Category / Places

Places

A long weekend in The Surrey Hills

The best thing about memories is making them…

“An area of outstanding natural beauty” – That is what the sign said as we drove into the Surrey Hills on a recent long weekend break. There was never a more apt description of a place – everywhere you turned was picture perfect. Gorgeous green landscapes, rolling hills, dreamy villages and best of all… no WiFi.

We had been looking forward to this weekend for a long time. Life has been hectic lately and the idea of some quality time with family in a beautiful 19th century home with no TV, phones, iPad or any other digital distractions was just what we all needed.

This was our second time staying in a Landmark Trust property and as with our first experience in Scotland when we stayed in Gargunnock House, it didn’t disappoint. The name of the property we stayed in this time was Goddards and it was nothing short of stunning. It was built by architect Edwin Lutyens from 1898–1900 and is considered one of his most important early houses, designed in the traditional Surrey style and with a garden laid out in collaboration with the celebrated garden designer, Gertrude Jekyll. The house sleeps 12 people comfortably and like all Landmark trust properties it has been restored to the very highest standard.

The Landmark Trust are a charity that take on historic places  in danger and restore them beautifully making them available to rent to the general public for holidays. They are all well-equipped self-catering buildings and the idea is to encourage and foster quality time with friends and family away from everyday busy modern lives.  The Landmark Trust properties are quite different from the mainstream rentals – none of the properties have a television, radio or telephone and given their mainly remote locations, they rarely provide WiFi.

For someone who loves being online, this is actually a great thing in my eyes as it brings you back to having real connections with the people you are away with and forces you to open your eyes  and soak up all the lovely moments together. Instead of staring into a phone when you have some time to yourself, you are more inclined to run a bath or actually read the book you’ve been trying to finish for the last few months.

The list of types of properties you can rent on the Landmark Trust site include picturesque pavilions, medieval long-houses, artillery forts, Gothic follies, clan chiefs’ castles, cotton weavers’ cottages, the homes of great writers and the creations of great architects – seriously how cool to hide away in some remote location in one of these amazing proprieties full of history and character!? Goddards has a 1920’s style skittle alley!

 

It helped immensely that when we stepped off the plane from Ireland a blast of Mediterranean-esque heat hit us. London was experiencing a mini heat wave and that was OK by us.

Our kids and their cousins played until past 10pm every night in the most beautiful gardens I have ever seen and the adults sat around the table catching up and drinking tea and wine. It was all kinds of perfect. Something happens when you and your siblings have kids – you just want them to spend as much time as possible together creating memories and developing those special cousin bonds.

You want them to look back and have the kind of carefree memories you had yourself growing up surrounded by cousins… it is very special weekends like these that create those beautiful, lasting memories.

L x

Mamahood Places

Mamas in Dubai

 

Dubai Mamas 1

Constantly challenge yourself. There lies a motto I have lived by for as long as I can remember. I have always been ridiculously determined, some would say stubborn. I challenge my capabilities constantly. Every now and then I surprise myself greatly. At other times, I have to accept defeat. One of the greatest challenges I have faced in my life has been moving my family abroad. It may not seem like a huge challenge to many of you. I know, people do it all the time. For me however, second to becoming a mother, it has been an enormous challenge. I only left Ireland 9 weeks ago. 9 short weeks ago. It feels like I haven’t been at home for way longer.

One thing that has resonated with me since we moved is that I have some really special friends at home. A small number of people that will be a huge part of my life forever regardless of what is happening in each of our lives. These kind of people are gold. I have also realized that moving abroad means finding a whole new gang of people to be a part of your life. People to call upon should you need help and people to share a coffee or a big gin with. As Leona mentioned in our last post, we have connected online with so many wonderful women. Women who stand up for what they believe in, who are passionate and who love to support other women. We have had lengthy conversations with them online. It went from liking each other’s pictures through to supporting them virtually when they have had bad days and they have done the same for us. Through social media, I met some really great women who have been so supportive long before I even landed in Dubai and some women who I just clicked with immediately upon meeting them in “real life!” Helen, Simone, Irene and Kaya are those kind of women that Leona and I just love to be around. Simone, Irene and Helen each have their own gorgeous lifestyle websites and Kaya is editor of one of my favourite websites, Sassy Mama Dubai.

