Summer Round Up 2016


It's always a big moment at the start of the summer. You know, when you flick that alarm switch on your phone into that magical 'off' position. Thinking of the long lazy, and most likely rainy, summer days stretching out ahead of you. Plans for lazy days, barbecues, regular trips and some house and garden jobs are made; knowing that you have so much time to fill and a requirement to keep a teenager busy.

Yet before you know it, in a blink and a whisper, the summer is over, and you're flicking that darn phone alarm switch back into the not-so magical 'on' position.

I mean, how ridiculously quickly did that happen this year?

Of course, yet again, I didn't quite plow through all my plots and plans this year.

But I'm choosing not to dwell on that, after all unaccomplished plans form opportunities for days out in the future.

Instead, while my son settles into his senior cycle of secondary school,  I'm going to attempt to round up some of the special things that we did achieve this summer, but never got to blog about.....


PORTUGAL


The school had barely closed it's doors for the summer and we were bursting on to an airplane for a nine-day family holiday to this beautiful country. With it's equally beautiful people. We stayed at the Pestana Cascais Hotel which was a 30 minute walk to the very lovely town of Cascais , however some free and public transport is available. It was a bit isolated and, as expected, there were no activities for children/teenagers - but it was very clean, comfortable and also contains an indoor pool and spa area. Perfect for our needs and I have to say that their friendly and attentive staff are their best asset. As were the gorgeous coastal views surrounding it. Plenty of 'sea-shelf ' exploring and a Boca do Inferno (blow-cave) to view for an interested teenager, and his parents, all within walking distance!





We also did some day trips using public transport - an adventure in itself - to see Lisbon and Sintra and some of their very fine castles and monuments. With some very stunning 'top of the world' views. Breathtaking and quite tiring days, but so very worth it.






Travel tip  for Sintra: Get the bus from Cascais and ask for the 'tourist ticket' - approx €11-€13 each - as that allows you to hop on and off the public buses that tour the castles on the narrow route up in Sintra. Leave plenty of time to catch the last bus back though! 



DAY TRIPS


There were to be at least one of these a week. Interspersed with a weekly swim and gym trip and some socialising with his friends. Let's just say that the latter happened and while the former got off to a good start, it did eventually whittle down to nothing in the last two/three weeks. But we did manage to pay a number of visits to our two favourite and stunning hiking around spots in Wicklow: Powerscourt Waterfall - which I've told you about - and Glenadalough, which I haven't. There's just so much to tell, and so many photos I could share, that I could never even begin. So now I'm gonna try squish it into a few paragraphs in this post. Great planning, Jazzy! 

This place is steeped in ancient religious history and an abundance of nature. It is a National Park of Ireland and as such it is cheaper to visit, with tons more to do, than the privately run aforementioned Powerscourt waterfall.

We go at least twice in the summer to view it's gorgeous lower lake, boardwalk and some ancient Church ruins. It is apparently said that if one can squeeze through the narrow window of the ancient church ruins below, than one shall enter the kingdom of Heaven. Lucky boy..... I didn't even attempt it!! 







However it is to the stunning upper lake area that we devout much of our time, before hiking around. This year I actually made it to the top. We admired the view, even picnicking on the rocks in glorious sunshine. Only to shelter from the pouring rain mere minutes later. It was a very schizophrenic Irish summer weather day, the day we visited. And we loved it. LOVED it.





Not just the scenery but nature in general. At the very tip top, to where the teenager ventured but not I, wild deer and goats could be seen wandering freely about, and we do so love that.

Apparently the next time we visit we're going to the 9km 'circular walk' - up to the top again and then across the ridge all the way back down to the lower car park. It takes 3 to 4 hours and the teenager knows the way, he's done it before. So he says. *Gulps*


HOLIDAY HAVEN

Towards the end of the summer the decision was made to take a quick few days away in our favourite holiday haven of all: the Gold Coast Hotel, Dungarvan, Just a few days to chill, take in the stunning scenery and sounds of nature on early morning walks. Get a fix of my favourite beach ever, as a balm to smooth all that may ail. And  a chance to do some more outdoor hiking around, the nearby Mahon Falls being our waterfall of choice this time - with some wild sheep wandering everywhere, wondering what all the human kerfuffle was all about.




