Living Arrows 11/52

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth

Kahlil Gibran

This weekend I was home in Dublin visiting family and on Saturday morning I decided to head to Powerscourt Waterfall with two of my sisters and my niece and nephew. I had never visited this before leaving Ireland and it has been on my wish-list for a while. So to share it with BattleKid was even better. The weather wasn’t great, quite grey and it started raining just before we left. But I was glad to get out of the house, out into the outdoors and to explore a lovely place I’ve been meaning to visit for years. I think we’ll definitely be going again next time we’re in Ireland!

Here are a few snaps I took of BattleKid during our visit.

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Living Arrows

11/52 My Sunday Photo: 12/03/2017

My Sunday Photo
It’s taken me leaving Ireland (13 years ago) and about to emigrate again to finally visit Powerscourt Waterfall in County Wicklow. The weather wasn’t brilliant but I had BattleKid’s waterproof all-in-one so I didn’t mind. And it was worth it. Funny how you take things for granted when they are on your doorstep!
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5 Things To Do in New York with a Toddler In Tow

st September the Battle Family visited New York for the very first time. BattleKid was 2 years and 8 months old and both BattleDad and I were a bit apprehensive about what we would be able to do with him while there. We also had to be realistic that certain things may be off limits to us due to having a toddler in tow. That said, we never let having a toddler put us off booking New York in the first place. We went and I wrote all about our New York holiday in the New York Holiday Diaries. Today I’d like to share with you our top 5 things to do in New York with a toddler in tow to show you that you should never be afraid to just do it.5 THINGS TO DO IN NEW YORK WITH A TODDLER IN TOW

The Empire State Building.

We weren’t sure if we were going to have time to visit the Empire State Building but we were up quite early on our last morning so decided to get the subway into New York and headed for the Empire State Building after a fab breakfast at a traditional diner around the corner from it. We got there very early, just after it opened at 8am and to our surprise there were absolutely no queues. I had been worried as we didn’t pre-book our tickets but we bought them, strolled up to the elevator and straight up to the 80th floor, the first stop, in an elevator with plenty of room in it.

After strolling around that floor and “ooh-ing” at the views, we then headed up to the 86th floor. This is the open-air observatory used in all the films and TV and we had been advised not to bother going any further. The views were even better from there. We really enjoyed our visit to the Empire State Building, especially as we seemed to pick a great time to go. We visited just after 8am on a Wednesday morning and there were no queues. We have heard last thing at night (it is open from 8am to 2am) is the best time to visit for no queues and for getting snaps of the New York skyline lit up at night.

We got tickets that included the 80th and 86th floors for $32 each (children cost $26 and under 6’s go free). We didn’t bring BattleKid’s buggy and that was a great idea as you need to fold it before getting into elevators. Tickets to include both the 86th and top deck cost $52 for adults and $46 for children, but as we were advised we didn’t bother doing the top deck and certainly didn’t feel like we’d missed out. The views from the open-air observatory deck on the 86th floor are all you need! There are, however, VIP passes that allow you to skip the queues if you plan visiting at busy times but they come at a premium, so be warned.new york day 5

Central Park.

This was one New York attraction that we were not going to miss. Central Park is huge with a zoo, lake and various other areas of interest in it. It is 843 acres or 3.4km2 and we only saw a small fraction of it. Surprisingly it is almost half the size of the Phoenix Park in Dublin! Our main reason for visiting Central Park was to have a photograph taken in Strawberry Fields, to carry on a family tradition. We managed to find the elusive rock with memorial plaque on it and a kind passing tourist took our picture, ensuring the tradition carrys on.

The best part about Central Park is that it’s easy to get to and is free! Attractions inside can cost extra such as the zoo and restaurants but if you are visiting on a sunny summer day, why not take a picnic and enjoy it on one of the many grassy areas. We didn’t get to stop long in Central Park but it will definitely be on our must-return-to list for our future visits to New York. Kids will love it as it’s a great place to run free among a busy bustling city!New york day 4

The World Trade Centre Memorial.

The Twin Towers Memorial park was top of my to-do list and we visited this on our jam-packed second full day in New York (the first being a total washout due to heavy rain). We had breakfast in a traditional diner nearby before heading around to the site. The memorial is both wondrous and humbling and it really hits home what happened on that awful day when you see the two pools and all the names of the people who lost their lives when the two towers fell. Most upsetting for both BattleDad and I was seeing a lady’s name and beside it “And Her Unborn Child”. We both welled up and gave BattleKid’s hand an extra squeeze.

The pools and landscaped gardens around it are stunning and a fitting memorial. There is also a museum at the site but we didn’t visit it as we felt BattleKid would be too bored for us to take our time going around it. We plan to visit it when he is older so that he can understand it more. The memorial park itself is free while the museum costs $24 adults and $15 for children (under 6’s are free) and you can pre-book your tickets up to 6 months in advance. It is advised to allow yourself 2 hours for your visit, particularly if you plan to include the museum in your visit. The memorial is open from 7.30am to 9pm daily and the museum from 9am to 8pm.

