Cotswolds

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Cotswolds

Lake District

Lake District
Lake District

Ireland

Ireland
Ireland
Showing posts with label Ireland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ireland. Show all posts

Sunday in Verse | Mount Stewart, Co. Down


The Rambler by Thomas Hardy


I do not see the hills around, 
Nor mark the tints the copses wear; 
I do not note the grassy ground 
And constellated daisies there.

I hear not the contralto note 
Of cuckoos hid on either hand, 
The whirr that shakes the nighthawk's throat 
When eve's brown awning hoods the land.

Some say each songster, tree and mead-- 
All eloquent of love divine-- 
Receives their constant careful heed: 
Such keen appraisement is not mine.

The tones around me that I hear, 
The aspects, meanings, shapes I see, 
Are those far back ones missed when near, 
And now perceived too late by me! 


I just finished 'Far From the Madding Crowd' this past week, my first Thomas Hardy novel, which I feel will be the beginning of a very long and very fulfilling relationship. I can't wait to get stuck into more of his work. As such, I thought it would only be appropriate to feature one of his poems in this week's 'Sunday in Verse' alongside photos of a recent visit to Mount Stewart, a National Trust property, with my mum. I know the photos and poem don't match up too well this week but the notion of only appreciating the beauty of a moment or place on reflection of it really resonated with me. Especially in the Age of Instagram when we're in such a rush to share our experiences sometimes we fail to fully appreciate them.

Hope you've all had a lovely weekend!
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Recipe | Northern Irish Fifteens


I don't know how I'd lived in England for two whole years and had never noticed the absence of these delicious treats, but it wasn't until I was wandering the streets of London with my friend Tamsin, from A Certain Adventure, and idly mentioned that I'd just love a "fifteen", her complete confusion as to what that was, kind of stopped me in my tracks.

At the time I thought maybe they just weren't as popular in London, until I got back to Lancaster and asked my housemates if they knew what they were, but they had never heard of them either. Long story short, it took me ten minutes of frantic googling to discover that they are actually an exclusively Northern Irish thing. How I never realised this, I genuinely do not know. In any case, I'm proud, they're amazing, and I thus feel it my duty to share them with the rest of the world.


Basically fifteens are a traybake; a baked good or sweet food that is made as one whole piece and divided up for serving e.g. brownies, almond squares, caramel squares. In Northern Ireland we are religious about our traybakes. We also, for some reason, have an ever-growing coffee culture which is probably a contributing factor to this nationwide obsession. There are an absolute ton of coffee shops and cafes in Northern Ireland, all of which will have a fairly decent selection of traybakes, and you will easily find a fifteen down almost every town or village high street.

The only comparison I can think to make to a fifteen is probably a Tunnock's snowball, except there's no chocolate in them. They are so simple and easy to make- even ludicrously so- there is no baking involved, and they are ridiculously good. All you need is:


15 digestive biscuits
15 large marshmallows (halved)
15 glace cherries (halved)
160ml condensed milk
desiccated coconut



Just a little N.B. the measurements of ingredients in this recipe are just a guideline, the most important thing is having the right consistency at the end.

Equipment

1. Sandwich bags
2. A rolling pin
3. A mixing bowl
4. Cling film



Method

1.  First of all you're going to want to get a sandwich bag, or a few, basically as many that can easily hold your fifteen digestive biscuits. Then, take a rolling pin and either roll or whack the bag of digestives to crush them into fine little pieces. It's probably best to employ a combination of the two methods. Or, as Carlo and I did because we couldn't find sandwich bags or a rolling pin, hold both ends of the digestive biscuit packaging and hit it with a hammer (not recommended). It's basically the same procedure as you would follow if were making the base of a cheesecake.

2. Add your crushed digestives into a mixing bowl along with the marshmallows and cherries and mix together with the condensed milk. Basically you’re trying to make the mixture stick together as one whole, none of it should really be crumbling away from the rest and it should have a reasonably sticky texture. I’d recommend you add the condensed milk a little bit at a time and knead the mixture together until it’s sticking well.


3. Lay out a piece of cling film across a table or surface and sprinkle it liberally with a layer of desiccated coconut. Place the mixture onto the cling film and roll it into a sausage shape, ensuring that the coconut is being distributed evenly.


4. Wrap it the mixture up in the cling film and put in the fridge to harden for a couple of hours, then, take it out and cut it into slices. Traditionally, you would cut it into fifteen!


