What now seems like a very long time ago, two very sleep-deprived mamas decided that they needed to plan an escape. Something to keep them going through the endless nights and long days of working and motherhood. They had once said that they would love to go to Lisbon together and so they decided to make this dream a reality.
Planning a trip away for two adults isn’t as easy as one might think. We had a lot going on at the time and so we decided to hand over the responsibility to Travel Counsellors – a travel company that we think are exceptional at what they do… incredibly personal customer service. What we loved was the attention to detail from our Travel Counsellor, as she arranged absolutely everything for us – we didn’t even have to check in for our flight ourselves. She also text us to see if we were happy with everything during the trip and sent us a sweet “Welcome Home” card in the post on Monday evening. Seriously, they were a dream to book with and if you fancy your own Travel Counsellor, you can find them here.
We both want the same thing from our travels – a sense of escape & freedom. We wanted to get lost exploring gorgeous architecture and trying local food, to be immersed in the culture and to just completely unwind. We spent most of our weekend between two gorgeous areas of Lisbon – Chiado & Alfama. We had planned to take the train to Sintra which is the most dreamy village ever but we got so caught up in exploring that we didn’t make it out there. The perfect excuse to go back to visit this gorgeous city.
We got up super early… like 7am early… and jumped on the number 28 tram which luckily for us stopped right outside our hotel in the city centre – Hotel Mundial. You have to do this tram ride if you visit Lisbon but do attempt to get up early to avoid crazy queues – it is worth it!
We headed up to Lisbon’s oldest but most colourful and charming neighbourhood. Alfama is the historic soul of Lisbon and we are absolutely in love with the area. It was a tiled walls, cobbled streets and beautiful doorways kind of heaven for us. There was just so much character to the place with lots of gorgeous little cafes to stop off in along the way for our favourite local custard tarts called Pasteis de Nata. We headed back to our hotel for a little break in a tuk tuk, which are perfect for navigating the narrow streets and such a fun way to experience the city.
We headed back up to Alfama again in the afternoon by tuk tuk to have some food and sample some local wine… lots of local wine. We ate dinner at a gorgeous little spot – Esperanca da Se – right by the Se Cathedral. We also loved the interiors here and our pizza and prawn linguini nero were delish. The two of us were delighted with ourselves sitting outside watching the world go by with some chilled rose wine.
We also loved the area of Chiado, which was more modern and stylish than Alfama. There was lots of beautiful architecture, theatres, charming old bookshops and big international shopping brands and just so much people-watching to be done. The women were beautifully dressed and we sat in a square in the sunshine just taking it all in.
We drank pink gins and ate french fries in a really cool burger place – Honorato. For once, we just could not fit in the most delicious looking burgers after just eating lunch somewhere else but the interiors here were absolutely amazing and we had a great window seat.
We spent Sunday evening in a totally gorgeous bar overlooking the Luís de Camões Square called Le Consulat talking about just how lucky we both felt right at that very moment. The drinks were reasonably priced for somewhere that looked so high-end and the staff were so friendly.
As mamas, we are both guilty of forgetting about ourselves in all of this motherhood malarkey. We decided that this weekend was all about us. We would do exactly what we wanted to do and not feel guilty for one moment of the trip. It takes a village to try and go away for a weekend. There was so much organising to be done at home. The trip to Lisbon made us realise that you do need to escape every so often from the normal every day chores and routine. It is not about escaping your children. You do not have to be a mama to need to escape.
We all need to escape every now and then… so as to not forget about you.
Already dreaming of our next trip,
Images by Joao Nogueira
When we ask our family and friends if they could look after the kids/cannot make a play-date because we have a “style shoot for the website” planned, we are convinced they picture us being very glamorous surrounded by hair and makeup artists in a fancy hotel suite sipping champagne. We would like to tell you that we always leave the house in our perfect not-baby-food-stained #samebutdifferent outfits but we would be telling you a lie. A massive lie.
We don’t generally enjoy loitering around random walls dressed similarly but on this occasion we met with our photographer, Anna, and we had our fair share of fun posing in hot pink.
But let us set the scene for you…
On a wet and rainy Sunday morning, we both rushed late as usual to meet each other at the only hair salon that we could find opened on a Sunday. Yes, we were both planning on having blow-dries done for this very, erm, natural shoot. After being refused a blow-dry for wearing hair extensions, one of us had to dash to boots to panic-buy dry shampoo because who goes to the hair salon with fresh, non-greasy hair?! We then proceeded to change into our bit of hot pink in the glamorous surroundings of the shopping centre bathrooms. Mortified, we sped through said shopping centre looking like we were handing out flyers for a marketing promotion in matching outfits and hopped in to our cars to go and meet our photographer. In between shots, sitting in our cars side by side to avoid being completely drenched with our windscreen wipers on full, we didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at the ridiculousness of the situation… but then we laughed and laughed and laughed.
