Day Trips

Family Days Out| Dalriada Festival 18

 

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Excited small person ready to go!

This weekend I grabbed the small people and off we went to the Dalriada Festival.  I’d never been before but the website made the whole thing look pretty great so I was over the moon when our local radio station Cool FM gave me some free tickets.

We were only able to make it up on the Sunday and it was tipping it down when we arrived but the small people were too excited to care.  The setting of the festival was beautiful!  I wish I had been able to bring the proper camera to take photos of the scenery but sadly you are going to have to make do with some phone photos as I didn’t want to risk getting it damaged in the rain.

Tea Party

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We took a quick look at the map and decided our first port of call would be the Punjana Tea Party.  It was set in an open tent with some beautiful ladies performing songs we were able to sing along to.  In an effort of reducing our waste at the event we brought our own picnic along and munched on it while sipping our tea.  I was pleased the cups had no caps, one less bit of waste however I was sad that the buns my mum decided to buy came on a polystyrene plate.  I’d love to see them change this to real crockery or paper plates in the future.

After our lunch we wondered through a tent filled with stalls the kids tried strange and wonderful flavours of cheese including strawberry cheese and seaweed cheese.  Annabelle loved it and so we bought some seaweed cheese for her to enjoy at home.  She then spotted a stand full of American sweets and what kid doesn’t love American sweets? I was also pleased to see a Tropic skincare stand.  I managed to try their sunscreen which I have been itching to try for a while.  It smelt beautiful, a little coconut like.  Ingredient wise it is pretty amazing looking too, Tropic are an all natural range of products with are proudly cruelty free and vegan.

Music

main stageThe main stage had some great fun acts on and the kids thoroughly enjoyed themselves having a dance (as did my dad).  Matt Cardle was playing in the evening which would have been wonderful to see had the kids been able to last that long.  I can imagine if you were staying for the weekend the main stage would be guaranteed fun to dip in and out of.

Kids Zone

With a whole lot of the festival dedicated to the kids having fun we spent a good amount of time and money putting the kids on rides.  There was a great selection available and you could no doubt spend a clean fortune but they did have other things for the kids to see such as the PJ Masks and Tractor Ted.

Let’s not forget this is also the home of the wife carrying contest, a course of hay bales and paddling pools for men to run through while their wives hang over their shoulders.  All looks a bit mental but it’s all in good fun.

So I guess once you know what all was going on you would wonder “Would you go back?” – well the answer is a big fat YES!  Yes I would go back again and I fully intend to bring the kids again next year but with a caravan to make the most of the weekend rather than a day trip.  We left early this year due to the kids being tired out but had we brought a caravan they could have taken a nap and gone on to have so much more fun.  Who knows, we might even bring the fur baby with us as they allow dogs into the festival so long as they are on leads.  We adored seeing everyone’s dogs and stopped to talk and pat so many dogs it was an animal lovers dream.

We were sad to leave but until next year Dalriada, we will see you for #DalFest19 .

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beauty

Cruelty free Sunscreen for all the family

Sunscreen is one of those things we should all be using to protect our skin from damage and those pesky signs of aging.  Regularly when advising people to wear sunscreen people ask me “yeah but where can you get a cruelty free one?” and so with that in mind and the sunshine starting to peep out, I’ve thrown together a few of my favorites to set you on your way to your perfect match when it comes to cruelty free sunscreen.

Ultrasun 

Ultrasun new range web

I make it no secret that I love Ultrasun and I use their facial SPF on the daily.  It isn’t the cheapest but it does dry in with a lovely matte finish making it so easy to apply my make-up over the top.

Ultrasun provide a great range to cover all bases when it comes to SPF and even do a range of SPF with “Glimmer” for those of us who like to shine.  If you have delicate skin, I know you have to worry that little bit more about sun protection but this one is also a winner for you as they have products that are especially good for sensitive skin.  Their range has no perfumes, no preservatives and a dry touch technology to stop you feeling greasy.

You can grab the Ultrasun range in M&S via QVC or through their own website here.

(The Ultrasun range is vegan friendly with the exception of their lip products which are vegetarian)

Pixi Sun Mist

Pixi Sun Mist SPF

Pixi aren’t exactly well known for their sunscreen as the range is limited but they do have this great product for spraying under or over your make-up.

With our face being exposed to the elements more than the rest of our body I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to get SPF on our faces daily.  Sometimes your make-up or moisturiser will have an SPF built in but I would rather my moisturiser do what I buy it to do – moisturise, so I put mine on as a separate stage.  I tend to give my face a few minutes for my moisturiser to sink in before adding SPF and then another minute or so to be sure it is dry before I apply makeup.

