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Local Favourites: Dunluce Castle & Mussenden Temple

Local Favourites: Dunluce Castle & Mussenden Temple

I think there are a few things that come to mind when foreigners think of Ireland (according to Hollywood anyway):

  1. Rain. Lots of rain.
  2. Green fields as far as the eye can see.
  3. Old men drinking Guinness
  4. A random person playing the fiddle in the pub
  5. Castle ruins dotted everywhere

We Irish might roll our eyes at this glamourisation of our wee isle especially when a plastic poncho-covered American tourist insists on defining themselves as Irish or asks where the best pint of Guinness is (I usually direct them to the Harp Bar or The Duke of York). But the fact is that most of the expectations of Ireland are usually about right. It does rain here. A lot. And most aul fellas in a pub probably will be propped up by a pint of the black stuff. And we really are lucky enough to have hundreds of castle ruins scattered across our hills and rugged coastlines.

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But having so much history close to home can be a hindrance here because we can overlook these beautiful castles on our doorstep just because they are familiar. I grew up in Armagh, the ancient capital of Ireland and my childhood home was about a mile or two away from a burial ground that dates back thousands of years. I only just visited this site again for the first time since primary school and felt so ashamed that I’d forgotten about such an important piece of my history.

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I lived abroad for about 6 years and I think coming back to live in Ireland awoke me to just how many fascinating sites there are here that I haven’t even been to. I have been determined to rectify this since and so on a Saturday morning a few weeks ago I set off with a begrudging boyfriend to explore the ruins of Dunluce Castle and Mussenden Temple.

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You might not know the names of these coastal monuments but you will recognise them especially if you’re a Game of Thrones fan. It’s difficult to find a place along this part of the Irish coastline that hasn’t been filmed for the series yet which is evident by the throngs of tour buses that descend on these shores in the summer hoping to catch a glimpse of a set now famous around the world.

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Our first stop was Dunluce Castle, probably one of the most famous ruins in the North. The castle hangs precariously off the cliffs of Antrim as if carved out of the cliffs themselves but even in its decay it still casts a foreboding figure on the jagged coastline. The castle was first built just over 500 years ago by the McQuillan clan but was seized by the MacDonnell’s from Scotland in the 1550’s who later swore loyalty to Elizabeth I and became the Earls of Antrim. Today its ruins bear a reminder of a time when every piece of land was a prize to be won with consequences more violent than any Game of Thrones episode (GOT fans might recognise the castle as the home of the Greyjoy’s). But who needs TV eh?

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When we arrived at the castle the sun was uncharacteristically beaming down which meant there were even more tourists than usual. To avoid competing for a good shot of the ruins amongst the crowds, I wandered down the road to a nearby field and clambered over the gate. I might have been trespassing (I looked for signs, I swear) but the field was empty of animals and I was able to get uninterrupted views of the castle with the waves crashing against the cliffs beneath.

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After the castle we drove a few miles along the coast to Whitepark Bay to Bothy, a wee timber gem that looks like a homestead plucked from the American Midwest. I had heard a few things about this joint before but I had no idea just how charmed I would be by the food and the people there. There is a real warm welcome upon entering mixed in with a laid-back atmosphere that feels border-line Californian. We were there on a summer’s day so the doors were thrown open to allow the sea breeze to cool the place down while the back was opened up for the sun worshipper’s to eat outside.

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Andrew and I both ordered chicken melts with tobacco onions which we devoured within a few minutes and we spent the next half hour bathing in the afternoon heat not wanting to move at all. We noticed a pizza oven outside too so I would imagine this would be a great spot for a summer’s evening and a few drinks if you didn’t have far to travel. As well as that there’s also a wee stove inside too so it would be super cosy for a winter’s day – they’ve got it all covered here!!

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After being suitably fed and feeling super relaxed we hopped back in the car and headed towards Mussenden Temple which was about a half hour away. The temple forms part of the Downhill Demesne and although it has aged much better than the manor, it is perhaps built at an even more precipitous position than Dunluce – we Irish love our dramatics don’t we?! It was built in 1785 and was to be used as a summer library in memory of the Earl’s cousin Frideswide Mussenden. Imagine cosying up to a book with almost 360 views of the ferocious Atlantic – you wouldn’t leave! These days you can actually hire the temple out as a wedding venue which would be an absolute dream location for anyone – booklover or not.

