Camping in Waterford
Clonea in Co. Waterford is home to one of the many fantastic blue flag beaches of the sunny south East with brilliant watersport activities available all summer and if that’s not enough it recently became a gateway to the Deise Greenway. Casey’s Caravan & Camping Park has always been know as a very well run family park overlooking the beach so we made it our mission to check it out this Summer and see why Camping in Waterford is so popular!
There was plenty to do onsite for the kids with a games room, toddler play area (spotlessly clean), outdoor toddler play area, crazy golf, daily kids club, large and well equipped playground and plenty of other children to have fun with. However, our kids only visited the games room and kids club once as they were having too much fun selling their homemade crafts, baking and anything else they could get their hands on at the Marrakech style market stalls outside the playground. This seems to be a yearly phenomenon synonymous with Casey’s Caravan & Camping Park and a cause for great excitement among the younger folk. Many children arrive with their crafts ready to set up their stall before the tent is even unpacked and I loved the spirit of entrepreneurship as well as the maths lesson it gave them!
Camping in Waterford
Now the one thing I noticed since I last visited Dungarvan and Clonea was that every second person seems to be walking with a bike or cycling one and that is a result of the completion of The Deise Greenway. There is a 4 Km route that will take you into the bustling town of Dungarvan and a brilliant playground or why not head the other way towards Waterford. The Greenway offers fantastic little distractions as you enjoy the picturesque countryside namely a little playground, bridges, tunnels and road crossings!! Most days we went for a cycle if we could drag everyone away from the park. Bikes are allowed onsite also so from early morning the kids were outdoors and cycling which seems to be the second favourite thing to do on site, second only to the wheeling and dealing!!!
The facilities were just as fantastic as the atmosphere on site and were spotlessly clean. I even commented to a friend one day that I walked in on the toilets been cleaned three times in one day! There were more than enough showers, toilets, wash basins and best of all a room with a baby bath and changing facilities. There were no dark corners hiding creepy crawlies or wet muddy cold floors in the showers and you could see your reflection in the tiles!!!
The camper’s kitchen was not to be scoffed at either with its washing facilities and two large chest freezers to avail of and all in immaculate condition. Next door was the laundry room with irons, washing machines and dryers. All in all you will find it hard to beat these facilities and we were informed that next year they are adding two family shower rooms to make it easier for families to wash together. It is easy to see that this park is run by a family who are very conscious of parents’ needs and with a passion for camping themselves!
My favourite part of the park was the toddlers play area as it was the perfect place to go with a book as Lonan (15 months) pottered around the play kitchen and all its paraphernalia and I was not a bit bothered about germs. You could clearly see the area was cleaned daily and there was not even a spec of scum never mind dust! This was a perfect indoor activity with little ones when there were rain showers about.
So there is all this fun to be had and we have not even mentioned the gorgeous beach on the doorstep! The beaches in this part of the country are gorgeous and one of the reasons why Camping in Waterford is so popular. The sandy beach of Clonea was the best playground of all and seemed also to be popular with some of our fellow campers for fishing but best of all it’s a watersport haven and you can hire equipment and wetsuits on the beach. Waveworld not only provide many water activities but they also run a kids camp for the month of July and August and you can sign the kids up for as little or many days as you like with offers for a full week. This is a must as children of all skills and abilities are brought together to have fun in the water with the enthusiastic team and believe me all fears and insecurities will quickly disappear while they burn their energy in a most positive way! This activity can be enjoyed in all weathers and there was an excellent variety of beach games, and water activities including kayaking and banana boats. I even noticed some adults hiring kayaks for a relaxing break while the kids were busy at kids camp!!! For more information on Waveworld click here!
We had friends also on site and the common theme amongst us all was the safety of the site. Not only were fellow campers very aware of the children cycling and playing around but the owners have a strict policy of absolute quietness after 11pm and before 8am as well as respecting your neighbours. You have to swipe to get in or out and with security on site we felt very safe and looked after. We were comfortable giving the children scope to roam more freely and this in a way was a great opportunity to teach them responsibilities. Speaking of responsibilities the kids also enjoyed completing the task of collecting water, taking rubbish to the bins and next year they will be promoted to wash up I think!!
