I am Summer in the Park Mum

I am so very excited to announce that Mammy is a Park Ambassador for the very beautiful Oakfield Park for the 2018 season.

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Anyone who has followed me for a while will find nothing new in me posting from Oakfield Park. We spend a lot of time wandering through the gardens in Raphoe and we’re so lucky that it’s right beside us.

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It’s one of my favourite places to go fo family time and over the summer, the girls and I often pop up for a wander around while Daddy is at work.

It’s magical. Good old fashioned fun for the kids. Perfect for getting them away from screens.  From the minute we walk in the gates, not only do they run free, their imaginations do too.

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The Fairy tree is Mini-Me’s favourite.  She loves putting wishes onto it.   Princess is always mesmerized by the swans and ducks and the train ride never gets old, for any of us!

 

We have been spending Summer Sundays in Oakfield since before the girls came along (Oh for the days of Roseymantic picnics!) and I love that every Spring when we return, there is something new.

The Oakfield team are CONSTANTLY adding to the park. It’s seen huge changes in the past two years and I can only imagine what else is to come. The biggest new feature this year is the new maze which has just been planted and which will open soon.

 

My girls love the park. It’s safe to let Princess run and play. There are always new pathways to explore. The playpark has also had loads of new fun-features added to it this winter and seeing the park’s swans is always a treat.

 

But the park is not for only for Sundays.

Last year, we bought the annual pass. After only 4 visits, it had paid for itself and it was worth every penny. However, this year’s pass options are so much better. The Gold Pass  is brilliant value. It includes VIP access to gardens, access to special deals and UNLIMITED train rides which makes Mammy VERY happy. There will be lots of personalised treats over the season for gold pass holders.  There are loads of options and of course, you CAN pay as you go, but if you tend to visit often, the passes are worth a look.

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The Gold Pass includes unlimited train rides!

I found that once we had the pass, we got so much more use out of the park.  Rather than being limited to weekends and feeling like we HAD to spend a full day there each time, we were able to pop up and visit the fairy tree, or look for the swans, or just let the girls run around for an hour. We got so much more out of the park as we could go along when we felt like it.

 

The park is so child friendly; Playpark, changing facilities, summer picnics and lots of wide open spaces for them and their imaginations to run free. And tree swings! It’s also adult friendly; calm, quiet and coffee. And the backdrop for snapping pictures of your little ones is stunning. (Furbabies are welcome too as long as they are on their lead and cleaned up after!)

 

Buffers offers everything from a cuppa and cake to a full menu. The restaurant is licensed too and they cater for parties and functions.

If you’re looking for the ticket to a fun and healthy summer for your minis, look no further Mammies. The team at Oakfield Park have you covered.

The summer events schedule is full of teddy bear picnics and special events and competitions too.

Oakfield Park really is the hidden gem of Donegal. We can’t wait to spend sunshiny days (and indeed drizzly ones!) in Oakfield Park. It’s really quite beautiful in the rain too!

Hope to see you there,

Mammy

 

#ParkAmbassador

I am Salou, Here we Come Mum

So anyone who has been reading my ramblings for a while now, knows that I have not yet been brave enough to venture into the great unknown and unpredictable world of holidaying abroad…with the girls.

In fact, I last year wrote a few posts on how and why staycation-ing was the only option for myself and my wee squad.

And yet, this year, I have decided to go for it. Why?

Maybe it’s an unqualified confidence in the fact that Princess is no longer technically a Baby and so we’ll be graaaaaaaaaaand.  Maybe it’s that I looked at my sister’s family holiday snaps and some hidden longing for family-fun in the sun took over.  Maybe I’m just getting brave in my old age.  Maybe I’m off my head.

But regardless of why I’ve finally decided to jump head first into the blue azure of sunkissed and suncreamed frolicking, I have.  And I have ACTUALLY convinced The Him that it’s a good idea.

