Category: Review

Luggwoods Enchanted Forest, Halloween Train

Lat weekend, Neil and I took the kids to Luggwoods to hop on board their Halloween Train. We are huge Luggwoods fans, so when we were given the invite I immediately said yes! I knew we would not be disappointed and we certainly were not! As always, from the second you spot the Luggwoods sign as you drive in, you know something great is about to happen.

The scene was set so well, as always! With our kids excited before they even got out of the car. A new addition to Luggwoods was a coffee dock before you enter, in the car park. I think this is a great idea… some fuel for the parents before the train or for some hot chocolates to enjoy in the car on the way home. (We chose the latter!) They don’t accept card so make sure you bring some cash!

One thing Noa our 4 year old remembered from the Easter Train and also from their Christmas Train was the face painting before hand. She actually was excited the whole way in the car about it! She wanted to have her face painted as “Ana from Frozen”. Unfortunately, there was no face painting this time which she was a little disappointed about! She soon got over it mind!

I mentioned this to one of the owners who actually informed me they thought most kids would already have their face painted arriving, which I totally get. She took my point on board and told me from the next day there would be face-painting available. That is one thing I just love about Luggwoods is their commitment to make sure it is as enjoyable as possible for both the parents and the children. They are so accommodating and really take their feedback on board. (No pun intended!)

As always the experience started off with two fantastic girls leading us up to the train. They were really interactive with everyone on board and kept the children engaged throughout. We saw a fairy village, lots of huge spiders and my little ones favourite- we found clues throughout the forest to tell the witch when we got to her house. They loved spotting them and shouting out the answers (with a little whisper in the ear as 2 of mine can’t read yet!!).

We saw Luggwoods breath taking view of Dublin City which is a must see in itself. It looks so beautiful as it starts to get dark so if you can, I would try and book a later slot. But, it looks as beautiful in day light too!

When we arrived at the Luggwoods barn we were met with my favourite part of Luggwoods, their wizard. He was on their Easter Train as their Mad Hatter and back on their Halloween Train as a wizard. He is fantastic!!!! He really takes the energy up another level. He is so animated and really gets into it with the kids. He gets them motivated to dance and sing and really makes sure everyone is involved. For me he just brings such a level of joy and positivity to the whole experience he is a credit to Luggwoods.

We then met the witch and she was great too. We told her all of the ingredients we had found in the forest and made her potion. We got a family picture at this point! We then went into the next barn where the kids got to pick a pumpkin each and again another picture. I love these pictures, as so often we don’t actually take a family picture but it is so important to capture the memories that you and the little ones can look back on!

The children then got to carve out their pumpkins or decorate them which all of ours loved. Then…back to some dancing with the witch and the wizard. The kids just had so much fun. From start to finish as always, they were entertained.

At this point refreshments are also available. You can buy a light up wand or light for 5euro and the pictures are 10euro each or two for 15euro. They do accept card for the pictures.

If we had paid for our trip, for 2 adults and 3 children, it would have been 48.36euro (they have great family deals) which in my opinion is worth every penny. You get what you pay for an more from Luggwoods. It was such a lovely day out for us and for the kids.

For more information or to book a slot check out their website by clicking here

We were kindly invited on Luggwoods Halloween Train with no expectation of a review but I had to write a review because we loved it and I think you all will too. If you are looking to do something this midterm with the kids go to Luggwoods you will not be disappointed.

All opinions, as always are my own.

Malahide Marina Play Centre, Review

As a rule, I’m not a big fan of play centres. My little ones range over a few milestone ages, 10 months, 2 and a half, four and nine. Which in short, means I end up at one end of a play centre with the smallest, trying my very best to watch the rest in a bigger part.

My children though, adore going to a play centre. So, I go reluctantly and pray nobody gets hurt while I am 20 ft away in a different section, or that none of my smallest ones get an unintentional rugby tackle to the floor by an excited and very much bigger child.

Noa turned 4 last month and she decided she wanted her 4th birthday party in a play centre. She wanted a princess party and wanted to invite all her friends. This is where I first came across Malahide Maria Play Centre. It had been recommended to me by some friends, but I had never actually been. Well that was my first mistake.

 

Malahide Marina play centre is every parent’s dream. I’m going to tell you why-

The Play centre

The playcentre itself is a little smaller than other ones we have been to. In my opinion, this a big thumbs up!! It means everything is in the one place. There is no quick dash back and forth to keep an eye on everyone! The toddler area is actually part of the rest of the play centre but it is separated by a railings and it also has a “gate” to keep the smallies in and safe and the bigger ones out. It also, has a little ball pit which they love. This is one of my favourite bits about the play centre. It makes a massive difference to me as I mentioned, as a mum of three different age groups. It means I can be present with each one of them and sit in the baby area while also having a perfect view of the other two bigger ones.

It is spotless. The café area is spotless. The floor is spotless. The toilets are spotless. Which as we all know is a massive deal. Considering it’s a play centre. Often in play centre there is a smell where the nappy bin is. Not here, in any of the times I’ve been.