And that's that! If you end up giving this recipe a go I'd love it if you let me know either in the comments or on Twitter (@alphabethblog).



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North Coast Road Trip | Ireland

I'm currently writing this from my room in Spain and thus bring you another throwback post to around two weeks ago when my housemate, Carlo from uni came to visit me at home. At the time, with my departure to Spain looming and any excuse to explore some of the fairer corners of my tiny homeland being good enough for me, we decided to spend some time on the Irish coast.

I believe I've mentioned this before but my aunt and uncle own a holiday home on the Causeway Coast, an area which makes up the majority of Ireland's northern coastline, stretching some 130 miles. It's considered by many to be amongst the most scenic areas in Northern Ireland and thanks to the National Trust, many of its landmarks and beaches are kept in pristine condition. It's along here that you'll find the Giants Causeway, the area's namesake, as well as a vast number of Game of Thrones filming locations which Carlo was quite keen to see. So, with my aunt and uncle very kindly allowing us to use their house as a base, we decided to spend a few days exploring.


As it turned out, all of these photos were taken on our very last day, in a frantic attempt to squeeze in everything we still needed to see! Thankfully we did manage to fit in quite a lot in just a few hours.

Our first stop was Dunluce Castle, a striking 16th century fortress that sits atop a basalt outcropping, giving the appearance of it rising out of the sea. It had been a long time since I'd been inside the ruins so we decided to go in for a closer look.



There are plenty of nooks, turrets and secret hideaways to explore around the castle, not to mention some dramatic views over the castle walls of the cliffs and sea surrounding it, all of this, as well as some of the features that remain across the castle's sweeping expanse, such as window frames and alcoves are a reminder of its former glory. 


I actually found a really interesting article by the Belfast Telegraph containing '50 things you probably never knew about Dunluce Castle', if you'd like to hear more about the castle's fascinating history. There were plenty of things on there that I'd never heard before!

Our next destination was supposed to be Balintoy Harbour- better known perhaps as the Iron Islands and Pyke, home of House Greyjoy, to Game of Thrones fans- but decided to make an impromptu pit stop at White Park Bay, one of my favourite north coast beaches.


I was adamant that there were caves somewhere along this beach because I'd remembered exploring them when I was younger, so the first thing we did was to set off across the rocks to find them. To no avail, though, as it turned out. The tide was starting to come in at this point so the top end of the beach where I thought the caves were had been made inaccessible. All was not lost though, since the beach is still beautiful, even in its absence of caves.


For some reason I can't find any photos of Ballintoy though I did take some, so unfortunately we'll just have to move swiftly on to the last leg of our journey, a stop at the Dark Hedges in Armoy, a long pathway lined on either side with intertwining beech trees, which once featured as the Kingsroad in Game of Thrones.


Apparently it's the most photographed natural phenomenon in Northern Ireland which is surprising since surely the Giant's Causeway would be the most photographed natural phenomenon? In any case, it really is a sight to behold and photos really don't do it justice. We made it there in the last hour or so of daylight so the light was absolutely stunning. It's one of my favourite places on the north coast for sure.
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Sunday in Verse - 28th June 2015 | Tollymore Forest Park


The Song of Wandering Aengus by William Butler Yeats

I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire aflame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And someone called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.
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Birthdays and Blogiversaries

I'm a little late with this post as both of the events I'm about to mention happened a couple of weeks ago now, but better late than never, eh? 

In the last couple of weeks since I've been a little quiet on the blogging front, two very exciting things occurred. Firstly, Alphabeth turned one! Hurray!! I wish I'd been able to write some sort of blogiversary post on the actual day (12th April) but I was rushing to finish off an essay so that I could get it over and done with in time for the next exciting occurrence: my birthday! Yep, I turned 20 on the 15th April and am officially no longer a teenager. I definitely have some mixed feelings about this but overall I'm pretty excited to embark on the next decade of my life and to see what it has in store for me.

In all honesty, this birthday was one of the best I've ever had. For one, I got to spend it with my best friend from university, Alysia, who came over to visit me at home for a couple of days, as well as all my lovely school friends, some of which I hadn't seen for a while.