Now.  I am one of those Book-it-all-by-myself-online gals usually.  However, because taking the two girls away is such new territory to us, we decided to do the safe and sensible thing and went through a travel agent.

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So off I popped to Atlantic Travel here in Letterkenny.  I arrived in with NOT flexible dates, a strict budget and 324 specific requirements and 127 questions.

“Hi.  I am your WORST nightmare Lovely Travel Agent…I want to go somewhere hot but not too busy, with a flight that isn’t too long, with as short as possible a transfer on the other end, to a 2 roomed apartment in a family suitable resort, with indoor options for soft play, a children’s pool area, a kids’ club that is safe and reputable, in an area which isn’t too loud but still with some atmosphere… And the quiet and safe area must have some nice restaurants, a supermarket nearby AND be near public transport. ON THIS EXACT DATE.  Out of Belfast if possible… Please.”

Yeah, so they could have laughed and scoffed at me and my demands, but they didn’t. Within 20 minutes, the amazing Donna had 5 options printed off for me for all types of holiday in a few different places, within my date, budget and ridiculous specifications. No bother at all.

She was able to offer her own opinion on 3 of the resorts and had customer testimonies on the others. She was very open and honest with her advice about the options.  There was no pressure or obligation to book.  Just polite service with educated opinion.

I took some brochures, the printouts and her email address and off I went to peruse my options.

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Salou it is so.

Being me, I had to research some more and in doing so, found another hotel on the TUI website that ticked all of my boxes. A few emails to Evelyn with more “Ria” questions and prompt answers were exchanged over the course of the next three days and when I finally made up my mind, one phonecall booked the holiday.

Within a few days, all of our details had been posted to us.

I really feel more comfortable going away for the first time with the kids as we have booked a package and so everything is thought of for us; Flights, Transfers, Insurance, Accommodation and Board. The fact that there will be a Holiday Rep there is also putting my mind at ease.

Now all I have to do is look forward to it. And pack for everyone. And plan.  And save. And worry and get there…

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They say that the first step is always the hardest, but for this family holiday newbie, the first step was probably the easiest thanks to the ladies in Atlantic Travel.

Check out Atlantic Travel on  Facebook for more updates before the big event:

Call (074) 912 6193 or visit Atlantic Travel’s offices at Oliver Plunkett Road, Letterkenny to enquire about your holiday.

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Mammy has collaborated with Atlantic Travel but as always, my review and opinions are my own and honest.

I am Sad Mum

It’s here. It’s the end of the summer holidays and the night before Workmas. I’m a bit of a wreck today if I’m honest Ladies.

It’s as if Princess knows too. She’s climbed up on me for cuddles 43 times, and run to me to be lifted 83 times. It’s as if she has a sixth sense. Little skitter. 😅😣 And Mini-Me has been the PERFECT child today. Perfect. I shit you not. I didn’t have to raise my voice once today. She told me she loved me 3 times, did EVERYTHING I asked her to, AND she ASKED if she could dust the telly. (Now, this might have been because it hasn’t been cleaned in eleventy squillion months and she couldn’t SEE it, but I’ll take it.) 😅

I’ve spent the day organising wardrobes and drawers, because let’s be honest, it’s easier to get everyone out the door when you actually KNOW where clothes are. 😅(Is it bad that I sometimes consider going to Penneysbest and just BUYING new clothes for them instead of facing the pit that is my tiddilyday room? )

I stopped short of rearranging all the furniture in the house for two reasons:

1. I prefer to keep THAT trick for when The Him’s not expecting it. And today, he’s expecting it. He knows what I’m like!😈😈

2. I didn’t have time between all the laundry and cuddles.😣

I’ve loved being off with my girls.💖 The summer has been good to us. I have a heart full of memories and a phone full of photographs.

