The Blackhall Chapters: It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

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I had this belief going into Blackhall that I’d suddenly find myself with more free time than I’d be able to cope with. Everyone who has been here before me seemed to say the same thing - relish the nights out, take up new hobbies and try and squeeze in every last minute of free time I possibly could before the exam season kicked in. You end up going in with expectations that you’ve to do absolutely everything that you can. Honestly, it gets a little pressurising.

Am I loving Blackhall? Yes. Absolutely. I’ve joined the running club (I’m back doing weekly 5-10ks!), I’ve joined the baking club (guess who’s successfully made a three tiered iced cake this weekend?) and I’m a member of this year’s Stetson moot team competing in Florida after the exams finish in March. I couldn’t possibly love my tutorial group or my moot team more. I’ve made some great friends and filled my life with amazing women who I know are going to take the legal world by storm. Blackhall was worth the pain and suffering of the FE1s and the months of locking myself up in my own little study cave, but crazy as it sounds, I had a surprisingly stressful time at the beginning trying to adjust to it all. It’s okay everyone, I’m completely fine and adjusted now, but I feel like it’s an important thing to admit and to write about in this blog because I can guarantee that next year some of you readers will feel it too. (I know you law heads read this, I’ve heard enough of you say it!)

So at the beginning of my time in Blackhall I found that I literally couldn’t keep up with the nights out followed by the days in lectures. I’m a wine lover and a foodie and it doesn’t bother me in the slightest to admit that I’m no longer able to keep up with my college drinking days. I love nightclubs, but not several nights a week. It just isn’t my thing and that definitely won’t be changing any time soon. But in Blackhall your days are flipped. Weekends are for recovering from the mid-week nights out. Mondays in Xicos or Tuesdays in Diceys quickly become routine. And in full and frank disclosure - it’s not for me. Not every week at least. BUT, and this is a large one, I can’t get enough of the brunches, the dinners, the shows, the gigs and the random little trips away. I’m finally finding time to learn to knit, to bake and to improve my fitness. I’m coming back to blogging. That said, even though on the face of it I’m doing loads, I couldn’t help but feel like I was missing out.

I think I came to Blackhall with certain expectations not just of the people I met and my time here but of myself. I expected to want to go hard or go home. But I don’t. I like being prepared for tutorials (although every now and again I’ve winged it) and I don’t have much time for hangovers anymore. Granted, Christmas is coming and the festive season is literally a day away, but I’m happy to limit my alcohol intake if it means I don’t have to write off a day for recovery. Accepting that I’m a bit on the dry side of life wasn’t the easiest, but I think I’m learning to embrace it now. If Blackhall has given me anything thus far, it’s the self-awareness to accept that I cannot change certain things about who I am and the determination to change those that I can. 

Over the next few weeks I intend on filling my festive period with things that I love at this time of year. I’m going to go ice-skating, secret santa-ing, gift shopping, have some cinema visits, family time, nights out, nights in and ultimately I plan to finish off my 2017 embracing my happiest self. My time in Blackhall is too short for anything else.

Before I finish off - congratulations to all of you who just survived the FE1s and received your results this week! Adventure is coming. You’ve earned it.

Much love

Sorcha x

Taste of Dublin 2017 - My Happy Place!

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Some of my summer highlights are always the food festivals.

Anyone who knows me knows how much of a foodie I am. And when June rolls around, the markets start to open up and my two favourite food festivals - Bloom and Taste of Dublin - come around.

This year I was lucky enough to attend Taste of Dublin courtesy of Bank of Ireland who are currently promoting their new graduate account. Yes, a year or two may have passed but I do still find it strange to be out in the real world now and walking through life as a graduate. But more on that later. Much later.

The weather was glorious!
So yes, Bank of Ireland gave myself and Conor VIP passes to Taste of Dublin and we couldn't have been happier. As if there wasn't enough food at the festival already, BOI gave us dinner and a free bar in their suite before we'd even ventured around the main part of the festival. We did our best to make the most of it, but I think I was a little too keen to see the rest of the stalls and sadly had to pull Conor away from the bar before he'd really made full use out of it! Next year maybe.

