Day One of The New You Plan : What a Lot of Water!

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I read once that Monday is the worst day to try to start changing your eating, or dieting, so therefore Friday must be the best, right? Either way I'm starting today. I weighed myself this morning and I'm 9 stone 9.6lbs. My ultimate goal is about 8 stone 3lbs, but that won't be achieved in this week, unless I chop off a foot.  

A dusty scale! Whoops! 

A dusty scale! Whoops! 

My main sticking point will be the water in take I think. I'm pretty good at sticking to restrictive diets when I want to, but even as a kid my Mum used to be tortured trying to get me to drink enough water. I don't even like dilute, so I can't fancy up my water and trick myself that it's juice. 

I reckon the best way to get the 3 to 5 litres a day they suggest through me, is to buy 4 litres of water and use that as a visual guide to see how far I am along every day. I got eight 500ml bottles in the pound shop for £2, and I'll just refill them from the tap every morning, but they should help me see how far I have to go each day. 

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With the whole week's meals, shakes and bars in front of me it was tricky to pick which four products I was going to use today. For breakfast I picked the lemon meal replacement bar, which is really chewy and more like a treat than a traditional cereal bar. It's the sort of thing I'd eat even off a diet if it were a snack choice. It's a bit like a Boots Shapers Bar if you've had them? Only a bit bigger. It looks tiny in that photo, but it was quite filling.

I also tried one of the pineapple fat burning powders in water. It contains calcium, chromium (which regulates glucose levels) and green tea leaf extract which increases fat burning. You can take up to three of these fat burner sachets a day to help increase your metabolism naturally. I love pineapple so for a dilute type product, it's not too bad! 

Breakfast: pineapple fat burner, lemon meal replacement bar, water water water! 

Breakfast: pineapple fat burner, lemon meal replacement bar, water water water! 

As mentioned in my little disclaimer at the bottom of each post, this week's whole plan has been provided complimentary by The New You Plan, but I've gone ahead and placed an order for a second week. Once my package arrived & I got a feel for the products I knew the plan was ideal for me, so I decided to go ahead and stock up. You only enter the state of ketosis, which promotes quick weight loss, after a few days, and as I was only doing seven days, I wouldn't get the maximum benefit of my hard work!

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The offer I went for is another whole week's worth of products, four a day, for  £38.99 (plus £3.99 shipping within NI). What I liked about it is you can literally choose all shakes, all soups, all meals, all bars, and any combination in between. So if you try the shakes and you don't like them, you can just order meals and bars and the program will still work for you.

If you do place an order I'd really appreciate if you used my referral code VdxfiJV2 as it helps me save points to get discounts on my own ongoing purchases.

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I picked only three shakes for the second week, as I imagine when I'm drinking so much water daily, I won't want even more liquid as a meal. However, thanks to the Secret Slimmers New You Facebook I read tips from other Slimmers who suggest using the shake mix as either mousses, by adding less water, or turning them into ice lollies with a mould. In fact you can buy a lolly mould on the site if you like this idea, as I do. So I've ordered mint chocolate shake to make into lollies. They also say you can make up a vanilla, chocolate or hazelnut shake, heat it, and add a scoop of coffee granules to make a flavoured latte. The Secret Slimmers group is packed with lots of little ideas like this to tweak the products without losing the benefit of them.

1:30pm Lunch time! My first trial of one of the low calorie meals. This was a bit of a shock to the system! The little packages are small, but just how small was a surprise. The broccoli pasta pack is akin to a child's portion, but it IS a very low calorie diet, so if you're going to do these things, they have to be done right. Positively, the meal is super easy to make up. There are instructions for hob or microwave, the later which just takes two 90 second spins and you're good to go. It's the sort of thing you could prepare in an office without fuss, or without anyone knowing it's a diet product, if you want to keep it quiet. Also it TASTES GOOD! It may be a small meal, but it isn't wasted calories because I actually enjoyed it.  

It's not pretty, but it's tasty! This is the full portion. 

It's not pretty, but it's tasty! This is the full portion. 

Again the wealth of tools and resources on the New You Plan website come in to play here. The Secret Slimmers Facebook Page has recipes that customers have invented using the prepackaged meals, or you can check out slimmer Dawn's amazing recipe ideas here. There are hints how to bulk up the meals without effecting ketosis, and ideas for long term users of the plan to vary the meals with spices to give them a new kick.