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On our way to the temple we actually picked up a hitchhiker – Robin from Toulouse – who was hitchhiking his way along the Irish coast with a tent and not much else. We brought him as far as Limavady but took him along to Mussenden which he wasn’t aware even existed. It was so lovely to discover the temple alongside a foreigner because I felt like I was experiencing it as a tourist on holiday. With the sun warming my back and standing on the cliff edge admiring the views out towards Scotland, I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. How lucky we are to have all of this on our doorstep.

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What Not To Worry About #29

What Not To Worry About #29

How are we midway through July?! The summer is escaping me and I’m starting to panic that I haven’t ticked off any of my summer bucket list plans that I was so sure I would stick to this year! I have used the excuse that there have been too many grey weekends recently but on Saturday there were no excuses. The clouds had miraculously decided to part and the sun bore down for the first time in what felt like forever. We woke up to a bright room and I dragged Andrew out of the house as quick as I could!

 

The North Coast of Ireland is a spectacular place no matter the weather but during the summer when the sun is shining and the blue sky melts in to even bluer waters, there really is no better place to be. We packed up the car with beach supplies (I naively packed a bikini in case I decided to brave the sea which I ended up chickening out of, of course) and spent the day following the coastline, blasting music in the car and watching the afternoon sun dance across the sea. It is on days like this that remind me how lucky I am to call this island home, returning to the house with tired legs and salty skin.

 

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I will be writing a separate post about my favourite parts of the North Coast that I want to share with you, mainly because I was so snap-happy that there are too many photos to include in this one! I have been putting in a little more effort in to photography recently which is a bit scary because I feel more vulnerable when I begin to care about something, are you the same? There is just too much beauty at our feet here that I feel that the whole world should know what we have and yet I want to keep it from becoming to just another Insta-worthy destination.

 

Whatever way you spent it, I hope your day in the sun was exactly what you needed. Whether you were in your back garden weeding or on the beach with your toes in the sand, just as long as you were able to let go of your cares for just a few hours.

And here are a few of the worries I decided to cast in to the Irish sea last weekend…

 

Unexcitable Dogs

I get so excited when I see a dog. I put on this weird voice that is for dogs only and become embarrassingly unaware of myself. What hurts the most though is when the dog I am so excited to meet doesn’t give a crap that I’m there hopping on the spot like a complete eejit. They just look at me with this feline-like nonchalance and I am left incredibly hurt. I know I should really get a grip.

Getting Chilli Underneath my Fingernails

It burrrrrrns!! Especially when you go and forget about it every 5 minutes and spread the burn in to your eyes burning off a good layer of your cornea.

The Food Bin

I went to throw out our food in to our big compost bin a few days and and ran for my friggin’ life. I know this is a little rank and I really hope you’re not eating as you read this but OH MY GOD there were approximately one trillion maggots decorating the inside and of the bin. A whole ecosystem had grown in there and so naturally I have abandoned going out there since.

People Who Make Weak Tea

No thank you. Just leave the tea bag in.

Skin-tight Ripped Jeans. On Men. 

One of the most difficult part of watching Love Island (my new favourite thing in the world) is having to endure men in white jeans that look like they have been sprayed on. How is this a thing??? Lads there is no call for it so peel them off and slip in to a pair of bootcuts like any good Irish fella.

 

Have a great week!!

 

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What Not To Worry About #28

What Not To Worry About #28

Happy Wednesday friends! Well, at least let’s try to keep happy when we’re faced with this too-Autumn-for-words weather which is showing no signs of feckin’ off anytime soon. In the face of endless grey clouds I am focusing on a few things that I have coming up in the next few weeks to keep my spirits up. Sometimes summer in Ireland means planning lots of fun things to distract ourselves from the fact that we barely get a summer at all (which I think I have mastered)!

 

Last weekend was a little more relaxed than I had planned with the rain on Saturday dampening my hopes of attending the outdoor festival in Belfast. I fear that I have lost the bravery of my youth because I just can’t summon the courage to don wellies and get amongst it despite the rain. Cosiness far outweighs shivering underneath a brolly! Instead I nursed a hangover from my work night out on Friday with plenty of sugar (there goes the diet I was supposed to start in July) and went to visit my little sister who was supposed to be staying with me at the weekend but is annoyingly back in for a stint in the hospital (she’s a trooper).

