Wicklow Way Christmas Tree Farm

Every December, buying our Christmas tree is a major event in our house.  Okay when I think about it more, it is ME which makes it a bigger deal than it and I love the memories it brings for me and the kids.  As a child, we never cut down our tress – we just bought  one from the local seller and brought it home and put it up.  I have no cozy memories of tree farms  and I want that for my little ones.

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Our first year in Dublin, we set out on an adventure to cut down our own tree and ended up at Slade Valley Christmas Tree Farm. and it was brilliant.  The tree was lovely and I want a good experience again this year with a bit more atmosphere.  You can’t beat a real tree which we pick out, cut down and enjoy in our home.  Plus a real, freshly-cut tree looks and smells great.

Only this year we will try a different tree farm in the Wicklow Mountains – Wicklow Way Tree Farm in Roundstone.  Their  website looks great, clearly a full campaign was put in place.  If for some reason we could not find it, there are several in Wicklow so I’m sure it would be fine.

While it seems far, the drive from our house was just over 1 hour so not bad at all and we were into the mountains.  There was a bit of snow the night before and much more expected Sunday along with the fact that Nils is heading to the US for a week, we took advantage of this one day we had to get the tree in the mountains.

Once we reached Roundstone it was very easy to find our way – these blue signs lead us right to the farm.

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The farm was lovely – the staff was very friendly and informative and the instructions were clear.  Tag the tree, flag down a guy in blue and then relax and warm up while they cut down.  We parked the car and got out wellies on as the ground was very mucky and wet.  It wasn’t even 5 minutes before the kids noticed the white fluffy snow which fell last night and they were off and going crazy in it.

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We walked a while trying to find the right tree… kids played with the snow while I keep searching for the right one.  A few measurements and we found one that we all liked.

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After Soren watched the man cut down our tree, we had complimentary hot chocolate and minced pies & treats while we waited for our tree to be brought down from the field and a net put around it.

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Overall the experience was great – we’d highly recommend this tree farm to anyone who is looking to go pick out your own tree.  The cost was very reasonable too at £8. a foot, you can choose how much you want to spend.

Only problem is that our tree this year is a bit taller than before so I don’t have enough lights to cover it so tomorrow, we’ll go buy more led bright lights to add to it.

Will post a photo when completed with loads of new glass ornaments.

And the final decorated tree.

Christmas Tree: Slade Valley Christmas Tree Farm, Wicklow Mountains, Ireland

On Sunday, we all bundled up and headed out towards Meath to see if we could find Wades Christmas Tree Farm which we read about on a landscaper’s blog.   Well after driving around and finally asking in a local pub, we learned that it had been closed down for a few years and that it will take a few more to have the crop ready.  Grrr…. so not sure what to do, we drove towards IKEA as we know they had an offer – buy a tree for 30 and get a 20 store credit to be used in January – great deal!!  But when we arrived at IKEA, Nils said he’d prefer to go to a tree farm as we had planned and started to head south towards Wicklow Mountains – a place we keep finding ourselves drawn.

We did a quick check in the car park and found a list of “Irish Christmas Tree Growers” and found Slade Valley Christmas Tree Farm – amazing how technology and wifi help us in our day-to-day!!

When we arrived, they had a section of trees which they just cut and continue to replenish throughout the day.  Many people came and just picked up one of these trees but we first walked around the field in the back to see what trees were currently in the ground.  The concept was that you find a tree you like, tag it with a white ribbon supplied and then a man comes and cuts it down for you.  Normally the field is home to sheep and it was obvious, for the mounds and mounds of poo all over the ground – thankfully the kids were in their wellies.   At first we were trying to be cautious but after five minutes, it was clear that was not an option!!

The view is spectacular – and from the photo, it’s probably clear as to why we love the Wicklow Mountains and find ourselves there often.


The field even had this cute guy next to it, watching us.

As we walked around, we spotted many trees which we liked but just didn’t want to cut it down as it was the “one”.  I was after a tree which was somewhat sparse as I like the look of seeing all the lights and ornaments hanging down.  We went back up to the lot to see what they had just as a guy was taking off some newly cut trees… and after looking at about a dozen, I found one that I liked.  So we packed it in the trunk and headed off in search of a pub where we could have a meal.

