Rocking solo in London Town 

Ok so last weekend saw my solo visit to London to view The Killers in Hyde Park. I’m a massive fan and as they hadn’t toured in four years I booked my ticket once presale started. I booked my BA flight into Heathrow after much deliberation. I thought I would get it cheaper but in the end prices for flights to Standsted, Gatwick and Luton weren’t enticing me enough once you factor in having to take a train then the tube. 

Landed on a beautiful day to 28 degree heat. Got my tube alright and luckily enough the picadilly line went straight to the station I needed. I booked a hostel in Kensington beside the park. The only thing was the gig ended up being the exact opposite side to where I was staying. 

My flight was slightly delayed and the tube takes approx 60 minutes to get to Kensington. I then had to walk fast and follow googles directions to my hostel as quickly as I could due to a booking for a tour that was to begin quite soon. 

Kensington just screams money. Everywhere I looked Landrovers decorated the streets, white pillared residences gleamed and children with bonnets happily walked with their parents. I was shocked that a hostel would be in this area but it was. It was a good one too!

Astor Hyde Park was a great choice. Not only was it close to the park, the staff were friendly, the dorm was bright and airy and security was important. I checked in ok but as my room wasn’t ready I locked my bag pack away in a luggage room before racing to catch my tube to Covent Garden. 

I looked online at free walking tours and settled on Sandemans as it got good reviews. I later discovered a friend used them in Paris and was quite pleased with them. I made my 1pm booking with a minute to spare. Though in the end we ended up waiting a few minutes before we began. The large group was split into two and introduced to our guide. His name was Angus and he is Australian. He had studied Shakespearean theatre and this stood well to him as our guide. There was never an issue with hearing him and he had an entertaining way of telling us the history of the places we stopped. As I said it was a beautiful hot day so the walk at times was sweltering, at any chance we could we took shade. It was a royal tour so we visited St James Palace, Prince Charles residence, Buckingham Palace and Westminster. The walk took about 2/2.5 hours and my feet were very sore at the end. However I thoroughly enjoyed it. Though it is free a tip is welcome. After the tour I realised I hadn’t eaten for about 8 hours so I grabbed food and cider in a pub Angus took us to. 


Afterward I made my way to Oxford Street as I had to pick up a gift for a nephew. On my other occasions of visiting London I purely went to shop so I had been on that street a lot. However I never noticed its proximity to Hyde Park before. Don’t get me wrong it’s at the very bottom of the street, but still only ten minutes walk. I decided to walk there as it was so nice out and get my bearings for the gig the next night. On my way I passed Selfridges which had a different meaning to me after watching the tv show! 

The park was full of bars and activities thanks to BST who were hosting the festivities over the couple of weeks. Only for my feet were blistered from walking and I was exhausted I would have spent more time there on Friday evening. Instead I decided to walk back to the hostel to get an idea of the walk for the next night. 


Back at the hostel I made friends with girls in my room and went to a nearby pub for a drink. The hostel was hosting a charity night in aid of Grenfell tower with live music which I thought was a nice touch. Was also a good way for people to mix.

The next morning after breakfast I was indecisive about what I wanted to do. I ended up walking to Kensington Palace and queuing to get in. A tip though would be to book ahead and skip the queue as even though I was very early there was still a thirty minute wait. I spent about ninety minutes wandering about the exhibitions. I enjoyed the Diana one the most. Some of the talks gave a good insight into the history of the palace. I left the palace and looked around the gardens which were beautiful. 


I then decided to spend the afternoon doing nothing! The weather was gorgeous and I was tired, so I lay on the grass reading. There’s so much going on in the park though, I recommend a visit. 


After grabbing food and beverages in the local newsagents I went back to my hostel to clean up for the concert and meet one of the girls. We walked with the crowds to the concert. The park was set up well for an outdoor gig. The bars were a long wait as usual. I am not a fan of being too close to the stage as I always get stuck behind tall people! We got a good spot near the merchandise at the back. The Killers as always put on a great show. My only complaint is that it went by too quickly! 


The next day I checked out of the hostel and started walking with my bag pack. I decided to walk towards Harrods as I had never before seen the famous store. As it was a Sunday morning it wasn’t open but I felt like it was a box ticked. I still had time before making my way to the airport so I decided to fit in St Paul’s Cathedral. I didn’t mind the fact that I wouldn’t have time to go inside and explore. The main thing I wanted to see was the steps, as these were the storyline for the homeless lady in Mary Poppins selling pigeon food for “tuppence a bag”. After walking the circumference and marvelling at the detail in the architecture I noticed a fancy bridge down the street. A geeky part of me really enjoys architecture and engineering so I ventured towards it. I’m glad I did as the bridge went over the Thames river towards the Tate museums. From there I got to see Tower Bridge in the distance. Another box ticked off my tourist list. 

On the bridge I took a moment to enjoy the moment and to be proud of myself for another solo trip that I greatly enjoyed! I made my way back to the tube and to reality unfortunately. Though I always look forward to getting home to Izzie!

Phuket; The first stop on my Thailand Vacation

Ok so flying solo wasn’t too bad, I just didn’t dwell on the fact that I was alone. I watched movies & dozed off when possible. After customs in Bangkok I grabbed my luggage & headed upstairs to check in for my flight to Phuket. (By booking separately I saved time & money) I had booked a later flight in case there were any delays so I was expecting a 4 hour stopover, however the airline asked if I would like to check in for the earlier flight so that was a bonus. The one thing I noticed was how there were signs with power banks everywhere. You have to carry these in your hand luggage & not in your check in. They are strict about this.

I didn’t prearrange transport to the hostel & though I did look at ways to save money on getting there, I ended up getting a cab. It cost 800 baht but after nearly 20 hour travelling & the humidity enveloping me from every direction I didn’t mind paying it. It took about 40 minutes to get to the hostel.

On the drive I was amazed at two things;

  1. The electric wires running from post to post & the quantity of them grouped together
  2. The scooters, multiple passengers facing all directions with no helmets to be seen

Safety obviously not an aspect in this country.

The driver had to ring the hostel for directions. I had booked Bearpacker Hostel due to the reviews on Hostelworld & the proximity to Bangla Road & the beach. I also wanted a private room which they could offer for approx. €20 a night. The reception is bright & airy but before you step in you have to remove your shoes & be buzzed inside. Security is a big thing in this hostel. There are signs everywhere warning of penalties to any guest sneaking a non-guest inside. Check in was easy & I was shown to my “room”. Each floor is named after bears & come equipped with male & female bathrooms. The floors also have washing machines beside the bathrooms. My “room” was more like a pod at the front of the dorms. I am small (5’2) so it wasn’t much of an issue for me, though it could be claustrophobic at times. However if you are over 5’6 I recommend the dorms. I have to say the aircon was very good & effective compared to others I encountered, also the locker provided was large. After getting changed into a bikini & shorts, I made my way upstairs to the pool. There is a lady serving food from the kitchen in the common area up there, beers in the fridge & a sofa in front of a tv. Outside there were tables and chairs, the pool and bean bags on the decking. There was nobody there so I decided to explore. 

I headed down the street, past the various women offering massages, fast food restaurants and made my way to the beach. I found a place on the sand and took in my surroundings. The weather was overcast but the beach was still busy, many traders offering goods or refreshments, however once you say no thank you they move on. I like this as I hate being rude to people. I stayed about an hour before moving along. The beach wasn’t spectacular at all, nothing I haven’t seen before in Spain. This is most likely due to tourism taking over.

I was quite tired after traveling so I headed back to the hostel. Though there was people in the pool this time there was no effort at making conversation. They all seemed to be in groups. Though I tried initiating conversation, I was politely answered and that was that. I got some food of the lady in the hostel, it was nice and also only about €2 for dinner. I then headed to my room to FaceTime home (wifi was good here) then fell asleep early enough. 


The next day was similar. I spent a few hours at the beach, walked up Bangla Road and grabbed a cider, then went back to the hostel. Again failing to get proper conversation out of other guests! I gave up and spent my time reading and texting home. I had a nap before getting changed and heading back to Bangla for dinner and to watch Manchester United play terrible football. I went to the Aussie sports bar and I have to say the chow mein was lovely. Though I wasn’t finding Thailand as cheap as what people made it out to be by any means. For example most bars that served wine were charging €5 per glass. Cider (if served) was €2/3. Your best bet is beer if you can drink it.

I headed home wondering if I would ever make friends, also looking forward to the day ahead where I was being picked up early for a trip to the Elephant Sanctuary. I had to email them to confirm booking as luckily enough I had looked online where they mentioned they were having issues. I would recommend doing this if you booked well in advance. 

I was collected early and I was the first. By the time we got to the sanctuary we had an Australian family of 4, a solo young English girl, an English guy and his Polish girlfriend. For the first time in days I had conversations with people!! It was already a good start. They even shared mosquito spray with me. We had an introduction about the sanctuary and where our fees were going (€70 approx). We then were asked to help prepare the sugar and bananas before we went to meet the elephants. There were a few babies and they were very cute, but at the same time when one runs toward you get out of their way!! We got to feed them, pet them then bathe them. They were never tied up. We got a small lunch, a group photo then headed on our way. A good experience I have to say. 

After I returned from the sanctuary I headed up to the bean bags to chill out. After a while I started conversation with two Swedish girls and one engaged properly with me thank god. We had a few drinks when more people came up and when the two girls left I got to join them. They invited me on their night out and I gladly accepted. Everyone was ten years younger but when talking about travel and experiences age doesn’t seem to matter. We went to Bangla road and tried a few bars. It is an experience, very commercial and full of drunk tourists! I was so happy though to be mixing with people and having fun.

The next day, some were hungover so they remained in bed. Some of us went to the pool and spent the day chatting. I went off for a while to book my accommodation in Phi Phi which took forever as most hostels seemed to be party hostels which I’m too old for and the hotels weren’t getting great reviews either. Finally chose one and booked my transport at reception for the following morning. That evening I joined others for a meal on the beach which was nice then had a walk whilst paddling my feet. We got a few drinks and headed back to the roof for an hour before saying our goodbyes.

