Life

Marie Louise McConville: Double birthday celebrations make for precious family memories

Marie Louise's niece Alaia and nephew Cian celebrated their first birthdays this week making for precious family memories

Exhausted.com

You will have to excuse me this week, I'm feeling a little delicate.

I'm afraid I hit the party circuit a bit too hard and despite my best efforts to recover, I'm still not 100 per cent.

Really, I should have known better when the invites arrived inviting us to two parties within 48 hours.

Still , given my lack of social life in recent times, I wasn't going to pass up the chance to let my hair down - twice.

So, with gifts in hand off we went to our first engagement, a house party, complete with a delicious buffet and bouncy castle.

At this point, I should reveal that the party was for my gorgeous niece, Alaia who was turning one and was just beaming with happiness at being the centre of attention.

With the arrival of the face painter and balloon modeller, the party was soon in full swing.

And with cameras at the ready, it was then time for Alaia to blow out her single birthday candle and taste cake for the very first time due to some serious food allergies.

However, thanks to a special vegan creation, Alaia was able to devour a slice of cake and it was such a lovely moment to watch.

We left feeling very happy but exhausted and could have done with some extra sleep but that wasn't possible as the next day, we had to do it all over again to celebrate my cute nephew Cian's first birthday.

This time we were off to a soft play centre where we found ourselves climbing around a jungle setting, complete with animal masks.

After plenty of cuddles with Cian and watching him pull his funny face, it was time for food and ice cream and yet more cake.

The kids got an extra special treat when IgglePiggle and Upsy Daisy from In The Night Garden stopped by for a visit.

Eventually it was time to go home.

It really was lovely celebrating the special milestones and also spending quality time with all the family.

Personally, I'm still not recovered though.

Those one year olds really know how to party and they just keep going - I don't know how they do it.

That said, my tiredness is a small price to pay for being involved in such lovely occasions. Besides, I have a feeling all the left over cake will help get me through.

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I don't mind admitting, life is looking pretty sweet this week.

With Christmas just 150 days away, I'm starting to feel festive, especially since John Lewis made a choco-tastic announcement this week.

The department store revealed that from September 21 until December 23, Quality Street lovers will be able to create their own bespoke tins at pick 'n' mix stations in selected UK stores.

This means customers can fill a 1.2kg tin with just their favourites for £12, the only catch is there has to be at least four flavours.

I love it – hello Strawberry Delight and Toffee Finger, bye bye ghastly honeycomb crunch.

Sweetie heaven.

Big problem - there's no John Lewis in Northern Ireland so either a local retailer comes up with something similar or I'm going to have to fly to London...

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Competition

Fancy enjoying some outdoor fun this summer?

Streamvale Farm, located in Dundonald in east Belfast, is one of Northern Ireland's top family attractions offering children and their parents all the fun of the farm.

Kids can begin their visit by getting close to some of the farm's cutest residents, enjoying cuddle time with newborn chicks and puppies before moving into the barn where they can feed the lambs and bunny rabbits.

They can also visit the alpacas and piglets before enjoying the pony grooming, helping keep Snowball, Mary and Sophie's coats nice and shiny.

Visitors can also watch the cows being milked while there's free tractor rides and barrel rides or you can check out the dog agility demonstrations.

There's fabulous indoor and outdoor play areas, pedal Go-Karts and Puppy Play Time.

After all that, why not enjoy a well-deserved cuppa or an ice-cream in the on-site café?

I have two family passes for Streamvale Farm to give away to two lucky readers.

If you fancy winning a pass, 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 12 noon on Tuesday, July 31, 2018

(Q) Name Streamvale Farm's three resident ponies.

Normal Irish News Rules Apply

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The winners of The Snail and The Whale competition are Teresa Mallon, from Belfast and Mairead McAlynn, from Maghera.

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