Camping

Well, when I say camping let’s just put that into context and get those pictures of cold and wet tents (we are in Ireland after all!) out of our minds and replace them with something a little more… well, comfortable?! You see, the parents of the Messer House would usually be looking at the 5-star hotels rather than campsites, but for some reason I had this notion that the kids were missing out on something (whatever that something is!) if I didn’t bring them camping. Or at least “glamping”. Surely that is close enough to the “real deal”.

So last Friday the day finally arrived for us to pack the car and head out for our adventure. I had booked a two night stay at the River Valley Holiday Park in Redcross, Co. Wicklow. The car was full to the brim with all our bedclothes and the extra layers of fleeces and tracksuit bottoms.. Because you never know! On our way down, we stopped at Greystones for some dinner at The Beach House which was delicious. At least we all had our bellies full when we arrived and didn’t have to go looking for dinner supplies. I also wasn’t quite sure how well equipped the Maxilodge I had booked for us was.

On our arrival, the first thing the Little Messer’s noticed was the playground. They barely looked at the lodge as they were keen to go and test the playground equipment! The lodge itself is (obviously) quite basic, but it was surprisingly warm. I didn’t need all the layers for bed either as it was indeed quite toasty in there with the four of us snoring… The next morning started with nothing less than three trips to the loo by 7am. How did I forget that I would actually have to get up and go with them?! Or that there’s no TV to entertain them until I feel like waking up… In fairness though, they did read their books and did some colouring until it was time to get up and go find some breakfast.

Just what I needed!

We found a lovely little cafè in Brittas Bay called Bay Cafè only about a 10 minute drive from the campsite. The breakfast was delicious! Once the hanger had subsided, we made our way to the beach for a walk. The Little Messers love going to the beach, even if it’s just for throwing stones or collecting seashells.

Hours and hours of fun throwing stones

The shoes, pockets and, subsequently, the car were full of sand after this giant sand slide…

Millions of flattened seashells and perfectly smooth round stones

In the afternoon we did the “Flanagan’s Walk” which is about a 1.5km walk on site at the holiday park with donkeys, alpacas and sheep to greet on the way. Missy Messer made friends with the donkeys as she was hee-hawing most of the way around…

Crepes for lunch, yum!

Views from the top of the hill

Shortly after this pic we got caught in the rain

By the time we got back from the walk, it was only 2pm. It’s a loooong day when you start before 7am. It was way too early to go for dinner, because then what do you eat later in the evening?!

Avoca Weaving Mill

So we hopped in the car and decided to visit the oldest weaving mill in Ireland, Avoca (in Avoca!) which was only a 15-minute drive from the campsite. I also learned that the company Avoca is the oldest running business in Ireland, it was founded in 1723.

We were lucky with the weather as we only got a couple of short showers on Saturday, otherwise it was lovely and sunny! On our way back Sunday morning we stopped in Delgany at The Pigeon House Cafè for some brunch and just as we sat down, it started lashing rain. There we were sitting in the lovely restaurant with our best sunday camping gear on, the kids looking quite happy with their weekend away and the adults  waiting for the coffee thinking it was quite a successful camping adventure after all!

Waiting for dinner at Mickey Finn’s Pub on Saturday evening 

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Clean, snatch, run!

A couple of weeks ago, I would have probably thought the above meant some sort of household chore you’re trying to run away from… Now I know the first two mean some weird movements with a barbell that alone weighs more than I’m comfortable with and have no clue how to perform! I’ve recently begun to realise that there must be a part in me that has some masochistic tendencies. For example, not only did I sign up for a marathon some years ago, but sure enough I decided to do it again and not just any marathon. Of course it had to be Connemarathon (you can read all about my suffering here)! And this is coming from a girl who used to hate running with passion

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Looking quite comfy after your “regular” bodyweight HIIT session… Little did I know about what was to come!

