Our Lapland Trip 2021

“The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams”

Myself and my husband were 10 years married in 2020 and we decided, to celebrate we would love to take our little Noah to Lapland. It was always going to be a package trip with Sunway for our first trip, and Im so so so glad we did. December 2019 we booked with the amazing Liberty Travel here in Lettekrenny. The deposit was 200 euros. Every month we chipped away at the balance, was so handy we would just drop the money into one of the girls.

Unfortunately our trip like many other holidays was cancelled in Dec 2020, but thankfully we hadn’t told Noah and we knew we would get in the next few years, he was only 5.  Liberty Travel took the whole stress out of it, they rang us and asked if we wanted a refund or that Sunway would honour the same price for the trip in December 2021, so we went with that.

We decided on the 3 night stay and we flew direct from Dublin airport to Kittila, which is located north of the Artic Circle and the flying time is just over 3 hours. Finland is 2 hours ahead of us here in Ireland. Our flight was at 12 noon and with the time difference, by the time you got to your accommodation it was 7pm, therefore I definitely would recommend the 2 or 3 night stay as the first day was all travelling.


The Sunway package included: Reindeer Ride, Huskey Ride, Snow Mobile Ride, Visit Santas Hideaway, Elf School, The Toy Factory, The Post Office and The main one, A private meeting with Santa.


All meals were included in the price and I had heard so many mixed reports about the food, so much so that I went the day before and spent nearly 50 euros on snacks incase Noah hated the food….this was not necessary.  The food was fab.  It was all buffet style, so for breakfast there was the usual, porridge, cereals, fruit, pancakes, eggs etc.  Lunch was always for Noah, chips and sausages, or chicken nuggets or fish fingers, his plate was cleaned everyday.  The dinners were pretty much the same for kids and the adults, honest to God there was such a good variety, and to finish it all off every evening we had tea and ginger biscuits. On the last. night, they host a festive dinner, this was so so nice. We all had our own family table with Christmas crackers and all the Christmas Dinner trimmings.  We all had our Christmas jumpers on and Santa even came the REAL one that we visited and we all got a family pic with him followed by a kids disco.

Antigen Testing:

With the ever changing travel restrictions, we now needed a negative Antigen test not to to get into Finland at that time but we needed it when we returned to Dublin airport along with locator forms. Again Sunway had this sorted, they sent us a step by step account of how to book our tests, Noah didn’t need one. They also sent us the direct link for the locator forms which needed to be filled out for our return and they organised for our tests to be done in our accomodation the day before we were to travel home and we had the results in 2 hours.


With Sunway, you are provided with a Snow Suit, Snow boots,The Warmest socks, you know the ones like your granny knitted, well my lovely granny used to knit these socks for my uncles every Christmas and by God where they warm lol.

I managed to buy the extra bits over the 2 years in Borderland in Muff here in Donegal. Mountain Warehouse in Letterkenny and there old reliable Pennys.

Noah: Base Layers, which were thermals I picked up in Borderland, Mountain Warehouse & Pennys

Mid Layer, Tracksuit Bottoms Thermal Vest, Christmas Jumper or  Fleece, Ski Socks & The AMAZING wooly socks

Then on top of that he had his Snow Suit on, and the Snow boots.

Assecossories: Snood, Hats and 2 pairs of gloves. The first set was the wee cheap ones in penneys, I used them as a linner and then put on the ski gloves I picked up in Borderland. I always threw a few extra pair of the liners in incase they got wet. We picked up so so many hand warmers and do you know what we only used them once. Cant believe Im saying this but we were blessed with he weather that week, the coldest it got was -6. The week before it was -25.


Base Layers: Thermal Top and Leggings from Pennys.

Mid Layer: I got 2 pairs of the velvet plush leggings in Pennys the day before we left and omg they were the Best Buy EVER, so so cosy, I was a snug as a bug. I honestly didn’t feel the cold once. I also had my Christmas jumpers with me, one for everyday of course even though you dont even see them under the Snow Suits lol.

Acccessories : Same as Noah, I bought the thin gloves in Pennys, great tip get the ones that you can use for your screen on the phone, I was still able to use my phone when I put on the Ski gloves on top of the liner gloves.

Got my thermal socks in Pennys too and along with thee Sunway socks my feet were toasty the whole trip.






  1. Bring your adapter plug, but bring an extension lead, so you can plug all into the one.
  2. Glow Sticks for outside, remember Finland doesn’t get many hours of sunlight so these are fab in when it gets dark again around 3pm lol
  3. We did bring wayyyyyyy too many hand warmers but again it depends on how cold it is when you are there so I would def stock up on them.
  4. When buying hats for child/children try and go for something bright maybe even with lights on, as all the kids look the same with these blue snow suits on. We could spot Noah a mile away with the hat with the lights on it. I got this one in Cooneys Christmas shop here in Letterkenny.
  5. Bring a small rug-sack each, so you can pack extra gloves, a snood, a drink, and a snack for the bus journeys back to your accomodation.
  6. Another great idea for a mid layer is fleecy pi’s. A girl I know was there the week before and she used these as mid layers for her two boys and said they were snug as bugs too.


