Hello? Anyone still reading??

Oh. Dear. How has 3 months gone by since my last post? I really am a terrible blogger! Truth be told, I’ve been so busy at work that I’ve been coming home, having dinner and going straight to bed and too exhausted to do anything at the weekends – oh the exciting life I lead!

I’m not going to bore you with a really long post about what I’ve been up to over the past 3 months with Christmas, being home, seeing family, New Year, back to work, dry January, being back in the studio full time again (busy!) and 6 nations starting a few weeks ago. Safe to say, I’ve been a wee bit busy!

On the upside, work is going really well. I passed my probation so I guess they are stuck with me now! It’s really busy in the studio at the moment with lots of really cool projects going live this past few weeks and some really cool ones starting very soon. It’s all go and I’m learning so much on a daily basis. Even better, I am doing my Scrum certification next week which will add another string to my bow. I really lucked out with my job. I really love it and the people I work with are really cool and lovely. Did I say I love my job? Well, I do. A lot. A lot a lot.

In the spirit of the new year (6 weeks ago), Manifesto’s CEO asked us all to come up with a personal and professional goal for 2015. My professional goal was to get my scrum certification and my personal goal is not only to bake more but to blog more also. And with that in mind, I am making plans for doing more interesting things at the weekends than sitting at home, chillaxing or catching up on missed TV during the week! Starting this weekend. A trip to a museum is on the cards. If not two… got you interested now, haven’t I?

Birthday fun (and other things) – Dublin

30th birthday round 2 began with me leaving work early on the Wednesday before my birthday to fly back to Dublin. However, not before having some cake and a glass of bubbles though. I not only love my job, but I love my Manifesto co-workers too. They are an awesome bunch and I loved the cake!

Bubbles! So much cake

I cannot describe how great it was to be home with my folks again. I really miss them here in London but more on that another time. I got home and Mum had cooked up her amazing curry. My God was it delicious! I spent Thursday hanging out with my Mum wandering around Dundrum Town Centre. I needed to get a few things so we had a dander about the place too. That night we went to our fave Lebanese in Dublin (Alladin’s Café) for an almighty feed. Afterwards, I called over to see my friend Anna who recently bought her very first flat! It’s just gorgy! A really nice apartment in a really lovely development and I hope she has many happy times in it. Health to wear, Banana! Delighted for you, you deserve it. Needless to say we had an epic catch up.

Friday, I had to go to Dundrum again but spent the rest of the evening getting ready for Birthday Bash #2 – cocktails with my besties in The Liquor Rooms. I met up with Emer and Keano (2 girls from the Melbourne Crew) first for some food but silly us, we hadn’t anywhere booked. It was bedlam but we got some yummy food in Red Torch Ginger where, luckily for us, Emer knew the owner and he sorted us out.

More bubbles Emer and Keano

We had a great catch up over some bubbles and then went on to Liquor Rooms where they had no booking for me even though I had confirmed with them the week before. We had to wait a wee while before a table was made available but it was a great table and I had a brilliant night! Only problem was that I didn’t get to spend half enough time chatting to everyone – the perils of not living in the same country as my oldest friends anymore. I was so delighted to see everyone and had a great time catching up with everyone even if it was only very briefly.

Niamh and Aoife    IMG_5298  Niamh and Monica

(Sorry I have no more pics. Please send me some if you have them!)

Some deserve some special mentions though: Hopalong Cassidy herself, Sarah, came out after breaking her baby toe as did Aoife, the other birthday girl, who had hurt her ankle. Clíona came out even though she had a very poorly son at home, and Anna and Monica both came out of their sick beds just to wish me well. Girlies, I was really touched you made it out, thank you so much for coming. It was really great seeing people I hadn’t seen in what felt like forever and I had such a great night. Thank you everyone for celebrating with me! 30 can’t be that bad when I have friends like you.

