I love a good adventure and in the past 24 hours Smix & I have lapped Northern Ireland & chanced a last minute random hotel booking.
Smix always goes to his dad's house on a Saturday, and I'm always complaining about the fact I now miss out of Saturdays with my him, but what can you do?
This weekend his dad needed to swap contact to Sunday, so I thought to myself, I better make the most of having Smix all day Saturday, or else I can't exactly complain when I don't have him.
So I chanced LateRooms.com but there was nothing under £50. The chain hotels like Travelodge wouldn't give you a £40 rate this close to the date of stay, but somehow I ended up on Booking.com and found a hotel in Newtonstewart (?! I know) that had a 'budget family room' for £30 for the night.
It was closer to Derry, where we were heading first thing Saturday morning, than Bangor is, plus it's the novelty too, as much as any practicality. So we drove down round the bottom of Lough Neagh, stopped in Omagh for a picnic for the room, and crossed our fingers tightly that we weren't headed to a dump.
We arrived at the Castle Inn, Newtownstewart, where you park out the back of the hotel, in a gravelly dump type setting, and someone spotted us and came out to greet us. We went straight to the room and I breathed a sigh of relief. It wasn't a cupboard, it wasn't creepy & dull, everything was nice & fresh, if a little old fashioned in taste, and best of all? Working free wifi!
He asked me could I pay then and there, and I did, as it made no difference to me, but I realised in the morning why. I had to pay him through the off license register, and in the morning when we tried to hand out key in, the offies wasn't open, so there was no 'reception' as such. So we left our key in the room, as there wasn't much else we could do.
All in all a surprisingly great stay for a measly £30. Most hotels you pay £70 each person at least, so if you fancy a wee getaway surely Google the Castle Inn or go via Booking.com
Now, the Lego exhibition. You'll find it being hosted in the Nerve Centre in Derry/Londonderry. It runs until the 2nd of May and is open Tues & Wed 11am-6pm, Thurs & Fri 11am-7pm, Sat 10am-6pm, Sunday 12pm-6pm. Child ticket costs £4, adult £5.
Using LEGO® bricks, artist Warren Elsmore creates stunning scenes with easy-to-follow instructions. While many of the original seven ancient wonders have crumbled away, here we see them in their full glory. Brick Wonders also takes a look at new wonders of the world; treasures from the past millennium that remain standing today.
The exhibit has over 70 builds, but realistically unless you read every single description, your excited child will have you through the attraction very quickly. There are ways to get the value of your ticket price however. As you arrive ask for the quiz sheet, this will slow your progress round the gallery as your child has to search for the answers, plus they'll get some ancient history learning in there without even noticing! They'll be keen to take part when they are told you can win prizes for doing the quiz.
Secondly, opposite the gallery is a huge building room. Three sections divided by child age and buckets of Duplo and Lego. There are challenges for the best build, which will be displayed on the walls. This week the build category was animals. If you've a build addict they could spend a good hour or two there playing. Handy if Mum wants to go shop the department stores or centres close by, while the kids and dad play Lego.
Lastly they will also be showing Lego themed DVDs like Star Wars Lego etc. Again you can ask the attendant when that will be happening. In the build room there are screens showing Lego stop motion while you build, including the builds of some of the pieces you have just seen, or stop motion sketches using the same settings.
My final opinion- considering the price and distance from Bangor/Belfast to Derry, I would say yes, by all means come up, but don't make Brick Wonders your one sole reason for the day out, as it'll take an hour or two, half a day at most (if you sit building for ages). We drove onto Portrush to get some rides on Barry's as part of our adventure weekend trip. So if you plan on a day out like that then you won't be disappointed. If you drive 90 mins from Belfast JUST for the Lego you might be a bit annoyed.
If you do visit, let me know how you get on. I'm @rudedoodle on Twitter, and you can see my snap from today on Snapchat where I am rudedoodle too.