Camping is not only great fun for all the family but on a site like this when the kids are having too much fun to do anything else, mums and dads have nothing else to do but sit down, relax, have a chat and most of all chill!!
I could go on about all the activities around the area but really there is no need as you won’t want to venture to far with the beach, Greenway and park itself. To find out more about Casey’s Caravan and Camping Park in Clonea click here!
Eggstronauts at Blackrock Castle Observatory
Blackrock Castle Observatory are running a fabulous one day workshop during the Easter holidays to keep young minds well entertained and we went along this morning to try out Eggstronauts as we are great fans of the observatory and all their activities! It is a great place for an afternoon out but keep an eye out for the camps as while they are very educational, they are also great fun!
Today the workshop included learning all about astronauts landing on different planets and in particular the failed Schiaparelli misson on mars last year. So the kids had to design a parachute that would land an egg (astronaut) that would land safely (without breaking) when they dropped if from the tower of Blackrock Castle to the tower below! Saoirse was delighted that her astronaut (aka egg) survived to be boiled for tea!!
I would recommend that kids would be at least 8 as they had to work completely off their own initiative
and design the concepts. They were aided step by step by the friendly team but they were very much encourage to try out and explore their ideas.
On a scale of one to ten and ten been the best, Saoirse gave it a nine as she deducted one mark because she felt it was to short and would loved a longer day. However, Thomas gave it a resounding 10 out of ten. Blackrock Castle Observatory do some brilliant camps at Easter and Summer and also it would be a novel place for a birthday party. If you have not been make sure you go along some day as it is brilliant facility that Cork should be proud of and offers an a great fun and educational day eye. Ignite their interest in learning!!
The workshops last 1.5 hours and costs €10.00. They still have places but you would want to book in advance to ensure a place and make sure you bring a book as The Castle Cafe is a glorious spot to enjoy brunch, lunch or just a cuppa!!
Fun at Ardmore Open Farm
While Ardmore in Co. Waterford is not only a gorgeous part of the world it is also home to one of the most beautiful beaches in the sunny South East, a fabulous playground just off the beach, a picturesque village with a delicious gourmet fish shop that would give any five star restaurant a run for their money and best of all Ardmore Open Farm with breathtaking views in all directions looking out across not one but three bays! So if you are looking for things to do with the kids in Waterford make sure you include here!
Once we dragged ourselves away from the views and venture inside we were greeted by a very impressive jungle gym and family restaurant with plenty of homemade options for all the family. Here we were welcomed by a very helpful team of staff ready to fill us in on all that was going on that day. Outside we discovered quaint wooden play areas which suited their setting perfectly before embarking on our walk around the park. Now this is no traditional Irish farm as I am certain you would not find half of these animals in the zoo never mind the farm and so it is only fitting that Ardmore Open Farm is now know as Farm and Mini Zoo.
We encountered Racoons, Porcupines, Parrots, Owls, Kookaburra, Emu, Alpaca and much more as well as the usual farm animals of horses, ponies, sheep, cows and more unusually a highland cow! If all that was not enough there were plenty of pit spots for a little play along the way including karting, a maze and my favourite a pitich! Yes you heard me right, a pitch, with picnic benches all around perfectly positioned to take in the views and great zip wire alongside. I imagined that on my return I would be
bringing a picnic and meeting a few friends here on a bright sunny day as I am sure we would have peace and quite to catch up while the kids are well entertained and getting plenty of exercise.
Once you are finished the walk around the farm itself you then enter into an indoor section which is perfect if the weather turns and offers plenty more fun with indoor electric karts, diggers, more animals and best of all a petting area for small animals. There are scheduled petting times and make sure you check these before you start on your journey as it is well worth fitting it into your day. All the children had plenty of time to pet and hold various animals including hens, lizards rabbits and snakes while there were many more small animals to study and enjoy.
