Hidden Drives of Ireland – Where Would You Go?

As many of you know I originate from Ireland. It’s a beautiful country full of character and legend and is one I hadn’t explored until about 10 years ago. Beautiful coastlines, cities full of the craic and hidden drives of Ireland are what make it so special.

A work colleague of BattleDad’s got in touch recently to ask about visiting Ireland with his family and we told him that visiting the West of Ireland and its hidden drives was a must with his nomadic family. After a few days in Dublin we suggested hiring a car and heading West where we are sure they won’t be disappointed. Chill Insurance  have recently put together an e-Book of hidden drives in Ireland and they include many of those we suggested to BattleDad’s work colleague.hidden drives of ireland

You see, BattleDad and I had both holidayed in the West of Ireland with our respective families when we were younger and my parents had a second home near Tuam, in Galway which I visited from time to time. But I knew there was so much more of it I wanted to see. So, ten years ago when BattleDad passed his motorbike licence, we rode the bike home to visit family.

During our few days in Ireland we rode the bike to my parents’ home in the West of Ireland and enjoyed a short trip to Achill Island, where my husband had spent many a summer holiday. I had never visited Achill Island but immediately fell in love with it. We had company on the trip in the form of my sister and three of her children and it was lovely, us on the bike, she in the car, discovering a part of Ireland I hadn’t visited before.

I thoroughly enjoyed the thrill of the bike from the pillion seat and it brought a whole new meaning to exploring Ireland. We were also there to visit the registrar in Dublin to organise our wedding back home the following year.

The next year we decided to have a different kind of honeymoon and as the date of our wedding approached we got planning our route to tour quite a bit of the West and South West Coast of Ireland. BattleDad knew he wanted to include the Ring of Kerry and the Gap of Dunloe, and we made sure these routes were included in our itinerary.

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That’s me, on honeymoon, photographing the Gap of Dunloe

And boy was I surprised. These hidden drives were some of the most scenic and stunning areas of Ireland I have ever had the pleasure of visiting. Despite the potholes causing us some sore bums, we had the most memorable honeymoon and it suited us down to the ground. We did have a more traditional lie-on-the-beach-with-a-book honeymoon a few years later in Cuba, but the bike honeymoon in Ireland was just what we needed after the hustle and bustle of our wedding.

It is for this reason we suggested the West and South Coast of Ireland to BattleDad’s work colleague. He and his family travel the world and with it being their first visit to Ireland, we knew it would mean so much more to them to see some of its hidden beauty alongside Dublin.

Don’t get me wrong, Dublin is our home town and is a great city to visit, but to truly appreciate the wonder and beauty of Ireland you must head out of Dublin and into the country. I am sure they will not be disappointed if they visit the West Coast of Ireland, taking in part of the Wild Atlantic Way, Galway City and on to the Ring of Kerry.

If you are considering a trip to Ireland, and want more than just the nightlife of Dublin and Temple Bar, I strongly suggest you head West and South. You will not be disappointed.

If you’d like to discover some hidden drives of Ireland, you can check out the e-Book  created by Chill Insurance. There are quite a few drives from our honeymoon featured.

Cath x

*Collaborative Post

Be In The Picture 3

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed taking part in the Be in the Picture linky as it has encouraged me to hand over the camera on days out and get some pictures of BattleKid and I together. As a blogger I always have a camera in my hand on days out in particular, but have been guilty of never being in front of it. Well Be in the Picture has changed that and I’d like to think it means BattleKid now has more pictures of his mum to look back on in the future.

It is also an opportunity to look back on the month and see what we’ve been up to and it has surprised me yet again. I had forgotten all about visiting Chepstow Castle and our visit to Dublin seems so long ago!

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Spotting boats across the River Wye
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Peeking through windows at Chepstow Castle

We’ve had a busier month than I initially thought and it all kicked off with a visit to Chepstow Castle as mentioned. I had forgotten all about this castle until Kerry mentioned it on Facebook and I knew we had to go dragon hunting there. BattleKid and I had visited nearly two years ago with Lolo but BattleDad had never been. Well, we changed that and we also found the Chepstow dragon too!

