Sunday, 15 April 2018

Grieving 8,000 Kilometers from Home

Dublin, Ireland

At the end of life is death. Everyone dies. I know that.

When I was fourteen my grandfather passed away. The last time I saw him was before I moved to Ireland. I never saw him alive again. I don't remember where I was when I heard the news. I don't remember how I felt or what I did. What I do remember are the nights of crying in the dark that followed afterwards, sometimes seeming to come from nowhere at all.

Of course I cried for all the things I'd never be able to share with him. I'd never be able to talk to him again, he'll never ask he how I am or tell me how important it is to work hard at my studies. I even thought about all the bigger things in life that he'd never witness. He'd never get to meet my partner or those of my siblings, never get to meet my kids and even more simply, never see me beyond the age of 9.

Grief to me is a necessarily selfish affair but I couldn't help thinking about how short his life now seemed in retrospect. His widowed wife, my grandmother, his 9 children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Somehow at the age of 76 his life when it ended didn't seem all that long after all.

That's not to say he didn't do much. He had a great relationship with my grandmother. A relationship I look back on as a good example of what relationships; strong, resilient and full of growing together. The values he and my grandmother taught me have helped shape me into the person I am today. As a teacher he shared with me his passion for knowledge of everything and anything. He built a Primary and Elementary School with my Grandmother which still provides affordable education to children and teenagers. I'd like to think I have adopted his sense of adventure and travel as well. We spent a lot of time together because I didn't have many friends. He was one of my favorite people to laugh with and talk to.

 I miss him dearly.

On St. Patrick's Day just gone, after working ten hours, missing two buses and ending up a 40 minute walk from my home, I got my second dose of bad news. Two words in my sister's first message, "Grandma Dead". Second message "Call Uncle". My Great-Grandma had passed away that morning. My uncle had drove her to the hospital and drove back alone.  I know there'll be many to come but that thought provides no comfort.

This time I know exactly where I was. I know exactly what I felt. And I know exactly what I did. I couldn't help but hunch down at the side of the road crying as I spoke to my uncle on the phone. The only thought that provided me with slight comfort was the thought that my boyfriend was on the way to pick me up from the side of the road. Boy was I glad I decided to bite my pride and ask him for a lift instead of walking home.

I was meant to call them yesterday. I was meant to call them yesterday. I was meant to call them yesterday. My brain repeated.

With my rational head I know had I called I wouldn't have been able to speak to her because she would've been asleep as that is how she spent most of her last days. In bed or confined to her wheel chair in the home. And had she been unwell, my grandmother and uncle not wanting to upset or worry me while being so far away would not have said so because what could I do?

My great-grandma unlike my grandfather had not lived a short life. At over 120 years old she had lived through two world wars and witnessed our family grow generation after generation after generation after generation. Because she was a devout Jehovah's Witness she didn't celebrate her birthday so all we have is an estimate of her age.

She was a strong woman, the kind that can beat a century. She was a wild woman not to be contained. In her life she faced many trials but had received many blessings. Her quality of life towards the end was so full of pain and illness, we were happy to see her out of it all. No longer in pain.

I was lucky enough to see her on my last visit home two years ago. And I am lucky enough to have the memories of the times we spent together. With my grandmother and grandfather, they raised my sister and I and an entire family tree. They infused us with knowledge, strength, values and principles that have made us the people we are today.

On the one hand of course I'm glad she is no longer in pain and confined to the house. But on the other, and the selfish hand, I still wish she was here.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Check In Time

Dublin, Ireland

It's been about two weeks since my last post and even longer since I simply checked in.
Since my last blog post, it has snowed enough to shut me in for 3 days, I have moved up a position in my job and got some time to relax. When the snow came hard as I tried to use the unexpected time to catch up and get ahead of myself in my college work, creative projects and blogging, I couldn't. Instead I spent the days sledging, building a snowman with my housemates circling fields on a pitbike and I even made a snow angel. There were cold walks in the apolcalytic like streets in search of sweets in the few local shops open and lots of hot water bottles.

From the many times I've worked hard and crashed, not taking time to rest has always been one of my biggest regrets. I never really got over the feeling of wanting to do something more academically productive with that snow time but I'm also glad for the many people who dragged me out of that bubble to be in thier company.

In general giving myself time to rest between college and work has been conflicting. On the one hand I'm glad I'm allowing my body and mind to recover and restore its energy. And on the other hand I'm battling the reeling list of things I want to be doing. From reading my course work, to working on my continuous assessment to, yes, blogging and my other creative projects.

