Travelling to festival family shot

Travelling to festival car selfie

We camped out at a local festival, The Stendhal Festival of Art, for the second year in a row, something which has  became a firm favourite new family tradition. This time with five month old Max in tow.

When I say camping it wasn’t strictly camping, we were lucky enough to borrow my dad’s campervan which he cleverly converted from a community Ambulance- complete with everything you could possibly need, including space for us all to sleep, a cooker and a much coveted toilet!

After a morning of intense excitement in our house, we all ate a hearty brunch,  packed the car up to the roof  (we really did have so much stuff) and headed off. But not before getting our festival glam on complete with plaits and hair flowers.

besutiful Cora

Eve hair

After we set up camp  we grabbed a quick snack before queuing up to get our weekend family wrist passes. Along the way we watched in admiration at the groups of families around us working together putting up their tents.

setting up camp

I must admit I felt a pang of nostalgia, remembering the days my own family fought helped eachother pitch up the tents at our caravan and felt that I had missed out abit in not going for the fully fledged tent experience. But the luxury of having our own toilet and cooking facilities was beyond comparison, especially with a five month old baby.

Waiting in the queue we got a real sense of the different mix of people that attend festivals, from the young loved up couples, the groups of fun loving friends, the hip crew, the first timers, to all the different types and sizes of families. I was impressed to discover this festival includes the option of a family ticket for single parents and their kids too.

Putting on the wrist bands really got us excited and we went straight off to explore the festival site, getting bogged down in heaps of mud on the way much to the kids’ delight!

Eve jumping in muddy puddles

There is nothing quite like getting out into the fresh country air and this is a fab excuse like no other to do just that. Eve and Luca were in their element, jumping and literally rolling about in the mud! They had the time of their lives relishing in their new found freedom.

Festival Must Haves 

We learnt from being at Stendhal festival last year that wellies are an absolute must when roaming around the fields, listening to the many live music acts.

camp boots

This time we took a three wheeler double all terrain pram, which inevitably got completely covered in mud too. By the end of the weekend it even had clumps of hay clinging off it too!

Max and Luca in pram

I brought along my beloved Lillebaby buckle  carrier too as I knew little Max would want to get out and have a look around him, it enabled him to enjoy the festival experience much more too.

I was so glad I’d invested in a waterproof rainsuit for the kids as this was an absolute saviour for us. It meant Eve and Luca could splash and squelch about in the muddy puddles all they liked without us adults getting cross and without fear of ruining their clothes! I got Max one too so that when he was in the sling he wouldn’t get wet if it rained, he should still fit into it next year as I got it in a bigger size, so double bonus!

Eve and Luca in waterproof suits

We all had such fun from beginning to end! Meeting up with friends we enjoyed watching the kids play together. There was so much for of them to see and do, especially at the free arts and crafts events, catering for all ages of kids. From designing and making boats out of corks, making Pokemon bouncy balls using clay, to playing in a sensory centre using lots of different materials, playing with sand, climbing trees and most of all using their imaginations.

Luca doing arts and crafts

Max 1 playing

Luca playing sensory tent

Eve's boat

Eve’s boat

There were plenty of takeaway food vans on site to suit everyone’s tastes and we were never hungry with a wide choice of food from burgers, chips, pizzas crepes and ice cream plus soft and alcoholic drinks.

The breastfeeding caravan and sensory tent came in very handy for us as Max is at the stage where he gets too easily distracted and it was nice to sit down and chill for a while away from all the noise. The ladies were very welcoming, even giving me a cool drink and strawberries while I fed Max.

In the afternoons we let the kids have some downtime at the campervan, as we cooked some food and ate al fresco.

Eve eating outside campervan

Then we wrapped them up in caps, cosy blankets and ear defenders, before setting out to listen to the live bands. We brought glow sticks along and put them all over the pram and on the kids so they would be easily identifiable when darkness descended. I also bought mini torches so we could see our way back to the camper easily at nightime.

Max ear defenders

PORTS playing the main stage

PORTS playing the main stage

Eve and Wee Cora

Cabin Fever

However it wasn’t always plain sailing  – there were times when the camping situation was a bit difficult, like when Max woke up at 4am crying inconsolably and for five whole minutes I couldn’t get him to stop! The stress! Nobody complained about the noise, but I felt guilty and lots of pressure to try to get him to stop as soon as possible.

