As Northern Ireland goes in to lockdown again, it’s reminded me how much we miss being able to visit. With relatives who live near Coleraine and beautiful scenery, Northern Ireland is worth travelling to see. However, I’m going to start off on a funny story which wasn’t a good advert for the place but, as you’ll see, it picks up from there on.
On previous trips we’d started in a hotel called the Bushtown. So, for our next trip, we booked it again. It was close to the coast, food was fine, and close to our relatives house. The first thing I noticed when we arrived was a wedding reception in full swing. Some very loud people were spilling out the door blocking the way to reception. We waited and headed in. First thing I noticed that was different from before was what looked like the staffs coats were draped over the left of the reception counter. It might have been guests coats but it still seemed strange. Once registered we were taken to our room where the girl announced…
‘There’s a problem with the heating in your room and we can’t switch it off or down but I’ve opened the window….’
Now, I’ve been to some warm places but I never thought a hotel room in Coleraine in early March would be as warm as the Tropical section of the Eden project. Think Swedish sauna type temperatures. Being on the ground floor the open window did however allow us to hear the Bride screaming at some kids and also smell the cigarette she was smoking. Alarm bells were ringing in my head…
Things didn’t improve when we went for dinner. I quite like a Prawn Cocktail and I was starving so that’s what I went for. What actually arrived was this…..
I was soooo hungry I did actually eat some of it but the giant pile of watery prawns on half an iceberg lettuce with a medley of cucumber skin on the side beat me. I’d never not finished a prawn cocktail ever in my life. When the waiter arrived he said…..
‘Oi keep telling him not to put so much on the plate’
I held back replying ‘you should suggest he learns to cook’. After a rubbish main course we headed off to the sauna (sorry – our hotel room) to try and get some sleep. However, between the wedding revellers, the open window and soaring temperatures, it was impossible. Even before daylight I was on Google looking for another hotel.
‘What are you doing?’ asked my wife, Fran.
‘We are not staying in this place another minute. We’re going to look at this hotel in Bushmills’
At reception they added to our misery by confirming we couldn’t get a refund for our proposed second night as we had not given 24hrs notice!! I hope it’s improved since then but we were off.
Bushmills is a small village near Portrush. We arrived about 10am on the Main Street.
Fran, without waiting to Pass Go, said ‘it’s just a pub. I’m not staying there!’
Rolling my eyes, I replied ‘Och give it a chance it gets good reviews’
We discovered the main car park was round the rear of what was now obviously a much larger building than the front suggested. Now we were talking….
We wandered in to investigate and were met by a young well dressed staff member.
‘Can I help you Sir?’
‘Well, we escaped another hotel this morning and we wanted a look round as we thought we might stay here if it’s better than the other place’
‘Certainly sir. I’ll arrange a look round. If you just take a seat near the log burner I’ll get someone to help’
Thirty minutes later we were booked in to this…..
….and from the worst prawn cocktail ever to this…….
After the most amazing food and some fizz we headed back to our lovely room for the night. The other hotel seemed a lifetime away.
The next day after a lovely breakfast in the beautiful restaurant, we set off to have a look round the coastline. Bushmills itself has a lovely little railway within walking distance of the hotel.
This was taken during our second visit as it only runs during the summer. It takes you all the way to the Giants Causeway and there are lovely views to go with it…..
I had decided I would jog the route most days but on the third day I was suffering from a slight hangover but still plodded on. At one point I heard noises from behind me getting closer and closer. I thought given the children’s voices it was a family on bicycles. I was then overtaken by a woman speed walking with her two little kids trying to keep up with her. I said hello, stopped after an appropriate time, and, suitably embarrassed, walked back to the hotel 😀
The coastline has several lovely beaches. A short drive along the coast takes you to Whiterocks beach beside the town of Portrush. We alway walk along it both ways every time we visit. Pre lockdown the beach can be a buzz especially when the surfers and kids activities are on.
I like this photograph I took of the Lifeguard with his ATV……
The more you search the more you find. I even love the train system. Smooth, free WiFi and the brains to have the bus stations next to each train station. Take a trip to Belfast for the day and visit the Titanic museum (tip go early as it’s very busy).
In Portrush itself there’s a lovely little cafe called Koko’s. It get 5 stars on Tripadvisor not just for the service and lovely food but the view…….
Always relaxing, always beautiful, no matter the weather, I can recommend the area, and the Bushmills Inn for great food and staff. Hope it’s not that long before we can return.
‘Sunday and the County Antrim Coast’ was brought to you by David Linden @qosfc1919 on Twitter ©️Dodo Productions 2020