Monday, 31 December 2018

That Is It From the Culloden

After what has felt like only one month, my work placement at the Culloden Estate and Spa has come to an end. I can honestly say the last six months has been amazing. I have learnt so much from all the chefs working there and I could not be more grateful for it. Over the last month I have been given the chance to work one on one with chefs, upskilling on sections that I am not familiar with and learning new ways of cooking. I started with easy and basic prep and by the end of my experience I was making parfaits perfect and being able to balance three sections in one busy service. It made me realise that I do not need to travel far to get a great culinary experience. It is all based on the amount of time and effort you put into your work and how willing you are to learn new things!

Chocolate writing had to be my favorite part of the work days there. It was so great to learn something new about myself. I never knew i had a steady hand until I began writing the slates. I realized that I am actually good at pastry. Some desserts were extremely popular and required me to make them every day. Which got me into the routine of lining pastry bases, making fillings sometimes twice in a day. It let me learn how to time my food better.

 The accommodation that I stayed in was nice and reasonably priced. It was very convenient to stay in the hotel. After work it was nice to just be ten seconds away from your room. It was also a great way t make friends, especially when you are on your own in the beginning.

If I would recommend anything it would be to fill out the Erasmus forms straight away. It saves the hassle of trying to contact the hotel later. When I spoke to HR about mine they were so efficient and quick at getting everything sorted. I would also recommend going out and exploring Belfast. It has great sites and lots of things to do such as the brilliant Titanic experience and of course the great Belfast city. It was a great experience that I would recommend in the future.

It’s not goodbye it’s just see you soon......

It’s hard to believe my Canadian journey will end in just 2 short days. 7 months ago, I journeyed more then 7000 km across the world leaving what normal life I lived behind to start an epic journey of the unknown.
I don't miss Ireland, it’s sad to say but its events and lifestyle there that sort of push me away from settling there. Why settle somewhere where you don't feel like you belong when you can live here in Canada and be amazed day after day by the stunning beauty and natural offerings that this country offers up. 

I have gained some skills that I haven't had before and adding too and improving skills I have learned before, practise makes perfect. I’ve learned to manage my time efficiently and improving on the quality of the items I produce. There has been lots of negative moments over my time here, but I've learned not to look on everything with a negative attitude and take from that experience the positives and learn from this. I've learnt some pointers on where I would like my career as a chef or within the hospitality industry to go from this point onward. 
I try to have a positive attitude when I go to work, Here I was quick to judge a person’s character before I got to know them, for this I am in the wrong. Coming here to the Banff springs I wasn’t all too sure what my position was. I was classed as a “Second cook” like a commis chef in Ireland. Some people in the pastry shop filled me in on how the Canadian chef brigade works. Some establishments require you to have a red seal to gain a position higher than a first cook and to achieve this seal you must complete an exam and have a certain number of hours worked and signed for before applying. In a way, I felt cheated in been giving a second cook position, I wanted to come here and grow myself as a chef, but I felt the title didn’t allow this. It doesn’t have any authority or say when it comes to situations. Other people don’t really take notice of your opinion because you’re only a second cook.
On a different note, Fairmont offer lots of different leadership and various training programs not only for chefs but for every department, to allow the individual grow and succeeded in their desired position. One thing I like about working here is that after six months of full time employment you are entitled to apply for other positions in other departments within the hotel or transfer to any hotel under the Accor hotel brand worldwide.
I'm on the fence if I like working in such large hotels are if I want something more relaxed. I'm all about the fast pace life style but sometimes it’s not worth the stress. I'm not at all daunted now by such large-scale tasks, I think working here in the pastry shop or any other outlets you will learn to deal with volume which is a skill itself as if you move onto another establishment you won’t be defeated by large tasks. Me personally I'm all about the last details, the finishing touches which working here I haven't seen a lot of. Many chefs here care but some don’t, and you can tell who does and who doesn’t. A comment I overheard from somebody who works on the bakeshop that "as long as the bread is done it doesn't matter what shape it is", I think to myself if this the chef I want to be? is this the standard I want to set for myself.

