Travel Sparkles ✨

Ibiza Sunset

Finally, after a three year wait we had our holiday to the beautiful White Isle that is Ibiza. I love this island so much. Actually it’s ten years since I was first in Ibiza with himself so really I’ve waited ten years to get back there with him. It’s such a pretty island and apart from the party central areas where the younger people go to dance and enjoy being young and free, the island is fairly quiet. Beautiful resorts and inland villages, a laid back vibe and bathed in the gorgeous Mediterranean sunshine. I am a Spain freak since I first visited Menorca with my Mom back in the 1980’s. I just love Spain.

One thing I have always wanted to see is the sunset in Ibiza. When we were there in 2012 we booked to go on the sunset trip but unfortunately the weather out at sea on that particular day was not good and the trip was cancelled. I visited again in 2014 with my friend and once again the sunset trip was booked. This time we actually got out on the trip but just before the sunset, the clouds appeared as did the thunder and lightening. It was amazing to watch from our vantage point out at sea but no sunset.

So, this year whilst we were there we decided to try again. The day of the trip was glorious, blue sky, not a cloud in sight but I wasn’t going to get too excited after what had happened in 2014. The bus picked us up and we travelled over to San Antonio bay. It was still a beautiful evening. We got on the boat, sipped sangria and the boat set sail. A warm sea breeze and we even had dolphins swimming next to the boat, the chill out music played and it was still a beautiful evening. The time of the sunset approached and the weather was in my favour. I seen my awesome Ibiza sunset and it was something to withhold. My photographs do not do this gorgeous sight justice.

I found this experience to be very emotional and spiritual. I could feel tears in my eyes as I watched the beauty of this event. The sunset was toasted with Cava and we sailed back to the harbour. I felt so grateful, blessed and happy that I finally got to witness this event. Of course, now I want to go again but there are other places to explore and other sunsets to see before I head back to my beautiful White Isle. Bucket list item ticked ✔

With love and sparkles xxx

Life Sparkles ✨

How does your garden grow?

With our wonderful British weather, the weeds have enjoyed many growth spurts. It sometimes seems that as you pull one up another appears in it’s place. I do find pulling weeds immensely satisfying and adds to the healing therapy I have discovered in gardening. Your mind wanders free and yet is still on the task in hand. You can see the fruits of your labour, in some cases, almost immediately which is very satisfying. I find that when I have cut the lawn and done the edging or weeded an area visible from the window, I keep looking out at my handiwork, priding myself on a job well done. I sometimes need a soak in the bath to ease the tired out muscles but so worth it.

Some of my parents plants have come into their own again this year. I’ve been looking after these plants for the past two years and some plants I put in myself have blossomed this year which made me so happy. Half the time I wonder if I have planted something upside down so for it to actually grow through the soil and then bloom is quite the achievement for me.

As you can see I even managed a small potato harvest. I have planted some more for the September harvest and I’m planning to sow some spinach and maybe try some beetroot. My Uncle has given me two varieties of green bean plants which are coming along nicely so fingers crossed. Himself prepared the potatoes following a Canarian Potato recipe as we had the various Canarian sauces from a previous trip to Lanzarote. Although I say it myself, those potatoes tasted fabulous.

With love and sparkles xxx

The Music Sparkle ✨🎶

Caffeine and Confidence

I do love my cup of coffee in the mornings, in fact I have two cups in the morning. Not huge cups of coffee and not strong coffee but I do love my caffeine fix. If you follow me on social media you probably know that I absolutely adore a skinny cappuccino and that’s a real treat to have one of those.

Confidence, well, that’s something I’m not so good at having on a daily basis. Some days I get up and I feel like I can take on the world and other days I wonder what on earth am I doing following a dream. Shouldn’t I just stop messing about and get a ‘proper’ job? The inner dialogue is incredible at times. Isn’t it amazing how we can talk ourselves in and out of doing things? Things become harder than we thought they would be so we say ‘oh well, this is too much work and for what, I’ll probably fail’ but what if we succeed and we have given up with the finishing line in the distance but just out of sight?

I have waivered over the past few months with the music career. I found researching the music licensing quite difficult. There was so much to read, so many takes on what should or shouldn’t be done. Thankfully I had decided to join the Musicians Union https://musiciansunion.org.uk/ some months ago and it was one of the best things I have done so far in my musical journey. The information is clear and precise and there is a lot of helpful information. I have also availed of some of their free webinars which have been invaluable to me as someone who has never been in the music industry before. I discovered which organisations I needed to join and why. I decided that rather than trying to do a little bit of everything at the same time, I should tackle one task at a time, in order. I was getting overwhelmed with everything, losing focus and getting downright confused. Taking things a step at a time worked for me.

