately saying that our van was definitely commercial and not a proper motor home as it didn’t have windows. When I converted the van, I ran out of money so the window didn’t happen. We were both shocked at being greeted in this way as we’ve never been challenged about the van. We assured him that it was not commercial and that it was kitted out inside. Still smiling, he said he would get in trouble if he let us stay as it was a council site with council rules but that he would let us stay anyway. He told us that they have these rules to keep up standards. We were offended and not sure how to respond. After taking a look at the site we decided it didn’t meet our standards! And that it was just too noisy.

So back in the van we set off for a campsite south of Dublin. The night before, I had got chatting with a couple at the campsite and had directions from their brochure. We got lost yet again as we tried not to pay for the toll for the second time on the M50 and went via other main roads. We ended up on a smallish road going steeply up one of the mountains and very hot and stressed as Daffy didn’t like the steep hill. We eventually found the main southward road and were on our way south to another campsite. Little did we know that the mountains lay so close to the coast and that the campsite was at the highest village in Ireland! Our van is not too good with steep hill so it was a little worrying as we kept going up and up the long steep road up the mountain. We eventually arrived at the campsite only to be told that the bus that was advertised to go to Dublin for the day only goes and comes back once a day and was really expensive so we couldn’t afford it. By now, we had been on the road for over 4 hours on a hot and sunny day and were quite stressed and tired. So, we paid our money, parked up and had lunch. We worked out that if we were to see Dublin, we were going to have to go all the way back to the original campsite north of Dublin. This realization was quite stressful as that meant more driving on our ‘rest’ day. But if we weren’t going to Dublin what were we doing in Ireland. In hindsight, we should have stayed there but we didn’t realize this at the time.


We decided we would go and find a nice place in the mountains that we could park up for the day seeing as we were here. After dinner, we would head off back to the original campsite arriving before 10.30pm when they close. Luckily, we were able to get a refund at the campsite so off we went to look for a nice spot to spend the rest of the day. After stopping to ask at a house and nearly getting eaten by a rottwieller (!) we set off for a place “10 minutes up the road” which I had been assured had no steep ups or downs. As we drove, we found ourselves driving down a steep road to the lakes, worrying that Daffy was going to have to come back up this long steep road. We finally got there and were blown away by the beauty. After paying €4 to park, we went and sat by a large beautiful tranquil lake and stream. This was our reward, a stunning quiet place for us to relax in. The bliss was to last about an hour when our peace was shattered by thumping electronic rave music. It was now absolutely impossible to relax, and in fact, it soon became too much and we had to leave. So much for a quiet place to park up and have dinner. It was a gypsy looking family in a ‘commercial” van with the doors open and the stereo pumping out so loud it was painfully distorted whilst they played football. With not a thought or a care for others who were here for peace and quiet. The noise vibrated through the whole valley. We now understood why the council campsite manager had been so cautious and why there were boulders everywhere preventing you from stopping by the side of the road. They have a problem with gypsy travelers who seem to have no consideration or respect for others.


By now, we felt really doomed. We thought we would drive back towards Dublin and find somewhere on the way back to stop and cook our dinner. There wasn’t one place to stop and any possibilities were blocked by boulders. It was obvious that they didn’t want any body to stop anywhere. Before we knew it, we were on the M50 going back around Dublin, Now hungry, tired and stressed, we drove into the end of Dublin’s rush hours. Stuck in traffic, we sat, slowly edging our way around Dublin. I nearly cried. We arrived back at the northern campsite as 8pm. What a f___king day. I cried, ate dinner, moaned a lot about how I’d had enough and wanted to go home and then fell asleep.

Today is to be our rest day as we now REALLY need it. A long deep sleep and a slow paced day in preparation for Dublin tomorrow and then home to the UK. We sat in the gorgeous sunshine reading, writing and sun bathing. It’s windy here but luckily our van shelters us. I went and spoke to the old lady that runs the campsite. She’s so lovely. I could chat with her for hours. When I go in to see her, I don’t come out for ages. She told me that Ireland is in constant fear of being sued. I told her that when we visited south west Ireland ten years ago, there was such a relaxed attitude about land access. Back then, we were visiting stone circles that were off the beaten track and not often visited. When we asked local farmers if it was alright to go over their fields in search for a stone circle, they were all so welcoming and we were told many times that they didn’t own the land and that they were just temporary guardians looking after it. We could walk anywhere we liked. It was an amazing feeling of freedom. They also celebrated the traveling way of life. It seems that this has all changed. Certain people have abused the free access and sued framers if they harm themselves (deliberately or not) whilst on their land. Now, there are rules and regulations and lots of locked gates and boulders. Not through possessive land ownership like in England but because they don’t want to be sued which is absolutely fair enough.