I came to Canada with a very different attitude and outlook on life than the one I am leaving with. I admit I feared the thought of starting work at such a large hotel. It was my first time working in such a large-scale pastry kitchen, which added to my fear.  However, I settled in quite fast.

I don't really know what my expectations or goals were for my International work placement. I didn't know what I wanted from it......
For my time here, I've only worked on the production shift and the Vermilion Rooms pastry shift, this shift was all about people who worked in a weekly rotation, who would make and execute the production of the desserts and execution of the live service of these dishes. I enjoyed this a lot as I like to both produce and work on a busy line keeping active. The production shift, which is all about the mass production of multiple dessert items from dough's, layered slab cakes, glass verrines, the setup of banquet plated desserts, VIP events, etc. I was happy with staying on these two shifts after seeing how some of the other work was executed on other shifts like am, bake shop, outlets etc.

Christmas here at the Fairmont is the busiest time of the year. This Christmas day we produced over 8000+ individual desserts for over 3000 guests.
If for anyone who is reading this, I plead you not to shy away from the thought of considering looking into applying for a job at the Fairmont Banff Springs. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and go for something you wouldn't normally go for. Living and working Banff at the heart of the Rocky Mountains is such a magical and incredibly lucky opportunity and experience to say you have done in your life. Something that not all people who want to do this get the opportunity to do so. Working for the Fairmont brand under the Accor Hotels brand there are endless opportunities across the world to expand and grow both yourself and your career. The Accor brand has over 5000 hotels across the world offering endless experiences.

Over my time here I have made some close connections with people, I'm glad to know that I can call them friends for life. People that I will miss very much when I leave. Making new friends and expressing my true self is something I have always struggled with since a very young age. Here, I just felt so comfortable being myself and introducing myself to people. It’s hard when you’re finally settling in and you must leave it all behind. 7 months is a long time, but it’s gone so fast, I’m happy with how my I’ve spent my time and all the experiences I’ve had so far. Turning lots of moments into memories.
Ice Skating on Lake Louise December 2018 

Living here in Banff has truly been an unforgettable and life changing experience, this town and area has so much to offer, something for everyone no matter what the season is. I am glad I got to experience both the summer season and part of the winter. Getting out in the open and being active whether it be going on a hike, cannoning or going up on the slopes skiing keeping active really adds to a positive attitude on life. Having my friend and fellow college Tom here with me was reassuring, having some to talk to in times of need or to have a somebody who is going through the same experience you're going through. This winter i tried my best to show the poor chap how to ski like a pro but I don't think he got the right idea of skinning......point being the idea is to go ski down the slope not ski up it.....

I hope some day very soon that i will return to Canada and experience more of what the incredible country has to offer, there's so much more I want to do and see. But unfortunately for now its goodbye from the rocky mountains.......but stay tuned for my new adventures very very soon! :)
Sulphur Mountain Oct 2018

Sunday, 30 December 2018

Study Abroad Top Tips

Hello, Sinead here and I’m checking back in after my 4 months spent at Humber College, Toronto. In my previous two posts throughout the semester I talked about what modules I was taking and all the travelling which I was doing Toronto and beyond. Since I’m back on Irish soil I felt it would be appropriate to go through my top tips and some recommendations when thinking of studying in Canada.
1)      I know all of our lectures told us the importance of saving money as this year will be very expensive and I couldn’t agree more. It is quite important, especially for the study semester to have a healthy looking bank account. When studying so far from home, extra costs that you may not think of might arise so be mindful of this. Let travel be your motivation to work hard and save your money!

2)      As international students lots of events are organised by the colleges to make the move easier and to help people makes friends. As cringy as some of these events maybe, it’s important to make some new friends as all the other exchange students will be in the same position. Having a good group of friends who have similar interests for travelling and exploring the city will benefit your exchange hugely.

    3)      Get out and experience the local culture as much as possible, not only visit the well-known tourist spots in where you are but find out about the “real” things to see, the bars and restaurants where the local people head out, get off the beaten track basically. Even though you are only studying abroad in one city, that doesn’t mean you are limited to seeing just one place!

