Browsed by
Tag: activities

10 Festive Activities To Do This Christmas (or not do)

10 Festive Activities To Do This Christmas (or not do)

Happy Monday friends! Has your week started off the way you had hoped? Tired already? ‘Tis the season for constant tail-chasing after all which can often lead to us forgetting to just be and enjoy everything wonderful the festive seasons brings along with it. There is a lot of pressure, especially on parents I think, to have the most-absolutely-amazingly-fun-Christmas-ever turning moments that are supposed to be fun and light-hearted in to this mess of forced memories we are intent on making for ourselves.

How about instead of rushing around trying to tick off a crazy festive bucket list, we make time for the wee moments and not berate ourselves for missing out something that would have stressed us out? Don’t feel guilty if you don’t make it to the big Christmas light switch-on (crowds of people gathered in the freezing cold ain’t for everyone) or feel like standing in queue for another freakin’ grotto (for a photo that will probably scar your child). How about doing something that won’t stress you out or your family?

I’ve created a list of things I know will personally bring me a wee bit of happiness in between all the shopping and innumerable social gatherings (I am even socialising midweek now!). Feel free to take a few ideas for yourself but remember, don’t put the pressure on to do it all. Think about why you’re doing it and if you’re not doing it for the pure joy of it then strike it off the list.

Go Ice Skating

It’s not for everyone but I love the adrenaline of trying to stay vertical while giving my thighs the biggest workout they’ve seen all year. It’s fun (to me anyway) and is a real winter novelty that I have no shame in indulging in. For those local to Belfast there is always the trusty Dundonald rink that I’ve been going to since I was a youngster but there’s also a rink opening for a few days over the winter break at the SSE Arena OR if you want to go really crazy, grab some tickets for the Winter Wonderland at the Clandeboyne Estate which would be a real festive treat.

Christmas Crafting

For me, making a homemade wreath or crafting presents to hand out to my loved ones is something that can bring the most happiness at this time of year than anything else. It’s a quiet time for just me amongst all the noise which is imperative for me to keep my sanity (while making a complete mess).

Sing Carols

I am no singer and not a church-goer and yet there is something hauntingly beautiful about attending a carolling service. If you’re not part of a church like me then try something different like attending a night at the orchestra at the Ulster Hall? My favourite is ‘Fall On Your Knees’ all because of Home Alone, of course.

Local Christmas Markets

The Belfast markets can be complete madness and can actually be more stressful than fun. However smaller local markets can be just as enjoyable and filled with tasty treats that you don’t have to queue an hour for. Have a wee nosy at the Discover NI website to see when your local market is next on.

See a Pantomime/Play/Musical

Local theatres are packed with festive productions which we should make the most of getting off our couches to see. I have the best memories of sitting on the floor watching a pantomime at my local leisure centre as a kid (while losing all feeling in my ass). I’m trying to find children to borrow so I can see this musical otherwise I’ll be the eccentric lady on her own who brought her own snacks!

Watch old Christmas movies

You can do this at home of course with the fire lit and the family cocooned in a mass of duvets but some cinemas play the classics which can be a fun way to see the old favourites. I love watching It’s A Wonderful Life in the Queen’s Film Theatre each year. The theatre is a Belfast institution and has these old vintage cinema seats that feel about a hundred years old (probably because they are). They also cater for people with disabilities (dementia, autism) so everyone can delve in to a bit of nostalgia on the screen.

Celebrate the Solstice

Step back in time and celebrate the arrival of the Winter Solstice at the Navan Fort centre in Armagh. My hometown is steeped in ancient Celtic history and the Navan Fort are mirroring the customs of our ancestors through a morning of traditional celebrations followed by a lantern-lit walk up the fort were re-enactors will welcome the breaking of the dawn. The whole event is free unless you want to nibble on a bit of breakfast afterwards which you can enjoy for 4 quid – bargain!

Make homemade mulled wine

Or cider! Here’s an easy recipe for mulled wine that will scent your house like a friggin’ Christmas perfumery. Make a batch and keep some for the visitors that stream through the house. Not too much though or they’ll never leave.