 

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It’s never easy when Shan has to go in because she is being constantly poked and prodded and never gets a break. Anyone who has either been a patient or has visited someone in hospital understands how frustrating this can be especially when you’re so exhausted that all you want is to be able to sleep the night through. What is nice is being able to see plenty of her and she has my house to escape to if she ever wants a bath or wants to eat something that doesn’t look like it was scooped from a compost bin.

 

So we shall be looking at the positives this week despite our circumstances (and this crappy weather) and on that note, here are the things I am choosing not to worry about this week…

 

Drunk Alex

Drunk Alex can be a lot of fun. She loves to dance, loves to meet new people and usually buys some tasty food on the way home. But these are the things I highly dislike about Drunk Alex:

  • She uses all her cash to buy shots for all her new mates (that she will never meet again) and leaves none for the taxi home
  • In her hope to find coins she will destroy her handbag and leave the remnants everywhere on the step of the house
  • She never remembers to put a glass of water by the bed
  • She thinks it’s a good idea to buy a full Victorian sponge cake from the shop on the way home
  • She adds all her new mates on Facebook who she can never bring herself to delete

But all of these things are usually forgotten within 5 days because the scamp is too damn fun to keep away for too long.

Using cotton ear buds

I am always terrified of slipping and jamming the thing through my brain. It’s a realistic fear.

Killing my plants with too much love

I over-water because I care too much. I need to just chill and let my herb garden be!

People who talk in the cinema

I feel like such an old lady but I paid good money for the movie (I actually only go to the cinema on cheap Tuesdays so I don’t pay really good money) and I should be allowed to eat my popcorn (usually smuggled in) in goddamn peace.

Never using my glasses case

My glasses are scratched to pieces and I have all the good intentions of being an adult and using my case but instead I fire them in to my handbag with shrapnel and old inhalers. I will never not be that kind of adult.

 

That’s the round-up for this week folks – have a great one!

What Not To Worry About #27

What Not To Worry About #27

Well friends, I am writing this post from a sick bed struck down with some unbeknownst sickness surrounded by pillows and tissues like the bloody Queen of Sheba. Like most sane people on this Earth I hate being sick. I hate the self-pity that comes rolling in along with it and the guilt of having to call work like some sniffling criminal. Why must we stress so much when our bodies remind us that we need to rest?

 

So I have been forced to listen and sleep and drink tea and sleep some more. I have watched some terrible movies that would normally have me cringing to my core but today I am crying in to my tenth cup of tea wondering what has come over me. I tend to become overly sensitive when I am ill – am the only one? I need constant reassurance and berate myself for being so pathetic for needing cuddles on demand but I find that cuddles are the best medicine. And ice cold Lucozade.

 

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All photos taken by the lovely Rebecca from A Clothes Horse

 

I also veer on the negative side when I’m poorly which is why this wee post came in hand this afternoon. It’s amazing (and a little bit disconcerting) how my mood can change like the wind as soon as I become vulnerable. One minute I am more Beyoncé than Beyoncé herself and the next I am the ultimate dependent woman. Taking the time out to have some perspective has definitely lifted this girl out of her wallowing ways.

 

So this week here are the few things I will choose to let go of instead of bringing me down…

 

Feeling weak

As mentioned above I don’t enjoy feeling weak but we have to accept that we can’t always be invincible. We need to rest, accept help when we need it and find some happiness in the moments when we can relish in being still.

People who steal parking spaces

Tescos carpark can be a real war-zone at around 6pm on a Monday. People become animals behind the steering wheel as they fight for the space closest to the door so their wee legs won’t buckle from the strain of pushing a trolley full of shopping. I’m the biggest culprit! I usually curse anyone that steals the spot I was gunning for but this week I will be happy for the extra few metres that I have to walk and count it towards the cardio I keep talking about needing more of.

Leaving voicemails

God help anyone who has to listen to one of my voicemails!! I am a mumbling wreck when I have to leave one – the pressure is too much! Even calling my pharmacy and listing my own name and number is enough to induce a moment of panic.

Roll on deodorant

This stuff actually makes me sweat making it a complete waste of time. I hate aerosol cans though because of my general love of the planet but roll on just doesn’t cut it.

