Tag: Galway

South Africa to Ireland a Big Move – My Story

There is no place like home

 

I have updated this blog post, which is one of my most read.

Thirteen years ago I moved from Johannesburg, South Africa to Ireland.  Not only was it a huge move from continent to continent, but it was also a move from city life to a rural life in beautiful Connemara.

It really doesn’t matter how many people you ask about the experience before it happens, it is still a massive shock to the system.

Ultimately my decision to move was motivated by the rising crime in South Africa.  There were a few experiences that really touched my life and I realised that I was living with fear.

I don’t judge the people who have stayed and neither do I judge the people who have left the beautiful country that is my birthplace.  The time came and I had to make my choice, and the fact that I had a 7-year old son was a huge part of that.

From South Africa to Ireland

We moved across the world and landed up in Connemara in early February.  Connemara is a beautiful place, but it doesn’t really show it’s beauty in February.  It was wild, windy and very cold.  It rained almost every day.  I wasn’t prepared, and my pretty umbrella bought in South Africa turned inside out and blew away the first time I used it.

With the hindsight of 13 years I am glad I made the move.  It has been a very turbulent 13 years which has seen me live in Connemara, in Westport, Mayo and now back in Athenry on the east side of Galway.

It has seen me start my own business in the form of a craft shop called An Siopa Buί – The Yellow Shop.  Through the shop I was privileged to travel across Ireland and meet some really special people.   Circumstances change and I returned to the corporate world and spend two and a half years in Westport (considered to be the best place to live in Ireland.)  I am now living in Athenry (made famous by the song The Fields of Athenry) and am moving onto a different phase of my life.

The common thread through my life and the big move has been people.  The friends that I have made at every stage – both South Africans in Ireland, South Africans at home and of course my Irish friends.

After 10 years I took Irish Citizenship and am proud to be Irish – although I will always be South African too.

I visit South Africa as often as I can and will always have the song of Africa in my heart.  When I am homesick I think of the sound of crickets on a summer night.  The evocative smell of sunset after a hot day and the wonderful social culture of bring and braai (a BBQ where everyone brings something along).

I was honoured to take part in a TV series on RTE in 2007 called No Place Like Home.  The producers came up with a cool concept of featuring foreigners living in Ireland, and comparing where their lifestyles in Ireland with lifestyles back ‘home’.  The title really says it all.  There is no place like home, but what I have come to realise is that you can have two homes.  I will always have a little part of my soul in Africa, but now I have fallen in love with Ireland too.

The West of Ireland where I have made my home is a truly beautiful place.  One day on a drive between Westport and Connemara I stopped to take in the view.  The word awesome came to mind.

Truly awesome as you realise that this magnificent scenery is simply there for us to appreciate and admire.

Ireland has been good to me.  I have made so many friends, through my crafting, through blogging , through the ICA and through my career.  I have been welcomed into so many homes and drunk copious cups of tea as I have learnt the generosity of spirit that the Irish are known for.

My son is now grown-up and has completed a Physics Degree at University in Galway and is now working in his dream job in the United Kingdom.  He has made his home here but I will always remind him of his African roots, so he too can have two homes. (Maybe even three since he has moved on)

You can read my post about my empty nest  here.

My information about the legalities and practicalities about moving to Ireland is a little out of date.  It is almost 15 years now.

I am delighted to say that there is a whole lot more information out there than there was when I did the move.

There is a wonderful Facebook Group run by South Africans who have made the move and I suggest that you join it and take a deep dive into the files.  There is so much information available and the people in the group are so helpful.

You can find the group here.

I do try to answer all the emails I receive but it isn’t always possible so apologies in advance.

Thank you so much for reading.

Kerry xx

You can be Fit without being Sporty

7km

I am going to participate in a 7km walk.

This may not seem a remarkable statement, but coming from the original couch potato it really is!

I grew up not really understanding the value of physical exercise. I suffered from asthma and breathing difficulties and although I realise now these were just excuses. I simply didn’t get exercise.

My hand eye co-ordination wasn’t good so I would regularly be in the group of the last to be picked for games and I think that this contributed to the belief that I wasn’t sporty and therefore not entitled to be fit.

There is a big difference between being sporty and being fit. I have really only discovered how good it feels to be fit in the last 5 years. I bought my first pair of trainers, and took the first steps towards a healthier future.

