Posts from the “ireland” Category

Baby Moon

Posted on 7 May, 2016

Back in 2013 Steve and I thought we were at the height of originality when we came up with the idea of having a night away just to hang out and relax together before our lives would be changed forever by the little baby growing inside me. According to everyone in the world it was going to be a big change and so some time together to hunker down and just enjoy each others company seemed like a good sensible idea. Once we announced our plan a friend said a “oh a babymoon. Nice” Hold on, a what? Apparently there is a whole term for a night (or two) away before a baby arrives. Not so original it would  seem!

So this time around with the help of Grandparents, original idea or not,  we arranged a night away for the two of us. This time we know the level of change that’s coming our way so we pushed the boat out and thought if we are doing this lets do it in style. So we booked Ballyvolane House. It’s a big old house in East Cork that I have been drooling over for about 4 years. The internet can be a terrible thing filled with beautiful, jealousy inducing photos of places you’ll never go. But given that the house is  in Cork I felt it wasn’t beyond the  realm of possibility that I would get to visit  this alluring place at some point in my life. So for years I fed my obsession with searching #Ballyvolanehouse on  Instagram at regular intervals and drilling anyone who had visited  there for information. Now that I’ve finally been I can say safely it was well worth the wait.



I knew it would look great but it came with a few unexpected quirks too (some things wouldn’t be for everyone). Firstly, the bedrooms only lock from the inside so when you leave the room you can’t lock the door.We were only staying for a night so the worst thing someone could have stolen from us was our toothbrushes.I was willing to accept that level of risk. Plus there are only 6 guest bedrooms in the house so if something suspicious had happened I had envisaged an elaborate real-life game of Cluedo would have solved the mystery.

The next surprise is that everyone staying, and possibly some locals booked in for dinner, all eat together at one long table. Both Steve and I were apprehensive about this. Mainly because making chit chat on your break seems like a lot of effort but it turned out really well. The table of 18 people chattered,clinked and ate our way through a 3 and a half hour epic meal. The food was so heavenly that we are going  to frame the menu and I seriously doubt that I’ll ever forget the lemon tart and brown bread ice cream combo not to mention a Wild Garlic Soup that melted a little place in my heart in a way that I thought a soup could never do!!


The next curiosity was that they have an Honesty Bar. You can take anything you want from their extremely well stocked bar, including Bertha’s Gin that they brew onsite, and they trust you to write down what you’ve had. As a pregnant lady and a partner who isn’t drinking in case I go into labour any second now we didn’t dive in but we were honest about our one sparking water! I know we’re wild!


Honesty Bar

The last surprise is that their dogs come running after you at the first sight of a walk around the grounds. Which when battling with heartburn walks are a necessity rather than an optional extra! I don’t often get to hang out with dogs but  I definitely see the attraction! My stick throwing skills need a bit of practice and all five dogs definitely favoured Steve over me for this task.


Our adopted friend Wriggle and a caravan used as a drinks bar for events




While outside was nice I definitely enjoyed swanning around the house as the best part of the trip. Prepare for a photo onslaught if the quantity of photos break your internet I’m sorry (well not really) I simply can’t help myself.

Here we go….


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In less than 12 hours I had two baths. I was a very clean and happy customer!

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Me trying to look angelic!

Now that you’ve been bombard you with a selection of the million of photos I took I will answer the burning question I’m sure you are all thinking.”Yeah it looks nice but does the bedroom have somewhere for a big pregnant woman to hide so she can scare her partner?”.The answer is a resounding Yes! Although oddly he wasn’t scared by my grinning BOO!


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A dirty weekend (of sorts)

Posted on 15 February, 2016

Planning a weekend away on a tiny island  in the Atlantic in the middle of February is a risky move. But if you waited for the weather you’d never go anywhere in Ireland. So we packed all the rain gear we owned and headed to Heir Island. Ewan asked to pack his sunglasses. He’s read books about holidays and thinks that such items are needed. We packed them with mocking grins the night before. Little did we know the child is a weather forecasting prodegy. Steve and I squinted our way down the windy roads of West Cork to the pier only to be greeted with the brightest green sea I’ve ever seen.


Ewan’s packing choices were vindicated!


