Travel Sparkles ✨

An Irish Road Trip – Knock

November 2021 I was lucky enough to visit Ireland for a week. I was supposed to go for Easter 2020 but with the lockdowns there wasn’t any travel at all. Since then I have been checking various rules and restrictions both in the UK and Ireland and I was able to plan my trip just before additional restrictions were imposed due to the Omicron mutation of Covid. This was the first time I had ever undertaken a road trip and the first time I had done anything like this alone. I was excited and scared. My mantra was ‘You’re a strong, independent woman, you can do this’. After all, it was Ireland I was going to, it’s almost like home plus, I am blessed with cousins the length and breath of Ireland should I get into any dramas, I would have someone to call on.

Up and Away

My first night was spent in Ashbourne, County Meath and the following day I made the journey across Ireland to a tiny and internationally known village named Knock, in County Mayo.

Knock is famous due to the appearance of Our Lady in 1879, you can read all about this story and the shrine here https://www.knockshrine.ie/ Growing up, the Summer holidays were always taken in Ireland so that my parents could visit their parents and families. Mom’s family were located in the West of Ireland, around County Galway, County Mayo and County Roscommon and therefore whilst we were there, there was always a day out at Knock. As a child I always found this boring because of course I wanted to be out playing or running around on the beach or the farm. I remember returning to school in September and we would all be saying to each other ‘Did you have to go to Knock’?

Knock became very special to my parents when their health declined and they couldn’t go out to Mass. They would watch Mass daily at 3pm online and I would join them for Mass on Sunday. I often thought to myself when watching the Mass online what I wouldn’t give to be in Knock right at that moment with them and how much they would love to have been there. After they passed away I knew in my heart that I needed to go to Knock and therefore as soon as I could get to Ireland, the visit to Knock was my main agenda.

I felt many emotions being in Knock. I was so happy to be there at last, emotional at the memories of past visits with my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Sad that I didn’t have my parents with me yet at peace that I was there. There is something about Knock Shrine, the stillness, the quietness, the air of peace and tranquillity that makes an impact on you. I needed to experience this healing and I needed to experience it alone, to have the freedom to spend hours looking around, to having a cappuccino to just doing things in my time without having to worry about anyone else.

Chapel of Reconciliation

Knock Shrine has changed a lot since I used to visit with my parents. As you will see from the website, Knock has a lot to offer from youth centres to counselling, retreats to concerts, walks in the grounds and a visit to the museum. Although I was there for three days I didn’t actually get to the museum, that’s for next time. I did however visit the newly created Chapel of Reconciliation. Absolutely beautiful in there, calming, serene and still. Whilst I was there I decided to go to confession and ended up having over an hour in conversation with a lovely, elderly priest. I told him my story of looking after Mom and Dad and how I was now starting on another phase of life. He asked me if I had ever thought of writing a book, he felt my experiences of working, becoming a full time carer, the feelings when the caregiver journey ended and rebuilding life, could be invaluable to others in a similar position. I told him that I have this blog and also about my music, perhaps I could reach people via these mediums? Maybe the motivational posts on my social media could help? All I know is that I came out of that conversation feeling like a weight had been lifted from my soul. I felt a sparkle of excitement for the future and also a knowing that you can’t wait to do things. We don’t know how long we have here so we have to make the most of everyday. That conversation made me feel inspired, gave me confidence to be me and just go out there and do what I feel I need to do. To be me, to believe in myself and what I can give, or share with others.

Photo by Italo Melo on Pexels.com

I do have more to tell about my trip to Ireland but I felt that my visit to Knock Shrine needed a post of it’s own. The visit meant so much to me and did so much for me, I couldn’t have covered it within a few sentences within a travel blog. I hope I’ve given you a sense of the beauty of Knock and whether you are of faith or not, I think everyone who visits this place leaves with a sense of peace and tranquillity.

With love and sparkles xxx

Travel Sparkles ✨

Lanzarote Bound.

Here we go!

It had been five years since I had been away on holiday. Here I was at Birmingham International Airport, meeting himself and ready to go to Lanzarote, one of the Canary Islands. I had so many mixed emotions. Happy and excited to be going on holiday, to the sunshine, the heat, the ocean and the whole Spanish vibe. Sad because I was very much still struggling with my grief and remembering that the last time I had gone away on holiday things were so different.

I love early flights. I love to arrive at the airport in the middle of the night, have breakfast, my skinny cappuccino and a quick mooch at the shops. Even though you have to add additional time for going through security, for me, the time flies by and then it’s time to board.

Early morning lights.

Because we hadn’t been on holiday for such a long time we decided to blow the budget this time. We arranged to visit a 5* resort in Playa Blanca. Oh my was this place beautiful and yet not stuck up or pretentious. Everyone was very friendly and it had a laid back vibe.

View from our balcony.
Tuna toastie, chips and beer.

It was always our tradition to have toasted sandwiches, fries and a drink for our arrival lunch. I’m not a beer drinker but I do enjoy a cold beer on that initial lunchtime in the sunshine. Himself will have a burger with a Jack Daniels and coke.

Mid-afternoon Pina Colada.
Twilight time.
Playa Dorada beach at breakfast time.
Casa Felix in Costa Teguise serves the most amazing Sangria in a bucket!
My favourite of the three swimming pools.
Sunset Cruise.
Ice Cream Sundae for lunch? Yes please!

It was a wonderful week away. We chilled out, we swam, we visited my cousin in Costa Teguise. We visited lots of restaurants, drank cocktails, ate far too much and it felt good to escape from the dark reality of what my life was like then. It was difficult at times, I am so used to calling home daily to speak to my parents but there wasn’t anyone to call. Difficult transitions take time. It takes a while for a new path to appear.

This year we were due to spend a week on the beautiful White Isle of Ibiza. Due to the Covid-19 global pandemic the holiday was cancelled and has been re-scheduled for 2021, fingers crossed. I’m so glad we decided to just book and go on the Lanzarote trip last October and not put it off until this year, which we did think about doing. Lesson learned, grab the opportunities when they present themselves and don’t put things off. Live life now.

We stayed at https://www.princesayaiza.com/en/ and we travelled with https://www.tui.co.uk With love and sparkles xxx