Yes, I hate the thought of dropping them off tomorrow and I’m dreading how long I’m going to be away from them each day, but don’t we all? 😥

Don’t get me wrong, a part of me is actually looking forward to going back to my other job, but after 2 years of being off or part-time, Me going back to work full-time is going to be a serious shock to everyone’s system. Has to be done though. It’s time to pull up the big girl knickers, dig out my teacher clothes and put on makeup every day again! (The thought of it!) 😣😣

But for tonight, I’m going to finish the summer with a large G&T and try to finally finish my blog post on our trip to NYC. I figure if I spend tonight looking back on summer, I don’t have to deal with it being over…until the morning!

Cheers Supermums xxx

I am Starving the Minions Mum

Is Mammy the ONLY Mammy whose minions spend the entire day either with their nappies sticking out of the fridge, or raiding through the cupboards?

This Fudgemonster currently eats 12 meals a day, not counting snacks hidden in secret stashes or cereal eaten off the floor. This was taken 20 minutes after her SECOND breakfast this morning. 😂

I’ve had to take the safety lock OFF the press which contains the bleach and chemicals. It is now on the fridge…

And it seems that there is a limbo or vortex of some sort between our house and next door. No matter how much they eat here, from the second they walk through the door of Granny’s, they EAT. Not only do they eat, they actually BEG. They whine as if they’re STARVING and scobe the food offered into them so fast, that the Grandparents most certainly exchange eyebrow raises over their starved little heads and genuinely wonder if I actually feed them AT ALL over in the torture pit of child hell that is my own house.

Poor unfed, unloved minions. Bad Mammy who never feed them. 😂

So now, with them going back to school and playschool for 5 full days a week, my biggest fear is NOT how they’ll adapt, or settle in, or survive without me… nope. I am seriously concerned that they won’t manage to ONLY eat at breaktimes and lunchtimes. I fear that they shall fade away without the constant drip of food from my poor, knackered cupboards. I expect the childcare facility to send me extra bills for all the EXTRA food that this doll will insist on eating every day.

I wonder if I should smuggle in some extra snacks in their bags? 😂😂😂😂

I am Summer Pop-up Mum

Mammy is very pleased with her wee self.
Mammy is OFFICIALLY the “bestest wee Mammy in this whole house”. 😅 (True story like.)
Mammy is VERY aware that it is not a Birthday, or Christmas, or indeed ANY important occasion which warrents the bestowment of large gifts on her minions, but Mammy is also aware that, as much as The Perfect Parent Manual (written by S. Anctimammy), would disapprove of popping a pop-up pressie for no particular reason, Mammy doesn’t give a continental flibbertygibbet.  
Because tonight, Mammy rocks.
This ladybug pop-up tent and tunnel is WICKED.  It literally POPS UP in 3 seconds AND, best part, it folds up again into a tiny little bag the size of a steering wheel. (Although that has yet to be proven…😂😂)

The two Dollies spent 2 whole hours playing in this today, and their wee eyes popped just as much as the tent did when they saw it.  They’ve set up a camp inside it and are in pop-up Heaven.
It cost  £14.99 in that new Superstore in Derry… Range, it’s called.  It should be called HEAVEN!
It.

Is.

Immense.

(Do NOT go in there unless you have at least 3 hours to spare! It’s unreal.)
So yes, Mammy is very pleased with her wee self, because Mammy is INDEED the “bestest wee Mammy in this whole house”, and for tonight at least, Mini-Me doesn’t miss her teacher! 

(HAH! Take that!… yes, I’m sad.😥😂)
 So if this ladybug survives my two Hellraisers even for the month of July, and if I can use it as a fun distraction to grab a pee (all by myself! 😅) or get to the bottom of a cuppa, then it was worth EVERY penny.

#mammywin

I am Sunday Fundays in Donegal Mum


Spring

It’s here. Well it’s TRYING to be here.

And now that Mammy and Daddy are done with rehearsals, our weekly Sunday Fundays must commence! Up in the morning, dress for whatever the weather is doing (layers layers layers so it can change its mind 32 times in 4 hours as usual eh?!), into the car and go!

