Tag Archives: travel

THE PAIN OF BIRTHDAYS

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m a December Baby, so I’ve got a birthday coming up soon… And the suspense is killing me. I already know what I’m getting, but there’s a difference between knowing and having! (Although I have admittedly gotten my grubby little hands on one or two of my pressies already, like the computer I’m writing this on right now… Oops.)

So, until the rest of my beauties show up, let’s talk wishlists. I might be the only one with an impending birthday– but Christmas is, as we all know, right around the corner, so I think wishlists are on the minds and in the hearts of every boy and girl at this time of year. Here’s what I wouldn’t say no to if it showed up wrapped on my doorstep:

#1 A Navy Birkin

eva-birkin Modelled here by the impeccably stylish Eva Longoria, a navy Birkin is the one thing I wanted this year which never materliaised. To be fair, the lovely Hermes in town did get in a Birkin for me, and in the size I wanted, but the colour was wrong– it was way too much of a green-blue rather than a true navy. Apparently, getting a navy Birkin (especially in the smaller sizes) out of the workshop in Paris is harder than getting blood out of a stone.

Hermes, for me, has to be perfect to be worth it, so I passed on the lovely blue-green bag because it quite simply wouldn’t have gone with anything in my wardrobe. I would have been buying it just because it was a Birkin; it would have clashed horribly with everything I own and not looked right at all. So, I let it go on to some other Hermes hopeful, and I’m still waiting for my navy ship to come in. Not before this birthday, I suspect, but I live in hope that some day it will arrive…!

#2 These Charlotte Tilbury “Face(s) in a Box”

charlotteI’m so impressed by the face in a box concept that it makes me lose the ability to can. Yes, the prices are terrifying, but it’s high-end makeup, and you can also use the individual items for different looks in addition to the one perscribed by the designer, obviously. My three picks are the those above. Some of the others are gorgeous, but they all seem to require application of copious quantities of bronzer, and that doesn’t fly with me. I don’t look like myself when I use it, but worse: when I use it, all my scarves and tops don’t look clean. I’m happy to stick with the pale-and-interesting faces, thanks. I need these in my life; why haven’t I got them yet?!

#3 A Diamond Cartier LOVE Bracelet

love

If you’ve got the $50k, I’ve got the wrist! What– a girl can dream, can’t she?! Actually, being honest: while I love the concept of the LOVE collection (it’s so romantic and cute), the practicality of it is a little different. What if you’re mugged? What if you have to go through a metal detector? What if it just keeps banging off your bloody laptop while you’re trying to type something? There is a cuff version which is considerably more affordable and practical, so maybe I can get my hands (or wrist) on one of those some day for real. I still think the piece above is the prettiest in the collection, though, and if you can afford $50k for a bracelet, you can probably afford a 24/7 butler to accompany you with the screwdriver to remove it as necessary…!

 

#4 These Plum Coloured UGG Boots

ugg

They don’t sell this colour in Ireland, which makes me very sad. Perhaps I shall order them from the US though Nordstrom after Christmas. There’s not a snowball’s chance in hell would I try to order something from the US at this time of year– the last time I did that, a couple of years ago, my parcel showed up in March. March. It had been to several destinations within both Europe and Ireland itself, and looked as though somebody had been using it for a football. Fortunately it wasn’t anything fragile, but the experience left a bad taste in my mouth, and now I just don’t order anything from outside the country between mid-November and mid-January. It’s just safer that way.

 

#5 Blue Skies & Sandy Beaches

beach

Okay, while it might be difficult to wrap this up, you could always print out hotel and flight reservations and put them in an envelope made of wrapping paper, right? The miserable Irish winter weather (boo, hiss) is depressing as all hell, and I would love an excuse to go somewhere warm and sunny and ditch the winter woolies for a couple of weeks. Or months. Or until all this “winter” nonsense blows over, basically. I am a tiny bit concerned with travelling due to the ongoing Ebola problem, but if presented with a trip like this, I might be willing to change my mind…

What things are on your birthday or Christmas wish lists? Are you aching for winter to end? Do you have any fun purchases or trips coming up? Drop me a line and let me know!