Ardmore Open Farm and Mini Zoo is a great day out for all but I would recommend that you wrap up as it can be quite a chilly spot being so high up and so close to the sea! We visited in January and still enjoyed it immensely. Make sure you include enough time to take a spin into the village for a walkabout as it is a beautiful quaint fishing village with lots to do and should certainly be on your list of Things to do with the kids in Waterford!!
Cork Skate Parks
The Regional Park in Ballincollig is a fantastic facility for the the city, county and visitors alike housing one of the best of Cork Skate Parks! This year Santa brought two stunt scooters so we went along to this popular Cork skate parks located in the Ballincollig Regional Park to have some fun with the kids.
This is a very busy Corks skate park with many different types of uses so the car park is very busy so do take car. The park is just about a mile from Ballincollig and the skate park is the first of its amenities to greet you.
Don’t worry you don’t need just a skate board to visit the skate park but scooters, roller blades, roller skates are all welcome and in use in this skate park. There was a mixture of young and old kids but mainly young kids so it was not intimidating for little ones. There was plenty of different ramps for all levels and the park could cater for a large number at any one time.
After standing around watching them trying out their few stunts and learning from others we finally managed to encourage them further into the park to explore what else was on offer. I can’t explain how much of a fantastic facility this is as once you go over the little foot bridge there is so much more to do.
Along with being one of the biggest of Cork Skate Parks, the park itself is home to vast open Grass areas, soccer and rugby pitches, woodland, playground & Multi Use games areas. The variety of attractions within the park means that there is currently a significant degree of usage by a cross section of the community.
The playground was not only extremely large but full of colour, adventure and excitment. There was so much to attract their attention and soft flooring for any mishaps. The basket ball courts were extremely busy along side some very competitive soccer matches.
This would be a great place for a large group outing. If you can manage to drag the kids away from all of this then there are many walking trails to explore including a fairy trail which was set in a magical woodland setting and very well done to make most of the natural enviorment.
There are marked walking trails. The trails consist of four looped walks,
colour-coded according to length, which take place within and around the
Regional Park, Ballincollig which was once home to a major gunpowder works. The
Military Trail begins at the Shopping Centre Square and continues to the
Regional Park by a westerly route. Three other trails of varying lengths begin
and end at the western end of the park at the Inniscarra Bridge. All walks are
multi-access and dogs on leads are permitted on the trails.
The Regional Park itself comprises the now defunct Gunpowder
Mills complex and the networks of sluices and canals installed in the grounds
and used in the manufacturing process still remain today along with most of the
original buildings. There is a rich tapestry of woodland, rivers, canals and open areas creating an exciting natural habitat to explore. It is an ideal place for walkers, scooters, bikes, joggers or just strollers! It is very buggy friendly and make sure you bring a picnic and make a day of it!
Things to do with the kids in Clare – Aillwee Caves
No trip to Co. Clare can be complete without going to see Ireland’s premier show cave, The Aillwee Caves. The caves are renowned as one of the top things to do with the kids in Clare and it is easy to see why. When planning a visit to the caves, be sure to put aside a full day as there is much more than a cave to see here. Your journey starts at the main entrance with the Birds of Prey Centre where you can view a large number of birds and have an in-depth audio guide explaining all about our birds, their conservation and the myths and legends surrounding these magnificent birds in Ireland before enjoying a fantastic birds of prey show. This was a most entertaining show for us as well as the kids and was on for at least a half an hour. The auditorium is a lovely size and the show was quite interactive. After the we went back in to look at the birds armed with the knowledge we had received.
From here we went into the woodlands surrounding the caves to try out some Archery which was only €10.00 for 15 bows and includes a one to one tutorial. The kids loved this part as even though we have tried our hand at archery before, the setting here was magical and it felt like you were really hunting in the woods. The woodlands is also the setting for the popular guided bush craft walks which are only €5 per person but need to be booked in advance. We did not have time for this walk but it sounded fascinating and something I am sure the kids would have enjoyed immensely.
At the entrance to the archery and bush craft walks there is a beautiful stone building housing the farm shop stocking local food and drink produce as well as the world famous Burren Gold Cheese. You cannot walk past here without picking up some tasting delights!!
