Where we holidayed this summer!

This summer we didn’t think we would be going anywhere, until my dad asked us to go with him and his girlfriend Lisa and her two sons to Mount Falcon in Ballina.  Mount Falcon is a luxury Hotel and Spa that has self catering cottages surrounding it.

The drive down was super long… about 3 1/2 hours normally, but it actually took us about 5… we got lost for a little while and Nate decided to empty the contents of his stomach all over the back seat of the car!  We had to stop and strip him and give the inside of the car a deep clean!  It was disgusting haha!

Thankfully we got there eventually, without anymore vomitting.  It was late, so once we found my dad and his girlfriend and our cottage, we slipped the boys straight into their beds and then James and I were able to relax.  The cottage could have held 10 people and a baby in a cot!  It was huge… and was all ours for the weekend (and there were only 7 of us and a baby!).

On our first morning there we went for a swim in the gorgeus hotel pool , complete with jacuzzi… and we rounded that off with a huge breakfast in the hotel restaurant!  The boys both had yoghurt pots with fresh fruit, and bowls of melon!  I had eggs benedict!

After breakfast we went for a dander and relaxed together before heading out for lunch. We saw ducks and we saw rainbow trout swimming close to the grass verge of the lake. Nate learnt to say duck which is exciting!  We had a little play in the park on the way back to the cottage.

We found a place to eat up beside Enniscrone beach and the portion sizes were HUMONGOUS… Ollie has a starter portion of nachos that could have fed 2 adults as a main haha.  I had goats cheese salad and Nate had what is called a baby bowl!  Basically the soup of the day with mashed potato mixed in.

The place we ate lunch at was just moments away from the beach so we went armed with a bucket and spade!  The boys LOVED the beach though it took Nate a little while to get used to how the sand felt on his bare feet.  It was quite cold but neither of the boys minded as they were having too much fun!  The beach adventure only came to an end when both boys ended up eventually soaked!

Dad and Lisa and Lisa’s boys all went fishing and Ollie went along with them.  They came home with some pollack… it wasn’t the most fruitful of fishing trips but it was Ollie’s first and I think he had fun.  I used to go fishing with my dad a lot when I was Ollie’s age so it was really nice for him to take Ollie too.  I was informed on their return, that the first fish Ollie caught, he kissed!  This is a tradition apparently that brings about bountiful harvest! Ollie was on such a high from his trip!

On the second morning we went for breakfast together again… this time the boys enjoyed cooked breakfast and I had the same as before but also had mushrooms too!  It was great because we could have anything we wanted for breakfast and as much as we wanted too…

After breakfast, James took the boys while I went with Dad and Lisa’s boys to the driving range.  I’d never played golf at all before and goodness it is hard work!  I got a ton of balls and spent most of the time just trying to hit them!  It was fun, though I had an aching shoulder.  One thing I learnt while playing golf is that there is no such thing as a flattering photo of one’s self playing at the driving range!  Here is a not so flattering one of my dad instead!

James and I splurged a little because it was a holiday and we went for a seaweed bath!!  AMAZING!  It is an original victorian bath house right on the beach and the water used is pumped in from the sea.  The seaweed is in the big victorian ceramic bath and in the corner of the room there is a victorian steam box.  James and I swapped and then swapped back… and once you’ve had enough of steam and seaweed, you pull the shower lever and are drenched in ice cold sea water!  Bizarre but awesome experience!

After we had finished our bath, we met Dad and Lisa and the boys at a restaurant before heading back to the beach for another wander and to collect some shells (we collected a HUGE amount of cool shells) and some seaweed so that Ollie could have his very own seaweed bath back at the house.  He was so intrigued by the thought of a bath with real seaweed floating in it.  Haha!

We ran Ollie his seaweed bath as soon as we got back to the house.  He had a blast and stayed in it for a really long time!!  I’m not sure that the seaweed in his bath was the same kind of seaweed as in ours but it still felt the same.  He thought it was so funny!

After his bath, my dad and Lisa took Ollie and the boys fishing again, this time to fish for trout.  While they were away, James and Nate and I all went for a lovely nap!  They returned after a short while with a lovely big trout… trout being my favourite fish!  He was all bizz about his fishing adventure.  Dad took Ollie and Conor out the back of the cottage to help gut the fish.  Ew.

Because it was going to be out last night at Mount Falcon, we decided to eat in the hotel as a treat.  It didn’t disappoint!  James had an enormous burger, I had amazingly cooked sea-bass and the boys had kids meals.  Dad joined us and we all shared a cheeseboard to finish.  The boys behaved really well and it was nice to all get dressed up for the end of our holiday!

