Park Picnics, Exploring Islands & Beach-Combing

It feels like I haven’t posted in a long time. Life has been so busy. I always find June to be a hectic month with the end of term demands. We have been fitting in simple things at the weekend to decompress and I’ve been making time to write when the girls are in school.

My daughter recently finished school earlier than my other daughter, so we had a little lunch date in the park. I recently got rollerblades, which I still haven’t had the bravery to wear outside the garden! My kids got a basketball while we were there so we could take it to the park and play basketball together, so we brought it with us. We played for a little while and then we found a table for a picnic. It was one of the few times I’ve been to that park when it was empty. We just chatted, watched the birds, looked at the roses and watched the planes landing and taking off. I love when the roses bloom. It gives me hope that we might still actually get some summery weather. We have had a few days of sunshine, but at the moment, it feels like Winter!

I recently published my first art book. It is filled with paintings and thoughts of life and painting. It’s designed to be a gentle, uplifting read with pictures to daydream to. You can find it here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Words-Paintings-Keelan-LaForge/dp/B0B45DX9XG/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=keelan+laforge&qid=1656447602&sprefix=keelan+laforge%23%2Caps%2C183&sr=8-1

We visited a place called Island Hill. It’s a nature reserve with a little island you can walk to on a path. You just have to be careful because the tides are a bit unpredictable and someone told me they got stuck there once and had to quickly wade through the water to get back. It always makes me think of The Famous Five and reading adventure books as a kid, dreaming about having my own island πŸ™‚ We found a crab that was still alive while we were there and took it in turns holding it. That’s the first time I’ve ever found one, so it felt like a special moment πŸ™‚ We found a quiet spot on the island to have our picnic. We just had some things thrown together that I already had in the house πŸ™‚ I love lazy picnics as much as elaborate ones. I think eating in the sunshine makes everything taste good πŸ™‚

I’ve been enjoying the simple things like coffee in the morning, reading, writing, eating a pain au chocolat, eating in the garden (when we can!) The girls and I had our first barbecue of the year. I love cooking on the barbecue and having some chilled cider on a sunny evening and the kids are always happy to eat hotdogs on a picnic blanket πŸ™‚

I made some more lemon drizzle cake and some chocolate chip cookies. I love baking, but I need to stop baking so often as then I feel obliged to eat it πŸ™‚ Sharing it out makes me happy though. I started working on a new painting. I have yet to finish the shadow in it but I know the title of it and how I want it to look when its finished.

I took the girls to their favourite frozen yogurt place. They say I never take them there and that I always say no, so I decided to surprise them πŸ™‚ I think they just love the fact they get to dispense it themselves and add sweets on top. I had one too. I still far prefer the gelato place, but I can see the appeal for kids πŸ™‚

I went for an artist’s date to the beach on my own. The weather was beautiful and I was one of the only people there πŸ™‚ It was so peaceful walking around and just having some time alone in nature. I love doing mindful activities even when my kids aren’t there, like looking for pretty shells and crabs πŸ™‚

I decided to repot some plants when I got home and to paint my garden table. I got a sunny shade of yellow to cheer up the garden. Little projects like that always improve my mood. I still have to do a second coat on the table, but it turned out much more vibrant than I would have expected πŸ™‚

While my kids were in school, my mum and I had one of our coffee dates. We got some croissants and coffees and sat in Nero for a long time. I was lucky to beat the queue after the school run and we got to chat and catch up. My mum bought one of my art prints – she is always my best customer and supporter with anything I create πŸ™‚ She treated me to a beautiful bunch of flowers. We finally got round to having lunch in Bao Bun. We have been talking about getting their lunch offer since it opened, so we finally got around to it on the girls’ last Friday in school. I love the food there; everything tastes so fresh and you can pick whatever combination of meat, veg and sauce, etc that you like.

After school, I took the kids back to the farm. We are making good use of our summer pass πŸ™‚ It’s such a quick way to escape the buzz of Belfast and get some fresh air. We got to hold a bunny and feed some rabbits and guinea pigs. The girls had a great time on the go-karts, on the straw bounce and in the farm play area. We had some tea and snacks we brought with us and sheltered from the blustery wind in the barn πŸ™‚

On Saturday, we tried a park we’d never been to in our area. It had a great playground for kids and we brought along some pasta salad I made for a park picnic πŸ™‚ It was still incredibly windy, but it was refreshing and I enjoyed being outside. It also meant the place was deserted, so it felt like we had our own personal park. My boyfriend and I went on the swings too and played like kids. Then, we went to the Strand cinema for a free screening of Matilda. We got some snacks from the shop there – I love the matinee special because you get popcorn, sweets and a drink for Β£3 πŸ™‚ Sometimes we just bring our own snacks when I’m trying to be more frugal πŸ™‚

We ended our day out with a trip to a local shopping centre with the best view from its food court. We got some coffee and cookies from Subway and the girls had a play in the kids’ area. It’s a great and inexpensive way to spend an afternoon πŸ™‚

On Sunday, we just went to my parents’ village to visit them. We went to a little market that is held in their town every weekend. It was the craft market that time, but we have been to the food market before too. The girls got some hand-knitted teddies that they loved. We browsed the stalls. There was a man with a stall that had created lots of ornaments made from found objects. I loved how inventive they were. He had made little animals and figures out of rocks, bolts and scraps of metal. I think it was called Shoreline Crafts (or something similar!) There was a lady selling framed pictures who was wearing the best jacket I’d ever seen πŸ™‚ She said that the lady at the next stall had made it for her – it was patchwork and lovely summery colours. I wish I got her business card now πŸ™‚ Sometimes markets can be a bit of a blur when there is so much to take in. My boyfriend and I tried some delicious olive oil from Greece. We will have to return on a day when the weather is less tempestuous. The stallholders packed up early and we ended up sheltering under an archway while we had some takeaway coffees. It was a short trip, but we enjoyed it. I’d like to go to the food market too; they sell different cheeses and fish, etc. I’ve been once before and it was much busier than on Sunday. Sometimes I like finding places empty, even though it’s a pity for the sellers.

I have uploaded a new video to my YouTube channel, also called “The Funky Thrifter.” Please feel free to subscribe. I hope to do a giveaway soon of one of my books and some extra treats πŸ™‚ https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJdHd3DnJvvbF1xV1DhC_Tw/videos

You can also find my art prints here: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/TillysHat You can use the discount code SAVE10 to get 10% off and I will sign each print πŸ™‚

I am also giving away my poetry book for free on Kindle today: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Soul-Poems-Collection-Keelan-LaForge-ebook/dp/B09CNK94DZ/ref=sr_1_9?crid=375OQYGRDTVQZ&keywords=keelan+laforge&qid=1656497505&sprefix=keela%2Caps%2C251&sr=8-9

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