Every year for the last few years I have been saying the same thing "We should go to Bloom" but somehow for one reason or another we never went. Mainly because for a number of those years we had a mobile home in Liscannor so every June Bank holiday weekend when the Bloom Festival was on we were down there. This year as we are in the process of redesigning our garden we said "OK...no more excuses!". Then just when we thought "yay! I'm finally going to Bloom!" my poor little son got sick with a chest infection. I just thought okay, I'm going to be mindful about this as this is out of my control and there's nothing we can do about it - we'll aim for next year!
Bloom Festival...a real family fun day out
The funny thing was the one who was most disappointed about us not going was my son! After lots of couch cuddles on saturday and sunday he had a good nights sleep on the sunday night and was much brighter on the monday so after much deliberating - and major convincing from him we decided to head off. It was a late start for us (due to the deliberating and temperature checking) but again in the past I probably would have thought - it's too late it will be lunchtime before we get there. I thought - we'll be there by lunchtime so we'll have the full afternoon! As predicted, we got there by 1pm. After driving from Limerick we parked our car at the Red Cow Inn and got the Luas into Hueston Station where there were free shuttle buses going to and from the Phoenix Park where Bloom was on so it was stress free as we avoided the traffic and having to find parking.
Appreciating the tastes and smells...
On arrival I was very impressed with Bloom’s new ‘kids passport’ initiative, which gave my 6 year old son a wristband with a contact mobile phone number printed on it so that if he was to get separated from us in the crowd that we could be easily re-united. He's not one for wondering off but he was still happy out with his wristband! My daughter now having her own mobile phone was less impressed. As we arrived at lunchtime, we went straight for food and to say we couldn't have been in a better place was an understatement! We were surrounded by Ireland’s top food and beverage producers with the best of fresh food, artisan and organic produce, meat, poultry and fish and ‘Best in Season’ fruit and vegetables. We spotted two familiar places - Adare Farm and Country Choice (which we frequently visit in Limerick's Milk Market on a Saturday) - but these both had the longest ques - and with the beautiful aromatic smells wafting from both of them and knowing how their food tastes I'm not one bit surprised. The most popular items from the Country Choice stand appeared to be their iconic flash fried sirloin of Hereford with sweet carmalized onions, Country Choice honey and mustard salsa, mature Cashel blue, roast peppers and local Organic leaves all on a warm Ciabiatta. While Adare Farm had their roast suckling pork that would melt in your mouth with every bite.
There was also the Bloom Bistro that offered a more formal sit-down meal, or an informal café and seafood-bar which unfortunately we only discovered later that day. We were handed maps on our way in but I did think that the food options on this weren't explained very well and could have been clearer visually - and that's not the designer in me speaking as my husband agreed!
A Visual Treat in Garden Design
After we had sampled the food and we felt content with our full bellies we headed off to explore the gardens. The visual display of flowers, plants and trees here didn't disappoint and to see what some of the garden designers had created with their spaces was beautiful. We also managed to pause as much as possible to smell all the gorgeous roses and saw lots of bees To top it off there was even a Dispicable Me Garden with 2 Minions that made my son's day! After we had visited the gardens the rain unfortunately started to fall so we didn't get to spend as much time in the kids area as we would have liked but did get to check out strawberries and bluberries growing in the Keelings stand and my daughter also got to watch a visual tour of the Keelings farm which she enjoyed but to my son's dismay was over 12's. After my son got to sample some Innocent Smoothies we made our way back to the food stalls to purchase some produce and at this point there were lots of bargains on offer as the weekend was coming to an end so we stocked up on pestos, cold meats and even hand-made chololate and gourmet marsh mallows by Mallow Mia!
All in all this family day out was definitely worth a trip and something that we finally got to experience. After all the years of saying "We must definitely go to Bloom" I can now finally say "I'm glad we experienced Bloom"!