Cork on Ice is one of our favourite family Christmas traditions and while we normally go on 27th December this year we went a little later just after new year and I must say it was much more enjoyable as the crowd was smaller and it was more relaxed. In particular the beginner area was much quieter which is very important if you are nervous with the smallies like me.
This year was Lonán’s first time taking to the ice and as Frozen mega fan she was all excited. They had cute little skates for her age (aged 3) which were very safe and allowed her to walk as normal on the ice. While she had fun, she only lasted about half an hour before giving up for the all important hot chocolate and tempting crepes.
The older ones (10,11) loved flying around the larger rink and it’s amazing to see how confident they are on the ice after the annual visit over the last few years. The time slot was 50 mins which is a perfect amount of time as they were just getting tired. The new location of centre park road is very central and the parking is excellent. All in all a most enjoyable experience and we are hoping to return for saoirse’s birthday in a couple of weeks.
Review of Jack and The Beanstalk at The Everyman Palace
Review of Jack and The Beanstalk
This year The Everyman Palace propelled the well-loved fairytale of Jack and The Beanstalk into the 21st century with its vortex to another universe, star wars characters, a mad scientist and its many cultural and social references to The Young Offenders, Tick Toc, Corkonians and much more. We were delighted to be invited along to prepare a review of Jack and the beanstalk from our family experience.
While the performance has plenty of laughs, it’s main strengths lies in the special effects. These captured the imagination in particular of the younger ones with beans growing from a well to a large beanstalk, a fantastic giant and a large lovable Corkonian Goose. If you have smaller children, this is the panto for you. The Everyman Palace claim to be Cork’s Favourite Panto and throughout the performance you will always be reminded that this is a panto produced and performed by proud Corkonians for Corkonians.
It was full of all your usual Panto traditions while cleverly embracing the 21st century. Overall Jack and the Beanstalk is a fun-for-all show with plenty of entertaining mayhem, musical numbers and a lot of positive energy. The favourite saying in our house at the moment is “Give me Peace, Love and Chakras.
Nature Trails at Fota House & Gardens
The gardens at Fota House are truly a hidden gem here in Cork and one of my favourite family fun activities in Cork. They are beautifully preserved (cared for by the OPW) and offer adventure, escape and tranquillity around almost every corner. There are many walkways and trails to discover and you could spend hours lost in amongst the trees, languishing in the open areas or exploring the formal and Victorian walled gardens. All of this is free and there is only a charge of €3 for the car park.
Family Fun Activities in Cork
However, should you wish to add a bit more fun to your day you can buy one of their trail packs for €4 each. They have two to suit both young and older children. We had great fun following the map as children always love map reading and leading the way. While our three were running along, working out which way to go at each juncture, stopping to find little titbits and clues as per the instructions, Craig and I wandered along at our own pace, chatting and enjoying the surroundings. Pure Bliss!!!
We stopped on route at the giant’s chairs for a picnic before continuing along the trail and discovering the Victorian walled gardens, the shed with old tools and the formal gardens. The children were extremely curious and enjoyed the few hours we spent wandering along. I really do think it was the nature trail and activity pack that added that element of structure and fun to our afternoon.
We spent the next hour rolling down the grass hills, playing ball and generally chilling out in the open area just behind the house. As family fun activities in Cork go this one got big thumbs up from me and I am looking forward to trying out their house tour as I believe they have one geared towards children coming shortly!
Trabolgan Day Passes
Lucky for us we live only a half an hour from Trabolgan and so we can make regular day trips with the kids. Trabolgan was one of my own favourite spots as a kid and I love to watch the kid’s excitement when we head down there now. Trabolgan day passes are great value as you get a full day of fun so get down early and plan it out beforehand!
Trabolgan Holiday Village is located on over 140 acres of woodland beside the sea, 30 mins from Cork city and operates as a holiday camp or day visitor attraction.
Family Things to Do at Trabolgan
We normally start at the playground so kids can have a run around and I a coffee. One word of advice take a good look at the activities timetable for the day at this stage as there may be shows that you want to see and some of the activities have specific time slots. I prefer to organise our swimming around the shows as the kids will be starving after swimming and you can get lunch into them while watching a show.
