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Posts Tagged ‘AirBnB’

Summer 2016 has been our third summer of hosting on AirBnB, and has, in fact, been quite different to previous years.

Our guests have typically been mainly from the USA, however, this year our guests were mostly European – mostly either German or English.

our home

We did have a chat with those US guests who did come to stay, about ‘why’ Americans weren’t travelling.  We thought it might be because of the election. However, they said that a lot of Americans are worried about terrorist attacks in Europe and this is why they are not travelling.  We haven’t had the chance to travel this year, but I do wonder do Irish people consider terrorist attacks when travelling in Europe?

Perhaps one of the most interesting conversations I had with guests was based around food!  Are you surprised?

The conversation is particularly pertinent when you read the results of a survey carried out by Failte Ireland:

Developed in partnership with Fáilte Ireland the newly published research examines the perceptions of over 2,500 travellers in ten countries including Ireland. The research also showed that food is now an essential part of the overall visitor experience with 93% of those surveyed reported participating in a food activity on a recent trip. This tells us that the pursuit of a unique and memorable experience is on the rise. While 66% of holidaymakers rated food as important in their overall experience of Ireland this increased to almost one in four (78%) amongst food travellers.

Well guys if food is ‘part of the overall experience’ we, as a nation, need to step up to the plate quite a bit to cater for vegetarians!  Yes, can you believe it, here I am living on a farm where we produce free range pork products and I am asking the Irish nation to improve their vegetarian offerings.

Our guests, a young German couple with their 4 year old son, spent a fortnight travelling around Ireland, staying in B&B’s and eating out.  (Yes, it does surprise us that vegetarians choose to stay with us.)  When I asked what was the vegetarian ‘choice’ like on their travels …. the answer….. soup, pasta or chips.

Come on folks, you can do better than this.

For dinner I made Parmigiana with our own aubergines which they totally enjoyed. My homemade granola and our own eggs for breakfast the next morning were also a big hit.  It was the first time they had been offered eggs for breakfast.

I don’t have a huge repertoire of vegetarian options…. but I can certainly do better than soup, pasta or chips!  I am sure others could to.

 

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Continuing with how busy this summer has been….

Despite a very slow start on our bookings via AirBnB, once May arrived bookings started to come quick and fast.  And, in fact, kept coming right through to last week.

Now all has gone quiet, but hopefully it will pick up again.

In previous years our guests have been predominantly from US and Canada, but this year visitors have been mainly from Europe, with the occasional Australian or American thrown in too.

Initially I thought that maybe Americans were not travelling because it is an election year, but having discussed it with those who did visit, it seems Americans are afraid of terrorism attacks in Europe.

Isn’t it strange how perspectives can be so diverse?  From here looking on, we’d probably think going to a nightclub or a shopping mall in US could be more dangerous than visiting a city in Europe.  As I say, all about perspective.

As always we have met such lovely people.  Sometimes within minutes of people arriving you feel like you’ve just met an ‘old friend’.  We’ve had some great evenings of chat and banter sitting around the kitchen table.

Friday night guests are usually treated to a visit to Lorrha GAA Club for the social dancing… always a great night…. sometimes a bit of a culture shock for guests.

Thank you so much to all the lovely guests who took time out of their vacation, or the busy lives when they got home to post reviews…. they are very much appreciated.  This one from an Irish guest won our hearts though.

Guest review

Guest review

As bookings were so slow to come in via AirBnB – which has more to do with North Tipperary not being a ‘tourist destination’ than anything else – we decided to look at some of the other platforms out there.  Did you know that there are so many?

We recently had our first booking via Homestay.  I had forgotten that we had even registered on there back in 2013!  It has taken 3 years for us to get a booking… however, it was worth the wait, again we met a lovely couple from Ballymena.

Other platforms include TripAdviser, Wimdu and Flipkey.

Have you ever used any of these platforms?  Which are your favourites?

And, as always, we’d be forever grateful if you can share or recommend us to travelling family and friends.

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life just gets in the way!

I do feel the blog has been so neglected lately.  However, when I stop and think I don’t know where I found time to write before.  Do you ever feel you are living on a merry-go-round?  I seem to just be jumping from one thing to the other, and at times, feel that absolutely nothing has been achieved.

Having said all that, since I last wrote about Harry’s demise, we have been busy.

We’ve got a new pup.  He’s 3 months old!!  I’d forgotten about the chewing, the peeing, the boundless energy.  It was probably just as well I’d forgotten as we’d probably not have agreed to have one.  He is a pet though, and he is helping Winnie get over the loss of her brother.  Ross has been with us three weeks…. and he now knows two words…. his name and ‘NO!’

