Monday, March 24, 2014

St. Patrick’s Day 2014 in London

I’m a bit late typing this so forgive me! After coming back from London, a had a whirlwind day or two to get ready to come back home to Ireland for a visit. I had half thought of writing some posts on the ferry but as it was quite rough, I wasn’t really in the mood for that!

I have only ever spent one St. Patrick’s Day out of Co.Clare. It was in 2009 in Cork, when I was in the middle of my 3rd year exams. I had an exam on the 16th and one on 18th, so it wasn’t feasible to go home for St. Patrick’s Day. I didn’t hugely enjoy the parade in Cork, so I was a bit hesitant about going to another big city celebration. I enjoy my small village parade, which I like to say is just full of tractors, trailers, and chickens.

However, the day in London started off glorious, it was up around 20 degrees, so I was optimistic about how the day would pan out. I arrived with my brother at Trafalgar square just before 2 o clock, so we had missed the parade part of things. Honestly though I wasn’t too upset about that! We had to queue for about 15-20 minutes to get into the square, as it was already choc-a-block. Once in, we more or less headed straight to comedy tent for a while. There we saw the end of Damien Clark’s act, Barry Murphy, Christiane O’Mahony and Willie White. I would have gladly stayed for more comedy as I was enjoying it so much but there was so much more to explore!

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Around the rest of the square, as well as the main tent, there was stalls for different Irish brands like Keogh’s crisps, Kerrygold, Jelly Bean Factory, and an Irish cheese stall, an Irish dancing tent, plenty of stalls to get beers in as well! There was also designated Irish speaks that you could talk to as gaelige if the mood struck.

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After the comedy tent, I saw a bit of Jig and then Kila played some music. During that time, a circle formed and some children did some Irish dancing!

After Kila, the Late Late House Band played. Hearing the Late Late theme song being played in the middle of Trafalgar is surreal! They played a few songs but were also joined on stage by a few guests, including Mundy and The London Irish Pensioners Choir.

Final act was a big one, Riverdance! I was excited about this, I’ve wanted to see it for years and especially now since this year marks the 20 years anniversary. Everyone in the crowd loved it, even if it was only on a short time.

My videos aren’t the best for all these things but they still give you a good idea of the atmosphere! Everyone was in such a happy mood, and I think I only saw one fight (that wasn’t too serious) and some idiots jumping into the fountain. And falling and mauling themselves! The whole crowd went ‘oooohhh’ when they fell. And then just started to ignore them after that.


After, I went to dinner with my brother and cousins around Leicester Square. My table had a spare chair and so we offered the seat to an older man who had nowhere to sit. Turns out he had moved 50 years ago from Belfast (but still had a bit of an accent!) and had had a family. His wife had died a few years ago and 2 of his daughters now live abroad. He was a sweet man, who told us about how years ago he used to drink in Dublin with the Dubliners and told us jokes. He also offered to buy us a round of drinks before he left but there’s no way we could have let him do that, even if we weren’t about to leave ourselves. After eating, we met more family down in Elephant and Castle before heading back up to North London just after 11. Despite not drinking, I was exhausted the next day, I think a combination of the the heat, the long day and not drinking enough water left me tired and a bit dehydrated. Though I am very pleased I went, I really enjoyed the day, which in a way surprised me. Who knows where I’ll be next year for St. Patrick’s Day but hopefully I’ll still have a good time!


Monday, March 17, 2014

Beautiful Ireland: What I’ve Seen

II originally started writing this post when I saw this video from a Canadian couple who spent 3 weeks in Ireland and then put together 19 minute video of their recordings and pictures. It’s beautiful and if I’m completely honest it made me cry a little. It reminded of how wonderful Ireland is, all the different things to do and places to see. This week, Failte Ireland released their #IrelandInspires video and it reminded me of this post.

These videos brought back the idea local tourism, how I, along with my boyfriend, friends and family, have tried experiencing local attractions, things we wouldn’t normally visit because it’s too close to us, and other places around Ireland. I thought I’d link to some of the posts I’ve made so far about this.

