Showing posts with label Xtra Special Days. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Xtra Special Days. Show all posts


Walk This Way to Tayto Castle - Xtra Special Day

We can get soooooo excited when we are going to do something that we have always wanted to do.

That's the way we were just after Christmas in 2012.

We were nearly more excited about going to Tayto Castle than we were about our Christmas Dinners.

This was going to be one of our Xtra Special Days

If you are not Norn Irish then you may well be puzzling over where and what is Tayto Castle.

If you were born here in Northern Ireland or have come to live in this beautiful country then you will probably have heard of Tayto Castle in the small town of Tandragee.

But one thing is sure if you are in Northern Ireland and have not heard of Tayto Crisps then there is something badly wrong because they are the best crisps in the world.

Please note I have NOT been given a big box of Tayto Cheese & Onion or Smokey Bacon to make me write this - unfortunately.

Tayto Castle is the home of Tayto Crisps.

Yes they make the crisps in a Castle.

Only a Castle is good enough for the best crisps in the world.

When our three kids were young I kept saying that one summer we would organize a day trip to Tayto Castle to get the tour and see the crisps being made.

Yes I kept saying it but that didn't make it happen and the years went on with people telling us that you have to book months in advance if not a year in advance if you wanted to go during the school summer holidays.

So we never did make that trip when we were living almost 2 hours away but now we live only 30 mins away and yes we finally got to make that trip.

Only a Castle is good enough for the best crisps in the world.

The Tayto signpost points you to a door in a stone wall for your adventure to begin.

Our fun had already begun as Linda and I were giggling away while I was trying to take pictures.

There is an intercom but it was fun to knock as well.

Then when they released the door for us we were

ready to enter the grounds of Tayto Castle.

Inside there is a short walk up to the part of the Castle where we had to go for the tour

and we saw this lovely feature on the wall of the Castle.

As we got closer there was a part to walk through and of course we had to stop to get a picture of Mr Tayto and his crispy, crunchy crisps.

Inside and we were greeted with masses of crisp signs hanging from the ceiling.

See the yellow pack that's my favourite - Cheese & Onion.

Photo opportunity with Mr Tayto himself and he wasn't the only one who was laughing, we could hardly stand still for the picture we were all laughing so much at the thought of this grown up family (including the boys) getting their picture taken with Mr Tayto.

Everyone working there was so friendly and chatted to us while we sat and waited for the rest of the people on the tour to arrive.

All over the walls were letters from children saying what a great time they had had on the tour.

None of the tour could be photographed and there were rules and regulations about going around the factory which is understandable as safety and contamination has to be of the utmost importance, but no one minds rules for this type of thing.

We walked round and saw

  • the potatoes,
  • the slicing,
  • the cooking,
  • the flavouring
  • the sorting
  • and the packaging
  • and also all the different types of crisps that they make

as well as "testing" out all the flavours.

Yes "testing" as in TASTING.

There is quite a lot of "testing" going on as the tour goes round.

We really enjoyed that part!!!

No handbags, phones, cameras, keys etc. can be taken with you on the tour because of the risk of contamination of the product so basically you take off your coats and empty your pockets and hand over your belongings before the tour starts.

Plus you have to put on an apron and hair nets just as the workers have to wear.

Here we are at the end of the tour when they have a very important moment.

The moment when you have to make the big decision as to what flavour of crisp you want because everyone gets bags of crisps to take home with them.

Now my favourite is Cheese & Onion but I chose Smokey Bacon for my free gift because I had already decided that on the way out we would be buying a big box of Cheese & Onion (they are cheaper to buy in the big box & since then we have rung up and ordered boxes whenever the kids are coming to stay for a while and then we just drive over and pick them up at the Castle).

All the way round in the tour various people were asking questions and the tour guides are very willing to answer and explain almost everything.

Everything except

"What is the secret of the great Tayto Taste?"

That has to remain a secret or Tayto Crisps would not be the greatest Crisps.

You may not learn the secret but the tour is well worth the money and the time.
You will find more info on Tayto HERE

In case you don't know, the pink packet is the Prawn Cocktail flavour crisps.

Remember back to the picture above with the hair nets?

In it we all had our free crisps.

3 of our family Fred, Jonathan & Linda had yellow Tayto Carrier Bags with their choice of crisps whereas Daniel & I had Tayto Multipacks.

Well 2 of the three with the yellow bags had prawn cocktail and salt & vinegar crisps (the two types represented in this picture above).

Can you guess who had the pink packets and who had the blue?

Well the tour was over and we had got our free gift and the last thing was the shop.
We stopped there and got our box of Cheese & Onion and also bought a few little gifts one of which was a yellow Tayto Mug.

Then it was on out to have a last look around outside before we hurried home to finish making our second Christmas Dinner because my sister and her family were coming to visit and it was the 27th December.

