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Marie Louise McConville: Who needs Spain? I'm giving my kids happy Bundoran memories

Short break in `Fundoran' just the ticket for a staycation amid lockdown
Marie Louise McConville

Can you believe it's August already?

Where is the time going?

I know 2020 hasn't exactly turned out how we all expected but I feel like it's flying by at an astonishing speed.

With many foreign summer holidays scrubbed this year due to Covid-19, many of us have instead signed up for a staycation.

With our Jersey trip also cancelled, we decided we needed a break after the last few months and last week opted to spend a few days in Bundoran with the kids.

I have such warm and happy memories of visiting this Co Donegal town with my parents and grandparents. I fondly recall the ice-cream, fish and chips, the bright lights of the amusement park, the games rooms in the hotels where `Come On Eileen' blasted on the jukebox and one particularly mesmerising entertainment act, a contortionist woman who both stunned and scared me with her extreme physical flexibility.

As I got older, I remember being especially captivated by the boys who operated the funfair rides.

Even though we were very anxious about the pandemic, we needed a break so booked into the Great Northern Hotel for a few nights.

The first thing we noticed on arriving in the town were the efforts which had been made by the traders to make everything as safe as possible.

On entering and leaving pretty much every shop or hotel, hand sanitiser was on offer and when eating in any of the restaurants, social distancing rules were adhered to.

Our first stop, not surprisingly, was my beloved funfair and Darren and I went prepared with a spray bottle of sanitisier to clean the kids' hands and ours after every ride.

While the kids had been disappointed not to be getting to Jersey, after a few rides on the caterpillar rollercoaster and flying high on the Dumbo ride, it had been forgotten.

The kids also had great luck on the game stalls, especially `hook a duck'.

In keeping with the `New Normal', we also pre-booked some hotel pool sessions and even hit the beach for a bit of sand-castle building.

The scenery was just amazing and as we watched the waves crashing, we just felt our worries drift away, if only for a short time.

We also ate some lovely food, took in a movie and did some shopping and everyone was so warm and welcoming.

I have to say, we had a nice break and the kids had a ball and that is the most important thing.

So, if you're still undecided about what to do with the kids this summer, I highly recommend giving Bundoran a go.

Ok, it probably won't have the scorching temperatures and it may not have banana boats or foam parties but it does have everything needed to make wonderful memories.

They don't call it `Fundoran' for nothing you know.

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Ireland's newest heart-throb, Normal People star Paul Mescal, has reportedly joined a celebrity dating app in the hope of finding love.

The 25-year-old Irish actor is said to have signed up to Raya after being invited by a pal.

The dating site reportedly accepts members based on 'algorithmic values' and 'input from hundreds of committee members' with a monthly fee charged to those who are accepted.

The handsome star has already said he is nothing like his `sensitive' Normal People character, Connell.

So, single ladies, what are you waiting for? Get logging on. Mr Mescal is quite the catch.

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Summer is in full swing and despite the unpredictable weather, there's still plenty to do in the great outdoors.

If you're still trying to entice the kids away from their beloved screens, how about suggesting a visit to Colin Glen in west Belfast?

Based over two sites, with a Forest Park and Adventure Centre on the Stewartstown Road and Colin Park Leisure, with a nine-hole Golf Course, Driving Range, 3G football pitches and gym, on Black's Road, there's plenty of fun to be had.

For young children, why not check out the The Gruffalo Guided trail which will see visitors meet their favourite Gruffalo characters as they walk through the forest.

For older children, there's Laser Tag, an exhilarating outdoor experience or there's archery, which sees instructors incorporate games to keep everyone interested in the fun-filled session.

Or, if you're feeling brave, why not check out the SKYTrek, Ireland's premier ropes activity centre at Colin Glen.

With a high ropes course (16M) and a lower, less daunting ropes course (5M) and 30-foot multi-level climbing wall, SKYTrek offers an adventurous day out for all.

SKYTrek will take participants out of their comfort, forcing them to overcome challenges at height.

Further information about all the activities on offer at both Colin Glen sites and booking details are available online at www.colinglen.org

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