Having a Grand Old Time in Ireland!

orangutan librarian and monkey baby0002Not to be confused with my trip to Northern Ireland 😉 That’s right, I took another trip to across the sea, this time to Dublin’s fair city! (it’s actually a long story how I came to make two trips, but we’re gonna skip right over that 😉) I went with my sister, the Monkey Baby, and as you might have gathered from the title, we had a lot of fun. Not least cos there’s great sights, food, music (and Guinness is amazing!) We definitely didn’t run out of things to do. 

 

I absolutely loved the Irish patter too and the streets were so steeped in stories. I learnt a lot in the short time I had to spend there. One of the absolute highlights was the Long Room (the library) at Trinity College 😀

Plus we stumbled across a couple of famous people…

Beyond the literary heroes and history, I also got to go to the Wicklow mountains and saw some scenes that looked like they were out of a fairy tale!

And that’s all for my touristy-brochure style post! 😉 If you actually want a great list of things to do/itinerary for a day trip to Dublin I really recommend Nyx’s post from Hurricane and Drizzle books– cos I drew a lot of inspiration from that when planning this trip!

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Bookish Wanderlust for January Blues

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Well, I don’t know about you this month, but I’m definitely experiencing the January blues. It’s still pretty grim out, my reading slump is only just beginning to shift and I’ve got another cold (wtf is wrong with my immune system lately?!). Which is why I think it’s the perfect time to start thinking about a quick getaway… and by getaway, for us shall-we-say financially strapped bookworms, I mean rushing to the bookstore and reading about some lovely and impossible farflung places. And to make this even more fun, I’ve picked books with some real world locations you can actually visit. So hold on tight and here we g-o-o-o….

daughter of smoke and bone

Daughter of Smoke and Bone– as you might be able to tell from my review the other day, this book has some *wonderful* descriptions of real world places, starting with Prague. What I didn’t mention, however, is that this book has *tons more* locations and the story spins across planets. Yup- that’s right, this book can take you out of this world! (and you won’t have to wait for Virgin’s space programme to get going 😉 )

bear and the nightingale

Bear and the Nightingale– *one day* I will go to Russia (I just want the opportunity to sing “St Petersburg is gloomy, St Petersburg is bleak…”- who’s with me?!) but if you’re like me and can’t exactly do that right now- NEVER FEAR- this book can transport you in both time and place. And the second one, Girl in the Tower, involves far more excursions. This is a trip perfect for the historically minded (fairy tale obsessed) traveller 😉 Speaking of fairy tales…

a song for summer

A Song for Summer– In my opinion, Eva Ibbotson was *the queen* at making history fairytale-esque and transporting the reader to faraway lands. One rather neglected book I’d recommend is A Song for Summer which takes you to the Austrian countryside, at the brink of WW2. It’s a wonderfully romantic story and if you fancy feeling like you’re somewhere else, this is perfect.

shadow of the wind

Shadow of the Wind– ahh Barcelona- one of the most beautiful cities in the world- that’s the glorious setting of Zafon’s remarkable series and boy does he bring it to life! With evocative description, a mysterious story and an eerie sense of the supernatural lurking, this book is what I recommend for anyone feeling restless for some sun, yet doesn’t mind a few chills along the way. But of course, if sun is all you’re looking for…

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Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants– as the title suggests there’s some different locations in this and some girl friendship and a little bit of magic 😉 I’d recommend this for anyone looking to just rock up on a beach for a book and whose down for a summer fling 😉 Still, if it’s romance you crave, there’s something even better on offer…

return of the native

Return of the Native– one of Hardy’s more romantic works and often his most popular novel. What makes this even more perfect for this list is Hardy’s remarkable ability to characterise the landscape of his Wessex (dubbed after the Medieval term for the area of Southwest England). This is, in my opinion, one of the finest examples of that. What’s even better is if you visit Hardy’s Wessex you can tread a lot of the same paths as the characters and even see where Hardy’s mad wife lived (in an attic, as per her request, she was a bit bonkers- read some of her diary if you don’t believe me 😉 ) Here you can stay with one foot in the real world and another just on the brink of imagination. If you want to go *full on magic*, well then look no further than…

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Harry Potter– not only is the wizarding world *amazing* but there’s also some wonderful real life places you can go. I’m not gonna pretend I get the whole “let’s go to King’s Cross and pose by a random wall” thing (sorry, I’ve been there loads to catch a train and don’t find it particularly glamorous) BUT I used to live in Edinburgh and let me tell you, there was clear inspiration for JK up there- everything from Teviot (the student union) to Greyfriars Bobby Cemetery ( ❤ ) with some very famous residents… Side note, if you ever do find yourself up there, do go to the Elephant House cos it’s beautiful and niche (though a little pricey) not for the HP graffitied toilet- please.

