Water pump and trough –  Friday Photo 


Crumlin Road Gaol

We had a wee trip up to Belfast this week. We had intended to have a day on Rathlin Island but the morning ferries were fully booked for both days we wanted to go. I was a bit disappointed as I have never been over before and had our day planned out. Aw well, another time. So a trip to Crumlin Road Gaol (also know as The Crum) was the alternative. What a difference – wild and beautiful Rathlin versus a Victorian prison!

I booked the tickets online the night before. It was very reasonable – a family ticket for 2 adults and 2 children was £22 with an additional £1 booking fee.

The gaol and the courthouse across the road was designed by Charles Lanyon, an English architect who also designed many other buildings in Northern Ireland including the main building in Queens University. He also played a major part in the planning of the  splendid Antrim Coast Road. The list of his works throughout Belfast and Northern Ireland is considerable.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Lanyon

The Crum 1

The Crum

I must say the tour was excellent. I wasn’t sure how my boys would find it but both really enjoyed it. The teenager said he thought it might be a bit boring but it wasn’t and he found it really interesting … yeah! Our tour guide, Eoghan, was very good and kept everyone interested with just the right amount to information and detail and was excellent with keeping the children engaged.
We learned so much about the goal from Victorian times right up until it was closed in the 1990’s. We heard about the children incarcerated in the prison in Victorian times, about the prison during the troubles and about the 17 executions that happened there (including the actual execution room) and how Ireland had no executioner so the hangman came over from England and did all the hangings in gaols throughout Ireland.

The executioner

How many people have looked through this window and longed for freedom …

crum 7crum 6

I also got to Paperchase so my day ended well.  I love that shop.


Downhill Beach

I have dusted off the Fitbit in effort to get more active and fit. It is also in combination with a determined effort to start losing weight. I have become very very overweight and it is making me extremely unhappy. I am the only who can do anything about it. So this morning I went for a walk on the beach and am at 5.5k steps already so onwards and (weight) downwards!

There was a low tide this morning so we got to explore further along beach than usual.

Donegal in the distance.

Mussenden Temple


Like most Northern Ireland mums it’s time to start thinking about the children going back to school in a little over 2 weeks. How time has flown again. When the 8 weeks of summer holidays first start I dream of long hot summer days and evenings at the beach, in the garden and it seems like such a long time we have. Then in the blink of an eye it’s nearly over and the dreams of long hot sunny days and evenings remained that … dreams. As with much of the summer the weather has played havoc with our plans for fun days out so we have just done bits and pieces in between the showers.

Yesterday we had a lovely day in Cushendun (for the second time this summer) which has become one of my favourite places for a day out. My brother and his family came along too so it was nice to spend quality time with them.

Cushendun is a little village on the coast of Co Antrim and most of it is maintained by the National Trust. It is very picturesque so bring a camera. The village was designed by Clough Williams-Ellis who also designed Portmeirion in Wales. Quaint it definitely is.

You can read all about it here:


We started off with a walk to the caves. We parked at the little car park at the beach (the entrance is beside The Corner House tea house). The caves are featured in Game of Thrones so might be recognizable to some readers.


Cushendun Caves


Cushendun Caves

After the caves we spent what felt like hours on the beach. The youngest children splashed about in the sea while we walked, talked and beach combed. It was lovely.



There’s a great little play park in the village at Glenmona House with a few picnic tables and public toilets. We had our picnic there and refreshed we headed along the coast to Kinabane Castle outside Ballycastle. The castle is just a ruin but what a spot!! It has a car park and toilets too. Access is down a long narrow road so be prepared for oncoming cars. There is a car park. The castle is accessed by a set of steps which are numerous and steep but worth the trip (I did feel like I was going to have a heart attack by the time I got back up the steps though – it is VERY steep).


Kinbane Castle with Rathlin Island in the background


The ruins of Kinbane


A Smuggler’s Cave?


Crab Shell

We found these beautiful crab shells the other day at Downhill Beach. We will add them to the nature table for a while. They are the shell of a spider crab and it’s the first time we have found them so that’s always exciting.

Then I got this from my brother who was visiting the same beach a few days later … his first time finding one too. This is why I love the beach.