I am Sun & Fun in Salou Mum

Well we ventured abroad for a week with the girls, and despite my fears and worries, it was fantastic. (So fantastic in fact that we are probably going to book the exact same hotel again for next summer!)

The girls in Atlantic Travel in Letterkenny were brilliant when I went in. I wanted short flights, short transfer, central location and good food. Within a few minutes, I was looking at Family Life Avenida Suites in Costa Dorada in Salou.

Atlantic were able to recommend it, having visited it and from customer reviews, so we booked it, trusting their recommendation.

And it was everything they said it would be.

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We flew from Belfast which is only 80 minutes from our home. Flights were 2.5 hours and transfer was only 20 minutes. We were the first stop for the bus and everything was so easy.

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Arriving at the hotel at 10am meant that rooms were not quite ready for most of the families in front of us. There was no problem with this as they were simply invited to leave cases and the hotel phoned them once their rooms were available. Now, here is where Atlantic Travel impressed me most. When I went to check in, at the end of the queue, our room was ready! Emma had requested “early check-in” on our booking. Ingrid at reception was so lovely and we were delighted to get in to our suite. We were at the poolside by 11am.

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The main foyer

This resort is beautiful. It’s clean, it’s well organised and it’s fully geared towards families. The suites are incredible. A double bed, kitchenette, wardrobe spaces and shelves. (Not one square inch is wasted…shelves everywhere!).

Then a huge bathroom with bath and shower and massive mirror area AND a separate twin bedroom for the girls. We had a double balcony and were on the first floor. Room service made beds and did a quick clean of bathroom each day and on 2 mornings, they changed full beds for us where a nappy incident had occurred. No problem at all.

Now, our room was directly above the bar and while it was noisy at night, the suites are quite well soundproofed. My girls sleep through anything, however if your kids are light sleepers, it might be an idea to request a quieter room, but you might lose the pool view. For us, it was perfect. And everything was quiet by midnight anyway.

Family Life Avenida has everything you could imagine for the kids. There are 2 kids’ clubs, a creche facility, just inside the pool door there was a huge baby changing room, a room with chairs for feeding and cots for napping babies with chairs next to each for parents. Mini-Me joined the @611 club which ran from 10-12 and from 2-4pm each day. She went for 3 of our 7 days and LOVED it.

The resort is exclusive to English and Irish families, and while I missed the lilt of different accents around me, it did mean that Mini-Me and Princess had no problem making friends. There is a huge pool area with a separate baby pool, a bar, a cafe terrace and loads of play areas for the kids. It was only a 5 minute walk from the centre of Salou, where the pier and the fountain are a must see.

The food was exceptional; The breakfast buffet was so impressive, fresh and varied each day. Fruit, breads, cereals, full fry-up, porridge… anything you wanted. (Even bubbles for Buck’s Fizz for Mammy!)

The dinner buffet was also impressive. Again, unlike some resorts I’ve stayed in where Tuesday night’s dinner was a mash up of Monday’s left overs, the spread here was brilliant. So fresh and very tasty. We had the option of booking the a la carte restaurant for one of our nights, but the food was so good in the buffet and the girls were so happy that we didn’t bother. There was a little mini hot plate area for children to get their own food, which the girls just loved.

We were half board so we bought lunch each day. 2 pizzas, 2 chips and some drinks and beers was usually around €32. Ice-creams and drinks were all we had to buy, but with a pint and a wine costing less than €5, we weren’t too badly hit. All inclusive however, would be cost effective if your kids are a bit older. Then, the soft drinks and icecreams are unlimited.

What really makes this hotel however, is the staff.

From the room maintenance, to the front desk, to the restaurant staff, they were second to none. A special mention must go to Ana, the lady who met us at the desk morning and night. She was an absolute lady and gave the girls a coloured straw every time we entered, Might sound silly, but it was one of the little touches which made our girls feel special.

But the TUI staff themselves, what can I say?

Those guys work, work, work, but at no point did we see any one of them without a smile. They remembered names. They high-fived. They stopped to have conversations and their energy was contagious. And their talent? Now, I am not easily starstruck. My ‘theatre’ background means I am critical enough of “talent”, but these guys were phenomenal.

