The Ball of Balls – Let’s Talk About The Boyos

Last night, we attended The Ball of Balls in the beautiful Harvey’s Point in Donegal Town.

This innovative and brave event was created by a group of friends, born from a conversation where they all agreed that Men need to talk about cancer.  The committee who brought The Ball of Balls to life was made up of Joan Gallagher, Peter Barry, Deborah Cunningham, Moya O’Leary and assisted by Adrian Pollard.

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We enjoyed a champagne reception to beautiful Jazz music, before moving into the ballroom for a divine meal.

Noel Cunningham was host for the evening and spoke passionately about the importance of cancer services in the North West.

Gabriel McCole entertained the audience with his honest and no nonsense account of his own journey with cancer and powerful speech delivered by Deborah Cunningham as we sat to dinner, repeated the line “Men need to talk about cancer”.

And last night, we did.  We spoke openly about the importance of checking and going for checks.  And I truly hope that every man left the ball with the thought that maybe he should check himself!

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It was a wonderful uplifting evening, and the dancing continued long after we had left.  We were further entertained by The Bluestack Chorale Choir and the band who kept the floor full all night were The Lock Ins.  (If you have an event coming up, check these guys out!  Superb!)

Two things shocked me last night:

  1. Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in young men aged 15 to 34.  I wonder how many 15 and 16 year olds would even consider themselves at risk…

      2. There is NO screening programme in place in Ireland. 

And so, alongside the money raised for Cancer Care West last night, the most important success of the night, was the raising of awareness that not only to men need to look after themselves more and talk about cancer, but the women in their lives ALSO need to up our game.

We need to talk to our dads, our brothers, our partners and our sons, whatever their ages, about the importance of paying attention to themselves.  We need to normalise talking about men’s cancer issues, just as much as how freely we talk about women’s.

I hope that this event will become an annual one.  Bravo to all involved!  Job well done.

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There is great information on testicularcancer.org  and on the Marie Keating Foundation website.

What to look out for

Cancers which are found early are the most easily treated. It makes sense to know how your body normally looks and feels and this includes your testicles. This will make it easier for you to notice any changes. A swelling or lump in one of your testicles which is not usually painful is the most common sign of testicular cancer, however there are other signs to look out for:

• Small lumps or hardness on the front or side of a testis.

• Swelling or enlargement of the testis.

• An increase in firmness of the testicle.

• A sensation of dragging or heaviness in the scrotum.

• A dull ache in the lower abdomen or groin.

It is important to note that most lumps are benign (harmless) but others may be cancerous and should be treated as quickly as possible. It is unusual to develop cancer in both testicles at the same time, so if you are wondering whether a testis is normal or not, you can compare it with the other.

 

I am Stunning Hotel Right on our Doorstep Mum – Roe Park Resort

Last weekend, we visited the Roe Park Resort in nearby Limavady in Northern Ireland. We were invited to stay overnight to relax and enjoy some family time…and relax and enjoy we did.

Limavady is only a 35 minute drive from Donegal and Roe Park is easily found. The driveway up to the resort is stunning. Long and lined with trees, it winds up through part of their golf course as it approaches the main building.

There’s lots of parking and the hotel is immediately impressive. The main courtyard is beautiful, well kept (and well lit at night), flanked by the two onsite restaurants and golf centre. Signpost ensure that the hotel reception is easily found. The receptionists were friendly and efficient and more than lovely to our two girls.

The hotel is clean and shiny and welcoming. The foyer is huge and tastefully decorated. I loved the decor in the O’ Cahan’s Bar, which had myths and legends scripted in beautiful font. Chandeliers and interesting wall decor (images, photographs etc) created a perfect balance of glamour and comfort. This is one of the parts of the hotel I would enjoy spending time in when we visit again (without the little ladies!).

We checked in to our family suite. Room 9 was, in a word, HUGE. This is the BIGGEST family room we have ever stayed in. (and trust me, we’ve tried many!) It was warm, clean and so well appointed. two single beds and a huge double bed, a large TV and a massive bathroom.

The room also had a small toilet room which Mini-Me claimed as “My very own toilet!”. A clever and welcome feature in a family room.

Although it was on the ground floor, the curtains allowed privacy throughout our stay. The room looked onto the golfcourse and driveway up to the hotel and so it was quite private anyway. There was a dinner dance in the hotel that night and yet we would never have known. The rooms are well situated for families.

The shower was fab and there were plenty towels, facecloths and toiletries. Mammy and Daddy had robes and slippers left on the bed too. (I do love me a fluffy robe. A hotel is not a hotel, without a fluffy robe!)

We were incredibly impressed by the little welcome gifts the management had left for us; a plate of strawberries, raspberries and chocolates, little toiletries for the girls, 4 x swimming hats (which I ALWAYS forget!) and bubbles for all of us! Four champagne flutes with a bottle of very lovely champers for us and a bottle of chilled Shloer for the girls.