There is a glass roof over the main outdoor area and the main stage is under this so if you get a fine day like we did last week it is was perfect to sit outside and relax while actually enjoying a picnic while being entertained.
Our next port of call is normally the swimming pool and with the waves and slide we normally pass away an hour or two here. The water was actually quite warm last week and I was pleasantly surprised with the renovations in this area. There is new flooring running throughout the changing area and a new seated area for those who wishing to sit this one out.
After our picnics we head back to the playground for a walk out towards the water area. However, last week I stumbled across the duck pond which has been developed into a nature area. It is a gorgeous spot to sit with a prompt board to encourage children to search the surroundings for little titbits of nature. I am glad to see Trabolgan making use of their gorgeous natural setting more.
The sports centre houses a jungle gym (admission included in the day pass) and a coffee shop for more hours of fun and it is here you can buy tickets to any of the TAS activities. You can also use your day pass for these instead of the swimming pool but to be honest we would not do these everytime as there is so much without having to include them.
Places to Eat in Trabolgan
At this stage we would head back down for another show as they are normally getting quite tired. A great way to end the day is Sally O’Hara’s Restaurant in the main square so I don’t have to cook when we get home and I know they will be starving after going all day so they will eat a belly full. Along with the main menu a carvery is available which is brilliant for the kids. There is a family special at the moment of €45 for two adults and two kids. I have never been disappointed with the food here and they have excellent coeliac choices. The staff are extremely friendly and always so accommodating.
Other dining options are Costa Coffee for a quick snack or Big Als@Casey’s Fast Food so there is something for everyone!
I am delighted with the renovations they are doing every year but I hope they might add new shower cubicles some time soon as I am not too fond with the open showers!
At the moment the Trabolgan day passes are €12 per person/ €50 for a family pass which is outstanding value as you can have one of the main activities which are swimming, crazy golf, birds of prey, TAS (Trabolgan Adventure Sports). Follow Trabolgan on facebook and keep an eye on their website as there are always doing offers on Trabolgan day passes. Click here for more.
What the Kids Said about Trabolgan
“Next time we go we are staying so we can do more stuff”
Killarney as a base to explore the world famous Co. Kerry!!
As a big fan of the mobile home holidays, this year we choose to stay in Beech Groove Caravan Park so we could explore probably our most famous county, Kerry!! Killarney is a fantastic base for exploring Kerry as it is in easy reach of most of the major towns and tourist hotspots of Kerry. There are many Family Fun Things to do in Killarney and we wanted to check these out!!
Family Accommodation in Killarney
Beech Groove Caravan Park is situated in Fossa which is just a few short miles outside Killarney and on the main road to Killorglin and Dingle. It has fantastic views of the Mc Gilly Cuddy Reeks and is a quiet haven to the hustle and bustle of Killarney town.
It is easy to know that Beech Groove Caravan Park is a family-run caravan as you will regularly meet Joan, Tony and their family as they ensure the caravan park is well run and everyone is happy. They cater for touring caravans, dorm mobiles, motor homes and tents. We stayed in one of the 8 static luxury mobile homes for hire.
Our mobile home had three bedrooms, two with two singles and one double. There was a separate shower and toilet as well as a large open plan kitchen, dining and sitting area. It was very bright and most importantly spotless clean. Often I would give the mobile home a quick clean before we unpack but on this occasion I was pleasantly impressed as there was not a speck of dust in site! The mobile homes were not only modern but well-kept and what I loved the most is they offered plenty in the way of storage for all our paraphernalia.
Next door our friends stayed in another mobile home which was slightly bigger but with a similar layout. We had all we needed for cooking and in the larger mobile home there was a separate fridge and freezer, perfect for this type of holiday as we came armed with some dinners we made at home so we reduced our workload while away! Most evenings we were enticed to eat outdoors as we were provided with outside table and chairs and even though it was not the warmest part of our summer the holiday feel onsite would encourage you outdoors! Just to note though that bed linen is not always provided but can be at an extra charge.
Facilities at Beech Grove Caravan Park
The park has all the usual facilities such as a Shower/Toilet block, large camper’s kitchen with kettle, toaster, microwave, fridge/freezer etc. and finally a shop next door to the TV Room with a pool table and other games also. Wi-Fi is free onsite and there are plenty of barbeques as well as outdoor table and chairs to enjoy. There was a small playground in front of the camping area and next door to the kitchen.
