Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The K Club

Our final stop and last night in Ireland was The K Club in Kildare. This pristine 5 star country club had so much to offer and sadly we didn't get to see much of it. Please check out their webpage, bottom of post, this place is HUGE and just stunning. Our few photos really do not do it justice. Check-in was smooth which was nice, considering we were tired from our travels. We had stopped in Waterford for the day and the Nicholas Mosse Pottery house on our way up.
Staff were very helpful and offered to bring our items to our room, the Fitzgerald. This time they used a trolley/bag cart! We were shocked at the room they gave us...it had a sitting room, walk in closet and a gigantic bathtub! You can see more of my love for the tub in my A Bath in Each post he he! The only problem was the bed...which Craig found out the hard way. He dove onto it and much to his surprise it wasn't a king but two twins put together and he landed right in the middle. Ouch!
 Decor fit with the overall feel of the country club, fancy but cozy and antiqued. Our room was very dim inside much like the rest of the hotel. It could have been because we were there later in the day and it was a bit dreary out. Our bellhop must have tried a million switches to give us more light but he couldn't figure it out he he! We did not mind the dim light, it was the evening and we planned to sleep soon.
 Once settled, Craig and I went downstairs for dinner, admiring the artwork along the way. I loved the unicorn tapestry they had hanging above a mantle. So pretty!
We ate at The K Club's River Room Restaurant and much to our surprise there were not many guests. They seated us in the middle of two other couples, one German and the other French. The room was big too and really quiet. That had to be one of the most awkward dinners we've had lol! Service was good though and our meal tasty. Craig's winning streak continued as his steak was perfect!
After dinner we walked around the K Club and took a closer look at their unique rooms. All decorated differently with big couches, chandeliers and fireplaces. I loved the furniture and patterns as well. This couch (below) had a pretty blue pattern that went well with their hydrangeas and purple flowers. Coincidentally my favorite thing at our first Castle was there many colorful hydrangeas! Funny!
Back in our room I took advantage of their huge tub, nice photo op he he! Actually Craig went outside for a quick smoke and instead of starting my bath right away I was super sneaky! 
He had expressed that he really liked this Guinness watch in the store cases down stairs. I quickly called the front desk but since it was late in the evening they did not have the key. Staff were so sweet and offered to order it etc. But I reassured them that I could find it online and have it sent to our home in time for Christmas.
So there I was, naked and heart racing, nervously surfing the web! It didn't take long to find the watch so I ordered it, closed the laptop and jumped into the half full tub. Craig returned a few mins later and was none the wiser! Muahaha!
That night we tucked ourselves in and dreamt of staying in Ireland indefinitely. The K Club was so lovely, hopefully we could visit again and be able to truly enjoy all it offers. Before we left that next morning, I wanted to note that staff brought us coffee, cocoa and some pastries to-go! So sweet of them!!! They were making it hard to leave. 
This trip had been so magical...the only negative, if it could be called that, is that we simply wanted more...more of everything! Thank you Ireland for the wonderful stay. We will miss you dearly!
Thanks! -Bunny
See it here: http://www.kclub.ie/

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Murray Wedding Clip


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Heavenly Hayfield Manor

I wasn't sure about Hayfield Manor until we pulled up. It was tucked inside the city of Cork near the University and it seemed really busy. But as we approached the Manor's big gates it was indeed a hidden gem! This was no castle but it might well have been he he! I have been using the word grand a lot in these posts...but no other word seems to fit so perfectly.

