One night away

Ok so a few weeks back myself and my friends went for a night away to Maynooth, co Kildare as a treat. I left it up to them to look at hotels, destinations etc and after multiple text messages back and forth we decided on Carton House in Maynooth. It isn’t far from us however we had heard good things and famous people have stayed there, so why not?! For a Saturday night it was €85 each for a triple room.

We headed off about 2:30 as check in was 3pm. Unluckily for us the weather wasn’t great. It was very grey and spitting rain, even though it was incredibly humid. This meant that any walk to explore the grounds was out. 

Check in was quick and our room was ready so we headed straight up to offload our luggage. It’s amazing how I managed to take more stuff for one night in Ireland than five nights in Spain last year. 

The room was large with three single beds. The bathroom was lovely with both a bath and a separate shower. We had a balcony, without a view though! The decoration was modern, nice but no Wow factor for me. 

We headed down for a bite to eat and a bottle of wine, of course! We didn’t want to go to the proper restaurant, just wanted something small as we had dinner booked for later in Maynooth. The bar itself was small and it was brighter in the lobby so we chose to sit there. The staff were lovely, especially the girl serving us. Both my friend and I got a chicken wrap which hit the spot. The Sauvignon also was lovely and not as pricey as I would have thought being under €30. 

As much as I wanted to Love this hotel I just found myself underwhelmed by it. I’m a person that gets bargains when booking trips away, this was the first hotel I’ve paid full price for in a long while and I just expected more from it. I wasn’t alone in my thinking as one of my friends said the same to me. This hotel is outside Dublin so I thought there would be more to make you want to stay in the hotel, use it as a retreat not just a place to sleep. 

We headed upstairs to get ready for dinner and open a bottle of Prossecco that we had brought with us. I love these times with my friends were we are relaxed and chattering away with the night ahead as a bonus. 

I had checked Tripadvisor for restaurants in Maynooth as we wanted to try somewhere none of us had been. I picked Picaderos as it has tapas and we love trying a bit of everything. The menu is extensive and we thought it would be tough to make our choices. I chose chicken skewers, grilled vegetables and some type of chorizo dish. The restaurant was packed so we were lucky to have booked in advance. The staff were lovely, especially one of the waitresses as she went out of her way to find a charger for my friends iPhone. I was stuffed after our food however my friends talked me into getting dessert. I had no idea that this was because they had organised for the staff to sing happy birthday to me. Mortified! In total the bill came to €120 for approx 12 tapas, 3 desserts, 3 shots and a bottle of wine. I thought this was reasonable enough though my friends thought the tapas were pricey enough ( goats cheese was nearly €10). I would like to visit again though if I’m in the area. 

We were full so feeling extremely tired and lazy. We headed to the Roost pub which is always very lively. My friends weren’t feeling it though so we left after one drink. I didn’t mind as this night away was more of a catch up for us and to mark my birthday. 

The next morning after breakfast my friend and I visited the leisure centre. The hotel has a spa also but we chose not to visit there as we were on a budget. It would have been nice to have bathrobes in our room however as there wasn’t we had to bring a change of clothes downstairs. The pool was small and busy with families. We chilled out in the jacuzzi for a long while which was lovely. Before we knew it our checkout time had come so we rushed upstairs to grab our bags and leave. 

Whilst there are nice things about this hotel as I mentioned I was really underwhelmed. I have heard that the old part is where you get blown away with its rooms but as we required a triple we were in the newer part. I just feel that hotels need more than rooms to make it an experience and whilst the staff were very lovely I won’t be in a hurry back. 


Amazing weekend in Amsterdam

I am currently sitting on an Aer Lingus flight to Dublin, beside a really cute guy who looks like he has just returned from bag packing. Perfect end to an amazing weekend. 

On Christmas Day my aunt suggested going to Amsterdam to try out the “muffins”. I was quite drunk at the time and agreed. It wasn’t a hard sell in fairness, I had never been to the Netherlands and love visiting new places. I started looking at hotels and flights. I was surprised at how expensive it can be to stay in the city. We aren’t fussy and basic hotels would have been enough but three star hotels were costing what four star hotels in Dublin cost. On Trivago one day I noticed that a particular five star hotel was coming in extremely cheap. I checked it out and (though I normally do believe that when it looks too good to be true it generally isn’t ) I booked it with the option to pay at the hotel in case anything was wrong. After checking with the hotel and being assured that even though it was a mistake, were honouring the price I booked our flights. Finally it came to our trip. I was still wary about the price but had everything printed off just in case. Our flight was just over one hour long and upon landing, we made our way to the train station attached to the airport. The transport systems in Europe make me very frustrated with our own transport in Ireland. It was so easy to get from the airport to the city for approx €5 each. We went to Central Station and our hotel was literally across the bridge, could not have got a better location. 

Our hotel is NH Barbizon Palace and though it doesn’t look amazing on the outside, I loved the interior design from the moment I stepped inside. Check in was easy and the receptionist was extremely pleasant and helpful. She explained on Sunday’s the hotel offered a late check out of 3pm, which was a bonus we were not expecting. She also informed us that the Gay Pride festival was on and that many events would be taking place. We left for our room and found it to be tastefully decorated, with a large bathtub and rainwater shower. The fact we had no view didn’t bother is at all.