Empty toilet rolls

People who don’t replace empty toilet rolls are just complete hallions in my eyes.

 

And that’s it for today. Wishing you a lovely week and here’s to hoping for some more of that sun that we love complaining about!!

What Not To Worry About #26

What Not To Worry About #26

Hello friends. How about this weather we’re having here on the emerald isle? It’s been such a treat to get a little sun-kissed on my lunch break and to feel my skin tingling as I retreat back inside. My favourite part has to be cooking with the backdoor open and allowing the warm air to fill the house with scents of summer. What’s not been so great though is the constant sneezing and eye-streaming that’s been gracing my face the last few weeks (making make-up absolutely pointless) and has turned me in to a sniffling wreck. All worth it though for a few moments of heat!

 

Last weekend was probably one of the best I’ve had all year as Andrew and I weaved our way across London celebrating his birthday. I booked the trip as his birthday present and even managed to keep it a secret until a few days before (a huge achievement for me!). We had 4 days to explore the big smoke which wreaked havoc with our feet and I definitely sweated from every pore of my body but we immersed ourselves in the city life, soaking in as much as we could.

 

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It was a trip I think we both needed and we have come back home feeling more energised and motivated than we have been in the last month or two. It’s funny how only a few days away from the daily grind of work, chores and routine can wake us from a slumber we don’t fully realise we are in. Our relationships can be the silent victims in this gentle descent; we forget to really talk to each other, immersing ourselves in computer and phone screens in an attempt to destress.

 

This weekend we didn’t look at screens for most of the day (except to take photos of course, always have time for that) and instead we got lost in new streets, discovering parts of the city we had never been to while eating as much good food as we could manage. We had conversations that didn’t revolve around work or family but allowed our words to meander between random topics as we hopped from tube to tube. It was a wonderful few days and I won’t leave it too long until we get lost again.

 

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And here are a few worries I will be letting go of this week…

 

Always having to be the leader

I have realised over the last few years that I have this incessant need to be the leader on a holiday. I love to plan the itinerary, research the best places to eat and take control of the map when trying to find our bearings. I’ve slowly learned to relinquish this control but I have this weird joy for planning the BEST. TRIP. EVER and surely this isn’t the worse thing?

Having to wear a bra

Summertime is not a good season for under garments especially when you get those beautiful under-boob sweat patches that just scream summer chic. There truly is no better feeling than taking off your bra as soon as you come home and flinging it in the corner – let those ta-ta’s free!!

Being terrible at replying to messages

Apologies to all those who have ever messaged me. I do intend on replying but I have a mind like a sieve and also I am just crap at replying.

Finishing a TV series

I always get so sad when finishing a TV series and my most recent mourning is for The Handmaid’s Tale. Hole Moses if you haven’t seen it you have to!

Being a nag

Really trying not to nag Andrew when he decides to stay up late, sleep in or refuse to organise his clothes. I am not his mother. Repeat: I am not his mother.

 

And that’s it for this week. Enjoy these sunny days folks!!

 

Local Favourites: Glaslough

Local Favourites: Glaslough

A village that boasts a castle, cottage-lined streets and ivy-clad walls is always guaranteed to win me over but the village of Glaslough in Co. Monaghan is nothing short of just plain lovely. It’s a place I’ve been coming to since I was a child but the beauty of the village still manages to surprise me every time I visit. It’s without doubt my favourite village in Ireland and so had to be included in my Local Favourites.

 

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The village hugs the edge of the Castle Leslie estate which has belonged to the Leslie family since it was built in the late 19th century. Although it is more like a manor house, the castle is a Victorian vision set against the backdrop of the lake the village is named after. The castle is a very popular luxury wedding destination (Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills married here) and so it’s quite difficult to get a room on the weekends. Instead, my sister and I stayed in the ‘hunting lodge’ by the castle gates which are just as impressive and a little more convenient.

 

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The lodge has two restaurants, a spa and the stables that can be accessed via the basement. This makes staying here a little more appealing since we were able to just walk to the spa in our dressing gowns after our breakfast (AKA the best morning ever). The rooms we stayed in were stunning and were full of character just like the building’s exterior; all dark wood and heavy curtains. Double doors then opened up to a bathroom with a walk-in shower and a free-standing bath that I fell in love with immediately. The lodge is also pet-friendly which is great news to those who can’t leave their pooches for too long!

