A Solid Investment

I’m pretty sure all of us are very good at investing our hard earned $$ in the latest trends or that new lipstick but how much do we invest in our own wellbeing? Two years ago if you gave me the choice of spending £25 on a top or a personal training session, I’d have went straight to Topshop..every time!

It isn’t until something goes wrong with our health we reflect back and wish we had perhaps invested in ourselves a bit more.  The old saying, prevention is better than the cure is very apt.

I have made a few changes in the past year which have had a really positive effect. I am happier, healthier and have more energy. If you know me personally you will know 2015 was a pretty tough year for me and my health but I’m now on the other side and I want to share with you some super simple things I have done that have improved my quality of life and hopefully will benefit yours too.

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Lean in 15, Bodycoach.

The food we eat is our fuel…you wouldn’t put rubbish fuel in your car so why do it to yourself. If you load up on rubbish, you will in turn feel rubbish. Buying the Lean In 15 book was the first step I made in improving my diet. I have so many recipe books but most of the meals in them are complicated, expensive and take ages to cook. After a hard day at the office the last thing I want to do is start making a big dinner.  The Lean in 15 books are full of super simple, quick and yummy recipes that are easy to put together in the evening. With lots of veg and lean ingredients it’s had a really positive affect on my diet. I haven’t strictly followed the books plan but I do make a majority of my weeknight dinners and lunches from it.

Personal Training

For me this was a bit of a luxury, as I am sure it would be to you as well. Two operations on my abdomen in 2015 left me with pretty poor core strength, zero body confidence and had left me with a feeling that things were pretty much beyond the point of repair.

I was pretty anxious about starting back into exercise again after a year off and so I researched pretty hard about the best way to do so without hurting myself or landing back in hospital. I started off with a Yoga class to break myself in gently.  After attending Yoga regularly for a number of weeks I felt confident enough to up the ante a bit. I started Personal Training at a local gym, going on a Saturday morning and then also attending a class on a Monday evening. My personal trainer was great and tailored workouts specifically for me so that I don’t overdo it or put too much strain on my core. Even with that, initially the whole ‘exercise’ thing was a bit of a shock on my body and I found it reacting in various ways to all of this exercise it wasn’t used to. I listened to it and took a break as and when I needed to but I’ve since built up my stamina again and now attend twice a week without fail and I haven’t looked back.

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Mindfulness

If you have  been following my blogs you have probably heard me banging on about ‘Mindfulness’ a few times. When I was ill, I spent most days in constant discomfort and pain. Medication did it’s part to provide relief but some days it just wasn’t enough and so I started to look for alternative ways that I could manage the daily discomfort and it was through this search that I found ‘mindfulness’.

‘Mindfulness: a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique..’

I started with one of those pretty adult colouring books and although it seems silly, it was very effective  at helping me get through those really tough days. I have continued to practice it and having had such positive results I have also started to promote it to my patients in my job as a Psychiatric Nurse. It isn’t just a way of relaxing but can have very real benefits for those suffering from mental health problems as well as physical conditions.

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Massage

This is a recent addition to my portfolio of managing my condition in the long term and one of the most empowering. I have begun attending a specialist Physiotherapist in Belfast who specialises in helping woman manage health conditions including Endometriosis. She  provides therapeutic massage and gives specialist nutrition, exercise and lifestyle advice and I have to say the result has been fantastic. She has has made me feel like I am in  more control as I have a number of things I can do to help manage my symptoms on days when I am in a bit of pain and discomfort.
In addition to the really helpful advice the benefits of the therapeutic massage are amazing. Massage has the obvious of helping managing stress which can bring its own issues and it can have a positive effect on your lymphatic system and it can even boost your immune system.

Whilst I appreciate that everyone is different and our path to a better wellbeing is unique to each individual experiencing it, I feel that these are some tips that mostly everyone can adopt.

My hope is that we all start taking care of our insides as much as we do out outside and we can all have that natural glow that comes from within.

Much Love,

Judy xo

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Social Media and our Mental Health

I will be the first to admit it, I spend a crazy amount of time online throughout the day. My iPhone is an extension of my hand as there is always a photo opportunity or a pretty Instagram feed to scroll through for inspiration.

Social Media is a minefield of positives and negatives and as a Mental Health professional I sit back from time to time and think, ‘How is this affecting our Mental Health?’

I have read around a lot of research on social media and its links to low self esteem, Anxiety and Depression.

Did you know that 56% of people aged 18-25 spend more than 3 hours a day on social media?