We spent the weekend finding shells, drinking tea, cosying by the fire and helping Ewan out of giant puddles. No matter what wet gear, welly combo we put him in he managed to find a muddy puddle big enough to drench his trousers and socks underneath. Squelching home for food the, sponging wellies and drying them with the hair dryer before the next walk became the pattern of the day. It turns out 4 tracksuit bottoms, one rain suit and waterproof ski pants are not enough for two days away. Who would have known! Our muddy weekend made for a very dirty weekend but not in the traditional meaning of the phrase.

Despite the fact that it’s only about two hours from Cork it feels like we’ve had a real break. Sun, sea, bitter coldness, rain and mud what more could you ask for from a weekend.

I already want to go back!

Here are some of our photos if you’d like a look.

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Best of 100 Vol 3- Rugby World Cup

Posted on 21 October, 2015

This photo set is a bit of a cheat and it’s late! Some are taken with my big camera and some are from my phone. I intended to take over 100 with the big camera but it turns out when you go to Cardiff to watch a Rugby World Cup quarter final there is far too much rugby watching happening to be concerned about photos!

Last Saturday morning, my friend Niamh and I set sail for Cardiff filled with hope and giddiness about Ireland’s forthcoming rugby match.  We had meet up in New Zealand to watch Ireland beat Australia in the last World Cup in 2011 and I was looking forward to keeping up our tradition closer to home this time.

IMG_2726Even though the match was the main aim I was still pretty excited about going on the boat. I hadn’t been since I was a teenager and I’m easily excited about going out for a pizza so having a whole weekend away caused me to burst into song every now and again (lucky Niamh!).

Such was my excitement that we braced the chilly morning air to take plenty of boaty type photos.








I became a little obsessed with the little red lighthouse below at Rosslare and Niamh reckoned I might make my quota of 100 photos on that light house alone such was my obsession with it. But the cold won out and we took shelter inside.


The rest of the journey consisted of selfies, watching a replay of Ireland beating France (and re-living those horrible injuries), playing Who is it? (a cheap version of Guess Who) and eating a fry up. Perfection!




Once we made it into Cardiff city it started to feel like we arrived at the hub of the World Cup despite the fact that it is offically hosted by England rather than Wales. Despite having only been there once Cardiff has a familiar feel to it. It’s an easily negotiated city and when your to do list is to watch rugby and soak up the atmosphere the city lends itself to both of those things very well. The huge stadium in the middle of the city has a smaller sister stadium in it’s shadow. The smaller stadium was turned into a Fanzone which allowed fans to gather and watch matches on big screens. The set up was amazing, every representative for the World Cup bowled us over with helpfulness, politeness and generally just knowing their stuff. The whole thing made for a cosy set up filled with buzzing fans (including us!).

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Despite only going from the stadium, to fanzone, to food, to the pub, to the train station we managed to spot this lovely little collection of bird houses which I now want to recreate in the garden but that’s another days work!


Back to rugby. I had never been in the Millenium Stadium and it didn’t disappoint. Our seats were right up in the gods, the second row from the back, which meant a great view of the whole pitch with a complementary dose of vertigo!


The thunder of noise that booms from the stadium is shattering. The blasts from a mainly Irish crowd of 72,000 strong is so rousing you think anything is possible. I felt so proud to be Irish and will admit to being a little teary after Ireland’s Call. While I had my niggling doubts the lift from the crowd made me confident that this would be it. Ireland would make history. Being part of a crowd makes you feel like more than a witness, rightly or wrongly you feel part of it. If Ireland made it to the semi finals I was pretty sure it was going to have something to do with Niamh and I being there! Before the match started we were enveloped in sound so load our own roars are inaudible!

Now, unless you live on Skellig Michael, you’ll know that it is Argentina, and not Ireland, who have secured their place in the semi finals. While it hurts to remember it, Ireland lost. Having watched it on the television I have to say the Ireland team look a lot better on screen than they did in the stadium. From our great height the green shapes looked slow, tired and almost frightened to come up to the Argentinians for most of the first half. I was anxiously awaiting half time in the hope that they’d come out a different team. That they did. They played like the determined Irish side we know and love so well and managed to claw their way back to be within a score of Argentina. But the Argentinan players were up to the challenge and in the end their pace left us breathless. Niamh described them as eels slipping past the Irish defense with ease (she’s fierce poetic so she is:). While it was heart-breaking to watch they were by far the better team. Despite the fact that the Argentinian supporters made up, I’d guess,  about 15% of the crowd  they made their voices well heard. They are amazing fans who manage to jump up and down while swinging their scarves around and it never gets tangled! Skilled really when you think about it! They celebrate with such absolute joy and pride that it’s hard to begrudge them anything. Even a semi-final place. Although that’s still a little hard to say.