After two days of letting it settle and 360 colorful super bright multi-colored lights (kids choice), we decorated it with all our ornaments.

The glass and more special ones which we collected overthe past years go to the top.  I’ve started buying ornaments from places we’ve visited.


Now that our tree is hung, the kids love looking at it.

Speaking of lights – originally the tree was going to have 700 lights on it, but as it took me nearly 1 hour to untangle the brand new lights.  Thankfully, I didn’t open the package and they are going back — those extra lights are just not worth the aggravation!!!


Last year our tree was a bit girly with pinks and silvers… so this year I hope to change it up a bit. The balls are still okay, it’s just instead of the pink lights, I was thinking of getting some warm white ones but the kids yelled “bright, colorful, rainbow ones“, so I think they’ve just swayed me towards colored LED ones.  After all they are going to enjoy it just as much as me.   When we lived in Winthrop (2007-2010) our tree had blue lights – I thought it was cute but wouldn’t go back to blue lights now.  One day I’ll have a “kids tree” in their playroom and an adult tree in the living room.
When we lived in Boston, our family spent an afternoon at Crane Neck Christmas Tree Farm cutting down our own Christmas tree – which I loved. We bundled up, grabbed a saw, and spent nearly an hour wandering around the farm, in search of that perfect tree. I even like the places which you go in August and tag our tree and come back and cut it down after Thanksgiving.  I love the atmosphere of these type places – very New England – which at times I do miss and hope to return other times, I’m okay living abroad – but that is for another time.

We called it our Charlie Brown Christmas Tree as it was a bit bare but the best part was that it was FIVE dollars!  Yes, only $5.00 – hard to believe.

We’ve seen a lot of places in the area which sell pre-cut trees on the side of the road, but those tend to have been cut in September & October so often are very dry and lose all needles quickly.  We were suckered into buying a $65.00 special Fraser fir tree from the lot at Ace Hardware in Winthrop, MA.  We were told it was amazing at needle-retention and in the matter of days dried out despite keeping it full of water.   Pfff – I’d much prefer my $5.00 wicked bargain!

 

Ireland Road Tripping: Greystones & Wicklow Mountains

On Sunday, we decided to take a road trip towards the south of Dublin towards county Wickow which is known as the “Garden of Ireland” has it all – mountains, lakes, coast, beaches, forests, blanket bogs, ancient monastic sites, stately homes and gardens, pretty villages & towns.  Sounds great, so we first visit Greystones – a village we heard a lot about.   When we arrived we poked around a vintage flea market called Flea By The Sea – which had a mix of some real vintage items and a bunch of overpriced junk.  For example, a used, dark blue plastic police money box which Soren asked about.  Her reply to him was 20 EURO saying it was where Dr. Who slept – pfff.  Perhaps if it were brand new or metal would anyone pay 20 euro.   I was expecting a few EURO. So if I ever see one – [or if anyone who reads this blog posts sees one for cheap], grab it for Soren.

We parked our car in the centre and walked around the seafront a bit, where Nils and Maebh spotted a giant car boot sale -so we of course, had to visit that for a good hour.  We got some good deals including football boots for Soren.

Then back along the seafront, the kids played hop scotch and watched some people in the sea, a SUP and a seal.   Then we were off to explore but first had to eat.

Walking down the main street during lunch time with two hungry kids, we ended up in a place which had a soup/sandwich special for a good price – but in hindsight, I’d have preferred different.  It’s too bad we didn’t do any research on pubs or restaurants to visit as we ended up in one which was fine but not good food.  Note to self – never do that again.   But they did have a lot of laughs on their shared bench.

 

Before you say it – Soren just got a bit of a haircut now he can see again! ;0

After we left Greystones we took a drive into the Wicklow National Mountains through Enniskerry – which is such a cute town coined gateway to the garden of Ireland.  I’d much rather have had lunch here and a friend suggested next time we try Poppy’s for lunch in Enniskerry and come see the Kilmacanogue Horse Show next year.

