Every cloud has a silver lining

Dropping the kids to school this morning in the ‘School bus’. Windscreen wipers squeaking out a rhythmic beat as we chattered away about nothing much. The clouds were dark and foreboding and it felt as if a thunder storm would break out any minute. I got back to my office and fired up the computers (and my trusty fan heater) for the day’s work ahead, feeling a bit glum to be honest as you can do when Irish weather drops its blanket of grey over you. Then I glanced out the window and as I looked heavenward the old adage came to me about every cloud having a silver lining. I had to get the phone out and take a snapshot. Hope it brings a lift to your day like it did for me ­čÖé

Mike

Christmas isn’t Christmas without…

There are certain things that make Christmas… well, Christmas! For some it’s family sharing food around the table, kids opening long anticipated gifts, or maybe it’s the crisp winter days outside and the warm, toasty comfort inside. All of those things appeal to me, but Christmas just isn’t Christmas until I’ve watched my well worn DVD copy of ‘A Christmas Carol’, the 1951 film adaptation of the wonderful Charles Dickens Christmas story. A business man, devoid of humor and with no empathy for his fellow man is visited by three ghosts who set him back on the path of friendship, caring and humanity. If you haven’t seen this black and white movie it’s a fantastic way to get yourself in the mood for Christmas celebrations. I suppose this weekend might be a bit soon?….

View the movie info on IMDB

What about you? What makes Christmas, Christmas in your house?

Photo of kid swimming

While you’re on holiday this year (safety first!)

Remember all those photos of us a kids? Standing on the beach freezing and shivering as we gingerly stuck our toes in the water? Water is always a big attraction on holiday, so if you’re going to be sailing, swimming, fishing or otherwise messing about in water on your holiday this year, be sure to stay safe. Irish Water Safety have a ton of information on staying safe around water and provide courses on everything from water safety to becoming a Junior Lifeguard for kids. Have fun this year by sea, river or lake and please, most of all, be safe! Why not visit the Irish Water Safety web site┬áto find out more.

Beer of the year

It’s no secret that the Irish have a long association with all things pub and enjoy imbibing on special occasions and holidays. It’s surprising then that the craft beer movement didn’t happen sooner. There are now a huge (and to me at least) bewildering variety of beers being produced in micro breweries around the island. Whiplash Beer “of no fixed abode” have won the 2018 Beer of the year, with their beer “Saturate”, an award from Beoir, the consumer group started to support the brewing of craft beers in Ireland. This is the second time they have one the award having won the same award in 2017. Try to catch some on your travels (but not if your driving obviously!).

Their very funky style show just how far craft beers can go in this country.

Find out more about Whiplash on their website.s

Try some navel gazing this May

The May bank holiday in Ireland shares celebration with one of our most ancient traditions. The time of Bealtaine translates as ‘Bright Fire’ from Gaelic and is the traditional change from winter to spring in the ancient calendar. Really it was a celebration of the passing of time from winter to the new growing season. The tradition is indeed ancient and stretches back even to pagan times. The hill of Uisneach in county Westmeath is the centre of a wonderful festival. A rock stands at its centre and is said to be a doorway or portal into an ancient world filled with fairies and spirits. In olden times people would hang may flowers in their doorways, or on the horns of cattle to ward off mischievous spirits.

Each year a bonfire is lit on the hill, and on the surrounding hills other groups would take their cue to light fires of their own, radiating out from the spiritual centre of Ireland. The stone at its centre is said to be a type of ‘omphalus’ (navel in ancient Greek) and is at the meeting point of counties Meath, Ulster, Munster and Connacht. The ceremony lives on today and over the current bank holiday happens at the site on Saturday 5th of May. If you fancy a trip back to your spiritual roots then this could be the place for you this May bank holiday.

 

Photo courtesy of Abi Skipp, Flickr.

