Today the first of our group of friends turns 30! So I thought the only fair thing to do is to share some really old (and some less than flattering) photos here. 



I thought I’d also share a little background of our friendship. We’ve been friends for half our lives now. I just realised that today. We first met through the boyfriends we had when we were 14 or 15. Back when we used to think that 25 was over the hill & our lives would be over. Those boyfriends didn’t last long & there’s been a few more since that didn’t last either (ha!) but our friendship has. Now that’s the nicest thing I’m going to say because if I say anything too nice, she’ll accuse me of going soft on her. 


Happy 30th birthday Jen! Thanks for getting old a little bit before me. I’ve learned 1 thing from reminiscing over the past 15 years….we might be old AF now but we definitely look better now than we do in some of these throwback pics…

P.s. Let’s not talk about my lack of eyebrows in that photo from Crete 2004. Or the fact that we clearly had a not at all cringe yellow theme going on.

Last September I went to FriendsFest in the UK with my friend Emma and her daughter and I decided to do a quick review and share a couple of photos here because it’s on again, this year between July and September around the UK. 

Obviously because we were coming from Ireland, we got a flight from Dublin to Luton early in the morning and travelled by Taxi to the venue. We arrived pretty early which gave us a good few hours at the venue. 

We were so lucky to get really good weather. We started the day by watching some best bits of each Friends character on a big screen while eating some chips (yes, it was the AM, don’t judge me!!).

FriendsFest
After relaxing in the sun for a while, we got in the queue to get our photos taken in the opening scene. It was well organised and pretty quick but I’m not going to post a picture because I don’t want to post pictures of someone else’s child without their say so! 

This leads into Monica & Rachel’s apartment which is pretty impressive. They have the entire thing set out & you can get pictures taken in the living room, kitchen & on the inside of their front door. With the exception of some very small furniture changes, it was perfect and really brought me back to years and years of watching Friends (who am I kidding? I still watch it on Comedy Central at least once a week)

FriendsFest

FriendsFest

Next up was Joey & Chandeler’s apartment. If I’m being honest, this 1 was a bit of a let down. They had Joey’s entertainment unit, the Laurel & Hardy poster & lazy boys. It wasn’t in a room of it’s own, however, so that kind ruined it a little. 


As well as the apartments, there was also a recreated set of Central Perk. You could have your picture taken outside and then inside behind the counter, on that iconic sofa and on the stage. 


They also had Ross & Rachel’s Wedding Chapel, Monica’s Moodance Diner, a silent disco which was based on the New Years Eve party when Ross & Monica did their “routine”, Phoebe’s taxi, a souvenir shop and some great food & drink options. 

Considering we were only there for about 5 hours, it’s ridiculous how much we ate. After the chips I mentioned earlier, we also had this hot chocolate (yum!), a waffle with Mokolate on it (remember that episode?) and some mac n cheese.


Overall we had a great day but in all honesty, I think there is a lot more they could do with it. Overall I would say if you live nearby one of the places FriendsFest will be on this year, I definitely recommend going. You’d have to be a really big fan before I’d recommend you to travel by plane. We had a great day with great weather and any day I get to sit in a beach chair watching Friends, is a good day! 

If you want more information on FriendsFest, you can check it out here

2015 was a great year and these were my highlights:

January:

1. My cousin Louise’s hen night and wedding 

2. Visiting some of my lovely family in Exeter, Devon

3. Visits from my godson Lorenzo from England

4. Galway for a night with the girls 

Jan 1

January 2015

May:

5. Inishbofin with the mammies and daughters

6. Our friend’s Richard & Jacqueline’s wedding

7. Harry Potter Studios in Leavesden

May 2015

May 2015

June:

8. Liverpool with the girls

9. A day trip to Belfast with Dad, Marian & Mark

June & July 2015

June & July 2015

July:

10. Paolo Nutini concert in Marlay Park

11. Ed Sheeran concert in Croke Park

 

August:

12. Calpe in Spain for our friend’s Bud & Suzanne’s wedding

13. Visiting the Choctaw monument in Cork

14.  Fethard-On-Sea for the dog’s holiday with some family & friends

August 2015

August 2015

August 2015

August 2015

September:

15. Electric Picnic

September 2015

September 2015

November:

16. Stephen’s graduation

17. Ireland  qualifying for the 2016 Euro’s versus Bosnia & Herzegovina in the Aviva Stadium 

November 2015

November 2015

December:

18. New York trip with friends

19. My friend Kiara returning from Australia after over a year 

20. The Riptide Movement gig in Whelan’s

21. 12 Pubs of Christmas in Dublin City (well, the second 6 pubs of Christmas)

22. The girl’s Kris Kindle night as a 5 piece group (there was only 4 last year)

23. 2fm Xmas Ball concert in the 3Arena

24. Christmas Day drinks with extended family, followed by Christmas dinner with immediate family

25. Lots of  festive get-togethers with friends and family

26. New Years Eve with friends in Emma’s new house

December 2015

December 2015

December 2015

December 2015

Here’s to a great 2016…

Christmas Night 2013

Christmas 2013 – Kiara, Emma, Jennie, Jade and Ali (me)

Christmas 2014 - Me, Jade, Jennie & Emma

Christmas 2014 – Me, Jade, Jennie & Emma

My friends and I have a night out every Christmas where we swap Kris Kindle presents and have a few drinks. We’ve changed it up from year to year but we’ve been doing it for so long. The only thing we haven’t always done is take a picture of all of us on the night. We started taking a photo the last couple of years so I’m sharing the past two years now. 

