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The Podcasts I’m Recommending To My Mates

The Podcasts I’m Recommending To My Mates

Confession: I am not good in total silence.

If ever a quiet moment falls during a shared car ride I find myself frantically brainstorming conversation topics in the hope to resurrect sound again. Even in yoga I cling to the sounds around me when we’re supposed to be training our minds to be clear – I would not do well on a silent retreat at all.

Podcasts have been a huge saviour for me when I’m in need of something to fill the silence throughout the day. They are now the soundtrack to my daily life,  as reliable as a conversation with friends. I’m not the only one tuning in either because around 6 million in the UK are now listening to podcasts each week which has led to everyone and their mother launching one (quite literally the case for Jessie Ware and her Mum). There is an overwhelming amount of series out there now and choosing one has become the equivalent to mindlessly scrolling through TV channels – which one do you choose?

To help make your choice a little easier, I’ve created a handy list of podcasts I’ve become dedicated to and have been begging my friends to listen to along with me. There’s one for pretty much any mood you’re in so all you need to do is listen and let me know which one is your favourite 🙂

If there’s any great ones that you think I missed out on then please share in the comments, I’m always on the look out for more!

When you feel like a break from all the Brexit crap and need to restore your faith in humanity…

Love Stories – Dolly Alderton

Dolly launched this podcast alongside her memoir ‘Everything I Know About Love’ and it’s a beautiful collection of conversations with folk about the relationships that have made them. I recently listened to an episode she did with Stanley Tucci and had a wee happy cry in the middle of tidying my bedroom and have been bingeing the other episodes since.

Happy Place – Fearne Cotton 

This is a super popular podcast so you may already be a fan but for those few of you that haven’t listened to this one: it’s awesome. It’s filled with useful advice from experts who can help when you’re feeling blue and need to see the simple joy in everyday life. I always feel a little better about the world after listening so I highly recommend it to help get you through the current nightmare that is life in the UK.

Table Manners – Jessie Ware & her Mum, Lennie

I mentioned this one earlier and really it’s one of my favourites when I just need some simple conversation to chill out to. It’s a great one when I’m cooking because it kind of feels like I’m in the room with them as they’re taking about food. Jessie and her Mum are warm and familiar,  it’s like sitting around the table with old friends ( I especially loved the episode with Nigella because she is a freakin’ goddess).

Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations – Oprah “This Woman Can Do No Wrong” Winfrey

Of course Oprah would make a podcast, everything that comes out of her mouth feels pregnant with wisdom and understanding. This podcast is a brilliant one for the airplane when you’re anxiety is up a little and you need a soothing voice to keep you from thinking how mental it is that you’re 30000 feet above ground (or is that just me?). She has a great selection of guests from Gloria Steinem to Michelle Obama who all have such great advice for navigating the obstacles in life and how to learn from them.

When you need some advice from your girlfriends about work and how to succeed like the badass you know you can be…

Ctrl Alt Delete – Emma Gannon

Emma started this podcast after she released her book of the same name a few years ago and it’s still one of my favourites. She describes the podcast as a conversation with different guests about their relationship with the internet but each episode manages to empower me in managing my own career path with more authority. She’s had some pretty amazing women as guests across all 4 series who are so inspiring in their own fields and can act as your own mentor when you need it most.

How to Own the Room – Viv Groskop

As a woman with a strong Irish accent working for a global investment bank, it felt like this podcast was created just for me! I have to lead conference calls with seniors from all of the world as part of my job, many of whom speak English as a second language. I was terrified in the beginning because I was asked a few times to repeat myself which would only fluster me all the more and this podcast was super helpful at teaching me techniques in how to feel more confident within myself. I recommend the series to those of you who are struggling to have your voice heard in work and will teach to lead with more assuredness than you realised you even had.

