Like most families in Ireland we live for the weekend. I really look forward to spending quality time together as a family and my perfect way to spend a Saturday or Sunday is at some kind of outdoor event that involves food and an opportunity for Billy to run around and burn off some of his toddler energy. When I heard about Bloom In The Park 2016 it totally fit the bill. It was marketed as a Family event involving food, nature and entertainment. It sounded totally up my street and I couldn’t wait to go.
We set off on the Sunday morning deciding to ditch the car and avail of public transport. I had notions of us having a drink on the grass and enjoying the music and atmosphere. It’s nice to have the option – says she who doesn’t drive anyway. We got the Luas as far as Houston Station and took advantage of the free shuttle buses that were going from Parkgate street. Nice touch Bloom! The journey in was relatively stress free as far as toddler meltdowns are concerned. It makes a huge difference when you are sitting beside people who a) are friendly or b) have children with them. We happened to be near people who ticked both of those boxes so it was a win win. The shuttle bus worked out great. You could give the drivers a little tip (which we did) but it was otherwise free and they didn’t even ask to see our tickets. It was a lovely warm day and it genuinely felt like being on a tour bus when you are on holidays, without the promise of a dip in the pool later that day. An enjoyable journey nonetheless.
We got off the bus and I kind of immediately regretted not bringing the buggy. I had brought his little backpack (reigns) and the sling thinking that it would be the easiest way to get around. I assumed a buggy would be a nuisance. I never considered the incredibly hot weather. Hot weather and slings do not a good time make. He was happy on Daddy’s back for a while and I wore him on my front for an hour or two but those were some clammy sweaty hours and I was about to pass out from the heat. School-boy error. I never could have anticipated how hot it would be. I’m talking proper heat. The kind that makes you incredibly cranky and even forces you to avoid certain aisles where much-anticipated food samples were waiting for you. Me passing up free food samples? Says it all really.
There were families with older children laying out on the communal picnic/grass area enjoying food from one of the various trucks/stands. It looked lovely. There was live music and it had the vibe of a festival. I kind of felt like I was channeling my inner festival goer who has yet to make an appearance in my life. In theory the idea of “chilling out on the grass” together was great but with an almost two year old (more on that later, I am the parent of a TWO year old – I know!) it was never going to work. Older children kind of “get” this sort of thing. The novelty of the music, the picnic blanket and the social aspect. My two year old made it his mission to remove people’s phones from their hands, steal their food and throw himself on to them. Basically he was a bit of a thug. Poor judgment on my part.
The ridiculous heat combined with the huge numbers of people swarming around the event made me a bit of a stress ball for a good hour I’d say. A trip to the loo (portaloo type thing, but the ones with the steps and an actual sink to wash your hands at) took far longer than it should because I was a tad flustered and hangry. Who knew that intense heat and a toddler strapped to me made me cranky? ‘Tis good to know these things.
Aside from the crankiness that ensued, I actually had a really lovely time. We tasted samples from Irish companies such as Glenisk, Brady Ham, Keoghs Crisps, McAmbridges Bread, Wicklow Rapeseed Oil and Keelings and made purchases at the Ballymaloe Relish stand because, well – Ballymaloe Reslish.
Keelings had a lovely little set up actually. I’ve also spoken so highly of this company. Their berries are hands down the nicest I have ever tasted and their Strawberries were particularly unreal at Bloom. We purchased a box of them and ate them whilst walking around (sweating profusely and cranky) and it provided a good five minutes of smugness which I quite enjoyed. They also had a little area where children could see how the plants grow and even sit down to plant their own seeds (children old enough to understand that you don’t eat the raw seeds. I imagine this is how it would have went for us). It was a nice touch and a lovely way to share the berry-growing experience with young children. A bit magical really.
All in all my impression of Bloom was really positive. I can’t blame Bloom for the sweaty toddler stuck to me, the lack of buggy and the roaring hot temperatures of the day. It was a really well put together event with so many little extras for children. I’m delighted that we got to experience it.
As for the grub? We devoured a beautiful stone baked Pizza, a pulled pork sambo from Adare Farm and far too many Keoghs Crisps because, well, they literally are the nicest crisps in the entire Universe and that is absolute fact.
So yeah, it’s no wonder I was up a pound at Slimming World last week but my God does Ireland have some seriously amazing food produce. It made me fiercely proud. I’ve said it before but I genuinely believe we have some of the best food in the world.
See you next year Bloom. You will be 11 and I’ll be more organized and less sweaty!