The staff members. I just can’t praise the staff members enough. Each and every single one I came across were friendly, helpful and genuinely interested in the kids. It just makes the visit to a play centre, which some mums can find a little overwhelming-a whole lot easier.

What they offer

  • The play centre opens 7 days a week. 10am-6pm
  • Monday-Friday before 12 entry is just 5euro
  • After Mid-day and weekends entry is 8euro, with a discounted 15euro for 2 children and 20euro for 3.

Tuesdays at 11am they have Rainbow Phil (a fav in our house!!)

Wednesdays at 11am they have Storytime

Thursdays at 11am the have Messy Play (also a fav in our house!!)

 

All at NO extra cost!

 

The food-

The food!!! The little café is absolutely unbelievable. One thing I can’t stand in most play centres, is their “in house” food only policy when their inhouse food is all unhealthy processed snacks and food. It’s not like that here. In Malahide Marina all the food is home made by their wonderful and so friendly in-house chef. A chef that is also happy to cater for your specific needs if you wanted something for your self or your little one that was not already prepared that day. If she can, she will make it for you.

They have homemade sandwiches, toasties, ciabattas, homemade brown bread, raspberry scones. Along with fruit bowls or loose fruit. Organix snacks and goodies. Water, smoothies, fruit juice. And most importantly, really good strong COFFEE. Because if you don’t order a coffee when you get to a play centre, are you even a parent?

The Party-

The parties are for 1 hour and 45 mins. Noa opted for a princess party which from start to finish was her absolute dream. When we arrived, we had two tables or parents or relatives to sit and watch, with views to every corner of the play centre (A huge pro in my opinion). We were greeted by a beautiful princess-Noa was in awe of her! As were most of the party goers!! The princess basically stayed with Noa for the entire party and was so lovely to Noa and all the other children. Interacting and playing with them in the actual play area and also in the party room.

The children had free play in the play area for the first hour. The princess stayed with Noa most of the time in here. One thing I just can’t stress enough is how lovely the staff are. There was 2/3 staff members in the play area watching and helping all the little ones. A massive thumbs up from me and most of the other parents. It made it feel very safe for me and that feeling it absolutely priceless. At one-point Briar (2) was up quite high climbing over a rope ladder and I did get a little fright when I saw her (she is our fearless one so I am used to her but it can still catch you by surprise every so often!!) but I quickly also saw a staff member right behind her. The staff member wasn’t telling her to ‘be careful’ or to ‘come down’ she was right behind her encouraging her to climb across ‘you can do it’. How amazing is that??

The next part of the party was into a party room at the back of the play centre. Which again was SPOTLESS and set up perfectly for the kids to have their food. They offer pizza, chicken goujans or cocktail sausages and chips. Or, I saw a party after Noa’s having some sandwiches and fresh fruit!

After the food they had the cake. Where Noa was made to feel like a real-life princess. Her cake was put on a table in the middle of the room and all her friends sat opposite and sang happy birthday. She really did feel like the ‘Belle of the ball’.

Next was some party games and face painting. All went down an absolute treat. Again, the staff members were unbelievable here. The princess and their staff member Josh were fantastic. The really got involved with each and every one of the kids. They had them all laughing and dancing.

At the end of the disco the princess gave Noa a birthday gift of a lunch box, a beaker and a tiara and she was smiling from ear to ear. A small little touch that made a huge difference to one little girls day!

They all got their face painted and then had an opportunity to go and play before their parents got there. I might have changed the time slightly if I had one small critique as it was hard to get them out!!!! But, to be honest each and every child had such a good time, no amount of extra time would have been long enough for them.

The following day the girls wanted to go straight back, and I have to say for the first time ever I really wanted to too. It was an absolute joy to have Noa’s birthday party there and I honestly could not recommend them enough.

If you have a birthday party coming up and you are thinking of a play centre, think Malahide Marina Play Centre. They ticked every single box for us and I do not have one negative from our whole entire day. It was a pleasure.

You can find Malahide Marina Play Centre on facebook, instagram or on their website .

**Disclaimer- We received Noa’s party in exchange for an honest review. But, as always, my thoughts and words are my own.**

 

In an emergency would you know what to do? Parenting Institute First Aid Course- Review

Last Wednesday, Neil and I had the pleasure of attending one of Parenting Institutes first aid courses.

Parenting Institute

Parenting Institute offers a range of training courses for parents to help them parent more confidently. They offer training by professionals and experts so you get the support and knowledge you need to support your children as best you can. You can book through Parenting Institute and they hold their classes in different locations, with different experts.

Ali

The expert on our first aid course was Ali. Ali is a Dublin firefighter/paramedic for the last 15 yrs , he deals with all types of emergencies on a daily basis, from the minor bumps and bruises to the life threatening emergencies. As a father of 3, he has dealt with his fair share of incidents , so he decided to get into teaching first aid. Recently focusing on paediatric first aid. From his experience he found parents tend to panic when dealing with their own child, So he started up his own business called Meditrain, to empower and give parents confidence in treating different types of incidents, so they’ll be able to handle emergencies confidently and safely.