I joined PPL https://www.ppluk.com/ which is the UK music licensing organisation and started to make my way through the membership process. The website is easy to navigate and again, lots of useful information. It is free to join (which is a bonus) and I know a lot of people would just tick ‘I agree’ to the various agreements you need to complete and sign but I have to read each one, every single term and condition and if I didn’t understand one I would research it. In my head I kept saying that with 130,000 members everything must be sound, I still had to check. Must be down to my prior roles in international law firms and my accountancy training. I just had to check. However, this became a long drawn out process for me. So much to read and research. Then when it came to completing the forms it was decision time. Did I want UK and Ireland or Worldwide? If I wanted to include Europe, France have a different music licensing system and I needed to select which one I wanted to collect royalties on my behalf. More research. I got that far and left the process for a while…

When I returned, my membership process had now split into three parts; performer, audio and video. More terms and conditions. At one stage I thought I had made a total balls up of the process and rang the membership enquires line. The lady I spoke to was fabulous. Very helpful, very friendly and she was interested in my story. I continued with the process, submitted everything and 24 hours later I received the emails to confirm that I was now a full member and licensed to play my music and videos containing my music. Oh my goodness, the excitement is unreal. It was so worth digging down into the research and learning about what I was doing. I also received my ISRC tag which is the unique identifier for each of my songs so that PPL can collect any royalites due on my behalf. And this is where I return to confidence. All through this process, which took me quite a while on and off, I wondered what I was doing and why was I doing it. When the memberships came through it gave me a huge confidence boost. I was a step closer to getting my music out there, to launching myself as a musician, a singer, a songwriter, on the world. It gave me the boost to start believing in myself more.

The next step is uploading my music to PPL and also choosing a music aggregation company in order to make my music available for purchase and streaming on the various music platforms. I had a look yesterday at ‘uploading your repertoire’. Let’s get the coffee on and I’ll come back to that!

Never underestimate the power of caffeine and confidence.

With love and sparkles xxx

Travel Sparkles ✨

Boomers

I recently stepped back in time to the 1940’s and 1950’s when I met a friend for lunch. We visited a beautiful tea room in the centre of Lichfield City in Staffordshire, UK. The downstairs is dedicated to the 1940’s and is decorated from that era with so much memorabilia you couldn’t possibly view it all in one visit. There’s even a very small, working, black and white television from back in the day.

Walk upstairs and you are transported to the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s. Once again there is so much memorabilia I’ll definitely have to return for a second trip. A jukebox, free to use, containing some popular songs from the 50’s and 60’s. I was in my element playing Connie Francis, Del Shannon and Elvis amongst others. There were original newspapers, copies of Woman magazine, toys, games, records and I swear my Mom had some of those very brightly coloured glass fish (see picture below) adorning the living room when I was a child. There was an old fashioned, retro telephone on the bar and believe it or not, I have one of those at home that belonged to Mom and Dad in the 1970’s and it still works.

It was a wonderful experience being in this restaurant/tea room. There is just so much to discover. The food is also very, very good. A varied menu, from traditional old English fare of Rabbit Pie or Pheasant Stew and also Cod Fish Finger sandwiches. Delectable cakes and pastries and of course pots of tea. All the food is home cooked on the premises using fresh, locally produced produce. There is an extremely friendly welcome from the staff who make time for a chat when time allows. I’m so looking forward to another trip to Boomers. I can do more exploring of the memorabilia, enjoy delicious food and play that jukebox.

https://www.boomerslichfield.co.uk/

With love and sparkles xxx

The Music Sparkle ✨🎶

A Workout Gig

After just over two years I recently attended my first music gig since the start of the pandemic. I admit I was concerned about being in a sold out venue with at least 2,500 other music lovers singing and dancing. After what we have been through and how we so quickly got used to not mixing with others, touching others and dancing with strangers, what used to be the norm had become something of pure fear. I did wear my mask into the venue and soon realised that I was very much in the minority and once the show started, I didn’t see anyone with masks apart from a few staff.

The auditorium was large and airy, I had forgotten quite how large it was in the theatre. Once we had taken our seats the excitement was building and you could feel it amongst the audience. The most words I heard spoken all night was ‘I’ve not been out for two years’, we were all feeling the same sheer delight at being out at a Nathan Carter concert once more.

In the spotlight.