Why the hell do we do this? For those laughs. For the time out from being just our kid’s mamas. For the few hours of escapism. For the love of dreaming.
The two not-so-very-natural-style-bloggers,
Images by Anna Groniecka
Shot at Goldbergs Cork
“and then she knew… that you could become homesick for people too…”
Emie-Rose & I are home from the desert for a few weeks and this cool fresh air sure feels good. If you happen to follow our Instagram Stories you might have noticed that I sweat a great deal and I don’t cope very well in hot climates… and I chose to live in the desert. You cannot deny that I love a good challenge, eh?
Reconnecting with family and friends has been incredible. It is like we never left. We haven’t been away that long but it has been so nice to catch up with people who I have really missed. There are certain relationships that will never be affected by time and distance. It has been so lovely to be back with Leona and to see our kids actually playing with each other now. The difference a few months makes is just insane. Emie-Rose has actually fallen in love with Archie. It melts my heart to see them all together.
Now that I have stopped sweating and obsessing over the chronic heat, I have been able to take a moment to think about life in the Middle East. Everybody I have met since returning home has asked me if I am loving life in Dubai and if I have settled in. At least once a week since I moved I also get an email or a message from someone who is considering a move to Dubai. As you may have noticed by now I am very honest and I wear my heart on my sleeve. I am also very realistic and I would never sell something to anyone that I didn’t have 100% belief in myself so I have been honest with people along the way.
Do I love life in Dubai?
I do not love living there yet and yes, I have experienced several moments of “what the f**k are we doing here?!” but as I said before it is not forever. We are on an adventure which has provided us with some of the most absurd moments of our lives to date but my family and I are on this crazy adventure together and we are creating some of the most amazing memories.
I was pretty miserable (and a major pain in my husband’s ass!) before I came home two weeks ago. It was just way too hot to entertain a toddler. I never thought I would miss the wet grey country I could not wait to leave behind so much. When you live away from home you actually miss the most simple of things most. As a mama to a very busy and very determined toddler I really miss the safety net of family to help me out. I miss being able to call on my mother or father or brother or sister to get me out of a sticky situation. I miss the familiarity. I promise you that living in Dubai is not all glamour, Friday brunches and huge savings. Saying that, I am sure if it was my pre-baby days I would happily spend all of my free time doing all of the glamorous things that Dubai has to offer. I would be much more carefree and much less anxious about every little thing. Since coming home to Ireland I have noticed something… I am still anxious and worry about every little thing. I don’t need to be living away from home to be stressed. This revelation has been a eye-opener for me. My plan now is to go back after a very memorable summer in Ireland with a much more open mind and a lot less heavy heart.
We get asked a lot about the future of Dreaming Always. We also get asked a lot how we are surviving being apart. That question always makes us laugh. We definitely work best when we are together but we both adore Dreaming Always and all that it stands for and plan to keep going with this little love of ours. We are currently in the midst of planning two Mama-Meet-Ups whilst I am home in Ireland and one in Dubai on my return. It is going to be a busy but fun few weeks which are just going to fly by…
It is true that you have to go on adventures to find out where you really belong,
Images by Brid O’Donovan
Mabel – Shoes
*Leona discovered this little hidden gem for coffee in Cork City where we had these photos taken called The Garden Cafe.
Everything that you can imagine is real…
Every now and then we have to stop and think about what made us want to create this little love of ours – Dreaming Always – and sometimes we find ourselves questioning why we do what we do. From time to time, we also question if it’s all even worth our time and head-space and then a little bit of magic happens and we remember why it all started – for like-minded mamas which inspire us to come together and make us remember why it is that we do exactly what we love to do.
Our most recent Mama Meet-Up was an evening affair which involved no little people and prosecco and it was our second collaboration with Opera Lane – a gorgeous shopping destination in our home city of Cork. We chose The Montenotte Hotel again for this event and hosted the meet up in the stunning Presidential Suite which is perfect for an intimate gathering and has the most amazing views of the city. Similarly to our last meet-up, our friend Natasha, Opera Lane’s personal stylist, presented some gorgeous summer evening outfits to our guests. We both love hanging around Opera Lane browsing some of our favourite stores like H&M, Topshop & Office and plan on booking Natasha for a (free) personal shopping trip over the summer. We were thrilled to be working with them once again.