Ross - a setter/black retriever cross

Ross – a setter/black retriever cross

The weather has been absolutely amazing for the time of year.  Three weeks of sunshine with temperatures up to 25 degrees C!!!  We didn’t know what to do with ourselves…. and then the rain returned with a vengeance.

We’ve had a busy few weeks with AirBnB guests.  Once again meeting lovely people from US, Switzerland, Germany, England and Ireland.  In fact the next couple of weeks are going to be really really busy with guests which is great…. but there is still room for more 🙂

We did manage to take a day off and take a trip up to Bloom (the major Irish Garden and Food Show).

I'd be happy if my garden looked like this.

I’d be happy if my garden looked like this.

This was the most ‘realistic’ garden of all.

A tribute to the 1916 Rising

A tribute to the 1916 Rising

I loved the wild abandon of the flowers and colours in this garden.

Other news…. our muscovy duck, Mollie, is sitting on eggs, and one of our hens, Mona, is sitting on eggs too… so fingers and toes crossed for lots of cute baby chicks and ducks soon.

The polytunnel despite bouts of neglect is coming along nicely.  We are now harvesting strawberries, herbs and courgettes.

The outside vegetable garden is growing well…. the past two days of rain is really encouraging the weeds though.

I’ve been experimenting with some new recipes too which I hope to share with you soon.  I promise!

How’s life with you?

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Do you buy food magazines?  I don’t usually.  I have in my time subscribed to some, but after a year I find I get fed up of them, or find that I’m lucky if there is a recipe a month that I will try.

However, I like to ‘treat’ myself to an occasional magazine which is what I did when we were travelling to France.  I bought Olive magazine at the airport…. I hadn’t bought it in years.  Folks, I can honestly say that within half-an-hour of sitting down with it I wanted to try so many recipes.  I currently have a list of 15 from the September issue I want to try.

We’ve already tried the smashed cucumber twice…. verdict? It is delicious.

There are two courgette recipes to try.

Now courgettes…. people either love em or hate em!  Well that’s the way it is in the house.  I quite like them, but you know who is very very ambivalent about them.

This year, I was really good and only planted a single courgette plant, but, of course, it has been quite prolific…. giving us lots of courgettes!

This brings me to the second recipe that we’ve tried  – Courgette Scarpaccia.

Courgette Scarpaccia

Courgette Scarpaccia

We had very nice AirBnB guests who were willing to be tasters when I tried it first. Thank you Adrian and Lilli.  We all liked it, but felt it could do with something else, and the extra something we decided was thyme.

Never one to let the fact that I am entertaining strangers deter me from trying new recipes, I made it yesterday varying the recipe a little.  I hope the team at Olive magazine will forgive me!

Here’s my version.

Ingredients: (makes enough for 6 as a starter)

  • 450 g courgette
  • 3 scallions
  • Olive oil
  • 75 g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • Splash of milk
  • Few sprigs of thyme
  • 4 tbsp. Mossfield Organic cheese – grated (or your favoured cheese)
  • Lots of Black Pepper
  • Parmesan cheese – shaved

Method:

Slice your courgette really finely using a mandolin.  Put in sieve, sprinkle with salt, and set aside to drain for about 30 minutes.

Line a swiss roll tin with baking parchment and oil well.

Heat oven to 200 deg. C/180 deg for Fan oven.

Put your flour and baking powder into a bowl, make a well in the centre and break in your eggs.  Using a balloon whisk mix flour and eggs together…. add milk should the mixture be too thick.  (You need your mixture to be like a yorkshire pudding mixture.)  Add the cheese and black pepper, mixing in well.  Add the fresh thyme, and most of your sliced courgettes.  Toss the remaining slices of courgettes in olive oil and set aside for a minute.

Slice your scallions and place on baking sheet with a good dollop of olive oil.  Bake in oven for 3 minutes.

Remove your tray and pour in your courgette mixture, spreading it out as evenly as possible.  Now arrange the saved courgette slices on top.

Bake in oven for 20 minutes…. until golden brown.

Remove from oven and add the shaved parmesan.

This is delicious served warm.  And is equally delicious cold as a ‘picnic’ next day.

Enjoy!

 

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If you live in Ireland you would have had to be living in a bubble this past week not to be aware of all the controversy regarding AirBnB and Irish Revenue.

Let me explain for those not living here…. AirBnB have set up their European headquarters in Dublin as of May 2014, so they now have to abide by Irish Revenue rules.  All fine and dandy.

