Thursday

Killyleagh - A to Z of Places I Have Visited


I am writing about some places I have visited in alphabetical order.
Still wondering what I will do for the more unusual letters like Q and X etc. but maybe I will have a brilliant idea later.





Our daughter got engaged in March 2016 and decided that the wedding would be in August that same year because that was when she and Stephen could get back to Northern Ireland from their work in South Korea.  Obviously this did not allow us much time to get everything organised and because she was so far away most of the organising fell to Fred and I.

Finding a venue for the reception was one of the first things we needed to do so Linda made a list of 20 places by looking at recommendations online and we visited most of them, took pictures and face timed her while we were there if possible.

One of the places she had on the list was in the village of Killyleagh which we had never been to before.  It is about an hour away from our home in Banbridge towards Strangford Lough and north of Downpatrick.  From what we could see on the website it could well have suited her needs, so we rang them and made an appointment to go see the venue and talk to the owners.

The first thing we saw as we entered the village was a long high stone wall and we decided there must be a large house and grounds behind it but of course our main intent was to follow the directions we had and find the venue.

The village was really rather busy with many cars driving through the main streets and it was hard to find somewhere to park.

The street where the venue was located was on a slope and so was the street behind the venue and these two streets were the main streets in the village.

At the top of these two streets was where that high stone wall was and looking up from the venue we could see that there was a lovely big gate and turret type features to either side of it.





Unfortunately to the left of the picture there is the village library and car parking spaces which spoilt the view somewhat.  Add to that the fact that it was a very dull day when we were visiting but maybe we will get back sometime in much better brighter weather.


I got a bit closer to take another shot




Still cars in the picture but now we can see that there is the hint of a building inside the walls.


So of course I need to get a closer look but when I go up to the open gateway there is a sign saying that the public can go into the gateway but are asked not to further enter the grounds.

So a picture was taken from just outside the gateway.




which clearly showed the large house within.

Another one taken a step inside the gateway




and a third taken from about halfway through the gateway.






Killyleagh has a few other interesting places to see like some churches and Mary's Style.

These can all be found on the Killyleagh Heritage Trail
A brochure for this including a map with the Trail walk clearly indicated and showing the locations of all interesting places in the town can be got at the tourist information Office very close to the Castle.






However because Killyleagh is not a big town going round the Heritage Trail is not too long a walk and we would have been tempted to do it except for the fact that is was not a great looking day.

So we then headed out to the harbour area to have a little walk but it started to rain and photos were just not good there.

This one from Wikipedia does show the more quiet atmosphere in this part of Killyleagh.


Killyleagh harbour and St John's church

By Albert Bridge, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12331672


The local people who ran the venue told us that the Castle is still lived in by the present generation of the family who had always owned it and is not open to the public.

However they said the family were very good about allowing wedding pictures to be taken there.

They were of course trying to entice us to have the wedding reception there.


Want to see a castle that is still lived in?



Here's another picture from Wikipedia that shows how impressive the castle is from higher up and from an angle further to the right.  Even so again much of the buildings on the main streets are obstructing part of the view.


Killyleagh Castle seen from Church Hill

By Albert Bridge, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12974085


The village is lovely and if you are ever in the area and like to see castles then it is definitely one to see and remember it is very unusual for one to be lived in as the normal family home.


In the end the venue we had gone to see was not suitable for the wedding reception as it was not wheelchair friendly although the B&B associated with it did have a lift for people staying there.






If you missed any of the previous places in this series just click on the Titles below:

A for Alicante
B for Bratislava
C for Calpe
D for Durbuy
E for Ennis
F for Florida
G for Gran Canaria
H for HongKong
I for Islandmagee
J is for Jersey




Sunday

Sunday Scripture - Luke 1 v 37


Sunday Scripture is just simply a thought or two on a Bible verse that may have struck me afresh or maybe for the first time or has always be special to me.







When looking at a piece of work for children this week I was struck by this verse and wanted to make a graphic for it immediately thinking what kind of background would reflect the awesomeness of the words.

Something powerful perhaps like a storm because I had thought of how powerful Jesus was in the face of the storm and was able to calm the roaring winds and raging sea.

Something immense and unmovable like a mountain?

Something so large it is almost infinite like the universe?

In the end I was enticed by a picture of a guy standing by a roadside, suitcase beside him and Bible in his hand looking into the distance.






To me this picture summed it up.

For with God nothing shall be impossible when He has led us to do it.


For with God nothing shall be impossible because He is in it.

For with God nothing shall be impossible because He is always with us.

For with God nothing shall be impossible because He is greater than everything else.

For with God nothing shall be impossible because He is Almighty God.


Taking this verse in context which must always be the case, brings us to the passage in Luke chapter 1 where the angel is telling Mary that she is to have a son and call him Jesus.

