Autumn is my favourite time of year. I love that in-between bit where I can wear layers for fashion’s sake and not necessity. I love walking through the city on dry days with the Autumn sun beating down on my face, headphones on and a coffee in hand. I love the Galway Saturday Market on an Autumn morning as the produce offered starts to change and there is a fantastic bustling energy there.

I love walks by the sea, air cold enough to catch your breath but not make you sick. The sunshine keeping you the right temperature but the cool breeze keeping your fast pace. I love to walk in the woods and witness their annual colour change and life cycle.

There are lots of amazing things you can do in Galway this Autumn, check out my ideas below:

Sunset on Galway Bay

  • Walk the prom in the evenings or mornings. A walk by the sea at any time of day is wonderful for the body, mind and soul. But walking there in the early morning, Autumn sunshine goes new meaning to the idea of heaven. Long evenings there are also beautiful as the sky is painted a million colours as the sun sets. Theres nothing like the sun going down over Galway Bay.

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  • Little Cinema. The Little Cinema is a monthly short film showcase, that supports film-making at grass root levels in the West of Ireland and beyond. Funders Kenny, Julia & Liam have grown this project into a Galway staple over the last few years which is now a key player in the Cities arts scene. Over the 4 years it has screened over 400 films from over 170 film-makers and has provided an invaluable platform for film-makers and film-lovers to meet, network, showcase their work and simply enjoy films. A fun night for all lovers of film.

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  • Galway Market on a Saturday morning. There is nothing like it. Grab a coffee from McCambridges or Espresso 44 and head down to the market. Stop and smell the flowers literally, try on some hand knitted gloves and beautiful silver jewellery. Stock up on fresh fruit and veg, peruse some artists work and then warm up with some hot Vegan curry from Govinda’s. Heaven!

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  • Walk out in Barna Woods, Coole & Rinville Parks. This time of year is the time to get outside and bask in nature. Get out while you still can (before the bitter Winter weather arrives). Rinville park is a large public park located by the sea. The facilities include a, playground, picnic and barbecue areas. The network of walks through the woodland and open farmland, along with the scenic view of Galway Bay make it a very popular amenity area. Set in the grounds of an old stately house, many of the original structures are still in place. Coole Park was once the home of Lady Augusta Gregory, dramatist, folklorist and co-founder of the Abbey Theatre. There here are two trails to follow at Coole, an easy 1.75 km walk, and a longer 4.5 km Trail too! Grab some friends, some dogs and go out walking! Barna Woods ia a smaller woods on the Barna Road between Knocknacarra and Barna, its a pleasant place to still, walk the dog and bring kids! Lots of space for running around! Don’t forget a picnic!

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  • Visit Madra and make some new friends. Madra (Mutts Annoymus Dog Rescue Adoption) is a rescue in Camus, Connemara. MADRA’s ultimate and overall aim is rehome all their starts to permanent, loving homes. They do wonderful work in rescuing and rehoming unwanted dogs in the city, county and beyond. Their animal shelter and HQ is based in the gorgeous Connemara countryside and there is always residents there who need to be walked, played with, washed/groomed and of course fostered and  adopted! Why not volunteer for a day or two?
  • Join a gym. Autumn is a brilliant time to join a gym, the evenings are short and getting outside in the evenings is sometimes a chore. Joining a gym and going to classes or swimming a few times a week is a wonderful way to keep active, meet people and get out in the evenings. Check out NRG gyms and Inspire Fitness here in Galway, they are brilliant.

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  • Take for a photo walk! This isn’t just for photographers, anyone can do it. Autumn days are some of the most stunning we have. Get that camera out of storage, get a disposable in the Euro Store or even just use your phone. Walk around the city or go out to the country and photograph to your hearts content! Galway is a photographer playground to be honest, the streets and buildings in the city centre have such character and stories to tell. With the river running right through the city with bridge, islands and canals, the photo opportunities are endless! Capture some memories!

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  • Start a class, workshop or online training. Autumn is when all the workshops and night course start up again around the city. The evenings are darker and the temptation is there to stay in a watch movies and tv a lot more but its the perfect time of year to start a Yoga class, learn how to cook or learn a new language. What about starting your own blog? Check out www.itwbn.ie for more on that! Go on, turn off Netflix and start some learning!

