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Getting Glasses- what really sells!

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My son has to get glasses. Since he was around 2 we were aware of a difficulty he had with his eyes dropping focus off to one side or another when concentrating. Since then he has been monitored by the consultants in the Children’s hospital, with the probability that in the future that he may need surgery to strengthen the muscle. After his most recent appointment the consultants decided that he should get glasses to force his eyes to work a bit harder.

This presented a problem- not because we don’t want him to get glasses, but because he did’t want them. So when we brought him into town we first went to Specsavers, and were left to our own devices to see what glasses we were going to get him. We had serious problems to start with, with him not wanting to try on any glasses. With the usual combination of cajoling and all we got him to try some on to see what would suit him, but could we get him to say what ones he liked! In the end we decided what ones there we thought would suit him.

Specsavers is only one of several opticians in town so we thought we’d check in some of the others. Our next stop was in Eyecare Plus. Again we were left to browse and try a few glasses on but he again didn’t engage. We got (forced) him to try different pairs and there were some that we liked the look of but they were not in a colour he liked. Which was his next excuse as to why he wouldn’t pick any of the ones we offered him. His sister did dry to help, and she found a host of novelty children’s glasses cases and he did actually warm to one of these which was blue in the shape of a crocodiles head- typical boy.

The attendant came over to us as my wife had asked if a particular pair were available in any colour other than pink. And she was great- she noticed my son playing with the glasses case and made a big deal of it showing how it was a crocodile on one side and another animal on the other. She asked him what glasses he liked and she offered us some advice. He would try on glasses for her and happily show them to her so she could see how they fitted and looked and told her which ones he liked.

Given how well he responded to them and how he liked what he was being offered which was a first for many things we decided to go with them for the glasses.

Leaving the shop it reminded me of another shopping trip with the lad, but this time when he was much younger maybe only 6 months old. Again we were shopping around town but this time for my wife and he screamed the place down every women’s shop we went into. He was OK in the men’s shops, children’s cloth shops everywhere else apart from the women’s clothes shops. Now wither it was because we were spending more time in them, I don’t know. All except for one.

My wife saw a lovely pair of shoes in the window of a shoe shop which alas is no longer there and when we went into the shop to try them on there were two young, attractive women working there. And he was happy to smile and laugh with them as they gave him loads of attention. He complained when we left.

And the shopping trip for his glasses was the same, absolutely no interest until a nice attractive young woman was giving him her attention and then he was putty in her hands.

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Now this doesn’t bode well for him for the future if this is how a pretty face can turn his head at such a young age, but it also shows that maybe it isn’t sex that sells but attractiveness, our minds just get dirtier as we get older.

Bundoran- A promise broken

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I know I should have written this around 4 weeks ago but with the summer, the kids and too much else to be done I’m only getting to it now. Hopefully I’ll make better progress over the next few weeks while the kids go back to school.

It’s terrible, but we promise our kids that they can do things that they look forward to and then the world conspires against us and the best you can hope for is to make the best out of a bad situation.

Well like every year we took a trip to Bundoran during our break in the North-West.

Bundoran caught on to this tourism industry early and has been a resort since 1777. There are lots of amusement arcades so as kids my parents tended to avoid it as they didn’t want us wasting our money on slot machines and rides.  

In the last 20 years there has been an improvement in facilities and attractions in the town, with the development of Waterworld and the Adventure Park as well as the whole town getting a bit of a facelift and clean up.

Bundoran is also a major Mecca for surfers with some of the best surf in Europe and a host of Surf shops in the town.

We’d promised to bring the kids to Waterworld for the day while my father in law went for a walk and then we’d all go for lunch.

We got to Waterworld at around 11 and I’ll not bore you with labouring over the full hour and 30 min we were waiting to get in. Suffice to say that we were initially told we couldn’t be let in due to crowding in the pool and the changing rooms, finally we were informed that there was a problem in the pump room but they couldn’t tell us what or how long it would take to fix and there was never a problem with crowding. It turns out that there was a problem with high levels of chlorine in the water causing major discomfort to the bathers, many getting their money back as they left. Why they left people queuing for hours, telling us false tales on the delay while still letting more people join the queue I can only put down to no respect for their customers and bad customer service.

We left Waterworld and met with Orla’s dad to get some lunch, heading straight to Stakes on Main St. near the bridge.

We’d eaten here before and while it’s not fancy food it is good decent grub, well priced and very family friendly. I had a burger which was lovely, my Father-in-law was very pleased with his fish and everyone had a great feed. Again.

Since the pool was off for the day, Orla brought the kids down to the Adventure Park while I brought Tomás on a walk to do some shopping so that he could have his nap.  Purchasing the multi-ride tiny tots wrist band which gave them loads of access to rides over a few hours for €11.95         

Aoife and Aidan Enjoying the rides at Bundoran Adventure Park

Aoife and Aidan Enjoying the rides at Bundoran Adventure Park

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Although I don’t enjoy this kind of thing my older pair loved it and had a great time on all the rides. No sooner was one finished than they had run off completely ignoring me or Orla to the next one to get in as much as they could. It was well worth it and the price.

