Friday, 27 November 2015

Black Mass - Movie Review



Who's In It?

, and 


What's It About?

Johnny Depp plays real Boston crime lord Whitey Bulger, who turned FBI informant under the impression it would take down the mafia closing in on his turf.





Any Good?

Johnny Depp is brilliant as Whitey Bulger, he's totally convincing and bizarre looking with the blue eyes/yellow teeth combo, it's a HUGE step from his usual quirky same characters. While he is incredibly well acted, the film does the same thing every other crime media does and has the scene where the main boss says something insane calmly and then laughs and says they were joking. It also does the Al Capone everyone-loves-him angle that The Departed had, it just reduced him to a normal, samey villain.

The real Whitey Bulger

While Johnny Depp was amazing, he was outdone in my opinion by Joel Edgerton as the FBI agent he was informing. The transformation was brilliant - if predictable -, he goes from slightly cautious and nervous new guy to acting as if he's a crime lord himself; going as far as to try commanding his boss' boss around and threatening his wife .

Brilliant acting, great action scenes and just as good character development are dragged down by the fact this is nearly EVERY crime story you've ever heard. While I did enjoy the film, it was just that fact in the back of my mind that really took off the edge of all the intense scenes and reminded me that I know what's going to happen at every turn.


Rating:  



Thursday, 26 November 2015

Things That Rustle My Jimmies


I'll preface this week's Jimmies with the fact that there's a full moon and I'm basically a walking hormone this past week, but Sweet Baby CHEESUS if I haven't had to bite my tongue one time too many. In no particular order of buffoonery:

1. Anyone that adds me to a Closed Facebook Group to hock Aloe/Yonique/Body Wraps/Any other Ponzi Scheme they might have gotten caught up in... 
ESPECIALLY when they re-add me after I leave!



2. 'Have you met her? She's SO NICE!!'


3. Sharing 'Black Friday' Deals but not Mentioning that You've Added Your Own Affiliate Links...



4. 'Hey, Sue, LOVE what you do! I'm just getting started but would really appreciate if you'd 
pop over your contacts for...'


5. Christmas Trees in November. 



It's just as well I'm away this weekend for some R'n'R, isn't it? 
ISN'T IT?!?

Tell us, what's been rustling your jimmies this week? Any or ALL of the above? 


Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Cabra Castle Fit for a Queen in Kingscourt, Co Cavan!




At the start of the year I was very lucky to be given a luxury weekend break with Chill.ie and Irish Country Hotels. We chose the stunning 4* Cabra Castle Hotel in Kingscourt, Co Cavan for our break. Seeing as we have 5 children we never get any offers to babysit which is understandable really. We decided to split the children between their two Grannies so we could have our first child free break in years to celebrate our 12th wedding anniversary.

We didn’t get off to a good start as Storm Barney paid Ireland a visit so it rained nonstop all the way from Kildare to Dublin & traffic was chaotic, we were halfway up the M7 when I realised I’d left the baby’s nappy bag at home. As there are no convenient shops en route it was going to waste precious time to purchase what we needed but Sue came to my rescue with one of her #randomactsofhappy. She saved us a shed load of time, thanks Sue!



We safely deposited half our children in Glasnevin & half of them in Blanchardstown and left Dublin for the hour long drive to Cavan, still in the lashings of rain. From the second we arrived at Cabra castle I was in love with the place and every minute of panic was forgotten in an instant. They had their Christmas decorations up outside complete with tiny twinkling white lights, the castle looked stunning. Check in was efficient and friendly we also booked a table for dinner for later that night. Our room was located around the back of the Castle in the courtyard; we hopped in the car and drove around. (yes the castle is that big!)

We were in room 67 which is one of the top floor courtyard suites. The decor of the room was in perfect keeping with the Castle, expensive carpets and curtains with bare stone walls and varnished wooden ceiling beams. The bathroom was tiled floor to ceiling; in one corner was a gorgeous replica antique bathing stand in the other there was large Jacuzzi bath. Having read reviews on TripAdvisor I believe the courtyard rooms are better than the rooms in the Castle, many people advise asking for a courtyard room.




