Local heroes: Brunch in A Janela, Graça

I’ve loved learning more and more about Lisbon, and spending weekends exploring new neighbourhoods. One thing I’ve found is that, often, the same places crop up on guides and Instagram again and again. Now, this is for good reason – they’re great. 

But I’ve also been blown away by the number of little gems we’ve stumbled across that are just quietly going about their business. A Janela is one such place. 

Just a few minutes from the centre of Graça (and its pretty miraduouro), and kind of tucked away down a little lane (hence the sign, up top), A Janela has been open since last November. 

I love the bright and cheery decor and the plentiful plants – someone here has a serious green thumb as the little lane leading the way in is littered with all kinds of gorgeous succulents.

 They have two brunch options, a large and a mini. Ben and I went with one large between us, and for that we got: Eggs and bacon, a croissant and artisan breads, a tasty plate of meat and cheese, granola with yoghurt, a coffee and a yum banana-based fruit smoothie. 

Then, when we thought we were done,  two little cups arrived. Inside, there were large chunks of orange sponge cake. We also got a little beaker of hot wine, which you pour over the cake. It was delicious. 

Oh and did I mention that all cost €13?

We then did some more wandering and exploring, and ended up sipping lemonade at an incredibly warm sun spot by Jardim do Torel, realising that soon this heat would be our new reality and chatting about how exactly we were going to cope with that 😂





On impatience, and building something new

Start where you are. Use what you have.

I’m trying to let this lesson sink in, but it’s taking its time. I’m impatient by nature, and can be a bit of a perfectionist about certain things (photos, magazines layouts – yes. hoovered floors, tidy kitchens – not so much). Which makes it tricky to start something from scratch.

And this year, I’m starting from scratch in lots of ways. New city, new ideas, new projects.

Feeling the itch to start a new project is a great impulse, an exciting one. And yes, I want them to be the best they can be. I want them to be ready for the world now, signed, sealed and delivered. But you can’t make a great tomato sauce in 10 mins (or, if you can, please tell me your secret). Some things need to simmer and stew, and percolate. You need to wait – for dots to join up, the dots need to be there to begin with.

And you also need to not be afraid to just dive in and hit go, which can be so daunting. You can’t compare your starting line with other people’s photo finishes, and yet we do. And while there is beauty and magic in the potential, it can also hold you back. I read this brilliant quote from Craig Mod in the latest issue of Offscreen:

“One of the greatest dangers to any creative project is allowing the potential for the thing to subvert your ability to make it, because you want to live in a world of potentiality for as long as possible. A book is always greatest before it’s written. You are intoxicated by what it can be. That’s very dangerous. You want to kill those seductions as quickly as possible….”

So that’s where I am right now – hovering in that space between the exciting potential of it all, the necessary time, energy and work it needs, and the urge to hit go.

Top: Beautiful illustrations and gifs by Portuguese illustrator Amalteia.

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Link love: January

Well, we’ve almost made it though January! I’ve stumbled across some pretty nice internet recently, so thought I’d share….

“Good journalism about good things”: Eager to check out Positive News magazine

A couple of new (-ish or new to me) podcasts to add to your list: Hurry Slowly, which features brilliant interviews with inspiring thinkers about how slowing down can make you more productive and creative and Switched On Pop, a podcast about the “making and meaning” of pop music. Their breakdown of why Despacito was so musically compelling made for fascinating listening. 

Really interesting read on why life seems to speed up as we get older.

Loved these 10 simple life hacks (definitely trying the one minute rule).

“Imagining a baby without having one is like imagining moving to a llama farm to raise llamas having never met a llama”: Great read on how to decide if you should have kids.

I’m back in Dublin next week, and hope to squeeze in a visit to Pang Dublin (love the look of their rice paper rolls) and cute canteen cafe Hey Donna

I love what Nintendo are doing with the launch of Nintendo Labo for the Switch, mashing real life cut and paste fun and creativity with video games. 

Some recent work: I penned a piece on Cryptocurrencies for, and loved learning about the future of how we spend money; I’ll soon be popping up in the property supplement of the Sunday Independent, sharing some favourite interiors trends; and lots of my pics from last year’s shoot with the wonderful Chupi team and Lesiele are now live on Chupi’s beautiful website.

