#SummerShapeup

What a SUMMER….I have never laughed so much and saw so much of Donegal in 8 weeks.  Thank you Emmet Rushe for your FAB #SummerShapeUp.

And so it began……

Week 1 – The Plank

Now where could I do a plank where nobody else would do one. I went up to my hubby to see if he could think of any ideas.  No sooner had I said it to, himself and the boys pulled out two tractor lawnmowers and the first challenge was complete. 

Week 2 – The Handstand Challenge. 

I awaited eagerly to hear on this weeks challenge and once I knew it was a handstand, there was only one door way I wanted to do my handstand in. Off we went on a Sunday morning to  Dunlewy to the Poison Glen. I hadn’t done a handstand since my “Hail Stone Thunder & Lightening Days” but hey I still got it 25 years later give it 10 or 20 takes lol.

The Poison Glen

Week 3 – Hang Tough Challenge

We were blessed with the weather EVERY Sunday during the Summer Shapeup. This just made me want to visit a different part of Donegal for the challenges. This week Inishowen was on our hit list. 

Banba’s Crown

Week 4 – Shoulder Press Challenge

Poor Noah was the subject for my shoulder press challenge. Wee dote giggled away, he knew how much mammy wanted to go to New York so he did whatever mammy asked!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He even let mammy shoulder press him twice that day. 

Killybegs

 

Slieve League

The Aug Bank Holiday was all about  Summer Shapeup extra activities with my husband Kevin, friends and with my Rushe Fitness family.  Saturday August 5th Kevin and I completed The Gibbons Loop, up Sliabh Sneacht. This took us 4.5 hours, the views were out of this world from the top. The Gibbons family organise this hike every year in memory of their late father John who farmed on  these hills. EVERYONE should do this, views are AMAZING and the BBQ when you reach the bottom is FAB.

Sliabh Sneacht

 

Cuilcagh Steps has been on my to do list for a while now, so was delighted when Emmet organised a Rushe Fitness  trip there on Aug 6th. Again the weather conditions were perfect and the craic was 90 with this crew.  Lovely wee stop in Biddys on the way home (sure its bad luck to pass)

Cuilcagh  Steps


 

Week 5- The Fan Challenge

My alarm went off at 5.15am……up I jumped and headed down to the Polestar roundabout to do our fan challenge with some of my Rushe Fitness buddies, Gary, Martina, Carmel, Angela & Michelle and our wonderful photographer Anna.  Poor Gary and Michelle pulled the short straws on this one. 

Polestar Roundabout

Week 6 – The Bike Challenge

This was my FAV challenge of them all.  So we decided we would do our bike challenge after our 6am class. The teacher mode soon came back to me and we had a 1….2….3 rhythm going and had it sorted “on paper”. THEN….when we went to do it the giggles took over and it took us a while to get going but we got there, I’m crying laughing watching this back…..POOR GARY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Week 7 – The Final Challenge – ” Sum Up What Summer Shapeup meant to you”

For me the first word that came into my head was LOVEI LOVED the challenges every week.

I LOVED the buzz in the gym and the online group, everyone kept everyone so motivated.

I LOVED on a Sunday visiting all the different parts of Donegal for the challenges while getting to spend time with Kevin & Noah.

I LOVED how confident I was becoming inside and out.

So it came down to posting our before and after pics in the private group page. I weighed myself before and after and not one pound had shifted off the scales and for the first in a LONG time, this was ok.  Summer Shapeup wasn’t about loosing weight for me. When Emmet told us about the challenge in my head I thought, great, this will motivate me now during the summer, were its easy to go off track and if I win GREAT and if not at least I knew I was going on our first family holiday in the best shape I could be in. Posting my food everyday was a great way for making myself accountable for keeping on track. This photo below is me happy and confident in myself inside and out.  I love training at Rushe Fitness, my alarm goes off 3 mornings a week at 5.40am, I wouldnt miss it for the world.  For me its the BEST way to start the day off and is the BEST lifestyle change I ever made.