 

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Needless to say a night in the lodge is enough to delight anyone needing an escape but in case you want to wander outside or visit for the day, here are a few tips for those new to Glaslough.

 

Where to Eat

The village is tiny so outside of the castle there is little on offer. Within the Castle there are two places to stuff your face depending on how fancy you want the food to be. Snaffler’s the more upscale restaurant and is also where you eat your breakfast if you’re staying in the lodge. We didn’t eat dinner here but I have to say the breakfast selection was really impressive – make sure to grab the granola pots early!

 

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Connor’s Bar is on the ground floor and although it’s a little more low-key, the food is still incredibly yummy as the ingredients are locally sourced as they are for Snaffler’s. My sister and I took my Mum, aunt and cousin to Connor’s for Mother’s Day recently and my salad was so tasty that I found myself finishing way before everyone else! You can expect a lot more than just pub grub with the price not being too bad either.

 

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Although both of the above are great choices, my recommendation would be to dander out of the castle gates and down Barrack Hill to your right. Here you will find Ambledown Cottage which is just about the sweetest place to eat dinner. The cottage is adorned with flowers and old trinkets so I was in love at first sight before even trying the food. Inside there is an open fire and conservatory to eat in but it’s the back of the cottage that had me giddy with excitement. They have transformed the area in to a dream of fairy lights and candles with tables distributed in different outhouses making it just about the most romantic place in town.

 

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The menu at Ambledown is confined to mostly pizza but man are they scrumptious. I find it difficult to finish pizza on my own but I had zero problems that night! I also liked the fact that it was BYO which allowed us to totter back to our room and finish the bottle in our dressing gowns 🙂

 

Where to Drink

There are only two pubs in town and even on a Friday night they are very quiet. It didn’t bother Shannon and I since we were there to relax but in case you’re up for a party, you might be a bit disappointed. That said, the Coachouse Bar does have live music on a Saturday so it might be a bit busier then! It’s definitely busy on a sunny afternoon with the benches outside filling up fairly fast. Inside it’s like entering an old house with lots of wee rooms to while a few hours over some pints.

 

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The Pillar House Hotel is the second pub in the village and another place to enjoy a beer or two. I’ve been told it has a pool room if you fancied killing time on a rainy day or or doing a crawl of the two pubs in town!

 

What to Do

Cookery school – Castle Leslie has its own cookery school which offers one day or two day courses for up to 12 people. This would be a great idea to enjoy as a package when staying at the Castle, I can only imagine how amazing the ingredients would be!

 

Horse riding – there is a well-equipped equestrian centre by the hunting lodge with a trail that takes you across the entire estate. The horses are beautiful, we even got to meet a few after our spa treatments.

 

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Spa – speaking of spa, the Victorian treatment rooms were the perfect place to start our day. We both got facials which left our skin feeling like a newborns and then relaxed in the hot tub with blue skies above us.

 

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Walking – there are many walks and trails around the Castle Leslie and there’s even an app that you can download to listen to while on your ramble.

 

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Antiques & Crafts – there is an antiques shop in town to discover some preloved gems as well as an art gallery to wander through.

 

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Despite being such a small town, Glaslough has so much to offer anyone in need of an escape not far from home. It’s a village that packs in so much character without sacrificing it’s charm and will be forever my favourite village.

 

Do you have a favourite village in Ireland? Are there any places you feel are under-appreciated? Please share!!

 

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My Irish Summer Bucket List

My Irish Summer Bucket List

I think most of us have a romanticised view of the summers of our childhood. The days were always warmer, longer and filled with adventure from the moment we woke up. The days stretched out before us in a haze of languid afternoons spent hiding amongst the fields, chasing the sun as it refused to go down. Being sent to bed was the worst punishment as the stubborn daylight continued to haunt us as we lay yearning to be amongst the laughter we could still hear outside.

 

As adults, the punishment now isn’t being sent to bed. It’s being sent to an office where we are forced to stay in and attempt to work while the stubborn daylight haunts us all over again. We are jailed by social responsibilities but are set free for the weekend and in order to make the most of the precious hours, we must think of as many fun things to do to save us from the guilt on a Sunday evening.