Goal Digger – Jenna Kutcher

I started reading Jenna’s blog a few years ago when I was trying to learn about marketing on Instagram and Pinterest and while she’s a complete guru in this area, her podcast is full of knowledge that will help you in all areas of life. I’m a fairly scatty person, in fact I would imagine that’s the first word people I know would use to describe me, and I struggle to maintain focus on personal and professional goals. Jenna provides such useful advice on how to apply these goals not just in business but also in relationships and mental health too. Word of warning, she is SUPER American in the cheeriest sense and for us Irish it can be hard to shake off the cynicism but I implore you to shake it off. Shake. Shake. Shake it off (please say you got the T-Swift reference…)

The Guilty Feminist

This show is like one of those brain hugs I get after an hours long conversation with my mates over a few glasses of wine on the rare Saturday we’re all free. The series covers a wide range of topics that prompt such insightful discussions; sexuality, the choice to not have children, how to handle criticism, what it means to be feminine. Each conversation is fascinating and feels like this wee secret safe space where opinions are expressed in a way that isn’t facilitated as often as it should be.

When you feel brave enough to learn about what’s going on in the big wide world…

The Blindboy Podcast – Blindboy from The Rubberbandits

If you’re familiar with the Irish anti-establishment rap duo The Rubberbandits (aye, those lads with the plastic bags over their heads), then I’m sure you would have heard of this podcast floating about. Blindboy, one half of The Rubberbandits, launched the podcast back in October 2017 and since then it has become one of the most popular podcasts in both Ireland and the UK. Blindboy has been described as a voice for his generation and by God the man is articulate. He has such a talent for condensing complex political issues in to what feels like a conversation down the pub (albeit a very eloquent stoner kind of one). His use of language and the huge range in topics that he covers (he’s fond of going on a bit of a tangent but it’s worth going along with it) means that just about anyone can listen and learn something. He also has Cillian Murphy on as a guest and I mean I would listen to him snore if I could.

About Race – Reni Eddo-Lodge

This podcast could be described as an extension of Reni’s book, ‘Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race’ as she continues the important conversations around racism in modern society. At a time when the subject of white privilege is finally being discussed within mainstream media, I felt it was necessary for me, as a white person, to do the work and educate myself on what it means to benefit from white privilege. Despite only recently launching the podcast in March, the podcast has been a big hit and has helped bring the topic of racism in to the public conscience. She also recommends other podcasts from POC on her website which I found really helpful.

The High Low – Dolly Alderton & Pandora Sykes

OK I know that I’ve already another of Dolly’s podcasts in the list but honestly this show is perfect when you need a bit of light briefing on what’s going on in current affairs. The hosts are a fast-talking whirlwind who go from talking about the Kardashians one minute to the Suffragette movement the next with an ease I thought only my own mates could manage. The pair are obviously friends because they seem to be able to talk about anything that comes to mind which makes for great listening. I’ve now taken to listening to the pair on my commute when I want to be kept informed but in a gentle way that won’t scare me too early in the day.

Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness – JVN

It’s no surprise that JVN was and still is a hairdresser because honestly it feels like I should have my head in a sink anytime I’m listening to him. He has been a breath of fresh (h)air in so many ways but the thing I love most about him is how interested he is in just about anything. He welcomes experts who have a wealth of knowledge in their field and is able to hold conversations in a way that allows for us regular folk to feel empowered and engaged with current events. He’ll also transform your vocabulary in a way you never imagined – can you believe?!

For when you want to listen to a true story that will either scare the bejaysus out of you or make you wonder if all people are secretly crazy…

Criminal – Phoebe Judge

Phoebe Judge has a voice so pacifying that it’s rare that I last more than a few minutes in to an episode before I’m lulled in to sleep. Which is weird because most of the stories that Phoebe narrates are definitely not for bedtime. This podcast is so addictive though and the stories are so bizarre it’s hard to believe they’re actually true. Definitely a good series to listen to on holiday!

Dr Death – Wondery 

Dr Death was one of the most popular true crime podcasts of last year and one that Andrew and I binged during a road trip. At the end of each episode we would turn to each other with mouths gaping and would just click on through to the next one to find out what happened next. A few words of advice though: if you already have a fear of doctors then you will definitely not feel great about them after this podcast.

In The Dark – APM Reports

I discovered this podcast while in Italy last year and instead of reading the book I took with me, I blasted through both series in the space of a week. Each series centres around two different true crime cases that highlight systemic problems within law enforcement and failures within the justice system in America. The reporting in both series is astounding with the first series winning the Peabody award back in 2016. It’s my favourite true crime series and the one I will always recommend to podcast newbies.