Staycation Post. First time I posted about places I’d visited in Ireland, this one dealing with a weekend away to the sunny South East. Dungarven, Mahon Falls, Cahir Castle and Rock of Cashel all got visited that weekend.

Local Tourist Part 1. In this post I talk about my boat tour along the bottom of The Cliffs of Moher.

Miss Courtney’s Tearooms, Killarney. A whole post on the beautiful Miss Courtney’s Tearooms in Killarney.

Guinness Store House in Dublin on a glorious sunny day

Surfing in Lahinch with Lahinch Surf Experience

Aran Islands on another glorious day (see, we do get good weather in Ireland at times!)

Loop Head Lighthouse

Just showing these posts makes me realise I have so many more experiences to share! So hopefully I’ll finally get around to making those blog posts in the future, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t have already!

Some other pictures I have that aren’t in any other posts

IMG_1388 IMG_1592

Sunset in Lahinch, Co.Clare; Bluebells in my uncle’s garden

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Giant’s Causeway, Co.Antrim; Costa Del Clahane Summer 2013 Heatwave

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Donkey at Falls Hotel, Ennistymon; Clare win All-Ireland Hurling Championships

Finally, I leave you with a post I made back in 2011 for St. Patrick’s Day and Why It’s Great to be Irish.

Have a fantastic St. Patrick’s Day everyone. I’m looking to going home for a visit in a few days. Taytos, here I come!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

10 Shades of Green for Your Nails this St. Patrick’s Day

Alright, not quite 40 shades of green but I did go through all my nail polishes (about 270 in all!) and managed to find about 25 shades!


I tried to go from light to dark as best I could

But I decided to just show 10 of them, as I really couldn’t be bothered take the colours off my nails to paint more on!




I’ve tried to capture them in different lights to show how they can change depending on the light.

Thumb Essence in The Green and the Grunge. Grunge is perfect name for it, as it is quite a grungy shade. The bottle is marked as Colour of the Year, after last year’s colour being Emerald, and while it does look like that in the bottle, I find it doesn’t come out as vibrant or emeraldy enough as I thought it would

Index Sinful Colors in Rise and Shine. Without a top coat, this can come off as a semi-matte finish, just in case you’re interested in that. I did use top coats on all of these except the only matte I used. I really like how in the 3rd picture you can see the subtle glitter flecks running through it. This one has really grown on me!

Middle Revlon in Minted. A nice pale minty Shamrock Shake colour!

Ring Catrice in Hugo Moss. I found this the most difficult to photograph, as it quite vibrant in person but comes across dark. It takes 3 coats to build up a decent colour, it would be interesting to use in a jelly sandwich I think.

Little Catrice in Virgin Forest (Limited Edition). This is more the emerald I expected from Essence The Green and the Grunge, except this shade is shimmery. It really is quite eye catching!




Little Revlon in Emerald City. This is a matte but it’s beautiful with a top coat too. Reminds me of crushed velvet.

Ring Sinful Colors in Mint Apple . This Sinful Color also has a subtle bit of glitter going through it, I just didn’t manage to capture it as well as the other. It’s a lovely minty green shade though, not as pale as the Revlon Minted.

Middle Rimmel in Sea Green. This is a nice sea green, as the name suggests. I think it really applies nicely.

Index Revlon in Sassy. Boyfriend was not impressed with this Shrek green colour!

Thumb NYC in Money Never Sleeps. Unfortunately I forgot to get a good angle on this! It’s quite dark.

And that’s it! Phew! I didn’t even get around to glitters, though I only have one or two. I did really want the Nails Inc Nail Jewellery in the green shade but never got around to it unfortunately. What are your favourite green nail polish shades?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Paul Hollywood’s Soda Bread

So I’ve made soda bread before, you can see that if you click right here. But my boyfriend is a massive, MASSIVE fan of soda bread and isn’t the biggest fan of the only kind we can find in the supermarket here in Manchester. So I decided to give it another whirl, this time going with a different recipe just to mix it up. I decided to you Paul Hollywood’s, which I found on the BBC food website, as I have never used any of his recipes before and was curious to try one of them. And comparing to the Rachel Allen recipe I used before, this one uses less ingredients as well, which is perfect if you want to try making breads but are intimidated by it.