-A-

MY RECENT SHENANIGANS

Well, it’s been an exciting month for me! Apologies for being so in-and-out on the blog lately, but I’ve had a really full plate. Apart from another trip to Gran Canaria, one of my oldest friends from the US came to stay with me for a while– and then on the day she left, my relatives from England arrived! I’ve had a fun time running around, though I haven’t exactly had a lot of sleep in the last couple of weeks. I’m hoping to rectify that later in the week– but first, I feel like I should catch up on my blogging…

My phone has been acting up ever since I tried to clear up a few GB of space for new photos, and apparently half the photos I subsequently took lately didn’t even save. I’m hugely disappointed by this, although most of them weren’t for the blog anyway, apart from a few OOTDs I would have liked to have posted. I do have some things to share, though, since having out of town visitors always means going to lovely new places! Here’s where I’ve been recently:

BTs

The Restaurant at Brown Thomas, Dublin

The best chocolate ice cream I’ve ever had in my life, no exceptions. Paper-thin layers of chocolate woven into the creamiest ice-cream I’ve ever tasted– it cannot be beaten.

monaghan2

monaghan1Concra Wood Golf Club, Monaghan

The staff are amazing, their garlic potatoes are superb, and the views are beautiful.

 

wicklow1

wicklow2Wicklow Golf Club, Wicklow

It has the most gorgeous seaside location, and their food is ridiculously beautifully presented.

Have you been anywhere interesting lately? Have you visited any of these places? Hell– have you been getting enough sleep? Drop me a line and let me know!
-A-

HYDRALURON: A HORROR STORY

I’ve posted previously about my love of Hydraluron, and that hasn’t changed. I still think it’s essentially a miracle product that’s made an enormous difference to my skin. I do, however, have a warning for anyone wanting to travel with it in their suitcase: Hydralyron is basically the Houdini of skincare products. Think I’m kidding? I bloody wish.

On a recent trip, I filled up my miniature container with Hydraluron in the same way as I packed the others with moisturiser, cleaners, etc. I screwed the lid on tightly, popped it into my waterproof baggie, and assumed there wouldn’t be a problem.

Except there was a problem. Unlike every other product I brought with me, and despite the lid being screwed on tightly, somehow the Hydraluron escaped the container and smeared itself all over the other containers. I examined the pot for cracks, but there didn’t seem to be any. I assumed I’d put the lid on wrong, but I hadn’t. And then I began thinking. This wasn’t the first time that some of my precious serum had escaped its container. No matter how careful I am to put the cap back on the tube properly, without spilling any product into the outer ring of the cap, every time I pick up my tube of Hydraluron at home, some has managed to worm its way in there.

hydra

See? The cap has a clear ring of product in it. Only… Here’s the funny thing. It never seems to fill up. The level of product that manages to get out there seems to remain the same. If I wipe it out, when I come back to the tube next, there’s the same amount. If I don’t wipe it out, it doesn’t get any bigger. It doesn’t matter how tightly I screw the cap on, this continues to happen. Maybe this doesn’t happen to everyone, but I thought I would draw attention to this just in case anybody else was thinking of using this on their holidays: make sure to put your closed container inside another closed container to be sure of preventing spills!

Is this some side-effect of the manner in which it draws in moisture to the skin? Is my tube haunted? Has this ever happened to you? Drop me a line and let me know!
-A-

SUNGLASSES FOR THE SHORT-SIGHTED

Is there anything that puts the fear of god into the short-sighted population more than the onset of summer– aka sunglasses season? I want you to know, all of you blessed, lucky people who have not had the misfortune of being a carrying around a face-full of glass for the past twenty-odd years, that I don’t actually wish you any harm. Really, I don’t. I’m just a teensy bit jealous. Because while you’re all excitedly trying on glasses in Brown Thomas and flinging different €3 styles into your basket at Penneys so as to cover every available outfit or trend, I’m wearing the same pair of prescription shades for five or six years, trying to decrease the cost-per-wear so I don’t feel so heinously terrible about the price of them.

shades

My prescription shades were bought in 2008 or 2009, and I love them dearly. I’m actually very fortunate, because neither my style nor my prescription changes that often, so I ended up getting a pair of giant Prada bug-eye ones (I don’t care if big glasses go out of fashion; I will wear my giant shades until the sun sets on me for good). I love them dearly, but they’re extremely heavy, and sometimes it would be nice to try something else for a change without having to wear contacts for the duration.