More work-related bits: I love shooting the Creative Mornings Dublin events, and they recently interviewed me for their blog

And finally, some things on my wishlist: This very cute lamp from Portugese brand Ducka Design, this gorgeous yellow dress from Universal Standard, and a visit to Under the Cover here in Lisbon for an indie mag binge.

Top pic: Gif by the wonderful Xanthe Berkely. I’m thinking of giving her Making Films e-course another shot (here are the fruits of my labour from my first time around).

Have  great weekend!



Personal, Travel

Easing into life in Lisbon

Ben and I have been slowly, but surely, settling into life here in Lisbon. Just before Christmas, we signed a short lease on a nice, bright apartment near the pretty and historic Graça area and Ben signed up to a great nearby coworking space.

It’s very exciting, but it is definitely taking us time to settle in and we’re very much still stumbling to find our way. No matter how gorgeous your destination, a move always has its rough sides – your easy, autopilot routines broken, many of your favourite things in boxes, the streets unfamiliar, the language even more so.

We had tried to pack a few things that would bring us instant comfort; a ziplock bag of tea bags, some favourite prints, loads of cables (😂) but of course you can’t recreate 4 years of steady home-making in a few weeks so you end up in a kind of limbo; some things familiar and comforting, others new and strange.

But the exploring! The exploring has been fun. Ben has become an expert in our half dozen or so local frutarias, aka small grocery shops. We haven’t done much touristy stuff, but enjoyed checking out the the MAAT and trying not to eat our weight in delicious custard tarts. Some iPhone snaps from our first few days below. 

We’ve also met some wonderful people – just last weekend, friends of my lovely buddy Liz took us under their wing, bringing us for pizza on the beach and a gorgeous drive along the coast to Cascais and on to Sintra for insanely delicious ‘pillow’ pastries

In between the trying to make our place home and creating little pockets of familiarity comes the fun of the unfamiliar. Heading out for a stroll and seeing oranges on trees, pastel-coloured buildings, or a breathtaking sunset makes me giddy with the newness of it all, with the sense of adventure and with a hunger to explore and discover new things.

This weekend, we’re hoping to pop over the river to the port town of Cacilhas, maybe check out this fun looking cereal cafe, or revisit the lovely brunch at Dear Breakfast.

I’m working on a post sharing some of the blogs, books and other online resources I’ve been using to acquaint myself with our new city, and look forward to sharing more as we discover it! Of course, please hit me up with any tips or recommendations 🙂 

Top pic: View from our nearest miradouro (viewpoint), the gorgeous Miradouro da Graça.


Life update: Moving to Lisbon!

Here’s to the end of the beginning and the start of everything else.

I’m really excited to share that Ben and I are moving to Lisbon at the end of the year. We’ll be kicking off 2018 married – and in a brand new city!

It’s something we’ve wanted to do for a long time, but the decision was given a proper nudge three months ago, when we got notice to vacate our lovely cosy home in Ringsend. I was just three months into freelancing and the thought of venturing out into the current rental market was, frankly, terrifying. 

We decided to take it as a giant hint from the universe. Ben has penned an FAQ over on his site, tongue very much firmly in cheek. 

Our decision to move to Lisbon specifically was both romantic and practical. Dubbed the City of Light, it really  lives up to that name. I first visited in 2014 and loved it. There are the charms that hit you right away, that have no doubt been around for centuries – patterned tiles, pastel buildings, flaky, sweet custard tarts, crooked cobbled streets and gorgeous sunsets. There are more modern charms too; cool, creative communities, a great number of co-working spaces and a growing tech scene. It’s also on the same time zone as Dublin and offers reasonable rents and reasonably priced flights, which will hopefully mean lots of scope for friends and family to come visit, which was a big priority.

Right now, we are elbow-deep in boxes, bubble wrap and tape, trying to pack up one life here while planning another there. We’re excited and nervous and very much open to any and all insights about our new city. If you have any advice, recommendations or friends in the area, please let me know!

We’ll be sharing what we’re up to in some way, shape or form, so if you’d like to keep an eye on us sign up here to get notified. 