The only thing I will advise, especially if you are visiting with a toddler, and you are getting the subway, do not travel during rush hour. We made that mistake and kept trying to get out of the way of commuters and it took us ages to exit the amazing mall and concourse up to street level. So avoid rush hour if you can! But you should definitely put this on your must-see list of places to visit while in New York.New york day 4

Water Ferry.

We did this on the recommendation of my sister-in-law and thoroughly enjoyed it. It is a 1 hour boat ride around the tip of Manhattan that takes in Manhattan, Liberty Island and the Brooklyn Bridge, which we would have missed had we not seen it on this trip. We got on the Zephyr, a large ferry type boat, at Pier 16 and headed for the top deck. The weather was lovely and when the sun came out it made our water views of Manhattan very magical. We also managed to get some pictures of the Statue of Liberty without having to step off the boat which we thought was great.

The boat trip is narrated with information from a guide and ours was very funny. There are two cash bars on board, remember cash, and you can buy tickets for this which combine other attractions too. Tickets just for the ferry cost $30 for adults and $19 for children (with under 3’s free) and there are various departure times between 10am and 5pm. This boat trip was thoroughly enjoyed by both us and BattleKid and is definitely one I would recommend you do for a different view of Manhattan.New york day 4

Times Square.

No trip to New York would be complete without a trip to Times Square and having your picture taken with all the lights of the billboards behind you. Times Square was the very first stop during our trip and it is an amazing place to see in the flesh. BattleKid was amazed by all the lights and sounds, although he wasn’t too enamoured with the sirens around us. Times Square is free to visit and there are plenty of shops around if you fancy a bit of shopping or restaurants if you want a bite to eat. We went into the Disney Store and bought BattleKid a t-shirt and Mickey Mouse as it just had to be done.

The only thing I’ll warn you about Times Square and buggies is it gets very, very busy and can be a bit difficult to navigate with a buggy. I’ll be honest and say I took no prisoners on the sidewalk and got through relatively unscathed. For kids on their own two feet, keep a tight grip on their hands and don’t let go as the crowds could easily swallow them up.new york day 2

So there you have it, 5 things to do in New York with a toddler in tow. There are a thing or two to keep in mind with each of them but they can ALL be enjoyed even with a toddler in tow. We had fun at each of them, got plenty of photos and got to tick a few things off our NYC to-do list. There were one or two things we discovered weren’t ideal with BattleKid, such as the National History Museum due to them charging for toddlers, but that won’t put us off visiting when he is older to enjoy them. It will be a few years until we plan our return trip but when we do we already have a to-do list made which includes Madame Tussauds, Grand Central Station and a Helicopter Ride over Manhattan.

Are there any things to do in New York with a toddler in tow that we didn’t do or that you can recommend for my readers?

Cath

Note: all prices were correct at the time of writing this post.

WANDERLUSTKIDS

things to do in new york with a toddler in tow

Bluestone Day 4: 28/11/2016

The last day of a Bluestone weekend is always home day and a bit of a mad scramble to get everything packed, tidied and sorted by 10am. We were up by 7am and as I had packed most of our stuff the night before we only had a few things to sort out as well as the kitchen, the last place to get tidied.

I made a last breakfast of tea/coffee and toast for everyone after which we got dressed and the boys went to get the cars. It’s handy that they let you bring your cars back down as it means you can kill two birds with one stone and drop your buggy, if you have one, while you are up there. Very handy for that crisp, cold winters morning!

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View from our Augustus Way Lodge

We were packed just gone 10am and set off in convoy, 3 cars in total as BattleDad and I both had our cars. We agreed to meet at the Cwm Cerrig Farm shop that we frequent whenever we are visiting Bluestone to get some supplies and have a full breakfast. Traffic wasn’t too heavy and before we knew it we were tucking into a full English. We grabbed the makings of dinner before we said goodbye to W&S and headed for home, after a wonderful weekend at Bluestone.

This weekend, although short lived for BattleDad, had been a rather special one as they certainly know how to do Christmas at Bluestone. I’ll be writing a separate post about it but suffice to say it’s an amazing time of year to visit Bluestone.

When will we next be visiting Bluestone? I’m not too sure to be honest. We’d love to be booking another break with them soon but with things about to drastically change in terms of our home life I’m unsure when we will get the opportunity to book a break there but I do hope it’s not too long. It’s definitely our home-away-from-home in the UK.

Have you visited Bluestone yet?

Cath x

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Beautiful Bluestone

Bluestone Day 3: 27/11/2016

BattleKid did his usual and came into bed with me at 4.20am. It was becoming a habit. Why do kids do that? I didn’t mind too much as I had two single beds pushed together so there was plenty of room but broken sleep man! We woke after 8am, got dressed and had some toast and tea before heading to the Blue Lagoon which had been turned into the Frosty Lagoon for a swim.

