Frightfully Nostalgic

Ah nostalgia. This day 15 years ago I landed in Sydney for some post South East Asia, full moon party, rest and recuperation. In hindsight, Halloween probably wasn’t the calmest of nights to arrive.

I had planned this ‘once in a lifetime’ trip for a while and I intended to be away for 18 months. I had saved up €10,000 throughout the year – equating to $20,000 AUS – packed in my job and planned to live life to the full before the money ran out. I’m glad to say I did just that.

I think I lasted 9 months until I was down to the last 2k and with a 3 month Australian road trip planned and a car to buy I decided to get a job. While most backpackers were applying for data entry jobs, labouring and call centre work I decided to chance my arm and aim a little higher by applying for an IT/marketing role in a law firm. It paid off, quite literally. I got the job, along with my own office on the 53rd floor overlooking Sydney Harbour Bridge and I was paid 1.5k a week for 10 weeks. For a 25 yo backpacker this was an insane amount of money. I had landed on my feet.

Anyway I won’t bore you with any more details but without doubt it was the best time of my life and it allowed me to travel to many far flung destinations of which New Zealand Vietnam were firm favourites and i can’t wait to go back there with the kids some day.

I don’t really know why I’m writing this, oh yes Halloween kicked it off, but if I took anything from my experience it’s that you should always take a chance and aim as high as you can regardless of what other people say or what other people do or are doing. It’s easy to be another brick in the wall. It’s easy to be just another number. If having kids has thought me on anything it’s that life goes by very very very quickly so make the most out of it. Make the most out of your situation and make the most out of the world we live in.

Travel. Your money will return, your time wont.

DD

Digital Dad: Time to rethink your family holiday

For the second year in a row, we decided to pack up the kids and head abroad for Christmas. Sacrilege some might say, but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

On both occasions we’ve headed to the Canary Islands mainly because you are guaranteed the sun, the flight isn’t overly long (circa 4 hrs), the resorts are very family friendly and Santa can travel anywhere, so why not head off? Granted, holidaying over Christmas can be expensive but if you plan it right and book it early enough you can get some fantastic deals.

December 2015 was our first family Christmas holiday abroad and although we as parents were run ragged, we still had great fun. Thing 1was four at that stage and Thing 2, our ‘livewire’, was two.

The latter kept us very busy mainly due to his mix of independence, fearlessness, craziness and humour, all of which make him a lovable rogue. One year on however and with the addition of our third child – Thing 3 – we decided to do it all over again.

THREE kids? Are ye mad or what? Honestly, it was one of the most stress-free, chilled out and enjoyable holidays we’ve been on in a long time.

Christmas in the Sun

Anytime we mention that we were away for Christmas we’re invariably asked, in typical Irish fashion, what did we do for our turkey and ham (?!) and did we not miss seeing our family over Christmas. Well for any concerned folks out there let me allay your fears; believe it or not, turkey and ham are available outside of Ireland.

So too is goose, roast beef, steak, shrimp, scallops, lobster, crab, chicken and more, all of which were available to us on Christmas day. In fact, the food in the resort for the entire holiday was excellent.

We booked an all inclusive package – breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus drinks and snacks all day long. Regarding our families, yes, of course, it’s lovely to see them on Christmas day but we live near them, we see them on an almost fortnightly basis and we tend to hook up for a home cooked pre-Christmas (and post-Christmas) meal anyway. So if you think about it, how much are you really missing out on?

Also on Christmas Day I don’t necessarily want to be dragging the kids and their associated toys from one house to another while the designated driver – usually me – grunts in the corner about getting home so that we can crack open the Quality Street. And before you wonder, yes Santa does visit the kids abroad. He pre-plans…

It’s all very simple or more simple than you might think. To add to this, most resorts usually have an onsite Santa who visits on Christmas day and gives presents to the kids too.

