Skiing Holiday Advice

If I was to treat the reader of this as a complete and utter beginner on a skiing holiday, I would make a couple of suggestions as a precursor to one of the best holidays you will ever experience.

We first went skiing about 18 years ago; prior to going, we went to the ski slopes out at Kilternan.  I have to say from a skiing point of view, it didn’t give us much of a help, but it certainly helped with gauging the weight of the boots, wearing skis, carrying poles and getting to grips with button lifts.  It was when we went to Westendorf in Austria that the real lessons began. I would urge all of you to take lessons from a qualified instructor for at least the first three days of your holiday.  You can either take private lessons or hang in with a group of equally inadequate people, which can be just great fun.  All the snow ploughing, the tumbles, the laughter and of course, the infamous “nail bars” (nothing glamorous, just a pub game with a stump of wood and nails – you have to try), the schnapps, the hot chocolate with rum and cream.  And the sleep of the just and exhausted after a day of bending your legs in a way that they have never gone before.

As another tip pre heading on your holiday; I would say, get those arms and leg muscles working and strong.  You need arm strength to “shoosh” you along to the lifts and your legs get very tired if you do a long run.  Some of the other things you need to get used to and which seem intimidating on your first day; the moving carpet on the nursery slopes, the button lift, which is a type of kidney shaped seat that swings around and you have to balance yourself on the run underneath with your skis, whilst letting the seat just slide under your bum as you grab the swing and holding your poles to your side.  You then just let the swing seat go as you reach the top. And the lifts.  Easy peasy.  Just get yourself to the start of the lift which is like a greyhound racing trap and then wait for the seat to come around.  Make sure to swing the protection rail down over you all and off you go.  There are also enclosed gondolas which come around very slowly.  You place your skis in the holder outside, then climb inside and the gondola moves up the mountain.  The views are spectacular.

What to pack:

Skin: A good sun block.  I use La Roche P osay factor 50 as it is non comedogenic.  I would also use a very good moisturiser both morning and evening and a good lip balm.  I found my skin gets very dry.  I think it’s the combination of the cold/wind/air conditioning. So maybe bring a treat of a face mask for one of the evenings.

Clothes: Get good quality ski gear to last you a decent 10 years.  After all, you are probably going to be skiing just once a year for a week. So, a decent jacket with well padded trousers.  Make sure they are good and warm.  Wear layers underneath.  Skiing/hill walking socks that come up to almost the knee so that when you put on your boot you can make sure that only the ridges of the socks are underneath.  First body layer being thermals, top and bottom, and then perhaps a cotton tee shirt, long or short sleeved.  Very good skiing gloves, goggles and sun glasses.  Both of the last items should be suitable for snow conditions.  I believe rose/grey goggles are best for all types of visibility but especially for low visibility.  Nothing scarier than when the sky and snow meet and you can’t see off piste.  Wear a thermal hat and also a scarf that is specially designed to stay over the lower half of the face.  I have to say that I found Great Outdoors to be fantastic.  Expensive, however, so if you have a friend the same size as you, don’t be afraid to ask!

You can hire all your equipment in most ski resorts and we booked our’s online as it works out cheaper.  We used – –Ski Hire 2000.  You will need to get boots (the tighter you put them on the more support you have on your turns), skis to suit your weight, poles to suit your height and a helmet. The first day, your order will be waiting for you and if there are any changes to be made, they will do that for you.  You will also need your ski lift pass.  This usually works out at about €40 per person per day, so bear that into account along with the cost of ski hire.

A skiing holiday usually works out at around €1,000 per head.  I highly recommend Westendorf, but am a bit biased there.  I’ll talk about it briefly in my next post.

Skiing 1

Bren x


My trip to Iceland


Dan and I were blessed to get a Christmas present of a few days in Iceland, from my darling Joanne. It was on my bucket list, so that’s a tick.  So many people told me it was a country out of the ordinary and who am I to disagree. We went early April, so I would highly recommend that you bring lots of layers.  In fact, everyone was wearing much similar clothing as you would skiiing. Hill walking trousers, thick socks, hiking boots, and even woolly balaclavas.  Trust me, from about September onwards up to mid April, this is de rigueur. Maybe bring those little glove warmers.