Keeping six people entertained while in a small confined space in general wasn’t always easy, but luckily the weather held up great so there weren’t many times that we all had to be inside the van together. Next time I will definitely buy a tent for beside the campervan so the kids can go into it to let off a bit of steam while I cook. It will give us some extra space to store essentials too.

We were plagued by wasps the first day of the festival. Wasps are my biggest nightmare as I am allergic to their sting and even the faintest hint of a buzz has me screaming and heading for cover. The lovely ladies from the free kids crafts tent gave me some very helpful hints on how to keep them at bay – vicks vaper rub being one – who knew? Needless to say I’ve now stocked up!

Happy Campers

There is no other experience quite like getting outdoors together as a family and making memories.

Sharing food and drinks together, listening to music, we made new friends too, talking to people we would never have met otherwise.  There was lots of laughter throughout the weekend and just the experience of getting away from home and spending quality time together is like no other.

first night

We can’t wait to do it all again next year!

 

Fionnuala xo

 

 

 

Life with kids was never going to be easy, but when I discovered I was pregnant with my fourth child I went through a mixture of emotions, the overriding one being FEAR!

Luca had only recently turned one and I felt like I had finally made it over the hazy fog filled hump, that it was going to be relatively plain sailing from then on in. He had just started sleeping through the night and I had finally started having (a bit) of a life again.

worried-woman

Wakeful Worrying

The nearer it got to my due date I would lay awake at night worrying about how I was going to manage two young children. It was already difficult to get out of the house in the mornings, do the school drop off, then leave Luca to creche and get to work on time (well mostly on time).

The evenings were also hard going as it was a battle to get Eve to do her schoolwork with Luca at my ankles looking for attention. Cooking the dinner was stressful – trying to keep  a fast moving tot out of the kitchen was nearly impossible.

Bedtime was pretty nightmarish, I had to stay next to Luca to get him off to sleep, then do the dishes, tidy up and tuck the girls into bed before I got to my own.

I felt like I was just keeping my head above water most of the time.

The thought of doing it all over again so soon with another child made me rigid with fear.

I worried if I could ever possibly  love this baby as much as I loved my other kids. I seriously had so much anxiety about this I cannot explain.

However, I am now so glad to say that Max is so very welcome in our family and is every bit as loved as all my other children (phew!)

best brothers

Lives Changed Forever

From the moment my kids came into the hospital to visit Max for the first time, a wave of protectiveness towards my new baby surfaced.

As Luca  came blustering through the door he seemed like a big, clumsy giant compared to my teeny, fragile newborn and he needed watching at all times to ensure my baby’s safety. When he reached out to touch the baby I got this very unsettling sick feeling in the pit of my tummy. I didn’t want him too near the baby as he was just so rough! It was really confusing as before I had Max, Luca was s my tiny little boy, but that had all changed.

Luca cuddling Max

Little Luca was only 18 months old and didn’t understand why all of a sudden his momma who he had always had full reign over was suddenly preoccupied, with someone else.

Eve found it hard to adjust too, she knew my time with her was going to be even shorter still and she was only getting used to not being the baby when Luca came along.  We try to have little special time together now, just us.

First Few Weeks

Luca and 1 week old Max

The first few days were bittersweet. I was in a love bubble with the new baby, yet feeling guilty that I couldn’t give Luca the attention that he was used to and so clearly craved. Everytime Luca saw me with the baby he cried, a high pitched banshee like wail, like his little heart was breaking in two.

Each time he looked at me with the baby in my arms, he snuggled in closer to his dad, the beginning of what is now a very close bond between them both – one that he and I used to share.

Mark and Luca watching tv

Home Alone With My Two Sons

The first few weeks were alright as there were always plenty of visitors calling in and new midwives every few days, which was a nice distraction. But when his dad went back to work I was quickly dropped in at the deep end. The girls were at school, so my daytimes were spent with my boys.

I remember that first morning, I was secretly so so afraid. It felt like all my months of worry was finally being realised. That first morning I was like a woman on a mission, getting Eve her breakfast, getting Luca dressed and mercifully baby Max slept until it was nearly time to go. Then off we went.

I won’t lie I found it really tough (and the school is no more than a few miles away!) but in that short time Max woke up screaming his head off and then Luca began to cry and we were sitting in a queue of traffic and then there was nowhere to park, then I was faced with the dilemma of how to get all of us into the school.

Needless to say by the time I got it all sorted we were late and everyone was really upset. I was in tears by the time I got home. Then I had to sort the boys out, both had soiled their nappies and getting that sorted was a task in itself.

