Mumaleary's Blog

Cheaper than therapy

Come to Go Ape she said…It’ll be fun she said!

One thing that I have not been very good at since I started blogging is linking up with other bloggers. I have a couple that I read religiously, there are a couple that can only be read in the comfort of my own home and there are lots more I dip into when I can but, recently I have met a lovely lady with an excellent blog and lo and behold, she lives locally. Hooray!!

So, when she messaged to say she had a free Go Ape experience for up to 6 people at the Delemere site I jumped at the chance to go.

When I mentioned it to Mr L he was encouraging; “remember when you did it in Center Parcs and you were so frightened you wet yourself?!” *

When I told my mum there was the standard eye roll; “you’d be better off sorting your housework and getting on top of your washing!”**

*slight exaggeration but I clearly had blocked out that memory!

**Totally true and reasoned statement but frankly, getting on top of my washing is something I’d want to seek sponsorship for such is the volume.

Supportive family comments aside, Karen picked me up on Friday and off we went to leafy Cheshire.

I almost wept with happiness when I got into the car…there were crisps and raisins remnants in the seats and the footwells contained crayons and general kid clutter and I knew then I’d made a friend for life!

There was another lovely lady in the car, Ally, who blogs over at Messed Up Mum and we met up with Laura from Tired Mummy of two and Sarah who blogs at Extraordinary Chao. ..A right little band of bloggers we were!

Ready to roll!

Ready to roll!

We had a brilliant day and I would definately recommend it so, if you’re considering a day at Go Ape; here’s what you need to know;

1) Very few people can carry off a harness.

I am not one of them…you might be but, when the alternative is possibly plummeting to your death you’ll be more than happy to risk a camel toe!

Don't know what I'm looking so smug about!

Don’t know what I’m looking so smug about!

2) It is scary.

I like to tell myself that I’m balsy, brave and not afraid of anything and, I think when you’re a parent you have to encourage your kids to have a go and not show them you’re frightened incase it rubs off on them but, there were genuinely a couple of occasions when I could actually feel myself shaking but, as they say at commando; If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you!20150522_111705

3) It turns you back into a child.

Being a grown up can be boring. I should know (wrote a post about a laundry bin a few weeks back) you get caught up in the rat race of work, nursery runs, washing etc and you don’t often get the chance to let go.

Navigating a scramble net 20 ft off the ground is a great way of concentrating the mind on ONE THING. No multitasking, no checking the emails, just getting to the next platform. And when you are wizzing down the zip wire it’s really only polite to scream with pure abandon and then laugh till your sides hurt. Oh yes, inner child well and truly reconnected!

4) It gets you back to nature.

Although there are lots of ropes and nets and zip wires and so on, Go Ape really fits into the natural landscape and, when you’re up in the trees you can see things from a whole different perspective.

You are able to appreciate the views, the wildlife and (screams aside) you can enjoy a bit of proper peace and quiet. It’s good for the soul.

Check out the size of those trees.

Check out the size of those trees.

5) It is great for making friends.

Nothing makes me cringe like the idea of forced fun.

Building a raft with Geoff from the office before an afternoon of ‘Blue sky thinking’ makes me want to smash my head into a lamp post but, there is no denying that when you’re shaking like a leaf up a 40ft platform you appreciate the group of people around you and natural barriers are removed.

I’ve got to say, I don’t have many natural barriers, this blog has covered most things in its time but it is a different kettle of fish looking into someone’s eyes when they’re feeling a bit vulnerable and frightened.

Encouraging each other through the tricky bits, checking carabiners and not taking the piss when you look a bit of a lemon is all wonderful for team and friendship building. It was fab to spend a bit of time with you lovely ladies.

6) It earns you a bit of cake and/or a bacon sarnie.

You don’t realise when you’re up there but it is a bit of a workout swinging through the trees. No wonder Tarzan was always so keen to have his top off. It must burn some calories so, you can treat yourself to a celebratory tea and cake afterwards safe in the knowledge that the next day you might struggle to lift a cup to your mouth!! You’ll work muscles you never knew you had :-)

Thanks for the invite Karen, I loved hanging around with you girls!!