It seemed for a few weeks all I had time for was college and work. The main problem identified was the amount of time I spent in work. Not only was it eating into my study time but I also wasn't getting enough free time for myself, projects or social events. And yet if I wanted to maintain the level of cash flow needed to cover my rent and expenses, I'd need to keep my existing hours. It quickly became clear to me that I could operate a machine-like lifestyle moving from one event to another, or I could find a better paying job.

I love my job and the people I work with so leaving was not a topic I really wanted to think about. Especially after moving through 4 jobs last year alone before finding this one. I sat on my choices a few weeks and luckily an opportunity arose for me to put myself up for a new position in the company.

After 5 years in the service industry, having undertaken many responsibilities along the way, I felt I had what it took to work in the position, if not at the very least to apply for it. So I put myself forward for a Supervisor position and I was pretty surprised that I actually got it. So in two weeks I'll be training in my new position this giving myself more time to focus my energies on college and my creative projects.

In my last instalment of the Pretending to be an Adult Being, I spoke about how my diet was taking a negative affect on my health. You can check it out here. In between this busy few weeks I've made sure to eat healthier, sleep well and find time to exercise. I've even managed a fortnightly deep tissue and massage at a student rate of €30 per hour, so bargain!

While prioritising my sleep, diet and self-care, the most amazing thing started happening. I was able to fit in little tasks around most days and actually get them finished. I listened to an amazing Ted talk a few weeks ago and I have come to associate some of the tasks I do in these little batches to my Learning Zone. Things learned in the learning zone translate across to the Performance Zone where you can see their affect on your skills.  Catching up on my python class. Working through my pre-production checklist for a music video project. Taking time to read up on photographers and their oeuvre. Going through the Google Analytics course etc.

It's like everything finds it's place once I have my main priorities in order. Perhaps you've already had this revelation or have heard of it no doubt. All I can say is it is working.

Alongside all these is the frequency at which I write on Albatroz & Co. The official post days are still Wednesdays and Sundays however I'd rather quality over quantity. I don't want to waste your time or mine but I am definitely working on it.

So how has your last few weeks been going? Have you any new career developments too? Taking on a new project or perspective?

Share with me so I can be nosy and celebrate with you!

Sunday, 18 February 2018

My Down Time Hair Routine

Dublin, Ireland

So general my hair routine changes depending on how much time I have. Sometimes I go through some pretty hectic times where work and college and social life just don't allow for indulgent hair care. 

This is how the last two weeks has been for me, so much so that I missed two blog posts. I simply needed to focus my energy into other immediate aspects of my life.

However today's post is going to focus on the hair routine I try to follow when I'm not running myself to the bone. I see some quiet times ahead when summer rolls around so I'm definitely looking forward to being able to take things at a leisurely pace.

When I have more time to treat and take care of my hair I can see the difference it makes to the overall feel of it. My curls feel moisturised, strong and carry a healthy sheen to it and here's how I do it.

1. Shampoo 2-3 Times a Month

With movements like the 'No-Poo Method' making more people aware of the harmful side effects of shampoo, it's becoming increasingly common for people to shampoo less. Most shampoos contain parabens, sulfates and sulphides that strip your hair of dirt and grease which is great. However they also strip away natural oils that help keep your hair moisturised resulting in weak brittle hair.
To minimize the amount of moisture and oil my hair loses, I shampoo my hair around once every 10 days when I want to strip away any build up of oils or dirt etc. Kind of like a clean slate.

More often that not this leaves my hair feeling leathery and very dry. I recently reviewed the OGX Nourishing Coconut Milk Shampoo which actually left my hair feeling both clean and moisturized! You can check it out here.

2. Co-Wash Regularly

Co-Washing is the use of a conditioner to wash your hair instead of a shampoo.   How regularly you wash your hair depends on your type of hair. For me as a type 4C girl, my hair needs a lot of moisture which it also loses quickly. As a result I condition wash my hair every two days.

It's a way for me to boost the moisture in my hair in between deep conditions. Again I also reviewed the gorgeous OGX Nourishing Coconut Milk Conditioner which you can check out here.

3. Deep Condition Once a Week

Given the constant flux of my day to day life, I deep condition my hair overnight. I use the TruCare Almond Oil and Henna Hair Mask and allow it to seep into my curls over night. You also get the same result with an hour to two hours of deep conditioning. Just put in the hair cream and stick on a movie.

Deep conditions give my hair a massive dose of moisture and my curls are always softer and wispy after I deep condition. It looks longer.

