It’s Time to Make Your Own Sloe Gin

Make Your Sloe Gin - nessymon

Make Your Sloe Gin - nessymon

It’s Time to make Your Own Sloe Gin

I’ve finally done it! After years of thinking ‘Ooh I should do that!’, I’ve finally got my ass in gear and got everything together and have made some sloe gin, which should be ready in time for Christmas.

Where do I get sloes?

It’s Time to make Your Own Sloe Gin
All the Sloe Gin Ingredients

First issue I had was where on earth I would get sloes? I live in London, not exactly widespread countryside. My first point of call was to try some supermarkets, none of which had any in stock. I then asked the lovely people in Turnips in Borough Market, who hadn’t any either. In the end, I went to ebay and found 2lb s of sloes, ricked and vacuum packed in Wales for £15. Since I bought these, I notice that the price has gone up. If you need some, get in and get them quickly.

The sloes arrived a couple of days later, vacuum packed, everything beautiful. I stuck them in the freezer overnight and separated the packet in two.

Adding sugar to the sloe gin potion
Adding sugar to the sloe gin potion

Recipe for Sloe Gin

When I was looking for a recipe, I decided to go with one Nigel Slater wrote in The Guardian in 2010.

Here’s the thing, I’m not a gin drinker. Nope, not a clue do I have about what is a good gin and a bad gin. In his recipe, Nigel said not to spend a fortune on an expensive gin, so I headed to Lidl and got a litre of Finton’s gin for £15. with a standard bottle being 75cl, that meant I had to adjust the recipe. 33 per cent more.

I put in the gin first, added the sugar then bashed up the frozen sloes a bit and put them in a jar.

Here’s what I used:

1 litre of Finton’s gin
600g of sloe berries
466g of sugar

The Waiting Game

For the first week, I stirred the potion everyday, this ensures that the sloes don’t clump together and the sugar gets a good chance to dissolve.

Now, I’m still stirring the jar, once a week. I’ve chosen Sunday so I won’t forget to. After two weeks, I’ll admit, I’ve taken a lick of the spoon and there is a gorgeous sweetness battling against the gin. Now, myself and Talulah just have to sit tight and not touch the jars until at least Christmas. It’s going to be a yummy one!

Sloe Gin - The Waiting Game
Sloe Gin – The Waiting Game

How about some Sloe Vodka?

Once I had the sloe gin all sorted, I wondered what I would do with the leftover sloes. After a quick google, I decided to try sloe vodka.

Our friends in Lidl have a Putinoff vodka which comes on 50cl bottles, perfect for the amount of sloes I’d left over. Adjusting the recipe to suit, I now have sloe gin and vodka sitting on my shelf.

Sloe Gin - Bashing up frozen sloes
Bashing up Frozen Sloes

Summer in the City // Tip for Surviving Smelly Armpits

SURVIVING SMELLY ARMPITS

SURVIVING SMELLY ARMPITS
It’s that time of year when it heats up a little, which for the most part is a good thing. Less rain and a bit of warmth can make us forget for a little while that winters, in this part of the world, are for the most part cold and dank.

On most public transport systems, temperatures can get uncomfortable, especially while the world and their mother are trying to get home at rush hour. Take this onto overground trains, where people are squished together to get to work. Then go underground. It gets a bit warmer and even the early morning commute can be a form of torture. According to Gizmodo, the Bakerloo line is can reach 31 degrees and the Central line 30 degrees.

With most rush hour commutes, you can, unfortunately, get to know your neighbour pretty intimately. During the summer months, that means you old sweaty armpits too. And let’s be honest, it can be pretty revolting.

Surviving Smelly Armpits

Let me clarify, everyone perspires, yes, even the Queen. (Hey Liz, hope you’re enjoying the read) But, by evening time on a packed train, after a hot day, it can get potent. So much so, I’ve wanted to be physically sick.

