Friday, 22 September 2017

Steak & Live Music at the Castle Vaults

Dining, Dublin, Review, The Castle Vaults, FdBloggers, Ireland,
Dining, Dublin, Review, The Castle Vaults, FdBloggers, Ireland,
On our second night in Dublin, we struggled on finding somewhere for dinner and I ended up finding the Castle Vaults (at the Castle Hotel) on Open Table. It looked a little different, atmospheric and as we went for steak on our first date (a year ago that day), we were always going to re-live it. Luckily, the hotel was just around the corner from where we were staying. For those not staying at the hotel, the restaurant and bar aren’t the easiest to find – even when we asked at reception, we still struggled to find it.

Upon arrival, there appeared to be no confirmation of our reservation, but luckily there were plenty of free tables – and we were given the option of sitting in the lounge area, or in the restaurant. We chose the latter, which really was the vault and such a unique experience. Even though we were quite out of the way and the service did suffer slightly, it was definitely more intimate than sitting in the lounge – although we retired there after the meal.
Dining, Dublin, Review, The Castle Vaults, FdBloggers, Ireland,
We both went for the 10oz sirloin steak (medium for me, medium/rare for Ash), which came served with chunky chips, peppercorn sauce and a lovely selection of pan-fried vegetables (onion, green beans and mushroom). The steak was cooked perfectly (for my adapted taste... bring on having rare steak again!) and the sauce was the perfect consistency – I just wish there was more of it, as I like it with my chips as well as meat. As you can see, the portions were huge and I just about managed to finish (with Ash helping me finish the steak... 10oz is a lot larger than I’d normally order).

We skipped dessert and instead retired to the lounge area for another drink, which was great as there was a live singer that night. We didn’t stay for his whole set, as I was tiring, but it really was enjoyable – and one of my favourite things about the Irish bar scene. He took requests as well as playing popular folk songs. The lounge had a great atmosphere, definitely made better by the music and the sofas were too comfortable, I didn’t want to get up!

The prices were reasonable and I had a really enjoyable evening. If we were staying at the hotel, I’m sure we would have eaten there anyway. We did have to wait a while originally to order, but overall the experience was positive and it was great re-living our first date a year later.

Love, Lucy xx

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Road Tripping | Ireland Days 6-7

Wicklow, Powerscourt, Waterall, Ireland, Travel,

From Wicklow, it was the Irish capital that we spent the following two nights. We didn’t do that much on the first day, but the second day was a lot busier – which is why I’ve grouped the days together.

Following a friend’s recommendation, we left Druids Glen and stopped at Powerscourt en route. We travelled with our friends Alex and Alex who were also spending the night in the same hotel as us. There was so much to see, including a house and gardens – but we were there to see the waterfall, which is the largest in Ireland. I wasn’t able to get too close, as it was very rocky and uneven, but from a distance, it was spectacular – and everyone else managed to make their way to the foot of the falls.

Today we walked 11km.
Ireland, Travel, Guide, Road Trip, Dublin,
Ireland, Travel, Guide, Road Trip, Dublin, Guinness,
Ireland, Travel, Guide, Road Trip, Dublin, Zoo,
The following day, we were quite touristy – getting tickets for the Hop on Hop off sightseeing bus. I always find these methods perfect for exploring cities, especially if you’re unfamiliar with them, or want to see a lot in a short space of time. Most tours offer 24 hour and 48 hour tickets, depending on how much time you have to spare. We opted for a day, only got off twice but did the whole route.

The first stop was the Guinness Storehouse for the experience, which was interesting but also so much fun – with plenty of interactive areas. There were five levels to explore and while there were lifts for when I couldn’t manage the stairs anymore, there weren’t many opportunities to sit whilst on the tour. Admission includes a pint of the famous drink at a number of points – so before we left, we made our way to the Gravity Bar. It was incredibly busy, but I managed to grab a seat and take in the 360-degree views, which would have been better on a brighter day! I did offer Ash my ticket so he could have had two pints, but instead exchanged my ticket for a soft drink.