I have been walking for a while now, and always feel a bit envious when looking at the Facebook posts where people have completed 5km and 10km walks and runs. I promised myself that I would book my first 5km race this year.

I am going to do it – I will be fit enough!

I was sitting up at 7 in the morning last Sunday just wondering what I could do to give my life more direction, what goals I needed to set and I came across a link for a 7km (2km longer than a 5km) walk, right here in the heart of Galway.

Do it! Eeek! I did – I pressed the button and said yes. So this is how I will be spending Valentine’s day this year.

heart of galway

The walk/run (definitely walk in my case) is actually called the Heart of Galway Challenge is part of Project Impact. This initiative is presented in association with Pat Divilly and 56 Central – my favourite restaurant in Galway run by the fabulous Gill Carroll (I interviewed Gill last year).

The walk takes place along Galway’s most scenic route with lots of quirky challenges promised along the way. The money raised will be going to the Big Brother Big Sister charity – a fabulous youth mentoring programme.

I really like the idea behind this walk. 100% of the money raised will go to the charity with the specific aim of sending 100 teenagers and their mentors to an adventure centre.

I honestly wish that I had discovered the joy of fitness earlier in my life. It is never too late though, and I am committed to moving forward with my own fitness journey.

I will be honest in saying that I am a little apprehensive about the walk, but I am determined to do it. Thank you those who have already offered to sponsor me.

Thank you for reading.

Kerry x

Win some Fabulous Christmas Baubles!

xmas2015-daytwo---64

It is almost time to decorate!  I like to make decorating day into an occassion.  I start with Christmassy bites.  Mince pies are essential as well as a box of Quality Street or Roses for nibbling on.

When I put my decorations away, I wrap them in pages from the TV guide and then into old biscuit and sweetie tins.  This makes unwrapping fun!

Many of the decorations have special meaning to me and it is great to reminisce about where they came from.  I have paper ornaments made in school and beautiful fabric ones make by a friend and beaded wire ornaments from South Africa.

Each year I treat myself to a few new ones.  This year I already have my eye on some of the gorgeous ones at EZ Living Furniture (very tempting as this is where I work).  Take a look at some of the gorgeous goodies on the web site.

Pinterest is also great for some fresh ideas – I must admit that I was drooling over photos while making my wish list.

I am delighted to say that I have been given a selection of 6 beautiful ornaments to give away on my blog.  Leave a comment here to be entered into the draw.  If you would like another entry, give it a like on Facebook and a share to spread the Christmas Cheer.

I will pull a winner on 6 December.  Sorry but this competition is only open to Ireland.

Thanks for reading and happy decorating.

Kerry x

Fabulous Food, Fabulous woman – Gill Carroll

Photo Martina Regan
Photo Martina Regan

I am always inspired by women who are fabulous in every way.  Woman who defy the rules, and set out to reach for their dreams no matter what.

I was invited to an ITWBN  blogger event at 56 Central, a new snazzy eatery in Galway.  The food was beyond delicious, the décor really extraordinary and the company of my fellow ITWBN bloggers sublime.

What really struck me though was the quiet confidence of the fabulous woman who welcomed us.  Gill Carroll spoke with passion when she spoke of the ethos of the restaurant that provides culinary excellence from local producers and invites people to connect.

I knew at this point that I wanted to do a ‘Fabulicoius Woman’ interview with Gill.  I wanted to know what made this fabulous woman tick!

Q:  You have opened two unique eateries, 37 West renowned for healthy food and 56 Central which is based on connections.  Where do you find your inspiration?

Gill:  I spend a lot of time researching, studying from great leaders.  I take one thing from everyone and then use them to drive me on! You can learn from anyone now online – but, I do like to go to talks as well to get the real deal!

Q  What would you consider your greatest achievement in your career thus far and why?

Gill:  I think it was when 37 West (the first restaurant launched by Gill),  won Best of Galway Awards or when we got our first McKenna award – seeing the teams faces when we got the awards was something special – we all worked hard for them.

Also, creating my vision boards for 37 West and putting them out, and ALL of them coming true!

Q How do you reboot yourself when you hit a low?

Gill:  I always go back to basics.  I have a Dream Day and over many years have created many vision boards – so when things go low I go back to them – read them and remind myself of where I want to go – where I said I wanted to go when times were good!