The lady from the campsite told me that she knows some travellers who are lovely gentle and respectful who she welcomes with open arms but then there were some people who travelled that were really disrespectful. She told me stories that made me laugh in disbelief. About how all her bathroom tiles were taken off the wall in the washing up area and another time the shower curtains were stolen. How a couple paid for themselves and their two children and then they later noticed that there were about ten of them in the motor home! Apparently, last year, they were sued themselves. She told me that when travelers come, they often come in dribs and drabs. Last year, when an inexperienced person was looking after reception whilst she went for lunch, a twin wheeled caravan pulled up, paid and then parked up. A little later, when she had returned from lunch, another twin wheeled caravan turned up. She told them that twin wheeled caravans were not allowed. The man pointed to the one already parked up and said “if he can, why can’t I?” He took a photo and then took it to court and won €5000. That’s a big incentive to sue.



After lunch, we went for a walk on the beach. We’ve realized how lucky we are to know and spend time in such gorgeous places in England. This is nothing in beauty compared to the North Devon beaches and coastline. It’s nice to be by the sea in the sun and wind but it’s not particularly beautiful here. It’s like comparing Eastern England beaches with North Devon beaches. No comparison. Anyhow, today it’s peaceful and relaxing which is perfect for our needs at the moment. It’s lovely to spend a day chilling with our very much-loved Daffy van.





Our last day. We very excitedly went off to Dublin on the bus which took over an hour going to all the towns on the way. As we got off the bus, we were hit with traffic, fumes and noise. We headed straight to Trinity College where the Book of Kells is kept. We couldn’t hear ourselves think so we were really relieved to finally arrive and enter the grounds. The Book of Kells was excellent. Such amazing artistry with such limited resources. Beautiful writing and tiny intricate Celtic knotwork. Then the old library blew us away. The room itself was incredible – very majestic. The huge collection of old books was breath taking. So much history housed in such a spectacular manner. It was lovely to just sit silently and absorb the atmosphere. Just as we love to do at sacred sites!


Then we visited the Archaeology museum where we saw artifacts that had been found at the sacred sites we had just visited including The Hill of Tara. After, we walked around for a while before finding the Temple Bar area. Just walking in Dublin was exhausting because of the immense traffic. You can’t walk along the river in peace as there are roads running directly parallel on the same level. Unlike the Thames in London which has walkways well away from the main roads. We reached the Temple Bar area exhausted and relieved that it was pedestrianized. Old and cobbled, it was a pleasure. We stopped for a drink and photography exhibition and then went on the mission to find out where to catch the bus back to the campsite. Many people that I’ve met absolutely love Dublin but for us it was just another city. I think it’s the sheer volume of traffic that ruins it for me. However, we didn’t get to experience the night life ……..


Everywhere is so expensive, often double the price we’re used to. We’ve felt poor all through this journey. And Dublin was even dearer. In a lot of ways we’ll be happy to get back to England. I thought England was difficult for travelling folk but it was much worse here. There’s absolutely nowhere to stop to enjoy the environment. You end up driving from one campsite to another. All the car parks we came across had height restrictions. Visiting the East of Ireland is a bit like visiting the East of England – built up, over populated and over developed which comes with all it’s urban problems, compared to the beautiful lush green of the West of Ireland and England alike. Ten years ago, we had such a different experience when we visited the West of Ireland.


We felt a bit like these statues below as we only had about £5 left in Dublin! Couldn’t even afford a Guiness – sad…..


We were very blessed to visit the many sacred sites of Newgrange, Loughcrew and the surrounding areas. Each site we visited was like another piece of the same puzzle. It soon became apparent that these monuments were built by a culture who were extremely observant and who handed down this knowledge from generation to generation. It seems obvious that these monuments all link together to form “a vast astronomical device” which mapped the cycles of the Sun, the Moon and the stars and demonstrates a great awareness of the cycle of the procession.


What an amazing journey.

Journey to Orkney 1998

We had been discussing going on a journey to the Orkneys for sometime before we made the commitment and set the dates. The December before, I bought a van, which I paid a friend to kit out. As it progressed, the reality started to become more solid and the excitement built. The van was ready just in time. Off we went on our journey to the Ring of Brodgar in the Orkney Islands for the summer solstice. What an amazing feeling of freedom. The release of energy that had been building up.

Our first stop was Sunbrick where we were to meet our fellow traveller, Mandy. What a lovely place. The great thing about visiting stone circles is that their positioning is always so special. Linda pointed out (as she does!) the alignments of the stone circle to the church spires and the hill formations. Quite clearly an energy line. We spent time just being there and investigating the immediate surrounding area. Mandy found a whole colony of snails tucked deeply into the crevices in the stones.