The Course

Neil and I have been wanting to do a first aid course since Kyle was little. Yes- for the last 8 years!! We have seen some come up but always put it on the long finger. Things that had put me off were little things like price, that we were too busy to go and also too busy (and tired) to take everything in. I thought there would be alot of theory involved and alot of things to learn at a first aid course.

Well I stand corrected. Not only am I delighted we finally went, we actually had fun. Ali was absolutely fantastic. I think that makes a huge difference. Personally I think you need to be kept engaged to actually stay interested in something. And when its in the evening and most people there are parents of little ones its essential to be kept engaged. (And awake!)

Ali covered CPR, Abdominal Thrusts (previously called the Heimlich maneuver), Burns, Temperatures, Fevers, Cuts, The recovery position, broken bones, first aids kits, slings. How to use a defibrillator What you should have in your first aid kit and what steps you should take first in an emergency.

I would highly recommend Parenting Institutes first aid course to anyone. Before going I thought it was essential for parents but now I feel it is essential for everyone. First aid differs slightly when it comes to babies newborn-1 years old but it doesn’t differ very much to an adult.

If you have been waiting for a sign to book a first aid course this is it! Do it- it could save someones life!

For more information or to book into one of Parenting Institutes courses check out their website or facebook page.

**Neil and I were kindly invited to take part in Parenting Institutes First Aid course. But, as always my opinion is my own

Martinhal Cascais, Portugal. A Family Five Star Hotel – Review

Two weeks ago I had the absolute pleasure of attending Martinhal’s Luxury Family Brand Event and stay as a guest in their stunning Cascais Hotel (Total pinch me moment!!). I had heard many amazing things about the hotels before but I had never been lucky enough to experience it myself. But, the great things that I had been told about the hotel didn’t even begin to scratch the surface on how fantastic it really is.

Martinhal is a hotel chain that have luxury family hotels across Portugal. Martinhals motto is “Martinhal is a place where parents get to drink their cappuccino with the foam still on it”
If that isn’t every parents dream I don’t know what is! So, from their supervised play area in the restaurant, to their fantastic kids club, playgrounds, pools, trampolines, astro pitches and basketball courts – Martinhal really has you and your little ones covered.

 

I want to gush all in one go about what a fantastic time I had but instead I will tell you about my experience bit by bit. The childcare, the conference and the hotel.

The Childcare
Milla is six months old and breastfed so she came along too (She really is becoming quite the blogger!). The day care in Martinhal accept babies from six months old so it was perfect. As most mothers, I was a little apprehensive about leaving her especially with strangers and in a different country. We had a dinner the first night where Milla would stay in the hotel with a babysitter and then she would spend the full next day in the baby room of the kids club/day care. She is also fed on demand and in no structured routine so I was a little unsure of how it would all work out. But from the moment we arrived all those fears disappeared.

When we first arrived we were given a tour of the hotel (Which I will get into more detail a little later). We were having a look around the fantastic playground and two of the women who work in the kids club happened to be walking passed and stopped me. “Is this Milla?” She was in my arms and I said “yes” the woman replied and said “I’m Rita, I will be looking after her tonight”. Immediately I sighed with relief. There was a lovely sense of calm about her and the resort and for her to already know Milla’s name before we even arrived and to come and introduce herself was just the icing on the cake for me.
Rita arrived at our room just after I had gotten Milla to sleep in the bed. We co-sleep so this is always the easiest option to ensure she falls asleep easily. I mentioned to Rita that we don’t let Milla cry-it-out or self-soothe and that if she woke up it was fine to just play with her or hold her till I got back. And out I ran. I left my number just in case. Rita text me about an hour later just to let me know that Milla was still fast asleep. Amazing. The relief I felt from that one little text. I was so grateful! When I got back Milla was awake and so happy and content with Rita. Truth be told I think I was happier to see Milla than her with me!

The next morning when I dropped Milla into the baby room I was thrilled to see Rita was there as I was just so happy with how she had looked after Milla the night before. I gave another amazing woman Elsa her rough schedule and my number to text me when she needed a breastfeed. I also mentioned that she wasn’t used to a cot and she probably (most definitely) wouldn’t nap in it for them. I left her buggy and again ran out the door. With genuinely not a worry about a thing! I felt like my baby would be very safe. You cannot pay for that kind of ease. I text every now and again and Rita would reply “text as much as you want, that’s what we are here for” I also received this picture as I was sitting in the conference…

Honestly, can you ask for better than that?! I got a text to breastfeed her a few times, they also made her some homemade puree which she devoured. I popped over twice unannounced too- if we had a coffee break or if i felt my milk come in!! One of the times I popped over she was asleep in one of the girls arms. The girl was rocking her and I was just ecstatic. They really listened to what I had told them about Milla and respected it and I was thrilled.