4. Protein Once Every 2 Weeks

I use to try to protein wash my hair every week but even with all the time in the world I just didn't want to spend a lot of time playing with my hair. And I found it simply worked better for me to protein wash my hair once every two weeks instead of weekly.

It was also beneficial for my ORS Hair Mayonnaise which is quite expensive. There are also DIY hair masks but I personally prefer using the ORS hair mayonnaise.

5. LCO

Leave-In Conditioner, Cream and Oil. The order in which I do my morning routine. I'm currently testing out the Cantu Leave in Conditioner & Cream, a review should be up in the next few weeks.

As my morning routine I spray my hair with some water. I apply some Leave-In Conditioner, then the moisturizing cream and finally some castor oil to seal it all in.
Basically everything I do is in the name off adding or saving moisture.

6. Twist Twist Twist

As a part of my night routine, twisting is essential. For me my curls can be quite difficult to manage once the shrinkage comes in and they start to lose moisture. What really helps me is twisting my hair before bed.

They don't have to be perfect. Sometimes I make big 4 part twists because it makes my life easier in the morning to LCO.
By twisting my hair I also reduce the any knotting that might occur because I get a chance to finger detangle my hair.

This is everything I currently do to take care of my hair. I'd love to add getting my split ends cut but currently I don't know anywhere I Dublin that is able to do this. I've tried barber shops but that was no help at all.

If anyone knows of anywhere is Dublin where I could get a trim for my split ends, I would be eternally grateful!!

But enough about me. Do you have any hair routines for the down times in your life? Anything you'd like to pass on?

Let me know below in the comments!

Till Next Time

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Couchsurfing in Milan

Dublin, Ireland

Following my post after seeing Call Me By Your Name in which I divulged my desire to travel somewhere for the weekend I visited Milan last December. Was it planned? Not entirely, the desire was there and when I started my study for Christmas exams, I knew I wouldn't want to be around the stressful exam season energy, I also didn't want to be cooped up in my house so I decided to go away to Milan.

I chose Milan for the main reason that it was quite cheap to travel at the time with Ryanair for just under €30. As it wasn't entirely planned in advance there was only so much I could do and I also needed to study for my exams while away without spending all my time cooped up in a house in a different country.

Therefore I decided to Couchsurf. It was my second time Couchsurfing following my time spent in London and just like before, it was a very memorable time I spent there.

I could travel the world alone and visit every place you see on a postcard but for me the times I've enjoyed my travels the most are the times I've met locals who have been able to show me around so I could experience their city just like a local. Which is why I think finding the right Couchsurfing host for you makes all the difference when it comes to using Couchsurfing. I wrote down a few tips I've used to find all my great hosts so far which you can find here.

Due to the length of time I had to plan the trip and the fact that the weekend I travelled was the beginning of the Christmas season in all of Italy, a time where most people leave cities like Milan to visit family, finding a place to stay was not...easy. However I stuck absolute gold and arranged to stay with two CS hosts, Michele and Sophie.

Within the three days and 4 nights spent in Milan, we shared a little small adventure after finding out by coincide both hosts lived in the same complex but had never ran into each other! From there most of our excursions were spent together.

Milan as a city is not a place I would've enjoyed if it had not been spent with these two individuals speaking Italian and English constantly. I returned to Ireland with my brain on Italian mode. It's quite similar to Dublin and definitely a competition for the cold ( I had to buy heated hand pads in Tiger on a snowy walk because it was so cold!). As a result there's not much to do in terms city that would've entertained me were I alone. But throw in Michele with his many friends we kept running into and some company for breakfast, lunch, dinner and Coldplay tribute bands and have a holiday like none other.

I enjoyed taking in Michele's vast knowledge of Milan and it's history. I arrived with no itinerary and Michele filled each day we had together with knowledge, tasty food and fun activities together. I even met a few other Couchsurfers because of him. We went to a gallery exhibition, explored Eataly and Milan's shopping districts, ate lots of Ciobar ( that's chocolate pizza and hot chocolate for free! ), went ice skating and even saw flamingos, in a private garden, in Milan at winter time! I also ate a lot of crepes!

Sophie introduced me to the Korean drama Goblin which took over my life once I returned to Dublin and I'd recommend it to anyone. She's also a great walker so we enjoyed a lovely evenings walk in Milan whilst it snowed and enjoyed some Aperitivo which is amazing cost saving idea where you pay for a drink and enjoy and all you can eat buffet for as little at €8 in some places. We went to Mas along The Naviglio Grande canal and paid €11 for a feast that was both delicious and filling. The restaurant was quite generous with their alcohol portions too.