The following day was my actual birthday and I got some lovely cards and pressies from people. I was really spolit rotten by everyone. Ireland were playing South Africa later that day and, unusually for me and Dad, we didn’t have tickets. A clerical error. Dad was meeting an old friend of his beforehand in a hotel beside Lansdowne so off we went in the hopes that we might sniff a ticket or two along the way. As kick off was drawing nearer and nearer, there was still no sign of a ticket. Me and Dad decided to stand near the barriers where sometimes people will try and offload some spare tickets but we had no joy. There was the option to go home, watch it in front of the fire and watch all the replays sitting on our couch. Very tempting given how cold it was! Dad wanted to go back and have another quick pint before kick off and then go to which I agreed. As we’re walking back into the hotel we bump into a fellow Leinster supporter we know and get chatting about the fact we have no tickets. After a while this fella pops out of nowhere saying he overheard us talking and that he had 2 tickets going-a-begging and did we want them at face value. I think it took all of 0.0000003 seconds for us to respond that yes we would take the tickets. A birthday miracle! The tickets weren’t seated together but that wouldn’t stop us from watching the men in Green take on the Saffers.

IMG_5317

View from the Top!

I don’t think anyone was expecting the outcome of the match (except maybe Joe and the team). Without Brian O’Driscoll, our recently retired superstar of a centre, how would we cope? With so many injuries, would the new guys coming through be able to keep up with the pace of an International Test? The odds were stacked against us and everyone, including good aul’ George Hook, had written us off. I must admit, I didn’t write Ireland completely off but I didn’t fancy our chances either. What happened when we took to the pitch was nothing short of a Joe masterclass. Words cannot describe how much I love Joe Schmidt. And this article certainly proves I’m not the only one. He is an absolute legend! During his 3 years at Leinster, we won 2 Heineken Cups back-to-back, a Pro12 (finally) and an Amlin Challenge Cup. Not bad for someone no one had really heard of before he took over from Michael Cheika. When he took on the Ireland job in April 2013, Ireland were 9th in the world rankings. If we hadn’t let that try in in the dying minutes of the game, we would have been in 3rd place there and then (we had to wait until the following week to trounce Georgia to make it into 3rd place). 15 months into the job and he’s delivered a 6 Nations Championship and now our first clean sweep of the autumn series in 8 years. No bad, Joe. Not bad.

Anyway, myself and Dad had a great time at the game and again, it reminds me how much I miss game days hanging out with my Dad and the rest of the lads. We had a few more pints back in the hotel afterwards for the usual post mortem with smiles on our faces. We then went home to a really delicious Indian take away from the best Indian in Dublin. On Sunday, I caught up with some of the girls for coffee and we had a great catch up. Properly this time, no rushed chats trying to get around to everyone. My friends are awesome and I really miss them loads. But now I have something to remember them by every time I take out my gorgeous new wallet. Thank you!! I absolutely love it. After all the tea was drunk and all the world’s wrongs put to right, I went to visit my neighbour in hospital. Nothing serious but he was so delighted to see me (and I him) and we had a great catch up. We went out for dinner that night with my aunt and uncle to our favourite Chinese restaurant, the China Sichuan in Sandyford. More delicious food, more great chat and lots of gin! On Monday, I called over to Sarah for some amazing buckwheat blueberry pancakes and we had more tea and more chats! Hard to believe we could talk some more but we did! When you’re with your oldest friends though, conversation is never very hard. After brunch it was home to pack up and pop into my neighbour for a quick chat to see how she was. Like her husband in hospital, she was delighted to see me and we had a great catch up too. Then it was time to come back to London where my flatmates had decorated the place with balloons and banners. Then appeared the most humongous cake I’ve ever seen!

Cake

CAKE!

 

They had spent their Sunday baking me a cake and decorating the place – so sweet of them and I love them for it. I had a really lovely birthday week and I can’t thank my friends and family enough for their cards, presents, phonecalls, emails and messages. 30 ain’t half bad!