Our first night was a Magic of the Musicals night. We could have been sitting in the West End for some of the scenes. Francis in particular was exceptional. This guy could transform from clown, to chimney sweep to Jean Valjean in the blink of an eye. His voice, his acting and his dancing were superb. Izzy and Taylor were equally as talented. They did the Musicals show, a cabaret show of all TUI staff, and a Disney night which was fantastic.

The schedule of entertainment was varied and fun. At 7.20pm, a few episodes of Paw Patrol are shown on the screen. (Cue every parent sighing as they sup on a glass and breath!) Then the team entertainment starts with ‘Download’, a virtual interactive gameshow where the kids and parents get competitive. Other various pieces were mixed up throughout the week, with outside acts coming in on alternate nights; acrobats, Michael Jackson tributes etc.

The hotel was full of young families, with most kids seemingly under 12. We travelled at the end of June. The hotel was comfortably busy for the first 4 days, but it did become very busy on our last 2 days. The pool and restaurants were much more crowded by the end of the week with the UK hoildays beginning, and there was suddenly a queue for loungers at 8am, which hadn’t been the case on our first days. This is not a complaint by any means, but an observation which has convinced us to travel earlier next year if we can.

We spent most of the holiday in the resort, visiting the main town and promenade a few times, venturing to the beach once, and going to PortAventura World on the Tuesday. This was great, but expensive and tiring for our little kids. They’ll enjoy it more as they get older, but it’s a great day out.

And then, it was suddenly time to start packing up to come home.

Our journey home was as easy as our journey there. Bus pick-up was at 8am for our 10.30am flight. Check in at Ruess airport was incredibly slow and we were worried we’d be late for the flight, but with very little to do and limited seating in the airport, it was fine. Again TUI staff were on hand to assist.

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We’ll be back

All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable week of amazing family time. Our fear of sun holidays with the kids has been dispelled forever and I’m going to book our return trip to Avenida Suites as soon as I can.

5 stars from Mammy… a great spot for young families

The S-Mum is an Irish Mammy Blogger and writer. No compensation was received for this review. I write it simply because I was impressed by the Family Life Avenida Suites and the whole TUI experience. These are my own thoughts and I am obliged to nobody.

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I am Some Mum Power Mum

Letterkenny Musical Society will present the outrageous “Nine to Five” to the boards of An Grianán Theatre next week.  This is the first production of the hit musical in the North West.

This wonderful, heartwarming and funny tale of three amazing women is being brought to us by a cast of equally brilliant local women.

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Three secretaries turn the tables on their boss in an office driven by chauvinism.  The film starred Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. Over 20 years later, it was adapted for the musical stage, with Dolly writing a number of new songs, combining country with rock and roll, along with some big band swing and beautiful ballads.

For lovers of the film, the story will be familiar. Indeed, large sections of dialogue are unchanged.

Nicola Shields plays Violet, Rachel Akkoç plays Judy, and Ciara Gallagher takes on the challenge of channelling Dolly as she brings Doralee to the stage.

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Rachel, Ciara and Nicola in rehearsals

Maria Rushe plays Roz, Laura Harvey plays Hart’s wife Missy, while Mariosa Bryce, Andrea Logue and Lorraine Porter are Kathy, Maria and Margaret.

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DW spoke to 5 of the ladies involved in the production on and off the stage; the 3 leading ladies, the Co-Director and the Choreographer.

 

Nicola Shields plays Violet.

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Nicola excels as Violet

Nicola is wife to Johnny & Mum to 2 beautiful furbabies, Belle & Seve.  She teaches Modern languages at Mulroy College, Milford. Nicola has been a member of LMS since 1999 & has been involved in every production since then, playing various leading roles over the years.
Nicola said, “I’m very excited to be part of 9 to 5 & very much looking forward to bringing Violet to life next week . Great to be involved in a show that offers 3 leading roles to ladies over 40 !!”

 

 

 

Ciara Gallagher plays Doralee

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Ciara has morphed into Doralee. She even has the giggle perfected!