The evening before my actual birthday we all met up for a meal in Birdcage Belfast, which isn't even just my favourite restaurant in Belfast, but probably my favourite restaurant. Period. It's kind of like a hipster Nandos in that it sells a variety of chicken dishes and the menu is set up in such a way that it encourages you to split and share main courses. The end result is therefore a massive feed for much cheaper as you actually only end up paying for half a main and your own side, so it's great for students living in the area. Also, the food is absolutely unbelievable. I genuinely have so much love for this place, especially for its mac 'n' cheese and its range of yummy cocktails! 

The next morning, Alysia, my mum and I set off early to Castle Leslie for a riding lesson at the equestrian centre which I never believed I'd ever get the chance to do because it's just sooo fancy. The lesson was actually an incredibly generous gift from my mum's partner and was honestly a dream come true, even though it ended up being a little chaotic.


The riding style they taught was pretty foreign to me and I don't think I took to it particularly well but it was still a brilliant experience and it was so cool to get to ride against such a beautiful backdrop. 

After the lesson we met my mum for some coffee and she surprised us with impromptu bookings at the castle's gorgeous Victorian Treatment Rooms for facials! It was actually my first time at a spa so I was so excited and honestly, the whole experience was so much better than I could ever have imagined. The facial itself was so relaxing, and was only made better by some of the chats I had with the really lovely beauty therapist. She was Polish and spoke several different languages so we had a very lengthy and enthusiastic conversation about the joys of language acquisition- one of my favourite topics, being the language nerd that I am! I really love hearing people's stories as well; I think it's one of the reasons why I love reading blogs so much.


I don't think I can actually recall a time in my life when I ever felt as chilled out as I did after that spa treatment. When our facials were done we moved into a kind of relaxation area with these comfy chaise lounge chairs where we were offered these little smoothie shots and given a choice out of a huge range of herbal teas. I'm not sure if that's standard procedure in spas and I'm just a spa n00b but if it's not, it should be. I drifted into that lounge room feeling as if I was floating on a very fluffy cloud and I just remember looking around at Alysia and my mum and thinking 'I'm so happy, just right here, right now'. I really don't think I could have asked for much more than that on my birthday.

Once we'd managed to build ourselves up to leaving the spa, and consequently return to reality, we decided to take a walk through the grounds of the estate towards the castle.


Any time I'd ever been to Castle Leslie before there had always been some sort of function on and so I'd never seen inside. I honestly could believe our luck when on this particular day the castle was open and I got to have my very first look at its striking interior which is full of beautiful furniture and pieces of art, including an amazing wall tapestry! Not only that, but we also got to out into the castle's gardens, a really stunning area overlooking the lake that I'd never seen before. It's actually the part that they use to host weddings... Can you imagine having your wedding here, with that gorgeous view?



All in all, I had an absolutely perfect day. I couldn't have asked for a better one. Apparently the excitement was all a bit much for me though, since I basically passed out in bed as soon as I got home and was sound asleep by half 10! I may never be the ultimate party animal, but at least I'm always well-rested, haha!

I just wanted to say a massive thank you to everyone who has supported me in this last year of my blog's existence. It's been an amazing ride and I'm so thankful for all the lovely people I've met  so far and for all the amazing experiences I've had thanks to blogging. I have so much love for you all.
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Easter Monday Walkies | Murlough Beach, Co. Down

Just a pre-warning that this post features a bit of an overload of photos of my dog, Heidi- yes, I'm one of those dog owners! haha- to be honest I just love watching her run about and doing her thing because it makes me so happy to see her happy and enjoying herself!


We had unusually good weather this Easter Monday, particularly considering how cold it's been recently. It just suddenly went from rain to glorious sun in the space of a day, so my mum and I decided to take advantage of it while it lasted and take Heidi down to the beach.


Murlough Beach is one of my favourite beaches in Northern Ireland. It's maintained by the National Trust so is always beautiful and clean and I think one of the best parts about it is the fact that it's also set against the magnificent and imposing Mourne Mountains. They looked especially gorgeous and misty on this particular day with the sun out.


All of us had a lovely time but I think Heidi probably enjoyed it the most! She's a real bundle of energy so loves having the space and freedom to run about. 

After our beach walk we headed back to the car, but not before picking up a tea and traybake to go from the tiny cafe at the entrance. If anything's true of the Farrelly clan it's that we will take up any excuse or opportunity to stop for a cup of tea and a traybake. It's like an obligatory part of a day out, as well as the reason why I'll probably never be skinny! haha

I hope you all had a lovely Easter Weekend whatever you got up to! Though I know I'm a little late in saying that at this stage. In any case, I hope this week is treating you well so far.
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