 

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As I predicted, the water drinking is still tough for me. I've only reached my fourth 500ml bottle by lunch. Yet again Secret Slimmers comes into play as I've asked them how they found the new intake of loads of water when they started. Long term & super successful slimmer Dawn Pratt tells me it gets easier as the days go on, and she now manages eight litres between 2.30pm and 9pm daily! That's good going!  

I'm feeling quite bloated from all the water that I'm not used to, but I know this will pass and I'll actually lose more water weight by keeping my intake up, rather than it making me heavier. I chose to add one of the water flavourings to bottle number four. Unfortunately my dislike of dilute juices extends to this product, but for anyone else who likes juice I'm sure they'd find it a great alternative to regular flavourings. 

5:30pm I made the chicken soup as my third out of four product choice. Directions advise to use the fancy shaker, but I want to keep it for the shakes only, so I made the soup up with boiling water from the kettle and whisked it with a fork. This did the trick. The soup tastes good and is just like a regular cup a soup in flavour and texture. 

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I'm going to sign off for today now, but I will be having my first shake later, but I shall tell you all about that tomorrow! 

*Weight loss results vary. Consult your GP before beginning a very low calorie diet. Products for this week supplied for review purposes* 

Tomorrow I Embark on The New You Plan!

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I'm pretty excited because my package from The New You Plan has just arrived. I've always wanted to try one of the diet plans where you have a week's worth of food shipped to your door, and with The New You Plan being a Northern Irish company, it seemed like the perfect fit to trial and share my results with you. I will be following the plan strictly for one week, starting tomorrow morning.

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The  New You Blog has some very impressive before and after posts, as well as tonnes of first hand stories about how other dieters found the plan to follow. The diet consists of choosing four New You Plan products a day, such as soups, shakes, low calorie meals and bars, which are specially tailored to let your body enter a state of ketosis. This in turn causes quite rapid weight loss, if followed properly. The plan also involves drinking a lot of water, one of the Secret Slimmers' Facebook pages mottos is, 'sip sip sip!'. I'm confident about being able to stick to the diet, but I'm terrible at getting water into me, so I asked the group for their tips on how to reach the daily target amount of liquids the plan suggests. I'll share those tips with you during this week.

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I mentioned the Secret Slimmers' Facebook Page. It's a private group you can join to chat everything New You Plan with fellow slimmers. On there they share tips, successes and fails, and new starts like myself can ask questions about any part of the plan. A major key of The New You Plan over other delivery diets is the service doesn't just stop when the products reach your door. You'll be able to access a plethora of information, blogs and videos to keep you motivated while following the plan.

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Safety and your health is another concern of the brand. They acknowledge a very low calorie diet isn't for everyone, and it definitely isn't recommended for long term without a break. They suggest twelve weeks followed by two weeks normal eating before entering the plan again. It's also best for those with a BMI over 25, and no underlying health issues that might be negatively effected by a low calorie diet. The meals are balanced to ensure you still get your full range of vitamins and nutrients. 

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My BMI is currently 23, but using the New You Plan for a short kick start of losing the last weight I want to shed will be fine. So tomorrow I will share my weight, my goal, and show you what my first day's meals consist of, and whether I can manage the litres of water I'm dreading trying to get through! Wish me luck!  If you like the sound of the plan already, use my referral code VdxfiJV2 to get started picking meals and shaping your own plan.

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*Week's trial provided for review purposes. Recommended to speak to your GP before embarking on a very low calorie diet plan. Results will vary from person to person* 

The New IKEA Catalogue is Here!

The new IKEA catalogue is out and browsable  online. Here are some products & pages that caught my eye.

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I adore the little windowsill greenhouses. I had one at our old house, but it didn't make the moving house. I think I'll pick up this year's version and try to grow some veg off season. 

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Michael covets the Death Staresque lampshade at every IKEA visit

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Look at that wallpaper! The stuff that 1970s' shag-pads dream of. 

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These perfume bottle inspired table lamps are gorgeous for a girlie bedroom. 

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I have several old fashioned display cabinets that I love. This modern one would be great for a kid's collection of toys. 

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A Barbie pink TV table? Yes please. 

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Thank you, IKEA Belfast, for these green goodies.

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Dublin's Glorious Shamrock Lamp Posts

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Following our Dublin trip last weekend, my friend Ben Archibald who resides down there, but who's parents live opposite mine in the North, sent me this image of the beautiful wrought iron lamp post, who's design is found all over the city.  