Granted, holidaying over Christmas can be expensive but if you plan it right and book it early enough you can get some fantastic deals.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Christmas at home but like most parents I’m sure, the countdown to Christmas starts for us pretty much as soon as Halloween finishes. The kids immediately turn their attention to Santa, toys, pantomimes, Christmas trees, decorations et al, so by the time we hit mid-December we’re ready to escape the madness. We also find that the days between Christmas and News Years tend to drag – nobody is around, the weather can be bad and the kids can drive us bonkers! Give us a beach, a pool, some sun and a glass of something nice any day.

Beach Cocktail time - virgin or an alternative

So how was it that a holiday with three small kids this time around was easier than a holiday with just two small kids the previous year? It’s quite simple really; the two older boys are now at a much better age where they can entertain each other without the need for Mum or Dad to don a clown suit and run around after them. It helped too that our newborn (Thing 3) is still immobile – a gurgling burrito you could say – so there really wasn’t much work in looking after him bar the usual duties of feeding, burping, changing and sleeping….pretty much what I did myself for the two weeks!

All of this plus the added benefit of a brilliant kids club (and evening entertainment) helped to oil our well-run parenting machine. The kids slept like angels too. Granted they stayed up until after midnight most nights but this was only on the basis that they napped – post swim – every day. Dually obliging, this napping lasted for three glorious hours every day. I’ve never enjoyed a glass of daddys lemonade silence quite like it in all of my life.

Give us a beach, a pool, some sun and a glass of something nice any day.

We honestly experienced no issues whatsoever – apart from Thing 2pulling down his pants in the restaurant one night and running around shouting ‘look at my hotdog’ – it was über relaxing, zero stress, great fun and without fail we were out every night. The kids had an absolute ball too.

If finances allow, we’ll most definitely be doing it again this year and although Thing 3 will be more mobile by then, Things 1 and 2 will be at an age where they can help us out a lot more.

So if you are thinking about it this year, don’t fret about the turkey and ham, don’t fret about your family – you can always invite them along – and try something different.

Feel free to get in touch if you’d like to know more.

DD

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Digital Dad: We put our Faith-legg in Waterford

I adore my kids I really do, but like a lot of parents (I hope) I enjoy being away from them too. Everyone needs a break and when it comes to children, too much of a small thing can drive you potty.

So to ‘de-pottify’ ourselves, myself and Mrs. DD decided to head south for two days while our amazing child-minder took over the reins at home. With school drop-offs/pick-up sorted and the cupboards stocked, we left knowing that the kids would be well looked after.

We like to travel around Ireland as much as we can, particularly during the summer when we usually spend a couple of weeks in Kerry. For a weekend away, however, I prefer trips that don’t involve half the weekend getting there so for this reason we chose Waterford.

At just over two hours from Dublin, or a total of three hourly news bulletins (the milestones by which I track a journey), Waterford ticked all the boxes and with the added bonus of the Deise Greenway to explore, we headed off like excited school children.

Faithlegg House Hotel & Golf Resort
Faithlegg House Hotel & Golf Resort

First Impressions
Our digs for the two nights was Faithlegg House Hotel, a beautifully restored 18th mansion on the banks of the River Suir which houses a four-star hotel situated in a stunning woodland location.

It’s also home to an 18 hole golf course which offers a wonderful sweeping vista as you make your way down the long and winding driveway to the house.

Faithlegg advertises itself as ‘a charming destination for a leisure break, wedding, meeting or conference’ and on first impressions, it certainly didn’t disappoint.

We parked up, turned off the third news bulletin and headed for the reception where a warm fire and warm, helpful staff greeted us. ‘Kids? What kids!’, I thought as I checked-out while being checked-in.

We headed to our room – a classic double but with a super king bed, large TV, tea/coffee facilities, robes and a decent sized bathroom – unpacked and left to explore our surroundings for fear of taking a sneaky power nap and waking up eight hours later.