The BOI suite at Taste of Dublin
Taste of Dublin was on, as per usual, in the Iveagh Gardens. I always love the gardens, home to quirky summer gigs from Lisa Hannigan and Fleet Foxes, as well as providing a brilliant hidden garden on Harcourt street for when Stephen's Green is just a little too packed with tourists.

But I always forget how surprisingly large the gardens are. Stalls upon stalls were placed throughout them, and each one boasted incredible Irish foods from all over the country. I sampled as much as I physically could. Ask Conor - I think he was part amazed part shocked at just how many samples I needed to try.

We also attended a few different talks and demonstrations throughout the festival, but one of our top talks had to be the Teelings whisky tasting. And we stumbled across it entirely by mistake. I was under the impression from the timetable that we were attending a talk on summer recipes but there must've been a change to the list as we landed in just in time to hear Teelings tell us the history of whisky in Ireland while giving us several glasses of their own whisky to sample.

I'm not a whisky drinker myself and only visited Jameson for the first time about two months ago, but since then I've gained a newfound appreciation for the drink and its place in Irish history. You'd never think how many incredible stories and Irish lives revolved around producing whisky here in Dublin and if any of you ever have visitors from afar, I'd 100% recommend taking them to one of our many distilleries. They make for a very interesting afternoon.
Aside from the whisky tasting, we also stopped to see a cupcake decorating class, watched some Thai boxing demonstrations and relax with a few cocktails provided by Barry's Tea (I know, I was suspicious of their tea cocktails too, but they were incredible) on a Just Eat blanket. The advertising game in the gardens was high that day, but we were very happy to lap it all up.
Loving being VIPs for the event!

I think Taste of Dublin is a very well organised event for Irish producers to showcase their finest foods, but we did both think that the event can make you spend far more than you initially might intend on so be warned! It's a non cash event, so a person has to buy tokens at pop up stalls throughout the gardens in order to purchase food and drink. We ended up buying a lot more than we needed as we didn't realise that BOI had kindly given us more than enough tokens to do us for the evening and we ended up sampling cocktails and cakes from almost every supplier in the place. Now I'm willing to admit that we went all out. I dare say we were even a tad excessive. But taking that into account, we tallied up how much we would have spent had we not attended with BOI, and we figured that the afternoon cost us about €80 or so, tickets included.

Not something you could attend every weekend, but worth it for an annual foodie event.

I'll do a comparative post about Bloom, but for now I just wanted to write a little about my June. Taste of Dublin was a truly lovely way to end a weekend and a great way to spend a Sunday evening, but I did think it was a little weather dependent. We've been so lucky in Dublin lately, the sun has appeared far more than we're used to, but I've been loving it.

Long may it last as far as I'm concerned.

Sorcha x


Homemade Quinoa, Oats and Coconut Granola

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I'll be eating granola for weeks...

Hi all!

Life has a way of distracting me from writing, but I'm hoping to slowly but surely start adding posts back into this blog. I've had so many adventures that deserve posts, I've been to South America, I've a trip to India coming up, I'm starting Blackhall in September (they say it's like being back at college. Can't wait!) and I've moved back up to Dublin. All things that I probably update you all on, but I think I'm just going to have to try and trickle my life stories in bit by bit. I'll try, that's all I can promise guys!

I'll start with this weekend. The last weekend of June. Anyone else feel like the summer is flying by too quickly? Then again, it almost always does. I spent the weekend at Pride, attending the parade yesterday afternoon and hanging out in Smithfield for the post parade party. It was all brilliant.

I actually think I prefer Pride to St Patrick's - more colour, less tourists, better weather and full of street parties! It's one of my favourite events in the summer and yesterday didn't disappoint.
We decided to finish the day by attending the Walking on Cars gig in Kilmainham supported by a duo from the UK called Oh Wonder. It was such a lovely way to end the day and I have to say that the gig was absolutely phenomonal. The last time that I saw Walking on Cars was at the NYE festival in Dublin and although they didn't disappoint then, I feel like they really brought their best to the show last night. If any of you have an opportunity to go see them, do!

Us chilling before the gig!

