Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Sunrises and Sunsets From Around The World

There is something internally optimistic about catching a sunrise breaking through the darkness to beat back the night. Some sunrises tussle against the concealment of clouds and alight sections while blasting rays of light through. Others look like bombs have been set off along the horizon and there are those that set the sky ablaze. Whichever way the sunrise chooses to announce itself is always a mesmerising sight that promises much for the forthcoming day.

As stirring as the awakening of sunrise is, the sight of a sunset is calming. There is a reflective quality about the settling of the sun signalling the end of another day and drawing the curtains on light. Captivated by a blood-red end of days sky or the soft burning glow that casts a subtle orange hue across the land as street lights flicker on like candles.

Here are several sunrises I've awoken bleary eyed to marvel and sunsets I've basked in around the world.

Malaysia - Sunsets
These are sunsets on a cruise from the tropical island of Pangkor Laut Resort in Malaysia. Below is the beginning of an urban sunset behind Kuala Lumpur's Petronas Towers. Both contrasting places represent a huge part of our life in Malaysia and we miss both equally much.


Ireland - Sunrises
Since returning from Malaysia and being back in Ireland, I've needed a lot of inspiration to spark the motivation to endure the project on hand. Captured moments of sunrises in Ireland's capital city, Dublin, and Co. Waterford's quaint town, Dungarvan, helped provide it.


Ireland - Sunsets
Whether the day was bad or good, a sunset always allows you to take a moment to look inside yourself and soothe any doubt. These shown are from different parts of Ireland. Here there is one setting in Wexford, Dublin's Grand Canal Dock, Dungarvan's quay, and one breathtaking sunrise occurred during the drive from Dublin to Waterford.


New York - Sunrise
Anything seems possible when you're in the Big Apple, New York City, and standing high a sleek skyscraper looking through the clear floor to ceiling windows overlooking Central Park certainly instilled the inspiration and strengthened the belief that dreams can come true.

New York - Sunset
Such dreams can include rowing along a still lake in a lush park beneath a clear blue sky - an ideal setting to pop the question. All followed by a walk along Brooklyn Bridge as the sun set on a magical city and day.

Barcelona - Sunrise
One of my personal favourite memories. Saying goodbye is always hard and I had to sign off on the last of my twenties. Faced with a new decade, I decided to welcome it on Barcelonata beach and I like to think I got a signal that everything was going to be fine when I sat down on the pier to watch a blazing and inspiring sunrise. I think it gave me the strength to find another step that led to me rewriting the entire manuscript of The Reaper again and placing my faith in it.

Paris - Sunsets
Following on from the sunrise in Barcelona and buoyed by developments that followed with my manuscript, I spent an evening running around Paris trying to capture the soft sunset that was setting across the Parisian city. The majestic city is so big though with so much to see that it was hard to ever be satisfied with one view point.


Florence - Sunrises
Popping the question leads to setting the date and finding the ideal place. We love Italy and we've settled on the artistic and inspiring city of Florence to have our wedding in 2017. Siobhán has divine food while I have my sunrises to mark a new beginning.


Florence - Sunsets
The Piazzale Michelangelo is one of the best and easiest places to get to for either the sunrise or the sunset. It's approximately a fifteen minute walk from the Ponte Vecchio bridge and it offers panoramic views of Florence and the scenic Tuscan hills. A tip for anyone going to the Piazzale Michelangelo to try and catch the sunset - go to the terrace facing the city just below the main square. It's less crowded and it arguably offers a better view of Florence for the sunset, making it the perfect way to cap off a splendid day.


I have so many more pictures of different sunrises and sunsets that it was hard to choose which images to use. Now I can't wait to fly off again in search of more.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Retracing the Last Twelve Months

Someone might have flipped a switch in my mind because I’m scratching my head trying to retrace the past twelve months and wondering where they might have gone.

