Those of you that follow me on Facebook and Instagram might well be aware that last week we were on holiday in Northern Ireland. Without wishing to be harsh, it is definitely fair to say that Northern Ireland has never been on our holiday hit list and, had it not been for a family wedding blessing, we’d still be non the wiser about this simply stunning gem of a place.
I barely had a chance to think about blogging or anything really apart from the scenery and the all to rare bit of family time but, as I sat outside the girls bedroom waiting for the little little to settle, there wasn’t not much else to do other than note a few of the highlights of our trip purely for your reading pleasure; you lucky little blighters you!
1) Living on the Wirral it was an easy decision to get the ferry from Birkenhead to Belfast but we hadn’t bargained on just how simple and straightforward it would be.
We boarded with our car at 8pm for the overnight crossing, relaxed with a drink whilst the girls made friends at the soft play and hit our bunks before we set sail at 10pm for a genuinely great nights sleep.
We docked shortly before 6am the following morning and were welcomed by an amazing sunrise and the sun has stayed out for the majority of our trip which we definitely hadn’t counted on.
I am now sitting in my little bunk as we head home and I can happily say that the return trip has been just as smooth.
Stenaline; I am suitably impressed!
2) Bangor has a pretty marina and a fab art project but what we really loved was Pickie Fun Park. We had a fantastic family time splashing in puddles, riding on the train and messing about on the Swan pedalloes.
The girls were in their element running through the water and I reckon that when it’s the height of summer the place would be packed. As it was we almost had the place to ourselves aside from two skiving teenagers sneaking a fag in one go the other pedalloes. Tut tut.
3) We stumbled upon our B&B after googling Family friendly places to stay in Northern Ireland and I am so chuffed we did, it was absolutely amazing and the food alone deserves it’s own post…5 course taster menu with wine just for us grown ups?! Don’t mind if I do!
Rayanne House belongs to Bernie and Conor (we’re on first name terms now!) and it’s located in a cute little town called Holywood that you might be aware of thanks to a certain Rory McIlroy who hails from there (and has been to the house!). They have won an embarrassment of awards but I am sure the only one they’ve been waiting for is the seal of approval from Muma Leary and co! Well, the votes are in and they can breathe easy;
Everything that mattered was absolutely first class. The welcome, the personal touches and the fact that nothing was too much trouble makes it really obvious that, though running a B&B may be their living, it is certainly not ‘a job’ and I would urge you to book a night there (with or without the kids) and take some elasticated pants!
4) I’m not sure if this is a sign that we are getting a bit long in the tooth but we had a wicked time at the Ulster Folk Museum. The sun was cracking the flags which obviously helped but being able to walk around old fashioned homes, shops and churches talking to the girls about “the olden days” ad reminiscing about my own childhood was one of my best days on the planet so far. Watching them run along the streets and get giddy with excitement over mangles and tin baths was a delight.
We loved it.
5) It’s not news to say that farming across the UK and Ireland has experienced some extremely challenging times in the past decade or so. This has lead to many of them diversifying in some way and opening their doors to the good old general public. One such place is Ark Open Farm.
Being brutal, first impressions were not brilliant with limited parking and slightly dodgy signage but how wrong we were. We spent a very happy morning here and could easily have made it practically into a full day if we’d have ventured into any of the inside play areas.
We fed the animals, petted some baby rabbits (called kittens FYI, pub quiz knowledge- always handy) rode on a donkey (obviously only the girls!) had a picnic in the fab play area and compared their meerkats and all for under £20.
In short ( a little late now, I appreciate!) We have had an absolutely fabulous week away in Northern Ireland and feel like we have barely scratched the surface of everything there is to do- for adults and children.
We can’t wait to come back and my only regret is that I hadn’t even considered it as a holiday destination before. Further proof of how spoilt we are to live in such a glorious country.
Where has been your favourite family holiday and why? I’d love to know…
* I ought to qualify the title by saying that actually it was mid week and it was at Conor and Bernie’s but I do love a film title pun!