All Aboard for Easter!

by Sabrina, The Chaos of 3

There are very few family days out or fun events that I take the kids to on my own but on this occasion, when daddy was on the road with the band to an event in far away Belmullet, I was offered an afternoon appointment for the opening day of Rathwood’s Easter Train so decided to go for it. I was driving the crazy chaos train solo!

It certainly gave me a mild dose of optimism to see the sun shining last Saturday morning and I had managed to brain wash myself into believing we had to be on the road by 11.30am. We didn’t! Rathwood in Tullow is 40 minutes from my door and we were due there for 1pm but I have a horrible track record when it comes to being on time! Even this review is late.

When it comes to anything food related, especially chocolate, I get a little nervous about my peanut allergy child, Spencer is brilliant at remembering to ask if something new is safe for him but I couldn’t imagine him restraining himself surrounded by golden chocolate eggs so I had to make some arrangements. Having spoken to Brenda at Rathwood we decided the best plan was for me to bring along an egg I was happy for him to eat and we would covertly sneak it to the Easter Bunny! This worked out perfectly, our group leader, (we called her She-lock Holmes due to her Sherlock-esque costume!) took the egg from me, she made a mental note that Spence was the one with the Paw Patrol back pack and while all the kids jumped around furiously for a golden egg, Spence was included in the fold and I was relaxed that he got his nut free egg. If you have any concerns about your child’s allergy or intolerance, I’d encourage you to do something similar and the staff at Rathwood are more than willing to help. It made all the difference to our day so my thanks to Brenda and the team for accommodating.

The experience takes about an hour in total; the kids get to make some funky bunny glasses to wear on the train along with a pair of furry bunny ears; they do a fun egg hunt in the forest for decorative eggs and at the end they get to trade one decorative egg for a real chocolate egg from the Easter Bunny. Back at the main event area a final treat of hot chocolate and marshmallows can be got using the token we received earlier at the check in desk.

We very genuinely had a great day, as I said it wouldn’t be often that I would take the kids to an event alone because when you have more kids than you have hands to grab them with, well it can be overwhelming! I would be more than happy to do more events at Rathwood with the gang because the Easter Train was fun and easy and they all got some enjoyment from it. Yes, my pre-preteen (I am not willing to call her an actual pre-teen yet, that makes her and I both seem older than I’d like us to be!) did have a bit of a sulk on her lovely face for a while, the idea of this childish furry bunny, the preschool arts and crafts, the bunny ears near killed her cred altogether! Funny enough though, half way around the train ride I saw her change seats, she edged over to the window and suddenly she was very invested in helping She-lock Holmes locate the missing golden egg for the Easter Bunny! She went head first into the hunt for decorative eggs in the forest and was the only one of my gang to take enough care of her furry ears that they made it home in her bag!

If I was to pick out any little down sides, and they would be very little, I would say it wasn’t immediately obvious where we had to go when we arrived. I ended up circling aimlessly in what turned out to be the final area where folks getting off the train end up. So, when you do arrive you should go right, into the gift shop and take a left down to the back of the store where the check-in window is. Allow yourself time for check-in, our train was 1pm so being there at 12.50pm was comfortable. I might also say that some elements were tight on time. For example, assembling the bunny glasses is simple for anyone over 5 we’ll say but the younger ones will need mum or dad to help and it was a bit of a race to do that before heading for the train. Our egg hunt in the forest was lovely but they do have a guideline that each child collects two or three eggs each; this is so as everyone gets a few but it doesn’t necessarily work that way. The over excited amongst us filled up on eggs and I did see a couple of little kids struggling to find this festive treasure. Really, that’s all I can pick out and I wouldn’t count them as anything major, certainly nothing that stopped us having fun! Maybe I’ll add to bring your strong game face when walking through the gift shop at the start and end of the event! This strength will be as much-needed to restrain yourself from buying all of the lovely things as it will be to say no to every lovely thing your kid now sees and wants!!

October 30, 2023 — Chisom Onwukwe

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