We’re Engaged!

I’ve been engaged for two months, one week and six days now. It’s been such a whirlwind of happenings since then and I’m finally getting around to putting it down in words – if that’s even possible!

Scott proposed on Saturday 01st June 2019; one day before our ten-year anniversary. I had booked two accommodations for us to stay in over this weekend, as it was a big milestone, I simply wanted to arrange something nice for us to celebrate. The first accommodation we stayed with was the absolutely stunning Finn Lough Resort. I had been itching to stay with them for ages, especially to stay in one of their bubble domes. I thankfully was able to book the last available standard bubble dome (the premium ones were fully booked ☹) But, Oh My Goodness! The bubble dome was undeniably amazing. I would have loved to have stayed longer in it but there’s so much to keep you occupied at Finn Lough, never mind getting engaged and celebrating.

We were booked in for the spa trail, evening meal and sundowner. Everything was perfect – that’s the only word for it. There was not one single let down, from the straight forward arrival/check-in process where they let us leave our bags with them to run over to our bubble while we’re at the spa to ending the night in the most magical way – sleeping under the stars with my fiancé.

The elements spa trail was something neither of us had experienced before. You start off with a casual consultation with the spa receptionist; she will explain the whole process with you, give you towels, locker key, water shoes and water bottles. There are 5 rooms and you have 20 mins to stay in each until you move on to the next. I thoroughly enjoyed each room; the Finnish sauna just wasn’t my cup of tea but that’s just me not doing well with saunas in general but, saying that, the herbal sauna was a lot more manageable for me – it probably did help having the hotter Finnish sauna first and our skin looked so clear right after. If everyone follows their time slot correctly you shouldn’t have to see another person on the trail, and it feels like you have it all to yourself. The last ‘room’ was the outdoor hot tub where you are looking out over the Lough – so amazing!

After the completely rejuvenating spa trail we were able to check-in properly to our bubble. They brought us over in one of the golf buggies from reception. The lovely receptionist helped us with bringing the rest of our bags into the bubble and explained all we needed to know such as the heating, the doors (you have a wee two door system where the first one needs to be closed fully before you open the next one, or the bubble will start to deflate), when checking-out we can give them a call to pick us up again in the golf buggy. 

We had a nice wee rest before getting ourselves ready for our evening meal at 6pm. We got ready and had another cheeky cocktail in the bar below the restaurant before heading up for our three course meal. The food was gorgeous! Perfect portion sizes and very well presented – we took plenty of pictures before digging in…

Our sundowner experience was booked for after our meal for 8pm/8:30pm and we had selected the cheese board with rose wine. The weather that whole day was glorious, and it was giving it to be good all through the day & night – the sun was shining non-stop and it was so warm too, then as soon as we were finishing up our dinner – it started to rain…

We had three options: cancel it all together and get a refund, change the location to have it indoors for a reduction in price or have it anyways as it is and they will give us extra blankets and umbrellas. Normally Scott would be the first to say we should just cancel it but he was all for it – this should have been my first clue!

We went down anyway with our umbrella; it was only raining very lightly then. The pictures does not do this place justice at all – it was just so beautiful… There was two other couples there also for their sundowner experience but you’re good and spread out so it does feel very private – the perfect setting for romance.

Scott of course, brings his camera with him everywhere and I paid no attention while he looked about for the perfect spot to set it up on his tripod for a nice picture together for our anniversary. We sat for a while, waiting for the rain to stop, but it showed no signs of letting up unfortunately. So we decided to pack up our cheese board with the wine and head up to the bar again. But first we got a ‘picture’, or so I thought, Scott set up the camera to record while he proposed… the full video is on my FB page – bring tissues!

I was so surprised! All I could say was Scott’s name over and over again. I was in total shock…

The whole evening he was telling me he had his spare camera battery in his coat pocket, but turns out it was this massive rock he was keeping safe. Even when we were in the restaurant, the greeter offered to take our jackets and Scott shot him down with a very quick NO!

