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New Home for the Blog

In the spirit of adventure, experimentation and moving forward, I decided that 2019 would be the year to refresh the look of the Ayohcee blog and relocate it to Wix .  If it all works out, then the blog will stay there forever. Some of the more popular older posts will be migrated to the Wix site, but all the old posts will still be available here.  In the meantime, take a look around the new blog and let me know what you think, either here or on Twitter – all constructive feedback is welcome.  Tomás S. Ó Ceallaigh www.ayohcee.co.uk
Recent posts

Wild Nights: Camping Britain's Extremes by Phoebe Smith

Cover image © Shutterstock. It’s been nearly two years that I’ve been talking about my desire to go wild camping. So far I’ve bored my parents intermittently and failed to convince any friends to join me. I chanced on an article on the Guardian’s website by Phoebe Smith and realised that wild camping was an actual thing that people actually did. In my own inimitable style, I set about obsessively researching experts, equipment, locations and guides – a process that is still continuing at the time of writing. With this in mind, I looked up Smith’s book Wild Nights: Camping Britain's Extremes . In the book, one of a few that she has penned on the subject of wild camping, she documents her own personal challenge to sleep in a number of extreme places: furthest points of the compass on the UK mainland, the highest/lowest places above/below sea level and the remotest in terms of distance from any roads. Her story begins in Glencoul, Scotland with what should be a bea

Iconic Places: Cliffs of Moher, Ireland.

Looking towards the Cliffs of Moher in the early evening light. Doolin, Co. Clare, Ireland. On the train to Galway, I had the suspicion that something was going on. I had been talking about almost every topic under the sun with two men from Athenry for the majority of the journey out of Dublin Heuston station: Brexit, health, whiskey, the Irish border and brands of tea. All around us, there were young Irish guys and girls, drinking vociferously and listening to music out of Bluetooth speakers. No one seemed to notice. Other passengers seemed to just ignore it. I was beginning to think that Ionród Éireann (Irish Rail) might be some strange mobile party company. After all, it was only a Tuesday afternoon. Arriving at Galway Ceannt station, the train unleashed a herd of youngsters onto the platform resembling a migratory stampede of wildebeest. What was going on?  In the intermittent rain, I walked towards Salthill, a small resort on the outskirts of Galway City and into

Sultanahmet Camii, Istanbul

“All bounteous Heaven has added to my prayer a softer climate and a bluer air” – Lady Mary Wortley Montagu.  After recovering from sleep deprivation caused by late night plane transfers and early arrivals, I walked up the winding Alemdar Caddesi back towards Sultanahmet Square in the early April setting sun. With this area of Istanbul standing on a peninsula that rises up above the meeting of the Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmara, the low springtime sun was casting a brilliant orange glow across the skies, catching the tops of buildings and trees in its wake. On reaching Sultanahmet Square, I saw that the warm colours were illuminating the minarets of the Sultan Ahmet Mosque and I reached for my camera.  The Blue Mosque, as it is also known, is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site and dates from the 17th Century. Its distinct Ottoman appearance incorporates architectural features typical of both Byzantine buildings and traditional Islamic buildings.  Unfortu

Atay Maghrebi: The Slow Train to Tangier

Arriving in Grand Socco, Tangier, shortly before the maghrib call to prayer. Marrakech station is an architecturally magnificent mixture of older Moroccan motifs combined with modern palatial glass windows. It shimmers in Marrakshi tones of gold and umber even in the half-light of dawn, slowly waking up as weary passengers emerge from taxis in all directions. ❦ The first time I had taken the train from Marrakech, it was on the earliest departure of the day, shortly after 6am. I was shocked at how dark the place had been. A few low lights were on in the building, but the railway carriages had sat in perfect darkness. Being on a tighter budget, on my first journey northwards in 2016 I had booked a standard class ticket and hadn’t bothered to check the length of the journey. Ten hours later, having run out of cash, my back had been aching and I was massively dehydrated. I wouldn’t be making the same mistake again. This time I’d opted for a departure during daylight,

Galata Kulesi, Istanbul

"The city is difficult to write about for the same reasons the sea is difficult to paint." – Tobias Hill The day after arriving in Istanbul, on a visit in early April , I had done what I often do when travelling, let my feet discover the city with no real planned destination. Even in the Spring, the sun was quite warm and the skies and waters around Istanbul were ridiculously clear and blue – I'd even been able to spot dozens of small jellyfish swimming in the waters of the Golden Horn (Haliç in Turkish).  Walking back from near Galata Tower ( Galata Kulesi ), I walked along the lower level of the Galata Bridge, stopping part the way along to take this picture from one of the central abutments. The blue is particularly vivid mainly due to the use of a polarising filter on the standard kit lens.  What I loved about the image was how the city appears to be rising up in layers of varying levels of modernity, crowned by the top of the tower built b

Grenfell Tower One Year On: the black and sodium hours

Awake to watercolour-clear morning, broad-brushed by faded amber conflagration seen from the kitchen window. But through the lost, the black and sodium hours of the night, cries for help, desperate supplications shot skyward into the never-silent hum of the North Kensington sky, and the arrhythmic beating heart of Community watch helplessly the monolith shed its murderous skin, unshackling souls taken too soon. ❦ In the early hours of June 14th 2017, a devastating fire broke out in Grenfell Tower, North Kensington. The final death toll was set at 72. From the early hours immediately after the fire into the following days and nights, it was the local residents and community groups who coordinated the relief effort; ordinary people responding in an extraordinary way. That day at work, I will never forget the sense of relief at seeing all of my students sat there in front of me, some of whom I knew to live in the immediate vicinity of Grenfell Tower. A