However, most of the people who are ‘hosting’ via the AirBnB website were under the impression that they could earn up to €12k without having to pay tax on it. This was under what Irish Revenue call the ‘rent a room’ scheme.  This past week it has emerged that this was an erroneous believe, and that AirBnB hosting cannot be classified under this tax scheme.

The radio, the newspaper, social media sites have been full of the story.  Labels such as tax evaders have been levelled at AirBnB hosts.  Rants have been had about data protection etc. etc. as AirBnB are now obliged to reveal details of all their Irish hosts to the Irish Revenue.

Oldfarm, Redwood

Oldfarm, Redwood

I thought I’d share our thoughts on the whole thing.

Yes, we too thought that the hosting would come in under this ‘rent a room’ scheme.

The ‘rent a room’ scheme allows a homeowner to rent out a room, or many rooms, in their home to students, interns or professionals, TAX FREE, as long as they do not earn over the magical €12,000 per annum.  Revenue’s argument is that in the above scenario the person renting the room is a ‘resident’ whereas under the AirBnB scenario they are a ‘guest’.  The argument further continues that because they are a ‘guest’ it is now a ‘trade’.

To be honest, it is all very stilted towards city dwellers.  We’d gladly be surrogate parents to a student or intern, if there was the opportunity.

Living in prime agricultural/rural Ireland, there are no hospitals or industry within a 40 mile radius.  There is a massive exodus of students from here to the cities every Sunday during term time…. heading off to line the pockets of the ‘non-trading’ ‘rent a room’ folks.

Parts of rural Ireland are dead during the week… waiting patiently for the young people to come home again at the weekend.

Can anyone explain to me what’s not a ‘trade’ about renting a room to a student, intern or professional?

We fail to see the difference.

The running costs for what we do are probably more than the ‘resident’ costs…. changing sheets and towels more often!

Here in our little pocket of North Tipperary there are no jobs.  There is no local factory that provides employment.  Everything is based on farming – and there are only so many jobs in that sector too.

We feel that what guests we do entice into the area are at least contributing somewhat to the local economy.  We are buying more to accommodate them.  They are buying/spending in the community.  The visits to the local pub, and the major Friday night attraction of the old time dancing at the GAA hall, all give a little boost to the economy.

We have a couple of guests coming next week to research their family who emigrated from our village, Lorrha.  The local Historical Society have already provided them with so much information.  The guests are overwhelmed with the generosity of people… and they haven’t even arrived yet.

We are rather proud that one guest who came and stayed last summer, liked the area so much they bought a property and have moved here, have set up a business, and again are boosting the local economy by another little bit.

Our little B&B venture has become a community venture.

Don’t get us wrong.  We have no objection to paying taxes.  Oh, and by the way, we’ve earned nothing close to €12k.  Way way below it in fact.  It is just the total and utter confusion that has been caused by this.

In fact, now that I’ve written all this down… maybe there should be a tax break for bringing people into an otherwise neglected part of the country?

Are you listening Mr. Noonan (our Minister for Finance)?

 

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We’ve been doing the AirBnB thing for quite a while now, and have really enjoyed the experience.

Sometimes though we do get asked (what we think) are weird questions, so this is some advice for anyone planning on coming to Ireland on vacation, here are our tips.