I’ve never been fond of contacts. I do dutifully carry a packet of them around with me when I go on holidays or when going to see a 3D movie, but I’ve never found them comfortable, and usually end up disappearing to the bathroom to pull them out and return to the land of glazing before the day or evening ends.

I’m dreading the day I have to change these babies. Not only is the cost stratospheric, but the selection is very limited– most of the frame shapes I prefer require so much curvature of the lenses that you can’t put prescription lenses into them.

If I had better eyesight, though, or were prepared to put up with regular eye poking/scraping, these are what I’d be buying this year:

Armani Cat Eye, €228 @ Brown Thomas

Prada Absolute Round Sunglasses €490 @ Brown Thomas

River Island Cleo €21 @ ASOS

ASOS Preppy Wayfarer in Green €17 @ ASOS

At least I can dream!

Do you have a favourite pair of shades to share? Do you wrestle with contacts, or have you braved LASIK? Do you feel my pain, with short-sightedness sorrows cramping your shades style? Drop me a line and let me know!
-A-

A POLL ON PACKING

Okay, folks: today I have a question. When you’re going travelling, do you bring full-size products along with you, or do you decant them into little tiny travel bottles?

I’d really love to know where people stand on this! I’ve been thinking a lot about this since my last post, both because of my recent travel adventure and the fact that I’m getting ready for another trip in the near future (more on that soon). Although I can’t seem to pack light anymore and leave behind the products I use at home, I feel like I can at least pack smart, and save myself the hassle, weight, and worry of bringing full-size items with me. This is my skincare travel kit these days:

daily-travel
A mix of old recycled trial-size bottles and bought containers from Boots and Muji, all of this weighs less than a pound. If I were to take away the full-size versions of each of these products, it would take up about a third of my baggage allowance! I can’t bring myself to do that when I know I could use that extra weight for another pair of trousers or some shoes– not to mention the fact that I think this way is a lot safer.

If someone breaks into your bags, it’s not as easy to recognise items of high value as quickly as it is when they’re in their proper packaging. If your stuff is swiped, you’ve lost less of it– and in the case of products like Creme de la Mer, the financial difference between losing 15ml of something and losing 100ml of it is pretty significant. Lastly, if your bags end up getting smashed, there’s less product in there to spill all over your clothes. (I always pack my liquids in a giant ziplock baggie within a waterproof travel bag, but still.)

However, a couple of people have mentioned that they think this habit of mine is absolutely bonkers and that it’s fiddly and time-consuming and exposes the product to the air and makes you look like militant nutcase. All valid concerns, of course, and I can’t dispute them, but I do still think it’s worth the effort… Though now I’m wondering what other people think.

Do you love your little miniature pots like me? Do you haul your full-size products with pride? Do you cheat and buy whatever official minis you can find, but bring full-size items for everything else? Hit the poll above, or drop me a line and let me know!
-A-

OH, THE SHAME.

There are many ways to divide the world into two kinds of people: dog people and cat people; people with children and people who remain children themselves; tea drinkers and coffee-drinkers, etc. (For the record, I am a tea-drinking, child-remaining, dog person.) By far the most important of these methods, though, is the division between people who can pack lightly, and the rest of us poor unfortunates.

cases

Just a little light packing before a weekend away! (Only joking; these are full of books and clothes I donated to charity this week. Probably should do my donations more regularly before they spiral out of control and into mountains like this. Oops.)

 

There are people in this world who can go on a holiday after simply tossing a bikini, some suncream, a sundress, a few t-shirts, a pair of shorts and a pair of trousers into a bag, and who rock up at the airport wearing their sandals (over socks, to protect them from the terrifying Irish elements). I admire these people not in the manner of worshipful awe I regard Olympians, but with the same of confused nostalgia with which old people regard those who can get out of chairs without assistance.

I used to be like that, I always think. I remember what that was like. You look at me now and you laugh, but one day soon, it will happen to you, as well.

