Tuesday, November 25, 2014

An unexpected trip

This day next week I will be making a very unexpected trip to New York City.

The last post I put up here was about my pre-kids travels and explorations. It was written as part of a Netflix Stream Team competition to celebrate the launch of their huge new series Marco Polo.



A few days later I got a call to say I had won and would be jetting off with a guest to the world premiere in New York as the UK and Ireland Stream Team representative.

Holy shit. 

I must have sat at my desk for half an hour in shock. Oh shit. Oh crap. Oh no. Oh my God. Oh wow. Oh brilliant. Oh oh oh...

The one and only time I have been to New York previously was when I did a stint working there briefly in a different life about 15 years ago. I fixed the inflight entertainment systems in the British Airways planes that flew into JFK airport for about three weeks. Like I said - a different life.

During those weeks I only had to be in work for a couple of hours a day and the rest of the time I had to myself. Very much to myself. In fact I knew not one person in the city and I stayed in a soul sucking hotel beside the airport. The loneliness and boredom got the better of me by the second week and I moved myself into a YWCA hostel in the city in a bid to improve my fortunes. It didn't. I wandered the streets alone. Ate in cafés alone. Visited the Empire State Building alone. And took a tour of Harlem alone.
Macys New York - as seen from the Empire State Building. Alone. 

To be honest I couldn't wait to get the hell out of there. 

But now, finally, I am able to exorcise the demons. I get to go and experience a different New York. The cold, Christmasy, snowy New York. The glittery star-studded New York. The New York of bars and diners and shopping malls and yellow taxis. The New York of Central Park, Greenwich Village and Manhattan Island. 

So now all I have to do is break it to these guys that they're not actually coming...

The maps are out


Wish me luck.




Thursday, November 13, 2014

Great Explorations

I've written a bit here before about my love of travel.  Pre-kids I was lucky enough to live briefly and travel extensively in Malta, America, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and Thailand. My time in these places ranged from two to fourteen months so I had an opportunity to get to know the country I was staying in far more than I could ever have done on a two week package deal.

When I watched the promo for the new Netflix Original - Marco Polo I was struck again by the power of travel - whatever age you are or whatever age you live in.  The quote that jumped out at me was that 'Marco had this passion for people and cultures...' - and that to me is really what travel should be about.

Immersing yourself in a country and it's culture, and getting to know the people who live there is an amazing life experience. One of the very best.

In Mexico I was fortunate to spend enough time there to learn the language. I lived amongst a powerful group of 'givers'. I visited homes made of mud and corrugated iron, and stayed with families who gave up their only bed to me and shared their modest meals with me. I played with their beautiful children, spent time with their teenage misfits and happily walked their dusty streets for many months. In that time I went from being a stranger in a strange land to becoming a part of their lives, and they mine.


They taught me that poverty does not stunt generosity, that laughter must be found wherever it can be, and that hope is essential to keeping the human spirit alive. That's a pretty powerful lesson for anyone - let alone a young Irish girl straight out of college.


In Australia I met other travellers from Israel, Holland, Japan and England and we bonded over stubbies of VB and our love of this vast new country we found ourselves in. We spent sun soaked days and warm tropical nights with Australian friends as they shared tales covering politics, racism and past lives lived as flower-haired woodland hippies of the 70's.


Later that year I got a job and moved into a flat by the beach with my new Australian film editor friend. We made terrible attempts to learn to surf together and she spent countless hazy nights on our balcony explaining the Aboriginal culture to me. I was living and learning Australia - past and present, and I was loving every minute of it.


In New Zealand I drove the North and South islands trying to find my niche. I swam with dolphins, jumped into deep, dark underground rivers and had many adventures.


But it wasn't until I spent time working on a farm for an older Kiwi couple that it really came alive to me. Rather than all the bungy jumping and white water rafting - it was among the homemade jams, shared dinners and rolling green hills that I found my New Zealand.


Malta, America, Thailand all had their own stories to tell me too, and the countries that left the most mark were the ones where I had the opportunity to explore not just their beautiful landscapes - but the people and their way of life too.