Returning to Dublin was bittersweet as I truly was enjoying my time there and o also didn't want to sit my exam. However I'd done the work and needed to put it to the test, literally. In hindsight I think it's always a good idea to plan your trips a bit better before going to a different country and I'm lucky to have had such great hosts to fill in the time.

I'll be returning to Milan again to better explore it's countrysides and the snow covered mountains I could see from where I was staying. I think this trip was so much more about the people I met and speaking the language I love so much. Without Couchsurfing I'm not sure how memorable and experience it would've been and yet we did so much I still feel like I'm forgetting something! I also miss having Michele's photography skills to utilise! 

Have you visited Milan before? What did you think of it?

Let me know below in the comments.

Till Next Time


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Wednesday, 31 January 2018

PTBAAB: My Diet Is Making Me Sick

Dublin, Ireland

I haven't added to the Pretending To Be an Adult Being blog series in a while. This update is long overdue. Not sure what this is? PTBAAB is a blog series that documents the different aspects of life I'm encountering since moving out on my own. It begins here and continues below. Don't worry you can come back to this link.

Sitting on the bus home, feeling like a sardine in a can, nursing a headache that pierces into my eyes, I realise I'm just not doing enough to care for myself.

In a recent post on The Challenges of Balancing College and Full-Time Work, I talk about the check points I turn to when I become overwhelmed with general life and need to get back into the swing of things.

When it comes to my physical health, as they say your health is your wealth and if that's the case my body is my money maker ( not like that! ).

How I care for my body reflects in how well I am able to perform. Once again I find myself facing the shortcomings of my self-care routine

Admittedly the latest stumble to my everyday life has come in the form of illness. I've been sick since this year 2018 began. I spent all New Year's Day and most of the first week in bed. There was a brief week where things were good and now I'm back to illness.

A major part of this susceptibility to illness, I believe, is due to my current diet and not the cold season as could be expected of this time. Besides I only just bought my gorgeous new super warm coat which you can see in action here!

Late last year I revisited my diet which was in an appalling state. It had gotten so bad I hadn't eaten a fruit in nearly six months or cooked for three months! Cooking for myself is something I've more or less always done. When I was in my early teens I'd just cook with whatever was available to me. However since moving out I've had to be the one to go food shopping instead of my mum in order for there to be food in the cupboard or fridge. When I revisited my diet last year I found most of my consumption consisted of two daily take out meals with the occasional healthy option like Nandos thrown in. Although the nutritional value of even Nandos to sustain a healthy balanced diet is questionable.

Essentially I wasn't eating well at all. I really tried to work on this by introducing more fruit and veg into my diet. I tried to shop every week and not in bulk at the start of the month like I use to when I first moved out. This meant I wasn't logging heavy shopping bags the 20 minute walk between my house and Lidl which was always inevitably extended because I'd have to stop so many times for rest. It also meant I'd buy what I needed and not waste so much food and also money.

I stuck with this for quite a while but slowly the shopping stopped happening weekly or in any regular pattern. I ignored my own constant nagging to be healthier and locked myself into a false sense of accomplishment because I still bought a banana and nuts to keep my five-a-day. Never mind that those two food items don't amount to five or that one is nuts.

But as it shows, the disservice was to no one but myself. Now I haven't been as bad as I was last year but I wasn't all that good either.

Finding the time to prepare food is going to be one of my biggest challenges and I'm set to inevitably purchase a few tubaware dishes from Amazon real soon to keep all my prepared food fresh. I work and study in the city nearly an hour and a half away from my home which means I'll have a few early mornings or I'll have to prepare things the night before.

I don't want to make this a big change because that's not going to happen over night. I know it'll take a lot of hard work and test my time management skills and I'll have to get creative with my meals to keep things interesting.

I'm definitely not a fan of the set backs something as manageable as eating a good diet brings. My body feels weak, I have no energy, I can't even think or perform at the level I'd like and that's what I dislike the most.

I can do better and I will do better and any advice, tips or useful pennies worth you have, I will take.

Do you struggle with maintaining a good diet?

What are some of the tips you bank on or find to be useful? I'd love to read some!

Let me know in the comments.

Till Next Time

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Sunday, 28 January 2018


Irecently finished my bottle of OGX Nourishing Coconut Milk Conditioner which I purchased from Boots Pharmacy on sale nearly four months ago I believe.

I'm always trying new hair products to find the one that makes my luscious kinky curls happy. I've tried a few from Aussie Winter Miracle Shampoo and Remedy Deep Conditioner to Herbal Essence. It was the same with my deep conditioner until I found the TruCare Almond Oil and Henna deep conditioner which I believe every natural should at least try. 