It is easy lose focus business is hard – people expect a lot so you. My aim is to follow the words of Tony Robbins and create, not destroy. I have super people around me too, which means in seconds I can connect with people who just get me!

Q Who inspires you?  And why?

Gill:  So many people!!!

My Dad for his true fearless entrepreneurial spirit.

My Mother for her passion for fun and enjoying life.

My best friend Pat for his constant inspiration.

My business partner Lisa in Strive For It for her passion for consistency.

Q If you had to sit down and have a meal at 37 West – what would you order?

Gill:  For breakie I have an omelette with Cajun chicken, jalapeno, feta cheese and gluten-free bread! My last supper would be of course a Chicken melt, chunky chip, garlic mayo and a san Pellegrino lemon! ahhhh heaven.  (And I am hungry just reading that)

Q  How do you relax?  You have two very busy and successful businesses, but I would imagine that you need to relax and rewind at some time.  I think this is an important part of being fabulous, hence the question.

Ok, I am bad on the relaxing! I love training, it’s my way of letting go and having me time.  I am in the gym early in the morning before the world gets up! I love going to the Radisson to sit in the hot tub for hours.

I believe in the freedom days – taking a day off away from world and doing something very exciting – at least once a month!

Q Lastly, what do you do you do to make yourself feel fabulous?

I am not into make-up, hair or fashion.  I have to be told to do that sort of stuff! To feel fab I enter a race the crazier the better – getting your body and mind in shape for something wild like that is when I feel alive inside – like doing Tough Mudder or Spartan race.  I feel alive covered in mud in a field, helping myself and others get through some hard hours!

If there’s a charity element I am even more ready to get covered in mud.  It makes the whole event so much more worthwhile.  Last year I was part of a team that raised  €160k for Cystic Fibrosis – a really   special moment of my life!

I also love to go for good meal, sip on a big glass of red wine and laugh my head off with good people.  Follow it up by dancing my ass off.  Basically acting like a big child!

 

I would like to sincerely thank Gill for not only welcoming me to her restaurant, but also taking the time to do this interview.  I can honestly recommend the food at both eateries (and I do love good food).

 

Thanks for reading x

 

 

So you have decided to start blogging …

 

#itwbnselfie

I started my blog at the beginning of the year, but I can honestly say that the real kick-start came after attending a blogging event.

That first event was the ITWBN meet-up at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Galway.  I was made to feel so welcome and was so inspired by fellow bloggers, speakers and the sparkling and lovely event organised by Saibh and Sinead.

A few weeks ago I was delighted to once again attend an ITWBN event at the gracious Ardilaun Hotel.  The event featured Joanne Larby, the Make-up Fairy.

Now, I am not strictly a beauty blogger, but I do love my make-up and love being fabulous so I dressed up fancy (and had my photo taken by a friendly photographer), and headed out with a spring in my step.

What a wonderful an inspiring event.  It started with a  warm welcome from my fellow bloggers, some which I knew already, and others who I had the pleasure of getting to know.  We were treated to gorgeous fruit cocktails and fragrant Solaris tea before sitting down to a spread.

The food was delicious.  Our table devoured the yummy savouries and were delighted to receive an extra plate.  Scones, and sweet goodies followed all washed down by tea.  Catriona from Solaris Tea urged us to try some of the special teas and I found myself addicted to Chai Green Tea, so much so that I had to buy a box to take home!

Joanne is glamorous in person, but is also very down to earth.  As she shared her story, I found myself inspired and was quickly jotting down ideas for posts and for increasing my readership.  Joanne built her blog from very little.  The success of her blog is a result of lots of hard work and consistency.   It wasn’t all about beauty, more about blogging and Joanne was very generous about sharing  tips for taking your blog the step further.  Question time was great, lots more scribbling from me.

No blogging event from the fabulous ITWBN would be complete without a legendary goody bag.  Snuggled up on my sofa after the event, the pencil came out again as I started planning even more blog posts based on the goodies!

Blogging can be a very solitary hobby, but by attending events and joining groups you become part of a community.  A community of colleagues that are there to inspire you.

Thank you to Saibh and Sinead for your hard work!

Thanks for reading.

