Untraditional Brides

A year or so ago, I attended a blogger meetup in Dublin. I’m one to avoid networking simply because the anxiety of being in a room of people I don’t know and feel responsible to meet is a bit overwhelming. But, I knew I wanted to make friends in the blogging industry in Ireland, and so I forced myself to attend, never realizing I would make such a good friend in the process. When she asked me to photograph her wedding, I balked. I stuttered.

But, I said I would consider it and let her know. I listed a million reasons in my head why this was a bad idea. I’ve only shot one other wedding, for a family member, and was convinced it would be no-good high-stress.  But after giving myself a pep-talk, and reminding myself that this is a path I want to pursue, I said yes.

And I’m so glad I did. Because yes, it was high-stress (because I take the responsibility of shooting a day like this really seriously), but it was also fun. I met new people. I saw a mix of Irish and French loved ones come together and celebrate two people who are committed to each other. I strengthened a friendship that matters to me, and I took some damn good photographs in the process. I pursued a passion that I want to make a career, and I loved it. Did I panic? Yes. Was it difficult? Yes. But it was oh-so-worth it.

Dublin Registry Office
Dublin Wedding

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Perfect Latte Monacle Cafe

Experiences and food are two of the best reasons to travel, and so when my lovely husband came up with the idea of visiting great cafes while traveling, I signed up as fast as I could! Out of ten posibilities, Monocle was number one on the list for branding and reputation, so we headed on over to Chiltern Street for a late morning latte and snack.

Japanese Inspired Cinnamon Bun at Monocle Cafe in London
Latte Art at Monocle Cafe in London
Shrimp Sandwich at Monocle Cafe in London

The cafe is teeny tiny, and on a hot summer day a little stuffy, but the coffee and menu are worth the visit. The shrimp sandwich was amazing, and the cinnamon bun was just what I needed after the long walk over from Kensington. Everything in the cafe, from the sugar packets to utensils, was perfectly branded. Afterwards, we wandered over to their equally small shop to pick up the latest issue of the magazine.

Monocle Shop in London

Monocle Cafe is open from 7am to 7pm, Monday thru Friday, 9am to 6pm on Saturday, and 10am to 6pm on Sunday. It’s located on Chiltern Street in the Marlybone area of London. The closest tube stops are Bond Street and Baker Street. The shop is a 5 minute walk from the cafe on George Street. If you’re unable to visit London, you can get your Monocle fix on their website.

Olive Tree Container

Those of you who live in cities know that gardening space is usually very limited. We recently moved from a country cottage with virtually unlimited space to a row house in the heart of the city. The move forced me to give up a lot of the plants I worked so hard on last year, but I was able to move my containers. On a recent trip to London, I found the cutest street of row houses where each had an extensive container garden despite having limited space.

There were giant containers filled with an olive trees surrounded by lavender and ivy, pots of begonias and hydrangeas, fuschia, and sage. The containers ranged from modern black rectangles to aged terra cotta. Proving that you can garden anywhere, within any limitation, as long as you have a bit of space and an imagination!

Container Gardening

Street Container Gardens Olive Tree and Lavender

Potted Herb Garden

guide trooping colour london

Imagine the quiet excitement filling my chest when I looked up an events calendar and saw that Trooping the Colour would occur during a June business trip to London. I recruited a few friends to come along, and for the cost of our Tube ticket to Green Park, we had one of the best experiences of our lives.

Trooping the Colour is a British event dating back hundreds of years. It’s a celebration of the Monarch, as well as an annual review of royal guards and troops, and a great event to experience British pomp and circumstance.

The event is unique in that you get a lot of the Royal Family together at once. The Queen, Prince Phillip, Prince Charles, Camilla, Prince William, Catherine, Prince Harry, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, and Prince Edwards all participate. If you’re visiting London in June, it’s a much better experience than the typical changing of the guard!

Royal Family Trooping the Colour 2014

Here’s my guide to Trooping the Colour:


Usually starts around 10:30am.

For the full procession, check out the Wikipedia article. Simply, the foot guards, military bands, and mounted troops begin the parade. The Royal Family follows in carriages and on horse. The troops are reviewed at the Horse Guards (tickets are very limited and given out by lottery). The Royal Family retreats back to Buckingham Palace, and after a short while the guards will remove the barriers at the end of The Mall, form a human chain, and the parade watchers can follow on foot behind them up The Mall to Buckingham Palace. The family appears on the balcony while a 41-gun salute is given and a flyover by the Air Force is performed.

The entire experience ends around 1pm.

Tips and hints

Check online for the date. It’s always a Saturday in June.

There is no cover for the weather, so bring an umbrella and rainjacket if needed. Get there about 90 minutes early for the best seats, but an hour is enough if you have a smaller group. If you have a large group, split up and spend some time in St. James’s Park while the other half saves seats.

Buckingham from St James Park

Try to get as close to The Royal Society as possible. This is where the guards will first let the public in to walk up The Mall to Buckingham Palace. If you are further down at the end of the Parade, no worries, just walk as fast as you can down the footpath until the crowd stops.

Enjoy the wait and make friends with people around you! Some attendees come every year, which is how we were able to get so many good tips.

There are bathrooms at Marlborough Gate exit of St. James’s Park, and the streets aren’t barricaded until about 20 minutes before the parade starts.

Don’t blink. The family goes by so fast coming and going that you’ll miss them if you look away. We missed Prince William on the first pass.

When the guards remove the barricades, walk down the right side of the street as closely behind the guards as possible. Avoid the center as the crowd will back up. The guards will circle around the memorial and then allow the crowd to move forward. If you are directly behind them, and walk very quickly, you’ll be able to get at the gate of Buckingham without much fuss. Be nice. This is a very polite British crowd, which means little to no shoving, and absolutely no loud talking. They barely even cheered when the Queen rode by!

If you aren’t interested in standing and watching, you can sit on the grass surrounding the outer circle of the Victoria Memorial and watch the experience from a distance.

For more photos, become a fan on Facebook for the entire album!

Bands on The Mall Bobby on The Mall Camilla and Duchess Kate Duchess Kate Trooping the Colour Prince William and Princess Anne Queen Elizabeth Watching Trooping the Colour Welsh Guard on The Mall Flyover Buckingham Palace

Damsen Diner Dublin _17

Two Americans, an Irish man, and a French woman walk into a diner in Dublin and order Cuban sandwiches. It sounds like a start to a joke! But on one rainy Sunday in Dublin, it was real life. After spending a night or two with friends, we ended our weekend with one last lunch at Damson, an American style diner on William Street in Dublin.  Yes, we all ordered identically. No, we didn’t care.

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Get the Cuban, it’s the closest to the real thing I’ve found outside of Florida (although it could be a bit more pressed). Skip the mac n’ cheese. I’ve yet to find a good version here in Ireland!