Next, Dublin Zoo called – as it was a year to the day of our first date, which was also at the zoo (Whipsnade). Unfortunately as we arrived, the heavens opened and we weren’t prepared for the elements. Similarly, some of the animals weren’t outside, or in their indoor areas. I was really pleased to see the giraffes and flamingos, but we didn’t get the chance to see everything – because of the time, as well as the weather. I love zoos though and I had a really good time. Phoenix Park, where the zoo is based, is quite a way from the other sights (and our hotel) and we had to ensure we got the bus back before they stopped running. If we return to Dublin in the future, I’d love to spend a day at the park, as the grounds are so extensive – and even re-visit the zoo.

Today we walked 6.9km.
Where we stayed
We spent two nights here and after one of the best night’s sleep on Saturday (at Druids Glen), I followed it up with one of the worst on the Sunday. Our room was a good size, although a little on the basic side. The hotel was undergoing refurbishment during our stay and we were on the ground floor, towards the back – where a lot of the noise could be heard. There were more rooms upstairs, while breakfast was downstairs. The location was good, in terms of walking into the city and also for transport links. However, there was no car park; road parking was expensive and difficult, but we did receive a discount token for the nearby multi-storey.

Love, Lucy xx

Friday, 15 September 2017

OOTD | Michelle & Will’s Wedding

Druids Glen Hotel, Wicklow Mountains, Ireland, Wedding,
So apologies if you were expecting to see ‘Road Tripping | Ireland Day 5’, but the whole of day five, or Saturday 26th August was spent at Druids Glen Hotel & Golf Resort as we celebrated the wedding of Michelle and Will. I’ll be talking about the gorgeous accommodation later on, but first, let’s see what we wore!
AX Paris, Fashion, Kurt Geiger, Outfit, Primark, Shoeaholics, Wedding
AX Paris, Fashion, Kurt Geiger, Outfit, Primark, Shoeaholics, Wedding
AX Paris, Fashion, Kurt Geiger, Outfit, Primark, Shoeaholics, Wedding
What I wore
Dress – AX Paris
Shoes – Kurt Geiger, Shoeaholics (only available in a size 4 here)
Bag – Primark

You may have seen the dress before, as I wore it to Chris & Emma’s wedding two years ago. I didn’t want to buy a new dress ideally, as I wasn’t sure how much bigger I’d get in the lead up to the wedding and was worried I could well balloon whilst we were away. Thankfully, despite being bodycon, the dress stretched and fit me well. I knew Ash was wearing his navy suit so even if I had bought a new dress, it would have been navy to match... couples goals, obv!

I love my white Kurt Geiger sandals – they’re so comfortable and the bow detail is super cute. As I wasn’t intending on buying new shoes, these went best with my dress, too. Everyone else was in heels, but at least I didn’t need to take these off, or take advantage of the complimentary flip flops (although I wish I had picked up a pair!).

I wish I had tanned in advance as the colour didn’t set it until the following day/s – I used Tantastic’s Liquid Tan, which always has a lovely, natural colour, is easy to apply and dries quickly. Not that you can tell I have any on...

Next, ASOS, Tie Room, Fashion, Outfit, Wedding
Next, ASOS, Tie Room, Fashion, Outfit, Wedding
What Ash wore
Suit – Next
Shirt – Next
Bowtie –
Shoes – ASOS

Ash always knew he’d wear his navy suit with a white shirt, but wasn’t sure on the tie. We met up with our friends Alex and Alex prior to the wedding and the men decided they’d buy ties that were a little ‘different’ and both wanted to opt for the bow variety (self-tied, obv). He went for the green one in homage to Ireland. Although as soon as the drinks started flowing, the tie (and the jacket) came off!
Where we stayed
Such a beautiful and luxurious resort in wonderful surroundings. The staff were friendly and helpful – including taking our luggage as our rooms weren’t ready and portering it. I had one of the best night’s sleep in our king-sized bed, which was so soft. I loved all the extra touches, which included chocolates and Elemis toiletries in the bathroom (one of my favourite luxury brands). This was definitely one of my favourite stays of the trip.

