Things to make you smile…

Chimps watch Planet of the Apes

Vali and Sugriva, two chimpanzees from the Myrtle Beach Safari, enjoy one of their favorite pastimes, watching movies. To celebrate the release of the newest Planet of the Apes movie, they went to the Big D Theater in Myrtle Beach and watched it on the super-big screen.

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I love this TED talk from Shawn Achor entitled ‘The happy secret to better work’. It will make you LOL as well as sending a powerful message. In this fast-moving and entertaining talk from TEDxBloomington, psychologist Shawn Achor argues that actually happiness inspires productivity. I love his story about Amy the Unicorn. It is proven that training our brains can have significant benefits for our lives.

How do we do this?
To create lasting positive change, it is recommended to do the following five things for 21 days in a row:
- List 3 new Gratitudes every day
- Journaling one positive event that happened during the day
- Exercise
- Meditation
- Random Acts of Kindness – Write one positive e-mail to someone in your social network

Imagine if everyone did this how much better the world would be! Let’s start a happiness revolution!

Bombs Away

A really catchy tune from Sheppard from Brisbane. Perfect for a summer weekend. Enjoy!

Things to make you smile…

Americans taste test Irish food

Love their reactions to black pudding [blood tastes good] and dip dab [looks like cocaine]!

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Last weekend I went on a roadtrip to Strandhill in County, Sligo with a few good friends. I planned the trip using the fabulous website Go Strandhill. We stopped off at the Landmark Hotel, Carrick on Shannon which is en route. We had soup and sandwiches in the conservatory of the Boardwalk Café. We stayed at Strandhill Lodge and Suites, a boutique hotel located on Top Road about a five minute walk down the hill to the village. I would definitely recommend them – great location, fabulous views overlooking Knocknarea on one side and Strandhill on the other and very friendly staff. It’s a family-run hotel which in this day and age is a rare find.

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When we arrived and had settled in, we went for a walk down to Strandhill beach to build up an appetite for dinner. That night we ate in Bella Vista where we sat in the Captains Quarters. Everyone enjoyed their food and we stayed for one drink downstairs to watch the closing minutes of the football.

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On Saturday, after a lovely continental breakfast, we headed down to the village to do some more exploring and some surfer-watching. We enjoyed a coffee in the very popular Shells Cafe and had a look around their Little Shop. I had booked myself in for a Seaweed Bath in Voya. It is a real treat – you get your own private room for 50 minutes where you spend 5-10 minutes in the steam room before enjoying the seaweed bath. They advise drinking lots of water. It does get pretty hot in there but it is very relaxing.

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For the afternoon, we headed to Lissadell House. It has recently reopened after a few years where there was a court case over a right of way. It is €12 for a tour of the house and gardens. I would definitely recommend it as a lovely way to spend a few hours. The house is impressive especially the difference between upstairs and downstairs and you learn about the history of the Gore Booth Family. Yeats was a frequent visitor and his love for Lissadell House is evident in his poetry. Also, we hear the impressive story of Countess Markievicz, a remarkable strong revolutionary woman and her equally fearless sister, Eva. It is hard to believe that the Cassidy-Walshes live there but they are very much visible in the modern photos of them and their seven children dotted around the rooms. The house overlooks Sligo Bay and Ben Bulben and the alpine gardens are particularly impressive. They are hoping to bring the walled gardens back to their former glory.

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That night we enjoyed dinner in Tra Ban, the restaurant above the Strand pub. Afterwards we watched the sunset before finishing the night off with a few drinks in The Venue with stunning views of Strandhill.

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On the Sunday, after more surfer-watching and a quick walk along the beach, we checked out the People’s Market. There are lots of stalls on offer selling food and beautiful crafts and a nice addition is some live music while you shop. We had coffee in the Strand Bar to shelter from a heavy shower. The sun came out again in time for us to enjoy some homemade ice-cream in Mammy Johnston’s, a beautiful sweet shop and ice-cream parlour, definitely the stuff of children’s dreams, before saying goodbye to Strandhill and heading for home.

