Tuesday, 4 August 2015

What to Do with Kids When it's Raining in Ireland!

Let’s face it this summer has been a bit of a wash out. I’ve 5 little ones ranging in age from 8 years all the way down to 9 months so finding something to suit them all on a rainy day can be a real hassle. Last week we were invited down to the Dome in Carlow which has just re-opened after extensive renovation. We had been to Kidsmania in the Dome a few times but were excited to see the changes. We found it’s the perfect solution for those rainy summer days.

On the ground floor are arcade games & slot machines which are actually not that expensive as they start at just 20 cent. Once you stick to the golden rule of giving each child a set amount before you go in you can easily stick to budget. Just be aware I have never seen anyone win in the teddy grabbing machines in all the years we’ve been going! 

The Dome ~ Carlow
A large part of the investment in the revamp was spent on importing & installing pins on strings in the bowling alley. It’s a more efficient way of playing bowling for the player. They’ve also upgraded their score boards to state of the art interactive screens that even allow you to take pictures of your players. I found this brilliant for the children as they could see who was up next when their photo pops up on the screen, well that was until Aoife one of my identical twin daughters thought Orla’s picture was her! 

With the aid of a bowling ramp my three year old Cillian was leading on the scoreboard for most of the frames. We had great craic over the hour of our game. It’s best to book in advance & be prepared to wait a little while if they are busy as it can take a while to get all lanes set up. Bowling is €17.50 for 30 minutes or €30 for an hour; open daily 11am - 9pm. We received a complimentary 1 hour game for 1 adult & 4 children.

The Dome ~ Carlow

I loved the cute baby animal print carpet that leads you upstairs to Congo Quest the soft play area with a new huge toddler only section. We were there for re-launch day with the Beat Fleet from Beat 102/103 providing tunes, face painting & games for the day. My little lad Cillian is still afraid of the large climbing frames so he stuck to the toddler area while my 3 older children had a blast on the new slides, only returning to me for a drink when they got too hot. I had plenty to time to relax & have a cappuccino while they all played in a safe indoor environment. Entry is Under 5’s €6.00, Over 5’s €7.50 3 or more children €5 each, open daily 11am – 6pm.

Another great budget way to pass a rainy weekend morning is to head to one of the kids clubs in your local cinema as they provide a children’s movie at pocket money prices. We have the choice of IMC Carlow, where tickets are €3 each for both adults & children. The new Omniplex Carlow where tickets are €2.50 each, ticket price also includes face painting & colouring in after the movie. We can also go to Odeon Cinemas in Newbridge where tickets are a fantastic price of just €2 each, ideal for the larger family like mine. Check the website of your local cinema as depending on the cinema there are kid’s club screenings on weekday mornings during the school holidays.

Tell us what do you do on a rainy day with your little ones? Have you any foolproof way of keeping them entertained even just for an hour?!

While this is not a sponsored post 
we did receive complimentary entry 
for 4 children to The Dome. As ever, 
this doesn't alter our opinion
in any way, shape or form. 

Friday, 31 July 2015

Pixels - Movie Review

Who's In It?


What's It About?

Aliens using video game characters to attack Earth, leaving President Kevin James to bring arcade greats Adam Sandler, discount Jonah Hill and Peter Dinklage in to fight them off.

Any Good?

The only thing I could think of during this film was that it was just a Frankenstein's monster of better media with the Sandler group thrown in. A story that was literally step-by-step ripped from an episode of Futurama, the style from Edgar Wright's Scott Pilgrim film and a cast made of budget alternatives.

I mentioned above the budget cast - I say this because you can clearly tell who they wanted to be who - Josh Gad over Jonah Hill and Jane Krakowski instead of Amy Pohler being the obvious signs - and they certainly got the performance they paid for. The thing that will surprise people most is how bad Peter Dinklage was - his whole role was short guy plays a criminal who curses with a horrible accent - a lot like his roles outside of Game of Thrones most people don't see him in.