The stories of Marco Polo are all about travel, exploration and adventure. They are about people, places and passion. They are about being out of your comfort zone and the amazing lessons in life that can bring.

But if all that doesn't tempt you to watch the new series - how about this:

Lorenzo Richelmy who plays Marco Polo in the film
Photo credit.

Yep. Thought so.



This post is for the Netflix Stream Team. Marco Polo premières on Netflix in December. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

51 thoughts every mother has about a rare night out.

Credit

1. God I'm so sick of this shit. All I do is cook and clean and look after children. No one appreciates me.

2. What I need is a night out.

3. I wonder what the girls are doing on Saturday...

4. Mashed banana on the sofa?! Are you kidding me? Right that's it. I'm going to organise a big girls night. Get the hell out of here for awhile. Have some fun.

5. They said yes! I can't wait. This is going to be brilliant.

6. What will I talk about? I have no news. I know no news. All I can talk about is babies.

7. I really don't want to be one of those women who only talk about babies.

8. It'll be fine. I'll just listen to all their news. Everyone likes a good listener.

9. What will I wear?

10. Jesus my stomach isn't really that size is it?

11. I'm sure I heard someone say double denim was back in again...

12. Shite. Taxi is in 30 minutes and I haven't even fed the baby yet.

13. I remember when getting ready to go out was part of the fun... Bath, blow dry, music, wine...

14. OK fuck the bath, where are the wet wipes?

15. 20 minutes?!

16. This was a terrible idea.

17. What about my poor babies? Will they be ok without me?

18. I don't want to go.

19. Ok well I'm out now so I might as well try to enjoy myself.

20. I'll just ring once to make sure everything's ok.

21. Everything's ok.

22. But is it really? They wouldn't tell me even if it wasn't would they?

23. I need another drink to relax.

24. A double? Well why not.

25. Actually this is nice. It's good to reconnect with old friends.

26. They all look great though. I look like shit.

27. Oh another drink! Good idea.

28. Wow I love this music.

29. We should totally do this every month.

30. I love my friends.

31. Or even every week!

32. Nothing beats a good night out. Why did I not do this sooner?! This is exactly what I needed.

33. Shit. I think I just spent the last hour talking about my babies. Now they all think I'm really boring.

34. Must prove I'm not boring.

35. Yes! Lets dance on the table!

36. I am THE BEST fun!

37. Ouch. Falling off tables is actually really sore.

38. I looked damn hot up there though.

39. Why do I have to get in the taxi?

40. Where's my other shoe?

41. They all hate me.

42. Oh thank God I'm home. I missed my babies so much.

43. I wonder if they're still awake...

44. Once I try every key I've ever owned in this lock here I'll go up and see them.

45. Oh look! They are so gorgeous when they're sleeping. Who needs stupid nights out when you have this?

46. Actually that cot looks really cosy.

47. I wonder if I could just squeeze in there beside him...

48. Why is someone jumping on my head?

49. 6am?! Are you fucking joking?

50. I think today may actually be the day that I die.

51. I am never, ever, ever, ever doing this again.

Monday, November 3, 2014

10 Best Highstreet Boots

Boots.

Obsessed with them I am. Surely one of the sweeter parts of impending winter - don't you think?

Since Office discontinued my all time favourites I have been slightly obsessed with finding a replacement pair. Recently I've even been known to run up to unknown people and breathlessly ask them there they got theirs. I did think it was flattering at first, but after watching them either recoiling in horror or giving me a deadpan 'New York' before turning on their perfect heel and gliding away - I'm thinking maybe it's not such a good ploy after all.

I've spent hours online flicking through pages and pages of black, brown, ankle, biker, mid heel, low heel, no heel pairs that I almost lost my mind and gave up entirely. Imagine!

But then I saw this post from all round funny gorgeous girl Suzy and the search was reignited. I googled her boots, popped them in my basket and then just as I was about to pay realised I already had a pair in there.