Enter a tip I’ve been using for the past couple of years. A major hat tip has to go to Mr Mulley who passed this gem onto me. This will be my third year of using this and I feel, now, it’s my turn to pass on this simple effective tip to survive smelly armpits.

a tub of vapour chest rub

Make Your Own Travel Pack

Pop into your local pharmacy or supermarket. Go to the aisle with all the cold remedies, and look for the decongestants. Now, you see the stuff you rub on your chest? Yes, that minty eucalyptus rub? Pick it up. You can go for the well known Vicks brand, or you can go for a generic brand. If you’re allergic to any of the ingredients, don’t to this! Seek a pharmacist/doctors advice before you go ahead.

I’ve gone for Boots own brand. I think the jar was about two pound something. You don’t need to spend much on this. If you’re in the pharmacy, spend a pound and buy those little travel containers with a screw top lid.

Don’t use your hands for this, an old spoon or something you can throw away. Take a spoonful from the jar and put it into the travel container. Wipe the outside clean.

So now you have your own travel pack. It’s small enough to pop in your bag or even put in your pocket.

Make Your Nose A Happy Nose

There’s two ways to make your nose happy now. Pre-empt the event of smelliness and go straight ahead or wait until you board the train and see what it’s like. Just remember though, if the train is totally mad busy, you may feel uncomfortable doing this.

Get a tiny dap of the chest rub on your finger and dab it on the inside of your nose. It may tingle a bit and if you’ve a tiny cut, it will probably sting. The upside though, is that is all you will smell. You can’t smell your overly intimate neighbour, just minty camphor eucalyptus smells. Enough to make any grandmother proud of you but not enough for the rest of the Tube’s inhabitants think you’re an oldie.

It’s so easy, I never would have thought of this. But as I said, I’ve been using this now for a couple of years and it definitely makes life a lot easier for me. If you’ve a sensitive nose, turn it into a happy nose. Let me know how you got on in the comments below.

Happy travels!
London Underground

Tips For Staying Sane When You’ve Been Made Redundant

Head in Hands - redundancy - nessymon

Head in Hands - redundancy - nessymon

Redundancy sucks, properly sucks. Through no fault of your own, you’ve been landed on the dole queue, or if you’re in the UK, the line for the Job Centre.

I know it sucks as it recently happened to me. You’ll have good days and you’ll have completely shit days, so I’ve come up with some tips for you which will hopefully make you feel slightly better and not crack up.

Here are my tips for staying sane if you’ve recently been made redundant.

Give yourself time to decompress

Once you’ve been made redundant, give yourself a couple of days off to get your head round the fact that your kitchen / spare room is now your office and where you’ll spend your days, looking for jobs.

It normally happens that your last day is on a Friday. Give yourself the following Monday and Tuesday to get use to the fact that you don’t have to get squished on a commuter train for a while.

While you’ll still be looking for work and putting in time at a computer, new jobs unfortunately, don’t appear overnight. This takes time.

The first couple of days are like staring into an abyss, a big deep black hole. You have to give yourself time to get used to the fact that your old work life is over and you’re embarking on a new phase of your life. Even if it isn’t a phase you asked for.

You need this time to get your head around this. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else or look at what other people are perceived to be doing. They have their own problems that you know nothing about. This is your life, you’re brilliant, it’s your boat and you can steer yourself through this storm.

Morning Coffee

Get up every morning

It sounds a bit obvious but get up!

Getting up at a similar time to what you did when you were working will keep you in some sort of routine. If you’ve kids, do the school run, get them breakfast. If you don’t, get up a relaxed breakfast before the job hunt beings.

The last thing you want to happen to be become out of sync with the rest of the world. Go to bed at bedtime, get up at whatever was your breakfast time.

Get some exercise

I’ve been using my time to try and get fit. Well, as fit as I can on my exercise bike. I’ve slowly built up from 5km to 25km. It takes about 50 minutes to do that. I’m currently in a temp job but when I was at home every day, I did this after my breakfast every morning.

This gives me a clearer head to tackle the job hunt ahead and is a great stress buster. I’ve found even jumping on the exercise bike for 10 minutes in the afternoon when I’ve finished your hunt for the day is a great way to clear my head in a sea full of ‘Tell us about your summer job when you were 15’.

