A Holiday at Home

Last week, I took the girls away for a few days to Rostrevor. I’d never stayed there before and I hadn’t expected the panoramic views. We had a few foggy drives through what looked like images of nineteenth century Ireland. When we got there, we went to Kilbroney Park. As with everywhere we go, the playground was the main attraction for the girls. After they played (and I started to feel time standing still!) we went for a long walk to the bottom of the hill where we found the Fairy Glen. It is a little walk beside a river and its name comes from folklore that claims fairies emerged there at night time to dance. It was a peaceful walk and the girls enjoyed watching the little waterfalls and the river running. It didn’t have any added features to it, but there was something about the lighting and the water that made it seem a little magical. People in the town had made a painted rock snake that anyone in the community could add to. The girls loved stopping to look at all the designs on them. They were particularly taken with a family of ladybirds.

Later, we drove to Warrenpoint and walked along the promenade. It was a bright day and Carlingford Lough was beautiful. The girls love watching boats now, even when they aren’t going anywhere 🙂 We walked along the rocky beach and then found a spot of sand for them to play with their buckets and spades. Afterwards, we walked to a Victorian park. The gardens are really well kept and the girls always love anywhere with a bandstand to dance on 🙂 There was a playground there too. It started to feel like our holiday was a tour of Northern Ireland’s playgrounds 🙂 After constant walking and playing, I tried to get the girls to sit down on a bench and look at the flowers and appreciate just sitting doing nothing. It didn’t really work, but I’m going to keep trying anyway 🙂 They ended up getting up and sniffing each of the flowers to see if it had a scent, which I decided was just as valuable.

The timing of our trip was good because it meant that we could use the Eat out to help out scheme. We went to an Italian restaurant and the girls ate all the seafood toppings on my pizza 🙂 No matter where we go to, they seem to order chicken goujons and then pinch the parts of other people’s meals they like 🙂

The next day, we did the Narnia Trail at Kilbroney Park. They have a treasure hunt for kids and you start by walking into the wardrobe and finding different carvings from the story along the way.

We drove to the upper car park and did the short hike to the Big Stone at the top. The views were amazing and even after complaints from my daughter about sore legs, she said it was her favourite thing from our trip 🙂

The following day, I took the girls into Warrenpoint again. It was raining heavily all day, but we just worked round the weather. They were sad to see that the children’s bookshop they wanted to go to wasn’t open that day. But the window display was enough to entertain them for a little while. Sometimes I think kids like looking as much as they like buying, because as soon as they do, the items are forgotten about 🙂 I think even as an adult it’s good to have things to wish for. It gives you something to work towards and motivates you to save.

The girls spotted a little sit-in bakery, so we went inside for a drink. They had chocolate covered gingerbread men. We also found a little clothes shop for the girls to spend their pocket money in. They found jewellery for £5 each and clip on earrings, so that kept them happy 🙂

We returned to the Narnia Trail since the girls enjoyed it so much. Afterwards we called into the cafe at the park for mini ice lollies/coffee and got all of them for £3 again 🙂 I’m enjoying the fact you can eat out so cheaply at the minute. Even if it’s just a cup of coffee, it makes a big difference.

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We did a little tour of the village on foot. They have lines of poetry displayed on the walls and it’s like a treasure hunt finding them all 🙂 We came across a cute bookshop. Unfortunately it wasn’t open, but I would like to return to see it. The shops seem to have limited opening hours. I don’t know if that’s because of the virus or because there is just a more laid back vibe to that part of the country 🙂

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On our last night there, we had dinner in the hotel and then went for a walk in the Fairy Glen since it had brightened up outside. The girls seemed to slow down and take time to look at views more and the river running by the end of the holiday. I think the break did their busy minds good, and it did mine good too 🙂

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Small Thoughts to Make You Smile

I felt the need to write a positive post today. I like to reflect upon the good things that have happened in each individual day in spite of what is going on around us and it feels particularly needed at the moment.

One of my daughters was off school today for exceptional closure and the other was in preschool, so I got to spend some quality time with my older daughter. We are rarely alone together and it was strangely calm without my little whirlwind there 🙂 We were glad to welcome her back at pick-up though.

