LIGHTHOUSE ADVENTURES

People have said to me in the past that we’re a really ‘outdoorsy’ family, and i’m like, no way! I’m the first to admit that I love nothing better than a beautiful coffee shop and the chance to enjoy some coffee and cake! Are we outdoorsy……?  We both have mainly outdoor jobs, working shifts in all weathers and we’re both volunteer lifeboat crew! (okay maybe just a little!)

But anyone who knows us really well will know that we have a bit of a thing for lighthouses. Chris’s grandfather was a lightkeeper and from his close relationship with his grandad Chris has a real passion for lighthouses and his enthusiasm has carried us along with him, we got engaged at the top of a lighthouse in County Donegal and Hannah sure knows a lighthouse when she sees one!Read More

OUR 2016 IN PHOTOS

So here it is, the first day of 2017!!

The years definitely go faster as you get older, the last year has just sailed past in the blink of an eye! But I’m feeling ready to face this new year ahead with plans for finishing jobs around the house, clearing all the clutter and making more memories with these two!

So much has changed for us in the last couple of years and as we head into another new year I wanted to reflect on what an incredible year we’ve had so I thought I’d document some of our memories of 2016. We all have our ups and downs and things and people in our lives that try to bring us down but I choose not to dwell on the negativity but to focus on what’s been our best bits!

This post is more for me than anyone else, but maybe it’ll inspire you to look back and do something similar. I was hoping to choose a photo for each month but that became too difficult a task!

So here goes………

JANUARY

We started the year knowing I only had another two months of maternity leave left so I wanted to make the most of them, January can often be a come down after Christmas but this month seen my first birthday as a mummy, and yet another reminder of how very blessed we are to have our beautiful girl! Hannah’s first two teeth also arrived this month too, we thought they’d never appear!

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FEBRUARY

My last full month of maternity leave had finally crept up on me but it was full of love and great moments and nothing was going to stop us from enjoying it. February seen lots of cake with two family birthdays and lots of pancakes too! We also enjoyed our Northern Ireland #instamums and #instababies meet up organised by the lovely Anna over at @blossomingbirds. I never would have dreamt of meeting so many lovely mummies through social media, thankful for their company through the small hours when we’ve been nursing restless babes!

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MARCH

I was so apprehensive about this month arriving and juggling fulltime shift work with childcare, Hannah started nursery this month, attending two afternoons a week and we are so thankful that she just loves it! We enjoyed our first Mother’s Day, how wonderful it is to be a mummy! It really is the simple things, hot chocolate and Hannah’s first go on the swing made for a perfect day. And not forgetting our first Easter as a family of three, enjoying every precious moment and milestone.

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APRIL

Another month of outings and antics! Five family birthdays this month and the arrival of our gorgeous niece Ellie-Rose! She still remains the competition but I dare say it won’t be long until they’re as thick as thieves and plotting against us all! A trip on the ferry boat with daddy was also a highlight this month and our first pair of shoes……. Little did we know that it would be September before she would finally decide to go it alone and our aching backs could recover!

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MAY

Celebrating 11 months with our girl, growing strong willed and independent, a total joy to be around! Nanny retired this month too, or at least she thought she did, she is busier than ever with the little rascals in her life!

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JUNE

Wow! Hannah turns ONE! We’ve kept this little person alive for twelve months! We had a lovely little party with family and friends the weekend before her birthday, she is so loved and a perfect little treasure, we definitely couldn’t imagine life without her, what did we do with our time! We also enjoyed a little break away to Donegal and celebrated Father’s Day.

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JULY

We celebrated Daddy’s promotion this month! We are so proud of him and everything he does for us. Shift work is immensely difficult to juggle at times but it gives us both a lot of time with our girl (not so much time with each other though!) Hannah sure is a Daddy’s girl and often chooses to be with him instead of her mummy!

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AUGUST

A month of fun family times with days out, long walks, ice creams, fun on the swings and Hannah’s first fancy dress day at nursery! Thankful to have crammed plenty into this month, the summer months pass so quickly.

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SEPTEMBE

A week long break to our favourite spot in Donegal, lots of time spent on the beach, long walks, lazy breakfasts and lunches, play parks, cream buns and cosy evenings, everything a family holiday should be! We also enjoyed a family wedding and another meet up with our instafriends, this time courtesy of @melwiggins and @aly.harte. A fantastic photowalk through the streets of Belfast, talking in the sights and every opportunity for a photo!

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OCTOBER

I really do love the autumn and all the beautiful colours before the winter is upon us! It was so mild this month and we loved getting out in the fresh air, filling our days with long walks, enjoying the sea breezes and crunchy leaves. This month we hosted a coffee morning for Macmillan, celebrated Daddy’s birthday and Ellie -Rose’s Christening Day.