Woo Hoo! We did it.

Woo Hoo! We did it.

Muma

XxxX

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Weddings with wee ones; my top 5 tips…

This weekend is officially the busiest of the whole year for weddings…

Everyone loves a Summer wedding. It’s the opportunity to dress up, catch up with friends and sink a few shandies…isn’t it?! UMMM…Not if you’re taking the kiddiewinks!

Love this picture...totally glossing over the reality of the getting dressed drama!

Love this picture…totally glossing over the reality of the getting dressed drama!

Sure, it’s all fun and games, photo opps and compliments for the first few hours. The children are excited, they are cute in their posh frocks and they’re entertaining for the masses for a bit but, let’s be honest, there comes a stage when your back is in bits from the feet on shoe dancing, they’re cranky, crumpled and craving attention where as you’re sober and looking longingly at the guests on the dance floor giving it beans to a cheeky rendition of Come on Eileen (I never pretended to be classy!)

This year family Leary have 4 weddings and a blessing. Last year we went to 3 so I like to think that we have learnt a thing or two about how to survive the celebrations when you have kids in tow. Here’s my top 5 tips for getting it right or, at the very least, ensuring you get through the day without wanting to put a stiletto through your eye socket;

Pristine and ready to roll!  photo thanks to: http://www.martinphillipsstudio.com/

Pristine and ready to roll!
photo thanks to: http://www.martinphillipsstudio.com/

This is the easy bit!!

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“Muma; what does falling in love mean?”

Don’t you find that the biggest and most important questions happen at the end of the day when you’re all winding down, spending proper time together having a cuddle and a cup of the white stuff?

I’m not going to lie, we’re having a bit of a tough time at the moment. Lots of temper tantrums, daily tears about Muma going to work, irritating whiny voices and, in the case of this morning, wailing from all three of us pre 7.34am, it’s not pretty.
In amongst all of that however there is always usually the rays of sunshine which make me love my children with every single fibre of my being.

So, last night we were having a cheeky bit of The Little Mermaid in bed and that was when the big little posed the rather big question;

What does Falling in Love Mean?

Wow; That’s a biggy…I thought I had years before this sort of stuff…

Well my darling, I’m not quite sure that I answered properly earlier, something about a fuzzy tummy and a special friend (blurgh!)

So I wanted to clarify…

Falling in Love is as easy as falling off a log.
It is the skip of a heart beat when you see your special someone.
It’s wanting to talk to that person when something goes right…or goes wrong.
It’s the extra brush of the hair, the nervous laugh at their jokes.
It’s a glow in your cheeks and spring in your step and a song in your heart.
It’s buying 4 4 2 just so you understand the off side rule. (true story!)

Falling in love is incredible and exciting and nerve-wracking and heart breaking. It gives you legs like jelly and the appetite of a bird…it also makes you more likely to have a proper shave.
It is the way I feel when I pick you and your sister up from nursery because I am falling more in love with you every day.
It is the way your Daddy makes me feel when he comes home after being away or when we look at each other when you two do something funny.

The falling in love is easy my darlings; it’s the staying in love you have to practise.

Hope that helps.

Mummy and Daddy will love you always.
(Bit less whining would be amazing though!)

Muma.

XxxxX

I’m linking this blog post up with Honest Mums #BrilliantBlogPosts linky. Click on the badge to see who else has joined in.

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

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Mix up the Magic for the Perfect Playdate!

Playdates; they can get a little bit samey can’t they.
You get into a habit of seeing the same people, doing the same things and, if you’re anything like us, serving up the same sort of snacks and treats but, every now and again things need a bit of a shake up.
With Summer on the way, the promise of holidays on the horizon and the beginnings of a brilliant and beautiful garden hideaway it’s time for us to Mix Up The Magic.

The Great Outdoors.

