Monday, 25 April 2016

Monday's Moments ~ 25/04/16

What a weekend! Spent bar hopping, musical watching & makeup shopping in London with Corrina for my belated birthday trip; the truth is I may be delirious with tired in writing today's post. How and ever, I can't let a Monday go by without giving thanks so here goes: 

1. Aaron sliding a card into my passport with money to buy my favourite Jo Malone in the airport. He just likes to see me blubber!

2. Flying British Airways for the first time and getting off the flight sideways, thanks to the overly generous complimentary drinks cart! The gorgeous girls gave us so much that we ended up in our Kensington hotel that night drinking gin from the tea mugs. WHAT a way to start an incredible weekend!

3. The weekend in its entirety, thanks to Corrina! She's not the maestro of Travel for nothing! She planned the lot and what she didn't plan we winged. It was exactly what the doctor ordered. Thanks, Sis!

4. Cocktails with the gorgeous Siún from to interview for her fabulous new site. She's one of my all time favourite critical thinkers; warm, funny & incredibly intelligent. That's something the Irish digital scene just can't have enough of. Check her latest post to see exactly what I mean, it's a hugely empowering piece with Mary McGill, you'll be glad you read it. 

5. THIS message from a lovely Snapper that grabbed life by the neck having watched my Snaps - I welled up as soon as I read it. Women are INCREDIBLE!

 Tell us, what Moment means you've no Monday blues this week? I'd love to hear!

Friday, 22 April 2016

Captain America: Civil War - Movie Review

Who's In It?

, and 

What's It About?

When General Thunderbolt (yep, really) Ross forces Government sanctions to be tabled by the Avengers, it splits the team down the centre.

Any Good?

A surprise to no-one, this movie is definitely NOT a Cap one; it's an Avengers through and through. I'm not sure if they named it as Captain America because Avengers 2 was so recent, or Iron Man already had 3 - but there's just as much if not more time devoted to other characters.

I found that they put a bit much focus on Cap being selfish and not perfect - over half the film seems to build up to the fact that he's wrong, until the last act or so where it flips the wrongdoing to Iron Man. But, even though I was/am Team Cap, I could totally understand where Tony Stark was coming from - even if the reasoning was as subtle as a slap in the face.

Spider-Man has always been my favourite Marvel hero, but even I found the hype around him in this a bit much considering how recent his last films were; but I was pleasantly surprised. Tom Holland was great as Peter Parker - awkward and nerdy but when he was Spider-Man he was funny and sarcastic even while being on his best behaviour.

Black Panther was also incredibly cool, he was quick and strong with a vibranium suit that soaks up minigun shots and has claws that damage Caps shield. One surprise was Ant-Man, he seemed to take some of the comic relief roll off Tony Stark's shoulder and it really suited Paul Rudd.

Bucky Barnes was a lot less angsty in this - but in some scenes he goes full Anakin Skywalker and hams it up rediculously. His arm looked fantastic however - but so did everything else. I absolutely LOVED Black Panthers suit - it reminded me of the Crysis Nanosuit, and even Spider-Man's suit didn't look half bad. 

The story felt like a fleshed out version of the fight about Ultron in Avengers 2 - it was definitely a set up movie. The highlights were definitely Spider-Man, Black Panther and Ant-Man being added into the Avengers - I'm quite looking forward to Spider-Man: Homecoming now. 

Overall I found it above average, but I think I've kind of fallen out of love with the big team based superhero movies after Batman vs Superman. I definitely do recommend going to see it though - the fight in the airport makes the trip worth it alone.


Thursday, 21 April 2016

Things That Rustle My Jimmies

I made the executive decision today to wait until after lunch to unrustle my jimmies ~ it was best for everyone... As ever, get in touch and release your own Kraken, it's oh so cathartic.

1. Tomato in pre-packed sandwiches...

2. Having to give up the ghost and replace my beloved Parfois sunglasses ~ they're so scratched I'm like Roy Orbison doing laps of the park...

3. Free range children in restaurants!

4. Event pictures that I didn't know were being taken...

5. "No Offence"

Tell us, can you relate? What's been rustling your jimmies this week? 

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

New Brows AND a Good Deed ~ Benefit's #BoldisBeautiful Campaign is Coming!

There's nowt I love to promote more than a brand supporting home grown charities. I'm not talking slapping a ribbon on something and calling it awareness, I'm talking full on, '100% of proceeds go to..' kind of support. That's why when I learned of the upcoming Bold is Beautiful campaign from Benefit, I knew I'd be sharing again and again. Last year alone Benefits Global Philanthropy Campaign donated $2.5 million to local charities, this year they're including Ireland in their philanthropic efforts. 

It me! As a superhero/young Esther Rantzen - Thanks, Benefit!
How to Get Involved with #BoldisBeautiful

During the month of May 100% of the proceeds from all brow waxes (€16), completed at the 13 Benefit brow bars will go to the two chosen charities, Look Good Feel Better and Daisy House. Not only that but as a thank you Benefit are gifting every customer with a full size Gimme Brow product (€26) for getting involved with their charity efforts. 