We decided not to tell Noah until the morning we were going to Dublin. We were just so unsure with the changing travel restrictions. He knew mammy and daddy were working so hard to save so that some day we could go to the North Pole.  That morning we told him that we had saved enough money but that we would have to wait until the day our elf Chippy would bring us tickets, because that’s the only way you can get tickets. His wee face when he spied the tickets inside the balloon. Huge thank you Ingrid’s Balloons who delivered this fab balloon with the boarding tickets inside which Chippy our elf brought. His wee face was priceless. We headed to Dublin the day before our flight and stayed in the Clayton Hotel in Dublin. Def DEF recommend this…We checked in about 7pm headed down for dinner and bed early. I barely slept I was so so excited. Morning came up we got and down for our breakfast. We were able to book our car here for the time we were away and hop on the shuttle bus which brought us right to Terminal 1.  The parking for the 3 days was only 24 euros.


I was dreading the whole airport. Didn’t know what it was going to be like…. Walked into Terminal 2 and nearly choked when I saw the length of the que for departures. Oh jaysus before I forget….DO NOT wear all the layers for the flight. I had all thermals on, Christmas jumper and my coat that was so so cosy but not for a busy Dublin airport . You really dont need any extra, because once you get off the plane in Finland you go straight to get your snow suit and you have time then when you get to your accommodation to get all the gear on. Anyway the que…… BUT THEN popping out like an angel form The North Pole was Rudolph the elf and called us over, where there was a separate line for us to Check In. Here the elf danced and chatted with the kids while we checked in and gave them all a goody bag with bits in it for the flight. This was a lovely touch, We were checked in in less than 2 mins. They just asked for our passports and covid certs. We were allowed 20kg eat for our luggage. SO away we went as happy as Larry into Butlers for 2 coffees and a hot chocolate.






The weeks leading up to Lapland were so busy I forgot what I had ordered or if I had ordered an anything.Thanks to the lovely Nicolette from Big Day Signs for these fab boarding passes, there is nothing this lady can’t do.



We had so so much fun at the Departure lounge. The little touches, this sign to The North Pole was just so surreal seeing it up on the departure monitor and the kids were all so excited when they saw it and even the Pilot also when talking about departure and arrival to the North Pole. There were 2 elves here playing Christmas music and dancing with the kids and giving us ALL reindeer antlers and Rudolph red noses before we boarded the flight.  They also were on the flight and played games and sang songs, got the kids to tell jokes etc, the excitement levels were through the roof, jingle bells all the way lol.  Aer Lingus provided a light lunch with drinks and again food was lovely and just hit the spot.




There’s a big cheer when we land at the small airport of Kittilia and the excitement is at an all time high with the first sighting and handling of snow.  Straight off the plane collected luggage and right outside into a warehouse where we all got kitted out in our Snow Suits, Boots & Socks and onto our bus where we met a very special elf who keeps us all entertained on the transfer to our accommodation. The transfer was only 40 mins from Kitilia airport.  It was times like this I was so glad we were on the package holiday. Everything was so well organised.


We arrived to our accommodation which was in Yllas at around 7pm local time and we could not wait to get in our snow suits and get out into that snow.  There were sleighs lying around everywhere to play on which was brilliant and our accommodation was just beside a ski resort so there were lots and lots of slopes to go sleighing on. This was Noahs favourite thing to do, if you ask him about Lapland at all he will tell you his favourite part was the sleighing. You do have free time too so any free time we had we were out sleighing.  Noah never once complained of being cold, we had him well layered up.  Make sure if you do go that you do the same I did see a few kids crying with the cold. Let me tell you, you soon warm up carrying the sleighs back up the slopes for the 20th time.




I also read somewhere not to be bringing big fluffy pjs as the accommodation were well heated and this was so true.  We just had our normal cotton Christmas pj’a with us and they were perfect.  Our accommodation was so so clean and our rooms got cleaned everyday, the shower was heavenly which was a god send in the evenings and there was a heated press in the bathroom were you could but all your wet gear in to dry for the next day. Below was the view form our bedroom, just magical and there was a door leading out to were we sat in the mornings and took it all in.



I cried so much that first evening just with total happiness. 




We were on The Christmas Tree bus for our trips and the bus left this morning at 10am. Yes it was every inch as magical as these pictures below. I really felt I was in a movie. I keep telling everyone since I came back that the snow was so dusty like not the wet snow that we get here, it was like powder. It took about an hour to get to Santa’s hideaway and again our lovely elf Rudolph played games the whole time on the bus. Here we caught our first sightings of reindeer among the trees, drank hot berry juice while throwing and dodging snowballs, and wandering  around the small gathering of wooden chalets. The kids got to sleigh away and play in the snow before the were off to visit Santas Post Office. This was so brilliant the way it was done with all the letters from the children all over the world. Santas office was right next door to the Post Office and we all got our own turn to visit the main man. They had it worked out so well, there was no queuing, while we were waiting on our turn we were in th post office were Noah was drawing a picture for Santa. While he was doing that I nipped out to the elf and asked could she give Santa something from me……..It wasn’t a problem. Now…….it was our turn!!!!!!!!




