Exploring Ireland: Kinbane Castle, Ballycastle, County Antrim, Northern Ireland


Kinbane Castle is one of those places that you can't quite believe is true. I really had no idea what to expect as I'd never heard of it but as soon as I clapped eyes on it, it blew me away.

Located in Country Antrim, the ruins of Kinbane are perched high on a white limestone cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Across the horizon you'll spy Rathlin Island and you'll be only 5km from Ballycastle. The original two-storey castle was built in 1547 by Colla MacDonell but was besieged by English forces in 1551. After being passed to Owen MacAllister as a reward for his loyalty to the MacDonell family, the castle remained with descendants of the MacAllister's until the 18th Century.





There's  no easy way to see Kinbane and you'll have to be prepared for a lot of treacherous walking. Up and down 1000 steps to be exact. But it is 100% worth it and I'd do it thousand times over. You'll find a car park at the top of the hill when you can leave your car. Make sure you take a bottle of water with you. There are no handrails surrounding the top of the cliffs so you have to be extremely careful. It's certainly not a place to go when it is windy. But if you keep your wits about you then you'll be rewarded with some insane views. I really couldn't stop taking photos! 





At the minute it seems to be a bit of a hidden gem because we hardly saw any other people. I'm not sure it will stay like this for long because tourism in Northern Ireland is quickly gathering momentum. Such a double edge sword. Amazing because Northern Ireland is honestly one of the most beautiful places in the world. But sad because it's losing some of it's magic due to the insane crowds. It doesn't have the infrastructure to deal with it. I feel it's a place to visit sooner rather than later. I'd love to go back one summer with a picnic and spend the whole day up on those cliffs. I honestly don't think I've ever felt as peaceful as I did in those few hours I spent at Kinbane Castle. Such a magical place.

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Where to eat along the Causeway Coastal Route


Lost & Found, Coleraine
I'm still shocked we managed to find such a cool place in Coleraine of all places! Coleraine reminds me of my Essex hometown and we have nothing as snazzy as this! This little cafe is well worth coming a bit out of your way for. Serving brunch from 9.30-3.30, everything on the menu sounds so delicious. After much deliberation I decided to opt for L&F Italian Eggs. Crispy Parma ham, lashings of pesto, fresh rocket and two poached eggs were piled high onto top of sourdough toast. The eggs weren't as runny as I would have hoped but it was still great.


Mini Maegden, The Giant's Causeway
Head to a little car park just a stones trow away from The Giant's Causeway, Mini Maegden is a little retro caravan converted into the best cheese toastie food truck. It was absolutely packed and for good reason! I opted for the cheddar, blue cheese and mozzarella toastie with an added extra of chorizo. All washed down with a refreshing homemade watermelon and rose soda. The toastie was perfectly gooey, so full of flavour and had a delicious crunch. I'm so pleased my boyfriend has family not too far from it so I can visit again!


Maud's Ice Cream, Ballycastle
Right next to Ballycastle Harbour is Maud's Ice Cream. You'll be spoilt for choice for both the cones and the ice cream. I decided to treat myself to a waffle cone dipped in chocolate and sprinkles with a scoop of sea salted caramel and a scoop of honeycomb and vanilla. It was so tasty and the perfect treat to have overlooking the beach.


The Copper Kettle, Bushmills
One of my favourite things about visiting Ireland is the opportunity to indulge in a heavenly Ulster Fry. They're version of a fry up, it usually comes with soda bread and potato bread. It is one of my favourite things in the world! Sadly The Copper Kettle doesn't offer black pudding but you can't win them all! It's a great little cafe to stop off at to start your day off right before you head over to the Giant's Causeway nearby.


Harry's Shack, Portstewart
I had a table booked here last January but cancelled it at the last minute as another branch of the restaurant had just opened in Derry where we were staying. So I've waiting a long time to eat here! It was well worth the wait. Located on the beautiful Portstewart Strand beach, the wooden shack has such a great atmosphere. We went on an evening where they had loud music outside and it looked buzzing. Their selection of Irish gin is incredible and I'd love to go back to sample them all! I had a generous portion of spicy chicken to start with such a moreish sauce and the fish and chips for my main. Just what I needed after a day of rain!


