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Portrush to Padstow

Dec 19, 2023

Nicola Neill, renowned for her 5-star award winning seaside retreat Blackrock House Bed and Breakfast and Harbour Rock House luxury apartments in Portrush, recently traded the shores of the Causeway Coast for a festive foodie Cornish experience at the Padstow Christmas Festival; now proudly recognised as one of the UK's Top 20 Christmas Festivals.

At the heart of the charming Cornish village of Padstow, Nicola immersed in the culinary brilliance showcased through celebrity chef food demonstrations. The star-studded lineup included Paul Ainsworth, Matthew Fort, Charlie Stein, Valentine Warner, Jude Ereama, Glynn Purnell, Emily Scott and the legendary Rick Stein, creating a feast for the senses.

As the proud owner of a 5-star Bed and Breakfast, Nicola recognises the importance of quality, fresh local ingredients and has been a member of the local food network group Taste Causeway since its inception. Nicola now also retails her own Irish Whiskey Fruit Cake made with Blackbush Whiskey.
The final day's highlight for Nicola was attending the charity event. The Big Cornish Breakfast, a nod to her passion for crafting exceptional morning experiences at Blackrock House. Nicola, a two-time winner of the Best Bed and Breakfast in Northern Ireland, was thrilled to meet some of the celebrity chefs, including the renowned Rick Stein.

Rick Stein, in conversation with Nicola, shared insights into his upcoming 2024 series, showcasing culinary delights around the UK and Northern Ireland. Nicola learned that the Causeway Coast, her own home turf, featured prominently in the series, with filming taking place during the summer in June. Rick expressed his familiarity with Portrush, having filmed in a nearby restaurant for his new series.

Nicola also had the pleasure of meeting Chef Michael Caines MBE, who chatted about his visits to Belfast and the exchange with the catering college in the city, contrasting it with his experiences with chefs in Devon. By coincidence Mr Caines restaurant in Lympstone Manor, is located in the same village where Ms Neill’s grandmother grew up in Devon. The discussions extended to a delightful conversation about all things breakfast with TV chef Matt Tebbutt from BBC 1’s Saturday Kitchen.

Nicola Neill expressed her delight at experiencing how other coastal towns, such as Padstow and Newquay, embrace the festive spirit by hosting community festivals which ultimately help extend the season. These events, blending food, craft, lantern parades, and the magical touch of Christmas lights and fireworks, showcased the vibrancy of these coastal communities during the winter months. Nicola noted it would be amazing to introduce winter events like this in Portrush and along the Causeway Coast, especially something new along the lines of a Big Breakfast!

Blackrock House, the 5-star luxury Bed and Breakfast, is set to reopen in February 2024. For those seeking year-round luxury accommodation, Nicola Neill invites guests to explore their sister property, Harbour Rock House, offering 4-star luxury apartments in Portrush. Bookings for either property can be made by calling 07779336885 or visiting

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