Archive for the 'Ireland' Category

20
Mar
10

Various things

Visiting my much-neglected blog earlier, I felt really sad that I’d let things slide so much. Could it really be so long since I blogged? Life has been insanity recently. There are no hours in the day, for anything, it seems!

So much recent news. My business is great- I’m working so, so hard, but there’s lots of quality time with the kids too, and the rewards are infinitely worth it. I’m earning more than I did when in my old job, for fewer hours, WAY more flexibility, and, best of all, I get to see my kids grow up. On the downside, oh…wait…there isn’t one.

The house still looks like a shit heap, but what am I gonna do. :p

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My pony, Morning, had to be put down, three weeks ago. I haven’t been able to bring myself to write about it yet, and it’s really too painful for words.

I know a few of you will be wondering why I am so upset over the death of a horse- I would say to those people, you’ve clearly never had a very special animal in your life. To my family, animals ARE a part of our family.

Her legs gave up. She was pretty well in herself, but she had been having some mobility issues, and this Friday she just couldn’t get up in her stable. The vet discussed it with us, and we knew it was time to let her go. She was 28- quite old for a horse. I don’t want to go into the process too much. She was too big for an injection. The vet shot her. I knew that this is how it would happen, but it was just awful. I don’t think I’ll ever really get over it.

Morning had been with me since I was eleven years old- a child. We grew up together. We were partners in crime; like minded people. She loved to jump and hated flat work- so did I, though we grudgingly worked at it.

We didn’t know very much about competing when we bought Morning- but through my teenage years, we had huge success in the fields of eventing and showing. She was so beautiful, and so clever. She also could be a complete bitch if her mind wasn’t on the job, or if she felt like taking the piss.

We had a lot of success, and I owe her a lot. I’ll always remember her most for her sense of adventure, though. We’re going to Donegal in a few weeks and the beaches there will be filled with the ghosts of Morning, my Mum and our dog Jamie. May they all be running together somewhere better.

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The kids are gorgeous; I am so, so lucky, even though they make me crazy sometimes. Rob’s speech is spectacular, for a two year old, and he’s hilarious. Ricky is just sooo beautiful, and boy, does he know it!

Here are a few pics, from St Patrick’s Day. We took the drive up the stunning Antrim Coast Road and stopped at Ballintoy Harbour, which has chalk stone on one side and some kind of igneous rock on the other- the world famous Giant’s Causeway is only a few miles down the road and you can see the similarity in the rock formations (finished Suzy, lamely, having forgotten all of her 3rd form geography lessons).

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Nice-

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Nasty-

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You can nearly feel the lava below the surface there!

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They’re pretty good kids. 🙂

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I have a new website, I’ll share it in due course, though most of you know about it already. It’s still in development, but I am very excited about the year that’s to come.

Love to all of my friends out there who have been horrendously neglected recently. I am truly sorry.

23
Aug
09

Trying to get back on the horse!

Hello, hello! How is everyone? Do you even remember me? It’s been nearly two months, I can’t believe it! I’ve actually had a lot to blog about but somehow it hasn’t happened.

We had a lovely holiday- three weeks of not having to think about anything very much and enjoying spending lots of time with my family. It has really helped me make a lot of decisions about where I want life to take me in the next number of years, as some of you know. I’ll do a password protected post on that though! Password will be the same as last time but please don’t feel weird about asking me for it if you’ve forgotten it.

So, until I can come up with something more fascinating, here are a loose collection of tales from our travels. I keep getting grief from my family for not blogging about the kids because apparently it’s the only time they get to hear about silly stuff they’ve done!!

Ricky spent most of the holiday in the sea! Even though the air temperature wasn’t very high, the sea stayed comparatively warm through our whole break (the sea in Donegal could normally cause frostbite even in the middle of summer!) and it was great to see him really gaining confidence in the water. We bought him his first proper wetsuit and he LOVED it!

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It’s fascinating to me how all the kids on the beach are now wearing full body wetsuits- you hardly see any kid in a normal swimsuit at all any more. When we were kids we hardly even bothered to put a swimming costume on- you’d absolutely never see a butt nekkid child on the beach these days. I think it must be a combinating of fashion, protecting children from the sun, and, sadly, loss of innocence!

