Festive Tea at Harvey’s Point

Last Saturday, I was invited to join a handful of Donegal Bloggers at the official launch of the Festive Afternoon Tea at Harvey’s Point.

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It is available there from Saturday 1st of December, right through to January 6th and Oh My WORD guys, it is beautiful.

We were met with a Prosecco reception by an open fire.  From the first moment, the staff were friendly and attentive.  We then met the formidable lady behind this incredible gem, Deirdre McGlone,  whose passion for the hotel is infectious.   She is a lady and the love story which brought her to Harvey’s is deserving of its own book.  (Let me know if you’d like it written Deirdre!)

Carina and Sheila gave us an informative and fun history of the hotel, before taking us on a tour of it.

Ladies.  The Him and I have been lucky to stay in some of the loveliest and most celebrated hotels, both at home, and abroad. We do like our luxury every so often. We’ve done most of the 4 & 5 star “must sees” of London and paid the extra for some luxury in NYC.  But nowhere, have I seen the spacious luxury of Harvey’s Point.  Even the corridors are huge.

And the rooms? We saw both the basic suite and the Premium…each of which are approximately the same size as the downstairs of most houses.  They are beautiful. Massive mahogany framed beds and plush carpets, with the most spectacular bathrooms.

I can see myself sipping bubbles in one of the giant bathtubs very very soon. (And there are robes, which if you know me, you’ll know how important that is!)

The Festive Tea was then served to us in the main dining room.  The table was beautifully laid out and injected the first little flourish of Christmas Spirit into us.  We were greeted by the waiters who were looking after us, our napkins were flourished individually onto our knees (I love things like this!) and then they brought us our mulled wine.

It was divine; not too sweet and very mild. Then we had little cups of soup, before the main tea displays were carried to us.  I’ve never seen such a beautiful bundle of happiness inducing delights.  Sandwiches; egg and watercress and turkey, stuffing and cranberry – and I’m not talking a finger of one sandwich each.  Scones with clotted cream and fresh jam, Christmas pudding, Mince pies, Santa mousse bites, little cupcakes, smoked salmon bites, duck paté… Each bite nicer than the last.

Tea or coffee was topped up frequently.  The coffee was superb, unlike most hotel coffees which leave me longing for an Americano on the way home. This was smooth and perfectly roasted.

As bloggers most of us know the others from our online presence.  Some of us had met briefly at different events or launches, but had never really had the chance to speak properly.  I being of the geriatric blogger/Mammy variety, who invariably has to rush off from everything to collect kids, was delighted to meet and actually have time to sit and chat with these ladies.  It was a wonderfully unexpected perk to the day. The ladies were lovely; all ages, all styles of creator and yet all genuinely delighted to get to share a lovely afternoon tea.

The tea is €26 per person (€36 with Bubbles) but as Afternoon Teas go, I have never experienced one as beautiful as this.  The most impressive thing for me was the amount of food and the array of flavours; from sweet to savoury, but all delicious.

Carina and Sheila really did look after us and every member of staff that we met, seemed genuinely happy to be there.  Harvey’s Point might be constantly expanding and growing, but I can predict that the ideas of family and home which formed the hotel in the first place, will never be far from its heart.

Now, off I go to pencil in a Roseymantic Mammy and Daddy time with my Him.  I’m sure I have a weekend free in 2019.

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Mammy was an invited guest to tea in Harvey’s Point.  As always, my review is honest and my own.  I was under no obligation to post or write about the event or the hotel.  My views as my own. 

I am So I’ve found my Marbles Mum

Marbles…

Just when I thought I was in danger of losing my last few, Himself whisked me off to the lovely Shandon Hotel & Spa in Dunfanaghy. We didn’t bother with the spa this time, just focused on some R&R… and finally got to try out their new restaurant, Marbles.

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I’ll keep this short and sweet.

It is Fablis.

Located upstairs from the bar, the restaurant is a lovely size. Tastefully decorated in silver and purple hues, it is fresh and comfortable. We gave our room number and were greeted by name. Simple but classy. And little touches like Cole & Mason table accessories and a traditional and classy cutlery setting let us know that this was a cut above before we’d even seen the menu.

The Menu is extensive without being overwhelming. A lovely variety of starters with all allergens and required info available. There is a choice of every meat for main which is something I find becoming rare in good restaurants.

We ordered a bottle of still water and a bottle of wine. Natalia was our server and when I asked for number 18, she instantly replied “The Malbec.” This is the kind of thing that makes Mammy happy. Having worked in restaurants for years, I always appreciate when staff not only do their job well, but show that they take it seriously. Instantly impressed.