Oh how grown up Mini-Me felt when Daddy poured for us to do a wee Cheers. Lovely touch.

After the girls had danced around the room and rearranged the furniture, we got ready to visit the pool in the Health Club. I’m a bad Mammy you know. Swimming is not something that makes it onto my To-Do list, I’m afraid. And so how excited the girls were about going swimming. The leisure centre is beautiful; large, clean and luxurious.

The pool is lovely, with separate Jacuzzi and kids pool. There is also a section of the main pool which has bubbles if you want them. Princess LOVED this.

Daddy and I took it in turns to try out the Steam Room and Sauna. The steam room is THE BEST we have EVER been in. It was like walking into a tub of Vicks Menthol! Wow!

The spa looks beautiful and it is award winning. Another thing for Mammy to look forward to on our next visit.

The changing rooms are well stocked and have lovely little stools in front of the mirrors with hairdryers. There was a little trouble with the lockers but I found one that worked and as we were leaving, the receptionist was on the ball informing maintenance of the issue, so I doubt it was an issue for very long in fairness. As with reception, the spa staff were lovely; very helpful and attentive to the girls.

We were booked in to The Coach House Brasserie for dinner at 5.30pm. Having spent a little too long in the pool, we rang to ask if we could change our booking until 6pm. No bother whatsoever. Dinner was fab. Roe Park’s website tells you that the “Brasserie provides a more casual alternative to the fine dining experience of Greens Restaurant.” Well, if the exuberant and busy atmosphere is more relaxed, the food is certainly more than fine! It was delicious.

Service was super. Staff were attentive (and patient with my little FussyBoots!). The wine list is extensive and well priced. The Menu caters for everyone and the atmosphere was perfect. I love when I can see into a kitchen and hear the Chefs. Having worked in hospitality for years, it reaffirms my belief that a good kitchen has nothing to hide. The energy coming from that Hatch was brilliant and Mini-Me was in awe watching the kitchen staff working.

My starter was garlic mushroom. The Him opted for the Carrot and Coriander soup.

His main was the Cock & Bull. Mine was the Hake on couscous… yum. The fish was so fresh. The Salt and Chilli fries are worth trying if you like a little spice. We opted for Entreflores wine. It was excellent.

The kids’ menu was extensive too and there was no problem when we asked them to bring bread for them and to bring their food as soon as it was ready. Their desserts were just class. Little sundaes of Icecream, smarties and chocolate sauce. Mini-Me ordered a “Big one”. One wink at the waitress and she was talking Mammy’s language. Two small sundaes arrived with one little scoop extra on hers to make her feel bigger!

But MY dessert ticked all the boxes. I went for the Cheese Board. Oh my Word! It was AMAZING. I’ll let the picture speak for itself. And yes, I did indeed eat it ALL.

All by myself!

Back to the room we went. The two Dollies were shattered but of course when we got back, there was a second lease of life. We tried our usual trick of putting them to bed and hiding in the bathroom for 5 minutes but Princess was having none of it. Eventually, we climbed into bed with them until they slept…and then we all woke up ten hours later! Heavy blackout curtains ensured a sleep in until 8am (yay!). Heaven!

Daddy popped over to the gym for an hour while I sipped coffee in bed and the girls watched telly. (Mini-Me made the beds. I can’t get her to do this at home, but at Roe Park? Not a bother!)

The Him described the gym as “one of the better hotel gyms and well stocked”. This I can tell you is a compliment.

We went down for breakfast, this time to Green’s. Again, a busy and efficient restaurant set up with friendly staff and an excellent variety of EVERYTHING we love about hotel breakfasts. I loved that the tables had little booklets of suppliers and all produce was local. Fresh fruit, good coffee, breads and toast and muffins and cheese and cereals and porridge and an extensive hot food section… I could go on but you get the picture.

We packed up our mahoosive room and checked out with the ever so lovely and friendly Deirdre.

After a busy January and having had a lot going on, we didn’t quite realise how much we needed this little bit of family time until we got to Roe Park. Sometimes, the only way to relax and switch off is to actually go somewhere. With all the best of intentions, a quiet weekend at home is never that is it? No.

We certainly switched off here. When you visit Roe Park, the only option is to spend time together and focus on each other. It’s quiet and comfortable, but also has wifi and good entertainment options on the TVs in the rooms. Had we stayed for 2 nights, Mammy and Daddy would have taken it in turns to make use of the Spa. Daddy probably would have tried a round of golf too. But for an overnight break, it was perfect.

And Limavady really is the perfect springboard from which to explore the Causeway Coast. We left Roe Park and headed towards nearby Portstewart, Portrush and the Giant’s Causeway. It really was a lovely weekend.