James and Ollie went on a spooky walk to the graveyard that is on the estate.  They had gone earlier in the day and thought it would be cool to return at nighttime and see if they could spot any zombies or ghosts haha!  I didn’t go because I had to put Nate to bed.

The drive home the next morning, went a lot faster than the drive there and nobody got car sick!!  We were so happy to get Marcie back though I think she had fun when we were away.

My 29th Birthday!

So next year is the big one!  I want to have a big party!!  But this year, we just had a relaxed, family day and it was lovely!

I had already had some money for my birthday, which I spent on a ton of clothes that I got half price in the sale.  I also got sandals and a new bag!  So on my actual birthday day, James and the boys surprised me with more presents!  James knows me so well and got me perfect gifts.  Ollie bought me 3 stacking rings… he has been saying for some time now that he wants to buy me diamonds and on my birthday he came through! haha!

James also got me the Keri Smith Wreck This Journal, which I have wanted for AGES… along with Photos That Changed The World… which is great, and a 5 minute origami set!  He also bought a TON of special chocolate from Hotel Chocolat and a few treats from Lush.  That husband of mine is pretty awesome at presents!

After I opened my gifts, James went downstairs to make breakfast.  It is kind of tradition now that on any special occasion, he makes french toast with crispy bacon and maple syrup.  There is no point in anyone even trying to replicate it, it just isn’t as good haha!  The boys loved it too.  Me and Nate took a nap while James took Ollie to his swimming lesson.

We got up and dressed to go out for the afternoon.  We headed to one of our favourite restuarants, Il Pirata.  The food is always great, it’s nice inside and the boys like it too.  The boys each had a pizetta, we all shared whitebait and James and I both had pasta (he had fennel sausage and I had chilli prawns).  I also had the chocolate and hazelnut cake for desert.  It’s AMAZING.

When lunch was finished we headed to Stormont for a walk and a play in the park.  I sent Ollie off running to the steps of Stormont and told him I would give him a tenner if he made it.  He had no idea I was joking and James had to run after him to get him to stop.  I gave him some money anyway for his effort.  The park at Stormont is huge and has enough for each of the boys to keep occupied for a good hour and a half!

When we got home, we relaxed and had cake.  A cake that James made… and the most randomly shaped cake I’ve ever seen.  It was chocolate fudge and it was delicious.  A friend called over when we had just finished cake, and brought a big bunch of pink roses with her.  I’m very lucky to have my lovely wee family and friends who made my day very special.

Sunday So Relaxed!

Today we went to the leisureplex in Lisburn.  They have a super fun swimming pool with a pirate ship to play on, bubble pools, a river that strangely has a current in it to help you float around and a ton of slides!
Neither of the boys have been to the pool very much, so both aren’t totally comfortable with the water just yet (currently taking Nate to Watertots and Ollie is getting swimming lessons for his birthday) but this pool is more about fun than about actual swimming.

James convinced Ollie to go on the big slide… something he has never done before.  He loved it until the last bit which had a big dip and a large pool of water.  He wasn’t expecting it and got dunked.  Poor soul… he looked a mixture of happy and horrified at the same time!

After the dunking on the slide, we went around the ‘lazy river’ and I encouraged him to hold his breath and dunk himself.  He did this and was so proud of himself that he continued to dunk himself countless more times.  I’m so proud of him!  We also dunked Nate a couple of times and he mostly didn’t bat an eyelid about it.  I guess it was too quick a dunk for him to care!

After swimming, we went across the road to a restaurant called Springsteens.  We had an awesome lunch which we ALL enjoyed… Ollie pretty much licked his plate clean… as did Nate… (and then he ate some of my chicken!).

I love family days ❤

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How We Spent Easter!

We had such a fab Easter break… James was off work from Thursday and went back to work on Tuesday!  It was awesome to have some quality family time together… we did a ton of fun things!
On Thursday we went to Funtastic in Carryduff.  It’s awesome, I posted about it last week and had mentioned I booked Ollie’s birthday party.  We went as a family so that the kids could run around, but also so that I could show Ollie and James the place before paying the deposit.  Ollie loved it as I knew he would and we paid the deposit.

After Funtastic and a little bit of payday shopping, we went home, got into new pyjamas and decorated paper Easter eggs.  We decorated one each, Nate included and then we skyped Grandma and asked her to pick a winner… prize being a bag of Cadbury Mini Eggs!  Ollie’s egg was Grandma’s favourite and being an awesome winner, he shared the eggs with all of us.