Soda Bread

Recipe from Paul Hollywood


250g wholemeal flour

250g plain white flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

420ml buttermilk

extra flour for dusting


1. Preheat oven to 200° C/400° F

2. In a bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients.

3. Add the buttermilk and mix to a stick dough.

4. Tip out dough out onto a floured surface and gently roll and fold a few times until it comes together. No not knead as it is not necessary.

5. Shape the dough into a ball and gently flatten the top. Score a deep cross into the dough, to divide it into quarters (Irish legend is that this step was originally done to ‘let the devil out’). Dust top lightly with flour.

6. Place onto a pre-lined or non-stick baking tray and bake for 30 minutes until golden brown. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

As you can see, I didn’t quite score my bread deep enough, but I’ll know better next time. I think from certain angles it looks like a little bum! I felt this one turned out better though than the last recipe I used, it didn’t seem to fall apart as much when I cut it, the Rachel Allen one was quite crumbly. I really liked the crust that formed on this bread as well.



Perfect, easy recipe to help celebrate the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Pink Glitter Gradient Nails

This came out of my Valentine Nails ideas. At first I wanted an ombre heart stamped but it just didn’t work for me. I tried a normal ombre and it was a disaster. Finally I tried glitter as I knew glitter and textured polishes can be a lot more forgiving when doing ombre nails. And I was happy enough with the results! However I decided to wait til after Valentine’s to post it as I figured I had enough looks for then!



You can see the white that I used underneath in parts, which I’m not a fan of, I’d probably skip it if I was to do this again as I don’t think it’s really necessary for glitter polishes. Here’s what I used

Dark Pink- Nails Inc Nail Jewellery in Princes Arcade

Light Pink- Models Own in Pink Fizz

I’m not sure if I’ll bother much with trying ombre in the future, while as I love the look, it is SUCH a bloody hassle to try get right! Pain in the arse. Maybe I’ll wait a few months before trying again!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Cinnamon Swirl Pancakes

I saw this recipe on Sorted the other day and just KNEW I had to make it today for Pancake Day. I love cinnamon buns and what better way to jazz up a pancake than to combine the two?!


Cinnamon Swirl Pancakes

Recipe from Sorted Food


75g butter, room temperature

75g dark brown sugar

1tsp cinnamon

150g self raising flour

1tsp baking powder

Pinch of salt

2 eggs

150ml buttermilk


1. To make the cinnamon sugar mixture, mix the cinnamon, butter and sugar in a bowl until smooth. I honestly found this mixture to be too hard, because when I transferred it to a zip lock bag for piping, every time I squeezed, the bag burst at the seams. In the end, I placed the sugar mixture into the microwave for 5 seconds to make it a bit runnier. Cut the corner off the zip lock bag to pipe out mixture.

2. To make the batter, sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Add salt. Add the eggs and mix.

3. Add the buttermilk slowly, whisking the whole time to incorporate.

4. Heat frying pan on medium heat with a small bit of butter or oil. Add a large tablespoon of batter (I actually used an ice cream scoop as I found it was the right measurement). Swirl on some of the cinnamon sugar on the raw top.

5. Once the bottom has finished cooking, flip over and cook for 30 seconds. Once cooked, remove and wipe the pan between uses to get rid of any sugar that might burn.

6. Repeat step 4 and 5 until you have finished! You can cook these off all at once and reheat in microwave. Serve on their own, with berries (like the Sorted guys did) or with maple syrup. Or, to really take the cinnamon bun theme to the next level, make some vanilla glace icing to pour on top!