I've since got my mum on the same deep conditioner for her natural hair which is very brittle and prone to breaking. She's just at the beginning of using it but I'm certain she'll start to see and feel Improvements soon.

I have also recommended her the OGX Nourishing Coconut Milk Shampoo and Conditioner and here's why.
I'm not sure if there's a set standard of measuring up products but these are the standards I went by.

This product is expensive, coming in between €11-€13 each depending on where you buy it. I bought these two are set on sale in Boots Pharmacy for around €15 total.

There are many other products out there below this cost bracket but, at least in Ireland, I find to get good products for natural hair, you're often paying a LOT more money than those in England or America. The natural hair market here doesn't compare to the English or American one at all. It's likely the same products here can be found much cheaper in a different country. This is why I tend to buy my hair products in bulk on sale with my additional Student discount.

Both the Shampoo and Conditioner are currently on sale in Boots for €6.86c for 385ml bottles!


For the price you are paying you'd expect some pretty good quality and I personally was not disappointed.

Shampoo Quality

I shampoo my hair once every two weeks to get rid of the deeper dirt and clean my scalp. The OGX shampoo not only left my hair feeling squeaky clean but I didn't have any of that rubbery, leather texture to my hair afterwards either. Even the shampoo seemed to trap water to moisturize my hair.
Some days I shampooed without conditioning if I wanted to deep condition later that day or the next morning. My hair would hold moisture for as long as 8 hours before feeling dehydrated which would give me time to run quick errands. This was especially helpful if I didn't want to hide a shower cap under a head wrap while walking around Lidl or Aldi.

Conditioner Quality

I really really enjoyed using this conditioner. If you take nothing from this post or can only afford either or, get the conditioner.

I felt my hair was loaded with moisture after each use of this conditioner. There were days where I'd wash my hair and leave the house with lovely juicy curls that glowed with health.


My hair's elasticity increased which was great the first day or two after a wash because my hair would look longer and held moisture. But by day three or four when I'd do my next co-wash the shrinkage was definitely real. With that said, my leave-in cream never gave me the same look as this conditioner on its own did.


As per usual my conditioner ran out before my shampoo because I co-wash a lot more than I shampoo my hair.

However it's taken nearly four to five months for the conditioner to run out and I still have approximately half of the shampoo bottle left.

You really don't need much of this product to do the trick. It's very thick but spreads very well and when put in sufficiently wet hair, it soaks up almost instantaneously. It also smells like luxury ( can that even be a smell?). There's a creamy, luxurious feel that's accompanied by an equally creamy coconut smell.

It'd take a very long time to run out of this product depending on use. I've been somewhat lazy with my hair this season but these products have helped me through the Autumn and Winter so far and I'll continue with the shampoo for the rest of the winter as I test out a new conditioner for the rest of the season. I'll tell you all about that when the time comes.

For this product I'd rate it a must have for any 4C girl who struggles with moisture and is as lazy ( or just not on top of thier game all the time ) as me. It makes Wash-and-Go so much easier and also beneficial to your hair and not just a quick moisture top up to buy yourself a few hours before the next top up.

Do you use either of these products or have you tried them?

What do you think of them? Let me know in the comments.

Till Next Time

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

January 2018 Playlist

Dublin, Ireland

About two years ago up I adopted the monthly playlist feature most other blogs run because it was always a fun post to write and it seemed people enjoyed discovering new music and getting some idea of what I was listening to that month. Sometimes I felt the monthly playlists described my month a bit more than my words could.

Also being someone that posts twice a week ( Wednesday mornings at 9am/Evenings at 5pm and Sunday mornings at 9am ) it's a great post for in between some of the serious topics I write about like one of my recent posts on racism.

This month has been full of changes for me. For starters it's a new year, I'm back in a relationship, I'm back in college after the Christmas break and balancing college work and full-time employment again, something I wrote about here

I've renewed my gym membership for an annual contract ( yup, I sold my soul ), starting new topics in this college semester, and I'm looking forward to the time I'll have to work on finishing my past projects, which is my goal for the year.

I've also gone out a lot this month, more than I did within the last 3-6 months of 2017 combined!

So in short January has seen a lot of changes and movement and there's still so much to look forward to so there's been a lot of excitement too. At the same time I've been incredibly tired from moving around so much, I'm cracking down on it though and will be back on track with sleep by the end of the week. I've also got a massage booked to help release some of the body tension and yes, I'd be jealous too!

I feel this playlist reflects how fun this month has been and also the downs of tiredness and alcohol induced headaches that I brought on myself.

