We love Wales & Chester

As I sit on the Irish Ferries ship sailing home to Dublin from Holyhead bobbing about in the Irish Sea like a rubber duck crammed in with a couple of thousand people or so I reflect on this past weekend. Late Thursday afternoon I proposed  to Joanne something that seemed utterly ludicrous, “ How about this weekend… hear me out… Lets drive to Wales”, that did of course involve a ship for 3 hours but still let’s drive over! For years I have wanted to do this, getting the ship over to the UK seemed like a cool challenge to me. Ok I know what you are thinking it is not particularly challenging Will, thousands of people do it daily. I reckon it is because I know my parents would have never done it, I want to complete and achieve stupid stuff like this. After much fevered debate over WhatsApp and roping Joanne’s mum in to go with us we booked the ferry over to Holyhead departing 8.05am Saturday morning.

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We also booked our first AirB&B experience staying at the Pantasaph B&B. My other reason behind doing such a trip was to get my head around getting the ferry over and driving to the UK for next Summer. The current existing plan for June 2019 is… it will change as I am a complete disaster keeping plans actually planned with out diverting, but I digress we are going to go Cornwall next year. I needed to know how it all worked and wanted to see if there were any tips I could learn. 

At the crack of dawn Saturday morning we collected Joanne’s mum and before we knew it we had boarded the ship in Dublin port. I thought well that was ridiculously easy, nothing to it.  We took our sea sickness tablets an hour in advance of boarding so that helped, I have never really done well with ships or boats before so these helped alot. The ship itself was chock full of all kinds of people, mostly older people , truckers and tourists heading back to the UK. Our immediate thought was how chilled it was to be cruising across the Irish Sea being able to go wherever we wanted in the ship, they even had an onboard duty free-ish. The journey took 3 hours in total arriving in to Holyhead at 11am. The weather was quite miserable getting off the ship and that pretty much lasted until the mid afternoon. We drove from Holyhead to Chester in England firstly, I picked it as an arbitrary destination that was not too crazy like going to Liverpool or Manchester. I had been to Chester before as a child when our parents took us to Pontins in Prestatyn for a week. We were taken there 29 years ago for a day out so I didn’t remember all that much about it. The Chester we arrived at in the pouring rain was a beautiful city with the most architecturally pleasing Tudor buildings.

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We wandered around Chester checking out some shops and taking pictures despite the abysmal weather. Shortly after we arrived however I received a text message from Irish Ferries saying our return ferry was cancelled and we had to get the earlier sailing on Sunday at 2.10pm. This really scuppered my plans, so right there that is a lesson learned for next year, do not book the Swift sailing as it is very much at the behest of the weather conditions, stick with the Ulysses ship. As a result of this we decided to go to Cheshire Oaks Outlets right after Chester so we could check out their bargains if they had any. Cheshire Oaks is like Kildare Outlet Village on crack, with better bargains in my opinion. I managed to pick up 4 pairs of shoes, the English seem to like big sized shoes for us big footed folk so I was chuffed. We got a quick bite to eat in Wagamamas, keeping it healthy because I am on a clean eating plan at the moment. All in all it was a great day , it was hard to believe we had only driven over earlier that morning.

Post our shopping trip we made our way back to our B&B named Pantasaph, I have linked it below. We met with Christine the owner, who was proper nice along with our very large rooms. We got a family suite, that had a landing in between both our rooms. There were little victoria sponges awaiting us as well as Snowdonia Bomber cheese and crackers. We pretty much panned out after a crazy busy day. The sleep was great and it got better with a huge breakfast. It was full of local produce ( cheese, yogurts and milk in glass bottles with cream still around the lid), there was fresh bread Christine made herself and a massive Welsh fry. The pudding, bacon, eggs and sausages were all from a local farm, my favourite was the pudding it was delicious. I couldn’t fault our little B&B , it was such a good first AirB&B experience. I know generally AirB&B is self catering, but we hit the jackpot with our first time

Straight after breakfast we rushed off to try and maximise our day before heading home to Dublin. We decided to check out Caernarfon and its castle. When we got there we found out the castle was free for the day which made the visit all the better. Caernarfon Castle is fantastic and a world heritage site. What we only found out yesterday was that Prince Charles was actually officially made a Prince here which I found interesting, I have been watching way too much of The Crown. Before we left Caernarfon we stopped in to Morrisons, what I found so intriguing was there was so many people speaking Welsh, it was really nice to hear, it is such a different language and it is great to see the Welsh take such pride in their own language.

