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ROAD TRIP Pregnant RTE star Kathryn Thomas refuses to sacrifice her love of travel

People thought I was bonkers to holiday with Ellie in a camper van while six months pregnant’

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RTÉ star Kathryn Thomas is launching second series of her road trip show, No Place Like Home.

RTÉ star Kathryn Thomas is launching second series of her road trip show, No Place Like Home.

RTÉ star Kathryn Thomas is launching second series of her road trip show, No Place Like Home.

She used to be known as the face of adventure travel, jumping out of planes, diving with sharks or bungee jumping off spectacular bridges. But pregnant RTE star Kathryn Thomas’s lifestyle these days is a little more sedate than when she presented No Frontiers for ten years.

The love of travel has never left the 42-year-old broadcaster though and tonight she launches the second series of her popular road trip show, No Place Like Home.

Once again the Carlow native explores nooks and crannies around Ireland to highlight what is available for us armchair viewers planning a staycation before the summer is gone.

Her three-year-old daughter Ellie is as much a star of the show as her mum as they travel from Malin Head to Mizen Head in a camper van.

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Kathryn and daughter Ellie in their camper van.

Kathryn and daughter Ellie in their camper van.

Kathryn and daughter Ellie in their camper van.

 

“I was gone for the whole of July and Ellie was with me for the first and last weeks so she was there in Donegal and West Cork,” says Kathryn, whose second child with husband Padraig McLoughlin is due at the end of October.

“She had such a ball last year when she was two but she was much more malleable and much more easily distracted back then because when we have to move, we have to move.

“She’s at an age now where I just felt it was going to be too much for her and too much time away from her childminder and all of her mates.

“So she was away with us for the two weeks and then I flew solo for two weeks.”

And flying solo naturally brought back memories of what her life used to be like in the Noughties.

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TV presenter Kathryn Thomas is expecting her second child in October.

TV presenter Kathryn Thomas is expecting her second child in October.

TV presenter Kathryn Thomas is expecting her second child in October.

 

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“Do you know what? It was actually the perfect balance. I thought, oh my God, this was what it was like to travel in my 20s when I was doing No Frontiers.

“There was no one hanging out of me, I was able to read my books in the evening, have a bath, go for lovely sunrise swims, so it was actually perfect.

“Even though we were working long days of 14 and 15 hours it felt like a holiday when she wasn’t there.

“That was such a joy but obviously I preferred it when she was with me because of the experiences we had. She’s at an age now where she is curious about everything.”

Kathryn said one of the biggest joys about being a mother was seeing her baby turn into a little person.

“Motherhood is what I expected and more. Every day they just have you in stitches.

“It is hard and it is tiring and there are days you look back at photos of yourself on a beach in Thailand with a backpack and the sun on your face and you go, ‘Where is that person?’ Or when you’re unpacking from the shops or putting the laundry on for the 20th time that day.

“But the best part is the joy they give you and their curiosity. They’re learning and making observations. I could just hang out with her all day. She’s never boring.

“She can be annoying and testing, for sure, but mostly I’m just amazed by her little brain. To see her play and to see her learning is such a privilege.

“I really relish and look forward to educating her and bringing her up the right way and I see already she is inquisitive about the world and what’s going on and that’s exciting.”

Kathryn said she had no reservations about hitting the road with a three-year-old while pregnant, sometimes sleeping in the camper van and other times glamping or staying in a B&B or hotel. But other people questioned her sanity.

“To travel like that is in my bones now. People were saying, ‘You’re six and a half months pregnant with a child in a camper van, what on earth are you doing? Are you mad?’

“But I feel most at home when I’m moving. I’m older and more settled but I love it. I love exploring, I love travelling and going to new places and meeting new people and I think that will never leave me.

“We did it at a slower pace and I wasn’t jumping out of any airplanes or scuba diving like I was last year. The schedule was created around my physical needs.

“I don’t get nervous at all. I love it and the welcome we got everywhere was fantastic as it generally is in Ireland.

“And Ellie had a ball and ate more ice cream than the HB factory could actually produce. When you ask her what was her favorite part of the holidays, ice cream comes first and the bears come second.”

The youngster got up close to big mammals at the recently opened Wild Ireland Animal Sanctuary near Buncrana, which features in tonight’s show.

Co Donegal’s Inishowen peninsula is now one of Kathryn’s favourite places in Ireland after seeing some of its beautiful beaches.

“We holidayed there before with friends for a week at a beautiful Air B&B at Malin Head and we explored from there. I have never seen beaches anywhere like it,” she said.

“We took a boat one day and the weather was bad and we pulled into Kinnagoe Bay to get out of the wind and we were blown away by it. So next day we went back and the sun was splitting the stones and I swear to God it was like being in Bali or Indonesia because the sand was so white and the sea was turquoise and the green forest behind. it was just incredible. It’s absolutely stunning.”

Kathryn also visits the Aran Islands, Doolin and County Clare and West Cork in future episodes of the show. She hadn’t been to Inishmore on the Aran Islands since a child and was hugely impressed by developments in the food scene, glamping and tourism.

And she said she was thrilled to see the real spirit of Cead Mile Failte everywhere.

“You think it’s for the Yanks or the Europeans but there was a palpable sense of ‘It’s great to see you, it’s really great to see you.’ They open their doors and they want to feed you and look after you. I really got a great sense of that on the road and it was lovely to experience.”

Kathryn said she was lucky with her pregnancy during the trip and suffered no problems. (She knows the sex of her baby but she and husband Padraig are keeping that to themselves.)

“I was sick for a couple of weeks at the beginning of the pregnancy and I’ve been very fortunate since then. I’ve been feeling great and strong although definitely tired,” she says.“But when Ellie was with me she was in bed at 8pm and I wasn’t too far behind her at half 830.

“Once I get my sleep and my food and I’m moving about the place and not sitting down for huge amounts of time I’m good. But driving, there were plenty of pit stops.”

The TV presenter said she would miss the build up to next year’s Operation Transformation programme, with pre-production usually beginning in October, but she would be ready to front the 14th series of the show early next year.

“I should be back in January all going well but it won’t be as big a workload as I normally take on.

“But everybody is working together and they are such a great team we can make anything work despite Covid.”

  • No Place Like Home starts its four-episode run on RTE One tonight at 6.30pm

Photo: Marc O’Sullivan, marcosullivan.ie
Hair: Norma Jean O’Reilly, therooomd4.ie
Make-up: Michelle Field
Series Stylist: Clementine Macneice
Shoot location: Irish Museum of Modern Art, imma.ie

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