The SEAT Alhambra- The Start Of Our Love Affair

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A couple of weeks ago SEAT Ireland got in touch with me and asked would I be interested in reviewing a brand new SEAT Alhambra for a month. Obviously I thought long and hard about this offer. Not really. A brand new 7 seater and the opportunity for a months respite from my horrible tank, of course I agreed.

I was probably most excited about not having to get into my own car for a month and didn’t give much thought to the car I would be driving. This all changed when I saw the car.

seat alhambra

 

I picked it up a couple of days ago from Cranley Cars on the Naas Road. I have to compliment them. I have been buying cars since I was 19 and have been in many many garages and have had a full range of experiences with the most common one being ignored when I first walked into a garage and being left waiting around. Cranley Cars offered the exact opposite experience to when I last visited a garage last year to collect a car. As soon as I walked in the door a salesperson greeted me and asked could he help and then the manager, Derek Hamilton , came out to meet me. There was no hanging around, I was brought immediately out to the car. Derek gave me a  run through of the car and its features and gave me his card should I have further questions. Information overload is never a good thing nor is being flung a set of keys and being left to it. The information and detail I received and the customer service were just perfect.

cranley cars

 

Then I left the garage and drove. Amazing. In the ten minutes it took me to drive from the garage to my house, I fell in love and there is a lot to love with the SEAT Alhambra. I am going to write a full review after I have driven it for a month but let me tell you briefly some of my favourite things.

It is deceptively big. It looks and feels like a regular sized car. Inside is positively spacious. All six of us fit very comfortably and my  large two-part buggy fits easily into the boot with space remaining with all seven seats up.

  • The leather seats. The HEATED leather seats and the fact that all seven seats are full adult sized seats.
  • The integrated booster seats. I love the peace of mind integrated boosters bring as you know the seats are always 100% accurately fitted plus they save a lot of space.
  • The sliding back doors.
  • The panoramic sunroof.
  • The parking sensors.
  • The ease at which the seats go up and down. Loading children into this car is easy.
  • The option that all the back seats can be put down flat and the car can be transformed into a mini van. Ikea is calling so I can fully test this configuration.
  • The 7 airbags and the fact that the car has a 5 star Euro NCAP rating.

 

 

It ticks every box for the features I would look for in a family car but the thing I most like, nay love, about the car is how it drives. I have been driving a number of 7 seaters, mom wagon style cars over the last number of years and my enthusiasm for driving as waned as each year has passed. I don’t enjoy driving anymore, it has become another mundane day-to-day task. This last week has reminded me of how excited I was when I got my first car and I would spend hours just aimlessly driving around just for the sake of driving.

The SEAT Alhambra is an absolute pleasure to drive. It has a two litre diesel engine but feels positively nippy. The steering wheel is small, there is no feeling of driving a bus which is how any other 7 seaters I have driven have always felt like. It is a dream to park, you could nearly park with your eyes closed ( I wont actually test this) and in just a few days it has brought back my enthusiasm for driving.

It’s a pretty goddamn good-looking car too. Four complete strangers have asked for my opinion on it over the last week, twice in the supermarket car park, where all good random conversations take place and have asked would I recommend it. After just a couple of days, yes I fully would recommend. So far I have only done my usual driving – school runs, shopping etc but I am looking forward to some day trips over the Easter holidays and I will review fully after the month is up and I have to close down the blog, get a new identity and steal the car because its going to be hard to give back…………..Only joking SEAT  Ireland. Kind of.

The best looking car in the carpark.

The best looking car in the carpark.

 

You can download the full brochure for the SEAT Alhambra here  and have a full look at all this car offers. There is lots of information including pricing, the huge range of accessories, information on performance and the technology of the car on the SEAT Ireland website

Via Seat Ireland This will be me road tripping over the Easter Holidays. It will look JUST LIKE THIS

Via SEAT Ireland
This will be me road tripping over the Easter Holidays. It will look JUST LIKE THIS

Disclaimer : SEAT Ireland offered me the use of a SEAT Alhambra for one month for review purposes. All opinions, as always, are my own.