We walked back up to the bar to grab a celebratory drink. When we got there, we were met by the lovely reception staff member that took us to our bubble earlier, she was the first person we told and she was over the moon for us. The lovely staff at Finn Lough gave us two complimentary glasses of Prosecco. I, of course, then rang my family to tell them the news, but sure they all knew why I was calling – Scott had been out to my parents to ask for their blessing. He told my brother already and his family also. After a few celebratory drinks we dandered back to our bubble dome – floating a little with all the Prosecco bubbles. The next morning we were blissfully woken up by raindrops on our bubble dome (well I was, Scott could sleep through a storm)

We got ourselves ready and headed down to the restaurant again for a lovely breakfast.

After breakfast we packed up our stuff and headed for stay no. 2 – Lough Erne Resort. I had a Lakeview Room booked and we made reservations for an evening meal in their Loughside Bar & Grill.

It’s a lovely resort and I have been here a few times before for afternoon tea so I knew what to expect. The room had a traditional decor and the bathroom had the most beautiful stand alone bath. The food in the restaurant and for breakfast were both great but I couldn’t help with leaving a little disappointed. We were newly engaged and there was little effort made to persuade us into choosing them for a wedding venue.

Thanks for reading! No wedding plans have been made just yet, we have a holiday coming up now soon and we both agreed not to do any planning until afterwards because we both want to be able to enjoy our holiday. I can’t wait to start planning though!

Three Nights In Galway

I am just back from three wonderful nights in Galway. We had a wee trip away booked for Scott’s mum Angie’s Christmas present from us and Scott’s Dad Michael.  We stayed in Salthill just a little outside of the city centre, right on the promenade. Our apartments were lovely – spacious rooms, well equipped kitchen and balcony that faced the sea so we had a beautiful viewpoint for every sunrise and sunset. We stayed with Galway Bay Sea View Apartments. Definitely would stay here again; I’d loved to try their penthouse apartments next time. Angie was glad we didn’t though because the height we were at already on the second floor was high enough for her.

Galway city centre was lined with traditional shops, bars and restaurants – all of which had their own distinctive style and look to them.

 

Dunguaire Castle in Kinvara – a short drive from Galway City. We decided to get a bite to eat before heading over to take pictures of this castle and OMG was that a brilliant decision?! We came across The Merriman Hotel Bar & Restaurant – which has the largest thatched roof in Ireland. I was on a real seafood kick in Galway and so went for their seafood chowder; it came with a warm white bread roll and also a warm slice of Guinness wheaten bread. Now, I’ve have seafood chowder quite a few times and I’m a real seafood lover – their seafood chowder was the best I’ve ever had – HANDS DOWN! It was absolutely beautiful – words and pictures cannot do it justice – you just have to experience it for yourself to believe me!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The castle itself was pretty cool – you can’t go inside it unfortunately but they might open the gates during the summer time for tourists. Scott got a few drone shots and Michael took some nice time lapses of it also.

 

Bars & Restaurants

Papa Rich – Gorgeous Asian restaurant in Salthill – very quick and efficient service. To start I ordered calamari, Scott got chicken wings, Angie got BBQ ribs and Mike ordered wontons. All were beautiful – of course the calamari wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea but I loved it! For mains – I had a Malayan curry, Scott a Thai red curry, Angie had a lovely sweet chilli chicken with noodles and Mike ordered a Singapore noodle dish. The food here was very fresh and packed a lot of flavour.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Skeffington Arms – Light lunch in the city centre – beautiful goats cheese salad for me and Angie, Scott had chicken wings and Mike had a sandwich with a cup of soup. Myself and Angie thoroughly enjoyed our salads.

Photo 24-03-2019, 13 06 33

On our last night we dined in a cosy restaurant called Gemelle’s. I had been looking forward to trying authentic and quality Galway Bay oysters and I had been looking up reviews on TripAdvisor all day to try to find the best restaurant that would also suit Scott and his parents also. Gemelle’s did not disappoint. It had a very relaxed atmosphere but also stylish decor. I would love to come back to this restaurant – it was just the perfect spot to enjoy our last night. To start, Angie ordered panko prawns,  Scott had chicken skewers,  Mike had fish cakes and, I of course, ordered my oysters – which were surprisingly only two euro each and absolutely beautiful – so fresh and beautifully presented. There’s a video on my facebook page of me eating them and I know I’m talking a load of non-sense but they were really lovely and I would 100% order them again.

