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Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa Hotel Review

Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa Hotel Review

I recently spent 2 days at Inchydoney Island Lodge and Spa and I was so impressed with the hotel, it’s staff, the food, the accommodation and the spa that I just had to share my experience of this amazing Irish Hotel.

Their website states, “A warm welcome awaits you in one of Ireland’s most exclusive and tranquil retreats. A true destination for people who value time together.” and this statement could not be more true.

Check-In

The check-in for any hotel is usually the same across most hotels, however here on check-in, we had a very nice check-in followed by a complimentary welcome drink which was very much appreciated. We spent about 30 minutes relaxing in the reception area before heading to the room.

The Room

The Rooms are very luxurious with beautiful sea views out over the Atlantic coast. It is a setting far removed from what you expect for Ireland, more resembling the south of France. It feels like you are very far from home and is very relaxing. The room comes with robes, clippers, tea facilities, a Nespresso machine, and complimentary water, flat screen TV, and our room had a beautiful balcony area where we could chill in the warm April sun. The sleeps are very comfortable and the bathroom is large with everything you need including Elemis products.

Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa Room

The Food

There are 2 restaurants that we visited, these were nautically themed Dunes Pub & Bistro and our Fine Dining Gulfstream Restaurant. The Dunes Pub was where we enjoyed a fantastic prawn curry, which tasted fantastic and the portion size was just perfect. In the Gulfstream Restaurant, we had John Dory, again, sublime food with a stunning view out over the bay. The service at the restaurants is excellent and you are checked on to ensure all is good.
Breakfast is served in the Gulfstream Restaurant and you will be sure to have everything you want at breakfast.

The Spa

It was about 8 years since I had a spa treatment, so this was worth waiting for. I had the Sleep Tight treatment which included a foot treatment, back massage, and also a neck and shoulders/head massage.  It was very relaxing indeed and while enjoying the fruit in the relaxation room post-treatment, my fitness tracker showed my heart rate at 9 bpm lower than my normal average resting heart rate – so it really did relax me.

Before we went for the spa treatment we did enjoy the Seawater Therapy Pool and the sauna and steam room which was a great way to enjoy all the Spa had to offer.

The Location

Inchydoney is located about 10 minutes from Clonakilty in Co. Cork and has a beach only steps away from the hotel. From Waterford the journey took 2 hours 30 minutes which is not bad indeed, especially considering the rewards of relaxation which awaited us.

Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa - Views from nearby beach

Overall Review 10/10

Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa is set in a stunning location and has fantastic accommodation food and service. This hotel stay gave the most spectacular scenery, food, and relaxation with the best views overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and is a very romantic and picturesque location on the Wild Atlantic Way. With Free Parking, Free Wifi, an indoor Saltwater pool, steam room, sauna, and fitness center, all of which you can enjoy for free during your stay – this has to be the Best Hotel I have visited in Ireland. I look forward to returning very soon.

Website: https://www.inchydoneyisland.com/

Three Hidden Gems That Sum Up Ireland By Irish Artists

Three Hidden Gems That Sum Up Ireland By Irish Artists

From pop to punk, Ireland has a rich musical heritage. Its folk music is some of the most recognisable in the world and goes hand in hand with its unique dance and arts culture. Thus, it makes sense that Irish artists would have a large diaspora spread the world over. Yet home is often what they sing about the most, and below we pick three hidden gems that sum up Ireland, written by Irish artists.

Galway Races – The Dubliners 

To say any of The Dubliner’s tracks are a hidden gem may be a stretch. One of the most beloved of Irish bands, all of their tracks are well known and ingrained in the culture of the Emerald Isle. Yet Galway Races is a standout track. On the surface, it seems like a typical folk song that would not be out of place in any expat Irish bar found around the world. Yet dig deeper and it is a fantastic character and social study of leisure pursuits before the digital age.

It delves deep into the attraction of not just the horse racing, but the events that took place on these days such as the spinning wheel. The country has long held gambling close to its heart and continues to do so today. The Irish Lottery is played across the world, and the company Lottoland sells lottery tickets in Ireland itself. Yet even though these games can be played indoors, it has simply enhanced the desire to go out and play these games in physical locations. Just like Ireland, everything has changed, yet in other ways, nothing has changed at all.

The Dubliner’s delivery also stands to reiterate this. A foot-stomping anthem with a powerful delivery, it layers its instrumental textures like the passengers slowly filling the races. Interspersed with syllabic chants, it is a perfect study of the country’s social history.

