What to Expect at the Dublin Horse Show

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As you may have heard, the Dublin Horse Show is jumping ahead this year and will now take place from Wednesday 20th to Sunday 24th July. The change of date this year is to accommodate the lucky riders who will also be participating in the Rio Olympics. It also means that you could see potential Olympic champions in action just weeks before Rio.

[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][image_with_text_over icon_size=”fa-lg” image=”21214″ title=”Why go to the Dublin Horse Show?” title_size=”60″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_column_text]The Dublin Horse Show has something for everyone. The main attractions are obviously the equestrian events but even if you can’t tell a horse from a donkey, it’s still a great day out as there are plenty of other things to keep you entertained.

If you’re looking to splash the cash, there is an enormous Shopping Village selling the very best in Irish arts, crafts and fashion, as well as top international outdoor brands. There are an array of stands selling home and garden wares and of course the obligatory tack shops and horse related goods. You’ll also find a huge food village with a range of cuisines catering to every pallet. Make sure you check out the fudge stand – definitely one of my favourites.

The kids are well catered for, with entertainment every day, apart from Thursday, including magic shows, story time, a mini-circus and puppet shows. A host of musical acts will also perform on the band lawn over the course of the show.

Santi Serra will bring his acclaimed horsemanship show to the RDS each day. Watch him entice horses to perform and do his bidding without any equipment. Meanwhile, Pat Parelli will also give natural horsemanship demonstrations and work with horses and riders to overcome problems. Both these men are spectacular to watch.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_text_separator title=”HORSEY HIGHLIGHTS” title_align=”separator_align_center” border=”no” background_color=”#ffcc00″ title_color=”#000000″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_column_text]

If you don’t know anything about horses but think you might like to see what all the fuss is about, here are some of the highlights:

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The first big competition of the Show is on Wednesday the 20th. This is great fun – fast and furious. Participants jump a course of fences against the clock and to beat each other- you’re bound to see a few thrills and spills.

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Thursday the 21st is when the fashionistas are out in force. There are great prizes for women and men and all that’s needed to win is a general admission ticket and a sense of style!

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This is what Friday 22nd is all about – the President even puts in an appearance. The competition involves eight national teams, consisting of four riders per team, who each ride the course twice. The three best scores per team, per round are counted. The prize on offer is the much coveted Aga Khan trophy. This is also the Dublin stage of the Nations Cup competition – held in a number of cities around the world.

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The big wall dominates on Saturday 23rd. Marvel as horses and riders push themselves to the limit to jump as high as they can over a giant wall without knocking it. The wall increases in height after each round until there is only one horse and rider left or until the remaining riders decide it can’t be jumped and split the pot.

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This is the main attraction on Sunday 24th. The fences on this course are all enormous and there’s a time limit within which to complete it. The competition attracts top riders from all over the world as it’s extremely lucrative.

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  • Understanding everything that’s going on can be tricky for the uninitiated but these pointers will help you enjoy the show.
  • The basic aim for all jumping competitions is to jump a clear round in the fastest time possible. Each time a horse knocks a jump – that counts as four faults or penalties. Faults are only incurred when a rider knocks the top pole of the jump. If it’s a water jump – a horse’s foot in the water or on the plasticine strip before the water will count as four faults.
  • A refusal also counts as four faults and a second refusal will result in elimination. If there is a time in which to complete the course, every second over that time will incur time faults.
  • If a rider falls off their horse that counts as an elimination and they must leave the arena on foot.
  • There are red and white flags on the tops of the fences and horses must jump inside the flags with the red flag always on the right.
  • If a horse has incurred a number of faults the rider may decide to retire by signalling to the judges.

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This is not the races! Of course feel free to get dressed up if you want to and you’ll find lots of people decked out in their finery especially on ladies day, but it’s not necessary. There’ll be plenty of people there in riding boots and jodhpurs – it’s very relaxed.

[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_text_separator title=”GETTING THERE” title_align=”separator_align_center” border=”no” background_color=”#ffcc00″ title_color=”#000000″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_column_text]All the main action is in the Main Hall and Main Arena, the entrance for which is on the Merrion Road.

There is a park and ride facility at Muckross Park and UCD. Alternatively, there is pay parking on a number of roads around the RDS but make sure you do pay, as clampers will be out in force.

You’ll find the RDS in the middle of Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, between The InterContinental Dublin and Herbert Park on the Merrion Road. The heaviest delays are likely on the Merrion Road, Anglesea Road and Simmonscourt Road. Remember to watch out for horses and pedestrians crossing.

Bear in mind that Simmonscourt Road will be close from 7am until about 8pm each evening between the Merrion Road and Anglesea Road junctions to facilitate the show.