Look out for others

Without sounding like a TV ad, this time of year can be tougher on those who live alongside us, especially the elderly who can be a tad more vulnerable in the colder months. We’re lucky to have Maureen as our neighbour and while she’s fully capable of looking after herself (she looked at me like I was mad when I asked if I could help her with the 10kg box of washing powder she was lugging in to her house the other day), it’s still good to check in once in a while. I would hate to think of my Granny on her own with no one looking out for her so it’s nice to treat those around us with a little more care.

Forage for decorations

We can all go a little crazy with the decorations this time of year which is the last thing our wallets need. To try and save pennies I’ve been bringing a few things back from my winter walks. A wee bit of holly, some ivy or even pine cones to roast in the oven (an idea I stole from my friend Caoimhe, you can find a way to do it here). I’ve been decorating the fireplace, the dining table and coffee table with these foraged finds which feels a bit more special than wasting money on another garland from a chain store.

 

Oh writing this list got me a little bit excited! What about you? What festive activities are you hoping to do this year??

 

Hello Autumn: 10 Activities for the Golden Season

Hello Autumn: 10 Activities for the Golden Season

As a wee girl in school, my teacher asked me why I thought the leaves turned orange and fell from the trees every year. My reply was, “because they’re magic!” and to this day I feel like there is something a little bit magical about this time of year. There is a new briskness in the early mornings and late evenings that wasn’t there before and an air of preparedness seems to descend among everyone as we pack away the summer clothes and bring out the blankets, wool jumpers and scarves.

I was born and raised in Co. Armagh in Ireland, better known as the Orchard County, which may be the reason why I love autumn so much. Or maybe because I was born in the season (I turned 28 on Friday!!) but when the 1st of September arrives, it feels like we can almost hear the seasons snap. When I was living in Australia, experiencing that change in the season was something I missed dearly. I longed for the darker evenings, the walks through amber forests, the crunching of the leaves underfoot. There’s a reason we Irish seem to talk about nothing but the weather – it’s ingrained in us to experience all kinds of seasons and to look forward to the changes.

There is so much to do in the autumn, we just have to wear a few extra layers and have an umbrella within reach at all times! If you’re local or experience the seasons like we do, then have a gander at a wee list I made of fun activities to get you in to the autumnal spirit.

 

Go For A Walk

Now I understand that this isn’t the most creative suggestion but in Ireland many of us take for granted how amazing our woods and forests are this time of year. There is so much colour showcased all around us not to mention that it’s an absolute Instagram delight! Collect some conkers and jump in to piles of leaves to let your inner child be free and if you’re stuck for inspiration for where to places in Belfast, check out a post I wrote a while ago for my favourite walks here.

 

IMG_4025

 

Forage

It’s the time of harvest so go out and reap the benefits (with permission of course)! Armagh is home to the apple and there are plenty of orchards that will let you pick your own fruit to take home if you ask them. There’s also plums, damsons and blackberries to make jams and pies that would make aul Mary Berry proud!

 

IMG_2319

 

Host a Scary Movie / Pumpkin Carving Night

I love scary movies – LOVE them! I get some weird enjoyment from sitting with the blanket up around my eyes wondering why the hell I do it to myself. Hallowe’en is the perfect time to take advantage of this masochist hobby of mine and last year we had our friends Thomas & Rebecca over for a bit of carving too. Turns out Thomas was a bit of a professional and the competitiveness made it a great night. Will be doing it again this year for sure!

 

IMG_2704

 

Start a New Hobby

Spring is better known as the time to start something new but I think autumn is perfect because of the darker evenings pulling us indoors. We too often get sucked in to a routine of going home after work because it’s rainy and we’re feeling tired but having an activity which gets us out of the house helps break the week up and lift the spirits. This autumn/winter I’m going to start learning how to knit – expect photos of something resembling a scarf next summer!

 

IMG_2461

 

Visit Your Local Oktoberfest

The Belfast Oktoberfest has really taken off in the last couple of years with this year’s festival taking place every weekend in October – plenty of opportunity to sample all those brews then. I’m yet to have experienced it so I’m keen to make my way to the King’s Hall for a stein or 10!