Overall I have to say it was tough at the beginning and Phuket wasn’t what I imagined Thailand to be like. Very touristy and commercial, not like paradise at all. However I was warned and some people like that. Everyone has different opinions.I didn’t  rent any bikes during my trip and maybe if I had I would have seen more amazing places. The hostel was lovely and would stay in it again. If like me you have a hard time getting people to engage, keep trying with different people. It isn’t you! Some people just rather keep to their own groups.

Summertime walks: Pt1 Hellfire Club, Dublin

Ok so I decided to share some of the walks I do during summer, sometimes during the year. The reason is because a lot of people I talk to never venture further than what they already know so it’s always good to discover there’s more out there. 

The Hellfire Club is in the Dublin Mountains near viewpoint and Masseys Wood. It is a moderate climb if you follow the path. If you go through the Forest however it is a lot steeper. As you walk along the pathway you will see an amazing view of Dublin City. Though I do need to warn you that on warm days the insects and flies can also be found in their thousands along the walk. 

Though there are signs saying otherwise I always feel it’s safe for Izzie to be off her lead. It can be tough on her paws with the gravel but worth it when she reaches the top and there’s grass to roll around in. Up here I take in the view and gather my thoughts. I never go in the crumbling building however!

On the way down I go through the forest as it’s downhill and quicker. The walk doesn’t take long and most people I know enjoy it.


My easiest way to get here is to take the m50 and turn off towards Firhouse. Take the left at the next junction near Woodstown and drive towards the mountain. When you get to the t-junction take the left then at the top of that road take the first right. A few minutes up the road you will see the car park on the right.

Summer of 2016

It is September 4th and in my head I am marking this day as the last day of summer for me. It’s not a bad day either. I am after parking beside killiney beach and walking up the many steps to Killiney hill. I’ve earned a few moments to sit, take in the view and reflect on what has been one of my best summers. 

Killiney Hill

From my resting spot I can see the Sugar loaf, which I climbed with my twelve year old nephew. No money needed, just us climbing and chatting, bonding I suppose you might say. I can also see Bray. I climbed Bray Head with my nephew, my sister and my dad. It took us many stops to get to the top as my dad isn’t the fittest person and to be honest we were worried about his heart. More fool us as when we reached the top he then decided to gloat about his achievement and gleefully jogged down the hill. I also ventured the cliff walk with my friend Kate which is a 6km walk from Bray to Greystones. This would have been more enjoyable if it hadn’t been for the numerous amount of people with the same idea, it felt like we were in a cattle market. 

Bray head with the family

On top of the sugarloaf

Killiney beach of course is below me and my first trip to this beach this summer was with Kate (as were many other trips), who brought a picnic for us to enjoy whilst people watching. Killiney hill itself I have visited many many times throughout the year, not just this summer. Sometimes I bring people with me and enjoy watching their faces as they take in the magnificent views from this hill. 

I have not had one beach holiday this summer which is very unusual for me as I would normally have two. Yet I have had the best tan throughout the summer. Customers in work have asked if I was away, is it from a bottle or a sunbed. They are suprised when I tell them it’s from Dublin. Some feel this wasn’t a great summer weather wise yet I beg to differ. I have been able to get out hiking in the evenings and I have taken a few half days from work to enjoy the rare sun Ireland enjoys. 

Sandymount strand

The hiking has also lead to a few lbs being lost. I had aimed for 14 which I knew was a stretch but I will settle for 6. I did not diet or restrict myself from brunches out, burgers or tapas in the evening. I just drank more water, cut out bread as much as I could and excercised. I am by no means near what I wish to be, but I never will be unless I go to the chicken and broccoli brigade and I’m not ready for that! 

This summer had only one concert for me which was Bruce Springsteen. Whilst it was tainted by a family crisis I still got to enjoy a night out with my dad, who was in flying form. I can’t remember much of Bruce’s performance but I remember the numerous selfies of my dad and my sister in drunken madness. 

Pre drinks before Bruce

I had an evening in Dun Laoghaire that was filled with contentment, so I drank it in as much as I could. I have had so many bad days over the past few years that when a good day comes along you grab it tightly with both hands. I spent that evening listening to a brass band playing, strolling up and down the pier with a playlist that soundtracked my evening perfectly. I spent another day in Dun Laoghaire learning how to paddle board and not fall in. The place used to cause me sadness now helped me find bits of happiness. 

Brass band in Dun Laoghaire

This summer I read a lot, overdosed on Netflix and spent a lot of time with people that matter most to me. I have had not one romance and it has not bothered me at all. Instead I enjoyed the company of friends and the solitude equally. Plus this whole time I have been accompanied by my trusty companion Izzie. She proves her loyalty constantly by traipsing behind me for hours up mountains, even with her little legs. 

Memories of the summer

So that is how this summer is one of my best. I have many happy memories and spent very little as I save for Peru in October. I have learnt over time who I can trust and rely on, so I enjoy their company when I can. Of course it hasn’t all been plain sailing but the good has definitely outweighed the bad! Hopefully winter will treat me the same 😊