I wore my most vivid outfit to counteract the darkness surrounding us 🙂 We took advantage of the beautiful weather and walked to my daughter’s school. It was eerily quiet with the primary schools closed, but the sky was an amazing shade of blue and it was nice to bypass all the usual traffic. I took some pictures of how peaceful and blue-skied the morning was.

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I’ve decided to make greater effort to support local businesses. I tend to go through phases of doing so and then I return to a shop where I can buy everything in one place. So, we went to a local butchers and fruit shop. It was a good opportunity to use the cute fabric vegetable bags I got from a market a while ago 🙂 The fruit looks so much fresher and my daughter enjoyed selecting fruit and veg and putting them in our bags 🙂 I also got taking to a lady in a queue, which wouldn’t ordinarily happen when you’re rushing around a major supermarket. I’ve decided to just go with the flow and embrace a simpler way of life for now. Not everything about our fast-paced living is a positive thing and I think some time for meditation could do us a lot of good, mentally.

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My daughter and I had a coffee date in Tim Hortons. (She requested it and I decided she’d more than earned it after the miles of the walking.)  She loves gingerbread men and I was amazed that she finished it and her entire cup of hot chocolate before I’d even finished my coffee 🙂 Of course, we had to sit on the highest stools there.

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This evening, I’ve been writing and thinking of recipes and ideas I can share in the coming weeks. I brought out my old cure for sadness tonight – wine and Percy Pigs 🙂 I’ve been limiting the amount of time I spend reading the news and taking the  time to listen to dreamy music, light candles and fill my world at home with things to feed my soul.

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Cheap, Easy Ways to Feel More Positive

20 Easy Ways to Feel More Positive About Life

I always find when I’m feeling negative that if I physically create something positive it shifts my mindset. Over-thinking can leave you feeling incapacitated, but if you can take some sort of small, positive action it helps you to quiet your worries.

Here are a few ideas of things to do to feel more positive:

  • Clear things out. Throwing things out makes you feel like you’re getting rid of the crap that’s in your head too. Having less visible clutter makes you feel more at peace  (which is why mine is mostly shoved into cupboards. Out of sight, out of mind, at least until it falls on my head.) Bagging up items to give to charity is a good form of distraction too.
  • Buy a notebook with a cheerful cover or caption on it. Get a new pen and start a journal with a huge to-do list of only pleasant things. (No boring or dreaded reminders allowed.)
  • Plan a nearby holiday. It could be camping, staying in a cheap B&B in a town you don’t know well or visiting a friend. Give yourself a budget  and plan for a few months away. It feels more attainable than a big summer holiday overseas.
  • Get supplies for a new project. Learn how to make jewellery, learn a new language, start painting. Get supplies in the pound shop or discount book shops.
  • Make a calendar just to pencil in books you want to read each month/week, or in my case, year.
  • Make fudge and when you’re finished eat all of it 🙂
  • Make a gift basket or hamper for someone you know.
  • Empty your wardrobe and put everything back in new outfit combinations.
  • Buy writing icing, sparkly sprinkles and confetti and decorate buns or a cake in a really extravagant way.
  • Make mood playlists. “Hyped up mood/chilled out mood/happy mood/get me out of this grumpy mood bloody quickly” music.
  • Write someone you usually text a handwritten letter.
  • Change a room around. Add small decorations or move furniture around to give it a new feel.
  • Sit in a dark room filled with candles and enjoy silence. If you don’t have a fireplace listen to videos online of the sound of fire crackling.
  • Have a hot shower with your favourite scent of shower gel. It’s good to have one to wake you up and one to put you to sleep. At the minute, mine are a lemon and chilli one and a marshmallow one.
  • Put up fairy lights for no reason.
  • Make cocktails and appetisers just for yourself.
  • Go back to paper reading. Have a magazine-reading marathon.
  • Have a picnic somewhere tranquil where all you can hear is water, leaves rustling or birds.
  • I read in one of my kids’ books that if you’re worried you should draw lots of clouds to help your worries float away. I wonder if thirty is too old for this type of thing? I imagine it to be quite relaxing.
  • Get new sheets, spray them with lavender and have a restorative sleep (if you have kids, obviously skip step three.)

What do you like to do when you’re having a bad day?