After completing Connemarathon, and recovering from it (mainly from the shock!), I started thinking about what my next challenge would be. Run another marathon? I wasn’t really hungry for it anymore, unless we’re talking about New York or London! Ironman? I’m not mad about the part where you need to swim in the sea with all the sharks and other suspicious things and the amount of training is probably taking it too far as well (I think the hubby would divorce me at that stage!). How about some other adventure race? Most of them include Kayaking here in Ireland and for some reason that’s putting me off.. At least for now. Then I came across CrossFit. I mean, I had heard about it before. Had read about it. It all looked mental to be honest, probably a perfect match so! I saw the two documentaries on Netflix and thought, Hey, I can’t do any of that stuff, but maybe I could learn?! So there I was, standing outside a CrossFit gym one Tuesday evening, sh*tting myself. Somehow, I’d managed to sign myself up for it…

So what have I learned in the last couple of weeks? Attending the CrossFit classes has definitely shown me just how imbalanced I am. I have veerryyy quickly noticed which is my stronger side – it really is quite evident when you’re doing what they call a ‘Turkish Get Up’ with that big blob (aka kettlebell…) and you’re flying up and down on one side and then can barely hold your arm straight on the other.. What I am good at – I can do those runs, yay, and what I suck at – yes, hello there you Olympic weightlifting stuff, I don’t like you (yet).

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Oh Sh*t…what have I got myself into now?!

I’ve also learned that it is possible to get sore armpits from exercising (??). Or that you very well might, especially after a tough core session the day before, manage to get your abs into a cramp doing a ‘negative’ chin up (i.e. slowly lowering yourself down). I’ve also come across a lot of CrossFit/weightlifting jargon, especially as I started during the CrossFit Games Open. They were all talking about their 17.4’s, 17.5’s, double unders, muscle ups, and a rake of other stuff that made no sense.

And I really have enjoyed it so far! Every workout is different. There’s always something new, well especially for me as a newbie, but they do seem to mix things up just to keep you on your toes. And that weightlifting stuff, well you know what. It’s like having a personal trainer with the coaches there showing you what to do, how to do it, and to encourage you. I would never ever do that stuff in a regular gym on my own. It’s much easier to start thinking about adding more weight to that barbell when you have someone there looking out for you, encouraging you and you don’t feel like a complete spa not knowing your elbow from your ar*e. Not that some of it would even cross my mind to attempt, I mean handstand push ups?! Because regular push ups are clearly so last season… 🙂

Family Dinner Ideas and Cooking with Kids: Warm Chicken Wrap

This is a great mid-week dinnertime saver as it only takes 15 minutes to prepare! I ofter have one of the kids helping me with various tasks, like chopping mushrooms (they’re soft so easy for the little ones to chop!), bringing rubbish to the bin, handing me the spice jars, mushing the avocados… It’s a big help for me as I don’t need to keep an eye on them at the same time and they help getting the dinner ready. 

This warm chicken wrap is one of my favourites. It’s quick and easy, it’s tasty, and you can put in pretty much anything you like or can find in the kitchen! It’s a handy one for even the smallest ones as they can just use their hands and it’s easy to pick and choose what you put in. It’s nothing new under the sun, but I sometimes find it hard to come up with new ideas, which is why I like sharing these recipes (whenever I get around to it!). 

The video is only 15 sec showing the main steps. I did this last week for the four of us and it took me about 15 mins from start to finish. I hope you enjoy it!

‘Tis the Time for Procrastination

It’s nearly Christmas. Everyone in this house is counting down the days. The Little Messers are counting down the days to Christmas Day morning, where the parents of the house are counting down the days to 5pm on Friday the 23rd. It’s about time, I’ve been ready for the holidays for the last three weeks.