I genuinely feel like the child care is just outstanding in Martinhal. To say all my child’s needs were met doesn’t half cover it. She was cared for in the exact manner that I as her mum would care for her. Not only is that very rare to come by its also priceless. I have never come across anything like it. This for me sets Martinhal high above the rest.

The conference
I had never been to a conference like this before. I have to say I was so inspired hearing all the speakers. All entrepreneurs and all with a different story to tell. A fantastic way for family brands to network but also a fantastic way to feel inspired!

Olivia Cannon was MC for the conference and is so inspiring in herself. She was fantastic! We heard from Rob Law-owner and founder of the now hugely successful brank Trunki  He told us about how a disastrous Dragons Den pitch ended up being the best thing that ever happened to him and how he has managed to make a hugely success business on the back of that bad press.

We heard from a panel of bloggers which my lovely friend Tracey was a part of. She had us all smiling and also crying laughing. Hugely inspiring again to hear how bloggers have made their own brand and built it through social media amongst other things.

We heard from Andrew Dent who is founder of Family Traveller Magazine. He actually told us how last year he attended the conference and through networking he met a man who helped him break American with Family Traveller Magazine. How amazing is that??

The hotel
As soon as I walked through the door (that had been opened for me by a beautiful member of staff) I noticed the fresh scent. Martinhal have a unique scent in their hotels. How amazingly unique is that? I also noticed how incredibly clean every where is. It was SPOTLESS which is also true for all of the kids toys, playgrounds and the kids club. Which, with four kids at home I was impressed to see!
The hotel is scattered with friendly staff all more than happy to help you with anything or for just a friendly hello. I noticed every staff member I ran into whether it be in the reception, the restaurant, the playground or even in the spa all took the time to say hello to Milla too. Not that a six month old baby would specifically notice, but I did. And it left me with a really lovely feeling.

As Im sure you can gather I loved every second of my stay. My one and only con of the whole experience was not sharing it with my three other little ones and my husband. They would have loved it as much as I did. Maybe one day?

If you have been or are planning to go I would love to hear about it!

**I was invited to stay as a guest in Martinhal. But, as always my opinions and thoughts are mine entirely.

Haaka and Cocoona baby Review

As a mum of four, I’d like to think I have picked up a few tips and tricks along the way… That I knew all the must haves and the essentials but evidently I did not. I am suprised to say since having my fourth I have found two must haves that I didn’t have on the others… I don’t know how I survived without them!!!

The haakaa

I’m not a fan of pumping. Never was, never will be. So when I saw all the talk of this new must have I was eager to try. The haakaa breast pump is a handheld, portable milk expression device. It’s small and discreet allowing mum to express without the noise and fuss of an electrical pump. According to the manufacturer, it accommodates different breast sizes and collects up to 4 oz of milk. I’ve only ever got max 3oz when I’ve used it. 
It is a godsend. I have an over supply. Which, most people would kill for. But I also have a A/B cup bra size. So combined together makes for some extremely painful let downs. In the early days the haaka was a godsend for releaving a little bit of pressure from a letdown. 
The haaka works best attached to the opposite breast while breastfeeding. There is a knack to it, you suction your breast into the opening and it suctions on. It catches your let down and it is an amazingly easy way to store some milk in those early days. I am still using my haaka and Milla is now 6 months. As I mentioned though I do have a fantastic supply. Every breastfeeding journey is different but they say it works best up to 3/4 months. It is dishwasher safe and BPA free. It is the only reason i have a freezer full of frozen breast milk. A 10/10 from me. I got mine from Earth Mother and it is on sale at the moment for 24.99euro. For me it is worth every cent hands down. Its is discreet, makes no noise and also above all else does all the hard work effortlessly. All you have to do is try not to spill the liquid gold!!!

Cocoona baby 
The Cocoona baby is also something I never used on my other three babies. It is a sleep aid. A comfortable newborn nest with added health benefits to reduce Plagiocephaly, reflux and colic – but it does come with a large price tag. At 169.99 I was sceptical as to weather my little one would even sleep in it or not. Her favourite spot was stuck to my chest, where she stayed for two weeks straight! 
The Cocoona baby I feel helps newborns transition from the womb to the world very easily. Due to its ergonomic design and its perfect for your little ones physical and emotional well being through the fourth trimester. 
You may have read recent reports about the safety of baby sleep positioners, anti-roll products, baby wedges and baby nests. But Lullaby Trust came out and clarified the issue by saying sleep positioners are different to baby nests/pods. Therefore confirming the Cocoona baby safe to use. 
Milla loved it from the get go. She was so snug and content in it. Its as if when she lay in it she sunk down and it moulded around her. There is also a firm base so i always felt as if she was very safe in it. The wedge is a great extra in it and it allowed her legs to bend in a very natural way. She was as content in it as when i was holding her asleep. Except for the added benefit of me being able to get some rest too. When she would fall asleep if i lay her on a mattress she would wake STRAIGHT away, with the Cocoona baby she would stir a little when I lay her down but she would snuggle straight in. 