I would definitely recommend a trip to Strandhill, a beautiful part of our country and well worth a visit and as this year is all about the Wild Atlantic Way, it is worth adding this to your list of places to go.
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Check out Pete Vids pretty short video of the time he visited beautiful Dingle, Co.Kerry. He captured it well and put it to Damien Rice’s I Remember. Enjoy!

theprice
The Price now on in The Gate Theatre in Dublin, involves two brothers, Victor and Walter Franz, and focuses on selling their dead parents’ belongings, all housed in the attic of a large brownstone because the building is about to be demolished and they must dispose of the remaining furniture. The set design was impressive with an attic full of beautiful antique furniture loaded to the ceiling. A giant harp takes centre stage.

The Price, although set in 1968, has at its heart the timeless themes of family relationships and materialism. As well as being the price that an appraiser was willing to pay for these antiques, it also has a deeper theme of the price we all pay for the choices we make in our lives. Their father was bankrupt during the great depression of the 1930s which meant Vic had to sacrifice his education to look after the old man ending up as on the police force for 28 years. On the other hand, his brother Walter went on to become an eminent and wealthy doctor and washed his hands of his family not speaking to Vic for 16 years. Vic and his wife feel they sacrificed their dreams and eked out a ‘living like mice’. We feel Vic’s resentment towards his brother from the very start and his wife’s frustration with Vic who on the verge of retirement is still dithering about his future where in scene one, we meet them in the attic preparing to meet the appraiser.

The appraiser, Gregory Solomon, turns out to be an elderly Jewish gentleman brimming with a zest for life despite being nearly 90 and a real character to boot. He regales Vic with tales of his past – three marriages, several bust businesses and some great stories. He is a realist and a man who lives in the moment contrasting with Vic who seems stuck in the past and unable to move forward. He talks honestly about the disposable nature of things, how modern living places no importance on antiques that last and how shopping has become the new happiness – “…everything has to be disposable. Because you see the main thing today is shopping. Years ago a person, he was unhappy, didn’t know what to do with himself; he go to church, start a revolution, something. Today you’re unhappy? Can’t figure it out? What is the salvation? Go shopping.” Gregory fails to make an offer until the very end of the first part and just as they have agreed on a price, Walter shows up.

The second part is more about the brothers and years of resentment and bitterness bubbling over into angry scenes of confrontation. Walter waltzes in after sixteen years and takes over the deal much to Vic’s dismay. Both brothers have their own version of the past which has led them to where they are. Each brother believes that he has paid the greater price. The real truth about the father comes out in the end but it is too little, too late.

The production stars Barry McGovern, Fiona Bell, Denis Conway and J. Stadlen. All four actors/actresses play their parts to perfection. The play is engaging, at times both funny and touching.

The ending is reminiscent of the bitter, calculating old man who ruined his sons’ relationship as Gregory Solomon sits in his chair and laughs an evil laugh. Well worth a night out in The Gate – you won’t be disappointed.

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I spotted a voucher on Pigsback for a two for one deal for the Game of Thrones Winterfell day tour from Game of Thrones Tours and as it was my sister’s birthday decided it was the perfect treat for her as an avid Game of Thrones fan. Having never seen the series myself, I thought it would be a good day out. We met the bus @ 9am sharp for our departure in front of Jury’s Hotel, North Quay. It was my first time in the Port Tunnel – not that long or exciting but anything that gets the traffic away from the city centre is a good thing in my book. Susanna from Spain was our tour guide and she was more than a little nervous upon realising the majority of the bus was from Ireland. We hit the motorway and as it is not too scenic, Susanna told us some history relevant to Northern Ireland and the Viking invasions. The bus takes the scenic Mourne Coastway and we were lucky with the beautiful weather we had, the scenery was breathtaking. We had a short stop for fifteen minutes at a rest station in Castlebellingham for breakfast.