 

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Irish people can be a cynical bunch and many smirk at the mention of summer since the weather here is as reliable as our government. That sense of adventure has waned with age but Ireland has so much to offer and we can relive those childhood days, even if it’s just for the weekend.

 

I’ve rounded up a few things I want to tick off this summer in the hope that it might allow me to feel excited about the weekends and less flustered about feeling the need to fill every hour. Having these wee goals helps me look forward to the weekend and appreciate just how much this island has to offer – even when the rain tries to dampen my spirits!

 

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Go to a GAA Match

I’m an Armagh woman and the county football team was at it’s peak when I was a teenager. This meant that a lot of Sundays in the summer were spent on the side of a pitch, wearing the immutable orange jersey while screaming “Go wan Armagh!!” about a million times. I haven’t been to a game in forever and I miss the buzz of the crowd, the embarrassing insults the poor ref always endured and the terrible homemade sandwiches that were snacked on. This year I’ll make sure to don the jersey again and who knows, maybe Armagh might be within a chance of winning the Sam again.

Sleep Under the Stars

Falling asleep listening to the lullabies of leaves rustling or waves crashing might just be the tonic of the summer. I am a keen camper but I don’t make it enough of a priority to just pack up the car and get away for a night. But a night under the stars is always worth the hassle – even just for the melted marshmallows alone.

Run 5km

Running seems to be the trendy thing to do these days and for that reason I am severely unfashionable. I am not a runner and even though I have a good excuse not to be (the old CF lungs are easy to blame), I still really want to be able to run a decent distance. I have an aim to be able to run 5km in one session by the end of the summer so the practice will be starting this week. Just don’t expect me to to talk while I’m running – those freaks can stay well away from me.

Solo Picnic

I love a good picnic and Andrew and I will find time for one on weekends that will allow us to eat outside without being frozen. But this summer I want to take advantage of a little time to myself. Time to chill out, read a book or just listen to my own thoughts bumbling inside my noggin.

Island Hop

Although we live on on an island, there are still lots of little satellite islands that adorn our lovely coast and so I want to explore a few of them this summer. Last summer we visited Rathlin Island which was a blast and my first time seeing puffins up close (ish). This year I hope to visit an island or two off the west coast and get a good dose of that Atlantic air in to my lungs.

Surf

I learned to surf while living in Australia but only really stood up a few times. My lovely Aussie friends bought me a foam board as a birthday present and it has been shamefully lying in our box room gathering dust and no doubt feeling very depressed. This year the board will get wet and I will brace the ice-cold water that will surely have me wanting to dart back to dry land in an instant. I will be brave and I will try and stand up again even for just a second.

Attend the Fleadh

The Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann is an annual music festival that displays the best of Irish traditional music. I’ve never been but every year I promise myself that I will go. This year is no different but I hope to actual make it this time!

See a Play

I live in Belfast but it’s embarrassing how little I appreciate living in a city with a thriving culture scene. There are plays and musicals every week to take advantage of and so I will be sure to get my thespian head on this summer!

Host an Outdoor Cinema

We have a projector that has been lying lonely alongside my dusty surfboard which will be of much better use when hosting our own backyard cinema. I hope to string up on an old bed sheet, throw a load of cushions on the grass and gather some good mates for an old classic or two. Let’s just hope the weather plays ball!!

 

If I manage to get even half of these ticked off then I feel like I’m in for a fun summer!

Have you your own summer bucketlist? Is there anything you’re hoping to tick off this summer?? 

 

 

What Not To Worry About #23

What Not To Worry About #23

Hello all! The North is expecting a heatwave later in the week and I am already looking forward to the following:

  • Pasty folk comparing their sunburn
  • Supermarkets selling out of disposable BBQs and aftersun
  • Seeing evidence of water fights on the neighbourhood streets
  • Constant media updates on the current temperature
  • Having the window open at night to feel the breeze coming in

 

While I will be gasping in the office this week, I’ll also be planning a weekend filled with activities so I can make the most of every sun-filled moment. The weekends have been fairly quiet recently and it isn’t until Sunday evening, faced with the horrors of the Monday ahead of me, that I realise that I’ve been slacking.

