Our Summer Adventures 2014 – From the West of Ireland to the South of France and everything in between!

Summer here at Our Little House in the Country is drawing to a close.  My little boy, Doodles, starts primary school on Thursday (I’m traumatised !) and the weather has turned decidedly autumnal ie. cold, wet and windy!  It’s hard to believe that it is over 3 months since we wrote our Summer Bucket List and made all sorts of plans for the summer ahead.  And what a summer it has been!  It has been fantastic.

I had all sorts of plans to blog about our travels and adventures over the past few months but I just didn’t get a chance.  Yes, I know there have been a several posts each week but maybe you noticed that most were activities or crafts we did, rather than tales from our life here in the country, in fact I think the last post I wrote about our family was back in June – One Year On and We are All Still Standing .  I decided to keep things simple over the summer.  I wanted to enjoy the holidays with the children.  I didn’t want to feel overwhelmed or stressed as, to be honest, at times I find blogging a little overwhelming.  Activity posts are the easiest for me to write, I suppose it comes from 15 years of writing lesson plans for work!!!  Also we had so many fantastic times this summer, I wasn’t sure where to start or if I really wanted to share all these wonderful memories with the world, part of me really wanted to keep them all to myself.  But then, I remembered the main reason I started this blog – to record our adventures, to give Doodles and Oodles a keepsake of what they will hopefully look back on as a wonderful childhood.  So with all that in mind I would  love to share with you the highlights of our amazing summer adventures,

Our Summer Adventures 2014 - From the West of Ireland to the South of France and Everything in Between - Our Little House in the CountrySummer kicked off early for us this year due to a number of trips we had scheduled for late May and for the month of June,  Doodles finished preschool and we headed off to the West of Ireland to the County of Mayo, where my mum is from.  My parents have a beautiful holiday home there in a stunning place and this year our lovely friends from the UK joined us for a gorgeous long weekend.  Full details of this trip can be found in the post about our time in Mulranny, Mayo.  It was a really brilliant start to the summer.

Our Summer Adventures 2014 - From the West of Ireland to the South of France and Everything in Between - Our Little House in the CountryWe barely had time to unpack and repack following this trip before flying out to the South of France for what was to be the most amazing family holiday to date!  I know I have mentioned before how much we like to travel and we have taken some amazing holidays over the years as a couple and then as a family.  This was by far our best holiday as a family of four!  It was also the simplest and easiest and stressless holiday.  We flew to Nice, picked up our car and drove 40 minutes to the little town of Fréjus on the Cote d’Azure.  I’m not ashamed to say that I like a bit of luxury and usually my accommodation of choice is a 5 star hotel or resort, but not this year.  This year we stayed in a wonderful campsite, in a mobile home, in the middle of a pine forest!  It was perfect! Stunning! We spent two weeks swimming, cycling, barbecuing, chilling!  We visited waterparks, theme parks, aquariums.  Wandered around market squares, swam in the sea, took a boat trip to St Tropez and drank fabulous wine under the stars each night.  I can’t even begin to describe what a wonderful time we had and thankfully I have a photo book of hundreds of photos to flick through as a reminder as I am finding it so difficult to recount.  I’ll let these pics tell the story of our time there.

Our Summer Adventures 2014 - From the West of Ireland to the South of France and Everything in Between - Our Little House in the CountryMy mum recently turned 60 and as a surprise the family arranged a weekend away in Waterford Castle in the South of Ireland, which was as it turned out the day after we flew home from France!  My parents, two sisters, brother, their partners, my little niece and of course my little family of 4 celebrated in style!  We had so much fun – two amazing evening meals by candle light outdoors, walks around the island (Waterford castle is on an island accessed by a small car ferry specifically for guests), sing songs, games etc.  It’s not very often that we are all in the one place for any amount of time so it was really lovely to spend this time together.

Our Summer Adventures 2014 - From the West of Ireland to the South of France and Everything in Between - Our Little House in the CountryBy the time we returned home from our travels it was late June and the weather was scorching – heaven!  Mr G returned to work and the kids and I fell into a lovely, gentle routine of playing and hanging out in the garden.  All of the activities featured on the blog over the past two months are a record of how we spent our days at home!  We made fairytale castles, and miniature gardens!  We painted with water pistols and waterballoons.  We experimented with all sorts of playdoughs and slimes! And we explored all the beaches and parklands in our area.  We even got chickens and now enjoy beautiful free range eggs everyday from Lucy and Harri (Harriet).  There was a third – Lottie, unfortunately she had a run in with our neighbours dog!