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NOVEMBER

November is usually a cold wintery month of frosty mornings and dark evenings but we always look forward to celebrating our wedding anniversary. Three years already, how time has flown! We enjoyed an overnight stay in the Redcastle Hotel, County Donegal to celebrate, lots of family time and enjoying the swimming pool was just what we needed. We also tried our hand at wreath making, you can read about it here, it was a fun autumnal crafty session! Another mad month of precious moments amid the madness of work, snatching walks and alfresco picnics, just the three of us.

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DECEMBER

Almost the end of a fantastic year and the last few weeks have whizzed by. It’s been a busy month for the family and I took a little extra leave to try and enjoy some days together. Hannah is now 18 months and we loved the run up to Christmas and visiting Santa, she knows who he is but likes to keep him at arm’s length! Having her in our lives has really changed Christmas, it’s so much more exciting and we’re like big kids ourselves!

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So that’s it!

What a busy year!

I’ve really enjoyed looking back over photographs and putting this together as a little snapshot of our year. I’m no expert photo taker but I love capturing these precious moments.  My resolution for the new year is to keep snapping away and hopefully get a bit better, and maybe purchase a good camera!

Wishing you and yours a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR from all of us!

Much Love

Christine xx

7 EASY WAYS TO GIVE TO CHARITY THIS CHRISTMAS

It’s the season of goodwill but also the season when we spend a lot of money on Christmas gifts and food. I like to try and spread a little Christmas cheer by giving to charity at Christmas, it really is easy and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. There are heaps of worthy charities out there and so many ways to give, here’s our top seven this year:

SHOEBOX APPEAL (Operation Christmas Child)

Last month we packed a shoe box and sent it on its way through Operation Christmas Child, this is something our family have been doing for many years and something I myself sis as a teenager. See details in my previous blog post here.

LETTER FROM SANTA (Diabetes UK)

This year we received a personalised letters from santa through the charity Diabetes UK. After filling in some details online and for just £4.99 you will receive a beautiful personalised letter as well as a free text from Santa, a good behaviour certificate, an activity booklet and a photo of a reindeer! There are a few charities out there offering this service but this is a charity close to our hearts as my husband Chris has been a type 1 diabetic since he was a child. See here for details.

CHARITY SANTA VISIT (Children’s Cancer Unit, Royal Victoria Hospital)

We also visited a charity santa! I’m a bit of a sucker for a santa visit! (I will be an embarrassing mummy!) We visited the local Christmas Market in Belfast and their santa supporting the Children’s Cancer Unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital for Sick Children. Hannah wasn’t very taken by him but at least she didn’t cry! For £10 we received a little gift and a family photo with santa!

COLLECTING USED STAMPS (RNIB)

Its rare to receive a letter with a stamp on it except perhaps at Christmas and birthdays. Used stamps from Christmas cards can be sent to the RNIB used stamps appeal were they are sorted by volunteers – they are usually sold by weight, but if they can identify any valuable stamps they can be sold for a higher price. They expect to receive around £10 for one kilogram of British stamps, and up to £15 for a kilogram of overseas stamps. So quite literally for the price of a stamp you can post off your used stamps and help people with sight loss, How easy is that!

CHARITY CHRISTMAS CARDS (RNLI)

There are loads of charity Christmas cards out there and if you send cards its another great way to give a little to charity. The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is another charity close to our hearts, we are both volunteer lifeboat crew for our local station in Bangor and Chris is also the station mechanic, so this is our go-to charity for christmas cards. There are many charity cards available on the high street and in supermarkets but there is not always a high percentage of the sale going back to the charity so why not consider purchasing directly from the charity. This can be as easy as popping into your local charity shop on the high street, there are many fantastic charities to choose from. Alternatively some people choose to give a donation to their favourite charity rather than sending cards.

FOODBANKS (Neighbourhood Food Collection Tesco)

Christmas can be a such a difficult time for individuals and families who are already just about getting by on extremely tight budgets. With increased winter fuel bills, and the pressure of choosing between heating and eating, can sadly push many families into food crisis. It is so easy to purchase an extra few items in your grocery shop to give to your local foodbank, many supermarkets have onsite collection points making it super convenient to drop off your purchases! We have given items through our local Tesco, their two charity partners are The Trussell Trust and Fare Share There are many foodbanks operating locally that need your support all year round.