Comparison is the thief of joy…

There is always going to be someone who is always skinnier, prettier or has a nicer house and we all think ‘where the flip did I go wrong?’.  It’s difficult but we need to be content with what we have. Just because someone else portrays a happy and care free life does not always mean that they are more fulfilled. Remember, people are only sharing the things they want  you to see, rarely will you see the negative stuff, the arguments, the work pressures or the credit card debt accrued in trying to have a ‘perfect life’ – nobody’s life is perfect no matter how amazing their Instagram profile leads you to believe. #nofilter? I think not.

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‘Likes’ do not make you a better person…

Social media is addictive and our smile can beam from ear to ear when a photo gets a certain number of likes or we get a few more followers. Although this might give you boost of confidence for a short period of time, the number of ‘likes’ you get on Social Media should not validate you as a person. You are more than that, trust me. You are individual, unique and special in so many ways…your worth cannot be measured in ‘likes’.

There is always one…

Ten positive comments and one negative comment, which one will we dwell on? People can hide behind social media and say nasty things because they think that they can get away with it (I hear the term ‘keyboard warrior’ mentioned from time to time, more like keyboard cowards). In my experience in the mental health field, ‘pain causes pain’, although the comment may be hurtful, I always think about what might be going on with the individual that made them hurtful things in the first place.  All behaviour makes sense but that does not make it right. If you feel you cannot deal with the person, block them, delete them and do whatever makes you feel better. Its cathartic on so many levels.

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FOMO…

A.K.A Fear Of Missing Out

It’s the pressure we feel that makes us want to do what everyone else is doing, go to the same place everyone else is going and having the need to share it to prove our lives are just as good as theirs. This can give us a sense of anxiety that our lives are not as ‘Instagrammable‘ as everyone else’s. I think to myself, why are people doing this to themselves??

I’m a bit of a rebel in that if someone is going to a ‘cool place’ I tend to go the opposite way and find something different. I see this ‘anxiety’ to please others so much on my feeds I just want to tell people to relax and live the life YOU feel comfortable with! We  categorically cannot please everyone and you will just wear yourself out trying to do so.

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It’s not all doom and gloom…

For every person I see on social media that makes me ‘eye roll’, there someone that inspires immense creativity. I have met so many people through blogging and social media that are truly amazing. It’s a great way to find people with similar interests and the same life values as you. I have had some super luck in finding a few lovely people who now I consider friends and if it wasn’t for social media we may have never met!

How can I help myself?

Switch off. Literally.

Set the phone or laptop down and take time out from social media, our poor brains need a rest after a long day at work or looking after the kids. Use the time to have a relaxing bath or read a book. Being continually ‘switched on’ our brains cannot cope with the information overload which leads to exhaustion.

Do not use social media before bed.

I have a rule of no technology in the bedroom but I still find myself having a last scroll through (1 hour later…) before going to bed. Social media can effect our sleep pattern and the light of our phones messes up the bodies natural ‘wind down time’ so if you must look, make sure you switch your screen to night mode. If we don’t get a proper rest our body cannot cope which can lead to physical and mental exhaustion.

Talk to someone.

If you feel that it is all getting you down and your feeling of Anxiety or Depression is getting in the way of you living your life. There is always someone to talk to (and I mean face to face talking with a cup of tea not over whatsapp messages)… A friend, your GP or someone you trust.

I hope to continue to inspire others and make my social media channels a happy and positive place. Always be yourself and try and not succumb to the perceived way of life you think you should be having, happiness always comes from within yourself and not from external gratifications.

Much Love,

Judy xo

 

Emma Bridgewater Collectors Day July 2016

Rewinding back to the beginning of 2016 I put my name in the hat for the July Collectors Day at Emma Bridgewater. I have done this for the last few years but never have been successful but you’ve got to be in it to win it, right?!

Being a massive fan this is what you would consider the ‘Holy Grail’, a day at the factory in Stoke, various activities, sneak peaks as well as a chance to buy special limited edition pieces. I often looked longingly at other collectors special pieces on Instagram and really wanted to have some of my own 😦 *cue worlds smallest violin*.

So imagine the sheer joy when an email confirming that I had got tickets pinged into my inbox on a rainy April afternoon, I was actually going, yaaaayy! You can imagine the excitement as the days got closer, I literally skipped out of work last week in anticipation of Tuesday the 19th!

We arrived on the Tuesday morning after a leisurely drive from Rookery Hall in Cheshire where we were staying (I will cover this  in another post. Spoiler alert: It was amazing) to be greeted by lovely smiling faces who ushered ‘FiFi’ our little red Fiat 500 hire car into its parking space.