Luca was like glue to me, when I had to hold or feed Max (practically all the time as the little milk monster didn’t like to be put down) he would scream that ear piercing scream. He took up a guard dog like stance beside the chair I did all but sleep in for those first few months, he wouldn’t sit, insisting on standing instead.

Making lunch was again incredibly difficult, as Max wouldn’t sleep so he had to be held or he would scream. I soon learnt how useful a baby sling can be!

Getting to the toilet was hard. Luca could not be trusted to be left alone with Max for even a few seconds – proven by the multitude of tiny toys that I found in the Moses basket that Luca constantly flung into it – in the hope of hitting Max! To get a quick toilet visit I had to leave Max screaming his lungs out, while Luca and I raced to the toilet – at least if he was with me he couldn’t be getting up to any mischief!

Literally nothing got done around the house for the first three months. Every breathing second was spent holding one of the boys (or both) in my arms.

Survival With Support

We lived for three o’clock when my very kind and dear friend brought Eve home from school for me, despite the fact that she has three of her own kids to look after and had to go out of her way everyday to do so! Another lovely friend left Eve to school numerous times for me too.

cup of tea

I am forever in their debt. Just having their support was and will forever be priceless and I will never forget their kindness.  This was also my only adult company some days and I really, really longed for it so much! They will never understand how much their help meant to an exhausted, sleep deprived me.

Also my own mum’s daily phonecalls and visits on her days off from work were another saving grace. She would come and bring food and do my dishes. Just knowing she was there was such a comfort, someone much more responsible than me to listen to me moan or let me sleep or get a shower was amazing!

My partner helped when he could, but due to his work some weeks when I had all the kids by myself.  I really struggled, trying to juggle making the dinners, do the home-works and then bedtimes, sometimes I could manage and other days seemed like a crazy, endless nightmare.

Just A Little Jealous

For the first four months I despaired of Luca’s jealousy. One part of me felt so so sorry for him, he couldn’t understand why I wasn’t there for him like I used to, why I couldn’t carry him around, why I could no longer spend the night beside him in bed snuggling in like we used to always do. It was so hard.

So when he threw the first few toys at Max I understood – sort of. Of course I sat him down explained to him what he was doing was wrong as calmly and gently as possible. The day he threw his hard plastic chair onto little Max as he was sitting out in his bouncer chair was another matter, that day the protective mamma bear in me came out in full force and I shouted angrily at him.

eye of envy

Undeterred Luca has countless times continued to sit on top of Max when he is on my lap, trying to nudge poor little Max off with his bum! A few time he has fired his very hard toy chain saw right at Max’s head, or hugs Max, then secretly nips him!

Coming Round

As Max nears five months I feel Luca has finally began to accept him as part of the family. Now however, it is his daddy who Luca gets upset with, when I hand Max over to him when I need a break, the unmerciful scream of ‘nooooo’ that comes from Luca’s lips is hard for his dad to listen to.

But those early days of just me and my boys at home helped to cement and reconcile Luca and my relationship. We are nearly back to our old closeness. But he has over time got much more independent and now is more interested in going outside to play with his friends – under our close  supervision of course.

me and my boys

Best Friends Forever

There is definitely light at the end of the tunnel. Little Max is growing fast and is much more interesting and fun. He already absolutely adores his big brother – verging on hero worship.

Luca nursing Max big besties

The look that shines from little Max’s eyes when he sees his big brother is full of love, and mischief!

Luca now refers to him as”my Maxy” and hugs and kisses him several times a day and always last thing before going to bed at night!

Another thing in Max’s favour is that he can now pull Luca’s hair, so he is more able to stand up for himself.

 

Well not all the time….

 

 

 

 

 

 

sonder logo close

I have been following the very funny and talented local Irish chef Martin Anderson on SnapChat for quite a few months now, so I was intrigued and very eager to try out his new restaurant Sonder as it is only a short twenty five minute drive from my home.

I had after all spent countless weeks watching on as he overseen the building being gutted,  completely transforming the previous premises, from a hair salon to a chic, modern restaurant. I sort of felt like I was part of the whole experience already!