We are currently planning some more Mama Meet-Ups in both Ireland & Dubai. Nessa is planning on hosting some in Dubai once the weather cools down and everyone returns to the desert after their summers back home. In other news, we are so excited to be back together for almost two months in Ireland very soon. We find it hard to do our events without each other but it is just so incredible being surrounded by so many interesting women at each one that we always end up inspired and motivated to plan some more! Our dream is to have much more regular Mama Meet-Ups where we meet more and more gorgeous mamas and we are constantly thinking about venues that suit our style and brands that just get us. Our Mama Meet-Ups are usually casual and relaxed affairs… but we do welcome high heels and sometimes our kids!
Day after day we are reminded that neither life nor motherhood is plain sailing and after each Mama Meet-Up, we are genuinely so chuffed and flattered that people actually show up and even more so that our favourite mamas come to support us and each other. With fabulous people like Natasha and Julie from Opera Lane added to the mix, we are reminded that everything that you can imagine is real.
So thank you. Thank you for being a support to us and for being a support to each other.
Dreams, Dreams, Dreams,
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.
I believe there is a hero in all of us that keeps us honest, gives us strength makes us noble…
Designing Archie’s room with Cathy from Flamingo Interior Design was so much fun! I love interior design and when we lived in an apartment I did everything from start to finish myself, alas that was a previous life before I had two kids and a full time job. As much as I wanted to get stuck into doing Archies room myself I am just time poor and had frustratingly been putting it on the long finger. That’s why using Flamingo Interior Design was a no-brainer for me. It allowed me the creative input I love but Cathy ran the entire project from start to finish including putting the whole room together one rainy Saturday.
The fact we are good friends was a huge bonus as there is nobody’s opinion and advice on interior décor I trust more than Cathy. She has an incredible talent. You would have to be an interiors genius to create a room like she did from the random Pinterest boards I sent her and the images I would often WhatsApp her inappropriately late at night. Honestly it was the best money I have ever spent and I am looking forward to working with her again on more projects in our home.
Cathy’s services begin with a thorough consultation. She comes to your home and asks you questions about the room and what your vision is. She then measures up the room and a week or so later there is another meeting where she presents a design file back to you based on all the conversations, ideas and images that have been discussed. This part of the process is so impressive. Cathy’s illustration skills are excellent so much so I feel I want to frame the sketches she did of the room. She goes through everything at this meeting from where she will source materials through to budget and is open to suggestions and input at every stage.
The room had become somewhat of a dumping ground for plastic toys since we moved in almost two years ago. My pain-points were mainly storage related and the fact that Archie was sleeping in the spare room in a double bed. He needed his own room. A space dedicated to him, his 117 Imaginex men, which I stand on a daily basis, and his books.
Cathy nailed it – plain and simple. She asked Archie things like who his favourite superhero was and what his favourite color was and she took a genuine interest in what we both wanted. She ended up creating a room that was functional, beautiful and above all, really fun. She did a Superhero theme in a subtle way from the geometric wall decals to designing and hand-making the Superhero dress-up clothing rail and adding little touches like the Avengers bed spread and wall-prints. I’m not the biggest Avengers fan but one look at this room and you don’t have to be a 4 year old boy to love it.
The backdrop colours for the room are monochromatic and she added hints of buttery yellow and the comic colour blues and reds of his toys really pop against it. The bed we chose is from Ikea.
The reading nook is my favourite feature in the room. Archie is lucky to have some really beautiful books and I wanted to have them displayed rather than hidden away. Creating such an inviting space to read alone or with us was really important to me. The book shelves are from Ikea and the bean bag was the perfect colour and an Etsy find.
The room really needed additional storage and to address this Cathy designed the most beautiful storage boxes made from birch plywood. They are free standing compact storage boxes with fabric inserts. I love how they give the room a Scandi feel! She also had a trolley version made on wheels too which is perfect for hiding all the toys once Archie is finished playing. I love how these look in the room and the fact that they double up as storage and seating is an added plus.
Cathy is all personality and she puts her heart and soul into everything she does and this gorgeous room makeover was no different. The little touches like sourcing a retro bedside locker and painting it the exact shade of yellow, finding the perfect Spider-Man quote, Archie’s favourite Superhero, and framing it and choosing beautiful shelving from Sostrene Grene because she knows I love a good #shelfie. These thoughtful details made all the difference for me.
If you have a home or a room that needs a makeover and you don’t know where to start or haven’t the time to tackle it yourself, then Cathy from Flamingo Interior Design is the woman for you!
Up next for a makeover is little Mabel’s room so watch this space for more interiors…