We often speak about how important it is for us to connect with like-minded women, both on here and on our Instagram. We thrive on being part of a community of supportive, honest and courageous women. Our Supper Clubs are an excuse to sit around a table and really listen to people’s stories – to hear what drives them, excites them or upsets them. Each Supper Club is centred around an open and honest conversation. Working alongside our friend Aoife of Pomco PR, we recently brought together a very special group of women for a very memorable night in Dublin. For this beautiful event at Orlagh House, we asked Ellie Balfe to tell us her story about finding the courage to make big choices and changes to do what makes her happy. Ellie spoke about creative bravery and about feeling in control of our own paths. We listened intently to her by candlelight whilst eating the best food and drinking lots of wine.
Let us tell you a little about the dreamy venue… a Georgian mansion built in 1790, and set on 75 acres in the foothills of the Dublin Mountains, Orlagh House is a seriously gorgeous event venue. The house and grounds are available for private hire from weddings to birthday celebrations. We loved the place from the moment we drove up the driveway. We felt like we had truly escaped. What a place to even celebrate a 40th birthday or an engagement event!
The incredible food was prepared by Ian Marconi and his team from Jack Rabbit. It was honestly one of the nicest meals we have experienced. We are both still dreaming of the BBQ shrimp corn chowder. Sharon Griffin of Griffin & Grey and Frog Prince Weddings styled the most perfect table setting for us. She literally couldn’t have gotten it more perfect for us – dark and moody with pink velvet, wild flowers and gold details. The photos were taken by our talented friend Gillian Horgan who captured the night so perfectly. We feel so lucky to have had Sharon and Gill as guests at our table.
These events don’t just come together overnight… they take planning and they take passion. We are so lucky to have met Aoife from Pomco PR who is both a great friend and business partner that we just love to work with. We are so proud of the two events we have now created with Aoife (see the other one here) and we know that there are a lot more incredible projects to come to life with her.
If we were to never create a Dreaming Always Supper Club again, we can look back at this one and know that it was everything we would want from a great event – an incredible venue hosting the most inspirational of guests around a beautifully styled table of delicious food. Our idea of heaven.
Here’s to many more great events in the future,
Images | Gillian Horgan
Venue | Orlagh Country House
Food | Jack Rabbit
Styling | Griffin & Grey
Time to talk about the bubble that is Dubai. A place that is flashy & fast-paced. A place of glamour, wealth and opportunities. It is a place where many people put more importance on what you earn than what kind of person you are. A place where women walk ahead of their nannies with their hands hanging whilst the nanny carries their kids and their shopping. It is a place that makes you feel as if you are on a different planet. A place where the richest and the poorest of people live. A place where the buildings are made of gold. A place where you spend a painful amount of money each week on your grocery shopping. A place where setting up your basic household bills requires selling a kidney. A place where you can get a carton of milk hand-delivered to your door but where it is almost impossible to get your huge rental deposit back. A place where the people that take care of your children and look after your home won’t ever call you by your first name. It is a place that made me feel terribly uncomfortable. It is a place that gave us incredible memories. It is a place that introduced us to life-long friends. It is a place that made us stronger. It is a place that made me weaker. It is a place that made us more aware of what we wanted for ourselves. A place that made us appreciate what we had at home. A place that made us angry. It is the place where Emie-Rose became a little girl. It is a place where we laughed and we cried. It is a place where we sweated profusely. It is a place that is hot as f**k. It is a place that has non-stop sunshine. It is a place where Emie-Rose needed to use inhalers. It is a place where people skip queues a lot. It is a place where you do not have to fill your own petrol. It is a place where you can believe anything is possible. It is a place of beauty. It is the place where Emie-Rose learned how to swim. It is a place where we opened our minds. It is a place where I felt like I never belonged. It is just that… a place. We are home now. Will we stay at home? Who knows… but for now, we are home & we are happy. We are all over the place but we are home. We have lots to do to get ourselves set up again. For once, I’m not stressed that everything isn’t perfect. It is far from perfect but it works for us right now. Somehow.
Do I have regrets? Yes & No. We both needed to do it. We needed to try something different. It has complicated things but it was a great adventure. We decided that there was no point in staying any longer than we did. It was not making us happy. It felt good to come home.
Do what you have to do for you. Do what makes you happy. If you have to go, just go. If you have to come home, then come home. Wherever “home” is for you…
We all have a place that feels like home,
If you are in Ireland, please please please check the register and have your say on 25th May….