Photo 25-03-2019, 19 36 09

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I had asked my friends Granny to look at our two rascals at home and I wanted to get her something nice to say thanks. I saw this tin of toffee that actually said on it ‘Thanks for looking after my pet’ and I had to get it.

We all had an absolutely amazing time in Galway and I can’t wait to go back!

Gifty Comes Home – After a lot of tears, cursing & heart-ache…

If you’ve read my last blog post on my two little rascals you would have seen that Gifty decided to go on a little wander…

After a few days we were starting to get a bit worried about her. She’d never been away this long before, we were starting to think the worse had happened and had been knocked down by a car or something.

We had put up a post on Facebook saying she was lost. That day we did get some good news – she was seen in a friend of ours’ garden the previous day. So this, at least, reassured us that she was O.K. and that she would make her way back to us soon.

Later that week, a couple of days before we went to Krakow, I got a message from my auntie saying that Jimmy (a man in our park) has Gifty and told her that it was his cat. Jimmy told my auntie that he was keeping her close so that she would get used to his place again and stay about his house more. Which sounded totally bizarre to us because we have been looking after Gifty the last two years. Now, we knew that she must have ‘belonged’ to someone, but wasn’t being properly looked after because she has no collar, was always hungry and always came to us when she wanted somewhere to sleep and affection. She would have always been waiting at our door for either of us to come home from work and let her in.

She started coming round to us because our neighbour was feeding her along with her own two pets – when she started to stay with us more often our neighbour gave us food that she had bought in specifically for Gifty and she knew we were looking after her. Our neighbour then moved away about 2/3 months ago, Jimmy said he knew our neighbour Joyce was feeding her and so ‘decided’ to keep her close because they moved away.

We didn’t hear that Jimmy had Gifty until about a week or so after she was last spotted in our friend’s garden. My auntie found out he had Gifty, she told me and I was distraught. I rang my auntie to get her side of the story. I then rang Scott’s mother who would know Jimmy somewhat and got her to ring him. She told him we had been looking after Gifty for the last two years and we had grown very fondly of her. He said that ‘twinkles’ was his cat, he has pictures of her when she was small, took her to the vets when the end of the tail was infected and needed taken off – this is the only reason I didn’t got storming round to his and demanding my cat back.

He made such a big thing about her being his cat I assumed he was keeping her in the house and actually taking care of her. I kept telling myself that she would come back to us when he finally let her out anyway. This was before Krakow – so around 30th Sept/01st Oct time. We find out yesterday (25th Oct) that he has been keeping her in a cage, in a shed in his back garden all this time! There’s been stormy and freezing nights this month – all these types of nights I had thought of her and wished she was nice and warm inside – out of the cold and wet. But no…

My auntie must have kept on at him to let her out but somehow she found out what way he was keeping her. She said she would buy the cat off him and he sold her the cat for £50.00. My auntie brought the cat straight around to my house where Scott was at home. She was skin and bone… Lost so much weight and looked so ill. Scott gave her food straight away – she ate it that quick she threw it right back up…

Scott rings me in work and I cry my eyes out. I come home after work and I see how small and ill she looks. She was a wee porker when she was last with us. I was devastated but still so glad to have her back…

I had an appointment with the vets tomorrow morning to get the both of them chipped and registered under my name. I’m going to tell the vets what happened and see what they say. I want to ring RSPCA. I want to choke him! – he has another cat that he keeps around the house, chickens in the back garden and also a big German Shepherd dog – that’s why I never thought he would have been so cruel to my Gifty because he has other animals… But he obviously just keeps a cat to keep the mice away, the dog to stop people stealing from his scrap-yard of a ‘garden’ and God knows why he keeps chickens…

I just don’t understand why he made such a big fuss about the cat being his if he had no intention on looking after her properly. Especially now, after we’ve been looking after her for two years. Why worry about her now; when he obviously didn’t give two shits about her to begin with.

But at least I have her back, she was a bit on edge last night – which is to be expected. We’re keeping her in the house for a while; the litter tray is back out and we basically have to start over again with getting her and Marley to play nice with each other again.