Ciara is a primary teacher in Carrigart. She is married to James and is a mother of four.  She has made the role of Doralee her own and is loving playing the infamous character played by Dolly Parton herself in the movie version.   

Ciara said “Doralee is a wonderful character; she is sassy and feisty, funny and vulnerable. I feel very lucky to play such a strong female role, and luckier still to be involved in a show that highlights women’s issues in such a positive and uplifting way, with super-talented fellow cast members. This really is a show not to be missed!”

 

 

 

Rachel Akkoç plays Judy.

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Rachel is beautiful as vulnerable Judy

Rachel hails from Dublin, but considers herself to be ‘adopted Donegal’, having moved to Letterkenny in the early 90s. She has two sons, Ziya and Zana, with her Turkish husband, Ejder. Rachel works in the public service by day, but her real love is performing. The stage has been her spiritual home for all of her 45 years. She is a trained dancer, an accomplished vocalist and has taken on countless diverse acting roles over the years. 
‘The role of Judy in 9 to 5 is one that I’m relishing. She starts out downtrodden, but having returned to the workforce, and with the help of her feisty co-workers, she gradually regains her mojo and becomes a strong, empowered and self-assured woman. I love portraying that metamorphosis.’

 

 

 

Roz

Maria Rushe is hilarious as Roz

Maria Rushe plays Roz.

Donegal Woman columnist Maria is married to Emmet and they have two little Drama Queens who inspire her blog, The S-Mum.  She teaches English & Drama in Coláiste Ailigh and has been a member of the LMS since 2004.  Having choreographed past shows, she now directs the show alongside Donal Kavanagh.  Maria loves the stage and has played many roles with LMS.

Maria said “Playing Roz is so much fun. She is clumsy and awkward and misses the point in so many ways. She loves Hart desperately, but has a very different journey to the other ladies. Roz is an intricate character who the audience will hopefully love, hate and sympathise with in equal measure.  And any show where I get to sing, dance and make people laugh is a joy for me. This show is my favourite yet.”

 

Rebecca Thompson is the Choreographer.

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The Lady who keeps them on their toes, Rebecca is choreographer.

Rebecca Thompson is 36 years old, married to Ian and she is mummy to six boys, James, Charlie, Harry, Freddie, Max and Bobby. She left her post as a secondary school teacher to open Encore Performing Arts Academy. This is her third year involved with LMS as choreographer.

“I love working with and bringing Musical Theatre movement to adults who may have no previous experience of dance. I find it really rewarding and humbling watching everyone put in the effort in making my vision and ideas come alive on stage,” says Rebecca.

 

Obviously, we have powerful men in and behind the show also.  Our leading man Franklyn Hart Jnr is played by Donegal’s finest performers, Giles Murray.

Kieran Connor plays Joe, the junior accountant who’s in love with Violet; Joe Harley plays Doralee’s husband Dwayne; while Anthony McGarrigle plays Dick, Judy’s ex-husband.  The leading men deliver stellar performances along side the women.

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Our male chorus. Director Donal Kavanagh back centre, Producer Noel O’Donnell Back left.

The show is produced by Noel O’Donnell and directed by Donal Kavanagh and Maria Rushe.

Musial direction comes from the ubertalented Mark Bradley.

The show runs at  An Grianán Theatre in Letterkenny from Tuesday, February 27, to Saturday March 3.

Show time is 8pm and tickets cost €18 and €20.

For booking, go to www.angrianan.com or ring 0784 91 20777.

 

 

 

I am So Delighted Mum

It is no secret that myself and my Him LOVE Christmas.

We’ve been discussing a few ideas for fundraisers over the past few months and decided one wet and dreary Sunday in October, while we were all snuggled up with the girls watching The Polar Express (yes, Christmas Movies start in October in our house!), that it would be amazing to see it on the big screen again. (It carries memories of our first Christmas together…aaaaaw!)

So! Lightbulb moment!

An hour and 2 phonecalls later, and we had it sorted!

