Isn't this just picture postcard cute.
Not all mine - just the little ones on the right, but all great friends having a lovely day out, feeding the ducks, picnicing and generally just chilling on another great day with great friends.
Two is unquestionably The Age of Extreme Cuteness. I'm not showing favouratism, Noah was super cute at two too. Especially pre-talking-properly two. And so, here we see: Cute, celebrating-the-coming-of-the-Easter bunny Seth; Cute, against-the-new-red-sofa Seth; Cute, lost-in-the-forest Seth; and, Cute, with-the-chickens Seth.
It's hard to get a "normal" picture of the subject right now; as soon as he realises the camera is pointing at him, his face contorts. Here we see: Ferocious Tiger Noah, about to pounce on his prey (his poor, unsuspecting Dad); Explorer Noah, about to get lost in Tullymore Forest; Tree Eating Noah, just finishing off his fifth pine; and, er...well, just "normal" Noah.
The creature shows signs of great intelligence interspersed with untamed wildness. Grrr.
During the Autumn we heard that there was an Apple Harvest Festival down at Crawfordsburn Country Park. We'd go down to Crawfordsburn quite a bit. It's a country park with a beach. Superb!
Anyway, the Festival was really good and free, which really surprised us. There were apple fritters to be eaten, things to make and apples to peal (OK, perhaps not the most fun activity in the world but, hey, there's only so many things you can do with an apple).
There were pigs and donkeys, a BBQ and a display of apples (yes, I know, that might not sound that thrilling either but it was good and you could try them - there's loads of different types you know); there were toffee apples and freshly pressed juice; and archery! But no one standing with an apple on their head so I think they missed a trick there.
We ended up on the beach, Seth dressed in nothing but his new shark T-shirt after soaking his trousers in the sea.
So the major event that marked the end of the summer was, of course, Noah starting big school. Any concerns that he'd be hesitant were unfounded. He was up and raring to go. Got dressed in double quick time, breakfasted, becoated* and queued orderlyly* at the door; ready, willing and eager.
Karen was less prepared and all ready for a bit of home schooling. But she was very brave and let him go.
And yes, I know what you're thinking and you're right, he was by far the best looking and as it turned out, the smartest new kid on the block. We always said he was blessed with Karen's good looks and
my, well actually, er...Karen's brains.
When asked to comment, Seth was heard to say, "Ooah, chooooo, chooooo!"
* Yeah, I know, no such words but there just aren't enough in the dictionary for my needs.
It's about time we got over this summer recap so I'll make this one quick.
We wrapped up the holidays with one last treat for the boys. Downpatrick Railway, while nowhere near as great as the Great Central from where we used to live, is still excellent. The better the weather, the better the experience. You pay for a day ticket so can go up and down the short line as often as the trains run. At he far end you disembark and take a short walk to Inch Abbey, where, if you're lucky, you can chat to a real live monk who hangs about in the shadows frightening the kids (not really).
On a fine day the Abbey is a lovely place for a picnic. It's beautiful. This day wasn't so fine so we just messed about a bit then realised we'd better get back for the last train of the day.
OK, I know it was ages ago. Autumn now but way back in the summer we went to very sunny Donegal, and it really was sunny. We booked last minute so didn't have lots to choose from but that probably helped, we decided on Culdaff on the north coast. So north in fact, it's higher up than where we live even though it's technically the South.
It all turned out perfectly: a lovely cottage on the side of a hill, brilliant weather, a beautiful beach 10 minutes away and all just a 2 hour drive from Belfast.
The boys loved the beach so that's where we were almost every morning. While we couldn't keep Noah's cloths on him, Seth was rarely out of his, preferring to wrap up in the sun.
On the odd rainy day we ventured further (but not much) and explored, for example, Greencastle, where you can (and we did) get a 10 minute ferry crossing to, would you believe it, Northern Ireland.
This is the view from our cottage by the way.
An here if Five Fingered Strand. Stunning. And that's us at Ireland's most northerly point, Malin Head where we held on tight because it was a bit windy.
The on the way home we stopped off at Bushmills for the short steam train ride to the Giants Causeway. It was a superb holiday.
Summer holiday treat trip to the zoo. Belfast zoo is great and hard work - it's built on a hill so can be hard slog but worth it for the underwater views of the sea lions and penguins, and the giraffes (not under water you understand, that would just be silly and the RSPCA might have something to say. Actually, we're in NI; that falls outside of their jurisdiction so perhaps it's not so unlikely).
The boys made a new friend. The prairie dogs have burrowed out of their compound so have the run of the site. Why they don't escape further I don't know; perhaps they do. Hairy the Prairie Dog (or so he was christened by Noah) would have been bundled into the back of our car had it not been for our fear of flees.