Inside, the manor's main floor had desks set up to the left, entrances to dinning areas to the right and a HUGE stairway in the middle curving up in two directions. I love stair cases like these, I always envisioned having one like this someday. Staff were very sweet, congratulated us and then guided us to our room. A bell boy brought our luggage up a few mins later. 
So this room was the best and biggest room I think we have even been in! It was huge, the bed was lush and comfy and there was even a little putting green he he! I mean who has a chase-lounge in their room....fancy people! That's who! Plus some yummy chocolates and a nice note!
We didn't want to leave our posh room but we were a bit hungry so we headed downstairs. My sweet tooth got the best of me so we ordered a slice of carrot cake!! The cake took me back to our wedding...so yummy and rich. Plus I smooshed it into Craig's face which was pretty funny!
 Along with the amazing room Hayfield Manor had a Leisure Center with a pool, hot tub and steam room! This was connected to an onsite Spa as well. We were impressed! Plus the pool was indoor and a nice temperature. It felt so good to swim and Craig was missing his daily hot-tubing!
Breakfast was amazing....they had everything! Hot food, cold food items...yogurt, berries and granola in mason jars! It was all so good! They even had these detox drinks...see below...that I helped myself to! Of course I tried their french toast and was not disappointed he he! Cocoa was spot on and Craig loved his pastries and omelet! The food area had a big honeycomb that you could cut chunks of honey goodness off for your meal. I have never seen that before! 
Craig and I went exploring around the Cork area including the Titanic Experience and Jameson Brewery. Both were fun...well Titanic was a bit somber he he! There is also a Titanic restaurant that had some really good burgers. They even had a veggie one for me! 
 Back at the Manor we hung out in our room for a bit and then went downstairs for dinner. Along our way we saw a case with items you could purchase and there next to a few robes was (almost) the exact Jellycat bunny Craig had given me at our wedding. Crazy! 
Dinner was good, nothing too crazy. I have to gush about bread again ha ha! It was so delicious, hardy and just lovely with some butter. I didn't like my pear salad too much but it was fun to try something new. I believe Craig had the Irish Beef rib but I could be mistaken. He liked it of course, I don't think there has been one dish he didn't like on this trip lol! 

We opted to skip dessert and instead order room service! So that night we snuggled up in our soft fluffy bed, ate petite fours with a chocolate brownie cake and watched Walking Dead on Amazon. I had never been so cozy and content ha ha ha! What a beautiful way to end the day!
In the morning we chose some "lighter" breakfast options... oatmeal, yogurt etc. and like all the castles before, took our time to eat and soak up all the wonders this place offered. I already knew that I would want to visit again some day and stay a bit longer. Two days wasn't enough. 
Craig and I felt so fortunate to be able to stay at Hayfield Manor. Thanks Exploring Vacations for the recommendation. Their service, food and accommodations are top notch!
Thanks for reading, Bunny

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Simply Ballyseede

Our third stop on our honeymoon tour was Ballyseede. This castle was much smaller than the others but seemed to marry both Ballynahinch's cozy charm and Dromoland's service. It was just adorable! 
They even have two dogs on staff! A smaller black and white dog, Einstein, who met us as we approached their big red doors and nonchalantly went inside. We kind of figured that he was allowed to...the other, Mr. Higgins, whom we met later wasn't as lucky. A lovely woman named Ester checked us in, giving us a big key and talked a bit about meals and other accommodations.
The inside of Ballyseede was so quaint and really didn't fit with the modern world. Each space was ornately dressed yet personal and warm. I felt as though I was at my grandparents house. Their home used to be filled with antiques, items from their travels and lots of family photos. Ballyseede seemed to be family owned, or at least family run...from what we gathered Ester handled check ins and other needs and her brother helped with meal service. Looking back I should have asked more questions! Throughout the castle alongside antique paintings were lots of photos, mainly of families that had stayed at Ballyseede or had gotten married there. Maybe we should send them a card to add to their collection!
Once checked in we made our trek to the top of the castle. No elevators needed here. Craig carried a few bags and someone helped me with mine, thank god! Our room, the Mangan, was small and bed a bit old but we were okay with that. Each new place we stayed at was such an adventure! 
Upon exploration we found that there was a lower level of rooms so it was really sweet of them to give us a top floor room. We had a grand view overlooking the very Alice and Wonderland grounds. Ballyseede had glass water bottles as well. Such a fantastic idea!