Follow chef Martin anderson on snapchat

Follow chef Martin Anderson on snapchat for a daily dose of fun foodie related snaps

So a few weeks after Sonder opened on a beautiful sunny day I decided to take Cora my eldest child as a treat, after her school exams were over. We made the short journey over the border from Derry~Londonderry (Northern Ireland) to Letterkenny in Donegal (Ireland) and easily found the restaurant without having to go into the city centre – such a relief as I had baby Max with me too who had just woken up and the pressure was on to get him fed before he went into an almighty meltdown!

Outside view of the cafe

Outside view of the cafe

I could tell instantly from the outside and the high quality finish that Chef Martin is a bit of a perfectionist (I won’t lie I was beginning to get nervous at how much this ‘treat’ was going to cost me!)  In we went…

I was immediately impressed with the fact that the doors were wide as my Quinny Buzz pram is quite cumbersome and the wheels are forever getting caught in doorways! But not here, it boded well.

We got a big, warm welcome from the main man himself as soon as we walked through the door, he was chatting to some customers and ushered us in, showing us to our seat personally, which was lovely.

chef Martin anderson

chef Martin Anderson

It was almost like meeting a celebrity after watching his Snaps everyday! With a book already under his belt, Fat Chef Slim, the fun loving, inspirational chef has detailed his impressive five stone weight loss journey, giving tips and advice for others along the way. He is also a columnist for local newspaper The Donegal Daily, writing weekly healthy food recipes, and talks on local radio station, Highland Radio one day a week too.

Fat Chef Slim cookbook

Fat Chef Slim cookbook

He was every bit as friendly in person and was touched when I told him that we had travelled especially  just to sample his cooking!

 

more dining area sonder

As it was early in the morning we ordered off the breakfast menu. There was so much variety to choose from and there was something to suit all palettes or lifestyle choices – with Luca’s cow’s milk protein allergy, I am always on the look out for things that would suit him too. In the end (after a lot of eenie meany miney mo) we both settled on the vegetable omelette.

My breakfast ommlette

My breakfast omelette

From our vantage point, being near the counter we could watch as the food was being freshly prepared –   right infront of your eyes, from the prep stage to the plate!

Counter where food is prepared

Counter where food is prepared

Cora and I were both amazed at how good our food looked when it was served, the sheer amount of fresh vegetables on the plate was fantastic. The generous portion size was perfect – we love our food and Sonder didn’t disappoint! It was divine – by far the nicest, biggest, fluffiest, yummiest omelette I have ever tasted!

Sitting back we ate at our leisure, with some of the friendly staff coming over to check if everything was to our liking and taking time to play with baby Max which was so nice. It was a lovely, cosy atmosphere, light, bright and airy with the sound of happy, cheerful voices of the other customers and staff around us, adding to the ambience.

 

Full up from the yummy food

Full up from the yummy food

We each really enjoyed the food very much, I finished every last bite! (Cora nearly did too, give or take a few vegetables)  We stayed full up for hours after and it didn’t feel heavy in our tummies.

Just as I finished eating, right on cue Max woke up needing a nappy change so off to the toilets we went. I loved the bright quirky arty work on the toilet doors – not your typical toilet signs – which added a nice personal touch.

Ladies toilet

Ladies toilet door

 

men's toilet door

men’s toilet door

The baby changing/disabled toilet door had a picture of a man, woman and baby – I liked how it embraced the whole family -other shops take note, sometimes dads change nappies too!

Family/disabled toilet door

Family/disabled toilet door

We couldn’t leave without trying the tray-bakes, they were much too tempting! Displayed at the counter, that freshly baked smell was just way too good to resist, so we didn’t deny ourselves.

Chocolate treats

Chocolate treats

Tempting selection of treats

Tempting selection of treats

We chose the gluten and dairy free chocolate brownies to take home one each for everyone, so that little Luca wouldn’t be left out. The smell coming from the box was just so good we gobbled ours up in the car and had to hide the rest in the boot so we wouldn’t give in and eat them all too!

dairy and gluten free chocolate brownies

dairy and gluten free chocolate brownies

We were more than happy with the price – it wasn’t at all expensive like I expected, (especially when we tasted the high quality of the food) infact it was very reasonably priced!

Our verdict…..

5 star rating

Rated 5 star seal of approval!

 

We will definitely be back for more!

 

Pleas note: this is not an ad, just our honest opinion.

Max at five days old

                                                                                                      Max at five days old

Having children is without doubt both the greatest yet most difficult achievement of my entire life and am 100 % sure I will never do a tougher job. Ever.

The first few days, weeks and months are a time of hazy, mixed emotions, for me ranging from; relief, joy, amazement and love to fear, apprehension, pain and exhaustion, to name a few.

