Marie Louise McConville: A perfect end to Summer 2018, coming together with community...and some trolls

Trolls on Tour - Abbie and James pictured alongside their cousins, Erin and Laura at the annual fancy dress and band parade at the Strangford Summer Festival
Marie Louise McConville

So, that's it then - summer 2018 is over.

It's hard to believe the past 12 weeks have flown by as fast as they did.

For me, the Strangford Summer Festival, which took place last weekend, spells the end of the holiday period and heralds back to school time.

This brilliant four-day event always brings the summer to a close and what a way to end - a community coming together, no barriers, no controversy, just for fun, frolics and family.

I can tell you, from personal experience, the rest of Northern Ireland could learn a thing or two from this village event.

The Strangford Summer Festival is the perfect example of a community coming together for no other reason other than good times for their family, friends, neighbours and visitors.

The weekend always starts with a treasure hunt and 5k and 10k runs but for us, our festival experience started with sports day at the playing fields, a wee walk around the food and craft fair (more bows) and a trip to the castle to take in a great local history exhibition put together by local historian (and my father-in-law) Michael McConville.

It was then time for the Great Festival Bake-Off and a movie on the village green.

Despite the rain the next day, hundreds came out to support the brave souls who had entered the annual raft race, which is always so much fun.

But for me the highlight of the festival is later on a Sunday with the fancy dress and band parade and this year, our family opted to be Trolls on Tour.

Dressed in brightly coloured costumes and wigs, the kids danced down the Main Street towards the village green proudly holding their costume sign.

And they were in good company, from Save The Bees to Baby Shark Family, the entries were fab.

In fact, ‘Pope Francis' and his entourage even made a detour to Strangford to attend the fancy dress parade.

It was then time for fun on the inflatables before we left for home with two tired but happy kids.

As usual, a big thanks should be sent to those who take the time to organise this great event every year.

Many other communities could learn a thing or two from this festival and rightly so.

So, here's to next year and another great community effort.


Bad news from the land of television this week folks, hit sitcom The Big Bang Theory is to end next year after 12 seasons.

If you're a big fan like me and the hubby, you will be devastated by the news.

Cast member Kaley Cuoco took to social media to express her heartache at the announcement, revealing she is "drowning in tears" and promising the cast will bring fans "the best season yet".

So after 11 years and 56 awards, it will soon be time to bid farewell.

We'll miss you guys and thanks for the laughs.



If the end of summer has left you feeling gloomy, how about a tasty but healthy meal out courtesy of Slim's Healthy Kitchen?

The chain has been transforming how we eat ever since they burst onto Northern Ireland's dining scene five years ago.

The brand has recently opened a third outlet in Magherafelt, Co Derry with the same vision as usual - to make healthy food more accessible.

This means creating a balanced, nutritious menu with lots of organic and free range items where possible and Slim's recognises that a healthy diet means something different to everyone.

Their no-nonsense approach to healthy food has won over a legion of fans for its juices, super foods and salads alongside their signature steak and halloumi wrap, vegan ‘chicken' wings and peanut butter balls all with a tasty healthy twist.

And don't forget about the juices and shakes on offer.

These include the Popeye – apple, lime and spinach - as well as detox and veggie juices and amino slushies - there's something for every craving.

I have three £50 vouchers for Slim's Healthy Kitchen to give away.

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

Closing date for entries is 12 noon on Tuesday, September 4, 2018.

(Q) In which Co Derry town has Slim's recently opened a new outlet?

Normal Irish News Rules Apply


The winners of the Perfect Match competition are Sean Eccles, from Omagh, Joan Herron, from Belfast, Linda McGookin, from Carrickfergus, Angela Duffin, from Stewartstown, and Ann Milican, from Newry.

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