I spent the long August bank holiday weekend in the South East of Ireland, visiting family and making the most of the toddler spoiling and the potential for extra sleep. While our journey there was far from straight forward, the weekend itself really did have some truly lovely moments.
On Friday we went to Hook Lighthouse, the oldest lighthouse still operational in Ireland. I’ve gone there quite a bit over the years, living not too far away for the entirety of my childhood – there’s nothing better to flow away the cobwebs than a walk around Hook Head on a windy (disclaimer: safe windy, not are-you-bloody-mental windy) day. I’d not yet gotten the chance to bring E down there, so when Mam suggested it, I jumped at the chance. The day before, I’d picked up the rather ingenious invention the Littlelife Backpack for E, which is a far better update on the baby-leash I used to have wrapped around my tiny wrist. I initially saw these a few years ago when I worked in an outdoors shop (they weren’t very strict on the “be outdoorsy” part of the job requirements) and thought they were cute, but seeing how they work in action, I’m amazed that these aren’t a far bigger thing. E gets to wear his little backpack, in which I can fit some snacks, a bottle and a nappy, and gets to feel like he is wandering around, free as a bird, with no pesky Mama stopping him from doing all of the fun things he wants to do. For me, as well as a welcome break for my arms from carrying him or dealing with tantrums in a buggy, it does add a level of security as I know he can’t go any further than what the leash extends at the back of the bag, but he’s okay with having it on because he doesn’t realise he’s not in control. Perfect for my very independent little man! They come in a number of different designs; I chose the ladybird because E’s favourite colour is red, but the dinosaur one was definitely a close second! With this on his back, he was able to roam around the grounds of Hook Lighthouse, run around the grassy area, playing happily while I was secure in knowing that at any moment he wasn’t too far from my reach – definitely important right now, when he likes testing how fast he can run away from me! After some running about, we had some lunch in the cafe, which was quite nice (though their kids portion of pasta could clearly fill an adult and a half – might be better to reduce the price and reduce the amount to avoid waste?) followed by another lot of running about – the intent most definitely to tire out the little legs so we’d have some hope of a sleep filled night after!
Just in case we hadn’t had enough wearing out fun, we made the decision in the evening to head to Duncannon to check out the playground I’d heard so much about. I certainly wasn’t disappointed, the community has really made quite something special! While E is a little too young for the vast majority of the climbing frames, that wasn’t set to stop him! He really has come on in his confidence with walking to a scary level – so much so he decided to scale up the green slide – which was quite steep (though thankfully not as steep as the super huge one which he was dragged away from) – and had to be followed up by my dad, who had accompanied us for a “quiet trek to the playground”. I’m not sure my dad will ever consider a playground date with E ever again, he certainly got put through his paces – my back was playing up from the extended car journey the day before so he was on chasing duty and being a small kid on the inside, was also trying out certain bits of the playground “for the benefit of the child”. Once I managed to remove my heart from my mouth after watching the child scale the slide with no support – and no fear- I must admit there was a fair bit of laughing as to how to get Dad back down again – the child chose to return down the slide but for adults, that’s not quite an option. Between that and the tunnel to crawl through, Dad certainly earned his Grandad brownie points that weekend! The playground is amazing – it includes two zipwires, which I used to be mad into as a child, really cool slides, climbing frames, swings, tunnels – everything you can think of to wear out kids in a safe environment, and right next door to the beach so if all else fails, the sea air will tire them out! The only shame I found with it (apart from not being able to risk the zipwire myself with my sore back) was the amount of graffiti under the climbing frames – it is such a shame when something so wonderful is put into a community to see it marred by swear words, crude doodles and general nastiness. Overall though, Duncannon playground, we will certainly be back!
Having ensured both grandparents were well and truly tired out (and the little man too). we looked to spend the rest of the weekend in Waterford, staying with my aunt and enjoying the Spraoi festival. I’ve long been a lover of Spraoi having spent most of my teenage years stewarding and stage managing different acts during the fantastic street festival. Waterford is always at its best during Spraoi – there is a buzz around the city, everyone is out to see what fun and nuance the acts will bring. The highlight tends to be the Parade on the Sunday but the weekend overall is always great fun. This year, it was quite different for me, as it was the first year I came to Spraoi since becoming a parent. Doing these things with little kids is quite different to doing them with just adults – your consideration isn’t quite on what act you want to watch, rather how long the child’s attention span will hold for (cue, not very long). Very loud noises were also out, though he’s improved quite a bit since last Summer with that, but in general we got to mooch around the festival, soaking up the atmosphere and checking out a few good acts. My lovely Mammy offered to take E home to Wexford on Sunday night so that I could stay and enjoy the parade child free – I was extremely grateful of this, especially since the rain was so horrifically bad it wouldn’t really have been a possibility with baby in tow. Despite the weather, the parade was a fantastic spectacle (but thanks to the rain, I’ve no pictures, I lived in fear of water getting into my phone since it was in every other part of me!) which had a good turn out even in the monsoon that fell. We did skip the fireworks after due to the weather but overall, it was a fantastic evening, and another great event done by Spraoi. A definite highlight of the weekend (for me, not E it seems) was getting a picture of him with a wandering stormtrooper. It appears that he was good with the idea until it came to the Storm Trooper saying hello – one tap on the shoulder and he made his feelings on the matter quite clear. Definitely cherishing this photo for his 18th birthday!
Overall, the weekend was a nice break away from the norm – despite getting absolutely soaked on Sunday night, it was definitely great to relax, see family and escape Cork City for a while – I’d definitely recommend it!
What are your favourite things to do in the South East? Any recommendations for must-do activities with toddlers? Let me know in the comments below!
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