Of course I anxiously I held out for my favourite scene of all, hoping that the weather and nature gods would once again collide and reveal yet another Gold Coast sunset. Although I had to wait until the last night I was not disappointed.....



Oh, to lie in a hotel bed and look straight out your window to see the waves gently rippling just outside, flowing in and out with the daily tides and to catch the sunrise and sunsets.......

Another slice of  heaven to keep me going until the next time.



FAUX GARDENERS


This final section is inspired by Midlife Singlemum's recent blog posts, which reminded me that I had intended to share a little of what we've been doing in the garden. Not that we're real gardeners you understand. The teenager does quite enjoys the travails and actually possesses the essential gardening genes of time and patience. I on the other hand, do not. I more enjoy the final outcome, although I do reluctantly get involved.  I am the real faux gardener here.

We replaced plants that had died: including the Camelia I told you about before - it bloomed once in seven years then had the cheek to just go and die on me - and a Bay tree that I'd grown from a cutting but failed to transfer to a bigger pot in time. These have been replanted in the garden to see if they rejuvenate, as advised by the horticulturist in our local garden centre, and some pretty plants (with terribly long technical names) have been stuck planted into pots in their place, surrounded by far too many trailing plants to keep them company until they are bigger!




The teenager has also grown things from cuttings, usually unawares to me.  He also likes to grow from seeds. Rooting Powder and plant feed are our friends. When we remember them.

The selection below shows the bamboo grass he grew from a teeny cutting followed by his veritable cornucopia of basil, parsley, coriander and Sweet Peas. Yes, I finally have a 'herb garden', and we get a great kick out of sprinkling them on our 'homemade' pasta and pizza dishes! Not included in this cornucopia of his are four little pots containing  the seeds from a plum that fell from a neighbour's tree. We are proud to announce the arrival of the teeniest of green shoots!  And the final one is the top of tall clematis plant - adorned by a tricolour feather boa, don't ask! - that I grew years ago from my mother-in-law's beautiful garden.




If you're still with me then let me apologise for the long post, however I did enjoy putting it together. Simply gathering all these memories in one place shows how much we actually did achieve this summer, not forgetting the equally important down-time, and preserves them safely here, for me to peruse in years to come.

After all, the teenager will soon be a man and the offer of a free holiday may not be enough to entice him away with his jurassic parents. So I will cherish what we did enjoy and whatever will be in the years to come will be. Let him soar......

Meanwhile I may invest in a good pair of hiking boots and start training for that long hike.

As putting this together obviously also made me feel very cheerful I'm therefore linking this to this week's 'Reasons to be Cheerful' over at Single Lakes Mum. 












Netflix Nights: Bumper Catch-Up and a Sad Farewell.....


I have been remiss of late on all things blogging, but particularly with regard to my Netflix favourites and responsibilities. Life got in the way you see, and my blogging mojo went astray for a bit. So let me try to remedy that now and share with you some of the shows this midlife blogger and her teenager have been watching recently.


In the past few months here are some of the shows I have watched:

Reasons to be Cheerful - Thinking Positively


Although I do like to have lazy days scheduled - or to occur organically, for any and no reason except I declare them so - in my life I do tend to be kept busy most days. Immersing myself in fun (to me) activities, projects and days out with my teenager. However, for the past week I have had some downtime enforced upon me. This saw me dozing on the sofa, after morning lie-ins, any chance I got - after all absolutely 'must-do' jobs were completed of course. I was sick you see. And sick mums don't get to take to their sick beds! It was a chest infection, that re-ignited my dreaded and incessant asthmatic cough from hell. Which I believe also led to a very painful toothache.... all that bone-rattling, body-heaving coughing I reckon! Which made taking my inhaler and a dentist trip quite impossible. Oh, I was quite the disaster zone.

