Fairy Travels

Tromso with kids review

Tromso had been on my bucket list for some time, most likely driven by its claim to be one of the best places to see the Northern Lights in the world! However the pandemic had other plans for us and the trip was postponed a number of times and finally happened in November.  We had been to Lapland, Iceland and Sweden so I was keen to add Norway to my Nordic travel list.

Flights

In terms of flights from Dublin the two main airlines are Scandinavian or Norwegian and price wise for us they were coming in pretty similar. We ended up going with Scandinavian as it gave us the best flight times going out. Flights home with both airlines are super early.  There are no direct flights so we transited via Oslo. Flights were straightforward, not too busy and our bags were checked through. Each flight was 2 hours long. Planet Buddies had kindly sent the kids some wireless headphone which we put to good use on the flights and the airport wait. Highly recommend as they come volume limited so safe for little growing ears.

It terms of flight cost for the four of us this came to around €800 for all the flights including a bag.  Scandinavian still give out free teas and coffees on board which was very welcome! Staff were great on all the flights and my kids even got to see the cockpit. A very special memory they will cherish forever.

Where we stayed 

scandic hotel Tromso

Scandic Ishavshotel Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog

Tromso itself is a small and very walkable city.  I had done lots of research on hotels and kept being drawn back to one. I would be lying if I said the Tripadvisor reviews commenting on seeing the Northern Lights from the rooms didn’t sway me! We choose the Scandic Ishavshotel which has a prime location on the pier overlooking the city. Tromso is often called the “Paris of the North” due to the spectacular views.   When we told our taxi driver where we were staying the first thing he said was “oh you know they have the best breakfast in Tromso”.  The city itself is only 6km from the airport and that view when you leave the airport is really something.

We arrived around 7pm and headed straight to check in, it was snowing lightly and the kids were so excited. Check in was smooth, free

view

View from the bed at the Scandic

tea and coffee all day at reception too so grabbed a coffee and headed to our room on the 7th floor.  Once we opened the door….oh my god….that view. We were allocated a Master Suite with a wrap around balcony looking over the sea and Tromso.  To say we were speechless is an understatement. A wow moment for sure.  There was a separate living out which had a sofa bed for the kids but just check out the view from our bed….I could have wiled away hours just looking out at it.

I suspect our taxi driver was not wrong in his assessment, breakfast was in the spacious lobby with gorgeous views. There was a huge selection of hot and cold items. It wasn’t busy any morning we were there so we enjoyed long leisurely breakfast looking out at Tromso.  Breakfast is included in the room rate and it is probably one of the best hotel breakfast we have had on our travels.

The location of the hotel is perfect. You can walk to a selection of restaurants, bars and attractions.  And the absolute icing on the cake, it is 100% true that you can see the Northern Lights from your window, 3 nights out of 4 on our trip the Northern lights danced over Tromso when we sat out on the balcony. An experience I will truly never forget.

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Features

A WORLD OF WIPES

A word very familiar to parents of small kids is wipes, from the moment the baby is born and has that anticipated and messy first poo (this also spells the end of what is considered acceptable dinner conversation) to teaching a heavily independent toddler to wipe when toilet training. You cannot leave the house without them, you add them in to weekly shop, you have them in the nappy bag, Nanny’s house, creche, the car, literally everywhere.

Wipes everywhere.

toilet

Think before you flush!! Pic Credit: Pixabay

Wipes for cleaning dirty bums, grubby faces, sticky hands, messy tables, not all the same wipe of course. This convenience item can be a God send for exhausted parents, but convenience as we know comes with a cost. There are of course many alternatives to wipes such as simply soap, water and a cloth but as Mum of 3 I certainly reach for the wipes more often than I should.

You might think what is the issue with one little wipe? Well wipes contain a small proportion of plastic which is one issue, but the other is the way people sometimes dispose of them.  Wipes seem like a wet toilet tissue, but they do not break down, even if the label states they are flushable. They are fit for purpose which is to be a strong, wet substance for cleaning, people or surfaces. In Clean Coasts we often find wipes as marine litter washed up on our beautiful beaches and it looks like they are fresh out of a packet. A wipe found on the beach may have made a journey from a toilet flush, through the sewage network,  and end up in your local lake, river, the ocean before finally being washed up by the tide. This can happen due to blockages along the wastewater network resulting in overflows to your local environment. I am not saying to ditch the wipes, ideally reduce their use but simply when you are finished using them throw them in the bin and never flush them down the toilet. 