I will never forget that evening, we just got home from our holiday at 8pm, I jumped into the shower, threw on an outfit and my lovely sister Mari-Claire did my makeup. I ran across the carpark at Backstage with one shoe on and one half on and bust in the doors with ” Did I Miss It?” I was so glad I hadn’t missed the announcement as I really wanted to see the winners face………………..

 

I WON!!!!!

I will NEVER forget it, the butterflies in my tummy when Emmet said I was the winner.  The first thing I thought was I’M GOING TO NEW YORK to see the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller.   I was, and still am on cloud 9. New York at Christmas is my dream and on the 8th December myself  and Kevin are flying out for 5 days to the most magical city in the world. 

 

 

Thank you Emmet, Maria and every single one of the Rushe Fitness members especially my 6am buddies, you all made this Summer one to remember. 

Joanne x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fun In The Sun

Well we did it, our first sun holiday together with our wee prince and loved EVERY minute of it.  When deciding on where to go, top of our list was flight time.  With Malaga only 2 hours 20 minutes on a flight, this was ideal for our first trip with Noah. We popped into Geraldine Martin who is a Travel Counsellor here in Letterkenny and within 45 mins we had a week in Torremolinos all booked.

I actually found travelling with an infant in an airport less stressful than when we used to travel ourselves. With priority boarding, we didn’t have to wait in long queues to board and when going through security there was a separate entrance for people with children and again no long ques here. For the flight itself we packed a bag of tricks to keep himself occupied.  This included;

  • Ipad with quite a few episodes of Justin’s House downloaded on it (Thanks Andrew)
  • Dinasour torch from M&S
  • White Buttons
  • Juice
  • Books

They seemed to do trick, he was no bother on the plane, I had visions of him not wanting to sit on either of our knees and running up and down the aisle torturing everyone, but no he was happy to sit on mammy’s knee and watch Justins House with Do do and raggy.

Timor Sol Appartments, Torremolinos

We stayed in Timor Sol Apartments in Torremolinos.  The transfer from Malaga airport was just under 20 mins, which was ideal for a toddler.  The apartments were in a perfect location, right on the beach front.  

Our days were spent mostly in the pool. I was so glad I had taken Noah to toddler confidence classes in Aura Leisure Centre beforehand, I really do think they made such a difference, he just loved the pool.  The baby pool is the ideal place to meet new friends too for the week.
I don’t do sand ever BUT,  it wasn’t just about  me anymore, after all this holiday was about making memories for our little prince. So off we went to the beach, twice might I add (I am still finding sand a week later) We bought a wee bucket and spade from one of the supermarkets and we were sorted, hours of fun, daddy building sandcastles and Noah knocking them down and mammy staying on the sun bed trying to keep the sand at bay.

 

Parque De La Paloma.  This place was recommended by friends of ours who had recently taken their little boy here while in Benalmadena. It was nice to have somewhere different to go to other than the pool or beach.  This park is just AMAZING and even better, its free.  The chickens, baby chicks, rabbits and ducks were roaming the park freely. We brought bread with us and feed the ducks.  I’ll never forget Noah’s wee giggle as he threw the bread into the ducks and watched as they squabbled over it. There were two different play grounds within the park and little shops/cafes. Would definitely recommend a wee morning here for anyone on holidays in  Torremolinos or Benalmadena.
Anyone that knows me, will know I have a buggy obsession, much to Babyzones delight!!!! So a holiday buggy was an essential.  Lee in http://www.babyzone.com had the perfect one with my name on it.  The O BABY.  This buggy hit all the buttons for me, great price, light weight, easy to fold and unfold, reclined fully for those siestas, great storage space and lastly,the hood came down 3/4 of the way keeping the sun out while Noah slept. The basket was ideal for storing Noah’s bag with the usual essentials, nappies,wipes,sun cream, water, toys and ipad, oh and mammy’s camera of course.
And sure no holiday is complete without that “Holiday Romance” Meet Ellie, Noah’s little lady from Dundalk.
Sunrise 

