Monday, February 28, 2011

2 Weeks for the Price of 1 on Irish Holiday Cottages: Travel Blog plus 1 more

2 Weeks for the Price of 1 on Irish Holiday Cottages: Travel Blog plus 1 more

Link to Travel Blog

2 Weeks for the Price of 1 on Irish Holiday Cottages

Posted: 28 Feb 2011 08:24 PM PST

2 Weeks for the Price of 1 on Irish Holiday Cottages

2 Weeks for the Price of 1 on Irish Holiday Cottages

Imagine Ireland are offering an amazing 2 weeks for the price of 1 on many of their cottages through Spring and Summer.

Ireland is choc-full of great things to see and do, making it the perfect Easter holiday destination. Whether you are looking for a property which is close to a beach, in walking country or to make it your touring base, Imagine Ireland's specially selected range of holiday cottages are ideal for a memorable Easter holiday or short break.

Each one of Imagine Ireland's cottages has been individually selected and inspected so you have the best choice – from Donegal to Dublin, Kerry to Kinsale and from coastal cottages to country retreats, we've something for everyone. The majority of our cottages include bed linen and towels, and most include fuel and power, so there are no extras.

Full details and terms and conditions can be found on their website.

2 Weeks for the Price of 1 on Irish Holiday Cottages

Travel Deals: Imagine Ireland

Marbella’s Reservoir of Conception

Posted: 28 Feb 2011 06:08 PM PST

An utterly incomprehensible mass of words have been expended on Marbella. I don’t mean the words themselves are incomprehensible, just that the sheer amount of information is mindboggling. Every angle has been exhausted; Marbella as a luxury destination; Marbella as a gastronomic paradise; Marbella as a nightlife capital; Marbella as a golfer’s greatest fantasy; and yes, before you try and call my bluff, Marbella as a place where you can see retired boxers going toe-to-toe with Arab princes.

How on earth was I, therefore, going to discover something new in Marbella?

For a start, I loosened my definition of Marbella to include the surrounding area, not so much along the coast, but moving inland. By day I explored the anonymous undulations not quite close enough to the Mediterranean Sea to join the Costa del Sol’s party, by night I returned to base and tried not to look as unenthusiastic as I felt around the honking Marbella clubs.

My explorations took me to all kinds of remote villages… not exactly Che Guevara in his Motorcycle Diaries, but a stark enough contrast to the glitz of Marbella to tickle my wanderlust. A little over 10 kilometres north of the town centre, hardly far enough to be categorised outside of Marbella, I discovered El embalse de la Concepción, which translates, rather wonderfully, as the reservoir of conception.

Take a look on Google Images and there’s no way you’d have guessed this place sits a stone’s throw away from the Mediterranean Sea, with its bare, sunburnt flesh and the sound of clinking champagne glasses filling the air. Unless you’re sitting on your personal yacht in Marbella’s harbour right now, of course.

Without the faintest idea of its existence I marched over a gentle peak, head down, thumbs locked into backpack straps, and a look of gritty determination across my face, before glancing up and coming to an abrupt halt as if I’d seen a ghost. Overcome with panic, sweat rolling down my eyeballs, I pulled out a map to check I hadn’t somehow crossed into Tuscany. It was possible, but I’d have needed about four more weeks to do it.

I stood overlooking a scene of tranquillity, a still lake whose edges meet steep, verdant inclines which seem as though their vegetation sinks beyond the water’s surface. Of course, this made sense after I learnt it was a reservoir, but at the time it was surprising and magical.

I could have been anywhere in the world; on the peak of a Himalayan mountain, in the rolling hills of Austria, or staring at a copy of National Geographic magazine. Regrettably, I had only a small amount of time to settle down and enjoy it while chewing on the sandwiches which had been squeezed and squashed in my bag, before turning and making the descent back towards the coast.

It seems there is still plenty to discover in Marbella, as long as it is treated as a base from which to explore, rather than a haunt in which to socialise, sunbathe and spend.

Plan your next trip here:



Booze it Up! 13 Rad Recycled Bottle Crafts & Projects

Posted: 28 Feb 2011 10:00 AM PST

[ By Steph in Art & Design, Home & Garden, Tricks & Hacks. ]

Got a recycling bin full of glass bottles? Why waste them when you could have a new table lamp, candle holder, shelving unit, hummingbird feeder – even a house? Reuse beer, wine and liquor bottles for these 13 fun and creative crafts and projects for the home and garden.

Wine Bottle Table Lamp

(images via: wit and whistle)

Turning any wine bottle into a table lamp is as simple as drilling a hole and inserting a strand of lights. The color of the bottle enhances the glow of the light, adding ambiance to a room. The only special tool needed is a glass drill bit.

Wine Bottle Candle Holder

(image via: design sponge)

How simple and elegant are these DIY wine bottle candle holders? In shades of brown and green, they’re an earthy addition to a wooden table. This tutorial by Design Sponge uses a simple glass cutting kit and some sandpaper to snap the bottles in half.

Wine Bottle Shelves

(images via: renest)

Would you ever have thought of using wine bottles and slabs of wood to create a shelving unit? DIY recycled furniture is rarely easier than this. Made by Zero Waste Design, the shelves are created by drilling holes into the wood for the necks of the bottles, with hook and eye strainers adding a bit of stability. The Glasgow-based furniture maker also offers a how-to on Instructables.

