Castle Espie

I recently saw an Instagram post about Castle Espie in Comber and it looked lovely! I realised I had never been and I’m always looking for somewhere new to visit, particularly on maternity leave.

Castle Espie is part of the WWT (Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust) and is one of ten wetland centres the charity has in the UK.

Castle Espie prides itself on allowing visitors to get up close to Ireland’s “largest collection of native and exotic waterbirds, bats and migrant birds.”

I had a look on the website and saw that a Giant LEGO trail is currently on at the attraction. Visitors are able to follow the trail of nine individually-designed LEGO brick animals, some inspired by real species at Castle Espie.

As you follow the path you can read just how many bricks went into each animal. In fact, it took 75,000 bricks to make just one of them- Fred the Frog!

The brick animal trail is running until Sunday 2 April so there are still a few weeks to see the sculptures, as well as the real life wildlife of course! Prices are just £7.68 (without Gift Aid) for adults and £3.73 for children!

We spent a few hours here, having a picnic at one of the picnic tables dotted around the centre, feeding the ducks with the corn we purchased at reception and enjoying a cup of tea in the café once we arrived back at the visitors centre.

The sunny weather made the day even more enjoyable so hopefully we get some more of that coming into spring!

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Excelsior Private Cinema in Comber

A few weeks ago I got a text from my brother-in-law Eoin telling me to keep the afternoon of Saturday 12th free for a surprise 30th birthday party for Clara (my husband’s sister.) Now he wasn’t going to tell us for fear we would give something away!

So a few days before Saturday, the secret was revealed- he’d hired a private cinema in Comber and invited Clara’s family and closest friends! Brilliant!

The venue is Execelsior cinema which is located at 29 Ballynichol Road, Comber, BT23 5NW. It holds up to 30 people and shows whatever film you like! Eoin had secretly sussed out what film she would like to watch over Christmas and she said “Edward Scissorhands”! So Edward it was!

We all arrived early and set up our sweets, popcorn and drinks in anticipation of Clara’s arrival. She was so shocked to discover us all sitting there in the cosy cinema, donning our best Christmas jumpers!

The cinema is a class idea for a special occasion because it really is such a private venue for family and friends. I’m already trying to think of an occasion to get hiring it again!

     

  Excelsior Cinema, Comber

 

 

 

 

Balloo House, Killinchy

This week I visited a restaurant I’d heard much about but had never been to- Balloo House on the Comber Road in Killinchy. The restaurant is divided into two separate areas, the Bistro downstairs and the fine dining Michelin recommended restaurant ‘Upstairs at Balloo’. You may know Head Chef Danny Millar who makes regular appearances on Saturday Kitchen.

So, on Saturday nine of us headed to the Bistro at Balloo for a friend’s birthday party. If you haven’t been before, it’s a cosy atmosphere with stone walls, an old range and pictures of Ireland gone by.

For starters I had risotto fritters with goats cheese, followed by chargilled 10oz Sirloin steak (aged for 28 days) with pepper sauce and Garlic sautéed potatoes. Barry selected wood pigeon for starters and also chose the steak for mains.

The specials of the day (which many of the party picked) included Grilled Strangford Lough langoustines, roast fillet of hake, and miso glazed gurnard.  Only a few went for the three courses and the most popular desserts chosen were Panna Cotta or the Salted caramel chocolate tart. I tried a small piece of both!

The total bill (including drinks) came to £436 so roughly £50 per head. We spent the rest of the evening there before leaving around 12.30am. Everyone really enjoyed it!

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Wood pigeon

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Strangford Lough langoustines

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Risotto Fritters

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10oz Sirloin

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Panna Cotta