Often copied, never equaled, you'll have seen me talk about Gimme Brow
The Charities Chosen

Look Good Feel Better are dedicated to improving the well being and self confidence of women undergoing treatment for all forms of cancer. Daisy House (Watch HERE) provide secure affordable high quality supported accommodation to homeless women and to provide them with the skills and confidence to move to independent living. Both do Trojan work for the women of Ireland, the funds raised by Benefit for this Bold is Beautiful could be quite literally life changing for many of them. 

Maggie Ford Danielson (Benefit's Global Beauty Authority) speaking passionately about the Bold is Beautiful Global and Local campaign

Will you be bringing your brows to Benefit during the month of May? I know I will and I know Corrina will too (they're her go to brow bar anyway). New Brows and a good deed to boot? Thanks, Benefit!

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Athlone Castle & The Luan Gallery ~ Ancient Ireland’s Fortifications Brought to Life!

Through travelling Ireland and seeking out museums, exhibitions and events with our 5 children, we have instilled in them a love of Irish history and heritage. My older three children Orla, Aoife (9) and Seamus (7) had been learning about Ancient Ireland’s Fortifications in class so our Tullamore trip was an ideal opportunity to bring them to Athlone Castle.

From Tullamore it was a 35 minute drive to Athlone but we stopped off along the way when we saw a playground. I find it helps to break up road trips with young children if you let them keep an eye out for playgrounds you can stop at along the way. We have rules though, if we’re on the way somewhere we only stay as long as it takes for them all to get a go on everything in the playground then it’s a run back to the van to set off again.

Athlone Castle

As we arrived at Athlone Castle it had just started to rain, we were lucky enough to find on street parking around the side of the castle on the banks of the River Shannon costing €2.40 for two hours parking. We received a lovely warm welcome from Mary and Fiona who gave us a map of the eight gallery spaces.

Little ones enthralled in Athlone Castle

My children were mesmerised by the first room we entered as it contained an audio visual set up they had never seen before. There was a large flat rock like structure on a table in front of a bench; they quickly clambered up onto it to see what the buttons would do. To their delight an over head projector projects moving battle scenes onto the rock, this was further enhanced by a large cinema screen on the wall behind it explaining what they were seeing, they were also surrounded by the sounds of a battlefield. Needles to say we had to stay for the full presentation twice over!

We moved on into the other exhibition spaces learning as we went that Athlone Castle was built in 1210 to defend the crossing point of the River Shannon. The next room was full of our favourite kind of history “hands on”. They got to play interactive games, use the touch screen displays, build a 3D model of the Castle, practice using a bow and arrow and even dress up in period costume for a photo or two.

All smiles building his very own Athlone Castle

There is a small lift so I had no issues negotiating three floors with a baby in a buggy. When we got to the second floor, Ann a volunteer at the castle joined us to explain all about the run up to the siege of Athlone. The children soaked up what she had to say like sponges as she was very friendly and warm towards them.

My favourite exhibitions were the 360° cinema depicting the 1691 siege of Athlone and the life size Jacobite and Williamite soldiers clothed in recycled materials, a quirky twist that makes for a spectacular display.

Admission: Adults €8, Senior/Student €6, Children under 15 €4, Children under 4 free and discounted family tickets €20 & €25. On your admission tickets you will find special offers such as half price admission to Belvedere House and 25% off an Irish coffee at Sean’s Bar among others.

Luan Gallery

The Luan Gallery is located directly across the road from Athlone Castle; you can use the underpass if you wish to avoid crossing the road. Luan Gallery the first purpose built municipal art gallery in the midlands was opened in 2012. While we were visiting they had a 1916 Centenary exhibition. My son Seamus made sure we didn’t miss it and I was glad as not only did we get to view some wonderful artwork we also got to take in some beautiful views of the River Shannon.

Admission is free, guided tours are also available free of charge but they must be booked in advance.

Sean’s Bar

Cillian refueling, while the big ones plan our next move (he's his Aunty Sue's protege)

Dating back to 900 A.D. Sean’s Bar has claimed the title of oldest bar in Ireland. Guinness World Records list it as the oldest watering hole in Europe, so I knew while we were in Athlone we had to pop in for a glass of lemonade and a packet of crisps. With low ceilings and saw dust on the floor as soon as you enter you know you’ve stepped back in time.

The smell of the open turf fire envelops you and brought me right back to my childhood days of holidays in Connemara. As we were having a drink a couple in the corner were chatting, I recognised them as we’d seen them in both Athlone Castle and Luan Gallery. The gent approached our table as he was going to the bar. I was nicely surprised when he complimented me on giving my children a wonderful childhood and filling it with memories like these.

Aoife warming her cockles in Seán's Bar before moving on - she didn't lick it off a ston...

Sean’s Bar also has a riverside garden I’d say it’d be beautiful for a visit during the summer months to watch the traffic on the Shannon while having a cooling drink.

Did you know you can take a cruise on a replica Viking longship down the Shannon to Lough Ree? I didn’t! It’s a 75 minute cruise costing €35 for a family, departing from the quayside at Athlone Castle. Unfortunately it was raining while we were there so we’ll be returning during the school holidays.

Have you been to Athlone? What did we miss?

*Disclaimer: I had paid into Athlone Castle but was very generously refunded our admission fee when we were leaving as I had been tweeting about our experience, while we were there. I also received a pair of adult tickets for a return visit which I gave away via a Twitter competition. @msmum was our lucky winner & the tickets have been posted to her.