If you’ve been in a similar situation please do feel free to share your story with me. If you’ve had to contact RSPCA or another organisation for something similar too I’d like to hear what the outcome was. I hate what this vile excuse for a man has put my Gifty through and I don’t want to let him away with it either…

 

The picture below was the last proper picture I had of her before she left and you can see that she has a nice healthy round chubby face and body and just has an over all healthy glow about her.

OYUH6657

The picture below was taking the first taking after her first night back – you can see she is noticeably smaller, fur looks rough, shaggy and dull…
img_5907.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

City Break Krakow, Poland

I am just back from an incredible three night city break to Krakow, Poland. This city has so much to offer in terms of history, culture, architecture and cuisine.

img_5321.jpg

We flew out of Dublin on Tuesday 2nd October with Ryanair. Our flight was scheduled for 16:50 but we were delayed slightly because of the previous flight being late flying into Dublin. After a two hour and fifty minutes flight we finally arrived into Krakow. We passed through customs and waited for our luggage at the baggage reclaim – it was late as well. I had emailed the hotel to ask them to arrange an airport taxi, they had advised me that someone would be there waiting at arrivals with my name on a card and will take us straight to the hotel. I had given them our flight number and other details so that the driver would know if we were delayed. Even so, no one was there waiting for us – which I can understand because after having the flight delayed we were also one of the last ones to collect our luggage; so he probably got fed up waiting or thought that he missed us. But it was grand, we just went outside to the line of airport taxis waiting and told the driver the name of the hotel and showed him the address on google maps.

img_5332

Krakow airport is only approx 30 mins drive to our hotel and as it was pretty late; we got to our rooms, dropped our bags down and went down the town to the main square to get a bite to eat. The kitchen in our hotel closed at 10:30pm. We managed to find a spot along the perimeter of the main square itself and ordered a large chicken and corn pizza with garlic sauce – it was beautiful. Too hungry to get a picture though!

img_5339

Our hotel was absolutely perfect. We were about a 13 min walk to the main square. The hotel itself was so clean and had a funky and contemporary design. Our rooms were up the first floor and the back of the hotel. To get our rooms you walk through the breakfast/dining lounge and passed the garden terrace area; these areas add to the peaceful setting and tranquility. It was so peaceful at night and the hotel had an older, more sophisticated vibe – which I was so glad of because we were there for a relaxing and enjoyable city break for all three of us.

img_5540

img_5336

On our first full day we wanted to get used to the area and get the lay of the land. We wandered about the main square and surrounding tourist spots; such as Wawel Castle, popped into Saints Peter and Paul Church, mooched about the shops and took pictures of all the beautiful buildings along the way. We then wandered back to the main square for food, a rest and of course more pictures.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We had a late lunch in The Hard Rock Cafe. The food and staff were great and the view looking towards The Cloth Hall in the main square was amazing – Scott and Mike got a good few time lapses. Michael and I both had their original legendary burger and Scott had Bbq ribs.

We had friends who were visiting Krakow around the same time as us – they had arrived two days before us and later on we met up for a few drinks and a catch up. They had already done Auschwitz and the Saltmines, so they were able to give us tips and advice before our trip the next day.

img_5443.jpg

After drinks, we headed back to the hotel to get some food and an early night. The food at the hotel was beautiful and slightly more expensive than other restaurants – but this was to be expected as it was a hotel restaurant. I had salmon and squid, Scott had beef and prawn, and Mike had lamb. We were given amuse-bouches with cottage cheese, crispy bacon and cucumber before our mains. For dessert Scott and I shared a chocolate and vanilla mouse. The hotel cleaning staff were so cute and thoughtful – they folded my pyjamas! it’s the little touches like this that made us love our hotel. Reception staff were also all very helpful – Tomask, who checked us in, gave us recommendations for other popular sights to see in Krakow; such as the National Museum where you can see Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Lady with an Ermine’ painting. Unfortunately, we never got to go – but there’s always next time!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We had booked both Auschwitz and Saltmines for the combined day trip. We had to be at our meeting point (Radisson Blu Hotel) for 7am; this meant that we were going to miss breakfast in our hotel, but it turned out OK because they were able to put together packed lunches for us as a substitute.