We were centrally located in Amsterdam and went by the map that the hotel supplied. We wandered down little streets and found ourselves at Dam square. The Royal Palace was ringing it’s bells in the tower and we decided to have a nosey inside. It’s €10 per adult which we didn’t think too expensive, plus you get a free audio tour. The palace is decorated in marble and some of the works take your breath away. A lot of the pieces are originals from the time King Louis lived there and remain in immaculate condition. We spent about an hour looking around.

After leaving the palace we found a sign directing us to Anne Frank’s house. We still managed to get lost but I eventually navigated us to the right spot. I had been told about the long queues to view the house and though I tried hard to get tickets online months prior,they sold out rapidly. We spoke to one of the employees and she suggested trying again. Looking at the queue which looked to be at least an hour long, I went online and tried for 15 minutes to get tickets. Just as I was about to give up I succeeded getting two tickets that allowed us entry straight away. €19 for two adults was very reasonable! I’m not sure my description will do this museum justice. I got goosebumps walking in and people don’t talk, they whisper inside. We spent about an hour shuffling in line behind volumes of visitors, reading quotes from her diary on the wall, looking at pieces from the annex behind glass and watching videos of friends and her father speaking about Anne. The windows are darkened to show you how they lived for two years and it really makes you think. The annex is bare as her father did not want it furnished when the museum began. Some steps are quite steep so if that is a problem this may not be a place to visit. Overall we were both really glad that we got to visit this museum. If possible make sure to go. When we got outside the queue had increased to approx 3 hours so try hard to skip that by booking online. We were drained from looking inside so queuing for that long may take away from the experience. 

No pics inside the house as it seemed disrespectful.

A few yards away is the homomonument where they were setting up for festivities later for the parade. We didn’t want to miss out so we left to sit by one of the many canals and enjoy the sun with a bottle of rosé. Which turned into two… We were people watching, which I love and admiring the many many bikes travelling through the city. The bikes really are everywhere, locked up against any free post their owners can find. Some have crates, some have children seats and others have dogs in crates!

We grabbed a bite to eat in one of the many steak houses then went to watch the concert that was setting up earlier. I couldn’t see a thing but the atmosphere was electric. Treated myself to a glass of prosecco and joined in with the crowd. One man even humoured me by drawing on my face with gay pride colours. I loved it though I smelled of crayola afterwards!!

Hijacking a bike whilst tipsy

After that my aunt made the sensible decision to go back to the hotel. We had been up since 4am and it was a long day. But a great day!
Breakfast in the hotel was great. They had something for everyone and we filled up on granola, grilled breakfast, croissants and fruit. We chose not to have prosecco so early in the morning.As we had no plan for the day we wandered along more side streets, wondering how we managed to escape the red light district when we were so close to it! We decided to do a canal boat tour and found one for €10.50 each which wasn’t expensive at all. It was nice to cruise along but if we were looking for historical information we didn’t get much! The only bit we got that did interest us was about the house facades and why they looked crooked (turns out it’s got to do with tax and furniture)

On the cruise you could see the place filling up getting ready for the gay pride carnival. Colours were everywhere and people were drinking and happy. We went looking to get a spot for the carnival but we were looking for it to be on roadways when in fact it takes place on the canals! When we realised this we also ended up sitting by the wrong canal for an hour, our luck wasn’t in though I found entertainment looking at really hot men that surrounded me. If only they were straight! The sun was out and eventually we found a spot in the crowd on a couch in front of student digs. They didn’t say anything to us so we got to enjoy the last 40 minutes of the parade. 

We went back towards our hotel having a drink and food along the way. We had a beautiful day and wanted to make sure we could last long enough to see the rest of the day’s events.

After a shower and a rest we went in search of some red lights. We found some and felt sorry for the ladies behind the Windows. We didn’t loiter for long. 

After realising the best party was near our hotel we headed back that way. We stopped at a pub for some Magners and whilst there a rabbit joined us for a drink! Strangest thing I’ve ever seen and to top it off it was licking the condensation from its owners glass. 

The party atmosphere was kicking. Everyone was joyful and in good spirits. We got ourselves some drinks and joined in dancing to the tunes a dj was playing on a scaffold above a gay bar. We joined in dancing with two guys, one Dutch and one New Zealand, which made our night more entertaining. They warned us not to eat any muffins or brownies after drinking as it would make us sick so after the party ended we headed back happily to our hotel. 

As I mentioned our hotel had late check out on Sunday’s and they also offered late breakfast so we were well rested heading for food at 11Am. We then went for a quick wander before we had to check out. After peer pressure all weekend from my aunt I finally gave in and went into a tattoo place called Bodycult. We had passed it the night before and after googling it, it seemed like a reputable place to get my first ink done. The staff there were very helpful and put me at ease. I was glad I chose there. I picked the symbol for “listen within” as I need to remind myself to trust my gut, it never leads me wrong.