Saturday, March 1, 2014

February’s Reads

Ah February, the shortest month. Which in my mind equates to less time for reading! Let’s see what books I finished in February.

February’s Reads

One Summer by Bill Bryson

one summer

This is the first Bryson book I’ve finished. Not that I didn’t like the other I tried, I just didn’t finish that one as I only read it at my boyfriend’s house before we moved in together and kinda forgot about it. Anyway! This is a big book, 560 pages, about the summer in America in 1927. It goes through each month and talks about all the major things that happened then. From the first Transatlantic flight to Babe Ruth and that was happening in the baseball to the introduction of ‘talkies’ at the movies to what was happening in politics. I found it fascinating, how all the characters ended up being interconnected. For example, there was a whole segment about the boxer Jack Dempsey. Later, when talking about the silent actress Clara Bow and how she was promiscuous. One night, her boyfriend at the time arrived home and knew there was another man in the house. He called out for the coward to show his face, only for a sheepish looking Jack Dempsey to come out of the bathroom! There’s loads of other instances as well but that one stuck in my head. The book sometimes does go into a little bit more detail than needed (for example, explaining some baseball terms that went over my head) but overall it’s an enjoyable read and one that history lovers would probably enjoy.


Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell


After reading Fangirl last month, I decided to give this one a go as well, as I had heard a lot of good things about it. It’s the story of Eleanor, the new girl with bright read hair, crazy clothes and dysfunctional family, who strikes up an unusual friendship with Park, the boy she sits next to on the bus on the first day of school. At first Park is not impressed with having to sit next to her, wanting a seat to himself as well as not wanting to draw attention to the fact that this new girl is sitting next time him. But slowly they start to become friends, when Park realises she’s his comic as he’s reading them and lends them to her. Then he starts making her mixed tapes and they start talking and fall for each other. This book made me cry so much, mainly because I felt so sorry for Eleanor and her family situation (living in a crappy house, sharing a room with 3 of her other siblings, and a stepfather who she hates) and the fact she is bullied in school. The story is beautiful, it is lovely to see their relationship develop. It’s heart warming but heart breaking at the same time. A solid YA romance that isn’t all light and fluffy like some other YA stories.


Scarlet by Marissa Meyer


This is the second book in The Lunar Chronicles. I read the first one Cinder last July and finally got around to this one. This one is a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. It follows the story of Scarlet Benoit, who’s grandmother has gone missing. Scarlet meets Wolf, a street fighter, and he agrees to help her find her grandmother in Paris. In the meanwhile, the Cinder story continues as well and we learn how the two are interconnected. I really enjoy this series, I won’t go into it too much as this is the second book in the series but it’s a fun way to retell fairy tales. It’s got a sci-fi or steampunky vibe about it (well, Cinder is a cyborg after all) which I really enjoy as well. The next book, Cress, came out in February so I’m looking forward to checking that out and continuing on the series.


The Rosie Project by Graeme Siminson


Don Tillman is a professor of genetics and decides he wants a wife. He’s sets up The Wife Project, a questionnaire designed to find his perfect match. Nothing could go wrong could it? Until he meets Rosie and finds him strangely drawn to her, despite the fact she definitely fails plenty criteria on his checklist (she’s a smoker for one, a drinker and is always late). He puts The Wife Project on hold though to help Rosie with The Father Project, Rosie’s quest to find her biological father. As the two spend time together, Don begins to realize that sometimes love and compatibility isn’t as easy as the questionnaire might seem to be. I loved this book, Don definitely comes across as a Sheldon Cooper type of guy (incredibly punctual, has a set routine for what he eats for dinner every week, exercising regularly, is very set in his ways) and it’s enjoyable to see him come out of his comfort zone and try new things. Not overly cliqued, Rosie is by no means a Manic Pixie Dream Girl! She’s tough and smart and fiery! A sweet and funny read.