We got to have our own private time with Santa, we were in with him for about 15 mins, I’ve a lump in my throat now typing this.  It was so so special. He talked away to us and then produced Noah’s letter which made it all the way form Simpsons Post Box here in Letterkenny to The North Pole.  I will NEVER forget Noah’s face and the tears were rolling down my cheeks at this stage. He read Noah’s whole letter out to him, he did such an amazing job in English and the best part, Santa knew Ronaldo and told us that Wayne Rooney was a bit old like him and couldn’t play football anymore lol. Noahs mad to get a dog and on the Santa list was a robot dog so to Noahs delight when Santa gave him a gift and it was a husky dog, he was smiling from ear to tear, I will alway remember him saying “Yessssss” when he saw it.  I just loved how relaxed this was and there was no pressure with time and we could take out own pictures and as many as we wanted and that there was no screen up between Noah and Santa. Im still smiling thinking of this……just MAGIC.

Then it was off to Elf School to learn little more about life in this magical place and some important words in Finnish, such as Joulupukki (Santa Claus) Then it was off to visit the toy factory and see where all the elves make the toys.












After lunch we headed out deep into the Artic wilderness where we got to do 3 activities, The Reindeer Ride, Husky Ride and A Snowmobile Safari.  We had to be very quiet on the Reindeer ride so not to frighten them, poor Noah has been watching too many Christmas movies and asked me when were they going to fly?  This was a lovely quiet ride through the snowy forest.  After this, we warmed up at the fire pit and enjoyed some warm berry juice before we headed on the main event The Husky Ride. I have never laughed so much in my life….I did NOT expect them to go so fast. There’s a video saved in my highlights on my instagram page, you need to check it out, the laughs of us.  It was just brilliant.  The last activity was the Snow mobile Safari. The adults got to ride the snow mobiles themselves, I opted to sit snuggled up being pulled by one along with Noah. They had cosy blankets for us all as we headed out onto a frozen lake.  This was about 15 mins and Its the only time I felt cold, I can’t imagine going on one for any longer.

Back to the hotel for hot choc for Noah and 2 glasses of Red for myself and Kevin. Again there was free time in the evening and you guessed it we were away sleighing.  I just loved coming in after a few hours sleighing and seeing Noah’s wee rosey cheeks from having the best fun.










This pic was taken at 9am in the morning, it was so so dark and didn’t get bright until 11am and dark again after 2.30pm. Off today to visit the Snow Village Hotel. This is a fascinating construction and a bit like a large warren of interconnected rooms made entirely out of snow.  Every year its made from scratch, and building can only begin when the temperatures fall below minus 5 degrees. This hotel is something else and you can actually stay there 350 a night….burrrrrrr!!!!! The best part for Noah, was the slide made of ice, best part for Mammy & Daddy, the ice bar, where we got shots of baileys in frozen shot glasses, just heaven. Even the tables and chairs were made from ice. Just before we got on the bus again there was a HUGE snowball fight between the 3 buses, Ive never heard so much laughter and my heart was never so full of love watching Noah having the time of his life.












We had loads of free time today which was our last day. Sunway have extra excursions you can book for that time, but we knew what we wanted to do. So beside our accommodation is a ski resort with a gondola that takes you right to the top where we were told is a secret cabin where you can get the nicest mint hot choices and donughts. For any of you who know Noah will know anything mint and it has his name all over it. We just bought 2 tickets to go up, Noah was freee.  The views were amazing, it was fab watching the people skiing down the slopes as we went up.  Then when we got to the top, I really felt like I was in the North Pole, it was so so magical and all that was there was this little cabin. The rumours were true, the most amazing hot chocs and donughts. It was so cosey, there was a huge big fire on and we were snug as bugs.  This for me after Santa was my biggest highlight of the trip. We rolled about in the snow after for ages, listening to the wee laughs of Noah.






Antigen tests complete and to the bar for two glasses of the nicest red wine.



Our bus wasn’t picking us up until 1pm so you guessed it there’s only one place our wee man wanted to head to and that was the slopes sleighing and in for one more last hot choc.The one thing I would say, is that there is a good bit of free time, which we loved because Noah loved sleighing and luckily never got bored of it and we loved it too.  There’s not a lot other than sleighing to do in Yallas so keep that in mind.







  1. You know the quote ” There is no such thing as bad weather only inappropriate clothing” This to me is the most important, I can hand on heart say we never felt an inch of cold.  DO your research and buy the right clothing.
  2. The only real piece of clothing I would invest in is a REALLY good pair of socks for everyone.  The ones we had were amazing but we just had the one pair each so lucky we had another pair of good ones with us.
  3. When you book, do a list out of everything you need clothes wise and pick up bits throughout the year, Mountain Warehouse do amazing sales. We have everything now for a Ski holiday which is def on the cards after we saw how much Noah loved it.
  4. Money wise, we spent very little when we were here, just our wine, hot chocs and a few pressies for home.  With the Sunway package everything was included food wise. We got talking to another family of 3 who didn’t have the all inclusive and each meal was costing them 90 euros when they were out, breakfast, lunch and dinner ouch.
  5. I never wore an ounce of make up,  what I did layer up on all the time was my SPF and had Noah and Kevin do the same. I did have bepanthen with me for our cheeks but it wasn’t that cold so we didn’t need it, our SPF was ample.
  6. Head torches, these were brilliant for when we were out sleighing in the dark.