We had a guided tour for The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum; which includes the Nazi concentration camps Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II – Birkenau. Our tour guide was brilliant and we each had headsets so that we could always hear what she was telling us. All together I think this tour lasted about 4/5 hours.

img_5491

img_5484

Our bus brought us back to the meeting point to pick up the other people who had booked the Saltmines tour on it’s own. Saltmines were only about a 20-25 min drive from here and we had time to get a bite to eat before this guided tour. We had headsets again for this tour and our guide was brilliant; he knew so much and made many attempts to interact with us as a group. It gets pretty warm down there too so I wouldn’t advise you take a big jacket/coat with you on this tour – a warm jumper would do the job. There are a few gift shops along the way on this tour and I got two bags of rock salt – Sol Kamienna. I couldn’t go too much over board with buying gifts and souvenirs as our suitcase was 3kg overweight when coming over – so I limited myself to two small bags – go me!

img_5516

img_5522

Both of these historical attractions were incredible and out-standing. I can’t get over the extent of Auschwitz and how beautiful the Saltmines are. I don’t honestly think words could do either of these locations any justice. You just have to see it for yourself. Both of these trips include a lot of walking so by the end of this 11 hour combined day trip we were pretty tired. That evening, we went to a highly rated Indian restaurant just a few steps away from the main square. Oh My Goodness – the food was amazing! This restaurant was called The Indian Masala.

img_5529.jpgimg_5528img_5533.jpg

For starters we shared onion bhajis, chicken pakora and chicken tikka. For mains I ordered a prawn balti, Mike had buttered chicken and Scott had a chicken madras. We also had pilau rice and garlic nan bread. We were stuffed…

The next day, Friday, was our last day. We decided to take it easy; as we were completely knackered at this stage. There is a lot of walking about when it comes to Krakow. We got a taxi from the hotel to drop us off across the river from The Wawel Castle; Scott wanted to get some drone shots in and this seemed like the perfect area as it was far enough from crowded areas and tall buildings. We then walked back to the main square to get a few more final pictures and take in the scenery. From the very beginning of this trip I always said I wanted to try some traditional Polish dumplings; Pierogi. We found a great spot at Loza Cafe looking out towards The Cloth Hall and the line up of carriage horses outside St Mary’s Basilica and ordered drinks with two plates of Polish dumplings; one with cottage cheese, onions and potato and the other was labelled as meat – it tasted like beef. Both were delicious and so was my Pina Colada cocktail!

img_5570.jpg

img_5575.jpg

img_5626.jpg

After this we had another wee look through The Cloth Hall – they have lovely traditional items in there such as jewellery, clothing and other hand made crafts. We went to the western corner of the square where the Eros Bendato head sculpture is located and also a Starbucks – Mike hadn’t had a nice cup of tea this whole trip so I thought here would be the perfect spot to people watch while sipping some hot beverages. He said his tea was perfect but my cappuccino tasted a little strange – I think it’s more the milk that was throwing me off; but I drank most of it anyway.

img_5585.jpg

We then moved onto another cafe/restaurant on the other side of The Cloth Hall. This place was a little bit of a let down – so we just finished our drinks and moved on a bit further. We chose to walk down one of the wee alley ways we hadn’t been down before – just to see what we would come across. We found the beautiful St Anne Church. I absolutely love looking around churches and cathedrals because they are generally pretty simplistic looking from the outside and so grand and extravagant on the inside.

img_5603

img_5593img_5595img_5598img_5602

Below are some pictures I took of the Saints Peter and Paul Church – another beautiful building.

img_5398img_5393img_5374img_5365

After this walk about; we decided to try the Italian restaurant our friends had tried and loved the most out of all others; this restaurant was called Mamma Mia Trattoria. We knew only to have a main dish as those dumplings were quite filling but we had to eat something now as we all agreed we didn’t want to chance food in the airport or on the plane. I had ordered the grilled tuna steak and the boys both ordered lasagne. My tuna steak was done rare and it was wonderful! The boys really enjoyed their lasagnes too and all dishes were the perfect size for what we were looking for right then; so if you also decide to eat here and you’re starving, I would recommend ordering a starter dish as well as a main or you could have a main and dessert – or all three courses!

img_5638.jpg

After we filled our stomachs to the brim we made our way back to the hotel to pick up our luggage and get a taxi from there to the airport. We got to the airport in good time and the flight home was grand. As it was a late flight back to Dublin (about a two hour drive from home) so we had already made a reservation with one of the airport hotels; we were completely knackered by the time we got off the plane so there was no way we could have made that drive home in one piece.