Dubai MamasDubai SunsetSunset Drinks Mama Meet UpDubai MamasNessa DubaiGingham and SparkleDreaming Always DubaiClaire Stafford Photography

 

We enjoyed a gorgeous afternoon at The Jetty Lounge on the same day as our recent Mama Meet-Up in Cork, which you can see details of here. Whilst Leona and her crew filled up on fresh avocado toast and hot coffee, we gorged on mojitos, margaritas and chips & salsa. Another amazing mama who I met since moving to Dubai, Claire Stafford, took some shots of us before we melted in the crazy heat. It really was so lovely to be surrounded by such kind and supportive women so far away from home.

If there’s one lesson I can teach Emie-Rose in life, it’s to be kind and supportive. You just never ever know when you will need that extra bit of support yourself.

Cultivate Kindness,

Nx

 

Images by Claire Stafford

Collaborations Mamahood Places Style

A Mama Meet-Up with Opera Lane

Every person is a new door to a different world…

The reason we started to do these Mama Meet-Ups was simple. We have connected online with so many wonderful women. We have had conversations with them under their beautiful posts on Instagram. We have liked their baby pictures and we have supported them virtually when they have had bad days and they have done the same for us. So the idea was that from time to time we would take those virtual friendships offline and into the real world. Small intimate gatherings of people who have never met but who share so many similarities like style, design, business, blogging and parenting. You might think it was a little crazy, awkward even to invite virtual strangers to come together for a few hours on a sunny Saturday morning… in reality it was anything but!

Most people were coming on their own, not knowing anyone else which is totally daunting when you think about it… kind of like a giant blind date! Sure there were a few funny moments, like when you see someone and you recognise them from their feed so naturally you go to call them by their Instagram handle & remember “oh no wait she has an actual name!” Manolo Mummy aka Lindsay gets this all the time. The refreshing thing was that everyone was so honest about feeling a bit nervy coming on their own. Of course there was the panic about what one wears to brunch. For some it was their first outing after having a baby and for all it was a much needed few hours of “me time” – queue snorts of laughter all round when we all admitted that we hadn’t a clue what to wear and the gorgeous Sarah from Salingers Little entertained us all saying she actually googled “what to wear to brunch?”

It was a dream collaboration with Opera Lane which is Cork’s destination for all things style & beauty. We were flattered when they admired what we do and completely ecstatic when they asked us if we would join forces with them to host some of their PR events this year. After our first meeting it was decided that brunch in the newly refurbished Montenotte Hotel would be the setting for our first meet up collaboration with Opera Lane. A relaxed gathering of women who love Instagram, to blog, run their own business and/or are mothers. We were treated to a delicious brunch and Natasha Crowley – Opera Lane’s Personal Stylist – talked us through some gorgeous spring summer looks for us mamas and our little ones from a selection of the stores on Opera Lane. You can book Natasha for a free personal styling session via the Opera Lane website. The styled set up & place settings were perfectly Instagramable and were designed by our friend Dee from Chapter who is an incredible Graphic and Interior Designer.

Do you ever meet someone and think… yep you are my kind of people. Well I had that x 20 with this bunch of women. It was a wonderful way to spend a Saturday morning surrounded by such a positive group of supportive and, not to mention, drop dead gorgeous women. The feedback we have received has given us a real lift and reminded us why we started Dreaming Always in the first place.

We believe it is so important to carve out time for you and to put yourself out there to push yourself, connect and meet with people who could very well become your support system both on and offline. You will feel the benefit of it afterwards, and you never know what opportunities it might lead to and at a minimum you will make some lovely like-minded friends. I know I came away from Saturday’s meet-up completely uplifted and inspired to do more events.

Plans are already in motion for our next one… Cocktails on the terrace of The Montenotte Hotel anyone?

L x

Images by Anna Groniecka

Mamahood Places

Uncertainty

Trust the wait. Embrace the uncertainty. Enjoy the beauty of becoming. When nothing is certain, anything is possible.