Again this is available in M&S and on their website here.

(The Pixi Sun Mist is suitable for vegans)

Solait

Superdrug Solait SPF

Let’s hear it for Superdrug!  Superdrug is a store who offer cruelty free products by the bucket load as their own brand products are all 100% cruelty free.

With Superdrug being a high street store that is accessible to most of us and with a price point that is pretty pocket friendly, I can imagine many of us will be wearing this over the summer.  I know my kids will be wearing it for sure!  My kids always seem to use so much more sunscreen than adults.  Between their sports days, playing out at nursery and those days at the beach when they are running around all day refusing to keep their sun hats on or to stay in the shade in favour of wearing nothing but their swim wear and sunscreen I end up going through loads of it on the 3 of them.

You can check out the Solait range in store or on their website here and is currently on buy one get one half price.

(The Solait range is vegan friendly)

Lacura

Lacura sun screen

Lacura is an Aldi own brand and if you weren’t aware already, 2018 became the year Aldi went all out on the cruelty free front and all of their own brand products are now leaping bunny certified.

Sadly I have no Aldi near me (honestly, it pains me as I REALLY want to try their hot cloth cleanser!) and I am unable to say if the range is suitable for vegans.  If you live near a store and do the grocery shop there then do have a look at the range when you are next in store and you can let me know if it looks like a vegan friendly range.

You can buy the Lacura range in Aldi or on the Aldi website.

Sun Smart

M&S SPF

My 5th and final suggestion for your sunscreen is the M&S own brand Sun Smart.  All these cruelty free own brands show that stores really are picking up on the fact that the cruelty free market IS important to get into.  We are an ever growing group of people demanding cruelty free products every time we vote with our money and refuse to buy from brands who are still testing on animals when it clearly isn’t needed.

As with Superdrug and Aldi, M&S own brand beauty products are all cruelty free and with them stocking so many other cruelty free brands alongside their own, it really is a haven for cruelty free shoppers to flock to.

As with the other own brands, you can pick this up in any Marks and Spencers store or on their website.  The Sun Smart range is currently 30% off so grab it quick if you’re off on an early summer holiday.

(This range is listed as suitable for vegetarians)

Have I missed any of your favorite cruelty free suncare brands?  Feel free to comment below to let us know of other suncare ranges we should be checking out.

beauty

Lush are a step above the rest when it comes to breastfeeding mums!

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I make no bones about telling people I love my job because I really do.  I’ve worked for Lush for 4 years and been on maternity leave twice in that time.  Most recently I returned to work just over a month ago when Ethan was 8 months old.

Ethan like my girls is breastfed, however, unlike my girls he won’t take a bottle and barely takes a drop from a cup.  We have tried a variety of formula brands all of which he rejected and I express in work to send a bottle of expressed milk in for him to refuse to drink in nursery each day.  Because of this, he drinks a lot of milk during the night to make up for what he isn’t drinking during the day.

Fast forward to me being asked to go to Cardiff with work for a managers meeting…. for 4 days!  There is no way I could leave Ethan for 3 nights when he is refusing fluids other than his breastfeeds.   Queue the people support team being asked if I could bring Ethan with me to the meeting.  I figured I could either keep him with me at all times or leave him with a responsible adult during meetings to still enable me to nurse him morning, evening and night to ensure he has enough fluids.

Their response was overwhelmingly good!  Not only did they say I could bring Ethan but they would also pay for me to bring somebody to watch him while I was in meetings.  Yes, they are flying me over with Ethan and my mum for the 4 day trip to ensure that I feel supported in both my return to work and in my breastfeeding journey.

Lush have made some amazing changes in the last 6 months, from paying all staff the living wage to increasing maternity pay to 6 months full pay before statutory maternity pay kicks in. And from my experience I also believe they are going above and beyond what is expected to keep staff supported and motivated with regards to returning to work after having a baby.  Heck, they even pay for 20 hours of nursery care each week to help take the financial strain off mothers returning to work.

So many women struggle to return to work after a baby and I feel very lucky to work for Lush, to feel that they really do have my back when it comes to maternity leave, returning to work and breastfeeding.   Here is hoping that while they continue to make positive changes and lead the way, the paving slabs they leave on their route will guide other companies to start treating the mothers on their teams with the same level of support and respect that I have experienced.

Without Lush helping make my return to work so pleasent, I can honestly say it is quite likely that not only wouldn’t I be going to this meeting, I quite likely would have contemplated not returning to work for a few years.  I know some mum’s enjoy staying at home and have the support to do so but I both need to work for financial reasons and for my sanity, though in spite of loving my job juggling kids, work and childcare is still bloody hard work so thank you Lush for making it as easy and financially viable as possible for me to come back to work after baby number 3.  You quite simply rock as an employer.