The Cocoona baby is not meant for co sleeping. They recommend using it in a cot or the floor for naps and day time sleeping. It is also worth noting they recommend the Cocoona baby to be 20cm lower than the top of the cot you are using. 
We used it for co sleeping. We took into account that this is against the safety regulations that Cocoona baby recommend but we made an educated and informed decision to co sleep with it. I loved this aspect of it. We placed it between our pillows and Milla slept that little bit higher than us both. It meant for me, (who would have been co sleeping anyway) that she was higher than our pillows and also out of reach for duvet to cover anything other than her feet.

It is recomended that you stop using it when baby starts to roll over! Which for my lazy lump was 6 months old!!

Would i pay 169.99 for it?
Yes, I would. Granted I would try get some cash as gifts and use it or if a family member wanted to but it for her. I understand it is expensive but from a busy mum of four can you ever put a price on a good nights sleep?? 

My cocoona baby was also from Earth Mother. A small Irish owned company who I would order all my must haves and baby bots from in a second in a second. Siobhan the owner is so lovely and helpful to deal with. You could contact her with any questions you might have.

The haaka was gifted to me from Earth Mother and Siobhan from Earth Mother kindly lent me the Cocoona Baby. But, as always my opinions of the products and the company is mine entirely. 

Luggwoods Enchanted Forest Easter Train

On Sunday we had the absolute pleasure of visiting Luggwoods again for their Easter Train. If you remember we visited at Christmas and it has been our favourite Christmas day out to date. 

Luggwoods Enchanted Forest is a family run business located just outside of Saggart Village in Co.Dublin about a 30 min drive from the airport! 

Just like their Christmas train there is face painting before hand! Little whiskers and a bunny nose for all the kids (and adults!) and they also sell bunny ears (2 for €5) all while you wait to board. We were just on time, arriving at 4pm (our train was at 4) which is something I really regret. Couldn’t be helped for us but one huge bit of advise I would give is DO NOT be late and better that come 20 mins early. Get the kids face painted buy the bunny ears and give them a chance to get excited as they wait! 

We hoped on board at 4pm and there was music and lots of chat from the fantastically enthusiastic girls on the train. We saw a fairy village and spotted letters all laid out throughout the forest!! Noa is just learning letters at the mo and loved this part! All the letters we found spelt “HAPPY EASTER” We hoped off mid-way for an Easter egg hunt! All the little ones were given a basket and they were to fill them with plastic eggs! 

As soon as the bunting was lifted all the kids made a run for it! My 8 year old was sorted he was first to get some eggs followed a little slower by my 3 year old who still managed to get some then came my 2 year old who by the time she got over the bumps and dips there were barely any eggs left. Her sister give her a few and she was none the wiser! 
But, this is where my only criticism lies! I spoke to one of the owners afterwards and had mentioned maybe giving the kids a little more time with the hunt and also letting the little ones go first or in a seperate area. She totally agreed and said going forward they are going to make two trails from where the hunt begins. One up the left and one on the right. Allowing children under 5 to take route and children over 5 take another. That way they will all be able to collect the eggs. Perfect solution and it will take the experience to a 10/10 from me!

We hoped back onboard and made our way to Big Red Barn. We saw luggwoods breathtaking view of Dublin which suprisingly for me, looks just as beautiful during the day as it did at night!  
We arrived to the barn and met some unbelievable characters! A mad hatter and mad he was! He was FANTASTIC. He told the kids a story when we got there, had a tea party and showed the kids some serious moves! Moves that even had some of the parents up dancing! While each family waited to see the Easter bunny the mad hatter entertained the rest and he also gets a 10/10 from me! Dancing, colouring and making the kids laugh. Noa (3) didn’t want to leave she absolutely loved it! 

We got to meet the Easter bunny next and got the opportunity to get a family picture! A rarity with 4 little ones! One thing I love about luggwoods is that there is absolutely no rush when getting a picture. The girls are so patient and accommodating. Each child got an Easter egg too!

Pictures are available to buy there and then for €10 for 1 or 2 for €15. Refreshments are available at this point too! 

Had we not been invited along, this day out would have cost the 6 of us €53.96 (including booking) under ones go free! This does not include bunny ears or your picture! So remember to bring cash for that! They do accept cards for the pictures! 

Was it worth it? 100%. I was an hour an 25 mins and that was jam packed with things for the kids. The were engaged and enjoying it for every second of that! 

I was sceptical as to how the Easter Train could possibly live up to the Christmas Train we loved so much! I honestly didn’t think it was possible to enjoy it as much as I did the Christmas Train. But I left feeling just as warm inside as I did at Christmas. Totally different experience but still as lovely and warm. Kids loved it just as much! A really fantastic day out with the kids for over the Easter holidays! I highly recommend it! 

We were kindly invited by luggwoods to hop on board the Easter Train free of charge. As always, all opinions are my own. 

Luggwoods Santa Experience Review

We were kindly invited to Luggwoods on Saturday to their press preview of their Santa Experience. Luggwoods is €19 per child and €13.50 per adult. Children under one go free. Hot chocolate included in all children’s tickets. Family tickets also available! Photos are extra.. €10 for one and €15 for two. 