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The Time I Bought A Life Size Giraffe

How do you feel about cuddly toys? Probably the same way I do. They just gather dust and there are too many of them both in my house and in the world in general. I could try to blame this on my child or Amazon or Santa but it’s all my own fault.

So last November I let the then four-year old write a Santa letter for the new child as she was six months old and couldn’t write it herself. She asked Santa would he please bring her baby sister a walker activity yokey and a surprise and a giraffe called Jack. Random. So that was fine. Roll on a few weeks later and I w as SUCKED IN to Black Friday week on Amazon. Happily buying random useless crap because it had 75% off and up popped an upcoming deal of a giraffe. Serendipity. Wonderful. I was online, there was a giraffe. It was on my list. Ideal. There are no second chances with Black Friday shopping. I had 14 minutes to complete the transaction.

Picture 1. A cute toy giraffe.

Picture 1. A cute toy giraffe.

I looked at the picture, pressed buy now and was successful. The giraffe was mine. Then I looked at the second picture.

jack 2

Picture 2. A cute toy giraffe THAT IS LIFE SIZE.

 

Yes that’s a toddler that the giraffe is towering over. I scrolled back and read the description and asked the husband what height 120cms was. He told me about to my shoulder, roughly 4 feet. Bollox. The conversation that took place when I explained that I had accidentally purchased a life-size baby giraffe was interesting………There was a good few “what the fuck is wrong with you?” thrown in.

Of course, he arrived in early December when all the kids where home in a box that was bigger than me and resembled a coffin. The UPS man looked at me like the fool that I am when I signed for it. The kids asked what it was and I explained it was for the neighbour. The packaging was plain. The eldest helpfully pointed out that our neighbour was in fact home so I immediately left with the box to drop “her” parcel in. The neighbour looked at me like the fool that I am.

That night, under the cover of darkness, the husband transported Jack in his coffin to his parents house to hide out there till Christmas. I can imagine the look he got from them probably one that conveyed what type of fool did you marry?

Then I started to worry that Jack would overshadow everyone else’s gifts so obviously had to go and buy more presents to over compensate in the true spirit of Christmas. Jack ,the bargain buy, ended up costing a ridiculous amount of money.

 

So roll on Christmas morning. Jack was standing proudly in the middle of the room waiting to be adored.

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Turns out the seven month old hadn’t a notion what was happening on Christmas morning which isn’t really surprising considering she was seven months old.

This is her festive WTF IS GOING ON face

This is her festive WTF IS GOING ON face

Jack didn’t really raise an eyebrow from anyone. Even the dog wasn’t bothered by him. The kids thought he was cool then stepped around him to resume playing with their toys. Literally stepped around him. He takes up a fair bit of space. We thought maybe the baby was just overwhelmed but even a few days later she was still just not that interested in him. I would  go as far as to say, she might have been sniggering at me not with me as I walked around with him trying to do giraffe sounds. ( If anyone knows what giraffe sounds sound like please let me know)

There is an eye roll happening here.

There is an eye roll happening here.

Jack took up too much space and now lives upstairs. He moves from room to room. Every time I walk into a bedroom and see him I jump. Every time he catches me  by surprise and for a nanosecond I think there is a real animal standing in my kids room. Then I remember, it’s just Jack. He has proved to be good at one thing- me sitting on him and running around singing is guaranteed to make a small child laugh when they are in a bad mood, again at me, not with me.

He is currently residing beside the window in the eldest’s room. People walking past stop and take a second look. I saw a car slow down the other day to take a closer look. People think, on first glance, that he is real. He’s not though  he is just a ridiculously big cuddly toy taking up a huge amount of space in an already cramped house.  You’d think on my fourth child I would know better. In time she might grow to like him. Maybe. He is cute,   ridiculously fucking big but cute.