Thin Lizzy – Emerald 

 

Source: Unsplash

Thin Lizzy holds the crown for Ireland’s most loved heavy rock band. Yet their real success came from blending the sound with delicate songwriting, almost balladry, that often bordered on pop music. Dancing in the Moonlight is one perfect example of this.

Whisky in the Jar is one of their most famous tracks and was taken from a traditional Irish folk song. Yet Emerald is the track where frontman Phil Lynott appreciates the Irish blood in his veins the most. With charged lyrics and some hellish guitar call and response, it is the sound of Ireland in the seventies.

Bad – U2 

There are plenty of U2 tracks that could be chosen, often both celebratory and critical of Irish life, politics and culture in equal measures. While the other songs on the list address patriotism and pride, this track takes a slightly different look at the dark side of a recession-hit Dublin.

Oddly, the live track is much more loved than the recorded version. A sparse arrangement exists, punctuated by the overdubs of Brian Eno. Yet played live it is almost religious in its fervour, enhanced by the performance many people will remember from Live Aid. It may not be the nicest of subject matters, but it is one of the band’s most overlooked tracks in a cannon that keeps on producing hit after hit.

Many more tracks can sum up Ireland and artists willing to do so. From the Corrs to the Pogues, the country has a rich musical heritage. It only takes a little research and you can find your own favourites.

Three Hidden Gems That Sum Up Ireland By Irish Artists - Photo by Zachrie Friesen

Source: Unsplash

Thin Lizzy holds the crown for Ireland’s most loved heavy rock band. Yet their real success came from blending the sound with delicate songwriting, almost balladry, that often bordered on pop music. Dancing in the Moonlight is one perfect example of this.

Whisky in the Jar is one of their most famous tracks and was taken from a traditional Irish folk song. Yet Emerald is the track where frontman Phil Lynott appreciates the Irish blood in his veins the most. With charged lyrics and some hellish guitar call and response, it is the sound of Ireland in the seventies.

Bad – U2 

There are plenty of U2 tracks that could be chosen, often both celebratory and critical of Irish life, politics and culture in equal measures. While the other songs on the list address patriotism and pride, this track takes a slightly different look at the dark side of a recession-hit Dublin.

Oddly, the live track is much more loved than the recorded version. A sparse arrangement exists, punctuated by the overdubs of Brian Eno. Yet played live it is almost religious in its fervour, enhanced by the performance many people will remember from Live Aid. It may not be the nicest of subject matters, but it is one of the band’s most overlooked tracks in a cannon that keeps on producing hit after hit.

Many more tracks can sum up Ireland and artists willing to do so. From the Corrs to the Pogues, the country has a rich musical heritage. It only takes a little research and you can find your own favourites.

Discovering the Charms of Somerset: Things to do in Somerset

Discovering the Charms of Somerset: Things to do in Somerset

Somerset, a county nestled in the verdant landscapes of England’s Southwest, beckons travelers with its captivating blend of natural beauty, historic landmarks, and quintessential English charm. Whether you’re a history aficionado, a nature enthusiast, or simply seeking a tranquil escape, Somerset promises a plethora of experiences to indulge in. I have holidayed in Somerset for many years now and I know it like the back of my hand. So, here’s a curated list of things to do in Somerset, some of my must-visit destinations and activities to make the most of your Somerset sojourn:

1. Glastonbury Tor and Abbey

Why Visit: Delve into centuries of myth and legend at Glastonbury Abbey, believed to be the burial site of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere. When you are there you should purchase some of the delicious Mead which is made here.

What to Do: Climb the iconic Glastonbury Tor for panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, steeped in mystical allure. The views are amazing and you can often see the Tor in footage of the Glastonbury Festival which is broadcast by the BBC each summer.

Where to Eat: Enjoy a delicious meal in the Hundred Monkeys or you can have something more substantial at the George & Pilgrims or the Crown Hotel

You should also venture into the new age shops which dot the town and enjoy perhaps some meditation at the Goddess Temple.

2. Cheddar Gorge

Why Visit: Explore one of Britain’s most stunning natural wonders, carved by ancient glacial meltwaters. If you only have time to do 3 of these things to do in Somerset then this has to be on your list.

What to Do: Take a guided tour of the Cheddar Gorge & Caves in Cheddar and also at Wookey Hole and sample world-famous Cheddar cheese at nearby creameries. Also, climb the famous Cheddar Gorge for great views of the surrounding areas. Avoid the charges by climbing from Lynch Lane (click here for a map of the starting point) – this brings you to the base of Jacobs Ladder and you can start the climb for free from here. You can see Glastonbury Tor from here and also on a clear day, you can even see Wales. Note that parking and traffic in Cheddar Gorge can be busy so getting to Cheddar early, plus downloading the Parking by Phone smartphone app is recommended.