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Waiting for the day to start, we helped ourselves to tea and toast set out in the Cafe.  Mr S and I also enjoyed a little bit of sun and background music provided by a brass band.

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We started the day off with a tour of the factory which is a must if you decide to visit. Our tour guide was really friendly and explained every part of the pottery making process. It made me appreciate the time, effort and many hands that touch each piece before it becomes the finished product.

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Can you spot one of the new Christmas patterns?

I even got to try my hand at throwing a plate. Not to brag or anything *ahem* but it was good enough to go into production! So if you receive a 6.5 plate in the next while it could of been made by me!

Don’t worry I think this man’s job is safe 😀

On a bit of a high after becoming a master potter, we decided to go do one of the activities. As part of the Collectors Day, everyone got to paint 2 little fluted bowls in the Decorating Studio.

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The real star of the show was Mr S though. He found his painting zen and created two beauties which received oodles of praise from onlookers.

If you were keeping score it would be 1-1 right now.

The likelihood of me starting a pottery business was getting more realistic by the minute (I joke obviously).

Next on the agenda was some ice cream before we went and picked our special pieces!

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Everyone was split into groups to go view and buy their special pieces. So the dealio with special items is that there is a limited number and are only for collectors and not the general public. Group 4 was up and it was time.

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As I was group 4, a lot was already sold, if you want to see what I purchased you can spot them on my Instagram!

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After buying some special pieces we had worked up a bit of an appetite. Lunch was served (on EB of course…) Our tummies were ready for it, breakfast seemed a long time ago. We were presented a beautiful veggie quiche, salad and warm potato salad. Pudding was a delicious chocolate brownie with clotted cream..yum!

We chatted to our fellow guests at the table, had some hearty laughs, then it was time to finish the rest of our day.IMG_5372

After consulting our itinerary,  we decided to do some tea towel printing.

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Some of the other collectors beautiful attempts.

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Needless to say this didn’t win any prizes for beauty, as for Simon’s…well…he tried!

Laughing at our lack of skill, we went to the seconds shop for a browse while we waited for our “masterpieces” to dry.

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Restricted to hand luggage, I felt like weeping. If only we lived a little closer…

Last stop of the day, the garden!

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Bags in hand and smiles on our faces, we bid fair well to the factory and made our way back to our little Fiat which at this point had reached 1 million degrees (how lucky we were to have such amazing weather!?).

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Until next time EB…

Much Love,

Judy xo

May: The Best Of.

Hello everyone!

It’s so hard to believe that May is over. What a month! It’s been so busy hence the lack of blog posts however behind the scenes I have been busy working on some lovely blogs that I will be sharing with you all super duper soon! I’ve been working full time in my day job which obviously takes up most (if not all) of my time. I have also started back to personal training after my year off, I won’t go into detail as but if you are interested I am going to the lovely Shannon Reynolds at Scott McGarry Health and Fitness in Ahoghill.

So enough of the chat, on to the good stuff.

Best of the Noms

Okay, it’s no lie… I like my food! This month there were some eats that I just have to mention.

Our local coffee shop (Middletown) holds craft beer and supper night every so often and we were so incredibly lucky to bag some tickets for the latest one.

This time round it was a Thai themed cuisine with local craft beers paired with each course. Take a lookie at this for a menu!

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It reads well, but tasted even better.

Keep an eye out if you are from the local area for the next supper night… I might even see you there!

I had another lovely dinner on an evening out with our good friends Alison and Aidan (who have set a date for their wedding, all of the yays!). We went to The Barking Dog for dinner which was lovely but it was dessert and cocktails at Miel et Moi that really was the highlight of the evening!

Miel et Moi is a little licensed Patisserie on the Lisburn Road in Belfast that do yummy cocktails and even yummier patisserie. We got a little selection of goodies to share paired with a French Martini for me with everyone else opting for a G&T.

To be perfectly honest, I feel this the kind of place you would go with your girlfriends for a catch up and cake but the boys enjoyed it too (I think!).

Best of the Outfits

It hasn’t really been a month of dressing up really but I did love Alison’s and I’s outfits when we went out for dinner.

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Skirt: Miss Selfridge

Top: Topshop

Shoes Similar here

Bag: Christian Louboutin

Best of The Day Trips

Every May brings Balmoral Show and for those who aren’t familiar with Balmoral, it’s a huge agricultural show. I always look forward to it as I have been going to it with my Mum and Dad for as long as I can remember. When I was younger I participated in a number of Young Farmers competitions, mainly for floral art which is where my love of flowers sprung from I suppose!