30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

However the angel does not stop at verse 31 but continues to tell Mary how great Jesus will be because He is the Son of God and then gives an example of an impossible thing having happened to her cousin Elizabeth.  That impossible thing was only possible because of God.


What about the impossible things ahead of us?

So I chose the picture above to encapture this verse because God was not just the God of the impossible with Mary he was also the God of the impossible with Elizabeth and He is also the God of the impossible with all of us who trust in Him.  

Whatever we have to do or wherever we have to go or whatever situation we have to live through that we do not see how it can possibly be done, or got to, or lived through - it is all possible with God.


What hinders us from seeing this for ourselves?
Simply because we can not see things as God does - we are not almighty like God.








Thursday

Jersey - A to Z of Places I have Visited


I am writing about some places I have visited in alphabetical order.

Still wondering what I will do for the more unusual letters like Q and X etc. but maybe I will have a brilliant idea later.





In 1995 we returned to Northern Ireland from our 3 years of living in the US.

Shortly after this my father died leaving mum on her own.  She had always liked to travel so the following year my sister and I and our families and mum decided to go on holiday together.
It was decided that we would go to Jersey in the Channel Islands because mum and dad had gone there several years before and had really enjoyed it.





I was very happy to go there as we had never been to any of the Channel Islands previously and we had always heard that the weather was better there than in the UK.


One of the things I remember the most about that trip was going to the Jersey Pearl.  A place to learn all about how pearls form and about the grading of the quality of pearls.  It was very interesting for all 3 generations of our family.  Then Fred bought me a heart necklace with a little pearl set in it; a little pearl that I had chosen myself.  I still have that necklace today.






The Jersey Pearl has been open for over 30 years now and is evidently still one of the biggest attractions on the island.

It is at St. Ouen which is on the North West of the island.






The island of Jersey is not very large and we could comfortably drive the whole way round it in one day stopping off to see some sights.

Some of the coastal regions were similar to the rocky parts of the Northern Ireland coastline and we all enjoy the rocks.





The beaches were nice and with having 6 kids in our group (my sister and brother-in-law have 3 and we have three) we spent several hours on the beach. If you have read the CALPE post in this series you will have read more about my sister and brother-in-law there and my brother-in-law inspired one of my NEED HELP? blogposts.





Some of us are very fond of swimming in the sea and the temperature of the water was somewhat higher than we are used to in Northern Ireland thankfully.



The capital of the Island is St. Helier which is in the south of the island





and has a lovely harbour & marina.





Another thing some of our family are very fond of are castles.  Mostly we see a lot of ruins of castles but here on Jersey there was a very impressive medieval castle which is over 800 years old.





It is called Mont Orgueil Castle and overlooks the beautiful fishing village of Gorey on the east of the island.




We spent a lot of time one day looking round the castle





and the sea front is also nice to walk along.





 There is another Castle called Elizabeth Castle which can also be visited on a rocky islet in St. Aubin's Bay near St. Helier on the South of the Island but this one is only 300 years old.


There are also several sculptures on the island but they may be more recent than our visit so long ago and I do not remember them.  Which is a pity because if you have read the post in this series about ENNIS or an earlier post about TERVUREN in Belgium or one about FOUNTAINS you will know that I like unusual fountains, roundabouts and sculptures.

I have heard of the Jersey toad being a unique species of toad and there being a sculpture that and I believe there is  one to do with liberation and a kind of tree shaped one but maybe I just need to go to Jersey again to discover them all.


Where do we find pearls, toads and castles?

Another thing I remember about Jersey was all of the family enjoying ice cream together most days but then we would enjoy ice cream anywhere and always will at any chance we get.


We have not had the opportunity to visit the Islands of Sark and Guernsey which along with Jersey make up the Channel Islands but I believe Sark is smaller, very beautiful and known for it's wildlife whereas Guernsey is predominantly a fishing island.







Photo Credit:  Pixabay  &  Wikipedia  as my few pictures of so long ago were not able to be used in this post.


If you missed any of the previous places in this series just click on the Titles below:

A for Alicante
B for Bratislava
C for Calpe
D for Durbuy
E for Ennis
F for Florida
G for Gran Canaria
H for Hong Kong
I is for Islandmagee




Sunday

10 Gift Ideas for Baby Boy's First Birthday / Christmas - Need Help?


Disclaimer:
There is an affiliate link in this blog post.


Do YOU need some help finding good gift ideas for a baby boy's first birthday or Christmas? 

I've had the same problem so let me help you with 10 Gift Ideas that I know are appropriate and good.






Well our granddaughter is coming up to her first birthday and I was working on a blog post based on thinking about a gift for her so then I thought I really should have done this when our grandson Matthew was coming 1 as well.

So I thought I would do it now and of course these will work for Christmas as well.







Click the pictures and names of toys below to find out more about each one.

Click the Numbered Titles below to see a range of examples.



1.  Train Engine.

You need one that is not too small and has good wheels because he will just love to push it along and it doesn't have to make a sound as he will do that himself pretty soon.

