Wednesday, 30 May 2018

My Love For This Dear Land

I love traveling, I really love seeing new places and hearing different accents and languages and seeing how the cuisine differs and how the locals treat each other. I love feeling refreshed and reinvigorated, feeling a greater love for the earth after seeing some more of its beauty. Traveling helps me to feel alive and it gives me goals, it gives me an ever-growing list of places to see and go back to.

But there is one place I've gone back to many, many times. One place that I long for when I'm elsewhere, the one place on the planet that I can truly call home. I have so many second homes on this planet, so many to be discovered, so many yearned for, but only one that I could never leave behind, and that place is Ireland. It's natural, I know, to love your own country and be proud of it. That's part of it, though I'm probably not the most outwardly patriotic person there is. I have never ever done anything on Saint Patrick's Day to mark the occasion. I've never tried Guinness. I can't play any Irish sports and have never really wanted to be able to. The feeling I have is something different to pure patriotism. It's something closer to peace.

The buses, taxis, airports, airplanes, trains back to my country always seem long but always so thrilling. There is nothing like the feeling of coming back home with foreign presents in my suitcase and stories to tell. I'm the person who smiles on the plane, despite being shafted a middle seat on a busy flight, because I think about where I'm headed, and can't wait to be reunited with my land and my people. I'm a homebody, through and through.

My country is not a fairytale land. My country is not a fully happy place or always an energetic place. It can be a depressing place to be sometimes. There are dismal days due to grey skys and bad news. Not everyone you meet there is friendly or good. There is crime. There are crises, money crises, housing crises, homelessness, hunger. There are political divisions and people who spread hate rather than love. There are people who will never understand me, nor I them. We are not one big family. We are people with a spread of values, a spread of experiences and a spread of worries on one small island.

Nevertheless, there are so many people I love who dwell on my island. The vast majority of my family lives in Ireland. While not everyone lives near me and the train and bus connections aren't the best, we can still see each other in less than four hours of travel if we wish to. When I come home, as well as to the land, I come home to them, to tell them things and hear their voices in real life and hug them and feel safe. My friends too, whilst now living in different locations across the globe, have sprung from a connection we made in this country. Many of them are still here. I don't see them enough, and it's something I need to change. Still, my country is the feeling of friendship, the feeling of dear family.

There are other little things about this island that I love and never say. I love how you can open the windows when it's hot in the summer and not worry about mosquitos coming in to disturb you. I love how we all get the same ideas when it's sunny and go to the same places, beaches, canals, parks. You're never alone in your thought. I love the way Irish people use their language. I love that we're not straightforward, I love that we want to make each other laugh. I love that there are so many trees in this country, that there are sheep and cows and hares. I love the many little creatures I get to see, I love the places we get to walk. I love that Irish writers have captured this land for the good and bad. I love that they deserve the recognition they get. The weather is constantly complained about. It does rain an awful lot, and there's no point in buying sandals if you intend to stay home for the summer, but I love that when it's even a little bit warm, everyone is out in shorts and t-shirts and sundresses, when all of the tourists find it too cold. I love this island's quirks. It makes it easier to fit in.

When I go away again, not too long from now, I will go away with a familiar feeling of anxiety. It starts with "will I like it there?" and ends with "will I miss home too much? will I manage that long without my family?" and it's always fine. It's always good, because travel fuels my soul, but it also fills me with an admiration for what I have. It humbles me and makes me grateful for where I live. I've never visited a place I didn't like. I've never left a place without feeling sad that I couldn't bring a piece of it with me, but I've also never once been sorry to come home.


photo taken with the iPhone SE

Wednesday, 23 May 2018


The real reason I kept
Yesterday’s makeup on
And didn’t wash Yesterday’s hair
Is because you first saw me like that,
Beautiful, I hope
And the flutter of happiness
Meeting you brought to me
Was survived by my eye shadow and curls
And I didn’t want to forget
You just yet.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

the books I'll be reading this summer (english and german books)

I am so. excited. for summer! It came a little early this year, which was much appreciated, but I've been just so looking forward to pleasure reading again! As part of my uni degree, I have to read a lot anyway, so some of the books I want to check off my list are ones that I started for college and didn't end up finishing. I've already completed a couple of them almost a week into my summer break. Most of them are totally unrelated to anything I've been advised to read, which really excites me! It feels like freedom.

So, here is my summer 2018 reading list:

1. Good Wives - Louisa May Alcott (finish)
I read Little Women for college back in December and really liked it, so much so that I started part two, Good Wives, but quickly ran out of time to read it. I finished this a couple of days ago, and didn't like it as much as Little Women, but it was still fun to see the girls grow up even more.

