Cultured Cuppa X Amsterdam

This year, my 22nd birthday musings took place in no better place: Amsterdam. Located in the north of The Netherlands, Amsterdam is a wonderful city to visit with tonnes to do and see for people of all ages, and you’re guaranteed some gorgeous sunshine too.

I stayed in Amsterdam from July 2nd– 5th and I travelled with Aerlingus to Schiphol airport; which is ideally located 20 minutes away from Amsterdam by bus (you can also take a train or taxi). Ryanair also offers flights to The Netherlands, however Ryanair fly’s to Eindhoven which is some distance away, and the cost of a train ticket almost equals that of the cost of an Aerlingus ticket to Schiphol.

Getting around

There are more bicycles than there are people in Amsterdam. Their transport system is so easy and eco-friendly that it would put ours to shame! The roads are quite wide; each road having separate lanes dedicated to cars, the tram, bikes, and pedestrians. There are even separate traffic lights for each lane, but be careful- it’s so easy to step onto the bicycle lane without looking! Bicycles can be rented all over the city and cost on average €15 per day. The more days you use the bike, the cheaper it becomes. If cycling isn’t your thing, the tram serves every part of the city and is super easy to navigate. On average it costs €2.50 to travel up to 10 stops, and the ticket can be re-used as many times as you like within one hour of purchase. Everything is generally within walking distance.

Bicycles by day

Bicycles by day

By day

Amsterdam is filled to the brim with things to do and see- not just the red-light district! The city has an abundance of museums to cater for all interests: The Diamond Museum, The Van Gogh Museum, Rembrandt House Museum, The Science Centre, The Anne Frank House, Rijksmuseum, The Weed Museum (yep), The Sex Museum, the Heineken Experience, The Zoo, and many more. Before going, I checked out prices online to budget myself and most places cost around €30 on average. However, it turns out that a lot of the websites are outdated and most places to visit range from €9 (Anne Frank House), to €20! (The Zoo: which also includes a planetarium, insectarium, butterfly garden, and an aquarium). If you don’t feel like being indoors, taking a lazy walk around the canals with a cold drink in hand is just as good. Street parties are a regular occurrence during the summer with lots of street vendors, performers, dance parties, and live art shows.

one of the many beautiful canals

one of the many beautiful canals

street performers

Street performers

street art

street art

street art

street art

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Rijksmuseum

The Van Gogh Museum

The Van Gogh Museum

street art

street art

By night

My beautiful apartment (which I found via Hostelworld) was located in-between Vondelpark and Leidseplein, which was perfect for me. Leidseplein is the opposite side of the city to the red-light district, but nonetheless offers a huge variety of bars and clubs – and it’s a lot safer for two young girls to be. Whether it’s a bar crawl you’re after, a late-night rave, or a deep-house club, you’ll find it all in Leidseplein. If clubs and bars aren’t your thing, Vondelpark – which is quite like our own Phoenix park- is filled with beautiful lakes, tea rooms, and even an outdoor theatre that hosts free concerts throughout the summer. Drinking and smoking is allowed throughout the park and it’s a perfect chill-out spot to relax and let the world go by.

Grub and drink

Eating out is very much in vogue in Amsterdam, and the streets are packed with gorgeous and unique eateries so you’ll be spoiled for choice. Lunch on average costs no more than €12, and dinner was around €15. Alcohol is very cheap to buy in supermarkets: 4 bottles of Sol and 4 bottles of Stella Artois cost me less than €12. Some quieter clubs charge €2.50 for bottles/pints/glass of wine, where-as the more popular spots charge a minimum of €5 (which is still cheaper than here).

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The weather

Like much of Europe last week we too experienced a heat wave. The only downside was the lack of air-conditioning, but most bars and shops offer refuge from the heat. Most days were in the mid 30’s, and night time temperatures didn’t drop below 20 degrees – so pack lightly. Overall, Amsterdam is one of the best city breaks I’ve ever taken, and I would highly recommend taking a visit!