Adventures and fun cost money, and while there are of course hundreds of things you can do with your minions, here are 7 of my favourite things to do right here at home. They range from absolutely free to the not so free but no matter how often we do these things or go to these places, the girls always enjoy them and feel like they’ve been somewhere special.

In no particular order:

Glenveagh – Now those of you who follow my blog, know that Glenveagh National Park is a firm favourite in our little family.  We go there 2 or 3 times a month and myself and The Him love it just as much as the girls do.  It’s only a short drive from Letterkenny, has absolutely NO phone coverage and has THE most stunning landscape in the country.  NOWHERE beats Glenveagh for beauty. The best thing is that entry to the park is absolutely FREE. You can bring a picnic or try some of the insanely good cakes and food in the tearooms there.  We walk the 4k to the castle every and usually take the bus back up as Mini-Me’s legs aren’t quite able for 8K just yet! Bikes are available to hire from Grassroutes in the carpark too and you can get one of the little buggy-trailers for the minions.  The castle grounds are beautiful and while ours are too young to do the full bridal path, there is lots to occupy them (and their imaginations) in the gardens.  (Tell your minions that the gates with the stag heads are the Gates to Santa’s summer house.  Never gets old!)

The Beach – We are so blessed to have so many beautiful beaches on our doorsteps. Lisfannon Beach in Fahan is possibly my favourite place in the world.  It’s not only where I often escape for some sneaky Mam-me time, (seriously, some life changing decisions have been made on this beach), it’s also where I take the girls if we want to have some good old fashioned free fun.  It’s only 15 minutes from my house, but the girls feel like they’ve had such a treat, even if we only stop for a 20 minute run-about.  Over the summer, I keep a blanket and buckets in the car, so if we find ourselves nearby, it’s easy to stop here.  I also keep a bag with a change of clothes and a towel in the boot, just incase it’s warm enough for a paddle.  There’s loads of parking and in the summertime, there’s usually an ice-cream van in the carpark.

Nature Walks – Mini-Me loves these.  We live in the backend of beyond, so in fairness, even a play in the garden can be a learning curve, but if I really want to occupy them for an hour, I plop Princess in the buggy and off we go.  Mini-Me is beginning to recognise some of the tree types (reminding me  of things that I used to know!) and there’s a gate at the end of our farm where I once told her the fairy kingdom begins, so she loves to visit there.  She stands on the side of the road talking to the gate, but in her head, she’s on a serious adventure! Fun fun fun and FREE FREE FREE!

Parks – We love Ballymacool Park.  Just outside the town, it’s peaceful and quiet, even when busy.  It’s easy to park, has lovely trails for walking and beautiful views. The little playpark is wonderful; clean and full of playthings for kids of all ages.  The best thing about this little area is that it’s fully fenced off, and so no matter what direction Princess runs in, she’s safe (and enclosed!).  

Ards Forest Park  –  Simply pay €5 to park and go get lost in the woods before strolling back along the most beautiful beach. The play park is gorgeous, there’s a coffee shop and there’s even a stretch of boardwalk. Very beautiful and lots of scope for stories and imagination in the forest.  The Fairies live there you know.  And the Grufallo comes on holidays sometimes so keep your eyes peeled for footprints. 🙂

Soft Play – Some days, Soft play is the only answer isn’t it? Especially with the summer weather we get here! The most exciting thing about going to soft play, is going to soft play with OTHER minions.  It’s win:win; A catch up for the mums, excitement (and a guaranteed successful bedtime) for the kids.  Arena 7 and Century Play are wonderful and have different features that the kids love, AND they all serve good coffee.  Keep an eye on their pages for deals and rates.

