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This blog has been retired. I won't respond to any inquiries but have retained it in case it is still of interest to anyone passing by.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Glendalough - County Wicklow

I've always felt that I can't have a post about Glen of the Downs without having a similar one dedicated to Glendalough (recently voted the third best place in Ireland to visit by both tourists and locals.)  Yesterday we had the most wonderful walk there, giving me an opportunity to take some new photos which I am including here.

We started our walk from the car park at the Visitor Centre.  When you cross the bridge you can see the famous tower at the monastic village.  As we have visited Glendalough many times during the 10 years we have lived in Ireland we chose a different route to the usual tourist trail.  We ended up with a walk that was satisfying without being too strenuous and was also away from the crowds.  It does mean though that I won't be including any pictures of the main tourist attractions like the monastic village and Reefer Church, the lake from the shore or the waterfall from the viewing platform as we did not go via any of these places on this occasion. 

I adore the trees in this forest (and Ireland in general).  There is something about the antiquity of these forests that I find incredibly atmospheric and powerful.  In my experience many places that are recognised tourist destinations have all the mystique and soul sucked out of them but that isn't the case here.  I can understand why the hermit monk St Kevin decided to settle here in the 6th century and find it incredible that the majesty of the place remains intact to this day.     

The heather growing everywhere was lovely.  I got a bit carried away and took about 100 photos of it!  

I've included this photograph because even though it is not the most attractive it does show the forest regeneration project that is currently underway.  All the conifers and flat leaved trees that are not indigenous to the area are being cleared.  The hope is that the natural woodland and trees such as oak will re-establish themselves on their own.  If not a planting scheme will give them a bit of help to get started.  Some fencing has been put up to stop deer from eating the new growth but it has been done in such a way to keep access to all the walking trails open.

Looking down on the Visitor Centre and car park.  You can see the row of tourist buses.  The car park is to the right and the visitor centre is just in front.  The next picture shows the hillside from which this one was taken.

The monastic village photographed from the same hillside:

The upper lake.  There is a bench positioned at this lovely vantage spot.  I could sit here all day.


My two 'boys' as we meandered along the trail.

The only part of the more popular tourist route we touched on was the site of St Kevin's cell.  I love the view of the lake from here.

This is where St Kevin had his cell.  I can see why he chose this spot   I would love to have it to myself and wake up here each morning.

A tiny corner of the lower lake on the walk back to the car park.

 Back to where we started.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Vintage Barbie & Skipper

I've always had a soft spot for Barbie as she made her first appearance the year I was born - 1959.  I have Barbie #5 who dates from 1961.  I can remember being a little bit disappointed when she was first given to me as I was expecting a blonde Barbie.  Nowadays I think she is much more interesting and attractive as a brunette and far more glamorous.

Barbie Red Flare / Skipper Silk N Fancy

It was only when my mother died that I discovered she had kept the paper dolls I have been featuring in my blog as well as some of my old dolls, including Barbie and Skipper.  Both dolls needed cleaning and were dressed in tattered clothing with no 'under pretties' or accessories.  At the time I wasn't sure if it was still possible to find original outfits but thought it would be fun to try and restore the dolls.

At first I intended to buy just one outfit each - but that was before I realised what a thriving collector's market there is out there.  I'm afraid I then had a bit of a flurry, looking for all the dresses and accessories I remembered from childhood.

Orange Blossom
I used to spend hours looking at these little books and knew all the illustrations by heart when I was a child.  Growing up in South Africa it was possible to buy the dolls and a few stock outfits, but many of the items advertised here were not available and I think those that were for sale were relatively expensive. 

Cinderella Rich Dress

 One of the most magical items on offer was Barbie's New Dream House.  I loved it (but could never hope to own it) - especially the pretty pink curtain in the bedroom. Today this particular house is very rare.  In mint condition I've seen them sell for anything up to $400 (US) online.     

Ballet Class
(This set has a practice leotard for each doll as well.)

Barbie Dancing Doll / Skipper Me 'n My Doll
I don't have the little doll yet that goes with Skipper's dress.  It is one of the few things I still want to buy.  I haven't photographed my whole collection but what I've included here are most of my favourites.

Skipper also had a Dream Room but I never found it as appealing as Barbie's house.

At first I wasn't going to put together this post.  I felt it was one thing owning up to a love of children's illustrations and paper dolls, but admitting to dressing up dolls would just look a bit weird.  Luckily my husband and son treat my hobbies with benign amusement and don't say too much just in case my eccentric collections turn out to be unexpectedly valuable one day.    

Having come this far I thought I might as well go the whole hog and show you where I store my new collection.  Barbie and Skipper have come a long way from the old pillowcase they were wrapped in by my mom.  I love these pretty containers that come in sets of three.  Originally my new Barbie/Skipper outfits could fit into the smallest box.  Now they have graduated to the middle size.  If I buy anything else they will have to take over the biggest container that currently houses some of my paper dolls!         

You might also want to see Tina Cassini-Little Lady of Fashion


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