Marie Louise McConville: I'm finally seeing the great in the Great Outdoors
I've never been one for the great outdoors.
Anyone who knows me knows I'm more of a `stay-at-home-in-the-heat-and-have-a-piece-of-cake' type of gal.
I get dizzy just reading weekend social media posts from people who have ventured up Divis Mountain for a hike - just for the craic.
I think it comes from my days in the girl guides when we would spend almost every weekend away camping and hiking.
There's no doubt I loved the camping bit and the cooking over the fire bit but I was never keen on exploring the trails, so that put me off.
I am most definitely a home bird and that's where I like to be in the new oversized, fluffy hoodie I bought myself that keeps me toasty warm.
Of course, given that fact that we are now mid third lockdown and tied to our homes for work and home schooling, it has become imperative that we get get fresh air on a regular basis.
Sitting in front of a computer screen all day isn't good for anyone and with two young children, who are also tied to the kitchen table for homework, I have come to realise how important it is to get them out.
Now every weekend we try to organise some outdoor activities and I've come to realise something - it's not all that bad.
On Saturday mornings, we venture to the local park where we often see some of the kids' school friends as everyone lives nearby.
Abbie and her bestie Rose and James and his bestie Conor are able to spend time on the slides and swings, roundabout and climbing frame while I catch up for a socially distanced chat with their mum.
Last weekend, we ventured a short distance to the local country park where we met Abbie's school friend Odhran and his mum, and while it was very cold, and snowing and windy, I have to say, I quite enjoyed it.
The kids spent ages on the swings and climbing frame and zip-wire before we then went for a walk, which took us past some lovely spots as well as lots of outdoor exercise equipment, which the kids loved.
Despite the snow coming down and the dropping temperatures and my lovely trainers getting muddied, I really felt like it helped me.
While I was tired after it, I also felt refreshed and of course, our stop for hot chocolate and ice-cream at the end made it all the more fun.
While we were freezing cold and worn out when we got home, I felt the walk and the time outdoors helped me during the week as it had blown away some lockdown cobwebs and the fresh air kind of gave me a new perspective.
Maybe time outside isn't that bad after all.
And, given the times we are living in, it's just as well I have finally found the great, in the `Great Outdoors'.
I don't think I'll ever understand why some people are so mean.
It is just beyond me why some people can't just be happy for others.
This week, Tracy Beaker star, Dani Harmer has been speaking about her experience of doing the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing.
At a time when she should have been having a ball, flying high, the size six star was in fact being fat-shamed by online trolls.
The 31-year-old, who said she was bombarded with abuse, was delighted to finish fourth in the series but said the joy was tinged by the comments made online.
Thank goodness for honest mums, like Mila Kunis.
If it wasn't for people like her, who are brave enough to be speak openly about how they are feeling, I know I for one would be feeling a lot more worried than I am.
After the last few weeks of working and home-schooling, I feel like I have done 10 rounds with Rocky Balboa.
And I am not the only one.
US actress, Mila Kunis has been very honest about her experience in lockdown with her two children, aged six and four.
The Family Guy star revealed as much as she loves her kids, she was desperate for a two day break from them while filming a Super Bowl commercial with her husband.
The 37-year-old said: "It was in the peak of the pandemic, it made no sense logically. We were quarantined as you know and I was dying to get out of the house. I was like I don't care, I need to get out of the house.
Adding that she feels like a "horrible mom", she said: "'I love my kids but they're like dogs, they can sniff you out. They know what room you're hiding in. You can't get away from them".
The actress also revealed `Dry January' had been a "mistake" and was glad when `Wet February' arrived.
We hear ya, Mila.
Keep up the good work.
**Competitions will return in the coming weeks.