I’m always shocked at how unique each precious little baby is when they are born.  How they just know who their mother is in a room full of people. The way when they are born they immediately crawl up, root for and then latch on to the breast, and begin to suck the nourishing milk, their reward for all their hard work – is nothing short of a miracle.

These are things they have never been taught how to do or even have experienced anything like them before, yet they instinctively just know how to do. To me new babies are truly amazing!

That burst of all consuming love you feel for your tiny baby and the sense of pride that you have made someone so perfect that you just want to show them off to the whole world.

But it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows…

I have to admit that this time around although people keep commenting that I must be a pro by now, of all my children somehow I felt more nervous than ever before about life with my new baby.

I was most worried about how I would juggle looking after a very clingy 19 month old with a newborn. It was difficult in the beginning, little Luca couldn’t understand why I was holding the new baby all day long and cried a very hurt cry which made me cry too. I bought him a baby boy doll and pram from baby Max when I was in hospital and for the early days this helped him understand (while keeping him distracted) about the new baby.

Responsibility

Baby Max on his very first car journey, on the way home from hospital

                                    Baby Max on his very first car journey, on the way home from hospital

When the adrenaline (or drugs) have worn off and the reality of being a new parent sets in, so does the sense of responsibility – and sometimes this feeling alone can be overwhelming. This little person that you made, who has happily lived inside you for the past nine months is now completely dependant on you and you have to ensure its safety for the rest of its life! Wow!

Leaving the hospital with each new baby I’ve always half expected to be stopped before I made it home (which wouldn’t be difficult as we only drive at 25 milers per hour maximum each time!) by a midwife and told to give the baby back to the hospital. I’m always amazed we don’t have to pass some sort of a test before we can go home with a whole tiny person to care for.

Nappies and Nourishment

One of Max's many pooxplosions

                                                                                              One of Max’s many poosplosions

Then come the constant stream of wet and dirty nappies, the decision of whether you want to breast or formula feed your baby has to be put into action and depending on which you choose, you have to learn the necessary skills to get the baby fed as safely and as quickly as possible.

Changing a nappy was something I had done lots of times before I had my own children, with babysitting cousins and coming from a big family I helped with my younger sisters. But nothing could have prepared me for Luca’s first nappy – we were both literally covered in pee and poo. I couldn’t stop screaming and laughing all at the same time!

I breastfed my two daughters for a few weeks each and then due to circumstances chose to then formula fed them. With  Luca I was determined to breastfeed him for longer. I ended up doing it much longer than I ever imagined -until he was 16 months old, due in part to his cows milk protein allergy and the close bond that we developed. He self-weaned quite abruptly when I was six months pregnant as my milk changed and he no longer liked the taste. So far I have breastfed Max and hope to continue until he is at least one year old.

But I haven’t found the experience as easy as I thought I would despite the fact that there was only a three month break between feeding my 16 month old pro and feeding a newborn. I had to relearn how to do it all over again going back to basics.

I also had all the same early day struggles and frustration this time. I had to learn how to position Max and get help with his latch. I still got sore, cracked nipples in the first few days, but this time round I knew how to handle the painful early days and wasn’t as stressed out or tense about it all as I was with Luca. As I have came through it before, I now know that any early pain is short-lived and the lovely, much easier times soon overshadow the difficult early days in much the same way as the pain of birth is soon forgotten too.

Don’t forget about yourself in the midst of all the madness, healthy parents equals a healthy baby. There may not be time to cook every meal (or any for a few weeks) but make sure to eat at regular intervals everyday.

Changing Clothes

The trouble I had changing him into his first tracksuit is indescribable, yet was hilarious!

                                  The trouble I had changing him into his first tracksuit is indescribable!

A new parent has to deal with changing their new baby’s clothes – a tricky task as the new baby is a bendy boned little wriggler.  This task is something that you will be doing quite a lot of, several times a day at least for quite a while!

I still find it difficult trying to master getting the other arm into the arm hole or a foot into a sleep suit and secretly take  pleasure in watching others as they struggle to dress baby too!

Max is the wriggliest baby I’ve ever had and often makes sudden jumpy, jerky movements which makes changing his outfits all the more fun – especially when he has had a massive poosplosion all the way to his neck. Fun times!