   4)      Be an informed student. Know about the courses you’ll be taking, where you’ll be staying and what you need to bring on your travels. This will vary from place to place, for example for the cold weather in Canada its vital to have warm clothing. Along with that some essentials may need to be bought on the arriving days such as bedding so have this planned for prior to travelling.

5)      Don’t forget that your time studying abroad will actually end at some point, as sad as it may seem. Keeping that in mind make it your priority to taste all the food, do all the activities and see all the destinations that you have planned. Studying abroad takes a lot of organising but it will benefit you hugely, as cliché as it sounds it really helps you grow as a person.

Just remember that studying abroad is all about the places you go, the people you meet, and all the new experiences you have. If you have any questions about Studying in Humber College in Toronto, feel free to contact me and I would be happy to talk about it. Happy new year to all and I will check back in from Slieve Donard in Co. Down.

Sunday, 23 December 2018

Farewell Fairmont, Byebye Banff , Ciao Canada

Moon Rising over Mt. Rundle

For those of you who just started following this blog but don’t know me I am Tom.  For the first part of my international year I choose the Fairmont Banff Springs Banff, Alberta, Canada. Like my colleague Derek I am also working as a pastry chef at this property. Banff is a town located in the heart of the Rockies in Banff National Park.

Christmas in the Rockies
It’s hard to believe that my time in Banff is nearly finished. As I said in my first blog the days go slow but the weeks fly by, as it turns out the months went by even quicker. Since I arrived in Banff, I immediately fell in love with the area, living wild in the Rockies couldn’t have been a truer statement. It’s the first time I ever lived in an area where the animals have the right of way, where you can look up all day and see different mountains and where you can have one hundred perfect photo opportunities in one day. With all the beauty of Banff sometimes it feels like you are trapped in a cage where everyone can come and go except you. Banff is described as a town with no soul by the few people who live here. All the tourists come to use the hot springs, to hike, to do winter sports and to visit the castle in the Rockies that is Fairmont.

Working in Fairmont has been an interesting experience. Although I didn’t learn as much as I expected I learnt some skills which will be beneficial for my career. Working the morning shifts helped me to improve my cutting ability and speed. Working the mid shifts allowed me to improve on my time management skills as I was responsible for ensuring that all the functions for the current day and the next were completed and ready. Working on outlets allowed me to produce the desserts for the restaurants and fill the orders for that day. Then section I learnt the most on has to be bake shop. Since my last blog I have only worked on this section. I have learnt a lot about bread that I did not know before. I have made so many different types of bread that I had never made before. Breads that I hadn’t heard of before. For example, for Christmas we are making stolen. Stolen is an enriched dough which has soaked fruit added it is then rolled with a marzipan stick in the centre. As it is proofing it is brushed with butter. Once it is baked it is soaked in more butter and then rolled in sugar. It is a very interesting tasting bread and something which I had not tasted before. I feel that my ability and knowledge of doughs has vastly improved. Working overnights has been hard, getting used to changing your sleep pattern around on a weekly bases as had its ups and downs.

Candy Castle
Christmas in Fairmont is described as a once in a lifetime and for me thank god it is only once in a lifetime. The madness of Christmas in Fairmont started sometime in mid-November where enough Christmas trees arrived to clear a small forest. It continued into the start of December where the Candy Castle was completed (I’m almost certain planning permission had to be taken out). Then all the Christmas party nights started including the staff gala which I will say was a very good night and now as we are only two days out from the biggest day in the hotels calendar, we are preparing for Christmas buffets. These buffets are going to serve approximately 2400 people plus all the restaurants are going to be open as well. There is everything at the buffets from oyster stations, to smore stations to the more classical turkey carving stations. From the bake shop there is every type of bread imaginable being produced. We also have a lot of lamination done to make sweet and savory croissants and danish’s for the buffets.