 

 

Day Trips

First night out after having a baby…

Ethan is 3 months old today and Saturday was my work Christmas party.  I know I am on maternity leave but I love my team at Lush and I wanted to enjoy the night out with them.

The bit that most people find hard was actually my less stressful part, picking an outfit and some jewellery to go with it.  Although stupidly I didn’t realise one of the strands on my necklace was broken when I bought it.  Thankfully it was an easy fix with some Loctite glue though, yeay!  Secret Santa buying was a little tricky as I had never met the girl I was buying for but I went for safe options, a sparkly glass photo frame, scented candles and chocolate – if you work for Lush it is almost a given you will love these things… except the chocolate, my risk was i didn’t know if she was vegan (she wasn’t).

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Me all excited and ready to go.

The tricky bit is that Ethie pants is breastfed.  I went out and bought a new baby bottle and some formula to save me having to express and had it all on the bench sterilised and ready before I left.  I fed Ethan at 7 and left the house at 7:15 … got half way to my destination and then had to go home again as I forgot my secret Santa gift whoops.  I left again at 7:45, Ethan was sound asleep and I got to the restaurant for 8:15.

I was doing that thing, you know the one, where you constantly keep glancing at your phone to see if it is flashing to say you have a message?  I gave into my anxiousness and by 9:30 text only to find Ethan was still .  Phew, I was mighty impressed he was giving his daddy an easy night.  A false sense of security really as then he started to stir.  Daddy got the bottle ready and the milk warmed up, thinking he was on the ball but Ethan had other ideas.  The poor wee man went into melt down, refused point blank to take his bottle and cried his wee heart out no matter how much daddy cuddled and tried to distract him.

I managed to shovel the last bit of dessert into me before everyone else had even started theirs and vanished to head home by 10pm to my hungry little man.  I was home by 10:30 which meant he was fed only 3 1/2 hours after his last feed in spite of him acting like he had been starved for days.  This photo is the wee scamp once I had fed him.  As if nothing was ever wrong ha!

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Despite the mini drama of the wee man only wanting mummy to feed him, I had an enjoyable (all be it brief) time out with my friends.  I loved meeting the Christmas temps we have this year and I’m rather sad I haven’t had the joy of working with them as they seem a rather smart and lovely bunch.

I also brought home the most wonderful secret Santa gift.  My love for chocolate is well known and I was gifted super festive white chocolate and peppermint M&Ms and what looked like a little storage jar.  It was only when I read the tag I realised how wonderful the jar was, it contains 31 little folded up pieces of paper each with a motivational/inspirational note.  I love any excuse to start the day on a high and so I plan to use this gift for the month of January to keep myself starting the days off positively.

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With regards to the M&Ms I had to google to check the red food colouring was veggie friendly and true story, apparently it is made from coal!?  Very very odd…. I still ate it though!

So what would I take from my slightly failed attempt at my first night out?  If there is an event coming up and you can’t bring the baby, just plan to go to it anyway.  If it doesn’t work and you have to go home so be it.  You still get the fun of dressing up and getting out of the house didn’t you?  Worst case scenario, you go home early.  There is no point in not enjoying the time you are there and no point beating yourself up over leaving early and the baby getting a bit upset over their milk not arriving in their format of choice.

Day Trips

The Rink – Portadown

Today I took Annabelle, Ethan and my niece Hannah out to The Rink which is on the outskirts of Portadown.

I first took Annabelle to this place last winter because she wanted to go skating but I didn’t really want to take her all the way to Dundonald to go ice-skating.  However, although it is closer for me to travel to, if you have never been before, I will warn you that it is a little out in the sticks and if like today the main road is closed, you do have to drive down narrow country roads to get there.

Opening hours are a little longer this week for Halloween break and so we headed over straight after lunch.  Annabelle brought her own skates and we hired skates for Hannah as she doesn’t own any.  They seem to have got new skates in recently and they looked super cute!  The total cost was £8 and for that the girls could spend as long as they liked skating.

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Hannah wearing the cute hire skates

Sadly I was unable to skate with them today as I had Ethan in the sling but I spent over 2 hours dancing and singing along to the playlist (which was pretty great) while the girls skated around.  The staff were lovely and even offered to let me sit in the party room with the heater on if I felt Ethan was getting cold.  He was actually pretty toasty warm in the sling so we just stayed in the normal seating area but it was still nice of them to offer.

