In Ireland: Makers and Brothers

Makers and Brothers

You know when you find a shop that reflects the inside of your brain, well this is mine. It’s Irish, it’s family run and the products are beautiful!

Makers and Brothers is run by Jonathan and Mark Legge. They believe in simple, beautifully designed, practical crafts and design. There is a vast array of products from kitchen implements to clothes to children’s toys.

It’s is an online retailer but they do have a pop up shop in their Shed from time to time. It is two floors of amazing things I want to buy. I love simple design and the products they sell are good quality and beautifully crafted.

Even their displays are aesthetically pretty. They have really designed every inch of this space to show their creativity to the max.

There is also a coffee shop attached to the Shed. I definitely recommend their hot chocolate. Outside is decorated with a christmas tree and lights, again something that makes you feel like they made an incredible effort to have a space that is well thought out and reflected their attention to detail.

I couldn’t recommend this place more. Definitely visit their site and fall in love with everything like I have https://makersandbrothers.com/ or visit the pop up shop, all information is on their site.

Happy Travels!

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In Iceland: A Guide to Petrol Stations.

*Note that: A Petrol Station/Garage is what I call Gas Stations/Fuelling Stations.

When I read blog posts and articles about driving and fuel stations in Iceland it’s as if it’s a post apocalyptic world where there is no food or water for miles. It’s just not the case. It’s really easy to navigate around Iceland and to have enough fuel to do it with!

Sometimes you will be driving along and thinking there will never be a petrol station so I can use the loo or get a hot dog or fill the tank up the two bars that have gone down but there will be. If you are going along the ring road or any main tourist locations there is no need to panic!

If you are a 1 litre car to a 1.6 litre car than there are plenty of petrol stations around the place so don’t worry if you don’t fill up at every one. If you have a bigger engine I recommend you fill up every chance you get just to be sure as I haven’t driven one…yet!

How to self service:

Self service petrol pumps are in almost every station. Step 1: Go to the machine, put your card in and enter your pin. Step 2: Choose how much money you want to put into your car. 500 kr, 1000 kr, 2000 kr etc. Step 3: Choose which pump you want to activate. Step 4: The pump is ready, fill your tank. Then if you want a receipt than stick your card back into the machine and a receipt will print.

You will need a chip and pin card to use the self service petrol pumps. I saw lots of Americans frustrated at the pumps because there was no authorisation going through. This may be just for american cards but Irish ones work perfectly! I used two visa cards and although I got a call from Visa making sure it was me, everything was authorised and I was able to buy everything I needed. 

If you don’t have a card that works you will need a gas card. They sell them in petrol stations so make sure you have one before you go on a long journey.

Tips:

  1. Don’t hog the pump. The amount of people who’s cards didn’t work so they had to go into the shop, who left their car by the pump so no one else could use it was annoying. Don’t do it!
  2. Get a bacon wrapped hotdog. They are actually really tasty. Try not think of the nitrates though.
  3. Olis petrol stations have a really great website that allows you to filter the types of stations and facilities Olis have, so you can find the right station for your needs. I used this when I needed to find a vacuum cleaner to clean out my rental car.
  4. N1 stations are great to get a bite to eat. I really like their food sections and they usually have a nice sit down area. I always liked getting a cheeky donut, a ginger juice and a hot chocolate.

Hope this covers any questions you have before you go. If you have more questions leave them below! 

Happy Travels!

In Iceland: Renting a Car with Kuku Campers

*Kuku have updated their fleet and mileage policies, so this is my opinion on a car that is no longer on their lot*

At first I said I want to go to Iceland. Check. Then I said I want to drive in Iceland. Check. And now that I am back home, I want to drive a 4×4 in Iceland. Thankfully there are lots of rental companies with lots of different types of cars and cars for different budgets.

If you want to read my 4×4 camper review click here!

Kuku Campers.

What I liked: 

They rent to people ages 20 and up. On their website in their FAQ page they state that they will rent to anyone 20 and older who has a full drivers licence. Excellent! This is probably the number one reason I booked with them. I have always wanted to drive in another country and Kuku could make that happen!

Independence. Having the freedom to make your own timetable. Not having to be back on a bus at a certain time was the best. Iceland shouldn’t have a timer. It should be enjoyed at your own pace. Being able to drive anywhere (with the exception of the highlands) was just amazing!