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  • Call up an old friend and go for coffee. Late evening trips to the coziness of Java’s cafe or the Secret Garden Cafe are a must for cold, dark Autumn evenings. Get in touch with an old friend (or someone new!) and grab an evening coffee (or read!). Evenings at home, alone are not good for your mental health. Get out and get chatting, the problems of the world need to be solved goddammit!

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  • Enjoy the Festivals! The Latin Quarter Halloween Festival, the Macnas Parade, the Comedy Festival, the Christmas Market, the Oyster Festival and so on. . We are the city of festivals and just because the weather is a little cooler doesn’t mean you have to miss the fun! Wrap up, get out and enjoy some of the great festivals in Galway this Autumn time.

So theres my list of some stuff to get yourself up to this Autumn. Don’t let the change in weather get you down. Call up some friends, make a plan and get out and about. Enjoy the city the way she wants you too!

Have you anything to add? What do you like to do when Autumn roles around? Let me know in the comments or tweet me!

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boat on water

Life changes and moves so fast doesn’t. Sometimes I feel like Im in a whirlwind and Im holding tight to a brittle, loose branch on a tree, grasping on so I don’t get swept away in the commotion of it all.

It can be tough, scary and a panic at times but also exhilarating, exciting and brilliant if we choose to look at it that way. If we just make the choice to look at everything in life with optimistic eyes and an open heart, only good things will happen. If we go with the flow and try to enjoy the ride, Im pretty sure everything comes up roses.

Doors close, windows open. One chapter ends, another starts. Life swings in loops. Opportunities only come when we open ourselves up to them and luck only happens to those who work for it.

With Mercury in Retrograde at the moment, I definitely feel like my life has been flip turned upside down. Its a time when everything just seems a little ‘off’, people are torn, they don’t know if they are coming or going and enemies are on high alert. When in retrograde, Mercury, like any planet, only appears to be going backward from our perspective on earth. Mercury doesn’t actually move backward. It just appears to move backward because its the planet situated closest to the Sun, its orbit is much shorter than Earth’s.

About three or four times a year, Mercury speeds past Earth, and that is when we experience a Mercury retrograde period. As Mercury speeds by, it creates a powerful, turbulent gust in its wake like a storm. The turbulence and disruption Mercury creates when it retrogrades then echoes around the universe and affects what we feel on Earth in our everyday lives. People just don’t feel ‘right’ during this time, its confusing, its glitchy and it certainly isn’t a time for making big decisions. They say during Retrograde, you shouldn’t sign any huge deals or documents and don’t make plans in haste  either.  You’re more likely to quarrel and squabble with your nearest and dearest at this time and for no good reason either!! Annoying!! Mercury tends to affect a lot of industries like publishing, advertising, sales, public relations and anything to do with transport. Double check flights, printing and read the small print in contracts etc!

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This September there has been a monumental shift in energies between the lunar eclipse and Mercury spinning, the people who feel the energies have felt them hard! It is, to those who feel it a turbulent, somewhat mixed up time full of commotion, anxiety and  disruption but its also a time for ‘Re’s’ – Redo, Reread, Reassure, Reassess and Regroup. It can be a powerful time for healing also and so if you choose to look at this way, it can be a time for rebirth and reform! 

Whenever Mercury Retrograde rolls around I always used to dread it but this September, it pushed me so hard that I choose to flip it up and use it to my advantage. I took as much positivity as I could from it and ran with that instead. I reflected, reassessed, reread, renewed and know that after Mercury’s little spin, new beginnings and new experiences follow. I’m excited to see whats to come!

Did you feel it? Did things get a bit too much last month? Don’t worry too much lovely because October’s gotchu!! New beginnings, opportunities and experiences are on their way..

Let me know what you think, leave me a comment or tweet me!

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Galway Bay at Sunset

Earlier this year, I got to thinking about how much our lives can change in one year. The days are long but the years are short. The years fly by in a whirlwind leaving behind some really great memories, lessons learned, broken hearts, remnants of great friendships and feelings of accomplishment when fears are overcome.

I started thinking about the things I feel I have, not learned, but re-realised to be true in the last year. I have always known these things but this past year has made me really realise how true they ring. These are things we all know in theory but once we realise them for ourselves and experience for ourselves, they seem all that more real.