Sunbrick in Cumbria Onward to Castlerigg

Our next step was the Lake District where we visited Castlerigg. Absolutely stunning. Took my breath away. The stone circle is set on the summit of a hill, which is surrounded by amazingly formed hills 360° around. I felt very energised by the place and felt like I was again in a very special place. The stone circle had a group of stones that pierced the circle. To me, it felt like a phallic entering of the circle, a joining of both feminine and masculine energies. Whilst feeling the energy there and observing the magnificence, my mind wandered about the people who had built and used the circle so many life times gone. I felt that many generations of people had and still are having ceremony there. I really wanted to spend more time here but our journey was time limited so we had to move on. I vowed to come back to the Lake District as it is so very beautiful and Castlerigg so invigorating.



Our next stop was a beautiful stone circle named Swinside. The weather was poor but we decided to go for it anyway. We walked through field upon field and finally reached quite a large stone circle. Unfortunately, because I was cold and wet, I wasn’t really able to appreciate the place as much as I would have liked to but the weather added to the mystery and isolation of the place.

We were on the move again up to the western side of Scotland via Glasgow and to a place called Templewood. I was starting to feel like I needed to stop somewhere and spend longer than a few hours at a site. I love to spend as least a day if not three at one sacred site. Just being, drawing, observing, photographing and experiencing the stillness and the energy movements. Going from one circle to the next was having its toll on me so we agreed to stop for at least a day at the next site.

I then had the strangest experience. Once we had arrived, eaten and got ready to explore, Linda and Mandy went off for a walk to visit a number of burial mounds and Tina and I went straight to the stone circle. It was a strange circle as the middle was full of stones, which I had never seen before. Without thought, both of us walked straight into the circle and sat down leaning against one of the stones. Immediately, I felt uncomfortable and uneasy. I felt my life energy draining out of me. I didn’t know what it was bur I didn’t like the energy of this stone circle. I had never felt like this about any of the sacred sites I have visited.

After a while we left, agreeing that it had a strange energy. We went to visit the first burial mound but by this time I was really tired. All my energy had been drained out of me and I felt an urgency to leave the place altogether. We went straight back to the van and waited for the other two. I slept and woke up feeling awful. What I drew in my diary was full of death. I just wanted to leave. Linda and Mandy eventually came back after admiring every flower and all of nature on their amazing walk but quite unusually had decided against going to the stone circle. We left almost immediately even though it had been me that had needed to stop. We went and had a shower, which Linda suggested might wash any lingering bad energies.

From that point on, I was ultra sensitive to the subtle energies of the sacred sites that we visited. We eventually reached the very North of Scotland, which was baron for many miles before we reached the boat that was to take us to the Orkney Islands. The boat trip was rocky and, for me, lying down flat was the only way to cope.

Once we had landed, we drove straight to the Ring of Brodgar. Refreshingly, unlike England and mainland Scotland, there weren’t any signs saying “No Overnight Parking” and immediately we felt welcomed. We parked up and took a few hours sorting ourselves out and preparing to visit our destination. It was nearly summer Solstice so as we had travelled north and we were heading towards the longest day we found that up in the Orkneys it didn’t get dark. The light was amazing.

At about 11pm, we decided it was time. Linda, Tina and I, all slowly walked up the pathway to the stones. The energy was amazingly strong and increased as we walked towards the circle. Goose bumps and shivers ran down my spine. We walked in silence to the circumference of this huge awe-inspiring circle. Tears ran down my face as I felt completely in awe and in so much appreciation that we had been invited to be a part of this circle of elders. For I experienced a circle of very ancient spirits and I felt so honoured to be there. We stood in silence for ages and then returned to our vans. We had greeted and been accepted by the energies of the stones. The next day, we would spend some time with them.


We spent the next two days being with the stones, walking, talking, drawing, photographing, meditating, meeting others, observing and listening to the curlew birds. The stones were varying in size but all pretty tall and large. They all had swirling textures on them, which intrigued me. Was it really thousands of years of wind that had carved these swirling patterns in the stone? Must have been.


Even though it was Summer Solstice, the wind never stopped and we were all dressed up like the Michelin men!! So many layers to protect us form the wind. Lots of people arrived in their coaches, jaunted around the stones and quickly disappeared. Whilst we spent hours and days just being there. Such a special exquisitely beautiful place.

That night was amazing. The sun dipped just below the horizon for a couple of hours and then rose again. The sunset was magical with the sky spectacular colours, which progressed into the pastel colours of a beautiful sunrise.