Claudia Buckley was the support act and this girl has come on in leaps and bounds since I last seen her in January 2020. Claudia has the most beautiful voice and a wonderful personality, she is well able to engage with the audience and sings a fabulous mixture of Irish country songs alongside old style country songs with a mixture of the newer country songs. Claudia had the audience well warmed up and happy awaiting the main event.

All the sparkles!

Next up was Nathan Carter and wow, was he on form and the band also. You could see how much they were enjoying being back on stage singing, playing their music and interacting with the audience. It was amazing to be there, to experience the sheer joy in the theatre from everyone. The staff that they were back at work, the band that they were out playing their music again, the audience singing and dancing and smiling and even the security, who try as they might could not keep people in their seats, from early on we were up dancing. It felt like freedom.

Talking about dancing, I have no idea what kind of jumping around I was doing but my Fitbit was convinced of the following…

It was a fantastic night, I think I was on a high for days afterwards. I did manage to get a few quick videos of the evening. Rather than be behind my phone taking photos and videos I decided to just embrace the whole show as it unfolded. Just like we used to. From what I could see around me, people tended to stay within the groups that they had attended the concert with. In the past we would have all joined hands and sang and danced but we were careful. I had antigen tests everyday for the next week and they were all negative. Bring on the next gig!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-4a2trg4SU

https://www.youtube.com/shorts/RzSAyod67S4

With love and sparkles xxx

Life Sparkles ✨

Everything Changed

This made so much sense to me.

I seen this quote recently and it spoke volumes to me. Everything in my life changed, absolutely everything and yet here I am feeling more me than I ever did before. How does that even make any kind of sense? Yet it makes perfect sense. I’m still the woman I was before and yet I have emerged into a new me. I’m still emerging into a new me. I know we change as we grow, as we experience life, as life happens to us. Perhaps our values and our truth do not change, the core that is us as a person, that may bend and shape as we live through experiences and learn life lessons. But there is something about this emergence which has a feeling of this is the me I was always meant to be. That in turn makes me wonder if this new me was always hidden within, never daring to come out and in latter years when I was in my caring role, there was no time or space to come out.

Photo by Victor Freitas on Pexels.com

I have a sense of freedom, a real sense of freedom that I’ve not experienced before. Sometimes this sense of freedom is scary; that protective wall of having someone to ask about decisions you are making, someone to check that you are not totally off the wall in your thinking or in what you are about to do. My parents were fabulous soundboards. Even if I still went off and did what I was going to do, it was very useful to bounce my ideas off them first and I would take their responses on board before I made the final decision. When I was making my decision about giving up work to care for them, I had a meeting with their Doctor and told him what I was thinking of doing and why. I’ll always remember him saying that he could see both Mom and Dad within me. Dad in weighing things up, deliberating and making decisions and Mom as this amazing, wild, spirited woman. I think that is the most wonderful thing anyone has ever said to me and I love that I have their traits. Without me knowing or realising, they instilled strength and independence into me and that undoubtedly has helped me through the past couple of years.

I do of course have himself to bounce my ideas off and he is very like Dad in his thinking. He is a very logical and analytical thinker where as I go with the inner voice and ‘it just is’ so as you can imagine we have some amusing conversations when I’m discussing plans with him. However, he will point things out to me that I may not have thought of and he would never try to prevent me carrying out what I want to do, he just wants to be sure I have thought it through. He can see the pre-carer me coming through and also this new free spirited, I want to try loads of things me that is emerging.

Stay Wild Moonchild.

From school days there were always people saying I shouldn’t be singing and dancing around the place, I was too bubbly, I was wild, I wasn’t ladylike and I suppose the more you hear this the more you believe it. The negative words which affected my confidence for most of my life. Until you realise the issue isn’t with you, it’s with them. There’s a huge sense of freedom in this realisation and I have seen many a quote state that someone’s opinion of you has nothing to do with you but all to do with them. Sometimes I regret not having this new found confidence years ago but then again, perhaps now is my time to shine. Stay wild moonchild.

With love and sparkles xxx

The Music Sparkle ✨🎶

Confidence

Photo taken 21 2 21

Last year I really pushed the comfort zone and did three Facebook live performances, two for thirty minutes and the final one for an hour. I was nervous, scared, excited, thrilled and I thoroughly enjoyed each one. I had between twenty and thirty people watching the lives and afterwards the saved videos had hundreds of views and such wonderful, encouraging comments. During the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021 I regularly did a ‘Happy Monday’ chat on Instagram. I didn’t chat about anything in particular. A little like my blog, I would just chat away about whatever came to mind. Again, I would receive numerous messages telling me how I brightened up a day, or I made someone laugh or just that they enjoyed the chat as if I was just chatting away to them. All good, I was delighted and then it all stopped and I have no idea why. Was it because life started to open up again and there was less time spent at home? Why did I no longer have five minutes to chat, ten minutes to record myself singing a song and post it online? Or did I just stop believing in my ability to do these things?