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Giving me his flowers

The weekend after dragon hunting, BattleKid and I headed home to Ireland to visit family. While we were there we visited Powerscourt Waterfall with a few of my sisters and my niece and nephew. While it was a bit drizzly we still enjoyed seeing it and I was glad I’ve finally visited a place I’ve always wanted to.

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At Powerscourt Waterfall

Next trip during our busy month was a visit to Bristol Zoo before our annual passes expired. Bristol Zoo is only an hour from us and although it’s quite a small zoo, it still makes for a nice day out. We had fun seeing all the animals, particularly the penguins which are BattleKid’s favourites and we also had fun in the “stick your head in here” pictures. Well, it’d be rude not to join the boy!

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Watching the penguins at Bristol Zoo
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Having fun

To round off a very busy month we visited Legoland last weekend with some friends of ours. We spent quite a bit of time in the large playground near the Duplo section and BattleKid thoroughly enjoyed himself here. We even had a bit of fun together and BattleDad kindly captured a lovely moment between us for us to treasure. I think this one is my favourite picture of myself and the boy from this month.

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Fun at Legoland

Oh and we got our comic on for Comic Relief too!be in the picture 3

Joining in with Kerry of Kerry Louise Norris and Alana of Baby Holiday in their Be in the Picture community in which they encourage us to get in front of the camera instead of always being behind it. I’m guilty of this and by joining in with Be in the Picture, it ensures BattleKid will have pictures of me as well of himself when he grows up. Here’s February’s Be in the Picture post.

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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Linking up with Donna of What The Redhead Said. If you’d like to take part or see some other Living Arrows posts, please click the badge below.

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!
If you’d like to see what other people are linking up this week just click the badge below!

An Irish Baby Bowl – It’s not what you think!

There are certain things you can get in Ireland that you can’t in the UK. And vice versa. It’s only natural and to be expected as they ARE different countries. However, since becoming a mum there is one thing I wish would find it’s away across the Irish Sea to the UK. Generally available wherever food is served, it is the one thing mums can rely on when out and about with babies who have been weaned. It is served in pubs, hotels and restaurants, but is generally not advertised on the menu. As long as the establishment has soup and mashed potato on its menu you’ll be able to get it. The name of this staple pub food for babies and toddlers is a Baby Bowl.

baby bowl

A Baby Bowl consists of a scoop of mashed potato and a small ladle of soup, most likely vegetable, put side-by-side in a bowl. Then mum or dad can mix the two together as they wish and feed to their baby when it cools, knowing it is soft enough for them to manage but, if made with vegetable soup, will be healthy enough for their baby to eat.

The availability of baby bowls means mums and dads don’t need to worry about bringing food for their babies with them when on a day out, particularly if they know they are going to stop at a pub or restaurant for lunch or dinner. Most eateries will also provide you with an empty bowl to spoon small portions of the mixture into to allow it to cool quick enough to satisfy a hunger child.

I first came across baby bowls when BattleDad and I did our first bike tour of Ireland back in 2009. We took our Green Meanie (a ZZR1400) home for a long weekend and during that time stayed with my sister-in-law in Athy. Our plans were to travel from there to Galway, to my Dad’s second home, and use it as a base to visit Achill Island and Galway itself. At the last minute my sister-in-law decided to join us with her 3 children. On the way back to Dublin, where we were visiting the registrar to get our wedding the next year sorted, we stopped for lunch in a pub and she ordered a baby bowl for my nephew who had just turned 1. I was intrigued and was surprised to see what it was. But even then I knew a baby bowl made a lot of sense for mums.

Then, when we were home last year for my sister’s wedding, we had lunch the day after the wedding in the pub attached to the hotel and ordered a baby bowl for BattleKid which he wolfed down. Show me a child that doesn’t like mashed potato, particularly an Irish child!

And even better, if the eatery is serving mashed carrot or swede, you can ask for a scoop of that to pack in the nutrients. And it has never cost us more than a few Euro for a baby bowl. So you can see why I really wish it would wing its way across the Irish Sea. A baby bowl makes so much sense and in the case of BattleKid would ensure he ate a decent meal. Even at almost 3 years of age, there is nothing he enjoys more at home than mashed potatoes, so if it were to be offered in eateries in the UK it would be one of the first things I order for him from the menu, even now!