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I'm Heather McGarrigle and this is my blog - a colourful celebration of culture, crafting and creativity in Northern Ireland and beyond.

Nearby Getaways

Cushendun beach

It's halfway through July already, so Northern Ireland is well into summer holiday season. 

(And certain other well-known seasons, yes, but the Quill is a welcome-all, non-partisan blog, so those worms and thon can-opener shall remain strangers.)

 
My favourite summer memories are of spending time in my homeland with friends and family. Caravan trips to the west of Ireland as a child and as a teenager, lying with friends under the summer stars, putting the world to rights, or impromptu road trips to the seaside when I should have been studying.
 
If you're in the mood for a local break (I refuse to use that word for a home holiday. You know the one.) - have a flick through my snaps of a long weekend I took with my family back in April.
 
We spent a few days staying in the hills of Cushendall and exploring the surrounding coastal towns. I hope you enjoy the various sights that caught my eye and hopefully it inspires a little 'Norn Irn' holiday of your own.
Firstly, check out our neighbours and the neighbourhood for the weekend...
 

 
 
 

 

My Granny is an artist - no wonder she was inspired to capture the views of the landscape on canvas.

 

 

 
 

BUSHMILLS

 
This adorable little crafts and gifts shop is on Main Street, right in the heart of the village. Closed on the day we were there (I think it was a Sunday), but I've been in before and it's a treasure trove of goodies. Check out their Facebook page.
 
 

A couple of doors down from Carleton Crafts is The Copper Kettle, a lovely little spot for lunch or coffee. Friendly service and a good selection of toasties, sandwiches and main meals.

 
Some cute decorative details in the cafe that caught my eye....
 
 

 
 
No trip to Bushmills is complete without a wee dram! No time to tour the distillery, but a little stop off in the Bushmills Inn rounded off the day nicely.

Well, when one isn't driving, it'd be RUDE not to have an Irish coffee in Bushmills...
 

DUNSEVERICK HARBOUR

Yet another beauty spot on the North Antrim Coast. You'll find directions to it here and a bit of background information here.
 
 

 

 

 

 

Daddy chillin' by the harbour!
 

PORTSTEWART

Granny and Granda used to live here, so we fuelled up for the day at one of Granda's old haunts, The Anchor.
 
 
I love all the decorative details and old fashioned style in this bar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

Another town, another gorgeous crafts and gifts store. Caru is on the main promenade of Portstewart. From high end, artisan products and Celtic crafts to typical seaside souvenirs, this little shop stocks it all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Above and below: Gorgeous Avoca goodies

 

 

The shop is a stockist of Nature's Purest - the loveliest range of baby gifts I've ever seen.

Might look like a strange picture, but I just loved spying this little piece of coastal scenery hiding between these seaside shops.

 

View from the Portstewart promenade, looking across to the convent.

Portstewart's picturesque little harbour

 

BALLYCASTLE

We were only passing through, but I had to take a few snaps of the brightly-painted shopfronts. Such a pretty town.
 

 

 

 

CUSHENDUN

 

 

 
 
My sister and I take a walk along the beach. Looks sunny but it's freezing, hence the coats and fleeces! I collected loads of shells and  pebbles; hoping to use them in future craft projects.
 
 
I love finding footprints...

 

 
The resident gardener!
 
 
One day I shall realise my dream of installing one of these in my bathroom as a shower enclosure...

 

CUSHENDALL

 

 

Turnly's Tower, AKA The Curfew Tower. A place originally built as a cell for Cushendall's "idlers and rioters".

 

 
Shame Granny and I didn't get a chance to explore the art shop...
 
 
...but this family always makes time for the pub! Wish I could remember the name of this place, but it escapes me. Hurling and GAA memorabilia adorn the walls and an old Singer sewing machine is used as a table! 
 
 

 

I think it's brilliant that the tourist board has embraced the opportunities afforded by this exciting year and is so enthusiastically promoting our country, both to visitors and residents.
 
Northern Ireland is tiny, but look at all you can see and do in a couple of days on the North Coast and you realise the place is packed full of potential day trips, weekend breaks and holidays. 
 
So fine, call it a 'staycation' if you must, but I hope you spend a little of your holiday time at home.
 

Some useful links:

 

Mela Monday: Beginning of a beautiful friendship

Oh, you pretty things!