There are also some extra added health benefits. That’s for another blog post though.

Cycle in the park

Get Out of the House

The internet is now the number one place for looking for jobs. So, that means you’re sitting in your kitchen for eight hours a day looking for jobs rather than sitting in a office like you were a couple of weeks ago.

You’ll go mad if you don’t leave the house, get out for a walk to a local park. Try a different local coffee shop for an afternoon brew everyday. Check your local listings for free gigs and art exhibitions. Join a local soccer team. It doesn’t matter what it is, get yourself outside the four walls before you feel like they are caving in on you.

Be Good to Yourself

You’re awesome! Remember that! It’s not your fault that you ended up being made redundant. Just because you don’t have a job right now, doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve to give yourself a few treats.

Last weekend, I bought myself an old Brownie 127 camera and a Frankie Goes to Hollywood 7 inch of The Power of Love. They weren’t expensive but when you’re being cautious with the cash, any little treat is brilliant.

It could be even cooking yourself your favourite meal, taking a few hours out to read a book, drawing, messing around with an adult colouring book, playing guitar.

Do something that relaxes you, something that you find fun!

Chat with Friends - nessymon

Surround Yourself with Good People

When you don’t hear back from applications, it can be a downer. Especially when some applications can take a couple of hours to put together.

Plus, the other thing no one tells you is that it can take weeks to get a reply. If you have a good buddy or partner to can let it all out to, do!! Not every day is going to be great. Some are downright slogs.

Being surrounded by people who love you for who you are and not what your job title is the number one goal in life. They love you because you’re kind, you’ve a big heart, you’ve a great sense of humour, you’ve a beautiful smile.

They were there before you got that job, they’re still there.

Reassess what you’re doing

Now is a good time to take a look at what you really want to do. You’ll need to smarten up the CV/resume so think about the things you’re good at, things you like doing and what the future could possibly hold if you changed what you’re doing.

It’s a good time to take stock of everything. Those good people you’re surrounding yourself with? They’ll probably be able to point out some things quicker than you realise yourself.

People have bills, though you don’t want them piling up. Instead of making any hasty decisions because you have to urgently get a job, re-do your budget and see if you can can get some temp work for a while. This may be a way of you clearing your head so you can reassess the situation and get in the direction that you want to go.

Making Lists - redundancy - nessymon

Keep a list of what you do

I find keeping a list of all the jobs I’ve applied for really beneficial. I also add things like how far I did on the exercise bike and who I called. I also take screenshots of jobs I’ve applied for.

You can end up applying for massive amounts of jobs so this is a good way to show you that you are actually doing something and you are making progress.

I hope these help in some small way. Being made redundant is not easy. But it’s just another one of life’s crossroads and you’ll get through it. This is the start of a new chapter. The most important thing is to look after you and your mental health. It’s the shittiest of times but it’s also a time when we truly find the importance of family and friends. Talk to people, let them know how you’re feeling, use their shoulder for support. That’s what friends are for. You’d do it for them.

Let me know if you’ve been through redundancy and if you have any tips in the comments below.

A Year in the Life – So Long 2016

A year in the life

A year in the life

Ah 2016, I’m glad to see the back of you.

On August 8th this year, I started a draft blog post but never finished it. It had the working/title of ‘Why I won’t let June 24th define my year’.

The year started off rather well actually, I wrote a blog post about ‘Speaking Irish at Work – in London’. The Irish Times Generation Migration section asked me to turn it into a standalone piece for them. I also wrote a piece for them about coming Home to Vote in the Irish general election and featured on The Irish Times Women’s Podcast with a letter to the new Dail.

I also appeared on Talk Radio, speaking about coming out, later in the year spoke to Paul Ross about Black Friday, online shopping and small businesses.

I was also interviewed for Conor Scully’s Projections, speaking about life as a member of the Irish Diaspora, living in London.

A Year in the Life - 2016 - nessymon June 24

June 24th – A Day I won’t forget

But June 24th happened. For those who have been hiding from all things news in 2016, fair play, how did you do it?

