Well, after months of waiting, July has finally arrived once again and the holidays have officially begun… woo hoo!! After watching our little people crawl towards the school year finish line with sleepy eyes and grumpy voices, we finally have a more relaxed ‘timetable’ without bells controlling our day and it’s great! Although the suncream has been shelved again, I believe this is only a temporary measure and soon, we’ll be lathering it on once again… positive thinking an’ all that!
As a family, a holiday away isn’t an option for us this year and so, instead, we’re doing our very own unique kind of staycation tour! All being well, on hubby’s day off each week, we will explore somewhere in our little land and each visit will build up into our very own holiday journey! The girls are designing their own unique postcards for each destination, using these to record, pictorally and in written form, just what we got up to! Our little ‘tour’ kicked off last Friday as we headed to Fort Evergreen in Warrenpoint.
Tucked neatly into a corner of the County Down coast and more specifically, located in part of the joy that is Annett’s Graden Centre, Fort Evergreen is a great way to spend an afternoon – or a morning of course!! We had visited around Easter last year and our littlest schoolgirl had gone there on a trip with her class a few weeks ago, but, despite being a repeat visit, it was our birthday girl’s choice of treat last week and, we certainly weren’t disappointed! In fact, I have to say, it was even better than when we visited last year! Entry costs £5 each-and for us, it really was money well spent!
Our visit kicked off with a look at the animals. Well, I say a look. It actually became a holding session as well when some of the staff arrived and kindly unleashed their Chipmunk Alvin, some beautiful little chicks and even a bird (apologies… lack of knowledge and rain-drenched memory have prevented me from being able to report any more detail than that!!). My little ladies were much more courageous than I and had great fun holding the little creatures – although, in the case of Alvin, it wasn’t so much holding as allowing him to run all over them. Needless to say, only our birthday girl braved the latter – I was most impressed… hopefully this means that she at least isn’t as much of a wimp as me! Our littlest was totally besotted with the little three week old lamb – a gorgeous wee pet with a fine set of lungs… more about him later!!
We moved on then to see some of the birds that are kept outdoors and some of these are just totally stunning – the colour details in their feathers and beaks is just fabulous… gorgeous little creatures! While having a word with these little creatures (yes, a word… pretty and great listeners!) we spied the arrival of the Bumble Bee Ride and this, I am reliably informed, is every bit as much fun as you might imagine! Miss K had a voucher to use on this after her trip with the school and so, there was only Miss E to pay the £2 for… this is probably an occasion where money can buy big smiles! The girls were whipped off around the grounds and came back beaming – life’s simple pleasures!
Well and truly in touch with their surroundings now, it was time to try out the activities… a bouncy castle, zip line (please note – even children who definitely don’t want a go on this will be found running back for more after just one reluctant ‘wee go’!) and, of course, the fort itself! Slides, steps to climb, a swing, net bridges to negotiate and many other features to explore – all helped on by the presence of Mr Sun who shone brightly on us… there are times when even applying suncream seems worthwhile!
Whilst ‘exploring’ the fort, we were invited to help feed the animals… a double-edged sword. On one side, it was a fantastic experience for the girls, on the other, we left kind of feeling that our cries of, ‘Girls, look at the mess! You eat like animals!’ were pretty darned insulting towards our four-legged friends. ( The things an 11 month old can do when ‘feeding’ herself would scare many a farmyard friend!) The little lamb was very keen to take his bottle and, we then moved on up the yard to see the goats and some bigger lambs enjoying their bottles as well. Poor Miss E had a bit of a battle with two rather greedy goats who tried to take the bottle from her more timid one – greedy goats indeed! The donkeys, Stan and Ollie were there as well and they really were aptly named – a comedy duo for sure. These brothers were a real source of entertainment for all.
Before heading home, there was the chance to try out some of the ride-on farm toys, another visit to the fort and, of course, one last (read as 3 or 4 ) go on the zip line. It really was a brilliant way to spend an afternoon and had we not left when we did, they might have had to lock us in for the night!
If you’re there with more time to spend, the garden centre itself is absolutely gorgeous for a walk around (I challenge you to leave without ‘just one wee plant’) and there’s even a wildlife walk to explore. The Sweet Pea Cafe is a delight and a lovely wee spot for a coffee and a scone – or something more substantial, if you fancy it!
It really was a delightful way to kick off our ‘holiday tour’ and we look forward to lots more stages to our journey… roll on destination number 2!