Firstly… We loved it. I am just gushing to write every single thing about it down and tell you all everything but let me take a moment and start from the beginning. 

Luggwoods is located 5 mins from The Square shopping centre in Tallaght. Very easy to get to. As soon as we turned into Luggwoods from the main road I gasped… I turned to my husband and said “oh wow.. It’s so beautiful” and this is where our experience began. Driving up to the car park there were fairy lights everywhere and immediately I got butterflies. This is the warm feeling I expect from a Santa experience. I had it immediately, and we hadn’t even gotten out of the car yet!! 
The first place we went was a cabin where you wait for the train. Covered in fairy lights and totally Christmassy. A beautiful Christmas tree outside! Inside the cabin is an elf doing face painting (amazing to keep excited little ones occupied while you wait for your train) **Note*** Arrive early.. We had 4 little ones with us and had to wait for a few families that were late! (Annoying for the ones there early!!) 

From the very start the staff were all in character and amazing with the kids!!!! An unbelievable elf and lumber jack came to board us onto our train! This elf was amazing.. So interactive, so animated and just perfect for the little world of Christmas our children had now entered… Even the walk to the train is Christmassy.. Fairy lights cover the little trail to the train! 

The train ride was fantastic.. The elf and lumberjack were really enthusiastic and our kids were totally invested in the story and the whole experience. It was so lovely to see their little faces listening to every word and interacting! The train ride goes through a forest.. Where we got to see a fairy village… The grinch (we even sang his favourite song!) and the most breath taking view of Dublin!! 

We went in the evening time and the view of Dublin literally took my breath away! It’s a must see! This photo doesn’t even do it justice!!

The cabin…
Getting off the train we were greeted by more amazing elves. And by one of my favourites of the day Mrs.Claus… EXACTLY what a Mrs Claus should be. Warm, inviting, exciting and most importantly amazing with the kids. Noa (3) was hanging on her every word. She was absolutely fantastic and a credit to luggwoods. We entered her living room and she told us all about the man himself and even gave him a call. 
The wait before Santa again is cleverly filled with bits to keep the kids occupied. A real life elf on the shelf. A sleigh to have your picture taken on. An area for the elves to help you write your Santa letter or a snack and tea, coffee and hot chocolates!
Santa
One of my other favourites of the day was the most amazing Santa… Now I know that for my little ones they just see Santa’s helpers. Santa is very busy in the North Pole so we see his helpers when we visit and they report back! But if I didn’t know any better I would have thought this was the real Santa. He was picture perfect, real beard, glasses just fantastic! He was so patient with my kids and listened to every word. Noa was crying in our picture and he said to me it was no problem we would try till we got a picture I wanted! (I actually told him it was fine because I secretly love the crying pictures!!) 
Again, after the Santa visit while waiting for everyone else (from your train) sees Santa there is another area with an elf disco, a colouring and chalk board area, a place to print your pictures and a ball pit for the smaller ones! And again another opportunity for a snack or beverage.
Luggwoods have used every single minute of the experience and made it magical. Even parts where there is a little wait (to see Santa or after etc) and made it part of the experience. The kids don’t get one second to be bored. For the full hour and a half the kids were engaged and enjoying literally every minute. 
Is it weird that I am already looking forward to returning next year for our Santa visit??! 
For our family it would have been €78.50, Children under one go free so that’s for two adults and 3 children! Milla is 5 weeks!!
€78.50-was is worth it?
Yes Yes Yes!! Loved every minute! Worth every cent! 
If you visit one Santa Experience this year Luggwoods should be it!
We were kindly invited to a press preview in Luggwoods free of charge. But as always all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Santa’s Cove at Liffey Valley

Last Friday, the kids and I were kindly invited to check out Santa’s Cove (Pirates Cove) in Liffey Valley shopping centre. Christmas is my favourite time of the year. No question. So I was thrilled to go and excited to take the children to see Santa. Santa’s Cove is €12.50 per adult (adults go free at non peak times) €25 per child, Little ones under 12 months are free. Your Santa photo is included.