Going to bed on June 23rd, it looked like the British public were being a sensible lot and voting remain. I headed to bed, waking up at 6am to the news that a ‘Leave’ vote had won.

I was just kinda dumbstruck to be honest and couldn’t believe the short sightedness of some people, who were actually believing Farage and Co. Not for the first time that day, I felt a hole in the pit of my stomach.

I went to work and people were sitting around chatting, some just sitting, with no words. Some people were so emotional about it all that tears were shed.

I voted Remain but couldn’t partake in the conversations. I had a more pressing issue. I had a meeting which was to decide whether I would be made redundant or not. It went, as these things do, lasting about 3 hours. By 1645, I had a letter in my hand to say I was out of a job.

And so began my first adventures with the social welfare and benefits people in the UK.

August was tough, I managed to get some temp work through an agency for a couple of weeks in September and got a 12 week contract starting October 4th.

I’m not going to lie, the stress was just horrible and in London, if you’re not working, any savings at all are gone pretty quickly. Benefits come in at a whopping £73.50 per week. If you’re lucky, you might get some housing benefit too.

But Brexit and the June 24th announcement has impacted on my daily life in a way I never would have thought it could. My temp job exists because of Brexit, I have had my contract extended for another 12 weeks because of Brexit. What I do is existing because of Brexit.

Having a temp job now is great, better than £73.50 a week but no where as much as I was earning. This itself is another issue in London. Do you just want to exist somewhere or do you actually want to live?

June 24th and its fall out have made myself and Tahlula look at what the future holds. Being honest, I don’t want to exist. I want to live. That means 2017 could potentially be our last year in London. Something has to give.

Year of Flux and Celebrity deaths

Celebrity deaths in 2016, including my own beloved George Michael, have made us all question or own mortality.

2016 was a time of flux, a time of confusion. Now is a the time to kick the negatives of 2016 and start 2017 afresh.

Yes, getting a better job is top of the list but we all need to look after our own mental health, physical health and do stuff we enjoy and makes us happy.

During my time off this year, I lost nearly 3 stone. I want to continue that in 2017. I take medication for a dodgy immune system. I want to write more about that. 2017 is a year to throw myself into everything, try the ideas I have had see what sticks, what people like and what I enjoy doing.

The London Ear grows

OleTimeRadio

I really enjoy presenting and producing my radio show, The London Ear on RTÉ 2XM. I’m thrilled at how the show has been received and how it has grown over the past few months. I don’t get paid for doing the show, so everything has to happen in the evening time, away from the 9-5 job. There’s no budget for promotion, all promotion is done via word of mouth and sharing on social media. So to see the show its listening audience and its social reach rise is very heartening and makes what I’m doing all worthwhile.

New beginnings, new starts, new adventures. 2017, it’s ours to to make the most of.

Here’s my Best 9 of 2016 from Instagram

A photo posted by Nessy (@nessymondotcom) on

Making New Traditions // Christmas in London

Christmas in London - nessymon

Christmas in London - nessymon

Christmas in London

I was asked by a well known Irish website to share my thoughts about Christmas abroad and what Christmas is like for me in London. For some reason, they didn’t publish it, so I thought I’d share it here with you.

December 2016

This will be my fifth Christmas living in London, I lived here for a year in 2002 and returned here in 2013.

I’m really lucky, my work schedule has meant I’ve been able to home most years. I’ve only been away from home for one.

This year, I’m heading home to Co. Meath. Christmas Eve is nearly a bigger thing in our household. All my siblings and my nieces and nephews gather in my parent’s house. Lots of food, lots of excitement and lots of noise!

It’s funny! I try to get home as much as possible. This year, I managed to get home for a day in early December. Every year my Mum tells me that the tree isn’t up yet, they wanted to wait until I was at home to put up the Christmas tree. Surprise! It’s always up when I get there. The tree is a big thing at home. Decorations have been collected for decades.

What I Miss about Dublin

Being away from home, you definitely miss the build up to Christmas with family and friends. Even when I do get home, time is always limited so I try to squeeze as much in as possible.