You can camp almost anywhere. Now I have heard it’s illegal to camp somewhere other than an campsite in a town that has one but one night I had to sleep in a petrol station car park. You probably should do way more research than I did on campsites and where to sleep but I just went with the flow. Also I must confess, I think I stole a night’s sleep at Skogafoss. I generally think if you are out of the way and not causing any damage or disruption to man or animal, you will be ok. But do more research!

Was pretty comfortable to sleep in. I decided that the first thing I needed to do was go to Ikea (5 mins away from Kuku’s reception) and get a pillow and duvet. Luckily the two items were less than €10 and they made all the difference! Once you get your pillow, sleeping bag, duvet situation sorted and you are in a pair of fluffy socks it can be very comfy! Do note though it does get horrendously cold. Like really really cold. Bring all layers. But once you find the right cocoon you will be fine.

What I didn’t like:

Difficult to get to. So taxi’s in Iceland are renowned for being very expensive. I think it would have cost €80 to get from the airport to the industrial estate Kuku is located. The flybus+ drops passengers to local hotels. I asked what is the closest hotel they could drop me to the street Kuku Campers is on and it was no where near where I needed to be. So that meant I had to ask them to pick me up for a fee of €50. Not so bad but I wanted to find a cheaper alternative.

Old car.  So I chose to get an A Category Renault Kangoo but then Kuku choose what camper you get. It was a 2005 model with 216000 kilometers on the dial. This is a 10 year old car and although I have no doubt that their mechanic is top notch, the car had issues purely for being an old car.PhoebeGill150916886 It had belt issues, which meant that when I started up the car a loud squealing noise would sound from it. Meaning everyone camping around me could hear it too. I felt really bad driving though a load of people most likely waking them up. The full headlights only worked sometimes. It would be pitch black and I couldn’t get the lights to click into place. At one point I had to jam it four or five times because I needed to be seen at 10pm on the isolated south coast road, it finally stayed on after that. Not only that but the main headlight bulbs had gone on one side.

Luckily I got all of the insurances because it was given to me with three cracks in the window. This just means you have to be extra careful that you don’t go into a pothole and make the cracks bigger. Stupidly I didn’t check the window when I was marking the sheet of all of the dents and scratches so I am probably liable for them. So if you are a first time renter check the windows! Thankfully they take on full costs of fixing it if you have the insurance.

It had a horrendous sticky gear box. I actually have a bruise on my palm because getting the camper into reverse was stupidly hard. I would lift up the button to get the car in reverse, put it in gear and it would bounce out again. Going into third when your supposed to be in first was all too easy and it made for a frustrating experience.

I didn’t notice this until I got home and drove my own car but the camper had incredibly ridged steering. I developed strained forearm muscles because I had to pull the steering wheel harder than my own car. Not to mention, in the wind it is actually painful to keep the car in a straight line. Icelandic wind is no joke, slow down and you should be ok.

Basically I think Britney is on her way out.

The look. I really don’t mean to offend anyone here but this camper was embarrassing to drive around in.  If you know me in my day to day life than you know that I am a very private, quiet person. I keep to myself and I try not get in anyones way. Kuku campers are the complete opposite of that entirely! On one side it had a haunting paint job of Britney’s iconic shaved head picture of her about to beat the paparazzi with an umbrella. This wasn’t a very good likeness and the paint is so light that it doesn’t really look like her. The other side said “I’m not that innocent” The two sides don’t really match up. Also as a solo female traveller it’s not the nicest thing to have on the side of your vehicle. Luckily Iceland is safe.

PhoebeGill1509181288I could laugh it off in the beginning but as more and more people were looking at me and reading the side of it, the more I just wanted to sink into the ground. I got very odd looks and not a lot of laughs.

Another thing that really irked me entirely was that everyone else got a new camper. Kuku got a new fleet of campers with smaller paint jobs and lots of logos so a passer by knows it’s a rental and don’t assume the person diving is a crazy woman with a weird Britney obsession! Actually when I first arrived at the reception I saw a new one and was quite excited because I thought I was going to get it but alas.PhoebeGill150917040

I don’t know if I drew a short straw or if they gave me an old one because of my age but I payed almost €700 for a camper for 5 days and by the end of it I hated the camper. Which is such a shame.

300km a day limit. *They now have unlimited kms* Now I know this to many people would seem a stupid thing to put down as something to not like. I am sure people can keep to the limit very easily but I was by myself and I love driving which means that I drove all day. I don’t regret how much I drove at all. I had so much fun but the limit was constantly on my mind. It is €0.50 per km you go over.