The intricate design has even been made into earrings for tourists to buy as a souvenir.

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I Took My Mini-Fashionista to the West Coast Cooler Belfast FASHIONWEEK Launch Event

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Thursday was a glam day for us. As school is still off, Michael came in tow with me to the launch of the West Coast Cooler Belfast FASHIONWEEK. Held in a very cool little venue in Belfast City centre, the launch was jam packed with glamorous, groomed fashionistas; and that was just the men!  

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Little Michael has accompanied me to events like this before, and I assumed he would be the only child there, or at least the youngest, but another lady had her little baby with her in its stylish pram.

Busy networking on his iPhone ;-) 

Busy networking on his iPhone ;-) 

Michael was very excited by the fact there was a frozen yoghurt stand where he got yoghurt and fresh strawberries; he loves a good freebie, just like his mum! 

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The launch event ran through the time table of FASHIONWEEK, which begins on the 15th October, and you can get all the info about shows and events on the Belfast Fashion Week website.

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We got to see some of the key looks that will be showcased at this, the 20th year of our capital hosting a fashion week. I loved the acid brights, but I am also partial to a good tweed. Suede was another of the themes for this coming autumn and winter. Looking forward to October to catch some shows & be inspired to revamp my wardrobe. 

Swishy, Disney Princess chic

Swishy, Disney Princess chic

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My kind of winter jacket

My kind of winter jacket

These trousers were my favourite piece in the whole show

These trousers were my favourite piece in the whole show

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Very 70s

Very 70s

Suede in all colours will be big this autumn

Suede in all colours will be big this autumn

Fratelli nibbles were amazing

Fratelli nibbles were amazing

Little take home gift

Little take home gift

Marks & Spencer Celebrate Tastes of the British Isles

£4 for these classic pudding inspired sweets

£4 for these classic pudding inspired sweets

M&S is one of the truly uber British brands that I would miss terribly if I ever moved to another country. Whilst they do offer worldwide tastes like sushi, Indian foods & Chinese delights, what they do really well is finding the absolute best of British farmers & producers products and bringing them to us at a great price. For example the famous Cornish Cruncher cheese, in its distinctive black packaging. Its an award winning cheese that Marks & Spencer discovered and now sell all over the UK.

This summer M&S launched their Tastes of the British Isles range, which covers almost every section of the Food Hall. They have curated speciality foods from every corner of the UK, including classic puddings, regional bakery items and a whistlestop tour of British cheese varieties. It's a range to be proud of, as it shows the world that Britain has such a wide selection of amazing foods and dishes, with tastes for every palette. 

Every few weeks M&S invite me along to Sprucefield to pick items to feature on here, so it seemed about time I shone a light on some of the Taste of the British Isles products.

First, the sweet treats. I know any time I want to bring a dessert along somewhere I always head to M&S. The quality of their cakes is far superior to other supermarkets. Saying that, I'm not a huge fan of their own brand chocolate. My Scottish pal Michael advised I bought the giant chocolate buttons, but sadly even those didn't do it for me. I do like their fancy little bars, like the lemon mousse or cappuccino flavour bars, and you can't deny that Percy Pig is the King of the Gummies.

I'm a sucker for a scone with cream and jam & in the fridge section I came across a scone pack that came with both jam & clotted cream. I also liked the look of these strawberry & cream infused scones. All I need is a big pot of tea with these and I'm set. 

Scone selection £3 : Pack of two scones £1.35

Scone selection £3 : Pack of two scones £1.35

Whitby buns are doughnut shaped buns with a lemon curd filling. We had tried the berry version last time, so picked the lemon this time around.  

Buns £1.30 : Drink £1.30

Buns £1.30 : Drink £1.30

I've never seen a blackcurrant Swiss roll before, but if it's from M&S it's bound to be delicious. The little stripe in the cake is very cute and the £2.50 price tag is brilliant value.

£2.50

£2.50

I'm not a frequent yoghurt eater, but sometimes I just take a wee notion and have a yoghurt week! I love some of the unusual flavours here, treacle & clotted cream, rhubarb & custard, and as for the 'Sussex lemon pond pudding', well I'm not very sure what that is, but I'm sure it will taste great. There are further flavours in this range I haven't featured, and they are all on offer at £3 for five. 

West Country yoghurts 80p each or five for £3

West Country yoghurts 80p each or five for £3

Sometimes you want an after-dinner dessert but not something humongous, so these little tartlets are just the ticket. They are also available in a lemon meringue variety and cost £2.50 or are two for £4 mix and match with lots of other bakery items. 