One of the biggest things I miss about Dublin is just bumping into friends and going for coffee. So when Christmas comes around, I try to meet as many as possible before they head off to have their own Christmas. When you’re at home, you often don’t notice the changes that happen in a city, so meeting friends in their new favourite haunt is a great way of keeping up and rediscovering Dublin.

The Madness of Oxford Street

Christmas Stall - London- nessymon

I’ve been trying to stay away from the madness of Oxford Street. I’m not sure I have the energy to battle against wave after wave of shopper just to get one item of clothing in a sale. One of my favourite things ever is being able to walk down O’Connell Street early in Christmas Eve, with my arms stretched out wide and not hit anyone.

It’s strange in ways. London is in another country but it’s just another commuter town for so many people. If I lived in Cork, it would take me longer to get home. You create new traditions in your own life, whether your at home or not.

Trying to avoid the Oxford Street ridiculousness, one new tradition myself and Talulah have acquired is walking along London’s Southbank on the Sunday afternoon before Christmas. There’s Christmas Markets with craft makers stalls and mulled wine galore and carousels. If you wander to the Tate Modern, the market is slightly quieter there. It’s lovely walk and usually at this time of year, London’s famous fog adds to the Christmas feel. The afternoon is completed by our now traditional Japanese curry and sushi.

Christmas Stall - Southbank - London - nessymon

Christmas Stall - Tate Modern - London - 2 - Nessymon

Christmas Stall - Tate Modern - London - nessymon

Londons Southbank Christmas - nessymon

Travelling between the UK and Ireland // What Travel Documents do I need?

Travel Documents UK and Ireland

Travel Documents UK and Ireland

You’re a living in the UK and heading to Ireland. There’s a moment of panic as you realise that your passport is out of date. Fear not! There are ways around it. And I’ve put everything into one handy post for you.

Firstly, Ireland and the UK are part of the common travel area, which allows the free movement of people between our nations. The one problem with this is that the island of Ireland is separated from the UK by the Irish Sea. Unless you’re a champion sea swimmer, I would not recommend trying to get there by your own steam. Enter the airlines and ferry companies.

So here’s the thing, if you were born in the UK or Ireland and are a UK or Irish Citizen you do not not a passport to travel from the UK to Ireland and vice versa. Just some sort of official ID is recommended. However, travel companies are independent entities and can operate their business how they see fit.

Ryanair

Ryanair are the only flight carrier to the Republic of Ireland that require a passport or passport card. They do not accept photo ID. You can even learn this when checking in for a flight. You are given two options for type of ID to be used: passport book and passport card.

According to their website the reason why is: All Ryanair passengers must travel with a valid passport. Since 80% of Ryanair passengers travel without checking-in a bag, the boarding gate is the first instance where Ryanair’s crew are afforded the opportunity to verify the identity of the passenger travelling and match the passenger to their passport, in the interests of security

Here’s where you can find out about travel documentation on their website.

Aer Lingus

Aer Lingus will allow official Photo ID. Here’s the list:

  • Valid passport
  • Driver’s licence with photo
  • International student card
  • National ID card/government issued photo ID cards
  • Health insurance cards with photo/social security cards with photo
  • Bus pass with photo
  • Work ID with photo

Citizens of Ireland and the U.K. under the age of 16 don’t need a photo ID if travelling with their parent/guardian.

You can find everything on the Aer Lingus website.

British Airways

This is taken from British Airways’ website:

If you are a citizen of the UK or Republic of Ireland who was born in that country you do not need a passport to travel between the two countries but you do require some form of photographic identification, such as a driving licence.

All other travellers require a valid passport to travel between the two countries.

Now here’s the thing. I spoke to someone this week who was told by a British Airways agent that a driving licence wasn’t sufficient. I decided to do a little investigating. So I went to Twitter. Here’s what happened.

So when I questioned this, they got someone to look into it.

So there it is. Sometimes, even agents for the airlines can get it wrong. They have the right to change their rules but if they do, they need it to be stated across all their channels of information, especially their website.

You can find everything on British Airways’ website.