It really was the trip of dreams and Im so so so glad we booked with Liberty travel with the Sunway package. Carolyn from Liberty kept us up to date on all travel changes and we didnt have to worry about thing only turning up at the airport.  We will DEF go back in a few years time and I would like to try a DIY trip this time. I know what exactly where I want to stay, so will spend the next few years researching now here to stay.  There’s a group on Facebook “Lapland On A Budget” Cherry Stone set it up and I got so many tips from this page, whether you are doing a package or DIY I found it brilliant. This holiday was really special for the 3 of us for lots of reasons and we came back full of Christmas Cheer.  I loved that we were away so close to Christmas, we flew out of Dublin on Dec 16th and back on Dec 20th.

I really hope I have sparked some magic for you all in this blog, if you are thinking about it GO GO GO.  It was by far the BEST holiday we’ve ever been on.  I have a highlight on my instagram page Beaus And Belles Photography, you can check out all the videos.

Lapland We’ll Be Back……

Joanne, Kevin & Noah x




Not All Is Lost My Little Newborns

Today I want to share a blog post on the amazing opportunities I have for baby photography when little ones are 3-4 months old, the window for newborn photography is short, ideally within the first couple of weeks after your baby is born and so, at the moment, is less of an option.

Lockdown restrictions currently prohibit family photography and while, like everyone, I’m hoping for a situation where restrictions can be safely lifted sooner rather than later, I’m aware that it’s not likely to be in the next few weeks. Each day I’m speaking to, or replying to messages from, new parents who are keen to have their babies photographed and who hadn’t considered that photographers would have to close. I wanted to write this blog post for them, to share some of the wonderful opportunities that I will have available for photographing their baby once restrictions are lifted and to reassure them that missing those newborn moments won’t mean they miss out on glorious photographs of their baby.





I love photographing newborns, there is something absolutely wonderful about those first weeks as families get to know their new arrival. But I also love it when babies are a little older, are smiling, and their personality is really shining through, so I’m happy to fly the flag for photographing babies at 3-4 months old or beyond.




What can we expect at this point? It’s hard to imagine how the tiny baby in front of you will change and develop, especially in such a short period of time. We know they will be bigger physically, but I think it’s hard to envisage the difference that smiles will make, and at 12 weeks babies are all about the smiles. Big grins, that look of absolute delight as they see their parents, the wide-eyed curiosity as they look at the ‘baby in the mirror’. These expressions will be with them for all of their lives and I’ve found that photo shoots from three months onwards capture those lifelong features to a much greater extent than a newborn session where little ones are often asleep for the majority of the time.


I know how popular beautiful details shots are when photographing newborn babies and we can still take these glorious shots when your baby is 3 months old or more. Long eyelashes, tiny fingers clasping your hand, these are all available when your baby is a little older.






It’s not just three to four months old that is delightful for baby photographs. After about twelve weeks it just gets better and better as your babies grow and develop and discover more about the world around them. By a year then they are obviously bigger and becoming the little people that will soon be toddling about and causing glorious havoc in your home. Before that when they are not yet moving around, they still feel very much your tiny baby and so whether it’s three months or six months or nine months we can take pictures which will transport you back to these early days.




As your baby grows the opportunities for photographs grow with them. I hope that this blog post will fill you with excitement for the pictures we can take together after lockdown ends and will go some way to reassuring you that you haven’t missed out even if you are unable to have professional pictures taken while your baby is newborn. I will go above and beyond to provide you with pictures to treasure whether your baby is 3 months, six months, nine months, a year, or anything in between.





For more information contact me on my photography page Beaus & Belles Photography.

Missing you all so much

Joanne x


Donegal Has It All

So it was staycations all round this summer for us all. I toyed with the idea of going to Galway, but we left it so late to book, that the hotel that we wanted was booked out.  I did look at other places to go to down the country, but do you know what, its seriously hard to beat what is on our own doorstep and my goodness we were blessed with the most amazing weather the weekend we went on our staycation.

Picture Blog Of Our Staycation In Donegal Summer 2020


Up early on Friday morning to get the 9.40am Ferry from Rathmullan to Buncrana.  We took the car over with us, parked up and headed up on the deck for a seat.  I love to do this every summer, it’s such a novelty for Noah and the perfect way to begin our staycation.



Straight from the Ferry to Tank & Skinny for the most gorgeous breakfast to set us up for the day.



Came across the cutest tree ever in Buncrana.



This place is just FAB. The weather that Friday too was out of this world, we could of been anywhere in the world. The views were breath taking. We spent about 2 hours here, there are lots of walking trails, a lovely tea room and the cleanest toilets ever.