 

IMG_2369

 

Volunteer at Homeless Shelter

Not to bring us all down but the figures for homelessness in Belfast these days are scary with the number of those sleeping rough increasing consistently year after year. However it’s not just those we see on the streets that we need to be concerned about. The number of those couch surfing, losing their homes or those vulnerable to abuse are also increasing. I’ve decided to sign up to assist the Welcome Organisation and help out where I can during these harsher months and if you feel like you would like to as well, just visit their website here.

 

IMG_2619

 

Bring the Autumn Inside

The Danes have a word called hygge which means the creation of a nice, warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life. I feel like I can definitely identify with this because in autumn, I love to make my home as cosy as possible. What I like to do is bring as many blankets out as I can for the living room, collect leaves and pine cones to decorate the table and fireplace and swap my art and pictures around so the colours are a bit earthier throughout the house. Andrew is just overjoyed when he sees me bringing more and more pieces of nature inside – not really, he doesn’t seem to have the same appreciation for dried leaves! Mel Wiggins, a fellow blogger, recently wrote a lovely post for the Smashed Avocado blog on how to create the perfect autumn table which you can read here for inspiration.

 

IMG_2555

 

Gather Your Clan

A roast is difficult to beat on those rainy Sunday afternoons and if you can’t meet your friends or family outside then why not gather inside for a feast to warm the bellies? My friends and I are choosing this option more and more now that we’ve reached our late twenties – we’d much rather sit around the table with a bottle or 5 of wine, eat good food and talk about dogs (to the dismay of our partners)! I wrote a post about what I cook for my roast dinner here but it’s also good to have a pot luck dinner where everyone brings their own dish because it eases the pressure and allows more time for wine drinking. Priorities people.

 

IMG_2554

 

Make Your Own Mulled Wine/Cider or Hot Whiskies

Any excuse for the Irish right?! I love curling up by the fire with my hands wrapped round a mug of warm alcohol. Making mulled wine is super easy and will make your home smell like an incredible winter wonderland! Whisky mixed with hot water, lemon, honey and some cloves are great too after a long day at work or if your throat is feeling a bit rough. Just don’t get plastered on a school night.

 

cropped-IMG_4023-1.jpg

 

Go To A Festival

Festivals aren’t just for the summer and there’s still lots happening in the autumn if you keep your eyes open. Culture Night is happening both in Belfast and Armagh this weekend, there’s also comedy festivals, harvest festivals, exhibitions. To find out what’s happening close to you, check out the Discover NI website here – don’t be tempted to hibernate and lock yourself indoors!

 

IMG_4026

 

Wishing you all a cosy, happy autumn!!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

10 Activities for a Rainy Day

10 Activities for a Rainy Day

You would think in the height of the Summer Solstice we would be frolicking in meadows until the late evening, unable to choose from an abundant amount of activities available to us during our weekends. Alas, we live in Ireland and the summer is fleeting and usually very wet so we have to be creative with our summer plans i.e. be very flexible or very close to indoors!

 

If you’re ever feeling at a loss of what to do as you wake up to yet another grey Saturday, I’ve thought of a few wee ideas to give you a bit of inspiration to get you out the door. If that fails I’ve also got a few ideas to keep you busy if you’re dead set on not leaving the house! Either way, having nothing to do should not be an option!

 

Visit Your Local Museum

The Ulster Museum in Belfast is right beside the Botanic Gardens but on a rainy day you might want to make a bolt straight inside. The museum always has a good exhibition on; right now it’s ‘Remembering 1916: Your Stories’. The exhibition celebrates the centenary of the Easter Rising and draws on the experiences of those involved in the Easter Rising including lots of local stories. The museum also has dinosaurs to keep the kiddos happy, artefacts from Ancient Egypt and a fantastic collection of modern art. Definitely plenty to keep you occupied for a few hours!

 

_MG_8863

St. George’s Market, Belfast

 

Stroll Through St. George’s Market

I love this market with all my heart. I go in to a bit of a consumer frenzy because there’s nothing better than buying local products and meeting the people who have grown/caught/made them. The atmosphere is always great; usually there’s a bluegrass band singing in the centre where you can find a spot to chow down your Cuban pulled pork sandwich (note: this is amazing and even more amazing if you’ve been out the night before!). Go along, buy some fresh flowers to brighten your damp day and restrain yourself from buying a crate of homemade fudge.

