Belfast, Ireland, Photography, Travel

Swinging Swords on Beaches | Game of Thrones Iron Islands & Stormlands Adventure Tour

August 23, 2016

My Mum barely trusts me with a bread knife, so the look on her face when our tour guide handed me a huge sword was priceless.

When I went to Dublin a couple of years ago, I went on a Game of Thrones tour and loved it. My Mum was very envious and when we heard that the same company were running two different tours from Belfast we booked flights straight away.

The first tour we did was called the Iron Islands & Stormlands Adventure tour, which they started running earlier this year, which also included a trip to the Giant’s Causeway. I knew that Northern Ireland was stunning and I knew how good the tour would be from my previous experience, but my expectations of this tour were absolutely smashed. It’s genuinely one of the best things I’ve ever done; right up there with kayaking in Stockholm.

Stop one on the tour is Cushenden Caves, where Melisandre gives birth to the shadow baby. The cave itself is a pretty small, dark, dingy cave (y’know, as caves tend to be) but when you’re stood outside it surrounded by the beautiful scenary and it’s 20-odd degrees, you find it hard to imagine it’s the same dark and horrible looking place you saw on TV.

Carrick-a-rede rope bridge

Carrick-a-rede rope bridge northern ireland

The second stop on the tour does a pretty good job of illustrating how much CGI is used in Thrones. Of course CGI is used, of course, but the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge and it’s surroundings are pretty unrecognisable from a certain scene in series six (which I will not spoil). (If you’ve watched series 6; it’s the scene with a bridge….)

Carrick-a-rede rope bridge sea

The 30m high bridge leads to a small island, offering stunning views of the coastline. I was a little blown away by how clear and blue the sea was here. When you think about the sea in the UK you probably think about dark bluey-greeny sea (or maybe brown if you’re thinking about Blackpool…); you probably don’t picture sea so beautiful it looks like it belongs on the front of a Thomas Cook brochure.

After lunch, it was time to head to the “iron islands”, which was the part of the trip I was looking forward to the most because I love Theon’s storyline, and I got so excited watching it all kick off in the last season. Plus, doesn’t the scenary just look stunning?

Different parts of Ballintoy Harbour, which is easily one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been, have been used throughout the series, and it’s easy to see why. It’s beautiful, but it also looks quite desolate and harsh, which is exactly what the iron islands are supposed to look like.

Ballintoy Harbour

Ballintoy Harbour

Of course, it doesn’t look immensely harsh and desolate when the sky is perfectly blue and you’re prancing around dressed up like Yara, waving a sword about, much to the confusion of strangers trying to enjoy a day at the seaside. Our guide told us that when they first started running this tour, and people were running about in Game of Thrones costumes, people thought they were filming for the series and were asking people for autographs.

There was a brilliant moment, where we walked across a sandy beach, all geared up like Iron Islanders, and a sunbathing family looked at us in a mixture of absolute horror and confusion about what was going on.

Once I’d sufficiently sweat in costume and almost impaled myself and smashed my camera, we were back in the bus and headed to the Giant’s Causeway. This is one of those places that I’ve wanted to see since I first became aware of it and I was so happy when I read that it was part of the tour.

Giant's Causeway

The Giant's Causeway, northern ireland

Unfortunately, I found it quite underwhelming. We couldn’t have wished for better weather, and maybe that’s what spoiled it because the place was absolutely packed, and I wonder if that’s what ruined it for me. There were people perched everywhere, a sea of selfie sticks and the now unfortunately far too commonly seen tourists taking photos on their iPad (it’s an irrational annoyance of mine, that).

It doesn’t actually look that busy on the photo above, but it was and I think that ruined it for me. I felt the same way about Stonehenge; something that’s so legendary and spectacular is ruined and hard to appreciate when it feels like a tourist trap. The Giant’s Causeway is fascinating and it’s set in a beautiful place but I got back on the bus feeling disappointed in it and was glad we didn’t stay there long.

After a quick stop off at the side of the road by Dunluce Castle, which the Greyjoy’s seat of power in Pyke is based on, we headed off to take a photo of the iconic dark hedges, which is the road Arya and Gendry escape down.

The dark hedges, northern ireland

The dark hedges, northern ireland

Yet again, the location doesn’t look anywhere near as moody as it does in the show thanks to the glorious weather, but it’s hard to imagine this place not looking beautiful in any kind of weather. Some of the trees fell in winter storms earlier in the year and they were taken and turned into 10 beautiful doors which were placed in pubs around Northern Ireland which had some kind of connection to the series.

One of the doors was in the pub we stopped off at for lunch, The Cuan, and it’s a stunning piece of work.

Game of Thrones door at The Cuan

My photo does not do it justice at all, so you can find a better one here if you scroll down to door 6.