As children, my sister and I spent holidays at our Grandpas farm and we were outside morning til night and we loved it.
These days, parents are less likely to let their kids play outside. We worry about them getting too cold, sunburnt or hurt.
It is important to me that our girls appreciate the great outdoors, wildlife and learn how to care for the environment. Yoghurt pot bird feeders were the perfect way to get the girls out in the sunshine soaking up the vitamin D and who doesn’t love getting messy with a bit of mixing and making?!

Fabulous French:

I am no linguist. Sometimes even the most basic of English words escape me, sleep deprivation and a baby brain which clearly hasn’t switched off two years later don’t help!
I am in awe of people that can speak another language (or even English coherently) so, when a friend from toddler group mentioned a new business venture, teaching French to pre-schoolers, I basically strong armed her into a session at ours.
With songs, rhymes and parachute games it was the perfect start to the week and, when the little little welcomed Mr L home with a jaunty ‘Bonjour!’ I almost split my cheeks smiling.

french2

Learning French? Oooh La la!

Learning French? Oooh La la!

A little bit of crazy?!

One of things that makes me happier than anything else in the whole wide world is hearing my babies chattering to each other, playing, pretending and making up games.
As they grow up I absolutely cherish watching their relationship develop and, on a selfish note it sometimes has the added bonus of giving me 5 minutes to clear the breakfast dishes.
During one of the 5 minutes this week (which might have become 10 and included a cuppa and a flick through a magazine) the girls set up a picnic on the stairs, made a pretend plane in their teepee and had a game of crazy golf in the hall.

This is all the luggage they need!

This is all the luggage they need!

I love this.

Yes it makes our home a mess, yes it sometimes makes us late or leads to over excitement; we all know how quickly squeals of happiness can become tears and tantrums but that’s the risk you take. It’s all a learning curve and I am loving these lessons.

**point to note- sometimes the over excitement and general merriment will lead to your phone getting dropped in the water bucket you’ve been splashing in and that in turn means you lose all your happy snaps of said fun times…you have been warned!**

Petit Filous is mixing things up too with their New Magic Squares yogurts which lets kids experience two delicious flavours in one like never before. They are a brilliant source of calcium and vitamin D which helps the body to absorb the calcium…science hey! We love them in our house and the empty pots make fab bird feeders! Reduce, Reuse, Recycle people!

Yummmmmy!  Is there anything on my face?!

Yummmmmy!
Is there anything on my face?!

We don't stage shots here...my kids really are this messy!  #dirtwonthurt

We don’t stage shots here…my kids really are this messy!
#dirtwonthurt

I’d love to hear how you Mix Up the Magic with your littlies…I could use all the ideas you’ve got!

Have a happy week, we’re off to the zoo (zoo, zoo!)

Muma.

XxxxX

Mmmmm...Mix up the Magic.

Mmmmm…Mix up the Magic.

PS: This post is an entry for BritMums #MagicSquaresPlaydates Linky Challenge, sponsored by Petits Filous. http://www.petitsfilous.co.uk

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Pssst…we’re not getting any younger- have you planned your pension?!

Since January I’ve been attempting to live a slightly more balanced and grown up sort of life.
I’ve exercised more consistently (thanks to the quite brilliant Jon and Melissa and their Fit ‘n’ Trim programme) and am generally trying to make better food, drink and lifestyle decisions. Obviously it doesn’t always go to plan; I love a gin in a tin as much as the next person and a bar of Dairy Milk is all I really need to make me happy but, generally speaking, family Leary are trying to eat and live well.

The problem with this is that other grown up topics are now forcing their way into my consciousness. Namely; wills and pensions…Frankly both topics fill me with dread but they desperately need to be faced and the sooner the better.
Mr L and I often talk about our retirement plans. The conversations never centre around eating value beans and wearing gloves indoors. We talk about travel, treating ourselves and enjoying the free time but, none of that will come cheap and it certainly won’t come about by magic.

Sailing off into the sunset can't be paid for in buttons and beans.

Sailing off into the sunset can’t be paid for in buttons and beans.

Cue the lovely people at Mumsnet pinging over an email asking bloggers to review a new website called Retire Savvy, from Skipton Building Society.

retiresavvy
Surely this can only be for 1 of two reasons;

1) They are actually downloading my thoughts
2) I am not the one having a pension panic attack

I am hoping it is option 2…

Basically, Skipton said;

“We believe retirement is one of the biggest social issues of today – in terms of improving people’s awareness of retirement planning and also helping them to ensure they’ve got sufficient savings to enjoy their retirements.
Increasing life expectancy means retirement is no longer a relatively brief period – for many people retirement can last as long as their working lives and many are choosing to do it differently, with set retirement dates becoming less and less common.
Mums are among the hardest hit groups, as we know they often need to contend with all of the above and to also make room for career breaks or reduced hours to make time to be mums. Retirement’s no longer a subject for ‘oldies’, it’s something everyone should be considering, and the earlier the better.”

Oh good lord, it is option 1; they are in my head…(sorry about the mess and all the Daniel Craig clutter!)

Ahhhhh...

Ahhhhh…

The site is full of excellent advice but frankly, there could only be one starting point for me;

Me to a tee...but not anymore!

Me to a tee…but not anymore!

The 5 points here have already helped enormously, I have been able to see just how pitiful my state pension could be and when I will be eligible to claim it; £69.57 per week as of September 2048. Handily though, I also now know how I can top it up.
The site also provided a brilliant reminder about a local government pension plan I paid into for a few years and information on how to find out where it is, how to access it and so on. Every little helps!

For me, the most important area of the site by far is, unsurprisingly, Retirement Planning for Families. All of my worries and concerns are voiced here and it is so reassuring to know that it isn’t just me who’s left things late…
It took me a little while to discover this section so perhaps going forward I’d suggest it could be prominent on the home page, perhaps with its own tab as opposed to being a sub-section of another.
I don’t quite feel that the term ‘Approaching Retirement’ applies to me so perhaps ‘Planning for Retirement or Retirement Planning in your 30’s/40’s etc might be more clear?
Having said that, all the information I need is there on the site; there are loads of useful articles and guides. The jargon buster is a brilliant tool and the forums are really interesting and reassuring; I’m pleased to see that others want to see free childcare provision increased so they can pay the difference into their pension pots- our thoughts precisely.
As the site develops and gains followers I am sure that the threads and discussion forums will expand and help with any questions I have going forwards but the stories and posts from the many retirees on the forums is a brilliant illustration that age now really is just a number and retirement or getting your bus pass can genuinely be a passport to new found freedom- HOORAY!

The most important thing that Retire Savvy does though is to get pension planning into people’s consciousness.
Pensions will never, ever be sexy and Skipton to their credit, aren’t trying to pretend otherwise but, as with so many things, planning ahead enables spontaneity and, whether that is with a crazy full change bag for a day at the zoo or a properly planned pension, so you really can sail off into the sunset, planning is honestly starting to appeal, and I never thought I’d say that!

Have you got your pension properly planned? I’d love to know if you’re paying in or making other plans…
Muma.

XxxX

PS: I was asked to review retiresavvy.skipton.co.uk by Skipton and the Mumsnet Bloggers Network. All views are my own. I was entered into a prize draw to win vouchers as a token of thanks for blogging.
You can check out what other bloggers thought about Retiresavvy here: http://www.mumsnet.com/bloggers/retiresavvy-portal-what-our-bloggers-thought-

PPS: Want to take part in a cutting edge social media campaign? Sign up to support retiresavvy on Thunderclap (best described as an online flash mob) and fight for the retirement you deserve!
For more information visit https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/24810-retirement-revolution?locale=en

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Normal? Nuclear? What does Modern Family mean to you?

So, Matalan turns 30 this year.

The Hughes Family. #MatalanModernFamily

The Hughes Family.
#MatalanModernFamily

I’m adding this to the list of things which make me feel utterly ancient; I remember when our local shop opened and you had to have a photo ID card to get in. My mum, sister and I went over to Bromborough to check it out and then went to the cinema for a treat. Happy Times.