Note to self.

I admit that the weight I gained over the last six months of last year did not help me with getting out there singing. I’m not a super confident person but I can blag it and appear confident and then I get into my stride and I’m ok. However I appear to have lost the ability to even blag it. As you may have read from previous posts I have taken my diet and fitness in hand and I’m getting there. I have so many plans in my head for the things I want to do yet I always find an excuse not to do them. My hair isn’t done or I’m not wearing make up so I won’t sing into the phone. That didn’t stop me in 2020, I just did it. I have my self penned songs recorded and I have chosen one to release as a single. I want to get some professional photos done for the single artwork and just to put out there to promote my music. I have researched photographers, video makers, music aggregators and music licencing and yet I have done nothing about these things. I’m wondering what I am afraid of? I know this isn’t any easy profession and I know I have to work hard and I’m not afraid of that. I love singing and from the feedback I get, people love me to sing. I can visualise myself up there, on a stage singing my heart out and being so happy doing it, yet I’m scared to actually do it. Is it a case that I am more comfortable with the dream than actually making it happen? The thought of actually taking the steps to make this dream come true fills me with delight, excitement and sheer sparkle and yet that little voice of fear saying ‘what makes you think people want to see/hear/listen to you’ is getting more attention in my brain than the positive thoughts.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

I really do want to sing it out with my whole heart and soul, I want my moment in the spotlight, I want to see and hear people singing and dancing along with me. I want to share my music, I want to give people happiness, a giggle and to make them feel good. So, I suppose I really do need to get out of my own way and make things happen. Ok world, get ready, I’m coming…

With love and sparkles xxx

Life Sparkles ✨

Still Running…

Truth.

Well, five weeks in and I’m still motivated and in the mindset to get fitter, eat healthier and tone up. I’m impressed with myself, I wasn’t sure when I started this journey that I wouldn’t have slipped up by now. But I’m still going strong. That Summer trip to Ibiza is still the carrot dangling in front of me and wanting to fit back into my Summer clothes, back into my jeans and also get some confidence back to push myself out of the comfort zone I have settled back into and get myself out there singing. 2022 is the year of making it happen, that’s what I said at the start of the year and I’m still aiming to do this.

My energy has increased so much already it’s untrue. I alternate my workouts from a walk around the block, Couch 25K (C25K) and if the weather is really bad outside, I do a home workout with Lucy Wyndham Read https://www.youtube.com/user/LWRFitnessChannel/featured Sometimes it is a real chore to push myself outside, especially in this very cold wintery weather but I always feel so much better once I return home. I have also kept to my dry February, no Prosecco and strangely I haven’t missed my Friday night tipple at all.

Wednesday afternoon has become batch cooking afternoon whilst I listen to podcasts. It has taken some weeks but I have really got into this routine of cooking from scratch using fresh vegetables, herbs and spices. I don’t really make a plan of what I’m going to cook, I just go with whatever I have in and as I love pasta, I usually make some kind of pasta bake. A recipe I found on Instagram and has become a weekly staple for me is for banana, oat and peanut butter bakes. I find with these that I can have one with a cuppa mid afternoon and I’m not looking for snacks and treats to fill me up.

Banana, Oats and Peanut Butter Bakes.

Very easy to make; 3 bananas mashed up, add 40g of peanut butter and mix well, then add 100g of porridge oats and again mix well. Place in a baking tin and bake for 30 minutes on Gas mark 4, Electric 180 c. I find cutting into squares when just out of the oven is easiest. Leave to cool and then place in an airtight container. They stay fresh for about four days. I have adapted the recipe a little over the weeks, I have added cinnamon and also some chocolate sprinkles to the top. Himself doesn’t like them as they aren’t sweet enough but for a semi healthy bite they serve their purpose.