Criticisms?

Honestly, if I had any, I would write them. That’s how I am. Other than there being no milk on the breakfast tables, I have nothing to suggest at all. (And that is me being pedantic! There was plenty of milk, I was just lazy!)

The hotel is ideal for a family getaway. It’s soooooo close to Donegal so no long car journey which is always a winner with kids.

Our youngest is still quite young and so when we do stay in a hotel, it tends to be an early night for everyone, but considering the pace of the life we lead, it’s more than welcome. If you are looking for a break close to home with something to offer for all ages, Roe Park is perfect.

Myself and The Him will certainly be returning very soon without the kids. There’s a bar and a spa and another Award Winning restaurant waiting for us to try.

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Thank you to the management and staff at Roe Park for a wonderful weekend in a beautiful hotel, right on our doorsteps.

The S-Mum xx

(The S-Mum, The Him and The two Dollies were invited guests of Roe Park Resort. However all opinions and observations are my own, and are as ever honest and based on our experiences.)

Keep an eye on the hotel’s platforms for offers and events:

I am Sad for our Children Mum

Dear Justice System…

Today, once again, but maybe in the most spectacular way yet, you have shown yourselves up and let your country down in one swift movement.

Today, parents all over our little land, weep at the absolute sham of a sentence handed down to a paedophile; to a man who groomed and abused a child; To a man who was so caught up in his own power and self worth that he felt himself justified to destroy the life of a child for his own sick gratification.

Actually, I should not use the word “man”. No. This excuse for a human being is better suited to the term monster. Because that is what he is. He dismissed the most important things in the world; the two things that parents strive to provide for their children; childhood and innocence. He took both of these things from a little girl. She will never get them back and she shall live with the scars and memories of his actions for the rest of his life.

But because he was one of the boys, because he had money and social standing and a solid reputation, because he offered a futile plea of “guilty”, because he has “suffered enough”, a Judge, someone to whom we entrust the justice of the nation and by proxy, the safety of our children, a “Judge“, decided that his punishment for his crime, should be a 2 and a half year detention.
2 and a half years.
30 months.
I’ve had longer indigestion…

This vulnerable child was forced to act in ways that children should NEVER act, and by the admission of the Monster was groomed and assaulted by him. To measure her ordeal AGAINST the bruised reputation of the man who was caught abusing her, would suggest that this monster should spend the rest of his life in prison.

An eye for an eye. A life for a life.
But no.
The only life sentence being served is by her.
He has 2 and a half years in the naughty corner, where no doubt he’ll be quite comfortable and well looked after and offered all sorts of CBT… I wonder will he be safe from the monsters…?

I don’t usually comment on such issues on my blog. I prefer to keep it to the trials and tribulations of parenting, to provide laughs and to provide empathy, but when we realise that we live in a society which protects the predators who pose the most danger to our precious children, I can’t remain silent.

Shame on Him.
Shame on the judge and whoever else helped or influenced the decision to insult the strong and brave young woman who stood up to her abuser.
Shame on our justice system for throwing us all 100 years into the past.

Tonight, we shake our heads in disbelief that in a society as progressive and accepting as Ireland, we are still allowing the “Old boys” to get off with their indiscretions because of who they are and who they know.

As a woman, I despair.
As a Mother, I weep.

As an Irish citizen, I hang my head in shame that we have let our children down.

Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone…

it’s with poor Humphries in the jail.

I am She’s Chasing Cows Mum

Fecking Cow…

Mammy arrived at work half dressed and slightly dishevelled. Smug Mammy was up at 6.30am, perfectly on track for a practically perfect Monday morning and smugly smiling at the clock thinking “I’m gonna beat you today Beeaatch!” 😐

Then a cow walked past my kitchen window.

Yup.
A cow.

“MAMMEEEEEE DER’S A COW IN DA GAAAAAAARDEN” screams Mini-Me.
“Mooooooooo MOOOOOOOOO COOOOW! Screams Princess, even pushing the dodee to the side of her mouth to get the words out…

“Faaaaaaack!” shouts Mammy, scrambling for the phone to ring Granda.. (“Daddy, ring John Joe and tell him his fricking cows are in my garden” screams Mammy at her poor Daddy, hanging up before he has the chance to answer.)… while simultaneously pulling on the first pair of runners I get my hands on… I only notice that they’re the Him’s as I start to gallop up the garden! 😂

In 15 seconds, I’m out and running at the cow to chase it out of my garden. The poor fecker is bewildered looking. She doesn’t know where to go. In fairness, if I had a half-dressed woman running at me in her husband’s size 12 trainers, screaming like a banshee and wielding a deckchair, yes a deckchair, (it was the first thing I met when I ran outside😅), I’d probably be slightly terrified too. 😂😂