Song   -    Artist

Drew Barrymore - Bryce Vine

Native Tongue - Quinn XCII

Intentions - Macklemore

South - Hippo Campus

Fever Pitch - Rainbow Kitten Surprise

Excavate - Macklemore

Agnes - Glass Animals

Spitshine - Smino


Body Smile - DVSN

Amphetamine - Smino

3WW - Alt-J

Devil Like Me - Rainbow Kitten Surprise

Glamorama - Bryce Vine

Candy Paint - Post Malone

Cocaine Jesus - Rainbow Kitten Surprise

Spice Girl - Aminé

I'll be adding to this throughout the rest of the month on my Spotify playlist below or you can check out my profile. I've also linked the Official YouTube videos above for those without Spotify.

My artist of the month would have to be Bryce Vine, I can't stop listening to him and when radios get their hands on his song Drew Barrymore, he's going to be BIG. Worth checking him out now so you're ahead of the flock.

What tunes have to been jamming to this month? Or perhaps you know some of the above, what's your opinion on them?

 Let me know in the comments!

Till Next Time

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Sunday, 21 January 2018

My Guinness Storehouse Experience

Dublin, Ireland

The Guinness Storehouse is ranked Ireland's No. 1 tourist attraction and up until last week Thursday, I'd never set foot in it. This is not a sponsored post as €17.50c came out of my own pocket for the ticket and the Storehouse, unsurprisingly, have no idea I will be writing about my visit. With that disclaimer out the way, shall we dive in.

Visiting the Guinness Storehouse is something I wanted to do sometime last year as a part of my Discovering Ireland blog series where I aim to share my Irish travels. Being an immigrant to the country there's still so much I have to learn despite having lived here almost eleven years.

I visited the storehouse with friends and it served as a great way to fill the day learning something new and catching up with each other. It's also a great date idea for when you get to meet your bestie's boyfriend for the first time!


At €17.50c student discount I think the tour is quite reasonably priced. The factory holds a lot of history and information about the Guinness factory and the people that built and continue to keep it thriving today.

There are also certain times throughout the day where adult tickets, when booked online, are €17.50c. They're not all awkward early hours either, when we visited I checked the adult tickets and afternoon times between 15:00 to close and around12 noon were the same as student prices.


Up until turning up to it's gates, I had no idea where the Storehouse tour location was. I mean I'm pretty sure I saw one of it's gates along the quays on my way back from my the Cliffs of Moher tour but I don't know if I'm right about it even now. With the help of Google maps I was able to find it with no issue from the bus stop on James Street, Echlin Street. Buses 123, 40 and 13 all stop there. Other buses may also pass near by with a short walk to make it all the way. My friends who walked from Dame Street, City Centre did it in about 35-40 minutes so cycling would be maybe half that time.

Walking up to te building I felt and thought I was definitely getting lost but once you see one of those infamous Guinness gates, you'll know you're going in the right direction. Hopefully you'll have a less foggy day so things will be a lot easier to see.


The Guinness Storehouse has a very easy to follow layout with information all over the place on the walls or via interactive screens. A part of me wishes we had been a part of a group tour because I feel like a lot more of the information would've gone in if I had someone telling me instead of moving along. I'd have loved to read every single piece of information available but I was far too conscious of holding behind my group of friends and then the other group of people who started their tour at the same time at us.

If you're planning to visit and actually learn about the factory, I'd recommend giving yourself lots of time to be able to stop and read or watch all the little bits of information available to you. They are all quite interesting too. Maybe go alone or bring someone who is will be just as interested or willing to wait around on you.

There are lots of fun facts and mad bits you pick up like Olivia Guinness having 21 kids therefore being pregnant for 16 years! Or equally fascinating as the one above.


After going up what feels like five floors, you arrive at the 2nd floor for your tasting. In this part you get to smell some lovely and some not so lovely vaporised air and you have a rep to give you some fun facts and a little more history about Guinness. You may be queueing about 2-5 minutes for there to be enough  people to become a tasting group but it's totally worth the little shot of Guinness you get and you also get to learn how to drink Guinness the right way. Yup, there's a rihght way to drink Guinness, who knew?

 As this is the last part of the main tour, you'll have an option between using your voucher attached to the ticket on the 4th floor where you learn to pull your own pint or the 7th floor which occupies the gravity bar.