Unfortunately our little group started with 6 and dropped to 5 a few years ago because one of the girls moved to Australia. Last year we had 5 and now we’ve lost one more as she moved to Australia last September and we’re down to 4. Here’s hoping we don’t lose anymore friends Down Under before next Christmas.

Gift bag

gift bag contents

My friends and I do Kris Kindle every year. We try to arrange a night in or out where we have some food, some drinks and swap presents. Last year I hosted a little pre-night out gathering and thought it would be a fun idea to make little gift bags for each of my friends. 

 

I bought plain black gift bags and made simple labels with each of my friends names and the year on them. The bag included some chocolate, a face mask, a set of false eyelashes, a mini notebook, a Yankee wax tart , a lollipop and a hangover kit I put together.

 

Do you have any fun ideas for gift bags?

Lipstick off with Kiara

Being silly & having a lipstick off with Kiara in Dubai last year.

 

Layla makes me laugh ALL the time. Shes so witty and smart.

A family reunited!

A family reunited after 4 months apart!

Last week one of my best and oldest friends in the world packed up her things, took her little girl Layla and went to Perth in Australia to be with her boyfriend. I know it wasn’t easy for her to leave her family, friends and everything she knows behind and take that big leap but she was so brave. I wish them all the luck in the world and I hope they enjoy every moment of this adventure. Don’t forget to come home sometime Kiara. xo 

Chief

Lady Mam & I Fethard On Sea

1) Chief tired after a long walk,  2) Lady relaxing,  3) My mam & I,  4) Fethard on Sea beach

I can’t believe it’s taken me over a month to write this blog post. This year is going by in a blink. On the 12th of August my mam and I took the dogs on a well deserved holiday. They have a very hard life you see, all that walking, sleeping and eating. We went to Fethard On Sea in Wexford for almost a week. My Aunty Pauline came with us for the first part of the week and we had a really relaxing time. We brought the dogs for long walks, had some drinks, cooked some nice food and even played bingo. When the weekend came around Pauline left and we had some other visitors including Annie the dog and my favourite little human Layla. The dogs had a ball on what was dubbed ‘The Dog Holiday’ and the humans enjoyed themselves too.I had a 99 ice-cream on the last day on the way home which is a must for a Wexford holiday.  I love visiting different parts of the world but there’s a lot to be said for a holiday at home. Ireland really is such a beautiful country.

 

For more photographs from the holiday, check out my album here

Picture5 Picture7Picture1Picture2

1) two cakes at a time…sure why not?  2) Beautifuuly wrapped presents,  3) Cocktails with my girls,  4) The UH-mazing cake Jade made. It was delicious.

I had a lovely weekend celebrating my birthday with family & friends. It involved a LOT of food, two birthday cakes on Friday night, an amazing cake on Saturday night made by my lovely friend Jade, some cocktails and more beers. I also received some fab presents. What more could a girl want? 

 

Kiara and IDane and DecoKiara and DecoKiara & ICheers Deco & Kiarapolice car 2Dane & I

1) Kiara and I,  2) Dane and Deco being competitive,  3)  Kiara and Deco outside The Burj Al Arab with the Jumeirah Hotel in the background,  4) Kiara and I with the Mercedes Police car,  5) Cheers – shot time!  6) Deco and Kiara,  7) Dane and Deco with the policeman and the Bentley police car,  8) I love this picture of Dane and I. It’s so silly. We had just posed for a picture together and this was what followed.

The fact that I’m writing this post almost a week after arriving home leaves me with a sad feeling. Dane always says that you don’t really appreciate a place and how amazing it is until you leave. In a way, I believe he’s right. You see it all the time with Irish people living abroad. They tell anyone who will listen how great Ireland is. So much so that I often wonder why they left in the first place. In my opinion, part of this is because the grass is always greener on the other side and part of it is because as time goes by we tend to forget any negative feeling towards a place, especially if there aren’t many, and remember only the positive ones. We also tend to build it up to be better than it was. It’s a funny one because although I remain firm on my stance that Dubai really isn’t for me, when people ask I still tell them how beautiful it is and about all the amazing things to see and do and I would always recommend it to people. Strangely enough, The first time I went to Dubai remains very close to the top of my list of holidays. This may come across as strange, but I feel comfortable in Ireland in a way I’ve never felt in any of the beautiful and spectacular places I’ve visited. I know now, more than ever, that Ireland is my home and I just can’t see that ever changing. That being said, I find myself missing small things about Dubai, most obviously waking up every day and knowing Dane is there.

