Last week was holiday week here. In other words Mr. Simply Homemade was on annual leave. The summer budget was invisible this year so we were on a mission to make the best of the week regardless of finances.
We made a loose plan at the start of the week which involved days out with picnics, afternoons out & general chilling out.
So, is it possible to have a good week at home with an invisible budget?
For our first day out we packed a picnic with delicious homemade food, a flask of coffee & bottles of water. We went to Mount Leinster which is just past Bunclody on the Wexford/Carlow border. The drive up here is breathtaking with incredible views. There were lots of wows from the children & the small two in particular couldn’t wait to get out and see the sheep!! There is plenty of parking available, along with some picnic tables. We went for a walk first, however we did need to be mindful of how far the small two could go. It was cold and very cloudy so we ate in the car and then decided to ramble up another part of the mountain. It was beautiful; unfortunately we had to cut it short though as it rained, not just a light shower, it pelted down.
On the whole it was a lovely day out, we cannot control the weather and we can’t sit in waiting on the sun to shine either!
Points worth noting
- A visit here can involve lots of walking, be mindful of that if you have very young children.
- The higher up you go, the colder it gets, bring a jacket!!
- Drive slowly, Mount Leinster gets alot of visitors….and sheep.
- Mind the sheep poo!!!
Hook Head & Tintern Abbey
Our next picnic day saw us head down to Hook Head first. If you’ve yet to see Hook Lighthouse, make it a priority, it is stunning. Situated on the Hook Peninsula, this is an area of outstanding natural beauty.
As we passed by Ireland’s most haunted house, Loftus Hall, I couldn’t help but giggle at the tween as she exclaimed her horror at the sight of it. Having heard many tales, she wasn’t taking any chances, she won’t be visiting anytime soon!
Following our visit to Hook Lighthouse we went on to visit Tintern Abbey. This was our first visit here, it had come highly recommended. It’s not difficult to see why. The grounds here have been lovingly restored and are now open to the public, free of charge. There are tours of the Abbey & Walled Gardens which do have a charge however there are acres of grounds, including old ruins, forest walks and adventures all completely free. There are also tea rooms on site which I have heard good things about but as we are on a budget, we had our picnic and off we went.
I cannot sing the praises of Tintern Abbey enough; the children loved it, they could run wild & use their imaginations to tell us what they thought of various buildings and ruins. Even the teen enjoyed herself (Pokémon Go may have had something to do with that though I’d prefer to think it was the location!) We will without a shadow of doubt be returning to Tintern Abbey.
Points worth noting
- You can avail of Tours of the Lighthouse at Hook Head
- There is also a cafe here along with some picnic tables
- The lovely seaside village of Duncannon is close by with lots of amenities, find out more about those from Bumbles of Rice.
- You can avail of tours of Tintern Abbey and the Walled Gardens for a charge.
- There is a Tea Room on site at Tintern Abbey.
Wells House in Gorey is simply fantastic. We prepared a picnic & set off in the morning for a fun filled day knocking on fairy doors, spotting characters from The Gruffalo, playing in the brilliant playground, archery, finding bears in the wood, making wishes, loving trolls, admiring the dainty little shops & thoroughly enjoying every minute.
A selection of the Courtyard shops
If this sounds like an expensive day out, it really isn’t, €8 per car; any money you spend after that is your own choice. The archery is €3 per person, two of the children did that. I promised the small boy months ago that I would get him a yellow fairy door & I kept my promise. The fairy doors in the Faerywood Shop in Wells House are only €5 and they are beautiful. He was the happiest little boy putting his fairy door in his window, sprinkling it with magic dust that would make ‘deams come true’!
Fairy Doors in Faerywood
Points worth noting
- There is a restaurant here with indoor and outdoor seating. There is also a smaller shop with ice cream and take away coffee.
- There are no shortage of picnic tables if that is what you would prefer to do.
- Wells House is home to a huge playground that will keep kids entertained for an age!
- Both walks are not too long or tiring, even the smallest of walkers will be able for them and the added bonus of fairy doors and woodland creatures will keep them entertained and distract from how much walking they’re doing anyway.
- There is also a small animal area.
- Keep an eye on the Wells House facebook page, they regularly host different events.
We went, spur of the moment, for a drive one afternoon and we decided we’d venture to Cullenstown Strand. On the way we passed through Duncormick Village, stopping here for a few moments to enjoy a lovely riverside walk. This area has been beautifully enhanced and would make a lovely picnic spot, in particular as the walkway is dotted with lovely picnic tables.
Following our walk we went on to Cullenstown Strand. We had never been here with the children, in fact I hadn’t been here since my own childhood when I recall my Mam bringing us to see the ‘Shell Cottage’.
Isn’t it beautiful?
We spent a lovely, albeit windy, hour here playing on the beach, making more memories.
Enniscorthy Castle/Vinegar Hill
Enniscorthy Castle in the heart of Enniscorthy was our next day out and yet another picnic day. We paid €10 admission price to the castle and had a lovely time exploring the 13th century home to knights, armies, rebels, prisoners and of course, families.
Now home to various exhibitions including that of Eileen Gray and Colm Toibin’s Brooklyn, the castle is an interesting visit.
The children were particularly fascinated with the old styling of the bedrooms in the rooms designed to depict how the Roche family would have lived here.
Another huge bonus in their eyes was accessing the roof top. The views here are spectacular.
Following our tour of Enniscorthy Castle, we ventured up to Vinegar Hill where we had our picnic tables just off the carpark at the bottom of the hill before making our way to the top to explore.
The Battle of Vinegar Hill occured during the Irish Rebellion of 1798 on 21 June 1798 when over 15,000 British soldiers launched an attack on Vinegar Hill, Enniscorthy. It marked a turning point in the rebellion, as it the last attempt by the rebels to hold and defend ground against the British military-www.vinegarhill.ie
The views here again are stunning, the children had great fun running around, though they were a little underwhelmed by it.
For the days we didn’t venture too far, we are lucky enough to live where we live, so we went to the beach for ice cream, checked on the fairy doors in The Secret Garden and of course chilled out in our own garden too!
The highlight of the days out for them was without doubt Wells House, it’s a place I don’t think any family would ever tire of visiting.
Overall however, we did manage to have a lovely week in Wexford with our invisible budget.There are so many things to do that don’t cost the earth.
An afternoon in Kilmore Quay never fails to entertain with the beautiful memorial garden and a super playground overlooking the Saltee Islands. A wander by the river in Edenvale or a ramble through the forest in Raven Woods in Curracloe are usually full of adventures. For the smaller children, they love looking at the ducks in Wexford Widlfowl Reserve; and that is just a small selection of things to do.
We are very lucky in this beautiful county of ours.