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A Little (!) Travel Post – Scotland & Ireland

Be ready for a massive picture post. Scotland, Northern Ireland, Ireland, workshop, people, food. It’s all here…

I thought about breaking it into several installments but I can’t. I am afraid my heart will sink everytime I look at the pictures of our trip. I had such an amazing time, seen so many beautiful sights and met so many incredible folks. I miss it all and yet, I am completely and utterly happy thrilled to be back, full on work and ready for the next chapter, whatever it may be.

On the road to Stonefield Castle - Scotland

We started the trip by landing at 7am in Glasgow. In our rental car by 8am, we proceeded toward the Mull Of Kintyre via Loch Lomond National Park. Let’s just say that with no sleep and driving on the other side for the first time in over 20 years, the first 10 minutes of the trip felt right out of a video game. A video game gone wrong that is. With cars zooming towards you, on roads barely narrow enough for two, a stone wall or a cliff on your side, depending.

I have to tell you that none of it actually mattered. Every "oh shoot!" moment was followed by a "We are in Scotland! Dude! Nothing matters! We are in Scotland"…Yep, we could have totaled the car and gotten off the road, we still would have jumped screaming at the top of our lungs "Look at this! Wow!!".

That’s pretty much the feeling and phrase that accompanied us throughout the trip. The opportunity to teach at Belle Isle and take a few days off before hand to trace back Bill’s ancestors was something I will always be grateful for.

Oban - Scotland

We took the road to the Mull of Kintyre and stopped at Oban for lunch, Scotch and to stretch our legs, keep awake and energized. Still going strong, we headed for our evening lodging, Stonefield Castle. We were trying to be as close as possible to Castle Sween, an ancestral family stronghold for Bill and while looking at hotels in the area, Stonefield, overlooking the sea, was equal to a hotel in town. You can guess what I picked. Yes. Our first night of the trip was at this incredibly beautiful and serene castle.

Stonefield Castle - Scotland

We crashed on the fluffy pillows as soon as we got to our room for a restorative power nap. Rested, we were ready to head out and explore our surroundings, the woods and forest around us. Beauty everywhere. We will be back and for a longer stay for sure. Everyone at the hotel was wonderful and the food was outstanding. I ate it. I did not photograph it.

Stonefield Castle - Scotland

Seems like a food photographer on vacation shoots just about everything. Except food. I shot flowers. And meadows. And flowers. All the little wild flowers that never get the chance to grow in hot and hotter South Carolina. you bet I had my fill in Scotland and Ireland.

Stonefield Castle - Scotland

The shores at Stonefield Castle.

Stonefield Castle - Scotland

Walking around Stonefield.

Stonefield Castle - Scotland

Stonefield Castle - Scotland

Flowers everywhere. Lush and gorgeous flora.

Tree of Bouees - Stonefield Castle, Scotland

Bouees on a tree. Straight out of a Tim Burton’s movie.

Stonefield Castle - Scotland

On the road to Castle Sween - Scotland

The next morning, we starting making our way to Castle Sween and a quite a few photo opportunities unraveled before our eyes. We spent half an hour with these horses. Every time we motioned away, they would come closer and wait for us to scratch their heads a little more.

Near Castle Sween - Scotland


Castle Sween - Scotland

Unexpected on an almost deserted road.

Near Castle Sween - Scotland

The area around Castle Sween is tranquil and lush. Green grass and low forestry.

Castle Sween - Scotland

Castle Sween. Bill got quiet and reverend. I could tell that a part of him was unsettled and curious. Sad too. So much he only knew from records and old letters. I also could feel that the bigger part of him felt home. It was truly magical to experience that moment of finding one roots with him.

View from Castle Sween - Scotland

The view commanding Castle Sween. Yes. Nothing to squint about…

Near Giant's Causeway

Later that day we hopped on a plane to Belfast, got another rental car and started our way up the Northern coast as soon as we landed. We spent the night in the little village of Cushendall and after a local pub owner shortened our route by sending us on ferry roads and adding bridges to an otherwise silent map, we made way toward the Giant’s Causeway. A good walk later, we headed out to Fanad’s Head…another ancestral ground for Bill.

Coast of Ireland

At Giant's Causeway

At Giant's Causeway

At Giant's Causeway

On the road to Fanad's Head - N.Ireland

I seem to have an afinity for telephone booths….On our way to Fanad’s Head. Still making our way through ancestral grounds and towns. After a night at Downing’s Bay, we made our way down to Donegal. We were on a mission to find Castle Doe. Another family castle. Puts my French falconer ancestral roots to shame…!

Castle Doe - Donegal, Ireland

At Castle Doe. Old stone. New life. Color.

Castle Doe - Donegal, Ireland

Castle Doe. There was silence around us. Except for the winds and the legends.

Castle Doe - Donegal, Ireland

Castle Doe - Donegal, Ireland.

After our stop at Castle Doe. It was time to head out to Belle Isle Estate for my workshop. We quickly got settled into our cottage and grabbed our gear for a little walk. The estate is gorgeous and the surrounding grounds lush and bountiful. The cottages were super cozy with all the amenities one can think of. We vowed to come back with my parents and rent a couple of them for an extended stay. So much to see and do in the area. Fermanagh is really a beautiful county.

Belle Isle Castle - N.Ireland

Belle Isle Castle - N.Ireland

Belle Isle Castle - N.Ireland

A little peek at the Castle at Belle Isle.

Belle Isle Castle - N.Ireland

Reminded me of The Princess Bride. I know…

Belle Isle Garden & Orchard - N.Ireland

Beautiful fruits and veggies are grown at Belle Isle and used at the cookery school where the workshop was help. Apples, redcurrants, blueberries, salads, herbs, peas, etc… Cows, sheep and hens can be seen and heard as well.

Belle Isle Castle - N.Ireland

View looking out from the castle at Belle Isle. Not too bad…

Belle Isle Castle - N.Ireland

Belle Isle Garden - N.Ireland

The walled garden at Belle Isle. Push the door opened and be mesmerized.

Belle Isle Orchard - N.Ireland

Belle Isle Gardens - N.Ireland

Belle Isle Garden - N.Ireland

Belle Isle Food Photo Workshop

Finally, it was time to meet up with everyone and start the second part of our trip. The workshop. The group of attendees gathered was absolutely delightful and hard working. I say that of every workshop I teach. I know. But it’s true everytime. I am also very appreciative of the non negotiating trust they bestow on me to guide them right from the get go. I know exactly what’s going on in their mind and I have no doubt that each day will be better and more fun than the one before.

Belle Isle Castle Food Photo Workshop - Northern Ireland

Leona and Victoria. Fearless and talented.

Among the group we had a wide array of cultures and places represented. Ireland, Tel-Aviv, Dubai, Australia, San Francisco, Denmark, The Netherlands, Japan, Vienna. I was honored for the miles and hours everyone put in to come learn and play. Huge props to Corrie and her staff at Belle Isle Cookery School for feeding us and providing us with all the necessary foods and ingredients for the shoots we were practicing throughout the weekends. Thank you also to Charles and Fiona, the caretakers of the castle for their generosity and great disposition throughout the weekend.


Idan. Intense. And cute as a button…

Belle Isle Food Photo Workshop

Berries from the garden.

Belle Isle Cookery School - N.Ireland

Lettuces and chives in the garden.

Belle Isle Castle - N.Ireland

Dana & Elizabeth

Dana and Elizabeth. Focused. Determined.


After knowing them for the past five years online, I finally got to meet Simone of Jungle Frog Cooking and Pernille. Simone, a professional food photographer herself, it was a treat to have her attend and soak in the atmosphere as we all did that weekend. Pernille works as an art director at her company and I had to smile at how much I could anticipate her reactions. It was nice to show other aspects of food photography to the attendees and why the eyes of an art director pushes a photographer that extra step further toward hard work well done.

Belle Isle Food Photo Workshop

It was an amazing trip. The scenery. The adventures. The people. The food. The time off spent with my husband. He’s my compass. I’m the navigator. We keep each other good.

I am off to Washington D.C in the morning for a few days and the recipe posts will resume as soon as get back.

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Y July 31, 2012 um 7:12 am

Sounds like an amazing trip. I've really been looking forward to this post. Didn't expect you to have it up so fast though. The pictures are simply gorgeous!

Benthe July 31, 2012 um 7:25 am

Amazing photography! And euh.. Holland and the Netherlands are the same 😉

Lynna July 31, 2012 um 8:57 am

gorgeous photos! 🙂 everything looks so beautiful and fun~

Anonymous July 31, 2012 um 9:45 am

It sounds like you had an amazing trip. Donegal is one of my favourite places on earth, so glad you got to experience it!

David @ Frenchie and the Yankee July 31, 2012 um 11:23 am

Ugh! I have never been there but I am dreaming of going. This looks stunning and wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

Helene July 31, 2012 um 11:58 am

Benthe: Meant to write Denmark and wrote Holland. Tired brain at 2am. Thanks for catching that.

Elizabeth July 31, 2012 um 12:06 pm

Oh, what fun! Love the photos. How did you make the great looking sepia ones? I'm assuming in Photoshop – mine never turn out that rich looking!

Gaia July 31, 2012 um 12:15 pm

wonderful places!
thanx for letting us travel through your eyes!

artfoodsoul July 31, 2012 um 12:45 pm

Sigh, I am overdue for a return trip home to the family farms in West Cork…this post has renewed my anticipation for your scone class at Squam in September! Looking forward to it, Helene…gotta start gathering my props!

Unknown July 31, 2012 um 12:49 pm

Oh, Helene, your life is so dreamy. I just loved buzzing along with you on this trip. I adore everything about England, and Ireland, so I know I would just fall in love with Scotland. Thank you for putting together this post and giving a beautiful peek into your workshop world!

Vickie July 31, 2012 um 12:52 pm

sounds like an amazing trip & your photos are gorgeous – you make me want to visit all those lovely places 🙂

Helene July 31, 2012 um 12:58 pm

Elizabeth: It's a LightRoom preset. I am not a photoshop user.

Lynda July 31, 2012 um 1:07 pm

Your photos are breathtaking! Sounds like an amazing trip … thanks for sharing!

Vicki Bensinger July 31, 2012 um 1:30 pm

Beautiful photos. I can't wait until mine can look so good. I need to get a DSLR camera.

Anonymous July 31, 2012 um 1:48 pm

Forget food, please come do photography for the Irish tourist board! Who wouldn't come for a visit having seen these photos? You've made me very homesick, in a good way, for the wildness of Ireland. Thanks.

Dana Liparts July 31, 2012 um 2:08 pm

Since your workshop in Ireland I’ve gone from flicking through food magazines and cookbooks to get inspiration for the food I’m intending to cook, to now being completely distracted by the props, styling, camera angle, light … oh, the light!! And I blame you – in an amazingly great way of course! I honestly can’t thank you enough for those 4 incredible days in Ireland! Looking forward to Take 2!

cathy @ Noble Pig July 31, 2012 um 2:37 pm

Gorgeous trip, thanks for sharing your memories with us.

Pippi July 31, 2012 um 2:42 pm

Beautiful pics…. wanderful countries…. thanks for your gently point of view!

what abaut a worshop in Italy?


see you soon


AlishaHB July 31, 2012 um 2:45 pm

What a wonderful trip! Your photos are gorgeous and have reignited my yearning for a vacation to Ireland and Scotland. They just seem like homey places to me.

Colette (Coco) July 31, 2012 um 4:13 pm

Gorgeous pics! You have a great eye for seeing the world.

goboroot July 31, 2012 um 6:04 pm

Wow! Thank you for taking me to the place I've been dreaming of! Amazing photos!!!

Anonymous July 31, 2012 um 6:36 pm

Luuuuuuuuuurve the front on horse shot!

Lisa July 31, 2012 um 8:36 pm

Wow! Two of my favorite places in the world! My husband used to go to Dublin on business 4 times a year, so we spent as much time as we could exploring the breathtaking scenery. We also went to Scotland on our honeymoon in 2006. Started in Edinburgh and made a big circle through the north and back to that city. My husband is quite an excellent photographer… two should compare notes! He even wrote and illustrated a book (privately) after our first trip abroad together (Scandinavia).

Chlo Delay July 31, 2012 um 8:54 pm

Great shots ~ thanks for sharing! i know what you mean about fixating on certain things to shoot – i'm always coming home with pics of doors and windows! can't wait to visit that part of the world next … thanks again!

Suzanne Perazzini July 31, 2012 um 9:39 pm

I very much enjoyed the trip through Scotland and Ireland with you. Beautiful photos which evoke exactly the feelings I had while travelling through there.

Yami July 31, 2012 um 10:13 pm

Amazing!!! I so much wish to be in your workshops, I love all the photos but that last one is Beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing. Yami

Syrah – the Pièce de Résistance July 31, 2012 um 11:49 pm

Gorgeous! Looks like heaven!

Andi of My Beautiful Adventures August 1, 2012 um 1:12 am

Oh my these photos are AMAZING!!!!! I didn't want them to end. The one of the horse is breathtaking!

Karine August 1, 2012 um 1:48 am

Great great post! Would have loved to meet Simone. The pictures ate beautiful. So inspiring. Thanks for sharing.

Steve August 1, 2012 um 6:48 am

You make me want to go there. So peaceful !!

tableofcolors August 1, 2012 um 11:15 am

Loved your photography, your trip looked absolutely amazing! Welcome to Finland sometime! 🙂 The midnight sun gives an amazing light for photos

Visit Sarasota August 1, 2012 um 4:56 pm

Wow Scotland is so green and beautiful.

Faina August 1, 2012 um 6:30 pm

Beautiful photos, amazing views.

Juliana August 1, 2012 um 7:54 pm

Sigh. Hélène, this looks like a wonderful trip.

Anonymous August 1, 2012 um 9:56 pm

What a dream!!! I can't wait to join for one of these life changing workshops one day soon 🙂 Lovely pictures!

Anonymous August 1, 2012 um 9:56 pm

What a dream!!! I can't wait to join for one of these life changing workshops one day soon 🙂 Lovely pictures!

Andrea August 2, 2012 um 2:10 am

i just soaked it all in… what a beautiful trip. I loved where you said "I ate it. I did not photograph it." Good for you!

Tiffany Lee August 2, 2012 um 6:17 am

These photos are amazing! I love every single one.

Unknown August 2, 2012 um 2:05 pm

Fabulous pictures – thanks for sharing your beautiful trip with us. I feel like I have been there

ChichaJo August 2, 2012 um 3:48 pm

Gorgeous photos and scenery!! Oh to visit Scotland! Thanks for sharing it all with us 🙂

Jennifer Carroll August 2, 2012 um 5:24 pm

So amazing!! Thank you so much for sharing! I'm off to Ireland at the beginning of September and am so excited – even more so after seeing your photos. I'm a huge fan of your book! You have really helped me grow as a photographer! I dream of one day getting to come to a workshop with you! {sigh!} Thank you so much for sharing your immense talent!!

kelly August 3, 2012 um 2:39 am

Some lovely photos. Looks like a great workshop.


Rut August 3, 2012 um 9:07 am

wonderful work! Helen

Becca August 4, 2012 um 8:27 am

Amazing, gorgeous photos! Enjoying your posts 🙂

Dannii @Hungry Healthy Happy August 4, 2012 um 2:42 pm

Beautiful photos

Bella Cirovic August 5, 2012 um 1:23 pm

These photos are breathtaking! Such a lovely view of your travels and adventures.

Margherita August 5, 2012 um 4:17 pm

I love the idea of picking berries from the garden and baking right away with them. It must be simply amazing…I would really love to have a small garden where I could grow my own produce.
Anyway, all the pictures are amazing!

LoveAffair Cakes by mirela August 7, 2012 um 4:51 pm

Thanks for the great article. It would be such a pleasure just to stand there aside and watch you all working..

dervla @ The Curator August 7, 2012 um 6:07 pm

I can't stop coming back over and over to look at these photos. I'm from Ireland (though living in NYC) and I always love to see people's photographic interpretation of the country – it makes me see it in a whole new light. Thank you!

Simones Kitchen August 8, 2012 um 11:11 am

Gorgeous shots Helene! But that is no surprise ofcourse.. 😉 It's lovely seeing Ireland through your eyes. Moody and amazing!

Laura (Blogging Over Thyme) August 8, 2012 um 5:04 pm

Gorgeous! My parents lived in Scotland for more than 6 months last year and I got to visit them this past fall. It really is a beautiful country, everything is so lush, and it really makes you appreciate all the history that Europe offers. And the architecture is gorgeous!

Life Images by Jill August 13, 2012 um 12:16 pm

thank you for sharing these wonderful photos from your trip and from the photography workshop. I so wished I could have been there!
When are you coming to Australia???
Thank you for your constant inspiration.

domonique @ abowl full of simple August 13, 2012 um 3:27 pm

your photography is truly a gift to me every time i open up your page. hope to attend one of your workshops someday.

Kelly August 16, 2012 um 8:09 pm

Your photographs are absolutely amazing! Looks like a wonderful trip : )

Marita Madeloni August 22, 2012 um 5:00 am

So beautiful. After living in Ireland for 18 months, 5 years ago and crying nearly every day, I still get nostalgic when I see photographs of it! The silver light there is just so amazing and lends itself so well to beautiful, dramatic landscapes and flora & fauna photos. Thank you for sharing your massive photo post!

hasan September 15, 2012 um 9:17 am

I always love to see people's photographic interpretation of the country – it makes me see it in a whole new light. Thank you!

Rachel May 13, 2014 um 3:51 pm

Beautiful photography. I've gone really into photography now that I have my DSLR lense

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