Next stop was Glenevin Waterfall. The last time we were here was when Noah was a toot and we pushed him in the buggy. Thankfully he carried his own wee legs up this time.



We sat like we would do in Spain, outside with our ice creams soaking in the sunshine. Noah is a Mint Choc all the way lol



First Stop On Saturday morning was Assaranca Waterfall.



And on to Maghera Beach





This buck would of gladly stayed in the sand dunes all day, such fun.



What a view on the way to our next stop of the day


Silver Strand Beach

This was my FAVOURITE part of our staycation. The 166 steps down  and up to this beach was worth it. We spent the afternoon there and I haven’t heard Noah laugh like he did ever, running away from the waves, splashing mammy and daddy, it was just the BEST.


Theres only one hotel for us in Donegal and that’s The Millpark.  It holds great sentiment to us. We had our wedding reception here 10 years ago this Christmas. Its even more amazing than ever with a full renovated bar and front reception room and bedrooms.  Im so glad though that they kept the wooden beams in the foyer. It adds so much character and sold it to us for Christmas Wedding.  I love coming back here because they ALWAYS remember your face.



Salthill Cabin

This little gem, my friend Noreen had told me about.  It’s down at the pier in Mount Charles.  Theres an area to walk around to see some animals and a little coffee shop with thee most amazing carrot cake I have EVER tasted, and the boys said the choc milkshakes were first class.  If I had of been a day later I could of even shared my cake with Tara Makeup. There were 2 little dogs there that wanted to go home with my sister Mari, but Pauric said no lol.



St. Johns Point

Saving the BEST till last as they say.  This was priceless.  As we sat on the gorgeous beach in St. Johns point, we noticed we had company. ONLY IN DONEGAL


We really do have it all in Donegal

Joanne x


Newborn Shoot With Beaus & Belles Photography

From the first moment the you see, hold and smell your new born child, your whole world changes instantly.  You will be overcome with love that you never knew possible.   These Precious moments are wonderful to capture in your own home and will leave you with images to treasure forever.






As a mum myself, I know how fast this time goes by and I assure you, you will not regret in investing in beautiful portraits of your newborn baby.

My style is quite natural, I only use subtle colour combinations as my props and I like to keep these simple for a timeless look and keep the focus on your precious baby, those little toes, button nose and tiny fingers.







I only do ONE newborn shoot a day and I like to schedule my newborn sessions for first thing in the morning.  This is a time when most babies sleep more soundly.


My Top Tips For Parents For A Newborn Shoot.

  1. I would recommend that you send me a message as soon as you can after your baby is born and we can set up your date.
  2. To achieve those really cute poses , the baby needs to be sleeping soundly and should be photographed ideally within the first 14 days and the only reason for this is that after 2 weeks old, they tend to be disturbed more easily while sleeping.
  3. Stimulating the baby with a bath is a good trick maybe an hour beforehand and will help make them sleepy for their shoot.
  4.  Crank up the heat for an hour before I arrive for the newborn shoot. Newborns can’t regulate their body temperature so it is important that the room where the pics will be shoot is nice and warm so your baby can be comfortable when I remove their clothing.
  5. A full belly = a happy baby, so you can feed baby just before I am due to arrive.
  6. Dressing your newborn for the shoot.  Comfort first, keep it simple, avoid bold prints and stick with neutral tones, such as whites creams and greys.


Parent Portraits


I always encourage parents to have a portrait taken with their new baby . These can make for some tender images and as a parent myself, these moments you will treasure forever. I know us mammies don’t feel particularly photogenic after giving birth BUT I will photograph you in flattering angles so please don’t worry.


Sibling Portraits

If you have older siblings that you want photographed with your newborn, I tend to do these shoots first. I would recommend sticking with neutral colours, white, ivory or greys.


Christmas at Castle Adventure Open Farm

This place had been recommended to me by so many people so as soon as the bookings opened this year in September, I booked us in and oh my goodness, it was thee most magical experience.

This is a little photo blog of our very magical day yesterday.

Everything is indoors here for the experience, much to our delight, as we travelled to Ballyshannon yesterday in that shocking weather, we were only delighted to leave the wind and rain on the other side of the door.  As you arrive everyone was given a token for a complimentary tea/coffee and mince pie, which you could have before or after your Santa visit while the children have full use of the soft play area.

Our FAB elf came to collect us all and our first stop was Mrs Claus kitchen where she had the table set for hot chocolates and cookies all round.  This Mrs Claus was AMAZING, she sat and spoke to every single Child, there were only 10 children in each party which made it so personal, it was just magical. The upside down Christmas Tree was a big hit in her cosy kitchen and of course Santa’s suit was hanging up to dry for Christmas Eve on the clothes line.

After their wee bellies were filled it was off into the Post office, where Noah got to draw a picture or a letter to Santa and they got to post these in the big red letterbox. There was a HUGE naughty and nice list on the wall, where the kids checked it very carefully lol.

The Reindeers

There was a table set up where we could all make a little bag of reindeer dust and take it home with us to sprinkle in our gardens and Christmas Eve and we got to meet one of Santa’s very friendly reindeers and his buddy wanted to say hello too. Again there was plenty of time for anyone who wanted to give the reindeer a pet.