But before we got back in the car another picture had to be taken to encourage everyone to go visit Tayto Castle.

Ever the crazy, fun loving, younger sister; Linda had to pose while the boys walked away hoping no-one would know she was with them.

I think it was almost better to have done the tour now because of the fun and humour between us all at this stage in their lives than when they would have been so much younger.

I'm sure they would have been too young before to have enjoyed it as much as we did now.


St. Patrick's Day Parade in Northern Ireland - Xtra Special Day

Where is the most appropriate place to have a St. Patrick's Day Parade?

I bet your answer is Dublin because that's the capital city of Ireland.
Or perhaps you want to say New York because you have heard of the celebrations there.

I don't agree!!!!

Last year Fred & I went to the place which we believe is the most appropriate because it is the place St. Patrick is supposed to have landed nearby and also supposed to have been buried in.

The town of Downpatrick in County Down in Northern Ireland.

We had never been to any St. Patrick's Day Parade anywhere before so this was one of our Xtra Special Days

Having arrived there we got parked outside the town and followed the crowd of people until we got to a part of the town where others were already standing waiting.  We discovered this was the end of the parade route so decided to stay here also.

Soon along came the Street Performers to help to keep us entertained until the parade could make it's way through the town to our position.

Some of them threw sweets to the children

                              and one of them came right over to greet Fred.

Well because I already had the phone out to take pictures and we were getting a bit bored we resorted to one of the few selfies we have taken, some are mentioned previously in  Does My Nose Look Big in This?

Then along came the Parade.

No, correct that,  it was only the Pre-parade of Vintage Cars.

Not really a novelty around Northern Ireland as there are quite a few of these each year now.

Very shortly after that came the real thing.

The Parade

First of course we had St. Patrick and he was accompanied by two snakes.

Poor man had to walk the whole parade in his bare feet.

Then some Roman? soldiers.

Some other highlights of the parade were:

Colourful lady stilt walker.

Was this an Irish Wolfhound?

A Butterfly!

Never heard of a butterfly having anything to do with St. Patrick, but hey we like butterflies on this blog in fact  I Love Butterflies  and  I Was Going to Miss the Butterflies  and I have butterflies on mugs too 3 More Coffee Mugs  

then there was

A Pipe band.

A "Mash Direct" bus.
This is one of the good local food companies we have and I have to say their mashed turnip is great.

A DeLorean Car?

Yes a bit after the time of St. Patrick admittedly but Northern Ireland does have a link with DeLorean too.  You know a bit like our link with the Titanic.

What could you possibly have after a futuristic car?

Some Large headed characters.

A Christian Music Float.

We were delighted to see this - after all what are we celebrating St. Patrick for?

Not the shamrock,

           nor the snakes (or lack of them)

                        but for the Christianity he introduced to our island.

But then suddenly

2 Elvis impersonators??

No I know, we just could not see any connection here at all.
If you can think of one then please let me know.

And here come the Leprechauns - really?

This of course was clever and I hope not too heavy for the poor guy to carry along.

We also had two Mickey Mouse characters.

Okay we know they were there to amuse the children.

Another Pipe band.

And where else in the world would you get to see a POLICE TRACTOR  but in Northern Ireland?

Not even in the Republic of Ireland (Southern Ireland)  because it would be a Garda Tractor there.

A group of colourful children.

A Large Mushroom - presumably advertising the mushroom growing industry here.

Some more colourful children.

A Flower Giant.

A Blue stilt walker.

Another Pipe band.

A colourful dragon.

And no St. Patrick didn't slay the dragon - St. George the patron saint of England did that.

So a bit confused about the dragon but then realised he was followed by some dinosaurs and they didn't have anything to do with St. Patrick either so obviously we just enjoy colourful creatures.

Now we do have some folklore about a giant or two in Northern Ireland so to see a giant in this parade was not too unusual but riding a quad?

Although I must say I rather liked this guy.

Then we were coming near the end of the parade with another mini parade this time of Vintage Tractors  -  Fred quite enjoyed this bit as he was brought up on a farm and could remember some of them.

No I did not say my husband is vintage!

And some more very colourful people and children as the parade came to an end.

You could probably see from the pictures that it was a very cloudy, windy day and it was rather cold so Fred & I were all wrapped up in our heavy coats with gloves and scarves but regardless of the weather thousands of people came to Downpatrick to see the parade.

It was an afternoon out that was definitely not the usual for us and it was nice to walk back to the car with smiles on our faces even if they were getting red from the cold air.

Have you been to see a St. Patrick's Day Parade too?

Or are you planning to go see a St. Patrick's Day Parade in this year?

If so leave me a comment to say where you went or will be going, it will be interesting to see how many different places are covered.