We walked from the Ring of Brodgar to Stennes about half a mile away and back again. Just amazing. We were all blown away with its beauty and magnificence. An amazing climax to our journey.


At the Summer Solstice sunrise there were only four of us there, holding the energies of the four directions in a simple and heart felt ceremony. We all felt deeply honoured to be there.


The summer Solstice Sunrise

The following day was Solstice and lots of people turned up to honour the Solstice at the stones. It was lovely to meet the people that had been drawn like us to The Ring of Brodgar. People from afar as Australia. Later that day, we visited Mae’s How which is an ancient pyramid that was built before the Egyptian pyramids. Another amazing place.

brodgar4 brodgar5

Leaving Orkney

The next day, Tina and I went to visit the sea and walked along the stunning cliffs.  The weather was gorgeous and the air so refreshingly clean and delicious.  We really felt like we were on top of the world.  It was here that I came to a realisation.  I saw the jagged layers of rock coming out of the sea at an angle and saw that it was here that the stones had been taken from to build the stone circle and it was the sea that had formed the swirling patterns not the wind.  That made much more sense.


Later, Linda and Mandy met us and we walked along a causeway to visit an island where the puffins lived.  We loved the puffins.  The moon was so large and glorious and as it set over the sea, we admired her beauty with our binoculars.  Then the sunset turned the sky onto an explosion of pinks and purples.  Again, the colours slowly changed from vibrant to soft pastels as the sun rose from the horizon greeting the new day.  We stayed up again all night.  It was very cold so we had the burner on and the back doors ajar whilst we marvelled in the glory of it all. 


After a little sleep, we arose and celebrated the pinnacle of our journey by eating the strawberries that Mandy had been growing on her dashboard!  This was a sad time as Linda, Tina and I were leaving the island to head back south to the realities of our lives.  Mandy was staying a couple more days before carrying on her journey to the West Scottish Isles.  I felt so full up and content.  So blown away by this very special island.  But like any high, it comes to an end and we had to gracefully let go.  We were saddened to leave on such a lovely day.  In hindsight, all three of us agreed we could have stayed another day.  Apparently, the weather changed two days later which would have been another experience all together as it’s very exposed up there.


We boarded the boat and watched the island go by and said goodbye to the Old Man of Hoy and the surrounding cliffs, which were alive with birds.  We camped on the mainland and spent the evening watching the sun set behind the Orkney Islands.  We’ll be back……. 

Finland and Norway 2013

Litløy Gallery

Live Blog

Our latest posts are coming soon…..

Past Journeys

Our past journeys in search of the Northern Lights:

Iceland, 2015

Little Island Lighthouse, Norway, 2014

Finland & Norway, 2013

In search of Sacred Sites:

Ireland 2008

Orkney, 1998



Two months after returning from windy Iceland and we’ve just launched our 2016 calendars and diaries on our BRAND NEW website.  We’re really excited about this product range as it’s our favourite so far and we’re really pleased with our new website. This is the culmination of the last year’s work.

We’re also in the process of organising our journey to Norway next March where we’ll be returning to the an area just below the Lofoten Isles in the Arctic.

Lots to look forward to!

Check out our new website to see our work.

Tina & Ceri


About Us
We design and sell our own very unique and stunning lunar and astrological calendars and diaries. We usually feature illustrations of sacred sites in the UK. For us, the experience of earth and sky together is the most important element of our work. It places the astrological and lunar information in context and makes it a more tangible and physical concept to us. Searching and finding different sacred sites gives us a quest, focus and inspiration that we can share via the Astrocal products and has taken us to the most stunning places, where we’ve had the most amazing experiences. 
For our 2015 products, we wanted something a bit different so have featured photographs of the Northern Lights taken on our amazing dog sledding journey around the Arctic – Northern Lights 2013.

Us on Litløy Fyr

Us on Litløy Fyr, Vesteralen, Northern Norway 2014





Here are the photos from our past journeys in search of the northern lights – please follow the links.

Finland & Norway 2013

Little Island Lighthouse 2014




We design our own unique lunar calendars and moon diaries which follow the seasons of the year and include stunning illustrations of sacred sites in the moonlight. All our lunar calendars and diaries show the Moon’s phase for each day.  We also like to include what to look out for in the night sky in hope that we may inspire you to look up and enjoy the celestial happenings for yourself.

Our 2015 product range  features the Northern Lights in all it’s glory.

See our homepage for all our products or click the images below.



Seasons & Cycles Calendar















Original set of 5 cards


Avebury set of 4 cards









Gold and Silver Cards

Constellation Cards

Zodiac Cards