Life

Marie Louise McConville: Feeling refreshed after lakeside family staycation

Marie Louise's children Abbie and James having fun with their duck friends in Co Fermanagh

Ain't life grand?

I mean, life's good - right?

Oh yes, this week, I'm feeling upbeat, revived and refreshed and I have a certain bounce in my step.

Now, before you all start, no, I haven't won the lottery or convinced George to leave Amal and run off with me into the sunset.

Nope, I have simply enjoyed a few days relaxation and it has left me feeling like a new person.

I'll be honest, as it had been a while since Darren and I had been away I'd forgotten how much a little break can work wonders.

But last week I learned that a holiday doesn't have to mean a fortnight abroad, it can simply be a few nights away, right here at home in Northern Ireland and it can still leave you feeling great.

So, having opted for a staycation this year as the kids are so young, Darren, Abbie, James and myself packed up the car last week and headed west to Co Fermanagh where we were staying as the guests of the four-star Killyhevlin Lakeside Hotel, outside Enniskillen.

Rather than a traditional hotel room, our accommodation was one of the Killyhevlin's new lakeside lodges, which are situated in the hotel grounds on the banks of Lough Erne.

I'm not sure what I was expecting - having never stayed in a lodge before - but for some reason I was thinking dark and cramped. However, cabin 10, Oak Lodge, proved to be anything but.

While the exterior of the cabin - which is one of 14 on site - was simply beautiful, the interior was impeccable, modern, light and really slick.

Our lodge boasted a beautiful open plan lounge and fitted kitchen, which came fully stocked with all the basic essentials we needed, including tea, coffee, sugar, milk and biscuits.

All the kitchenware, including the plates, were Belleek and the drawers and cupboards contained all those little things that matter, including tea towels, a drying rack and cutlery.

With two ensuite bedrooms, the cabin also came complete with a dishwasher, washing machine and microwave.

However, that aside, it was the brightness of the lounge that took my breath away as the floor to ceiling windows meant the property was flooded with natural light.

Our door opened onto a cute decking area and balcony which offered panoramic and simply stunning views of Lough Erne.

Immediately, our outdoor-loving kids were taking in the surroundings and made some unusual friends - the ducks.

Yes, our little feathery friends, who had initially gathered on a bank below our cabin, instantly bonded with Abbie and James and soon they were up with us getting acquainted.

In fact, each morning the ducks would wait for the kids to wake up and when we pulled up the blinds, there they would be, putting their beaks up against the glass, wanting attention.

Our time was mostly spent chilling out and relaxing and when the kids went to bed, Darren and I just lay on the sofas and watched the water, it was so quiet and soothing. We even got a wave from those on board the occasional boat which passed by.

In between, we ate beautiful food in the Killyhevlin and I have to say the staff were fabulous with the kids, especially Majella in the restaurant.

We also visited a soft play centre, took a boat ride around Upper and Lower Lough Erne and basically took it easy.

It was something of a revelation for me to stay in the luxury of Oak Lodge which more than catered for a young family.

Simply nothing can beat the open space, smell of the outdoors and closeness to nature this accommodation has to offer.

We definitely hope to return - and not only to catch up with our little duck pals.

Abbie and James really enjoyed their little break and there were lots of smiles and lots of laughter - not bad memories to have from our first family holiday.

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Competition

If your summer holidays are on the horizon, it’s time to start planning your poolside reads – so how do you fancy winning a copy of the "best thriller you’ll read all year"?

Amnesia by Michael Ridpath has been described as "highly ingenious and engaging, a mystery within a mystery within a mystery".

It’s 1999 and Alastair Cunningham, a doctor in his eighties, wakes up in hospital with almost total amnesia.

He knows that something terrible happened in his past, something that haunts him still, but is struggling to remember.

A young family friend, Clémence, is summoned by her American great-aunt Madeleine to get take care of him until Madeleine’s arrival.

Retreating with Alastair to his remote cottage, overlooking Loch Glass, and in the shadow of Ben Wyvis, Clémence finds a peculiar manuscript.

Reading the prologue, she discovers a murder by someone very much like a young Alastair.

The victim? Clémence's grandmother, Sophie.

Clémence becomes determined to find out what happened all those years ago, even if she must risk everything to do so.

I have five copies of Amnesia to give away.

If you fancy winning a copy, simply email your name, address and telephone number – along with the answer to the question below – to

competitions@irishnews.com

Closing date for entries is Tuesday, June 27, 2017.

(Q) Who wrote Amnesia?

Normal Irish News Rules Apply

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What's Hot?

Flawless - If you're in search of flawless skin for the beach, check out Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s first bath & body collection, exclusive to Marks & Spencer. The collection consists of six products which all work to achieve amazing radiance from head to toe, including Amazing Radiance Body Glow. Available now.

Tune - Is anyone else loving Rita Ora's new single, `Your Song'? It's a nice easy listening tune but very upbeat. Perfect for the sunshine.

Pitter-Patter - Inspirational TV presenter, Katie Piper has announced she is expecting her second child with husband, Richard Sutton. Lovely news.

So Not!

Addiction - TV presenter Ant McPartlin has reportedly checked into rehab for a two month stint after revealing his battle with drugs and alcohol. We wish him well.

Return - Simon Cowell has announced that Louis Walsh, Nicole Scherzinger and Sharon Osbourne will return as the judging panel for the forthcoming series of The X-Factor. I didn't like this panel and won't be tuning in.

Reality- Irish duo, Jedward are among a number of so-called celebs who have signed up for a new interactive MTV dating show. Sounds awful. I'm fed up with reality TV, bring back more actual drama.

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Competition

The winners of the Freshii competition are Deirdre Meehan, from Larne, Enda Monaghan, from Omagh, and Noreen McGuckin from Upperlands, Co Derry

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Easy Peasy Recipe

This week’s Easy Peasy Recipe is Chocolate Fridge Cake

You will need:

250g digestive biscuits

150g milk chocolate

150g dark chocolate

100g unsalted butter

150g golden syrup

100g dried and chopped apricots

75g raisins

60g chopped pecans

To Make:

Line a baking tin with cling film, leaving some hanging over the sides.

Use a blender to crush the digestive biscuits.

Put milk chocolate, dark chocolate and golden syrup into a pan and melt over a low heat.

Remove from heat and stir in crushed biscuits, apricots, raisins and pecans.

Pour mixture into lined tin and level.

Put tin in fridge for two hours to set.

Turn out the cake and remove the cling film.

Cut into squares and serve.

Do you have an Easy Peasy recipe you would like to share?

Are you the queen of quiches, magnificent at muffins or can you turn out some nice scones?

If so, then we want to hear from you.

You can send your name, address, contact number and recipe (plus photo if possible) to:

Easy Peasy Recipes,

Marie Louise McConville,

Irish News

113-117 Donegall Street,

Belfast,

BT1 2GE

or

m.mcconville@irishnews.com

 

Marie Louise McConville

Reporter

The Irish News

Belfast

 

Direct Line: 028 9040 8362

Mobile: 07967243185

 

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