Bethan and I got up at 3am on Wednesday and drove to the airport to catch a plane to Belfast, where Karen and her two girls Megan and Erin picked us up.
After two naps (we're old ladies) Karen drove us to Newcastle for a coffee. Niki's is the place to go, apparently, and we loved it so much we went back a second time on Saturday for an ulster fry.
But first things first. We went for coffee about 4 o'clock on Wednesday when it was quiet and the whole town was closing up for the day.
There were SO many cakes and drinks to choose from – more than I usually see in cafes in England and Wales. I wonder why this is?
I went for my usual – coffee, and a piece of tiffin to share with Bethan. She got a mint Aero milkshake.
I don't know how Bethan drank that milkshake – it was so sweet and creamy and big! But she loved it.
Newcastle is a relatively small town – village-like, almost – but Niki's is thriving and when we returned for our ulster fry on Saturday the place was packed.
I had been to Ireland once before this trip and eaten the famous soda bread, but fourteen was a loooong time ago and I was excited to taste this again. I have to say, however, that the bacon was my favourite part of the fry. I actually gave half of my soda bread and potato bread to Bethan, but I'm glad I tried it anyway.
If I lived nearer, I'd be at Niki's on a regular basis. The staff were friendly and efficient, and the setting airy, fresh and relaxed. We were all set for a long weekend in Northern Ireland.
Have you been to Niki's? It's surrounded by the Mourne Mountains – the biggest mountains in Northern Ireland – and right on the seafront of a sandy beach. It is absolutely stunning, and worth a visit for an afternoon of relaxing and enjoying life's little luxuries.