Sun Setting as Another Day Ends at Fairmont
As my time is basically up working in Fairmont, I have to wonder would I recommend it to future students and I am still not sure. My expectations from my internship were not met. Fairmont is a great company to work for but, I feel as though the quality of fine dining is lost in the mass production of food. I think before making the Fairmont Banff Springs the choice for your  internship you need to figure out what you want to gain from working here. That goes for any choice realistically. The experience of living in the mountains was far greater than I ever imagined. For me I got the experience of traveling to a country that I would have never got to see. I got to try so many different activities, some which worked better than others. Winter sports are not for me I have tried a good few and I am equally as bad at all of them. Watching me ski would defiantly make it onto Americas Funniest Moments. I was terrible. On the plus I tried it and learnt that when Derek says a sport is easy … run as fast as you can.  Since working in Fairmont, I have changed where I want my career to go. I now know that I don’t want to work in a large hotel and I am quite happy working in smaller establishments that are more intense. I would love in the future to perhaps go into some sort of small artisanal bakery to work with the end goal to have my own business. I never looked at bread as a serious business idea before but I can now see plenty of gaps  in the market. So, for now this is the last blog from this side of the Atlantic. Hope you all have an amazing Christmas the next blog will be from Venlo in Holland where my European adventure will begin………
Some of the Pastry Team and Friends Made Along the Way

Saturday, 22 December 2018

My time in Coleraine is coming to an end!

I am sad to say that this is my final post from Coleraine.  Before moving here for my semester of University, I had so many unanswered questions. I can honestly say that any doubt I had about my time up here was removed within weeks, the months after only proved that you don’t have to go half way across the world to find new experiences and cultures. I moved a couple of hours up the country and across a “border” to find these experiences. I can honestly say that it’s been one of the best experiences of my life, I’ve made memories that I’ll hold dearly for life.

Going home for Christmas this year is a bit different, I have more time beforehand to get things in order, all of my assignments have been handed up and signed off but, I haven’t gotten my exams out of the way yet. The exam period in UU Coleraine doesn’t begin until January 7th meaning I’ll be busy studying over the Christmas period. This is a thought that I find very strange. Normally I leave semester behind and don’t think about college work until I start back in January, this year exams will always be in the back of my mind. I am eager to complete my exams and move on to the next part of my placement year, working.

Making friends up here was something I found a lot easier than I thought it would be. I met a great group of people who I will truly miss as we all move on. We spent out last weekend together watching movies and playing games. Organising a time to get the whole group together was tough but we wanted to spend time together before we all left. On Sunday we shared Christmas gifts by playing a game called White Elephant, it involves exchanging mysterious gifts within a group.

Being home for Christmas and spending time with my family and friends is something I’m really looking forward to. It will be a great chance to catch up with everyone and tell them all I’ve been up to. I am however looking forward to meeting my international friends when we all go back for exams in January. After spending a couple of months’ surrounded by them, it’s been strange being away. I suppose we’ve become one big family, we spent our time helping each other settle in and we were always there for each other when someone needed a listening ear, after all we were all in a similar situation.

One of my worries prior to leaving home was how much would change, and more importantly how I’d change! Well I did change and I can honestly say it’s been a good change. The first half of my third year placement has helped me to mature as a young adult through the situations and experiences I’ve encountered. I always thought I was an independent person but the past few months’ have made me become even more independent. I’ve really had to stand on my own two feet as I didn’t have family or friends to fall back on like at home. My time in Coleraine has really opened up a window of future opportunities for me, its allowed me to make worldwide connections.

See you all in the new year!
Áine. B

Friday, 21 December 2018

Budapest and Michelin, in hindsight.. 

Hi all you beautiful readers!
This  post is going to be a little different to the ones I have written before.
Unfortunately I had to return in late October for financial reasons(mainly as a result of currency differences between Hungarian forints and euros, I needed to save a lot more before France. Notes for future reference: must take currency and pay differences into account when travelling to different parts of Europe..) , as a result I will be writing this post looking back on my experiences in Eastern Europe and with Michelin. But what I really want to focus on is how the past few months have changed me - and will change you too.