Kerry xx

 

 

When change happens – make it good change

Marilyn monroe quoteChange is inevitable.  Marilyn Monroe is a woman that divides.  I admire her and am often drawn to her quotes.  I think that to an extent she was misunderstood, but behind the blond curly locks and sexy voice was a very wise woman.

Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.

I was musing on 2015 and realised that so far it has been a year of two halves.  For the first 6 months I was happily living in Westport, working away at my job, with a great social life and a fabulous circle of friends in Mayo.

The second half has been all about change.  I found a new job in Galway – which was the first domino in a series of changes.  I left my beautiful flat,and now know that I would have been given notice anyway as the owners were moving back!  I bade farewell to familiar streets that I walked every day greeting people along the way.

The transition was not easy, but now I am starting to realise that this quote is true.  New things are starting to fall together.  I am writing this sitting in my lovely new home, contemplating putting on a fire with a pot of soup on the stove waiting for my dinner guest.

I have found new ways to exercise and am walking regularly.

I am closer to my family and am rekindling old friendships and making new ones.

I have new challenges in the workplace that are allowing me to exercise my mind.

So, thank you Marilyn for those wise words of inspiration.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy my Wednesday quotation.

Kerry x

 

 

Making a gratitude list – and checking it twice …

gratitudeˈɡratɪtjuːd-nounthe quality of….. there are many people who have been very nice, and none that have been naughty.

I have a lot to be thankful for.  Over the last couple of months I have been through a bit. I have moved home twice, started a new job, said farewell to friends and hello to new friends.

Throughout it all, there has been one constant.  Gratitude.  I have so very much to be thankful for. My family and friends near and far have been there for me.

Sometimes it is the big things like a the gift of a holiday or a bed for a month that I am extremely grateful for, but then again there are those smaller things that simply come along at just the right time when you need them.

The day I moved to my new home I had so much help.  I simply could not have done it without the kindness of others.

I was moved in and was surrounded by boxes and memories, all the helpers had left and I must admit I was feeling a bit sorry for myself.  A little bit lonely to be honest.  The next thing I was greeted at my front door by a fellow South African I had ‘met’ on Facebook.  She had those moving day essentials, a bottle of wine and a cake!

I am no good at scrubbing and cleaning because it hurts my hands.  How blessed am I to have a friend who came and cleaned my bathrooms for me.  True friendship,

I have honestly been so humbled when I wrote my gratitude list.   It is something quite personal but very important.to remind us of the true meaning of gratitude.

This definition is very true.  It is not enough to simply be thankful.  We need to show appreciation and return kindness.It is also really important that amidst the hustle and bustle of life, it is important to make a call, send a text or even send a card to say thank you.

I challenge you to make a gratitude list.

Thank you for reading

Kerry xx

The happiness and horrors of house hunting

My new front door (2)

Our home is so important to our happiness.  When I started house hunting six weeks ago I was honestly dreading it.  I put on my brave face and logged onto Daft.ie.

Where would I find a house that was going to be my home?

There were moments when I laughed and moments when I was ready to cry, but some stories just have to be shared …..

There was the house which was a converted B&B.  On arriving I wasn’t sure as I would be sharing a home that had been divided.  I am a free spirit and I like my privacy, but considering the lack of housing in Galway I had to keep an open mind (I just didn’t realise how open it needed to be).

He showed me around the house which wasn’t too bad.  Two bedrooms, both en suite, a little sitting room and a tiny kitchen.  I was clean and I was thinking that perhaps I could make it work.  Then I saw that the dividing door between the two houses was glass!  I had a vision of myself nipping into the kitchen wrapped in my bath towel to make a cuppa, as I often do this!  I commented on the glass door and the gentleman honestly seemed shocked that it would be a problem.  I was still pondering where I would do my arty crafty stuff.  There was one door next to the kitchen that hadn’t been revealed.  I asked about it and he promptly replied that it was his bathroom, in my potential house!  I must have looked terribly shocked.  ‘I am very discreet’ he said. ‘I won’t use the bathroom until you have gone to work.’  I didn’t really know what to say.  He was asking premium money to rent a house in which he would be doing his bathroom business.

