Castle Ward County Down

Whilst Phill and I might have been one of just a few couples without children at Castle Ward, County Down on Easter Monday, we had a fantastic time exploring the beautiful grounds.  We got there early before the crowds descended for the Easter Fair (Easter egg hunt, bouncy castles, farmyard fun and lots of food and craft stalls!).

We went on one of the walking trails and were absolutely blown away by the stunning views over Strangford Lough.  I know everything looks better bathed in sunlight, but even on a cloudy day, there would be no denying how beautiful this area is.

After our long walk (and requisite Creme Egg for a sugar boost) we headed back towards the castle to get some food from one of the many food stalls that were there for the fair.  By this stage the place was packed with young families.  It was lovely seeing so many people make the most of the great spring weather and enjoying the Easter break.   I couldn’t believe how busy the place was but it was obvious the National Trust NI know what they’re doing when organising these family events.

After our Castle Ward trip we headed into Strangford and from there we got the boat over to Portaferry where we ended our day with some good pub grub.  We were ready for our beds after our dinner!

Castle Ward

Castle Ward Strangford

Castle Ward walking trails

Castle Ward walking trails

Castle Ward walks

Strangford Lough

Creme egg time!

Castle Ward grounds

scones at easter fair

hot dog at easter fair

Castle Ward National Trust

Betty Barclay yellow bag

A beautiful day and my new favourite bag – a winning combination.  I bought this Betty Barclay bag a few weeks ago and it was love a first sight.  I know I totally do not need another bag but I just couldn’t help myself.  It feels like such a luxurious bag with soft buttery yellow, grey and beige tones.  If you like the look of this bag, you can still buy it in blue tones on TK Maxx online.

I took my new accessory out for a walk in a pretty park over the weekend (we also went to a few garden centres, but they didn’t lend themselves for photos as much!).  For the outing I donned my Next denim shirt dress, Betsy Johnson sunnies,  Bertie sandals, John Rocha watch, and pineapple earrings (gifted to me last summer by Carolyn of Forever Scarlet)!  It felt good dressing for springtime, bare legs and all!

Spring style

Next denim shirt dress

statement yellow bag

Betty Johnston sunglasses

picking daffodils

heidi braid hairstyle

Spring daffodils

John Rocha watch

Spring walk

Linzi Rooney

Each month in 2013 I will feature a female entrepreneur from Northern Ireland. I find these smart and creative women inspiring and I hope you do to. Last month I featured PR guru Cathy Martin and this month it’s all about silversmith and Director at Studio Souk Linzi Rooney.

How did you get into jewellery making?

Up until 3 years ago I was working full time as a photographer, but, growing tired of sitting in front of a computer all day, I decided to change my career path and get back to a more “hands on” creative field – and so Elephant Juice was born.

What inspires your jewellery designs?

I think I always want each piece to look different and unique but not at the cost of it still looking pretty and feminine.

Elephant Juice jewellery

One of Linzi’s Elephant Juice jewellery pieces, made with antique silverware.

Last year you officially took over the reins at The Fashion Souk. Tell us about your new role.
Since taking over, a lot of changes have happened. I changed the name of the company to Studio Souk and opened Belfast city centres’ first open plan retail/studio space. I still run a fashion and craft market which now runs on the first Saturday of the month called Saturday Souk in Spires Mall. So my role now has many layers from managing director to event organiser to sales assistant – there is never a dull day!

What are the most challenging and the most satisfying aspects of your work at Studio Souk?
Working with a lot of different personalities, trying to get them to come together as a community is definitely challenging but its the most satisfying aspect of Studio Souk as well. It really makes you work on your patience!

Studio Souk Belfast

Is it difficult to juggle your creative endeavours with the business side of what you do?
Oh definitely. I think if you are creative person, a business head doesn’t necessarily come easily. But its our passion for what we do thats drives us to make it work.

What has been your proudest professional moment?
It was definitely the launch party of Studio Souk. I had to take a minute to myself to just take it all in and to say, “wow I’ve done it , I’ve actually done it!”

Linzi Rooney Studio Souk

The official opening of Studio Souk by the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Januray 2014.

Does your young daughter show your creative flair?
I just think she’s a genius but I’m sure every mother probably feels that way about their children. She’s very curious and head strong like her mum so I can only hope she will follow in my footsteps.

Do you have a motto that you live by, and if so what is it?
Yes! Heal the past, live the present and dream the future!

Who or what inspires you in your life?
My mum. She died when I was 15 and it always reminds me that life is short and you never know what could be around the corner. Especially now that I have a daughter of my own, I want her to know that you should always follow your dreams, whether it works or not, at least you know you have tried.

What do you want to do more of this year, in either your professional or private life?
I’ve got a lot of things going on over the next few months. I am running all the workshops at Belfast City Hall for the Easter Festival as well as hosting a Bike Fashion Souk and exhibit at the Giro d’Italia Big Start Festival.  In my private live I would like to have a bit more free time to spend as a family, but its still early days for the company so maybe that might come next year.

How do you like to unwind?
Will I be judged if I say with a glass of wine?

The next Souk event takes place on Saturday 3 May at the Spires Centre, Belfast.

Linzi Rooney

Linzi with her mini me daughter Macie May.

Ikea kitchens 2014

Last week I got a personal tour of the brand new IKEA kitchens and the bright and bold new BRAKIG range of homewares and furnishings at IKEA Belfast.  Along with some other local bloggers and those who work in the homes and interiors industry, we were all treated to savoury nibbles on arrival before we were shown around the new kitchens.

I hadn’t been to IKEA since late 2013 so there were lots of fab new pieces that caught my eye even before I reached the kitchen area.  But I paid close attention throughout the kitchen tour as Phill and I are keen to get a new kitchen this year.  The new ranges are not just about new-look cabinets, they are designed very differently from any of the previous IKEA kitchens.  Everything has been overhauled.  Now the drawers go back further and there is more space in the inside of the cabinets.  More space all round sounds good to me!  We have quite a small kitchen so making the most of space will be essential, especially as we’ve gathered up plenty of kitchenware over the years.  The IKEA kitchens also promise to be easier to install and there are more options to customise your kitchen to suit your needs.

After the kitchen tour, we got to have a nosey at the very colourful and vibrant BRAKIG range.  I had already heard a lot about this range and I was impressed when I saw the collection for myself. If you’re looking to update your home for summer and inject a bit of fun into your interiors, I’d definitely purchase some of the items from the range. I was lucky enough to take home a pair of BRAKIG bowls and I love them! I’ll definitely be filling these with snacks when we next have visitors.

IKEA Belfast event

IKEA white kitchen

Ikea Belfast kitchens

IKEA Brakig


IKEA sweeties


My new BRAKIG bowls pride of place in my kitchen cabinet.