Roark's Kitchen, Ballintoy
One thing you'll notice on your road trip is there will always be somewhere to stop for a slab of cake Roark's Kitchen is right in the heart of Ballintoy Harbour and offers incredible views. This giant slice of red velvet cake was only £2.50! And you always have to have a bottle of Club Orange when in Ireland...


Pablos, Belfast
If you're looking for a quick bite to eat then Pablos is your man! This burger joint only has a couple of tables outside to sit down so you may have to opt for a takeaway. The spicy freedom fries were heavenly and I could have eaten them all day long. The patty in my cheese burger was a little too fat for my liking but it was cooked well. They certainly didn't scrimp on the fillings which is always nice.

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Exploring Ireland: Glenariff Forest Park, Ballymena, County Antrim, Northern Ireland


I feel like I've explored a lot of Northern Ireland, especially the stretch between Belfast and Derry but Glenariff had slipped under the radar. Based in the north of Country Antrim, the glens are a series of nine narrow valleys. Glenariff is 'the queen of the Glens' and the most famous. Most people head to Glenariff to do the Waterfall Walkway. And this is why you should add to the top of your list if you visit Northern Ireland.






The three-mile waterfall walkway first opened up 80 years ago. I am relatively unfit so did struggle a fair bit and had to take a few breathers every once in a while. Make sure you wear suitable clothing and shoes. It's not the place for a fashion show! But it is so rewarding and you soon forget you're out of breath when you're greeted with such stunning views. I will never tire of seeing a waterfall up close. There's just something so magical about seeing them as the mist floats up and the sound of crashing water fills your ears. You can tell how misty it was by the photos! I almost feel like I'm in a completely different land.




Glenariff offers a casual cafe, an outside picnic area and a more fancy restaurant as well as pretty clean inside toilets. A god send during a waterfall trek with all that gushing water! You could spend the whole day there without getting bored, with lots of trails to be explored. I'd recommend the short Rainbow Trail too. Parking is a fiver but make sure you have change on you as I'm not sure the machines take card.

The caravan and camping site is open from Easter to October. Definitely something I'd like to take advantage of!

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A bank holiday weekend in Ireland


Ever since I was a little girl I've had a fascination with Ireland. I couldn't tell you why as I have zero Irish heritage and I don't even think my parents have ever stepped foot on the Emerald Isle. I once declared to my mum that I was going to have an Irish husband. I don't know how the obsessession started but I just knew it was going to be a country that I would love before I even had a chance to visit. I totally didn't only start talking to my boyfriend when I realised his very Irish name is due to the fact his dad is Irish... Now thanks to his Irish heritage I've been across the water quite a few times now and it really is one of my happy places. A place where I can never grow tired of visiting.  As soon as I see those rolling green hills I feel all my troubles just melt away.

My friend Hannah is also Northern Irish and her parents have a holiday home along the Causeway Coast. They very kindly let us gatecrash for the bank holiday weekend. And it was glorious! Along with Sarah and Michelle, we based ourselves just outside Bushmills for a weekend of exploring the Causeway Coast which has to be one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world.




I'm going to go into more details on my favourites parts in other posts so this is just an overview. We crammed a hell of a lot into a weekend! So where did we visit? No trip to this part of the world is complete without witnessing the wonder of the Giant's Causeway. It really is stunning. We saw lots of castle ruins, Kinbane Castle, Carrickfergus Castle and Dunluce castle spring to mind. We spent the afternoon in Belfast eating burgers and exploring the Botanic Gardens and seeing the Game of thrones tapestry at the Ulster Museum. We stopped for a delicious red velvet slab of cake at Ballintoy Harbour and had a tasty ice cream in Ballycastle. We went on a pretty special hike in Glenariff Forest Park to see some amazing waterfalls. And we made sure we stuffed ourselves silly on Taytos. If you don't know what they are then you are missing out!





I had such an incredible weekend away with some of the best girls I know. It's so nice to spend a weekend with people on the same wavelength as me - and are just as little piggies as me! Surround yourself with girls who see cake stops as vital stops on a road trip. I'm actually back in Belfast again in two weeks to see Biffy Clyro so I'll see you soon Ireland!