Un-named Road

    1. Travelling Distance – forget that in the USA, or in Australia, you can cover vast distances on motorways/highways in a relatively fast time.  That just won’t happen here.  Yes, you can drive from Dublin to Galway via motorway in 2 hours, but once you go off the motorways you can bank on only covering 50 or so kilometres in an hour. Anyway, you are on holiday, slow down, relax and enjoy.
    2. Overnight stays – I know you want to see as much as possible on your holiday.  However, if I can offer one piece of advice it is slow down. Mostly it will take you a full day to drive to your next destination.  Plan on staying there 2 nights so that you can get there, enjoy the area for a day, and then move onto next place at a leisurely pace. For example, if you are travelling from Kilkenny to Killarney… take a day to make the journey, stay night 1, spend the next day in Killarney area, stay night 2, then move on to next destination.
    3. Planning your Trip – most folks seem to want to do the Irish coastline on their visit, and who can blame them, it is stunning.  HOWEVER, there are wonderful places to visit and some amazing hidden gems in the centre (Midlands), don’t dismiss them. Check out Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands for the road less travelled!
    4. Roads with no names –  yes, that is a reality.  It confuses lots of visitors to our home.  We live on an un-named road.  While postal codes have now been introduced, that is not going to resolve the un-named road issue.  And, no, the street a block away is not named either!  We like to confuse!
    5. And more on roads – we, Irish, aren’t the best on using road numbers to direct people.  I struggle to remember the road numbers of the roads around us…. I am getting better at it.
    6. A useful app:  if you have a smart phone with you, a useful app, is ‘autoaddress’…. if you have the Eircode (postal code) for your destination this app is immensely helpful.
    7. Car rental – if you plan on renting a car to tour around the country…. consider picking your car up outside of the cities or airports, it is usually cheaper.  If you are staying in Dublin for the first few days of your vacation, don’t bother with a car, it will not be worth the trouble. Pick up the car when you are ready to leave Dublin or better still hop on a bus and train – enjoy the scenery – and pick your car up once your out of the hectic place that is an airport/city.  I’ve also been told that you get a better rate if you search ‘your car rental company’.ie rather than .com.  And another word of warning… check the small print we are hearing some awful horror stories of extra charges being lobbied onto car rental.
    8. Parking – this one I guess is mainly for our American visitors. Yes, it is perfectly legal to park the car on the ‘wrong’ side of the road. If you are driving on the left-hand side of the road and spot a parking slot on the right-hand side…. go for it.
    9. Tourist attractions – some of our tourist attractions are maintained and run by the Office of Public Works (OPW) – a government division.  They offer free entrance on the first Wednesday of every month.  Well worth availing of this offer to visit their sites.
    10. Cliffs of Moher – sorry to single this one out, but we learnt a tough lesson ourselves with this one… it is best to go there either early morning or late afternoon to visit.  It is crazy busy during the day with very limited parking in the vicinity.
    11. Rainy Season? –  that’s all year round!  Seriously though it rains here – winter and summer.  So, no, I can’t tell you that July is best time to come to avoid the rain, or that it doesn’t rain much in August.  It rains here whenever it wants to.  We regularly have four seasons in one day.  Bring a rain jacket with a hood.
    12. Man-hunting – again, we’ve had some single ladies come who’d welcome a chance to meet a handsome Irishman…. a top tip here is when asked ‘where are you from’? Don’t say US or Australia. The guys have already guessed that…. be specific, i.e. Melbourne, LA, whatever…. even if it is an obscure town somewhere… you’ve got a great opening line for a chat up!

Hope this helps.  Any Irish, or indeed, non-Irish readers got any other tips to share?

SaveSave

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Someone, over the past couple of weeks, has asked me how the Muscovy ducklings are doing?  Well, right now they are thriving.

Molly (their Mum) had 17 babies in the middle of May.  This was a month earlier than she had hatched her babies last year.  May here was bitterly cold and very windy.

Molly was still very proud of her babies and was delighted to show them off to whoever called.  Then when they were about 10 days old, I could only count 16. One was gone.  Without a trace. We’ve never discovered what took it.  A preying bird?  No idea.

When the babies were about 2 weeks old I noticed one of them was panting and having difficulty breathing.  I called my neighbour, Annette, who’s the resident Doctor Doolittle.  Bless her she came around immediately.  By the time she arrived a couple of minutes after I called her, another had started this panting.

Thriving ducklings

Thriving ducklings

We thought they had eaten something and that they were choking.  We tried massage, olive oil, anything we could think of, but it didn’t seem to ease their difficulty.  One actually died that afternoon.

This was all just as we were heading into a crazy busy time with AirBnB guests. Annette kindly took the sickly duckling away with her to nurse it over the weekend.  Then a few days later 3 more started the same panting.

The upshot despite antibiotics all 4 died within a week.  We were heartbroken.

Then another just ‘disappeared’ another predator.

Some of the 10 remaining ducklings developed milder panting symptoms so we dosed them with porridge mixed with dandelion and/or nettle tea.  Apple cider vinegar was also added to their water.

What caused this panting?  The vet suggests mouldy hay (we don’t have hay here), or stagnant water – again we’re not sure where they could have accessed stagnant water – but we do allow free ranging on the property.

It is truly awful when an animal/bird you have nurtured and fed dies.  Especially so when they haven’t had a good old shot at life.

In retrospect maybe I am at fault that I didn’t take more eggs away from under Molly.  Seventeen babies were just too many for her to mind.

Still enjoying their porridge!

Still enjoying their porridge!

The remaining 10, at almost 7 weeks old, are thriving, thankfully.  They are loosing the ‘baby’ look, and are starting to develop wings….. but they are still incredibly cute!

 

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