Family day out to Tayto Park

Last Halloween I had my first experience of Tayto Park in County Meath. The theme park was running special Halloween-themed evenings and it was there I faced my fears and went on rides I’d been too afraid to go on before. See here for the evidence!

Therefore, when I was invited down last weekend with my family, I was intrigued to see what it was like from a very different perspective- i.e for families, with a 1-year old toddler, during the day, no ghosts or ghouls jumping out at me!

So, Barry, Niamh and I made on way down on Saturday, which incidentally was the opening weekend (due to a delayed opening because of stormy weather conditions the week before) and also the launch day of Ireland’s first driving school for kids, a joint venture with Nissan and Tayto Park.

We headed off at 7.30am and arrived at 9.00am (so a relatively short drive from Belfast) and went straight for a sneak preview of the driving school which was to open to the public later that morning. All kids enjoy a short video demo where they will learn the rules of the road before negotiating the traffic course. Now Niamh is obviously too young to drive (she’s just learnt to walk!) but she did enjoy seeing the other children whizz by and I got her in a car to get a quick snap.

We then had some breakfast in the Lodge Restaurant (there are numerous places to eat and drink around the park) before we headed out to explore what Tayto Park has to offer.

Our first stop was the zoo, home to a diverse animal collection, from chickens and goats, through to tigers and monkeys. Niamh is obsessed with animals and has already mastered quite the catalogue of animal noises so she was in her element. I think her favourite were the meerkats who popped up to say hello. There are a number of different shows such as the “World of Raptors” and the park also opens up the Farmyard petting area to visitors in the summer.

Once we’d spent an hour to two in the zoo, with Niamh shouting hello to every animal, we headed back down towards the attractions. Unfortunately Niamh was a little too small for some of the kids’ rides (you have to be 84cm) but we were aware of this before we went and had already looked up which attractions she could go on (there is a “How tall are you” sliding scale on the website. These included the traditional-style Steam Train which takes you around the park which she loved!

But, Barry and I were able to go on all the rides so we just took turns. Yes, I went on the very same rollercoaster I was scared off last time by myself! The Cú Chulainn is Europe’s largest wooden rollercoaster and reaches speeds of 100km per hour and a drop of 31 metres…gulp!

There is also a 5D cinema, extreme climbing wall, Viking Voyage water ride, as well as other attractions such as the truly scary “Rotator” (soaring 31 metres in the sky!)

We spent over 6 hours at Tayto Park and really could have spent longer had Niamh been able to go on a few more rides, so you can make a full day out of it.

The verdict? It is a totally difference experience with a toddler as I did things I hadn’t done before, like visit the zoo or go on the steam train. I loved seeing her face light up with excitement which made for a wonderful day out!

Disclaimer: We were guests of Tayto Park so received free entry, wristbands and breakfast. We paid for all other food, drinks and gifts.

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Yelp’s Big Night In: Deliveroo

Recently I have been attending a lot of Yelp Belfast events (if you haven’t checked it out, do so now! www.yelp.co.uk/belfast)

But this week the event came to us! 20 Yelp Elites got credit to try out a brand new delivery service, Deliveroo, which has just launched in Belfast.

Deliveroo brings customers meals from high-quality restaurants (not takeaways) with a transparent, speedy delivery service.

I hadn’t used Deliveroo before as they do not deliver to north Belfast yet (it’s out of the radius) so I decided to head over to my mum’s who lives close to the city centre.

We put in her address and were shown about 9 available restaurants, a good mix of American dinners, more traditional Irish cuisine, Mexican favourites and good ol’ pizzerias.

We went for Eddie Rockets on the Lisburn Road and picked a real feast- £30 worth of food so we could get a starter and main each, a side order to share & a Nutella milkshake (which I had heard lots about!)

The process of ordering was so quick and easy and within about five minutes we had ordered, paid and were waiting on food. (Really couldn’t fault the website apart from the fact it doesn’t deliver to my area!)

We were told our food would be delivered in about 30 minutes and were pleasantly surprised when I got a phone call 25 minutes later- very quick service!

To start I picked the Itzy nachos while my mum had the garlic mushrooms. The starters (or nibbles as they are called) cost £2.95 each & they are just the right amount.

For mains I went for the Southern Fried Chicken tenders with bacon, cheese & Cajun sauce (£7) but to my disappointment they came plain! No bacon, cheese or sauce! Had I been in the restaurant I could have let them know, but because it was delivered, I had to eat them without the topping. Nonetheless, they were tasty and crispy and it didn’t put me off…too much!

My mum went for the Smokestack burger (£6.45) which came with smoked cheese, crispy bacon and onion rings! A nice size and not too messy. We shared sweet potato fries and I had a Nutella milkshake to finish- now that was a treat!

Everything was enjoyable, apart from one wrong order. I would definitely use Deliveroo again because I was impressed with the quick & easy process! Where to next?

Meals on Wheels: Our friendly Deliveroo delivery driver

Starters: Nachos and Garlic Mushrooms 

Southern Fried Chicken tenders- lovely but with no bacon, cheese or Cajun sauce

 Smokestack burger

Sweet potato fries

 

Launch of SuperValu’s Ambassador Chef

This week I had the pleasure of tasting some amazing food from renowned Northern Irish chef, Noel McMeel.

Noel is the Executive Head Chef at Lough Erne Golf Resort and Hotel in Enniskillen and has just been named as SuperValu’s Ambassador Chef. Over the next few months, Noel and the retailer will work in partnership to share their passion for fresh, quality produce with consumers, while encouraging us to “shop local.”