New mums may find that your wardrobe choices are still quite limited for the first few weeks. I’ve always used my maternity clothes for the first while as they are comfy and were the only things that fitted, plus new mums often go through nearly as many outfit changes as the baby when it spits up or pees over you!

Little Screamers

Little Max screaming the house down

                                                                                        Little Max screaming the house down

Figuring out what your baby wants when they begin their shrill, demanding cry that can escalate within a matter of seconds to decibels of such a high frequency that your ears drums feel they might actually burst, can be quite a challenge!

With Max I try to make sure that I respond to his hunger cues, like sucking his hands or making fists, as fast as possible before he gets himself worked up, or try changing his nappy or winding him. Mostly he just likes to be walked around and around instead of sitting down. It’s exhausting!

I cannot stand the sound of a baby’s piercing cry, it gets me upset for them so I always try to respond to it as soon as possible. Plus the escalating crying piles on the pressure and makes me snap at everyone else around me until calm is restored – a situation that nobody wants.

Staying calm is key to dealing with a screaming baby. If you find things are getting on top of you don’t be afraid to ask your partner, family members and friends for help, they will be more than willing and we all need time out sometimes.

Exhaustion

Tired Max out for the count

                                                                         Tired little Max 

All this while you yourself are healing can seem daunting. Sometimes you will reach levels of exhaustion that you never knew existed due to your tiny bundle’s constant feeding – their teeny tummies are so small that they need fed much more frequently than us.

This is where the baby wipes come in – not just an invention for cleaning babies’ bums, they are excellent keeper-awakerers, when rubbed just under your eyes – I have had to resort to doing this literally thousands of times over the years, both late at night and in the middle of the day,  just to stay awake. The stinging only adds to helping keep my treacherous eyes from closing. Must not fall asleep….

For the first time in my life I have started drinking coffee just to keep me awake when I hit a slump usually at midday or early evening time. I’ve never had to do this before, but with a new baby and a demanding toddler to attend to now I feel I need the extra energy it gives me.

On a more serious note…

The first year of a baby’s life can be a very vulnerable time for new parents. especially the mum as hormones change and surge around her body and sleep deprivation – used throughout history as a form of torture – can temporarily turn even the sweetest natured Snow White like woman into a foul mouthed witchy demon. This is to be expected as nobody can be a saint all of the time. But sometimes this can turn into more, a new mum is very susceptible to developing post natal depression, something she and her family should be aware of, to get as much support and help as soon as possible.

I have experienced one particularly bad bout of postnatal depression in the past, which really floored me for a while. I found it a very scary and debilitating situation at the time, but the fear of letting others know was one of the scariest parts of it. I was ashamed at the beginning and afraid that I would be labelled as crazy and an unfit mother. But none of those things happened, I simply went on a course of medication to help realign the chemicals in my brain. There is so much information and understanding now about postnatal depression and it is very treatable once it is diagnosed.

Please reach out to family friends and your doctor if you feel you may be affected. You are not crazy or a bad parent, this is out of your control, but if you get help you will once again be in control of your life. Things can only get better from that point on.

Everlasting Love

Sometimes the rush of all-consuming love doesn’t come straight away and it doesn’t make you any less of a mum if it doesn’t.

With my first three I felt that rush immediately, it was like someone punched me in the chest and winded me, I could barely breathe, each time.

However with Max it was more of a slow burner, for me the feeling was more that of amazement when I saw him for the first time after birth. The feeling of love took a few days to develop. I felt like the worst mum ever and worried if I’d ever really love him, telling only my partner and reluctantly at that. But then one day I felt fiercely protective of him when his brother threw a chair at his head.  I just knew after that experience that the love was definitely there (phew!)

Worth It!

Max and me

                                                                                      I’m totally besotted with my new baby

But all the struggles are worth it in the end when you get to sit down with your baby, relax and breathe in that beautiful newborn smell and give them lots of snuggles. Absolute bliss. There is no other feeling like it in the world.

I’d love to hear about your own experiences of the first few days with a new baby. Were they similar? Is there anything else that you think new parents need to know? Please get in touch and share your story below.

Thanks for reading,

Fionnuala xo

PORTRUSH TO

With the Mayday bank holiday weekend falling on the hottest week of the year so far, we decided to treat the kids to a mini break, using the opportunity to meet up with a friend and her beautiful daughter.

Our destination of choice was the picturesque North Coast of Northern Ireland. The Area of Outstanding Beauty has lots to do outdoors including walks on the blue flag beaches and the Giant’s Causeway – and indoors, particularly the iconic Barry’s amusements and award winning Ramore Winebar and Harbour Bar for food, the seaside town of Portrush was the ideal location.