Very Similar, VERY

I have to say, for being a film made of rips, it looked great. The solid matter to pixels transformation was seamless and clever, and the video game characters were vibrant, full of colour and looked great. Another up for the film was the soundtrack, cheesy but distinctly 80's with music like the fantastic Cheap Trick and cameos from 80's Hall and Oates and Madonna - definitely the high points of the film.

An obvious cash-grab on the upcoming boom of video game films, it could have been something had Adam Sandler not done his whole "it's a good time for me and the lads" shtick he uses with everything he makes since the 90's. I'd honestly recommend you watch the (hilarious) Futurama episode or Wreck-It-Ralph if you want to watch it with the kids.


Thursday, 30 July 2015

Things That Rustle My Jimmies

Sweet baby CHEESES Thursday couldn't come quick enough this week ~ here lie five JUST FIVE of the things that have been rustling my jimmies this week:

1. When someone stops your lift to go ONE FLOOR DOWN

2. When bloggers say 'Here's My Honest Review' ~ the implication being that all other reviews/different opinions aren't honest. As Lorraine says 'It's like saying I baked you a cake and it's not poisonous!'. It goes without saying that your reviews are honest, surely? 

3. Loud Chewers!

4. Dublin Bus WiFi being as much use as a one legged man in an arse kicking contest!

5. These cringe worthy tips from Glamour on how to make men fall for you ~ I know some media use other source material for inspiration but using 1950's Good Houswife without even a hint of irony is NEVER a good idea! 

Tell me, can you relate? 

What's been making you stabby this week? Hmmmm?

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Where to Stay in Dublin ~ Save Versus Splurge

As an Irish Travel writer one of the questions I'm asked most often is 'Which is the best hotel in Dublin?'. Truthfully, the answer depends on so many factors so I thought a Save -v- Splurge post was best. Let me know what you think!

For me location & price closely vie for the top spot of my wish list when searching for the right hotel.  Although I’m willing to compromise on price, this depends on the occasion, or if the hotel is particularly nice. This week I bring you two hotels less than a stones throw from each other in a prime location in Dublin’s City Centre. 

One is arguably one of my favourite hotels in Dublin, the other I like as it’s a budget hotel that serves its function perfectly well. Both hotels are located on Drury Street just behind St. Stephens Green Shopping Centre, a two minute walk from Grafton Street. If like me you’d be driving up from the country, there’s a multi-storey car park also on Drury Street with overnight deals for residents of nearby hotels, just ask at reception of your hotel.

Drury Court Hotel ~ Dublin

Sometimes all we need is a budget hotel just to lay our heads, as was the case when I brought my sister CherrySue to see Imelda May in concert at the 3 Arena in early December. As I have 5 little ones under 8 & it was December cash was pretty tight so top of my list was price when I started scouring the net for a decent budget hotel in Dublin. I came across Drury Court & got a great deal with a twin room costing just €40pp for 1 night B&B.

Our room on the top floor was basic but spotless & well furnished. The shower has a curtain which is a pet peeve of mine in hotels, other than that we had no problems at all. Drury Court is part of a late bar P.Mac’s formerly Bia Bar so I was expecting some noise. However there was none at all, I’m guessing it was due to the fact we had a top floor room & the triple glazed windows. The hotel has recently been refurbished so the decor is more upscale, fitting with their 3 stars. Triple rooms, family rooms & apartments are also available. 

Breakfast is served in the bar with a few options of hot or continental breakfast, unfortunately I was a bit worse for wear so I stuck with tea & toast. I’d highly recommend Drury Court when staying in Dublin on a budget. 

Drury Court Hotel ~ Dublin

I was heavily pregnant during our stay at the opulent Brooks Hotel so I was initially apprehensive, wondering would I get a comfortable night’s sleep....well relatively comfortable night’s sleep as you’ll understand if you’ve been in your third trimester in sweltering heat! I need not have worried an iota, the bed was actually more comfortable than mine and air conditioning regulated the room temperature perfectly. 