The Park is a 10 min drive from Killarney town center. If you wanted to walk, there is a beautiful walk through the Fossa way, which links with the National Park. A five minute walk from the park is a pub and restaurant while just next door on the other side is a new public playground with a mini gym for adults.
It’s best feature by far was the view and if you were camping I would suggest requesting a spot on the upper level which is more private but the views are gorgeous! To find out more about Beechgrove Caravan Park Click Here!
Family Fun Things to do in Killarney and Surrounds
Killarney is famous as a tourist hotspot for a reason, there is an abundance of fun to be had at every turn. We visited some of the many Family Fun Things to do in Killarney and around the area to discover our favourite family attractions.
This was our first visit to Kennedy’s Pet Farm even though I had passed their sign on the Cork road many times. Kennedy’s Farm stands out from all the others in that when you first enter you are greeted by the local resident committee made up of calves, sheep and goats rambling around and beware they are not shy about checking your hands for any treats you may have picked up for them at the gate. All the children loved this and proceeded to play and cuddle these very friendly animals. However, Lonán, as a toddler, was mesmerised and if she had got her way we would have spent the whole day here and ventured no further.
There is very little farm machinery but plenty of animals to pet including cuddly kittens, puppies and rabbits. For us fairy fans the fairy walk through the wood was a treat and the outdoor play area has something for every age and child with plenty of seating for us to enjoy the views while they play. However, the indoor areas were superb especially for a wet day. There was an indoor wooden maze with play areas to discover as well as an indoor sand pit area which is another word for paradise for our children so we had to beg, drag and bribe them out of here. There were plenty of showers that day so this place is perfect for a wet day also. They even brought some pets indoors for petting when it rained! To find out more about Kennedy’s Pet Farm Click Here!
Just make sure you bring a packed lunch and plenty of snacks as we got caught out here and we could have stayed the whole day if we had more food. There is a coffee shop onsite but it only offers light snacks and beverages. The charge is €8 each for adults and children with a family ticket (2 adults & 3 Children) costing €35 and under 2’s are free.
Next on our list is The Playdium in Tralee as it rained for few days we were there and this was another excellent thing to do on a rainy day. This was my second time at the Playdium play centre in Tralee and I was looking forward to returning. One of the first things that will strike you is the cleanliness of this place and at all times you will see someone cleaning! The staff are very helpful and even took time to play with Lonán on a number of occasions in the baby play area. If you arrive in flip flops like us they have a variety of socks in all colours and sizes for just €1. While this play centre is here for quite a number of years it is as fresh and modern as the day they opened. It is easy to see that one of the owners are on site at all times, paying great attention to detail. A child’s entry costs €8. The playdium is located is a large retail park which is also home to Debenhams, Next and many more house hold names if you want to get some shopping in too!
Tralee was approx. 30 mins from our campsite so we also paid a visit to The Aqua Dome. You would want to give yourself a full day here and if the swimming pool with all the slides and play areas was not enough they have now added Aqua Golf outside. So the aqua dome is much more than your typical swimming pool as it boosts a lazy river, high fume slide, river rapids, waves, outdoor falling rapids, toddler slides and general play areas with a pirate theme. For lunch we just wrapped some towels around the kids and popped into the coffee shop before we went back to it. They loved it so much they stayed until they were too exhausted to do any more so I would definitely recommend a day here.
Adult day passes are €16 while children are €13 and under than 2 are free. Family Tickets start at €52.20 for 2 adults and 2 children but what I loved the most is that they offer weekly passes for those holidaying in the area and can tailor a pass depending on the length of the stay. This is perfect if you are camping locally and wanted a daily swim. The weekly family pass was €150 and I am sure you would get your money’s worth.
The Aqua Golf is beautifully landscaped with water features, a cave, fountains, ponds full of leaping trout and a 40 foot high water fountain. It is a very new feature with a very modern look and feel and offers a good challenge for those families that like a bit of competition. A family ticket will set you back €15.00.