First off recommendation, fly directly to Reykjavik.  We flew to Belfast and the less said about the queues the better.  The G & T on board helped dissipate any potential menopausal crankiness.  The flight is about 2 hours 20 and we had hired a car through Hertz.  Turned out to be a good idea.  We were staying in Keflavik itself, which is the airport town.  To be honest it was fine, but having the car made all the difference.  The hostel/hotel was also fine; clean and dandy and very suited to young and old hikers alike. We had a job finding some place to eat that was not fast food, but thank god for Google and the recommended restaurant called “Rain”.  Glorious view of the ocean and peaks of snow and twinkling lights in the distance whetting my appetite for the next day.  I had a dish called Arctic Char, very like Trout.  The only negative thing about Iceland is the price of food and drink.  Come prepared.  A good restaurant will set you back anything from €85.00 to €100.00 per head – without wine.

Read my DK Eyewitness Travel as my bed time read, and made plans!!!

Weather Thursday -2 degrees.

Straight to Reykjavik, taking us about 40 mins, and espresso bound.  Parking is cheap and as it was Holy Thursday, we got it easily and it cost us nothing. We went to a quirky cafe called Grai Kotturinn.  Basement and full of character.  People are friendly from the get go and I had an enormous plate of bacon, eggs, spinach and tomatoes.  Dan had pancakes; always watching that waistline.  Don’t expect to do a huge amount of shopping.  to be honest, nothing that I wanted to spend my time in and perhaps it wasn’t the season. We went straight to Hallgrimskirkja Church, 240ft. high, resembling a volcanic eruption. You must go to the top of the tower for the views

Both the National and Settlement Museums are superb and non po-faced.  Easy and good at holding your attention.  Culture Museum, oh, just ok. We latched onto a really good 2 hour walking tour, organised from the City Hall.  It’s a free service and given by students with the most embarrassing command of English and great patter.  Puts one to shame.  Lots of interesting and funny anecdotes and one highly recommended app suggestion called “Appyhour” Gives the times of all the Happy hours in local pubs.  I was saying to my son, Senan, that he would love it here, but wouldn’t find it as cheap to get around as say the likes of Berlin, where I think he lives off kebabs.  Here, it’s a different story.  People pay very high taxes, they have  an extremely cheap health and education service and crime is very, very low.  But the likes of coffee, beer and even fast food are quite expensive.  The population of Iceland (see how I listened) is about 330,000, equivalent to Cork, and some smart students created an app so you could tell who you are more than likely related to. A handy Tinder.   We had booked a great restaurant after watching Rick Stein in Iceland called Matur Og Drykkrer and had cocktails beforehand in Slippbarrin – wonderful espresso cocktail with cinnamon and the meal was to die for and go to heaven afterwards.  All mouth watering courses, including trout smoked with sheep dung (hmmm), halibut soup with mussels, apples and raisins, oh and lots more.  Expanding jeans required.

Friday we drove straight to Pingvellir National Park.  Me being me, was dying for my wake up espresso.  The Tourist Centre there is ill equipped for food. Just freezer of ready made sandwiches and coffee machines.  But grand.  It was bitterly cold but blue skies and shining sun.  Iceland’s location on the mid Atlantic ridge is obvious here,  You can see a huge crevice where the European and North American tectonic plates drift apart at 2cm per year.  Nothing to worry us unduly.  We descended to the Law Rock (explained in the National Museum the day before, so I was feeling very clever) all the time trying to get circulation into my hands to take a photograph.  It was like when I played with snow as a child and my hands hurt when I came inside.  A bit moany, was I.  We walked to the pretty church.  Peningagja on the way, is glorious.  A deep but narrow lava fissure with peacock blue water with a naturally created wishing well with coins left by visitors

Off we headed back to gloriously heated bottoms in the car en route to the Geysir Hot springs area.  The Visitor Centre there is just terrific; great food and even better coffee – for lunch or early dinner if you wish.  Passing the oft neglected Litli Geysir (everyone say awwwh) and on to the wonderfully exploding Strokkur. It erupts every few minutes; just don’t turn your back, as to Dan’s great guffaws of laughter, I kept missing it, and do have your camera set to video.  And be patient.  You might just get splashed by the sweet smelling sulpher.  The water is boiling hot, so don’t be an Ed Sheeran and test the water.  It’s about 100 degrees.