Anyway, in the 30 years since they first opened their doors, with the aim of providing outstanding value and quality for families, the definition and idea of family has altered significantly. Now Matalan wants to know what family means to us…
Their latest campaign is called Made for Modern Families; check out their advert- I think it’s fab (Loving the polkadot dress and the purpule bag)

When I googled ‘FAMILY DEFINITION’ I was presented with literally millions of options but the first one was this:

“A group consisting of two parents and their children living together as a unit.”
(www.thefreedictionary.com)

That seems like a pretty narrow definition to me.

From very early on my little family unit didn’t fit the traditional norm; we were the 3 musketeers, my mum, my sister and me.

The 3 musketeers

The 3 musketeers

I felt compelled to explain that my dad had died, lest people presumed that he had abandoned us or my parents had divorced. Our extended family, grandparents, uncles, aunts and my mums incredible group of friends were a daily source of support and I would be a very different person, and mother without their influences. Sadly though, to me growing up it felt that the nuclear family was the norm and expectation and anything else was met with a sniff of suspicion. An over sensitive and childlike view? Perhaps but I bet I’m not the only person to have felt that way.

These days, almost 30 years on, family Leary fit snuggly into the nuclear family pigeon hole; A Muma, a daddy and two gorgeous girls. We are only a pampered pooch away from a perfect portrait!

Standard Family Snap!

Standard Family Snap!

Two years later...

Two years later…

But for me that is only a part of the puzzle.
We have extended family; Brothers, Sisters, In-laws, Out-laws, first cousins, second cousins, not quite sure how distant cousins.

How weeny am I?!

Me and my super douper cousins; In age order!

We have friends that are as much loved and important to us as any blood relation. Those that have seen us at our best…and worst! The people we see almost daily and can call on for a whinge, a wine or an emergency babysitter at the drop of a hat.

 

Ready for the nursery run...we always look like this!

Ready for the nursery run…we always look like this!

People we haven’t ‘seen’ for an age except via the techno wizardry of Skype and facetime and the like but we know that when we do, we’ll fall right back into step where we left off.

And, as time goes on, we have the memories of family members past that gave us those original feelings of security and love which is our blueprint for knowing how family should make you feel; LOVED which, to my mind, is the only definition of family that really matters.

I'm the blondie!

I’m the blondie!

Happy Birthday Matalan, thanks for making us all feel like family!

Muma.

XxxX

family-quotes

PS: I’m sharing my thoughts on family with the Mumsnet Matalan linky; check it out Mumsnet linky to see what other bloggers have to say.

PPS: What does family mean to you? Share your family snaps with Matalan here for a chance to win £250 of vouchers

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More things for kids in Beautiful Belfast.

I know I’ve been clogging up your news feed with holiday talk for the last week or so but, it would be incredibly remiss of me not to offer up these final few gems from our jaunt to NI…got to be honest though; if we start a craze and everywhere is rammed when we next go I’ll be livid!

You know sometimes when you’re away the last day is a bit of a drag because you’re basically waiting to head home? We were a bit worried that Sunday would be a little bit like that for us pre ferry but, a trip to the Titanic Quarter solved our dilemma magnificently.
The fact that it was actually snowing as we drove back into Belfast meant that indoor activities were the order of the day and my optimistic flip flops definitely were not but, no matter, we parked up and headed into The new Titanic Experience.

The height of the building is the same as the height of Titanic.  Pretty incredible.

The height of the building is the same as the height of Titanic.
Pretty incredible.

Now, I’ll level with you; I am little uncomfortable with the idea that key rings and fridge magnets are now basically souvenirs of huge tragedy and loss of life but, I am also very interested in the story and, as the more pragmatic and level headed Mr L says, it happened and, having a building like this museum tells the story and has breathed life back into the area that created Titanic bringing money and jobs so, the victims lives have, in the end, not been in vein. I suppose that is true and the imput from so many of the victims families illustrates that the most important people were happy with the exhibition.
The building is incredible and is the same height as the ship itself which gives you an immediate sense of how magnificent a site Titanic must have been.

Made to look like the stern of the ship.  Breath taking.

