Sunday, 17 December 2017

48 Hours in Amsterdam

Last October, Rachel and I flew to Amsterdam for Mayday Parade's tenth anniversary Lesson in Romantics tour. Neither of us had even been to the Netherlands before, so we spent our 48 hours there squeezing in as many sights as we could.

We stayed in the Leidsplein district of the city, in the Backstage Hotel - a rock 'n' roll inspired spot filled with cool guitars and piles upon piles of iconic vinyls. Our room even came stocked with a bunch of artsy books on music legends of every genre. The hotel was right around the corner from the Melkweg venue, and a minute's walk from the nearest shopping streets and tram stops.

On our first day we hit up the museum quarter, which houses the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh museum (among others) and those infamous iamsterdam signs (let's not talk about how long it took us to find the Rijksmuseum despite being a ten minute walk from our hotel...). Later, we took a tram to the other side of the city and wandered around the busy Dam Square, home to the Madame Tussaud's museum and the biggest Penneys I have ever seen (you can take the girls out of Ireland...).

Our night was occupied by the Mayday Parade show in the Melkweg - a former milk-factory-turned-music-venue, Melkweg meaning Milky Way- who played an intensely nostalgic set, preceeded by Australian pop punk outfit With Confidence and Texan trio Waterparks.

On day two we spent our morning searching for the bench from The Fault in Our Stars, only to find it already occupied by two old guys drinking cans... We also made a brief stop to the Vondelpark, and narrowly avoided being hit by cyclists a few dozen times. That afternoon, we hopped on a boat and took a trip round the city's canal routes - stopping only to check out the Anne Frank museum in Prinsengracht (if you ever want a hope of getting in there book your tickets weeks in advance - we didn't). Although Amsterdam's not a big city by any means, the canal tours are a handy way of seeing all the sights in a few hours - plus if you're as tired as we were, it saves a lot of walking.

It's a gorgeous little city, and we're already planning another two day trip back there next spring. If you've been before, I'd love to hear your recommendations of what to do or see, or where to eat or stay, for the next time!

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Listen & Love #8

I haven't posted a playlist here in so long and I probably should be writing my top songs of the year but instead here's a little peek into what I've been listening to in the last few weeks (spoiler: it's 99% pop punk and I'm not even sorry). ENJOY.

As It Is - Pretty Little Distance

Taken from their second album, okay., Pretty Little Distance encapsulates exactly what As It Is are about at the minute: jaunty, cheery-sounding pop punk (heavy emphasis on pop) with hard-hitting, dark lyrics and infectious tunes. I listened to this a lot after seeing them play the Tivoli Theatre back in October, and it is without a doubt one of the stand-out tracks from okay.

Tonight Alive - Temple

The epic lead single from Tonight Alive's forthcoming fourth album Underworld, Temple has it all - heavy riffs, soaring melodies, epic vocals. Jenna's near-scream of one of the choruses always gives me shivers. If the rest of Underworld is anywhere near as good as Temple, then I'm exicted as hell.

The Maine - Diet Soda Society

Truth be told, I haven't paid much attention to The Maine since their 2010 album, Black & White, but a good pal of mine (and the biggest fan of The Maine I know) indirectly got me back to listening to them. Diet Soda Society reignited my love of The Maine's gorgeous melodies and vocalist John's tongue-in-cheek lyrics.

Paramore - Rose-Colored Boy

I'm ashamed to say it's taken me so long to give After Laughter the attention it deserves, but here I am, and I can't get Rose-Colored Boy out of my head. If I wasn't before, I'm now certainly 100% on board with this eighties-esque pop era of Paramore. This track will have you walking round singing "low key! no pressure! just hang with me, and my weather!" for days.

Waterparks - Lucky People

Forgive me for including two Waterparks' tracks in this list (see below), but Lucky People was dropped a matter of days ago and I've pretty much been listening to it on a constant loop since. All I'll say is: prepare to have your heart torn into dozens of tiny pieces. It's the happiest sad song you'll hear this year.

Seaway - London

If I could add this entire album, I would, because it's just that damn good. Despite being considerably pop punk, like everyone else on this list, Seaway just seem to have their own flair to their music that helps them stand out among the rest. I can't quite put my finger on it, to be honest - you'll just have to listen to the entire Vacation album and hear for yourselves.

Chapel - Caught Up

I am so obsessed with this song and this duo and their debut EP Sunday Brunch that I've been telling almost anyone who will listen about them and encouraging them to play singles Caught Up and We've Got Soul at the highest possible volume. Chapel are all about combining punchy pop beats, huge choruses and cynical, sometimes dark, lyrics and it works every single time.

Stand Atlantic - Sidewinder

Stand Altantic are another very recent discovery, and I'm already obsessed. Their * debut * EP, Sidewinder, is epic from start to finish - so good that it's hard to believe this is their very first major release. I can't wait to see what the Australian trio release in future, because they're only going to get better and better.

Pvris - St. Patrick

By no means the newest track on this list, but forgive me, I'm late as heck to the Pvris party. Lynn Gunn's vocals are so haunting and beautiful, and this track is so catchy and in-your-face, it's hard not to love.

Waterparks - Blonde

On to Waterparks track uimhir a dhó here, on a completely different note to Lucky People, Blonde is loud, fast and abrasive, and catchy as hell. Given that both initial offerings from their forthcoming second album, Entertainment, have been so bloody good, I can't wait to see what they have in store for us when it drops in January.

Listen to all of this month's bops here.

Monday, 20 November 2017

ARC March For Choice 2017

On September 30th 2017, for the sixth consecutive time, we marched for choice.

I've never felt so energised, or inspired, as I did standing among thousands of others, filled with passion, rage and with one common goal. The end of this horribly long road is in sight, but I believe we can make it there - let's never give up fighting.

If you haven't yet registered to vote, you can do so before November 25th to be eligible to vote in next year's referendum. Head to to apply. Even if you have previously registered and vote, be sure to check that you're still on the register for next year.

In 2018, let's make the right choice, and repeal the Eighth Amendment.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Walking on Water in Drumshanbo, Co. Leitrim

Ever wondered what Ireland's very first floating boardwalk would look like? Well, here it is. Right in my little home county of Leitrim.

Situated between rural towns Drumshanbo and Carrick-on-Shannon, the 600 metre floating is the final link of the Shannon Blueway - a 200km+ trail of paddling, walking and cycling routes, stretching from Drumshanbo to Lanesborough, Co. Longford. Visitors can participate in everything from kayaking and canoeing, to cycling and stand-up paddling. On our visit, we just did it the old fashioned way: on foot.

For those who just like a long walk, the Drumshanbo boardwalk links with an off-road trail, stretching 14km to Leitrim Village, in the south of the county. There are plenty of picnic benches and places to sit along the way, if you fancy admiring the greenery or relishing in the peace and quiet.

Leitrim can be such a gorgeous place to visit (when the sun's out), and a great place to enjoy the true beauty of rural Ireland. Because have you really visited Ireland until you've visited the rural (north-)west?

If you want to learn a little more about what Leitrim has to offer, check out - if peace and quiet and pretty scenery is your gig, Leitrim is really worth a visit.

*Not a sponsored post, Leitrim's just a criminally underrated place!
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