Category: Travel - arriving at Nelson airport 4

Irish Examiner: Top tips for long haul travel with small children

Long haul travel with kids – does it get any easier? Not really, but at least experience helps you to be better prepared! I recently wrote a piece for the Irish Examiner on last year’s trip to New Zealand: Five flights in 45 hours via five countries with two kids under four… In February, we headed back for a family wedding. Although it was just four flights this time, it took us 52 hours  door-to-door but at least the girls had an extra year under their belts. We flew with Malaysia Airlines and paid full price for everyone over 2 years of age. Yep, that’s four full price tickets. On the plus side, we did get four seats which becomes a lifesaver when you’re trapped in close proximity to your family for 12 hours at a time. See below for my survival tips – I’ve included things that we learned this year in italics. Last year the girls were 3 and 15 months; this time round they were 4 and 2. We also travelled to NZ and Vietnam when Little Missy was just eight months. Read about our Hanoi visit here: Taking baby steps through Hanoi FIVE TOP TIPS FOR...

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At The Track Lodge, Nydia Bay 0

Yurts and hops in New Zealand

It’s a little bit of time out, New Zealand. Time out to enjoy coffees and summertime, fresh sweetcorn and ice cream with cousins. It’s just a pity that it sometime takes so long to get there – this year’s trip was an especially epic 52 hour door-to-door marathon. Never again. Until we go back home after a much-anticipated, fast-approaching wedding. In the meantime, there’s lots of family to catch up with and our trip so far has been at On The Track Lodge in the  Marlborough Sounds. Together with the Husband’s parents, his sister, her husband, their two kids, and our girls, we took a boatload of family over to this very special place – read about our last trip here – and stayed for two nights. We got to sleep in a yurt. A yurt! A large, round canvas yurt with a varnished wooden floor, bean bags and comfy bunk beds. I thought the girls might expire from pure excitement before they ever went to sleep. Never mind me. There was a stack of books about Arthur Ransome for sleepy afternoon reading on those bean bags, a kite to fly when we were feeling a little bit more energetic and lots of...

read more - Hanoi feature for Irish Examiner - Hannah socialising over breakfast 0

Irish Examiner | Taking baby steps through Hanoi

In 2010, while coming back from Little Missy’s first NZ visit, the Husband and I were fortunate enough to get an invitation from a friend based in Hanoi. Take a 10-month-old baby to Vietnam? Why not! LM’s first year was spent travelling – an impromptu trip to London to meet her Kiwi grandparents at just two months; ferry-and-car to the Lake District on a camping expedition for our friends’ wedding a month later; then 10 days in Berlin when she was almost half a year old while the Husband studied brewing. A family wedding took us to New Zealand for Christmas and we were lucky enough to be able to combine that with nights in Kuala Lumpur and the trip to Hanoi. It was an incredible first year for her – and for us, figuring out our way as new parents and determined to grab all opportunities that came our way. Fortunately, she was a very laid back baby, loved all the new experiences and, to make it easier, I basically breastfed her around the world. From the London Underground, a busy Lake District pub, the back seat of a Hanoi taxi, at the dinner table of more than a few weddings,...

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Enjoying the sun 0

Summer holiday eating: 7 simple self-catering meal ideas

One tin crammed with Chocolate Buckwheat Cookies. One  (small) bottle of homemade cassis. A couple of tubs of frozen hummus. One  still-warm loaf of Cinnamon Raisin Bread, carefully wrapped in a tea towel. We may be going on holidays but I don’t like to let standards slip. Self-catering is definitely the name of the holiday game when there are small people in the mix. It used to be self-catering in tents but, after our last camping expedition with a Little Missy who screamed the campsite down at 3am, we’ve put holidays under canvas on hold for the moment. Which, I have to say, does allow me more space for food in the car. For our latest trip, although there was a box of supplies already wedged  into the boot, we made a quick stop at the re-launched Killavullen Farmers’ Market. Shopping didn’t take long: some just-pulled Kildinan Farm carrots, green onions and potatoes along with a bag of mangetout and broad beans for snacking, a stop at Gudrun’s Fermoy Natural Cheese stall for a sizable hunk of St Gall and a deliciously oozy St Bridget Beag and – positively last stop – at the secondhand book stall for holiday reading (at 50c a...