Cloudy with a chance of…. cloud

Looking out on the day this morning you’d be forgiven for thinking that we’re never going to see the spring. Although, I can’t help but think about a long walk in the woods on a day like this. Even at its grey best, when when it’s more 50 shades of grey than 40 shades of green, Ireland can be a lovely place – especially if you’re visiting rural Ireland. Even here in Dublin, the mountains to the south can be very beautiful in this weather. So, I’m not going to be disheartened by the weather. It’s not all bad, we can just have Keats “mists and mellow fruitfullness” in Spring instead of Autumn ­čÖé

 

 

Carb your enthusiasm

So my Keto diet is going quite well. I need to cut down on the carbs and while that’s not proving to be too difficult at the moment I feel it’s important to have a break now and then. That’s why I’m looking forward to this unique culinary event in Dublin. It’s called the ‘Eatyard Crisp Festival’ and it runs from June 14th to June 17th in the Bernard Shaw pub in Dublin. This place looks great and by all accounts is great fun and great food at any time. How many carbs can there be in a pack of crisps anyhow? (or 2 or 3)

 

 

 

 

“I’m singing in the rain…”

water-wide

Or why rain on an Irish holiday shouldn’t be a problem!

What is it with April? You just never know what to expect. And yet, I’m sitting in the office here, looking out at┬áthe rain, and I can’t help but feel good. I don’t know why but I’m as big a fan of rain as I am of sun. Water is just so precious that it’s a blessing we have so much of it. I kind of like the fact that we live in a temperate climate. Never too hot, never t
oo cold, never too wet or dry. Of course, as Irish people we are nationally obsessed with the weather so we talk about it all the time. Anyway, enough daydreaming and staring out at the drops running down the window, the puddles and the way the rain literally saturates the colours of things around us.

I have a confession to make… I LOVE walks in the rain. Especially on holiday, walking through a forest and hearing the rain overhead on the leaves – there’s no better sound. Or down by the sea with a good wind blowing and the rain is coming down over the sea in sheets. It just looks wonderful and makes you feel like you’re really part of nature. As long as you have the right gear on of course. Without a good waterproof and a warm sweater… not so much ­čÖé

As a company which tries to find holiday homes for our customers, we often dread seeing the rain coming. But it’s worth remembering that Ireland can be beautiful rain or shine. Of course some of us are not fairing so well and it’s worth noting that flooding has been a problem for many in this country too and the rain I’m looking at now is thankfully not that bad.

My mum used to say “cast not a doubt ’til May is out”, and she was so right. In Ireland it is never a good idea to assume sunshine until we’re past May. This year though we had some good sunny times during Easter and people were booking up holiday homes in record time. Maybe some ‘green shoots of recovery coming’? We hope so.

Best,

Mike

Holiday Ninja checklist

Packed suitcases

Packed and ready to go?

What do you always forget on your self-catering holiday?

Well, by now you’ve pumped the tyres, made sure your car has water, checked your oil levels and your car is safe for the road (you have done that, haven’t you?). Well, there’s usually time to do that in the morning before you head off for your Easter break. But here’s a personal list of things that myself and my wife always check off before we set off for┬áour holiday home.

Ok, so we’re not backpacking in the Sahara or anything, but a little preparation will save frustration at the other end of the journey. The last thing you want as you step out of your car at your destination, t-shirt sticking to your back, sticky sweet wrappers and discarded fruit skins up to your knees and the kids bursting to get out of the car, is any more stress ­čÖé So here is my personal checklist before you get to your destination. Things that may not be at your holiday home that you wish you’d packed.

In fairness, all of our holiday homes are very well supplied with all of the things you should need. However, some┬áholiday homes may not supply the niggly food items and other things that we take for granted at home. These are things that I personally either buy before I leave or bring with me from home… just in case. So without further ado, here is my personal ‘pilot check list’:

  • Salt & Pepper
  • Sugar
  • Cooking oil
  • Tea/Coffee
  • Milk (enough for tea/coffee/cereal)
  • Wine/Beer
  • Openers for wine/beer
  • Some cereal for breakfast
  • Some eggs/bacon/pudding for a holiday fry up! (sustenance for the first day!)
  • A sharp knife for general cutting of vegetables etc. (I get mad if I don’t have reasonable tools for those kitchen jobs)
  • A sharp bread knife for, well, bread (and cake etc.)
  • We find it handy to have a lasagne/bolognese or similar dish just to make our first meal simpler to prepare.
  • Towels? (Have you checked with us that the property supplies towels?)
  • Tea towels (Again, check with us)
  • Loo paper and tissues (just in case there is none at your destination)
  • Dishwasher tablets (Thanks to Mike Mansfield)

That’s it. My quick checklist to help you get that peaceful holiday feeling a little quicker. Let me know if I’ve left anything off the list!!┬áMake a comment below if you have anything to add,

best,

Mike