 

Oakfield Park  –  Again, we LOVE Oakfield Park. It’s only 10 minutes from where we live and great for famiy Sunday-fundays, but also for random afternoons over the holidays. There is a charge to get in of course, but what I love about this place is that every year when they reopen, something new and wonderful has been added to the park. They add to the facility constantly.  The new Buffers Tea rooms are lovely, but you can also bring a picnic along with you. We bought the annual pass this year and it’s great value if you use the park often. The park is stunning, so well kept and beautifully presented.  There’s a play park and the Fairy tree is a favourite of Mini-Me’s.  The steam train is a real novelty. 

 

So there you go.  These are just my top 7 go-to days out and activities in and around Letterkenny, all year round. I’m sure you could all add your own to this list.

Here’s to a fun Sunday Fundays and some sort of Springtime weather!

I am So I took a week off Mum

So, as you’ll have noticed, I took a week off.  I deleted the FB app from my phone and took a long overdue trip with the love of my life, sans kiddies. 

This time last week, I was swinging off a lampost in central Park in 30° sunshine, 👇👇 singing “Singing in the rain” at the top of my voice and not giving a continental who heard me.  I’m going to spend the next 5 days starting sentences with “This time last week…” 😂😂 

We spent 5 glorious days in NYC, just me and The Him. (I’ll post properly about it during the week.)  Suffice to say, it was AMAZEBALLS and we really did have the time of our lives.🍏 But today, while it CERTAINLY was NOT 30°, we were back in our FAVOURITE park in the world with our favourite little people. Central Park doesn’t hold a candle to Glenveagh with our wee buddies. 💗💗

Oh how we missed Mini-Me and Princess, and we are so glad to be home safe and sound to them, but taking a few days to be Mammy and Daddy again, (or rather Maria and Emmet), was invaluable. When you’re busy parents, it’s hard to find yourselves in the mayhem.  Every conversation tends to be about the kids. Every phonecall or text message revolves around them. Each thought you have has something to do with the act of parenting. Your daily interactions are mostly about or for the kids. Your entire focus in day-to-day life, is the kids… 

And so it must be,  but to have had 5 full days and nights of just being US, did our little family unit absolutely no harm at all. 

Sometimes, a Mammy and Daddy need to find each other in the midst of all the madness, may it be simply for a dinner date or a movie night, or a trip away.  Yes, we spent much of our time talking about and missing the girls, but we also had fun together, laughed together, drank beer at 2pm, ate our bodyweight, and enjoyed being tourists in a ridiculously fun place.

  We finished conversations without being interrupted 167 times. We did what WE wanted to do when it suited us, just like we used to. We were spontaneous, not thinking about anything but us, and we remembered all the things we actually like about being The Him and The Her. 💗💙

So while the biggest challenge for me was to STOP referring to him as “Daddy” (and no it is NOT kinky! WTF like? 😂😂), we managed to have the holiday of our lives. 

 In fact the only thing that made us look forward to getting home, was the thought of getting squeezes and snuggles from the two Dollies. Their reactions were priceless when we got back. 
Mini-Me has announced that we are “never going on holidays again, ever!” and Princess seems to have doubled in size and has learned to use “Noooooooo” quite impressively.  They were spoiled rotten by Ganny and Gwanda.  Of course they were! 
I must admit that I did miss the daily craic here with you all,💗 but I think the week off from writing did me the world of good.   

And how is Jim I hear you ask? Poor Jim, was abandoned by The Him for the Her, for the 1st time in 3 years. Poor Jim my arse.  Jim is probably rocking in the corner waiting for Him’s Daddy back at 6am tomorrow.  
But did we miss him? Not one feckin bit! 😂😂😂

I am Summertime-Family-Fun at Castleknock Hotel.

Last week, The Him and I took Mini-Me and Princess to Castleknock Hotel and Country Club for a 3 night Staycation.  Situated on Porterstown Road, Castleknock, this hotel is perfectly located for exploring Dublin.

We booked the Family Fun Package, which included a family room, Breakfast, tickets to Tayto Park and the Zoo, a dinner and a packed lunch.