Gravity Bar

Needless to say we chose the gravity bar wanting to see these "breathtaking" sites of Dublin City. Unfortunately for us, we chose quite a foggy day to visit and so I have absolutely no pictures or idea what the site would've looked like. However I was not disappointed. Up in the gravity bar soaking up the lively atmosphere of tourists and locals like ourselves, as well as our complimentary pints of Guinness and Hop House 13, the day couldn't have been more perfect for us.There were even Shamrock shapes on top of the Guinness pints! I didn't think a pint of Guinness could get any more Irish.

We ended it off with a trip to Bunsen for some dinner and even now thinking about that day brings a sense of fondness for my friends and the memories we're making together.

I certainly wouldn't turn down another opportunity to visit the storehouse to take in some more knowledge and besides, I need to have my breath taken away by the amazing views from the 360° gravity bar.

Have you ever been to the Guinness Storehouse? What was your experience like? 

Let me know below!

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Till Next Time

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Coolest Monkey in the Jungle

Dublin, Ireland

Five words, one sentence, uproar.

In case the title of this post doesn't immediately tell you what I'll be talking about today, then I'll fill you in. H&M recently released, and pulled, a piece of clothing from their latest children's collection. This said garment cause outrage because of the sentence written on the garment and it's relation to the black child model wearing it. You can find the image and more about the story here.

It is common knowledge that the word "monkey" has been used as a racial slur against black people for many years even till this day. I myself have been subjected to this insult and needless to say, I also know other black people have been on the receiving end of this hurtful insult.

Monkeys are incredibly smart animals however the insult, for me, lies in the lack of recognition of your identity as a person, a fellow human being, of flesh and bones and blood like every other human.

However, and I speak solely for myself, I do not find the H&M campaign or advertisement, racist. For me racism comes with intentionality and until proven otherwise, I can see no intention behind the circumstances that led this black child model to wear a hoodie that featured a sentence with the word "Monkey" in it.

When I initially sat down to write this blog post last week, I was immediately conflicted between what I thought of the issue, what the media portrayed and the questions that other people's comments, articles, Facebook posts and such suggested raised in my mind.

I didn't want to be an angry black woman seething that things were being blown out of proportion but I also didn't want to be a complacent black woman on an issue that, if not to me directly, would change the fabric of the world I live in today. That change for better or worse would eventually affect the way I move in this world because of how others' perspectives would be shaped by it. With this is mind I knew there was only one thing left to do.

Before I decided to actually write and publish my thoughts on this issue, I had already thrown the idea out once. I was afraid of what people would think and that I wouldn't be able to defend my opinions and the truth is, I wouldn't have been able to defend my opinions because I hadn't taken the time to understand the thoughts or opinions of others.

Why was it so many people were offended by something that to my eyes was completely innocent?

Obviously the people at H&M aren't calling this child a monkey! If anyone sees this child and thinks by having the word monkey written on a jumper they are being racially insulted, surely that's more a reflection on their negative perspective that's still stuck on dragging into the present a dark past?

And yet I didn't feel right in my opinion but I didn't feel wrong either, I simply felt... uneducated. So I decided to dive in and see what I could learn. I reached out to all the black people I could for some schooling and I was not disappointed.

I discovered and learned to see from the many different perspectives people have taken on this issue and question things that hadn't occurred to me prior to these conversations and finally I was able to develop and build and come to a final opinion that feels right to me and my situation.

I enjoyed and learned so much from talking to those around me and getting informed and now I'd like to share my opinion on the matter.

Like I said before, I am not personally offended by the H&M garment or ad and prior to speaking with all the people I did, 19 in total ( and yes I was 100% interested in each person's genuine response ), I did not agree that it was racist. At best, it would be 'possibly' insensitive.

In my mind, there was no racial intention therefore it could not be racist and seeing as neither the child, who is old enough to know the racial connotations of being called a monkey, or his mother ever felt the garment was chosen for it's racial connotations, the offense was then on the part of the viewer and not an insensitivity on the part of H&M.

However, and this is the most important part...I was wrong!

My main problem lied in the fact that I could not easily understand how people could be so offended by the ad. I mean yes if H&M had been calling the child a monkey it would be racist but they weren't. If the model had been of a different race there would've been no issue and I'm sure black people would've bought these for their children or nephews/nieces without thinking about the racial element because I would have. There certainly would've been no outcry so what's the big deal!?

It's so easy to fall into wanting to convince someone to see from your perspective and how right you are that you fail to take into consideration the other person's point of view. When I initially formed my opinion on this topic, I was thinking selfishly. In talking to people about what they thought and felt personally about this issue I learned the biggest flaw in my initial opinion and why I would never have been able to defend it. I was being selfish. A selfishness based on my own experiences.