My Top 10 Tips For Travelling To The Sun With A Toddler

  1. Plane – Pack a magic bag with an Ipad with their favorite programmes or some games downloaded on it, colouring books and most importantly food just incase you’re unexpectedly delayed like we were on the way home.
  2. Suncream –  I used Garnier Ambre Solaire Factor 50 Spray for Noah. Found it really good,easy to apply, quick to dry and best of all didn’t stain any of his clothes.
  3. Meal Times – Just like the plane trip, gadgets and toys.  I found the busier the restaurant the better. Noah is a people watcher just like his mammy.
  4. Pool- When you get there,buy a few small toys for the pool. We bought a wee fishing net with fish, Noah loved throwing the fish into the pool and then going to find them with the net.
  5. Buggy – Bring a buggy that totally reclines for nap times, with a good hood that keeps the sun out and a storage basket for the essentials. 
  6. Ipad – Its definitely worth downloading episodes of their favorite programs or even games,great for the plane, meal times
  7. EHIC- If your travelling within the EU, make sure you have an EHIC card for each person.  It replaces the old E11 and means that if one of you get sick you wont have to pay. We got our forms in our local primary care centre.
  8. Hands Free – Try to keep your hands free for the flight, so pack a rug sack with everything you need. You will need all hands on deck to get baby out of the buggy, buggy down and get on the flight, same for when you reach the other side.
  9. Passport Dates –  Children’s passports have to renewed every five years,unlike adults which is every 10 years. The last thing you want is to have your holiday booked and find out your child’s passport is not valid.
  10. ENJOY….a friend said to me on Friday as I left work “make sure just to relax and enjoy” and I did, once I got through security at Dublin airport I totally relaxed and went with the flow and it was the best week ever and loved every second of making holiday memories in the sun with our Noah. If anyone is contemplating heading to the sun with their baby/toddler DO IT, lifes too short.

Joanne Xx

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The Best Thing About Memories Is Making Them

There is  always one place when you were a child that brings lots of lovely memories flooding back and this place for me is “Scalp Mountain”. Its more of a hill than a mountain but when I was small, this was always the BIG mountain that my daddy used to take us on Sunny Sundays in Fahan. The ultimate was reaching the “Wishing Chair” at the top of the mountain.  I remember vividly sitting on the chair and wishing for a baby brother and guess what I GOT ONE not long after lol.

It was only a matter of time before I wanted to start making these exact memories with Noah, so on Sunday last I said to himself, “I would love to do Scalp Mountain with Noah today” and no sooner had I said it, we were up, boots on, picnic packed and on our way to https://www.babyzone.ie/, to see what kind of carrier would take Noah up the “mountain” with us. We fell in love with a Phil &Teds Metro backpack and better still got it at half price in their fabulous Summer Sale. 

Phil & Teds Metro Backpack

  • Very easy to put on, you can actually do it with one person, considering the size of the carrier, its one of the easiest to put on, on your own. The kick out stand makes it very stable for loading and unloading.
  • Noah LOVED it, he was so high up on his daddy’s back and and everything around him was “Woweeeee” 
  • There are loads of pockets with this carrier, where we were able to store Noah’s coat and a hat for the top incase it was breezy, which it was, you could also store nappies, food etc. 
  • Comfortable to carry. I carried Noah myself in the carrier for a bit too and it was just like carrying a school bag and had great back support.

Scalp mountain is so rugged,I love stomping through the heather and taking a little break every so often and have a look back at the most amazing views. It was so clear last Sunday, we could see all the boats over at the Rathmullan Regatta. It takes about 30 mins to climb and the views from the top are out of this world, you can see, Derry, Rathmullan, taking in Inch Wildlife Sanctuary from above and all the way over to Buncrana. We sat and had our little picnic at the top and made a few wishes on the “Wishing Chair” 

 

“I wish, I wish, I wish”

Our Picnic At The Top

 

On Top Of The World With Daddy

 

“The Best Thing About Memories Is Making Them”

 

 

 

 

 

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My Top 10 Places To Visit With A Toddler This Summer in Donegal