Next stop was Elf School, here they found out about all the things that the elf’s needed to learn , like how to wrap gifts, how to get the sleigh ready for Christmas Eve and the favourite one was how to check the chimney is clean for Santa.

Off to the elf’s bedroom now, where with a little bit of magic they found the secret door which led into Santa’s worskshop. They all got to help with stuffing some teddies and leaving them over in the wrapping station which would then drop them onto Santa’s sleigh which was just magnificent.  There was loads of time here foe everyone to get family photos in the sleigh and the lovely elf took our family photo for us.

And now it was time, time to meet the main man, Santa. What a magical Santa….Noah’s wee face just made the whole experience for me.

We got back to the tea room where we availed of our gorgeous mince pie and cup fo tea and Noah raced off to the soft play area. This is the most magical Santa trip that we have done and I will be DEF coming back again next year. The detail that went into the all the different rooms….just FAB.  Huge well done to everyone at Castle Adventure Farm, you really have made the place into a very magical winter wonderland.

  1. The friendliest staff EVER, Special shout out to the most amazing Mrs Claus and the Elf, you both were so fab.
  2. Lovely and warm, I must of actually thought I was going to the North Pole, I had so many layers on, which thankfully were not needed.
  3. No pressure to buy the photograph.
  4. Lovely small groups, which makes it very personal.
  5. Never felt rushed at any part of the experience.
  6. The complimentary cuppa and warm mince pie WITH cream.
  7. The Kids being able to have full use of the soft play area and outdoor area where the animals where too.

Noah’s smile says it all…we’ll see you all next year

Merry Christmas

Joanne’s 7 Wonders Of Donegal

1. There are NO words for this little treasure.  Hidden just outside Killybegs at the bottom of the Largy View Point. This little adventure is not suitable for young children, there is a lot of jumping up and off rocks, good walking shoes are essential for grip as the rocks are extremely slippy. Huge thank you to one of my mammies Elaine Melly who got me in contact with a local coast guard Shane Mc Crudden who was SPOT on with the tide times. It took about 30 mins to get to the caves from the top and oh my god, I was speechless, never in my life have I saw anything as spectacular as this waterfall.  The trek back up to the car was made easier as I remembered the little tea van at the top, The Pod….lovely wee cuppa and a peanut cluster at the picnic area.

2. Murder Hole Beach, tucked away in the heart of Downings.

3. Assaranca Waterfall in Ardara.

4. Glenveagh

5. Slibah League

6. Hornhead

7. Gibbons Loop, Sliabh Sneacht

I fell in love again, his name is New York


Its Friday 8th December…..NO MORE SLEEPS!!!!! It was finally our turn.  We arrived at Dublin airport, and already had our boarding cards printed so it was straight to the bag drop and then straight for two glasses of bubbly, who cares its was just 7am, the butterflies were doing somersaults in my tummy and sure I needed something to settle them lol.

We proceeded then through immigration, where the Police officer announced in his lovely American accent “Your gonna freeze your little butt off in that dress in New York City ” Jeepers I didn’t know where to look. I nervously replied “Its just for the flight”

We flew with Aer Lingus, Dublin direct to JFK  and cant recommend this airline enough.  The service was first class, food was gorgeous, plenty wine to get us on our merry way, while we watched The Polar Express and Elf.  I actually didn’t find the 7.5 hours, I was that flipping excited, the flight could of been 24 hours to get there and I wouldn’t of cared.

We arrived in NYC at 2pm, grabbed a yellow taxi from JFK airport to our hotel, The New Yorker. Fab hotel located on 8th Avenue. This hotel was so central, room was perfect, comfy bed, clean bathroom, a full length mirror, tv and a lovely surprise waited for us in the room from our lovely friends, a gorgeous hamper with a bottle of bubbly and 2 champagne flutes.

We checked in and literally threw the cases in the room and out we went to explore “The City That Never Sleeps”

As soon as we stepped out of the hotel I fell in love with New York, the horns blasting, the chitter chatter of people as they made their way through the streets of NYC,  it was exactly what its like in the movies.

Everyone had told us that when we got to Times Square to head straight to the “Red Steps” and soak in the atmosphere and that is exactly what we did. Electric is how I would describe everything about Times Square, the lights, the noise, the atmosphere. We stood for ages just watching the world go by and I remember repeating over and over again to Kevin, ” I cant believe we’re actually here, we are in New York City”   My neck was sore from looking up at all the high buildings.  I was mesmorised.



And here SHE IS…..The Most AMAZING Christmas Tree in the world at Rockefeller, it was even more spectacular in real life.


Jet Lag is a bummer….. I was awake from 2.30am most nights.  I eventually gave in at 4am and got up and showered.  The Tick Tock Diner was located beside our hotel and was open 24/7 so we went for breakfast here.  Pancakes, pancakes and more pancakes oh and maple syrup.

First stop today with Top Of  Rock.  The plan was that we would do this during the day, One World Observatory during the day and the Empire State Building at night.