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Fairy Travels

Royal Canal Greenway opens

Royal Canal Greenway

The Royal Canal Greenway, is a scenic 130km walking and cycling amenity stretching alongside the historic 225-year-old canal, officially launched on 24 March 2021.  The €12 million project co-ordinated by Waterways Ireland is the country’s longest Greenway, traversing through Kildare, Meath, Westmeath and Longford. Those wishing to experience the Royal Canal Greenway are advised to adhere to Government guidelines on movement and social distancing. We fortunate to live close to its starting point so looking forward to the easing of restrictions to be able to explore more of this new amenity.

Maynooth Harbour

Pic Credit: Royal Canal Greenway

The Greenway is a former towpath for barges featuring 90 bridges, 33 locks, 17 harbours and four aqueducts. Greenway users can choose to complete the entire 130km flat, off-road trail in one visit or explore the shorter designated routes — ranging from 6km to 15km — between the 14 connecting access points and towns.

Attractions

High-profile attractions linking onto the Royal Canal Greenway are trails to Carton House in Maynooth; Corlea Trackway Visitor Centre — one of the largest prehistoric roads in Europe — in Longford; and Center Parcs. The 165km self-guided National Famine Way also travels largely along the Greenway, following the footsteps of 1,490 emigrants who walked from Roscommon to Dublin at the peak of the famine in 1847.

The Greenway has been completed in partnership with Waterways Ireland; the four local authorities of Kildare, Longford, Meath and Westmeath County Councils; the Department of Transport, and Transport Infrastructure Ireland.

The Royal Canal Greenway also forms part of EuroVelo 2, a 5,000km “Capitals Route” that passes through Ireland, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Belarus and Russia.

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Fairy Travels

Dream Holiday Destinations To Book

Do you sit and think about your dream holiday and imagine all the fun places that you can go to? Better yet, what if you were able to take the steps to start booking a dream vacation and preparing for your next trip? When it comes to taking the first step in planning, you’ll need to put a focus and emphasis on an area of the world that you’re excited and ready to travel to.

Dream Holiday Destinations To Book

While travel may be off the agenda in the short term however it does not stop us dreaming and planning our next adventures. This begs the question…Where in the world do you really want to go? Ill start! Top of my bucket-list for a very long time was Lapland closely followed by Iceland. Having been fortunate enough to have visited both pre Covid. I have spent the last few weeks dreaming of where next and top for our family list is Barbados and Jordan, vastly different but intriguing countries and some might say not an immediate first choice for family travel.

Barbados

barbados

Pic Credit: Pixabay

If you’re looking for a place that offers sunshine, beauty, and stunning landscapes and views that go on for miles, your attention should turn to discover the beauty of Barbados.

The clear waters, the green hills, the trails, and forests that you can walk on and through for miles…there really are very few places in the world that can take your breath away in the way that Barbados can.

And if you’re still having trouble picturing your toes in the sand on the beaches of Barbados, imagine sitting on the shore and taking in the sunsets and sunrises as well. The beauty that awaits you in Barbados is worth you diving in and researching more because it’s unlike any other place in the world.

Barbados wasn’t on my radar until recently when I happened upon a blog post about a new Aer Lingus route via Manchester direct to Barbados from July 2021. I get so excited when I read about new routes so had to have a nosey. My key thing always is, how family friendly a place might be, so off I went to find out just how family friendly it might be.  The Visit Barbados website has a wealth of information on its family friendly activities from submarines to safaris!

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Mamma Musings

Tips for Breastfeeding after Birth

Breastfeeding comes with plenty of benefits for both the mother and her newborn child. Breast milk contains antibodies and nutrients that aid in protecting the baby against infections, stomach problems, viruses, and even obesity. Mothers too can benefit from breastfeeding, as the process has been clinically proven to lower risks of ovarian cancer, breast cancer, and hypertension. According to breastfeeding and lactation specialists, you should breastfeed your newborn as soon as you can after delivery. However, breastfeeding after birth is easy said than done for most mothers. So, how do you ensure that your breastfeeding gets off to a good start? This post highlights tips for breastfeeding after birth.

