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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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. 

Day Trip in Helsinki

Last Friday seemed like a nice enough day (it wasn’t raining!) so we decided to do a day trip to Suomenlinna, a sea fortress built across six islands just outside Helsinki city centre. The construction started during the Swedish era in 1748 and it’s now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We got married there six years ago and we try to visit every time we come to Finland. So Friday morning we packed our picnic blanket along with some coffee and snacks and made our way to the ferry on the Market Square (Kauppatori).

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Us in 2016

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Us in 2010

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My Little Messers

After visiting the church and some strolling around, we found a nice place for our picnic.

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Fart gun!!

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That’s me, enjoying myself. Hello!

We did a lot of walking and exploring on the islands and even visited an old submarine! There are plenty of tunnels to get lost in as well, the Little Messers were very excited.

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submarine

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On our way back, heading towards the Market Square, Kauppatori

After hours and hours of exploring and generally just running around, it was time to head back. We had seen the SkyWheel Helsinki over on the other side of the Market Square and the kids were asking if we can go on it as the ferry was docking. We promised to go and see if we can get on it and how much it costs. Well, once you’re there you can’t really turn back and we thought the €38 for the family ticket might just be worth it. And it was, if not only for the views but again, the kiddies excitement was contagious. The only thing I was wondering was why on earth had they used blue tinted glass?!

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Up over Helsinki – Katajanokka behind Mr Messer

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The Excitement!

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Kauppatori, Rooftops of Helsinki, and Helsinki Cathedral to the right

After all of that we were all starving and didn’t really fancy cooking. It was Friday night after all so we decided to find a place to eat and have a sneaky glass of wine (for me!).

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Did not know they are family friendly in these places!

We found a perfect spot at a courtyard between Aleksanterinkatu and Mikonkatu. The whole courtyard is reserved for the three restaurants located around it and you can order from any of the restaurants, you can even mix your orders between the restaurants, but if you do that the food might arrive at different times. They also had colouring for the kids! The last time I was there, probably around 10 years ago, the experience was vastly different…

I must say this day is one of the best memories from this summer!

 

Day Trip to Tallinn

It’s Friday morning, the Little Messers are playing with water in the bathroom and I’m enjoying a (fairly) peaceful cup of coffee after a much needed long sleep last night. You see, yesterday we took the ferry across to Tallinn and it was a loooong day for all of us with over 24,000 steps taken and bucket-loads of excitement…

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We took an early morning ferry (8am departure, it felt like I had to get up in the middle of the night!) and the kids were obviously beyond excitement. I would have needed a cup of coffee. We took the tram to the harbour and by 7.30 we boarded Silja Europa. We had booked ourselves a cabin, even though it’s not necessarily needed, but I felt with the two kids in tow it might come in handy and it did. It was well worth the extra €20 as we were able to leave our belongings there and also sit down and rest for a little while between food and play areas! I must say the facilities on the ship are fantastic when travelling with kids. There are so many play areas and so much entertainment that the 3.5hrs flew by.

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We arrived in Tallinn at 11.30 and headed to town. It was overcast and we didn’t see the sun all day, but it was warm and didn’t rain so I’m happy with that! It was also quite a nice day for walking around, had it been over 25 degrees, the step count would have been far less… We spent the whole day strolling around the Old Town. Almost as soon as we hit the Old Town of Tallinn, the kids were starting to look like they will need a snack sooner rather than later. We walked down Uus and found a lovely little coffee shop serving delicious Italian ice cream near The Broken Line monument.

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From there we continued to explore the Old Town along Pikk and saw many wonderfully old and magnificent buildings and churches. I do love old towns and I must say Tallinn’s Old Town is right up there competing with Nice and Lisbon or Cascais!

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We finished our visit at a restaurant called Lounge Deja Vu on Vana-Viru with some pasta and wine before we strolled back to the ferry with our bellies full and happy to have made some lovely memories with Vaari.

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For more pictures, please visit my Flick album here.

A Family Holiday in Cascais, Portugal

I have fallen in love. With Cascais that is. We booked our summer holiday already before Christmas so it was a long time coming! Also, a friend from work goes there every summer with his family (they have kids around the same age as our little messers) and he’s always telling us stories from their holidays so the expectations were high.

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Streets of Cascais

Cascais is a little town on the Atlantic coast about 40 mins’ train ride from Lisbon. It’s big enough to have three beaches within walking distance from the town centre and more than enough restaurants and shops to go through over the ten days we spent there. On the other hand, it’s small enough to have that lazy rhythm of life when your pace walking along the tiny streets has reduced to less than half from the usual pace you race through the streets at home. Continue reading