Root of Evil – TNT

I wasn’t even going to share this one because honestly, the content can be so disturbing at times that even I have found myself having to pause for a little while to get a breather. The podcast might be unsettling at times but it is so fascinating especially since it involves one of America’s most famous unsolved murders. If your new to podcasts then I would maybe build up to this series but if you are already a true crime fan then this will definitely not disappoint.

What Not To Worry About #41

What Not To Worry About #41

Hello friends! How are we feeling this Monday? There is a definite nip in the air in the mornings isn’t there? I’m finding myself getting out of bed a little slower, with one foot out first, tentatively testing the floor to check it’s not too cold before retreating back under the covers for just a few more minutes. The clocks are due to go forward this Saturday so the mornings will be even darker and the bed will feel even toastier I am sure. I might just have to start treating myself to a warm porridge to lure me out, with lots and lots of honey of course.

I hope your weekend was a good one despite Brian trying to out-do Ophelia with more wind and rain! Shannon (my little sister) and I had trotted down to Dublin for the weekend but the weather made it pretty difficult to see where we were going never mind actually seeing the pretty buildings. Fortunately Dublin isn’t short of cosy pubs to dry off in so we spent a few hours warming up between dodging puddles so we can’t complain too much.

In spite of the weather we still had a ball exploring Dublin and most of all, enjoying the wee luxuries that came with staying in the Merrion Hotel, a pretty swish hotel in the centre of town. The stay was a birthday gift from Shannon and my Dad and it was so exciting to feel like an aristocrat for 24 hours; the doorman welcoming us in, the concierge delivering our suitcases to our room, a little birthday tart waiting for us by our bed (the dessert you filthy minx!). Of course this is not the life we are used to so we lapped up every second and took a million photos of it all because if you don’t Instagram it, it hasn’t actually happened right?!

The most stylish elderly couple walking arm in arm (I had to take a photo!)

Luckily the weather cleared up on Sunday and we went for a mosey around St. Stephen’s Green, admiring elegant couples and ivy clad walls. After making a final stop in O’Donoghue’s (the birthplace of The Dubliners whose portraits you can find hanging on the walls), we drove down to the Powerscourt Hotel to admire the estate and the hills, bracing the chilly winds for a few seconds to snap a few photos before running back to the car. It’s a beautiful part of Ireland, so rugged and wild it’s hard to believe you’re only a half hour’s drive from the city. We promised ourselves that the next time we pretend to be fancy we will do it in this hotel and run about the heather like we’re in a Brontë novel.

Our doorman

Alas, we are back to porridge today and with that in mind, I have another weekly roundup of the unnecessary worries that I am letting go of for good. Feel free to borrow some of mine or even better, tell me some of yours? Would love to know!!

Choosing ethical clothing – in last week’s post I mentioned taking a few photos with my pal Mel Wiggins who is an inspiration to anyone who is wanting to make more ethical purchases when buying clothes. Sometimes we can really stress ourselves out when we go shopping, worrying if we’re contributing in any way to an industry that exploits the vulnerable & impoverished. This is where Mel steps in and introduces businesses that are doing it the right way and who are producing beautiful clothing that will save our conscience. Have a look at her latest post for more information including the photos we took while dandering around the Argory 🙂

Providing Hallowe’en treats – I LOVE Hallowe’en so it’s no surprise that I thoroughly enjoy decorating the house a little in preparation for the little visitors that descend upon the house searching for treats. Last year Andrew put a sheet up on the front window and had a scary projector show which amused the adults way more than the kids so we’ll be keeping that tradition up this year. Also, I’m going to be trying my hand at these bad boys to try and shake up the usual habit of buying a multipack of sweets that I just end up eating myself anyway!

Repetitive breakfasts – I am so boring when it comes to breakfasts! I have the same thing almost every day; granola, almond milk and chopped berries. Now that we’re approaching the dark and cold mornings I have decided I am going to start making porridge although I haven’t made it in years. Is there a good receipt to use that you’d recommend? Who does the best oats?? It’s the type of thing I should be ringing my Granny for!

Lack of documentaries – I have loved watching Louis Theroux’s new ‘Dark States’ series which has provided an incredible insight in to working class poverty in America. The series has finished now but the new series of Blue Planet will be starting this week and I am so so so excited to hear David Attenborough’s grandfatherly voice coming out of my TV, sharing the most amazing footage of the deep blue. Hans Zimmer has provided the score for the series too so no doubt I’ll be an emotional wreck after each episode!