Pic Credit: Unsplash

Breastfeed within the First Hour of Birth

Ideally, you should breastfeed your baby immediately after delivery. Within the first hour of giving birth, a healthy baby should be alert to latch a breast. The baby is also likely to spontaneously seek the breast within the first hour of birth, especially when in skin-to-skin contact with the mother. Breastfeeding immediately after birth, particularly within the one-hour window, enhances the immediate mother-to-child bond. The baby is also able to enjoy the immunological benefits of colostrum.

Maintain a Skin-to-Skin Contact When Breastfeeding

 Skin-to-skin contact between a mother and child has been scientifically proven to offer wide-ranging benefits when done correctly. Such benefits include improved brain development, strengthened bonding, and enhanced sleep. In the case of breastfeeding after birth, skin-to-skin contact goes a long way in facilitating more successful breastfeeding. This is because such close contacts make it easy for babies to cue for breastfeeding regularly, enhancing what is known as responsive feeding. This is a practice where you breastfeed every time the baby demands until they get satisfied. Again, it is easier for your baby to get a good latch when in close contact with your skin.

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Mamma Reviews

One time Before Book Review

Last month we were very kindly offered a copy of “One Time Before” to review with the boys.  My pair love reading and we have shared our favourite books over the years on the blog.  Reading before bed is one of my favourite times of the day. The boys love it too, it gives us all time to unwind and chat.

One Time Before

One Time Before is a personalised children’s book which takes you back in time to when you were little.  It’s so easy to do, input names, select characters with likeness to those you wish to include and select the time period where you were the age your child is now ie 80s, 90s etc.

The books itself is really beautifully illustrated throughout with little details and throwback nostalgia moments. What we really love about this is how it prompts conversation and thought. I suppose for my five your old he never really thought mammy was once young but now we love chatting about the cars they had in the 80/90s, the types of foods I loved and what school was like for me.  We spent a Saturday morning on youtube looking up the cartoons I used to watch as a child. I’m not sure he was overly enthusiastic about the graphics in the 80s show but Duck Tales, Inspector Gadget and the Chipmunks got thumbs up!!!

One other thing about this book is the option to add a personalisation. I really think by doing this it really becomes a keepsake for him and me if im honest.

I’m a sentimental soul and this kind of book is right up my street.

I asked my five year old what he liked most and he said the lovely drawings. I have to agree it is beautifully illustrated and some really nice attention detail throughout especially in the throwback pages where the story transports back to mammy’s time as a kid.

Genuine thumbs up from us both, do check them out at One Time Before   as it would make a lovely Christmas gift. Do keep an eye out for posting dates though.

Note: We were kindly gifted a copy of this book. We were not asked nor expected to write a review however we loved the product and more than happy to support an Irish business. All views mine or the kids where appropriate.

 

 

Features

How to Take Control of Family Finances

If your finances have taken a bit of a battering over recent months, you’re certainly not alone. Belt tightening has almost become a national pastime. One we hope won’t go on for too much longer.

On the positive side, it’s first class motivation for finally sitting down and sorting out your money: where’s it coming from, where’s it going, and how you can keep hold of it a bit longer, after all your family are your most important asset and taking good care of your finances should rank high on your list. 

No Complicated Tech Needed

It doesn’t come much simpler than a pen and notebook. Armed with a recent bank statement (one for each of your accounts if you have more than one bank account) you can start right now getting to grips with spending and saving. Unless you’re a whizz at mental arithmetic, a calculator might come in handy too.

Of course, there’s nothing to stop you firing up the computer and opening a spreadsheet if that’s how you like getting things done. But, if you use a small notebook you can carry it around with you and jot down purchases as you make them.

Whichever method you choose, you’ll need five columns with these headers for the information they’ll contain:

  1. Date: The date the transaction took place. It might be a cash or debit card purchase or a direct debit or standing order. If you run a credit card, make a separate sheet for this, then note down the repayments to that card on this main sheet that’s tallying your main bank account.

    laptop

    Pic Credit: Pixabay

  2. Item: What you bought, be it grocery shopping or coffee and cake with friends.
  3. Income: Record where income came from. Salary, for example.
  4. Cost: How much was it?
  5. Balance: At the very top of this column, write your current bank balance from your up-to-date bank statement. Now each time you make a purchase, subtract the amount from the current balance and write the new balance in the column. When you’re recording income, add it to the balance.