Our last 10 days in Dubai were spent with Kiara and Deco, as you know from my previous post Summer in Dubai, Part 3. Although they were our third set of visitors in only 2 months, it was just as fascinating to see their reaction to all of the wonderful things Dubai has to offer. The same way a place can seem much more enchanting when you leave, it can seem very normal and everyday while you’re there. Especially if you’re there for a while and have seen it plenty of times. Seeing everyone’s reaction to the things only Dubai can produce was refreshing every time and it reminds you to appreciate it while you’re there. Kiara and Deco were very aware that this was mine and Dane’s last week or so together for a few months and were kind enough to arrange some of their plans for days out when he was off so we could spend some time together. All four of us had a great time and the 10 days went by in a blink. We ate, we drank, we shopped, we played cards, we laughed, we argued over the rules, we took silly photos in photo booths, they experienced Dubai – the Burj Khalifa, the bus tour, the market, Wild Wadi water park, etc. We had a 7 course, 7 star afternoon tea pretty much right after a trip to Burger King, we shopped some more, we went to Sega World and the ‘men’ reverted back to being boys – it wasn’t a long trip! We drank some more, we ate some more, including a McDonalds drive thru trip or 2 in taxis (I have never seen a human being consume food the way Deco can – he eats lots and very often) and we had some of the funniest taxi journeys ever, singing and dancing with the taxi men. Dane’s ability to sing in ‘Punjabi’ is second to none.

This summer in Dubai was interesting to say the least. I got to experience it with some of my favourite people and I am eternally grateful to them for making it that bit easier to be away from home for so long (I know what you’re thinking – you would swear I was away for 10 years but it was a daunting experience for me as I’m such a home bird). Having people that I love there stopped me from getting too home sick and certainly made the days when Dane was in work until 6, 7 or 8 at night much easier. I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did. I also made some lovely new friends and I hope to see them in Dublin in the near future.

Being in Dubai during Ramadan and the start of the 3 day celebration (Eid) that follows it taught me a lot. I learned to appreciate a culture that is so different from my own and because at times it was difficult, it also reminded me to appreciate my own culture. It taught me that although I love to learn about other countries and cultures, I am very lucky to live in a country that it is very liberal (not an opinion I would have had before, we’re still pretty far behind other countries on a lot of issues). Being in Dubai for Ramadan reinforced for me the lengths people will go to please their god and whether you agree with it or not, it takes a lot of strength to fast for 30 days in 40-50 degree (celsius) heat whilst going about your everyday life which includes working and for woman still cooking for children and all of this without so much as a drop of water from sunrise to sunset. Ramadan is not only about fasting. It is also important to live a clean life during this period where Muslims should only think positive thoughts, refrain from gossiping, smoking or having sexual relations during daylight hours. It is also a time for giving and so it’s a nice time to be in Dubai because people are very kind and charitable.

Now that I’m home (well in County Wexford, which is about 2.5 hours from home), I am enjoying the familiarity and beauty that is Ireland and quietly remembering the magnificence of Dubai.

Mam and MariaAbra (water taxi) Maria and Dane Mam and IIMG_6596

So my mam and Maria left Dubai to travel home on Wednesday night after 12 days. Dane organised a surprise for them and we dropped them to the airport in a white stretch Hummer limousine. Slightly cheesy, yes! Ridiculously enjoyable watching their faces as we walked towards it with their luggage, hell yes!! It was really great to have them both here for loads of reasons. For me, even though I was only here a little over a month when my mam arrived, I was delighted to see her. I enjoy the fact that I’m close to my family and I miss them when I’m away from them for too long. It was also great for Dane’s mam Maria to spend some time with him. I know it meant a lot to both of them…probably Maria more so but that’s sons for you. We had a lovely time and we got to see and do some things I hadn’t experienced in Dubai yet which was a win all round. It certainly didn’t take long for Irish ‘mammy-ness’ to kick in and within no time they were telling us what to do (“you need to save more” and “that’s not a substantial breakfast”), asking an outrageous amount of unnecessary questions and dying my leopard print blanket blue and my leopard print pyjama shorts pink (I’m obsessed with leopard print, remember). If I didn’t know better I’d say there’s a clause in the Irish ‘Mammy-ness’ contract that you have to be terrible at washing clothes and regularly stretch, shrink and change the colours. They try to justify it by saying “ah sure now it’s like ya have a new t-shirt” when they change the colour from white to blue. Anyway, we had a busy 12 days which included sunbathing, visiting the mosque, swimming, asking questions, afternoon tea, shopping, eating, drinking, asking questions, playing cards, laughing, the Dubai Fountain, asking more questions, the Burj Khalifa, more shopping, visiting the souks and the creek and did I mention asking questions? Like a lot of questions. They’re gone now and as they left, our friends Kiara and Deco arrived for 10 days. Literally. As in they all met at the airport for a few minutes. Needless to say it’s Friday (the weekend in Dubai) and I’m exhausted so while the others go to the market, I’m tidying around the apartment and relaxing with my book. Stay tuned for the fourth and final installment of ‘Summer in Dubai’.