Thursday, March 31, 2016

Things That Rustle My Jimmies ~ 31/03/16

There are weeks when things go so right that I rack my brains to come up five jimmie rustlers THIS IS NOT ONE OF THOSE WEEKS:

1. The ENTIRE Instagram community losing their collective sh*t about the new algorithm being introduced and bombarding every single feed with 'TURN ME ON - TURN MY NOTIFICATIONS ON - ALLOW ME TO INTERRUPT YOUR DAY EVERY DAY' instead of, ya'know taking a minute or two to go directly to source and figure out what exactly is happening and how to make the change work to improve their feed. Yes the algorithm is changing. No it's not changing yet. No your account is not about to implode. 
Yes, it's a good thing. 

2. Being so plagued with the black lung that I slept for my 
ENTIRE four day weekend. 

3. The bank charging you for USING YOUR OWN MONEY!

4. Sending indirect Snaps AS DIRECT SNAPS!!

5. When people post satirical vids poking fun at Bloggers but refuse moderate the vitriol and hate in their comments...

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

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Our Easter Rising Centenary - The Day Our Nation Stood Proud

One of the many reasons we travel so often with our children is to broaden their little horizons. If you've been following our travels for any time you'll know for each city or town we visit, we actively seek out cultural events, heritage museums or sites of historical importance to take in during our stay. Children are like sponges and really do soak up information better than we adults ever do, well personally speaking anyway! We've instilled a love of history in our children, Irish military history more so than any other as I met my husband nearly 20 years ago while we were both serving in the FCA in McKee Barracks in Dublin. Irish military history is quite literally in their blood. As with every other Irish man, woman and child both on our little island and flung further afield, this past weekend of the Easter Rising Centenary was one of the greatest in our rich history. 

Friday, March 25, 2016

Batman V Superman - Movie Review (NO SPOILERS)

Who's In It?

What's It About?

When Lex Luthor is denied access to kryptonite by a Congresswoman, he relies on The Bat of Gotham to kill Superman.

Any Good?

Remember back when Spider-Man 3 was out and people gave out about too many villains? Well we've come full circle and now have too many heroes.

While watching the film I couldn't shake the feeling that this is The Phantom Menace in comic movie form. The first 3/4 was slow, mostly uninteresting politics (and journalists disagreeing, oooh) with some great action scenes; while the last 1/4 was the great action you actually came to see.

Green Goblin, Sandman and Venom

I LOVED Ben Affleck's Batman, he was perfect as Frank Miller's version - an old and battered anti-hero who isn't some loved symbol, but an actually scary vigilante. The only real problem I had is HE. WON'T. STOP. KILLING. PEOPLE. Batman's literal only rule is broken about 18 times for no reason, and leaves no weight to anything he does. Ben Affleck's Batman > Christian Bale's, but Christian Bale's Bruce Wayne > Ben Affleck's.

Superman himself is just boring, most of what he does is mope around cause some court case is being brought up against him and his boss is giving out to him for writing about Batman - he's not Superman at all. Wonder Woman is pretty cool though, she really doesn't pull any swings of her sword and is one of the 2 interesting characters in the film. 

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 2

Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor was just the new Hollywood villain cliché of having an odd, creepy villain and that's all he is. While it is nice to not see Eisenberg as himself, his character doesn't suit Lex Luthor and would have made a great Riddler instead. 

Zach Snyder is not right for Superman films at all - maybe Batman, but he (literally) sucked the colour and life out of the character and left a brown muddy mess of sullen looks and moaning. A bloated first 3/4 makes the film boring, and when it comes to the comic-y characters and action it just feels out of place. I would recommend waiting to see the American R rated release on DVD/Blu-Ray, some of the scenes makes that sound very interesting.



Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Flight Cancellations and Delays – Know Your Rights!

With the current strike of air traffic controllers in France wreaking havoc across Europe and leaving a trail of flight cancellations and delays, I have one question, do you know your rights when it comes to flight cancellations and delays? If your answer is 'Kinda', I’m here to help clarify your entitlements.

Thanks to European Regulation EC 261/2004 and a 2009 European court ruling we now have a definitive set of rules that airlines must adhere to. Whether you are entitled to meals, hotels, refunds and/or compensation all depends on a variety of factors that I’ll outline below.

Flight Cancellations:

If your airline cancels your flight regardless of the time-frame in which you are notified you are entitled to one of three options.

1. Re-routing near your original departure time.

2. Flying on your original route or re-routing at a later date.

3. Full refund of your flight ticket.

If you receive more than 2 weeks notice of your flight cancellation you are entitled to the above options but no compensation. If you agree with the airline to be re-routed they have an obligation to transport you from the re-routed airport to your original choice of airport.