All that’s left is for Argentina to go on and beat the Aussies for their deserved place in the final!

As for Ireland we’ll come back in four years time and once again a nation of rugby supporters will all start dreaming again.


Best of 100 Vol 2

Posted on 8 October, 2015

I am loving taking 100 pictures in one day! I realise that this is only week two and my feelings may change but today was wonderful! Having to take the camera out made me get off my rear end and go somewhere that might look nice, which isn’t a bad thing to do on a bright(ish) autumn day. So after a recommendation from a friend we took off on an adventure to Doneraile Park. Calling it an adventure for Ewan meant it was an instant success before we’d even left town!

If I hadn’t had the challenge of taking a 100 pictures today I probably would have thought that sounds like a nice thing to do I should take Ewan and then would have forgotten instantly about it in favour of the routine things we do. I have been to Doneraile Park many moons ago but true to form I didn’t really remember it. It’s beautiful! Ewan was thrilled with the way in. You go into the woods through a formal garden and a big red door. Encouraging him back to the red door was the only way I had of getting him to leave. He loved it so much.  I was a bit nervy that I’d get terribly lost again and end up with a repeat of the previous disastrous “adventure” so we took a fairly straight forward route and hung out with the deer who were pretty interested in Ewan’s sandwiches!

The highlight of the trip for me was the squirrel hunt. Ewan was determined we were going to see a squirrel. Having only seen one once in my life the chances were slim but I said “sure, we might”. So he collected lots of acorns and went through the woods holding them up shouting “Squirrels squirrels, I’ve got nuts”. It was too cute for words! We didn’t find any but he soon found a stick which he called a fishing rod and the squirrels were forgotten.

Ewan and I had been rubbing each other up the wrong way for a few days now and I think we needed something to break the mould. Today certainly did that and I’ve promised him another adventure together next week. I can’t wait!

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Hmm you've got a little something...

Hmm you’ve got a little something…

Anyone for a cheese sandwich?

Anyone for a cheese sandwich?

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The NO Machine

Posted on 29 June, 2015

Lately I’ve been finding that my sentences are a loop of nos,”don’t do that” and “STOP”. The vast majority of these exclamations are entirely justified. I’ve read numerous bits of parenting advice that suggest you don’t say No continuously to children instead you tell them what they should be doing. This advice goes straight out the window when Ewan “helps” me with the shopping by grabbing a packet of sausages and making a break for it. In seconds he has eaten through the cling film to get at the raw meat underneath. As I run after him I don’t have the presence of mind to think of saying ” Ewan remove the raw meat from your mouth and put the sausages in the fridge please” and instead “NNOOOO, Ewan stop it, for the love of god come back. Arrgghhh how did you eat cling film, Ewan they’re raw, yuck,Ewan come back, SSSTTTOOPP”.

I will admit that at other times there’s no risk to him and sometimes saying no is just a habit. A No often often involves less effort than a yes. But saying no constantly gets irritating for everyone, including myself. Last weekend we took a little holiday to West Clare and I tried to let some things slide and tried really really hard to say yes a little more often.

It’s not easy. There is always a whole host of things he wants to do and a whole list of things I determine we need to do instead. He wants to get out of the car, “Sorry but No we have to get there”. He wants to watch more cartoons, “No you have to go outside and exhaust yourself because we are going for another trip in the car”. He wants to eat everything, all of the time, “No because you might actually explode”.So my plan to say yes a little more often was beginning to seem a bit lofty.

We were staying in Quilty and had an awesome view of the sea. As soon as we drove into the village Ewan shrieked “bbbbeeeeaaacchh” and pleaded to go.  I said no and we went in to meet my friend and her family who were putting us up. Over the next day and half there was a whole list of reasons we couldn’t go to the beach. With places to go and people to see it added up to no beach. One afternoon we were coming back from another long drive and he squealed “bbeeeaacch” again. I replied with “Sorry we can’t go it’s raining but maybe later”. I knew once we were in there would be little to no hope of me leaving again. I had dreams of wine, chats and sitting but then I thought again. He was strapped into the car seat more often than not and wanted to go to the beach. It really wasn’t that unreasonable a request. So I zipped him into his rain suit/ mechanics outfit, hoisted on his wellies and off we went. I sat in my rain coat on a blown out tyre someone had dumped on the beach and he had the time of his life.