Cragg Cavewas the biggest surprise of the week. Only 30 mins drive from our caravan park and in the Castleisland direction. Cragg Cave is one of those hidden gems that I love to discover. Cragg Cave is not only a 1 million years old cave wonderland of stalagmites and stalactites but it is also home to a large fun filled play centre with separate toddlers play area, a climbing wall and rodeo bull ride. It has a gorgeous gift shop and the restaurants draws locals as well as the tourist from far and wide. You can get a combined ticket to both the play centre and cave for just €11 a child and this also includes the climbing wall and rodeo bull when they are open. However, Cragg cave also offer a holiday membership from €30 for three months over April, May and June if you were staying again for a length of time in the area.
What made the cave visit so unique is that is very much geared towards the young audience and our guide had amazing patience to answer the avalanche of questions she was asked (sometimes twice) throughout the tour. But to top it all off when we emerged out of the cave at the end of the tour she offered the children some “samples of bone fragments, gem stones, diamonds and rock that had been discovered in the cave” from her pocket to take home and they were not only thrilled but amazed……. Needless to say this selection process went on for as long as the tour!!!!
Back inside we were hard pushed to fit in the rodeo bull, climbing wall, back to the play centre and all before we even enjoyed the outdoor play ground. Believe me there is another full day here so come early and bring a book to enjoy!! Click here to find out about Crag Cave!
Not many people know about our next find, The Kerry Bog Village Museum just a 25 mins drive from our caravan park beyond the town of Killorglin. An adult ticket is €6.50 while children are €4.00. The village is made up of a selection of period thatched cottages, fully furnished with authentic antiques, complete with sound effects and figurines. Outdoors, there were displays of rural farm equipment, used by turf cutters and farmers of the time period. Thomas had great fun trying to guess what they were.
The village is also home to some friendly Kerry bog ponies and two large but very friendly Irish wolf hounds. I would suggest you bring a picnic as it is small and compact so you could take a seat and enjoy a picnic while the children wander and explore at their own pace for an hour or two. There is a very well-known pub with excellent bar food next door, The Red Fox Inn if you want something more substantial.
Killarney’s National Park is famous the world over and the best way for families to enjoy it I think is by bike. You can join the bike trail just about 400 yards from the caravan park and the first stop would have to be the Knockreer Playground or the little tea rooms not too far from this before heading down to Ross Castle 3 km from the tea-rooms. The children will not notice the km go by as they will be distracted by the many jaunting cars on the route along with the spectacular surroundings. There is a charge to enter the castle itself but I think a cycle around is plenty for the kids!
We also discovered a little hidden gem in The Blue Pool Walk that is left just after The Blue Pool Art Gallery on the road to Muckross House, apporx 10 mins drive from Killarney. It is a gentle loop walk for children that takes around an hour and the main attraction is the most unusual blue pool of water surrounded in the most magnificent array of trees and scenery. It is very easy to miss from the road so look out for Cloghereen Woods and you are in the right spot just after The Muckross Park Hotel.
Knockreer Playground is a 6 minute drive from Beechgrove Caravan Park on the road into Killarney and is one of my firm favourites as playgrounds go for many years. It is situated in to lush surroundings of the national park and has plenty to offer in the way of fun from climbing frames to little wooden trains! For more information on Knockreer Playground Click Here!
Beech Groove Caravan Park is beside the main road to Killorglin and some of the mobile homes are situated along the front by the road which can be noisy at night. If you have children that need peace and quiet to sleep or may make a dash to hop the wall for the main road I would suggest that you book one of the mobile homes higher up the park and away from the road.
We head off for a week with friends every year so we can catch up, the kids are occupied and we have company in the evenings as our other halves often head to work mid-week. It is very relaxing staying in a caravan park as the kids will play together on the bikes, trot up and down to the playground and explore more freely than at home. As you know once they are happy, we are happy and can relax. The mobile home is even easier to manage especially if we are on our own mid-week. The location of the campsite was great with the national park and local playground on its doorstep as well while Killarney and many of the attractions were easy and quick to access. Killarney surprised with all there was to do for families and we even had plenty of choice on the wet days!
What the Kids said about Killarney
The highlight for the kids was the playground next door to the caravan park and our day at The Dome in Tralee; they certainly feel they did not have enough time here!!