I worked in Costes restaurant, Budapest city centre from June to October, which is a considerable period to remain in an environment like that. However, you probably already have a pretty good idea of what that was like from my first blog post. Needless to say - things don't change much around there. The environment was just as stressful, the pressure was still there and chef still wasn't happy. What did change, was me.
Chestnut and caramel..YUM.
Living and working in an environment and with people who make you question your  mental strength and patience, your purpose in the industry and whether you can do it or not will change a thing or two in anyone. Because yes, that is what happens in Michelin or at least in my experience.
Things/changes I have learnt about myself as a result of the job:
1) My skin is thicker then I ever thought it could be.
2) I survived Eastern Europe...
3) You will never truly know the depth of your personality until someone pushes you to the edge.
4) In Michelin, you will learn and improve whether you do/don't want to. It isn't a choice. It is a necessary characteristic of surviving(note surviving, not thriving) in the industry.
5) After Michelin,  almost nothing will stress you out in any other non- Michelin jobs. You can handle it.
6) All you need in order to make it, is determination...lots..of..determination.
7) If I could do it, you can too.

The majority of these changes were brought about as a result of spending 80% of my time in a high speed, high-pressure environment, It's sort of like being in a pressure cooker, you don't know if you will pop or not until you are there and pushing for as long as you can. Now obviously my experience was a rather harsh one, and I can 100% certainly say that there are Michelin restaurants out there where people walk in the door smiling in the morning. Whilst this wasn't one of them, I couldn't be more thankful for the experiences I have had because now I truly know I can do anything I put my mind to.

The past few months abroad didn't only change me as a chef, they have changed me as a person.
If there is any advice I can give you, it is going to be in the paragraph below.
Going into a year like this, you will be filled with great anticipation and fear both. Which is totally normal. Living on your own, managing EVERYTHING..from bank accounts to legal paperwork to
Poor Kiki never wants to hear Drake's "In my feelings" ever again. ;) 
insurance to your laundry and most importantly your mental health, one inevitable thing will happen which is growth. I was in a big city, surrounded by people ALL..THE..TIME. And yet there were times I was lonely and uncertain of what I am doing at all. You have no choice but to fight through it and come out the other end! The loneliness will be real, trust me. But you gotta be strong and call people when you need to! There will be times when this whole adulting thing is too hard. But there will also be a moment when you realise you are loving it. The thrill of the unknown, of being in a new city, meeting new people, failing and succeeding and surviving! All I can say is go into this year with your heart and mind open.
You will meet some incredible and some horrible people. You will learn to be alone, to love your own company. You will be responsible. You will become independent, and by the time you reach the second placement you'll be filled with mostly just anticipation and ready to take on another challenge!!
Going away dinner with some amazing people I've met. :) 
 I can truly say the past few months have led me to discover my own personality more then any other experience I have ever had before. I learnt to thrive on my own and honestly I believe that is one of the most important lessons we can ever learn!
Lunch on a Viennese Monday morning. <3 

Lastly, I want to say thank you for reading all this mumble jumble if you have been following me on my journey, and also YOU ARE ABOUT TO HAVE ONE OF THE MOST AMAZING EXPERIENCES OF YOUR LIFE! So enjoy it, and be safe!

Next time you hear from me I'l be in Lyon falling in love with yet another incredible city and attending Institute Paul Bocuse..challenge #2.

Sok puszi mindenkinek! (Kisses to everyone! It's a Hungarian thing...we are very huggy..)
Laters Xxd,

Hanna <3

Sunday, 25 November 2018

Time Out from My Little French Kitchen

C'est La Vie en France

The end of the first half of my 3rd year adventure is soon approaching, and it is time for my final blog post from the South of France. Even though the whole reason for being here is the work, travelling to new places, meeting new people and tasting new food is what will really leave a mark. So, for my final French update I shall be sharing what I have been getting up to when the apron is off!