They have a small tuc shop on site for the kids to get snacks, fizzy drinks and hot drinks.  Today the girls both had hot chocolates to keep the chill away when they sat down for a break.  Most drinks cost £1 and although the range isn’t massive there are always several options to pick from.

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Aero hot chocolates to warm them up

Today was the first time I realised that The Rink is actually a charity.  The Rink is a not for profit social enterprise setup by Love Hockey Ireland to provide a setting for their charitable objectives and to provide a revenue for the charities sustainability.  A member of staff was telling me that when Annabelle outgrows her skates, if she wants to donate them to The Rink rather than a charity shop, they will give her a free skate pass which is definitely worth thinking about when the time comes.

Even as we left today I was being asked when we cold go back, they never seem to tire of this place. Opening times regularly change over holiday periods so remember to check their website before visiting – The Rink

Annabelle & Hannah gave The Rink 4.5/5

Day Trips

Halloween half term day trip – W5 Belfast

This morning we all woke up later than normal and the Tesco shop was due between 10 and 11 so it was all a bit of a flap.  However, as we wanted to go on a day trip, we managed to get a pack lunch thrown together for the family and everyone dressed and out of the house before 12 noon to head out on our day trip.  Because we arrived at the Odyssey (or should I say the SSE Arena – I can’t be the only one who refuses to call it that right?) at lunch time, it is fair to say that W5 was already packed full of families and kids.

From the moment we got in, Mimi was like a little kid in a sweet shop, running from activity to activity with bags of enthusiasm and the energy of 10 energizer bunnies.  Annabelle had been before but she was still having a great time and Ethan, well he slept through most of the trip.

They currently have a Monster Manor section up for Halloween week and Annabelle had been looking forward to it, however I found it a little weak.  It consisted of mainly projections on walls and scenes set up behind barriers.  Nothing interactive or tactile for the kids to play with as they passed through.  This section was however the exception as every other section and floor was packed full of things to do.

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Monster Manor – W5

The discovery section is sponsored by The Outlet in Banbridge and it was the big winner for Amelia.  Mini versions of a Spar, a cafe, a kitchen, a stage to put on your own concert and a massive dolls house were some of the highlights for Amelia.  She must have spent a good half hour at the dolls house alone and was so well behaved.  I would happily go back for this section alone to keep her amused.

Annabelle had the best time on Climbit which was what I would describe as a climbing structure made out of lily pads that ascended a full 4 floors of the building!  I’m not sure how long they are keeping this exhibit but it is well worth going to if you want your kids to burn off lots of energy climbing up and down the structure.

Overall we spent close to 4 hours there with the kids and for £23.50 it was well worth the money.  Under 3’s are free and they offer a family season ticket for under £10 a month which I am sorely tempted to buy as it seems a great way to give the kids a day trip out without spending a fortune all the time.

Annabelle gave W5  a kids rating of 4.5/5

Uncategorized

Me, my life and I

Maternity leave is a funny thing.  It’s a time when I feel a bit fed up and bored in spite of being busy and tired with a new baby.

When I was pregnant with my first I was still going to gigs and doing a bit of work on artist to fan social interaction which was fun.  I also enjoyed pregnancy yoga classes and did a first aid course just for the craic. Once I had Annabelle it was a huge learning curve about how to look after a baby and doing lots of research on everything from the best cloth nappies and feeding routines to baby yoga and massage routines.

When I was pregnant with my second I decided I would go and train to be a massage therapist!  I still remember the look on the tutors face when I rocked up to the first class at 38 weeks pregnant “Are you okay? Can I help you find where you are going?” … little did she realise her class WAS where I was going.  I took 2 weeks off class when Amelia was born and then cracked on with getting my massage qualification.   My theory being that because I work for Lush, if I ever want to manage a Lush Spa, I will already have my massage qualification in the bag.  Alternatively, if I ever leave Lush, I have a new skill under my belt.

This time I haven’t signed up for anything and pottering about the house is sending me slowly stir crazy.  Of course little Ethan is wonderful and I enjoy spending time with him and the girls but I also feel like my “time off” should be used productively.  I am flitting between wanting to do a photography course, train to be a yoga teacher or signing up for my masters!  All are things I would enjoy learning and all would be useful in life… however for now I have decided to blog while I make up my mind.

I am hoping that a blog will give me an outlet to work through ideas in my head and to track what is going on in life.  It may even stop me doing things impulsively without thinking (a normal thing for me – I like to jump first and think after).

I can’t guarantee what this blog will end up covering but I imagine it will incorporate the things I live and love ranging from my kids to beauty products or healthy living and vegetarian or vegan recipes that I am loving.  Why not join me by following and see where the journey takes us…