Saying yes to the beach in the wind and the rain might not be sensible option but despite the fact that I was still thinking about the wine in the fridge I loved every second of it.



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Posted on 11 June, 2015


I will declare openly  that there is an element of trickery to this post. I will show you a few flowers and fruit which I hope will lead you to believe that my garden could be quiet nice but in truth all hope is lost. When it comes to waging war on hip height nettles I simply don’t have the will to face them. As a result I am a garden refugee.  I have evacuated 95% of the garden and focus solely on growing delicious strawberries.


So far the yield is small (20 strawberries) but I have high hopes now that the sun has arrived. Ewan has named them straw-bee-berries which I find particularly cute. His love for straw-bee-berries knows no bounds! I have no idea how I will parent when the straw-bee-berry season is finished. At the moment any mood can be lifted with the question ” Will we go check if there are any strawberries today?”.

This generally receives an enthusiastic declaration of  “Exciting!” as he rushes off to try and put on his wellies. In truth going to check the strawberries involves me carrying him in one arm and an overflowing watering can in the other as I wade through the war torn land of nettles to the safe zone of the glass house. It all feels pretty heroic and like a big adventure into the wilderness!


Once in the safe zone he uses the full extent of his waiting ability. Yesterday he agreed that ,yes, we did need to wait for the straw-bee-berries to go red before we could eat them. He proceeded to pace  outside the glass house for 30 seconds or so and came in to declare “It’s ready now”. This was the face I was given when I explained that they might take a day or two to go red.


The slow pace of growth really doesn’t suit the nature of toddler life where a day may as well be a month. But despite the small yields and prickly path the quest for seeking out red treasures is one that’s still met with such giddy excitement that it makes me think gardening isn’t so bad after all. Especially if you just focus on strawberries and the occasional flower mix packet!




Yes to Love

Posted on 23 April, 2015

yes for love

Listening to the radio today I felt saddened to be Irish.  On the 22nd of May a referendum will be held to ask all registered voters to vote yes or no to the proposal to include a new clause about marriage in the Constitution. This new clause provides that two people may marry each other regardless of their sex.

Today the radio presenter spoke to a number of people who will be voting No to the change of the constitution. Generally, when you hear a No vote speaker they represent a religious organisation and I have come to expect a certain rhetoric from them. To be honest I think and care very little about their views. In my mind they are a vocal and obstinate minority.

Today was different though. Today made me think that their views are not necessarily the minority. Today a cohort of people spoke out about their views. These people didn’t seem to be connected to each other in any way but they who were saying the same thing and they all plan to vote No. The general theme of the segment was that people are genuinely worried that voters considering voting Yes haven’t thought about the potential consequences for Ireland. They worry that the sanctity of marriage will be called into question if same sex couples can marry. Some felt that civil partnership should be enough and some felt bullied to say Yes. One woman worried that Ireland’s reputation is based on being a family orientated nation and if a yes vote is passed then this cornerstone of Irish culture would be eroded. You can read a straight forward counter to these point here.

But one argument really saddened me and that was the undercurrent that homosexual relationships are not natural. If I’m honest I felt ashamed that this is where I live. Sitting in a car park with the radio on it hit me this is where  I live . I live somewhere where a large number of people feel many of it’s own citizens are unnatural or immoral because of who they love. How widespread this sentiment is felt is yet to be seen but that feeling is here.

When two women find love their bodies releases dopamine and serotonin and they both feel the natural chemical rush of the early stages of love. That scary butterfly feeling of nerves and excitement takes over in a way that doesn’t feel natural but is the most natural, scary and beautiful feeling.

When two men decide they love each other and commit to growing old and bald together their romantic love causes their bodies to release oxytocin (the lovely cuddle chemical) and vasopressin (some kind of natural chemical important in long term relationships).

When a man meets a woman their bodies do all the same lovely chemical things that any couple in love feels.

So, if you’re voting yes you’re also voting for the right to legally recognise natural love and that mad urge to stay with someone forever. You’re voting for people so in love they want to promise to make it last  and bind that promise in law. If you think marriage is important and sacred then definitely vote yes to letting more people do this important thing. If you feel marriage is needed to keep Ireland strong and maintain the importance of family then vote yes for making more legally bound families. If, like me, you’re not really bothered about marriage then vote for the people who are bothered. Vote for people who are in love to be allowed to marry each other, if they want to, because doesn’t that sound like the most natural thing to do?


