Monthly Archives: August 2018

Sunflowers and Waterfalls

Hello! Only one week left of the summer holidays here in Northern Ireland. It’s always bittersweet for me. I look forward to the return to routine and grieve the loss of spontaneity. However, I have a couple of ideas for a cheap day out, if you are in need of some inspiration until then. Over the past couple of days we visited a Sunflower and Wildflower Field in Portglenone, and the Waterfall Walk at Glenariff Forest.

Sunflower Field Portglenone

Sunflower fields are becoming a very popular phenomena. Hordes of people have been making their way across the country to see these sunny fields.

Continue reading

Trip to Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Newport {Part Three}

Hi there! If you missed the previous posts you can catch up with part one here, or part two here!

Day 5  Hyannis – Newport – Providence Airport

The last morning of our trip we woke to find the Cape had been blanketed in fog. Luckily it lifted before we commenced on our journey to Newport, Rhode Island. As we were catching an evening flight from Providence we thought it would be a good idea to travel to Newport, as it is only 18 miles from the airport.


Parking in Newport was relatively easy, we had no problems finding a space before we headed into the town to explore. Newport is built around a beautiful harbor, and there are plenty of tourist shops selling seaside and coastal memorabilia.

Harbor area Newport

In fact it was in just one of those shops that we got told off by the shopkeeper. Admittedly I had done very little research on Newport, really only using it as a stopping place en-route to the airport. On hearing this the shopkeeper advised me that at the very least we had to do ‘Ocean Drive’, or we would quite simply have no concept of where we had been!

Thoroughly chastened, but with our interest spiked, we hot-footed it back to the car and set the Sat Nav for Ocean drive. And the lady in the shop – she was absolutely right!

Newport mansions

Mansion on Ocean Drive Newport

First we drove down a tree lined street which homed more mansions than I have ever seen! Apparently some of them are open to visitors, but sadly we didn’t have time to stop and visit or take photos!

View from Ocean Drive Newport

On following the road we found some fabulous scenery.

Gooseneck Cove Salt Marsh

The 10 mile drive could take as little or as long as you please. We stopped for a comfort break at Brenton State Park.

Brenton Point State Park views.

I loved this stretch of the road. Looking out onto the Atlantic, I guess it reminded me a bit of the fabulous coastal roads we have in Northern Ireland. This was something I had expected to find in Cape Cod, and I was disappointed that didn’t seem to be the case.

We also stopped off in Fort Adams State Park. This park is home to an old Fort which was used by the U.S. Army / U.S. Navy. Again, we didn’t have time to explore but it looked interesting, and even without entry to the Fort, the views of Newport Harbor from the park are stunning.

Fort Adams State Park

Fort Adams State Park

All in all, we had a Simply Grand day. I definitely feel like we did a whistle-stop tour of Newport and it very much could be a destination in it’s own right.

We were sad to say goodbye to American soils. We caught our overnight flight from Providence back to Belfast International Airport and Granny was delighted to return the kids into our care.

I do so hope to return some day.



Trip to Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Newport {Part Two}

View Part One here.

Day 3 – Martha’s Vineyard

Off the coast of Cape Cod are two very well known Island’s. Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. As we were on such a tight schedule we could only pick one to explore, and I can assure you the choice was not easy. Martha’s Vineyard won out in the end, and what a fabulous adventure it was.

The ferry left from outside our hotel, and just 60 minutes later we were docking in Oak’s Bluff. I knew that the public transport on the island was both cheap and convenient so we headed to the bus stop and bought day passes for about 8 dollars each.

First of all we headed to Edgarstown. I absolutely adored this little village. It had the New England charm that I come in search of.  Delightful washboard shop fronts hosting boutique designers and quirky souvenirs. Because we visited in October, or “fall”, there were also pumpkins, scarecrows and autumn wreaths adorning the doorways of residential and commercial properties.

Edgartown has a great selection of restaurants, and is probably the upscale end of the island. All the local people were friendly and I could have spent much longer walking the quaint tree-lined streets.

The seaside shanty

Next we caught the bus to Aquinnah, an area of serene beauty where white faced cliffs fall to reveal expansive beaches and rhythmic waves.

Aquinnah cliffs

Aquinnah is part of the Wampanoag reservation, with the native american tribe having a long history on the island. The tribe members sell crafts and refreshments to the many tourists that visit the area.

Our final stop was Oaks Bluff where we were catching the ferry back to Hyannis. Of course we had to walk around the gingerbread houses in town.

Gingerbread Houses Martha’s Vineyard

And we spent a pleasant couple of hours browsing through the shops in the area.

Before we knew it the sun had set and it was time to go. I hope to return some day!

Oaks Bluff

Day Four – Route 28,  Hyannis – Harwich – Chatham

On day four we decided to drive Route 28 from Hyannis and see what we could find. What we found was huge sandy beaches, small independent shops and a real sense of the local community.

There were churches selling more pumpkins than you could imagine, deserted beaches and enough New England architecture to please even the most discerning traveller!

Chatham in particular was a beautiful area. I recommend a cocktail on the terrace at Chatham Bars and a visit to Lighthouse beach where you might even be able to see the seals basking in the afternoon sun.

Chatham Bars

Chatham Lighthouse

Lighthouse beach

We thoroughly enjoyed our drive along Route 28 but we found ourselves a bit uncertain about where we could park, so if you are heading that way it may be worth a bit of investigation.

Sadly this was our last night on the Cape, but our adventures weren’t over yet.

Click here to read part three.

Trip to Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Newport {Part One}

Lewis Bay, Cape Cod

Lewis Bay, Hyannis

At this time of year my mind always turns to holidays, and it has occurred to me that I haven’t shared much about my last trip. Last October I tried out Norwegian Airways flight route from Ireland to Providence.  Mr C and I spent four nights exploring Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Newport. It was a really quick visit as we had left the children at home with Granny!

If you are thinking of a break this year I highly recommend this part of New England.  I think the easiest way to share our experience is by taking you through our itinerary, as well as giving some tips and hints along the way!

Day 1: Belfast – Dublin airport – Providence Airport – Hyannis, Cape Cod

We started our trip by travelling on the Airport Express from Belfast to Dublin Airport.  Norwegian also fly from Belfast to Providence, but the date suited us better from Dublin, plus we then had the added advantage of being able to pre-clear customs before flying.

The queues for pre-clearance were long, so leave plenty of time. The flight itself was comfortable, although, we had booked exit row seats giving extra leg room which helped. We had paid for LowFare plus meaning we also had hold luggage, allocated seats and a meal included. The meal was of industry standard, but it is worth noting all on board purchases, such as extra drinks, snacks etc, had to be paid by card. Landing at Providence was hassle free. It is a small airport and it did not take long to collect our bags and head off to the car rental building.

Car rental is by far the easiest way to explore New England, unless you are heading into Boston. One thing my research did discover was that you should book your rental car through a website. We used Budget, and this meant that we had much better insurance  cover, and it was cheaper anyway! Since we didn’t have the kids we decided to blow the budget and rented out a little convertible! Just for the fun of it – and it was fun!

Having never driven in America before, and with darkness creeping up upon us, we nervously set off. (Top tip – make sure that your SatNav isn’t set to avoid highways.) After a few false starts we found our way to the Hyannis Harbor Hotel. The hotel is located just across the street from the Hyannis Ferry terminal, and from there you can easily walk into the town. We picked this location as it meant that we didn’t need to take the car out at night if we ate in local restaurants.

Hyannis HArbor Hotel

Hyannis Harbor Hotel, Cape Cod

Hyannis Harbor Hotel

The hotel has recently been renovated and they have added a new building. We stayed in the older part of the hotel, in a room overlooking the harbour. The room was very comfortable, and I loved the décor. I would say it had more of a motel feel to it, than hotel, but it didn’t matter; after a long day travelling we slept like logs!

Day 2 Hyannis – Cape Cod Lighthouse –  Provincetown – Cape Cod Mall, Hyannis

Sunrise Lewis Bay Hyannis

Lewis Bay sunrise

As has become custom when I travel, I woke up before the crack of dawn, and then headed off to find the nearest sunrise. It was totally worth it! In Hyannis Harbor fishermen were bringing in early morning hauls of fresh seafood. Commuters were milling around waiting for Island ferries, and as the sky started to glow with the warmth of a new day, and little sailboats bobbed on the water, I found the views just breathtaking and I couldn’t wait to explore more. We then drove a sort distance to Kalmus beach which had the most glorious view over Lewis Bay. The beach there was amazing, so many shells! I couldn’t help but think how much the kids would have loved it.

Hyannis Harbor

Hyannis, Cape Cod

Kalmus Beach

Kalmus Beach, Hyannis

Kalmus Beach

Kalmus Beach


Sunrise from Kalmus Beach overlooking Lewis Bay

Hyannis Artists Shanties

The next stop on our adventure was the Cape Cod Lighthouse. This is one of the oldest lighthouses on the Cape and we enjoyed having a guided tour of the inner workings.  It was an amazing building with even more amazing views from the top. I believe we were very lucky with the weather during our stay.

Cape Cod LIghthouse

Cape Cod Lighthouse

We then headed to the furthest point of the Cape, Provincetown.  This area is known for its colourful flags, and it has a rich culture of diversity.  It is also the first landing point of the pilgrims and there is a huge monument to climb in their honour. They totally trick you when they tell you how many steps it is to the top though, as they don’t tell you each step is about 8 metres wide! However , I guess I needed the exercise anyway, because  the food on the Cape was delicious. Absolutely hands down the best food I have ever had, on any holiday ever!


View from Pilgrim Monument, Provincetown

The lobster roll is known to be a local delicacy, so naturally we tried one, which we shared with a quinoa  salad. Yum!

Lobster Roll

Provincetown also has a plethora of cute little shops, with oddities and antiques, which you could spend hours browsing.

We decided to travel back via the Old Kings Highway, or Route 6a. My research had suggested that this was a great drive with lots of cool little stop off places, but to be honest, we didn’t find very much.

There was the fancy hotel we passed, which looked perfect for those looking for a little luxury…

Ocean Edge Resort

And a little shopping complex which was adorable, it really felt quintessentially American.

Shopping on Route 6a Cape Cod

However, you know how it is with us women, I had already told Mr C that we needed to spend a few hours at Cape Cod Mall, for some retail therapy. Honestly, my purse wasn’t much lighter when I left. If it is designer goods and sale rails you are after, Cape Cod is not the place for you.  I should have went in search of another lighthouse instead! As it was quite late we did eat at the restaurant there.  I had steak tips with mash and green beans while Mr C had scallops! I felt like some-one had invited us round to their mom’s for dinner! Fabulous!

As for the rest of the trip, you can read part two here, and part three here.