 

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And Then They Start To Grow Up

You have the babies, you feed the babies, you change all the nappies, you make all the food, you stay awake all the nights,you wash all the clothes, you toilet train, you administer plasters and calpol, you worry about all sorts real fears and things that will never happen. You pick preschools and schools, you obsess about school starting age, you find the money for swimming/drama/karate. All the while still washing all the clothes. You brush tangles. You make meals that are uneaten. You read books. You sing songs. You watch the same movie over and over again. You drop to school. You pick up from school. You’re still picking up things all the time from the floor and washing all the clothes. And you do it all. And that’s fine. That’s how it works. You’re a parent.

Your children are deadly though and you get smiles and hugs and drawings and nice things as well as tantrums and mess and the washing of all the clothes but they are lovely so its ok that it’s mostly take take take with children. Then they get that bit older and the balance shifts a little.

My eldest daughter is just shy of her ninth birthday.  She’s lovely. She’s funny and she’s good company as well as being messy and argumentative.

Over the last couple of months I have noticed though the shift a bit. If she is going to the kitchen for a drink she will ask me if I want one. She has seen me moving piles of crap around whilst cursing under my breath and she has instinctively known my glasses have gone awol again and she will go and find them without being asked. She might see me struggling to get all the shit done and she will, reluctantly put down her book and get down on the floor with the baby, not because she wants to but because she knows it will help me.

The other night, the husband was away. I took the kids and the dog out for a walk. It was sunny when we left and 45 seconds later biblical rain struck us. We can home, soaked. I started making the dinner. It was 5.30. I realised I was missing  vital ingredients. A quick scan showed there were no alternatives and I would have to go to the supermarket. Nobody wants to go out in the rain, in traffic, with four wet tired hungry kids and a dinner half-cooked but there was no alternative. We set off amidst much cursing and sighing. The eldest piped up in the car “I’ll go into the shop, you wait in the car with these, it will be easier”. I parked the car and she asked how much money she would need on finding out it was €4 she waved her little purse triumphantly at me and said she would pay.  I let her go. She has never been to the supermarket alone before. Five minutes passed. I started to imagine all sorts  of potential scenarios including  kidnapping, armed robbery etc but I sat it out. Out she came with her shopping and her tiny One Direction purse clutched in her hand. I battled the urge to get out of the car to make sure she crossed the road ok. She did. We went home. There was no stress. Finished making the dinner, eat the dinner. All easy. A year ago that impromptu shopping trip would have been carnage.

I am not going to turn her into a child slave and make her give up school and scrub the floors instead or anything but she really has just become helpful of late. It’s pretty deadly. I put the €4 back into her purse in change when she went to bed that night but she thinks she paid for  the shopping and she knows she saved the day.

My second in command and precious first born

My second in command and precious first born

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One Moment In Time

Give me one moment in time
When I’m more than I thought I could be
When all of my dreams are a heartbeat away
And the answers are all up to me
Give me one moment in time
When I’m racing with destiny
Then in that one moment of time
I will feel
I will feel eternity

Whitney Houston, One Moment In Time

 

 

The new one is 9 months old. She thinks she is 4. Anything her siblings do, she thinks she should be able to do.

This is her heartbroken and screaming abuse last week as her brother and sisters played on the swings in the garden as she watched strapped into her high chair. I know, mean but she seemed to be enraged and entertained in equal measures.

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Yesterday the older three were at a birthday party. The new one obviously felt she should be at the party too. I let her play at the very edge of the soft play area. She was rocking around on all fours, thinking she was fully involved and I was also on all on the ground of a soft play area full of excitable 5-7  year olds, surviving. All was fine.

Then I looked up and saw a giant purple space hopper bounce off the ground, gain momentum and come barrelling towards my very small baby. Everything slowed down. Other parents ( who I didn’t know) could see what was about to happen. I leaned , I stretched, I punched the space hopper and slipped to the ground almost freeing my boobs from their ill-fitting bra in the process. The ball bounced away, the baby carried on oblivious and I exhaled………One Moment In Time started playing in my head.

Packie Bonner in Italia 90 had nothing on me. Although both the save and the emotion, similar, I’d say.