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#EnjoyYourCity

BOUNDLESS X Picture This! Dublin

Thursday night seen the successful debut of the European tour of Brooklyn exhibit BOUNDLESS; a sublime mixture of Dublin’s edgy street-art culture and New York’s raw and urban beauty.

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Boundless brings together thirty artists – fifteen of our own home-grown, and fifteen transatlantic – for a collaboration of unique cultures. Each of the artists were presented with a New-York style water tower onto which they imprint their own mark. The finished products where then sent to us to re-assemble and display at Fashion Fair on Dublin’s Drury street. Each custom piece is also available to buy.

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The New York theme was very much incorporated throughout the night with graffiti covered walls, raw décor, and even a hip hop performance. some of the guests on the night included Nirina Plunkett of Killer Fashion, Lorna Duffy of Fashion Boss, Fiona Murphy of Cool Events, Ryan O’Neill of Dub City Sneakz AJ of AJ Makeup, Kelly Donegan, Darragh Doyle, and Sean Early.

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The project is brought to you by American natives David and Terence, who met while at college and who both shared a passion for street culture. Why water towers? The water supply is controlled and rainwater is collected by huge wooden water towers that are dotted along the roof-tops of the city. Water towers have now become as iconic to New York as its impressive skyline.

The free exhibition runs until Saturday July 4th in Fashion Fair on Drury Street, and is open daily from 12 – 6. Huge congratulations to Timi, his Picture This! Dublin team, and all the artists and sponsors of the successful event.


American artists included:

Albert Joseph

Andre Trenier

BKFoxx

Byron McCray

Charlie Elo

James Polanco

Jorge Matarrita

Josama

Kenny Hardwork

Klash Won

Kristy McCarthy

K.NI.FE

Pesu

Ralph Serrano

Spaze Crafte

While our own included:

Adrian+Shane

ADW

Aidan Kelly

DMC

Duda

Frank O’Dea

ILJIN PRJCT

JMK

Kevin Bohan

KIN MX

Morgan

Rask

Solus

Sums One

Will St Leger

#EnjoyYourCulture

Bionic Woman X Her.ie

Today I am featured on Her.ie talking about body confidence. According to latest reports, up to 40% of us have problems accepting the way we look. We strive for an unrealistic and ‘perfect’ image of what the human body ought to look like. Thanks to the overwhelming sea of social media that keeps us afloat, we push our bodies to the limit to achieve these impossible body goals that are both impractical and undesirable. We want the tiniest waist, the smallest nose, and the peachiest bum: but how about giving your own unique body the love and care it deserves?

(to watch the video click HERE)

People often tell me how confident I am in myself, but beneath my courageous front was once a timid and anxious girl. I thought I was ugly. Since my teens I have struggled to accept the body that I was unfavourably given. I remember getting my body cast after my first operation -a Plaster-Paris cast that went around my entire torso- and walking down the street with my mam feeling like a monster. Everyone else was wearing the latest crop-tops while I had to buy t-shirts that were three sizes too big to cover my hideous cast. Holidays were a nightmare, especially at the beach or by the pool: if children weren’t staring and pointing, then their parents were.

Shopping was a disaster – I hated dressing-rooms because of the mirrors and lights. Clothes never fitted me correctly, and I didn’t want to see how deformed I was from the back, and I often left feeling totally depressed about it.

Because of the health challenges I have faced (and continue to face), and all the times that my body has had to go through recovery, I’ve learned to love my twisted little body. And now I wear my scars with pride because they not only tell a story, but they show how brave I’ve been the past ten years.

#EnjoyYourBody

Link: http://www.her.ie/life/her-say-the-bionic-woman/237173

International Scoliosis Awareness Day

Ireland will this year celebrate the second annual Scoliosis Awareness day on Saturday June 27th.

Growing up with Scoliosis was exceptionally difficult for me because I didn’t know anyone else who suffered with it – leaving me feeling like a total outcast. I had very little information available to me (bearing in mind the internet was still a *new* thing). There were few online forums, but the information presented on these sites was more-often-than-not false. I had nobody to ask the ‘what if’s’, and simple things like what things should I bring to hospital with me?