Classic Double Room
Classic Double Room

The Lounge
Sorry, I lie; we made a quick cup of tea first and enjoyed the macaroons and truffle chocolates that were waiting for us on our arrival. Now If you know me, you’ll know I love treats so needless to say I was a happy camper after my ‘heroic’ two-hour drive.

Deciding not to exert ourselves and with pre-booked dinner only a couple of hours away, we decided to head to the lounge for some ‘no kids hanging out of us’ refreshments and chats. And if there was ever a lounge to lounge in, then the Aylward Lounge was it;

It’s a large beautifully decorated room with a grand piano, numerous comfy couches, armchairs, tables and chairs, all perfect for relaxing and ‘wine-ding’ down. The stout wasn’t half bad either.

The Aylward Lounge
The Aylward Lounge 

Dinner
Our dinner that night was in the Roseville Room Restaurant and the starters were some of the nicest we’ve had. Mrs. DD had Ardsallagh Goats Cheese Parfait with Pinenuts, Saffron, Pickled Pear, Brioche Crouton (it was as nice as it sounds) while I opted for Pan Seared Scallops with Twice Cooked Pork Belly, Black Pudding Dust, Green Apple Puree. Double yum all-round.

For mains Mrs. DD went for the ‘Chargrilled Fillet of Irish Black Angus Beef with Potato Fondant, Braised Beef Croquette [these were great], Baby Spinach and Bone Marrow Jus’, whereas I stuck with fish and had ‘Pan Fried Fillet of Monkfish wrapped in Serrano Ham, served with Roasted Cauliflower and a Smoked Paprika and Chilli Cream’. Again both were delicious.

Like ourselves, dessert was fruity and cheesy (you can decide who’s who) as we decided to share a Green Apple and Blackcurrant Parfait and an Irish farmhouse cheeseboard accompanied by tea and coffee.

It was the perfect finish to a fabulous meal and a special mention must go to Gielsa for making us feel so welcome.

After dinner, we headed back to the lounge for a nightcap and although the atmosphere was somewhat subdued – no music and non-lit fire – we were happy to retire to our sanctuary upstairs as breakfast and the Waterford Greenway awaited us the next day.

The Dining Room

Breakfast consisted of both hot and cold options, all very adequate, and with a table situated beside a large bay window overlooking the grounds, it was the perfect start for the day’s activities that lay ahead (more on that next week).

We spent the rest of the day cycling the 46km stretch of the Waterford Greenway, nursing our sore saddle bums and enjoying some of the great bars and restaurants that Waterford City has to offer.

It was a great day but we were happy to return to Faithlegg that evening where we nestled right back into the comfort of the Aylward Lounge to enjoy some live music and a few evening tipples. Bliss.

The verdict…
We had the pleasure of being invited to Faithlegg House Hotel on a complimentary bed, breakfast and evening meal basis and we really had a wonderful time.

The setting is lovely, the staff are very friendly and helpful, the food is fantastic and the service can’t be faulted. The house is in a glorious setting and being only a 20-minute drive by car from Waterford city centre makes it a great base for exploring all that Waterford has to offer….and it has a lot.

It was the perfect escape for these tired parents so I can’t recommend it highly enough.

So will we be back? Eh, yes definitely…just let me mention it to our child-minder first.

The damage…
We were guests of the hotel – the cost of our two night’s bed and breakfast with a dinner in the award-winning Roseville Rooms Restaurant on one of the evenings is €199 per person sharing.

Afternoon tea and spa treatments are also available as additional extras. A discount on green fees is available for guests.

The details…
Faithlegg House Hotel & Golf Resort, Faithlegg, Co Waterford.  |  www.faithlegg.com  | t: +353 (0)51 382000

Other options in the area…
Other hotel and spa options that we looked at around Waterford include:

  • Fitzwilton Hotel
  • Waterford Castle
  • Dunbrody House Hotel
  • Granville Hotel

Wherever you choose, I hope you have a great time and If you have any questions please feel free to get in touch.

DD


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