Now from this point you can drive up the hill to the caves carpark but if it is anyway fine I would suggest walk up the walking trail and enjoy a picnic along the way. You will be up in 15 mins or take your time so you can appreciate your surroundings as there are regular tours of the caves so you wont miss out. If you have not brought a picnic there is a delicious cafe at once you into in the caves centre. Be prepared as you will need to walk through the gift store to get to the tour and there was plenty to spend our money on. We were prepared here and gave them a budget of €5 from their pocket money for here before we went in and you will be glad to know there was plenty for that.
The tour itself was approx 30 mins and was well geared towards the small ones without being too boring for adults, bringing us through the beautiful caverns – over bridged chasms, under weird formations and alongside the thunderous waterfall as well as the frozen waterfall and past the now extinct brown bears bones. It was very safe and not at all steep, we had two kids and a three month old baby in tow in a sling.
We were all tired at this stage but if you have the time and energy you can walk to the top of the mountain which the cave lies under or even try out a Hawk Walk. There really is plenty to do and a must see for families visiting the Clare or Galway area. We got excellent value for our money and if you bring a picnic you will need to spend very little while here. Our car journey back through the Burren brought us past the most stunning vista of this unique and rocky landscape and even a neolithic tomb stone but our crew were almost to exhausted to take this in after their jam packed day!
The Radissson Blu Spa & Hotel, Limerick
When we think of family breaks Limerick City is not often the first to come to mind but I can tell you this city is a hidden gem and only waiting for you to explore! Limerick is also a very accessible county from many parts of the country which makes it even better for any parents travelling with a brood.
On our visit we stayed at The Radisson Blu Spa & Hotel on the Ennis Road and I must say it boasts the best location for a hotel in these parts as it sits right on the border of Limerick and Clare offering its guests the best from each county. Limerick city is only about a 10 to 15 min drive away while Co. Clare is only a couple of steps. There is sooo much to do in every direction that you just will not have time to sample it all unless you check in for two weeks at least.
Bunratty castle sits almost on it’s doorstep while if you would like to make a trip to the seaside the beautiful beach of Lahinch is only a mere 35 minute drive away. While there is an excellent playground on the hotel grounds (very conveniently located in front of the outside seating of the hotel bar) you would have to pay a visit to the very famous Cratloe Woods with it’s beautiful natural playground as this is only minutes from the hotel and you would certainly knock of a day here for free with its many walking trails.
As you walk though the trails, you will discover more play adventures along the track which keep the children interested throughout the walk. But if you don’t want to roam to far as I said there is an excellent playground in the hotel grounds, in fact one of the best I have come across as far as hotel playgrounds go! The hotel also sits on 20 acres of verdant parkland and there are walking or running trails to enjoy depending on how much of a break you really want…..
Limerick City itself offers an abundance of family activities to enjoy so give yourself plenty of time to fit it all in. We started our day in The Milk Market which opens Friday to Sundays. There is an electric atmosphere here and the perfect place for a snack or spot of lunch as there is an open mezzanine floor where you can savour the delights of your purchases while people spotting below.
This is a must for children of all ages as it exposes them to the sounds, smells and delights of the traditional markets.
Next we took a carriage tour with Limerick Carriage Tours through the streets of Limerick which was very enlightening bringing us to our next destination, King John’s Castle. I was only sorry I did not know about the the night tours before we arrived as viewing the city by night is meant to be amazing. The Medieval and Georgian tour interests me also. Limerick City is due to receive The Purple Flag award in the near future which is the international accreditation for town centres in the evening and at night from 5pm to 5am. Like a Blue Flag, centres that achieve the required standards of 30 criteria can fly the flag. Purple Flag destinations distinguish themselves by being Vibrant, safe and Well-Managed.
King’s John Castle is located in the heart of the city and a family would want to give themselves a few hours here. This is a must for any enjoying family breaks Limerick. There is a visitor centre bringing to life over 800 years of dramatic local history with state of the art interpretive activities, exhibitions, 21st century touch screen technology, 3 D models and discovery drawers which are many of the exciting techniques used to connect children to the tales of siege and warfare. Children will love the dazzling array of computer generated animations and ghostly projections as they travel back through time. The Education and Activity Room is bustling with tasks to stimulate curious minds.