We were offered the Shandon’s famous “Guinness Bread” and then served little prawn bites as Chef’s Amuse Bouche while we waited for our starters.

I opted for Pork Belly. Beautifully presented and perfectly cooked. I love the warmed grapes and puree on the plate. All flavours complimented. He had the fishcake and was equally impressed.

Then they served us a little passion fruit sorbet which was gorgeous.

I had the duck for my main course. It was very tasty and served with a little tarte tatin on top. Himself had the slow cooked beef which melted in the mouth. Sides were veg and creamed potatoes and the portions were plenty.

We asked if we could wait a while before ordering dessert and there was no problem at all. Is there anything worse than feeling rushed along in a restaurant? We weren’t at a window seat for our meal, but when one beside us became free, there was no issue in moving to it to enjoy the sunset. The pinks and purples inside suddenly made sense. The sky was the exact same colour and the whole effect was beautiful.

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My dress matched the decor perfectly!

The dessert menu posed a huge problem for me. I love a good cheese board when I’m eating out, and am rarely tempted by a sweet, but this menu was to die for. There is a trio of Creme Brulee which looked amazing. And yet, I always have cheese. Torn. Torn I tell you!

I stuck with the cheese and it was gorgeous. My one (and only) tiny criticism was that I asked for no nuts on the cheese board. (Sometimes walnuts etc are sprinkled on the plate.) The cheese board arrived, looking fab and with all of my favourites on it, but without crackers. The crackers served see, are homemade and have hazelnuts through them, and quite rightly, the chef couldn’t serve them to me.

Now, my intolerence is specific to coconut and almond, so I was able to have some sent out and I simply removed the hazelnuts. But I would suggest that even having some water biscuits or plain crackers on standby would be a clever move which would allow Nutty ones like myself to enjoy the cheese. The cheeseboard however was divine and I ate every bite of it (yes all by myself!). I shall be back for those Brulee!

Himself had the lemon tart, which I have on good authority was lovely. (Him doesn’t share desserts!) We then moved out to the adjoining bar to finish our drinks and relax some more.

The menu is simply priced at €40 per head. I LOVE THIS. Especially if out in a large group. No nit-picking at the splitting of the bill. It was worth every penny and I can’t wait to return.

Mammy gives Marbles a deserved 5 stars.

It books up quite quickly Ladybelles, so if you plan to visit over the summer months, it might do no harm to book in advance.

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(As always, my review is honest and true. We were paying guests in the Shandon and in Marbles and I am under no obligation to post this piece.)

I am Summer in the Park Mum

I am so very excited to announce that Mammy is a Park Ambassador for the very beautiful Oakfield Park for the 2018 season.

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Anyone who has followed me for a while will find nothing new in me posting from Oakfield Park. We spend a lot of time wandering through the gardens in Raphoe and we’re so lucky that it’s right beside us.

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It’s one of my favourite places to go fo family time and over the summer, the girls and I often pop up for a wander around while Daddy is at work.

It’s magical. Good old fashioned fun for the kids. Perfect for getting them away from screens.  From the minute we walk in the gates, not only do they run free, their imaginations do too.

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The Fairy tree is Mini-Me’s favourite.  She loves putting wishes onto it.   Princess is always mesmerized by the swans and ducks and the train ride never gets old, for any of us!

 

We have been spending Summer Sundays in Oakfield since before the girls came along (Oh for the days of Roseymantic picnics!) and I love that every Spring when we return, there is something new.

The Oakfield team are CONSTANTLY adding to the park. It’s seen huge changes in the past two years and I can only imagine what else is to come. The biggest new feature this year is the new maze which has just been planted and which will open soon.

 

My girls love the park. It’s safe to let Princess run and play. There are always new pathways to explore. The playpark has also had loads of new fun-features added to it this winter and seeing the park’s swans is always a treat.

 

But the park is not for only for Sundays.

Last year, we bought the annual pass. After only 4 visits, it had paid for itself and it was worth every penny. However, this year’s pass options are so much better. The Gold Pass  is brilliant value. It includes VIP access to gardens, access to special deals and UNLIMITED train rides which makes Mammy VERY happy. There will be lots of personalised treats over the season for gold pass holders.  There are loads of options and of course, you CAN pay as you go, but if you tend to visit often, the passes are worth a look.

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The Gold Pass includes unlimited train rides!

I found that once we had the pass, we got so much more use out of the park.  Rather than being limited to weekends and feeling like we HAD to spend a full day there each time, we were able to pop up and visit the fairy tree, or look for the swans, or just let the girls run around for an hour. We got so much more out of the park as we could go along when we felt like it.