Flybe

Flybe will also allow you to travel between the two countries with photo ID. They state:

British and Irish citizens must have a form of photographic ID which proves their nationality/citizenship for immigration purposes e.g. a valid passport or fulll/provisional (sic) photographic driving licence.

British and Irish citizens under the age of 18 do not need a passport when travelling with a parent or guardian but it is highly recommended that they have one. Without a passport, the parent/guardian must be able to prove the relationship with the child, showing birth certificate, marriage certificate etc.

A child of any other nationality must hold a passport which is covered for the period of intended stay.

You can get directly to the document requirement page on their site here.

CityJet

Cityjet are also happy with photo ID.

If you are citizen of the UK or Republic of Ireland and were born in that country you do not need a passport to travel between the two countries but you do require some form of valid photograph identification, such as:

Valid driving license with photograph, Irish passport card, valid government issued photo ID card.

All other travellers require a valid passport, visa where applicable, or national ID card to travel between the two countries.

Check out their website for more.

Irish Ferries

Irish Ferries, by ferry or sail and rail. On their site they state that: Irish Ferries recommend all passengers bring a passport with them. Irish and British citizens do not strictly require a passport to travel between the two countries – some form of identification is however required. Please note that all nationalities except Irish or British require passports. Non-EU nationals should check with the British or Irish embassy before travelling as they may also need a visa. Passengers who turn up at our ports without valid documentation may not be allowed to enter either Ireland or Britain.

Useful means of identification when travelling on these routes are:

  • Passport
  • Driving Licence
  • European identity Card
  • Bank cards
  • Photo ID (school or college)
  • Utility Bills
  • Birth Certificate

Note: travelling to France from Ireland has different requirements.

Travel Documents - airplane interior - nessymon

Flights to Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland is part of the UK, so flights to there, even with Ryanair are UK domestic flights. You only need photo ID, not a passport.

So if you can’t get a flight to the Republic of Ireland, especially if you live in the northern part of the country, a trip to Belfast could well be your best and easiest option.

Easyjet

Easyjet really do go easy on you. They do need photographic ID but here’s the thing. An expired passport can be used up to five years after it’s expiry date.

From their website:
If you are flying within the UK you must be able to identify yourself with a form of photographic ID. Here’s a list to show you what forms will be accepted at check-in:

  • A valid passport – an expired passport can be used up to a maximum of five years after expiry
  • Valid photographic EU or Swiss national identity card
  • Valid photographic driving licence, provisional or full
  • Valid armed forces identity card
  • Valid police warrant card/badge
  • Valid airport employees security identity pass
  • CitizenCard
  • Valid photographic firearm certificate
  • Valid Government-issued identity card
  • SMART card
  • Electoral identity card
  • Pension Book (the only acceptable form of non-photographic identification)

Passengers must present one of the above forms of valid photographic identification on all UK domestic flights. No other forms of photographic identification are accepted. If you do not have one of the above means of identification, easyJet cannot accept you for travel.

Children and domestic travel
Children under the age of 16 do not need to show ID on domestic routes. The adult they are travelling with can vouch for the infant’s/child’s identification, providing the relevant photo ID is shown (by the adult). On International routes a passport will be required.

Check their website:

Irish Passport Cover - nessymon

Passport Renewal

If you’re really stuck you could try get a passport renewed at the Irish or UK passport offices but in most cases, emergency passports are only issued if there’s a bereavement in the family.

The Irish Passport Office in the UK is based at
114a Cromwell Road
London
SW7 4ES

You need to go to the passport office itself. Your individual situation will determine whether they can help you within the timeframe you require. You can find out more details from the Department of Foreign Affairs website.

If you hold a UK passport, you can renew it at one of the offices around the UK. You can find out more here.

Visas to Ireland and the UK

If you’re not from the UK or Ireland and travelling between the two countries, it’s up to you to check you have the correct visas and documentation to enter the individual countries. That’s another blog post!

Happy trails!

All information is correct as of December 17 2016. nessymon.com takes no responsibility for changes or incidents due to changes. Please always contact your travel provider for the most up to date information.

Image sources: Pixabay