Our Summer Adventures 2014 - From the West of Ireland to the South of France and Everything in Between - Our Little House in the CountryDoodles turned 5 in July! 5 years old! He has become so grown up in recent months.  Doodles is a quiet and sensitive and extremely funny little boy.  He is amazingly creative and inquisitive and every day amazes me with his empathy and insightfulness.  And now he is 5.  Where did my little baby go?  And in a day or two he’ll be heading off to school and he cannot wait!  For his birthday this year he wanted a water themed party.  The weather forecast was abysmal for the day of the party but miracles of miracles, the rain stayed away and we had a really great time in the garden with his friends having water fights and a yummy bbq.  There was an outbreak of chicken pox in our area the week before the party so some of his best buddies were unable to make it but we still had a great time.  If you read the post about the party then you’ll know about my trials and tribulations with the cake!  I made a cake, the cat ate it!  I made a second cake, iced it, created a Minecraft master piece 😉 and was delighted with myself!I popped it into the fridge and totally forgot about!  Yes, you heard me, I forgot about the birthday cake for the birthday party!  We were so busy having fun that I completely forgot to take the cake out and light the candles etc.  Thankfully his real birthday was the day before the party and we had a cake for that day too and he had the chance to blow out the candles then.

Most of July was spent playing in the garden or on the beach – good old fashioned childhood fun – no frills. We wore shorts, tshirts and flip flops.  We had bbqs most days. We ate ice lollies for dessert!  It reminded me of being a child again.

Our Summer Adventures 2014 - From the West of Ireland to the South of France and Everything in Between - Our Little House in the CountryIn the past Mr G and I had several camping adventures and after the success of our trip to France we felt that the kids were probably old enough to try proper camping in a tent.  So, one evening Mr G arrived home with a brand new tent and all the accessories!  That weekend we pitched the tent in the garden – it’s enormous!  We spent two nights camping in our back garden and made plans to go further afield for a long weekend.  Little did we know that the glorious summer weather would pass and in its wake would come dreadful storms!  Yes, you guessed it! We packed up the car and roof box, headed off on the 3 hour drive to Rosses Point, in Co. Sligo and pitched the tent in the rain!  Rain I can handle and the tent has lots of room so I knew we had plenty of space for the children to play.  Actually, there was something romantic and cosy about huddling in the tent, chatting, playing, reading, enjoying a glass or two of wine.  On the first night we went to bed to be woken an hour later by torrential rain and gale force 8 winds!  Doodles slept through the whole thing.  Oodles thought that it was hilarious, she really is the most easy going and cheerful child I have ever met.  Mr G and I lay awake all night wondering if the tent would survive! The next morning the wind still raged, several other tents in the campsite lay tattered.  Thankfully ours was ok.  We strapped the kids into their car seats while Mr G and I battled against the wind to take the tent down and repack the car.  Thankfully my mother in law was staying nearby in a house so we moved in with her for the next 2 nights!  It took almost a week for the tent to fully dry out when we got home but thankfully it kept us safe and dry during the storm.

Our Summer Adventures 2014 - From the West of Ireland to the South of France and Everything in Between - Our Little House in the CountryAugust was spent catching up with friends, lots of play dates and a trip to Dublin on the train to meet Mr G for lunch.  We visited the Natural History Museum which D and O absolutely loved.  Each week we went on an adventure with my mum – Granny.  We explored parks, canals, and visited a farm with her.  The weather wasn’t as pleasant as earlier in the summer, but in general it was possible to be out and about.  We also started to get ready to go back to school.  The day we bought D’s school uniform and school bag I fought back tears, not wanting him to see that I was upset at the thought of my baby growing up (I have some tips about starting school for the first time, one of which is keeping your anxieties hidden from your kids at this time).  He is so excited.  Every morning the first thing he asks is how many “sleeps” until school starts!  Fingers crossed he’ll still be excited in 2 days time!

Our Summer Adventures 2014 - From the West of Ireland to the South of France and Everything in Between - Our Little House in the CountryWe have managed to cross most things of the 100 things off our bucket list.  We made some amazing memories.  We are ready for the routine that the school year brings to return.  This will be my second September as a stay at home mum and I couldn’t be happier (that still takes me by surprise at times).  While I’m sorry to see the summer end  I am also so looking forward to this newest phase in our lives.  I am looking forward to seeing Doodles blossom and grow at school, I’m looking forward to spending some one to one time with Oodles before she starts preschool in January.  I’m looking forward to celebrating 9 years of wedded in bliss!  I’m looking forward to growing this little blog, incorporating some of my other interests and passions into it.

Thank you  to all of you, our treasured readers, for all of your support over the past few months and for helping us to grow and develop this little part of the net!

Ciara x

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