Seventeen Things I never knew about Ireland

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Fuchsia grows wild in hedgerows

Fuchsia grows wild in hedgerows

I’d been wanting to go to Ireland for most of my life, it seemed and I finally got to spend a fortnight there this summer. What a wonderful place: full of history, charm, friendly people, good accommodation and wholesome food. Here are some of the things I found out:

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What’s changed in the last 20 years?

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Technology

Last week it was the twentieth anniversary of the day my dad died: inevitably a time for looking back, but also for pondering on what’s happened between then and now. So much has gone on in the family – the kids have grown up and married; a grandchild has been born – but it also struck me just how much in my daily life involves things Dad would know nothing about. Here are just a few:

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Entertain kids for free in the school holidays

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It won’t have escaped your notice that the school holidays are fast approaching – or for some people they’ve already begun. For many parents this fills the heart with dread: the squabbles, the boredom – and the expense. Grandparents are also racking their brains, whether the grandchildren are coming to stay or whether you’re helping out with child care during the school break. Yes, you love to see the children, but keeping them occupied and happy can be a real challenge, especially if you need to do so without breaking the bank.

As a matter of fact, money isn’t the real issue: you could spend a lot of money trying to entertain and occupy kids, only to have them still whinging and moaning that they’re bored. The truth is that a bit of imagination and preparation will ultimately contribute more towards a happy holiday than a whole pile of cash will.

The ideas below are free – or very nearly free, often reusing or recycling items the children already have. Many of them will fill hours or even a whole day in a very enjoyable way. I’m not going to pretend you won’t need to get involved: most of these need an adult at least to set them up and start things off (although obviously this depends to some extent on the age of the children). But what we’re talking about here is spending quality time with the children, which has to be better than sorting out the arguments!
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