Made to look like the stern of the ship.
Breath taking.

The story is told across the six floors and takes you through the story of life in Belfast when ship building was the life blood of the city right through to the distress signals sent, the pitiful rescue attempts and the court hearings in the aftermath.
The personal stories are poignant but it was the real footage of the wreck that truly brought home the scale of both the ship and the disaster to me.

The girls had a great time running about, looking for the characters on their quiz sheets but we felt a little self conscious about their noise in and around such sensitive and emotional stories;
Is this a genuinely child friendly experience? Honesty I’d have to say no, not for younger kids. Yes there are plenty of things to look at, buttons to press and so on but there is so much for you to read, take in and look at they might run out of stream half way through…

It is already on our hit list for our adults only trip back to Belfast along with the Black taxi tour and Crumlin Road Gaol…

W5 on the other hand is a kids paradise.
All I need to say here is; if you’re in Northern Ireland or indeed near Northern Ireland and you have kids or have even been a child yourself, you should go here. It is awesome.
I shall expand on that however because it’s slightly lazy as a review if I don’t!
W5 was built as part of a millennium regeneration project around the docks and is housed within the Odessey Arena complex where you’d find all the big concerts (and this years Sports Personality of the Year Awards) going on.
The 5 W’s that the name refers to is who, what, when, where, why and each floor attempts to answer some of those questions.
We spent most of our time on level 2 which was simply perfect for us with loads of imaginative play with life sized cars and pretend shops, music and art studios as well as houses, books, a big wooden train track etc. Everything a toddler could need.
There was also an amazing climbing frame come piece of art called ‘Climbit’ which the girls loved exploring but it was pretty huge and I’d have been wetting myself if they’d had gone too high!!

Climbit...Don't worry; we will!

Climbit…Don’t worry; we will!

We only had around 2 hours here but we could easily have doubled it and not run out of things to do and Sunday afternoon was ideal- very quiet so the girls really made the most of all of the exhibits. Nothing was off limits or ‘don’t touch’.
Yeah; get yourselves there!

I will never tire of these gorgeous faces!

I will never tire of these gorgeous faces!

You've got to love a coloured bubble tube!

You’ve got to love a coloured bubble tube!

Right, that’s it for our NI love in!
I’d better start looking for our next Staycation #abroadshmbroad

Muma.

XxxxX

PS) I’d recommend that, if you’ve got toddlers like us you flip our day on its head.
Head to W5 for opening, tire them out, give them a sandwich for the walk between the two locations (the Titanic food is seriously expensive) and then they can (hopefully) have their nap as you stroll around the exhibition which is all brilliantly manoeuvrable even with a double buggy being pushed by a 2 year old!
Oh, and if you do have a wee stop after you’ve paid for your parking, remember that there is a time limit and if you exceed it you’ll have to pay the excess!

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Weekend at Bernie’s* (OR NI with Kids)

Those of you that follow me on Facebook and Instagram might well be aware that last week we were on holiday in Northern Ireland. Without wishing to be harsh, it is definitely fair to say that Northern Ireland has never been on our holiday hit list and, had it not been for a family wedding blessing, we’d still be non the wiser about this simply stunning gem of a place.

I barely had a chance to think about blogging or anything really apart from the scenery and the all to rare bit of family time but, as I sat outside the girls bedroom waiting for the little little to settle, there wasn’t not much else to do other than note a few of the highlights of our trip purely for your reading pleasure; you lucky little blighters you!

1) Living on the Wirral it was an easy decision to get the ferry from Birkenhead  to Belfast but we hadn’t bargained on just how simple and straightforward it would be.
We boarded with our car at 8pm for the overnight crossing, relaxed with a drink whilst the girls made friends at the soft play and hit our bunks before we set sail at 10pm for a genuinely great nights sleep.

Brilliant bunks  Super Stenaline!

Brilliant bunks
Super Stenaline!

We docked shortly before 6am the following morning and were welcomed by an amazing sunrise and the sun has stayed out for the majority of our trip which we definitely hadn’t counted on.

