The Carlow Walking Festival – a family review (Part 1)

The Carlow Walking Festival – a family review (Part 1)

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…


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.


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.

Self catering lodge at Mount Wolsley Golf hotel and Spa
Self catering lodge at Mount Wolsley Hotel, Spa and Golf Resort

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?


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.


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).

Life on the Barrow
Life on the Barrow

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.

Three boys in a canoe
Three boys in a canoe

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.

The Lock
The Lock
Before someone "pulled the plug"
Before someone “pulled the plug”

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.

Adding a little extra excitement
Photo credit: Go with the Flow
Girls just wanna have fun! (Photo credit: Go with the Flow)
Photo credit: Go with the Flow

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.

Go With the Flow
Go With the Flow

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.


Joining Netflix Stream Team – one happy family

Joining Netflix Stream Team – one happy family

Netflix Stream Team
Netflix Stream Team

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.

Lots of Documentaries for the Science Wows household
Lots of Documentaries for the Science Wows household

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.

Keeping the five year old happy
Keeping the five year old happy

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 Brave with 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.


We are off to the Carlow Autumn Walking Festival

We are off to the Carlow Autumn Walking Festival

It has been a little busy in the Science Wows household of late but now it is time for some fun! We are off to Carlow on Friday for the Carlow Autumn Walking Festival (I’ve been invited on the blogger tour by Green and Vibrant) and we are all very excited. Only two more sleeps! I wrote recently about my love of Autumn and a bit of the science behind how the leaves change colour so I think it is a wonderful time of year to hold a walking festival.

Amazingly, I have never been to Carlow although I do have some friends from there and anyone I have asked seems to rave about it. These photos are certainly selling the area to me (as if I need convincing to go on a family weekend away with lots of outdoor activities to keep us all happy and entertained).


Before we had children, myself and Mr. Science Wows often headed off on walks and climbs around our local counties. More accurately, he walked… I followed, blindly!… some times to my near peril and once down a mountain (one of the twelve bens) in complete darkness, with the reassurance that “it’ll be grand!”. Mr. Science Wows told me that if we did get into difficulty we would not be able to call out the mountain rescue squad as his mum was a member and it would just be too embarrassing.

Nowadays things are a little calmer but as our children get older we are able to increase the activities we can do together. That is why this weekend is so appealing. There are a number of walks available, for the novice to the advanced and plenty we will look into as the children get older. For now though there are a couple that have really caught our eye….

A Walk on the Wildside with Mary White, environmentalist and walking enthusiast, will include foraging for delicious edible greens and fungi, learning about the native trees and mammals around the area, identifying wild herbs and checking out the flora and fauna of Kilbrannish Woods. This is a two-hour (7.5km) C graded leisurely walk

…Walking with Wildway Adventures – Green Walk 11, a two-hour leisurely walk with Una Halpin from Wildway Adventures.The 6km stroll will begin at Clashgranny Lock and take in the trees, plants and insect life along the Barrow Way and through the Borris House Estate, ancestral home of the ancient Kings of Leinster, the MacMurrough Kavanaghs.


Our weekend will include more than walking as there are a number of other activities available. We are really looking forward to a canoe safari trail on the river Barrow. We have dabbled in canoeing on previous family holidays but usually one of us was left holding a baby and waving from the bank. This time round it will be all inclusive as the event has been developed with families in mind.

Getting in some practice
Getting in some practice

We also plan to hire bikes to round off our active weekend. Our youngest decided to dispense with the stabilizers this Summer and due to his stubborn persistent nature, perfected the art in no time. We have travelled with bikes before in Ireland and in France but this time we will be getting five bikes for our family of five and we will all be pedalling under our own steam.

We love cycling as a family activity and the fact that we will be off road in Carlow is a great reassurance as we will be able to relax and enjoy the wonderful scenery knowing the children are safe.

It is easy to forget about all the wonderful activities available to us in our own land but Ireland really does have so much to offer. For us this festival will really tick all the boxes for the entire family:entertainment, outdoor activity, exercise and lots of nature. It seems that a lot of thought has gone into planning this event to appeal to the young and not so young, the novice to the experienced with plenty of fresh air included free for all!


For more information on the event check out these two blogs by Greenside Up and Vibrant Ireland. You can see all that is available on this online brochure or you can go directly here to pre-book your chosen events.

If you want to share or follow the event the hastag is #WalkCarlow





Reel Life Science Video Competition for Schools

Reel Life Science Video Competition for Schools

Schools, children, parents, teachers… listen up! There is a great competition (by Reel Life Science) running at the moment where pupils from both primary and secondary schools are invited to make a three minute science video with a chance to win €1000 for their school.

The competition is a wonderful way to get pupils, their schools, and families interested in Science from a new perspective… from behind the video lens. Launched last year in Galway the competition was so successful it has now gone nationwide!




The competition is broken down into a number of different categories so there is a lot of scope to develop and document your own favourite scientific topic.



  • ‘The Power of Science’
  • ‘The Food we Eat’
  • ‘Science in the Garden’
  • ‘Our Marine World’
  • ‘The Science of Exercise’



  • ‘Science Heroes’
  • ‘Exploring the Cell’
  • ‘Medicines’
  • ‘Physics in Real Life’
  • ‘Vision’ in partnership with VISICORT

If you need some inspiration there have been a number of guest posts from professionals in each area sharing some of their research or opinions on each topic. You can check them out here.

There is even a post from Dr. How’s Science Wows to help inspire you on the topic of Science in the Garden. However, I enlisted the help of some resident “experts” so you may find it more humorous than inspiring. Check it out here if you want to see what happens when you combine “mischief” and science!

This is a fantastic opportunity and is a very unique competition in Ireland, so please spread the word and get your school or classroom involved.


You can check out the Reel Life Science website for tips, advice and guidelines or follow them on twitter and facebook to keep up to date!

Spark any child’s imagination with this great “Fairy Door” GIVEAWAY

Spark any child’s imagination with this great “Fairy Door” GIVEAWAY

it is all about imagination on the blog this week and what better way to spark a child’s imagination that with fairies! A belief in the little folk requires a leap of faith, a journey into the unknown and a lot of imagination. Here in the Science Wows house we have lots of all three which is why we are such fans!

Win a lovely Fairy door from The Irish Fairy Door Company
Win a lovely Fairy door from The Irish Fairy Door Company


The lovely people over at The Irish Fairy Door Company have offered one lucky Science Wows reader a chance to win one of their wonderful fairy doors. The giveaway is open until 12 am on Monday 7th July so get tweeting, sharing and liking to be in with your chance to win this great prize!

Now repeat after me… “I do believe in fairies, I do, I do!”

"I do believe in fairies"
“I do believe in fairies”


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Competition open to residents of Ireland and the UK.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post, I have not received any payment for it, the Irish Fairy Door Company has provided the lovely Fairy Door for this Giveaway.