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Friday was a whirlwind of having a friend stop by for a coffee (morning coffee with a BFF sets the day to a good start!), my mum came by to take Nate out for his first pair of walking shoes (and they look so smart… he also walks better in them!), I went out for groceries while James took Ollie to the play park and in the evening I had an awesome Skype date with my friend Kendra, who lives in Canada.

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I woke on Saturday to awesome news from a dear dear friend and even though it was my day for a lie-in, I couldn’t get back to sleep… so I got up and went downstairs to make an Easter themed breakfast for my 3 guys.  I made mini pancakes with Nutella and marshmallows… bunny and chick marshmallows!

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After breakfast, we did the ultimate in Easter traditions, and we painted hard boiled eggs in preparation for rolling them down a hill!  Nate even painted one… he had never used a paintbrush before and in the end he was more interested in licking the paint off the end, than painting the egg.  Ollie loved the activity though… James turned out well too… but my eggs were the best.  I painted a king and a queen.

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My mum stopped by at lunchtime to collect Ollie to take him for a pair of new trainers.  It’s kinda a tradition now that the boys get new shoes for Easter.  He came home with a wonderful pair of bright blue trainers.  He picked them out himself

We then went to a friend’s house for a playdate.  She has 2 children of her own… he eldest is in Ollie’s class in school and her littlest isn’t too much older than Nate.  They ran around like crazy and burnt some energy Ha!

James collected us and we drove to mum’s house to drop the boys off and meet the new addition to mum’s family, a teacup yorkie called Rosie. James and I left the boys to enjoy their overnight with Grandma and Grandpa and we went home to enjoy a date night… cue takeout Indian and Silver Linings Playbook! ❤

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On Sunday we waited for the boys to come home and get their Easter baskets.  They were so surprised… Ollie more so!  He couldn’t believe how much chocolate fitted into his basket.  The boys plundered their treats for a little while and then we headed to Il Pirata in Ballyhackamore for Easter Sunday dinner with James family.  His mum, dad and his Uncle Bobby all joined us.  We LOVE Il Pirata and on Sundays they do sharing roasts for 2 people… we got 3 between the table and it was delicious!

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On Monday, my dad, Lisa and her boys (Conor and Dylan) came to visit and have lunch.  I made curried lentil soup and bought a yummy loaf.  They surprised us with a ton of chocolate and Ollie was so pleased the boys had come too… he took them upstairs to show them his lego etc.  It was lovely to catch up.

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After everyone left, we rolled our painted eggs down our little hill.  Nate didn’t quite understand the concept but Ollie enjoyed it… after a couple of rolls and not a lot of cracking, he ended up throwing them into the air as high as he could, so they would smash when they fell back down.

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We had dinner at my mum and Harry’s house on Monday night… my mum is an awesome cook… she makes this amazing Nigella Lawson ham recipe that uses coke!  She served it with cheesy mash and fried cabbage and leeks.  Harry and mum had also planned an egg hunt for Ollie which he really enjoyed.  So much chocolate 🙂

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We’re not a religious family.  So for us, Easter is all about spending time together, the start of the best seasons of the year… it’s my favourite holiday… as I mentioned before, it was so relaxed, but busy!

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Road Trip Weekend

So last weekend we went to visit my dad.  He lives in Dublin which is approx 100 miles from here.  We’ve never been there as a family of four and he had a free weekend so we decided to visit!  Because there wasn’t enough room at dad’s house, we all stayed with his girlfriend Lisa.  She lives a little way outside of Dublin Centre and her house is gorgeous.  She has a dog called Holly, which both the boys took to immediately!
We ordered a large Indian takeaway between us, while trying to get Nate settled to sleep.  It was hard going.  I guess he was excited by all the new people!  Dad and I left to collect the Indian and I was hoping Nate would be asleep by the time we got back… no chance ha!  He was still upset so we brought him down and we all had food together.

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The next morning, Lisa had to go off to work so me, James, dad and the boys had a relaxed morning.  Dad made us a huge cooked breakfast which went down well… and Ollie and Nate bonded with Holly!

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When we had first asked Ollie what he wanted to do on the trip, his answer was to ride on the Luas.  The Luas is a tram system in Dublin city centre and he remembers it from our previous time living in Dublin.  We drove from Lisa’s house to my dad’s house to park the car because the Luas doesn’t go from Lisa’s.  It didn’t matter to him that the ride to Stephen’s Green would only be 10 minutes.  He was so excited!

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Ranelagh is where we used to live, the first time we lived in Dublin.  Ranelagh was Ollie’s first home!

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When we arrived at Stephen’s Green we walked to Temple Bar Farmers Market.  The smell of food was delicious!  We stopped at a lovely apple stall which sold warm apple juice with a shot of brandy!  It was delicious and warmed us up a little.  Ollie chose 6 apples for himself and told the woman on the stall that they were really good apples!

