Taking a break from blogging

This blog marks 26 weeks of blogging.

It’s not a target I set for myself or something I did intentionally, but I started this year by deciding to take my blog a little bit more seriously. I began putting more time in posts and planning out every month, deciding on a blog I would put up every week.

It’s been quite challenging but it’s also been rewarding. To have a blog written and ready to upload every week, first you need something to write about. I would say I’m a pretty aware person, but with my need to have something to write about every week, I’ve become even more aware of the things around me.

I also treasure that I can look back over these posts, week by week and see what thoughts were wandering around my head at that particular time.

But the whole point of this post is to let you know I’m taking a break.

When this post goes up it’ll be the middle of June and I know from experience that future Catherine (present me is actually writing this blog in May), will be swamped with work. And I’ll be needing my days off to fully relax and enjoy my summer and not be sitting at a computer trying to prepare a blog in a hurry.

You reading this probably won’t notice that I’m taking a little breather from blogging for a few weeks, but I just thought I’d write this anyway (and future me can also look back over this at some stage and be like “hey 27 weeks was good going!”)

During the weeks that I don’t have blogs going up I will keep writing, some of which may end up as posts on here! I also plan on revamping my blog a little bit and looking at different layouts. The current design on my blog is something I chose two years ago, and I don’t think it reflects me anymore.

I am also seriously thinking of changing my blog name. Like my design, the name Rearranging Stars just doesn’t sit right with me and I don’t feel any joy in telling people what my blog is called (sometimes I even feel embarrassed haha).

How is your summer going? If you blog do you find it hard to juggle blogging with other responsibilities?

An hour in a coffee shop

I spend a lot of my time in coffee shops.

Sometimes during these little moments to myself I notice going on’s and interactions.

One weekend while I was back home, I grabbed my notebook and a pen and I headed to a coffee shop in my town. While sipping away on my mocha and contemplating what my next blog post was going to be, a man came into the shop. He approached the counter and ordered an Americano. As he was walking away, waiting for it to be made, the girl at the counter called him back telling him he gave her too much money. He waved her off and told her “put it forward to the next person who comes in.”

“Fine for some” I thought smiling. A few moments later another man came and after ordering his coffee he was told it was on the house. Responding to his shocked and bemused expression, the barista laughed and pointed to the other man waiting explaining that the man had payed his coffee forward.

“Oh can I do the same then?”

And the exact same thing happened another few moments later. These three strangers all stood around each other waiting for their coffees to be done, smiling and striking up conversation all because of one simple gesture one person started.

People think I have an obsession with coffee shops, even though I can’t call myself a coffee connoisseur because all I drink is mochas. But I don’t love coffee shops because of the coffee, I love places like these because of moments like the one I just told you. The human interactions that come from being in one place together. Next time you’re sitting in a coffee house passing the time away, take a look at the people around you. People watching is personally one of my favourite things to do, it can be so soothing.

I go to coffee shops so I can have a catch up with an old friend who I haven’t seen in months, or I sit and cram for my last exam, or even just to go and read my book for a while. It’s a place that I can go and be surrounded by people but feel very content in my own company.

It’s one of the places that I feel calmest in.

Do you have a place like that? Where you go and you feel centred?

Navigating through Northern Ireland

I’m from Ireland and a part of the country I’ve never visited is Northern Ireland.

Living in Dublin, Northern Ireland is only a stone throw away (about a two hour car journey).

My friend and I (who is my go to companion when it comes to travelling to new places), made the decision one weekend to visit the north of the country.

We didn’t have the full weekend to explore the area (entirely my fault because time was against me… if my friend is reading this, I’m sorry again! I know you wanted to spend the full weekend there x)

But during the time we had, this is what we saw…

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Brief and not informative at all history lesson:

I’m putting my hands up and telling you that I don’t know an awful lot about the divide between the Republic and the North. It could be because that it was taught badly to us in school or it could also be my lack of interest to know. But here is what I do know.

Ireland is split into two. You have the Republic of Ireland (which I am from) and then you have Northern Ireland which is made up of six counties and is under British law.

Some people would love the nation to be united as one, while others are happy with the way things are. Because of this, it can be a touchy subject. Things got very bad at one point and that point in Irish history became known as ‘The Troubles’.

The divide in my country is not something that’s ever effected me since I’m originally from the other end of the country. But for others the violence and the divide is something that has been very real.

