This week’s Mystery Creature was cracked in record time by Eco Evolution. It was the Panda ant, did you get it? Here are five facts about this interesting little insect…
Five Panda Ant facts….
Firstly the Panda Ant is a misnomer, as it is not an ant at all, but a wasp of the family Mutilidae.
It is sometimes called the “cow killer” because of the strength of its sting, which, it has been said, can take down an animal the size of a cow.
The Panda Ant exhibits sexual dimorphism – the male is a lot bigger than the female and is predominantly nocturnal. The female is more active during the day. It is only the females that are wingless and also only the females that have stingers.
Panda ants feed mainly on nectar.
Despite the fact that the female lays about 2000 eggs a year the species is considered endangered. The majority of the young ants are eaten by ant eaters. Those that do survive have a typical life span of 2 years.
Halloween midterm has officially started and with perfect timing, so too has the cold and wet weather. Fear not, there are so many activities available to keep little ones entertained for the season.
For the “stuck indoors” days why not try a little Halloween Quiz. Click on the link below to retrieve a printable copy of the quiz. it is guaranteed to keep the kids occupied for quite a while, and there is plenty of opportunity to get adults involved too. If the questions leave some a little stumped why not try finding the answers on line or through your favourite reference source.
It is always nice to double check the answers which is why you will find a second document below, giving the answers to all the questions, just so no one is left frustrated!
We went to the Carlow Walking festival! That was two weeks ago but it is still a hot topic of conversation. The youngest got very upset last weekend when he realised it was not a weekly event. None of us had ever been to Carlow but now we are complete converts. So what was it that we loved about it? Read on…
THE JOURNEY AND ARRIVAL
Admittedly it was a long journey from Galway, about three and a half hours but thanks to google maps and my flukish wonderful navigation skills, we made it door to door with no errors. The first half of the journey was motorway which is nice for covering ground and the second half was cross country, which is good for the eyes and the soul! Despite the torrential rain as we arrived in Carlow, it already showed lots of potential. Even under such conditions it impressed us with the beautiful scenery, lush green landscape, beautiful deciduous trees splendid in their Autumn robes and the evidence of a previous era of gentry farming in the many high granite walls lining the fields.
Another thing that struck me was the number of small public parks dotted throughout the towns and villages. Many with nice signs outlining what wildlife could be seen in the area. This is something that I feel very passionate about; it would be lovely to see a lot more of this around the country.
THE HOTEL AND ACCOMMODATION
Exactly three and a half hours after we set out, we arrived at our destination…. Mount Wolsley Hotel, Spa and Golf Resort in Tullow. Before we had even checked in the children were asking about WHEN they were going to the swimming pool! Our ‘home’ for the weekend was a three bedroomed, self catering holiday lodge on the grounds of the resort. We are big fans of self catering for family trips but I have to admit we have had our fair share of disappointing properties so I was quite nervous when I turned the key and opened the door. I need not have worried…. I was met with a warm, spacious and beautiful interior. Hands down this is the best self catering accommodation we have ever experienced in Ireland.
Once we had settled in we met with Dee Sewell of Green & Vibrant who provided us with all the details of our action packed weekend ahead. Dee had worked carefully with Carlow Tourism, the organisers of the Walk Carlow Festival and provided us with all maps, routes and information … we could tell we were in good hands and that all angles had been covered. All that was left for us was to turn up and enjoy what the Walk Carlow weekend had to offer.
All good adventurers need to ensure they are well fuelled so we headed up to the main hotel for dinner. As a parent I was conscious of dining out with children in tow but straight away I was put at ease by the friendly and welcoming staff. We chose to eat early and there were other families doing likewise in the large dinning room.
I was impressed with the children’s menu, always a good marker of the quality of the establishment, in my opinion. As well as the usual “nuggets and chips” option there was a wide and varied menu. My children were delighted to see “calamari” as an option on their menu and two of them chose it and liked it. The soup was delicious and home made, there were yoghurt and fruit options and the children’s burger was again of the “home made” variety. Plenty of choice for all the family and after two courses we were almost too full for dessert… but there is always room for ice cream, right?
THE ADVENTURE BEGINS
After a good night’s sleep we headed back up to the hotel for breakfast. I just love self catering accommodation when you don’t have to self cater! The breakfast spread was AMAZING! There was everything you could think of…. cereals, fruit, pancakes, pastries, full Irish breakfast and more. I was impressed to see a “free from” section in the breakfast buffet too.
With full tummies and a packed lunch from the hotel we headed off for Borris and for the first stage of our adventure… a canoeing safari along the river Barrow.