Having a poor bedtime routine – my bedtime routine is something along the lines of: take off make up (un)properly, brush teeth, take a book to bed in the hope that I’ll actually read it (and then end up scrolling through social media for a half hour) and try to have a normal conversation with Andrew before passing out. Not too impressive is it? Reading this article gave me new inspiration – and a good laugh too!!

 

Have a great week folks!! x

What Not To Worry About #9

What Not To Worry About #9

This wee blog has been feeling a tad neglected recently and it’s all because my motivation has completely disintegrated these last few weeks. I’m not sure if it’s because winter has well and truly settled in and dark evenings by the fire are sending me in to a deep coma dominated by tea and chocolate but my energy has been thwarted. I’m also terrible at admitting times when CF is affecting me more than it usually does because I hate feeling the littlest bit defeated but I’m raising the white flag and declaring that I’m wrecked.

 

It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed when our health feels jeopardised isn’t it? We turn in to the self-pitying, mummy-needing worst version of ourselves when we’re feeling low and the smallest things can turn in to monsters we want to hide from. I struggle with this because I’m so used to having a headful of plans but again, this is another opportunity to be easier on myself. Winter after all is the season for hibernation and that should be embraced not dreaded! I need to dive deep and pioritise things that make me happy; crafts, baking, reading. Mother Nature and my body are telling me to slow down and it’s about time I listened.

 

It should be no real surprise to me that I’m so knackered because the last month has been manic as I played my role as the hostess with the mostess. Holly, my Aussie visitor (fun fact: she’s actually from New Zealand but she lives in Australia where we met and became besties – probably didn’t need to know that but I felt obligated to share!), was with me for just under a month and because I have this ridiculous need to make people love Ireland as much as I do, I had to show her everything I could. We’ve had trips to Cork, Donegal, the Mournes, Armagh, Belfast and then we flew to Copenhagen for a few days over the weekend (I’ll be writing a separate post about that trip because I need more space to profess my love of the Danes). JAM PACKED.

 

Now that I have packed away my hosting hat, I’m dedicated to spending as much time indoors as possible and wearing flannel pyjamas at every opportunity. This week, as well as allowing myself to get over this low spell, I refuse to let the following bother me…

 

Christmas Decorations – I reckon there are a group of elves somewhere with their wee houses littered with lost decorations. Where do they go?? And why, in a whole string of lights, is there one pesky bulb that decides to not work?? Just cover up the dark patches with more baubles I say. Can’t have too many baubles.

 

Wrinkles – They seem to have come out of nowhere but now when I see photos of myself all I can see are eyebags that take up my entire face. What’s even more depressing is that this is only the beginning (wah!) so I guess I’ll be making a hefty purchase of Olay this Christmas or whatever potions the aul dolls are buying these days.

 

Infant Neighbours – We live next door to a very cute human called Heidi. Heidi is two now and just loves to wake up at 6am to tell us stories from the other side of the wall using noises which can only be described as a cat being strangled. Heidi is on thin ice.

 

Pop Music – As well as wrinkles making me feel ancient, the crap that’s on the radio is driving me mental! I’ve now entered the Radio 2 phase which must mean I’m officially past it. What I can also listen to quite happily is Breakfast Republic on RTE 2FM – the hosts have me in stitches every morning which makes me look like a crazed woman in the early rush hour. If you haven’t listened to the show – DO IT!

 

Email Etiquette – In my job I have to email some pretty intimidating big wigs and when they reply with LOL or 🙂 or mwah, I haven’t a notion what to do next! Should I give a wink? LMFAO?? The pressure is too much.

 

I hope your week is wonderful and festive! I’m just after watching Andrew bake a yule log and I get to lick the bowl so everything is looking up here!

What Not To Worry About #5

What Not To Worry About #5

Happy Monday folks!

 

I have to admit, waking up in a cottage by the sea in Cork is not a bad way to start a week! We’ve been lucky to call this place home for the last few days while we’ve been enjoying the Jazz Festival and taking mini excursions before cosying up by the best log fire of all time in the evenings. It’s been pretty wonderful!