Once you have finished this section you will arrive in the busy castle courtyard, to discover a medieval campaign tent, a blacksmiths forge and scenes from a seventeenth century siege. The sights, scenes and sounds of King John’s Castle and its environs all combine to recreate the atmosphere of the era. You can then climb the windy castle stairs to the highest turrets of the castle and enjoy the views across Limerick city and the sacred Thomand Park! While there are many picnic tables dotted around the castle courtyard, the cafe offers some refreshing and tasting options in the glass atrium overlooking this space.
For the more adventurous of you Get West do kayaking on the river Shannon through this amazing city and brings you along the front of the imposing King John’s Castle. You would need to book this activity in advance. No trip to Limerick would be complete without a visit to Thomand Park to enjoy a guided tour, experience the history of Munster Rugby through visual aids & images and test your skills in the interactive game zone. My husband treated this like a pilgrimage to pay homage to the mightly one!!!! I don’t know would I command as much respect as this sacred ground! It is a very easy city to get around and good for shopping if you get a free moment or two.
Now after all that fun in Limerick we were delighted to retreat back to the hotel. The Radisson Blu Spa & Hotel have made it their business to become a haven for families in search of a fun and relaxed family break. Not only do they have the large open spaces and playground outdoors there are also kids activities laid on for the kids in doors. During the peak holiday season a marquee is even erected to accommodate the families that come in their droves time and time again. Now don’t worry it is no Butlins but they have the room to accommodate families alongside other residents with great ease retaining the four star atmosphere.
On the Saturday night when we returned The Global Explorers was running from 5-9 and the children made their own pizzas for their dinner and after dinner had great fun water zorbing in the hotel pool. To be honest I could have been swayed to give up a quite romantic meal for this myself as it looked like enormous fun. The kids club is available both day and evening while the demand requires and not just in peak season. Now not many hotels can offer this so you don’t have to wait till the holidays to enjoy all this hotel has to offer us families. 5-9 is a perfect time for the kids evening activities as once you have dropped off the kids there is plenty of time to get dressed at your leisure, fit in a pre-dinner drink or as we did a cocktail at the cocktail bar before relaxing in the restaurant to enjoy the gourmet delights of the locally sourced cuisine.
We enjoyed the steak which was purchased in O’Connell’s Butchers in Limerick City which is an attraction in itself as we have popped in while walking around the city earlier that day and it is truly a traditional butchers offering a traditional service. It was one of the best steaks we have had to date. The previous night we dined in the bar and not only was it very relaxed but the staff were extremely helpful. There was a wide choice on the menu and plenty to suit all requirements.
There is a small but perfectly formed pool however there are scheduled children’s times so check these out before you head down. There is great availability in these times so don’t worry. Make sure you take advantage of the kids club hours and book into The Rain Spa, it is well worth a visit. The outdoor hot tub, fabulous thermal suite and warm relaxation rooms will refresh you alone. We brought a book and totally rejuvenated both our bodies and mind. I enjoyed the Soothing Hot Toddy Body’ which included a full body buff with lime and lemongrass body salt scrub and a warming cedarwood and frankincense back, neck and shoulder massage followed by a hot toddy drink while unwinding in the relaxation area. Now I am all for spending time and catching up as a family when we are away with the kids but I truly believe in taking a few hours out to yourself to read a book and indulge in the spa making for a relaxed mommy and daddy and thus more quality family time when you catch up afterwards!
The Radisson Blu Spa & Hotel in Limerick can cater for families of all shapes and sizes as it offers an excellent standard in family accommodation and the reception team are very welcoming and accommodating to all your needs. Dining is not a battle either as the standard and choices for the children were excellent. At certain times of the year, kids came make their own smoothies for breakfast which I am sure would be a cause for great excitement! We enjoyed dining at the hotel throughout as it was exceptionally delicious from breakfast through to dinner.