In the end we couldn’t keep our promise of going to Waterworld but the kids had a great day in the Adventure Park so everyone left Bundoran happy.

The Great Escape

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In the days and years BK (Before Kids), you get to spend much of your free time with that person you have fallen in love with, someone you want to spend all your time with relaxing, going for walks, having dinner all those lovely things that young (and old) couples get to do together. Then you have kids, and your time together is limited, regardless of wither you want to go down the co-sleeping route with your child. The stresses and strains of family life, your kids demands on your time, the housework, homework, everything can have a major impact on the quality time spent with your partner.

We’ve always believed that in order to keep our relationship alive we need to make an effort to set a side time for each other. So when we’re up with my parents we occasionally go for a night out and catch a movie or a meal.

The 15th July is our wedding anniversary. This year we celebrate 10 years by getting a night away somewhere nice and my parents were more than happy to volunteer to mind all three of our kids for the night. So on we booked a room away in Crawfordsburn on the 14th July to stay in The Old Inn

The Old Inn, Crawfordsburn, Co. Down

The Old Inn, Crawfordsburn, Co. Down


We headed off before lunch and went around to explore Bangor, Co. Down and get some lunch. After which we headed to the hotel to check in and settle in our room.

The Old Inn stands on one of Ireland’s most ancient highways leading from Holywood Priory to the Parent Abbey at Bangor, founded by St. Comgall as a University in 570 AD. The thatched portion of The Old Inn is the most ancient and was formed circa 1600 AD, about the close of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Records show this building to be standing in its present form since 1614. The East Wing is modern, based on Irish Georgian times. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the mail coach making connections with the sailing packet from Donaghadee to Great Britian, changed horses at The Old Inn at Crawfordsburn and so it came to be patronised by many notable persons who commuted between Britain and Ireland. Famous writers were much in evidence: Swift, Tennyson, Thackery, Dickens and Trollop knew of its charms.

The Old Inn was also used as a sanctuary for those who were involved in the more “physical pursuits”. For example, in the 17th century, a portion of William III’s army under the Duke of Schomberg, marched through Crawfordsburn on the way from Groomsport to join the main body of the forces at Belfast. Smugglers down to the close of the 18th century used The Old Inn. Secret hiding places for contraband were discovered well into the 20th century. Even more intriguing, the famous highwayman, Dick Turpin, during a period of hiding in Ireland is also said to have been a visitor here. Many famous names of the 1798 rising, including that of Henry Joy McCracken and Robert Emmet, are coupled with The Inn.

For students and followers of the famous author and scholar, C S Lewis, “Jack”, The Inn is very special. It was here that Lewis and his literary friends met on social occasions. In July 1958, Jack and his wife Joy stayed at The Old Inn, Crawfordsburn, for what they called a “perfect fortnight” and a “belated honeymoon”.

Our room was one of the Suites, (it was our 10th Anniversary after all); the Castleward Room.

Our bedroom in the Old Inn Crawfordsburn

Our bedroom in the Old Inn Crawfordsburn

My photo’s don’t do the room justice so heres two from the hotel’s website:

Old Inn's pictures of our bedroom

Old Inn’s pictures of our bedroom

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After settling in our room we decided to explore a bit and went down for Afternoon Tea in the bar down stairs. We would have liked to have our Tea and Scone in the garden however just as we were going out the heavens opened again and everyone was diving for cover and out of the rain. So instead we had it in a room overlooking the garden.

We had an absolutely gorgeous meal in the restaurant that evening which left us well and truly filled.

After a great night’s sleep and a light breakfast, neither of us had room for a full Ulster Fry after the night before, we gathered our bags and headed back into Bangor for some shopping at the Bloomfield Shopping Centre and then into Belfast for some lunch and to get school uniforms for the kids. Rested and refreshed we’d had a lovely time together back on our own, with out a buggy, or kids trailing out of us complaining about being hungry or tired. Alas now it was time to get back to reality and go and collect them.

And so that was our Great Escape for this year, the best we can plan for now is the odd night out. What’s your Great Escape? And can you recommend anywhere for next year?

Photos own and from The Old Inn, Crawfordsburn, Co. Down

Ducking Sunday

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For the 12th weekend we headed to Belfast, not a normal trip for most people from Northern Ireland, the majority usually head the opposite direction. We had good reason, as it was our anniversary and we’d planned to abandon the kids with my parents over night on the 14th for some well deserved rest.


We arrived up a few days early and after a quiet, secluded and rainy 12th the Sunday was bright and sunny. Time for us to get out and do something.


Itching to be going, Orla checked out possible places to visit for an hour, looking for things that would interest the kids and be fun for us too. Eventually she settled on the Waterfowl and Wetland Trust’s bird reserve at Castle Espie, just outside Comber.