St Patrick’s Silence

Posted on 18 March, 2015

st patricks day collage

As you might have guessed I am a huge St Patrick’s day fan.

Rain,hail or big pregnant belly I have been there at the edge of the Cork parade willing and able to wiggle my way into a good viewing spot. I struggle to understand why some stay away from the parade but I can just about get my head around it if people are busy or bed ridden. Where I  fail miserably in my understanding is the stoic silence that surrounds the parade. This is a celebration, it should be full of whooping, clapping or at a passing comment.

I’m not sure if it was where I was standing or whether my enthusiasm frightens people but this year the response was so lack luster it boarded on eerie. The parade delivered the goods. There were giant robot heads,


glorious stags,


 aerial dancers…


and a giant inflated garden!!


Not one of them received so much as a clap from the majority. People made these amazing things, people practiced and practiced and barely received a response at all.Up to 60,000 people turned up to line the streets of Cork and from where I was standing you could hear a pin drop!  Not even a muted discussion  was ushered about the delights passing us. I grand you some aspects of the parade may fail to inspire but the tone was so sedate that at one stage it felt like a funeral procession!

When I clapped, or whooped or enthusiastically pointed things out to Ewan, eyes were cast back at me as though I was breaking some sacred vow of silence. Maybe a memo went out to say a new rule of silence must be obeyed. Well I for one will continue to break this strange tradition that seems to have creeped it’s way into the parade.

I will even continue to risk annoying those around me in the hope that next year others will join in and at least give a smiling nod towards the participants. Despite the lone clapping, I had my fun and I’m already awaiting next years parade and as long as it involves being fed some tasty food Ewan is willing to play along too!  Happy belated St Patrick’s day from a blogger who is very happy to have her blog back working again:)



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Posted on 14 January, 2015

I have to admit I have turned into such a big child. I LOVE SNOW. Last night I kept peering out from behind the window blind to announce “snowing”, ” not snowing”, “it’s definitely sticking!!”.

This morning I was excited to show Ewan his first snow. I made a big deal about opening up the shutters to show him the white blanket that covered the garden.  His first words when he saw the garden dusted with snow?


Undeterred by his lack of enthusiasm we had breakfast and we wrapped up. It turns out he was even less impressed with snow outside than he was inside. I’m going to plough on with snow propaganda and I hope to have him converted by the end of the day.

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A surprise first place

Posted on 8 January, 2015

Everything seems to be going a little slower for me over these first few days of the new year. I thinking about changing things up both here and in the shop but a bout of indecision and dose of the January “meh” feeling is making me pause before making any decisions. I have to say this pausing business is a marked improvement from when I was in full time work.  I had a habit of reacting a little too quickly and running with my gut instinct. So for the moment I’m just moving slowly and having a good old think about where I what shape I’d like the blog to take and what the future of the shop will be.

Because of all this pausing and thinking I decided to look at some stats from the blog in 2014 and I got a bit of a surprise.

Last years most popular topic was the series of posts I did about giving up my smart phone.


To be honest I didn’t think the topic was that interesting when I first sat down to write about it but people have really responded to it.  It was also these posts that lead me to being asked to go on the radio to talk about the topic. There was no mention of Thrifty Amos in the radio interview and most people seem to have come across the topic when they were googling giving up their smart phones. It looks like there’s a secret host of people out there thinking about ditching their phones. You can expect another post about how that’s easier said than done!!

Using Google Analytics I can see what phrases people have searched which lead them to my blog . (Don’t worry I can’t tell who searched what, just a list of things people searched that lead them to click on the blog). Most searches make sense as to why people would have landed on my blog, Arklow pottery, Irish birth stories, car boot sales, carrigaline pottery all of these make sense. But here are some of the more unusual Google searches that lead people to Thrifty Amos in 2014:

  • am i aloud to bring my dog to the four seasons flea market
  • 40dboobs (they didn’t stay long!)
  • 1970 irish boy scouts
  • amos is who i am
  • what does amus have to do with the christmas tree
  • blanket to soak up blood (!!!)
  • did not lick that off the lawn
  • does amos white gel tube give stretch marks
  • why is ireland so rocky
  • what era did they make letter openers with items stuck inside clear handles
  • the faith of amos
  • frozen chicken harold laurance

The internet, eh!!! Who knows what array of searches will bring people here in 2015 but I’m looking forward to finding out!

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