Birthday fun (and other things) – London

Oh. Dear. Another belated post. I am really terrible at this! Finding the time to sit down and write is proving difficult. When I do, though, I love it. Who’d have thought that I’d enjoy keeping a blog? Certainly not me. A goal I’m going to do my best to achieve is to keep this more up-to-date! Lots of smaller blogposts are a lot easier to read than one mighty big long rambly one. Anywho, let’s dive in…

This past month has been absolutely crazy. I’ve been super busy at work and busy turning 30. It all started at the end of October with a visit to see the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red installation at Tower of London with my friend Meadhbh. What an incredible tribute to 888,246 fallen soldiers in wars since 1914. Needless to say, we weren’t the only ones who had the bright idea to go see the poppies on a Sunday. It was wedged. So many people of all ages there to see the ceramic flowers and it was well worth the visit. I can’t even begin to imagine the horrors of war and what that must be like but standing at Tower of London that day looking at all the poppies, I couldn’t help but be thankful to those brave men and women who died for their country and in some way also protected our little island from being destroyed.  Ar dheis Dé go raibh a n-anamacha.

 

Poppies 4     Poppies 2

(All poppy photos courtesy of Meadhbh as my phone died – thank you!)

The installation itself was quite incredible with poppies pouring out of a tiny window at the back of the Tower into the now dry moat around it and falling down into the different levels. We were lucky in that it was coming up to Remembrance Day and the poppies were almost all in place.

Poppies 6  Poppies 8  Poppies 9  Poppies 14

It really was a sea of red and a really beautiful tribute. Afterwards, Meadhbh came back to my flat as she hadn’t seen it since I moved in and I cooked up a big pot of chili!

Meadhbhy Niamhy Tower Bridge

The following weekend, the madness began. And when I say madness, I mean madness! There’s only one way to turn 30 and that’s by having 2 parties – one in London and one in Dublin. Sure, it makes sense, really. It started with my cousin/sister Fionnuala coming to stay for the weekend. We got back to the flat on Friday after I met her off the train and we started making our nest for the night. Jammies, good food (prawns with ginger and scallions if anyone’s asking), great chat and 2 bottles of prosecco –  I am after all turning 30! Finn had a surprise planned for me for the following afternoon and I hadn’t a clue what it was. An exquisite Michelin-starred lunch at Gaulthier Soho was not anywhere on my radar. I love food. I love eating it, I love cooking it. End of. This was a real treat and my God, was the food amazing!! A glass of bubbles to start, followed by some savoury petit fours. Then an amuse-bouche to whet our appetites and boy were our bouches very amused. It was gorgeous. Then the to-die-for starters came (I had the foie gras), followed by a sublime main course of pork cheek. We were stuffed at this point. Then we had a bit of a break before a wee pre-desert came out. Now, I’m not one of those people who takes pictures of her food but this was just too cute not to:

Pre-dessert       Birthday cake

This was then followed by dessert and I nearly died in my chair when I saw them come with a candle in my chocolate tart! Thankfully no one sang happy birthday otherwise I would have turned the colour of the plate! Then we had our final course. Coffee and some sweet petit fours. I now drink coffee – shock horror! Maybe it’s because I’m in my 30’s now. Have to be sophisticated…. yeah right, when have I ever been sophisticated!! The final surprise came not long after that, a signed copy of Chef Gaulthier’s new book and a hand-written note from the man himself. Very touching and made me feel really special. As I was putting the note back into its little envelope-y thing, I wondered why it wasn’t going in properly. Lo and behold, there’s a lottery ticket in it!!! Well. We could not get over this and were in kinks of laughter and everyone in the room was looking at us and laughing along too. It was just too hilarious after all the food, the book, now a lotto ticket too!

cookbook    lotto ticket

Sadly, I didn’t win but imagine if I’d won the jackpot?! Gas!

It was a fantastic day. Finn, you are amazing, thank you so much. We rolled home, me with a very large new cookbook under my oxter, and we vegged on the couch until it was time to don our disco gear and go to roller disco! Yes, you read that correctly, rollerdisco!!!!!!!