What I loved the most about the Radisson Blu Spa & Hotel in Limerick is that it allowed us to indulge in four star luxury in at relaxed atmosphere with the kids in tow. You are in the centre of so many different types of activities so the daily car trips are short and if you just want to chill the hotel is the perfect spot to do this. While they make a tremendous effort to provide the ultimate family experience they still can combine this with four star luxury, what more can you ask for!
Family Breaks Limerick
The Radisson Blu Spa & Hotel in Limerick are currently running a special offer for the midterm and if you have not booked anywhere yet make sure you check this out, as I love that kids eat dinner for free while dining with parents:
FEBRUARY MIDTERM GETAWAYS
Enjoy a family break at the Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa, Limerick. Reconnect, relax and have fun with a 2-night stay in our Deluxe Family Rooms.
THIS OFFER INCLUDES:
- Accommodation for 2 nights in a Deluxe Family Room (2 adults and 2 children)
- Super Breakfast Buffet each morning
- Complimentary access to Global Explorers Kids Club
- 3-course dinner in Porters Restaurant on 1 evening of choice
- Children 12 and under eat dinner free from the children’s menu when accompanied by at least 1 parent paying full price for at least 1 main course
- Complimentary access to Rain Spa & Leisure Club
- Wild Atlantic Way Discounted Card – 20% off nearby local attractions
- Late Check-out (14:00)
- Booking start date: 1 Jan 2017
- Booking end date: 22 Feb 2017
- Offer is available for stays from 17-26 Feb 2017.
- Package includes VAT and is valid for 2 adults and 2 children sharing a family room for 2 nights’ accommodation.
- This package is available both midweek and weekends, subject to availability.
- Additional nights can be reserved on request, subject to availability.
Luigi Malones…A Cork Favourite
Luigi Malone’s, a family friendly restaurant Cork, has been a found favourite of mine since I was young so I was excited to bring the kids there for a family dinner before we enjoyed the panto in The Opera House. I was even more excited when I arrived to realise that the decor is still the unique style inspired by Les Deux Margot’s in Paris and the Art Deco district of South Beach, Miami. Luigi’s most recognizable feature is the huge original station clock from Kings Cross Station, St Pancras based in the centre of the bar and an old propeller hangs from the ceiling. It proved a novel conversation piece for the evening ahead.
As always with Luigi Malone’s we received the warmest of welcomes. Now many of you always tell me that a family meal in a gorgeous restaurant sounds more hassle than it is worth but I can tell you that Luigi Malone’s are old pros when dealing with families. They have the room to spread out and friendly staff to attend all your needs. There were plenty of families of all shapes and sizes enjoying the evening in the very relaxed atmosphere and this is why it is very often recommended as one of the top family friendly restaurant Cork.
Now for the main event, the food itself! So a great family friendly restaurant does not always excel when it comes to gourmet delights but we all too often sacrifice this for a relaxed atmosphere offering an enjoyable family meal. However, when it comes to Luigi Malone’s, there menu offers some fabulous dishes including Buffalo wings (apparently the best in Cork), Portuguese Espetadas, BBQ Baby Ribs, Rotisserie Chicken, Mexican Fajitas, Irish Steaks, American Hamburgers, Italian Pizzas, and Japanese Yakisoba. As for the desserts, the all-time favourite is the Toblerone and Butterscotch Cheesecake and some customers apparently travel to have just this.
Craig tried the Steak Fajitas while I tried the Rotisserie Chicken and the presentation was amazing never mind the taste. Saoirse and I shared the Nachos for starter and Craig had the sizzling garlic prawns and is still talking about it two weeks later! The waitress at one point nervously approached the table to ask if there was anything wrong with our meal as we were not finishing all our courses and I had to ensure her that there was just too much but it was glorious. The children meal offered an excellent choice for the kids including some delicious healthy options. Again they had plenty and thoroughly enjoyed it. Saoirse could not even finish her dessert!!!