The launch of the partnership took place last Wednesday at Tedfords Kitchen in Belfast where guests from the worlds of tourism, media and blogging were treated to an unbelievable seven course dinner prepared by Noel McMeel, with a great range of spirits, wines and beers to match the delicious food.

I have to say I was so lucky to attend this event, because it’s not often you get to sample such a vast array of food from the very chef who has cooked for the world leaders at the G8 summit, as well as the wedding feast of Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills! (What a CV!)

So what was on the menu? Below is the delicious range of food and drink we tasted, courtesy of SuperValu.

Course 1: Succulent 21 day aged local prime Rib Eye steak with warm tarragon butter

Course 2: Northern Ireland Gammon Fitters

Course 1 and 2 served with Pokertree Ghrian Golden Ale

Course 3: Pressed NI chicken with leek, baby onion terrine and celeriac slaw

Course 4: Fillet of local pork with cured bacon, confit rhubarb and caramelised nuts

Course 3 and 4 served with Pouilly Fumé Foucher  

Course 5: NI mince meatballs with tomato and fresh herb sauce and a range of breads

Course 6:Goats cheese, oakwood smoked cheddar and brie from Fivemiletown Creamery, with Hollah Chutneys

Course 7: Rhubard Cranachan (Whites oatmeal, meringue, rhubarb, Bushmills whiskey, honey and double cream)

Course 5 was also served with a red wine, SuperValu’s specially sourced, Sartori Valpolicella Ripasso, while we ended our meal with a Bushmills Single Malt Whiskey (10 year old) and Punjana Tea/Johnson’s Coffee.

As you can see, it was such a feast and a really well put together event. The real surprise of the night was that every single ingredient Noel used to make this seven course dinner, and all the drinks, are available at SuperValu stores- so they are not ingredients you have to go hunting for to replicate the meal yourself! (Why not treat your loved ones to their own seven course dinner?!)

There are 35 SuperValu stores across Northern Ireland so I’m definitely going to get along to one and try to whip up one the recipes! The fact that I won Noel McMeel’s cook book, The Irish Pantry, on the night means I have no excuse!! Thanks to SuperValu NI for a great night.  Winning prize: Signed copy of Irish Pantry
  

 

 

 

 

WIN £100 M&S GIFT CARD WITH THE BIG BEACH CLEAN UP!

This week my blog is exactly one year old! And what a year it’s been! My first ever “proper” post (after an introductory one) was a visit to Loughshore Park in Jordanstown to help take part in the 2014 M&S Big Beach Clean-up.

Every year, M&S team up with the Marine Conservation Society to help rid our beaches of unwanted rubbish.

There’s lots of everyday rubbish such as cans and crisp packets, but there are always some more unusual items such as a hammer, a For Sale sign and even a plastic leg!

This year I’ll be back where it all started for the 2015 M&S Big Beach Clean-up at Hazelbank in Newtownabbey on Monday 11 May at 10am! Hopefully you’ll sign up too: www.mcsuk.org/foreverfish

In Northern Ireland, there are also beach cleans at:  

  • Portballintrae – Thursday 7th May at 10.30am
  • Warrenpoint, Newry – Monday 11th May at 10.00am
  • Ballyholme, Bangor – Wednesday 13th May at 10.00am

To celebrate the beach clean (and my one year anniversary), I’ve teamed up with Marks & Spencer to give away a £100 M&S gift card to spend in store! What a nice prize!

To be in with a chance of winning, just head to my Facebook page to find out more – it’s http://www.Facebook.com/BelfastTravels

The competition closes on Sunday 10th May and the winner will be picked at random on the day of the beach clean, Monday 11 May!

Good luck!

Segway Experience at Titanic Quarter

As someone who has regular work meetings in the Titanic Quarter , I often saw groups of people whizzing past on a Segway. And I was intrigued!

If you’re not familiar with a Segway, it’s a two wheeled, self-balancing vehicle, perhaps “made famous” by mall cops on TV!

So, yesterday, myself and my friend Eileen took the Segway NI tour around the Titanic Quarter- a chance to see and hear about the history of the famous liner; the Slipways; its tender ship SS Nomadic; and the Pump House, for example, all from a very different perspective than your usual tour!

The tour started at 3pm at their offices at Unit 7, Titanic View Apartments, Queens Road, Belfast, (just behind the Dock Café/Mace). For about 15 minutes we were talked through how to use the machines and then got our chance to practice individually.

I was really surprised that it’s the user’s balance which dictates where the vehicle goes, and indeed, how fast it goes! So if you want to move forward, then tilt forward. If you want to go a bit faster, then tilt forward more!

Equally, to slow down to a stop you begin to tilt backwards until your back is straight -which will keep the vehicle still!

I found it tricky enough to begin with (others didn’t, might I add!), but after a few spins round their offices, we were good to go! The tour around the Titanic Quarter lasted about an hour, and I learnt some really interesting facts that I didn’t know before- such as the reason the wooden benches outside are different sizes (i.e a one seater, then a three seater) is that they are spaced in Morse code sequence!

After the hour, we stopped off at Titanic’s Dock & Pump House Café for a quick cup of tea and to stretch the legs. We then headed back up to the offices, and I allowed myself to go a tiny (and I mean, tiny!) bit faster than before the break! It’s really good craic and I can see why it’s so popular with hen/stag parties and team building.

As you are unable to use a Segway on public roads, this is the only Segway city-guided tour in the UK as the area is privately owned. The team at Segway NI also have an off-road tour in Craigavon, so you never know, Eileen and I could be down whizzing round Co Armagh soon!

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Slowly does it! Nervous at first

 

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Pros by the end! Eileen and I on the Segway tour