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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Stimulating the baby with a bath is a good trick maybe an hour beforehand and will help make them sleepy for their shoot.
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.
A full belly = a happy baby, so you can feed baby just before I am due to arrive.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The friendliest staff EVER, Special shout out to the most amazing Mrs Claus and the Elf, you both were so fab.
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.
No pressure to buy the photograph.
Lovely small groups, which makes it very personal.
Never felt rushed at any part of the experience.
The complimentary cuppa and warm mince pie WITH cream.
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
So here’s what to expect for your Christmas Mini Shoot 2019. The shoots take place in the Heaney Suite in the Radisson Hotel here in Letterkenny. Each shoot is 20 minutes and suitable for children ONLY. One family per shoot please. I have gone for an outdoor theme this year, and the colour scheme is Maroon/Red/Snowy White and Wood. Get planning them outfits mammy’s!!!!!! Hats/Scarfs would be good to wear for the shoot this year too. So when will your photos be ready for collection? I start the edits straight away on the Monday morning after the weekend shoot, so your digital images will be available and your prints the following weekend, ideal for getting those Christmas Cards ordered. Collection can be arranged with myself on the day of the shoot. So so excited for you all to see this years set, its pretty cute. Any other questions you have, send me a mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.
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 nigh 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
Before you go PLAN PLAN PLAN, there is soooooooooooooooooo much to see in New York and you wont want to waste a second.
Buy a pass, we bought ours from Attractions Tickets Direct, it cost us 109 euros each and included 5 attractions.
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.
If your thinking about going to the outlets shopping, book before you go to New York, those buses get booked up very fast.
Previous tip I got was to make up little bags and leave for the housekeeping staff, with dollars and some Irish cadburys chocolate.
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.
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.
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
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
My Top 10 Tips For Travelling To The Sun With A Toddler
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ipad – Its definitely worth downloading episodes of their favorite programs or even games,great for the plane, meal times
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”
Of course this was going to be my number one place to visit. For those of you who don’t know, Glenveagh is what I would describe as my “heaven on earth” I visit here at least once a fortnight. I often get asked “God are you not sick of that place” How on earth could you EVER get tired of those views. I love how each time we go there its never the same. The different seasons bring different colours, different plant life, different wildlife and a different adventure for us. Noah was two weeks old when we first brought him here and now at 18 months, he loves nothing more than running through gardens and grounds exploring. Thymeout Tea Room in Glenveagh, is a must after all your exploring. I just LOVE the lemon drizzle cake here and the window displays are amazing, very seasonal appropriate. If you don’t fancy walking in and out, you can always get the bus.
2. The Glebe House & Gallery
Located only 18k outside Letterekenny, this place is ideal for an afternoon trip out of the house. Noah is at the stage were he just doesn’t want to be in the buggy for too long and just loves the freedom of being able to run about. I don’t take the buggy with me at all when I go here. The grounds are ideal for little people to explore. The fairy doors in the gardens are just so cute, especially the clothes line with the little fairy clothes hanging out on it. The walkway leads you down to a gorgeous part of Gartan lake were we could spend hours throwing stones in and watching them splash into the water. There is a lovely tea room located on the grounds here, where they serve your tea in a china cup….winner winner!!!!
3. Oakfield Park
We recently took a trip to Oakfield Park on a sunny Sunday in July and we were in luck, it was Steam Engine Sunday. We got a ride around the grounds in the Steam Train.As you can see from the picture below, Noah was just in awe of it all. Grounds here are fabulous and again our little man explored every inch of them and even got to see the swans in the lake. There is a coffee shop located on site here also.
4. Ards Forest Park
I have to confess, 2 weeks ago was my first time EVER to take a trip to Ards Forest Park. You really have it all here, walking trails, beach, play area and the cutest little coffee shop, Ards Coffee Tree. It costs 5 euros to park right down to the main carpark. Make sure bring change with you as the machine only accepts coins.
5. Inch Wildfowl Reserve Walk
Another gorgeous walk with amazing scenery. What I love about this walk is that its all flat, no hills whatsoever. Noah loves looking at all the birds and ducks throughout the walk. There are numerous look out huts too along the way. One downside is that at certain times of the year midgies can be a nightmare at certain parts of the walk. I always carry a wee bottle of insect repellent just incase.
6. Fintown Railway
My nephew’s words after our trip on this train “Its just like the Polar Express”. The train ride itself takes approx 20 mins from start to finish. There is a picnic area and play ground on site with a huge sandpit. I would DEF recommend bringing a wee picnic with you and have it before or after your trip.
7. Glenevin Waterfall
I was so impressed with EVERYTHING about this waterfall in Clonmany. The path right up to the waterfall itself is the most buggy friendly path I have EVER been on. Along the way there are numerous picnic areas and the cutest of all, on the trees along the path there are little fairies in them, very magical. There is a little seating area too when you get to the waterfall.
8. Banba’s Crown Malin Head
This place actually blew my mind away. WOW!!!!! Really did feel like we were on top of the world. The views from here are just breathtaking. There is a walkway and seats along the path. The walkway is very buggy friendly up to a point…lets just say the Icandy was put to the test that day and passed with flying colours lol!!!!!! There is a little mobile shop at the top selling, teas/coffees/ice cream.
Boats, boats and more boats and Noah just LOVED it here. The day that we went here we were so lucky in that a cruise ship was docking in the port for a number of hours. We had lunch in the Tara Hotel and sat watching the cruise ship docking from our table. We then took a walk around the piers and had a look at all the boats. I was amazed at how HUGE they were never mind Noah. Of course we had to finish our trip to Killybegs with an ice cream from Hegertys.
10. The Beach
No summer would be complete without a few trips to the beach. My goodness that sand does get EVERYWHERE!!!!!!! Rathmullan beach is my top beach to go to with Noah. Everything is very accessible, the beach itself from the carpark, the toilets, the play ground and most importantly the ice cream shop.