Burrito brothers. And burrito parents.

We went on holidays recently. In the years before I found myself responsible for my very own small people, I used to occupy an entire suitcase myself. Well my stuff did, my clothes and loads of sandals and make up because I went to beaches and pools and historical sites and nice places in the evening time. Imagine! Anyway with the arduous task of packing for ourselves and the two small boys ahead (tiny cars going where assorted chunky bangles used to) we decided to save on washing up and general hassle and just eat out the night before we went on holidays.

Myself and Mark are big fans of the original teeny Boojum on Millennium Way in Dublin (there’s Belfast and Galway branches too).  We’d often pop in for a burrito when we’ve needed a quick bite out and about. The older child had accompanied us several times and loved getting his hands on the “crippies” – nachos. Now it’s got a big sister, a spacious branch across the river on Kevin St just by the DIT.

When we called in to the new one on a midweek evening ten days after it opened, the first thing that struck me was how visually interesting and fun the decor is. That alone was enough to buy me a few more minutes eating time while the toddler explored the colourful textures and surfaces.

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Trying it out…and settling on Daddy’s.

The choices are really varied with different wraps, two types of beans, two of rice, three salsas and all of it (bar the wraps themselves) is made fresh by Boojum. There’s combinations to suit every palate. Everything is made fresh on the premises and the fresh and flavourful ingredients set it apart from a rash of bland and stodgy burrito joints that have popped up around the city in the years since they first opened.

I chose a vegetarian burrito packed full of Mexican smokey pinto beans, with a medium salsa, and delicious guacamole. No one dare tell me that’s not a decent healthy dinner. My husband had the meatiest hottest burrito he could order and we chose soft tacos for the kids.  We were encouraged to try different fillings for the tacos. So we had some with pork and tomato salsa and some with chicken and corn salsa.  Me and Mark are already big fans, and Dominic loves ham wraps for his school lunches, so the tacos were an easy sell.  Teddy ate some of the fillings, a bunch of tortilla chips and then wanted to play hide and seek in the seating area.  This is really family friendly food – don’t let the notion that Mexican food has to be spicy cloud your judgement.  There’s not only a small beer selection, there’s also lots of interesting non-alcoholic options, stretching way outside the usual Diet Coke or 7Up options.  Mmmm, delicious ginger beer! It’s great value for a quick family meal in town, and though there’s not children’s options several of the dishes are shareable.

The seats are of the high stool variety, and during our visit they hadn’t any high chairs yet. The manager Steffi assured me that they were on the way so they’re probably in situ by now. They do have a big restroom area including baby changing so this was clearly just a new restaurant teething issue rather than an omission.

It’s great that more restaurants are catering to parents with kids with tastes beyond chicken nuggets and chips or pizza. Boojum has firmly joined it’s Camden St noodle house neighbour Neon on my list of Dublin’s great family spots.

I was invited to visit Boojum for the purposes of this review. All opinions are my own.

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Thoughts on free range; a visit to Sweden.

We live in a city. A city with traffic, unknown dangers; of the real kind and the scaremongering kind. We ferry our kids about in cars and on the back of bikes but we don’t leave them off on their own without several phone calls to parents and prearranged pick up and drop off times. Things are different all over the country of course, I know lots of kids rural or otherwise have more freedom.

This year, we’ve taken our holidays in Sweden staying with friends. Sweden: land of long maternity and paternity leave, massively subsidised childcare, an outdoors lifestyle and lots of freedom for kids. Schooling starts comparatively late (aged seven) and is holistic in nature. Discipline isn’t an oft heard word.

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All Of The Fishes

Our two are younger than our friends’ children but they’ve been learning fast – they’re spending a lot of time naked. There’s a lake near by; we’ve all been swimming in it and our drinking water (unflouridated) comes from there too. The eight year old and his friend cycled down to the swimming area themselves, with tractors and Volvo estates passing them by carefully. The kids wear bike helmets, their natural freedom is complemented by a respect for the realistic dangers. (In their parents cars they sit rear facing until age four or five). We’ve seen six year olds don their life jackets and go to fish off the pier in a different part of the same lake. The eight year old caught a pike the day before we arrived, he’s told me in excellent enthusiastic childish English at least ten times how he saw the pike and BASHED its head with the handle of his fishing rod. He also showed me photos of the fish him and his father have caught and named them all in Swedish and English.

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The Next Door Forest

On Sundays a refurbished steam boat takes people for pleasure cruises around the lakes. In the winter the lake freezes up to two metres thick and people light campfires right out on the ice. They skate on it, they drill holes and fish on it, they live with and on and in and around this lake.

The local community have an informal rota of keeping the common areas mown and tidy. It makes it a pleasant place to be and keeping the long grass down lessens the chance of being bitten by an adder. For even though the land is verdant green it’s not like Ireland – there’s huge insects, snakes, moose and wolves and wild boar in the surrounding forest. They don’t litter, they take care of their amenities, nature-given or man-made.

Kids are taught to embrace the freedom of summer in the same way grown ups do because it’s not all idyllic weather-wise; in contrast to the 6-8 weeks of proper summer weather where the sky barely darkens you’ll find yourself penned in by snow and ice and darkness from December to April.

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Huge insect buzzing round me in the garden