It’s not all tractors and welly boots as I sense you drifting off… It’s jam packed full of local food, crafts, gardening ideas, entertainment and then some! In true noob form I didn’t take any photos, but take my word for it, it’s a great day out!

Best of the Pretty Things

As some of you may know I’m a brand rep for La De Da Living and I just cant get enough of their stuff. My favourite items this month are the hand stamped star and salad servers. You can get 15% off  on the La De Da Living website website with code ‘brandrep2’. Keep an eye out on my Instagram for more exciting pieces to come!

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I got a pretty print from Bill & Coo a while back but never got around to putting it into a frame. I did a little bit of shuffling about of prints and pictures this month and so here it is in all it’s glory! If you fancy a peep at Bill & Coo’s work work you can find it here!

Best of the Rest

I’m only going to mention this briefly as I spoken about it before but magazine in which my home was featured (eekkkk!) was published this month. If you fancy a look for yourself, it’s called Northern Ireland Homes and Lifestyle.

Thank you to everyone who tagged me in photos or sent me a snapchat with the mag and for all of the lovely comments I have received about it! Interiors are my passion so it was just lovely and humbling to be featured!

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That was May and so what has June in store I hear you ask? So far lots of plans with friends, hopefully some down time and no doubt a few surprises thrown in for good measure!

Have a great one you guys!

Much Love,

Judy xo

Patio Style

As a result of the sunshine this week I have spent a lot of time outside enjoying the weather while it lasts. Although I didn’t manage have any BBQs this week,  I did spend time outside sipping ice cold drinks, listening to good tunes and enjoying the sun right down to the last rays as it set below the hills and out of sight.

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Last Years Patio Details.

As such my attention was (like a lot of others I expect) drawn to my neglected, unloved and weather-beaten garden and patio. If any of you live in Northern Ireland you will fully understand how a little bit of sunshine totally diverted my attention from indoor styling to the outdoors.

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Images Via Pinterest

Seeking inspiration I have spent some time scouring the internet for ideas that could breathe some much needed life into the outside of my house.  I thought I’d share some of the favourite pieces I found that I think would jazz up any outdoor space no matter how big or small.

All from Matalan:

Reversible Seat Pads // LED Garden Sign // Insect Hut

John Lewis:

Pink Bistro set // Hurricane Lantern

Wayfair:

Copper Outdoor Light // Grey Wooden Planter

I’d love you hear what you have done to your gardens and patios this week and hope that the sunny weather will continue for a little while to come.

Much Love,

Judy xo

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April: The Best Of

April is normally a busy month for me with a number of family and friends birthdays but this year I had another birthday to add to the mix which was my Blog Birthday! I have to admit I didn’t make a big deal about it as I wasn’t sure how to make the occasion…giveaway in May anyone??

There were a number of nice things that happened in April but starting back to work full time unfortunately wasn’t one of them. It was and still is, a shock to the system, however I am grateful to be back to a normal routine.

I apologise for not doing a “Best of March” blog post but I think I covered the creme de la creme of the month in rounding up our holiday to NYC and I am pretty sure I brought you all up to speed in those posts!

Best Of The Memories

This April my Aunt hit a milestone Birthday and there was no better way to celebrate it than afternoon tea at the Merchant Hotel. The Merchant holds so many happy memories for me as we’ve had some lovely times there such as my Sister’s wedding, my own wedding,  Valentines Day spa breaks and birthday dinners and brunches in the Jazz Bar so it’s always exciting to  get to celebrate another special occasion there.

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After my Aunt’s birthday a couple of weeks flew past and then boom, it was my Birthday. I am heading rather swiftly towards my 30s (sometimes it feels a bit more swiftly than I would like).  Unfortunately, I had to work on my actual Birthday (Note to Self: Book it off next year) but we celebrated at the weekend instead with dinner and cocktails at Neptune & Prawn on the North Coast which is fast becoming one of my favourite spots.

Any birthday wouldn’t be complete without some prezzies. You know those occasions when hubby gets it right? Well, say hello to my new Christian Louboutin clutch. An instant classic and a bag I will reach for again and again, day or night.

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Isn’t it a beauty?

Although big presents are lovely, it’s the little things that really make the day special.

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Hubby surprised me with a beautiful bouquet of Sweet Avalanche roses delivered to me at the office. These were the flowers that I had on my wedding day and are forever my favourites.

Talking about weddings it was our 2 year wedding anniversary on the 24th April, I have already blogged about what we got up to. you can catch up  here.