A lot has happened this year, like every year I suppose. We had a fantastic summer. First I went to Helsinki (on my own!) for a couple of days in May. Then we had our family holiday trip to Cascais in the beginning of June and once the schools were over, myself and the Little Messers took off to Finland for five whole weeks (a few memories here , here and here). So the first half of the year was great. Then we were back to school and back to the routine. I started teaching Zumba and Fitness classes again and really, really enjoyed it. I have two classes a week now and I have to say I love it.
It wasn’t until towards the mid-term break at the end of October when the other news started coming in. The first one was our childminder getting a job at a Montessori, of which I truly am happy for her, but it naturally gave us a bit of a headache. So what now? Are we getting a new childminder? Will we put the kids to an after school club? Then one evening during mid-term break, I get a text telling me that Missy Messer’s Montessori has closed down. As of now. In the end, we got all that sorted. We found a new Montessori for Missy Messer the following day and I’m taking some parental days to cover some of the afternoons. It’s not easy, but I think it’s the best option for now. I mean, work doesn’t stop if I take an afternoon off so naturally, I have a mailbox full of stuff the next morning… Some afternoons I just have to work from home (with the kids around) as the deadlines aren’t moving just because I happen to be (technically) off that afternoon.

I sometimes wonder if I’m just making more work for myself for no reason. Should I just pay for the after school club and get them to do the school run too. Imagine, I could sit down and have lunch in work without rushing around to make sure I’m at the school in time! Or juggling meeting requests that pop into my diary for the exact time when I’m running between work, Mr Messer’s school and Missy Messer’s Montessori. Why not just do what most people do, go to work in the morning and come back home in the evening without the shenanigans in between… But then again, I love doing the school pickup. Even if it’s a bit messy at times. It’s a great time to have a little chat with them to find out how they are doing in school. You hear a lot of stories from them about their day and you also get to know the other parents a little bit, which is handy for play dates and the rest.

I also do prefer the two of them being at home at least some of the afternoons as they can relax at home if they’re tired after school. I can see the two of them getting tired now closer to Christmas and they also need the break. It’s also nice to have a couple of afternoons with them where we can go and do things together. The two of them love going for walks in the park just as the sun is setting and it’s getting a little bit darker. We usually go out when it’s starting to get dark and by the time we’re halfway through our 40min loop, it’s really dark and they find it quite exciting. And what a way for me to clear the head after a busy day too!

It’s that holy grail of balance that we are all trying to find. Even still I sometimes go back to thinking, would it not be easier if I found a job that I could only do when the kids are in school, complemented with the couple of weekly classes I teach in the evenings. But what would that job be? Unfortunately, the corporate world doesn’t seem to work that way. Well, at least not in my current job as the work just keeps piling up and then I get stressed about it! I find myself thinking about this time and again. Sometimes I think I should just keep plodding along, they’re not small forever and soon enough they can be at home on their own too. Other times I think I should just do something about it rather than think, think, think. Just make a plan and start working towards a goal, one step at a time. And then I realise I’m too tired to do anything extra so I just plonk myself on the couch and put on another superhero movie. Tomorrow. I will do that tomorrow.

Bray to Greystones Cliff Walk

What a lovely Saturday! We decided to try and see how we get on with the kids on the Bray to Greystones cliff walk. It’s about a 6k trail around Bray Head and I had a feeling the Little Messers should be well able for it. Missy Messer has a tendency to… Well… moan a bit if we are walking somewhere further but I hoped I would be able to distract her! 

It was cloudy but according to the rainfall radar it wasn’t supposed to rain…

About half-way through it started drizzling. Then the drizzle started to get heavier and heavier. I hadn’t packed our raincoats so when we found a tree to hide under, we decided to stop and have our picnic there. It was almost quite romantic eating sambos under the tree watching the rain! 

Eventually the rain stopped and we even got to see seals!

The Little Messers did amazingly well walking the whole way and we even played tag at the end!

Look, there it is! Greystones!

Two hours and 20 minutes later it was time to sit down for some food and ice creams. The kids were tired but happy! It was a fantastic adventure with the kids, we must do another one soon.