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I tried horse steak.  In fact, we all did.  James, my dad, Ollie and I.  Only Nate didn’t because I thought it might be a little too chewy for him.  Given the recent controversy over horsemeat being found in ready made beef products, it made it quite a fun thing to try!  It was nice!  I thought it tasted a little more like lamb than beef though.  The farmer running the stall, Paddy Jack, said his sales of horsemeat had tripled since the scandal and he used to be the only supplier in Ireland.  Now a number of other farmers have jumped on the band wagon and started selling it too.

DSC_0070After walking around a little, Ollie grew tired and hungry so I took both of the boys to Eddie Rockets (a 50’s diner we used to visit regularly when living in Dublin) while James and my dad went to The Porterhouse for a drink!

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After Eddie Rockets, we got the Luas back to Ranelagh, met up with Lisa at her parents house… such a lovely, warm and inviting family.  We then stopped at the park beside my dad’s house.  It was recently done up and Ollie loved it!  I wish the weather had been a little better, then things wouldn’t have been quite so soggy!

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Dad had picked up some mussels from the farmers market, so he put those on for us with some bread to dip in.  Ollie got stuck into the mussels, much to my surprise.  He didn’t like them the last time I cooked them… maybe I’m not as good of a mussel cook!  He was scoffing them in!  Dad also got us cakes… Lisa, dad and James all had an eclair while I had a slice of treacle tart.  Such a good lunch!

The boys went back to Lisa’s house in dad’s car, I went with Lisa to pick up her boys.  She has two boys older than Ollie, called Conor and Dylan.

When we got back to Lisa’s house, Ollie met the boys.  He was excited about this part of his trip.  He loves having older boys to play with rather than little boys.  I guess he finds them more fun!  He showed Conor how to play Minecraft on the iPad before I helped Conor make cupcakes.  He made them on his own just with my direction.

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After we baked, James and I went to get ready because we were due to go out for dinner while dad and Lisa babysat the boys for us.  We had spotted a place online called Picaderos and it looked like an AWESOME tapas wine bar.

As we arrived, ideas of what I would eat in my head, we realised we should have booked.  The place was ram packed!  We headed across the road instead to a place called The Avenue.  I got a duck confit starter and James had chowder and for main I had a goats cheese, beetroot and blood orange salad while James had a burger.  James was disappointed in his meal but mine was delicious!

When we returned home, Ollie was still awake, cuddled under a blanket beside Conor and they were both playing iPad.  Nate had been settled all evening much to our relief.  We spent the rest of the night having a few drinks and chatting with dad and Lisa.

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On Sunday morning, Ollie got up and dressed quickly so that he could go and watch Conor play a football match.  He came home SOAKED but had had a nice time.  When everyone got changed and ready to go, we made our way to Tribeca… another old haunt of ours.  We used to go to Tribeca almost every weekend, for either their brunch menu or their chicken wings.  This weekend was no different.  James and I both got the wings, while Nate munched on garlic bread and Ollie devoured an adult portion of french toast, syrup and berries!  Dad, Lisa, Dylan and Conor all got burgers… but after tasting one of our wings I think dad wished he had got the same as us!

DSC_0165 DSC_0172 DSC_0173We said our goodbyes after lunch and headed on our 2 hour journey home.  We had such a lovely weekend and don’t know why we hadn’t done it sooner.  Dad’s schedule is normally jam packed I guess and changeable at short notice!  I hope we can visit again soon though!

Castle Espie

Last Sunday, we went to Castle Espie with my Mother in law, 2 x sister in laws, brother in law, niece and nephew.  We went to Castle Espie last year too as they always have on special festivities and Santa comes.
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When we got there, there were some kids doing crafts so Ollie went to join in.  He put on his painting tshirt and painted the above two ornaments.  The one on the left is an elf and on the right is a snowman.  Kids were only allowed to paint one each, but since Nate is too young to paint, Ollie painted his for him.

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After having some mulled fruit punch, tea, coffee and biscuits, Santa’s elf called us in to her little house before being led to see Santa.  Something surprising about this Santa, was that he was wearing green!

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The boys both got lovely gifts.  Nate got a bath book and a baby book about bugs.  Ollie was given a bug collecting kit which he loved, but has still to put to use haha!

DSC_0820 As Castle Espie is a bird reserve, we bought some seed and went to feed the ducks before going home!

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Nate had never seen ducks before now and he had a lot of fun imitating their noises and laughing at them.

DSC_0859 DSC_0873Such a lovely lovely day out thanks to my mother in law!