But this blog isn’t a history lesson. It’s a travel piece on my experience in a new place; and as usual I’ll talk about the attractions I visited, the people I met and the food I ate. But also the thoughts I had and the differences I saw by just crossing over a border in my own country. Nothing dramatic of course, there wasn’t border controls, or any feeling of fear, it was just the surprising changes that I saw but naively I’ve never really thought about.

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Belfast-Antrim-Coleriane-Portrush

Along the way we stopped in Belfast city for lunch. We went to this coffee shop called “Established Coffee”, where they served hipster food and hipster coffee. Think the word kale being thrown around a lot, openspaced layout and eveything made from wood and you have an idea of the place

But myself and my friend can be quite pretentious when we get together, so this type of vibe suited us perfectly.

It was strange after ordering our food to hand over pounds ( the money there even looks different from the pounds you get in England!)

Something else that surprised me, but that I was expecting to happen was the change in signposts on the road. One moment the road signage were white with the name in English and then the translation to Irish, and then next the signs were green. The speed also changed from km/h to miles per hour. Also the housing was notably different and within a few moments of crossing the border I spotted British flag flowing in the wind.

I think uncertain is the best way to describe how I felt. It was something I knew was going to happen but it still made me feel uneasy for a few moments to realise this didn’t feel like, and I suppose wasn’t, my country anymore.

Anyway enough of the patriotism.

Our next stop was the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge in Co. Antrim. It’s a bridge that connects to a small island off the coast, this little island is where for years fisherman fished for salmon and then would carry it across the bridge.

They have a timed ticket system going on that only leaves a certain amount of people make the walk to the bridge at allocated times. I should note that the weather was phenomenal this weekend so the attraction was packed with tour buses and people on day out’s like ourselves.

Storytime: We actually just missed the latest time slot by a few seconds meaning that we had to wait another hour before we could cross the bridge. Because of the the time limit we were under if we waited the hour we would have to skip another destination we had planned but if we left we would have wasted all the time driving there for nothing. As we debated what to do (while feeling very sorry for ourselves) we decided we would wait the hour. But when we went up to get the later tickets, the lovely young man who had originally told us there was no tickets left did us a sneaky favour and handed us earlier tickets he had at his disposal. He didn’t need to do this and was doing us a complete and utter favour but it was such a lovely gesture. I think fondly of that lovely young fella every now and then ❤

The walk to the bridge was breathtaking with views for days. When we got to the point of crossing the rope bridge I felt shaky (I have a fear of heights) but I managed to cross over without fainting (yay). The bridge itself isn’t that long and doesn’t take that long to cross, but I still wasn’t pausing for too long to take any photo worthy poses.

On the island we got a little talk from the tour guide about the purpose of the island and the job of the fishermans that was very informative and interesting

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The view of the walk towards the bridge

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The view of the rope bridge

Fun fact: The bridge used to have only a rope railing on one side, so the fisherman used to carry the salmon across on their back while holding on to a railing on one side; and nothing protecting them from falling over on the other side.

Next on our list was the Giant’s Causeway. When we got there we were a bit surprised that we had the pay for this place aswell. But what they don’t make clear is that you’re actually paying for the interactive museum and the car park, but if you drive your car down to the Causeway you can see it for free.

The rocks were incredible and it was surreal to imagine that nature alone created it all. This place again was mobbed (there was even two separate wedding parties there taking photos!), so it was hard to get pictures/ try and scramble over the rocks without falling over or pushing someone in to the sea.

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A (small) part of the Giant’s Causeway (behind me there was about a million tourists)

Our last stop was Dunluce Castle, but by the time we got here the castle was closed and we couldn’t go inside but instead we explored the outside of it and admired it from afar.

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Dunluce Castle

Our day was coming to an end and we wanted to drop by our B&B before we headed out for dinner. Arriving at Hall’s Farmhouse B&B in Coleraine we weren’t really sure what to expect (B&B’s can sometimes be hit or misses as you know), but we were pleasantly surprised. Firstly we were greeted by a beautiful golden retriever (always a good sign) by the name of Maggie. Our hosts Sonia and Ivan greeted us at the door and were unbelievably friendly, and the room we were shown to was lovely and spacious and very tastefully decorated. We didn’t spend long once we arrived though because we were starved since we hadn’t eaten since Belfast.

We tried to find a place to eat in Portrush, the town nearby, but I’m not exaggerating by saying that every place was booked out. We soon gave up and tried another smaller town which was close by, but this place was also packed for the night. At this stage we were delirious with hunger and ended up driving back out to Coleriane to a local hotel. We finally got food here and I nearly cried with relief when my fish and chips were placed in front of me.