 

Last weekend was especially quiet with the highlight being a morning spent researching for this post followed by an afternoon skiddling with my camera. It was one of those days where the rain kept threatening to pour which made it very easy to seek refuge inside and do a spot of pottering. Now that the evenings are well and truly stretching, we hadn’t realised the time until it was 7pm and we’d barely moved all day! We decided to take ourselves home to Armagh for the night to catch up with family so we felt like we’d accomplished something with our day. No complaints though since we were fed pretty much constantly!

 

I suppose there is nothing wrong with a weekend spent indoors but with the Irish summer lasting all of about a minute, it’s best to savour the dry bits to prevent some bitter regret on a cold October evening. With that in mind I’m thinking of making an Irish-specific summer bucket list so keep your eyes peeled for that later this week!

 

In the meantime, here is my weekly roundup of the little irks and quirks that I am choosing to let go of this week…

 

Spiders

I mentioned in this post how the influx of flies has been an unwelcome sign of the summer but now the spiders have decided to seek refuge in every room of the house. I can’t bring myself to kill them so I’ll try and pretend they’re not here until they move and then I’m on the other side of the room.

Ice Cream Van Music

Why does it have to be so creepy?? I swear they’ve been playing the same melancholy song since the Victorian era.

The Sound of Nails Being Clipped

A fella in work was clipping his nails beside me in work today and I nearly heaved on to my desk. Keep the personal grooming at home please!!

Baby on Board Stickers

The most passive aggressive behaviour on the roads. It’s not like people would be ramming in to the back of you if you didn’t have that sign on the back of the car! If anything it probably incites more anger so please for the love of feck take them down along with them stupid family cartoons.

Hayfever

Ah yes, ’tis the season of a million sneezes a day and constant itchy eyes. I’ll be knee dip in Piriton until November now.

 

Have a great week folks!!

 

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Local Favourites: Hillsborough

Local Favourites: Hillsborough

OK so I was supposed to make this a monthly feature but I am still getting to grips with actually running a blog and this whole consistency thing – and it’s SPRINGTIME! So forgive me please? Thanks.

 

Up next in this not-so-monthly series is Hillsborough, a wee village that’s just a stone’s throw from the big smoke. But despite it being so close to Belfast, I only visited Hillsborough for the first time last year – gasp! When I strolled through the pristine, flower-lined streets I felt a quiet, simmering rage knowing I had gone 27 years without the place. The shopfronts are flawless, every door is a dream and there are cafés-a-plenty to wet your thirst in.

 

There are so many reasons to visit this wee gem and I’ve listed a few to help you avoid the rage I had last year…

 

Architecture

A bit like Armagh, Hillsborough is well known for it’s Georgian buildings with townhouses to drool over. The main attraction is the Georgian mansion found on the top of the hill which just so happens to be the Queen’s place of residence when she takes the rare jaunt to the North. Lizzie has good taste because the building is beautiful and you can even take a tour of the house and gardens if you want to see how the other half live.

 

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Hillsborough Fort is where the town started Colonel Arthur Hill built it back in 1650. It’s a good place for a view of the town and the countryside around it as well as some creepy gothic additions.

 

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I’ve already mentioned the beautiful townhouses in Hillsborough but my favourite street has to be Arthur Street where, as it turns out, my Aunt used to live when she was a young thing. The wee cottages and their colourful front doors is a good place for a photo opportunity (if you’re anything like me and can’t resist a pretty house).

 

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Of course you can’t visit a town in Ireland without a church or two and St. Malachy’s is a symmetrical dream. It’s a good place for a dander up to the fort and then on to the lake.

 

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Space

Right behind the fort lies the lake and Hillsborough Forest Park which I had no idea existed until my last visit. Within a few minutes you can find yourself in a woodland getting lost amongst the oak trees.

 

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As Hillsborough is only a small village, you can find yourself in the countryside in no time at all. Just make sure to bring a good walking partner with you because mine bailed and went for a nap in the car!

 

Eat & Drink

Hillsborough is the perfect spot to take your Mum for a lunch because there are so many places that do a good scone and a cuppa. Out of Habit is a great spot for a break along with with Humble Pie and Meet & Thyme. Really you could do a scone crawl and taste them all which sounds like an ideal way to spend an afternoon.

 

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If you’re after something a little more filling then the Hillside offers a bit more on the menu – it should do as it’s the oldest pub in the town. The Parson’s Nose is also a favourite for a meal worthy of unzipping the old trousers.

