Discover the hidden charms of Northern Ireland
Discover the hidden charms of Northern Ireland
Instamum, family and lifestyle blogger Christine (Flourishing Days) lives in Bangor, County Down, and has thoughtfully shared some of her favourite things to do with the little ones this summer. She admits “it’s so hard to believe we are almost halfway through the holidays already!” Time is certainly flying by! However, there is still plenty of time to enjoy the array of adventures on offer to families within the utterly charming setting of Northern Ireland.
The North of Ireland is well known for its abundance of cultural heritage and beautiful picturesque landscapes. Located in the Northeast of Ireland, the bustling city of Belfast is right at the heart of it. There is so much to see and do, so get ready to go on a voyage of Irish discovery!
Let there be sun!
For those maybe rare, but very much cherished sunshine days, Christine (Flourishing Days) suggests heading down to one of Northern Ireland’s beautiful beaches for sun, sea and sandcastles. “We are lucky here in that no matter where you live you are never too far away from the coast, pack up the car with a picnic and bucket and spade and it is easy to enjoy a beach adventure! We live in the coastal town of Bangor and we enjoy being by the sea through all the seasons, but sunny days on the beach are the best, building sandcastles and paddling in the sea certainly tires the kids out and blows away the cobwebs!”
Also worth checking out is the Causeway Coast, which features one of the most adored and beloved wonders of the world, The Giants Causeway. This beach is celebrated for its significant legacy and majestic stones that stretch over the waters edge. Go see for yourself and let the children explore the magnificent mysteries of the hexagonal stepping-stones. The little ones will also discover the famous tale of the Irish giant who allegedly built the amazing landscape in his footsteps.
You can also find some fantastic family walks together, letting the children run even wilder than they perhaps already have done at home this summer! Christine (Flourishing Days) recommends that there are some great ventures to be had on many of the National Trust visitor attractions. “National Trust membership is great value, with numerous places to enjoy here in Northern Ireland, look out for their special events days or simply pop along at any time to enjoy their woodlands and gardens.”
A great way to stimulate not just their little legs, but also their curious imaginations, is to, as Christine (Flourishing Days) states, “make your own adventure and go on a bug hunt, or create your own scavenger hunt so the kids can hunt for items like feathers, different shaped leaves and particular coloured flowers, making it a fun yet educational activity. Don’t forget to make use of all the free parks and woodlands in the area to enjoy outdoor activities, feed the ducks and go in search of animals and birds.” At the stunning Temple Water you are bound to see some of the beautiful dragonflies and other interesting insects that live amongst this exquisite setting. Another place not to miss is The Agory, a historic Irish house surrounded by idyllic scenery and equipped with a fantastic adventure playground for the kids. Not to mention every Sunday this August it is hosting an array of live music and BBQ’s in the courtyard, perfect for a relaxing weekend with something for everyone to enjoy!
As Christine (Flourishing Days) says “no matter what, wherever you go, bring your camera and take those photos! Create memories to talk about and photos to show nanny and granddad, the best memories are often made from the simplest of things.”
Rainy day fun
Those rainy miserable days can often leave us feeling totally uninspired. However, don’t worry as this doesn’t necessarily mean the summer adventures have to end there.
Baking and cooking are much-loved activities by the children. Not that our inner OCD selves feel the same way when it comes to this hands on, rather chaotic event, which can often leave our kitchens looking like we have endured a truly spectacular food tornado! However getting the children involved in preparing and cooking different meals can open up their senses to new tastes, smells and textures. So get those aprons out and don’t be afraid to make a little mess!! Fingers crossed it will also inspire those fussy eaters of ours to try new foods (without us having to tactically trick them into it!). Christine (Flourishing Days) tells us “my daughter loves to be up on a chair helping in the kitchen, at just over two she enjoys counting and colours, even if it’s preparing the dinner, talk about the names and colours of vegetables, count them into the saucepans, anything can be fun! She especially loves helping to make fairy cakes, what better way to pass the time on a rainy day and then they are just the perfect addition to an indoor teddy bears picnic.”
You can also continue to encourage the little chefs’ culinary skills by visiting a local cookery school. Aine’s Kitchen Cookery School in Northern Ireland hosts fun filled cooking parties for groups of children, and is also starting cookery classes for children aged 7 and over, early this September. Her classes enable children to be creative in the kitchen, whilst helping them to make more healthy choices. Not only would this mean we are encouraging the Jamie Olivers of the future, but also don’t forget it saves us from having to do any of the washing up ourselves, so what’s not to like?!
The summer beak is also the ideal opportunity to help children with the development of their reading skills, continuing to encourage their interest and allowing them to challenge themselves in their reading abilities. Christine (Flourishing Days) suggests that “If you’re not already a member, join your local library, great for a rainy day activity and keeping little minds stimulated, spending time in the reading corner and the pleasure of choosing a book to bring home is great!”
What better way to get the little ones reading again over the summer break than by taking part in the 2017 summer reading challenges hosted by libraries across the UK! Whether you attend your local library regularly, or fancy giving the challenge a try at home with the children, it’s a fun way to get our little bookworms enjoying an array of beautiful and creative stories.
Libraries specifically within Ireland are holding their own Summer Stars reading adventure, which is free for children to register. This super fun programme gives children the opportunity to have endless fun reading new and exciting stories. When signing up, the little ones will also receive their own reading card, so they can keep track on their own progress over the summer weeks and be inspired to read more, in the hope of reaching their targets and gaining cool stamp rewards. Not only that, but they will also be invited to their own mini awards event, celebrating their achievements. Further events for all to enjoy are also included within the programme, such as story time sessions and a range of different games to play with other children. It’s definitely worth checking out what is going on at your local library this summer, as there are many activities for children to get involved with.
Interestingly Belfast was the birthplace of legendary author C.S Lewis, so if you are feeling inspired, his story classics make perfect bedtime reading. Although as he famously stated “A children’s story that can only be adored by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest” so parents, you heard him, get reading with your little one too! The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe has to be a favourite adored by all. If you fancy a visit to the popular city Belfast, you can see the CS Lewis Square and find those charming story characters brought to life in amazing bronzed sculptures.
If you haven’t been, I have to say a trip to Northern Ireland should most definitely be a strong contender for your next family weekend away.
Share your summer adventures with us and let us know what you are getting up to with the little ones this summer.
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