The location of Chateau L’Hospitalet, where I work and live, is far away from anything else. It’s a 15-20minute drive to the nearest town, which costs up to €35 in a taxi. The roads aren’t safe to walk or cycle on either, so it is tricky to get around. However (for my sanity) I made a pact with myself to bite the bullet and reluctantly pay for the trip to the train station every second week. I make the most of my little weekends away and manage to keep myself busy whenever I do stay here too!

The weekends I stay here are filled with hiking and relaxation. A walk through the vineyard brings you to the beginning of a gorgeous trek called ‘La Clape’. I have spent hours upon hours exploring the route, which overlooks the never-ending stretch of vineyards below, framed by the Mediterranean Sea and sunny blue skies. Having access to a route like that at my doorstep has made for some pretty amazing Monday morning scenes!


Whenever I make the effort to leave the hotel at the weekend, I usually make the most of it and take a train to a nearby town and stay overnight. This has brought me to thoroughly explore the brilliant city of Montpellier inside and out. Montpellier is seen as the capital of the Languedoc region and is a hub for students and creative young people. The winding side streets are filled with gorgeous restaurants, cafés and bars. It is the home to many artists and creators which is visible through the stunning workshops and colourful craft stores that brighten up the cobbled streets. The main square, Comédie, is always bustling with people, which is a stark contrast to the peaceful surroundings of my vineyard home! There will be Christmas markets soon which I will hopefully get to see too.


One of the highlights of my stay here has been a visit from my mother and aunty. I took a week off work and hopped into their rental car to stay with them in their Carcassonne apartment. Carcassonne is one of France’s most visited cities outside of Paris. It is small enough, but the highlight is undoubtedly La Cité, the UNESCO world heritage protected walled old city. Its tragic history now makes for an utterly interesting trip. Exploring Carcassonne off-season allows for a more comprehensive meander through La Cité, but most restaurants and places are shut down. That didn’t stop us from getting some great food though!

Having the rental car granted us the opportunity to visit places which would otherwise have been inaccessible. We visited the unusual but gorgeous streets of Pézenas and the port town of Sète. One of my favourite trips was to Lastours, home to four stunning castles, built together on a hilltop. A hike to the top gave for some pretty incredible views.




Eating out is the best treat in France. I have been lucky enough to try some of the most amazing local produce, and of course, wine. A trip to the Saturday morning Carcassonne market was a really special experience. Place Carnot, the little square in the ‘new town’ was filled with a rainbow sea of fruits, vegetables, breads, charcuterie, cheese, shellfish and more. Choosing the best of everything and cooking an entire meal using only local products was amazing. Nothing but quality, freshness and flavour!

Back at work, I have really noticed a huge improvement in my culinary skills and in my French. I won’t say it hasn’t all been a huge challenge, but I know it’ll be worth it. The past few weeks has made me a little clearer on what direction I want to take with my career too, as I have been looking into my interests with sustainable and ethical living much more, and have had the time to start my own blog ( ).

So that brings me to the end of my final French blog. If you are considering Chateau L’Hospitalet as a place for you placement I would really recommend it for pastry. However, I would be adamant about the lack of facilities and access to transport, being stuck here some weekends and feeling a bit lonely won’t suit everyone. I also recently had to move into smaller accommodation so no longer have access to a fridge/microwave which limits eating options at the weekends. Other than that, don’t let the speaking French issue put you off. If you have the basics and learn some kitchen vocab, common sense and practice will see you by. Wherever you go and whatever you do, challenge yourself and do something a bit different. This year is all about finding your own feet and learning as much as you can.

That’s it for now. I am off to Venlo in the Netherlands to study in February so shall be sharing my experience of that soon. Thanks for reading!
À toute à l'heure!

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Believe in the Slieve

Believe in the Slieve

Here I am once again writing about my journey at the Slieve Donard Resort and Spa. This time I am finding it quite difficult to figure out how to start off so Ill just dive straight into the work.