Images by Augustine – Come in Waves
It was probably a good thing that I waited a few weeks since we got back from Sri Lanka before I wrote this post. I arrived back to Dubai from our week away exhausted and vowing I would never travel again! Yes I know…totally dramatic…. but I was a bit shook. Our journey to the airport involved a crash on the Sri Lankan highway that left us stranded at 6am at the side of the road with our toddler and no idea how we would get to the airport in time for our flight home. I have always said I would travel as much as I can with Emie-Rose but I have to say our trip to Sri Lanka made me a little more wary of the situations you can find yourself in when travelling. Whilst it is amazing to explore new places and to mix with different cultures, it can also be a little daunting to be away from home comforts, especially with kids. It’s nice to know where the nearest hospital is should you need it and it is comforting to know that you can ask someone for a bit of help and that they will understand you should you require it. Becoming a parent has made me very sensible. I have had my share of bad luck with travelling in the past and as a result I can be quite anxious. After calming down and almost forgetting about the lack of relaxation we had for the week there, I can say that I am really happy that we did experience the beauty of Sri Lanka.
Most people travel the length and breadth of Sri Lanka… we stayed around one tiny area of the country. We travelled for about 2 and a half hours down south once we landed into Colombo Airport. Our gorgeous hotel, Arabella on Boosa, was in Gintota which was about 15 minutes in the local transportation choice – a tuk tuk – from the gorgeous UNESCO World Heritage Site, Galle Fort. We spent two days pottering around this pretty little town where the streets are lined with colonial villas and hotels. The weather was really bad when we were there – major rain showers – so we spent a lot of time ducking into boutiques and coffee shops. Everywhere in Galle Fort is really gorgeous. I was seriously impressed. We visited the most beautiful boutique hotel here – an 18th century mansion called The Fort Printers. In my pre-Emie-Rose life, it is where I would have dreamed of staying! We stayed for 6 nights in a beach-front hotel called Arabella on Boosa, which was incredibly Instagram-perfect – monochrome with splashes of green everywhere. We stayed in two different rooms – a garden view room and the suite. Obviously the suite was so much better with a toddler as we had way more space and it also had a couch so it meant we could actually chill out in privacy there during the witching hour/when the toddler tantrums reached a peak. The decor was just gorgeous and the staff were really friendly. The food at our hotel was so good – everything was so fresh and so tasty! I loved the Sri Lankan food in general. It is worth visiting for the food alone! There is such a relaxing boho vibe going on there… signs for yoga classes and small boutique guest houses and hotels with ‘secret gardens’ everywhere.
We visited another gorgeous stretch of beach recommended by our hotel – Wijaya Beach in Dalawella for some wood oven pizzas on the beach. We really got to relax for a few hours here as the water was less choppy than by our own hotel. The beaches in Sri Lanka are beautiful but from what we experienced the water is pretty rough and dangerous, particularly for kids. It is also worth noting that everyone gets around Sri Lanka in tuk tuks – teeny little vans with no seat belts so if like me you are terrified of travelling with your child not in a car seat then it is probably worth renting your own car and bringing your own car seat. The roads are crazy there. Our hotel offered a car seat in their transfer van from the airport which was just so handy. These little things make travelling with kids that bit easier.
I didn’t really know what to pack to wear in Sri Lanka as I was told it would be really sticky and humid. Whilst it was definitely warm, we were totally not prepared for the rain we had there. I packed lots of light and airy maxi dresses which worked well there. It’s definitely not a place for high heels so make sure to bring lots of flats. I was totally chuffed to collaborate with Melissa Odabash for my trip to Sri Lanka and I was so happy to wear one of their new Apres Beach dresses, which you can see here. I loved the long sleeves and the best thing is it didn’t need to be ironed which is amazing when travelling. We haven’t done a giveaway on Dreaming Always yet but we will be doing a giveaway for one of these gorgeous Melissa Odabash dresses – their off the shoulder Faith dress which you can see here – over on our Instagram over the weekend.
Will I be travelling with my 2 year old again soon? I am already planning our next trip… in my head for now.
What are your experiences of travelling with kids? Have you been to Sri Lanka?