The RDS Showground is serviced by Dublin Bus routes 4, 7 and 8 which stop outside the RDS on the Merrion Road. These bus services can be availed of on Nassau Street outside Trinity College. The RDS is also very close to both Sandymount and Lansdowne Road DART stations.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_text_separator title=”AFTER THE SHOW” title_align=”separator_align_center” border=”no” background_color=”#ffcc00″ title_color=”#000000″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_column_text]

There are a number of great pubs in Ballsbridge including Paddy Cullen’s, the Horse Show House and the Bridge 1859, while Searsons is just a little further down the road on Baggot Street. If you’re feeling peckish, these pubs all do brilliant food but there are plenty of fantastic restaurants to choose from. Roly’s Café and Restaurant is always a great shout with two different dining options, Belluccis will satisfy Italian lovers while Kites in Ballsbridge have quite possibly the best Chinese food in Dublin.



Euros 2016: Fuel Saving Tips for Motorists

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There is good news for anybody planning on taking their car to the Euros or holidaying in France this summer as the fuel crisis that affected the country during the month of May is greatly improving. However, it’s still a good idea to know some fuel-saving practices before you hit the road. AA Roadwatch’s Nicole Gernon and Sharron Lynskey have the details:

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Know Your Route

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]The three Irish group games are in Paris, Bordeaux and Lille. The Paris game is first so make sure you’ve a full tank of fuel before you leave Ireland.

Bordeaux is the next game and is over a 5 hour drive from Paris so it’s a good idea to stock up on fuel whenever you can along the way. Next up is Lille. This is near the Belgium border so if fuel shortages escalate, you could always cross to refuel.[/vc_column_text][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_column_text]

Use Technology

The App “Essence” (petrol) shows you the areas where the fuel shortages are worst. To download on iOS click here and Android users can click here. You can also see a map of what fuel stations are still affected on[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner][vc_text_separator title=”Fuel Saving Methods” title_align=”separator_align_center” border=”no”][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_column_text]The following fuel saving methods may come in handy during your trip:

Leave the kitchen sink

Only bring the items you need for the journey and the first day or two so your car or campervan isn’t laden down. Everything else you can buy when you get there.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_column_text]

Easy does it

Drive smoothly, accelerate gently and read the road ahead to avoid unnecessary braking.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_column_text]

Decelerate smoothly

When you have to slow down or to stop, decelerate smoothly by releasing the accelerator in time, leaving the car in gear.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_column_text]


If you can keep the car moving all the time, so much the better; stopping then starting again uses more fuel than rolling but be very careful if doing this.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_column_text]

Change up earlier

Don’t labour the engine but try changing up at an engine speed of around 2,000 rpm in a diesel car or around 2,500 rpm in a petrol car. This can make such a difference that all cars in the future are likely to be fitted with a ‘Gear Shift indicator’ light to show the most efficient gear change points.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_column_text]

Cut down on the air-con

Air-conditioning increases fuel consumption at low speeds, but at higher speeds the effects are less noticeable. So if it’s a hot day open the windows around town and save the air conditioning for high speed driving. Don’t leave air-con on all the time[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_column_text]

Turn it off

Electrical loads increase fuel consumption, so turn off your unnecessary electrics when you don’t need them[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_column_text]

Stick to speed limits

The faster you go the greater the fuel consumption and pollution. Driving at 70mph uses up to 9% more fuel than at 60mph and up to 15% more than at 50mph. Cruising at 80mph can use up to 25% more fuel than at 70mph.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

To find out more about driving in France click here.


New Zealand

Adventuring In New Zealand

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Nicole Gernon on Twitter: @nicole_gernon

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If you’re planning on going further afield for your holidays this year, New Zealand is a great option. Relatively compact, you can fit both the North and South Islands into two or three weeks. AA Roadwatch’s Nicole Gernon has travelled the length and breadth of the country sampling every activity and has all the information you need to make the most of your trip.

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There are a plethora of airlines offering reasonable flights to New Zealand, usually stopping in Dubai or Abu Dhabi. It’s worth checking with a long-haul travel agent to see if they can get you a better deal with a few days in another location thrown in.

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Coach Tours

[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_column_text]The trouble with New Zealand is that you’ll want to see and do everything. Tours allow you to fit a lot in, take the stress out of planning and enable you to meet people – great if you’re travelling solo. The two main companies are Kiwi Experience and Stray; we went with Kiwi Experience and I would highly recommend them.

The coaches stop at lots of different points so you can explore forests and beaches that you may not necessarily visit if you were driving. The drivers will tell you what activities you can do in each place, but be warned, sometimes you can be tempted to do more activities than you’ve planned. Having said that, there is not one activity that I regret doing!

Even though I loved the coach tour, you can always drive or take the inter-city coaches:[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_accordion collapsible=”yes” style=”accordion”][vc_accordion_tab title=”Driving”][vc_column_text]

Driving is really easy, the roads are great and signage is clear. Hiring a car or campervan is relatively simple or you should be able to pick up a cheap and reliable second-hand one.

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You can buy basic bus-passes to get you from A to B but it wouldn’t be my mode of choice as the coaches can be slow and uncomfortable.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_accordion_tab][/vc_accordion][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_single_image image=”20478″ alignment=”center” border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” img_size=”full”][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_text_separator title=”Accommodation” title_align=”separator_align_center” border=”no”][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_column_text]Accommodation can be quite expensive in New Zealand. While hostels are generally clean, they’re not that cheap and aren’t really up to the same standard as other countries – it’s rare to get a free breakfast. This is a slight downside to doing one of the bus tours – you’ll feel as if you want to stay at the pre-booked hostels because that’s what everyone’s doing. These are about $30/night.