Being I positive person, I ventured back onto Daft.  Ooh look a new property!  Five minutes from work and it looked gorgeous and more to the point was within my budget.  I was buzzing this was going to be it.  It was small but really well fitted out.  A gorgeous curved red sofa and some sparkling mosaic in the bathroom.  I showed it to a friend and she recognised the development straight away.

Off  I went at lunch time.  I arrived and was greeted by a staircase with a carpet that was unravelling.  The smell of mould and damp greeted my nostrils.  I was told that the house was available as it stood (in other words no upgrades).  A broken single bed occupied the main bedroom, black mould on the bathroom walls and no red sofa. The sofa that was in place had seen plenty of action, that I really didn’t want to think about. There was also no mosaic in the bathroom.  When I questioned the landlady she was quite indignant. ‘ I need to know if I should add you to the list before 5pm,’ she said. This was not the same apartment in the photos!  With a heavy heard and a small bit of frustration I returned to looking.

Happily I do have a new home to move into.  It came through a thoughtful colleague from my previous job.  He has heard me bemoaning the house hunting task.  ‘Call this lady, and use my name’ he said.  I am delighted with my new house in the little town of Athenry in County Galway.  I move in next week.

Thanks for listening to me rant about house hunting.

Kerry xx

 

Treating my hands to a bit of Revive

icarevive

 

I love magazines, I guess I have a bit of an addiction to them.  As you can imagine I was delighted to receive a copy of the first ICA magazine, and after setting myself up with a cup of tea I sat down for a good read.

Tucked in the back was an advert for Revive, a Galway based company who are developing some fabulous health supplements.  I knew about the ‘green’ Revive (Revive Active) as my sister had been raving about it.  I had also had a little sample in my ITWBN goody bag!  But here was a blue one – and one especially for joints.

My hands are a constant struggle for me since being diagnosed with arthritis.  They simply hurt all the time, and I am struggling with flexibility.  Because I am me, I am doing everything I can to keep going, including injecting with methotrexate which is a bit hectic to say the least.

I am delighted to say that I have added the Revive joint formula to my anti- arthritis arsenal.  The supplement that comes in a sachet and is mixed with water doesn’t taste like chocolate, but it isn’t bad at all.  It has all the building block ingredients that are supposed to reduce pain and increase mobility.  With any luck it is also going to repair cartilage, and reduce inflammation ( a biggie for me).

My new breakfast addition from ReviveI have been taking it for over two weeks now.  Last night a friend was over and asked me how my hands were.  I had to stop for a minute to think.  They hadn’t been hurting all day!    Could be a coincidence, but I will take whatever pain-free days are available.

This is a long-term solution and I will be updating everyone on the blog regularly.  Revive uses the slogan the science of nature.  I can do that!  I am delighted that I am not adding any more baddies into my blood stream, and feeling better to boot!

Thanks for reading and please feel free to share your feedback.

Kerry xx

 

Why I am no longer scared of change

Making a big life change is scary, but (2)Change is something I have learnt to embrace.  It isn’t easy, and I still find it a huge challenge, but I have learnt that change offers opportunity.

This post is a very special Wednesday quotation as the quote in question aptly describes my life over the last few weeks.  The lesson for me has been that ‘making big life changes is scary, but what is even scarier is regret.

Let me back-track a little ….

Three years ago I chose ‘change’ as my word of the year, and experienced some extreme changes.  Over that year, I learnt to adapt and accept that things cannot stay the same if you want to grow.  2013 was the year I moved to Westport to take up a new job back in the corporate world.  It has been a fabulous experience, and I have really loved the challenges that working in corporate finance gave me.  I am proud of how much I have learnt, and extremely grateful to the Westport for welcoming me.

Now it appears that I need another change in my life to continue my journey.  I am delighted to share that I have a new job, with an exciting Irish company.  I will be based back in Galway and am excited about the new marketing challenges ahead.

It is scary, as I will be leaving the comfort of a job I know, great colleagues, and of course the wonderful friends I have made here.  Westport is a town I have grown to love.

I am not moving yet, as I like to take my change slowly.  First the job, and then the move I, tell myself.

On the plus side, I am delighted to be returning to beautiful Galway.  My son, my sister, lots of friends old and new and of course the fabulous attractions all await just a county away.

If you are facing change, be brave.  I know it isn’t easy, and a little part of me is dreading it, but there is another part of me that is very excited.

Thanks for reading.

Kerry xx

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