1. You are the best person in the world to get your sh!t done. No one else is going to do it for you. Theres no magic wand, no cmd-z and no re-do’s in life. It’s too short to wait around for someone else to sort your problems out and make everything better. Your sh!t is yours. Your problems are yours; you have to work on them yourself.Once you realise this all you have to do is pick them one by one and work on it and work hard. So do it yourself and do it right.

 2. Not everyone you loose is a loss. Friends come and go. Let them go. It’s sad, I know and it can feel like the loss of a limb but there is no point in trying to make someone stay who doesn’t want to. You might not ever find out why they went but you have to keep moving forward.

Cut them loose and enjoy feeling lighter. You now have much more room in your heart for new people and they are waiting to meet you!

3. Things don’t always work out the way you planned. Actually they almost never turn out the way you planned! Things that may have seemed more than perfect in your head can be far from it in real life.  This can be a real let down and an anticlimax. Don’t berate yourself too much, you really have nothing to do with the way things just pan out. Don’t worry, go with the flow and do your best. Take a deep breath, smile and reboot.

4. Your health is absolutely your wealth. Cliché, I know but this has never seemed truer to me than now. If you wake up everyday with air in your lungs and can get up, walk, talk, go to work and play with out pain then you can count your blessings.

You may have problems in life, and they’re big – I know they are; but nothing and I mean nothing is more important than your health. No money in the world can bring back the time you loose when your ill. To have your health means you are rich in so many ways.

5. Pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone is both scary as fcuk and awesomely rewarding. Its hard at first, I know but you have to just power through and sometimes struggle through but the feeling that you have gone outside your comfort zone and lived to tell the tale is golden.

We thrive on new experiences, its like a rush of electricity running through your body; and it don’t have to be big huge things you do. Even small changes to your everyday life can cause this electricity to sizzle through you!

6. Really following you heart and trusting your intuition is the only way to pave your own path. Another cliché, I know. BUT its the only way to really live true to yourself. Its does sound like the biggest 80’s motivational poster but you have to follow your heart and let it make some choices for you to experience life. Now, Im not saying go do some crazy ass sh!t and get yourself into trouble, no not at all! But following your heart and making some crazy decisions is what life is all about, it creates experiences and challenges which shape our lives completely.

7. Don’t undervalue yourself, as soon as you do others will too. We don’t mean to do it but we do it naturally as part of the human condition. We undervalue ourselves in the silliest ways. We work hard, we work damn hard and we should be valued, thanked and paid for same. As soon as we let this slide, work for ‘experience’, ‘portfolio’ or ‘exposure’ instead of actual money, we undervalue ourselves.

Sure when you’re starting out, all of the above factors have to be work and gained but at some stage we have to say ‘This is how much Im worth, you need to pay me for my skills, time and workmanship.’. Sadly even our friends can do this. Its dog eat dog in business. Know your worth and sing it.

I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma. ~ Eartha Kitt

What do you think? Do you think you re-realise lessons long after you know them to be true?

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Yesterday I attended the Irish Tatler ‘Know your worth’ lunch with Norah Casey at The g Hotel Galway. I had a lovely lunch with a table full of wonderful business women including Sinead, Aisling, Clare, Michelle and Geraldine. As always, The g Hotel was the picture of elegance and glamour as always and the ladies attending were stunning in their fashion!

The speakers included Norah Casey – Broadcaster with RTE & Newstalk and CEO of Harmonia Publishing, the lovely Jane Downes from Clearview Coaching Group Ireland and the successful sisters Mary & Margaret from Les Jemelles boutique Galway.
Being in a room full of successful business women is very empowering indeed. Listening to the speakers and hearing their amazing stories of success is motivational and moving. Norah’s passion and drive is exhilarating and somewhat infectious when heard. Jane is soft spoken but knows her stuff and is passionate about her work. The ladies from Les Jemelles are the picture of strong, working women and are hilarious to listen to as they banter like twins do.
Although I respect the journeys of these amazing, established business women – I can’t help but feel most inspired by my business women friends. The women I work with every day. The women currently working hard and overcoming adversity to get where they want to be. The women juggling kids, work and family while chasing their dreams. The girls living with and overcoming health problems and life’s adversities to continue on their creative journeys. These are the women who I feel most lifted and encouraged by. These are the ladies who, if I spend an afternoon with, I feel ready to take on the world!! These are the women I need to be with. They are my inspiration. 