Hotels are also fairly pricey, especially during high season or if there’s an event on, so make sure you book well in advance to get the best deals. Airbnb is a good option, especially for couples. Of course, a campervan can solve your accommodation dilemma.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_text_separator title=”Highlights by Area” title_align=”separator_align_center” border=”no”][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_column_text]

New Zealand is the adventure capital of the world. Here are my top picks for each area, in the order that you’re likely to encounter them.

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Auckland: Modern, commercial city, pleasant but lacking any major attractions. Head to the waterfront for drinks and brunch.

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Go to the top for a great view of the city. You could also jump off it if you want – we decided to wait and swing across a canyon instead in Queenstown.

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Try to catch a rugby match in the home of the All Blacks or at least somewhere in the country, to see how the southern hemisphere does things.

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Bay of Islands:  Northernmost point of the country, beautiful scenery with hundreds of islands. We did our skydive here which was breathtaking – you get a fantastic view of the islands and the beaches. We also did a cruise around the islands and swam with dolphins – one of the best experiences of my life. If you don’t make it to Bay of Islands, don’t worry, there are lots of other place where you can skydive – including Lake Taupo and Franz Josef – while Kaikoura is a good spot for swimming with dolphins.

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Hot Water Beach: Where else can you make your own hot pool? Dig a hole, it fills up with water from underground streams and you have your own personal hot tub! Nearby, check out Cathedral Cove, home to impressive rock formations and the location for Macklemore’s “Can’t Hold Us” video.

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Rotorua hot springs and geysers: The town park is covered in smelly geysers of all shapes, sizes and strengths.

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Learn about Maori culture and see kiwi birds and other wildlife. They’ll cook some eggs for you on a geyser and Pohutu – the equivalent of Old Faithful – erupts like clockwork.

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Hobbiton: The home of Bilbo and Frodo is not just for Lord of the Rings fans. It’s quite expensive though – as soon as the Kiwis put LOTR in front of anything, it’s fair game for them to charge you an arm and a leg for it – and they will literally put LOTR in front of anything!

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Waitomo Glow Worm Caves: One of the best places in the world to see glow worms. There are so many options, but I recommend the Black Water Rafting version – the Black Labyrinth – because you go tubing in a rubber ring down a “waterfall” into a cave and float along looking at the glow worms emitting their lights; it’s spectacular and really different.

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Lake Taupo and Tongariro Pass: The setting for Mordor and Mount Doom and home to the emerald lakes. It’s a fairly gruelling trek though, especially in the winter when we did it – our photos of the emerald lakes are just a load of mist! Give yourself plenty of time and bring loads of food. It’s a great sense of achievement.

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Wellington: The capital is the coolest and windiest city in the country; make sure you check out the enormous Te Papa Museum of New Zealand.

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Fascinating nature reserve where they’re trying to emulate New Zealand’s habitat before foreign species were introduced.

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Another must for LOTR fans, it’s where they create the CGI for the films.

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Abel Tasman National Park: We sea kayaked up to a secluded beach and saw loads of seals on the way, if you’re lucky some may come up to you. Stay overnight in a basic cabin with no electricity and minimal facilities – you’ll feel like you’re on a real adventure! The next day, trek back through the national park’s stunning beaches, mangroves and rainforest.

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Franz Josef Glacier: Take a helicopter up to the Glacier and go on a guided trek through crevasses and caves for an hour. Afterwards you can soothe those aching muscles in the town’s hot springs.

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Queenstown: Everyone falls in love with Queenstown because it’s so picturesque and it’s where you can really get your adrenaline pumping!

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We did a canyon swing in the Shotover Canyon which allows you to choose from hundreds of different ways to throw yourself off a ledge and swing across the canyon, or you can invent a new way. Some say it’s better than a bungee jump.

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If you do want to do a bungee jump, there are lots of opportunities, but the Nevis on the way into Queenstown seems like the best spot. You can do lots of different lengths, including one that dips you into the water!

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Come within inches of the canyon walls on a high-speed craft.

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The Remarkables overlook Queenstown and really live up to their name. Skiing here is quite good and surprisingly cheap.

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Queenstown is also the best place to party in New Zealand. Start in Pig and Whistle, then move on to Searle Lane, Bar UP, and probably our favourite – Cowboys, where beers are served in giant pitchers, you can do a bucking Broncho, games and challenges – touristy but great fun!

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Queenstown is home to the world famous Fergburger – no one does a burger like the Kiwis.

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  • Make sure you sort out travel insurance that covers you for all the activities you’ll want to do.
  • Some beer can be expensive but if you stick to the local brew like Waikato it’ll be cheaper, or get pitchers if you’re in a bar.
  • Bring a decent camera/Go Pro. Some activity companies don’t want you using your own but others don’t mind.
  • WIFI in New Zealand is notoriously awful, be prepared to have limited access or to pay for it everywhere.
  • Don’t be fooled by the lack of heat, bring bug spray because the sandflies are a nightmare!

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