Portraits by wonderful Lisbon-based husband-and-wife team The Barilles, taken around some popular Lisbon landmarks including at the top Elevador de Santa Justa and Praça do Comércio. Quote at the top of the post from this Maggie Rogers Insta post






Tarot cards and skull earrings – why witchy culture is having a moment
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Practical Magic | The rise of modern day witchcraft

A few months ago, my friend El and I went on a gorgeous yoga retreat with Liz in a cabin in Wicklow. There were hikes in nature, chats by the fire, nutritious, delicious food and, sitting on the mantlepiece, a deck of tarot cards. 

We giggled like teenagers as we shuffled the deck. I pulled cards for her first, mimicking instructions I’d seen in person or in movies – a simple past-present-future spread plus a general overall card. We leafed through the tiny manual that came with the deck, reading out sentences like, “Two of Pentacles, reversed: Taking on too much. Time to concentrate on one thing at a time; master these before expanding” and nodded our heads in wonderment at how on the nose they were.

It wasn’t that we wanted to believe in magic – I grew up on a circus, I know the tricks – but it was a chance to to tap into our own intuition, to explore our gut, instinctive reactions to those images and descriptions, to tap into fears and hopes that are already there. 

A few weeks later, El half-jokingly bought me a deck for my birthday (it’s bad luck to buy your own). We tried to explain how much the cards we pulled had resonated, as our boyfriends gently mocked our gullibility. 

Thing is, tarot cards seem to be popping up in more and more places, along with cyrstals, candles and all sorts of witchy things. Described as “like Google for the soul”,  they seem to be tapping into some common appetite to check in with ourselves. To make time out to think about your plans, your big picture stuff. 

So I went on a hunt, and found some other explorations on the theme:

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7 handy tech tools for freelancers

The irony of working for yourself is that with the incredible amount of flexibility you get comes a very real need for a lot of structure and organisation. There is no pre-built system or process for you to slot into, you have to build it yourself and find smart ways of managing your productivity.

My work involves a huge amount of context switching – I might be on location on a shoot one day, interviewing four different people for three different features the next, brainstorming and pitching on another or just trying to clear through a backlog of photo editing and email answering. I really enjoy the variety, but it means I need to try to be as efficient as possible and make the most of the time I have.

Below I’ve listed some of the tools that help me stay productive and, to be honest, sane. I’m a total nerd when it comes to productivity apps and communication tools (I feel I should list “trying out mail apps” as a hobby 😂 – I’ve three on the go as I type) and while none of these are a magic cure-all, they’re really working for me right now.

Trello: I use Trello to stay on top of workloads and projects. I have lists for commissioned work, in progress projects and for what’s been filed and invoiced. I add due dates that sync with my calendar so I can see an overview of what work is due when and, hopefully, catch any potential hot spots of overlaps. I can add links to Pinterest boards, attach creative briefs from agencies or paste in comments from editors so that I’m not hunting in two or three different places for info. I also use it to collaborate; for the upcoming issue of Weir & Sons Style Magazine (which I’m deputy editor of), myself, the editor and the art director had a shared Trello board for the magazine. They’ve also just announced a desktop app, which makes me very happy.

Fantastical: This is a pricey enough Mac app, but so worth it. With it, you can use natural language to quickly create events and reminders – so, for example, I can just type in “Portrait shoot next Tuesday 9am-12pm at Tara Building” and it will put all the info into the right places.

FreeAgent: Hat tip to Brian at MiniCorp for introducing me to this. At its simplest, FreeAgent makes it easy to create and track invoices, but it can do so much more than that – it integrates with Stripe so that I can receive card payments, it can pull in my bank transactions to make it easy to log expenses and lets you go from estimate to invoice in one click.

Dropbox and iCloud: I rely heavily on cloud syncing for my work. I can start a draft in Pages on my iMac, make tweaks on my laptop or iPad while on a bus or DART, and arrive at my destination, open my laptop and find the most up to date version there. It’s easy to forget how magical that is! Dropbox is where all contact sheets and high reses from shoots go for easy sharing with clients and editorial teams.