Ricky has also developed a new interest- kind of a strange one too. When out on a walk at a local Friary, we passed a shrine to Mary. Ricky was fascinated by it and wanted to know what it was for. I explained the principles behind it, and he was very interested. There was a little bench in front of it, and before I knew it, he’d plonked himself down and started doing this!

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Ricky tells me that he is meditating and that this is what they do in China. I was very surprised that, coming from our household which is not very religious, he grasped the concept of spirituality and prayer with incredible ease!

That walk came as a surprise to me, because I don’t believe I’ve ever done it before, and the views were so stunning that I feel compelled to post some pictures of them!

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As for Robbie, he’s my little animal guru- he’s totally mad about animals of all kinds at the moment.

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I think I blogged before about his obsession with horses, and that definitely continued during the break! We were able to send the kids out along the beach on ponies from the riding school across the road, and seriously, if we’d let Robbie stay on for as long as he wanted he’d probably still be sitting there now!

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He had THE best time and I will definitely have to arrange some riding lessons for him I think. Ricky enjoyed it but not to the same extent. I was just showing Robbie the pics from the holiday and he couldn’t stop talking about going out on the pony, and how much fun he’d had!

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We also took the kids to some sheepdog trials, which was actually much more fun than I’d been expecting. The sheepdogs were great, and it was very interesting to see them in action.

They were also showing sheep in a different part of the field. Now, I come from a background of showing ponies and horses, which is very civilised and elegant. Showing sheep involves a lot of men sweating profusely and swearing under their breath as they grapple with a sheep that desparately wants to get back to the herd and that definitely doesn’t want the judge to look at its teeth.

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The variety of sheep was amazing and some of them were as big as a shetland pony, which surprised me! Some were pretty and soft, some were ugly as sin with wiry wool.
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Robbie predictably thought it was absolutely brilliant- the child has no fear! He had fallen and hurt his head the previous evening, which is why he looks like he’s been duffed up!
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The eventual Champion of the sheep was crowned, and I managed to make a total pillock of myself by missing the photo opportunity- then, when I was surreptitiously trying to take a pic, they realised and went through the whole palaver of getting all the trophies and rosettes out again. To be fair they did this with a very good grace, but I felt like an idiot! So, here, for posterity, is a picture of the king of the sheep. Father Ted fans out there will know why I find this vaguely amusing.
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There’s loads more but I have rambled on for long enough! Hope everyone is well. I do want to blog more but time is really against me at the minute. I definitely need to get some stuff off my chest though and will do so later today, with luck!

Now the challenge will be to get caught up with everyone else! 😀

20
Apr
09

Inishowen Peninsula at Easter

My plan for today is to completely fob you all off with some scenery pics- these are from the Inishowen Peninsula and were taken a week ago today, on Ian and my anniversary. It is so gorgeous up there!

We had a lovely anniversary. The forecast for the area of Donegal we were staying in wasn’t too great, so we decided to head east along the North coast to Inishowen. It’s the most northerly point in Ireland. As you can see, the weather wasn’t perfect, but we were really lucky and the rain mostly stayed off.

We stopped for lunch near Malin at a pub, which overlooked the harbour, and despite it being very, very windy, they were having a bungee jumping event, hoisting the victims, sorry, participants up a crane in a cage and then pushing them out- I couldn’t believe how close they were bouncing to the crane! We were too far away to get pictures, but it was a bit insane!

We went for a walk on a beach nearby but it really did start to rain then!

It was still a lovely day out. I don’t really know Inishowen too well, so it was great to see a part of Ireland I haven’t been round much before.

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26
Mar
09

From a recent seaside trip

Sorry for the influx of photos- I haven’t posted any for a while and thought it would be a nice change from me whining about my health! 😀

We recently went to Ian’s Mum for lunch. She lives in a small seaside town called Donaghadee, which has wonderful views across to Scotland, and a pretty harbour. Her house is right on the sea front, with incredible views. I’d never get anything done if I lived there. I’d probably fade away sitting in a chair looking out at the sea and watching it change constantly.

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We always like to take a walk out to the lighthouse on the harbour after lunch- it’s not a long walk for the kids, but it’s very pleasant.

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The weather was kind of stormy that day- very sharp showers and windy- we just got back to Phyllis’ house before it started chucking it down so we were very lucky! She lives in one of the houses you can see in the background- this was taken at the end of the harbour looking back.