If you love Game of Thrones and are planning to visit Northern Ireland, I honestly cannot recommend Game of Thrones Tours enough. Their guides are amazing; full of knowledge about the show and the two we had were both extras on the show, so they’d got some great stories about their experiences on set and how the series is filmed. It’s one of the best experiences I’ve ever had, and it felt so immersive when were all kitted out as iron islanders, flailing swords about.

I’m pretty sure my Mum and I are now going to choose holiday locations based on whether or not we can go on a Game of Thrones filming tour; we are doing Iceland together next and they did film in Iceland also, so I think we’re doing pretty good so far.

Have you ever been to any filming locations?

Life

There’s nothing like starting over

August 19, 2016

Girl In Awe Header Size

I’m not entirely sure what the right way to start a blog post is when you’ve been away for three months, but hi!

As you might have guessed, I took a blogging break. Big whoop, everyone takes one now and then. I didn’t intend to stop blogging, it just happened when exam revision geared up, things changed in my personal life and I started working a lot over the summer. I felt burnt out from everything and blogging was the thing that got dropped.

For a while, I didn’t really miss it. I missed keeping up to date with people, for sure, but the thought of blogging felt like a heavy weight and I decided to wait it out and the wait is over. I miss writing, and as I head into the final year of my degree I know that I won’t blog four or five times a week like I used to; I will be happy with once or twice a week and just being able to keep up with my favourite bloggers.

You’ve probably also noticed that my blog name has changed from Eat Read Glam to Girl In Awe. Eat Read Glam hasn’t suited me or this blog for a while and the change was all ready to go before my blogging break. Everything should be redirecting, but if you spot anything weird please let me know.

As with my last header, I have the incredibly talented Carly Watts to thank for my new header image – which I am over the moon happy with.

I’m so looking forward to catching up with every one and writing new posts. If you’ve discovered any new blogs that you love, please point them in my direction.

So, how have you been? Honestly.

Save

Save

Music, Vinyl diaries

Vinyl Diaries: Brand New Eyes – Paramore

May 11, 2016

Paramore Brand New Eyes on VinylParamore Brand New Eyes vinyl

Brand New Eyes is an album I always underrate, until I listen to it and then I wonder how on earth it’s not my favourite Paramore album.

I think that this was pretty much the only CD I had in my car for the first 6 months after it came out, and I just listened to it over and over again. Perhaps I listened to it to death and that’s why I tend to underrate it. I’m my own worst enemy sometimes.

Paramore Brand New Eyes Vinyl side aParamore Brand New Eyes lyric sheet Paramore Brand New Eyes vinyl lyric sheet

My favourite memory of this album was when Paramore played Birmingham with You Me At Six as support. I think it was one of the first gigs Tom and I went to together, and it was such a good show. I believe that tour was the first time Paramore played arenas in the UK and I couldn’t help but feel a little proud of them, after seeing them tour Riot! in a much smaller venue a couple of years earlier.

Listen to

To be honest, I could list every song on the album under here and it took a fair bit of deliberation to narrow it down to just four songs. (Luckily for you, you can listen to the entire album either on Spotify or YouTube.)

Tell me about an album you underrate, until you listen to it.

Books

Sometimes all the ‘how to get out of a reading slump’ tips don’t work, and that’s ok

May 6, 2016

Four books on the go

I’ve been stuck in a bit of a reading rut for most of 2016 so far. That’s not to say I haven’t read some great books though, but I’ve struggled to find time to really get into books.

At the time of writing this, I have four books on the go:

  • Allegiant Collector’s Edition – Veronica Roth: I’ve been reading this since it came out in October, and I’m pretty sure I’ve not finished it yet because of the ending.
  • Glass Sword – Victoria Aveyard: I’m over half way through this and really enjoying it, but meh, the reading rut.
  • Carry On – Rainbow Rowell: if anyone can bring me out of a reading rut, it’s Rainbow Rowell, so I started this in the hope it would pull me out.
  • Wild Swans – Jessica Spotswood

There are thousands and thousands of blog posts floating about sharing tips on how to get out of a reading rut. But sometimes, all the tips in the world don’t work and you just need to give it time.

I keep scrolling through Instagram (shameless plug, you can find me here @eatreadglam) and getting all excited about people’s enthusiasm for something they’ve just read, or something they’re about to read, and wishing I felt the same. That said, I am having a hard time not buying A Court of Mist and Fury right now BECAUSE IT LOOKS SO BEAUTIFUL AND SURELY BEAUTIFUL BOOKS WILL PULL ME OUTTA THIS FUNK. RIGHT?

WRONG. The reason I’m stuck in a reading rut is because I’ve got so much going on with university and my job. I have never been one of those people who can steal five minutes with a book here and there. I’m one of those people who gets fully invested and sucked in and will not be moved from the sofa for at least an hour, and finding a spare hour feels increasingly hard at the moment.