Post Run Selfie

As I write this post, I’m midway through week four of C25K and at times puffing my way around. When there is a lot of traffic or people around I just remind myself of the quote about lapping everyone on the couch or I visualise myself running on the promenade by the ocean in the warm sunshine. That gives me a real boost to keep going. I have my daily cappuccino and have managed to stay away from chocolate, cakes and biscuits. The season of Lent starts this week on March 2nd and I would have given those particular items up anyway so I’ll just continue without them for now. It would be totally unrealistic for me to say that I will never eat cake or chocolate again, of course I will, I love chocolate. And as for never drinking Prosecco again? Never going to happen! For now my focus is on getting fitter and healthier, powering my body to do what I want to do.

Good Health Mantra

I feel this health and fitness boost is another part of me emerging from loss, emerging into the new me and embracing that I need to have a certain level of fitness to carry out and enjoy the career in music that I have chosen to follow. I’m also mindful that I am getting older and that we don’t know how long we have here on earth. I want to do what I can to keep myself healthy, fit and able to live life to the fullest for as long as I can. Starting new careers, new fitness regimes and discovering who you are isn’t just for younger people, it’s for all people and it’s never too late to start. If I can do it then so can you. I truly believe if you really want to do something, you’ll do it. Just start, baby steps if you want to, that first step is sometimes the hardest but so worth it. Don’t give up.

With love and sparkles xxx

Travel Sparkles ✨

And she’s off again…

Yes, I grabbed another opportunity to head for a little Lanzarote sunshine recently to celebrate my cousin’s 60th birthday. It was a short trip, just four nights and we packed a lot into our three full days together. There were nine of us altogether for the birthday celebrations. Three of us had travelled for the four night break, the rest were out there for varying times between a week, a fortnight or six weeks (how lovely).

The sun was setting as we came into land in Arrecife.

Costa Teguise is known as quite the foodie resort these days and I have to say, in my limited experience of visiting here, (this was my third visit), there is a vast array of restaurants of every style within the area. I have not had one bad meal so far and this visit was no exception. Thursday evening we visited El Bocadito https://www.instagram.com/tabernaelbocadito/ a typical Spanish restaurant and when you see somewhere frequented by the locals and a waiting list to be seated, you know the food is good. Lanzarote was on level three covid restrictions when we were there and therefore mask wearing outside was mandatory as was no more than six people to a table. All the restaurants were very accommodating ensuring that our tables were close enough together to converse whilst also being within social distancing guidelines.

This restaurant accommodates all food tastes and is very much a meat eaters dream. There are huge display cabinets containing award winning cuts of meat and you can watch your steaks or burgers being cooked on the grill. I am not a meat eater so I chose the Cod Steak with Mash which was just delicious. I also tried the Polvita for dessert. Polvita is a thick caramel sponge, drizzled with caramel sauce, chopped meringue and topped with cream and more caramel sauce. It’s a surprisingly light dessert and moreish. It’s a lovely restaurant, very friendly staff and gorgeous food.

Friday was my cousins birthday and the celebrations commenced at 11 am with eight of us going into the sea. My cousin has always gone into the sea at all times of the year and she really wanted to do this on her birthday. Surprisingly it wasn’t as ice cold as we expected however it was quite rough on that day so we all felt like we had been exfoliated once we got out. Main meal of the day was at 1:30 pm and it was a long, leisurely lunch of homemade paellas. One fish paella and one meat paella served with homemade warm bread rolls and Canarian wine. We ate at El Guachinche de Luis https://www.instagram.com/elguachinchedeluis/ and Luis does all the cooking himself. Absolutely delicious food and excellent service. Luis is open for breakfast, brunch and lunch and also has a takeaway service. Luis was close to closing his lovely restaurant due to the lack of trade from tourists over the last two years so it was wonderful to see the restaurant full and bustling with trade once again.

After our amazing lunch we returned to the house and had birthday cake with champagne. Oh wow the cake, I know it looks in the photo like it is a very heavy, stodgy kind of chocolate cake but it was quite the opposite. Light chocolate sponge with light chocolate cream layers alternating with a semi sweet layer of cherries. Think a variation of Black Forest Gateaux and you’ll get the picture. Talk about a lifetime on the hips and well worth every mouthful.

Birthday Cake

In the evening we visited a wonderful Italian/Spanish wine bar called Eat Italian. This really is a hidden gem of a wine bar serving the most delicious tapas and the ladies that run it have extensive knowledge of wine and stock quite an array of wines, spirits and liquors. Think chilled out music, warm breeze evenings, plentiful tapas and delightful wines all served with huge smiles and time to stop and talk. We had a fabulous night there and my cousin was joined by a number of ex-pat friends made on her many trips to Lanzarote over the years.