We just arrived as the doors opened at 8am and there was just 5 people in front of us. I def would recommend to get up and at it early, the ques were very minimal. This was very special, my first view of  the NYC skyline. I don’t think I spoke for 10 minutes, I was just memorized with this magical city, and then…….it started to snow.  I kid you not, on Top of the Rock, it had started to snow, there were tears I can tell you.

Central Park was next on today’s itinerary. We grabbed two coffees and off we went for a stroll around the most famous park in the world, with the snow falling, it was quite magical.


With Tiffanys just around the corner from Central Park, we had to have a wee look inside and sure then I could’nt leave empty handed lol.  The little blue box and that bow, I remember my hubby muttering while the sales assistant tied that ribbon so elegantly that “she had too much time on her hands” But ladies I could of watched her tying those bows all day.


This was the BEST day and the pic below is one of my favorites. We again were out of the hotel at silly o clock and off we set with two coffees on the go from the Tick Tock Diner.  We walked through the snowy streets of NYC, my cheeks was sore from smiling….I just couldn’t believe that we were here in New York and that it snowed.

When I think of Brooklyn Bridge I think of Kevin Mc Allister in Home Alone in the yellow taxi going over the bridge with his wee head out the window…..I’m the BIGGEST Home Alone fan ever and going to  Brooklyn Bridge brought the big kid out on me. It didn’t disappoint and was so magical with the snow.

Brooklyn Bridge

After Brooklyn Bridge, we headed to the One World Obsevatory. Again early morning meant no big ques.  When we got to the top, the blinds were all down and a short video was played and THEN I got the BIGGEST LUMP in my throat and cried….the blinds came up and there it was, New York City like I’ve never seen it before. I was so emotional and didn’t want to leave, the views were just breath taking and I’m so glad that we decided to do this during daylight. I will NEVER forget these views, it was so clear.

As if it couldnt get any better, there he was waiting on me at the top, Santa himself and what a magical Santa he was.  There is a fab restaurant and coffee shop at top, we sat for ages having a coffee and just soaking it all up.  This place was DEF the highlight of our trip.

On Sunday night we headed to Bar 230 5th and met up with friends who were in NYC too.  We headed around 6pm and there were no ques to get in, no ques at the bar and plenty room in the Igloos for a few Irish. The view of the Empire State Building at night from here was gorgeous. We were snug as bugs in the igloos where there were heaters and fleecy red blankets.



On Monday, we got the bus to Woodbury Common and shopped till we dropped. Would definitely recommend a trip here.  Only takes and hour to get there and the bus drops you off at the door and picks you up just outside too.

Our final night in NYC, we went to the Empire State Building, to see the most amazing city at night. Our pass included this, so there was no queuing and we were at the top within 15 minutes.


Our last few hours in New York and there was only one place I wanted to go to and it was The Christmas Cottage.  This shop is the only one in NYC that sells the Turtle Doves ( Any Home Alone fans will know what I mean) This shop was AMAZING….every inch of the shop is covered in Christmas decorations, and there they were my turtle doves.


Here are a few more pics from our trip.




My Top Tips

  1. Before you go PLAN PLAN PLAN, there is soooooooooooooooooo much to see in New York and you wont want to waste a second.
  2. Buy a pass, we bought ours from Attractions Tickets Direct, it cost us 109 euros each and included 5 attractions.
  3. Get up and get out early, dont waste that jet lag. I found the morning so much quiter to get pics of my fav spots, for example our first stop on the first night was the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller but it was CRAZY busy, we went back the next morning first thing and got all the fab photos youve seen above.
  4. If your thinking about going to the outlets shopping, book before you go to New York, those buses get booked up very fast.
  5. Previous tip I got was to make up little bags and leave for the housekeeping staff, with dollars and some Irish cadburys chocolate.
  6. Forget about the stylish shoes when in NYC, i ditched the fancy boots after day one and spent the rest of my days in my trainers, honest to God my legs were sooooooooooooooooo sore from all the walking.
  7. Don’t pretend its Spring when its Winter. Bring your thermals, hats, scarfs, gloves. I hate the cold but I was so well prepared I never felt it at all.

Huge thank you to Emmet Rushe from Rushe fitness for the AMAZING prize & to Atlantic travel for all your wonderful  help booking our holiday of a lifetime.  I’ve been asked so many times since we have come back would I go back and people are surprised when I say no.  I say no because I don’t think anything could live up to the holiday we just had and seeing everything for real for the first time and we couldn’t have been there at a more magical time. I have memories that will last a lifetime.

“Dream It, Wish It, Do It”

Joanne x.

Fun In The Sun

Well we did it, our first sun holiday together with our wee prince and loved EVERY minute of it.  When deciding on where to go, top of our list was flight time.  With Malaga only 2 hours 20 minutes on a flight, this was ideal for our first trip with Noah. We popped into Geraldine Martin who is a Travel Counsellor here in Letterkenny and within 45 mins we had a week in Torremolinos all booked.