I have been trained in all areas of the kitchen which means it’s not too uncommon that I don’t know where I’ll be when I rock into work.  I tend to do a lot of shifts in the Lighthouse Lounge now that its main chef is away. This is a kitchen where you work alone. During the day it is simple foods like sandwiches soups and pasta's, easy comfort food for the soul. Each day you get to put on a special which depending on how busy it was the previous day can be really fun or a nightmare. Working alone in a kitchen however is not ideal as I feel you need someone to bounce off of in a kitchen especially when it's busy and stressful. Thankfully all the front of house in the Lighthouse are sound and fun to work with otherwise you would probably be driven demented (well me personally as I crave human contact). It is however enjoyable running your own kitchen even if you’re the only one that works it. After 6 it turns in to a Tapas menu which is easy and quick to knock up.

If I am not working the Lighthouse I am either on starters or thrown on to mains with either Iowana (who makes the nicest hotpot you will ever taste) or Donavan. I do enjoy both of these sections a great deal more than the lighthouse solely because of the company and feeling of comradery. I also feel I learn a great deal more in these sections as it is a fine dining restaurant and each dish must be presented as such.

I also fill in for Robert and Kat on pastry whenever I’m needed which is always nerve-racking but exciting as this is by far the busiest section in the kitchen. I never thought I’d say it but I kind of love pastry. I have learned so much from Robert and Kat with regards to pastry that I will forever remember and for that I am grateful. Robert has a great eye for presentation and has helped me become better even if it was just through competitiveness and Kats skills for bashing this out amazes me and they are always done to a high standard.

Lastly, we can’t forget about functions. The Slieve Donard is renowned for its functions. Last month we catered for the hospitality awards which was a function for 430 guests. This was funner than you’d expect, having all hands on deck in the Ansley room plating up what felt like a million trios of starters or poor Robert writing chocolate on all those plates for Chocolate domes. I believe it was the sense of accomplishment that made it all worthwhile. Now that we have managed to make it to November it has thankfully calmed down (a bit) and we generally only do a couple of functions a week. Working up here is crazy you do and an average of 40 hours a week but this can easily be bumped up by an extra day here and there or staying on late to help out. Saying that though I love it and wouldn’t change it for the world. Thank god Germany didn’t work out because I honestly don’t think I would be learning and doing half as much as I am here.

Okay, now that the business part is over we can discuss the people of the Slieve Donard. I can honestly say that if it wasn’t for the amazing people working in the Slieve my time here would not be half as good. I truly feel like I have made some great friends here that I will actually miss when I leave. I  have to give an honorable mention to my husband to be Eugene Rooney, one of the wedding coordinators here who is not only good at his job but also a pleasure to be around. Unfortunately, I cannot possibly list all the names of the people that I love because this blog would go on for far too long and I have already rambled enough. We have also lost quite a few members of our team since I have started here which is just the nature of the hospitality business but it does tend to affect staff moral such as when Ray left the bar for bigger and brighter things. Such is life I suppose. The hospitality industry has always been a mixing pot for different cultures, we work with many Spanish people and I also live with a couple of polish people so now I can successfully curse in 4 different languages if that’s not a win I don’t know what is.

 Lastly, I would like to discuss the beautiful scenery of Newcastle Co. Down where the Mournes meet the sea. It is honestly so picturesque up here and living in the staff house here means that the beach is my back garden and the mountains are only a quick stroll away. My favorite thing to do here (other than Quinn’s) is to go to the beach be it morning, noon or night. There’s something about having the sand between my toes that just relieves any stress that was ever built up inside me. Myself and Robert also managed to get a day off together, which is extremely rare so we packed a picnic and headed off up the mountains in our skinny jeans and doc’s. we didn’t manage to make it up the top due to extreme winds but we did get half way up to Narnia, played with some sheep, explored an old ice hut and had a picnic at a waterfall so in my eyes that was a perfect trip to the mountains.

I believe that is all for now, thank you for reading my rambles and hey if you only skimmed it I don’t blame you. Farewell, auf wiedersehne, do widzenia, adios agus slan, Saoirse.

P.S Sorry for my terrible photo placement I am not great with technology. Believe in the Slieve, peace out.