€19 in for the family was possibly a little steep, but since the centre is a conservation project, we don’t mind making a charitable contribution once in a while. Special bird food can also be bought to feed the birds around the main pond.


The guide map brings you first to the main pond where the resident waterfowl can be fed. This was the best bit of the day for us.

"Can I have more food for the Ducks"

“Can I have more food for the Ducks”



A part from one overly hungry bird who tried to have one of Orla’s fingers, all the birds were very friendly, relaxed around the visitors. Orla had them eating out of her hand which just goes to show that it’s not just me and her class who she has the power to enthral.

Orla gets the birds on side.

Orla gets the birds on side.



The kids loved it too. Tomás spent the whole time wandering around saying “duc” and trying to make a honking noise to mimic the particularly friendly Eurasian white fronted geese which we had feeding from our hands.

The Geese wanted fed too

The Geese wanted fed too



We walked on then, visiting the different hides looking out over Strangford Lough and activities for the kids to get involved in.

Aoife the maiden of the prehistoric boat

Aoife the maiden of the prehistoric boat



Next we stopped in the adventure play ground to play on the climbing frames, balance logs and play hut. As always they made their presence felt, despite our best efforts to get Aoife to stop shouting instructions to Aidan.





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Pickaboo

Pickaboo



Kids enjoy the play ground

Kids enjoy the play ground




The Duckery was the last port of call on the walk to see the newly hatched ducklings. The kids were disappointed that they couldn’t handle the ducklings themselves. Unlike a lot of countries swans are very common in Ireland during the year. But locally these tend to be Mute, Bewick and a lot of whooper swans. Castle Espie now has 2 Black Neck Swans who had chicks this spring. `Rather than the dull dirty grey cygnets we all know from the story these were small white fluffy balls.

Black necked Swan at Castle Espie, photo from Castle Espie's FB page

Black necked Swan at Castle Espie, photo from Castle Espie’s FB page



A great afternoon was had by all with a tea, scone and some treats for the kids before heading home. I’d recommend a trip to Castle Espie for the kids. You can take annual membership, as I’m sure there is also plenty to see in the winter out in Strangford Lough as well as the birds in the main pond.

First day of the Hols

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Today was the first day of the summer holidays, everyone finally finished yesterday and we now enter the long 2 months of the summer. In America, Canada, Spain you can be fairly confident of what the weather will be like. Ireland it’s a different story, its normally slightly warmer but not always dryer than winter. So we have to make what we can of the good weather when we get it.

My wife was off to Naas last night for her sisters birthday and she stayed over, so I had the kids for day to myself. Much to my daughters disgust, when we all woke this morning at 7:30, I made her get changed immediately. No lazy Saturday lying in front of the TV for hours. By 9 we were out of the house heading over to Oldbridge Houseso I could do my stint helping out at the Oldbridge Parkrun. I must say my three kids were great. The older pair made friends with other kids being minded by their dad while he managed the race and their ma ran it. The youngest was grand for a while and then started to get bored in the buggy. So I let him out to play in the grass. He decided that he wanted to climb back into the buggy again. Instead of sitting in the seat, he stood on it held onto the bar at the front and tried to walk his feet up the back of the seat. His first attempt rolled the buggy, but his second was more successful.

After a quick snack for us all, and a run to the shops for some food for a picnic we were back in Oldbridge for the Country Fair which is on this weekend. And the kids had a great time. It started off with the kids decorating plant pots and planting flowers, which they got to bring home. They really enjoyed it.

Planting flowers at the Oldbridge Country Fair

Planting flowers at the Oldbridge Country Fair

We then had some lunch and were joined by friends from St. Mary’s Parent & Toddler Group and we watched the Musket demonstration before going on a long walk around the park doing a tree trail questionaire which kept the kids really engaged (well Aoife and one of the boys, the rest enjoyed the walk) and we made it back in time for the story telling with Delphine who was fantastic with them.

Oldbridge Country Fair Story time with Delphine

Oldbridge Country Fair Story time with Delphine

Soon after that there was a flower arranging workshop at which point I thought I’d like to go home, but my daughter was insistant that she wanted to do it. As Felicity was staying for it with her daughter, I took the boys off for a walk around the food tent and to see what else was being exhibited. When we got back they still hadn’t started so my two boys played while Aoife arranged the flowers with assistance from the others, and I’ll admit made a good job of it. It was her first time doing flower arranging and to my horror started asking where we could get the green stuff and flowers as she wanted to do it again on her own this time. I think she was disappointed that I didn’t know of any classes she could go to but I’ll have to keep her out of the garden centre for a while.

Flower arranging at the Oldbridge Country Fair

Flower arranging at the Oldbridge Country Fair


The kids were really thankful that I’d got them up and out early this morning. We left at 9 and didn’t make it home till 4:30 in the afternoon. And all for the cost of a picnic, 2 bars of chocolate and a tea & Scone. A really cheap and excellent day, we’ll hopefully be back tomorrow for day 2.

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