 

The park is so child friendly; Playpark, changing facilities, summer picnics and lots of wide open spaces for them and their imaginations to run free. And tree swings! It’s also adult friendly; calm, quiet and coffee. And the backdrop for snapping pictures of your little ones is stunning. (Furbabies are welcome too as long as they are on their lead and cleaned up after!)

 

Buffers offers everything from a cuppa and cake to a full menu. The restaurant is licensed too and they cater for parties and functions.

If you’re looking for the ticket to a fun and healthy summer for your minis, look no further Mammies. The team at Oakfield Park have you covered.

The summer events schedule is full of teddy bear picnics and special events and competitions too.

Oakfield Park really is the hidden gem of Donegal. We can’t wait to spend sunshiny days (and indeed drizzly ones!) in Oakfield Park. It’s really quite beautiful in the rain too!

Hope to see you there,

Mammy

 

#ParkAmbassador

I am Sliabh Liag Mum

Happy Easter Ladybelles.

Hope the sugar highs weren’t too manic and that the sugar crashes were tolerable!

We headed off to the beautiful Sliabh Liag today. Unbelievably, neither of us have EVER been and us living in Donegal our whole lives!? How? No idea but we’re so glad we have finally ticked it off our list.

It’s absolutely stunning. So beautiful. Our girls are a bit young yet to be walking it so we’re planning a trip back this summer with our #Rushefitness family to attempt the trek up to the top. 😎

Then we went to Walton Mountain for a wee egg hunt. Great fun! And Granny fed us which was great as Dumbass here forgot to put the roast in the Slowcooker this morning. 😜

Girls are in bed at last. Bond is on the TellyBox and there’s s bottle of bubbles almost chilled in the fridge. 🥂

Hope we all had a fablis day.

Xxx

I am sipping bubbles in the bubbles Mum-Review of The Shandon Hotel & Spa, Donegal

​Shandon Hotel and Spa, Dunfanaghy, Co. Donegal.

The Him decided to finally whisk me off for a romantic break in The Shandon Hotel and Spa.

Since it reopened in March 2016, we’ve heard only gushing reports about it so have been very much looking forward to visiting ourselves.

We’re a fussy pair you know? When we do get a little time away on our own, we like exciting food, comfortable and clean surroundings and a little bit of luxury.  The Shandon gave us all this and more.

First Impressions:

Check-in was efficient and quick and friendly.  The foyer is beautiful; very tastefully decorated and perfect for relaxing with a paper or simply enjoying the amazing views of Sheephaven Bay.

Because we visited at Christmas, it had the added sparkle and romance of the Christmas trees and seasonal decorations; beautiful.

Our room was on the third floor. It was large, spacious and ever so clean. The bathroom was small but cleverly appointed, making excellent use of the space. Again, pristine cleanliness. (I love clean…did I mention that?) The window was massive, and like every room in the hotel, overlooked the bay and offered stunning views of the area.

Tea/coffee and shortbread, a safe and all the usual. The only thing I missed were robes, but no biggy.

​ (Our only issue on arrival was that when we got to the third floor, it became clear that there was major work/renovation being carried out upstairs. The noise was deafening. We checked with reception who immediately apologised and assured us that the workmen would be finished shortly and wouldn’t be starting until 10am the next morning. We were happy enough with this, but had we not been booked into the spa at 10am and had we been anticipating a lazy morning until Check out, I would not have been impressed. A small issue for us, but it might have beena disappointment for others, and perhaps we might have been made aware on booking that renovations are underway at certain times.)

But first impressions were good and we instantly relaxed, knowing that we were in for a perfect “switch off”.

Feed me Now!

The hotel bar is comfortable and cozy and has a full wall of window.

It seems that no matter where you go in the building, you are able to see the famous view. It’s wonderful. We enjoyed lunch in the bar and were treated to good conversation and excellent G&T by the lovely Gary.

There was absolutely no problem when I asked for a variation to the Gin menu. He was more than happy to accommodate Little Miss Fussy Knickers here.😂 After lunch, I ordered a glass of wine. I wanted a glass of Malbec, but it only came by the bottle. Gary suggested that he could open the bottle and have it in the restaurant for us for our dinner booking. This is the first time that I have ever been offered this in a busy hotel. We were hugely impressed, and true to his word, the bottle was in the restaurant for us when we arrived that night.