Yet this brings me to my reasons to be cheerful this week.

Yes, being unwell gave me reasons to be cheerful!

Let's see now....

A Day In Court


It was a very early morning start with a lot of sitting around. Just waiting for things to get going.

Everyone, no matter their position on this day, had put a lot of effort into preparing for our big day in court. The ladies making sure our hair and make up was right, and the gentlemen ensuring they were smart and presentable. 

Then of course there was the issue of what to wear? Jurors presumably must look smart, right? Certainly this juror wanted to so a suit and it's shirt, from my working days a decade hence at the very least, was dug out of the back of a wardrobe and a little prayer said for a snug present day fitting. And thankfully answered. With a little help of the holding in of ones' breath and a safety pin, it must be said. 

It was a big occasion for the jury. We had deliberated and were finally ready to reveal our verdict to a waiting, packed court room. 

Summer Days Out: Powerscourt Waterfall


So, we're half way through the long summer holidays here in Ireland and I'm conscious of the fact that I'm running out of time to attend to this year's 'Summer Bucket List of things to do'; much less blog about them. Oh, I have been a naughty blogger. And a bit of a lazy mum. But, in my defense, the weather gods have completely confused the seasons, or are utterly ignoring us, and are not bestowing upon us the required sunshine and summery inspiration.

Time to ignore the weather gods then; just make our plans, pack accordingly and off we go. One trip a week, to get an outdoor-loving teenager out of his indoor haven and into wild outdoors. Among other smaller weekly activities and household chores, of course.

Reasons to be Cheerful : Holiday Return Delights #R2BC


I cannot tell you how many weeks I have promised myself - and others - that this was the week I would list the moments that brought some joy into my life.

I am very lucky, every week there's lots of little things to make me smile, and sometimes there are some big things too. Finding the time to blog has been a tad challenging though!

However it seems that this really is the week I'm going to do a 'Reasons to be Cheerful' post. Well, the week I'm going to start one at least -  on screen as opposed to just in my head. For a change.

Let's see how that goes then ....

Right so, I'll  kick this off with the really big thing. Which may also explain yet another one of my many blogging absences of late.

We've just returned from a family holiday in Portugal! That's a good start, right?! It was really lovely; a heady mix  of sun lounging, rest, relaxation and busy sight-seeing days. With wine liberally flowing in between, naturally. I hope to share more of this trip with you soon.

But the best part of this holiday? Apart from the many beautiful sights to behold? The one thing that put a really big grin on my mush?

'Up There for Dancing'...... and Blogging.


I've had nothing to write about for the past while. Well, nothing I thought would be of interest, that is. Either to me, or to you. I even wondered if perhaps I was done blogging?

I could of course have regaled you with my recent flurry of friend meet-ups. You see, while I may not have been active on social media sites of late I have been very busy partaking in real life social events. It's been quite the mix of catching up with friends from all walks of my life thus far. From a school pal to more local ones, from ex-work colleagues to my show pals, a family party and a blogger meet-up with Looking For Blue Sky and Bright Side of Life! There was even a recent sneaky five-day, bi-generational, trip to Lanzarote, for heaven's sake! A total of nine very mindful and alert septuagenarian mothers and their daughters. Sadly, due to circumstances I was the lone daughter. That aside, it's been so much fun.

My friends are important to me though and it's not always appropriate to share. So, what would it take to get me back to the world of blogging then?

Surprisingly enough it's Angela Rippon, the former newscaster, dancer and presenter of the original - before it went all 'Strictly' - 'Come Dancing', who has turned out to be my catalyst.

I watched her programme The Truth About Dementia on BBC1 last night. This is never an easy documentary subject to watch; especially not straight after your visit to a loved-one affected by this disease. However, the usual sad stories aside, I was hooked.

- DESIGNED BY ECLAIR DESIGNS -