 

IMG_4658

Flow Yoga Studio, Belfast

 

Book Yourself In To A Class

I hate feeling like I’ve wasted a weekend when the weather has been bad and I’ve nothing to show for it come Monday. One way to feel like you’re doing something worthwhile is to think ahead and join a class to teach you something new. James Street South have a range of cookery classes teaching the amateur chefs amongst us how to bake bread or how to cook the perfect steak. If you feel like you cook enough during the week (I hear ya) maybe you could try a pottery class, yoga or even sewing. I have enjoyed a few sewing classes with Shanti at the Magpie and loved it!

 

IMG_2344

 

Explore Your Local Bookshops

This is one of my favourite things to do on a rainy day. I can spend hours upon hours wandering around the aisles, flicking through all the pages and, if they’re second hand, imagining who owned them before they graced these shelves. In Belfast I would recommend visiting No Alibis, Belfast Books and The Bookstore then bringing your new purchase to a coffee shop for a read while you watch everyone outside getting soaked – mwah ha ha!

 

Tour Your Local Brewery

Hilden Brewery in Lisburn is the oldest independent brewery on the island of Ireland and can be explored by us laymen who get thirsty on the weekends. You can learn about the local craft from the master brewer and taste the whole collection if you have the stomach for it. Molly’s Chocolate Stout sounds amazing! Make sure to book ahead on their website.

 

IMG_4230

 

Create Your Own Indoor Herb Garden

I have a windowsill which gets all the afternoon light and is the perfect spot for growing some herbs that don’t require an awful lot of TLC. The herbs I have had great success with so far are thyme, coriander and basil – all low maintenance which is an absolute must for me. I’m thinking of branching out to mint and or maybe going completely mad and getting my own little chilli plant. On a rainy day it’s a brilliant chance to pick up a few from the local discount shop (Home Bargains is a great place to start), get some pretty pots while you’re there and get to potting. If you’re feeling extra creative, get some clay pots and chalk paint to make your herbs extra chic.

 

IMG_4675

Homemade Coconut Oil Scrub – Recipe Here

 

Get Those DIY Projects Done!

We all talk about how we will get those chairs painted/cushion covers sewed/candles made but we never make the time. A rainy day is the perfect opportunity to get a start on these and make a whole day out of it. On my next rainy weekend I am hell bent on getting shelves up in our dining area – the brackets we bought in a sale have been sitting in the corner gathering dust for the last 3 months! Making something for your home is a great way to add your personality, especially if you’re renting like me, so feel free to release your inner Picasso!

 

Create A Den

Now I know full well that I’m 27 and that making a den in the living room may no longer be socially acceptable but when it’s raining and all you want to do is watch movies and eat salty popcorn and maltesers (the world winning combo) then why not? Get all the cushions in the house on the floor, make a tent from a sheet and snuggle up with your duvet and download all your favourite childhood classics. My personal favourites are The Goonies, The Father of the Bride and Cool Runnings – they will never get old!

 

_MG_8873

 

Bake Up A Storm

Maybe there’s someone’s birthday coming up, you’ve a mate that’s got the flu or you just feel like making 5 different kinds of bread. This is the day to make a complete mess in the kitchen, cover yourself in flour and eat batter from the bowl. Andrew has recently taken up baking which is a bit strange because he’s not known for his cooking skills (I once had to help him make a Caesar salad for which he’d forgotten to buy Caesar dressing) but it turns out he’s a great baker! I think it’s the scientific side of things that he enjoys, measuring everything out to the exact gram. Anyway, if it’s raining today, watch an episode of Great British Bake Off and go get your Mary Berry on.

 

IMG_3877

 

Make A Scrapbook

Last year I made a commitment to start printing off photos and keeping them in albums and scrapbooks rather than losing them to the social network stratosphere where they are forgotten about. I realised that if Facebook ever randomly crashed I would lose so many memories because I have gone through so many computers and hard drives over the years. Bearing this in mind I printed off all my photos from Cuba and bought a scrapbook in preparation for a rainy day when I could glue in all my photos along with bits and bobs that I had kept from the trip. I enjoyed this so much that I decided to print off my favourite photos from 2015 to make another scrapbook!

 

Good luck with whatever you decide to do this rainy weekend – fingers crossed our summer will come back!