Cooking. Although the camper comes with everything you need, I hate cooking. I hate timing things and putting things together. It is irritating and because there is no way to keep stuff fresh the main things I eat, couldn’t be brought with me in the camper. I just decided to eat hot dogs from the petrol stations, they are cheap and pretty tasty.

Filling up the tank:

I thought petrol was going to be really expensive so I put more of my savings into my account to make sure petrol would be covered but I was very pleasantly surprised. I drove over 1500km and I really did not spend that much at all. I thought when I got home and checked my balance I would have to sit down but no.  I did’t have to top up that often and by that much each time.

Top tips!

  1. Cover your head when you are sleeping! Either with a blanket or duvet. I know it can feel very claustrophobic but if you have even a small barrier between your face and the cold it makes the world of difference. Creating a cocoon is very important when sleeping in a freezing cold van.
  2. I got an power converter from Lidl and it was perfect at charging my phone and iPod for the five days I was there. They have them but it is an added extra of €20.
  3.  Bring plastic carrier bags. For wet clothes, boots, rubbish they are the handiest things. You can pick up a roll for a euro.
  4. Have a road map. You never know if your phone is going to play up or you forget to charge it. I think Eason online have maps for under €10.
  5. I added a camping chair to my booking and I didn’t use it once. Don’t bother.
  6. If you unfortunately get a 2005 camper you will need a FM transmitter if you want to listen to your own music. If you don’t have one that’s ok. Icelandic radio is very current and even among the lava fields you will probably get one station that doesn’t crack. I sang my lungs out to the tunes they were playing.
  7. GoPro motor mounts don’t stick well to dirty spray paint. Mine fell off twice. Thankfully there isn’t much traffic in the west part of Iceland.

The big question is would I recommend them? The answer is I don’t know. I think if you want to drive in Iceland and you are on a budget

, look into it and see what you think. Definitely check or ask about the new campers. Also if they try to give you Britney maybe run away. Actually at that point you have already paid for your camper entirely so that might be a waste of money. I think the ethos of the company is great but my experience had some issues.

Would I use them again? Probably not.

It wasn’t all bad. I just want you, my dear reader, to be informed about everything. I am so so happy I got to see Iceland my way and I got to sing along to the radio and pull over anywhere I wanted and discover new things I would never have got the chance to. I definitely recommend you rent any car in Iceland. I just think maybe it should be a little newer.

If you have any questions please leave them below! Do you know any other companies that rent to under 25 year olds in any part of the world? Let me know I am always interested!!

Happy Travels!

In Ireland: Dublin Horse Show 2015

The RDS building is best know for concerts, convention days, exams and talks but there is another feature to this location which I love. There is a load of stables at the back of the building. These stables house magnificent creatures during five days of equestrian madness. I have been going to the Dublin Horse Show since I was about 4 years of age. We as a family have never been ones for horse riding or any equestrian sport but there is something about this day out that is just so much fun! PhoebeGill150807024

There are large paddocks which show horses and riders in junior competitions and just the general showing of how magnificent the breeding of Irish horses really is. There is also a band stand where live music is played all day as well as lots of food trucks and stalls that sell every bit of equestrian gear you can think of.
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One of the things that my family love is the RDS Craft and Student Art Awards Exhibition. My house has currently 10 pieces of art from going to this show every year. There are some amazing pieces and is definitely worth a look around. I always love the wood work, some of the pieces are just so wonderfully made it is incredible! PhoebeGill150807077The Nations Cup has always been our day, always on a Friday. In my opinion it is the best value for money as tickets for the main arena and general entrance is not cheap. It is 8 teams of four riders who jump 14 jumps. There are two rounds and whoever knocks down the least amount of fences, wins. The excitement of this is amazing.PhoebeGill150807078Generally everyone is behind every team but mostly for Ireland obviously. It is a shame when any fence goes down but we do love it when Ireland doesn’t knock any. This year was quite exciting because Ireland needed to do well in order to make it to the top 8 in the final in Barcelona so we needed to win! PhoebeGill150807091The course seemed quite challenging this year with last years winners, USA, finishing on 32 faults! That is quite the difference from last year! The faults for most teams were quite high.PhoebeGill150807101There were even a good few refusals on the water jump, maybe it was the lighting but it was all very exciting! There is something amazing happens when Ireland gets a clear round. The stands go mental! There is nothing like the noise we can make when Ireland clears a round and, even better, when we win! Which we did! PhoebeGill150807061The presenting of the cup is fantastic and I recommend you stay around for it. The first three teams come out and circle the ring. We all cheer and clap and all is well. One of my most favourite things is the pipe band that plays. They are fantastic. I love the drums and the noise. I love the last lap where they get back on their horses and gallop with the cup. It’s amazing!
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Tips:

  1. Get a score sheet. It is a lot of fun tracking the progress.
  2. Bring a good jacket, it can go on till about 7pm so it can get cold.
  3. Bring a picnic and your own beverages, queues are long!
  4. DO NOT smoke in the stands.
  5. Turn off your phone! I know this is a shock but the riders can probably hear a phone going off. It’s an arena.
  6. Don’t talk for the entirety of the jumps, in the breaks that fine but as the riders are jumping, shut it and be respectful of others around you.
  7. Don’t put your feet on the backs of people seats…is this not obvious to you?
  8. Don’t be crap. There are a lot of people who are, don’t be one of them. PhoebeGill150807128

I had all of these things happen around me this year. To Mary, Ann Marie and Michelle behind me, you were all awful people. I know their names because they didn’t stop talking for the entire three hours of the event. You had zero respect for others and were just generally horrible. Hope you fall down a hole.

I love this day! I think it is fantastic and well worth it! You can get just general admission tickets but bring a camping chair and a rain poncho. It is a really great day out and I 100% recommend it! Have you been to the horse show? Is there anything like this where you are?

Happy Travels!

In Wicklow: My Happy Place

cover imageI don’t know what it is but when I am out driving, to clear my head, to get away from everything, I end up here. Possibly because of it’s beauty, maybe the breeze from the valley blows away the cobwebs or maybe because I have really happy memories attached to this place. Whatever it is it is a definite must see if you are travelling around Wicklow. cold

If you are travelling in Winter it will be very cold, do you see my face? I thought my fingers were going to fall off. Bring all of your layers! You will need them. Something I really recommend if you are freezing is to go for a walk, the Ballinastoe walk right by Lough Tay is the perfect walk to do if you need to get the feeling back in your body. PhoebeGill150227073

This walk is great for a tourist because of the boardwalk, if you are afraid of getting lost, don’t worry the path will guide you. It protects the landscape because it is such a travelled route. Bring some ankle support because the boards can get uneven in places and you don’t want to twist your ankle.

PhoebeGill150227043 The boardwalk goes all the way up to the base of the mountain, and because there has been so many visitors they have carved out the path in the mountain so it is very easy to follow. Untitled-1The main attraction is Lough Tay, this beautiful lake can be seen all along the road so there are many places to view it. Stopping off at any of them will give you the most amazing pictures! This area is amazing at all times of the year so whenever you are visiting you are sure to experience the best of the area.
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I love this area, it’s not far from South Dublin at all, it’s really accessible, lots of space to park your car and a great place to explore and get some great images! Have you been to this area? 

Happy Travels!

In Wicklow: Glendalough

In Wicklow: Glendalough

One of my best friends and I went to Glendalough, Co. Wicklow recently. We are both bloggers/youtubers and it is great that we can come together and create and hang out while getting content to show all of you. So here are a few shots from that day.
PhoebeGill150211027There are lots of trails, paths you can go on, I haven’t actually explored all of them yet, I can’t wait to do the top trail, I was waiting for it to become a little bit nicer weather. I will probably make a video of it on my channel some time in the future. 

PhoebeGill150211101Glendalough is a Monastic site, it’s ruins are located near the lower lake. The most well intact and impressive is the round tower a classic site of Glendalough.

PhoebeGill150211118What I love most about this area is the wildlife and the colours. This patch of forest has always been covered in green moss when I go. It is always beautiful.

PhoebeGill150211106In winter the hills and the ground turn brown and will slowly get more colourful as the months go on. There are birds everywhere, it is great to stop and wait by the upper lake to see different species fly around and hear their calls.

PhoebeGill150211109There is something I look for every time I come to Glendalough. The first time I came here, I saw a stag and a doe. They were beautiful and ever since I always keep an eye out in case the deer are hiding in the tall grass. Can you spot the deer in this picture?

PhoebeGill150211162There is also some resident mallards that are always up for being in pictures. 

PhoebeGill150211192Glendalough is a perfect place in Summer or in Winter. I love spending time here all year round. I go on birthdays or days off, if I want some exercise or I take a picnic with some friends. It is a must do in Wicklow. When you visit it you’ll know why they call it the Garden of Ireland.

Happy Travels!PhoebeGill150211033