Tag Archives: travel

The Bath Priory Hotel- My Visit

While attending a course last year in the art of entremet, I treated myself to staying in the Bath Priory Hotel, instead of our usual rental apartment.  My reasons? I felt like a little pampering. And always like to try somewhere new. I love to travel, but am not a big fan of travelling by myself. Primarily because I’m such a chatterbox I find it hard to resist turning to the person beside me and starting a conversation! My better half would be joining me after a few days, but for a while I was flying solo.

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Travelling by Air- My Travel Tips

I love to travel, be it only up the road for a cup of tea. But travelling abroad, especially for work takes a little more organisation.  I have to go to London for work this week (I know, I know, there’s a small violin playing in my ear).  BUT I will be inside a convention centre for all of the time I am there- and I have to attend about 17 meetings and lectures.  Anyway.  Back to the travel bit.


Gone are the days when I would pack all and sundry.  25 pairs of shoes (just in case), 2 swim suits (there’s no sign of a pool), my chef’s knives…. ok, ok, I still sometimes bring them.  Not when flying though.  THAT would be an interesting conversation at the security.


So it’s the spanking new minimalist Jen. Not even ONE cookbook. I travel now with an extra large handbag- to fit my kindle and iPad and a small suitcase.

But I struggle with all the wires.  For example, in this case, I will be travelling to  a work conference.  So I’d better bring the superfluous hair straightener, so I don’t look like I’ve completely come off the farm.

The charger for my phone, and ipad are essential.  And I ‘ve made the difficult decision to leave the laptop at home. Realistically I can do all my blogging etc on the iPad.  And I won’t have time for anything else.

I’m travelling very early in the morning so hydration is very important, and coffee.  And unfortunately they do not go together, neither does hydration and airport security.  So like a well oiled campaign it will have to go in the order-

coffee, security, water, water, water.

Breakfast and duty free will keep me quiet until boarding.

Luckily I could sleep standing up during an apocalypse, so sleeping on the plane is a goer.

And then the real fun starts-

So in brief:

  1. Water Bottle :: When travelling through most European Airports you can quite easily get a bottle of water when through security for a small donation.
  2. Toiletry Bag :: I have a little bag of toiletry things that I carry along with me. This guy actually stays in my bag, so it’s an easy transition into my carry-on bag when I’m flying.
  3. Kindle :: The Kindle is seriously the best thing to ever happen to airport entertainment. I used to purchase a few magazines and at least one heavy book, not any more. It all fits in my tiny, tiny Kindle. Woo!
  4. Notebook and pens :: Chances are, I won’t need them, but I really don’t go anywhere without them.
  5. Sunglasses
  6. Chewing Gum :: I never chew gum, but it’s a must for me when I’m flying. I’ve had lots of ear problems in the past, and chewing gum helps make it less ouchy.  And takes the are we flying yet idea out of my head while I concetrate on chewing quietly.
  7. Tea :: I’m not a big fan of “foreign tea”, so I bring my own tea. Most airport restaurants will give you a cup of hot water for free and you can always get one during service on the plane.
  8. Wallet
  9. Passports :: I’m the keeper of the passports. Mostly because there is a perfect little passport pocket on the front of my bag.
  10. Phone, Charger and Earbuds:: No explanation needed.
  11. Cash :: I like to bring along a little bit of cash and change just in case I need to tip a driver or buy something at the airport.
  12. Snacks :: I’m gonna go ahead and guess you aren’t surprised that the vast majority of my bag space is reserved for food. I despise buying food at the airport. It’s hard to find healthier options (although getting easier) and always insanely expensive.

And that’s it for the starters….. No need to see inside the luggage….


Feed your mind

Food is always at the forefront of my mind. But this week I’m focused on feeding minds.


I was invited to speak to some hospitality students in the Waterford Institute of Technology about our software business (the day job- that pays for the eating), and also about my experience in running our own business for the last 15 years.  I was nervous.  I had jotted down a few notes but was really full of self doubt as to whether they would find it interesting, or more importantly useful.

2 hours later I had to stop talking.  They were the NICEST, most enthusiastic bunch of students I had met in a long time. I was privileged to spend time with them, and I hope they learnt something from our conversations.