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Cinnamon Rolls for arrivals at Nydia Bay 8

Cinnamon Rolls from On The Track Lodge in New Zealand’s Marlborough Sounds

Think Cinnamon Rolls. Sweetly spiced, fragrant Cinnamon Rolls. Now think about walking for five hours through the New Zealand bush and arriving, just a little hot, sweaty and footsore, at On The Track Lodge in Nydia Bay. Cinnamon Rolls sound good? On the day that we visited, they tasted like manna and that was just after we had taken the easy way in, arriving by water taxi to this very special spot in the Marlborough Sounds. It’s owned and run by the Husband’s cousin Duncan, our best man when we got married in 2007 (he also came on the honeymoon!), and someone we just don’t get to see enough of. Duncan is a great example of Kiwi ingenuity, turning his hand to sailing and carpentry and home making and baking with equal aplomb. Every time we visit NZ, he’s living in and renovating or building a different house; last time his home was in a remote, wooded spot with an incredible living room and no door on the toilet. That place, work all completed, was traded for the unique spot that is On The Track Lodge. It’s set in the remote Nydia Bay, which is the mid-point of a two-day hike for many of...

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Green lipped mussel fritters 2

Eating in New Zealand: Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Spicy Rub

Eating is a serious business for my New Zealand family. When 14 adults and six children decamp for a week to a not-exactly-close-to-a-supermarket beach house – known as a bach – it takes on even more importance. That house’s elastic roof – extended with a few tents and caravan – was shelter for four generations, from the roly-poly 6-month-old little smiler to her busy great grandparents. We gathered together with terrifying regularity for normal breakfast-lunch-dinner, constantly supplemented by elevenses, afternoon tea, pre-dinner cheese and cracker fivesies and late evening herbal-tea-and-Christmas-cake. Rather a lot of eating. And a hell of a lot of food. It helps that we’re a bring-your-favourite-appliance family. There was a bread machine constantly in use, the yoghurt maker fermented quietly away, a rice cooker was hauled out occasionally and the Husband’s mother even included her own food mixer in the haul that she brought from home. To everyone’s everlasting gratitude, one family turned up with their sleek, stainless steel Sunbeam coffee machine and soon all the boys were steaming milk like pros. But the real credit for providing the plan that fed everybody, every day without any panic has to go to the Husband’s mother, who graciously shared all compliments with her mentor:...

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Sacla Irish food bloggers and journalists at basil fields on Amateis farm, Alessandria 14

Basil, bloggers and Italian sunshine

My first encounter with pesto was not a success. It was 1993. I was a student with a recently acquired kitchen, a need to feed myself and an exceptionally useful Christmas present: Nigel Slater’s Real Fast Food. Emboldened by the fact that early experiments with then exotic ingredients like feta (baked with thyme), bulgar wheat (cooked with mushrooms) and haricot beans (on toast with tuna, tomato and chilli) were a complete success, I confidently picked up some basil pesto to try. After all, Nigel – at this stage my oracle – was a regular user of “pesto from a jar” even, as he once said, spread on his toast. What I hadn’t taken in, though, were quantities. Let me tell you, an entire jar of pesto mixed through spaghetti for one is not a mistake I would like anyone else to repeat. My inedible dinner ended up in the bin – something that just didn’t happen when you were a penniless student – and, Nigel be damned, I vowed to stick to more familiar ingredients, at least for the next week. Despite that first impression, pesto is no longer an unfamiliar stranger but a well-loved regular in my kitchen. I mash it into potatoes, use...

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A food-orientated Saturday: Green Apron, Sage Café, Wild Honey Inn

Between Little Missy, my work as a freelance journalist and the Husband setting up his own business, it’s not so easy to get away these days. As a result, any time we do head off, there’s as much food packed into the time as possible!Last weekend we waved Little Missy off on her holidays to Nana and Grandad’s house just before Saturday lunchtime. All free and easy then (it’s amazing how easy it is to pack for two instead of two + a small one), we threw bag and baggage into the car and hit off to Limerick in time to have a quick look at the newly covered Milk Market, grab a bag of Pónaire coffee and fly past the The Green Apron‘s stall to buy some of her get-out-of-the-bed-to-eat-it-by-the-spoonful raspberry chocolate conserve (as tasted on the Food Blogger Country Outing), a jar of wholegrain whiskey mustard and some yummy onion confit.

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