Every member of staff we encountered was so warm and friendly, which to be honest really makes a hotel stand out for me. Dinner is served in the Courtroom Restaurant on the first floor and books out fast so booking is advised. I could easily see how they book out as the prices are amazing for an award winning restaurant. A four course dinner starts at just €35.50 per person. The fact that the Castle and restaurant are always full is a testament to the owners; by keeping it affordable they are ensuring the Castle will remain open for years to come, employing local people.


The atmosphere in the restaurant was fabulous; a really relaxing and welcoming environment. We asked for a table down the back as it’s a smaller area making it more romantic. We couldn’t fault any one of the dishes served to us, all were made with local fresh ingredients cooked to perfection. If you do go I’d highly recommend the Caesar salad, it’s the best I’ve tasted in years. 


They make their own dressing which has won a gold medal and it’s divine. The wines were also surprisingly affordable; we opted for a delicious Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon priced at just €25 a bottle. We loved everything about the meal so much so that before we left we booked a table for the following night. 

Truly the only niggle I had with the restaurant was that when requesting (my fave) Eggs Benedict for breakfast, they didn't serve it. Now, I'm not mentioning this to be picky but it's not that they just didn't serve it, the waitress had never heard of it! I'm guessing she was new and what with the entirety of our stay being sensational, I'm not going to hold it against them. 



On Saturday we took a short drive into Carrickmacross for a spot of shopping and then on to Drogheda for lunch. It didn’t stop raining all day so we returned to the Castle early so I could have a Jaccuzzi to warm my bones before dinner. If they had a pool at the castle we would have spent the day at the hotel rather than braving the Irish weather. There were weddings on the Friday and on the Saturday at the castle so it was very busy but that didn’t impact us at all as there was always a friendly staff member available. 

They currently have a fantastic special offer on their website starting at €220 for 2 people for 2 night’s bed and breakfast. The only weekend date available is 1st & 2nd January it’d be a perfect Christmas gift for that someone special and yourself of course!



Trying to squeeze every last moment out of our weekend we spent Sunday morning sitting reading the Sunday papers at a large open fire just off the reception area, it was while here that we noticed the Proclamation framed and hanging on the wall. Also on the first floor there is one of the original Tricolours on display, I loved that they have an appreciation of our history and heritage.



It’s easy to see Cabra Castle is a family run hotel as everything is impeccable and the staff really seem to enjoy working there. The Corscadden family also own Ballyseede Castle in Co Kerry, which is now on our list of places to stay and Bellingham Castle in Co Louth which is a 19 bedroom Castle available for private hire for weddings, parties and corporate events. I recently learned that the family also bought Markree Castle in Co Sligo which is currently undergoing renovations, scheduled for opening in spring 2017; having stayed there a few years ago I can’t wait to return when it’s complete to see the Corscadden touch.

Have you ever stayed in Cabra Castle? How did you get on? Are there any other Castle hotels in Ireland we should visit?





Disclaimer:
As mentioned our break
was courtesy of Chill.ie
but not on condition of review.
We weren't paid or sponsored 
for this feature and, as ever, it 
wouldn't sway our opinion even
if we were. 

Friday, 20 November 2015

Bridge of Spies - Movie Review



Who's In It?

  and 


What's It About?

Tom Hanks (James B. Donovan) is an insurance lawyer appointed to defending a Soviet spy, and when he does so successfully he is sent to segregated Berlin to negotiate the trade of said Soviet for an American pilot.





Any Good?

The film starts out with a brilliant sequence of the steps Rudolph Abel (Soviet spy) takes to retrieve a dead drop.It really sets a standard for great methodical scenes that sound boring, but are really well done and interesting; despite the subtlety of a sledgehammer. 

The dead drop in question


The characters are great in the film, with the acting for the Soviet spy and German negotiator being head and shoulders above the rest - and Tom Hanks above even them, despite his constant verge of tears face. James Donovan's CIA handler (Agent Blasco) is total cheese though, it was like he was put in to add a ruthless face to the Americans after all the vilifying of the Soviets.

The biggest problem I had with the film was the obvious pushing of the flawless Nuclear Family American image. While the Soviets were torturing the American pilot and shooting people trying to climb the Berlin wall, the Americans were taking great care of the Soviet spy - and these scenes just looked so biased and forced next to each other. Other than that it was brilliant - but the blatant Zero Dark Thirty-esque jingoism almost killed it for me. 