 

Andrew and I are firm believers in the importance of getting away for a few days to shower the head and completely unwinding from normal daily stresses. This doesn’t mean paying out bucket loads for a city break or flying away but just packing up the car and taking off to a cottage somewhere that doesn’t cost a fortune and definitely less than a night out in the city. This wee cottage in Cork has been a real gem and only cost us 90 euro for 3 nights – bargain!

 

After a very chilled out weekend I feel refreshed but I’m fully aware that once I step back in to the house this evening I will start searching for things to stress me out e.g. no food in the house, have I got clean clothes for work tomorrow, blah blah shite. I think in the back of my mind though I’m conscious of a more important date that’s coming up soon which is my sister’s anniversary. On Saturday it will be 6 years since Amy passed and it’s hard to say whether that time has flown or it feels too short.

 

Grief is a weird thing and for me it can’t be measured by time because it doesn’t actually get easier, I think we just grow accustomed to the pain. I will be writing a post later in the week about how grief has affected me in my life because although I know no two experiences are the same, it’s always nice to read that we’re not alone in those moments where it all feels a little scary.

 

This week I am going to go extra easy on myself because I know certain things might be a little more frustrating than usual. Here’s a few I’m going to try out…

 

Not calling my friends enough – I always get the guilts when I realised I haven’t spoken to a friend in a while but the truth is I’m terrible on the phone. I much prefer frequent emails and then a good long catch up in person but I need to put my effort in with phonecalls.

 

Cancelling a yoga class an hour after booking it – I do this at least once a month and give myself crap about it after. It’s just so hard once I’ve had dinner and find myself barricaded with cosy blankets. Ain’t my fault.

 

Having chicken for dinner 3 nights in a row – Might be seen as a lack of imagination but I will choose to view at as a choice made by someone who just really likes chicken.

 

Traffic Karma – I worry about being a bad person when I refuse to let the learners or the elderly out in front of me but the truth is I just don’t have the patience to be a nice person on the way to work in the mornings!

 

Expecting too much from myself – I am definitely going to apply this to my life more especially this week. Instead if I don’t have the energy to cook or clean, I just won’t that day.

 

So, those are the things that I will refuse to get in to my head and fester in to needless worriment this week! What are the silly worries you’re choosing to give up today? Would love to hear them!

 

Have a super duper week 🙂

What Not To Worry About #2

What Not To Worry About #2

How the flip did it get to Monday so quickly?! The weekend seemed to be over in a blink of an eye and I’m now staring down the barrel of a week full of gatherings, writing and evenings spent crafting candles for the winter.

This week in the series of things I think we need to stop caring so much about, I’m focusing on the importance of mental wellbeing. Today is World Mental Health Day so it’s a good opportunity to take time to give ourselves a pat on the back for getting up on this dark, grey Monday morning and dressing up as responsible adults. It’s not always easy and we should all understand that’s OK to feel a little overwhelmed by the tiniest of adulting, especially on a Monday when we feel like delicate little flowers.

Here’s a few things I am choosing to not get me down or fester in the back of my overactive brain this week – or altogether!

Going to the gym just so I can eat a bowl of popcorn and not feel guilty – food is a huge motivator in my regime and I’m not afraid to share that

Hashtagging too much on Instagram – I only wish I could hashtag more but unfortunately for me (and fortunately for my followers) there is a limit

Filling every evening with activities – I give myself the guilts when I do nothing in the evenings other than cook dinner but I’m starting to realise that just hanging out with Andrew watching The Fall is just as productive as an evening crafting, baking or going out

Not changing the bed sheets every week –  I sometimes let this slide I admit but now we’re in to autumn and the days of drying outside are pretty much over, I try not to have a continual rotation of sheets hanging in the living room and feel like we live in a laundry

Being cheerful – I’m a pretty happy person the majority of the time but sometimes I don’t always feel like smiling or being super nice to everyone. We all try to be the best version of ourselves every day but putting on a mask can be tiring and it shouldn’t be a weakness to be true to yourself and tell people how you’re actually feeling. I’m not saying you should spill your guts out to the person serving you your lunch but maybe when you see a friend this week or a colleague in work picks up that you might be a little stressed, let them know if you’re not in the best of tune because there is nothing wrong with honesty.