Best Of The Outfits

I had a few outfits which I loved this month. My favourite purchase was a classic navy blazer, it’s my personal highlight from the range ‘Archive By Alexa at Marks & Spencer’. I have lusted after this blazer since I spotted it on a press release a few months a go and it hasn’t disappointed! You can purchase it online here.

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‘That coat again?’ I hear you ask… no joke I am in love with my blush pink Topshop truster. Its pastel hue just promises of fresh sunny spring days. It works great with my 9-5 or combined jeans and converse at the weekend and I just flipping love it. True story.

Best of The Rest

Every so often you come across a cupcake that rocks your world. How lucky am I that a friend of mine makes said cupcakes! Not only does she make them super fluffy and light but she’s also got a serious knack for decorating them too. You know who you are!

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I had the absolute joy of attending a Benefit make up master class in Moore’s of Coleraine. (please pardon how awful I look as I rolled in after a long day at work). We were shown a gorgeous make up look and how to recreate it at home. I picked up some amazing tips on how to use some of the products and even made a few sneaky purchases.

How glamorous is Amy Lou Faulkner btw?? I had to be a fan girl and get a photo.

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So what has May got to offer? Well there is the excitement of having my home getting featured in a local interiors magazine as well as a few dinner dates on the cards and maybe even a surprise or two. Until next month…

Much Love,

Judy xo

Irish Blogger | NI Bloggers | Belfast Bloggers | Blogger Northern Ireland

Two For Joy

Although I have been married to Mr S for two years it feels a lot longer.  People always say, ‘when you get older time speeds up’ which is true, but why? Is it because we are busier? Are we not living in the moment as much? I honestly feel someone has flipped a switch and put things in hyper speed!

How things have changed! I’m not just talking hairstyles 🙂

To mark the special occasion we had a mini break away to Killinchy in County Down Northern Ireland. Having had wonderful recommendations from family it seemed like the perfect chance to break away from ‘normal life’ for a night.

We started our day off on Saturday with a coffee and lunch at The Pocket in Belfast, just perfectly perched in front of Queens University, such a gorgeous little spot. I had the three mint tea which was super nice and Mr S was impressed with the coffee.

A perfect mix between quirky and cute with unbelievable toasties to boot.

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Sufficiently fed and watered for our road trip to Co. Down, off we embarked on the rest of our adventure and arrived at The Mill at Balloo which is nestled in a gorgeous little village which is on the way to Strangford lough and somewhere near Killinchy.

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The Mill is a family run B&B and the couple who own it are some of the  friendliest hosts I have ever met. Paul the owner showed us to the ‘River Room’ and after a friendly conversation left us to enjoy the beautiful surroundings. So after taking some photos for this blog we sat by the river, soaked up the sun and relaxed.

For dinner that evening we went to ‘Upstairs at The Balloo‘ which is a bit of a special treat and one I was thoroughly looking forward to.

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We had three courses including an amuse-bouche which was all so yummy that not a morsel was left. Unfortunately I was too busy enjoying my food and a few glasses of champagne to remember to take snaps. You will just have to visit and try it for yourself 🙂

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It was such a lovely relaxed atmosphere, the waiting staff were were chatty and after dinner we talked by the fire and finished off our drinks before heading to our home for the night. The B&B is within walking distance of the restaurant and takes about 5 minutes, maybe a bit longer if you decide to wear heels!

The next day we ate our hearty cooked breakfast, bid farewell to the lovely surroundings and hosts and off we went on our travels.

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The first on the itinerary was Scrabo Tower.

As you can see from the clouds, the rain was coming in fast so we were no sooner down before the heavens opened and our day of outdoor pursuits quickly changed to indoor ones so we went for a quick walk around St Georges Market in Belfast and then off to Established in Cathedral Quarter in Belfast for second breakfast 🙂

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These my friends are rice pudding pancakes with blueberry and rhubarb compote, candied almonds and lemon mascarpone. Wow, that was a sentence and a half! Needless to say they were polished off in minutes and washed down with a delicious coffee. I have to admit Established do a pretty awesome brunch.

Pondering about what to do next, we googled to see what was on in The Mac. A few exhibitions were closing that day so we dodged the rain showers on the short walk from Established and into one of my favourite places in the city.

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I just love the exhibitions they present and it is so lovely to get a little slice of culture in Belfast.

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Having filled our hearts with happiness and memories to cherish we made the trip home to our furry son Hugo and enter back into reality.

Until our next adventure..

Much Love, Judy

Irish Blogger | NI Bloggers | Belfast Bloggers | Blogger Northern Ireland