As you all know Milla is 5 weeks old. So I was sure to book the earliest slot available before hand 7.15pm! I also spent about 15mins filling out a form with all the kids details, likes and dislikes. Their hobbies, teachers names etc.. I was happy to fill this all out because I knew the kids would absolutely love this personal touch. Two things that ended up being a complete waste of time.
Patting myself on the back (4 kids in tow) I arrived at 6.45pm…. But I was told they were running late and wouldn’t be open until 7.15. Not a big deal I thought as I had my time slot booked already so I wasn’t too bothered. It was their first night so I know there is bound to be a teething problem or two! 
At 7.15 we all went in to pirates cove.. I say pirates cove because there was no difference at this point between pirates cove and Santa’s cove. There was no Christmas decorations anywhere nor was there any Christmas warm feeling. Actually it was the complete opposite- it was freezing, I actually had to put the kids coats back on in there. 
They had a play on the bouncy castles which they loved…. But the music was blaring and it was hard for any of them to hear me which was stressful! 
Then it came time to see Santa and I was more than ready to leave the room and hear myself think again! At this point I realised all the slots were forgotten about and it was a free for all. There was a massive que to go into the experience and there’s me with 3 kids 3 and under including a 5 week old baby, about to wait an hour in a freezing que. I ended up going up to one of the organisers and explaining I had booked the earliest slot and had a newborn with me. She let me skip the que and I was very grateful. To be honest if she hadn’t, I would have just left. 
The experience 
Firstly there is a ball pit and a slide to go through to enter the experience. There was a few male elves at the beginning but none of which encouraged the kids where to go or said a word to them actually. 
Next was a ride on Santa’s sleigh… A very friendly elf helped us on. But Noa (3) had no idea what we were on or why? It would have been nice for there to be a little story from the elf about the sleigh and what they’re about to experience but it was a bit flat. 
Next we went into a room and the kids made reindeer food got Christmas Eve. The kids really enjoyed this part… The elves were great with them and the loved to hear the story. I’ve heard from friends these elves lost their mojo by the end so bear in mind we were first in… The boxes were awful that the food is kept in and noas spilled everywhere! 

Next they got to make decorations which again they loved… This male elf was amazing with the kids… Didn’t rush them at all! 

Next was a stop for hot chocolate and mince pies with a woman I can only assume was Mrs.Claus because she didn’t say much and didn’t interact at all with the kids. She actually looked quite grumpy in my opinion. Bear in mind again, we were one of the first in!! 
The next two bits were the most disappointing bits for me…
The naught or nice machine.
I got this… I like the concept but the machines were extremely loud and way too long. I think the naughty or nice “deliberation” needs to be cut in half. And most disappointing was they all got a “nice certificate” but there names weren’t on it?!! The name part was blank!
Next was the last stop… Santa.. 
Our Santa had a real beard which I think is extremely important. But for me he wasn’t warm or welcoming and the whole form I spent 15 mins filling out the night before was no where to be seen. I had to prompt Santa with everything. The picture was very rushed and to be honest I felt anxious leaving. When the picture was printed it looked like it had been taken on a phone and not one of my kids were near Santa. We hadn’t been helped or given a second to position the kids for a lovely pic. For me the picture is always my highlight!
For me the experience wasn’t very warm. It wasn’t very Christmassy and none of the staff were very enthusiastic. Most of the elves were great but for me the most important is Mrs Claus and Santa. And both were very flat in my opinion.
Is it worth the €125 it would have cost for my family of 6.
No way!
€125 is a lot of money for my family. It is money I want to spend on an experience that will stay in my kids memory’s for years. One that my kids will say “remember we went to…” An experience you leave feel warm and happy and for me this isn’t Santa’s Cove. Unfortunately I left Santa’s cove feeling stressed and cold.
It seems to me the organisers have put in the work and gotten all the big bits… But have forgotten it’s all the little bits that make it magical! 
We were kindly invited to a press preview of Santa’s Cove in Liffey Valley free of charge. But as always all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Babymoon at Farnham Estate

Fourth baby and first time to have a baby moon. And let me tell you I was seriously missing out! My husband and I had the pleasure of staying in Farnham Estate & Spa last month and I had the pleasure of experiencing the most amazing facial in their gorgeous Spa. Farnham is stunning to stay over night, but I also think if that wasn’t possible it is perfect to go for the day have some afternoon tea, pregnancy treatments, a swim and a gorgeous dinner! Farnham offers so much more than just a night away! It would also be a fantastic venue for a baby shower!

Our Stay..
Only 90 mins from Dublin, Farnham was very handy to get to. Its beautiful grounds immediately add an essence of calm. The grounds are beautiful and although we didn’t get a chance I’m sure to walk around on one of their trails would be really enjoyable. Initially when we drove in I wondered why the hotel was so far from the actual entrance, then it clicked. The views!! The view from the hotel lobby and the room we stayed in was just picturesque. They are stunning! It made me feel so relaxed and it makes the experience feel so private also. We had a gorgeous 3 course meal in the restaurant. If you are booking the restaurant I would highly recommend to book a table beside the huge windows and enjoy your relaxing meal beside a stunning view! There was a variety of options on each course to suit any palate. (Or the unpredictable cravings of an nine month pregnant woman!) The food came quickly, it was hot and really tasty! The deserts were huge!! (Did I mention Im pregnant?!)

Our Room- Neil and I had the pleasure of staying in the Deer Park Suite. When we first walked in we couldn’t believe it. It is fab!! Two huge windows open the room up to those stunning views and in the room is a huge four-poster bed. Arm chairs and a TV and a nespresso machine (fantastic little extra in my opinion) and then the best bit.. a HUGE bathroom. Again, two huge windows letting relaxation flood in. A bath in the middle of the room with a view directly out the window. A double sink and a huge double shower. Such a luxury and so perfect for a very deserving mum to be!!