Evernote: This is basically my digital brain. It’s great for collecting ideas, rough drafts, meeting notes, clipping interesting links for the blog – basically everything and anything. I use the browser extensions to easily add things to notebook from Safari or Chrome. The desktop app isn’t great at the moment, but I’ve stuck with Evernote through thick and thin, and delighted to see they finally made some much-needed improvements to the iOS version (fingers crossed for an OS X update sooooon). I use the FastEver iOS app to quickly add notes while on the go.

Teux Deux: I’ve been mourning the news that Wunderlist will soon be no more, and hunting around for another great to-do. Tuex Deux doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, though that’s what I like about it. I use it as a kind of virtual daily standup for one: I list my three big goals for the day on it, as well as any straggler tasks that pop up throughout the day.

RescueTime: Productivity pro Claire Burge introduced me to this about two years ago and I’ve been using it religiously since. It runs in the background of my laptop and desktop computers and monitors how much time I spend in different apps, giving me an overview at the end of the week with a productivity score and a breakdown of what categories I spent time in.


Screen Sharing: This Mac app comes bundled with all Apple computers and is insanely handy if you have more than one machine. I try to keep as much space as possible free on my laptop, so the bulk of my Lightroom photo archive is stored on external  hard drives  that are connected to my iMac (and backed up to the cloud using Backblaze). So if I ever need to grab something off it in a hurry, I use Screen Sharing to remotely connect to my machine at home and get what I need. Again, magic.

What’s working for you? Hit me up on Twitter or Insta with any recommendations.

Top pic: Notebook from Coffeewerk and Press, Pen by Muji and Drip Tease cup and saucer by Reiko Kaneko, from Article.


The Course of Love |
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The course of love: A novel to help your love life

In the rush of giddiness that followed getting engaged, and the excitement of pinning ideas to wedding boards on Pinterest, it’s easy to forget that what all this is gearing Ben and I up for is a marriage

It’s one of those things you can’t really know and understand until you’re in it, but that hasn’t stopped me from trying 😆

I’m diving into the theme in many nerdy ways, but one of my favourites has been Alain de Botton’s latest book, The Course of Love. In it, the mind behind The School of Life explores what happens after the happy ever after. As de Botton puts it in the book:

Marriage: a hopeful, generous, infinitely kind gamble taken by two people who don’t know yet who they are or who the other might be, binding themselves to a future they cannot conceive and have carefully omitted to investigate.” 

So yes, not exactly sonnets at sunset, but I loved it. A story “about modern relationships and how to survive them” the book explores the day-to-day, warts and all reality of sharing a life together. (The Valentines card PDF download they released to accompany the book made me laugh.)

You can watch an illustrated trailer for the book above.

It’s insightful, heartfelt, funny and beautifully written. I found myself regularly elbowing Ben in bed and interrupting his reading to share passages with him.

Other explorations on this theme:




Life, lately

“Use this platform as a catalyst to create a more beautiful, inspiring life”

The above words are at the top of a list I have called ‘Blog’ that I fill with blog post ideas. Ideas that, for the last few months, have been left untouched. The advice, which was no doubt jotted down at a talk or while listening to a podcast some years ago, seems almost quaint now, as the blogging and social media landscapes have changed so much since it was first written.

Though I find that Instagram stories increasingly scratches the itch that blogging once did, I miss this blog. The things I like about platforms like Stories and Snapchat – the transient, more candid, less polished nature of things – can also be drawbacks. I don’t sit and process events, documenting life’s highlights and lowlights here to look back on later (one of my favourite things to do with the blog, seeing as I’ve been blogging here since 2009). 

As a kid, I loved looking through my mum’s thick photo albums, poring over her adventures around the world and enjoying getting a glimpse into the life she led before my sis and I came along. It’s how I’ve viewed the blog in a way – a digital collection of what life has been like, what I’m loving, what I’m learning. 

From top left: Desk with a (serious) view as I file copy from Andalucia; the gorgeous new roof garden at Tara Building; Ben in Ticknock Woods; shooting on location in Arran Street East; coffee and scheming with Marta in Cake Cafe; love how my workspace brightens up Tara Street; blowing out birthday candles in Kerala; dancing beneath confetti canons at Sing Along Social; Pokemon themed afternoon out with Ethan, celebrating his birthday.