Then that evening myself and Nigel went to a really really really interesting course by a gent called- Guy Flouch from Eunicas.  The European University Central Application Support Service, as the eldest is doing his Leaving Cert this school year. Both himself and myself were blown away by the courses available to students.  In Europe, unlike here- they WANT you to have an education.  And actually encourage it.  Therefore there’s no points, just a general level, and a myriad of ways to make it work no matter what your financial back ground.  Last year in first Year Vet in Warsaw in Poland.  Over HALF the class were Irish.  32 out of 60.


We decided I was going to do Vet and he was going to get a Business Degree in some fancy Italian University where we could sip espresso to our hearts content. And ……. back to the real world.  In all seriousness there are some amazing opportunities out there for the next generation.  I’m always telling my kids to study somewhere exciting so I can visit!

In essence I am a big advocate of learning.  I loved Ballymaloe, and the new experiences and skills it gave me.  What’s next? No idea.  Suffice to say I’ll look forward to further feeding my mind.





Where in the world am I?

I was sitting in my jeep outside somewhere in Dublin.  And my eldest remarked that we could have been just about anywhere.  He listed off all the places that he’s been in the world that were just the same.  And -yes- he’s privileged to have travelled.  Growing up we did not have the means to travel.  And maybe people didn’t really travel as much.  Summer holidays were spent with either of my Grans, or my godmother.  Just mucking about.  She liked to meet her friends down at the beach in Sandycove, and that was travel. I never missed it.

Where in the world is this?

Where in the world is this?

The only school trip I took was in fourth year to Russia.  And that was an eye opener.  It was in the 80’s.  Most Russians had never even seen someone from the West.  I found the trip quite sad, we saw people living in very cramped conditions, with little or no money.  The whole aspect was one of greyness.  This was starkly contrasted to the Churches we visited, full of gold icons.  In fact, I never want to see another icon again.  It was also my first experience of a continental bathroom, i.e. a hole in the floor.  Now, THAT was an eye opener.

On top of the World

On top of the World

Anyway, I digress, which incidentally is what they say NOT to do in a blogpost.

Robert had a point, these days I would think most cities and countries in the Western world at any rate, have increased similarities.  Ring roads around cities, industrial areas, and more recently green areas.  As globally the world is now a smaller place, it’s easier for us to “copy” other cultures, other cities, other countries.

And sometimes it’s not a bad thing. For the world to be a smaller and more accessible place.  It makes it easier to keep in contact with loved ones. And be aware of issues that we might be able to help with.

But for the moment.  I am here.  And happy.
Our House

Books and their covers

I was very happy to receive a number of books for Christmas, specfically cookbooks.  To be fair I am an easy person to buy for.  I like books and horses.  Cookbooks are easier to wrap.



I haven’t decided which to dive into yet.  I did flick through Allegra’s “Big Table, Busy Kitchen”.  I was delighted to meet her the the Lit Fest 2015 (by the way the tickets are on sale for LitFest16– buy some- you won’t regret it.)

Her style is very easy to read and I look forward to trying out some of the recipes.

This year I would like to try cookery courses in other countries, maybe the Italian cookery course will give me a head start!  I’m heading to Bath in March to do the “intensive” 5 day bread course with the esteemed Richard Bertinet.  Nigel did this course 5 years ago and it completely revolutionised our bread making.  Even when I was in Ballymaloe the teachers raved about his techniques.  I am just dying to get there and get started.  And of course will have to make time for coffee and prunes- a staple of any cooking course.

Since we got a loan of a kindle at home I change between reading on it, and reading an actual book.  Unfortunately the cookbooks are a little too heavy read in bed last thing at night, so hopefully when the aftermath of December has died down I’ll get to sit down with a cup of coffee and devour them.

Wednesday 13 January 020

I’m a big Lee Child fan.  Have always enjoyed the Jack Reacher series, and really loved the film with Tom Cruise, although I reluctantly agree with my better half, he was FAR too short to play the lead.    This one was a little disappointing.. which breaks my heart as I really do tick off the days until the next release.  Not that he’s the only one. I love all the Karen Rose books. I must remember to check if she has any new ones out.  These days I very rarely visit shops- even bookshops so don’t get to see the new releases. I also love looking at travel books.  I’ve one for touring America, but that’s slightly wistful thinking so I think that I’ll re-visit this in the near future.

Wednesday 13 January 021

And like when I’m choosing food, the covers on the books appeal to me first.  But often with cookbooks, especially the more generic- 1000 best cakes- and the like, the pictures can be deceiving.  And often, a little like entering a cake shop, the eyes are drawn to colours and patterns.

