Burrendale Hotel, Newcastle

I started back to work on Monday 4th January and by that weekend, I was off on the first trip of the year already!

We had booked the Burrendale Hotel in Newcastle for an overnight’s stay on Saturday 9th as a relaxing break for Barry’s sister Clara, as she is due her second baby in a few week’s time. Six of us had booked- my mum-in-law, 3 sisters-in-law and me!

The 4 star hotel is a country club and spa, situated in County Down. The deal was £90pp and included bed, breakfast, a four course dinner each and access to the leisure facilities.

Before we checked in we went for lunch in Vanilla Restaurant which is in Newcastle’s Main Street. We all went for the soup and sandwich combo, costing just £6.95. I selected the spicy carrot and coriander soup and the Chicken, Herb & Stuffing Croquette sandwich served in a wrap. The portions were great and it’s not often I don’t finish a meal!

Then it was time to check into the Burrendale. We had booked 3 twin rooms and were pleased to be shown to 3 rooms right next to each other. The rooms were a good size and each had a double and a single bed. We settled in before heading down to the leisure club. There, we went into the 12-metre swimming pool, the sauna, steam room and Jacuzzi. We didn’t try the spa but treatments include massages, scrubs and facials.

That night we headed to the hotel restaurant where we selected our four courses. I went for the ravioli to start, the chicken/chorizo main served with champ, cheesecake for dessert and a cup of tea to finish. We were advised the cheesecake was caramel and chocolate, but when it came it was mixed berry. When we asked, we were advised they had run out of the caramel cheesecake and were very apologetic that we hadn’t been informed. They even offered us a second dessert- so very good service.

After dinner we stayed on and enjoy a few drinks while watching the residents and locals jive the night away to the live music! A good bit of old-fashioned craic! (I think that’s the joy of the Burrendale- it’s a homely and comfortable hotel, rather than being “show-offy”.)

It was a lovely break and we all enjoyed our time away! It’s only an hour outside Belfast but felt like we were getting away somewhere further!





Afternoon Tea at Slieve Donard

It’s been a busy few weeks! From a premiere of Hollywood blockbuster Exodus: God and Kings and afternoon tea in Slieve Donard, to Cool FM’s Jingle Ball and spending the weekend away in Derry and Bangor, so much has been happening in the run up to Christmas

On Sunday 7th December, I headed off to Newcastle, County Down, for afternoon tea at Slieve Donard hotel. Myself and two friends from university, Karen and Michael, had been trying to meet up for a few weeks to celebrate the birth of Karen’s first baby!

The Afternoon Tea consisted of a selection of finger sandwiches (including Glenarm Organic Smoked Salmon with cream cheese and cucumber on homemade wheaten bread, as well as Irish chicken breast with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, red onion and mayonnaise on white bread.)

The sandwiches were followed by, not only scones which is the ‘norm’, but also fruit loaf and lemon drizzle cake.

Finally, the selection of pastries included traditional macaroons, red velvet cupcakes and dark and white chocolate mousse. Great desserts! The food was complimented by a selection of speciality teas and coffees. I chose a nice fruit tea.

The variety on offer was impressive! We actually didn’t finish it all (and it’s not often I say that!) Luckily, we were able to take the rest home with us so significant other halves could ‘celebrate’ too!

The afternoon tea costs £20pp and is in a lovely suite overlooking the sea and Mourne Mountains. Definitely a good choice with those with a sweet tooth!



 Afternoon Tea at Slieve Donard, Newcastle


Afternoon Tea menu


Couldn’t finish it all!


Christmas sparkle at Slieve Donard


Pay What it’s Worth at the Anchorage

This week I channelled my inner Gordon Ramsey and went to a special “pay only what you think it’s worth” night at the Anchorage restaurant at Sullivan Place in Holywood, County Down.

For two nights only (Friday 28 and Saturday 29 November), diners were given menus with no prices on them – and at the end of the meal, paid only what they thought the dishes were worth, based on taste, quality and size, for example. An interesting initiative, and one I had never experienced in person!

We booked a table for 7pm on Saturday and the place was already busy when we arrived. A Christmas tree lit up the restaurant and a band later arrived for a live set, so it was a nice, relaxed atmosphere.

With no idea of the prices (!), we set about ordering. For starters I choose the Pressed Ham Hock Terrine, Pickled Vegetables and Rocket Salad, while Barry picked the Goats Cheese Salad, Beetroot, Caramelised Walnuts, Orange Jelly and Rocket. Barry is a big fan of Goats Cheese and praised the big portion size.

For mains, I selected the Pan Seared Chicken Breast, Garlic Mash, Wilted Baby Spinach and Roast Pearl Onion Jus, while Barry opted for the Pork Belly, Buttery Kale, Black Pudding Beignets, Sautéed new Potatoes and Jus Gras. Again the portions were a very good size, particularly two large pieces of chicken in my dish.

Upon recommendation from the waiter, Barry and I decided to share the cheeseboard and the sorbet dish for our desserts. I couldn’t fault the cheeseboard. It was four blocks of cheese individually wrapped, served with crackers, chutney and frozen grapes, all set on a bed of straw. It looked (and tasted) amazing!

The four different flavours of sorbet was a lovely way to end the meal and cleanse the pallet, although I couldn’t eat much more at this stage!

The ‘Pay what it’s worth’ initiative definitely seems to have paid off and I’m sure it’s introduced a lot of new people to the restaurant. The Anchorage has just recently changed “it’s direction, ethos and menu”  so I wish the guys well! It was a lovely night out.

Having looked at the actual prices on the way out the door, I’m pleased to see we were only a few pounds out in total! This Gordon Ramsey didn’t do too badly…

IMG_4554.JPGBarry enjoying his Goats Cheese starter

IMG_4550.JPGMidway through my Ham Hock Terrine

IMG_4557.JPGPan Seared Chicken

IMG_4596.JPGPork Belly

IMG_4599.JPGMe at the Anchorage


Newcastle- the home of the 2p machines!

When the sun is shinning, there’s usually one place on my wishlist to visit- Newcastle, County Down! Can’t get enough of the place!!

Last Saturday we spent the day at Windsor Caravan site, where my boyfriend’s brother has a caravan. Great spot! As the sun was shining (we’ve had a great few weeks!), we were able to BBQ and sit out and enjoy the class spring day.

Of course, we made the trip into the town too to go the amusements- Kent Amusements being my favourite! Happily wasted about £2 or £3 on the 2p machines- such a big gambler!


View of Newcastle and the Mourne Mountains


Barry enjoying Kent Amusements