Until 2010 there was no direct organisation or body that offered help and advice to the thousands of Scoliosis sufferers across Ireland. Set up by Gary Farrell, Scoliosis-Ireland aims to educate those who don’t know about the condition, and help those on their journey with it. The disease can affect anyone at any age; both males and females, however it is most common among young girls going through puberty. Below are symptoms to look out for: early detection is key.

scoliosis symptoms

When I was diagnosed I never imagined that almost ten years later I would still be sharing my story. But the negatives that came from these horrendous surgeries have given me the strength to help others going through life-changing procedures. At twenty-one, being restricted in so many ways is a challenge that I never thought I would have to take on. But the human body is an extraordinary thing, and as humans we learn to adapt quickly. I think what people assume is that you go into have a procedure done and that’s it; you’re fixed. You don’t only have to prepare your body physically, but also get your mind ready to have your body cut, opened, pulled at, have foreign bodies put in, and be stitched up. Although the vlogs were difficult to do, the feedback I received is overwhelming and so rewarding knowing that I’ve helped people who are in the position that I was once in.

Scoliosis has appeared in Irish media a lot recently due to the lengthy waiting lists that young children and adults are being asked to wait. Luckily for me (or unluckily..), my spine had deformed so bad in such a short amount of time that I wasn’t left waiting long for my first surgery, or my subsequent surgeries thereafter. To put it into context: imagine trying to live a normal life with a broke bone; except this bone squeezes on all of your other organs, decreasing your lung capacity, producing crippling pain, and horrendous fatigue among other symptoms. Dr. Pat Kiely, one of Ireland’s leading spinal surgeons and founding surgeon of Straight Ahead has recently launched the ‘walk a mile’ initiative to raise funds for life-changing Scoliosis surgeries and cut the waiting-lists for children. Croí Cróga, an activity-based group focused on raising money for charities, have this year chosen Straight Ahead Ireland as their primary charity. They and Dr Kiely want everyone to ‘walk a mile’ for the children who cannot. If you would like to get involved all you have to do is walk a mile, upload a picture to your social media site, and text MILE to 50300 to donate €4; all of which goes towards funding Scoliosis surgeries and Straight Ahead.

#EnjoyYourBody

Have you heard the Goss?

Last night, Buck Whaley’s of Leeson Street was the venue of choice to host Goss.ie‘s first birthday celebrations – and it was done in style.

IMG_3998Goss.ie is Ireland’s first website for the latest news from the world of Irish showbiz. Set up in 2014 by entrepreneur and award-winning journalist Alexandra Ryan, Goss.ie now has a dedicated reader-ship and an expanding team working hard behind the scenes. The mainly female-friendly pop website also caters for the latest news in movies, music, television, and last night Ali revealed two new sections to be added: Goss beauty – for the latest reviews and how-to’s, and Goss TV – a 60 second mash- up on the latest breaking news that you need to know.

In Goss.ie fashion, pink cocktails and gorgeous treats (set up by Sugar & Spice ) were provided for the guests; who included models and athlete Kelly Donegan and Hazel O’Sullivan, Mr Ireland Karl Bowe, social media guru’s Ciamh McCrory and Darragh Doyle and bloggers Nirina Plunkett of Killer Fashion, Mei-Ling Tong of Darling Buds of Mei, and Lorna Duffy of Fashion Boss. My favourite part of the night was definitely the photo-booth with these gorgeous bunch. The party was kindly sponsored by Cocoa Brown tan, who had everyone glowing (or maybe it was the strawberry daiquiri’s, who knows).

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Some of the tasty treats provided by Sugar & Spice

Some of the tasty treats provided by Sugar & Spice

Huge congratulations to Ali and her team – Lisa, Sean, Sorcha, and Meghan on all their hard work, here’s to many more birthdays for Goss.ie!