After the meal the children who were very well behaved while there got to add their names to the Nice List for Santa Claus which is updated by Alabaster Snowball, who has developed an elaborate computer system that updates each child’s naughty and nice rating five times a minute all year round! Now that’s a new bribe to match……
For any coeliacs reading this, the seperate gluten menu was extensive and both Saoirse and I was delighted with all our options! There was no much missing from the main menu!
Luigi Malone’s location is excellent, just across from the main door of the Opera House so if you are paying a visit to the Panto or any other performances Luigi’s is a perfect choice beforehand. It is on Emmet’s Place at the bottom of Opera Lane so even if you are shopping over Christmas pop in for some lunch or dinner and enjoy as Luigi Malone’s is not only tops the league as a family friendly restaurant Cork but also I must say one of the top ten places to eat in Cork.
To find out more just check out their website here!
Discover…Fota Island Resort
In 2015, 65,000 excited visitors saw the big man himself in Wish at Fota Island Resort and this year with “Discover” they hope to welcome 75,000 visitors. Even though it is one of the most successful and largest experience for Santa in Cork if not Ireland you do not feel these crowds, that you are being herded through or better still that you are not the most important guest to see Santa! Fota Island have stuck to their principles and at all times provides a five star experience for each and every guest no matter how big or small!
In previous years it has been voted the Best Santa Experience by readers of Primary Times, and it also came out on top in a vote by listeners of The Ray D’Arcy Show. It is easy to see why because rather than becoming complacent in their success or dolling out the same as last year they have turned the whole thing on its head and offers an exciting and enchanting new experience to delight returning and new visitors alike.
So last Sunday we checked in at the Alpine Lodge and then ventured into to see Santa first which was perfect as we had very little delay (not that a delay would have mattered as the kids were very well entertained by Santa’s Elves to get us in the festive mood). After a magical stroll to Santa’s house we were greeted by a warm fire, an elf on hand to help with the photos, and Santa himself in the jolliest of moods displaying his usual encyclopaedic knowledge of what all children want for Christmas and their hobbies.
Santa knew Saoirse and Shanea love Irish dancing while Thomas is a keen hurler. The children were star struck and even our little 7 month old who is often strange with others sat on his lap in wonder and Santa seemed to be an old pro with babies… These are the most magical moments you will remember forever as a family.
Santa joyfully instructed his friendly elf, Pudding, to take a photo and hand over some presents but before we were off he whispered to the children not to open the presents till they get to the car as they were magic and may disappear…..
It was great to see Santa so early because after that we travelled around at our own pace. No one’s calling you on or holding you back. In our own time we skipped down Candy Lane as instructed by an eager elf and when I say we skipped oh boy did we skip as my eight year old daughter full of the joys of Christmas ensured we did so. Now for the adventure!
We drank some shrinking juice and entered a teleporter which was no amateur model. The teleporter had a lot of buttons to push and switches to be turned on before we arrived at our final destination, The North Pole, which was by far the greatest surprise of all. For those of you who have only dreamed about the North Pole, it is just as you would imagine, quaint and colourful little houses with interesting Christmassy places to visit. A Christmas helter skelter takes centre stage of this enchanting wonder land of fun. We received snow cones and hot chocolate while we were entertained by all the elves busy at work but eager for us to join them. There is a reason why Fota Island carry out auditions with such high standards for their elves as they must be the bubbliest and happiest creatures who seem love their roles.
We finally dragged the children away from the magic of the North Pole by coaxing them with some promises of more fun in the market but in order to get back to Cork we had to venture through a special tunnel which created enormous excitement and shrieks of delight as our teeth and skin changed colour, we presume we were just returning to normal size…
After about two hours since the start of our journey we are finally greeted by the fresh air and dark skies of Fota Island golf course in order to end the evening with the Christmas markets, ready for more hot chocolate and a go on the merry-go-round. There is also an opportunity for hot food or a chance to pick up some Christmas gifts if they are not too tired after all that excitement.