  1. Glenveagh.

Of course this was going to be my number one place to visit.  For those of you who don’t know, Glenveagh is what I would describe  as my “heaven on earth” I visit here at least once a fortnight.  I often get asked “God are you not sick of that place” How on earth could you EVER get tired of those views.  I love how each time we go there its never the same.  The different seasons bring different colours, different plant life, different wildlife and a different adventure for us. Noah was two weeks old when we first brought him here and now at 18 months, he loves nothing more than running through gardens and grounds exploring.  Thymeout Tea Room in Glenveagh, is a must after all your exploring. I just LOVE the lemon drizzle cake here and the window displays are amazing, very seasonal appropriate.  If you don’t fancy walking in and out, you can always get the bus. 

2. The Glebe House & Gallery

Located only 18k outside Letterekenny, this place is ideal for an afternoon trip out of the house. Noah is at the stage were he just doesn’t want to be in the buggy for too long and just loves the freedom of being able to run about. I don’t take the buggy with me at all when I go here. The grounds are ideal for little people to explore. The fairy doors in the gardens are just so cute, especially the clothes line with the little fairy clothes hanging out on it. The walkway leads you down to a gorgeous part of Gartan lake were we could spend hours throwing stones in and watching them splash into the water.  There is a lovely tea room located on the grounds here, where they serve your tea in a china cup….winner winner!!!!

3. Oakfield Park

We recently took a trip to Oakfield Park on a sunny Sunday in July and we were in luck, it was Steam Engine Sunday. We got a ride around the grounds in the Steam Train.As you can see from the picture below, Noah was just in awe of it all. Grounds here are fabulous and again our little man explored every inch of them and even got to see the swans in the lake.  There is a coffee shop located on site here also.

4. Ards Forest Park

I have to confess, 2 weeks ago was my first time EVER to take a trip to Ards Forest Park. You really have it all here, walking trails, beach, play area and the cutest little coffee shop, Ards Coffee Tree.  It costs 5 euros to park right down to the main carpark. Make sure bring change with you as the machine only accepts coins. 

5. Inch Wildfowl Reserve Walk

Another gorgeous walk with amazing scenery. What I love about this walk is that its all flat, no hills whatsoever. Noah loves looking at all the birds and ducks throughout the walk. There are numerous look out huts too along the way. One downside is that at certain times of the year midgies can be a nightmare at certain parts of the walk. I always carry a wee bottle of insect repellent just incase.

 

6. Fintown Railway

My nephew’s words after our trip on this train “Its just like the Polar Express”.  The train ride itself takes approx 20 mins from start to finish. There is a picnic area and play ground on site with a huge sandpit. I would DEF recommend bringing a wee picnic with you and have it before or after your trip. 

7. Glenevin Waterfall

I was so impressed with EVERYTHING about this waterfall in Clonmany.  The path right up to the waterfall itself is the most buggy friendly path I have EVER been on. Along the way there are numerous picnic areas and the cutest of all, on the trees along the path there are little fairies in them, very magical. There is a little seating area too when you get to the waterfall. 

8. Banba’s Crown Malin Head

This place actually blew my mind away. WOW!!!!! Really did feel like we were on top of the world.  The views from here are just breathtaking.  There is a walkway and seats along the path. The walkway is very buggy friendly up to a point…lets just say the Icandy was put to the test that day and passed with flying colours lol!!!!!! There is a little mobile shop at the top selling, teas/coffees/ice cream.

9. Killybegs

Boats, boats and more boats and Noah just LOVED it here. The day that we went here we were so lucky in that a cruise ship was docking in the port for a number of hours. We had lunch in the Tara Hotel and sat watching the cruise ship docking from our table. We then took a walk around the piers and had a look at all the boats.  I was amazed at how HUGE they were never mind Noah. Of course we had to finish our trip to Killybegs with an ice cream from Hegertys. 

10. The Beach

No summer would be complete without a few trips to the beach. My goodness that sand does get EVERYWHERE!!!!!!! Rathmullan beach is my top beach to go to with Noah.  Everything is very accessible, the beach itself from the carpark, the toilets, the play ground and most importantly the ice cream shop.

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