It is good to be back posting on here,
Where we stayed: Arabella on Boosa
Who we flew with: Emirates
Leona celebrated a beautiful evening with great women in Cork recently. Some of the most fun ladies came down from Dublin to join the Corkonians for the night including Sooby & Marnie, Emma, Lisa Marie and Roisin. What started as simply a night out for friends to get together ended up being a gorgeous celebration of women & it got us thinking! We both share a love of sitting with people and hearing what they have to say about love, life, everything & anything. We love intelligent and intimate conversations. We also love food. We could spend our days sitting around a table just eating and chatting. This love for conversation and food has inspired our new style of Meet-Up – The Dreaming Always Supper Club. We want to share this love for conversation and food with people. The idea behind these Supper Clubs is to host a dinner at a number of different venues throughout the year around Ireland. We will invite a speaker to lead a discussion about a different topic at each dinner… to begin a conversation. We love this concept and we hope you do too! We will of course still host lots of other Meet-Ups… these Supper Clubs are an addition to what we already do and we are excited about all the conversations and delicious food to come!
We are excited to launch our first official Dreaming Always Supper Club very soon. So, if you like the sound of our Supper Club and would like to be added to our guest list for these events, please just send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, we really love to hear your thoughts.
We are looking forward to all the eating and chatting to be done this year,
Images by Gillian Horgan
Venue | Montenotte Hotel, Cork City
From the day that you were born, life changed. I changed. I discovered that sometimes our lives need to be completely shaken-up and changed for us to find out where we are truly meant to be. Life is about change. Sometimes it is scary, sometimes it is beautiful, but most of the time it is both.
I don’t remember you being born as I was unconscious. After waking up from my general anaesthetic, you were placed in my arms and I cried and shouted hysterically that you were not my baby. Once the effects of the drugs wore off, I was terrified. The most scared I had felt in my life until that point I think. Two days after you came into my world, on Christmas Eve, you almost left my world. I will never ever forget that day. That was a whole new level of fear. It also opened up my eyes to just how incredibly precious you are. Leaving the hospital with you for the first time was not what I imagined it to be. I refused to have any photos taken of us together and your Dada had to carry you and all of our bags. I just shuffled along and cried. I wanted to get out of that hospital so bad because hospitals are the scariest place for me to be but I was also so scared leaving the safe haven of that maternity ward where they could fix you if anything bad was to happen you again. The outfits I had meticulously planned for us to wear going home were vastly different from the ones we both actually wore. I certainly didn’t expect to be wearing an adult nappy or flip flops in December and you were smaller than anticipated so all the things we had for you were too big. Once I got home to my own bed with you, things started to feel better and for the first time I was able to enjoy being your Mama but I was just so worried about you all the time. I would not leave you out of my sight. I started to learn what other women were talking about when they said you feel a crazy kind of love for your children. I felt crazy and I was in love.
People say that motherhood is hard. People also tell you that motherhood is one of the best things that you can experience. It is the most intensely terrifyingly beautiful thing that has happened in my life. I literally cannot do anything without thinking about you, worrying about you, wondering about you. I love you more than you will ever know. The same way I now understand that my mother loves me. In fact, I love you so much that I cannot sleep. I haven’t slept soundly since the day that you were born. It is not because you are awake at night. You love to nap and you love to sleep all night. I just cannot sleep soundly because my mind never stops thinking about you, worrying about you, wondering about you. Some days I am so tired and so worn out that people ask me if I was out partying the night before. I dream about running away to sleep for days… but if I ever get the chance to go away and ‘catch up on sleep’ – I just want to be right back with you… listening to your big belly laugh and feeling your soft baby skin. When you were a younger baby I didn’t feel this way quite so strongly but it gets more intense the older you get and the longer I have spent with you. Yes, I am tired all the time and spending my days with you makes me even more tired because you have so much energy and we spend a lot of time running after you and alongside of you. You hate to sit still and you absolutely love to run. You almost ran before you walked. You love for us to ‘have a cosy’ together. Your little warm body pressed against me with your little hand wrapped up in mine. You spent the first year of your life in Ireland and the second year of your life in Dubai. You have experienced so much in your short life so far and I hope that we have so many more years together.
If I had to choose one person to be with forever, it would be you. You are my little pal… my sidekick. We go most places together. You are hilarious. You have the strongest character. Everyone tells me that you are wild. Some say it as if it’s a bad thing. You are wild – wild and free. People often think that you are older than you are and you get treated a bit unfairly because you look older than you are. My baby girl. Just two years old. You are the boss of our home. You are just incredible. You are the one that has made me softer, kinder and more loving towards everyone. I am not the same person that gave birth to you. I am a better person because of you. I hope that you always know that you have made so many people happy by just being in their presence. You make strangers smile. I would love you to grow up to be kind yet strong, with a heart full of love but a mind of your own.
Thank you for changing my life. Thank you for being mine and for making me this person that I am today as I write this for you.
Happy 2nd Birthday my sweet little rose,
Images by Sarah Sargent
Tutu by Fable Heart
Cake by Spontiphoria