 

Shop

My Mum told me recently that she bought her wedding dress in Hillsborough over 30 years ago and it seems like it’s still a favourite spot for brides making big choices – hopefully luckier ones than my Mum (haha divorce joke)! If you’re not a new bride there’s still a few wee places to bide a while in.

 

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Every time I’m in Hillsborough I have to call in to the Cheshire Cat to have a gander at what’s new. It’s the best place to pick up a gift for someone, usually for myself.

 

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Twig & Twine is another place to buy things you have to have but don’t really need. The shopfront alone makes me feel giddy with the flower arrangements and the general loveliness – Andrew wasn’t quite as excited.

 

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I hope all these reasons are enough to entice you to Hillsborough next time you’re stuck for an idea for a day trip. If you have been – go back! If you haven’t – go now because there’s nothing prettier than Hillsborough in the Spring.

What Not To Worry About #18

What Not To Worry About #18

Hello friends. How are we this Tuesday? Feeling fresh as a daisy or did you reach for the covers this morning to hide away from the morning light? I’ve been feeling a little knackered lately and my body has been telling me so in a few different ways; cough is a little worse, I have developed a very attractive rash on my belly and I have been in my PJ’s before sundown the 3 few evenings. Hot stuff.

 

So overall I have been better but at the same time I have definitely been worse. There are so many wee things that are lifting me back to where I am happiest – a few little ailments won’t tear me back down. The last few weekends have been permeated with sunlight, the coats have been shed and I have definitely welcomed the return of daytime cocktails. It’s all good right here.

 

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Last weekend was a mix of good and bad behaviour. Friday was spent with friends tasting delicious beer at a local brewery which escalated in to a night of dancing and a few too many whiskies. I tried to exonerate myself on Saturday with a yoga workshop at Flow Studio which was nothing short of tingly loveliness. I learned so much and forgave myself for the debauchery the night before until I wolfed a chicken goujon supper after and then I was right back on the road to Guilt Town.

 

On Sunday we discovered a new slice of heaven at Mahee Island which blew lots of good sea air in to my lungs and made me smile from ear to ear. I love stumbling upon new corners of this country especially when they’re so close to home. Mahee Island is actually a part of a bunch of tiny islands in Strangford Lough and is only about 15 minutes from Belfast so it’s the perfect Sunday escape from the city. The islands are connected by narrow bridges with water surrounding every view from the road – it felt like we were so much further from home.

 

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Having a quick jaunt to the water is the best way to clear the head of negative thoughts and these are the thoughts that Mahee Island cured me of this week…

 

Hearing My Voice Recorded

There is truly no other sound that can make me want to pull my own ears off than the sound of my own voice. When I hear it recorded I try to imagine why anyone speaks to me or why I have any friends at all. The reason I mention this is because I have recently started to record myself on Insta stories and so the fear is very real but like any fear I just have to get over it and hope that I don’t drive followers away in their hoards!

Hospital Appointments

I have THREE hospital appointments this week. THREE. Three times I will have to wait in a crappy waiting room with nothing to read but Woman’s Own or ancient posters about COPD. Three times I will have to talk to medical staff who have been whittled down to a point after years of listening to the moans of others. Naturally I’m super excited about it especially the extortionate car park charges which I never seem to have the change for. But I will not let the negativity get to me!

Man Cables

Andrew is a hoarder. He hoards the most random of technical stuff which he stores in most corners of our tiny house. He thinks if he puts a lamp on a drive drive he can try and disguise it as a table but he ain’t fooling anyone. This week I decided that his pile of cables/keypads/LED lightbulbs will no longer torment me so I shoved them in the cupboard under the stairs like a good housewife.

Itchy Feet

No this isn’t another ailment but refers to my wanderlusting ways of the last few weeks. In my spare time (and by spare time I mean when I’m shovelling my lunch at my desk) I have been researching a new adventure and emailing Andrew links and ideas. He seems to not care quite as much and every evening I browse Airbnb beside him in the hope it might interest him a little. I think I’m just going to have to book his flight to the Philippines which I think he might be OK with.

Deseeding Avocados

Is anyone able to do this without fear of decapitating their fingers? I can barely look down when I’m making my guacamole! Scary business.

 

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And that’s it for this week folks. Wishing you a super lovely week filled with copious amounts of cherry blossom pictures and a little more sunshine 🙂