It's safe to say that in the 4 years I have been with Sarah, we have probably spent 50% of our time together travelling and in hotels. If there's such a thing as the travel bug, call the nurse, I have a bad case of it!
I also confess I am a 'Trip Advisor' addict/geek, never failing to update my reviews on there and always checking out what people say about a hotel before I book. So it seems like a natural step for me to take, in attempting to write a travel blog. I'm keen to share with you my favourite places to travel to and when you get there, the best places to eat, drink and be merry.
Just as I am on my Trip Advisor account, I will be very honest as I want you, my readers, to have the best experience possible. It costs a lot of money to hop around this planet of ours, so I want to make sure you only get the best.
In my first 'travel blog', I want to introduce to you some of the places I have been to recently. I will take you on an around the world trip. To begin with I will be focusing on Northern Ireland, where my ancestors are from and New York, where my heart belongs. I will also let you know the best places to eat and stay in the UK, blog by blog.
So, let's begin our trip.
The first place I want to recommend to you, is in my beloved homeland, Northern Ireland. It's one of my absolute favourites, it's a family run business and I always visit one of their restaurants (they have a few) every time I go the majestic County Antrim.
The Ramore, is probably a 'famous' restaurant on the north coast of Northern Ireland. It is quite probably one of the most well known eateries in the Country. Mention it to anyone from the picturesque, County Antrim Coastline or indeed any who have visited Northern Ireland and almost certainly they will know it and they most probably will have dined there too.
My father's side of the family, The Callaghan's, are from the Giants Causeway and Bushmills, which I hope to tell you all about in another blog.
I have been aware of the Ramore for as long as I can remember. As a child I was tormented by it in fact, as I was not allowed to go. The Ramore night was grown up time whenever we visited Northern Ireland. However back then it was a different beast. I'm told it was much more formal, compared to the family friendly place it is now. So as a child I was carted off to bed, while the grown ups had a mystery night out at the famous Ramore Restaurant.
Finally, when I was 26 years old, I eventually got to eat there! I had waited long enough...
It was in 2007. I was on a break from filming as a regular character on the TV show, Emmerdale. My father was going out to Northern Ireland and a good friend of mine from my drama school days, the infamous Leon Bearman, decided to tag along. We were so lucky as we got to drive around and take in the breathtaking views from Leon's beautiful classic convertible, Alfa Romeo Spyder. We drove along the winding coastal road of County Antrim, in glorious sunshine, taking in the fantastic scenery in style.
The Ramore sits on the harbour in Portrush. Home of the famous fantastic, 'Links' golf course and home to none other than, Darren Clarke, who is also a regular diner at The Ramore. In fact you will often see many famous faces from Sport and TV there.
The 'Ramore' building itself is quite large and contains 3 separate restaurants, all offering a different dining experience. The family, who are local, also own the new, Neptune and Prawn over the road from the Ramore and The Wine Bar. I have eaten at all of them and they are all fabulous in their own way. Well designed and decorated and the food is top-notch.
For now I am going to be talking about The Harbour Bistro, probably the most popular. There is always a queue but the food is so great everyone is more than happy to wait. Don't worry though, due to the terrific service you are never waiting long and the bar staff are always more than happy to keep you well watered in the meantime. They will even make you drinks that are not on the menu. I had the perfect Whiskey Sour there, which was made in the 'proper way' with an egg. I must say, the atmosphere is always buzzing there - but not so much that it bothers you when you are sat down, it just makes the whole experience seem energising.
The menu has plenty of choice and is pretty straight forward. Honest food, done to perfection. It was on my first visit here that I tried Scampi for the first time. My old Nan (who is sadly no longer with us) couldn’t finish her dinner and so, of course, I heroically stepped in. I actually wasn't expecting to like it either, as I'm fussy about fish dishes. Not wanting to let my old Nan down though, I was willing to try and boy was I glad that I did! The scampi was soft, substantial and buttery and the batter was so light and crispy. It was just delicious.
I have never had anything other than a great meal at the Ramore. The tobacco onions and garlic fries are my two favourite side dishes. The tobacco onions are insanely good.
The real star turn there though, is in fact the desert counter. At least a dozen, fresh, sumptuous, indulgent and utterly mouth watering deserts to choose from.
My favourite is the famous St Honore. It's an absolute monster, with a biscuity, rocky road type base, layered with cream, chocolate filled profiteroles, honeycomb and just pure indulgent loveliness. Whenever we go to Northern Ireland,we never miss getting desert from there. It's probably the only place I never miss desert! Even if everyone is full, we get some to takeaway. You can guaruantee that if we are there with lots of family, we will have orders to bring extra home.
The Ramore is a must. No ifs, no buts or maybes. If you are anywhere near there at any time of year, you must visit.
Good old Irish hospitality which of course, goes without saying and afterwards you can enjoy a little walk around the harbour to let the meal go down and take in some of the lovely views. Or maybe you prefer to hit their Wine Bar for a few drinks and a few drinks more.
My next blog will be another little travel gem, based on my favourite places along the causeway coast. I'll tell you the best things to see, a little history and mythology (and some Game of Thrones locations) and even more places to eat, drink and be merry.