A Week of Fairs, Workshops & Rock Painting

This week has been busy; so much so that I haven’t had time to record anything on here. I always find my blog posts dwindle on the days my kids are at school since that leaves less time for adventures 🙂

Today, we went to Frock Around the Clock at Belfast Castle. It’s a vintage/handmade market that is held in different venues in Northern Ireland. I think Belfast Castle is my favourite spot for it because it feels grand and regal inside and goes with the feel of the market. There are also lots of little side rooms to sip your coffee in when you want to escape the crowds.
It was a day that couldn’t really decide what weather it wanted to have. We arrived in mist, got caught in a rain shower and left in sunshine, but the views were spectacular and it made me realise I need to make more effort to visit the Cavehill and walk the trails with the girls.

I had a non-thrifty day and made a few too many purchases today, but when items are handmade and unique, I find it hard to resist 🙂 There was a lady that made her own preserves and I got some apple butter and tried some of her pumpkin marmalade. It sounds a strange combination but worked really well 🙂 I find that markets are bearable with kids as long as you intersperse shopping with snack breaks and find food stalls/crafts that interest them. 

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There was a lady who had made miniature book necklaces. They had pages that turn and little pressed flowers stuck between the leaves. I bought one that was a poetry collection from Whitman. It has tiny print inside and even gold edged pages 🙂

The girls were happy to find some homemade, heart-shaped Jammie Dodgers. Food always saves the day when they are getting restless. There were so many stalls and interesting people to talk to that we spent hours there. My kids discovered their distaste for dark chocolate (but everything is an experience:)) I wanted to buy everything at this stall.

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After having coffee and a final look around, we went outside to explore the grounds. The girls were taken by the water fountain and insisted on dropping coins in it and making wishes. There were tiled pictures of cats and little cat statues that gave a friendly feel to the place. I didn’t remember seeing them before. I love the views from the castle. It feels like you’re on your own special floor above the city. Watching the palm trees in the breeze really soothes my mind. I’ve been noticing lately I get much more irritable if I haven’t had fresh air. I can’t seem to spend an entire day cooped up in the house without feeling like my head is getting unhealthy. So, I’m going to make a point to get outside for a walk every day. It does the girls as much good as it does me. This gothic staircase provided more entertainment for my kids than any other kid-oriented activity could 🙂

At the fair, we ended up joining the Woodland Trust. I hadn’t thought to visit any of the forests before, but I’m always happy to uncover less frequented places to walk. They send out activity packs for kids based on their age and I’m going to make the effort this year to visit places we’ve never been to before. I want to spend some time teaching my kids about nature so they can recognise types of trees, flowers etc (and so I can too!)

Yesterday, I took the girls to the cinema for the free screening of Bedknobs and Broomsticks. I brought my own coffee and sweets for the kids to save on the expense of snacks. I booked the workshop for after the film which is £3 per child. I expected it to be a bit thrown together but it was well organised and hilarious 🙂 It was run by an actor who does workshops with kids and he joked around and got everyone in the room involved in pretending props were different objects, mime, freeze frames and creating scenes. Usually that type of thing would be my worst nightmare but it was done humorously and was well worth the money 🙂

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This week, we also had one sick day where both kids stayed at home. They were that level of sick that still requires busyness! So, we spent the day painting and cooking. We painted the rocks the girls had collected on our “holiday” last weekend. I just use a big piece of paper as a paint palette when we are using lots of different colours and separate paintbrushes for each colour. I find it results in less mixing and muddy colour combinations 🙂

We’ve had a busy week, between our outings, artistic endeavours and my new book being published, but it has been inspiring too and has given me plenty of ideas for future blog posts 🙂

 

A Day For Treats

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I place a lot of importance on treating myself, particularly since entering single parenthood, as it can leave you feeling depleted. I think everyone should have a weekly designated treats-day. It gives you a positive plan for the week in the midst of all of your obligatory ones. It is easier to neglect this practice as an adult than it is as a kid. If someone else isn’t supplying the treats, I say you should take it upon yourself to do so.

It doesn’t have to be extravagant and can include items that you already have in your house, if you are imaginative with what you have on hand.

I like to pick three or four items and set them aside as incentive to persevere until Friday’s bedtime. And by Friday afternoon, that is all that is sparing my sanity. Making it something deliberate and pre-planned, instead of just shoving chocolate into your mouth in a moment of despair, makes it feel more like you have properly been rewarded for your hard work. (Although the aforementioned is sometimes essential too.)

Just because you have financial constraints or limited time shouldn’t mean that you forego all forms of self-indulgence. (I am consciously skirting around the term “self-care” due to the frequency of its usage at the moment and my strong dislike for clichés.)

This week I have a more elaborate treat eagerly awaiting Friday’s bedtime, but often I just pull together something simple out of what I have lying around. (I always have a fully stocked sweetie cupboard anyway.)

Here are a few examples:

  • Hot chocolate with marshmallows
  • A magazine/free e-magazine on your library’s website.
  • A band you have yet to hear/ a record you found in a charity shop.

 

  • A hot water bottle
  • Incense sticks
  • A drink you haven’t tried before. This could be a homemade cocktail or just a flavoured fizzy drink. Whichever one you opt for, you should drink it out of a fancy glass.

 

  • New cosy bedsocks
  • A tub of your favourite ice-cream
  • A playlist of soothing songs

 

  • Fudge or chocolates
  • Loose leaf tea
  • A new tea cup

 

  • A new scented bath product or shower gel
  • A colouring book for adults
  • Popcorn

 

I find that the best treats are composed of something to eat, something to drink and something to do/an item that provides comfort 🙂

You could formulate any number of treats using this method and still have something different to look forward to each week. It’s weird how something so small can lift your mood.