Anyway, today is a Sunday that I really couldn't be bothered doing much with. I've managed to come down with a cold, so I've been staying in trying to shake that off too.
What does one do when you're housebound and bored?

Raid the cupboards! Or at least that's what I do.

I had a load of dry ingredients taking up space in my cupboards, so I decided to try and use them up and make myself some homemade granola.

The results?

It was delicious! And I accidentally made enough to do us for the next three weeks... at least.

So since it's been a while since I added any new recipes to this page, I'll give you all my (only once) tired and tested granola recipe!

Ingredients:

100g quinoa (uncooked)
300g rolled oats
50g flaxseed (optional)
50g almonds (or nuts of choice)
100g dried fruit of choice
75g dissected coconut
50g sunflower seeds
50g pumpkin seeds
75g dried berries (I used cherries!)
70g maple syrup / agave syrup
150g coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 tsp cinnamon

Method:


  1. Preheat the oven to 120 degrees. Line two / three tins with grease proof paper.
  2. Mix oats and quinoa together with seeds and flaxseed.
  3. Melt coconut oil and pour over dry ingredients. 
  4. Add maple syrup, vanilla essence and cinnamon. 
  5. Place granola mix on the lined tins and spread out evenly on the tins.
  6. Put the tins in the oven and leave for 70ish mins, until golden and crispy!
  7. Remove from tins, add in dried fruit, coconut and leave to cool.
Place in jars or whatever your container of choice is and serve with natural yogurt, greek yogurt or soya if you're vegan. Milk works well with it too, or if you're like me you might find yourself just eating straight from the jar with a spoon...

Enjoy x

Visiting Dry & Fly Dublin

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Since I've moved to Dublin, I've found it incredibly difficult to fit in enough 'me time.' 

Work can sometimes lead to long hours and early starts and I've found that fitting in everything else around it can be tricky at the best of times. Exercise and healthy eating I can do (at a stretch) but more often than not I tend to leave the house / gym with my hair barely brushed and thrown back into whatever style I can manage in 5 mins or less.

Then last week I heard about the new Dry & Fly Dublin opening up on Wicklow Street and was invited to come along and see what it was like.

And I loved it.



My appointment was at 7am and I received the warmest welcome from the moment that I walked in. I was offered teas, coffees, prosecco (was 7am too early? This is the kinda thing that I debated as I reluctantly chose the tea) and the staff filled me in on all the lovely options I could choose for my blow dry. I opted for waves because I'm useless at creating that look myself and god knows my hair doesn't need to get any flatter than it already is.

Curly it was.


As you can see from the photo up top, Danielle (my incredible hairdresser that morning) did a phenomenal job. I posted that photo up on Instagram fairly soon after my appointment and received more texts and messages before lunch than I usually get in 24 hours. It was crazy. Everyone thought I'd gotten a whole new hair style. I didn't, I just gave my hair some TLC for once!


And I really need to do it more often. It was such a fantastic way to start my morning and put me in a great mood all day. I felt like I had my own little pamper session over and done with before 8am and I walked into work feeling like a complete powerhouse. Can I have it all? No, but I can take 40 mins or so and give myself great hair in the morning and I think I can live with that.

If anyone wants to check out the salon, their website is linked here.

The Lookbook Blowdry that I got usually costs €28, but they've limited numbers in their Blow Dry Club allowing ladies to get one blow dry a week every month for €80.

Aside from hair, the salon also does nails, make up and combo packages of the above so it's definitely worth checking out if you've an occasion coming up but no time to prepare or even if (like me!) you just decide that you need a little mid-week treat.

Any questions, feel free to drop me a message! As usual, my email is linked above.
Alternatively just go straight to the source and ask the lovely people over at Dry & Fly!

Sorcha x

Quito Tips and Travel Advice

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We've loved our time travelling around Ecuador and although we didn't visit the Galapagas, we don't regret it in the slightest.

If you're backpacking on a budget, there's a million other things to keep you entertained, and I'm using this post to share a few of my thoughts on touring the country!

First stop for us was Quito.

