Following our day in Belfast, Marks sister Victoria, and brother in law Gareth, kindly collected us from the city. It was just a short drive up to Larne, some 20 miles North East.
Our base for the next 3 night was at the McCann’s beautiful farmhouse located in Kilwaughter just outside Larne. Marks mum (wee Norms), and the Andrews (step dad and little brother), were our wonderful hosts.
After a lovely chilled out first evening, I enjoyed some pampering the next day. Before the pampering however there was a slightly embarrassing moment early that morning. Half asleep I walked into the bathroom, only for Andrew (step dad) to be having a bath! Warning: Alway knock before you open a closed door in someone else’s house! To be fair, he handled it like a pro, and this ended up being the running joke of the weekend!
Wee Norms and Victoria run a hair and beauty business from one of the out houses on the farm (http://victoriabeautyspa.com). I enjoyed a massage before being shown around the grounds including the Castle Gardens, and my favourite part, the converted stables bar! It felt like you were walking into an actual pub.
Billy Andy’s Amazing Food & Folk Music!
Later that afternoon we headed over to Billy Andy’s (billyandys.com), a local pub and restaurant in the nearby village of Glenoe. I was particularly excited about this as Irish folk music is played here every Saturday. It’d been a while since I’d heard folk music, on previous trips to Ireland.
The food was incredible and really reasonably priced too at just £17.50 for 2 courses. I chose the Beetroot Mousse & Fivemiletown Goats Cheese for starters, followed by Rarebreed Pork Loin, crispy Belly, Ham Hock, Black Pudding, Cabbage and Smoked Bacon Roulade, Mustard Mash and Cider Jus. I was in food heaven! Everyone else’s meals looked great and were presented beautifully.
After we’d eaten we headed into the main bar where the band were in full swing. Sitting in perfect position next to the musicians, I was soon handed a drum stick to which I briefly added my own brand of improvised percussion, even if there wasn’t much talent involved.
The bearded gentleman next to was playing a type of small guitar which doubled up as a drum. He told us a story of how his dying friend had left him the guitar, the case was covered in stickers from his world travels. I managed to understand most of what he said despite his strong, slightly intoxicated accent. An hour or so of singing followed with the band finishing with the famous Wild Rover song.
The night was still young so we headed back to the McCann’s bar at the farmhouse, where we enjoyed an entertaining evening.
The Antrim Coast:
The following morning we devoured our Ulster Fry up (similar to a typical British fry up, but includes soda bread and fried potato bread, so not any healthier!).
Straight after breakfast we drove up the Costal Road (A2), past Ballygalley, stopping at numerous locations along the way. It was a beautiful, sunny yet cold wintery day, perfect for blowing away any hangovers!
Our destination that day was ‘The Dark Hedges’, made famous from a 10 second scene in the TV drama Games of Thrones. Blink and you’d miss it, but the scene of interwinding trees on a fairly average road, has turned the location into a tourist trap with thousands visiting every year. As it was a cold November day though, there was just the one bus load of tourists when we arrived.
The ‘Hedges’ location was back over the mainland near the village of Ballymoney. The scenery enroute was breath taking, even more so as there had been a flurry of snow the night before, enhancing the views somewhat.
It was getting dark by the time we got back to Kilwaughter, there was just enough time to wander over the castle ruins, which lay in the adjacent field. They may have been ruins but they were still beautiful, particularly in the cold, wintery sunset.
I love Ireland, the people, the hospitality. I feel very at home when visiting, so much so that I’m convinced I lived there in a previous life! It was interesting hearing first hand how this particular part of Northern Ireland has changed since its troubled past just a few decades earlier. Belfast was once a no go area, so locals stuck to the local towns. Now these same people are relishing the opportunity of being able to enjoy their city.
Me, Mark and Andrew have already booked flights back in July. We’ll be spending some time in Dublin before travelling back up to Larne, and onto the North West of Ireland and Giant Causeway. And for those of you who have never visited, what are you waiting for?
Northern Ireland, November 2016
*This is not a sponsored post. All comments and opinions are my own.