I chose the Eccles cakes not for my own house, but for my Dad. He's been buying Eccles cakes from Marks and Spencer for as long as I can remember. Unfortunately as a child I was put off them for life by my Dad trying to discourage me from eating his supply, telling me they were called 'Flies' Graveyards'. So I can't eat raisins or sultanas to this day, funnily enough! 

£2.50 each or two for £4

£2.50 each or two for £4

The Tastes of the British Isles range also has a wide variety of savoury offerings. M&S stock more different types of Scotch Egg than I've seen anywhere else! After the success of the Cornish Cruncher cheese, they've expanded the products its a base for. I picked up this delicious Cornish Cruncher terrine, which will blow your socks off. 

Terrine £2.40 : Scotch Egg £2

Terrine £2.40 : Scotch Egg £2

The Marks & Spencer cheese aisle is a place of wonder for cheese lovers. If there is such a thing as a cheese enthusiast, then they'll love the range of British cheeses M&S currently has on offer. I picked a twist on the classic Cornish Cruncher, a block with balsamic onions though it. My absolute favourite cheese right now is the Blacksticks Blue variety. They also sell it in a soft spreadable cheese, and I've been known to demolish a tub of it within 24 hours, it's just too good! 

Juice £2 : Blacksticks Blue £2.20 : Cornish Cruncher £2.50

Juice £2 : Blacksticks Blue £2.20 : Cornish Cruncher £2.50

And look! Blacksticks Blue sausages! I'm not really sure how cheese infused sausages work, so if you want to see how they turn out, keep an eye on my Instagram as I'll show you how they turn out on there when I've cooked them.

Tastes of the British Isles sausage are £3.50

Tastes of the British Isles sausage are £3.50

M&S are famed for their Lochmuir salmon, and these BBQ glazed fillets are perfect for late summer dinners. Served with a big green salad its a good option for healthy eating folks.

£5 or buy as part of a 3 for £10 deal

£5 or buy as part of a 3 for £10 deal

If you're feeling more like fish and chip shop style grub, they have a wide variety of different battered or breadcrumbed fish. You can buy family sized packs too.

£4.50 or 3 for £10 mix and match

£4.50 or 3 for £10 mix and match

Finally, also part of the three for £10 deal on meat and fish, how tasty does this gammon look with its ale chutney flavouring? Well done, M&S, always something new and wonderful to try.

£5 or three for £10

£5 or three for £10

Get On This! 45 Totally Free Photo Prints a Month & No Subscription Required!

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Free Prints is an app which gives you 45 photographic prints a month, and you only pay for postage. Postage starts at £1.49 and is never higher than £3.99 

I ordered 45 prints tonight & only paid £2.50 postage. There is no commitment to print every month, no subscription or hidden costs, and things that do cost extra, like different photo sizes, are clearly labelled. 

Picking which photos to print is easy you can sign into Instagram or Facebook in the Free Prints app, and simply select which images you want printed & delivered to your door. 

Use the invite code cspence47 and get printing today! 

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Our Summer 2015 Dublin Trip, The Good & The Bad!

On Sunday, Michael and I drove down to Dublin for one last trip of the summer. We started off early and stopped at Fiveways Diner in Newry for breakfast. Because it was Sunday morning in Northern Ireland, nowhere else was open! 

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Unfortunately our visit left a bad taste in the mouth. The espresso tasted terrible, and my order, an omelette, took twenty minutes. I think they actually forgot about my order, as by the time it came Michael had long finished his cupcake, and my coffee was gone too. But we hit the road again and our next stop was our accommodation, Phoenix Park Travelodge.  

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I booked the room back in June and got it for only €40. The hotel was quite easy to find, even without Satnav. Round the M50 ring road and exit on the N3. The Travelodge is on the side heading into Dublin. 

We arrived at about noon, and I'm not sure when check in was, but they said our room was already ready if we wanted it. As it was we just checked in and asked directions to get a bus into the city. The car park at the Travelodge is a good size, and free, so we just caught a bus at the stop outside the hotel. Dublin buses aren't like Translink buses on a Sunday, we caught one within 3 minutes. There's a bus along so frequently that the longest time you'd have to wait would be about 9 minutes. Plus it only cost €2.20 for us both to get the bus, which took about fifteen minutes to get into the city centre. 