 

inkheart-trilogy

Inkheart series– okay when it comes to trying to make this real world setting, this one is pushing it. HOWEVER I think this is such a fun book to put on the list, because it’s a book about stories coming to life and as the series progresses it becomes about entering stories. How awesome is that? If you fancy a trip somewhere completely unique then book your ticket today 😉

six of crows

Six of Crows– again, this is stretching the rules a bit, because this isn’t a real world destination. BUT it is based on Amsterdam and that certainly comes across in the books. I loved the way Bardugo brought the location to life in her books, incorporated elements of the trading and canals and generally made it feel true to the real world, but with a twist. It also involves a heist in Scandinavia- which is probably more dramatic than a lot of book travellers are expecting. More for the adventurous tourist I’d say 😉 Speaking of more daredevil types…

city of masks

City of Masks– VENICE, HISTORY, ADVENTURE- need I say more? I think this is a pretty underrated series to be honest and the first is one of my favourite books set in Venice. Well, an alternative Venice 500 years before our time, where silver is more valuable than gold- interesting right? Not exactly for history buffs, but you’ll get more than you bargained for out of this- it’s quite the journey.

Now we’ve come to the end of the road 😉 Do you fancy a trip to any of these bookish worlds? And do you have any bookish locations to recommend me? Let me know in the comments!

Travelling in Northern Europe… The Story of One Very Cold Orangutan

Hello again- in case you don’t know I was travelling round Europe recently. So even though us monkeys usually prefer hot climates in general, I went to visit a friend in Copenhagen and then dropped into Munich, Vienna and Budapest. I’m gonna skip over Copenhagen cos I’ve been before and it was more “hygge” time than anything else. Here are some of the highlights of my whirlwind trip:

I went to the world’s most famous enchanted castle…

I found Narnia…

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I went to a very deserted (and somewhat creepy) Prager fairground…

I went to a ruin bar…

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And I got caught in blizzards… lots and lots of blizzards…

I had an amazing time- but I can’t tell you what joy I felt when we touched down in London and they said it was 10 degrees out!

And that’s everything from me for now! See you all in the next post!

So Where Was I? Romeing About Italy!

(Yes it took me two weeks to come up with that godawful pun!)

Hello again folks!! And by “again” I mean hello for the first time in a really long time! Because I’ve been pretty pretty absent lately. Well, we all know that sometimes life gets in the way of blogging- and sometimes that’s a good thing, because sometimes life is going on an *incredible* trip round Italy!

I went to Naples…

…Capri…

…Pompeii…

…Rome…

And Florence!

For anyone that’s never been to Italy/would like to go/has been and likes reminiscing, I can sum up my trip thus: gelato (every day), pizza (almost every day), landscapes, beauty, art, classics, and… stories! Now if you’ve followed this blog for even a second you will know how obsessed I am with stories. But what you might not know is that I am equally obsessed with visual stories. I love more than anything how a single sculpture or painting can capture the beginning, middle and end of a whole epic narrative. A sculpture like this…

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…says more than a thousand words.

Sure, I could go on about some of my favourite classics (go and read Ovid’s Art of Love that’s all I ask!) but that’s really not what this trip was about for me (teaser: if you’re interested in what I read while I was away I’ll probably discuss it in my next post). For me, this trip was all about rediscovering my love for stories without words. I mean, just think about Hemingway for a second- his greatest attempt at innovation was his creation of the six word stories, and yet for thousands of years artists have been creating entirely wordless stories.

So instead of recommending a book that resonated with me after seeing so much beauty, I will suggest using your eyes for something other than reading (I know that’s hard for us book worms!), and go to an art gallery or even just a beautiful landscape and find a story with no words!