Given my personal nature of dealing with the past and moving on, I harbor no anger from the years of racism I received when I initially moved to Ireland. I'm over the egging of our house, being chased home, taunted, the harsh words etc. I've dealt with the big things and deal with the little things I encounter now.

I personally now in my life do not encounter a quarter the racism I did 8 years ago even in a month, dare I say a year but the difference is that some people still do. Racial tensions are incredibly high in society right now because black people are FINALLY able to express the anger and hurt that they have endured for hundreds of years which were still horrendous even up until forty years ago.

The hundreds of years of our dark, hurtful past has shaped a society that is still stacked against black people and other people of color. We fight a conditioned society every single day and for some people the reminders and hurt is very much present and painful. And for the first time in maaaany years people are able to express that.

Being called a "black monkey" may be something I experienced a few years ago but for someone else it may have been 5 minutes, days, weeks ago. The years of work that has gone into media representation alone  of black people is only just  beginning to break the surface. There are still so many challenges faced by black people and depending on where you live and your personal experience, your perspective of black issues will vary to some degree.

Therefore I can now say I understand the definite insensitivity of the ad and the offense someone can take to it because offense is taken on a personal level based on ones perspectives, experiences and opinions.

I could feel no offense to the ad because for me it did not strike up any hurtful memories or feelings. I had moved on from anything that could hurt me but there are billions of black people who's painful wounds of racism haven't healed. And as I was reminded, it would be selfish of me to expect people to move on like I have when they have not yet finished their healing process. And healing takes time and expression of emotions that were repressed.

Black people and other minorities have yet to receive an apology for the tragic and dark history that lingers not so far behind present day. Wounds are still raw, if not for me personally or those born outside of the time, the wounds are carried on and grieved for those who lived it and could not grieve it then.

There are people who's entire identities are based in these tragic times and yes they also need time to move on therefore it would be selfish of me and anyone else to think them wrong or try to convince them otherwise because of how we feel about it.

With that said there is just one thing about this entire controversy that I simply cannot stand by to be done in my name as a black person.

What happened in South Africa was a crime and I do believe is something that reflects well on the issue at all.

If anything H&M's lack of racial sensitivity would present a learning opportunity and one that could have been achieved by explaining and educating people on why such a seemingly innocent thing can be so hurtful and insensitive. However resulting to violence benefits no one and teaches nothing.

It is actions like these that blows a learning opportunity completely out of proportion. Things have been taken a tad too far and o for one do not support it. I never wanted to see thrashed up stores on the front pages of a newspapers next to a title that speaks of a fight against racism. The only message I see lies in the actions of the people.

At the end of the day H&M have accepted their mistake and apologised ( of course an apology is only worth as much as the actions that follow) and it would have been the perfect time to turn to the cameras that are pointed on the issue and share a much needed lesson on black issues to the world. But what is out there now is a mess. This apology has fallen on some stubborn ears and hearts and the issue continues to escalate.

There is no reason why a family should have to move home for security reasons because they do not agree with something even if they are at the centre of it! What kind of message does it send that black people are fighting each other instead of working to educate others? How does this benefit a fight towards a less discriminating world?

I can't help but question the motives behind any racial respect that comes from this controversy. Will it be out of understanding or fear? H&M have since the incident  hired a diversity leader in an act I can only see as a way to protect themselves from something like this happening ever again. I believe they have learned a lesson from this but what that lesson is will only be revealed in time. Have they understood why thier thier garment truly offended people are the acting out of fear? What will these reactions of disproportionate anger alter the fabric of the world we live in now?

Celebrities ending partnerships or boycotting the brand? What's that going to do to a huge corporate group like H&M? They'll lose some money and you'll look great defending your personal values and morals ( which I support) but the world would learn so much more from an explanation of your pain than your condemnation. At least that's how I've come to see it.

In my quest for better understanding, I've experienced how the lack in education about black history greatly undermined my own opinion and how with better education, thoughts become informed and therefore can translate to action. However without this education, we only have time and issues like these, which are nowhere near as big as other more pressing racial issues, to raise a platform for a conversation about such a serious topic.

I feel saddened by my new found perspective but I am inspired to learn more, not allow the media to influence or inform my opinion and to share what I learn with others as a way of passing on some knowledge.

I am so grateful for all the people who shared their thoughts and feelings on the issue with me and helped me to see it from their point of view.

I also hope in my short education by these people some of you reading this have been able to learn something.

If you'd like to add something or even share your own opinion with me, I'm available on any of my social media and I'd love to talk and learn some more! And a conversation that's always happening whether in the media lime light or off it and it's one I'd like to keep going.

You can also let me know in the comments!

Till Next Time

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