The horsedog 🐴🐶finally realises that something is up and hauls himself off his fat arse to come help me. Suddenly injected with adrenalin at the sight of his Mammy chasing a cow with a deckchair, he turns into 007Dog and Witchin 12 seconds has done an impressive impression of a sheepdog, herding the wandering cow back out my gate.
My hero…

Pity he didn’t think to stop it coming IN the gate! 🐴🐶

I run straight back to the house to find Mini-Me freaking the feck OUT, hysterical that Mammy was going to be hurt by the cow. 😭😭I get her cuddled and settled, explaining that the cow is fine…(or out of my garden at least😂)… but Princess running around in her nappy screaming “COW MOOOOOOOOO COW MOOOOOOOOO!” isn’t helping. #fml

I look at the clock, realise we have 5 minutes to get out the door and curse the cow some more. The only drying my hair is getting today is the wind that blew through it as I ran. Fetlocks blowing in the wind I tell you. I remember to kick off The Him’s gigantics and superspeed everyone out the door.

We just about make it to the bus and I take a deep breath as I pull into the carpark, realising that my shirt is buttoned wrong and my hair looks like a whin bush.

Mini-Me has told 3 people how “Mammy chased a cow up the garden” before I even get out of the building.

I wonder how many people heard her story today! 😂

Mammy 1. Random cow 0.

AND as I explained to my little worried Mini-Me earlier, Mammy is not afraid of cows. (In fact Mammy has dealt with many cows in her time, both bovine and not so bovine… and I generally win, just maybe not always in The Him’s size 12s… 😂😂)

#countrylife #alwaysafarmer

I am So not in Galway Mum

Another year, another Ladies’ Day. 🐎🦄🐎🐎🦄🐎

I’ve just scrolled my news feed to see all of the EVERYBODY dressed up and eyebrowed to the hilt, in glorious colours and HUMONGOUS hats. And then I switched over from RTE Jnr to the lovely Ladybelles on Expose, (who succeed daily in EITHER inspiring me to wash my face and put on proper clothes… or hide in my pit eating icecream, depending on the level of hormental), and watched the interviews with all of the Everybody in their shiny perfection.

Every year, I declare that NEXT YEAR, I too will be Glammy Mammied to the ninety-nines, with eyebrows and concrete muckup and AMAZING high hair, quaffing chambubbles in a tent and smiling gaily at all the other Dollybirds. I would be wearing something chic and spensive and fablis and my neck would be sore from a MAHOOSIVE headhat which keeps stabbing The Him when I move, but I would NEVER admit that it is heavy because he would then be able to say “I told you so” and be all “Such a waste of money”, (even though he’d OBVIOUSLY never have been told how much it ACTUALLY cost!😂)

The Him would be beside me, all dapper of course, and my friends and I would clink glasses, admiring the fashionistas and keeping our smiles expertly fitted while we say things like “WTF is she wearing?” and “How can she walk in those?”, without words of course… just using our secret eyebrow code. 😄😘

And then we would have the coveted “FINALIST” sticker stuck on our outfits, and the afternoon would be a whirlwind of camera flashes and sore faces and I’d feel like a feckin Rose (yes, a geriatric rose, but still, it’d be as close as I’ll get.)

And then we’d all pop back to the G Hotel or some such fablis spot, where we’d spend the evening quaffing yet more chambubbles with all the fablis, shiny, eyebrowed Beauties, before rolling into bed, tipsy and still fablis.

Next year… (Coughs) 😄

For tonight however, I shall sit in my messy kitchen, listening to Princess refusing to go to sleep, getting over the fact that my Mini-Me told me she “doesn’t wub you no more” because I asked her lift the blocks before bed, wondering what I’ve eaten that has caused my skin to look like pizza and considering that I should perhaps change out of The Him’s PJs before he gets home.

(Lucky boy Him!😂😂😘)

Then only thing high about my hair, is my Mum bun, but in honour of all the glamour on my news feed, (which YES, I AM going to continue to stalk for the next hour or so), I have decided to glam it up with a big flower so I don’t feel quite so unglam and DOWDY (and slightly grubby if I’m honest!). Probably should shower the smell of lasagne off me too.

Yeah. I’m quite content here.

Who would want to be in Galway eh?

Not me.

Nope.

Noooooo sirreeeeee.

I much prefer watching everyone else being glam. I am however, going to pop a wee cork here and do some quaffing myself, all in honour of the horsies of course. 🐎🦄🐎🦄

Congrats to the winner in Galway, who seems to be getting a mixed reaction, but who I think looked fab. Amazing headpiece. (But I must say, Lisa’s Lust List was my favourite.)

Who was your favourite? #galwayraces #glammymammy