The best bit was the pillow menu; yes you get to choose from the pillow cart when it’s brought to your room for turn down service. I felt like a real life Goldilocks, except I wanted all the pillows, there was no issue at all with me taking an extra couple “for the bump” of course. With our pillow choices made I thought he was about to leave but boy was I wrong he presented us two little boxes of delicious Irish handmade chocolates & even gave me an extra one “for the bump”.  

Brooks Hotel ~ Dublin

Our boutique room came complete with a dressmaker’s mannequin & contemporary art pieces adorned the walls.  In addition to the TV there was a replica vintage wireless, really nice touch as I don’t use TV’s in hotel rooms.
As my husband & I had a function to attend in Kilmainham Gaol we needed to have dinner super early, we made reservations in Francesca’s restaurant for the earliest time we could get. 

When we arrived at the restaurant we were the first ones there, turned out we were on our own for the entire meal as it was so early. The waiter was fantastic, when we told him about our time constraints he took the order for our starters, mains & desserts together so he could expedite it in the kitchen. Dinner was beautiful, the restaurant was fabulous & the waiter couldn’t have been more helpful, perfect combination for a great meal.

Breakfast is also served in the restaurant; it’s one of the best spreads for breakfast I’ve seen in a hotel. Oodles of fresh compote, fresh fruit, artisan breads, cheeses, cold meats, cereals & pastries are served buffet style.  With lots of options on the breakfast menu too, there’s something to suit everyone’s tastes. We didn’t pay for our stay; we were given it as a gift of a mini baby moon. Brooks has a dress code of no tracksuits or runners. It’s an upper class hotel with no pretentiousness at all, we had a wonderful stay. 

Brooks Hotel ~ Dublin

Brooks have a private cinema seating 26 people that you can hire out or attend one of their movie nights, tickets start at €14pp. This hotel punches well above its 4 star rating; if you can afford to splash out for a night away you really do get what you pay for. Double rooms start at €170 per room with breakfast an additional €19.95pp but if you look around the hotel deal sites you can sometimes get greatly reduced rates, it’s worth a look before you book.

Tell us, what's your favourite Dublin hotel? What do you look for when booking? 

Monday, 27 July 2015

Monday's Moments ~ 27/07/15

Afternoon, All! How was that for a weekend? Rain aside, it was grand, right? 

As ever there's a lot I'm grateful for this week and again there was competition for the top five spots but in no particular order of deadliness: 

1. I was delighted this week again to be invited into our Fingal community gardens to pick fresh fruit and veg being grown there. I left with a bountiful crop and spent the following week making the most delicious wholesome, fresher than fresh dinners for the lads & I. It's given me a huge respect for ladies like Catriona from Wholesome Ireland that has literally reaped the rewards of her own plot to plate initiative. 
I'm definitely organising my garden this year!

2. The plan was to tell you last week that MY INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT had topped 4k. The thing is it's closer to 4.5k this week! As with most extra curricular social media channels I was late to the Instagram game but it's fast become one of my favourite platforms. I'm working on a 'What's Worked For Me' post right now with some tips on upping your double taps, if there's anything you'd like to see included sure just holler at me. Onward to 5k!

3. I mentioned last week that my baby turned 18. Well that same baby surprised me on Thursday by bringing home a bottle of wine after work for his Mama. Of course I immediately thought 'HOW THE?!' but then it dawned on me. Both boys being adults now might not be so difficult after all!

4. This week Aaron has decided he's going to launch his very own blog. I've caught a glimpse at the inner workings and it looks fantastic. We'll have more info coming up but I couldn't be prouder ~ if not a little green that creativity comes so easily to him. I've created a monster! (and I couldn't be prouder of that fact). 

5. Last week I was asked to sit on Bobby Kerr's Down to Business panel about columns/blogging and being paid for your opinion. Of course, despite the nerves and the sleepless night that goes with national radio I said YES! You can listen back HERE. Hopefully you'll find it helpful. I'd love to hear any questions or comments you have but in principle my Moment comes from feeling the fear and doing it anyway, the rush of achievement is incomparable when you tackle something that scares you. 
I can't recommend it enough!

Tell me, what's keeping your blues at bay this week? 

What Moments are making your Monday?