Marie Louise McConville: Dinosaurs, raptors and a talking tree all make for a fabulous family day out
What a fab summer it's been - so far.
At the start of June, our plan had been to enjoy the summer at home, going on day trips here and there with some overnight stays.
So far, the McConville clan have managed to enjoy a luxurious three-day break at a beautiful lakeside lodge in Fermanagh and an almost-week long stay at the family caravan in Newcastle.
Both were fab and the kids adored them however, most recently, we got to enjoy a much more thrilling escapade after venturing to Tayto Park near Ashbourne in Co Meath for a day trip.
Having never been before, we wanted the kids to enjoy `all the fun of the fair' and what a day we had.
So, on a bright Saturday morning, off we ventured, Abbie, James, my nephew Reece, Darren and myself, to enjoy a spin in the Honey Bear Pots.
Just an hour-and-a-half from Belfast, we were met with a spectacular sight on arrival - Europe's largest wooden rollercoaster, The Cú Chulainn Coaster - which towered over us.
As we unpacked the car, we could see arms waving in the air and hear screams of delight - it really got us in the mood.
I have to say, my initial fears that there wouldn't be enough for younger children soon evaporated when we were handed a map of the many, many attractions and rides on offer and really, we could have spent at least two days there.
We started off visiting the Dinosaurs Alive attraction, where the kids got to immerse themselves in the Mesozoic era and watch the life-like animatronic dinosaurs, including a mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex, moving around.
We then took in Ice Valley, where we were transported back to the Ice Age, and again, we were moving about around a spectacular display of animatronic ice age animals. It was fab.
It was then time to visit the zoo and the kids just loved seeing all the animals, including the tigers, which drew large crowds. We also had fun laughing as the meerkats wrestled each other, and enjoyed spending time watching the fascinating porcupine.
After some fun at the wonderful play parks we had a lovely lunch in The Lodge restaurant before getting back into the fray.
We started with a very enjoyable ride on the carousel before the kids got a bit of a fright walking past the Talking Tree - which I thought was really fun actually
We then hit an area of the park which had a collection of rides for younger kids, who got to enjoy the Honey Bear Pots, The Leap Frog, and The Ferris Wheel.
After that we visited the park's new star attraction - World of Raptors.
The first exhibit of its kind in Ireland, World of Raptors offers visitors a unique opportunity to get up very close and personal with a host of rare and magnificent species of bird in a 450-seater open air arena.
So, we took our seats and before long, various eagles, owls, vultures and falcons from all over the world were free-flying above us - some very low.
It really was magical to watch the specialist handlers interact with the birds. It was thrilling.
And, as if that wasn't enough, afterwards we headed off to see the circus.
Fossett's, who have taken up a residency at Tayto Park this summer, amazed the audience with an array of international performers presenting a variety of incredible and daring acts including illusion, aerial stunts, juggling and comedy.
The kids laughed and clapped the whole way through and so did we.
Soon, it was time to leave and really, we had three very tired kids and two very tired parents in the car on the way home.
What a day of fun we had.
If you still have time this summer, I would definitely recommend giving Tayto Park a visit, it's such a great attraction.
Sure, where else could you ride a rollercoaster, visit a zoo, see a dinosaur, have a falcon fly over your head and see a circus all in one location?
There's your answer.
Enjoy and if you are planning a visit, bring me back a Twisted Chip - totally awesome.
Fancy treating yourself to something super stylish this summer?
Founded as a cutlery manufacturer in the 1930s, Newbridge Silverware now excels in jewellery design and manufacture while maintaining a strong, contemporary homeware range.
Dedicated to high standards and high fashion, the recently-opened Newbridge Silverware in Belfast's Arthur Street is a must-visit destination for all discerning shoppers.
With gorgeous jewellery and stylish home ware to suit every occasion, style, age or budget, Newbridge Silverware has been a globally successful Irish brand for more than 80 years.
Supermodel Naomi Campbell was unveiled as the face of Newbridge Silverware in 2015 and she remains a high-profile brand ambassador for its beautiful jewellery collections.
Whether you are searching for that conversation-starter statement piece for a formal event, something graceful for a wedding or even some casual, on-trend jewellery for your holiday, Newbridge Silverware offers a fabulous range of celebrity-endorsed sparkle, all presented in the famous elegant blue Newbridge packaging.
It's also the perfect place to shop for gifts for family or friends marking special occasions such as an engagement, wedding or welcoming a new baby.
I have three £50 vouchers for Newbridge to give away to three lucky readers.
If you fancy winning a voucher, simply email your name, address and telephone number – along with the answer to the question below – to email@example.com
Closing date for entries is Tuesday, August 22, 2017.
(Q) Where is the Newbridge store based in Belfast?
Normal Irish News Rules Apply
Heart-throb - EastEnders actor Davood Ghadami - who plays the very handsome, Kush - has joined the line-up for this year's Strictly Come Dancing. I reckon he is going to be fab.
Biopic - Australian actress Cate Blanchett has been tipped to play Lucille Ball in an authorised biopic about the American actress. The 48-year-old, Oscar-winning actress is due to appear in the Amazon Studios biopic, Lucy and Desi, according to reports.
Coffee - Researchers have found drinking three cups of coffee a day is good for you as it will reduce your risk of of premature death from any cause. Drink up coffee lovers.
Pain - Filming for Mission Impossible 6 has been put back for a number of months after actor, Tom Cruise broke his ankle in two places during a stunt for the movie. The 55-year-old smashed into the side of a building when a roof top leap went wrong.
Umimpressed - Apart from Davood Ghadami so far I'm quite disappointed with the line-up for this year's Strictly Come Dancing series. I'm hoping the next few announcements will get me excited.
Tribute - Actor Ryan Reynolds has paid tribute to stunt woman, Joi SJ Harris, who was killed in a motorcycle accident on the set of Deadpool 2 in Vancouver. The 40-year-old said the team was "heartbroken, shocked and devastated".
The winners of the What She Left competition are Mary McCrea, from Sion Mills, Mary Donaghy, from Mountfield, Co Tyrone, Sheena Moss, from Dromore, Ger Lennon, from Newry, and Yvonne McNally, from Banbridge
Easy Peasy Recipe
This week's Easy Peasy Recipe is Toffee Apple Cake
You will need:
280ml vegetable oil
2 tspns vanilla extract
375g plain flour
1 tspn salt
1 tspn bicarb of soda
500g chopped and peeled apples
120g chopped pecans
For the toffee sauce
225g dark brown soft sugar
1 pinch salt
Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4
In a mixing bowl, beat eggs until foamy and gradually add the sugar.
In a separate bowl, mix the vegetable oil, vanilla, flour, salt and bicarb of soda. Add this to the egg mixture.
Stir in apples and pecans.
Spoon into a greased ring tin and bake for one hour and 15 minutes. Remove and cool.
For the toffee sauce, combine all ingredients in a saucepan and boil for three minutes, stirring constantly. Slowly drizzle over warm cake.
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,
113-117 Donegall Street,