Saturday 22 August 2015

Castleward Summer 2015

Hello lovely friends and readers :)
School holidays have rather gotten in the way of my blogging flow .... but hey-ho, here I am now :)

I've got another National Trust visit to share with you today. Whilst we were in Norn Irn we visited Castleward which is my favouritey favouritist most favourite NT property EvEr. I Looooooooove Love LOVE Castleward. Its got the usual NT goodies on offer - great grounds, lovely walks, second-hand bookshop, a fab tea-room, and playgrounds for the Little People, but best of all it is coastal and its grounds go right down to the shores of Strangford Lough.

As it was midday when we arrived we headed straight to the aforementioned tea-room. It's situated on one side of a gorgeous courtyard, so you can eat your lunch outisde, the children can mess around, and Mums can slope off to the second-hand bookshop for a sneaky mooch. I found some card-making magazines for 30p each, I bought 5 so just a teeny spend of £1.50 - but the husband rolled his eyes as usual anyway ...

For lunch we decided to keep it simple and have toasties and scones. Look, how lovely, the tea even came in a tea-cup. That hardly ever happens these days :)

After lunch we met up with my cousin as she was joining us for the afternoon. She has 2 children, who I think are my children's second cousins ? Anyway, they are similar ages to my children, but they live in Texas so we don't get to see them very often, but they all get on like a house on fire so lots of fun was to be had. We went for a wander (or a wee dander as we say in Norn Irn) down to the clock tower, and the chat got to geocaching ( Have you ever tried geocaching ? We had, once, years ago when it was in its infancy, and we found it a bit tricky (or maybe we were just rubbish??). My cousin goes geocaching loads but hadn't found the one at the Castleward Clock Tower and wanted to give it another go.

So what is geocaching I hear you cry ? Well, it describes itself as "the world's largest treasure hunt". In a nutshell, any random person can hide some "treasure" - usually a plastic box with a little something in it like a car, shell, matchbox, plus a logbook and pen. They then log the GPS position of it on the geocaching website. Then when you want to "do" geocaching you go on their website and look for the caches near the position of where you are (or where you want to go a-looking). When youhave the coordinates, and with the help of a GPS device (eg your smart phone), and some hints if needed, you go off, find the treasure, add something to the box if you want to (providing you've found it of course!) and log your name in the log book. And put the box back in its hiding place. And then you can log on the website that you've found it. Yes I realise it sounds a bit pointless but its actually a lot of fun :)

After a bit of random wandering, and then by using our phones' GPS we managed to find the Castleward Clock Tower cache - hurrah! Inside the (very very grubby) box were crayons, a barbie bat and ball, and some other bits and pieces. Oh and the logbook of course.

We wrote some little messages in the logbook, added a pinecone and a stick (that was from one of the boys - what is it with boys and sticks ???) to the box, re-hid it, and went off exploring the rest of the grounds.

Oh one other interesting thing about Castleward is that a lot of the TV series Game of Thrones is filmed here. Do you recognise Winterfell ?

Lots of the TV series is also filmed in the Titanic Studios in Belfast, more of that another time :)
Just down from the Clock Tower you get a lovely view of Strangford Lough - you can see the little town of Portaferry on the opposite shore, I'll be posting about Portaferry next time.

The children wanted to say hello to Mervyn the donkey - I don't remember him looking quite so alarmed! During our visit there was a wedding going on - I tell you, they were bloomin' lucky with the weather, they had the ceremony outside - very risky - it rained every day the week before, but was completely still and dry for their wedding. We reckon they had some photos taken in a boat because we spotted someone (the best man ?) retrieving said boat in his kilt with his wellies on ...... random or what ....

... and he carried it back ashore. On his head. As you do.

See what I mean about lovely views ....

Through the arched window (remember Playschool anyone ??!) there is a sort of quay thing which is perfect for crabbing from. 

Although I find it totally heart-stopping and can't stop myself from telling everyone to be careful all the time! Hubby and I are vegetarian but we are ok with crabbing as the crabs don't get hooked on the hook, they just grab the bait with their pincer thingy. Our bait was prawns which weren't too successful, the crabs just grab the prawns then the prawns disintegrate and the crabs fall off the line, with the prawns. So you don't get the really fun part of watching the prawns scuttle back to the water!

We did manage to bring one all the way up though - the children were braver than me, I wasn't going to hold it for love nor money!

It was getting late and there was just time for a quick wander along the shore (ie a slither around on the seaweed) ....

.... before heading off for home.

Well actually not home, but to the distant shores of Portaferry for tea.