Pregnancy Espa Facial- On my last three pregnancies I never had the opportunity or the finances for a pregnancy treatment. Or so I thought! I also always thought with not being able to lie directly on my back or front I felt the therapist would be limited in what they could do. Again, wrong!
I was booked in for an hour long facial and head massage with Espa products in the Spa. I arrived a little early to fill out my form, a little about my health and preferences re massage etc. I was then lead to a quiet and calm corridor and lead to the changing rooms. Clean, quiet and a locker provided you need a euro for the locker as members of the gym also use the changing rooms so don’t forget that!! Bernie, my therapist then showed me to my room. As I mentioned, not having a pregnancy treatment before I didn’t know what to expect. Bernie was really amazing she explained everything to me- what she would do, what I should wear and how I should position myself on the bed. She let me try and smell all the products she would be using on my face and let me choose which ones I preferred. For me this was unbelievable, being pregnant some smells are just not very appealing to me so I really appreciated this little extra. Bernie also asked me loads about my skin and I really felt she got a good understanding about what way my skin has been behaving through this pregnancy. It made me feel very relaxed and calm before the facial had even begun! The bed when I lay on it was warm which was perfect and with the soothing music playing in the back round I was already in heaven. The facial and head massage itself was just heaven. So relaxing and my skin reacted so well to all the products Bernie had used. Shows just how much she had really listened when I told her about my skin. I cannot recommend Bernie enough, I had ticked medium pressure on my form and she was perfect. She made me feel so relaxed and so comfortable that I didn’t want it to end! Afterwards she lead me to a small relaxation room and a glass of water. I was floating.

I then met up with Neil for a swim in the beautiful pool. Surrounded by stunning views the pool is incredible. They also have an infinity pool and I have say it is breath taking! I really felt like a pinch me moment relaxing in the infinity pool. It is nothing like I have ever been in before.
 

I had always thought through my previous pregnancies and this one that pregnancy treatments didnt have much to offer. And they weren’t worth the money. I can honestly say I was so wrong. A pregnancy treatment and babymoon is essential for any mum to be. Even if you were to put away a little bit each week from the beginning of your pregnancy and cash it in at the end when you have all the aches and pains and really need it! I would advise any expectant mum to choose Farnaham for your babymoon and if you do, I highly recommend getting a pregnancy treatment from the talented Bernie, you can thank me later!
To discover what it is that you will take away from Farnham Estate, packages begin from €159 per room midweek bed and breakfast.
For further details and to book treatments, consultations and packages in the Health Spa please contact the spa on 049 437 7700 or email healthspa@farnhamestate.com.
Visit www.farnhamestate.com for further information on special offers.

Teddy Bears Picnic at Rathwood Review

We had the pleasure of hopping on board Rathwoods famous woodland train last week. We went for a teddy bears picnic and a search for baby bear. Rathwood started train journeys 10 years ago and since Kyle was small I have been dying to try it out. And it did not disappoint!

All children got name tags which was lovely so all staff could call them by their names! Making our 2 year old Noa feel very special! They got a teddy at the beginning which they got to stuff themselves and carry on board for their train ride, again such a lovely touch in my opinion!
There are lots of interacting with all carriages of the train throughout which I loved. Songs and different things for the kids to see and shout which was lots of fun. 

We picked Mommy, Daddy and baby bear up on the way.. And they even hopped on board! We stopped off an fed the ducks and all children got some bread to do so which was lovely! And then at the end when everyone got off the children got a little picnic which had a drink an apple and a cookie. Both our kids were thrilled with this! They had picnic blankets for everyone to sit on but unfortunately not enough for us..and about 4 other families! The grass we sat on was a little damp which I found a little disappointing, I think it would be worth Rathwoods while to invest in a few more picnic blankets and have enough for every family on board! 

The kids all got a chance to have a picture with the teddy bears which Noa loved.. Kyle 7 was not as keen! I think over all Noa 2 1/2 loved every minute me for Kyle he was just a little old but he really did enjoy his day! 
The kids got vouchers for a free ice cream so we headed to the cafe and the fantastic playground the have right beside it! 

In my opinion the price for the food does not match the quality. All that was available for the kids was frozen/fried options. I would have loved to see some fresh sandwhiches and fruit for the kids.. I thought the food for the adults was a little expensive too so my advice would be to bring a picnic and around the back of rathwood are beautiful walks and lots of picnic areas! It is advertised to be a 60 min experience which even after pics with the bears etc only lasted 50 mins… I would love another lap or a little longer route on the train. For the 1 hour and 30 min drive from Dublin the whole train ride was over very quickly. BUT both my kids really enjoyed the day! What a lovely day to bring grandparents along to too? There is a calm feel about rathwood and I know my MIL and FIL would love it and also a look in Rathwoods stunning garden centre!! 
Tickets are €7 per child and €4 per adult which in my opinion is totally worth it! And we really look forward to going back! For more trains, times and info check out their website.
We received our tickets complimentary in return for an honest review.