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6 attractions you must see in New York City


1. Empire State Building
I've been lucky enough to go up the Empire State Building twice now and each time I've been just as awestruck. Seeing the NYC skyline never grows old and it feels like you're in a film. I dare you not to hum Empire State of Mind whilst you're there... I recommend going up during the day as it's fantastic to see the city in all its glory. Buy your tickets online before you go as you get a small discount. Every little helps when you're in one of the most expensive cities in the world.


2. The Highline
This is my favourite place in the city. The Highline is an old railway line converted into an evelated park. Nearly two miles long, it offers great views of Manhattan and you'll find fab street art to marvel at and places to sit and soak up views. Make sure you go for brunch or dinner at Bubby's which is at the entrance in the Meatpacking District.


3. Statue of Liberty
Ah the icon of the city. The first time we booked ourselves on a boat with a tour guide to travel over to the the island with tickets to go inside the statue. This was great fun if a little busy! It was equally as good for when we saw it from our sightseeing ferry trip. You really don't have to get off to enjoy it. If you're on a budget then the orange Staten Island ferry is a good shout because it's free. You won't be able to get off the ferry at the statue but you do get an amazing view of it from the boat.


4. Central Park
I highly recommend cycling around this iconic park. It is absolutely huge and cycling is the best way to cover some serious ground. Bike hire is pretty reasonable and we had them for the entire day. There are clear cycle lanes and it couldn't be easier. Make sure you make a stop off at the Alice in Wonderland statue, Strawberry Fields and Belevdere Castle. If cycling seems to strenuous then hire a rickshaw for a guided tour. The guides are very knowledgable! My mum and I got to visit in the snow and it was magical. Freezing but absolutely magical! Such a dream to see NYC in the snow.


5.  Brooklyn Bridge
Is there a more famous bridge in the world? It gets extremely busy but if you time it just right then it get it all to yourself. We spent the morning in Brooklyn before walking across the bridge in the afternoon to get back to Manhattan. It's one of those places that makes you feel like you're in a film and can't quite believe that it's real.


6. Ground Zero
If you're debating about if you should visit the 9/11 Museum and Memorial, then add it to your list. Yes its hard to witness but its such an important part of history and triggered so many things. It triggered events that we're still dealing with today. its absolutely wonderfully curated and is a really heart-wrenching experience that shouldn't be missed.

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An afternoon in Palma De Mallorca


Our resort in Mallorca was only a 30-40 minute bus journey away from the capital Palma De Mallorca. We wanted to take a step away from the whole 'Brits Abroad' vibe Palma Nova offers - plus we were still slightly recovering from overdoing it in Magaluf a few nights back... The bus journey couldn't have been easier, if not a little packed and sweaty, and before we knew it we had been dropped off outside the incredible Cathedral.




We didn't venture in but instead wandered around, soaking up the gorgeous Gaudí wrought-iron canopy and intricate carvings. Next door is the Royal Palace of La Alumdaina which has serious Game of Thrones vibes. It felt like we had step right in the midst of King's Landing. From here, without any plans set in stone, we began to weave in and out of the winding streets, every now and then looking up and marvelling at the stunning Mediterranean architecture. One of the things I loved the most was how empty the city felt. There was no hustle and bustle and very often we had the narrow streets to ourselves.




A few of our friends went to to Arab Baths while we hung out in a bar with a Fanta Lemon. They came back just as our tummies started rumbling and informed us of a Tapas bar they passed which smelt amazing. We decided to head back to try it out, then realised it was actually in our Lonely Planet guide book. Winner!

Located down in a gothic-inspired basement, Le Taberna Del Caracol offers traditional tapas in what feels like a authentic setting. The six of us opted for the sharing platter priced at 18 euros and a cold beer. It was without a doubt one of the best meals I've ever eaten. The flavoursome chorizo sausage fell apart, the sweet dates wrapped in bacon were a revelation, the garlic aioli with crusty bread was dangerously addictive and the chicken croquettes were perfectly cooked. It was just good wholesome, home-cooked food. Sometimes you don't need the unnecessary 'Instagram' fuss. Our waiter was so knowledgable and friendly which really made the experience. You simply have to visit if you ever find yourself in Palma.




After stuffing ourselves to the brink, we took off for another walk along the side streets, headed to the harbour to marvel at the yachts, before catching the bus back to our resort. Now I've had a taste on my city, it's firmly on my list to go back to for a long, sunny weekend.


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