Last night I wore floral silk tailored shorts from H&M- €20, a white cotton lazer-cut top from Topshop- €25, vintage leather belt from NineCrowStreet– €30, Leather bag from Zara sale- €10, and sandals from the Topshop sale- €30. I teamed this with simple makeup and a vibrant lip colour from Penny’s.

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#EnjoyYourGossip

Irish Blogger Conference 2015

Not my usual post- but this week I had the pleasure of attending the second annual Irish Blogger Conference, which was held in the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel in Dublin City. The day was an excellent opportunity to network and meet other like-minded people.

What was it all about? Organized by Fiona Reid and Emma O’Farrell of Cool Events, the conference brought together some of the best industry bloggers to share their knowledge, wisdom, and their stories of success. Speakers included Alison Canavan – model and blogger of Alison Canavan, Barbara Scully – broadcaster, journalist and writer from My kitchen Table, Darragh Doyle – social media extraordinaire and funny-man, Sonya Lennon – from Frock Advisor and Lennon Courtney, and Timi Ogunyemi of Picture This! Dublin and all-round cool guy, among many others. Comedian and DJ Marcus O’Laoire hosted the event; giving the whole day a laid-back and relaxing atmosphere. Each speaker was given fifteen minutes to have their say on why you should or shouldn’t blog, and there was a coherent message throughout each person: you need to have a passion for what youre doing, a purpose, a set of unique skills, do what makes you happy, and collaborate.

(If you haven’t heard about any of these amazing human beings check them out)

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The Lovely Nirina Plunkett of Killer Fashion

The Lovely Nirina Plunkett of Killer Fashion

 

As well as influential speakers there was also a fashion and beauty panel which consisted of David Cashman from Dapper Dave Cash, Holly White from holly.ie, James Butler of Jus De James and editor of MFI magazine, Joanne Larby of The Make Up Fairy, and Nuala Gorham of Pennys and Polaroids.

The event was partnered with TeenLine Ireland; a free-phone service available for teenagers who need help. Through the amazing power of social media, all those attending at the conference got #TeenLine trending in Ireland for the first time in its history. A record number of calls went un-answered last year to many suffering teenagers due to government cut-backs. If you would like to find out how you can help keep this amazing charity working, visit teenline.ie

In a weird turn of events, I won best dressed lady and Damian Broderick of Damien Broderick won best dressed man. We both won an annual roaming membership in any FlyFit gym! I wore a crisp white shirt and Chloe-inspired sandals, both €20 from Zara, Leather trousers from Topshop and a vintage leather bag – quite simple! When in doubt, wear black. I could get used to this fashion stuff.

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#EnjoyYourBlog 

From Africa with love

The sun was out for Africa Day 2015 which took place on Sunday May 24th in Farmleigh house, located in Dublin’s Phoenix Park. Throughout the day Africa’s unique and colourful culture were showcased, as well as live music from three different stages around the historic grounds of the Farmleigh mansion. The event also highlighted the lifesaving work of major Irish charities like Irish Aid and Sight Savers.

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What is Africa Day? Africa day celebrates the nation’s unity, which falls on May 25th. Ireland has welcomed hundreds-of-thousands of African immigrants over the years; many of which consider Ireland to be home, and so it’s only fitting that we too celebrate the historic day. Africa Day is also celebrated in New York, London, and Washington.

What was on offer? Stalls of beautiful African garments, accessories, hand-made crafts, and food lined the green fields. There was an ecstatic feeling among the thousands of visitors following the previous day’s celebrations of Marriage Equality – you couldn’t have been in a bad mood if you tried! My favourite art of the day was the African dance zone for kids and adults. Needless to say I channelled by inner African-dance-goddess. There was a designated kid’s zone with rides and attractions and plenty of food and drinks on offer too. Our own Timi was also MC-ing at the main stage of the event throughout the day in-between the lively acts.

The celebration has become one of the highlights of the events calendar since 2008, and in the last three years it has attracted more than 71,000 visitors! Use the hashtag #AfricaDay2015 for more information and pictures of the day’s festivities.

 

#EnjoyYourCulture