It’s safe to say that we were all a little delicate on the Saturday morning and we had a very quiet, relaxed day. We had no plans except to sit in the sunshine, go for a walk, have a coffee and chat. Perfect. The sea was a lot calmer on Saturday so we did have a paddle.

Saturday night was my final night of the trip and we ate at Restaurante La Chimenea https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g659633-d3374635-Reviews-or320-Restaurante_La_Chimenea-Costa_Teguise_Lanzarote_Canary_Islands.html None of us had ever eaten there before and we all really enjoyed our meals. We would visit there again for dinner, once again, beautiful food, friendly staff and great service.

Chicken la Chimenea

I am so glad that I decided to grab this opportunity to spend the time with my cousins celebrating a special birthday in Lanzarote. This trip did take place just before I commenced my healthy eating and fitness plan, hence the desserts, chocolate cake and wine consumption. Life is for living and if the chance comes along to do something, especially with family you love, grab it.

With love and sparkles xxx

Travel Sparkles ✨

Irish Road Trip – The Next Steps

Photo by Tatiana on Pexels.com

So, following on from part one, part two of my Irish road trip was full of time spent with wonderful people, the open roads, country music, good food and travelling through towns and villages I last visited with my parents. It was nostalgic, happy, sad and just wonderful to be there again. I feel it was meant to be that I made this trip alone to experience the different emotions and process them. To have my quiet reflective times, to watch the world go by and to jump right in and participate when I was ready.

Night one of my stay was spent in Ashbourne in Co Meath. One of the most lovely friendships forged online during lockdown was via Instagram with my friend Sinead and so I took the opportunity of being over in Ireland to be in her neck of the woods. We had a wonderful girls night having dinner in a gorgeous restaurant named Fifty-Fifty in Ashbourne and then back to our hotel where we sat up half the night talking.

After breakfast the next morning and after saying goodbye to Sinead, the next stop was the trip to Knock for which I have a separate blog post https://atouchofirishsparkle.com/2022/01/10/an-irish-road-trip-knock/ Whilst I was staying in Knock I had the opportunity to visit some family and enjoy some wonderful family time with cousins I hadn’t seen in too long a time. Such beautiful days. Also I must mention the fabulous Drum House B & B which is where I stayed in Knock. I can’t recommend it enough, definitely a 5* The house was decorated for Christmas and it was stunning. Absolutely outstanding breakfast, take you through the day. John and Donogh cannot do enough for you to ensure that your stay is comfortable and that you have all you need. I highly recommend a stay here.

After my few days in Knock I travelled to Athlone in the Midlands of Ireland. In my younger years I spent a lot of time in Athlone as my Dad was working in the area. There were also family living in the area on the banks of the River Shannon who are no longer with us so this was also a nostalgic trip in a way and also a town of discovery. Some areas remain the same and some are brand new like the various shopping malls all sparkling with the Christmas decorations. At times it can be a little lonely travelling alone and at times it felt quite healing for me. I felt strong, independent and sometimes, yes, a little vulnerable.

Whilst in Athlone I met up with another beautiful lady who has become a friend and we also met on Instagram. Corrina has a gorgeous boutique in the town and had to work extremely hard during the lockdowns to stay afloat and stay afloat she did with her enthusiasm, risk taking and feeling the fear and doing it anyway approach. I visited the boutique and had a good mooch around, the clothes and accessories are just fabulous. Corrina and I had a lovely evening out to dinner and as with Sinead, we could still be there talking. You hear such negative things about social media and yet here I was with two wonderful women as friends from Instagram.

The final leg of the trip was down to Abbeyleix in Co Laois where I met up with two more cousins. My cousin Marji had booked us in for a girls night at the Abbeyleix Manor Hotel and yes, there was prosecco involved. Her brother joined us for dinner and we had a great night talking about old times and my many holidays with them in Bansha, Co Tipperary. Marji and I would be put the other end of the house from everyone else at night as we really would be up all night talking, singing, dancing and giggling and do you know what, we haven’t changed a bit. Every time we meet it’s like we were together a week ago.

As you can see I made good use of my week in Ireland and I’m so proud of myself for making the trip, navigating around, visiting friends and family and having that feeling of independence and empowerment. Every now and again I get an insight to the gifts my parents gave me and wonder why I never realised before that they had raised a strong, independent woman who could stand on her own two feet even whilst experiencing the waves of grief and sadness that can totally overwhelm you. We may have one life yet it’s only now I am realising that within this one life we can live so many different roles, take different paths, make difference decisions and we change and transition and yet stay the same in many ways. Deep, I know!

With love and sparkles xxx