Friday, April 30, 2010

Picnic Chic

Since writing about picnics yesterday I have been unable to think about anything else. Images of Toblerone towers of salad sambos and wedges of sweet cake march into my thoughts, forcing them to pause and linger on a picture of myself dining alfresco. There I am, peaches and cream, perched on a blue checkered blanket surrounded by a sea of long grass and unadulterated wildflowers. I can feel the heat of the sun on my face. But for my bonnet I would be pink. OK fine, that's taking it a bit far - I'll lose the romantic dribble. However, with the dismissal of this bucolic Austenesque scenario comes a new one. Now I am munching macaroons, ginger beer in hand, discussing clues with my cousins and Timmy the Dog (yes I am Anne). One way or another the thoughts of a picnic swell my imagination. Despite my hitherto rather dreary experiences, I continue to reject the grim reality of the picnic in favour of aspirational fantasy.

On a quest to achieve what may very well be unattainable, I have decided to heed my own advice and chase some picnic fun this weekend. Not one to do things by halves I am now throwing myself into the genre. As with all my whims and fancies this involves acquiring the perfect accessories! Here are some of my top picks for picnic bliss.

This gorgeous cherry picnic basket for two looks sweet enough to need to fill it with treats! If you simply can't resist it go to the Cath Kidston website prepared to fork out £85. A cheaper option is this funky Jessica picnic bag from Meadows & Byrne for just €39.50. This is a dinky little tea flask I found on the Run that House Blog. It simply melts my heart. You can buy it online for £10 from the Dot Com Gift Shop.

Of course all these accessories are pointless without the star of the show, the food! There is some great advice and recipes for yummy picnic treats like the salads below on the BBC food website.

When you're finished gorging you can clean up with these kitsch gingham napkins from Cath Kidston. They just scream picnic! I wish these fab napkins could come in blanket size! I've been searching for the perfect picnic rug but unfortunately to no avail! I just can't find one worthy enough to hold the treasures above. If you know of a rug that deserves this honour please let me know! Also, feel free to share your favourite picnic accessories and recipes. I have a feeling I might be 'eating out' a lot this summer!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

May Day, May Day.....Have you made your weekend plans?

The May Bank Holiday Weekend always marks the start of summer for me. The stretch in the evening has everyone feeling full of energy and eager to get outdoors. Our country turns from Hiber-Nation to Hyper-Nation with people suddenly obsessed with making plans and 'making the most' of their summer. Before you get too caught up in the hysteria of scheduling in your summer fun, why not just seize the day and have some? Here are some simple ideas for random fun this bank holiday weekend.

Lucky Dip Trip

Put the names of all the counties in Ireland (or other depending on where you are from) into a hat. Pick one out, hop in the car and drive! You can figure out what to do onc you arrive at your lucky dip destination! If you do this with a small rather than a large group you will decrease the risk of not finding accommodation, but there are so many B&Bs in Ireland this really shouldn't be a problem.

Camping trip

Let this weekend be the weekend you actually go on that camping trip you'realways yammering on about. Forget all the usual excuses and pack up the tent, the beer and even that fishing rod you've only used once. There's nothing like sleeping out in the open and there is nothing stopping you-apart from yourself! If you don't want to completely immerse yourself in the wilderness there are heaps of official campsites across Ireland.

Local Sightseeing

Are there famous landmarks and attractions in your home town or surrounding area that you have never visited? Sometimes we can all be guilty of missing something that has been right under our noses all along. Why not check out the reason why your locality is might be pleasantly surprised, and if nothing else a little more like a local after!

Dodge Ball Derby

If you have a big gang around this weekend all looking for some cheap and cheerful fun then why not try a dodge ball tournament? Most people have played it before and if not it is easy to pick up (not so easy to dodge!) After a few games you will be well deserved of a couple of beers...and did anyone say BBQ? If you plan on taking your tournament extra seriously, perhaps thinking of making a career out of it, then here are the official Dodge Ball rules.


If your memories of picnics include warm lemonade peppered with sand, crushed soggy sandwiches, being too cold or too hot or too wet and fighting with your parents about not being allowed stay in the car, then you, like me, have lived the typical Irish childhood. But there is another side to picnics-one that does not involve children. Lose the kids and opt for a romantic other or a gang of friends. Pack that hamper with yummy gourmet food and booze and head to a picnic-friendly picturesque spot. Hunger is the best sauce so make sure you have worked up one before cracking the lid on the goodies. A picnic should be earned and relished; you need to either walk into the countryside for an hour, climb a mountain, drive to a distant scenic location, sail to an island.......whatever you do make sure you enjoy getting there and then eating there! A grassy patch beside your local Spar is not going to cut it folks! Always remember to take all rubbish away with you so the next people can have an equally nice time :)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Vantastival 2010

The May Bank Holiday marks the start of the summer festival season here in Ireland. If you are a keen festival goer eager to get the season into swing then here is a brand new music festival with a twist taking place this weekend.

Vantastival is a fun new festival being held on the Dunany Estate in Co. Louth from Friday April 30th to Sunday May 2nd. This family-friendly festival is aimed at all music lovers, but particularly those who are also scooter and camper-van enthusiasts. Alongside a line-up of over 60 musical acts there will be theatrical and street art performances, art and cookery demonstrations, camper-van construction, embellishment and maintenance sessions and lots more!

The Dunany Estate is a privately owned organic farm nested between the Mourne mountains and Dundalk bay. To keep costs down the festival organisers will not be running a bar and are instead inviting people to 'Bring Your Own Beer'! The whole weekend, including camping, costs €85. For tickets and further information visit the Vantastival website and be the first on board for what is sure to become a regular fixture!

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Hello and welcome to my Blog.

I own and run a travel agency in Ireland. It is slightly different to the typical operation as we specialise in Mystery travel. We book trips for our customers and keep the destination a secret from them until the day of their departure! When you book a Mystery trip you simply don't know where you might end up!

Working with is fun and exciting. But sometimes keeping a secret can be really tough! I am fit to burst with tips and tricks for travel in Ireland, Europe and beyond and am now ready to spill the beans!

Through this blog I want to share my top picks, reviews, advice and even some of my best kept secrets!

So let's get that cat out of the bag! Follow me as we take a trip around the world!

Sinead Gillett

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