Bottle Trees

(images via: recyclart, metaefficient, examiner)

Turn your holiday tree into an ode to beer (or perhaps just a sparkling green alternative to a living tree) using reclaimed empty bottles. This design uses circular platforms to support each tier of bottles, and as you can see, the result is as big as you want it to be, from a standard living room-sized tree to the monster 1,000-Heineken-bottle tree set up in Shanghai in 2009. Bottle trees are also popular year-round as garden art and easy to create.

Beer Bottle Drinking Glasses

(images via: bottlehood)

Got half of a wine bottle left over from your candle holder project (above)? Use it as a drinking glass! This tutorial from Instructables explains how to cut and finish the edges of your favorite beer or wine bottles to create custom drinking glasses – or you could just buy a set from Etsy seller Bottlehood.

Tiki Lamps

(images via: design sponge)

Bamboo tiki torches not your style? These DIY recycled wine bottle torches are modern and minimalist, but the best part is, they cost next to nothing. Design Sponge has the details on how to use $5 in hardware to create simple copper-colored tiki lamps that can be mounted to a wall or fence.

Beer Bottle Chandelier

(images via:

Unless you’re handy with welding tools, this project is not so DIY-friendly, but it’s still an amazing use of beer bottles. Maybe you could even come up with your own cheap and easy solution for creating a custom beer bottle chandelier.

Chalkboard Vases & Pantry Organization

(image via: curbly, berm design)

Chalkboard paint transforms any old bottle into a cool customizable vase – or just use a swipe of it as a label that can be erased and re-written again and again.

Wine Bottle Bell Chimes

(image via: my vintage décor)

These wine bottle bell chimes were made using a hemp string, a wooden ball and a piece of hammered copper, but you could improvise any number of materials to come up with a similar result on your own. Just use the glass cutting kit from the beer bottle drinking glasses tutorial to slice off the bottom of the bottle. A wood or metal ring inside the bottle neck holds the string in place.

Hummingbird Feeders

(images via: deelux designs)

Etsy shop Deelux Designs uses liquor bottles to make these backyard feeders, filled with colored food that looks disturbingly like the real thing – but you could also use wine or beer bottles in a simple wire holder, as illustrated at Crafting a Green World. The feeder tubes are sold on for less than a dollar each, so plan on making some to sell or give away as gifts.

Beer Bottle Solar Hot Water Heater

(image via: neatorama)

Chinese farmer Ma Yanjun came up with a novel, inexpensive way to provide hot water for members of his family: laying 66 bottles, connected by hose pipes, on a board covered with aluminum foil. Placed on a rooftop and pointed north to collect the maximum amount of sunlight, this incredible DIY solution really does work. Instructions don’t seem to be available, but anyone good with DIY projects could probably come up with design based on Ma’s prototype.

Bottle House

(images via:

Got skills that go beyond vases and bird feeders? You could make an entire house out of glass bottles. The collection of glass buildings at Prince Edward Island – including a chapel, a tavern, a gift shop and a six-gabled home – are just a few examples of how surprisingly beautiful this sort of eco-friendly construction can be. The bottles are used much like bricks, with mortar in between.

Buddhist Temple Made from Bottles

(images via: treehugger)

It’s the ultimate reclaimed glass bottle project: not a solar hot water heater, not even a house but an entire Buddhist temple. Monks in Thailand’s Sisaket province collected over a million green Heineken bottles and brown bottles of local Chang beer to create a complex of 20 buildings including the main temple, halls, prayer rooms, water tower, sleeping quarters and even a crematorium. Even the roofs are made from bottles. And if you’re wondering, no, the caps weren’t wasted – the monks used them to make mosaic murals.

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My Round the World Adventure

My Round the World Adventure

Touring a Coffee Plantation in Panama

Posted: 28 Feb 2011 08:39 AM PST

I’m not a coffee drinker. I think the last time I had coffee was about three years ago. It’s been so long I’m not really sure. But I know it was Starbucks. I only drink them. Why? Because with all the flavors, milk, and whip cream they add to my coffee concoction, it masks the coffee taste and makes it drinkable for me. There’s only been one time I enjoyed a cup of java. It was back in 2003 when I was Costa Rica. I was in Monteverde exploring the cloud forest. The organic, shade grown coffee I had there was like drinking chocolate and I couldn’t get enough of it. I bought a bag to take home. It was the only time I liked drinking coffee.

So when my friends wanted to tour a coffee plantation in Boquete, Panama, I was less than enthused. “Can’t we go hiking instead?,” I asked. “No, we’re doing the coffee tour,” they replied. We had hiked the previous day and they wanted to do something different. I grumbled but reluctantly, I agreed. I wanted to spend time with my friends and maybe learning about coffee might be better than actually drinking it.

There are a lot of coffee plantation tours throughout this area of Panama. This region is famous for its coffee and produces most of what Panama exports. You couldn’t walk a block in Boquete without finding a coffee shop. I’m not a coffee drinker so I can’t say the coffee here is better than elsewhere in the world but I did (surprisingly) enjoy what I drank. Most plantation tours are 1/2 day tours and cost between $25-35 USD. They make for a good morning or afternoon tour. You can book them through any hostel or from the tour shops in the center of town.

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