It was a tremendous weekend we saw and did so much on our short little trip, I learned 3 things:

  • The Welsh and Wales are lovely people, we are definitely going to add it to our list of places to visit next year on the way to Cornwall.

  • British Roads make for great driving.

  • Be careful with the ship sailing times and book the large ship as opposed to the Swift ship.

We cannot wait for next year and our trip to Cornwall, I have been planning this for weeks now already and we are even more excited about it.

Our B&B - https://www.pantasaphfarm.co.uk/

Will

Starting your own religion

How do you go about starting your own religion without becoming the leader of some freaky cult and everyone ends up dying necking glasses of Kool Aid? Like I mean there are not many religions out there that have been created over the past 100 years or more, are there? Also why do I want to create my own religion you are probably asking yourself. Well let me tell you why this struck me of late and why I am writing about it. I am not making myself MD, CEO, The Great Leader, Messiah or the bloke who runs the Catholic Church ( I say bloke as I don't want to break some backwards blasphemy law we have in Ireland, not for long though hopefully with the upcoming referendum in the Winter).  For me I grew up a Catholic, we did it all, the 7 sacraments, church on Sunday ( not holy days mind or the mickey mouse type ones at least , you know like the 8th of December and no I wasn't in Dublin getting the Christmas shopping ).  I was a good Catholic, I loved being a Catholic, I love learning about my faith, I was lucky enough to grow up in a strong Catholic house ( fun fact my dad a Protestant had to sign a fucking affadavit in 1978 that he wouldn't stop my mum raising us Catholic ) and a community also that was ingrained with the church and to my knowledge no weird shit went down. I had my favourite priest perform our wedding ceremony, yup favourite priest, he was great friends with my grandfather and jeez he said a whopping fast mass on a Sunday. As a kid if mass was finished by 12.25pm you were back on the road by 12.35pm playing football with the lads. I have no bad experiences with Catholicism.

I will say however I don't know the exact moment it happened but I drifted away from it all. When I first moved to Dublin, I would go religiously no pun intended to mass every weekend for a good solid 3 years, I prayed the shit out of it especially in bad times when I was sick or had shit going down. Catholicism gave me hope. I then moved in with Joanne and I didn't get to Sunday mass as much but I went instead on a Monday every lunch time on Haddington road. I used to sit beside Bill O'Herlihy before he passed away, I never said hello, I wish I did.  Then in 2015 two major incidents happened in my life, I lost my grandfather and my niece that year in the space of 6 weeks. I had never experienced death before in such a close way. I further drifted from mass to a point where I stopped going much to my mum's disgust, she still constantly reminds me she is the only one in our family that still goes to mass ( I feel that she thinks she failed us ). I do feel upset I don't go anymore and I feel shame I have disappointed my mum. 

There are many things with Catholicism that have kept me away over the past 3 years, the marriage equality referendum, the repeal campaign and the countless child abuse allegations. Would I consider myself a Catholic anymore? with great sadness I don't think I can call myself that anymore. You see I am in a unique situation, had I become a dad I would be forced back in to the fold to have my kids baptised etc, but that we know is off the table. I am also a man of science and as a result so much of the church's teaching seem so drastically off but I have always lived with that knowledge all my life. You see like every single religion out there, each one of them is all man made from the very beginning ( if you choose the beginning to be Adam & Eve to Moses to Jesus). Men falter and have faltered there is no denying that, it is not possible. Personally I believe in the holy trinity (God, Jesus and Mary) but that is all I believe, I struggle with the rest of it. If it comes to crunch not that you learn too much about it as a Catholic I believe in the pre Jesus era also, you know Abraham, Moses etc.

