Tag Archives: Beach

Beach Buddies in Northern Ireland

It seemed such a long time ago that my chum Tanya from BeachLifeEtc and I booked flights to see our lovely friend Jo in Northern Ireland, that I was almost surprised when last Friday came upon us and it was actually time to head off to the airport.  After various showdowns about the fact that I was a) taking (MY) iPad and b) not taking any children, Tanya picked me up at 3.30pm and off we went!

I think I had mentioned to poor Tan that I’m not a great flyer, and we’ve known each other for nearly 15 years (FIFTEEN? How did THAT happen) so she is aware of my tendency to get hyperactive and flappy when I’m nervous. But even so, I think she was taken aback by just how hyperactive and flappy I managed to become as the time for takeoff came closer. I might even have had a dirty look from the cabin crew for swearing slightly  during the safety briefing, in response to Tan whispering to me that the scraping noise I could hear outside was ‘just them tightening the wings up, sweetie’. Ooops.

But once we were up there things weren’t too bad, except for the odd minor panic attack whenever the plane turned (why does it have to do that? Can’t all runways everywhere be giant turning circles so the flipping things can just take off in the right direction and fly in a straight line?) and then in no time we were coming down, getting off the plane, and jumping in the car with Jo to head off to Magilligan Point, where there was everything we needed – cottage, pub and beach, all within 30 seconds walk. Perfect!

What with catching up on all the gossip, we didn’t make it to bed until well after midnight – not that it mattered as none of us woke up until about half past nine – bliss, bliss bliss! After a frankly amazing breakfast prepared by Jo involving pistachios, couscous, raspberries, oranges and natural yoghurt, we headed out go for a bracing walk around the National Trust property of Downhill Demesne where in true Muppet form I managed to fall over and get half caked in mud…

We reached Mussenden Temple without further muppetry, and my goodness I can see why it’s reputed to be one of the most photographed spots in Northern Ireland. The temple was originally built as a reading room but is now used as a venue for weddings amongst other things, though on wet and muddy days you’d probably need to travel in a 4 x 4 rather than a vintage motor.

We then headed over to explore the now ruined Downhill House for some more exploring – and star jumps and selfies!

After all this fresh air, we headed home for some lunch before going for a long and lovely beach walk along Magilligan Point, ending up back in the pub where we had a cheeky Guinness (or two) to set us up for our evening meal…

I cannot tell you how lovely and long the day seemed. You know how time races when you have kids, because you’re always running for the next pickup, planning the next meal, preventing the next world war? Well, we didn’t have to do any of those things, having left our various husbands and kids elsewhere, and I think I speak for all three of us when I say that this gave us a real sense of headspace.

Unfortunately the time going slowly bit did not last into the next day! Sunday seemed to whizz by all too quickly, though we did manage to get a short and freezing walk up a mountain, a coffee and a cake and some bookshop browsing in Coleraine (though the world’s biggest shoe shop wasn’t open, sob) and of course LOADS more chat before it was time to get on the plane back to Bristol…and this time I managed not to swear during the flight safety briefing. Da iawn fi!

A MAHOOSIVE thank you to Jo for having us, and Tan for holding my hand on the flight, and to both of you lovely ladies for putting up with my general muppetness for the last fifteen years….let’s do it again soon, yeah? x x

Since I’ve had a break, I’m DEFINITELY being much less grumpy at home. And that’s good, right? Well guess what – you too can help prevent my kids from phoning Childline by helping me get another grownup night away – this time at a swanky dinner! All you have to do is click this lovely picture and nominate me for whatever takes your fancy. There’s no biggest muppet award but there is a ‘Best New Blog’ category…THANKYOU!

MAD Blog Awards

On Lazy Jacks – Review

**Disclosure – I received these tops to review free of charge, but Lazy Jacks did not tell me what to write, or ask me to mention anything specific. As always, I write as I find**

I’ll come right out with it – you’ve probably already spotted from photos on the blog that I’m a big fan of Lazy Jacks clothes, so I was absolutely over the moon when I was asked to review some items from their Autumn/Winter 2013 children’s range. Of course, I’m a teensy disappointed that once I hit ‘publish’,  several thousand* LearnerMother readers will be in on the secret too, but on the bright side, that practically makes me a fashion commentator, right? *preens, awaits the call from Anna W*

Well, she’s quite busy, you know. And there’s a time difference, she’s probably asleep. So while I wait for the call that will surely come, how about I tell you a bit more about this small, independent brand.