It’s true, too. I used to be the sort of person who could jolly off on a little jaunt with only hand luggage for company. It was harder when the new liquids regulations came into play, but I managed… Until I started my most recent facial care routine. Now, I need to carry more lotions and potions away with me than the wicked witch in a fairy story– and since I’m going to be hauling along a suitcase the size of a small moon, I might as well fill it up properly, eh? Three pairs of sandals. Four pairs of white trousers in varying thickness, length, and fabric. Two almost identical wrap dresses. Enough t-shirts to clothe a continent, because it’s not like you can wash things and leave them out to dry when on hols in a hot country now, can you…? (Oh, wait…)

Hopefully, this is just a phase, something I need to pass through on my way from “twenty-something vagabond” to “forty-something lady” (I’m giving myself until I turn forty to become a lady; if I still haven’t managed it by then, I’m giving up). As I get older, I’m hoping my stupid spots will stop and I can just start using one of those “all-in-one-anti-ageing” creams, plus maybe a serum if I’m feeling flush. That’s something to look forward to in terms of older skin, isn’t it?

And if not… Well, there’s always Muji’s minuature travel containers.

Do you travel light, or do you haul it all? Has your packing regimen changed over the years? Or do you just end up resorting to tiny decanting bottles? Drop me a line and let me know!
-A-

GRAN CANARIA TRIP: PART 5

The last part in my Gran Canaria trip write-up follows part four, and is my favourite of the lot because it focuses on what I feel is the best part of the island– and which was certainly for me the best part of my trip:

THE SCENERY

trip08

I really can’t emphasise enough how beautiful this place is: it is picture-postcard perfect in the literal sense. The image above has been edited only for size and cropping; there are no filters or colour-retouching performed and it was taken by this rank amateur with an iPhone camera. In other words? The place is actually this gorgeous and vibrant in real life. I’m constantly impressed by the fact that it is built entirely into masses of rockface, and to me the resort is as much a marvel of engineering as it is a lovely place to spend time. There are just so many buildings here:

trip10

When I came here first as a child, none of the top level of development existed on either side of the valley. Now look at it:

trip14

One of my favourite things to do here is go walking; we walked from the central area where we were staying up to the top of both the East and West hills, which was no mean feat. There are lots and lots of steps if you want to take them, but mostly you have to use the roads, and they are in some places very steep:

trip12

The view you get for hauling your ass up the mountain is so, so worth it, though:

trip17

And sometimes you will meet interesting visitors on your travels:

trip18

I will forever be amused by how angry this cat looked about having his picture taken. But look, he’s got blue eyes! Gran Canaria is actually pretty much overrun with cats, so if you’re a feline lover, you will definitely find plenty of furry friends to interact with. Many of them are fed by locals (you’ll see little plastic dishes lying around outside with kitty Cheerios in them), so they tend to be pretty tame and friendly, unlike this chap!

Funny story: right next to our hotel was a small patch of unused land where bizarrely, a bird and a cat seemed to be involved in some kind of timeshare operation. In the morning –every morning– there would be a pigeon on it (the same one; she had a lame leg, so we knew it was her). In the evening, there would be a white and grey cat. The afternoons were a kind of zoological demilitarized zone, a no-man’s land populated only by insects. The arrangement seemed to be working pretty well for them, with the birds eating bread in the morning and the cat eating catfood at night. I do hope they never run into one another, though…

All too soon, alas, it was time to get back on the bus to the airport, where at least I had a decent duty free selection to console me. I will say that makeup there is roughly the same price it is in Dublin, both at the airport and in the resort, although perfumes and alcohol are significantly cheaper in the resort compared to the airport, so if you’re interested in purchasing either of these, make sure you stock up before you head for home!

Well, that’s my little recap brought to a close; I hope it was interesting or useful to somebody, and I certainly had fun. Looking through my photos brought a smile to my face as I was writing these posts, and I can’t wait to go back soon.

Have you been to Gran Canaria? Would you like to visit? Do you have any questions about my experiences there? I’d love to hear from you, so if you’ve got anything you’d like say or ask, drop me a line and let me know!
-A-

GRAN CANARIA TRIP: PART 4

Following on from part three of my Gran Canaria recap, we have part four:

WHAT TO EAT

trip16

I’m going to be honest: I never have much to say about food at the places I visit, because I’m pretty much the anti-thesis of a foodie. A portion of chips or boiled potato or a sandwich and I’m happy, especially if I can have ice-cream for after.

Personally, I vastly prefer self-catering to hotel stays, and would take a nice apartment over a hotel room any day of the week. Not only do you have more space, but you also have the freedom to store and cook your own food, so you’re not reliant on restaurant food at normal mealtimes. I will say that in Puerto Rico, the restaurants are pretty much open from 8 or 9am until about 11pm, and you can get food whenever you want, but still: there’s nothing like a home-cooked meal, even if the “home” in question is technically pretty temporary.