{This photo is from last year, so far I haven’t had a chance to take one this year!}

CHRISTMAS JUMPER DAY (Save The Children)

Let’s be honest, who doesn’t have a Christmas jumper? From the crazy elf look, to the one with a flashing nose its becoming something we all have stashed in the wardrobe! This year Christmas Jumper Day was on Friday 16th December, Hannah’s nursery was getting involved and having a fun day for the kids! By asking parents to get involved and send their kids in their Christmas jumper and bring a £1 donation they were helping support the charity Save The Children.

I intended to have this posted much sooner but where has this month gone?! I hope it will be thought provoking and you will use it as inspiration for next year.

Thank you for reading and for all your support this year, wishing you all a very HAPPY CHRISTMAS!

Christine, Chris & Hannah xx

 

 

SLIEVE DONARD POLAR EXPRESS

When you get up in the morning and the note in the advent calendar says ‘VISIT SANTA’……. how exciting is that! (and that’s just me getting excited!)

Back in August we booked Santa’s Polar Express at the Slieve Donard Hotel in Newcastle. I had heard endless good reports about it and thought we better see what we were missing! We weren’t disappointed!

We arrived at the Polar Express Station (The Percy French) received our tickets and awaited the next departure….. we boarded the train and Hannah was enchanted with the lights and sounds as we headed off on our magical journey to visit Santa. We disembarked outside the grand entrance to the hotel which looked magical against the night sky and headed into the beautifully decorated foyer of the hotel and followed the elf to Santa’s workshop.

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GIVING AT CHRISTMAS

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For some years now our family has supported Operation Christmas Child, I can’t say for sure how long it is but as a young teen I remember bringing our packed shoe boxes into church to be sent off. Mum has continued to pack shoe boxes over the years and now it’s something we want Hannah to do each year in the run up to Christmas.

We donate through Operation Christmas Child, OCC is an initiative of Samaritan’s Purse UK, a Christian relief and development charity working amongst communities in need across Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

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FORAGED WREATH

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Inspired by the lovely Emma’s recent visit to Victoriana floral in Whitehead for a wreath making workshop I thought it would be fab to have a go at some DIY wreath making! I gave my good friend Claire a shout to see what she thought and we decided we’d be mad enough to give it a go!

Anyone who knows me well knows our garden is a work in progress (that’s putting it politely!) we inherited this crazy unkempt wilderness with huge shrubs and 60 foot evergreens when we bought our home two years ago and much as we try to manage it it requires a huge amount of work but what a joy it is for foraging….. copious amounts of various ivies, a blackberry bush, variegated holly, berried holly, berried shrubs, the colours and textures are endless! Whats not to love about the array of autumn colours mixed with the evergreens and all the berries appearing for the birds, I really enjoyed foraging in my garden.

Claire also took a stroll through the local Clandeboye estate and my dad got in on the act foraging through the hedgerows of the family fields ‘at home’ in Portadown. What an array of finds we gathered, enough for ten wreaths i’m sure!

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INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE GIRL

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International Day of the Girl is a UN initiative set up to promote the rights of girls around the world. It takes place every year on 11th October, aiming to highlight the realities of life as a girl across the world and the challenges they face regarding education, healthcare, child marriage, equal opportunity and sexual violence. Not every girl will face all of these challenges, but almost every girl will encounter at least one of them, which is why Day of the Girl is so important.

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SIMPLE PLEASURES

If you follow us on instagram you will know we had a little break away in Donegal this past week. We just love Donegal, we were staying at Inishowen Head Lighthouse, we are lucky enough to be able to stay here as they are one of only a few places available only to the families of light keepers. Chris’s late grandfather was a lightkeeper so we are able to enjoy the use of these cottages through his grandmother.  They are really basic and not much has been done to them over the years but they are a great base for travelling around and we also get to enjoy fantastic views and beautiful beaches.

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THE YEARS ARE SHORT

The days are long but the years are short – Gretchen Rubin

This quote really struck a chord with me and it’s so true, some days I feel like I’m just freefalling until I reach bedtime…..  It is now six months since I returned to work following maternity leave, in ways the time has absolutely flown by but in other ways the days have felt long and sometimes stressful. It’s tough going and there’s days we’re both absolutely exhausted!

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{Two days before returning to work!}

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CAN TO CANDLE

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I love to burn candles, especially in the winter, it creates that lovely cosy feeling and I love the beautiful scents wafting around the house when I get a chance to sit down and relax in the evening.  So I jumped at the chance to try some gorgeous products from Can to Candle. These beautiful, high quality soy wax candles not only look great but smell fantastic and with a burn time of 50 hours they certainly don’t cost a fortune. With a fantastic mix of modern, rustic and up-cycled designs in a variety of scents it would be difficult to choose just one!

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