Looking forward to sharing Portaferry pictures next time :)



  1. Winter is coming. Do you watch Game of Thrones? I've never had the chance to get into it; perhaps I should try to borrow it off somebody!
    The castle looks very interesting. If we holiday in Norn Ireland we usually only get as far as Tyrone and Omagh, where the family are. Perhaps we should plan a better route next time and go and see more of the country!

    1. Yes I do watch it, it's brilliant. Highly recommend it, though you do have to work hard at piecing it together for the first couple of episodes, but it's worth it :)

  2. Castleward looks stunning, love your photos. The cream tea looks grand. Definitely sounds like a place where there is something for everyone. Love the wedding boat man, i hope he had a good drink waiting for him for his troubles :)

  3. It looks like an absolutely lovely way to spend the day. I especially like the tea in a "real" cup and saucer. And how nice that your family from Texas was thee to join you in the adventure.

  4. What a great day, I have never heard of geocaching but it sounds like great fun. I am a great fan of a tea room, particularly cups and saucers with a teapot.

  5. Oh that cute donkey! And I wouldn't like to touch a crab either although I like all animals...
    Looks like you had a good time overthere, one day we should travel to your country to see all those beautiful views by ourselfs :-)

  6. Looks a super place to spend the day, and how lovely to spend it with cousins from Texas! Look forward to seeing more photos,
    Caz xx

  7. That looks like such a fun place to bring the kids, Jill. It must have been wonderful to spend time with visiting cousins too. I really love the donkey, what a cutie! Real teacups in a public place, outdoors even. I can't imagine! Thanks for sharing your day out. :)

  8. That looks like a really fantastic place, so glad you had such a good time. And well done on finding that geocache! CJ xx

  9. I got 3/4 of the way through the first book and got bogged down by too many starts and stops in my life and maybe not enough editing in the book. I may have to have another go at it on TV.
    I definitely will have another go at Ireland soon.

  10. My comments are mixed up between this and your last post, Jill, because I am playing catch up with your last two posts so some of what I typed about your last post applies to this post instead :) I had friends who got into geocaching in northern CA over ten years ago. Their family had great fun with it and I enjoyed reading about your experience with it. I'm glad you had a happy meet up with your TX family, as well! xx

  11. Looks like a wonderful trip! I am a tad bit jealous of all the wonderful place of the National Trust you can visit in GB! Glad though that you had such a wonderful time!!

    Take care
    Crochet Between Worlds

  12. Looks like a wonderful day Jill! X

  13. hello and thanks for popping by my Blog. If you are interested in purchasing the finished wash cloths you can email me directly or order through Folksy or Etsy. There are links on my Blog. Amanda x

  14. Looooove the look of Castleward! The best man bit really made me chuckle too. It looks like you had the perfect day immortalised in photographs! Xx

  15. What a lovely visit! It looks like my kind of place. Strangford Lough looks beautiful, and the geocaching sounds like fun :)
    Cathy x

  16. What a great place to visit! Even nicer when you can meet up with family and enjoy it all together. Loved the shot of the kilt being a "canoe head" (as we call them here). We've done the treasure hunt thing here too (years ago) in campgrounds. It's called letterboxing here, but same idea. fun stuff with the kids ;)

  17. What a great place to visit! Even nicer when you can meet up with family and enjoy it all together. Loved the shot of the kilt being a "canoe head" (as we call them here). We've done the treasure hunt thing here too (years ago) in campgrounds. It's called letterboxing here, but same idea. fun stuff with the kids ;)

  18. Sounds you had a great time will all of them. Beautiful pictures. They are really brave to hold it in their hands...

  19. I really enjoyed following along with you and the family on this adventure. We just found Game of Thrones just like 4-5 months ago and watched the whole series until we got caught up. I just wish there were more happy moments in that show! We just got back from our 12 day camping trip and I put up lots of photos. Pop over if you have a moment. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

  20. What a great time you had!!! The tea and scone looks lovely. How great that you got to meet up with your cousin and family! xx

  21. How lovely is this trip! Everything you shared was just wonderful, even the little crab.
    Have fun.

  22. Wow what a beautiful castle! We loveGame of thrones too, even though it is very gruesome at times ;-). What a great day you had!
    Love from Mirjam.

  23. I'm so glad that you stopped by my blog, which made me curious to check out your blog in return.... & I'm so glad I did! I have always wanted to visit Ireland (& Scotland for my family heritage, my maiden name was Duncan)

    Your photographs are just beautiful & make me want to visit Ireland all the more! I also like history, to a certain extent. Lol I love the castle, and although I've heard of Game of Thrones, I know nothing about it. ;) The crab fishing looks very interesting & would love to try it myself. Thank you for sharing these bits & pieces of your trip!


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