We set off to find Ireland’s tallest waterfalls – Powerscourt Waterfalls.  It’s part of the Powerscourt Gardens Estate which looks like such a nice place so we’ll have to come back and explore. If we lived closer, I’d consider an annual membership as you support the estate, the amazing grounds and the conservation of the beautiful falls.  I just saw it was rated No. 3 garden in the world by National Geographic.

Not knowing what to expect after we paid entrance and went past the super cute cottage,we parked our car and walked over a bit but as you’ll see in the first photo, you can drive right up near them and many families were having picnics, birthday parties, etc.

There are some nice trails around which we didn’t do, but here you can see three 20 something year old guys who climbed up the side and were struggling to come down. Soren said they were “not smart people”.

Part of the falls area is a nice playground which the kids loved.   Soren was especially loving the metal crank thing where the water is brought up.

And like all the playgrounds here, a giant fire pole and super fast, super high slides -they are all so high and so fast – why?!  One kid came down so fast, they flew right off and into the dirt.

After an ice cream, we were off to make our way towards home, until Nils suggested one more detour and so we headed towards the Glendalough National Park. It was already 5 pm when we arrived, so we only planned to take a quick peek and head home.

We drove through the mountains on Military Road, built in 1800 by the British who were trying to gain access to areas wehre the Rebels who took park int he 1798 uprising were hiding out.

The first thing we came to was the Monastic site – an early Christian monastic settlement founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century. Over time, this early settlement developed into one of the great monasteries in Ireland whose remains can be seen in the Monastic City today.

The Monastic Site contains a number of monastic remains. Foremost among these is the Round Tower which stands 30m high and has been completely preserved. Round towers are a feature unique to Irish monasticism and have evoked much curiosity as to their purpose. As a symbol, the Round Tower has become synonymous with Glendalough.
Other buildings of interest include:
  • the Cathedral which was dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul;
  • St. Kevin’s Church (commonly known as St. Kevin’s Kitchen) dating from the 12th century;
  • St. Kieran’s Church which stands next to St. Kevin’s Church in testament to their friendship;
  • St. Mary’s Church dating from the 10th century which was also known as Teampall na mBan (the Women’s Church) and stands in the outer enclosure of the Monastic City;
  • the Priest’s House which stands in the cemetery.
Remains of other churches outside the Monastic City itself can also be found on the site. These include the beautifully preserved Trinity Church dating from the 11th century; Reefert Church which was one of the earliest built and stands in the area near the Upper Lake known as St. Kevin’s Desert; and St. Saviour’s Church situated at the eastern end of the valley about 20 minutes’ walk from the Monastic City.
A number of other features of archaeological and spiritual significance can be found. A large granite High Cross, thought to be one of the earliest in Ireland, stands at the centre of the Monastic City.
The remains of an old stone fort or ‘caher’ can be found between the Upper and Lower Lake. A further three stone crosses can also be found in this area.
Most significant of all is St. Kevin’s Bed, a Bronze Age cave carved into the rock overlooking the Upper Lake which St. Kevin made his retreat when he founded the monastery. It is a lonely and inhospitable place which gives one an idea of the hardships faced by early Irish monks and the courage and commitment it took to face their challenges.
St. Kevin’s Bed is no longer accessible but can be viewed from the other shore of the lake. However, St. Kevin’s Cell on a ledge of rock also overlooking the Upper Lake can be accessed relatively easily. Here the remains of a beehive hut can be seen which is also thought to have been St. Kevin’s.

From the monastic site, we took a 2 km walk before finally heading back to the car and make our way home.



Overall it was a lovely place to visit and like the other places on our trip today, it would be nice to come back and visit again – especially during their family days – which look to be fun & educational.

There is a place just up the road called Clara Lara –  despite their horrible website – it looks great. Apparently it is a unique outdoor adventure park – dedicated to providing healthy and creative fun for
families and groups of children. 30 acres of beautiful countryside in the Avonmore River valley with tree houses, Tarzan swings, rope bridges, rowing boats, water slides, rafts, canoes, junior go-carts, B.B.Q.s, mini golf, picnic areas, a restaurant and lots more.