We then went back to the hotel and settled our bill. Again the staff were very helpful and checkout was easy. 

Amsterdam is a city I will visit again. It has a relaxed feeling and we both felt safe all the time. The festival was a credit to the city as it was well organised and cleaned up straight after. Without touching any weed and having to look for the redlights, it isn’t anything like I had heard. The city is beautiful and the vibe is one you would hope to enjoy anywhere.

Barbizon palace
Aer lingus
Anne frank

My constant companion 

Ever since I can remember I have loved dogs. No matter what size or breed I felt the need to pet and cuddle any that I came across. For years I swore I would be a vet when I was older ( until I realised how tough it was to get into). 

At ten I was surprised with a puppy and soon after we rescued another pup. These dogs were family to me. I looked after them as best I could as a child and was heartbroken when my dogs eventually passed. I didn’t think I could go through that heartbreak again. I’d been very lucky with not losing people close to me at that stage so it was my early experience with death. 

Over the years I would help out with other people’s pets but never committed to one. Unless you are a dog lover yourself you may feel that I was foolish to feel this way, but I genuinely felt that to get another dog was being disloyal to the previous two. However following the DSPCA on Facebook my mind slowly started changing. They had a picture of a dog with text saying basically that it’s unfair not to pass on the love you showed your pet to another. It got me thinking about adopting a dog again, even an older type as they were unlikely to be rescued. 

I live in an apartment so my husband didn’t think it fair for us to get one. Other people had dogs but he said it would be cruel to be working all day and leave them couped up. He promised me that when we got a house we could get two dogs so that they wouldn’t be lonely and they’d have a back garden. 

A year later my dreams of a house crumbled down when I discovered the debt. It took a couple of weeks to sink in and when it did I made the most selfish decision I had made in years. “I’m getting a dog, I don’t care what you say!!” is what he got told. 

I had made my mind up when my dogs were alive that I would never purchase one. Too many were abandoned in need of a good home so I would only adopt a rescue. Also after minding a puppy for two weeks I realised I wanted an older dog as pups are very hard work and they destroy your stuff!

I set about looking on DSPCA and Dogstrust websites. I was informed by a friend that to rescue I would need to show them a house with a back garden to succeed in getting one. I’m not 100% sure if this is true, however I have never been taken up on my offers of fostering when they request help on their social media. My friends brother however was looking to regime his pet and was getting desperate as he didn’t want to contact the pound. She was a Cairn Terrier and looked very scrawny in the photo. I agreed to go over and see if we were suited but I didn’t commit for definite. When we met she was noisily barking but I could see she just wanted attention. I got told abou her, how she didn’t get on the furniture, how she was trained to not go toilet indoors and how she didn’t like the rain! I felt she suited my home and I agreed to take her a week later as I had other commitments and didn’t want her left alone when she would only be adjusting to her new home. 

From the very first day we were a perfect fit. I took her to introduce her to my parents and they loved her straight away. They love dogs however after trying with puppies previously they realised they are too old to deal with dogs daily and it was unfair on them. Three years on and you rarely see me without my dog. She became family the moment I got her. My parents take her whilst I’m in work and like most “grandparents” they spoil her. This has lead to her being a bit heavier than when I first got her. I think it suits her though. 

On top of Sugarloaf again

Izzie has come on many trips with me. We took her go a pet friendly hotel in Killarney before we split, she climbed Croagh Patrick and Sugar Loaf (twice) in the past year. Though I actually think I exhausted her too much on CP, so never doing that again. She’s visited the Cliffs of Moher and Giants Causeway too. I basically feel like a traitor if I was to do something outdoors without letting her accompany me.

My best friends dog recently passed and it brought home how lost I will be when it happens with Izzie. This dog has got me through so many lonely times, cheers me up when I’m down and makes me get out of bed when I’m hungover. She adores me and is so very loyal, even against her own benefit at times. I believe pets can help so much with mental health for all the points I’ve made just there. 

Well travelled Cairn

For anyone considering getting a dog I would definitely think hard about things. It’s a big adjustment. I walk her 2/3 times a day but I have no kids so I can afford to. Food and vet bills can add up. Mainly though you feel so much guilt leaving them alone. Izzie was trained not to go the toilet indoors but I believe that can be tough. She was also used to being left alone everyday. It didn’t make it easier though. Obviously you have to go to work but I rarely do anything in the evenings which would leave her alone. I got her before I realised I would be her sole owner so I didn’t think I would be leaving her to go out dating etc. Also I’m lucky that I have my parents to take her when I go on trips away. I arrange them when I know they will be here themselves as I know they are her family too.

Take this all into account. If you still think you would like a dog I recommend adoption from a rescue centre or dog pound rather than to buy one. There are so many puppy farms out there mistreating dogs that you don’t know what is good and what isn’t. Plus the fact that there are many many good dogs in need of a loving home and a second chance. 

Hopefully I haven’t bored you or come across like a crazy dog lady!!

Izzie paddling her paws