Rating: 




Thursday, 19 November 2015

Things That Rustle My Jimmies


Oh I do like a good unrustling - don't you? If this is your first time, a little explainer: To Rustle One's Jimmies = To Annoy Someone Almost to the Point of Stabbiness.. but not quite. Each week we use the magical restorative powers of gif to unrustle those jimmies & set the world to rights again. 

This week's worst offenders:

1. 'I could of told you that' - Until you learn English you tell me NOTHING!



2. The 'Embed Tweet' function refusing to work on Blogger. 



3. When samples of beauty products are so much better than the full size. J'Accuse, Better Than Sex mascara ~ Tricksy Hobbitses!!




4. Packaged sandwiches that look stuffed to the brim, when it's only a sliver of filling in the centre & you end up eating dry bread instead!




5. Realising friends you highly respected are actually HUGE BIGOTS through their Facebook posts after a tragedy. 




Tell me, can you relate? 

What's been rustling your jimmies this week? 


Wednesday, 18 November 2015

The Toyota Auris Hybrid ~ Our #HappyinHybrid Week!




I'll start with a heartfelt Thanks to Toyota for the opportunity to work together to highlight their new Hybrid car this month. As soon as I received the brief, to use #HappyinHybrid, I knew I wanted to use the opportunity for good; to put my own spin on it, so to speak. In keeping with our entire ethos here at CherrySue, I wanted to pay that happiness forward; instead of relishing being happy in hybrid myself (which I absolutely did) I wanted others to feel a little of the happiness that came directly from driving the Auris too.

And so was born the week of #RandomActsofHappy, even though I had to fit my plans around my hybrid life as a working Mama/avid Blogger, this was probably the most rewarding project I've ever undertaken with the blog.


First things first was renewing my licence. I'd allowed it to lapse having handed back the fleet car I drove for my job in Road Safety a couple of years ago when our funding was cut. I'd actually half convinced myself that I didn't love being on the road every day from dawn 'til dusk; that and I'd never been able to justify buying a new car when there's teens, college & copious amounts of makeup to be paid for (it's an illness).

I knew I wanted to relate each of our #RandomActsofHappy back to drivers and the driving experience but also that I wanted to highlight some charities & organisations that are dear to our hearts. All the while, hoping that sharing the hashtag might just inspire others to do the same. It did. More often and in more ways than I could ever have hoped for.

So what did we do? You can take a quick squizz at the full five days through the Hashtag HEREbut our highlights include:


Driving the lesser spotted Gorgebag to college for the first time ever.





Braving Storm Abigail on Thursday night, I picked up my two favourite ladies from Athy as a birthday surprise. I haven't knocked on that door in at least 2 years so SURPRISE was right! We had a mini soiree in the back of the car before heading back up the N7 and arriving in style, safe and sound for the VIP opening night at Ice Skating Dublin in the Blanchardstown Centre. Singing our hearts out in the comfort of the car was probably my favourite part of the lot. Vive la Careoke! 
Being preoccupied with my niblings' surprise birthday bash I gave my tickets to the Absolut Soder event to a good work friend. So a stop at the drive-through before a day of meetings was needed.

That wasn't my only visit to the drive-through that day though. This time 'round, I paid it forward by paying it backward & treated the car behind - see that full Video Tweet HERE:

'Here's hoping it's not a Clown Car!'

Next up was saving my Pops from the tail end of Storm Abigail by doing the Parental prescription run. They may only live 10 minutes from us but it's been quite a while since I've been able to help my parents out like this:
Real medicine & real medicine. Just what the Doctor ordered!


Saturday's idea was to surprise a good friend in a far flung part of the country but when the atrocities happened in Paris on Friday night, I changed my plans. I knew I wanted to help out with people returning to Dublin so offered up free lifts home to anyone that might really need one LINK HERE. When, quite understandably, I didn't have any short notice takers, I came up with the next best thing. I'd take a spin out and leave a warm welcome for one weary passenger on the ticket machine, hoping it would brighten someone's drive home. As fate would have it, these girls found it when they needed it most:



I couldn't quite believe the message from Laura on my Instagram that evening

The reaction to this particular #RandomActsofHappy has been nothing short of phenomenal. Shared thousands of times now and garnering interest on several of the country's largest entertainment websites such as Joe.ie /Her.ie, in print media as I spoke to Abi from The Mirror and on TV as seen above. 