Based in Devon,  Lazy Jacks is a family firm which started out back in 2002 with just one design. Though the range has grown over the years, the quality has not been compromised – I can vouch for this as a longtime customer. Eleven years later, the Lazy Jacks catalogue includes brilliant quality hoodies, sweats, tees and fleeces for adults and children – and not only do they look great, but they last the distance. I know, when I buy my kids Lazy Jacks tops, that they’ll get a couple of years of abuse out of them (I buy big) and they’ll still be hand-on-able to my sisters’ kids.

Here’s a few pictures of the kids putting the tops through their paces at Ogmore Beach today. As you can see the tops are great for this time of year – warm and breathable, but also they look brilliant – the colours are strong and deep, and the Lazy Jacks branding is distinctive without being overwhelming. You can see a few more shots of the clothes in action on a colder and blustery day here, and I’ve also requested some catalogue images which I’ve put at the bottom of the post, so you can see the tops more clearly.

IMG_3626 IMG_3625IMG_3624 IMG_3623 IMG_3622photo


I already know that Lazy Jacks clothes wash well, even on repeated hot cycles. Why do I know it? Because here’s a picture of an older Lazy Jacks, looking, well, pretty normal after a day’s wear on my littlest.


After a couple of years of this sort of treatment, I have to say it still looks pretty good after washing. Obviously, having only had the new tops for a couple of weeks, they’ve only gone in the machine about 83 times so far (please tell me it’s not just my kids???) so I can’t give you a long term report; but early signs are that they’re as hard wearing as previous seasons’ offerings.

All in all, I’d say that Lazy Jacks clothes are well worth the price tag. These tops all retail at around the £30 mark, which to be honest is more than I spend on any other item of kids clothing. But because I know I will get two full years wear out of them and still be able to pass down, I think it’s well worth paying that bit more than for ‘high street hoodies’ which will be fraying at the edges after a few hot washes.

So, where can you get them? Lazy Jacks are available in independent shops throughout Devon and beyond, though if you’re not lucky enough to live in the South West your best bet is probably to order from their online shop at www.lazyjacks.co.uk. Service is good, delivery is fast and returns/exchanges are no fuss. If you’re a fan of high quality, practical clothing that looks great, I’d definitely recommend you give Lazy Jacks a try – and not just for your kids!

*maybe not  several thousand. Though my stats have gone up a bit lately, so possibly, say, five?

LJ3CP-Twilight-Back LJ3CP-Twilight LJ30CP-Twilight LJ84C-Berry

 Family Fever

March 2014 – linking up with my new discovery ‘Tried and Tested Tuesday’ over at FamilyFever – why not head over for some other ‘tried and tested’ posts!

On a night at the beach

 Last week I blogged some photos of our holiday in West Wales for the lovely #countrykids linky run by Fiona at Coombe Mill – but I ran out of time  saved the best for another post!

On the last day of our holiday, we had a lovely surprise when my friend Tanya from Beachlifeetc turned up to spend a week there with her boys, along with another friend and her two children also. I don’t see Tan anywhere near enough, despite the fact that we live so close to each other, so it felt like a lovely end to the holiday to be crossing over for a night.

Because we are all EXCELLENT parents, who put the needs of our children above all else, we decided, along with some other friends on the site, to take all the nine kids we had between us to the beach for the evening as a very special treat. This decision was IN NO WAY  influenced by the fact that nearest pub is, in fact, on the beach. And the kids actually thought it was pretty convenient to have somewhere to dump the adults while they had all sorts of adventures. You see? Always putting the little outers darlings first.

We had a great time chatting and catching up

They had loads of fun. Including shark spotting…



Chilling out…



Making friends with the fishermen (the fishermen might have different words for this)



Realising that fishing seemed too much like hard work when there were literally hundreds of tiny fish (whitebait?) jumping out of the waves and getting stranded on the rocks



Collecting the teeny fishes to throw them back



Or alternatively to sort them by size



And then to serve them to the grownups.


I can’t leave you with the dead fishes, so to finish up with, here’s my favourite photo of the night, and perhaps of the holiday:


I love this one, it makes me smile every time 🙂

I’m linking up our holiday memories with #countrykids at Coombe Mill – there are loads of lovely outdoor posts on the linky, so why not head over and have a browse!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall