Last weekend we were invited to The Harbour Brewers Fayre in Carrickfergus. The restaurant is trialing what they refer to as Chef’s Counter menu, and they asked if we would review it. The concept is that on week nights, they have all you can eat buffets, with choices such as battered fish fillets, chilli beef, and roast chicken. And on Saturday’s they have an all you can eat Peri Peri Chicken night, for those who like it hot! Of course, all this is in addition to their usual menu.
One day last week, the kids and I rather spontaneously decided to pack up a picnic and head to Belfast Zoo.
Having been before, I knew to be prepared. The location of the site is on very steep ground, so sensible shoes are a must. I knew Aaron would need his buggy, and I knew to take drinks and snacks for the boys. Trust me – you don’t want to be running back to the shop to buy water when you are half way round the attractions.
I was delighted to be offered some guests tickets by safefood to The Food and Drink Show NI last weekend. It was held in the King’s Hall complex in Belfast, somewhere I don’t think I have ever been before. Luckily I had Mr C to drive us there, and there was ample parking, so no need for my concerns about going to ‘the city’!
I was actually disappointed to have arranged to go bowling on what turned out to be the first dry day in about 3 months. However, as Lewis was all excited about his first trip bowling, off we went.
It is years, literally about 10, since I went bowling and I was delighted that wearing my trainers had prevented me having to don the dreaded bowling shoes! Glengormley Sportsbowl I give you brownie points for that!
We had booked a lane for an hour, though you can pay per game if you prefer. If you go it is definitely worth asking about their deals as these can work out much better on the purse (or wallet) than paying the standard rate.
Like many of the bowling alleys today, the Sportsbowl has the requisite fluorescent lighting, but they also had automatic bumpers which were set for any members of the group who desired them. In my younger days you had to do that yourself, manually. Technology today is a wonderful thing! They also had the ramps for younger players to push the balls from, though those these did need to be moved manually every turn.
There is a small cafe selling the usual fast food, burgers and the like, and also an array of arcade type amusements which will entertain your child and gobble up your money!
Unusually, they had a small go kart track which I’m sure older children would love. Children from the age of three can use these if accompanied by an adult, though we didn’t have a go this time.
In hindsight maybe an hour long booking wasn’t the best idea. Lewis (3) was really enjoying himself for the first 30 minutes or so but then he became bored and wanted to go and explore what else was on offer. However this meant Mr C. had double turns, and thus more practise, which is the only reason he beat me!
With another rainy weekend forecast I wanted a family day out that would be based indoors. So my husband and I headed to W5 at the Odessey in Belfast with a 6 month old, 3 year old and 10 year old in tow. W5 promises scientific based exhibits that are hands on, fun for all ages and educational. It all sounds great.
Once inside Lewis'(3) face lit up in the under 8 section. He loved the water exhibit, and playing in the car, boat and fort. Even when we visited the Go, See and Do sections there were enough practical elements to keep him entertained, such as flying a plane with a joystick and playing tug of war. Even Aaron was able to have a go with the foam guitars!
There is no doubt the kids loved it, and as an adult I also had fun trying out all the different exhibitions. However I was left feeling a bit like I was in a high tech softplay. I think I expected more information on the exhibits. More of the why! Some exhibits had explanations, but they weren’t detailed and certainly not clear enough to explain to a child why they behaved the way they did. Nor was there much of a staff presence, so it’s not as if some-one was there to explain it. They do have several shows scheduled throughout the day which may have been more informative, however we missed viewing these. It was also disappointing that we couldn’t get some of the exhibitions, such as the hot air ballons, to work.
There is a picnic area so it’s easy to cut costs by bringing your own lunch, though we went to the café for a snack. I felt it was good value for money, especially since we got a voucher for £2.50 by signing up for gift aid.
Overall, I thought it was a great day out, with something for everyone. Plenty to keep the kids entertained, and since you could easily spend several hours there, not too bad on the pricing front either!