 

I could see myself on the olympic podium, Amhran na bhFiann playing as the tricolour was raised. It was momentous. Me wiping a tear subtly from my eye and thumping my chest with pride.  This is how good me saving my child from serious injury from a space hopper was in my mind. Nobody else seemed to think so. The play centre activity continued as normal, nobody jumped to their feet to give me a standing ovation, nobody even noticed really, just me. I told the kids all about it on the way home, they couldn’t have given two flying fiddlers. I am possibly developing Walter Mitty type tendencies which is somewhat worrying but really it was an incredible save.

 

 

Does anybody else hear a soundtrack in their head at times? Please say yes. 

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A Tale of Tiger Love

 

Right, I could moan and complain here because the universe has been firing all levels of horribleness at me the last couple of weeks but I am not going to. I am going to tell you a tale of great joy instead. A tale of my love for Tiger Stores.

 

tiger tiger

Kitchen utensils, art and craft supplies,candles, present fillers all to be found in abundance and cheaply in Tiger but its the little things you don’t realise you need that bring the joy. I present my top three Tiger purchases:

Number one: The Love Heart Dish

 

heart dish

This love heart dish. I have three of them. I lovingly bought them for my children and then lovingly prepared a type of cottage pie from scratch and cooked them in individual heart-shaped dishes. Only 1/3 of the children ate them and that was about two months ago. I mostly serve shop bought treats in them now. It doesn’t matter though. I still feel smug as I hand my children their snacks in their love heart dishes. These make me feel like an incredible parent.

Number two: Jesus and Our Lady On A Pen

jesus j

These pens have brought me more joy than I ever imagined pens could bring. Incredible. I bought them to write my Christmas cards with. I didn’t get around to writing my Christmas cards but I lovingly write lists and notes and Jesus and Our Lady pen usage makes me happy. However, I have learnt, they are probably best used at home. I was in the tax office a couple of weeks ago. Which resembled the 7th circle of hell, the queuing system nearly made me burst a blood vessel in my eyes from rolling them so hard. Anyway whilst in the queue a man walked up to the woman behind me and asked could he borrow her pen and she refused and told him it was her pen. I was aghast and also wildly entertained as I had been queuing for a while. He explained he just needed to sign a form and she clutched her , I might add cheapo bic biro, and hollered “NO It’s my pen”. This woman was being really fucking weird about her pen. I don’t know if she was just rude,  didn’t like  the man or just really loved her pen but she wasn’t handing it over. The man looked mortified. I decided to step in and save the day. “I have a pen” I roared giving the bic pen owner a filthy look.

Now I carry many pens in my bag at all times but I was in the never-ending hell queue carrying a wiggling baby so instead of whipping out a normal pen, Jesus came out. I saw it in my hand and realised it was the wrong pen and this wasn’t the time to bring Jesus to the party but it was too late. I had made such a production of offering a pen, I had to hand it over. The man looked horrified by Jesus on a pen, the women with her crap bic biro looked more horrified and I ended up looking like the weirdo. Anyway, bar that blip, the pens continue to bring me a huge amount of happiness.

our ladt

I prefer Jesus, but this one is pretty lovely too.

 

Number Three: The Edith Piaf Rubber/Eraser.

Finally, this. Have you even seen a better rubber/eraser? I doubt it.

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Every night  at homework time, there is an epic search and rescue mission to find a rubber. EVERY NIGHT. For years now. This mission generally takes longer than the homework does. No more. Now we have a huge pink rubber emblazoned with the immortal words of Edith Piaf “Non, Je ne regrette rien”.

Channelling Edith helps me get through homework, try it.

Channelling Edith helps me get through homework, try it.

The rubber lives on my desk and is placed back there after each use. It is too big to get lost. As well as being a very useful homework tool it has also introduced my children to Edith Piaf and they can now sing, badly, No Regrets. We all join in and sing in bad French accents, I find it the perfect anthem for my exhausted state at 7pm on a school evening. They don’t ask for the rubber, they say “Where is Non, Je ne regrette rien?” Again, in bad French accents. It WRECKS the husbands head. I love it.