A friend of mine recently informed me that she loved Discover at Fota Island because with one older child and two teenagers Discover is a rare experience for Santa in Cork that they will all enjoy and she does not want to give up these moments. I think that’s why it stands out the most as it is truly a place for both young and old. Discover will wrap around you like a soft fleece blanket and protect you against these cold winter days filling you with a warm fuzzy feeling inside. It is a place where for a brief few hours’ adults can be children again and together with their little ones discover all the joys of this magical time and beautiful moments that will last a lifetime….
Discover continues at Fota Island Resort until December 23 – checkout https://www.fotadiscover.ie/santabooking for booking opportunities and to see Santa in Cork!
PS. It is perfectly suitable for buggy’s which come in handy if not just to carry the presents(which were as always top quality)!
Cinderella..Christmas Pantos in Cork
Christmas Pantos In Cork
It is that time of year, oh yes it is…. Christmas always starts in our house with the panto and what better panto than the all time favourite story of Cinderella! This year’s Christmas Pantos in Cork Opera House, Cinderella is family panto of the classic kind, made up of the usual suspects including Fairy Wanda, the slightly old and under-qualified fairy godmother as the panto dame, a clumsy and shy price charming, sweet little Cinders and two very rude and nasty ugly sisters aka Booty and Licious.
It’s a colourful lively production with gorgeous quaint sets, great costumes and plenty of comical audience interaction with the usual topicality, campness, bling and current pop songs. You know the kids are loving it when they are giving it welly, jumping out of their seats to warn poor Cinderella and hopping up to sing and dance every five minutes. They were exhausted by the end of the first act.
Cinderella was your picture perfect princess and Fairy Wanda pulls off a neat bit of magic in the scene just where Cinders prepares to leave for the ball with her rags turning into a beautiful gown right in front of our eyes which wowed the audience before raising the bar further with a flying full size horse to take her by carriage to the ball.
My favourite scene without giving too much away was a comical conversation between the barron and fairy godmother at the ball which took the form of well-known songs.
All in all its two-and-a-half hours of wholesome family fun for smallies as well as older kids as it captures all imaginations and plenty of comedy to keep the adults entertained!
The show runs until 22nd January with tickets from €25 and family tickets from €80. Click here to book your tickets!
Out n About Nipper
I am so in love with my buggy that I had to do a write up to tell the world about it and finally at the end of a busy summer I have gotten around to doing it!
As I am on child number three we have had a few buggys in the past to compare including the out n about double buggy. So when I was looking for a buggy this time round I knew what I wanted, a buggy that was sturdy enough to take on our “fabulous” Irish country roads or that could manoeuver rough terrain as we do like our walks in the woods and through the fields but yet something that would be light enough for nipping around the shops in the city so I do not need a smaller lighter buggy for these occassions.
I did not want a montrosity that I would have to lug around or almost take a part to put into the boot. The nipper fits the bill perfectly! It’s 360 degree swivel front wheel makes it perfect for effortless manoeuvring around town, but can then be locked into a forward fixed position should you wish to take the scenic route.
We have put it to the test this summer with foraging on beaches, climbing mountains, picnics in the woods, walks through the fields, city strolls, shopping outings and much much more!
Its two simple steps to close down, just unclip at the sides and fold and really light when lifting into the boot. Likewise to open just fold out again. This was essential for me as I always hated lifting buggys in and out of cars as I am no body builder! As with all Out’n’About pushchairs the Nipper single boasts a robust, lightweight aluminium frame which folds compactly for easy handling and transport. But best of all it does not take up the whole boot!
My husband boasts about his excellent purchase and what an amazing piece of engineering it is, as if it was his idea………
Finally off course it must look the part and I love the funky purple colour as well as the design! It is sleek with a lovely neat shape.
We bought ours in Tiny Toes Nursery in Midleton and there is a reason why they come from all over to little shop. The staff are extremely knowledgeable and seem to want to save you money rather than encourage more sales. Friends of mine travel a fair distance time and time again for whatever baby equipment they need as you get a feeling you can trust and rely on the Tiny Toes team!
Now for a family that travels as much as we do and visits so many places with all kinds of terrain we had alot of demands but essentially we need a simple yet robust solution and we have it in the Out n About Nipper! To find out more check click here.