If you receive between 7 days and 2 weeks notice and choose the first option to be re-routed you may be entitled to compensation if your departure time is more than 2 hours before your original departure time and your arrival time is more than 4 hours after your original arrival time. But if the airline can prove the cancellation was due to extraordinary circumstances you will not be entitled to any compensation.

If you receive 7 days or less notice of a cancellation and choose the first option you may be entitled to compensation if your re-routed flight departs more than an hour after your original departure time and more than 2 hours after your original arrival time. Again if the airline can prove the cancellation was due to extraordinary circumstances you will not be entitled to any compensation. However if you have chosen the first option the airline must provide you with care and assistance such as:

· Refreshments and meals depending on the length of delay.

· Hotel accommodation if an overnight is necessary including transport to and from the hotel.

· 2 calls or e-mails.

If the airline does not provide you with any of these keep your receipts as you are entitled to a refund of these expenses.

Flight Delays:

Your entitlements in relation to flight delays depends on if you were flying short, medium or long haul, you are entitled to care and assistance listed above if:

· Short haul flights (less than 1,500kms) must be delayed more than 2 hours.

· Medium haul flights (between 1,500kms – 3,500kms) must be delayed more than 3 hours.

· Long haul flights (greater than 3,500kms) must be delayed more than 4 hours.

If your flight is delayed more than 5 hours regardless of short, medium or long haul and you decide not to travel you are entitled to a full refund of your flight tickets. Your airline should provide you with a written copy of your entitlements.

As a result of a European court ruling in 2009 you are entitled to compensation if you arrive at your destination more than 3 hours after your original arrival time. But if the airline can prove the cancellation was due to extraordinary circumstances you will not be entitled to any compensation.

If you have a dispute with the airline in relation to this you can make a complaint to the relevant enforcement agency. A full list can be found HERE.

Should you be entitled to compensation, the amounts below are payable per passenger depends on the distance of the flight you booked:

· Shout Haul €250

· Medium Haul €400

· Long Haul €600

If you don’t know the distance of your flight you can use the Great Circle Mapper website HERE to calculate it for you, which is interesting enough in its own right, especially when showing little ones how far they'll be travelling (if they ever take off).

Tell us have you ever experienced serious delays or even cancellations? Were you aware of your rights at the time? 

Say Hi on Twitter: @StoneTravel

Monday, March 21, 2016

Monday's Moments ~ 21/03/16

It's probably just as well my Monday's Moments are written instead of vocalised because I'm fairly certain dogs would be cowering the streets right now. It's been a hugely exciting year 'round my way and the lifts just keep on coming. I'm a huge believer in gratitude paying a major role in the universe sending us more of the same, sure isn't that what this series is all about ~ as ever I'd love you to get involved, let me know what's the one Monday's Moment that you're grateful for? Wanna hear mine? 

1. Thanks to you lovely lot, I smashed 10K organic followers on Instagram! No sooner had I changed my bio to say thank you than the numbers continued to rocket and have now passed 10.4k - LIKE WHAAAAT?!

2. Celebrating my Birthday with not only close pals but with my eldest boy too. There was a Moment when sipping cocktails and breaking it on down to Nelly in 37 Dawson St that I looked at Aaron breaking it on down beside me and thought - Life. Is. Sweet. 

3. Our little Cillian marching in the 1916 St Patrick's Day parade. You'll see his gorgeous little mush on my Insta, thanks to Corrina (our Travel expert @StoneTravel). She designed all of the nibling's outfits and had four of her five little ones on parade. She's some woman for one woman!

4. Feeling the fear and doing it anyway. I was introduced to Gary Vee via Snapchat by Erika of Retro Flame a couple of weeks since. This 6 minute video had me hooked! As soon as I heard he was coming to Dublin I knew I had to hear him speak so I put myself out there and contacted Leading Social. Not only are they fans of what I do, not only were they excited to have me there but they've given me an interview with the man himself!! I'm beyond excited - be sure to follow along on Snapchat to see how we get on!

5. Being named as one of the Top 60 Beauty Snapchatters IN THE WORLD!! I'm very close to literally pinching myself over this one. I had to turn off my notifications on Friday as I just couldn't keep up. I haven't got the words right now to express what this means to me and for me but to every single one of you reading. Thank you. None of any of what I do would be possible without you checking in, having the chats and sharing what I do. You've changed my life. Our lives. You're all actual legends.

So tell us, what's the one Moment that means you've no 
Monday blues this week? 

Let's Chat!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Irish Passports ~ The Definitive Guide!

Every year about this time without fail I always get questions about passports. We’ve all done it, you book a holiday then suddenly you get a cold feeling running down your back wondering is your or your family members’ passports in date. This year I’ve decided to put together a definitive guide to help you with your passport queries. I don’t know why, it might be just an Irish thing but when you have a question and you go to the Department of Foreign Affairs website it’s all a bit vague or you’re directed to call with your query; well good luck with that, as getting through on their phone lines in the run up to the summer period is like winning Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket! 