CANOEING SAFARI ON THE RIVER BARROW
There were 12 of us in total on the safari with Go with the Flow river adventures. We were a mixed bunch with regard to experience and age from the fairly young (three years old) to the slightly older (there was a very capable and adventurous Granny among us). Kevin, our guide was a very pleasant, chatty man who put us all at easy from the start. There were two to three people per canoe, they were the larger, open Canadian canoes that are very safe and stable… perfect for the complete beginner to the more advanced.
The sun shone bright and warm as we all kitted out in the wetsuits, helmets and buoyancy aids provided, and before we knew it we were travelling up the river. It is one of those adventures where you can just take off and learn on the go, even with children involved (although we may have found ourselves going round in circles a few times).
The weather and conditions were ideal for us and the scenery was truly beautiful. There was a comfortable camaraderie established as we all made our way down the river, taking in our surroundings.
One of the first “obstacles” of the trip was to pass through a lock. It appeared to me that the adults were even more excited about this than the children, many of us exclaiming “I always wanted to do this” and marvelling among ourselves at the efficiency of such an old system.
I was a little surprised when Kevin told us we would be going down some weirs and rapids, to add a little adrenaline injection to the whole experience. We got a quick talk on what to do and the reassurance from Kevin that if we capsized he would be straight over to help us… as soon as he had taken a photo of our demise. It certainly added to the excitement for us all and luckily we didn’t give him any opportunities to have a little laugh at our expense.
Travelling along the Barrow was a great way to learn more about the county. We got to see and hear about some local flora and fauna but we also got a sense of the local history. Kevin told us a very engaging story of a local legend that earned his name of The incredible Arthur Mc Murrough Kavanagh who, despite having no arms and legs, travelled most of the known world.
The whole experience was amazing for every one of us. It is lovely when you hit on something that keeps the whole family entertained and even better when it is outdoors and among nature. Our last canoeing trip as a family was along the Dordogne in France, but much to our amazement the Barrow topped it and had lots more to offer. We would definitely recommend this as a “must do” adventure. You can check out the various activities offered by Go with the Flow, from family canoeing safaris to youth activities, team building excursions and lots more. They post lots of adventure photos on their Face Book page too.
I always think that it is the people that can make or break an activity and that is why I really feel that the staff of Go with the Flow require a special mention. Kevin and Mike were excellent. Mike was the quiet, calm type that kept to the back and helped us out when we got a little left behind. Kevin was the main guide on the day and really had that special quality among people. From the young to the not so young, he kept us all relaxed and smiling.
Disclaimer: I was invited on the blog tour of the Carlow Walking Festival by Green and Vibrant. I was provided with accommodation and activities for the purposes of review but received no other compensation for this post. All views expressed are my own, or that of my family.
There were a few right answers for last week’s Mystery Creature, did you guess it? This week’s creature is a lot smaller and a land dweller this time.
This series is just a little fun to start off the week, I post a picture of an animal on a Monday and you can feel free to say what you think it is in the comments below. If you want some hints just ask or why not do a little gooling or research of you own to see if you can work it out?
At the end of the week I will reveal what the creature is, along with a little information or interesting facts about it.
Cute or ugly, what do you think and can you identify it?
There were a few correct answers to this week’s Mystery Creature – but in case any of you are still waiting in anticipation it was the Blanket Octopus (Tremoctopus)
This creature is a real marvel of nature.. here are three reasons why…
1. As the name suggests the blanket octopus has a cape like web that extends down its longest arms. This cape can be spread out behind it as a dramatic deterrent to predators… it makes the animal look a lot bigger and more daunting.
2. That is not to say that the animal is not pretty daunting already. It is lucky in that it is immune to the poisonous sting of the Portuguese Man O’ War. Rather than just counting its blessings and moving on it turns this round to its full advantage and actively removes the stinging tentacles from the creature and carries them around with it, wielding them as weapons when threatened.
3. The female of the species can grow to an impressive two metres in length, but the male… well, he comes in at little more than two centimetres in length making the species one of the most sexually dimorphic in the animal kingdom.
Check back tomorrow for a new Mystery Creature to keep you guessing!
I have been asked a few times lately if I am going to recommence the Mystery Creature series on the blog…. so here it is. The idea behind this little series is that I post a new Mystery Creature at the start of each week and at the end of the week I will update the post to say what the creature was, along with a little information about it.
If you know what the Mystery Creature is then share in the comments below. It is all in the interest of learning and a bit of fun so feel free to ask questions, guess or even do some googling or research to find out the answer yourself.
Here is the Mystery Creature for this week… do you know what it is?