Stop 1. Winterfell/Castleward
Our first stop was the setting for Winterfell which was in Castleward, a beautiful Manor house on large grounds. To set the scene, Susanna played two videos from Game of Thrones post-production companies showing before and after the addition of special effects. There was the option of hiring costumes from the Game of Thrones and we received a sales pitch upon arrival. There was also the option of archery but this meant missing out on the walk. Susanna took us on a walk through the grounds pointing out scenery from Game of Thrones. These are clearly marked though and they appear to have a cycle trail around the grounds to DIY it. It took about 50 minutes and it was a bit rushed as we had been late arriving due to traffic and lunch was due for 1.30. I enjoyed the walk and the scenery and it built up an appetite for lunch. Lunch was soup and sandwiches followed by cake and tea/coffee. I found it a little disappointing as the sandwiches were on the stale side. Also the girl serving us informed us that we were only allowed one piece of bread and one cake per person which felt a little mean and inhospitable. The function room itself was dark and dreary looking but as it was so sunny, she opened the door onto the courtyard so we could sit in the sunshine.

Stop 2. Inch Abbey
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After being fed and watered, we left Castleward for our next stop, Inch Abbey, a beautiful, unspoilt monastic site in County Down in a tranquil setting. Susanna provided some more information on the Irish history at this time. She is certainly passionate about Irish history and knows her stuff. We took a short walk to the abbey and then went in search for a specific tree which the owner has since protected by erecting a fence supposedly to stop overzealous GoT fans from access. This was only a short stop before being herded back onto the bus. The setting is so peaceful and out of the way so I can see why it was chosen as a film location.

Stop 3. Tullymore Forest Park
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Our last stop of the day was Tullymore Forest Park in Newcastle, County Down. Another beautiful spot with breathtaking beauty covering an area of 630 hectares (1,600 acres) at the foot of the Mourne Mountains, with panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and the sea. The entrance is quite impressive and the forest park is simply stunning. We did another walk, this time to the spot where the Starks discover a dead stag. Again, I enjoyed the walk through the forest park along the river. Lots of school tours were around and children were having lots of fun wading through the river. After our walk, we hopped back on the bus to head back to Dublin. We got to watch episode one of Game of Thrones which was a delight for me as I hadn’t seen it and passed the journey back to Dublin. It has left me wanting to watch the whole series now.

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I would recommend the tour for fans and non-fans of the show but think it could do with some tweaking especially lunch and time management issues. It is a fairly new tour only in operation for six weeks so there is bound to be some teething problems. Aside from that, I enjoyed the day and found the guide to be very knowledgeable and friendly. For dedicated fans of the show, I don’t know whether it contained enough about the show to hold their interest. I know my sister was dying to sit on the throne. The scenery in Northern Ireland is spectacular and the places we visited were all places I would recommend adding to your to-do list. We were lucky with the weather and not so sure I would have been equally as enthusiastic had it been bucketing down! One word of warning though, there is quite a bit of walking and some of it involves slight hills so wear runners. I’m not sure this was pointed out to people when booking as one girl was on a crutch and ended up not being able for the second walk. Also I would recommend bringing water for the walk in Tullymore Forest Park as there is no shop nearby and on a hot day, it is thirsty work. All in all, it was an enjoyable day trip to Northern Ireland and I would love to return to the spots to enjoy a more leisurely visit next time.

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Always remember to be proud of your gender :)
Lately several big-name brands have launched inspiring and thought-provoking advertising campaigns which seek to shift societal gender-based thinking and are all about empowering women. It makes you wonder when did ‘like a girl’ become a negative thing and why do we start apologising for everything? It’s time for a change.

Always #LikeAGirl

Pantene #SorryNotSorry

Verizon #InspireHerMind

Things to make you smile…

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis love for Ireland

From 200 people in Twisted Pepper in 2011 to 35,000 in Marlay Park in 2014 – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis play their largest gig in Ireland on 10th July.

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