A Powerscourt ‘Estately’ Weekend

We were lucky enough to be invited to attend both family friendly events in Powerscourt Estate over the October Bank Holiday weekend.

First up was “Frightmare” which was run on the grounds of Powerscourt Estate by a team from Imaginosity. I genuinely didn’t know what to expect – usually the Imaginosity events are very well run but as they are aimed at children, I didn’t think it would be scary enough for my Addams Family-esque children.

Well, we were in for a treat! At the outset we were given a map and sent off the beaten track to look for clues, the first clue confirmed as being under a witch’s hat. The walk was decorated to scare, with black bags containing suspicious shapes, cobwebs, broken police cordons, and scattered debris making it instantly atmospheric.

Off the beaten track.

Off the beaten track.

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There were some great touches – rather than using a static clue, we found a real live witch who said she could ‘smell the children coming’ – fantastic! We had to repeat a few spells in German before we could see the clue. All the clues had an interactive aspect, and we met spiders, rats and pirates as we continued on our journey, with each characters giving us chilling warnings to ’look out behind’ and ‘trust no one’ etc.

Who's afraid of the big,bad witch?

Who’s afraid of the big,bad witch?

The grand finale came at the Pet Cemetery where we met the absolutely brilliant Tina Vamp and her macabre ‘dead toy tea party’. She introduced us to a vampire who played the “Monster Mash” on keyboards while Tina taught the children to dance along. Unfortunately, vampires will be vampires and so it ended with him chasing all the children to shrieks of delighted terror. Where did the final clue lead us? Back to the main house for a sweet treat, of course.

Really creepy!

Really creepy!

The Monster Mash!

The Monster Mash!

Verdict: The children were just the right level of spooked, although the vampire chase was a little too much for my three-year-old who was frightened and asked to ‘go home now!’ If you are looking for a family friendly scare at Hallowe’en, I would highly recommend this.

'I want to go home now!'

‘I want to go home now!’

    

We headed back up to Powerscourt on the rainy bank holiday Monday for the ‘Make a Scarecrow’ at The Garden Pavilion event. This was brilliantly organised and again the team working at it were excellent at instructing the children on what to do. We had Monica helping us out, whose enthusiasm was absolutely infectious.

The wonderful Monica!

The wonderful Monica!

The children were invited to make and style their very own scarecrows, with a central supply of clothes and straw provided along with hessian, string and accessories left out at each family’s workstation.Now, I am not usually one for getting involved children’s activities, but this was so much fun that the entire family got stuck in! If we were unsure of the next step there was always someone on hand to help.

Stuffing our scarecrows!

Stuffing our scarecrows!

Sorting at our 'work-station'.

Sorting at our ‘work-station’.

We started with a bamboo cross for each scarecrow, and after much stuffing, tying and gluing ended up with three actual scarecrows. They are suitably creepy and will finish off our decorations for the 31st perfectly!

SCARE-crows!

SCARE-crows!

Our verdict: Well worth the trip, the Pavilion staff put a lot into making this a fun, successful and interesting class.

Disclaimer: We were invited to attend the above events for the purpose of this review. However all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Samhain the Sweetfest?

Like a lot of my peers, I have had to ‘learn’ our new modern Hallowe’en. Of course we celebrated Hallowe’en growing up but we were not allowed to trick-or-treat.. ever! My mum referred to it as begging and just didn’t entertain the idea of it. So, of course, as myself and my siblings were brought in and bade farewell to our dressed up buddies, I swore on everything pagan that MY children would be allowed go trick-or-treating. A promise I (kinda regretfully) kept.

Halloween

No, Mum didn’t let us go around the houses dressed up but boy did we celebrate Hallowe’en. The house was filled with every variety of nut, even coconuts, which I have since found are near impossible to crack. We would make ourselves sick eating barm brack to get the pennies and ring (although my eldest sister always, always, always got it, always..) All this before the games – we played snap-apple and also got soaking wet bobbing for apples and coins, all in the safety of our own home. We had sparklers and we would go down to the bonfire, en famille, filled with the wonder of being out and about after dark. I loved Hallowe’en and there wasn’t a sweet wrapper in sight!

So, yes my front porch is filled with ghoulish decorations and the children are high as kites awaiting Friday. My eldest has always dressed up as something scary, as much as she loved dressing up as fairies and princesses when she was younger – actually still does every now and then – she has always chosen a scary costume for Hallowe’en (faceless grim reaper this year); and so the other two have followed suit. I am getting to be a dab hand at face painting skulls and demon heads, believe me.

No princesses here!

No princesses here!

Our pumpkin is bought but not yet carved. I learnt that lesson when I celebrated Halloween the year I opened my creche and carving pumkins was one of our early October arts and crafts projects. As any experienced pumpkin-carver could have told me, we ended up with a creche filled with foul- smelling, slowly-collapsing pumpkins by the time the big day arrived. So tommorrow is time enough to get carving.

Then there are the treats! I started by doing healthy baked goodies and making zombie hands (fill a clear glove with a malteaser at each fingertip, and popped corn for the rest, and tie with a rag) to give out at the door, but three children later I just don’t have that kind of time on my hands. So a big bucket of sweets, nuts and fruit will be ready at the door on Friday. This is where I begin to regret my vow of letting the children trick-or-treat – they love going around after dark, enjoy all the spooky decorations and really get a kick out of it, but the ridiculous amount of goodies they arrive home with boggles my mind, and they only do one cul-de-sac!!

 

As I have mentioned before, I am not averse to my children having a sweet treat but I do not embrace the gorge-fest that Hallowee’en can be either! My children are not allowed to pour the sweeets out on the floor and just go for it. I really believe that as parents we need to take control of the Hallowe’en treats. I know that my meting out of treats seems practically Dickensian to some but I truly believe in the importance of keeping treats as treats! When we get home, the children are allowed a good rummage around their bags and get to choose two treats each to enjoy while watching a scary cartoon. Then I take the bags and put them out of sight.

I want my children to enjoy Hallowe’en and so I distract them from their haul by searching for the ring in the brack (eldest daughter always gets it..seriously, why IS that?) , bobbing for apples and taking turns to tell ghost stories. I haven’t managed to locate a local bonfire yet, but when I do that will be added to our ‘to do’ list. During the rest of the mid-term they are allowed to have a treat a day from their bags and then, when they go back to school, they are allowed to have one treat a week from their bags. Usually by the end of the first week of school they have forgotten about their bags and I for one actively encourage that.

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

So if you are dreading your house being filled with goodies, then why not try putting the goodies out of sight and starting a few non sweet-based family traditions. There are some great old and new ideas here. Turns out my Mum just might have known what she was doing after all!

Thanks for reading

Aisling

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