What a sunrise! Beautiful Belfast.

What a sunrise!
Beautiful Belfast.

I am now sitting in my little bunk as we head home and I can happily say that the return trip has been just as smooth.
Stenaline; I am suitably impressed!

2) Bangor has a pretty marina and a fab art project but what we really loved was Pickie Fun Park. We had a fantastic family time splashing in puddles, riding on the train and messing about on the Swan pedalloes.

MUST GET MORE OF THESE FAMILY SNAPS!!

MUST GET MORE OF THESE FAMILY SNAPS!!

The girls were in their element running through the water and I reckon that when it’s the height of summer the place would be packed. As it was we almost had the place to ourselves aside from two skiving teenagers sneaking a fag in one go the other pedalloes. Tut tut.

20150421_104836
20150421_104450
3) We stumbled upon our B&B after googling Family friendly places to stay in Northern Ireland and I am so chuffed we did, it was absolutely amazing and the food alone deserves it’s own post…5 course taster menu with wine just for us grown ups?! Don’t mind if I do!

Haddock, beetroot and scallops; YUMMY!

Haddock, beetroot and scallops; YUMMY!

Rayanne House belongs to Bernie and Conor (we’re on first name terms now!)  and it’s located in a cute little town called Holywood that you might be aware of thanks to a certain Rory McIlroy who hails from there (and has been to the house!). They have won an embarrassment of awards but I am sure the only one they’ve been waiting for is the seal of approval from Muma Leary and co! Well, the votes are in and they can breathe easy;
Everything that mattered was absolutely first class. The welcome, the personal touches and the fact that nothing was too much trouble makes it really obvious that, though running a B&B may be their living, it is certainly not ‘a job’ and I would urge you to book a night there (with or without the kids) and take some elasticated pants!

The view from our family room balcony!

The view from our family room balcony!

'So you're saying this is all for me?!  I don't get this at home!'

‘So you’re saying this is all for me?!
We don’t get this at home!’

4) I’m not sure if this is a sign that we are getting a bit long in the tooth but we had a  wicked time at the Ulster Folk Museum. The sun was cracking the flags which obviously helped but being able to walk around old fashioned homes, shops and churches talking to the girls about “the olden days” ad reminiscing about my own childhood was one of my best days on the planet so far. Watching them run along the streets and get giddy with excitement over mangles and tin baths was a delight.
We loved it.

20150423_102725

Fancy a cuppa?

Fancy a cuppa?

A row of workers cottages.

A row of workers cottages.

5) It’s not news to say that farming across the UK and Ireland has experienced some extremely challenging times in the past decade or so. This has lead to many of them diversifying in some way and opening their doors to the good old general public. One such place is Ark Open Farm.
Being brutal, first impressions were not brilliant with limited parking and slightly dodgy signage but how wrong we were. We spent a very happy morning here and could easily have made it practically into a full day if we’d have ventured into any of the inside play areas.
We fed the animals, petted some baby rabbits (called kittens FYI, pub quiz knowledge- always handy) rode on a donkey (obviously only the girls!) had a picnic in the fab play area and compared their meerkats and all for under £20.

Land Girl!

Land Girl!

Me and my Girls!

Me and my Girls!

I ADORE THESE FACES!!

I ADORE THESE FACES!!

In short ( a little late now, I appreciate!) We have had an absolutely fabulous week away in Northern Ireland and feel like we have barely scratched the surface of everything there is to do- for adults and children.
We can’t wait to come back and my only regret is that I hadn’t even considered it as a holiday destination before. Further proof of how spoilt we are to live in such a glorious country.

Where has been your favourite family holiday and why? I’d love to know…

Muma.

XxxxX

* I ought to qualify the title by saying that actually it was mid week and it was at Conor and Bernie’s but I do love a film title pun!

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An exceedingly good Easter! #betterwithcake

Being a very little fish in an increasingly huge blogging pond, opportunities for freebies don’t come my way very often and that is totally fine for me. I blog for fun, because I don’t keep a diary and because it keeps my crazy under some form of control (depending upon who you speak to!)