Where to Eat: There is great food to be had, especially the soups, at the Lions Rock Tea Rooms.

3. Exmoor National Park

Why Visit: Immerse yourself in the untamed beauty of Exmoor’s moorlands, valleys, and coastline. There are some amazing places to visit, and if you are a fan of the Poirot show starring David Suchet, then you should visit Dunster town which starred in one of these episodes. Also, I totally recommend the West Somerset Steam Train which takes you on a great trip to Minehead. This steam train brings you back in time to the age of steam and is a great way to see the countryside. On the way, you will see pheasants, buzzards, and perhaps even a sparrow hawk; as well as the great scenery on the way.

What to Do: Hike scenic trails when you are on the moors, spot wildlife such as red deer and wild ponies, or embark on a stargazing adventure in this designated Dark Sky Reserve.

4. Wells Cathedral and City

Why Visit: Marvel at the stunning architecture of England’s smallest city and its magnificent cathedral, featuring intricate Gothic design. There is also a great farmers market here every Wednesday and Saturday – I recommend the cornbread and the cheeses available here.

What to Do: Explore the historic streets, visit the Wells & Mendip Museum, or attend a concert within the cathedral’s awe-inspiring walls. Wells is also the location for the filming of the movie, Hot Fuzz, so you may see some locations which are familiar – don’t forget to buy a Cornetto.

Where to Eat: The best place which I found in Wells for food is The City Arms in the heart of Wells. I have eaten here a few times and the food has always been 100% Wonderful.

5. Bath

Why Visit: Step back in time in this UNESCO World Heritage city renowned for its Roman baths and elegant Georgian architecture.

What to Do: Soak in the natural thermal waters at Thermae Bath Spa, wander through the Royal Crescent and Circus, or indulge in retail therapy at independent boutiques. The town has a number of small boutiques and great eateries. On a recent visit, it was obvious to see how much of an impact the closure of Debenhams has had on the central area. But there is a lot to see in this town – if you love architecture, this is a must-visit.

6. Somerset Levels and Moors

Why Visit: Discover the tranquil beauty of England’s largest wetland area, teeming with diverse flora and fauna.

What to Do: Take a boat trip along the scenic waterways, explore historic villages such as Glastonbury and Muchelney, or go birdwatching in RSPB nature reserves. I recommend the Hamm Bird Reserve because you can park here, walk the bird reserve and then walk on further all the way to Glastonbury – so a great day out and a good walk aos.

Other areas of Interest

If you find yourself around the area of Cross, near Axbridge, I totally recommend the White Hart Inn – check their facebook page for details of the food offerings and opening hours, plus music nights which often happen around the weekends.

From mystical landmarks to scenic countryside, Somerset invites visitors to embark on a journey of discovery, where every turn reveals a new facet of its timeless allure. So pack your bags, lace up your boots, and prepare to be enchanted by the treasures awaiting in this charming corner of England.

Map of Locations by Wanderlog

This map was made with Wanderlog, a travel planner on iOS and Android
Technology Specialists Firing Sports Betting to New Heights

Technology Specialists Firing Sports Betting to New Heights

The sports betting industry is one of the most dynamic and exciting in the world, with the sector expertly leveraging technology to its advantage. Fresh innovations are impacting sports betting on a weekly basis, creating a landscape where customer engagement is at an all-time high. Read on as we analyse some of the latest developments in sports betting, starting with one which has been created by an Irish software company.

The Unit Takes Mobile Betting to Another Level

One of the greatest technological advancements of the 21st century has been smartphones. they have become a pivotal part of our lives and given rise to mobile betting. By opening mobile betting apps on their phones, punters have the luxury of wagering on sports events whenever and wherever they want.
Mobile sports betting apps already boast a plethora of exciting features including in-play wagering, which allows punters to place bets as the action unfolds.
Dundalk-based company The Unit is taking things to another level, with their betting apps capable of delivering ‘real-time’ statistical data to sports bettors. The Unit-built apps use machine learning algorithms for predictive insights and forecasting potential outcomes based on real-time data.

In the future, mobile apps will use artificial intelligence (AI) to understand user preferences and offer personalised betting options, odds suggestions, and alerts for potential betting opportunities. Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are also on course to be integrated into apps. They can transport users to the game or provide AR overlays with statistics and highlights. Facebook has been working on mimicking the National Basketball Association’s courtside seat in VR. They launched a new generation of Oculus VR devices and are in discussion to add more VR NBA games next season.

