Mumaleary's Blog

Cheaper than therapy

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.

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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.

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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

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