I got pretty mixed reactions from people when I told them quite suddenly that we were moving to Dubai. Looking back I definitely got way more shocked and perplexed expressions than anything else. A few people said I was really brave, others said I was inspiring. I just thought it would be a new adventure for us as a trio. I don’t think I really ever let myself think too hard about the move. In the end it all happened really quickly and we found ourselves landing into Dubai Airport with our little girl homeless. I will never forget the stress of the last two weeks before we left Ireland. It was absolute chaos. Emie-Rose had just started walking. She was constantly hurting herself – falling, walking into walls, hitting her head off tables, falling down stairs – and she needed a crazy amount of attention. We left our packing too late. We had to organise so many things. In the midst of packing our house up and running after a hyperactive baby who had just found her feet, I dropped a glass container on my foot in the most awkward place possible and I was told I would have to keep my foot elevated for two weeks. Four days before we were due to fly to Dubai. Everything was just so chaotic and it hasn’t stopped being chaotic since we got here. Nobody said it was going to be easy but I never expected it to be this hard.

Dubai 1

I started working two weeks after we arrived. I have never felt so nervous starting a job. I was terrified. I was worried about working in a new market that I wasn’t familiar with. I was traumatised at the thought of leaving Emie-Rose all day. I was lucky enough to work my own hours in Ireland since she was born. I was totally in control of how I managed my day and how much time we spent together. You definitely don’t appreciate what you have until you face a new challenge. So many women all over the world have been through it but you always feel like you are the only person going through your own issues. Whilst I didn’t feel homesick, I felt lonely. I felt like no-one could possibly understand how I was feeling. I had a fair few of those awkward teary-eyed moments in public when you know people can see that you are randomly about to burst out crying and you pretend you have something in your eye. People have been so kind. When you’re feeling vulnerable, people being kind can make you even more emotional. We are so lucky to be staying with family whilst we find our feet and organize everything out here in the desert. We have been living out of suitcases for the last five weeks and we will be doing so for many more weeks to come. Are we settled? No. Do I dream of sitting in my favourite local cafe back in Cork chatting to my girls? Yes. Do I miss the cold weather? No. I definitely miss knitwear though.

Don’t get me wrong. Our move hasn’t been a totally negative experience. First world problems and all that. We chose to make the move. We were lucky enough to be able to up and leave with no ties. We craved a new kind of adventure. There are lots of amazing places to visit here and so many new things to discover. I love the huge diversity of cultures here. I find it so interesting learning about different ways of life. My eyes have already been opened to a whole new world of possibilities. I have had so many interesting conversations with new people since I got here. People really look out for you here. Dubai is the most child-friendly place I have ever been. Saying that perhaps it’s a little too child-friendly here at times with strangers asking me if they can take a picture with my baby girl or randomly picking her up without asking me first. We wake up to sunshine. We have spent more time at the beach in the last five weeks as we have all year at home. We are together.

We haven’t put a date on when we might return home. It might be tomorrow, it might be in six months, it might be in two years or even ten years. The two most important things in life for me are family and happiness.

If we aren’t happy, we fix it. If we need to be with our family, we go to where our family is.

Some of the most beautiful chapters in our lives won’t have a title until much later,

Nx

Images by Claire Stafford

Dress & Sandals | Zara Kids

Playsuit & Sandals | Zara

Save

Mamahood Places Style

A Stroll Around Soho

be with those who help your being…

You may have noticed smoke coming from our Instagram Stories when we were in London a few weekends back. We went a bit mad documenting every step of our trip. We thought we might have been wrecking everyone’s heads but we had lots of lovely comments from people saying that they’d enjoyed watching what we got up to.

We were absolutely determined to make the most of our time in London. We had two full days and one night baby free and we weren’t going to waste it. It was also the last trip we would do before Nessa moves to Dubai so we wanted to make it a memorable one.

Our friend Sarah from Young Hearts had invited us to join her for Dot to Dot London. It’s an amazing independent kidswear exhibition held twice a year for industry and press. Most of the people we met are hardworking mothers who’ve set up their own businesses while raising their babies. It was a fantastic experience and we connected with some incredible new up-and-coming kidswear brands… so watch this space for some pretty gorge collaborations!