 

I hope your week is a great one and maybe in the spirit of Mental Healthy Day you can try to be a little kinder to yourself, even for a day. Because if we’re kinder to ourselves we can be kinder to others and there is absolutely no harm in that 🙂

 

Have a great week!

10 Tips for Traveling in Cuba

10 Tips for Traveling in Cuba

In September last year Andrew and I went on the trip of a lifetime to Cuba. It’s a trip we always reminisce about and we will always compare all our other adventures to this one. It was a place I had wanted to visit for a very long time and since the embargo was lifted with the US that year, we both knew it was important to see the country before the westernisation began.

We packed a lot in the fortnight we were away and at the time we thought that maybe we were doing too much but we have absolutely no regrets. We moved around a lot but it was the only way to really get the feel of the island and to know we saw as much as we could.

I’ll break the trip in to five different posts according to the different places we stayed to make it easier to find any tips for the adventure you might be planning. The trip taught us a few wee things along the way so hopefully we might of some help!!

A few tips to get you started are:

  1. Cuba had no AirBnB at the time of our trip but I think they now have it up and running. I would recommend maybe booking the first few days of your trip but leave some flexibility as you might really enjoy certain areas and because you will have little to no access to internet you can’t cancel bookings online. There are lots of casas in every town so you will always find somewhere, we usually booked our next casa through the one were staying at the time. It seems the whole island has a relative in the next town and it’s a great way to meet families and get a better deal.
  2. About the internet thing – be prepared for zero access. The only time we got to use the internet was in Varadero when we were at an all-inclusive resort. Even at that, there was no wifi but a computer room that reminded me of primary school and it took a good 10 minutes to get connected. The only reason I wanted to use it was because it was my birthday and I wanted to see messages from home but we really enjoyed using maps and our instincts to get us around – way more exciting!!
  3. Don’t change your money at the airport. We experienced our first scam here when we landed and had a few quid taken off us. Not a huge problem because we weren’t changing a lot of money but I would recommend maybe getting enough changed for the transport in to Havana and then getting the rest changed in the city.
  4. Learn as much Spanish as possible – we were told this before we left and I swiftly downloaded the Duolingo app about a month before the trip. I wasn’t as strict with myself as I should’ve been which was unfortunate because I think we would have gotten so much more out of meeting local people if we had have known more Spanish. We stayed with quite a few locals who were among the friendliest and most open people we have ever met but a fair few of them had limited English which meant our conversations were limited too.
  5. Bring as many cigars home with you as you can. We only brought home 5 each and I regret not bringing home more because we saw them rolled and were walking the fields where the tobacco was grown. Rookie error!!
  6. There are very little shops that sell snack foods, especially when you leave Havana. For those long car journeys make sure to bring some things to munch along the way! We brought some things along with us from Ireland but they barely got us through the first week. We did find somewhere that sold Pringles but the cost is incredibly inflated. Make sure and take whatever fruit you couldn’t finish at breakfast as well!
  7. Be prepared to travel in dodgy cars if you want to travel on a budget. We travelled in a lot of beautiful Chevrolets for very little cash but for the longer journeys make sure to use cars that look like they won’t burst in to flames when going more than 40 mph. When we travelled from Viñales to Trinidad we travelled in a Peugeot 407 which seemed a lot safer until the driver insisting on sticking the footpedal to the floor for the whole journey. Poor Andrew was terrified for the majority of the journey.
  8. Make sure to pack a mini first aid kit with bandages, cream for blisters, chaffing and burns and bug spray. Another idea would be to pack long trousers for any horse treks because we were idiots and only had shorts and our legs and feet were ruined after them!
  9. There isn’t a wide variety of cuisines here due to the limitations on trade and private enterprise. The food, especially when cooked at the Casa you stay in, can be very tasty, especially the seafood! We dined like kings on lobster but after a while it can be a bit repetitive.
  10. Take as many photos as possible. We took nearly 2000 photos and I still regret not taking more of the streets of Havana. Maybe next time.

Make sure to read my other posts on the places we travelled to while in Cuba – there’s way too much to talk about in one go and the country is just too amazing for one post.

I hope these posts can be of some help but please feel free to comment if you want more information!