Major League Baseball is also improving its stats to prepare more augmented reality offerings. The National Hockey League and Major League Soccer are working on upgrading their VR and AR offerings too, as they prepare for the future. Proper AR and VR use is still in its early stages but will become more common as companies like Google, Apple, and Facebook look to improve their offerings.

There’s already intense competition in the smart glasses market, which will only lead to progress and more immersive AR and VR devices.

Crypto is a Game-Changer in Sports Betting Tech

Cryptocurrencies have grown in importance over the years and will play a crucial role in advancing sports betting.
Digital currencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin have gained popularity and are now being widely accepted as forms of payment. Cryptocurrencies have several advantages over traditional payment methods. Using them offers bettors more anonymity, while transactions are processed faster and with lower fees.

They are also safe as they employ data structures with security qualities, which makes them an attractive option for players and different betting platforms.
Cryptocurrencies are becoming increasingly popular globally and will likely play an important role in shaping the future of sports betting.

However, despite the surge in popularity, several countries have been wary about the volatility of cryptocurrencies. These include the United Kingdom and Ireland. However, the latter recently relaxed its stance, with the Central Bank of Ireland adopting the Markets in Crypto-Assets Regulation (MiCAR) regulatory framework for European crypto-assets.

MiCAR has been designed to protect consumers and investors and avoid risks to financial stability. CBI president Gabriel Makhlouf has always been a vocal critic of cryptocurrencies but has shown increased openness towards stablecoins.

The CBI now allows betting apps in Ireland to accept digital currencies, and several operators have already started to gravitate towards them. While it may be some time before they replace more traditional payment methods, their availability is a big boost to punters.

Leveraging Biometrics for Identity and Responsible Gambling

Biometrics has not fully taken off as a preferred method of account security, but this will likely happen in the coming years. Facial recognition and fingerprint scanners allow players to log in safely and seamlessly. With this technology fully functioning, only authorised individuals can access betting platforms. Biometrics will ensure user accounts are extra protected and double as a tool for age verification that helps to prevent minors from sneaking into the gambling arena.

The technology can also be used to promote responsible gambling. AI systems can analyse a user’s biometric data, heart rate, or sweat patterns. If the system identifies risky gambling behaviour from subtle changes, it can intervene to offer breaks, set spending limits, or connect with support resources. This approach helps to keep players in control of their habits and keep the gambling experience healthy. Despite massive investments in behavioural biometrics in the UK and Ireland, several Irish sports betting apps listed at dundalksport.ie have pushed back against using them.
However, as the technology becomes more sophisticated, betting operators will likely embrace what biometrics has to offer from a security perspective.

Cheddar Gorge Traffic; Road Closure to Traffic Once a Month?

Cheddar Gorge Traffic; Road Closure to Traffic Once a Month?

Cheddar Gorge is one of the most scenic parts of the UK.  Cheddar Gorge is one of the most spectacular natural landmarks in the UK, but did you know that it is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The Gorge is set within the Mendip Hills area of Somerset and forms part of the newly designated Mendip Hills National Landscape. Cheddar Gorge has public walkways on both sides of the gorge with amazing cliffs and extraordinary underground caves and the area is a mecca for rock-climbers.

Problems with Cheddar Gorge Traffic & Parking

The area around Cheddar Gorge has one huge problem, parking and traffic. On a recent visit there I saw tourists parking illegally below the cliffs and also in residential areas. There is also some anti-social behaviour from time to time with careless driving near pedestrians. Infact, Jim Hardcastle, manager of Mendip Hills National Landscape, mentioned the Cheddar Gorge Traffic and this anti-social driving recently, stating: “We want to create an experience that is fitting for a naturally beautiful and significant visitor attraction like Cheddar George, as we’re aware of concerns about the volume of traffic and anti-social driving… which people feel impacts safety and enjoyment of the area.

Right now, businesses in the area are being consulted about the Cheddar Gorge traffic closure but I think it would be a beneficial move and hopefully more could be done to reduce the traffic issues.

Things to do around Cheddar Gorge

If you are in this area I recommend the following places which you can visit from Cheddar.

Wells: A Beautiful cathedral town with a market on Wednesdays and Saturdays, plus the location where Hot Fuzz was filmed. Don’t forget to get a Cornetto.

Glastonbury: The town near the iconic music festival. Check out Glastonbury Abbey and the great new-age shops all around the town. The Hundred Monkeys is great for food.

Mendip Hills: There are lots of hiking trails and walks in this area and there are ordinance survey maps with great walking trails.

There are more travel posts on my Travel Blog section