Even now I'm receiving press inquiries about this beautiful little moment of kismet. That and, more importantly, messages from readers & strangers alike to say that it has inspired them to do their own Random Acts of Happy. Now that's an amazing feeling. 


Sunday saw the one and only time it's a good idea to put Diesel in a Hybrid:

Puppy Mani/Pedi Bound with Diesel

Then it was off to give Thanks to some people that have quite literally changed our lives. St. Luke's in Beaumont for the kindness and care they showed my Dad during his illness and Temple St for quite literally saving Adam's life when he was involved in a hit and run accident at just five years old. That was probably the most emotional day of the week to be honest and sincere apologies to those that snapped and tweeted to say I'd made them cry too. That was never the intention. But thank you too.



Heroes for heroes in St. Luke's & Temple Street

I had wanted to offer Patient drops to the Irish Cancer Society for their help during my Dad's radiation treatment but, understandably they need a commitment of time for that. Should you have the time or the resources to do so though, they could always do with some help. Get in touch through Volunteer.ie or Cancer.ie. I've been fundraising for the children's hospital ever since Adam's accident too and if they have helped you and yours, you can get in touch to do the very same at TempleStreet.ie.


On Monday we highlighted one charity that's looking to take your copper collections from you for a very good cause, well for five. Change for Charity support five Irish charities with the shrapnel you have lying in your cars ashtray or down the back of your seats :

Then real life & digital life crossed over once more as I popped across to our venue for our upcoming Fingal Road Safety Roadshow to finalise our numbers:



In fact there was a lot of this hybrid fitting right in to our way of life this week. It being ridiculously economical and good for the environment, which I try to be *ahem*being just two:
I shared my very last installment of RandomActsofHappy on Snapchat yesterday and won't mention it here as I'm unsure as to whether it's been found yet and I'd really like it to be a unexpected surprise for the recipient. 


About the car itself. What made me Happy? 


If you've been following along with our adventures you'll know I shared right the way through my favourite features of the car itself - but what were they for those of you that missed it?

  1. Hybrid Engine - firstly the fact that I got all of the benefits of an electric car, without ever needing to plug it in. For someone that often forgets to plug in her phone, never mind her car this was a BOON. 
  2. The intelligent Hybrid engine decides how best to fuel itself, braking charges the battery, which in turn kicks in when you're braking a lot. So pretty much all the time during city driving. That means silent, economical joy - and more money for lipstick (again,illness). 
  3. Automatic handling - there's no clutch, no catch and in fact the Auris handles very much like the swishest golf cart of your dreams. Given that I've driven every jallopy known to man in my Fingal days (Lisa Dingle in a Hi-Ace has nothing on me) this was a dream to glide through the week in. 
  4. Heated seats. I suffer with sciatica because of slipped discs. Not so this week. One flick of a switch and I was in heaven; sliding out of the car and about my business all week long, much like Mr. Burns bringing Love
  5. Alloy Wheels, OK, yes this is a pretty shallow one but when a fat cat in 3 Series BMW and an eagle eyed driver in an Audi R8 spend their time in traffic gawking at your wheels then that's a little slice of happiness in itself. 

All in all, my week with the Auris and my #RandomActsofHappy was one I won't soon forget. I'm thanking my lucky stars that I renewed my licence in time to take part. I'm thanking every single reader/tweeter/Snapper & RandomActsofHappy participator for their outpouring of joy and encouragement during our five days and I'm thanking Toyota for helping me to fall in love with driving all over again.


Got any questions or comments? 
                               I'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

The Airfield Christmas Experience ~ A Magical Time for All!





We were invited to Airfield in Dundrum to bring our 5 children to their Christmas Experience and from the moment we arrived we loved it! Having visited earlier this year with Fun.ie to film for Ireland:AM (see that adventure HERE), we heard all about their plans for the upcoming festivities from Marketing Manager Shauna. Being a self professed Christmas nut, I advised we would most definitely be back to see their Winter Wonderland.