All these rules however that govern every single religion are rules written by blokes, Moses had his commandments and Jesus preached about why we must change our ways as a people and treat our neighbours, family and enemies with love, be good people not dickheads to one another. The entire story has been bastardised to suit agendas by so many, Jesus teachings at the basest form have been lost to a large degree. Imagine sitting Jesus down and telling him what the fuck has gone down, you have the big stuff like The Crusades for example to priests raping and abusing kids. The man's motivation was forgiveness and looking after the people in the shadows but I think he would struggle with that.  With regard to the people on the fringes of society, for example I was struck by a poignant moment of the Pope's visit last weekend. Dublin City Council shifted all the homeless off the fucking streets to accommodate for the man who represents Jesus and God on this planet of ours. It is so brutally hypocritical to see this behaviour, the man may have met with homeless charities but that is not good enough.

I have not given up hope yet, what do I mean? I mean when I die I want to know there is an afterlife, I do , I want to know this is not the end. Does being not being a catholic or being part of a structured old school religion forbid my entry to so called heaven or afterlife or do I arrive at the pearly gates and get pushed down the slide in to Hell? What religion gets you in then if thats the case, which one is right? Is God and Jesus even the right choice, millions of Hindus and Buddhists will tell you otherwise, who is right? I want to be right I want to meet my family who have passed on before me, I want to see them all. I am sure there are many of us out there that want to believe there is something there and still believe in God with out all the hoopla and rhetoric of what we are fed by "holy" men and women if they are allowed to participate. I would love my religion to be, if you believed in God you could, be fecking kind to people when you can, god know's its hard not to be a dickhead at times, I am a culprit of that. Maybe raise money for charities and good causes, who knows maybe I am describing that exists already, if it does point me in their direction. 

There would be no church, no fancy pants gowns, overbearing fear of the dark side of heaven, no guilt, just people being good eggs to one another. I am reminded of The Simpsons and Brad Goodman, Brad creates with Bart "The do what you feel like day". I am not saying do that but when it comes to religion just do what you feel like that is if you believe in something still without the constructs of a church and 2000 years of tradition. If you are agnostic and do not believe thats good too you are not going to hell because it doesn't exist to you folk so you are quids in.

I have been wanting to write this for quite some time, if you have a certain religion more power to you and as Tupac Shakur said "I aint mad at cha" so don't be mad at me.

Will

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The Simplest Scone Recipe

One weekend it popped into my head that I wanted to make scones.  I wanted to  perfect them so if we are going to visit someone or we are having people over it could be at least 1 home made thing I could whip up and be happy with.  

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This recipe can make 6 huge fist size scones if you are hungry or 12 smaller daintier sized scones if you are watching your waist line.

  • 450g self raising flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 100g butter
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • Buttermilk
  1. Set the oven to 220C/425F or Gas 7 and have your baking tray ready to go with grease proof paper
  2. Weigh out the flour and baking powder into a bowl.  Add in the butter and rub in with the tips of your fingers until it looks like breadcrumbs.  Then stir in the sugar.  If you wish to add a handful of raisins, pop them in here.
  3. Break the eggs into a measuring jug and then make it up 300ml with milk.  We usually just put our jug on the weighing scales, add in the egg and add the milk until it weighs 300g. Stir in half of the mixture into the flour, and keep adding half of the liquid remaining until you have a soft and sticky dough.  Not all of the liquid will be used, but don't throw it away, it will be used later!
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly.  Then roll out to a thickness of an inch if you would like a bigger scone or half an inch if you want smaller ones.
  5. Cut into rounds with a cutter (size is up to you depending on how big you want them) and place onto your baking tray.  Brush the tops with the remaining egg and milk mixture and for an added crunch, sprinkle some caster sugar over the top
  6. Place them in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until they are golden brown and hey presto, you have made yourself some tasty scones!
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Happy baking,

Joanne