Indoor Treasure Hunt Ideas
Indoor Treasure Hunt Ideas
When looking for inspiration for Indoor Treasure Hunt Ideas you simply make clues about ordinary indoor objects. Since your home may have more than one of some of these objects, the kids may have to check out more than one location before they find the next clue. That makes the game last longer, gives them more exercise and adds to the fun. We have prepared some ready made clues for you or use as inspiration to create your own.
I have four legs, but I don’t have feet.
I come in handy when it’s time to eat. – Kitchen or dining table
My job is to put an end to sleep,
Which I do with music, a buzz or a beep. – Alarm clock
For fast heating or cooking, I am tops.
And, oh, that good smell when my popcorn pops! – Microwave
Flour and sugar and coffee and tea,
I keep these handy but hard to see. – Kitchen canisters
I can take you to places you’ve never seen,
But first type your password in on my screen. – Computer
I’m loaded and unloaded, but I’m not a truck.
Having a helper like me is a great piece of luck. – Dishwasher
I rain on you when you need a scrub.
I’m very much like my friend the tub. – Shower
I make it possible to have fresh food.
Everyone agrees, I’m one cool dude. – Fridge
Watching your favorites is lots of fun.
But don’t watch too much! Kids need to run. – TV
I never get angry but I do get hot.
I’m the perfect place for a pan or a pot. – Cooker
It’s my job to give all your clothes a tumble,
Which I do while making a bit of a rumble. – Tumble Dryer
I have a handle and also a lock.
Visitors and delivery men may give me a knock. – Front Door
I’m one part chair and one part bed.
Up with your feet and down with your head. – Recliner
I take your clothes for quite a spin.
But first they get wet. That’s how I begin. – Washing Machine
I’m filled with feathers or other soft fluff.
To sleep without me can be quite tough. – Pillow
Turn me on and I’ll give you a light.
I’m used some in the daytime but mostly at night. – Light Switch
A story, they say, can take you away,
But a book still needs a place to stay. – Book Shelf
I have drawers and also a nice flat top.
For homework I’m helpful — Keep working. Don’t stop! – Desk
I’m hungry! I’m hungry! Please feed me a slice.
I’ll spit it back out all brown and nice. – Toaster
I’m not a selfie, but I do show faces.
Find me in bathrooms and a few other places. – Mirror
Adults like it when they first wake
And at other times when they need a break. – kettle/Coffee Machine
Most every day, you step on me.
All I require is a bend of your knee. – Stairs
I’m paper, but I’m not used for writing a letter.
The spot by your potty suits me much better! – Toilet Paper
I have hands but no arms and also a face.
And my hands always move at the same steady pace. – Clock
The more I dry, the wetter I get.
A little one can be used for soaking up sweat. – Towel
I’m never wicked, but I do have a wick.
I come in all sizes, from skinny to thick. – Candle
Make one set of clues for every player, each clue leading to the next one and, finally, to the treasure. Seal them in envelopes marked with a clue number (i.e., 2/7, or “two of seven”); this will help the treasure hunters keep track. Whoever solves the clues first and finds the treasure is the winner. You don’t have to go mad with a prize, simply an IOU for a movie(another of the rainy day activities for kids), maybe a cache of coins (regular or chocolate) or my favourite, no chores today/free pass for dishwasher duties are all cause for more fun in your home. You could also have your kids play as a team to solve the clues—and uncover the treasure—together. This works better when you have younger ones or if they have been fighting earlier…..
Indoor Treasure Hunt Ideas for Younger Kids
If you kids are too young to read you can create another type of treasure hunt by taking pictures of odd nooks and crannies or objects as above in your home. Print out the pictures and place them as you would any other clues.
Seaside Foraging with Sea Synergy
Seaside foraging is an age old fun activity and something that I love as the children are outdoors and learning but best of all my children love it more so much so we went out on a drizzling August day and by the end of the session the rain down poured but I had to still drag them off the beach kicking and screaming as they did not want it to end!
Sea Synergy based in Waterville in Kerry offer sea activities including foraging all along the South Kerry coast and a morning foraging is a great way to spend some time with the kids. We met Lucy, a marine biologist Sea Synergy on Glanleam Beach in Valentia Island and she brought us on a little adventure!
Lucy first introduced us to a number of items she has collected over the years including shells and marine wildlife bones before we all took to the shoreline looking for items washed up from the sea. Marine life can be found in so many places including along the walls, on the rocks, under rocks and in rock pools as well before you even go to the sea. Lucy also provided fishing nets for a spot of fishing and Saoirse picked a crab out of the water causing for great excitement.