We hit the jackpot when it came to accommodation with our friend suggesting a five star hostel Portrush Townhouse Boutique Hostel, an option I hadn’t even considered. But with four children in tow we gave it a go – and  were very pleasantly surprised!

Portrush Boutique Hostel

Portrush Boutique Hostel

Used to booking family rooms in hotels, keeping a toddler amused within the confined space never mind the many  hidden dangers (sharp cupboard edges, drinks cabinets, low drawers, to name a few) always proves quite a challenge.

Arriving at the hostel with a very warm welcome we were delighted to discover that the very grand looking Victorian townhouse has throughout its lively past accommodated many travellers from around the globe.

We were more than impressed that our studio apartment room in fact encompassed a whole wing of the house! We even had our very own lockable entrance door.

The extra space was such an unexpected luxury, enabling Eve and Luca some extra room for when they go through their nightly energetic stage (aka jumping around like lunatics, shouting and letting off steam before bed).

There was a small yet ample kitchen equipped with pots, pans, oven, sink – absolutely everything you need to cook up a meal or just make a cup of tea. All we had to do was bring the food.

A small corridor lead to the spacious main room itself which contained; a double bed and a set of bunk beds, a sofa and wicker chairs, a large TV and a dining table with chairs.

Studio apartment suite

Studio apartment suite

We also had an en-suite bathroom with a shower just off our main  room. The entire house was dripping in period detail which added to its unique charm.

The kitchen was ideal for keeping wandering little hands away from the kettle – a battle we struggle with each time we stay in a hotel.  The fridge was ideal for storing  perishable items, including Luca’s dairy free butter and milk – something we found very difficult to do in a hotel resulting in the food going off.

We were also able to rustle up some late night rounds of toast for supper and porridge made with dairy free milk in the morning for Luca – something that wouldn’t have been possible had we been in a hotel.

Everyone loved being in such close proximity to one another yet having a bit more personal space than a hotel room would allow! We could all easily watch the tv screen from the comfort of our beds – and boy were they comfortable, so comfortable and luxurious infact that I really struggled to drag myself out of bed in the morning.

There was free wifi and the option of breakfast which was located in the basement of the house, after descending a beautiful authentic black wrought iron  spiral staircase in the lounge room was another quirky feature adding to the character of the house.

As the hostel was so central all the main attractions were easily within walking distance.  After a long walk on the beach and around the town we had walked up an appetite which only the sea air can induce. We dined in the Portrush Atlantic Hotel and wolfed down every last bite of the food.

Portrush Atlantic Hotel

Exhausted from our adventures we settled back into the hostel for the night, making supper and a very much appreciated cup of tea before a movie in bed – that we were all much too exhausted to watch to the end.

After a lovely breakfast spent along with the other guests in the homely kitchen, where we helped ourselves to a basic breakfast (my second of the morning!) with tea, we were feeling refreshed and ready for action again.

We were all in unanimous agreement that the hostel was unlike any hotel we had ever stayed in, in fact our experience at the Portrush Boutique Townhouse Hostel was every bit as good as (if not better than)  staying in a five star hotel (minus the swimming pool).

The absolute best bit about it was the price! At an amazing £75 for our one night stay it is unbeatable value for money, especially for a family of six! We will most definitely come back again.

Saying a fond farewell to our friends we headed off on a long trek, taking in the breathtaking views along the coastal walk to the Ramore Head.

Ramore Head photo credit: travel.aol.co.uk

Ramore Head photo credit: travel.aol.co.uk

We again  walked up a ferocious appetite, and as the end of the walk way naturally brought us within close proximity to the nicest eatery around, the Ramore Harbour Bistro, we stopped off for a very delicious, truly sumptuous lunch – it would have been rude not to!

Ramore-Wine-Bar

With our tummies full we made a final stop off at the indoor funfair that is a major tourist attraction in Portrush – Barry’s Amusements  – in the blistering heat! What Eve wants Eve gets! I can’t say I was sorry to be in the shade, as I was worried about the boys getting the full effects of the sun at the hottest time of day. After wiling away a few hours (and more than a few pounds!) we set off for granny and granda’s house on the way home to tell them all about our travels.

BIG DIPPER

 

Disclaimer: This is in no way an ad, just our own honest opinions.