Although they do answer any queries via their twitter account @PassportIRL quite rapidly. All of the information below strictly applies to all Irish citizens using an Irish passport.

As a family of seven, we're RICH in passports!

Do I need a passport to travel?

Domestic air travel in Ireland or between Ireland and the UK does not require a passport, for adults any valid photographic ID and children under 16 a birth certificate will suffice, with the exception of Ryanair; they require a valid passport for adults, children and babies for all flights, regardless of departure point or destination.

Ferry travel between Ireland and the UK does not require a passport but you must bring some form of identification such as a drivers licence, bank card, utility bill or birth certificate. Children travelling require a birth certificate as proof of identification.

If you are flying or sailing to any other country, with the exception of the UK you must have a valid passport for each adult, child or baby travelling.

Check your dates in PLENTY of time - Apply ahead if need be!

My passport is near its expiration date, can I travel?

Most Asian countries require six months validity to be remaining on your passport after your intended return date. For travel within the European Union and to the United States your passport is valid up until your passport expiration date. There is a lot of conflicting information about exactly which Asian countries so the hard and fast answer is to contact the embassy of the country to which you intend to travel.

You don’t have to wait for your passport to expire before you apply for a new one; the Department of Foreign Affairs has a handy passport reminder service. Enter your details HERE and they’ll mail you three months before your expiration date.

How do I apply for a passport?

For both first time applications and renewals you’ll need an application form as you can’t apply online. You can obtain a passport application form from any Garda station, any Post office or directly from the Passport offices located in Dublin or Cork. If you require a large number of forms contact them by phone or online HERE and they will post them to you.

Dublin: Knockmaun House, 42-47, Lower Mount Street, Dublin 2, D02 TN83.
Tel. +353 1 671 1633

Cork: 1a South Mall, Cork, T12 TA46
Tel. +353 21 494 4700

Both offices currently operate on an appointment basis from 9am to 4.50pm Monday to Friday.

Book an appointment HERE.

How long does it take and how much does it cost?

The Department of Foreign Affairs recommend you apply for your passport at least six weeks before your intended date of travel.

Passport express is the fastest, cheapest and easiest way to apply for your passport. The general guideline is a turnaround time of 10 working days for a passport renewal or 15 working days for a first time application and those replacing lost/stolen passports, these times however can be greatly increased during the summer season.

If you opt to make an online appointment and go directly to the passport office it can take up to 20 working days for your passport to be issued. The “public counter” fees are below.

Adult age 18+ 10 year passport ~ €95

Child age 3-17 5 year passport ~ €41.50

Infant up to age 3 3 year passport ~ €31

What is Passport Express?

You can send your application to the passport office via An Post using a passport express envelope. Complete your form and include the necessary documentation along with your passport photographs signed by a witness and bring them to your local post office. There they will verify you have everything correct before you purchase a passport express envelope priced at €9.50 for a single application or €16.00 for up to four applications sent together in the one envelope. You will also have to relevant pay the passport fee at the post office.

Adult age 18+ 10 year passport ~ €80

Child age 3-17 5 year passport ~ €26.50

Infant up to age 3 3 year passport ~ €16

Payment can be made by cash credit/debit card as per their website however my local post office refuses credit card payments for passport express.

Can I get a passport sooner?

The Dublin passport office has a Rapid Renewal service whereby “in the case of an emergency situation (the death or serious illness of a family member, or for emergency medical treatment of the applicant) we can issue your passport on the day.” Unfortunately if you are a fist time applicant you can not avail of this service.

You can make an appointment online for either Dublin or Cork passport offices to be issued with an emergency passport within 3 -10 working days.

The fee for both of these services are Adult €55, under 18’s €30, this fee is in addition to the “public counter” fee above.

What documents do I need to apply for a passport?

As of 29th March 2016 all first time passport applicants aged 18 and above must include a photocopy of their Public Service Card (PSC). If you do not have a PSC you will have to apply for this through your local Department of Social Protection Office. All details of how to apply for a PSC and to make an appointment visit

Details of all other documents needed for both adults and children’s passport applications can be found HERE.

Permission for a Child's Passport When You're a Single Parent:

Sue here, I'm adding a paragraph as it's something I had to deal with in the past. The consent of all guardians is required for all children under 18 years of age, unless the child is married. Guardianship should not be confused with custody which involves the day to day caring of the child. If you're a single parent (firstly you rock! Secondly..), ideally you would be on speaking terms with your child's other parent so you both sign the forms. 

This isn't an ideal world though; should your child's other parent not be available or willing to sign the forms, you can visit a Commissioner of Oaths and sign an Affidavit (HERE) to swear you are your child's sole guardian. The CoA will usually charge a nominal fee (€25+) per signature so do factor that into your budget. Should you not be your child's sole guardian but their other parent refuses permission to obtain a passport a Specific Issues Order will need to be obtained from a court of law. You'll find more info HERE

If you work in the DFA you get LARGE cards - Apparently...