Let’s see….oh yes, twelve months today, I was standing in the big apple, New York City, still feeling pretty pleased with myself after not falling overboard in Central Park’s lake and being weighed down by the engagement ring burning a hole in my pocket. I don’t even what I (spl) uttered that day when I got down on one knee in the rowboat to convince my partner of the past decade to stick with me for a few more. I don’t think she knows either. The Tiffany box drowned out all common sense and all she probably heard was her mind screaming ‘Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie’.

I’m a fan of the fairy-tales and a rowboat in central park gliding across the green lake on a clear blue sky day certainly seemed the setting of one. I had a lot of inspiring moments on that trip and I’m a sucker for sunrises and sunsets and to walk across Brooklyn Bridge as the sun was setting capped off our magical day.

The ten days that followed were an emotional whirlwind, which seemed to pick us up to raise us high and toy with us. Siobhan had just started a new job; we were engaged; an agent let me know of The Reaper’s strong potential but the monumental work that would have to be done to reach it; and we learned Siobhan’s beloved father, Jimmy, had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and only had three months left to live.

That was the deflating moment we were dropped by the whirlwind and were brought crashing back down to the numbing ground gasping. It was a very bleak winter with Jimmy sadly leaving us in January. He's very much missed. It wasn’t until we went to Barcelona & Madrid for our birthdays in April did we start to shed part of the gloom that had engulfed us. We made so many memories that trip and I got to say goodbye to the last of my twenties on Barcelona’s 4km long beach taking in a glorious sunrise that set fire to the sky. I couldn’t imagine a more befitting way for me to do it. Inspired by our trip, we returned to one of our favourite cities quickly after and spent a blurry week consuming indulgent food and fine wine in Paris.

With the rewrite of the manuscript on the verge of completion, a chance opportunity at Dublin’s Writing Seminar led me to getting my opening three chapters critiqued by an agent over the course of a month. She, without question, brought me to another level of writing based on those three chapters alone and I went about rewriting every single word of that manuscript (again) based on what I had learned. I shut out the world, put the headphones on and Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran on repeat – don't judge, those inspiring stars know how to capture emotion and dream. Oh, and I can't forget Les Brown. In those moments of doubt his wisdom is a reminder that failure and dedication are just the paving stones to success.

After spending four months constantly rewriting I emerged from my mental cave like a starving bear from hibernation to see the world afresh and now the full manuscript lies in the hands of a few interested agents. I’ve been promised nothing, it was up to me to get the work up to the level required, but I get to leave The Reaper behind for a while. I’ve re-joined the land of those who actually communicate with one another with spoken words, which typically composes of ‘blah blah, blah, blah blah, and blah’ - sorry, I'm still working on my inner translations. I've got the glazed over face and a timely nod down but I'm retraining my muscles so I can muster up the accustomed smile expected.

Tomorrow we travel to Florence on a quest to determine our wedding venue…or something like that. I've been given the general gist but I don’t know, I have a habit of tuning out when such conversations arise (a practiced skill) and then asking something irritating later like – ‘when’s the date again?’. All I know for certain is we're going to Italy......yes, Italy.

I’m hoping there to discover some more inspiring moments.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Grandad's Island - Book Review

Benji Davies
Grandad’s Island
Simon and Schuster, 2015
28pp £6.99 ISBN 978-1-4711-1995-8

We’re not going to be able to be there forever for our loved ones. It’s an inevitable fact of life that at some point someone we care for will leave us and it can be hard to understand for those just starting their own journey.

Grandad’s Island is a short but touching story about Syd and his beloved Grandad. His Grandad has always been available and to see him, all Syd had do to was travel to the bottom of his garden, though the gate and past the tree to get to Grandad’s house. Except on this everyday visit, Grandad takes Syd on a not so everyday imaginative adventure to a secret island full of wonders. So wonderful, that Grandad decides to stay.

Written by Benji Davies, creator of The Storm Whale, Grandad’s Island is a tender children’s book that helps parents explain to their children that even though we can’t always see those who are dear to us, they remain part of us by living in wondrous memories.
Children 4-6