My summer so far: Dublin, Northern Ireland, First Tattoo, Hen Doo, Wedding and Next Supper Club Confirmed! 

Apologies for the lack of blogs over the past 2 months, it’s been a somewhat hectic summer so far……

After my sister Liz’s breast cancer diagnosis back in May, it’s been ‘all hands to the pump’ for the family, supporting her, her husband and two small children as much as we can. 

She’s doing amazingly well though, and is now following her big sisters footsteps, and has become a blogger! Her blog, describing her journey with breast cancer from the ups to the lows, is brutally honest, funny and inspirational. Follow her journey here with the very amusing title

Me & sister Liz 

Dublin City: Guinness & Live Music 

July was a particularly busy month. I had already planned a week over to Dublin and Northern Ireland prior to my little sister Maria getting engaged in February this year (she planned a wedding in 5 months!). The timings fortunately worked out well with the hen doo and wedding being on consecutive weekends after my trip. 

Flights were actually cheaper via Dublin than direct to Belfast so we opted for 24 hours in Dublin before catching the train up to Belfast. I’d spent a few hours in Dublin before enroute to other parts of Ireland but had never spent a night there so was looking forward to it. 

The obligatory Guinness Factory tour took place, followed by an evening of food and live music. We enjoyed our evening meal in the Brazen Head (, which claims to be Ireland’s oldest pub, which I’m sure many pubs over there do! The pub was conveniently just around the corner from our Air B&B. I opted for the Irish Stew which was delicious and served with a side of soda bread. 

The Brazen Head, Dublin

Irish Stew at the Brazen Head

We needed a walk after our food so wandered up to the Cathedral Quarter, then down to Temple Bar to see what the hype was about. We stopped off in a small little pub there, it was a Monday night so it was fairly quiet out. It was as expensive as we were led to believe, almost £30 for 3 Gin & Tonics! 

Live music at The Brazen Head

We walked back to the Brazen Head for their live folk music session which was good fun. 

Northern Ireland: Giant Causeway, 12th July & the Tattoo! 

After an amazing brunch the following morning at Brother Hubbard (, a North African influenced cafe, we headed to the station for our train up to Belfast. We had pre-booked our tickets costing only £12 for the 3 hour journey. 

Brunch at Brother Hubbards, Dublin

Dublin Train Station

We packed a lot into our 5 nights stay in Northern Ireland, staying for a second time with Marks lovely family in Killwaughter, near Larne. Here are my highlights; 

– Experiencing Larnes 12th July bonfires 

– 12th July celebrations with Marks family, including BBQ, live music and dancing with Marks Grandad! 

– Jumping into the freezing cold Port Muck Harbour

– Trips to Old Bush Mills Whisky Distillery and Giants Causeway

– Numerous drives along the beautiful Antrim Coast

– Dalraida Music Festival at Gelnarm Castle, with live folk and country acts and friendly locals! 

Finally, I also got my first tattoo! I wanted something to do with travel so I opted for a vintage compass. The tattooist added his own twist which I loved. The compass is set to North West (I’m originally from Oldham, a town in the North West of England). There are four birds flying out of the top of the compass, representing both my four siblings and the four small people that I am Aunty too. Everyone has now picked ‘their’ bird! 

(*Recommended accommodation on the Antrim Coast, check out beautiful Baythorn House situated on the stunning Antrim Coast

The tattoo!

Hen Weekend: Mariafields 

This was to be the 7th hen doo I’ve been involved in organising but the one with the shortest amount of notice. 

It couldn’t have been planned for the worst date, the day the majority of U.K. schools break up for the summer holidays. Finding accommodation for 25 of us was verging on impossible! After no luck with large cottages/houses I was looking at glamping sites, and like a miracle one was available at The 3 Horseshoes in Lincolnshire. I booked the whole glamping field out there and then.

We ended up hosting the weekend as a mini-festival, aptly named Mariafields. There were flags, bunting, signposts, music, games & lots of drinks! 

A personlised festival signpost of places where my sister has lived or visited

The Glamping site afterwe added a few touches to it 

On the Saturday we went over to the Aqua Park at Just Wake ( which is basically a giant blow up playground on nearby Tattersall lake, with swings and slides. It was lots of fun and exhausting! Great for both adults and kids.

The Hens in action at Just Wake! 

The accommodation at The Threes Horseshoes comprised of seven units in total, varying from a luxury Yurt to a 70’s style caravan, a lodge and various styles of tents. We were welcomed greatly by owner Ian, who also joined in with our ‘Stars in Their Eyes’ night with a Frank Sinatra rendition! It definitely worth a visit here

The Three Horseshoes ‘Star’ tents 

The Kane-Forryan Wedding: 

The wedding was the following weekend over in Tonge, a little village between Leeds and Bradford. Most of the wedding party stayed the night before which helped spread the celebrations out further. 

Beautiful wedding centre pieces 

The Happy couple – Mr & Mrs Forryan 

Unfortunately though there was one very important person missing from the wedding, my Dad. He was admitted into hospital the week prior and was just too weak for even a day release. My brother John proudly stepped up and walked Maria down the isle. 

Thanks to modern technology though, Dad didn’t completely missed out. My two good friends back in Oldham, Andy and Angela, kindly visited Dad and Skype from the hospital for the ceremony. We also videoed the speeches and first dance. The day after my sister and her new husband David visited Dad in hospital in their wedding outfits, much to the delight of not just my Dad, but the other patients, families and ward staff! 

Dad and Maria walking down the hospital aisle 

My Next Supper Club!:

A Moquecca Stew cooked at my May’s Supper Club

Moving on to what’s coming up next, I have a few potential projects in the pipeline, will update you once confirmed. 

In the meantime, the date has been set for my next supper club on Saturday 30th September 2017. It will be a similar ‘Around the World’ menu but in a more intimate setting of my sisters new house which happens to have an amazing kitchen! There are only a few tickets left so get them whilst you can via the below link.

x The Messy Cook x

(August 2017)

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