I would love to go back to this city; there was still so much more we wanted to see but just simply didn’t have the time – such as the Kościuszko Mound, the Barbican and the Old Jewish Quarter Kazimierz and we did really want to go to the Oskar Schindler Musuem too.

Krakow Top Tips:

> I had read in the Lonely Planet book on Krakow that it is customary to tip when eating out. In Poland tipping is expected for good service in restaurants – the norm is to tip around 10% of the bill. You can tip 15% if the service was exceptionally good. Tipping is not obligatory, you can tip whoever you want to show that the service was good. Our first night we only had big notes and so had no change to give a tip, which we felt awful about, so the next few days we always tried when possible to get our larger notes changed to smaller ones for this reason and also because a lot of shops and stalls don’t like to take in larger notes and will 9 times out of 10 make a big deal out of it.

> Also, when in restaurants, if your only option is to give over a larger note to pay make sure to ask for your change, if you are expecting a lot back and then you offer your tip.

> The exchange rate from sterling (GBP) to Polish złoty (PLN) is amazing! I only brought £250 sterling with me and that converted into about 1150 PLN – I managed to come back with about 200PLN. Most of our money went on food and drink – but not once did we really have to budget ourselves because the price there for everything (once you worked it out in what you would spend in sterling) was so so cheap!

> It’s a very walk-able city; major sights are dotted along the main square and so you easily dander about to take it all in. But if walking isn’t your thing; we seen these golf cart tours which cost about 150PLN and they will take you all the top tourist routes – even the ones outside of the main square to the Kazimierz and Schindlers Factory; they give you an audio guide (who is also your driver) as well.

I’d love to hear if you’ve been to Krakow before and what all you did while there, or if you are planning a visit soon and want some suggestions or advice – just give me a shout!

img_5552.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gifty Goes On An Adventure…

This week has been an emotional rollercoaster!

Since Saturday afternoon last week, Gifty has been missing. She’s been away for a day or two before but never for this long. She’s normally always there looking to be let into the house for sleepy times or for feeding times. So, of course, we’ve been calling out for her and looking in the normal hide out spots – but so sign of her.

We’re starting to worry big time about her because the last week or so she had been acting very out of character. Just little random things like she wouldn’t eat the food we put down in front of her or she’d be lying down, sound asleep and she would jump up and hide as if something has scared her.

img_5107

So she was in the house, along with Marley, on Friday night and I fed the both of them and then put them outside for their bathroom breaks the next morning. I went to work and so did Scott. When I came home from work; I called them both in for food but only Marley came. No sign of Gifts the rest of the night or Sunday, Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday – I was getting so worried. I put a picture up on my Snapchat of her to see if any of my friends in the area had seen her. A friend put up a facebook post for me (as we aren’t technically allowed pets in our house).

ef572-22712f_8a6e11edcc124718bb96aafb7fb853b3mv2_d_1242_2208_s_2

Thankfully, someone in a few parks over from ours, seen her and got in touch. I sent her a few more pictures to make sure it was Gifty and she was 100% sure it was. She said she had seen Gifty with her neighbours cat. I went over to that park, had a look for her and called her name – but no luck. She’s going to keep a look out for Gifty for me and give me a shout if she sees her again. I also asked another resident in the park to keep an eye out for her too.

Today, Scott and myself called around the park for her again – but again, no luck. We’re going away next week to Poland for 4 nights and Scott’s mum is on feeding duties; so if Gifty does decide to come back when we’re away at least there will be food for her here.

Fingers crossed she’s back soon! If you’ve experienced something similar with your cats or have stories from other people please feel free to share them with me – for a bit of reassurance if nothing else…

e5ed4-22712f_5a18b8d415f842de9758a631e82fdcc9mv2