On occasion though, something arrives on our doorstep thanks to my little old blog which makes me beam. Mainly this Easter that has meant cake.

An Easter basket full of delights!

An Easter basket full of delights!

Not just any old cake; exceedingly good cakes…Mr Kipling cakes. Oh. Yes. Get in my belly!

20150403_110437

Yummy yummy in my tummy!

The question Mr K and Britmums were asking was, what in your life is “Better with cake”. I’d like to rephrase the question and ask; what on earth ISN’T better with cake?!

This Easter, armed with a long weekend and 3 boxes of French Fancies (ALWAYS Pink – lush! ) vienese whirls and cheeky cherry bakewells, we tested that question to the max.

Watching Nigel Farage in the leadership debates?!

Just no.  Please, just, no.

Just no.
Please, just, no.

#betterwithcake *

An exceedingly windy Easter picnic.

Freestyling our Easter lunch!

Freestyling our Easter lunch!

#betterwithcake

Play dough mixing mayhem?

Sob... I am not ready for this kind of avante garde madness!

Sob… I am not ready for this kind of avante garde madness!

#betterwithcake

Accidental face painting fiasco?

Trouble with a capital TROUBLE

Trouble with a capital TROUBLE

#betterwithcake

Getting back home after a 6 mile soaking for tea and cake in the tub….In blissful silence …#betterwithcake… Don’t panic, I’ve spared you that particular image!

Life in all of it’s wonderful, manic, chaotic imperfection, is #betterwithcake.

Not every day, not for every meal but when you’re taking 5 after a busy day, when you’re celebrating the extended family getting together or when a  treat together just feels good.

What do you do that is better with cake? Am I missing a trick?

I’ll give anything a go once?!

Muma.

XxxX

*unfortunately this was a minimal improvement and I think what would have worked even better would have been wine; delivered intravenously.

** the scummy cakes were sent to family Leary as part of the #betterwithcake Linky Challenge promotion with Mr Kipling (http://bit.ly/betterwithcake).

You can learn more about them and their yummy treats here; https://m.facebook.com/mrkiplingcakes

This post is an entry for #betterwithcake Linky Challenge (http://www.britmums.com/2015/03/the-easter-school-holidays-are-betterwithcake/), sponsored by Mr Kipling. Learn more at https://www.facebook.com/mrkiplingcakes.

https://www.facebook.com/mrkiplingcakes

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You don’t have to say you love me.

Today, thus far has been one of those everything goes your way type gigs.

I woke up early, had cuddles and a leisurely breakfast with my babies before taking them to nursery and waving them off for the weekend; they are having a 2 night sleep over at Grandma’s and are very excited (as is she!)

As we got dressed and chatted they were so absolutely delicious it was hard to think that I could ever love them more.

It was a far cry from the post disney on ice meltdown and it felt so magical I wanted to bottle it.

Now, I am not sure if the two things are linked  but, a couple of weeks ago I asked the big little if she wanted to know a secret. When she said yes I whispered to her that I loved her.

She sighed and said; ‘muma, you just say that too much’. Wow, what a slap in the face!

I took it onboard though and have consciously tried to say it less and demonstrate it more through actions, after all, what does love mean to a toddler anyway?!

Turns out it means water painting on the patio, leaving your laptop and phone in the office, saying yes to ‘just one more’ story, playing pretend and really,  really connecting, listening and being in the moment with them.

And then, if you’re lucky, you get the squeeze you hard cuddles, the one more kiss ‘nightnights’, the ‘Muma you’re beautiful’ compliments and the whispered ‘I love you’s’ that make your heart stop and the breath catch in your throat because it is so serious and sincere. And, you don’t have to say I love you quite so much because you’re demonstrating it and the rewards, I have got to tell you are absolutely priceless.

A spot of cooking!  Lovely Stuff.

A spot of cooking!
Lovely Stuff.

Thanks for the pep talk big little.

I love you and your sister; until the seas run dry.

Muma.

XxxX

6 Comments »

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