Quito is a city built in a volcanic crater and, beautiful as it is, this means a lot of hills. So prepare for steps and uphill struggles everywhere. The upside to this is that the view points are stunning; and we can vouch that the Telephonica cable cart up to the top of the city is a must do. It's about $10 and well worth the view of the city. Same goes for climbing the bell tower at the Basicalla - about $3 and a load of steps, but absolutely phenomenal.

We decided to skip most museums and galleries given our short time frame for our stay in the city, but another must do is visiting the Middle of the World museum. We went there basically wanting the photo opp standing on both sides of the equator, but the tour guide had us doing all kinds of experiments and gravity games that made the trip one of the most entertaining from our time in Quito. Again, it cost about $10 per person for the trip, but I felt it was reasonable.

We also spent about a day taking a taxi tour of the city which worked out at $25 per person and basically meant that we had a personal chauffeur for the day. It was super handy for getting to see all the sights in one go and ended up far better value overall than a hop on hop off tour.

One of the biggest attractions for us while we stayed in Quito was the hot springs of Papallacta. We'd read up on how luxurious the spa was and felt that for $100 each, it was a treat worth indulging in. But we never did make it to the Papallacta spa we set out for. Neither myself nor my boyfriend speak a word of Spanish, so we were relying entirely on charades and directions from the local tourist office to get us there. It would've worked too, except for the one not so obvious glitch - there's three different springs that people visit in Papallacta. We had three different sets of directions. To cut a long story short, we ended up lost on a highway after getting the wrong stop and ultimately ended up landing in hot springs used by locals, with not a single tourist bar us in sight. We actually ended up having a great time and between transport (buses and taxis) and the entrance fee, we paid about $10 each, not the $100 expected. In hindsight, I'd say you should book the trip in advance with a tour company, but if you're really strapped for cash and don't want to miss out, the local hot springs are still relaxing and surrounded by equally breathtaking views.

Another attraction we wanted to do but didn't have time was Cotapaxi, a dormant volcano on the outskirts of Quito. Unless you're an experienced trekker and have come equipped for a harsh climb, you'll probably just want to do the lagoon and visitor centre tour. We heard from a few of our fellow travellers that it's a great tour and not too dear.

In terms of accommodation, we stayed in Jumbo Lodgings followed by Colonial House Hostel followed by Hotel Eugenia. The first two cost us about $24 for a double room with breakfast per night. I can't speak highly enough of the staff we met in each place and the beds, showers, WiFi, etc were all fine. I'd picked accommodations based on their ratings on Hostelworld.com and TripAdvisor, so I knew we were getting the best available. That said, we found that both lacked a real backpacker presence and were a bit on the quiet side, but I've been told most hostels in Quito are similar at this time of year.

Hotel Eugenia however was perhaps one of the nicest hotels in the city. We moved completely away from Old Town and used this as our base for New Town. We only stayed there one night and felt incredibly underdressed landing in to the reception in our hiking boots and trekking shorts! This hotel costs about $70 a night, but the breakfast, staff, facilities and rooms are second to none in Quito. It's a perfect base for clubbing and seeing New Town and a quick walk from restaurants, parks and all kinds of supermarkets.

In terms of tips, all I can really say is ask your hotel/hotel staff for help organising local tours, you'll get bargain adventures that you'd otherwise spend a bomb for. Second, taxis are dirt cheap, so if you can't figure out how to get back via buses  ( we found them a tad confusing) just hop in one of the many, many yellow taxis. It cost us about $3 to go half across the city. Finally, pack a load of suncream and don't expect the weather forecast to be in any way accurate. I was predicting non stop rain and packed a load of rain gear. I didn't use it once and ended up almost getting quite burnt from a day of rambling the city.

It's such a gorgeous city with so much to do, so I'd recommend taking at least three days and seeing as much of it as you can. It's worth it!

Sorcha x

From the Andes to the Amazon - Beginning our Travels

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It's been a week since we first landed here in Ecuador. Just a week. And in that very brief space of time, we've gotten ourselves lost on a misty Ecuadorian highway in the middle of the Andes, we've showered in waterfalls, turned cocoa beans into chocolate and used he jungle lagoons as our own little amazonian paradise. Although it's still early days, it seems that Ecuador is everything we expected it to be and more.