What is a Passport Card?

Passport Cards are only valid for travel within the European Union and to Switzerland. In order to obtain a passport card you have to be over the age of 18 and hold a passport with a minimum of 30 days validity. They can only be issued for a maximum of 5 years or to the expiration date of your current passport if that date is sooner. 

Passport cards are issued within 10 working days at a cost of €35. If your passport has been lost or stolen you must apply for a replacement passport before you can apply for a Passport Card. You can apply online HERE but you will need to upload a passport compliant photo to complete your application.
Tell us, do you know what date your passport expires? 

Monday, March 14, 2016

Monday's Moments ~ 14/03/16

Morning, Monday, morning, ALL! How was your weekend? Mine was one of the most cathartic I've had in a very long time; in no small part thanks to speaking and listening at the Dream It Do It motivational talk held in Airfield by Nicola & Fiona. There's a lot of things of late seem to be going very, very right & not once have I had a let down that the very next day saw something better lift my spirits again. I'm not doing #BLESSED - I'm not!
I am looking forward to a week of Dublin sunshine & giving thanks for these five Moments though, ready? 

1. I spoke last week on Snapchat about my experience with post natal depression and again candidly at the #didi talks on Saturday. Both times I had messages returned thanking me for being so open about it. 

There's no feeling in the world like being told you've helped just by telling your story, something that feels like the most natural thing in the world. 

2. Speaking of speaking at Dream it Do it, both Corrina & I took to the stage, which was such good fun. Even better than that? We brought Mum along to spend the afternoon with us and hear us speak. 

Truly, there's nothing more leveling than seeing your Mum tear up watching you and your sister talk, or joining in to give her perspective on some of the most challenging times we've had. We wouldn't be us if it weren't for her and I can't tell you what it means to have her with me every step of the way.

3. Spending an afternoon in Dublin Airport, thanks to The Loop & MAC - surrounded by flamingo sweetness! I was invited out to play with the new Flamingo Park collection (which I obviously LOVE) and spent the loveliest afternoon chatting with the MAC girls & Sarah from Estée Lauder London & being GIFFED! Carslberg don't do afternoons but if they did...

4. Corrina giving me an early birthday gift - tickets to London Town!! We're heading at the end of April & still on the hunt for decent, central accommodation. If you've any recommendations - holler at me!

5. Being commissioned to write for Newstalk! Following on from my chat with Pat Kenny about monetising your blog, I've been asked to contribute as a writer. I'm over the moon to be asked and already getting stuck in!

Tell us, what are you grateful for this week? 

What Moments mean you're free & clear of Monday blues this week? 

Friday, March 11, 2016

Allegiant - Movie Review

Who's In It?


What's It About?

Tris and her team escape Chicago only to find out there's a much bigger conspiracy, while civil war starts again in the city.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Things That Rustle My Jimmies

Taking deep breaths as I post this week. DEEP. BREATHS. 

You know the drill - in no particular order of annoyance: 

1. People that pretend they spot a flying pig, while their dog squats in the park...

2.  Bloggers that go on record to clarify 
that they don't read blogs...

3. An entire package of smashed nail polish waiting on the door mat...

4. People that whine about bloggers giving a snapshot of products & never mentioning them again. It's called SOCIAL media, lads. Send the blogger a message, ask a question - BE SOCIAL!

5. The endless monotony of whether Kim posting naked selfies is 'empowering' or not...

Aaaaaand breathe... 

Tell me, what's been rustling your jimmies this week? 

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Amsterdam & Eindhoven ~ What, Where, Why & How!

A couple of weeks ago I told you about the pitfalls of booking a European City Break using our trip to Amsterdam as an example, catch up HERE if you missed it. This week I wanted to let you know how we got on and if it’s worth your time and money booking the hotels we did in Amsterdam and Eindhoven. 

Monday, March 07, 2016

Monday's Moments ~ 07/03/16

How do, Monday! Popping by quickly and giving ALL the thanks for ALL of the amazing things happening right now. There are many, almost to the point of being overwhelming but not one happening without me realising just how lucky I've been and continue to be, personally, professionally and parentally (it's a word). 

In no particular order of deadliness this week: 

Friday, March 04, 2016

The Last Minute Mother's Day Gift Guide for Every Budget

Mother's Day may be fast approaching and pay day may be long gone but no matter your budget, I got you (and your mammy/baby momma/wife). The temptation to pop in an eye wateringly large bottle of gin was almost too much to resist but know this, when all else fails, gin works. Corrina has already shared the top 5 experiences for under €50 to share with do mháthair HERE so I'm rounding that off with some pretty products should you prefer.