Harrisons Hauls Top Marks.

The awarding winning farm shop and restaurant.
The awarding winning farm shop and restaurant.

Last Sunday marked Mother’s Day for many women, but more significantly for me, it marked my annual trip to Harrison’s farm shop and restaurant– a visit my mum and I would make on this special weekend each year.

The farm friendly, family-run restaurant is perfectly nestled on the picturesque hills of Strangford Lough on the outskirts of Greyabbey, County Down. The newly refurbished restaurant offers an early bird and bistro menu, in comfortable modern surroundings, giving diners the opportunity to reflect on the award winning views this hidden gem has to offer.

The restaurant was very busy when we arrived and it was clear from the long queue that I was not the only daughter who had picked this place for a Mothers Day treat. Despite the fifteen minute wait, Mum and I were shown to a window seat, by a very knowledgeable and friendly waitress, Carol. While we both glanced over the lunch menu, we could hear the faint sound of an Irish folk group playing traditional Irish music. The Irish group transported us to what felt like a pub in a back street of Dublin city, and it was clear by the foot stamping of fellow diners that they too, had been transported to a similar place.

The Menu was fantastic value, and offered a two course deal for £14.95 per person, an offer both mum and I availed of. For starter, we both ordered the homemade soup of the day and wheaten bread. The soup was packed full of fresh vegetables that had been grown in the green house that was adjacent to the restaurant.  I was particularly impressed the restaurant offered a ‘gluten free’ wheaten bread alternative to the soup. As I am coeliac – I was appreciative of this, as it was this attention to detail that had often been overlooked in many other restaurants I had recently visited. Both satisfied with our starters, it was time for our main courses. Mum ordered Pan seared chicken in a white wine mushroom cream, accompanied with hand-cut chips.  The chicken was beautifully displayed on a quirky, vintage styled purple ceramic plate. The white wine mushroom sauce arrived separately in a dainty jug, allowing diners to decide how much, or how little they were to divulge in.  The dish was presented well, and the portion was more than adequate for one person. I ordered the Roast silverside of beef, with Yorkshire pudding and vegetables. Again, the portion was of a good size, and the wait between courses was not substantial despite how busy the restaurant was.

Once again, Carol my waitress remembered my dietary requirements from the starter, and offered a gluten free gravy to accompany my beef. When the meal arrived it was perfectly cooked, succulent and well presented. The vegetables, were slightly undercooked for my liking, but this was only a minor criticism I had for what overall was a great dining experience. After finishing our main course, we sat back and enjoyed once of the most tranquil and peaceful settings Northern Ireland has to offer.

As a dining experience, Harrisons of Greyabbey once again, did not disappoint. It displays a great example of home-cooking in a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere. The location of this restaurant is second to none and has one of the best panoramic views Northern Ireland has to offer, with great portion sizes and even better value for money. I am counting down the days to next Mothers Day already.

Hannah Spratt































50 Shades of Red, White and Blue theatre review

GBL Productions Belfast-based X-rated spoof of Fifty Shades of Grey  is a play not to be missed. “It’s PURE AMAZEBALLS so it is!”

What started as a joke Facebook page quickly escalated into 29,000 followers and the consequent books, Fifty Shades of Red, White and Blue, Dirty Dancin’ in le Shebeen and her more recently Maggie’s Feg Run. 

book cover         The second book      Most recent book


Lisa Harkers smash hit sensation hit the stage at the Mill due to popular demand for two nights only. After coming to the stage in January 2013 it had two sell-out runs at the Mac and the Grand Opera House.

Photo taken at the playBig bed and wardrobe backdrop

The play is directed by Martin Lynch and is produced by Martin Lynch and Joe Rea who are well known for The George Best Story and A Night With George. Caroline Curran magically brings the three characters of Maggie Muff, Sally Ann and Mr. Red White and Blue in the one-woman play to life in an astounding performance!

The infectious character of Maggie Muff tells the story of her life on ‘le road’ and her search for love. Maggie and her big mate Sally Ann introduce us to a hysterical world of ‘bonies and bucky’. Of course we cannot forget the antics between Maggie Muff and the‘buckalicious Mr. Red White and Blue from le Bru’ or Sinead ‘the tea leaf greener’. Maggie on her bed“The atmosphere in the auditorium was electric and it was non-stop laughter. The set was basic but effective and included some great movement which involved Maggie pushing around and hiding behind a heart shaped king sized bed. The Paris Hilton duvet typically Maggie”

The broad Belfast accent might be hard for visitors to follow and the demographic links to the City hard to connect to but Caroline Curran pulls off the Belfast slang perfectly.

Even after having read the book myself hearing Maggie’s antics all over again was fabulous. I too went home with an aching belly from laughing so hard. Whether it’s a night out with the girls, mother and daughter time or even a date night with your partner you’ll laugh from start to finish.

Maggie Muff is back again at the Mill in the sequel Dirty Dancing in le Shebeen which is sure to be another guaranteed geg. If it’s anything as good as the book you’ll definitely have “The time of your life.”

Tickets are available for Harkers plays at the Theatre at The Mill Box Office.

It should be noted that the production contains content of an adult nature. The humour and sexually explicit language is not for the faint hearted.

Alfred Lansing’s “Endurance” – a factual portrayal of man’s will to survive.

A Book Review by Thomas Burke                

EnduranceWhen people ask, “What’s your favourite film?” or “What’s your favourite band?” invariably the response involves a list rather than a definitive answer.

However, ask me “What’s your favourite book?” and I will immediately answer “Endurance” simply because it is the most riveting, suspenseful and enthralling book I have ever had the pleasure to read.

Endurance” written by Alfred Lansing is the true, astonishing account of a marathon voyage of exploration to the Antarctic led by Sir Ernest Shackleton.  It is a factual account based on the extraordinary diary entries which the crew maintained under some of the most incredible, extreme and inhospitable conditions ever endured by man.  It is based on Shackleton’s attempt to become the first person to lead an expedition across the continent of Antarctica.

It was his third such voyage.  In 1901, he was a member of Robert Scott’s expedition that got within 745 miles of the, yet to be discovered, South Pole.  He led his own expedition in 1907 but was forced to abandon his attempt when just an agonising 97 miles short of his objective.  In 1911, Norwegian Roald Amundsen became the first man to reach the South Pole.

Undeterred, Shackleton purchased a Norwegian built ship named the “Polaris” and re-christened it the “Endurance” in keeping with the Shackleton family motto “Fortitudine vincimus” meaning “by endurance we conquer” a term that was to prove prophetic.

The ship set sail from London’s East India docks on the 1st August 1914 with a crew of 27 men including the inimitable Tom Crean.  Each crewmember was handpicked and among them were a navigator, two engineers, two surgeons, a geologist, a biologist, a physicist and a photographer.

The ship was specifically built for arctic sea conditions.  Her keel comprised of four overlaid slabs of solid oak measuring 7 feet in depth and her sides varied in thickness from 18 inches to 2.5 feet.  Despite this, the ice flow that was to engulf the ship in the Antarctic’s Weddell Sea in January 1915 gradually crushed the ship causing the mighty timbers to bend and groan until the relentless pressure eventually caused them to snap like twigs.

Shackleton and his crew were left stranded on the moving ice pack with no hope of rescue.  What followed became an epic journey of resilience, adaptability and supreme heroism.

If you only read one book this year then read “Endurance” – you will not regret it. 

Available in all good book shops.  RRP £9.99


Phoenix (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd)