Sunday, 19 November 2017

One night trip to the West

There's nothing like a trip outside Dublin to make your weekend stretch! 

Yesterday morning I got a bus to Galway to see my little sister Katie perform in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat with her amateur dramatic musical society (the ClareGalway Society).  It was a great night!  I am completely biased of course but I thought Katie was wonderful as Mrs Potiphar and it was a wonderful production all round.

I came back today and honestly it feels like I was away for a few days and nights.  Galway is a special place and has that effect on you.  Particularly as it is feeling very Christmassy and festive at the moment.



And here I am with the woman of the hour after the show.  My mother took this photo and continuing the longstanding joke in our family about her photography skills there's her finger top left.  She is also famous for chopping heads off so actually we are lucky that this pic is semi decent at all!

Let's get Quizzical!

The time has rolled around for our annual big huge company Quiz night - the Ultimate Irish Life Quiz - in aid of our Staff Charities
 
Here is me wearing my purple Staff Charities committee member polo shirt.  I just adore this shirt!
 
The night was a great success - as it always is.  Our quizmaster is a brilliant MC who runs through the questions and answers at a nice pace. And a huge part of the night is his brilliant method of awarding extra points!  If you get up on a chair and sing a song this gets you ten or so points. If you can get everyone singing along with you then this could be worth as much as twenty.  And if you get boo-ed well that might be worth twenty or so also!
 
New for this year we arranged for pizzas to be delivered  - extra large, and one for every table! The novelty of a big load of pizzas arriving was great.  Plus from an organisational perspective this worked so much better than any other food option we have done in the past: in terms of service and quantity of food for everyone. I think this is something we will be doing again in the future as everyone really seemed happy with it

Here's just 25% of our the total pizza delivery so you can imagine what the full order looked like!
 

Monday, 13 November 2017

The red cups are here!

Sign that Christmas is Coming #1

Today I met my mam for a quick coffee at lunch.  We had a lovely chat about lots of great stuff.  Plus we were both excited to see that the Starbucks Christmas cup (aka the red cups) are here.  We did however discuss how we are disappointed that Starbucks do not use a recyclable  cup, and in fact how much waste in general Starbucks generate in just one transaction. 

Em I will say however.
Is it just me?  Or does this sleeve remind you of Give Blood ad or slogan??!:-)

 
Like this!

Chores, chores

Yesterday one of my radiators just stopped working. Like literally went kaput as I stood against it - it was freezing yesterday, and I had the heating up high, and was having a whale of a time leaning up against the rad while people watching out the window.  What a great Sunday lol!
 
So I figured first thing to do would be try bleeding the radiator.  I searched high and low for something to do it with.  I was thinking maybe an allen key, or better even a pliers.  Anyway (a) I don't possess any of these anymore - I really need to work on getting a basic tool kit together and (b) in my heart I knew I needed the proper utensil for it (a proper radiator key)
 
This little bad boy cost me the princely sum of €2.50 in a dodgy little huckster type hardware shop in Talbot Street.  To be fair in larger shops they wouldn't stock this type of thing so Talbot Street rocks for these kind of things.

As I walked to the hardware shop I saw this pub which gave me a good laugh. 
It's a long story, I won't go into the details but I was in this pub (it's verrrrry touristy) for drinks quite recently and had a really great night! 
It still makes me laugh however, thinking of  how twee and touristy it is - and let's not forget - it'sTalbot Street!!!! Dodgy!!!

Anyway, I digress,  The good news is that my heating is back working after bleeding the rad.  Good because it's cold at the moment.  And in other good news tomorrow I get to defrost my freezer with a hairdryer.  The good times just keep on coming!

Saturday, 11 November 2017

This is 40

Key West 2017
What's there to say about the trip of a lifetime with my two best friends, to one of the best little islands in the whole world?? Enid and I know Alice 33 years, this holiday has been in the planning for 3 years...it's been worth the wait!
Great fishing, eating, drinking, singing (Alice), sunning, shopping, biking, chatting and laughing. Can't ask for more than that!

 
 


Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Key West 2017 - First Flight Out - a close call

I'm a reasonably travelled person I like to think.  And thankfully I've never missed a flight.  Well on Sunday we were thiiiiss close to doing so.  Listed below are a litany of issues we encountered on our trip to Key West

Enid and I arrived at Terminal 2 at 7.00am for our 10.05 am flight to Toronto (3 hours in advance of our flight time).
According to our itinerary we were flying with United.

Issue 1: There was no United Toronto flight listed on the board.  A lady working for United told us we were actually flying with Air Canada (ummm not according to our itinerary!!!)

So we walked to Terminal 1 (ringing Alice on the way and telling her to go to T1 not T2)

Issue 2
If you recall our flight time (noted above) was supposedly 10.05 - again, this was according to our itinerary.  There was no 10.05am Air Canada flight to Toronto listed on the board.  Instead there was a 9.05am flight.  This meant our 3 hour timeline was suddenly reduced to 2 hours

Before we could even get into the queue for check in we were met by a Swissport/Air Canada official who told us we needed visas for our Toronto layover.
Enid and I quickly went online and applied for the visas (took about 10 minutes and cost CAD $7). 

We will take responsibility for this! We should have checked if a visa was needed - even though we were just transiting through.

Issue 3
Enid got accepted immediately.  My visa was "referred for review, we'll be back with a decision in 72 hours"

Alice had arrived at this point - and her visa application was accepted automatically also. 

Enid and Alice got into the queue and I went off to the Swissport desk to try ring Canada to see what was happening with my application.  Literally as the guy got through to Canada I got an email through saying my visa was accepted.  I rang back to Alice and Enid who were had just arrived at the checkin desk. It was now 7.40am.

So you're probably thinking that surely nothing worse could happen.  Well you'd be wrong

Issue 4
At the check-in desk we were told that we were not flying Air Canada but United ("as per your itinerary) and need to go to Terminal 2.  After explaining we were there already - and that in fact the 10.05 flight did not even exist the staff member looked up the flight number

The staff member confirmed it was a Air Canada Flight.  Not United as per our itinerary.
The staff member confirmed the flight was at 9.05.  Not 10.05 as per our itinerary

Issue 5 - and this is the major one!!!
The staff member stated that no tickets existed for us!
Even though we had booked the flights back in January 2017.  Even though we had been getting monthly emails/updates from ebookers.  No Tickets!  What does that even mean.

It was now 7.45am.  Check-in for this 9.05 flight closed at 8.05.  And we had no tickets!

We were told to go to the Swissport desk to explain there was a "ticketing issue".

So!  It is now 8am (remember check-in closes at 8.05) and the ticketing issue still is not resolved!

Enid runs back to the check-in to see if they can hold open for us.  Apparently they can't.  Which seems strange considering this is their massive cockup with their incorrect itinerary (airline and flight time).
Hmm on second thought maybe it is ebookers or United and not Air Canada's mistake??

She arrives back and literally right at that moment we are handed two passports (mine and Enid's) and told ours are sorted.

We run back to check-in where there (thankfully!!) OPEN check in for us in order to check in.  Alice arrives 2 minutes after.

Issue 6
We are handed boarding passes - that have no seats!!  And told to RUN to the gate.  It's now 8.20 - for 8.25 boarding (and 9.05 flight).  And we are told that it is currently taking 30 minutes to get through security.

We RUN. Alice grabs a security guy and explains (very quickly) about the whole debacle.  He RUNS us through security in 5 minutes - although not before Enid's bag is pulled for a random drugs swab,

Alice and I leave Enid and run through the airport to our gate.  From here thing go smooth we are given new boarding passes with seat numbers (all separate - that's ok) and on we board.

We are off!  A trip, 3 years in the planning and all of the above happening before we even left.  Not good for the heart I tell you!




Sunday, 1 October 2017

Nostalgia's not what it was

Following on from my blog post last week, the excitement about Pigsy's exhibition (Nostalgia's not what it was) continues to grow. 

Pigsy as you know is my brother in law - and if you will allow me the immodesty I am just a little bit proud of him. And how could I be anything but, after coming across THIS in the Irish Times on Thursday.  Not bad being referenced in a piece with the incredible Jean-Michel Basquiat eh?!



For the online text of the article see here.  And for more info on Ciaran/Pigsy check out his website. 

If  you are around Dublin this Thurs/Fri/Sat/Sun why not drop into the Fumbally Exchange on Dame Lane and say hi.  I shall be there most of the weekend helping out and enjoying the vibe :-)

Saturday, 30 September 2017

The Winding Stair

Looking for a nice restaurant in a city centre or Northside location?  You absolutely CANNOT go wrong with the Winding Stair.

How picturesque is the Georgian building where its located, overlooking the Liffey.  Right beside the Ha'penny bridge - which you get a lovely view of from inside the restaurant.

Hence its name :-)

I started with the whiskey cured salmon, char-grilled cucumber and cucumber ketchup, sea beet, dill and Goatsbridge Farm trout caviar.  The flavour combination was incredible!


And then this masterpiece!
Cider braised McLoughlin’s pork cheeks, black pudding scotch egg, grilled baby leeks and crushed swede.  The black pudding scotch egg was something special I tell you. 
 
A glass of malbec rounded it all out.  I'll definitely be back here. And soon I hope! That scotch egg is calling me :-) 

Digital detox

 
Enid sent me this pic last week of an article from the weekend section of the Sunday Independent. 
 
I'm way ahead of the pack! I've been switching my phone off and removing it from my bedroom at around 9pm for over a month now.  It is not an overstatement to say that I am enjoying life so much better since I've started doing this. I am back to reading more books and I am sleeping better.  I cannot recommend it enough.
 
The one question that everyone asks me when I tell them I do this is "but what do you do for your alarm".  Like in the article, I too have bought an alarm clock!

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Oireachtas Committee - 8th Amendment

When asked by a journalist for a few words on the lobby at Dail Eireann today this is what I said:

"As a supporter of the Repeal the 8th campaign I felt that the "Handmaids" made for a powerful visual representation of how a lot of women in Ireland are feeling today - you must remember that many women who are of an age where they are accessing healthcare under the regime of the 8th Amendment have not actually had an opportunity to have their say previously. And equally there are people who have voted previously who will never actually have to make choices related to the amendment. I believe that the results of the recent Citizen's Assembly was a considered and fair reflection of the people of Ireland today. And I thank the citizens for that.

Our stand today, was to say to the Oireachtas Committee that we will not accept any retreat from the recommendations of the Citizen Assembly."
We got a tremendously positive reaction today with many people stopping during their lunch break to take photos and say messages of support to us. I truly believe Ireland is changing for the better (again), and now we just need a referendum (on legislation according to the citizens assembly) to demonstrate that"









Tuesday, 19 September 2017

The Irish Handmaid's Tale

I have been intending to do a detailed post about my feelings about the 8th Amendment in the Irish constitution and why I believe it needs to be repealed - that is for another day as it is a complex issue about women's healthcare and rights (which extends so much further than just abortion rights) which deserves some time and attention to explain my thoughts fully.

In the meantime I would like to record details of a protest I shall attend tomorrow at Dail Eireann.  The plan is to dress in the costume of Margaret Attwood's handmaids and the objective is to call attention to the Oireachtas Committee (on the 8th amendment) as they start their deliberations  - that after the clear pro-choice recommendations of the recent Citizen's Assembly we will not accept any retreat.

The Oireachtas Committee is made up of 21 politicians and it is in their hands to decide what legislation we will get/get to vote on.  Our objective is to put them under pressure that they cannot but recommend pro-choice legislation - again along the lines of the Citizens Assembly.

It took me just under two hours to make my handmaid's cape and hat this evening. If Enid wasn't away I would have zipped through it on her machine but unfortunately I had to do it all by hand sewing.

I was only able to buy a sheet in the correct colour in a Single bed size.  I was worried it would not be big enough but actually there was so much material to battle with that I was glad I had not got the double.

I created it with a simple long/high collar which came out really good I think.  Plus I think I will get away without a hood because of this collar - which is a relief because I simply don't think I have the energy or will to make a hood as well.

 Finished! Cloak (or cape) and hat.
 
 


 

Monday, 18 September 2017

Esmara by Heidi Klum for Lidl

I may or may not have queued up at 7am this morning outside of Lidl on Parnell Street for the Heidi Klum collection that went on sale today when doors opened at 8.

 I may or may not have gone into the shop and bought the one thing I really wanted - this INCREDIBLE brown suede biker jacket for a crazy €59.99.  The cut and shape on it is amazing.  Not to mention the detail in the stitching.

I may or may not have gone a bit wild and bought a few other items.


Ahem....!


3 pairs of skinny jeans in black, blue and navy
€12.99 each.  COME ON!!!!!!


3 pussy cat bow shirts in white, navy (for work) and leopard skin (not for work).  I would have bought the black one but they didn't have it in my size.
Leopard skin is not my usual thing but hey will be nice for a Saturday night out in town am sure.
 Like the jeans these were a bargain €12.99 each too...

And finally, a fabuuuuurlous black lurex tuxedo style jacket.  Seriously at €19.99 I wasn't leaving this behind.  It'll be nice for any formal events - thrown over a cocktail dress.  Or else just a Saturday night in town over a graphic tee for fun, or a plain top if I want to look a bit classier. 
It's fun! I am totally going to get wear out of this :-) 

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Nostalgia's not what it was - a solo exhibition

Busy times for my brother in law Ciaran McCoy aka Pigsy. At the moment he is preparing for his second solo exhibition at the beginning of October.  He is also being filmed and interviewed by filmmaker Mike Andrews for a documentary Mike is making about him.  Oh and on top of that he only had one of the projects that he was lead architect on featured in the Sunday Times this weekend (I like to say he is an architect by day, and an artist by night!).

Anyway, I digress.  His exhibition!
Running over 4 nights in the very cool Fumbally Exchange, opening night is Thursday 5th of October and am sure will have a great buzzy atmosphere just like his last exhibition.  And then on Friday night there will be a street party vibe - the Fumbally Exchange is on Dame Lane which is always good on Friday nights!

Oh and.  Did I mention free beer?
Hope Beer will be showcasing their hand made Irish craft beers at the exhibition too

For more information about Pigsy check his website out here


 

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Long weekend in Ibiza September 2017

Earlier this year my friend Tara suggested we go somewhere to celebrate her birthday. Of course I was interested and when Ibiza was mentioned I decided I would definitely go.  It is somewhere I had never been before and I had heard great things about it.

Tara came over to me on Wednesday night to stay the night, before our flight out the next morning.  It made sense for her as it saved her husband getting up to drive to the airport (our flight was EARLY) and it made sense for both of us as the holiday felt like it started that night.  We were both excited and had to force ourselves to stop chatting and laughing in bed and go to sleep before our 3am wakeup call.

I must say, as horrific as 3am sounds I really didn't feel too bad at all.  Maybe that was the calypso coffees I made with breakfast - whaaaddd, sure look weren't we on our holliers.

Things were smooth in Dublin airport, and we were off and landed before we knew it.  Although! There was a group behind us on the plane who were intent on starting the Ibiza party early but hey, look what can you do.  The poor crew, but they must be used to it because they were well able to handle them.

Ibiza is a small little island with a cute little airport which reminded me of the Key West airport.  It was quite busy though - flights coming in literally every 10 minutes from all over the world.  It was quite surreal actually - on Friday night we were at a Tinie Timpah show directly under the flightpath - and the planes fly very low - so all throughout the night we had planes coming directly over us.  It was the same on the beach during the day.

Tara and I made our way to our hotel where we checked in - we got a nice room on the ground floor with the most amazing view of the ocean directly at our eye level. 


The view from the higher floors would probably be different, maybe even more impressive, but I liked the way my sight was drawn all the way out to where the sea ended and the sky started.

Then! Then the rain started.  So we decided we would head for lunch and prayed it would clear up for the afternoon. 

We ended up having a long leisurely lunch (due to the rain) with a few drinks - sure what else could we do.  The rain got torrential/monsoon-like, with thunder and lightening, but it did eventually clear up.  And we made it to the beach for whole afternoon.  And it was glorious.  Because we don't get much sun in Ireland I really treasure any time I can get at a beach in the sun and I immediately switched off and relaxed.

After the beach Tara and I headed for a drink in a tiki bar close by.  It's a bit of a tradition of Tara and I - last holiday we were together was in St Augustine, Florida and I used to go out on a boogie board all day, then throw a pair of board shorts on with my bikini top and go across the road to a dodgy old biker bar and meet Tara and friends for drinks.  So we had a big laugh together saying it is just not a holiday unless we are in a bar in bikinis with damp clothes and hair.


I do love a tiki bar - I always feel like I am on holidays with Tom Cruise and Elizabeth Shue :-)

So that evening, after quick showers etc, we went out to the Port/Marina in lovely old town Ibiza. 

The massive yachts were a massive juxtaposition to the old walls and forts of Ibiza. 


We strolled around the lovely little cobbled narrow streets and settled on somewhere to eat where I got swordfish which was fab. The girls got paella between them which was so huge it would have done for the three of us.  That paella was utterly amazing.

I may never eat paella again unless I am in Spain/Ibiza because it simply cannot live up to this. 


We spent the remainder of the evening in a lovely tavern up on the rooftop of an old fort.  It was full of locals (about our age) all casual but smartly (and stylishly!) dressed enjoying after work Thursday drinks.