Surround yourself with creative people and they will fuel your life it will be adorned with colour. Your passion will ignite in ways you won’t believe.

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Iv decided to put together some of the most important things I think it takes to have a great blog. I come across so many great blogs which have fantastic content and writing but their design/layout or photos  really let them down. Coming from a background in design, I truly believe that if your blog hasn’t been getting as much attention as you think it should, bad design could be the reason. Studies show that within 10 seconds of landing on a webpage or blog, our brain makes the decision to stay or go! Help your readers make the right decision!

1. STYLE // One of the key aspects in keeping the reader on your blog is how it looks, how easy it is to navigate and how easy it is to read. Often if a blog has bright blue sparkly background, flashy images and a body of script font, our brain decides that this is going to be tiring and hard to keep up with. Go easy on the widgets – blogs that show every single widget available look trashy and are way to much for the brain to figure out.

2. COLOUR // Keep it simple, pick a few base colors. For example, a clean, one color background like white works perfectly as images and text are easiest to read on a white background. Its a proven fact that our brains can read off a white background easiest, so why make it hard for people?! Then use a pop colour too like a pink or blue for headings, links and other highlights. Use the colour wheel too and pick colours that work to compliment each other. Flashy, sparkly backgrounds make it extremely hard to keep focused on the blog post.

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3. TEXT // Fonts & text are really important on your blog. If a blog’s body text is a script font, the reader is a lot less likely to read the whole blogpost, not to mention stay on the blog and read more. Script or decrotive typefaces (fonts) should only be used only in the header of a post.

When choosing a font for body text, it’s usually best to stick with a Serif font (example Times New Roman) or Sans-serif font (example Helvetica or Futura). The most important thing with choosing a font is to make sure the letters are easily decipherable from one another so your readers don’t have to spend precious mental energy identifying letters. If the reader has trouble making out the words on your blog, they will not stay long. Spacing is also very important so break up those paragraphs!!

4. IMAGERY // Images are the single most important aspect to most blogs with the exception of writers blogs which are obviously text heavy for a reason. The Internet is full of words, billions of words,  but its not the words that get all the attention its usually the images. Readers can generally get the entire mood of a post by glancing through the photos. That’s why it’s so important to use images in your blog posts. If you don’t use images in your blog post, your chances of getting that post read go down to about 50 to 60%. Take Facebook for example, you are much more likely to read a post that has a preview image with it than a line of text on its own.

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5. PHOTO QUALITY // Try not to use generic images you pulled off google. Low resolution, blurry images or stock images really give your site a certain look, a bad one. There can also be some serious implications to using photos like this. You can be sued for using photos from the internet, its unlikely but it happens! If you are using images off the web, be very careful of copyrights and ask other bloggers permission before reposting their images.

You CAN shoot your own photos! Weather you are using a DLSR or your smart phone, taking your own photos is great for your blog and can be easy! Just remember these tips – turn off the flash on your camera and don’t shoot your photos at night. Its best to shoot outdoors as much as possible, or by a window in the house. Light is your friend so make sure theres lots of light in your pictures.

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6. PERSONALITY // Personality will help your blog stand from the rest. You (and your personality) are the number one ingredient for the perfect blog which generates good traffic. Personality allows your readers to connect with you. Even if your blog isn’t about yourself or your life, sprinkles of personality are a must! Have a photo of yourself on your blog, its your blog, people would like to see you. Put your story there too! People need a little insight into the blogs author! Having an ‘About Me’ page is an absolute must on your blog. Remember to include your name and where you are from as well as a contact email address. If someone lands on your page and wants to contact you and the contact tab isn’t obvious, they might not take the time to trail through your tabs trying to find your address. Make it easy for them!

When your working on your blog and how it looks, keep these stats in mind:

  • Articles with images get 94% more total views (jeffbullas.com)
  • 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000X faster in the brain than text. (Sources: 3M Corporation and Zabisco)
  • 40% of people will respond better to visual information than plain text. (Source: Zabisco)
  • 46.1% of people say a website’s design is the number one criterion for discerning the credibility of the company. (Source: Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab)

So thats my take on how you could make your blog a little better today! You can seriously increase your readership and gain loyal followers too! If you have any other points you would add, leave me a comment or email me at saibhegan[at]gmail.com  – Id love to hear what makes blogs tick for you!

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