Lunch was superb. The menu is impressive and the wine list and gin menus are extensive. If you visit, you MUST try the Salt and Chilli Prawns. They were HUGE, perfectly cooked and subtly flavoured. The only other place I have had prawns that good, was in a seaside restaurant in Portugal. They were so good that I ordered them again for lunch the next day. The Him had Salmon which was also superb. (The Steak burger he had for lunch the following day was incredible too.) We figured that if lunch was this good, then we were in for a treat at dinner.

We figured right.

The service was perfect. The food was divine. I had a duck confit to start and Seabass (with more of those prawns!) for my main, followed by a Cheese board to match any I’ve had before. The Him had a Crab starter (yum!), a perfectly cooked steak and a lemon tart to finish. There was a sorbet between courses and the Guinness Bread to start was gorgeous.

(I don’t have pics of the dinner as we left the phones in the safe for the evening…imagine!? 😂💖)

The next morning.

Breakfast was excellent; your typical hotel breakfast, but again the standard was high, with lots of little touches like “Shandon Detox water” with lemon and cucumber and homemade smoothies. Very good.

Now!

The Shandon Spa​.

Oh!

      My!

          Word!

We had hoped to visit this on arrival, but it was fully booked. (Check with the spa for availability as early as possible to avoid disappointment.) In hindsight, it was a much better way to do it anyway as rather than have breakfast and head home, we felt like we had a second day away! We checked out after breakfast, threw the bags in the car and were in the spa as it opened at 10am. Again, it was superb; the Reception, the staff, the changing rooms (soooo clean! 😅) and atmosphere was  quiet, relaxing and gentle.

​ We were first into the Thermal Suite that morning.

Ladybelles, it is THE nicest spa I have been to in Ireland.

It is bright and spacious with a spectacular glass wall, again overlooking the bay. Jacuzzi, pressure/massage showers, tropical showers, a herb infused sauna and a little room filled with essential oil steam are only a few of the facilities. It is first class.

Sipping bubbles in the bubbles!

We spent an hour in the Thermal Suite and then headed out to the famous Hot Tub on the balcony. You know when you anticipate something for so long that it ends up a disappointment?

​ Yeah, well that did NOT happen.

We were brought two glasses of chilled prosecco and spent 20 glorious minutes sipping bubbles in the bubbles! It was baltic that morning; cars were frozen in the carpark; my wet hair was frozen by the time we got out; but we were toasty warm and afterwards, you can warm up on the heated marble loungers inside. The tub is magical. It is EVERYTHING I hoped it would be and EVERYONE needs to experience it.

We were then taken off for our treatments. The Him had booked the Spa Sensation Package so we were getting Full Body massages. My therapist was Rita and she was brilliant. The relaxation room offered fruit and water and more views of the bay. We stayed there for about 15 minutes before returning to the changing rooms. Afterwards, you can chill with a selection of teas and coffee in yet another room with sea views beside reception. There are also soft drinks, wine and prosecco available for purchase. What I loved most about this was the lack of rush.

So many other spas tend to want you to leave ASAP after your treatment. “When you’re ready” generally carries the subtext of “Hurry along now!”, but not in The Shandon. We could have sat there drinking tea and enjoying the view (yes again!) for as long as we liked. It really was the most relaxing few hours and I have it on good authority that The Him loved it every bit as much as I did.

Overall, The Shandon Hotel and Spa really is a jewel in the Wild Atlantic Way. It is beautifully appointed, well run and the food and service are equal to any we have enjoyed in any 5 star hotel, both at home and abroad. The spa is exceptional and the setting is perfect. And for us, the fact that it is only a 30 minute drive from home meant that we could escape for 24 hours and still be home quickly to the girls. 💖💖

We returned home completely relaxed and rejuvenated and ready to start the hectic New Year. For some quality time as a couple, it is the perfect location. We only wish we had been able to go over earlier on the first day so we might have gone for a walk on the gorgeous beach and had a look at the leisure centre and pool…

Next time!

We can’t wait to visit again, and might just have to make it an annual anniversary trip. (But I’m already planning a night with my Girls in February, because as romantic as it is, it would also be the perfect spot for a girly catch up, gossip and giggles and some first class pampering. Sssssh! I won’t tell Him just yet! 😂💙)

Congratulations to the Shandon team on creating a magical hideaway, right on our doorstep.

If you’d like more information, here’s their website. http://shandonhotelspa.com

And find me on Bookface @the.s.mum for polite and shy daily musings about motherhood… 😂

The Shandon Hotel and Spa gets a Super 💋💋💋💋💋from The S-Mum!

 Please note: I write this review simply because I feel like it and because the hotel deserves it.  We paid for our stay in full and I have no ulterior reason for my gushing, other than having had a wonderful time.