I actually found travelling with an infant in an airport less stressful than when we used to travel ourselves. With priority boarding, we didn’t have to wait in long queues to board and when going through security there was a separate entrance for people with children and again no long ques here. For the flight itself we packed a bag of tricks to keep himself occupied.  This included;

  • Ipad with quite a few episodes of Justin’s House downloaded on it (Thanks Andrew)
  • Dinasour torch from M&S
  • White Buttons
  • Juice
  • Books

They seemed to do trick, he was no bother on the plane, I had visions of him not wanting to sit on either of our knees and running up and down the aisle torturing everyone, but no he was happy to sit on mammy’s knee and watch Justins House with Do do and raggy.


Timor Sol Appartments, Torremolinos





Parque De La Paloma.  This place was recommended by friends of ours who had recently taken their little boy here while in Benalmadena. It was nice to have somewhere different to go to other than the pool or beach.  This park is just AMAZING and even better, its free.  The chickens, baby chicks, rabbits and ducks were roaming the park freely. We brought bread with us and feed the ducks.  I’ll never forget Noah’s wee giggle as he threw the bread into the ducks and watched as they squabbled over it. There were two different play grounds within the park and little shops/cafes. Would definitely recommend a wee morning here for anyone on holidays in  Torremolinos or Benalmadena.


And sure no holiday is complete without that “Holiday Romance” Meet Ellie, Noah’s little lady from Dundalk.



My Top 10 Tips For Travelling To The Sun With A Toddler

  1. Plane – Pack a magic bag with an Ipad with their favorite programmes or some games downloaded on it, colouring books and most importantly food just incase you’re unexpectedly delayed like we were on the way home.
  2. Suncream –  I used Garnier Ambre Solaire Factor 50 Spray for Noah. Found it really good,easy to apply, quick to dry and best of all didn’t stain any of his clothes.
  3. Meal Times – Just like the plane trip, gadgets and toys.  I found the busier the restaurant the better. Noah is a people watcher just like his mammy.
  4. Pool- When you get there,buy a few small toys for the pool. We bought a wee fishing net with fish, Noah loved throwing the fish into the pool and then going to find them with the net.
  5. Buggy – Bring a buggy that totally reclines for nap times, with a good hood that keeps the sun out and a storage basket for the essentials.
  6. Ipad – Its definitely worth downloading episodes of their favorite programs or even games,great for the plane, meal times
  7. EHIC- If your travelling within the EU, make sure you have an EHIC card for each person.  It replaces the old E11 and means that if one of you get sick you wont have to pay. We got our forms in our local primary care centre.
  8. Hands Free – Try to keep your hands free for the flight, so pack a rug sack with everything you need. You will need all hands on deck to get baby out of the buggy, buggy down and get on the flight, same for when you reach the other side.
  9. Passport Dates –  Children’s passports have to renewed every five years,unlike adults which is every 10 years. The last thing you want is to have your holiday booked and find out your child’s passport is not valid.
  10. ENJOY….a friend said to me on Friday as I left work “make sure just to relax and enjoy” and I did, once I got through security at Dublin airport I totally relaxed and went with the flow and it was the best week ever and loved every second of making holiday memories in the sun with our Noah. If anyone is contemplating heading to the sun with their baby/toddler DO IT, lifes too short.

Joanne Xx

The Best Thing About Memories Is Making Them

There is  always one place when you were a child that brings lots of lovely memories flooding back and this place for me is “Scalp Mountain”. Its more of a hill than a mountain but when I was small, this was always the BIG mountain that my daddy used to take us on Sunny Sundays in Fahan. The ultimate was reaching the “Wishing Chair” at the top of the mountain.  I remember vividly sitting on the chair and wishing for a baby brother and guess what I GOT ONE not long after lol.

It was only a matter of time before I wanted to start making these exact memories with Noah, so on Sunday last I said to himself, “I would love to do Scalp Mountain with Noah today” and no sooner had I said it, we were up, boots on, picnic packed and on our way to https://www.babyzone.ie/, to see what kind of carrier would take Noah up the “mountain” with us. We fell in love with a Phil &Teds Metro backpack and better still got it at half price in their fabulous Summer Sale.

Phil & Teds Metro Backpack

  • Very easy to put on, you can actually do it with one person, considering the size of the carrier, its one of the easiest to put on, on your own. The kick out stand makes it very stable for loading and unloading.
  • Noah LOVED it, he was so high up on his daddy’s back and and everything around him was “Woweeeee”
  • There are loads of pockets with this carrier, where we were able to store Noah’s coat and a hat for the top incase it was breezy, which it was, you could also store nappies, food etc.
  • Comfortable to carry. I carried Noah myself in the carrier for a bit too and it was just like carrying a school bag and had great back support.

Scalp mountain is so rugged,I love stomping through the heather and taking a little break every so often and have a look back at the most amazing views. It was so clear last Sunday, we could see all the boats over at the Rathmullan Regatta. It takes about 30 mins to climb and the views from the top are out of this world, you can see, Derry, Rathmullan, taking in Inch Wildlife Sanctuary from above and all the way over to Buncrana. We sat and had our little picnic at the top and made a few wishes on the “Wishing Chair”

Our Picnic At The Top



“The Best Thing About Memories Is Making Them”