Niamh and Finn   Cousins

I’m in a really lucky position. When I moved to London, I already knew quite a few people here so everyone came down to roller disco to help me celebrate. Meadhbhy came with her boyfriend Shane, along with a few others we know from home. Danny from my masters came with his cousin. My other cousin Joe came too, so did my friend Aaron who I met in Melbourne and Manifesto was brilliantly represented by some keen skaters! Meadhbh brought cupcakes and everyone sang Happy Birthday (not quite as red as the dessert plate earlier but equally as morto!).

Danny Cupcakes! Manifesto Manifestivities Meadhbhy and Niamh Me with Meadhbhy, Niamh and Claire

It was such a fun night! No major injuries thankfully apart from the time I went to the bar and suddenly there I was, splat on the ground. Landed straight on my bum. Ouch. Other than that, it was a great night! Thank you everyone who came. You made this girl feel mighty special.

Niamh and Babi Dryden and Babi Birthday girl!

 

A long awaited post!

Ok, I think I am slowly (or very quickly depending on how you look at it) becoming the WORST blogger in the history of the blogiverse. What’s worse is that I’ve been updating the company blog more regularly than my own blog recently! I have no excuses – just a lot of working hard and playing hard!

So what have I been doing? Well apart from still finding my way around London and settling into my new job, for the past month I’ve been doing some consultancy work part-time at Cancer Research UK. A pretty big deal in my books. I’m helping one of the directors out as Scrum Master with the Race For Life team and boy, oh boy am I learning a lot! We split the days up so that one of us is there for at least half a day every day. It’s a great experience and hopefully one that will last for some time. There’s no better way to learn how to do a job than to be thrown in with a team and hit the ground running and I’m really loving it.

Some of you may be thinking “Well, what exactly do you do, Niamh?”. Well, I’m a junior project manager/scrum master and I help coordinate the design work, the build itself and act as a go-between between the team and the client. We manage our projects using Agile and Scrum methodology which is something I had never used before. Don’t worry, I won’t bore you to tears with an explanation but I tell you this, it has nothing to do with Rugby sadly. I wrote a blog about it here if you want to read more about it.

Other than that, I’ve been hanging out in London seeing all it has to offer. I went to the Cake and Bake show and saw A LOT of some of my fave chefs. Surprisingly enough, I did not buy the whole place. I went to my friend’s wedding in Manchester last weekend. Abbie looked stunning in her dress and they both looked so happy. I was honoured to say a reading at the ceremony and I didn’t fluff my lines too much! We had so much fun at the reception, dancing to all our favourite songs from our time in Melbourne. I had sore legs for a few days after all the shapes that were thrown on the dance floor. Thank you for a wonderful day Abbie and Paul. Congratulations again, you guys will be so happy together!

I’ve spent a lot of time meeting up with old friends, making new ones (too many nights out with the guys in the office) and cooking loads. I baked my first bake in London a while back. I made a lemon tart for one of the girls who was leaving (Come back Anna!) and it went down a treat at the new office. We had lots of cake that day. Anna made delicious cupcakes and our new admin assistant brought in cakes bakes by his girlfriend who just happens to be training to be a pastry chef at Le Cordon Bleu. Then we headed to the pub and had a great night!

What’s coming up next? Well, I’m having a quiet one next weekend (for a change). But the following weekend I am starting the birthday celebrations early and celebrating the fact that I am reaching a new decade – yes, I will be 30 in less than 3 weeks. There is no better way to celebrate the turning the age where one is entering maturity, being sensible and growing old gracefully than by going to a 70s/80s Roller Disco in Vauxhall! Yes, legwarmers beware, we are coming to get you. Don’t worry, there will be plenty of pics taken and shared on here, Twitter and Instagram! I’ll be back in Dublin for my actual birthday and plan on having some drinks with all my friends and I can’t wait to see them! I’m taking some well earned time off work and will be spending a few days in Dublin. I can’t wait to spend time with friends and family.