This one is by "Melissa & Doug" which I think is an excellent make both for quality and for design.




Melissa & Doug Stacking Train Toy (18 pcs)







2.  Tractor and trailer.

This is what our oldest son bought Matthew for his first birthday and he still plays with it yet.
At first it was big enough for him to sit in the trailer and be pulled along.
Then later he was riding it and now it is instrumental in carrying the sand from the sand pit to wherever else he decides it has to go in the back garden.



Falk 1012B Child's Tractor with Trailer





3.  Wooden Educational Jigsaws.

It is never too early to start them on simple pull out jigsaw puzzles because first they are learning to lift the pieces out and then they learn to place them back again.  Great for dexterity of little hands and fingers to begin with and then for hand eye co-ordination later.

Here is one for the boys who love their different vehicles





Melissa & Doug 19051 Vehicles Wooden Peg Puzzle (8 pcs)





and here are a set of three which cover the numbers, letters and shapes












4.  Wooden Building Blocks.

When has a boy not been happy to build something.  Again good for dexterity but also good for the imagination before they reach their second birthday.






Ravensburger BRIO  -  50 pc Building Blocks 





or if you want a more colourful option






Melissa & Doug Wooden Building Blocks Set of 100





5.  Shape Sorter.


Our kids had a simple round tub with a lid which had 3 shapes cut out and then there were 4 sets (different colours) of the three objects that would fit in through the different holes.  They never tired of this for the first few years.  Such joy and clapping when they could put each piece in correctly.

Now they have them in all different forms.  Like the Noah's Ark sorter that we got Matthew one day when we saw it cheap in Lidl.

Or this one







Fisher-Price Baby's First Blocks 





Need ideas for a Baby Boy's first Christmas? Just check here!




6.  Road Map Mat.


Lots of places sell these mats including IKEA where we got one for Matthew to have at nanny's house.


His mum and dad got him one which is bigger








Extra Large 79" x 40"! Kids Carpet Playmat Rug 






7.  Xylophone.


This really should be the wooden based type because it is much stronger and durable and also because it just sounds better.

We hunted for weeks to try to find one for Matthew coming up to his first birthday because we are a musical family and even long before then Matthew had taken a love for banging on his granda's drums in his study and wanted to dance to any music we made.  Matthew started walking at 9 months and would go from one foot to the other trying to dance as he approached his birthday.

Finally I tried on the internet and managed to get one there




but it wouldn't arrive in time for his birthday but that was just as well because his auntie in Canada had the same idea and sent him one in time for his birthday.   We got ours anyway for Christmas time and it stays in our house with the other instruments we have.



Need ideas for a Baby Boy's first birthday? Just check here!




8.  Bath Toy.


Kids like lots of little things to play with in the bath but as they get more independent because of finding their feet as we say, they really do enjoy a more intricate bath toy which can spurt out water and soak them and whoever is bathing them.

Matthew has adored playing with a certain toy that sticks to the side of the bath.

He fills it with water and loves to have it dump the water back out again.

I can't find the one he has but this one looks like a good choice.






Toddler Bath Toy Boats Set, 2 Pack Bath Boats for Kids






9.  A Child's Bible.


Never too soon to start reading to your child.  They just adore to look along as first you turn each page and then they try to turn them.  Of course they like to turn back the pages too which is rather infuriating for someone like me who wants to read the story when it is the first time they  have seen the book.

Lots of good books out there and for Suzie's baby shower before Matthew was born everyone brought a book as a gift so there was no shortage of books to stir up his interest.

Also never too soon to get a child's Bible.  Even though at that age even the simple bibles may seem too much for them just simplify the story even more as you turn those pages and reveal the pictures.

At the shower our gift was the Jesus Story Book Bible by  Sally Lloyd Jones.







The Jesus Storybook Bible Deluxe Edition: With CDs



This version has a set of CDs along with it.  The book is well written and well illustrated and Matthew loves to go grab it each night to have his Bible Story (+a few other books) read before bed.

There are other versions of it too which are cheaper.




10.  Piano.

When we couldn't get the Xylophone a nice shop assistant in "The Entertainer" shop suggested we might like to see a piano and we smiled at each other but then said this is a gift for a first birthday but he said it wasn't out on the shelf yet and he would bring it out and we could just take a look.



Melissa & Doug Learn-to-Play Piano With 25 Keys



We were hooked.

Fred loves to play the keyboard as well as the guitar and this small wooden piano was so cute (just like a miniature real upright piano), colourful and in tune.  You could really play it and the keys were great.

We just said "we'll take it" and then to each other we said "if it's too much for him now he'll have it for later".


No fear of that - it was a hit on his birthday and ever since.







In fact little sister Ruby who is now just about to celebrate the big first birthday loves to crawl over to it and sit back and tap the keys and turn to laugh at us now.










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