Steps up to the roof

Friday was another beach day!  A different one from the previous day - a little bigger and more atmosphere.  More beautiful views of mountains and sea - Ibiza really is a beautiful island. 


After a long day at the beach we went for something to eat and a quick drink on the way to the hotel and then we got ready for the night out!


Jackie had booked tickets for us to go see Tinie Tempah in Ushauiai which is an outdoor club - and which was very cool, and atmospheric.  I wouldn't have thought I was going to love it so much.  Tinie Tempah was great but it was all the DJ's before which I really loved.   Again not something I would have thought was for me but I really did have a great time.

Afterwards we headed across the road to Space (one of the big Ibiza superclubs) - it's recently been renamed Hi but everyone still calls it Space.  I really liked this too! And again not something I would have thought I would (lol you're probably wondering why I went to Ibiza at all!).  There was one main room - glitterbox - with a cool dj playing some cool tunes with the crowd pumped and dancing.  And then there were loads of different rooms off of it where there were different things going on - a chilled garden area, techno house music room, 90's dance area, acrobat/dancers/performers etc. It was great! 

The only bad thing was that we all had worn high shoes/wedges out which was a biiiig mistake (but hey they made the outfit lol!). My feet were killing me and I finished the night and went home earlier than I would have wanted.  Seriously! Always always wear flats in Ibiza!
 
 



So guess where we went next morning? Yep. The beach. 

We were kind of debating what to do that evening when some guy selling tickets for an event came past and started talking to us (there are club promoters etc selling on the beach constantly).  We ended up buying tickets for The Zoo Project which sounded soooo cool and as it turned out WAS soooo cool. We finished up on the beach around 3pm and went back to the hotel to get ready (a very quick turnaround) and headed to a bar for an open bar, and body painting, which was included in the ticket price. 
Yep the body paint on my arm and face kind of made my night :-)

 
Note my flat shoes!!!

At 5pm our coach arrived and we travelled about 30 minutes to Zoo - an old abandoned zoo turned into a festival space.  I had a ball! Loads and loads of bars - in old animal cages, lovely food vendors (I had the most amazing tacos), acrobats, performers, yoga (in the old pony ride enclosure lol), a dj/show in the seal pit with the crowd all standing and dancing in the viewing stands.  It all finished at around 12 midnight - we had originally intended going on to a club but we were all pretty wrecked after a great night so we just headed back to the hotel.  And considering our long day the next day I was very glad of that!


For our last day I packed my bag pretty quick and headed to the pool to get a last bit of sunshine (I'm Irish, I need as much Vitamin D as I can get!) before heading to the airport.  Ah the airport...where it all went wrong!  Our flight kept being delayed/pushed back and back until we knew there was no way we were making our connecting flight in Madrid.  We got to Madrid, queued up with a million others and eventually got ourselves sorted and switched to an Aer Lingus flight leaving at 10.50pm that night (groan).  Could have been worse though!  Anyone heading to London couldn't get on a flight until the next morning which would have been an absolute pain. Anyway we eventually arrived home in to Dublin airport at about 1am (compared to our original 7pm eta).  Strangely enough I was absolutely fine - I think the combination of the early previous night and then sleeping on both flights really saved me.

A trip down memory lane...

A post from my facebook page on the 6th of September 2017



 

Heading away for a few days with Tarusha and Jackie (Ibiza baby!)
 
Brings to mind the last Spanish adventure some years back with Tara; we were 25 and were travelling around the South of Spain with two great French pals - the four of us squeezed into Bruno's teeny tiny car for a fortnight. It was an amazing trip filled with laughter, chats, beaches, mountains, city sightseeing, midnight dips in village fountains, rioja, fun, music, tapas and sangria.

 We also attended a friend...'s stunning wedding in a beautiful old farmhouse tucked in the base of a cliff - where we ate lobster, drank wine, smoked cigars and danced until dawn when we breakfasted on traditional wedding onion soup.

 If that wasn't enough, it memorably culminated with Tara and I having to make a mad dash from Madrid to Paris to catch 1c Ryanair flights home (yes 1c!). Amongst other looniness this mad dash involved an overnight train trip, dinner with a priest, a lot of vodka and beer, and the chef serenading Tara at 3 in the morning.
 
But I am sure this trip will just be a nice sedate few days on the beach, with a bit of craic in the evenings. Nothing crazy, no mad dashes, no wild stories. Completely sure of that. Wink.