For those of you that have never visited Airfield it’s a 38 acre urban farm, visitor centre and restaurant just off the M50 near Dundrum shopping centre. They’ve recently undergone a multi million euro renovation so everything is in pristine condition. We arrived on Sunday late afternoon so we still had some daylight to visit the farm yard. Two wonderfully jolly elves Twinkle & Buddy were at the main gate to greet us. They gave us a map and a rundown on what we would be doing.



Twinkle was our guide throughout the experience and I have to say she was fantastic with our over excited children. As we walked through the estate they chatted away to her and she never once broke character even while speaking to me. With 5 little ones aged 9 and under we’ve gone on a lot of Christmas outings, through experience we’ve learned that the staff either make or break the whole enjoyment of the visit. Every elf & staff member we encountered were lovely to us.



I won’t spoil all the surprises but I will tell you that there are lots of festive things to see and do like seeing if you can find the fairies along the route. On our journey to the farm yard we passed by two donkeys and stopped to see them as they are my son’s favourite animal. When we got there we saw some really cute calves; some of which were only two weeks old. My little ones were amazed to see Blitzen and Comet relaxing in one of the stables.


It was soon time to go to the letter writing station where the children wrote and posted their letters to Santa in the magical post box with some help from McSprinkles the elf. There is also a fabulous sleigh in this room for a family photograph, they cost €10 each and €5 for copies. We got one and unfortunately it turned out really dark. So if you get one make sure you check it as I’m sure it can be rectified there & then.


Mr & Mrs Claus’s bedroom was really well decorated and Seamus my 7 year old thought it was hilarious that he saw Santa’s long johns hanging up to dry! It was funny to see them sneak in for a look as if they would be caught by Mrs Claus any second. From this point on there are speakers on every lamp post so you can listen to Christmas carols while you wander through the magical forest to Santa’s hidden grotto. Giant nutcracker soldiers, oversized presents and real Christmas trees with twinkling lights line the walkway right up to the grotto. The smell of the Christmas trees instantly gave me that festive feeling. They did a great job of creating the perfect yuletide atmosphere.


Before we entered the grotto we had to leave the baby’s buggy in the buggy park, it was great that they thought to put a cover on it so we had no worries in case it rained while we were inside. There were more elves here to greet us and provide the children with hot chocolate and mulled wine for adults. I loved that they served all the drinks warm and not hot so we could drink them straight away as the smells were divine.



The visit to Santa is a group visit but they are limited in numbers so they are small groups. The children all sat on cushions around Santa’s feet beside the fire while he chatted to them about what they’d like for Christmas and then told them a funny Christmas story before giving each of them a gift. There was time at the end where we got a quick picture of our family with Santa. Not once did we feel rushed or in a hurry to move on as we have with other Christmas experiences we visited in the past. When we left Santa’s grotto we visited Overends house to see their decorations, it was like walking into a storybook of yesteryear, I think my photographs can tell you more than I ever could. 

Gifts are unisex and are appropriate for either 1-3 years or 3+, 4 of our children received the age 3+ gifts. All the gifts are presented in a printed cloth bag which I think was much better than wrapping paper as they can keep them for years to come with our Christmas decorations. There are two variations of gifts; one is a little wooden music box along with three wooden spinning tops, a Christmas tree cookie and a packet of reindeer food to put out on Christmas Eve. The second is a wooden music box and a xylophone. While I wouldn’t have ever bought a xylophone for my 9 year old daughter she hasn’t put it down since she got it, she’s thrilled with it.




We didn’t pay for our tickets but like all of our reviews, this didn’t in any way influence my views on our visit. Tickets are available from www.airfield.ie priced at €22.50 for children over 12 months, €12.50 for adults with a 20% discount for members of Airfield Estate. While I did initially think that these prices were on the high side and there are places that are more expensive, you actually pay for what you get. It’s great that you don’t need a ticket for babies under 1 year old as when we visited Rathwood a couple of years ago we were made pay full price for our 6 week old baby, despite not wanting a gift for him.

My advice would be to get there early and make a day of it by having lunch in Overends restaurant. While we didn’t on this occasion the last time we were there we had a delicious lunch. They are very reasonably priced for fresh farm to fork meals in a lovely relaxing environment. I've recommended the restaurant as a standalone attraction to people in the Dundrum area so many times since. 

We had a wonderful Christmas experience at Airfield and will pay to go back again next year. If you are planning to go make sure you book fast as most weekends are nearly booked out!