Sligo Kayak Tour Experience

So on Sunday (8th April) I went on a tour at dawn with 'Sligo Kayak Tours' and 'Nature Learn'.

The tour began at 6am and lasted a few hours, I think it was supposed to end at 9am but I'm sure it went on for a good bit longer. There didn't seem to be any rush at all, just a super chilled out Sunday morning! 

Barry was the kayak guide and Michael was the nature guide. We all jumped into kayaks and paddles off into Lough Gill in Co. Sligo. It was my first time in a kayak and I loved it. The lake was like glass and there was a nice mix of people chatting but also enjoying listening to nature in silence. 

 

We learned about the different bird calls and how to identify them. The guides stopped at various locations and we listened to the call of robins, wood pigeons and many other birds. Michael even gave us a leaflet which was a guide full of photographs of birds (that he took himself). I was so impressed with his knowledge. Michael's daughter Molly was also kayaking, her knowledge was amazing too. She even spotted a squirrel in the trees that I would never have spotted! 

 

We paddled to an island and had a tea or coffee (with biscuits!). After our tea we went for a walk on the island and learned of a lady who used to live there.. It was interesting to hear and learn about the history from the island. 

 Tea for the crew

Tea for the crew

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Overall the tour was such an experience. The cost was €40 and that was for 3-4 hours. The guides were excellent and I seen Sligo from a totally different view. I would recommend for everyone to experience this...I want to go again! Check out my video below, I had my Go Pro camera with me to capture clips from the morning. 

F/1.0 Camera Repair - sensor clean...

I've had my Nikon camera for over a year now and hadn't gotten it cleaned at all. The dust on the sensor was crazy and it got to the point lately where I couldn't photoshop them all out of a landscape shot (especially if my aperture was above f/7.1 !) I used it pretty much daily and was waiting for a quiet spell to get it cleaned. I finally had a few free days this week and decided to contact F/1.0 Camera repair who are based in Wicklow. Eoghan runs F/1.0 and is an independant technician who repairs photographic equipment. His prices seemed to be really reasonable, I also also noticed that all of the reviews on the Facebook page were very positive which prompted me to contact the business. 

Click here to go to the F/1.0 Facebook Page

So after sending him a message, I sent my camera by registered post to avoid the drive from Sligo to Wicklow as the weather was bad (I also insured it for the journey with An Post just in case). I swear it was like sending my baby in the post. I was really anxious and probably wrecked Eoghan's head with all of my questions but he was really helpful. He also let me know when the camera was on the way back so I could expect it in the post. 

Here is the before photo with an aperture of f/16 (I'm actually embarrassed, it should have been in for a clean ages ago, don't judge me). Both before and after photos were taken at f/16 and I also used the dehaze slider in lightroom (+40 on both) so you could see the dust a bit more clearly. It's amazing what a narrower aperture will bring up.....EVERYTHING! 

 Before. (Again don't judge me...or judge me silently.)

Before. (Again don't judge me...or judge me silently.)

 

And after......

 After.....

After.....

My poor camera has been at weddings, up mountains, in woods, by the sea, at events, festivals etc...I've changed lenses in situations that I shouldn't have (i.e. windy days by the sea outdoors...eek) but the before and after photo speak for themselves (bad for me but good for F/1.0..!)  I was so happy with how it turned out and I can now go above f/7.1....living life to the max.

I wrote this blog post to recommend F/1.0 if you need to get your own camera cleaned or repaired. My main struggle was finding someone to clean my camera, as there are no places that I know of in the West of Ireland who do this, so I had to look Eastwards. There are a fair few places that clean camera sensors in Dublin but I didn't know which one to choose. So I'm hoping that my recommendation might come in handy for someone else.

You can get cleaning kits online for wet cleans but I wasn't confident enough to do it myself...especially with the state that my camera was in. I'd rather get someone else to do it and not go through the panic of cleaning it myself and messing it up. I'm happy out with the result anyway and recommend them 100%.  

Check out their website

 

Why I live in Easkey...

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People, that I know, often ask why I chose to live in the rural community that I grew up in. I get asked (quite a lot) why I haven’t moved to a larger city, ‘as all young people do’.

I’ll tell you why.

Easkey, to me, is the ultimate place to live. Life here is serene and uninterrupted.

Everyone who lives here knows each other. The locals probably know a lot more about you than you know about yourself! Everyone looks out for each other and there is a great sense of community spirit, and I mean that it in the least clichéd way possible. The people who live in Easkey come from all walks of life, from all corners of the world and all share diverse interests. Yet, everyone seems to live in harmony. Surfers alongside farmers, artists alongside football players. We all share the same interest; the love of the place that we live in.

 

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Easkey is such a beautiful part of the world. The rocky coastline, world famous surf and rural landscape all paint the picture that is our little village. Countless sunsets have painted the skies at the end of a beautiful summer evenings. Even in stormy weather it is beautiful, waves crash against the pier enticing photographers to get ‘the shot’. It is a creative corner. Easkey boasts a large amount of creative and artistic people, from visual artists, designers, musicians, writers and actors…the list is endless. It is no wonder that artists come here to live so that they can concentrate on their work. The surroundings are inspirational and there are few unnecessary distractions.

For surfers, this is paradise, The waves are world famous. The water may get crowded when it’s ‘on’, but for such a famous spot it is quiet when compared to surf spots of the same legacy. Crowded here means over ten people. Fishermen have a beautiful, unpolluted place to gather the freshest of fish off the harbour in their boats, as well as individuals fishing on the pier. There is nothing better than throwing a mackerel on a barbeque that was freshly caught that day, and for the vegetarians like me there's always the locally grown veg to barbeque too.

 

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The music is great here. There are several musicians of all ages. Traditional sessions occur in McGowan’s bar and I’m not gonna lie, the Guinness in Easkey is the best in Ireland. The local, country pub is a rarity now and Easkey boasts two; McGowan’s and The Fisherman’s Weir (now called the Castle Inn as of November 2016).

The only traffic you might hear in the morning is the occasional tractor and it’s one of the few places where a traffic jam is caused by cows or sheep and not other cars. It’s the peace, the people and the amazing surroundings that make Easkey a great place to live, in my opinion.

We live in one of the rarest places in Ireland; the unspoilt rural village….with all mod-cons.

I worked in customer service for years and a lot of tourists would say ‘you are so lucky that you live here’. And they are right. People continue to move to Easkey as its charm and beauty are such an attraction. Living in the country limits unnecessary distractions and enables you to appreciate the little things in life, it makes life simpler and a lot more enjoyable. As Da Vinci said;

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.