I recently became a member of the Netflix Stream Team and, considering the lack of quality viewing we have available from our current set up, there was great excitement when the apple TV and subscription arrived. We only have one “modern” TV in our house that could take the HDMI cable so we set things up on that one. It was surprisingly easy and painless and within just a few minutes I had registered our account online and we were good to go. I really liked that you could set your personal preferences and get individual profiles for each family member.
I was very excited about the wonderful line up of nature programs and documentaries. From Netflix own Mission Blue to The David Attenborough’s Life of Birds – I have so much to choose from. I loved the fact that I could add them to my list in my profile, ready to watch later.
So Netflix was installed and we were all set to go, the only thing I didn’t factor in was the rest of my family.
The children took to Netflix like ducks to water. The five year old had the tiny remote control sussed within minutes. For the first week he came home from school and, using his most “poor tired me” voice, asked could he have a little Netflix to unwind! I love the way he can watch an episode or two of a cartoon series and then he is happy to turn it off and walk away. He has discovered Rugrats and Lilo and Stitch, programs that never really made it onto his radar before as his older siblings tended to choose the viewing. There are also Netflix originals such as Turbo for him to enjoy.
I asked all three children what they thought of Netflix and here are their replies…
The five year old… I like having the remote, you can just watch what ever you want. If you turn it off (pause it) and turn it back on and you can watch the things you really like. Some of his favourites are Sonic, Jimmy Neutron and Sponge Bob square pants.
The eight year old… my favourites are Spongebob, Adventure time, and the fact that I can watch The Hobbit (he has notions that one!)
The ten year old… loves seeing new movies and rewatching old ones; her favourites so far are Brave, Open Season three and Wallace and Gromit
Then there was my husband…. when he realised that the last series of breaking bad was at his fingertips he was one very happy man. The only problem I had was that between the children and my husband I wasn’t getting a look in myself.
Hubby’s Netflix verdict?… he loves that there are no ads, that he can pause to make a cuppa and that if he turns it off it will resume in the same place for him the next day. Apart from Breaking Bad he has been enjoying some documentaries and was delighted to see Twilight Samurai (a personal favourite)among his viewing options.
Eventually I came up with a solution to the problem. I decided to put Netflix on the other (ancient) TV by streaming it through the Wii. I found these instructions on line and, with a fair amount of techno trepidation, I had a go. My fears were unfounded as that worked a treat too. Despite the children claiming “Oh great now we can watch Neflix on one TV while Dad watches his programs on the other!” I have put my foot down and claimed my space on the Netflix viewing couch.
With the colder nights settling in and the fire being lit it is nice to have the TV viewing sorted. I loved watching Bravewith the children and when they go to bed Hubby and I have checked out a few movies and started into those Nature documentaries I mentioned (but there will be more about them later).
Last night we found a very interesting documentary called Life Below Zero – a reality adventure series follows individuals who’ve chosen to live in the remote Alaskan wilderness, miles from civilization. We are looking forward to catching another episode this evening.
So what do I like most about Netflix?… I love the fact that it is choice TV viewing on demand, no ads, no endless flicking through channels of nothing interesting. I like the fact we can watch what we want, when we want. I am really looking forward to watching those Science and Nature documentaries and checking out what else is on offer… now that I have got my hands on the remote!
Disclosure: As a member of the Netflix Stream Team I have received a years subscription to Netflix, free of charge, and an Apple TV, for streaming purposes. As part of Netflix Stream Team I will be posting monthly updates on what we are watching and what is on offer. All opinions expressed will be my own.
Halloween is all about dressing up and sometimes you just need a little fake blood to really set an outfit off. We love making our own and with a little science knowledge you can get just the right consistency and colour that you are after.
You will need…
Smooth Peanut Butter
Washing up liquid
Red food colouring
Green food colouring
What to do…
This is one of these experiments that does not come with an exact protocol, just add the following ingredients until you are happy with the appearance of it, then apply and freak out all your friends!
When you think you have the fake blood just the way you like it do a little test on a white cloth or tissue and adjust further if necessary.
If you want to experiment a little more try making your own fake blood choosing your ingredients from the following list:
Smooth Peanut Butter
Washing up liquid
Red food colouring
Green food colouring
Blue food colouring
So what is happening?…
The trick to making good fake blood is to get the colour and consistency right. The food colouring, washing up liquid, cocoa powder, ribena, peanut butter and ketchup will all influence the colour of the blood. You want to get a dark colour, deep red colour so the chocolate and green food colouring will often give the red a darker effect.
It is not just about the right colour though, the consistency of the blood is important too. The cornflour will thicken the blood and make the colour more transparent, as will the peanut butter, syrup and washing up liquid.
The fun is in mixing and changing until you get your ideal fake blood, then apply and freak out your friends and family, all in the name of Halloween fun.