There’s no point forcing it because I know I won’t enjoy what I’m reading if I do that, and my second year is almost at an end, so I’ll have time to read over the summer.

Sometimes, you have to ignore all the tips and just wait; just wait until you get that time when the house is quiet, there’s nothing gnawing at the back of your mind reminding you to do something, and you can relax and fall into someone else’s head.

 

Share The Love

Share The Love – April 2016 Edition

May 4, 2016

Share the love April

Well, we’re here again; at long last, Game of Thrones is back on TV! And, yeah, it’s the start of a new month yet again.

BLOG – Life With A View

I discovered Jeannie’s blog after seeing one of her blog posts about things to do in Reykjavik, and since then I’ve been excitedly reading each update she shares about things to do and see in Iceland, and what it’s like for an American expat living hthere.

 

BLOG POSTS I LOVED

 

LISTENING TO

April’s playlist was allll over the place. I’d got some Twin Atlantic, HalfNoise, Of Monsters and Men, the two new tracks of PVRIS’ deluxe edition of White Noise, and two throwback tunes from Avril Lavigne’s Under My Skin – just to name a few.

 

WATCHING

I binge-watched series two of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and THAT ENDING! I NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE ABOUT HOW IT ENDED!

Game of Thrones is back on TV, so that’s always good. And Tom and I have finally started watching Orange Is The New Black – I don’t know why it’s taken us this long, because it’s so good.

 

READING

April wasn’t a great reading month at all, but I did enjoy doing a buddy read of The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead with Llinos from The Lilac Linnet.

 

EATING

I snuck in another trip to Nando’s, so for the second month in a row I’m going to rave about their veggie wrap. It’s bliss.

 

MOST POPULAR POSTS ON EATREADGLAM.COM

What did you enjoy in April? Feel free to leave links.

 

 

 

 

Photography

Right In My Backyard

May 3, 2016

Dylan looking at a pondBlue and white striped sky

A striped sky hung overhead; blue and white lines repeating themselves, dragging my attention away from the quacking ducks landing on the pond, and the distant sound of cheers from the football ground.

Winter sun bathed my face and the dogs shuffled their feet, eager to dip their paws in the edge of the pond but unsure of the Canadian Goose that kept eyeing them up.

This pond and these paths have been here for over 20 years, the remains of an old brickyard, well hidden from the road. So well concealed that I didn’t even know this place existed until three years ago; it is a couple of minutes walk from my house and I didn’t even know it was here.

BertDylan

I’m sure I’ve written about this before, but it’s weird how we can live our lives so in a little bubble that we don’t even know about places right in our neighbourhood.

I’ve spent my whole life in the West Midlands, and I think it’s about time that I started to really explore it.

 

Fantasy, Richelle Mead, Young Adult

The Glittering Court buddy read with The Lilac Linnet | A winding road of cunning, pretty dresses & romance to freedom

April 28, 2016

The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead, a review

My love for the Vampire Academy series rapidly sealed Richelle Mead as an autobuy author for me, and when I heard that The Glittering Court was a mixture of fantasy and boarding school antics, I was all over that pre-order book.

As soon as we heard about The Glittering Court, Llinos from the Lilac Linnet and I decided to do a buddy read, so this post will be a mix of my review and some review questions that both Llinos and I will be answering in our respective blog posts. If you want to read Llinos’ post, you can find it here.

We’re introduced to Adelaide (though, not her real name at the start of the book), a countess struggling to come to terms with the loss of her family’s wealth and trying to find a wealthy suitor who isn’t boring and creepy.

Spying an opportunity, she runs away to join The Glittering Court in the hope of finding a better life, and being able to marry for love rather than business. Of course, being a book an all, it isn’t that simple and she ends up forging her way down a winding road full of cunning, stunning dresses, treachery and romance to try and get freedom for herself and the one she loves.


If the synopsis sounds a little exhausting and all over the place, that’s because it’s exactly what the book is like. Heck, I needed a rest after reading this book. The Glittering Court is definitely more like an adventure novel than a romance novel in that respect, and I love it. Who loves exciting fantasy adventure romance novels? Kel loves orange soda! Wait, that’s something else.

Richelle Mead has done an absolutely cracking job of the world building. Here’s a list of some of the few places we spend time in:

  • The fancy (but not too fancy) home of a countess.
  • A ship on a rough ocean.
  • Cape Triumph; a new city, supposedly full of savages and scary men.
  • A very fancy house in Cape Triumph, full of maids turned ladies eager to be exactly what a rich man is looking for.
  • A shack at the foothill of mountains in the wilderness.

And all of them are so well written that you can feel the wind on your face as you gaze up at mountains, and the hustle and bustle of a port.

The character development is just as thorough also. Adelaide undergoes a lot of transformation throughout the book and even though none of us have been in her position, it’s hard not to relate to her.

  • Who doesn’t want to be free to make their own choices?
  • Who doesn’t want to find someone who is interested in them for more than their looks?

Most of the secondary characters are pretty well developed too. Some of them you fall head over heels in love with, and some of them are creepy and make your skin crawl – nice and diverse, that. I feel that perhaps we could have got to know some of the other girls who are part of The Glittering Court a little more – for example, one girl is quickly painted as a bit malicious and nasty, but I don’t think we ever really see her full potential and I think she could have caused us a lot of stress if we had. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

I mentioned above that the plot is more like an adventure novel; the pace is pretty full-on, there are no dull moments, and it’s full of so many twists and turns. On top of that, the romance is just as exciting – hello, sexual tension.

From looking at Goodreads reviews, I’ve seen some comparisons to The Selection, and I can definitely see where they’re coming from; a group of girls in a house competing to be exactly what men want, and a main character who doesn’t really want to play ball. Also, pretty dresses. That’s kind of where the comparisons to The Selection series end to me.

I know it probably sounds like they’re similar, but when I was reading it I didn’t think about The Selection at all, so it’s not like it’s a rehash of it. For starters, The Glittering Court is a bit darker, more detailed, and pretty much completely different.

I’m not going to say much more because I don’t want to spoil it, so let’s move onto the buddy read questions.

 


Who would you recommend The Glittering Court to?
Anyone who loves adventure novels, main characters who refuse to give up, and the idea of a mash-up of fancy dresses and frontier life.
 
Who is your favourite character?
My favourite character has to be our main character, Adelaide, because of her refusal to give up and her determination to get the freedom she wants. Whether it’s freedom from an arranged marriage, or the freedom to love the person she wants, she would rather go down in flames than have someone else tell her what to do with her life.
 
What are your thoughts on the world building and religious aspects of the novel?
The world building was rich and so detailed, without it feeling really heavy handed, which I think takes some serious skill. The same goes for the religious aspects, and it was interesting to read about how people of other religions thought of each other and their practices – I guess a lot of their prejudice and thoughts are relevant in modern line.
 
What annoyed you about the book?
Hmmm, this one actually took a lot of thinking about because I didn’t really have any qualms. I think that if there was anything that was a teeny bit annoying, it would be the lack of development of the other girls in The Glittering Court. It is a pretty detailed book as it is, but I think that getting to know some more of the girls, aside from passing mention of their name, would have been nice.
 
What do you think of the novel’s portrayal of women?
The Glittering Court is obviously influenced by Elizabethan times and I think the portrayal of women is definitely in line with what was expected of women, and how they were treated at the time. Women were property to be sold for the highest bidder to further their families wealth; they didn’t get things like freedom or choices.
 
Are you excited about the rest of the series?
I cannot wait to read the rest of the series, for reasons I will not mention because SPOILERS!
 
Favourite quote
This was the easiest question, because as soon as I read this line I was like “YES!”. It’s the sweetest and smushiest line I’ve read in a book in a while, and it just feels so me all over. In fact, my expression was kinda like this:
Big Bang Theory Sheldon dominos
 I will take your hand and lie with you in the groves, under the light of the moon. I will build a life with you upon this green earth. I will walk by your side for so long as the sun continues to rise. The Glittering Court.
SEE WHAT I MEAN?! It’s just so…so, so…I don’t even know.
 
 
The Lilac Linnet review of The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead
Don’t forget, you can read Llinos’ review of The Glittering Court by clicking on the image above.
The Glittering Court review rating - loved it
The Glittering Court Book Cover The Glittering Court
The Glittering Court
Richelle Mead
Romance, young adult, fantasy,
eBook

Big and sweeping, spanning from the refined palaces of Osfrid to the gold dust and untamed forests of Adoria, The Glittering Court tells the story of Adelaide, an Osfridian countess who poses as her servant to escape an arranged marriage and start a new life in Adoria, the New World. But to do that, she must join the Glittering Court.

Both a school and a business venture, the Glittering Court is designed to transform impoverished girls into upper-class ladies who appear destined for powerful and wealthy marriages in the New World. Adelaide naturally excels in her training, and even makes a few friends: the fiery former laundress Tamsin and the beautiful Sirminican refugee Mira. She manages to keep her true identity hidden from all but one: the intriguing Cedric Thorn, son of the wealthy proprietor of the Glittering Court.

When Adelaide discovers that Cedric is hiding a dangerous secret of his own, together they hatch a scheme to make the best of Adelaide’s deception. Complications soon arise—first as they cross the treacherous seas from Osfrid to Adoria, and then when Adelaide catches the attention of a powerful governor.

But no complication will prove quite as daunting as the potent attraction simmering between Adelaide and Cedric. An attraction that, if acted on, would scandalize the Glittering Court and make them both outcasts in wild, vastly uncharted lands…