Yesterday for a little Monday treat I took the kids on a walk to see the sunset as it looked absolutely stunning.

View from Culmore Point

View from Culmore Point

Luca loves looking at the water and every morning on our school run I put down the car windows as we drive past it, watching out for boats, birds, seagulls and to see how much water and wildlife we can spot. I think he might be a future David Attenborough!

We got a really lovely surprise when as we were looking over the old dry stone wall,  one swan popped it’s long, graceful neck over to have a look at us!

Mother swan having a cheeky peep

Mother swan having a cheeky peep

Followed by two more equally stunning swans.

Luca, Eve and I have been following the lives and progress of the swans ever since they were little baby cygnets. There used to be four but yesterday we only saw three. Wow they have grown a huge amount since the last time we saw them up close, which must have been last January/February.

Back then they were very small, following their mother closely, now they are big, magestic, magnificent birds resplendent in their beauty and oh so confident!

Three beautiful swans

Three beautiful swans

They weren’t very impressed that we hadn’t got any food to give them, judging by the sheer size of them and the fact they were not one bit afraid of us – in fact there were slightly intimidating in how overly friendly they were- they are obviously quite spoilt. How could they  not be, they are so beautiful.

Swans always remind me of the old Celtic legend of The Children of Lir, not least because the only daughter was called Fionnuala.

The whole setting yesterday would have been ideal as a film set!

On the rest of our walk back to the car we were joined by two very friendly cats, purring around our ankles and trying to make a break for the backseat of the car.

Looking at the view across Lough Foyle to the Lisahally docks is really nice – even the smoke coming out of the factory funnel adds to the ambience.

Lisahally Docks

Lisahally Docks

The view of the Foyle Bridge in the distance is beautiful against the stillness of the water, the clouds and the glorious array of colours coming from the setting sun in the sky.

Foyle bridge in the distance

Foyle bridge in the distance

I’m so grateful that we live in such an outstandingly beautiful area of natural beauty. I really don’t appreciate it enough.

 

 

PORTRUSH TO

With the Mayday bank holiday weekend falling on the hottest week of the year so far, we decided to treat the kids to a mini break, using the opportunity to meet up with a friend and her beautiful daughter.

Our destination of choice was the picturesque North Coast of Northern Ireland. The Area of Outstanding Beauty has lots to do outdoors including walks on the blue flag beaches and the Giant’s Causeway – and indoors, particularly the iconic Barry’s amusements and award winning Ramore Winebar and Harbour Bar for food, the seaside town of Portrush was the ideal location.

We hit the jackpot when it came to accommodation with our friend suggesting a five star hostel Portrush Townhouse Boutique Hostel, an option I hadn’t even considered. But with four children in tow we gave it a go – and  were very pleasantly surprised!

Portrush Boutique Hostel

Portrush Boutique Hostel

Used to booking family rooms in hotels, keeping a toddler amused within the confined space never mind the many  hidden dangers (sharp cupboard edges, drinks cabinets, low drawers, to name a few) always proves quite a challenge.

Arriving at the hostel with a very warm welcome we were delighted to discover that the very grand looking Victorian townhouse has throughout its lively past accommodated many travellers from around the globe.

We were more than impressed that our studio apartment room in fact encompassed a whole wing of the house! We even had our very own lockable entrance door.

The extra space was such an unexpected luxury, enabling Eve and Luca some extra room for when they go through their nightly energetic stage (aka jumping around like lunatics, shouting and letting off steam before bed).

There was a small yet ample kitchen equipped with pots, pans, oven, sink – absolutely everything you need to cook up a meal or just make a cup of tea. All we had to do was bring the food.

A small corridor lead to the spacious main room itself which contained; a double bed and a set of bunk beds, a sofa and wicker chairs, a large TV and a dining table with chairs.

Studio apartment suite

Studio apartment suite

We also had an en-suite bathroom with a shower just off our main  room. The entire house was dripping in period detail which added to its unique charm.

The kitchen was ideal for keeping wandering little hands away from the kettle – a battle we struggle with each time we stay in a hotel.  The fridge was ideal for storing  perishable items, including Luca’s dairy free butter and milk – something we found very difficult to do in a hotel resulting in the food going off.

We were also able to rustle up some late night rounds of toast for supper and porridge made with dairy free milk in the morning for Luca – something that wouldn’t have been possible had we been in a hotel.

Everyone loved being in such close proximity to one another yet having a bit more personal space than a hotel room would allow! We could all easily watch the tv screen from the comfort of our beds – and boy were they comfortable, so comfortable and luxurious infact that I really struggled to drag myself out of bed in the morning.

There was free wifi and the option of breakfast which was located in the basement of the house, after descending a beautiful authentic black wrought iron  spiral staircase in the lounge room was another quirky feature adding to the character of the house.

As the hostel was so central all the main attractions were easily within walking distance.  After a long walk on the beach and around the town we had walked up an appetite which only the sea air can induce. We dined in the Portrush Atlantic Hotel and wolfed down every last bite of the food.

Portrush Atlantic Hotel

Exhausted from our adventures we settled back into the hostel for the night, making supper and a very much appreciated cup of tea before a movie in bed – that we were all much too exhausted to watch to the end.

After a lovely breakfast spent along with the other guests in the homely kitchen, where we helped ourselves to a basic breakfast (my second of the morning!) with tea, we were feeling refreshed and ready for action again.

We were all in unanimous agreement that the hostel was unlike any hotel we had ever stayed in, in fact our experience at the Portrush Boutique Townhouse Hostel was every bit as good as (if not better than)  staying in a five star hotel (minus the swimming pool).

The absolute best bit about it was the price! At an amazing £75 for our one night stay it is unbeatable value for money, especially for a family of six! We will most definitely come back again.

Saying a fond farewell to our friends we headed off on a long trek, taking in the breathtaking views along the coastal walk to the Ramore Head.

Ramore Head photo credit: travel.aol.co.uk

Ramore Head photo credit: travel.aol.co.uk

We again  walked up a ferocious appetite, and as the end of the walk way naturally brought us within close proximity to the nicest eatery around, the Ramore Harbour Bistro, we stopped off for a very delicious, truly sumptuous lunch – it would have been rude not to!

Ramore-Wine-Bar

With our tummies full we made a final stop off at the indoor funfair that is a major tourist attraction in Portrush – Barry’s Amusements  – in the blistering heat! What Eve wants Eve gets! I can’t say I was sorry to be in the shade, as I was worried about the boys getting the full effects of the sun at the hottest time of day. After wiling away a few hours (and more than a few pounds!) we set off for granny and granda’s house on the way home to tell them all about our travels.

BIG DIPPER

 

Disclaimer: This is in no way an ad, just our own honest opinions.