How To Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid


I actually started this before some of the books above but put it back down a few pages in for various reasons. One, I wasn’t hugely in the mood for the story. And two, it’s written like a self help book in the 2nd person. The author says things like ‘You go to school and …..’, specifically talking about one person and his life though. At first, this kinda messed with my mind. Not many fiction books are written from the 2nd person point of view. But I picked it back up again and gave it another shot as the story did intrigue me. It’s the story of a rural boy, who ends up moving to the city as a boy and how he works his way to corporate success, how he becomes filthy rich. The author writes beautifully, he has such a wonderful way of phrasing things. I really enjoyed this book and the pictures it painted.


Just My Type by Simon Garfield


I gave myself a break from non-fiction after finishing One Summer before picking up this book. Just My Type is a book on fonts. Yes, sounds a bit boring but trust me it’s not! It’s broken into different short chapters, some broken down into the stories of specifics fonts, others about the processes and history of font making. First chapter is about Comic Sans and the big hate for it. There’s a chapter near the end about some of the worst fonts created which I particularly enjoyed. It mentions Helvetica, which you might have heard of. Even if you haven’t and don’t think you’ve ever seen it, think again buddy! It’s is one of the most popular types, if not THE most popular types used for corporate logos. Skype, American Apparel, American Airways, Oral B, Toyota, BMW, Evian, Microsoft, Panasonic, Target. I could go on and on! It’s the font used for the New York Subway signs. It’s everywhere! There was an interesting part about a man who tries to spend the whole day not interacting in Helvetica. Meaning, not wearing clothes with Helvetica on care label, avoid shops and products that use it on labels or logos. I found it fascinating. There’s also a short chapter on the massive uproar that occured when Ikea changed it’s logo font from Futura to Verdana (seriously, Google it, so many articles come up!). Another thing that interested me was an interview with one man who hates when he’s watching a film and spots a font being used for something that wasn’t even invented yet during the film’s timeline. As someone who has often thought about continuity in films and anachronisms (like updated Old Spice bottle being used in a film during the 80s), I never once thought of fonts coming under that! Look, I’m babbling here but I seriously do think it’s fascinating book and not the nerdy, dry, boring book it sounds like when you say ‘oh, I’m reading a book about fonts’ (my boyfriend called me a big nerd when I told him what I was reading!). I’m looking forward to checking out more of Garfield’s books.


In The Woods by Tana French


 In The Woods starts with a story set in the 80s, where 3 kids are playing in the woods and don’t come home in time for tea. Eventually one kid is found, Adam, in a catatonic state, his socks and shoes soaking in blood and no sight or sound of the 2 other children. Fast forward years later and Adam is now Detective Rob Ryan, in the Dublin Murder Squad. He has never remembered what happened that day but has gotten on with his life. Though a new case occurs, where a 12 year old girl has turned up dead in that same woods (now an archaeological site) and it’s Detective Ryan’s case. Only his parents, one old boarding school friend and his work partner Detective Cassie Maddox knows his past. The story revolves around mainly trying to figure out this new case, with Rob trying to get a grip on the past. While I did like the story, there’s a few things I’m not happy about. One is the way it’s told. It’s in past tense, which is fine usually, but this is more told in a way that Rob is looking back and telling you the story. Which is always fine, but sometimes it gets confusing as it jumps around a bit. I did really enjoy it though, I ended getting hooked and might check out the next in the Dublin Murder Squad series. I did also really enjoy the Irish slant on it and some of the Irish references (red lemonade anyone!).


February’s Stats

Number of books read- 7
Ratio fiction to non-fiction- 5:2
Number of eBooks- 1 (Scarlet)
Number of books borrowed from library- 6
Number of books from Reading Resolutions- 2 (read more diversely and read more Irish authors)

Not too bad! Especially considering that for a lot of February I wasn’t in the mood for reading, I don’t think I read for 3 days at one stage (yeah yeah, I know that doesn’t sound shocking but it is for me!). I felt like I had kinda lost my interest in reading for a bit but managed to pick it back up again. I just noticed however that I didn’t read any of my own books, so I need to read some more on my shelves! Though will that happen? Probably not!

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