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AnneMarie and Mark in Century Cinemas Letterkenny  were as excited as we were at the prospect of showing this Christmas Classic as we were.  They have kindly offered us the use of their largest screen on the 2nd of December at midday.  The rights for the movie had to be acquired and paid for, so Mr Rushe Fitness offered to sponsor this and all the tickets for the movie.  The advertisement and tickets were designed for us, (as usual) by the incredibly talented Lorraine from LorAyn Designs.  I swear this girl can see into my brain.  That in itself is a talent!

The proceeds of the event are going straight to two very wonderful charities which benefit families all over Ireland:

The Jack and Jill Foundation

which provides care and love to so many children each day

and

The Victoria Thompson Scholarship, a Donegal charity which supports the creation of palliative care services for young children.

On Friday last, we announced our plan.

We put tickets on sale for 90 minutes yesterday. 

We sold out. 

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And so now, the golden tickets have made their way into hundreds of Donegal homes and we will all gather together to enjoy OUR favourite Christmas movie on December 2nd.

Apologies to those who didn’t get tickets and thank you so very much to everyone who has supported this event.

ALL ABOARD!

#rushetoraise

 

I am So we went to Specsavers Mum

Evening Ladybelles.
Nothing overly entertaining or funniful tonight, but I do want to share a quick post about Mini-Me’s first trip to the opticians with you.

So last May, her school flagged that she might have a vision porblem and would be refered for further testing. Over the summer, I noticed all the wee signs that I remember showing myself when my eyes went fuzzy when I was 6; she was squinting more and more frequently and moving closer and closer to the telly.

So with her going back to school, we decided to go ahead and take her to Specsavers to get checked out.

(Why did I not wait? Well, interesting story…The fact that I was refered to the HSE for orthodontic treatment for a mouth akin to a saber-toothed vampire 28 years ago and am STILL waiting on treatment might ecplain my lack of faith in the system. 😂The last communication I got from them was in 1995 asking for a voluntary donation to move me up the list. They’re still waiting for the donation and I’m still waiting for the treatment. What a surprise they’d get if they saw my mouth now! One visit to the dentist when I started Universiry in Coleraine and I had traintracks on within 48 hours. For FREE. 😆

Anyway, we decided to go to the Specsavers in Letterkenny. I’ve been hauling my nearly-blind butt in there every year FOREVER, and I can only say that they are AMAZING.

Bringing Mini-Me was emotional for me. I knew in my heart before we arrived that she needed glasses, and while there is NOTHING wrong with this, having worn glasses myself for my whole childhood, it makes me sad that she needs them. Granted, the cute and fashionable styes available now are NOTHING like the Deirdre Barlowesque Jam jars that I wore! 👓🤓

From the second we arrived, the staff were brilliant with her. She was seen by John who had the patience of a Saint. He was so thorough and so kind to her and even managed to put drops into BOTH eyes. (I can barely get a plaster on her knee.😂) Then we met Hazel who was just wonderful, chatting away to her and putting her at ease. We were helped to chose frames by Ingrida who was so professional and honest, telling us in no uncertain terms what shape and style she needed and why. We were fitted and helped more by Kirsty, who had Mini-Me eating out of her hand and quickly picked up on what I was trying to steer her away from. (Master manipulator. Very impressed!😍)

We chose a lovely wee pair of Frozen glasses and collected them…wait for it… 3 hours later! (My own will take a week as they need to be stepped on by pixies, danced upone by leprachauns and sliced with unicorn thread to get them to fit the frames, unless I want to walk around with frames 5 inches thick! 😛😂😛😂)

And so off she trotted to school today with her wee glasses. The test cost €30, which for this anxious Mammy was worth every penny. I have always hoped the girls would get The Him’s eyesight. Turns out, Mini-Me is more “Mini Me” than I thought.

I can’t recommend Specsavers highly enough. Over the years, their services have been improving and becoming more and more thorough and impressive. I’m sure there are many wonderful opticians in town, but I just wanted to share this with any Mammy who is worried about their minions and wondering where to take them.

And thank you to John and the team in Specsavers on the Port Road. You’ve made what was a pretty crap thing for me to have to do, into some lovely memories.

#specsavers #milestones