Love, Lucy xx

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Road Tripping | Ireland Day 4

Guide, Ireland, Road Trip, Travel, Cliffs of Moher,
Guide, Ireland, Road Trip, Travel, Birr, Birr Castle, Castle & Gardens,
Guide, Ireland, Road Trip, Travel, Glendalough
Guide, Ireland, Road Trip, Travel, Glendalough, Lake
Doolin – Glendalough

We travelled across the country today in readiness for the wedding – the sole reason behind our road trip – in the Wicklow Mountains. Once again, several stops were needed. As we left Doolin, our first stop was the Cliffs of Moher. The landscapes and views were really beautiful, although there was a lot of walking involved. At this point, I wasn’t that tired, but we didn’t stay too long – or walk to every viewing platform. We went from the central point to the north point and O’Brien’s tower, where there were better views.

Birr Castle & Gardens were our next point of interest and while we weren’t able to go inside the castle (which is still the residence of the family), the grounds were extensive. There was due to be a fair at the weekend, so there were vans and people setting up for that, but we still managed to explore the beautiful gardens. This was another place we could have spent hours, as there were so many paths and routes to take – with the longest being about five miles. There was even a science centre at the grounds, home to the Great Telescope from the 1840s.

After calling at Carlow to visit a friend for tea and cake/biscuits, we journeyed on to Glendalough – where we spent the night. Our hotel was practically on the lake, which was magical. We even had time to explore the area, walking through a graveyard and monastic site before reaching Lower Lake and then walking the extra kilometre-and-a-half to Upper Lake. With not many other people walking or taking in the views, it was so serene and if I wasn’t in so much pain, I’d have walked on and we certainly could have spent more time around the lake – even bringing the car if necessary. It would have definitely been the perfect backdrop for my wedding OOTD shoot.

Today we walked 10.5km.
Where we stayed
With only a handful of accommodations in the area, we were probably in the best. The location was excellent, with everything on our doorstep. We had reasonable views from our room, which was a good size. However, from our room, you could hear all the noise from the corridor and the room opposite. We ate dinner in the bistro, which was typical pub fare but still reasonable.

Love, Lucy xx

Monday, 11 September 2017

Road Tripping | Ireland Day 3

Guide, Ireland, Road Trip, Travel, Ennistymon, Cascades
Guide, Ireland, Road Trip, Travel, Ennistymon, Cascades
Guide, Ireland, Road Trip, Travel, Doolin
Guide, Ireland, Road Trip, Travel, Doolin
Valentia Island – Doolin

We continued across Western Ireland and had a lot of travelling to do today – which meant a couple of stops. The first was a place called Adare – our Lonely Planet guidebook had dubbed it “Ireland’s Prettiest Village”. If it wasn’t for the beautiful old thatched buildings we saw on our drive away from the high street and onto our next destination, I would have had to disagree. It was a lovely little place with traditional pubs, independent cafes and boutique shops, but it wasn’t the best – or prettiest – place we visited on our trip.

The next stop was another guidebook recommendation and the small town of Ennistymon. The town is famed for its cascades, as the River Inagh runs through it. The cascades were the reason behind our quick stop and can be reached from behind the main street. Although it was pouring with rain when we arrived, it meant we were in luck, as the best time to view the falls is during or soon after rainfall. And they were spectacular!

I’m not going to write a post about dinner, but we went to a lovely Irish pub, which was across the road from where we were staying. We weren’t able to reserve a table and although there was a 40-minute wait, we were able to get a table in the bar and ate there instead – perfect as there was a live musician that night. The atmosphere was lively and I got my rib-fix! The interior and vibes were so typical of Ireland – and one of the things I noticed during our trip was how friendly people were; they’d speak to you as though you were friends!

Today we walked 2.9km.
Where we stayed
The guesthouse consisted of a main building and side house; we stayed in the latter, which was perfect: quiet, homely and the views were fab. The room was a decent size and there were some cute extra touches, including homemade biscuits (which were lush). Breakfast the following morning was good, with an a la carte menu for hot options – I had buttermilk pancakes with syrup and berries – as well as cereals, yogurt, toast and freshly baked scones! We met the owner during breakfast and she was so friendly, too. It’s a shame we weren’t able to eat in the restaurant for dinner during our stay.

Love, Lucy xx