So, in the spirit of documenting, as much for myself as anyone else, here’s what’s been happening:

  • Freelance life has been good, albeit a bit hectic as I get used to the ebb and flow of deadlines and pitches. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to be able to pitch stories that let me meet, work with or photograph people I deeply admire and am curious about (Ann O’Dea, Kathryn Davey and Imen McDonnell are just some recent highlights). 
  • I spoke on the Wonderlust stage at Body & Soul about slowness at work, procrastination and The Imposter Project, a new creative venture I’m kicking off with some very talented gals. Huge thank you to Aoife McElwain for asking me along, and for helping me get over my own imposter syndrome.
  • I recently returned from 4 wonderful days in Andalucia, shooting at a horse-riding retreat with Cara Magazine editor Lucy. Photographing horses at sunrise, afternoon naps by the pool, shooting delicious plates of tapas as the sun went down – it was a dream gig. 
  • I also recently turned 34 in June (aka my scary age). I celebrated first with family, blowing out candles on a tray of donuts (which the kids very much enjoyed), then with dinner in Kerala with a few friends followed by drinks by the canal, as it was one of those gloriously warm and long summer evenings (followed by a painful 4am wake up call for my flight to Spain 😂)
  • My nephews and nieces are all summer babies, so we’ve been busy celebrating their birthdays. Ethan turned nine – nine – yesterday and I can’t get over it. 

Ideas I’m exploring:

  • Designing your life. This interview between Tim Ferriss and Debbie Millman was inspiring and left me curious about not just people’s creative process, but how they approach their life as a whole. I’m particularly interested in the 10 year plan writing exercise
  • Marriage. Not weddings and cute DIY ceremony backdrops, but the marriage itself. Post coming up on that soon. 
  • Where to next with photography? I’m shooting a lot right now, and with that comes figuring out how to push myself, how to improve, where to learn more, and yes, lots of nerdy gear lust. 
  • Moving away – even more so than I have already – from the idea of just one career and thinking more openly about having a few

Things on my wishlist:

I hope you’re having a great summer!







Dublin, living local, Personal

Where I work: The Tara Building

I’m excited to share a tour of my new workspace, The Tara Building. If you follow me on Instagram Stories, you’ll have seen pics of this gorgeous, colourful space. 

Based on Tara Street, just across the road from The Irish Times offices, The Tara Building is completely covered in a multi-coloured mural created by Maser. It opened up a few months ago, and coincided nicely with my starting freelance life. I jumped on a hot desk membership spot, and I’m so glad I did. Even though I love my desk set up at home – which is where I still do the bulk of my photo processing and any interviews – it’s great having a base in town, somewhere to come and put the head down, to have meetings, and to get up and go to. 

Ready for a photo tour?

The ground floor houses reception, managed by the awesome Anna, above, a bright, airy meeting room and an open gallery space that’s just finished hosting Clear of People, a photo exhibition part of the Photo Ireland Festival and before that housed a great exhibition in collaboration with Iverna.

The second floor is the co-working floor, where I spend most of my days. There are different types of desks (including cool foldout ones), little booths at the end for calls, lockers (so handy – no need to drag laptop chargers, water bottles etc in and out), and a lovely meeting room. Those awesome tent illustrations are by Fiona.

I really enjoy the morning ritual of coming in and setting up my desk for the day.

The next floor up houses the kitchen area, with a great coffee machine (though I nip out to Shoe Lane at least once a day), and serviced office, studios, and Apollo Print. There’s also a roof garden in the works. 

It’s great to see something like this up and running in Dublin, and I’ve so much admiration for all the people running it, constantly working to tweak and improve what’s already a great space. 

One of the nicest bonuses of working at The Tara Building has been the great people I’ve gotten to meet. Seeing so many peeps, from so many different backgrounds, heads down, working away is infinitely motivating, and being able to have bants in the kitchen over a cup of coffee, chat in the Facebook group or on Slack, or hang out and do yoga after work has been really lovely.

Safe to say I’m very happy out here! (Thanks to Ben for taking the portrait.)