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The city was buzzing, and everything was open, not like a Sunday afternoon in Belfast which can be a bit like a graveyard. We tracked down the city centre branch of Yo Sushi! and were excited to see it was unlimited dishes from the train for €20 for adults and €10 for kids. 

Michael brought his own chopsticks that Gill kindly sent him last week! 

Michael brought his own chopsticks that Gill kindly sent him last week! 

Usually we would be in our element, but this branch isn't owned by the same group as our favourite Belfast restaurant, and the sushi just didn't taste good. The restaurant was quite warm and I think maybe some of the dishes had been circling for some time. Between us, in the end we only ate four plates! That's unheard of! The final straw was when I picked a plate of raw salmon, opened it, to be hit with an awful plastic smell. I tasted it, spat it out and called the waiter. He apologised and said it was the garnish that smelt like that, but it doesn't smell like that when I get it in Belfast. We asked for our bill and left. 

In Grafton Street we stopped at the huge Disney Store, it has three storeys & a big Disney Princess section. I forced Michael to pose with Anna, as you can see by the face! 

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From Grafton Street it's only a short walk to the national museums. As they are closed on Monday, that swayed our decision to do the city centre on Sunday and the zoo the next day. The museums are free, and the natural history one is heaven for me- the most taxidermy I've ever seen. 

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After the museum we did a bit of shopping, bought some massive cupcakes and snacks for back at the Travelodge, then caught a bus back there. We got back about 5pm, but we couldn't have kept going without being too tired to do the zoo the next day. 

The restaurant & bar at the hotel opened at 6pm, so we went there to eat. The menu was basic and straightforward, with a kids' option for €6.50 for two courses. You can eat in or take the food back to your room. 

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After we ate we headed back to the reception to buy access to wifi. This is via a BitBuzz voucher for €5 which you'll need PER DEVICE, and which lasts 24 hours. This was fairly annoying, as I had reckoned wifi would be free. It was all the more annoying that my ipad couldn't find the network at all. I finally got registered with my iPhone, but found the wifi didn't work while I sat in bed, only when you sat at the table in the room, which made it totally useless. If you're going to charge for wifi, at least make sure it works in all the rooms.

The second problem was the noise. We were in an end room, on the ground floor. We fell asleep crazily early due to our busy day, and I woke up at 930pm to hear someone stomping about upstairs. It went on and on, to the point where I was baffled to what they were doing that you'd need to walk about so much and for so long. About 10pm I went to reception to complain. The receptionist apologised but said they had no other rooms we could move to, but that she would immediately go speak to the person in the room above. I told her it didn't seem like the person was making noise out of badness, or having a wild time, but that it was stopping us sleeping, even with pillows over our ears! The noise died down a bit and we fell asleep. 

Until 230am, when the person was up and about again, walking and walking. Off to reception again in our pyjamas to ask the receptionist to knock their door again. The noise stopped and we slept. 

The Travelodge we stayed in was the Phoenix Park branch, so in the morning it only took us ten minutes to drive through the park and to the zoo car park. We arrived about 1030am and because of the beautiful weather, it was already becoming quite busy. There was a very short queue for tickets, then we entered the zoo. A handy hint to avoid crowds, everyone heads off to their left when they enter the gate. We chose instead to head to the right and visit in an anticlockwise direction. It meant the first hour it was very quiet, even though the zoo was packed.

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Inside the Meerkat Restuarant

Inside the Meerkat Restuarant

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Dublin Zoo is a completely different experience to Belfast Zoo. The animals have bigger territories, more places to escape from the public eye if they wish to, and just a lack of moments where you think 'that poor animal shouldn't be in somewhere like that', which I'm afraid happens more and more often walking round Belfast Zoo.  

Also there are barely any hills! To walk Belfast Zoo you have to tackle Cave Hill, which can be exhausting. Dublin Zoo also has more toilets, cafés, vending machines etc along the way. We stopped halfway around at The Cove Cafe and got two kids' meals of chicken strips, chips and a drink for €6.50 each. They were quite greasy, so if you want a healthy option I'd bring a picnic. 

Another point to note is you'll need coins for the vending machines if you want to buy drinks on your way around. The zoo doesn't have any ATMs, but you can get cash back in the Meetkat Restaurant. 

So we had a lovely time at the zoo, then around mid-afternoon we headed back out of Dublin and hit the motorway, stopping at Applegreen's for coffee of course. We also stopped in Dundalk at Marshes, then arrived home about tea time, tired but happy.