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A few shameless pics of my handsome boys-

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Ricky and Phyllis-

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Life is good!

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24
Mar
09

The Giant’s Ring, Belfast

On Sunday I took the kids for a walk to the Giant’s Ring, near Belfast. It’s a megalithic monument, a peaceful and wonderful place. If it was in England, it would be mobbed by tourists, but as you can see, it’s more or less deserted, which is exactly how I like it! 😉

It’s a bit hard to take a picture of the place- but basically it’s like a huge circular enclosure with banks around the edges and a dolmen (the stones) near the middle (the dolmen is actually off centre). Noone is really sure what it was for- there’s not much evidence that anyone ever lived there, so it’s thought that it was for ceremonial purposes.

They used to hold horse races inside the ring, but although it’s big, the riders must have got a bit dizzy!

Ricky was very disappointed not to see any giants. I told him it was a bit like looking for the Gruffalo when we were in the woods- just because we’ve never seen one yet, doesn’t mean we won’t see one… 😛

Belfast is in between the mountains and the trees you can see in the background. It always amazes me that the city is so close and you’d never know it was there!

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Ricky decided the dolmen was his new house, but quickly complained that his new house had no central heating!

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Heading for a walk at the other side of the Ring- Mummy not going fast enough…

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Ricky’s standard photo pose at the moment…sigh…

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Robbie just before he pitched a massive “I want to go the other way” fit… 😀

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Oh, to be a child again. Places like that have so much wonder! 🙂

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22
Sep
08

Monday Music

My good friend the Taoist Biker regularly writes Monday Music posts, and this week’s one got me thinking. (Sorry, TB, I have never worked out the hyperlinky thing here, maybe you can explain it to me, ha ha- folks, head over to http://taoistbiker.wordpress.com and give him some love!)

SO- I am going to start doing a Monday Music post. Initially, I’ll post about bits of music which remind me of something. After I run out of those- we’ll see! 😀

I am one of those people for whom music can sometimes make me think of a very specific moment or place, so I thought it might be fun to post some of those pieces of music and tell you what they remind me of. It’s going to be very random, and I am not going to apologise for it! 😀 Also, some of these might be a little bit sentimental!

So, here goes!

Tori Amos- Icicle

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=euXLt5lYGAI

When I was 18, half way through my A-Levels, (for those of you in the States, they are the exams you do which dictate whether or not you get into university, and how well you do dictates which one you get into- I think you have SAT’s but am not sure) I got glandular fever. It was massively unpleasant. Actually, I would definitely wish it on my worst enemy (as long as they reeeeaaally pissed me off) because it’s not life threatening, just horrible.

As soon as my exams were over, I found myself in bed with what I thought was the worst flu of my life. I couldn’t eat or drink, anything I tried came straight back up. My temperature was SO high. I started to hallucinate, and the hallucinations were hideous- the only way I can describe it is like lines of electricity coming together in my bedroom, and then turning into figures who would then hack each other to bits in front of my eyes. I don’t have any clue where my (admittedly very unwell) subconscious got it from at all, but I was very weak and it made me very upset. If I closed my eyes, the images I saw were even worse.

The “flu” got better after about three weeks, by which point I weighed around six stone (86lb). I still wasn’t feeling great, and about two weeks later got a revolting sore throat. When I went to see my GP, she took one look at my throat and was nearly sick. Once she recovered, she said weakly “I think you have glandular fever” and sent me for some tests, which confirmed it.

By this point, my whole summer was ruined (yes- the break between school and uni where you’re SUPPOSED to let your hair down and barely be sober the whole two months) and my exam results were about to be announced.

My whole summer, I had been looking forward to a planned camping trip to Connemara in Co. Galway with my best friend and her boyfriend- Jo and Jim. I was SO disappointed that I might not be able to go, and begged the dr to be allowed. Thankfully, she reckoned I was over the worst of it, and agreed I could go on my trip.

We camped wild on Glassilaun beach in Connemara.

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It must be one of the most beautiful and wild places in Europe, if not the whole world. You’re miles from nowhere, and although the weather can be indescribably awful, we were pretty lucky. If you looked the other way, you’d see beautiful mountains, but I can’t find a decent picture. Because it’s on the west coast, when the sun sets, the mountains turn red, and it’s something you have to see to believe. Mesmerising.