That said, it's taken us a while to adjust to the cold showers and occasionally crossing paths with tarantulas, but overall, there's been no real glitches to report. I've even managed to largely avoid the mozzie bites and sun burn, though everyone had commented on how very painfully white I am. Luck of the Irish indeed.

At this point we've toured Quito, Papallacta and spent a few nights in the jungle. We've met up with our tour company, G Adventures, and found ourselves in luck with the incredible people we're getting to tour with. Mainly from Australia, Germany and the UK, our tour buddies are every bit as crazy as we'd hoped. Everyone seems to be coming from different adventures and I can't help but envy the free spirits among us who have been travelling for months on end.

I guess everyone has to start somewhere though! Hearing all the stories from their travels has absolutely reaffirmed my plan to see as much of the world as possible, and I've decided to aim for a new adventure every year or two. There's just far too much to see and far too little time (or funds sadly!)

As I write this, we're currently on a bus to Banõs - the adrenaline junkies' playground. I'm absolutely game for whitewater rafting, but there's a lot of talk about paragliding and zip lining and really, I'm tempted by all of it. After several days of sweaty trekking and no electricity, the thoughts of being back in a city are very welcomed!

Oh and yes - the jungle was a phenomenal experience. The amazonian people thrive on their connection to Patcha Mama (don't judge my spelling, Spanish is entirely new to me) aka mother earth. They spoke to us about the power of the jungle and the closeness that they've developed over generations with all that lives there. They strongly believe in spirits, magics and energy that protects them, and their knowledge of the environment they lived in is incredible.

Part of me understood the attraction of the jungle once I saw the breathtaking lagoons and looked up at a night sky so clear and untainted with city lights that you could see stars and the milky way stretch for miles. I mean, it might be a nice life, there in their own little world far from offices and 9-5 routines. As far as I'm concerned, it's just a nice break from reality. Nonetheless, I'm determined to make the most of it.

Sorcha x

Glamping in Casa de Laila - Paradise in the Spanish Countryside

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A few weeks ago my boyfriend and I took ourselves off to Spain for a post-exams break. It had been one of the biggest motivations getting me through the FE1s and it didn't disappoint in the least! We spent part of our trip staying in a gorgeous little B&B in Torremolinos, and the second half of the holiday we ventured into the Spanish countryside to go glamping at Casa de Laila. I'll leave our stay in Torremolinos for another post, but for now - my review of Casa de Laila!

Breakfast in the mornings! 
Casa de Laila was idyllic. I can't speak highly enough of the glampsite nor of how welcoming Benjamin and Ann Marie were to us when we landed! They were so lovely and couldn't do enough to ensure that we enjoyed our stay. We spent our days lounging by their beautiful pool and playing with their gorgeous dog. It was bliss.

As for our tent, it was beautifully decorated and we had our own two person hammock shaded underneath the avocado tree outside to relax in when we wanted to escape the heat of the midday sun. We also were surrounded by orange trees and had freshly squeezed orange juice every day of our stay there! Calling it bliss is an understatement. It genuinely was our own little time out in paradise!

While there we tried out yoga, we explored the local town, we met some other incredibly friendly couples and we had the most phenomenal sunset dinner made by Benjamin and Ann Marie. The meal was vegetarian but even my meat-eating boyfriend adored it! They also made a vegan version for me which I really appreciated, matcha-tea sorbet included. Delicious.


Conor realised that the yoga hall was excellent for
napping in the shade!

I honestly can't recommend staying at Casa de Laila enough. We left feeling incredibly relaxed and even though neither of us had dabbled much in yoga before, we've been converted. The only thing I would say is to make sure to get a taxi or drive to Casa de Laila. All the local taxi drivers know the site and taxis cost about €5-6 from the town. We made the mistake of walking with our suitcases from the town and even though it was only 1 kilometre, it was entirely uphill. We were wrecked when we finally landed and had to jump almost immediately into the pool to cool down! But that was the only slight hiccup in an otherwise perfect holiday. 

Conor (my boyfriend) now says that he'll happily tag along to more glamping holidays and I'm already planning the next adventure. It looks like we're heading to South America after the next set of FE1s... all I need to do is survive round two of them. 

Fingers crossed!

Sorcha x