 Ballyseede had both an outer door and inner doorway and that's where we found Mr. Higgins, a very big Irish Wolfhound! He was so sweet! Off of the main floor there were two big rooms to the left and 3 to the right...if I'm remembering correctly! The right making up a dinning area and bar. Part of that dinning area, more reserved for breakfast, extended into a whole other ballroom fit for magical weddings. Ester even took us in there to see! They had maybe 6 tables set up with different kinds of place-settings and a smaller table with a big sword on it, that was used to cut the cake. She even let us try it out...sadly without cake!
We grabbed some lunch in their bar area. I wanted to try their version of a goat cheese salad. It was really good...but way too much fried cheese he he! I wanted to eat it all but my tummy wouldn't let me. Craig had their fish and chips and an Irish coffee!
Dinner was similar...rich and decadent! We had expected more guests for dinner but no one was there, our server said that there was supposed to be a wedding that weekend but it had been canceled. We ended up having the entire dinning area to ourselves. Definitely more romantic! We felt so tucked away from the outside worldOur server was really nice as well and funny! We joked about sitting at the long table in the center, just us two, yelling back and forth like rich people.
He brought out a little cup with a treat from the chef, it was mushroom soup! Yum! For our main course I tried the salmon and Craig the duck. I usually can't eat a ton of fish in one setting but this was really flavorful and not too fishy. Craig liked the duck, it was a nice change from usually eating beef/steak. They brought out some potatoes too...OMG so buttery!
That morning we had the most delicious breakfast!!! I found out that their pancakes were more like crepes and I wanted to eat a mountain of them! So good...I need to fly back there just to eat these!
 Craig also ran into a duck...most likely friends with the one he had eaten for last nights dinner! Yikes!
That afternoon we were heading out to see some sites and Ester made sure to give us a map of the Dingle Peninsula with lots of notes about where to go. She also said we needed to visit Dick Macks. "You have to go, tell them I sent ya!" 
We did make it there and they had no idea who she was but loved that she keeps sending people there LOL! It was a cute pub...sort of old-school and dreary. It looked like it was created in an old home and there were only a few people inside. I tried a fizzy "girly" drink he he!
Dingle was pretty and turned out to be a surfing town much to our surprise, we are from Santa Cruz. It was fun seeing a few surf boards along the way. There were cute boutiques and shops too, so we took our time and walked around. The drive around Dingle was really pretty too. Lots of open land and lakes!
 By the time we returned, a bit late in the evening, it was time for tea and dessert! We ordered a lava cake with a bit of ice cream....I probably don't have to describe how awesome it was! I also had some peppermint tea in one of their fancy cups and a scone. These were usually for breakfast but they were far to good to pass up.
 Einstein was there too...playing with what I thought were those brownish sugar crystals but they turned out to be rocks. There were 7 of them and he would wait for you to toss one and he would go get it and so on...then he would keep them in his mouth until he wanted to play again. So funny!
Then the morning came and what we feared finally happened...it was time to go again..sigh! We ate breakfast, they even wrapped up a few scones for me, and Craig and I walked around the property snapping pics. I could totally see why it is such a wonderful place to get married...I imagined what my dress would look like flowing down the castle steps...greeting guests in the garden...even feeding the ponies. Oh to dream! Such a beautiful castle!
  This was going to be another place that we will have to come back to. I still only have the fondest memories of Ballyseede!

Friday, December 11, 2015

I'm Going to Dromoland

Hi there,
Our second stop was Dromoland Castle!
Rounding the corner toward the castle we saw lots of green lawn perfect for golfing and a tennis court, this was definitely more of a country club/resort. Then there it was...Dromoland! Grand and opulent with a large circular drive-through for better access unloading bags. Staff were immediately friendly and helpful. Offering to park our car and get our remaining bags. The check in was right through huge wooden doors and past a giant table set with flowers and a guestbook. There were even suites of armor and other old world items.
We had a small mix up about our stay...the 31st of October was unaccounted for and neither us or our travel agents caught it lol! A small mix-up, we were supposed to be booked for three nights (30th to 2nd). 
But both Exploring Vacations and Dromoland were quick to help and even got us a kick-ass room. It was so lovely!
The bed had a ton of pillows, chairs with a coffee table and a large armoire with everything a coffee lover needed! Craig was thrilled and immediately made an Irish Coffee. The bathroom was large and had a double sink!
Staff also left us the sweetest note with some chocolates, big brownie points to them! They did this each night and the note also came with a little quote. 
Sleep is darkness preparing us for light. Proverb
Walking around the big castle/hotel it brought out feelings of sophistication and a little bit of dread...let me explain...
It must have been the red carpets and walls, but there was a very distinct resemblance to the Shinning or rather the Titanic. Which sounds crazy but that was the feeling Dromoland's long hallways and grand rooms gave me. Creepy and quiet....kind of perfect for Halloween though, my favorite time of the year!
So that next day (Halloween) I was pleased to find pumpkins on our way to Breakfast! So here in Ireland, so far from home, we still got to have a bit of that spooky spirit, with Dromoland staff carving really intricate pumpkins and turning a few rooms into haunted play areas for children. 
Breakfast was scrumptious! There was the usual rice cereals, pastries, toast and a few yogurts to pick from. I loved the jams... made from a few different berries and some marmalade but my favorite had to be the raspberry. It was perfect with my toast and cocoa! I think I just started dipping everything into the jam...Later that night, after spending the day exploring the cities around Dromoland, we decided to try their lovely Earl of Thomond 5 course dinning restaurant. It was pretty booked but we had made a reservation, like the staff suggested. There were always a few different dinning options, a little confusing about where to go but they had each menu out near reception, so you could make a better selection. There is even a club house with a smaller restaurant, mainly for those spending their time golfing.