Jo and Jim also invited- ahem, a guy called Andy, who I got on pretty well with as it turned out…we hit it off really well and friendship became something more on that trip. Jo hates me matchmaking, but she was SO BADLY at it herself on that trip!! 😀

Anyhow, Tori Amos’ album “Under The Pink” became something of a soundtrack to that holiday. The song “Icicle”, with its slightly melancholic piano, was totally perfect with the incredible scenery. Every time we were driving and it came on, we’d all fall silent because it was so utterly in keeping with our surroundings.

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I forgot totally about the fact I was meant to be ill, and had the most incredible holiday. The place healed me. It was the middle of August, we were far from anywhere, and at night, the shooting stars were out in force because earth goes through the Perseids at that time, so there are a lot more than usual.

That song always brings me back there, in fact I can see the mountains and smell the heather when I hear it.

And, for the record- Andy was a loser, and I know the song is about wanking. I don’t care, I still love it.

15
Sep
08

Dinner at 55 Degrees North, Portrush

My aunt invited me to stay with her in Coleraine last Friday night, and as ever, I jumped at the chance! She spoils me rotten and we always have a lot of fun.

She very kindly arranged for us to have dinner at a restaurant in Portrush called 55 Degrees North. She and my Dad had been there a week before and had really enjoyed themselves. Dad had told me that there was a great view, so I was really looking forward to going!

WOW- that’s all I can say about the view. I have never seen anything like it at all! The whole front of the restaurant (and it’s very tall) is made out of glass, giving you a mesmerising view of the beach and islands just off the coast, especially as it’s on an elevated site. It’s actually so wonderful that it was hard for me to even turn my head away to look at the menu! Luckily, the light faded not long after we arrived. This is probably a good thing, or my poor aunt might not have got any chat out of me at all! It’s the kind of place you could eat on your own, looking out at the waves crashing on the shore, and not ever get bored or feel lonely. Or maybe that’s just me!

Once you get over the incredible view, and take a look around you, it’s a really lovely place on the inside as well. Dark wood prevails, but due to the glass front, it feels far from dark and gives the place a lot of warmth which might have been lacking if they had chosen something more “industrial”. Tables are spacious and placed well apart from each other, giving good privacy. It’s a fairly large room, and the high ceiling makes it feel larger. A nice touch too is that there are two “levels”, so even if you’re further back in the room, you’re on a higher level, so you still get the amazing view (did I mention the view??).

Everything is well fitted and luxurious. I could only find one toilet cubicle though, marked disabled and with both boy and girl signs on it. I am thinking that I must have simply missed the main bathrooms, but my aunt couldn’t find them either! Must ask, next time…

The menus were interesting, although not all of the options sounded as if they would work. Wok fried vegetables were served with nachos and sweet chilli sauce, I think, was one of the options- which to me is mixing too many different influences. I did see someone take delivery of it though, and they seemed to be enjoying it.

For my starter, I chose the crab cake, as did my aunt. It came served with tobacco onions and some salad to garnish. I really liked my starter- it was full of crabmeat, well seasoned and tasted fabulous.

For mains, I chose a sirloin steak, to be cooked rare, whilst my aunt went for prawn and monkfish kebabs. The kebabs were rather bizarrely served with mashed potato- it seemed an odd combination, but she very much enjoyed it. My steak was very well cooked and enormous! I had read a number of reviews which complained that this place didn’t know how to cook a rare steak, but it was perfectly cooked from my point of view, juicy and tender.

Side orders are extra- my steak came with two small mushrooms underneath but that was it. We’d ordered garlic potatoes, mushrooms and a caesar salad. All of those were delicious, well cooked and seasoned, and generous in proportion. We couldn’t begin to finish it!

I was sad that we couldn’t find room for any pudding, because the food was really lovely from start to finish. Portion sizes were very generous, maybe a little too much so!

I also thought the meal was great value for money. The place looks so posh that you’d expect there to be few reasonably priced options on the menu, but main courses start from £9.95 which I really don’t think is excessive. My vast steak came in at £14.95, which was very fair.

I have to say as well, that the staff were attentive and pleasant throughout. This is always a huge bonus!

A really good dining experience- I already can’t wait to return! Thanks so much to my aunt for inviting me!




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