Mum actually packed rashers and sausages to take with us while we were out there, and we ate those every other day with some fabulous local eggs and tomatoes. (We also ate a lot of bread, though Spanish bread is very different to Irish bread, it’s remarkably delicious.)

We did, however, enjoy, with cocktails, this spiffy ice cream pictured above at the dancing place by the beach that I mentioned before. It was terrific, but my first recommendation from this trip is “El Rancho”, which you can find in the furthest part of the Shopping Center from the entrance.

We ate there  twice (having eaten in other places two other times, and regretted it). The food there is amazing, and their menu selection is excellent. I can personally recommend the onion soup, the grilled salmon, the grilled sole, and the lamb chops. They’re all brilliantly cooked, the staff are lovely, and they even have free wifi! Like most places in Puerto Rico, I found the prices quite reasonable– at least, if you’re accustomed to Dublin prices; otherwise, you might find them a little on the high side.

Are you a budding restaurant critic and gourmet connoisseur, or are you a fan of simple and home-cooked food like me? Drop me a line and let me know!
-A-

GRAN CANARIA TRIP: PART 3

Continuing one from part two of my recap of my break in Gran Canaria, today’s part three is going to be all about:

THE SPA EXPERIENCE

trip-combo03

It wouldn’t be a true holiday experience for us without visiting a spa, and the Thalasso Spa at the Gloria Palace Amadores is a really excellent one. It’s basically a giant bath of body-temperature saltwater with lots of jets and alcoves and waterfalls to beat your aches and pains away. It definitely soothed our woes– and also our sunburn, so at only €23 entry, it’s more than worth its price! I don’t have any pics of the spa proper because it would be a bit weird to go around taking photos of people in their swimming costumes, but trust me when I say it’s gorgeous, and you can hang out in the blissful warm water and watch the sea through the glass windows… Well, you could if you weren’t short-sighted and had to surrender your glasses before getting into the pool! All I saw was a fuzzy blue line, but even so, I knew it was the sea, and that was pleasant in itself.

The spa is situated in a gorgeous hotel built into the side of a mountain, as you can see up there. The hotel is, internally, kind of a triumph of design (I’m in love with that staircase). One wall is pretty much entirely glass, and you can see for so far that you can actually see the curvature of the Earth along the water (though sadly, I don’t think my photos captured this). If you get the chance to visit it, I would absolutely recommend it, as much for the building and views as anything else– I doubly recommend the cliff walk back to Puerto Rico that you can see in the final photo. Probably not the thing for people overwhelmed by heights or vast expanses of sea, but otherwise it’s an absolute stunner.

Are you a spa fiend like me, or do you prefer less lazy holiday pleasures? Drop me a line and let me know!
-A-

 

GRAN CANARIA TRIP: PART 2

Following on from part one of my trip to Gran Canaria recap, here’s part two:

 THINGS WE SAW

trip-combo02

Puerto Rico isn’t exactly a hub of buzzing highbrow entertainment, but we had a good time nonetheless! The main attraction there is the Shopping Center, which you can see in the first photo. The next photo is of a really cool car that seems to be parked there every day, and on a daily basis, people were stopping to take photos of/with it. Even the seats have the same awesome skull-print as the paintwork. It was awesome!

The second row shows the resort at night, and some delightful drinks we got down in a dance bar down by the seaside in front of the Porto Novo apartments. They do dancing and delightful sparkly drinks– and like most people, seem to be convinced we’re Scandinavian rather than Irish.

The final two pictures are of the night act at the bar between the shopping center and the park. This guy was pretty impressive– first he juggled all manner of things, and then he got up on a unicycle… Can you call it a unicycle when it’s three wheels stacked on top of another? I’m not sure, but I think ultimately what I would call it is bloody difficult to ride. We were suitably impressed!

Personally, I was also very impressed by the fact that most of the folks out at night were retired couples, but they were big into their dancing. I’d like to say I hope I’m able to twist and jive into my seventies, but I can’t even do that now…

Are you looking for exciting cultural entertainment when you go on holidays, or do you just like to relax with a cocktail and have a little boogie? Drop me a line and let me know!
-A-