Clicking on them what did I see but my perfect boot. Soft black leather, mid heel, ankle boots by Red or Dead. 

I think the weeks of searching had taken their toll and the choice range must have rendered me incapable of decision making. 

So I've decided to save you the same fate and bring you my 10 best boots on the highstreet. You're welcome.



Top 10 High-street Boots



I may now own three of these pairs. Entirely reasonable I think, don't you?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Halloween at Kilruddery House and Gardens

This weekend Kilruddery House in Bray, Co. Wicklow opened it's gates for some Halloween fun in their gorgeous gardens.



The Pumpkin Patch, which I was reliably informed lay claim to over one thousand pumpkinswas set up so that families could choose and design their own pumpkin, before dropping it off to be perfectly cut out by a team of hard-working experts. 

The kids loved rummaging through them all, taking the utmost care to pick the biggest, bestest one. 



Next it was design time. Just look at the concentration.






Then, whilst someone else did all the hard work we got to wander around the stunning gardens and meet the scarecrows that had been lovingly created by others over the weekend. 








Some of them were incredibly life like too.



Once we were done wandering we picked up our finished pumpkins and off we went...






.... leaving any misbehaving children behind of course.



 What do you mean that's not what they're used for?


 For more on Killruddery House and Gardens and their seasonal events go here. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Life

Life.

Most of the time we are all so busy rushing around, doing school runs, making lunches, going shopping, tidying the house and cramming work in - that life is one big whirlwind. We live day to day with the tasks of those next 24 hours in our heads, hoping frantically that we don't forget any of them.

Imagine if you didn't make it to the parent\teacher meeting, or the dinner didn't get made, or you missed your work deadline, or your insurance didn't get renewed...We stress about each little task ahead of us and much of the time - that is just Life.

And then something happens that knocks you off that franticly paced road. You stop and stare at the new ground ahead of you. Slightly stunned. Slightly off kilter. And you realise that none of that other stuff is important at all. It's all just dust falling around you. And the real stuff, the LIFE stuff are all the people who you have been dashing past along the side of the road - sometimes hurriedly carrying them to the next crossroads, sometimes stopping for a brief moment to chat, sometimes getting annoyed with them for going to slow, but rarely jumping off the fast lane to just stop, connect and really, really see what Life is all about.

Some people learn this the hard way, when one of those precious people at the side of the road get taken away from them.

Others among us are lucky enough to learn the lesson through them. Watching the heartbreak and having the chance to jump off the road to hold our loved ones close.

Last night heaven gained an angel. And he is beautiful.

Credit



Thursday, October 16, 2014

Almond Power Bars

These Almond Power Bars are amazing. A perfect pre-workout \ post-workout \ lunchbox \ elevenses snack.

Incredibly delicious it's hard to believe they are actually healthy. But they are.



Almonds help boost energy. Hazelnuts are stuffed full of B vitamins. Sunflower seeds give us Vitamin E and folic acid. Coconut oil helps boost metabolism. Honey aids our immune system. And cacao is packed with antioxidants.

This recipe below is adapted from this one by the very lovely Emily at The Nest, who in turn adapted it from this one.

So see what you have in the cupboard, pick the one that suits you best and then go ahead and make then. I promise you wont be disappointed. Isn't that right Emily?

Bars:

1 cup whole almonds
1 cup ground almonds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup hazelnuts
1/2 cup almond butter
1/2 cup coconut oil (melted) 
2 - 3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Put the dry ingredients along with the almond butter into a food processor and pulse for approx 20 seconds. Mix the melted oil and honey into the mixture. Stir well. Put the mixture into a square baking dish and place into the freezer for 30 minutes.

Topping:
1/2 cup cacao powder (I used Natasha's Living Food cacao)
6 tablespoons organic coconut oil (melted)
2 tablespoon organic raw honey

When the bars are ready to come out of the freezer, mix the topping ingredients together and then pour over the bars. Even out the topping and place back into the freezer for another 20 minutes. 

Store in the fridge (dangerous), or freezer (mildly safer). They won't last long either way though. 




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