Dublin Castle

My lovely flat over looks Dublin Castle, and it has taken me nearly two years to go in and actually visit it. I really regret that it took that long. I mean, I could have taken all my guests there instead of the Guinness Storehouse. I mean, I love the Storehouse but it would have been great to mix it up a bit, but it took my friend who has visited me five times to actually go.  She’s a massive history geek so perfect time to go and check it out.


The tour was great, we were lucky in the sense that we rocked up at the right time without having looked it up at all and were able to get on the guided tour. It’s only €10 each for the guided or €7 for the self guided. The guided was about an hour and 20 min, with a tour guide who was informative and a good laugh, exactly what you need when you are wondering round looking at old stuff.


With the guided tour you get to see the State Apartments, where the likes of Mandela and Queen Elizabeth II have been hosted. The Viking Excavation, which I personally love. Though it should be noted that this is not wheelchair accessible. It’s really interesting to see this part of Dublin’s history as it can be forgotten about sometimes. I think it was during a renovations that they found these chambers; you will view the Castle’s medieval curtain wall with a postern gate. But again, you can now explore but only if you take the guided tour, it’s well worth it. The Chapel Royal got it’s name after King George IV attended mass in 1821, though it is not the largest chapel in Dublin it’s architecture is fantastic. The coats of arms representing many of Ireland’s Viceroy which nerdy Felicity really enjoys! The tour guide is definitely the one who makes it so interesting which is why I would always push someone to spend the extra €3 and dot his one instead of the self guided.


On top of all this you can see the exhibitions. Obviously this will change depending on when you go. And if I am honest we didn’t go, I was too busy dying from the flu (and yes, real flu, not man flu) but the things you do for friends when they make the effort to come see you!


Apartheid and the Museum that will never let us forget.

I’ll start with a little background for this as I don’t want to assume people know about the history of South Africa. I mean, I only learnt a lot of this because I went here. A lot of this happened before my time but I obviously know the big-name Nelson Mandela, but there is so much to know about how this disgraceful act that was allowed to happen.


While Europe was recovering from WWII and the segregation and massacre of thousands of Jews, South Africa was moving in the opposite direction. Apartheid, meaning “apartness” in Afrikanns, was a political rule of segregation from 1948-1990. This was put into place by the minority white rule, who made up something like 20% of the population. Throughout the history of S.A, Dutch colonisers were enforcing rules of segregation, which was then continued by the British. By the time all the colonies were bought back together to create the Union of South Africa, there were nearly 300 of these “homelands”.

It was in 1948 that Dr D. F Malan, led the Nation Party in the first political campaigned that was based on the rascal promotion of white unity. They swept into office winning 80 seats, while the United Party won 64. This new government started to bring in new rules to “ensure the survival of the white race” and to separate different races on all levels, Blacks, Coloureds and Whites. One of the first Acts passed was the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act in 1949 – the banning of marriage between Europeans and Non-Europeans, not long after this, it was extended to ban sexual intercourse as well. By 1950, Malan’s government passed the Population Registration Act which officially categorised every race in South Africa, which forced people to carry race cards (sound familiar?). In 1952, if you were caught without your reference book you were fined or imprisoned. As a sign of rebellion, many people didn’t carry them. This caused fights between the police and civilians. This was life in South Africa. People also seem to think that life in S.A changed when Mandela was released from prison in 1990. How very wrong, I the early 1990s S.A was on the brink. Riots now were between whites and blacks and blacks and blacks. People were turning on each other and the use of the “necklace” (death by tire fire) was used on those thought to be informants with the police. This just shows the brutality of which people would go to for change.

Apartheid formally ended in 1994 with the election of Nelson Mandela – the first black president of South Africa. This was the first election which allowed the participation of ALL adult voters, regardless of colour.

The Apartheid Museum which is on the outskirts of Johannesburg has all this information and so much more. On arrival you buy your ticket, which is just plain white and then on the black you are given a race, you are either “White” or “No-White”.  You must then use the entrance to the museum indicated on the ticket. This gives you just the smallest of idea what it was like during the apartheid. It costs R95 for an adult, which is about a fiver. Not much really! According to the museum if takes about 2 hours to go around, I however took about 4! I got taken in by the horror of what happened. There are so many in-depth signs to read, you have the choice of an overview on the black panels or grey which is more in-depth. They start from the Boer Wars and go up to and include the election of Nelson Mandela.


For me, the hardest part to see was the student massacre in Soweto. Beginning on the morning of 16th June 1976, due to the introduction of Afrikaans as the language used to teach in. A hundred and seventy-six pupil were killed, though some estimate up to seven hundred! These were children! CHILDREN. It broke my heart to see the images, to watch the videos, to read the accounts. Throughout the museum there are moments like this. These were people’s lives, ruined by a few mad people in power.

This museum reminds as how we can never forget that lives were lost, on both fronts. Public executions were a norm, shown by the hanging ropes in a single room. Solitary confinement was a regular punishment. The ANC’s history and involvement in the anti-apartheid movement is a big part of the museum for obvious reasons.

While we were there Nelson Mandela exhibition was on. It was fascinating to read about his life. So much I didn’t know, you really only here about his years on Robben Island then his presidency. But there was so much more to his life.

South Africa (349)

As I write this, I get so angry, and upset. How can we have let this happen again? I mean we as a World, keep letting this happen, time and time again. Through out history this is happening, and every time we say “no we will learn from this”, while there is another country enforcing ridiculous rules against race or sex. You don’t have to look far these days to find out that this is still happening, just look at that all the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.


Strawberry and Pimms Jam

There is something so satisfying about making jam. I don’t know what is is but I love having homemade jam in my cupboard. Especially when as the long nights are drawing in, I love being able to snuggle down with tea and toast with jam!

Makes 1 x 500ml Jar


350g Strawberries

25 ml Water

335g Caster Sugar

120ml Pimms


Hull and quarter the strawberries and place into a pan with the water. On a medium heat, leave to slowly soften up. This should take around 8-10 minutes.

Add the sugar and stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Boil steadily for about 15 minutes, or until at setting point, 105C/220F. Though if you don’t have a jam or digital thermometer, spoon a little onto a cold plate, leave for a minute and then push the jam with your finger. If the jam crinkles and separates without flooding back, setting point has been reached!

Add the pimms, watch out, those fumes are the alcohol burning off, stir until well mixed in!

Pour into your sterilised jar!

This will last up to 6 months unopened. Once opened keep refrigerated and consume within 4 weeks.