Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Day trip to Manchester

All about Art!

Last Tuesday, I caught a 6:25am flight to Manchester. Yes, that means I was up at 4am. But can you believe it (I know those of you who live in Ireland can)- one can wake up at 4am and be in Manchester before 7:30am. What's more, that round-trip flight costs less than €20! (Thank you Ryan Air.)

This trip was all about art! One of the things I love most about the course I am currently doing (MFA Art in a Digital World at NCAD) is that we take these impromptu trips to other countries/cities, to traipse around galleries and museums. Sometimes they are college-wide trips, but this trip was specific to our program. So we were a very small group, which allowed for a lot of flexibility.

After landing in Manchester airport, we took the train into the city center. We found a nice little spot for breakfast seeing as no museums or galleries were even open yet. After Breakfast, our first stop:

Manchester Art Gallery

We were here to check out these two exhibitions:

The Imitation Game - "An exhibition by eight international artists who explore the theme of machines and the imitation of life."

Pat Flynn: Half-life of a miracle - "A decade of photography and film by British contemporary artist Pat Flynn from 2005 to 2015 for the most comprehensive survey of his art to date."

I found Pat Flynn's work very interesting, as his "photography" is predominantly digitally generated, as in CG! Next stop:

The Whitworth Gallery

We were here to check out these two exhibitions:

Nico Vasellari - the "haunting installation Bus de la Lum which draws on the arcane powers of the forest and suggests the deep secrets within it."

Ben Rivers: The Two Eyes Are Not Brothers - "16mm film and video installation, five parts, various durations looped; and mixed media."

But I also enjoyed checking out the Tibor Reich retrospective, mid century Wallpaper exhibit and a cool piece in their new acquisitions by Garth Weiser. These two galleries took up the bulk of our morning, so we next headed back across town to seek out:

Lunch: Pacific Restaurant 

According to Wikipedia "Chinatown in Manchester, England is an ethnic enclave in the city centre. It is the second largest Chinatown in the United Kingdom and the third largest in Europe." Seeing as I have not yet found a spot in Dublin for Dim Sum, we decided on a restaurant called Pacific (we liked that it was housed in the "Connaught building.")

The only downside- we dove into our food so fast, that I didn't even get a chance to take a photo. It was SOOOOO good... and it was so reasonable. I could nearly fly over AND eat here, all for less than eating out in Dublin! After lunch, we headed to:

The Center for Chinese Contemporary Art

to see:

Cao Fei: La Town "Cao Fei’s work includes video and digital media that explores the culture and daily life of Chinese citizens born after the Cultural Revolution." We finished up our day of art at:


to see:

AL and AL: Incidents of Travel in the Multiverse  "a visionary new solo exhibition of film, drawing, installation and a live concert hall performance, conceived from AL and AL’s epic sci-fi odyssey. "

A warm cup of tea in the cafe at Home was a welcome respite before taking the train back to Manchester airport and heading home on a 10:30pm flight. A very nourishing day of inspiration and walking ensured I would sleep well that night!

Interesting viewing all around. I decided not to include photos of the art itself because it would just be too many, and I encourage you to go and check them out for yourselves, if interested. These exhibitions will change, but I would highly recommend a similar trip to Manchester anyway, to see what else is on in all of these venues. Easy peasy day trip!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Midterm Break at Avon Ri

Once again, I am vowing to catch up on posting about some past trips!

I'll start with the most recent trip, which I took with the kids to Avon Ri Lakeshore Resort and Adventure Center. Avon Ri is located on the shores of Lake Blessington in County Wicklow, 31km southwest of where we live in Dublin.

The playground.

This was our second trip to Avon Ri. We went last Easter for 5 nights after I found an amazing deal on Groupon. I had hoped to return for Easter this year, but it was all booked out by the time I called. Boo. Seeing as the kids seem to have an inordinate amount of time off of school this year however(2.5 weeks at Easter, a full week midterm break in February, another full week in May, and a June bank holiday weekend) I decided to book 4 nights over the February midterm.

(the zipline treehouse on the left)

Last year, over Easter, the weather was spectacular and the place was buzzing with activity. The kids said it was their favorite holiday ever. We rode bikes along the 6km lakeside greenway to Russborough House, explored their "Fairy Trail", kayaked on Lake Blessington and visited the pool at least once a day. It was sunny and warm and a perfect getaway.

The balcony of the cafe

This trip was a little different, but still wonderful. Being earlier in the season, it was very quiet at Avon Ri. This meant however, that we had the pool all to ourselves most of the time. Because it was quite a bit colder than last time, we didn't venture down the greenway or onto the lake this time. We still had a nice relaxing break, in peaceful tranquility, surrounded by beautiful scenery, in a house more spacious than our home in the city center! What's more, is that though the kids were on break, I was not. So I commuted into the city!!

The pool (jacuzzi, sauna and steam room) all to ourselves

I got a taste of the commuter lifestyle, and I can tell you I am seriously tempted. Half the drive (the Wicklow part) was lovely with winding country roads, little traffic and beautiful scenery. The second half, well, that was typical Dublin City traffic. Not so fun. But, I would seriously consider doing it regularly (if I were the one with the regular schedule, that is) in order to have more space and live in the beautiful Irish countryside!

Waking up to a frosty morning

We love Avon Ri and are seriously considering a week there in the summer!