Anyway, I’ll leave you there. Next week I think I’m going to go to Tower Museum to see the ceramic poppies before they’re gone in November. Will hopefully meet Meadhbhy there too and whisk her back to Hammersmith for some nice food.

Catch you guys soon xx

All moved in!

Oh dear. Another belated post. I am a terrible blogger! What can I say except apologies. I’m just so busy at work and moving in that I haven’t had the time to post. I will try and be more regular now that I’m finally moved into my new place.

So, my new place!! It’s so lovely! Hammersmith is really cool except for one major issue. There are many of my favourite shops on the walk home and I am tempted in most days. My funds are rapidly draining from my account! But I have lots of lovely new things for my room so it’s all worth it. I’m living with 2 lovely girls, one from Jersey (the island, not the US state) and another from Australia. They’ve been so welcoming to me and already I feel like I’ve been here for years (in a good way!) so it’s going really well on that front.

Work-wise, again all going really well on that front too! Another project I was working on went live last week. I really don’t know how I managed to land my dream job in my dream company but I did and I am so thankful. We had a team day last week and let’s just say it was a late one! The people I work with are so much fun and that makes the days go by so quickly.

So what have I been up to? Again not much. I don’t get home from work until about 7ish depending on when I leave the office and I’m still really tired from absorbing all my new surroundings and still picking up new things in the office that I’m exhausted by the time I get home. The weekends are taken up with plans though. I went home for the first time since moving over to London and it was so lovely to be back home! I really loved being back in my own bed again. It wasn’t for long though as it was a jam-packed weekend meeting up with everyone and hanging out with Mum and Dad. It was non-stop but I got to meet up with everyone and catch up. Needless to say I was knackered in work for the rest of the week!

Last weekend I went to meet an old friend I hadn’t seen in years for lunch and then we popped to the National Gallery and had a wander around. So many amazing paintings by some of my fave painters, it was a treat! Here are some pics (none from inside I’m afraid):

National Gallery                           Trafalgar Square

Today, I am going to go wander around Old Spitalfields Market and maybe check out a bit of Brick Lane! I need to get some spices!

Busy Bee again

Once again, I have to apologise for my tardiness in updating my blog. I’ve just been so busy. Last week I wrapped up my very first project and went on a hen in Manchester. It was a pretty packed week! The very first project I managed from start to finish went live last Friday and another project I’ve been working on since I started the new job is going live on Monday. It’s all go at the minute and super exciting!

The hen was great craic! Would you believe it, it was my first hen! It was a friend of mine I met in Australia, we lived in the same hostel in Melbourne. Some of the other Urban peeps were there and it was so great to see them again, it had been WAAAAAAAAY too long! Looking forward to the wedding, soon-to-be Mrs. Cousins! It was a great weekend in Manchester and I got to spend it with some pretty awesome girls. It just so happened to be Manchester Pride that weekend too (it being a bank holiday) so fun was had by the bucketload!

Again, this week has been a bit on the crazy side. I started moving my stuff into my new place. Taking suitcases on the tube after work is not exactly fun but necessary. I officially move in on Monday! I can’t wait to have a permanent base in London. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in Limehouse and I will miss the girls desperately. They have been so welcoming.

And the reason I’ve been moving this week is that….. I’m currently en route back to Dublin for the weekend!! My first trip home since I moved over and I can’t wait to see everyone!! Especially my folks! We’ve been good at FaceTime but nothing beats a proper hug from your mammy and daddy! I’m looking forward to a crammed weekend of meeting up with friends and family, sprinkled with lots of good food and maybe a drink or two thrown in for good measure. I mean, let’s be honest. When have you ever known me to turn down a drink?!

After I move into my new place next week, things will all down a bit and I will be able to post more regularly. My evenings and weekends will be mine again! So here I am at Gatwick. I promise I will be more regular at posting going forward.

Have a fab weekend xx