Action Piaf Shot

Action Piaf Shot

I feel my life has improved immensely since Tiger Stores graced our shores. If you don’t live near one, you should consider moving or at the very least plan a trip to one soon.

 

 

 

 

 

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School Coat Recommendation – Cotswold Outdoor Review.

School coats. I have been on the search for ideal ones for almost five years. Some of the complaints over the years from the children have been, in no particular order, too big, too scratchy, too cold, too warm, too the same as other people’s, too many zips……….the list goes on. My basic requirements are water resistant, warm, easy to close, easy really you would think, not so much in reality.

My eldest daughter has a stunning array of coats, faux fur, shiny, understated, OTT. All the coats. The boy goes through coats at an alarming rate, he rips them, he loses them, he rolls around in them, he detaches hoods and flings them away.  So I am an experienced child’s coat shopper but until recently the perfect school coat had continued to evade me.

Then along came Cotswold Outdoor, the school coat fairy godmother, if you will and asked me would I like to review one or two of their products. I spent a long time going through their website, its huge, so many products and as I am not the outdoorsy type ( mild understatement) I felt like an explorer in new lands. Maybe it’s just me but I never thought of looking further than the normal clothes shops I shop for the kids in for outdoor wear for the kids, which was pretty foolish really in hindsight.

A couple of days later, their coats arrived. I chose two Columbia Powder Lite Puffa’s which retail at €44 per coat.

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Nice aren’t they?

Well they have been worn daily since they arrived so result. I really like that they are very warm without being bulky, the hoods stay up and I have washed the boy’s one three times and its like new. My children wear uniforms some days to school and tracksuits others, I like that these coats can be worn with both.Both of them wear the coats daily, they chose them over their other coats at weekends.  I asked the children for their  verdicts:

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My daughter aged 8 ” I really like the pink stripe, the pockets are really warm and the coat feels toasty”

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My son, aged almost 7 “ I like the zip and the pockets and the hood and its warm” He did have one negative “There is no decorations on it though”. He didn’t elaborate on what type of decoration he requires in a coat but this is the only time he has ever mentioned this issue.

 

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Cotswold Outdoor stock over 250 brands of sportwear, outdoor wear, shoes and equipment. They regularly have sales and offers and delivery to Ireland is free for orders over €49. I found their delivery times and customer service excellent and both myself and two of my children would highly recommend the Columbia Puffa’s. If you are on the lookout for a school jacket or indeed any outdoor wear, do check them out.

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www.cotswoldoutdoor.com

 

 

I received both coats for review purposes. I was not paid for this review and as always, all opinions are my own.

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Hobbies Of An 8 Month Old

Things my 8.5 month old currently enjoys:

Trying to throw herself off bed/sofa/chair.

2am.3.11am. 4.42am.

A good long lie in on school mornings when it is necessary for her to be awake.

Sleeping on her stomach, face down for extra fear inducing points.

Biting with all her brand new shiny teeth.

Feeding standing up  on my lap and bouncing up and down whilst attached to boob.

Perfecting the skill of mini pinches to the general boob area with tiny scratchy nails. Bonus points when she draws blood.

Fake choking.

Changing her food preferences daily sometimes even hourly. One day raisins bring such joy, others they bring a look of  such impressive disgust for one so young.

A keen desire and dogged determination to taste coffee.

Sitting in her high chair and flinging toys, kitchen utensils, cups to the ground and waiting for me to pick them up. My current high score is picking up 57 items whilst trying to cook a dinner. Its the game that doesn’t grow old.

Screeching. Ear piercing screeching, just for the lolz.

Not sitting down.

Throwing the one brand of soother that is acceptable to her away as regularly as possible.

Taking a nap at times where it is impossible for anyone to nap or enjoy a quiet cup of coffee for example the school run, when I am driving, during meal times- all firm favourites.

Me sleeping at the very very very edge of the bed.

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