Before heading to Dot to Dot we had some time so we decided to have a mini Mama Meet-Up in the heart of Soho with some of our favourite pals, Sarah, Sooby & Lisa who were attending the exhibition too. We actually became friends with Sarah & Sooby via Instagram since we set up Dreaming Always. The power of social media connections. We met at an authentic Italian delicatessen – Lina Stores and grabbed a coffee before strolling around Soho freezing our bottoms off but laughing non-stop. Having admired her work for ages we arranged to meet the wonderful Victoria Metaxas to take some shots for us. She is a talented photographer, fashion and travel blogger with whom we immediately clicked.

What we love about our meet ups is that there is no one size fits all.

Since launching Dreaming Always last summer we’ve hosted meet ups in the shape of dinner and cocktails (sans enfants) and we have had fancier events that involved brand collaborations and we have had big ‘ol crazy play dates where no one gets to drink their tea or finish their sentences. It doesn’t matter when, where or how many people we can round up, we just love getting together with other mamas to chat, laugh, cry, eat or drink – or all of the above. Having said that this little get-away and meet-up felt a bit special because it was the last one Nessa and I would be hosting together for a while.

Life can be hectic and some weeks fly by in haze of school runs, laundry and sleepless nights.  As much as we love our babies and men we think it is essential to escape on our own every now and then with friends who also need to escape. Where better to go to than one of our most loved cities – London.

Thank you to this incredibly supportive and gorgeous girl gang for making our first Dreaming Always trip to London so memorable.

We are already planning the next one… who’s in?!

L&Nx

You can check out the girl’s gorge Instagrams here:

Sarah | Young Hearts

Sooby | Mutiny Kids

Lisa | Eliza Lily

Images by Victoria Metaxas

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Mamahood Places Style

Changes

DA Plans

You get a strange feeling when you are leaving a place. You will not only miss the people you love but you will miss the person you are at this very time and place because you know you will never be this way ever again.

You might have seen on Nessa’s Instagram that she is moving to Dubai with her little family. Yes… she is moving there in the next few weeks. We have been getting the sweetest messages from people asking us if this is the end for Dreaming Always and we can happily say that we really and truly think it is just the beginning.

Are you still going to continue with Dreaming Always when Nessa moves to Dubai?

Absolutely. Dreaming Always is going global! We will both be working on it from our own locations – Cork & Dubai. This means more diverse content, more travel and it offers our readers something a little unique. This platform we have created, both offline and online, is something that we are just so passionate about. We have created a place for sleep-deprived mamas to dream. Whether that mama is in Ireland or Dubai or somewhere in between, we want to help other mamas to realise that it is absolutely ok for them to feel overwhelmed and it is totally normal to want to run away and escape some days. We want to create a network of women who love being a mother but also love to be their own person too. As well as writing honest posts about motherhood and life in general and letting you know about our favourite (not always child-friendly!) places, we will continue to create beautiful photo stories for the website. Yes, a lot of them will now involve us posing alone and/or with the kids but as soon as we are on the same soil we will be doing them together.

2. Will you still host your Mama Meet-Ups?

Yes! We are already in the middle of planning some in both locations. We plan to host them regularly in Ireland and Dubai. Nessa visited Dubai recently and arranged to meet up with three gorgeous women who she met on Instagram – Helen, Irene, Simone and she just loved them. The power of social media is just incredible. Being able to host our Mama Meet-Ups in dual locations means that we can really reach out to a whole new network of amazing women. Of course Leona will have to go to Dubai for our first one out there.

3. What are your plans for 2017?

Nessa – To persuade Leona to move to Dubai…

Leona – To make Nessa stay in Ireland…

We cannot believe the support we have received since we started Dreaming Always last year. It has been so incredible to meet so many fantastic women and we want to meet so many more. We know it is going to be really tough for both of us over the next few months juggling everything but we are crazy excited for what is in store for us personally and for Dreaming Always. We are working on our own line of baby bonnets, Mabel Rose and we will be launching the first design soon. We have lots of travel planned starting with a trip to Dot to Dot London next weekend with two amazing mamas we have met since we launched Dreaming Always – Sarah & Sooby. We are also meeting with some of our favourite kids wear brands there. We are going to make it our mission to travel around Ireland also (and not just Cork & Dublin) to host our Mama Meet-Ups. We cannot actually believe it ourselves so we don’t mind if you don’t believe us either but we are now represented by an Irish agency. We are excited to bring things up another notch and to work with some great brands on collaborations. Phew, that sounds like a lot. Some days we can barely get ourselves out of bed and then other days we surprise ourselves with what we can achieve. We are going to take it all one day at a time but we really do hope that we get to do at least some of the things that we have planned. Nessa needs to leave the country first and at the rate she is packing and saying goodbye to all her beloved clothes she might never get out of here.