When we arrived, we were checked in by a truly lovely young man.  Stephen was his name as far as I remember. He was friendly and efficient. When we arrived in the room allocated to us however, we weren’t overly impressed.  It was at the far end of the hotel, looking out at the hotel bins.  My 4 year old’s first words about the room were “Look at the man working at the bins Mammy.” There was a single bed and a double bed, but no cot and there wasn’t enough room to fit one in.

I rang reception and asked for a different room.  Again, he was very friendly and said he would look into it.  I went back to reception after ten minutes where Stephen was working on trying to find us alternative room for the three nights.  He eventually moved us to a new room, which was a bit bigger and so the cot fit in and we still had room to move about.  This room was overlooking the carpark and above a flat roof, but was much better than the first.

The hotel is clean and the public lobby, bar and reception are spacious and comfortable.  (Gorgeous air freshener in the huge lobby!)  The outside patio area is beautiful and a playpark was very well received by Mini-Me each evening. One lovely touch was the table of blankets, suncream and sunglasses at the door to the outside area.  Very simple, but very thoughtful.

The gym is basic but functional and the pool area is beautiful. There are two pools suitable for young children.  They were a perfect temperature and open to children from 9am until 6pm each day. (I should say that this suited us with very young children, but had our kids been a bit older, or teenagers indeed, we would not have been impressed that they couldn’t avail of the pool after 6pm.)

A family changing room would be helpful in the leisure area also.  Yes, there is a baby changing room and changing tables near the entrance to the pool, but for a young family, a communal room where both parents can help the children dress would have been wonderful. (A suggestion rather than a criticism.)

Breakfast each morning was perfect.  Porridge, fruit, pastries, cheeses, smoked salmon and a hot buffet.  The toasting machine needs replaced asap however…infuriatingly slow and took three attempts to warm the bread before eventually burning it!  The staff were very accommodating each morning.  On the third morning, Trish had seen us coming down the stairs and by the time we got to the restaurant, had reset the table closest to the buffet, set up the highchair and had even left extra teaspoons on the table for feeding the baby.  This was a simple act, but again, made us feel welcome and looked after.

We had barfood on the first 2 nights.  It was tasty, with a varied menu and satisfying portions.  Again, staff were efficient and friendly, taking time to talk to Mini-Me.  On our final night, we used the included dinner in the very elegant restaurant.  Decor in this area is stunning; elegant, tasteful and classy.  Our server Christina was superb from beginning to end and the food was exellent.

Had the Him and I been in this beautiful restaurant on our own, we would have enjoyed it much more to be honest.  It was difficult to enjoy this meal to its full potential with a tired baby and a 4 year old who thought we were at a ball in her honour!  We were terrified she would break or spill something. We both agreed that a barfood voucher included in the package would have been much more beneficial in the family package.

The hotel is very close to the zoo; it’s only a 5 minute drive to Phoenix Park.  It’s also close to Tayto Park and the City Centre so it is ideal for a family adventure in the Capital.

Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our break. We have stayed in Family rooms in other hotels which had a small hall or reception area which allowed for us to watch a movie or even have a drink after the girls went to bed, but the fact that they go to bed early isn’t really the hotel’s fault is it!?  It is however something that we would consider if booking again.  Perhaps adjoining rooms or a suite would be worth paying the extra for.

The Castleknock Hotel was very pleasant and perfectly located, the grounds and golf course were lovely, the food was excellent and the staff were friendly.  We left with a tasty packed lunch to spend the day at the zoo and they even put down the red carpet for Mini-Me! (Obviously it was for her and not for the beautiful Bride that day. 😂)

We will be back, (but maybe we’ll try one of the couple’s packages next time!)

I am Summertime-Family-Fun Mum

Follow me on Facebook  @secretsofsmum, or instagram @the.s.mum and on twitter.
Contact me on secretsofsmum16@gmail.com

(Please note: S-Mum received No Renumeration for reviewing this hotel.  I do so simply to help other parents to decide if such a family break would suit them.  These simply are our experiences.)