Family & Parenting

Toy sale? More like a Gladiator battle

Marie Louise found herself up against organised gangs of mums on the hunt for My Little Pony and Barbie at the Sainsburys up to half price toy sale ahead of Christmas. Photo by Cliff Donaldson
Marie Louise McConville

Heavens above - where do I begin?

It should have been a pleasant trip to the supermarket with the added bonus of picking up a few festive bargains, instead, it turned into a Gladiator-style shop battle where only the fittest shopper with the quickest trolley manoeuvre survived.

Unless you're parents of small children, news of the Sainsburys up to half price toy sale last week would not have been of any interest to you.

However, if you do have young children, you will know that this is THE sale of the pre-Christmas period and there are always top bargains to be found.

Last year, I happened to stumble on it when I was on maternity leave and was at Kennedy Centre in west Belfast to meet my mum.

With James in the pram and Abbie by the hand, I had had to spring into action, grabbing a trolley and filling it with what I could before it all disappeared.

This year, both myself and my sister - who is also mum to a baby boy and a little Miss - were geared up for the sale however as she had to do the school run, it was decided I would arrive early and grab what I could until she arrived.

So, with the sale due to begin at 8am, I arrive (I thought) in plenty of time at 7.45am.

You can imagine my reaction when I was met by a crowd of people - mostly women - gathered outside Kennedy Centre with trolleys in hand.

With no trolleys left, I simply joined the gang however when the security guard announced "away you go ladies" it was like Ophelia had made an unwelcome return to Andytown and swept us all up in a torrent as the crowd shouted "Yooooooo" and made a mad dash inside the centre towards Sainsburys.

I was both shocked and frightened but still I managed to make it in one piece to Sainbsurys, where the shutters were still down.

As I stood waiting, beside me I could hear people discussing what they wanted - My Little Pony, Barbie and Paw Patrol.

In fact, one group were so organised they were shouting out instructions to each other about what they were to go for first. I was quite impressed.

As the time edged away, I could feel the crowd building behind me and as the shutter started to rise I felt like Usain Bolt on the starting blocks hoping for a fast start and quick dash.

My nerves were wrecked and my heart was racing - honestly, it was like getting ready to enter the colosseum in Rome to take part in a freewheeling battle.

And, some mummys were more than ready because just as the shutter got half way, I heard the lady beside me shout: "Get under the shutter. Get under the shutter" to her pals. This was soon followed by an older women who exclaimed: "I'm terrifed" - and so was I.

Soon, it was time to make a break for the bargains and really, it was like the drivers at the old Kennedy Way roundabout when it was being taken away and replaced with lights - nobody knew where they were going, what they were doing or when to stop or go because it was madness, sheer madness.

I grabbed a trolley and just made a mad dash. As I ran I just toppled toys into my trolley like a crazy contestant on Supermarket Sweep - the only thing missing was Dale Winton.

After one circuit, I texted my sister to say "Hurry Up and bring reinforcements".

But of course, it fell to me to try and pick and choose and it soon became near impossible to make it up and down the aisles and I swear, I'm sure I saw some people "borrowing" some hard-to-get items out of other people's unattended trolleys. Oh dear.

With the trolley piled high, I soon had had enough of all things Barbie and Disney and I parked up near the front door to wait on my sister.

Pushing a packed trolley while holding an activity cube and a rocking horse ride-on was no easy fete but I managed to get there.

Standing there, I watched the madness from a distance. I have to say, these women were really impressive in how organised and determined they were.

When my sister arrived at 8.30am, I was more than ready to leave and go to work, and only it was so early in the morning, I would have sat down and had a stiff drink.

Honestly, I don't know how Santa does it but thank goodness it's only once a year because I don't think I could cope otherwise.



With the weather having turned so cold and blustery, how do you fancy treating the family to a trip to the flicks for a cosy night out?

Paddington 2 is released in cinemas on November 10 and I have two family passes up for grabs thanks to Movie House Cinemas.

Having settled with the Brown family in Windsor Gardens, we rejoin are favourite cuddly friend, Paddington as he has become popular in his community.

After finding a wonderful pop-up book in Mr Gruber's antique shop, Paddington takes to performing odd jobs in a bid to purchase it as a present for his aunt Lucy's 100th birthday.

However, when the book is stolen, it is up to Paddington and the Browns to apprehend the thief.

Once again, Ben Whishaw returns as the voice of Paddington along with Hugh Bonneville, Julie Walters and Jim Broadbent, who are joined by new cast members Hugh Grant and Brendan Gleeson.

Paddington 2 is showing at all five Movie House Cinemas – at Cityside/Yorkgate, Dublin Road, Glengormley, Maghera and Coleraine - from November 10.

I have two family passes to see Paddington 2 at Movie House Cinemas to give away to two lucky winners.

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 Tuesday, October 31, 2017.

(Q) What date does Halloween fall on?

Normal Irish News Rules Apply


What's Hot?

Trick or Treat - It's Halloween on Tuesday so it's the perfect time to get dressed up and have some fun. Whether trick or treating, dunking for apples or attending a spooktacular party, have a fab time being ghoulish.

Thor - The very handsome, Chris Hemsworth is back on the big screen this weekend in Thor: Ragnarok. Imprisoned on the other side of the universe, the mighty Thor finds himself in a deadly gladiatorial contest that pits him against the Hulk, his former ally and fellow Avenger.

Reunited - Mary Berry, Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins are to reunite for a one-off Christmas special – marking the first time the trio have worked together since they departed the Bake Off last year. Surprise Party on BBC1 will see the trio bringing some festive cheer to an area that has experienced tough times.

So Not!

Split - Trainspotting actor, Ewan McGregor has reportedly split from his wife of 22 years, Eve Mavrakis, with whom he has four children. Reports claim the couple separated in May.

Pressure - American Idol winner, Kelly Clarkson has revealed she contemplated suicide at the start of her career after she was forced to lose weight. The mother-of-two, who had previously battled an eating disorder, described it as a "very dark time".

Dropped - X-Factor runner-up, Fleur East has reportedly parted ways with Simon Cowell's Syco record label after three years. The move comes after the singer's debut album, `Love, Sax and Flashbacks' peaked at just number 14 in the UK charts.



The winners of the Asda competition are Joanne McCollam, from Downpatrick, Anne Donnelly, from Co Armagh and Caron McDermott, from Dunsilly, Co Antrim


Easy Peasy Recipe

This week's Easy Peasy Recipe is Italian Beef Stew

You will need:

1 sliced onion

1 sliced garlic clove

2tbsp olive oil

300g beef stir-fry strips or beef steak, thinly sliced

1 yellow pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced

400g can chopped tomato

Small handful of chopped rosemary

Handful of pitted olives

To Make:

In a pot, cook onion and garlic in olive oil for five minutes until softened and turning golden.

Add the beef, pepper, tomatoes and rosemary and bring to the boil.

Simmer for 15 minutes and ensure meat is cooked through. Add some boiling water if needed.

Stir through the olives.

Serve with warm, creamy mash

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,

Irish News

113-117 Donegall Street,




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