2. Penguin Parallel Texts: Short Stories in German (finish)
I really didn't like this collection, so I'm not advocating any of you join me in reading it, but I only had 2 short stories left to go so felt like I had to get it out of the way. Even though the stories themselves aren't that entertaining, it's always good to pick up new vocabulary!

3. The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
One of my friends got this for me for my birthday last year, and I still haven't started it. I know the series is quite popular, and it's honestly been quite a while since I've read anything categorically dystopian, so I'm looking forward to it!

4. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man - James Joyce (finish)
I read Dubliners for college and loved it so much that I did an essay on it. Then proceeded to start A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and liked it a lot, though it took me twice the amount of time to read than a normal book! I ended up not finishing it just because I didn't really need to, but I am eager to get back into Joyce's world.

5. Der Weg Zurück - Erich Maria Remarque
I read All Quiet on the Western Front around 3 years ago and really really loved it. I've been meaning to read more Remarque, and so when I was in Germany earlier this year, I thought it a good chance to buy and read some in the original language: German. I'm sure I'm going to find it a challenge, but I'm also sure that I'll learn a lot along the way!

6. The Last September - Elizabeth Bowen
There isn't any special reason that this is on my list, other than the fact that it's been sitting on my bookshelf for half a year begging to be read! I'm going in with minimal expectations which I always find pretty interesting.

7. Ariel - Sylvia Plath (finish)
I love Plath. Her poetry is so real and so depressing at the same time. I've been reading this on/off throughout the year, because I'm not someone who can just read a ton of poetry in one go. However, I am enjoying(? Is that even the right word?) it so far!

8. The Sun Also Rises - Ernest Hemingway
I read The Old Man and the Sea around 2 years ago and liked it terribly much, so have been meaning to delve into Hemingway's writings more. Hopefully I enjoy it just as much.

9. Der Schwarze Obelisk - Erich Maria Remarque
This Remarque has been recommended to me, so I definitely want to give it a go. I've yet to actually purchase it, but hopefully I'll get a chance to do so later on in the summer.

10. The Land of Spices - Kate O'Brien
It's good to support female Irish authors, right? I just want to become better acquainted with my country's literature, and I've been loving it so far.

11. 1984 - George Orwell
I read Animal Farm ages ago without the context of the Russian Revolution. Shocking, I know, but what college student can go on without reading Orwell properly? 1984 is one of those books I just feel I have to read and think about.

12. Harry Potter und der Orden des Phönix - J.K. Rowling
Another confession I have to make is that I've only read the first four books of the Harry Potter series. I genuinely enjoyed them a lot, but they are pretty long so I took quite a break from them. The perfect excuse to pick them back up is naturally to improve my German, so I plan to read Book #5 in translation.

What do you plan on reading this summer? I'm always open to recommendations!

Anna x

the links to the books are amazon affiliate links

Saturday, 12 May 2018

SAAL Digital Wall Decor Review

Before I get started, I want to sincerely thank the team at SAAL Digital for sending me these wall decors to review. They were incredibly patient with me when I needed more time! I also want to state that all opinions on the products are my own.

I've used SAAL Digital once before, when I reviewed their photobooks. I loved mine so much that my mum and I began work on producing our own family album, which almost a year later, is still in the works. So, when I saw that SAAL was looking for more reviewers I decided to give it another shot, and chose two very different images to see how they'd turn out.

I was granted a voucher and got to choose whatever I wanted in terms of prints, such as canvas, foamboard, acrylic and alu-dibond. I've always been curious about acrylic prints, so decided to give them a go. I chose the 10 x 15 cm which I believe is the smallest size. You're able in most cases to come up with custom dimensions if you'd like to. It was really through my own miscalculation that I was surprised at how small mine came out. I expected them to be bigger, but 10x15 is the size of your standard printed photograph, which I should have thought about more, as the wow-factor is slightly diminished by how small they are. I also went for standard mounting, but as I've yet to find a suitable place to hang these, they haven't been put up yet. You have to mount them yourself which is good in one way, because if you decide against, you can just leave the photos as are, but equally I can see myself attaching the mounting in a very lopsided way which wouldn't be great.

The cool thing about acrylics is that you can kind of see through the side of them. This makes light really enter the photo. For that reason, I'd recommend only getting brightly coloured photos printed in acrylic. I think that my church ceiling one came out well enough, but really pales in comparison to my bright blue landscape.

Below is the landscape I got printed for reference. The other photo is buried rather deep in a hard drive, so apologies for not providing it:

There were absolutely no flaws on my pictures, and they are incredibly high-quality prints. The postage was even faster than last time I ordered, and not too highly-priced. I definitely recommend SAAL, and hope to use their services again, especially this summer when my mum and I finally finish work on our photobook!


All photos taken on the iPhone SE

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