We then went to Gullfoss.  Following our Guide Book – to the letter.   The sheer scale of the waterfalls, put even our Powerscourt to shame.  Don’t miss this, in any season.


We once again followed Rick Stein’s lead and headed to a coastal restaurant called Fjorubordid in Stokkseyri.  Their menu is worth reading from a story telling point of view.  We had langoustine soup followed by a huge bowl of same.  We actually tried Rick’s recipe at home, but it’s just missing that secret ingredient that they won’t tell you about.  Maybe chili powder?  Who knows.  Two amazing desserts later we waddled into our little car.

Saturday we drove to the Perlan Observatory. Great views from the top and they are in the process of renovating it and I think it sounds like it will be wonderful, come summer.   We drove through Grindavik, a fishing village and onto the Blue Lagoon.  We had booked the Comfort Ticket, which gives you a towel, two facials and a drink.  It was divine.  I had thought I might find it too commercial, but it all ran so smoothly.  It was all super clean, the water was like a warm bath and to lift your face up to the sharp, crisp and sunny blue sky was bliss.  You lather on the Silica mask yourself with a spatula and then rinse it clear in the water.  Then on to our Incredible Hulk moment with the algae mask whilst sipping a very nice sparkling wine.  They have it sussed here; everyone gets an arm band so they make sure no more than three drinks are consumed.  No singing “Take me up to Monto” from Dan, then.  The showers are great, provided with nice shower gel and moisturiser.  Don’t let your hair get wet, or lather it with conditioner before going in.  I would recommend you bring all your toiletries inside with you.  You are given a locker, which can be opened or closed with  your arm band.

Then, airport bound and ready to get lots of kisses from Snipe. Don’t miss Iceland.  Bucket list territory and like being on another planet with it’s basalt land.  Lovely, friendly people so just save very, very hard.


Bren x



20 things about me

  1. I can read Italian much better than I can speak it
  2. I aim to rectify that
  3. I will never, ever wear a waterfall cardigan or a skirt above my knees or white trousers
  4. I adore all dogs and will happily converse in a dog voice
  5.  I have special friends who are all kindreds of some sort
  6. I write poetry.  Very badly
  7. I would lie under a bus and die or fight and claw for my children
  8. I read voraciously
  9. I call myself street sharp as opposed to intelligent
  10. I acted in the West End
  11. I love eating all foods but can happily go a day without food.  An oxymoron.  Sort of
  12. I love words like oxymoron
  13. I am a really good listener
  14. I would happily sing if you wanted to clear a room
  15. I want to do Strictly Come Dancing
  16. I am qualified to teach drama
  17. I am never sick
  18. I adore clothes that suit my age, are a bit out of the ordinary and want to design them (in my dreams)
  19. But I immediately slip into trakkies when I come home.  My dog drools
  20. I want very much to live every day as if it’s my last



Bren x


The Whys and wherefores


Hi there, I’m Brenda and I decided to start writing a little blog for absolutely no reason other than I wanted to try it and I love writing and I honestly don’t care if I am the only one who sees it!

I live in Dublin with my husband, Dan, have two “children”, Joanne and Senan and we have a beloved and barmy red and white setter, Snipe.  She who must be obeyed and who has even got an instagram account all to herself.

I took the name from a poem I love called “When I am Old I shall wear purple” by Jenny Joseph.  It encapsulates the eccentric woman I want to be and perhaps I already am.

These will be just general musings and thoughts of the life of a 61 year old woman.   Maybe some recipes, some thoughts on holidays, some fashion, some thoughts on creams and potions, some books I’d recommend or maybe I will just settle on one or a couple of things.  Who knows? I’m just going to get a handle on this and enjoy the fact that my brain is actually working, albeit slowly.

Bren x