One of the books I got this year, which I just know will be my favourite, is simply called Patisserie.  Nothing fancy, not even one picture inside.  But the recipes- wowsers.  I nearly had to go for a run to combat the calories I put on looking at the recipes!

So books will be in my future for a while- and hopefully I will garner some new ones this year.  Am thinking the Back roads of Italy might be nice…..to go with my cooking courses of course.

As a very important addendum- this piece from the New Yorker, puts beautifully into prose about reading cookbooks that I just cannot.  So please take the time to read it (and don’t, then, berate me for my appalling style next to his!!!)


Travelling with the blinds down

I was VERY excited to be travelling to New Orleans (I know, I’m sorry, you’re sick of hearing about it!!).  Packing and getting the flight for me is half the fun, and the breakfast before hand obviously!

Tuesday 04 Au 028



The flight was getting into Washington at around 6pm, so I was looking forward to seeing my first glimpse of one of the most important cities on the planet! Even if I would only be seeing it from the air.  As I was flying onwards later that evening.

Little did I know that these days, everyone pulls the blinds down, for the ENTIRE TRIP.  I thought maybe it was just going to be for the flight over the sea, but no, every single blind was down!  I think I was the only one on the plane who was excited to be travelling so far, to a place I’d never been.


I am a nervous traveller, although less as I do more of it.  My OCD always kicks in, and this causes me a little stress, but is there anything more exciting than seeing a new country or city for the first time?

When Nigel and I were driving the “Back” roads down through France to the Pyrenees, were arrived around 4 hours later than we’d hoped as we spent so much time stopping to take photos around every bend. Which we LOVED.

Even when Robert or any other family head away, I love looking at the pictures and hearing the stories, and although I am a true home bird, a trip every now and then makes life exciting.

So I, definitely do NOT travel with the blinds down.


I haven’t been everywhere- but it’s on my list

We often play- where would you go if you won the lotto- and it’s amazing what different people look for in a holiday. The eldest often talks about Iceland, which is my fault really as I made the family watch Walter Mitty.

And while at a family party, we borrowed a copy of their Lonely Planet  1000 Ultimate Experiences.  And as we sat flicking through the different sections- from food markets to thrill seekers, we wondered where we’d go.  I’m not really into sun, but don’t necessarily want it to rain either, and probably the best way to decide where to go, would be to decide where you wouldn’t want to go first!

For various reasons India, Thailand and China would be out for me.  And I think at my age I’m definite about that!  A tour of South America might be an idea, but I’m not 100% gone on the idea of altitude with my asthma. Coumshingaun is often a challenge even on a good day.

Then you look at those typical pictures of deserted beaches…

The Maldives

The Maldives

But there’s only so many sandcastles one can make.  I’m also not a fan of sea swimming. ( You’re never sure what’s under there!)  And at the risk of sounding like a complete moan, I don’t want to spend all day flying- so Oz is most probably out.

I watched a tourist programme once on the TV about visiting the Galapagos Islands, being a Darwin enthusiast, but I’m thinking there’s quite a lot of travel involved there too!  Advertising definitely works on me, who doesn’t want to visit the Rockies after seeing this advert?  And if you don’t go somewhere by train- then why not be car- the whole Route 66 is not to be missed I’d say!

Route 66

Mind you, it just goes to show exactly how bad my geography is, when I was looking up images of Route 66 for this post I realised that the road trip itself is not all on the coast!

America does have lots of options, and not only for the New Yorkites.  I have been a fan of some American TV, Greys, Bones, Alcatraz- and the lure of those cities appeal to me.  And those I’ve seen in Films- Seattle, Washington etc.  And Florida has been on the most wanted for quite some time as we rather enjoy ye old theme parks!  not cool I know, but that’s the truth!

Then there’s Europe.  We once had the privilege of sitting out in Frascati, drinking copious amounts of wine, while eating pork belly, and felt it couldn’t get any better.  And it might be best to remember it like it was.  The same could be said of our trips to France, I’d love to go back to so many of the wonderful places we’ve visited, not least for the food…

And food travel is a whole other post….

So where would you like to go?  For me the essentials are

1. Family

2. Good Food

3. Mountains

4. Water

And without going anywhere, I have three out of four.  I’ll wait for the rest, but still planning and dreaming is half the fun.