You can have a new page every week or create a fresh page at the start of every month. Write your bank balance from the previous month or week at the top of your balance column to get started. Don’t forget to add direct debits or it’s easy to think your running balance is bigger than it is.

 

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Fairy Travels

Finland travel restrictions update

reindeer in Finland

Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog

We have been to Lapland (Rovaniemi- Finland) twice and are still cautiously optimistic about our trip at the end of January 2021. My post on diy Lapland still gets huge traffic as does my dressing for Lapland post. I get a lot of DMs and emails asking whether I think we will be able to travel this Winter season and the truth is none of us really know. It’s a constantly evolving situation and can be difficult to keep on top of the changing situation. As it stands (end September 2020) I have set out what the current situation is looking like. I will do my best to keep it updated as time goes on but please always rely on the official advice. I will set out the key websites below.

Finland Travel restrictions 

Post November 23rd

  • If your home country has less than 25 cases per 100,000 you can travel with no restrictions.
  • Greater than 25 cases the following are the key parameters:
    • If your visit is less than 72 hours you can travel with proof of negative test which itself is no older than 72 hours.
    • If your visit it more than 72 hours the above applies plus you will need a second test locally after 72 hours and self quarantine until you get the results.  The logistics around this are still being firmed up but this is the indicative guideline at the moment.

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Fairy Travels

A weekend in the Volkswagen California Camper

On a Friday at the end of August, just prior to the schools returning, I earned the best accolade!! Officially declared the best mammy ever! Why you might wonder…….

Well, I announced that we had been kindly offered the use of a Volkswagen California for a weekend. I am sure the squeals of excitement could be heard for miles! I mean what is not to love, the freedom of being able to hit the road and stay pretty much where we wanted. It didn’t take too long to formulate the plan of where to go. The kids wanted to show their cousins so it was decided pretty quickly we would head for quite possibly our favourite place….Donegal.

As luck we have it, we happened on possibly the only weekend where the weather was akin to a mini heatwave.  We packed up Friday after the oldest had finished soccer camp and we were off down the N3 with everything but the kitchen sink, and some very happy kids and adults.

The Volkswagen California 6.1

The model we had the use of was the California 6.1 – 2020 so brand-new version with the very eye-catching two-tone paint work.  That copper bronze is really fab! It has a 2-litre diesel engine with automatic transmission. I am informed that the annual road tax is a very reasonable €102.

Some initial thoughts on the spec

  • The way the space is designed is impressive, a very clever use of space. There is a decent size fridge (42l), 2 ring gas hob, sink, cutlery drawer and an abundance of storage. The front seats swivel around, and the table is pulled up to make it the perfect dining/ chill out space. I could ramble on about this for ever, it’s the little details.  The outdoor table is stored in the sliding door frame, the chairs literally in the boot door. No space is wasted. It’s so ergonomically designed and its ease of use I feel is a big selling point.
  • Its deceptively spacious, from just looking at the outside I didn’t expect to have so much space inside.
  • The kids went wild for the sleep set up. The roof rises (push button electric) and there is a decent size double up there and the two back seats lie flat to form the other double.  Plenty space for 2 adults and 2 kids. The base of the bed can also be pushed up into the roof to allow standing room too. Each window has blinds including very cleverly designed front windscreen blinds.

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Mamma Reviews

Smoothie Recipes we love

My kids aren’t always great for eating sufficient fruit and veg however one thing I can get them to eat/ drink with no complaints are smoothies. With Winter not far away and the added pressure of Covid I have been making a huge effort to up their fruit and veg nutrient content.  For me anyway I find smoothies a huge help to get the little people in our house to eat vegetables.  Surprisingly one of the big hits is a beetroot smoothie.

Beetroot-berry-kale-and-banana-smoothieI’m not particular about the quantities so roughly to make two children’s portions of the Mamma Fairy beetroot smoothie I use:

  • 2 cooked beets
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 apple
  • 3 small celery stalk
  • cup of water to give it a lighter consistency
  • some ice

There are so many variants of this smoothie based around beetroots for example substitute the apple and carrot for banana and kale. For us that’s half the fun trying out what works.

 

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