The children were in their element learning about all the items we discovered and even did not notice the drizzle of rain that began a little while into our adventure. We got great ideas and tips from Lucy for our own expeditions but found this session very good as we got so much information from Lucy on our travels and she knew just where to look for things we would never find.
Sea synergy run workshops from Waterville and are also hoping to do the same from Valentia in the summer. I for one would travel just to attend these workshops as it encourages a great interest in exploring and the great outdoors in already curious minds! Sea Synergy will also come out to locations of your choosing for small groups or families t so you can enjoy a spot of foraging. They offer a huge range of services so make sure you check out their page.
The Gruffalo’s Child-Cork Opera House
The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child is one story that has captured the imaginations of boys and girls across the world. It is such a clever yet simple story and was beautifully portrayed in The Tall Stories production at The Cork Opera House today.
The set and costumes which were simple yet so well designed along with the light but fun script created the perfect example of children’s theatre. The fun loving story had hints of scariness but it was just right for the young audience with plenty of music and dancing also. What I loved the most was that it was not drawn out and therefore was not too long or two short to retain the attention of its young audience.
The interesting characters captivated the young audience brilliantly and as I looked around almost at the end of the performance there was not the usual chaos that can be experienced at shows like this.
I must say I enjoyed the afternoon as much as the kids and will be looking out for more of Tall Stories productions in the future but for now I must settle down to read our battered but loved copy of The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child to three happy sleepy children for the thousandth time!
The Gruffalo said that no gruffalo should……….
Fota House Easter Egg Hunt
This year the annual Fota Easter Egg Hunt had a a Peter Rabbit and Friends theme and even the sometimes damp weather did not spoil our fun.
The grounds at Fota House are gorgeous and lend themselves perfectly to the adventures of Peter Rabbit including Mr. McGregors garden and much more…
The children had great fun enjoying the activities set up for them, following the trail and most of all running along the gorgeous landscaped gardens. They did not even notice the drizzle of rain that fell from time to time.
The trail was set it very well with plenty of sign posts to follow and fun stops on the way. There was plenty of time and space to run and explore for little excited ones! Fota House and Gardens is an excellent place to explore to pass away an afternoon, check out more by clicking here!
The team members at each stage were very friendly and interacted great with the children but that was not the end of the Fota Easter Egg Hunt as there were old time games set up for the children to enjoy while the parents sampled the delights of the market stalls in front of the house! Once the children had completed the trail and handed up their cards, they received a well deserved chocolate egg!
The egg hunt was well organised and collecting your cards was seemless so well done to Fota House and Gardens for organising such a fun activity in the great outdoors. Each ticket cost €8.50 and adults were free and you could spend a good half a day here so great value for money! Don’t forget to keep an eye out for more activities on http://fotahouse.com/
Easter Science Camp Cork
Easter Science Camp Cork
This Easter, Anyone for Science will run a 2-day camp at Life time lab from Tues 29th Mar-Wed 30th March 2016,10 am – 2 pm and in The Cork Institute of Technology from Thurs 31st Mar – Fri 1 Apr 10 am – 2 pm as well as many other venues across the country.
We joined the camp in Midleton for two days last week and I must say that the children had great fun and were sorry it was not on for a week. I did not expect my 6 year old boy to enjoy it as much as he did as it was alot of work indoors in a classroom but he thoroughly enjoyed it and pick up alot of the information being relayed to him through experiments and the arts and crafts they did.
At this two day camp the children had fun doing age appropriate experiments and work on some building/make projects all relating to flight. They built kites, paper helicopters, hoovercrafts, paper aeroplanes, hot air balloons!
10-10.15 Introductory Game
10.15 – 11.15 Experiments
11.15-11.30 Supervised play, outside if possible
12.30-13.00 Lunch with supervised play, outside if possible
They learnt all about flightstarting from the early ideas of kites, hot air, lighter than air flight right up to modern jets and they are busy all week telling me all! It is great to see they picked up so much and their interest in such things! One child cost €70 while 2 children cost €133 and three €175. They are running further camps in the summer so make sure you watch out for them and I would recommend!