Frankie, my Geordie ‘sister from a different mister’ and I are both summer babies, and this year we decided to host a joint birthday celebration: a weekend in the North Coast.

After much research we decided the base for our adventure would be the Ulster Cottages. Located minutes from Bushmills, the Giant’s Causeway and the seaside town of Portrush, the accommodation was ideally placed. Our journey from Belfast, which was rife with torrential rain, took just over an hour. The cottages, which impressed from the outset, were very easy to find and much to our delight, just as we arrived, the sun decided to come out to play.

For our stay we booked two cottages, which each sleep six people. Frankie, my sister Gail, brother-in-law Alan and niece Rachel, as well as my husband Keith and I were the first to arrive. The cottages are self catering and so, well stocked up with supplies, we got set up for the rest of the group arriving. Before long we were joined by Heather and Ian, quickly followed by Kyler, Mark and Paul, and finally Bronagh and Eamonn. 

As the sun was still shining, and with enough meat in the fridge to feed a small army, we fired up two disposable BBQs. With a mixture of quality burgers, sausages, ribs, chicken fillets and chicken skewers, purchased from McCord Butchers in East Belfast, we enjoyed a very tasty feast. For the rest of the evening we relaxed at the cottages, had a few drinks and a lot of craic. It was lovely to catch up with everyone in such a chilled out and welcoming environment. 

After a good sleep it was time for day two. After a switcheroo at Coleraine train station, where we lost the pleasure of Paul’s company but gained that of Andy’s, it was time to come up with a game plan for the day. Unfortunately the rain had returned and so our options were slightly limited. One group, myself included, opted to go to the Bushmills Distillery whilst the others headed to the Portrush icon that is Barry’s Amusements.

I loved the tour around Bushmills. Our guide was passionate, informative and engaging. After we followed the journey that takes place to create Northern Ireland’s famous whiskey, it was time to try it first hand. With the option of sampling original Bushmills, Black Bush, Bushmills Irish Honey and a 12 year old Bushmills, we were spoilt for choice. I chose the 12 year old Bushmills, and with a clean, smooth taste, it was definitely a tipple to savour.

Tour done, it was time to regroup with the others. It was nearly kickoff time between Northern Ireland and Wales in the Euros and so the next stop was to the Atlantic Bar to watch the match. Whilst the result was disappointing the atmosphere throughout was magic, once again proving how loyal and passionate Northern Ireland fans are.

After much banter, laughs and fun times, our last evening in the North Coast drew to a close. The next morning it was time to pack up our belongings and get on the road, each heading to our respective homes, from Belfast to Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

After such an amazing weekend, I have fallen even more in love with the North Coast. This picturesque spot is a fantastic place to visit and enjoy, no matter the weather. Once you combine the stunning location with superb accommodation and awesome company, this was a fun-filled weekend that has made so many memories that I know I will always cherish.

Published by Kellie Burch