The Earl of Thomond space was beautiful, blues and golds married together with huge portraits of a time long past. Wait staff were very proper and on request, found us a more secluded table, the first was a little too close to the harpist he he! 
We ordered pumpkin soup and a salad to start and the chef sent out a tiny cup with an oyster to try. This was way out of my comfort zone but I tried it anyways...not bad! The seasoning took away the bite that some seafood has. I tend to stay away from chewy, slimy foods he he! The pumpkin soup was exceptional...maybe I can recreate it....hmmm must find recipe! Craig ordered steak with some red wine and I a pasta dish but the real treat was dessert! 
A souffle and petite fours! Delish! That kind of cake with a molten center can change a person....make them get lost in the moment. It is just so...perfect.

Next we went off exploring the place....got a little lost but a nice bell boy guided us back to our room! We found some huge doors, tapestries and a few antique looking chairs. Most walls had wallpaper but some were stone and you could see that you were indeed in a castle. That transition between wall and stone was a little strange but it was consistent throughout. The bathrooms were so interesting too, I had to take a few pics! I love little birdies!
When we got back we had another note and chocolates....I could definitely get use to this! Castle of Ancient Days! in time long gone. Thy lofty halls in royal splendour shone! Thou stood'st a monument of strength sublime, A giant laughing at the threats of time! James Bird
In the morning we headed down for breakfast and quickly scarfed down cereal, toast, eggs and more than a few servings of coffee and pastries! We hung out for a little bit in our room before heading out to Bunratty Castle, which we would recommend to travelers. Especially if you want to see home and shop replicas and a true castle build to withstand battles. You get to climb through the castle and see how it was decorated/lived in. 
In the evening we ate out at The Locke Gastro Pub in Limerick! Great fish and chips and burgers! The peas were not good at all LOL...especially after having such great ones at the Ashling! Upon our return we found more chocolate and a note.
Oh sleep!
It is a gentle thing,
Beloved from pole to pole.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Reality began to creep in when I realized that they added a cleverly designed questionnaire about our stay :( Of course they were getting top marks but it was bittersweet that we would be leaving in the morning. These were to be our last chocolate here.
So in the morning we begrudgingly ate our pastries in a fancy sitting room overlooking the grounds, visited the gift shop and checked out of the castle. This is where I found the most lovely hunter green scarf by Patrick Francis.
Dromoland was indeed grand! Service was exceptional and a bit unreal...the chocolate, notes, turn down service....we felt special! Plus the rooms had everything we could want in them as well! Oh and the tissues were shaped like a flower....just adorable! My only critics would be that it was very large and a bit cold in the hallways, so it was not as cozy but we did feel well taken care of he he! 
We didn't want to leave but our journey was far from over! Plus a shop owner in Bunratty told us about some ruins we could get to near Dromoland and Craig was all about that! LOL
We did find the ruins...we hiked uphill through berry bushes (not fun) and discovered old stone circles taken over by time and nature. There was also a little structure and much to our surprise a sign and pathway! So it wasn't as mysterious as we thought ha ha! 
Cheers, Bunny