 

The next day (I’m going to wrap this up quickly because I’ve just realised this blog is so long haha); we had lovely chats with Sonia before she served us a fab breakfast, then we said goodbye to Maggie, grabbed our suitcases and headed on our way.

(I never managed to take any pictures of the B&B, but you can find Halls Farmhouse B&B on TripAdvisor and Booking.com 🙂 )

We made a quick visit to a beach, but we didn’t have long because I needed to get back to Dublin to catch a train home.

So there you go! That was my trip to Northern Ireland! I think when I visit again I’ll explore Belfast City better, and I’d like to see the Giant’s Causeway again but when it’s a lot quieter.

Have you ever been to Northern Ireland? Did you enjoy it?

My need to please people

Hi I’m Catherine and I’m a people pleaser. You could also interpenetrate that as code for lick arse but read this first and see what I have to say.

I’ve always been this way. I like making people happy.  Since I was young I’ve hated doing anything that would upset someone or make them slightly unhappy with me. And if I say something to hurt someone (because sometimes I’m stupid and my filter doesn’t work) I beat myself up and all the hurt I’ve inflicted on them I feel too ( I guess that also makes me empathetic).

I was was that annoying kid in school who agreed with everything you said. Oh you like that song? I do too! I never noticed it till someone pointed it out to me and like most habits, you don’t recognise you have them until someone makes you aware of it. I’m grateful for this person doing this even though at the time it made me acutely self aware of myself. Though this self awareness helped me more conscious that I should form my own opinions on things, I was still a huge people pleaser.

Always being ready to please people caused me to agree easily and not tread on people’s toes.  I just wanted to be liked. As you get older you realise you’re not going to make everyone happy. I’m not going to say that I still don’t strive to make others happy,  but I’ve gotten better at not making it my priority.

I’ve also gotten a lot better at not always agreeing with others. If anything I enjoy when people have different opinions to me, because it opens up the opportunity of a having a discussion. This can make for extremely interesting conversations.

I think it all comes down to finding the balance of makes others happy but not allowing your own thoughts and feelings to be jeopardised.

Do you struggle with feeling the need to please people?

Learning to drive- where I’m at now

Two years ago I wrote a blog titled “my (disastrous) first driving lesson” and it became my most viewed post.

Two years later I’m still doing driving lessons (*laughs nervously*).

But before you think that I’ve just been lazy, let me explain.

Here in Ireland, before doing your driving test you’re required to do twelve supervised stamped lessons. This can be pretty expensive since it’s usually 30 euro per lesson. Summertime is usually the best time for me to fit lessons in, but since everyone else usually has the same mindset, instructors can often be fully booked and you might have to wait four weeks before you can do your next lesson.

The first summer I managed to do five lessons and by the end of the following summer I was able to do four more. Pushing myself since the start of the year (and putting my money to the side!) I got around to doing two more. With only one more lesson to do I’m happy to see that there’s some improvement in my driving since my very first lesson.

If you read my previous blog on this crazy journey, you’ll see that my first lesson didn’t go very smoothly. After using that driver instructor (I think I called him ‘Bob’ for the blog- I know, my originality shocks me sometimes) for my first summer, I knew that I needed a change. We all learn in different ways, and ‘Bob’s’ method was harsh learning, praising when you got something right but scowling you if you messed up. I’m the type of person who is easily flustered and it takes me a long time to be confident in something new that I’m doing.

So I bid Bob farewell and found Tom*.

Tom has suited me perfectly. While I’m driving he manages to calm my nerves completely by just chatting away to me about mundane things (the weather, work, current affairs etc) and pausing every now and then to let me know which turn to take. He also makes an effort to praise me which helps my shaky confidence, his favourite line he likes to bestow me with is “you have lovely steering.”

What every girl wants to hear, am I right?

His chatter makes me forget my anxiety and I just get into the motion of driving, it also makes me more at ease to have someone chat away to me instead of sitting in stony silence while I feel like he’s judging my every move (*cough Bob cough*)

An instructor can make or break you, so finding the right instructor that suits you is so important.

Something I thought that would never happen is that I enjoy driving now. I feel proud of myself when I reach a new milestone; like recently I drove from my town to the next town over which is a about a forty minute car ride. I gave myself a pat on the back afterwards (my little inner voice jumping up and down and squealing ‘you did it!’)

Now pushing on into the summer I’m going to try and keep going with my driving and hopefully have my license before I’m 21 (?!)

How was your experience of learning to drive?

 

 

 

*his real name. I like Tom