There were icebergs in the water and ice decorations in the Blue Lagoon, all tying in with the Winter and Christmas theme for the time of year that was in it. BattleKid and L really enjoyed the iceberg floats and both had a whale of a time jumping into the waves when they were set off. Their Waterbabies classes have stood them in good stead and neither are afraid of the water and have a lot of confidence around it. I can see them being really good swimmers in a few years’ time.

At 10.35am S, who had decided not to join us in the pool, let us know that BattleDad, who had landed at Heathrow airport that morning from Singapore, wasn’t too far away. We got the boys out under protest and I decided to shower BattleKid and I at the pool rather than wait to do it back in the lodge so that we could have that time with BattleDad once he arrived. Once we were done we joined the others outside and got the buggy and, as BattleDad was only 5 mintues away, W kindly drove us up to the car park so we could be a welcoming party, haha.

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Happy to have his Daddy back

It was great timing as it meant we could pick him and up bring him straight down to the lodge without him having to walk down or wait for someone to come back up for him. BattleKid was delighted to see his Daddy, as was I.

We all had brunch together and BattleDad showered us all with gifts, giving the boys a set of cars each, macaroons for S and Tiffany earrings from Raffles Hotel no less for me! I was very surprised as I hadn’t been expecting anything at all. Afterwards he joked he should have kept them hidden for Christmas. He missed a trick there. BattleDad headed for a snooze after giving us our gifts as he had only managed 4 hours sleep on the plane.

I kept BattleKid downstairs with more Gruffalos Child and Room on the Broom on my phone to keep him quiet and occupied. L joined BattleKid on the couch and they sat together watching the phone. It was very cute. S, W and I had tea and coffee and chatted until BattleDad surfaced.

Once everyone was up and about and showered we went to the village marquee to the children’s Christmas Party which was a paid-for event. It cost £5 per child and the Elves did a show in which everyone played musical parent-and-child statues. BattleKid didn’t want to play at all and we had to leave the dancefloor early on as he wouldn’t sit on my lap. Party pooper.

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An unhappy Elf trying to escape

Those who left got sweets for their bags and there were minced pies and mulled cider for the adults to enjoy in between the games. Musical parent-and-child was followed by more games but I have to admit we left before the end as we felt the party was better suited to children aged 4 and above. Our nearly 2 and 3 year old toddlers didn’t quite get into the swing of things. We did feel that it might have been better to have a kids party for 0-4 years old and one for older children but I can see how that might cause some trouble for parents with children of various ages.

We headed to the Tavern to see if we could have food before our visit to Santa but they weren’t serving food until 5pm and our booking for Santa was for 5.15pm. We decided just to have some drinks and get food from the Chippy afterwards. After round 1 of drinks BattleDad and W took the boys to the playground and S and I enjoyed some more drinks which relaxing and chatting. It was nice to get some quiet time with her without the boys running around shouting “mama” at us.

At 5pm we headed over to Santa’s Grotto. The lights on it were amazing, especially in the dark and as we walked down to the house we walked through a tunnel decorated with fairy lights.

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Santa’s house

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We checked in and were lead into a living room that was decorated so beautifully for Christmas with a big tree, presents and lots of rugs and furs laid out in front of what clearly was Santa’s chair. An Elf brought us, invited us to get comfortable and get ready for Santa to read us a Christmas story. However, he was asleep in his bed so we had to wake him up.

Santa came out, said hello and read us a story before we were split into two groups. One group was meeting Santa, telling him our wish list for Christmas and receiving a present from him before getting some photos taken with him. The other group went into the kitchen to help Mrs Claus decorate some chocolate Christmas trees, which we got to keep. We met Santa and BattleKid certainly didn’t hold back, telling him about wanting a motorbike and telling him what noise bikes do. L, on the other hand, wasn’t fussed with Santa. We had our picture taken and then went into the kitchen to help Mrs Claus. Before we left the kitchen we checked out photos and none were very good. However, much to our surprise the Elves and Santa agreed to let us have a few more taken to try and get a good one, which we did in the end.bluestone nov 2016 Day 3 bluestone nov 2016 Day 3

Overall the Santa experience was great, BattleKid enjoyed it and we got some lovely pictures as memories. That said I must admit this Santa wasn’t the best Santa we’ve ever met, coming across as a bit grumpy if I’m honest. But it wouldn’t stop me doing it all again in the future. We spent approximately 40 minutes in Santa’s Grotto and it was worth the £15 per child and £5 per adult. Each child got a teddy present and their chocolate tree to keep. The photograph with Santa is extra at around £8.

We headed back to the lodge with two tired boys and while S and I got them settled, BattleDad and W went to the Chippy to get us some dinner. We enjoyed our fish and chips before getting the boys to bed so we could sit and catch up properly over some tea and coffee. It wasn’t a late one as we were all tired from a jam-packed day. Santa done!

Home day tomorrow,

Cath x