Coffee Date with Dreaming AlwaysDreaming Always in CorkDubai & Dreaming AlwaysDay Dreamers CorkNessa Hurley DreamerLeona DreamerDreaming Always of CoffeeDreaming Always Dubai and Cork

There are friendships imprinted in our hearts that will never be diminished by time and distance. Those who move forward with a happy spirit will find that things will always work out.

Time to turn the page,

L&Nx

Images by Brid O’Donovan

Place | Filter Coffee, Cork

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Mamahood Places

Creative Minds

Mama Meet-Up at The Glucksman Cork

We have spoken about our love for The Glucksman Gallery in Cork before (here) and it also proved to be the perfect venue for a mama meet-up recently. We invited some women that we have met via social media and some friends that we have known for years along to this special event. We handed over some creative freedom to our little ones for the morning with a craft workshop given by the amazing staff at the gallery. Us mamas chatted, drank coffee, ate pancakes, pastries and avocado toast and watched the kids get covered in glue, glitter and felt. Our perfect kind of Saturday morning.

Cork Mama Meet UpMama Meet up Little OneDreaming AlwaysGlucksman Cork Craft meet up at the glucksmanMama Meet Up Craft WorkshopDreaming Always Emie RoseThe Glucksman Gallery WorkshopCraft Workshop Dreaming AlwaysLouise & Finn Mama Meet UpGlucksman Craft and Design Fairarchie dreaming alwaysDelights at The GlucksmanDreaming Always MamasDreaming Always Glucksman Eventdreaming always creative minds

Every meet-up we do is different. There is no one size fits all for our meet-ups but there is always a common goal. Our goal is to bring like-minded women who are navigating the choppy waters of motherhood together in a relaxed and intimate setting. We want to bring people together to dream, connect, talk, laugh and have them leave feeling like they are not alone and hopefully feeling inspired too.

Create the things you wish existed,

L&Nx

Images by Egle | White Cat Studio

 

Save

Mamahood Places

The Glucksman

Dreaming Always and The Glucksman Gallery

Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life | Pablo Picasso

Like us, we are guessing that a lot of you are guilty of overlooking all the gorgeous things that are going on in your own city. Parks that you don’t even know exist, museums that you might not have ever visited and festivals and fairs that you skip each year. We are always looking for things to do in our home city of Cork, particularly since having children.

Shoot at The GlucksmanThe Glucksman Art Gallery UCC The Glucksman Art Gallery in UCCThe Glucksman Art Gallery DAThe Glucksman Art Gallery with Dreaming AlwaysGlucksman Art Gallery The Glucksman Art Gallery Leona and Mabelthe glucksman art gallery spaceNessa & Emie-Rose at the Glucksman GalleryMama & Mabelkids at the glucksman galleryThe Glucksman GalleryDreaming Always at The Glucksman Art GallerySmall Feet at The GlucksmanDreaming Always Ladies

We visited The Glucksman art gallery recently which is located on the grounds of University College Cork in the most striking modern steel and limestone building. It is such a beautiful space. We are both big fans of gorgeous architecture and art. The gallery hosts contemporary exhibitions and installations by national and international artists and also focuses on education and children and has it’s own delicious restaurant too. It is so child friendly too with a huge lift that the kids were fascinated by. It is so worth a visit.

For three days in November, The Glucksman opens up its award-winning gallery spaces for their annual Craft & Design Fair and features over 50 craftspeople selling their designs in jewellery, ceramics, wood, lighting, textiles and new technologies. Throughout the Craft and Design Fair weekend from Friday 11th – Sunday 13th November, the creative team at The Glucksman will run art workshops for children aged 5-12 years so that parents can go off shopping whilst the kids make their own craft masterpieces. Genius. We are really looking forward to hosting our next mama meet-up at The Glucksman during the Craft & Design Fair.

We are also so impressed by the Kids Club at The Glucksman. It encourages creative thinking and imaginative play which we really think is so important for our little ones. Their year-long memberships for the kids focus on them being the creatives and art-collectors of the future. We just love it. It’s such a perfect Christmas present for the little creatives amongst us.

Creativity is contagious. Pass it on,

L&Nx

 

All details on The Glucksman Craft & Design Fair 2016 can be found here.

 

Images by Brid O’Donovan Photography

Save

Save

Save

Places

Italian Moments

Italy6italy-1Mabel Colour

 

Maybe it’s because we are getting older, maybe it’s because we have kids but going on holidays has become a little less about where we are and more about who we are with.

We both love to travel and this summer we were both lucky enough to enjoy holidays abroad with our parents… and both came home vowing to do it again next year.

There is just something so special about watching the relationship between your children and their grandparents grow. We feel so grateful that we have the opportunity to experience this endless love. Splashing in the pool, sunrise beach walks, dinners at sunset, bike rides, taking endless pictures and eating plates of pasta – memories that will always stay with us and ones that we can pass on to our children. Spending time with loved-ones. It’s just what life is all about.

The extra help when there’s someone to take the baby for an hour whilst you enjoy a midday tipple reading a book by the pool is also a serious treat. We really didn’t appreciate the eight hours we used to spend baking on the sun-loungers enough in our pre-kids life. Holidaying with small babies can be quite stressful from the packing to trying to source milk formula aboard once you unexpectedly run out but we figure if you are going to be stressed anyway, why not be stressed in a beautiful sunny country?

Leona spent a week with her husband, Archie and Mabel and the rest of her family recently in Riccione on the Adriatic Coast of Italy for her father’s birthday.

Riccione is a beautiful historic town in Northern Italy. It’s incredibly family-friendly – you can even wheel your buggy on the handiest purpose-built wooden paths right to the edge of the sea. No getting stuck in the sand. It also has the cutest playgrounds and bicycle tracks at every turn. I adored the seaside promenade which stretches for miles dotted with the cutest coloured beach huts, cafes and bars where cheap but delicious prosecco and Aperol Spritz flows freely and the pink skies at sunset are just perfect.

Leona Italymabel Italyitaly4italy mabelLittle Legs

How cute is little Mabel on her holidays? We love the quote “Happiness is only real when shared” and that’s really been proved to us this summer,

L&Nx

Save

Save

Save

Places Style

Coffee Date

Brid O'Donovan

Some souls just understand each other upon meeting.

Sometimes you meet a person and you just click – you’re immediately as comfortable with them as if they were family. You don’t have to pretend to be anyone or anything. We have both learned a lot this year. We have learned that things don’t always turn out the way you planned. We have learned that there are things that go wrong and don’t always get put back together the way they were before. We have learned about the value of friendship and the importance of having people around you that just get you. We have learned that you can get through hard times as long as you have people that love you.  The people that love the imperfect you. The forgetful you. The busy you. The cranky you. The stressed you. The crazy you. We all go a little crazy at times.

Leona and Nessa GreenesGreenes Cork CityStyle 2Greenes Cork

We found the most perfect place for coffee last week in our own city. A place that has been in our city for years and years and we have only just discovered it as a coffee destination – Greenes Restaurant. We probably stumbled across it a few months too late as it’s the outdoor seating area that appealed to us. It’s right next to a gorgeous waterfall feature (where there’s water obviously) so it’s definitely not the place for babies on the move but it would have been the perfect spot in the city centre for coffee with Emie-Rose & Mabel this summer. We also had a little road-trip to Clonakilty the same week to visit a gorgeous store called Whitefawn Boutique.

Coffee Date4Whitefawn 2Whitefawn BoutiqueBootsFreepeople and Mango

We have set up our Places section of the website to share some of our favourite places with you – whether it’s where we like to shop, go to have coffee, where we like to go on holidays or our favourite place to drink gin.

L&Nx

Dress, Skirt, Jumper & Necklaces | Whitefawn Boutique

Images by Brid O’Donovan Photography