At the end of January I joined the lovely Nikki for her fabulous ‘Hidden Huntley’ experience. Nikki and I connected through social media a few years ago, as is commonplace these days, and regularly support one another’s work, but have never actually met in person until a few weeks ago. Finally, a date suited and I excitedly booked to attend the January date of her guided walking experience to Huntley House.
I was joined by my friend Tammie, who was kindly gifted a space on the experience by entering an online giveaway. So, on a crisp Thursday morning in January we joined with 3 others for a leisurely stroll around Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park. From the moment we arrived we were made to feel so welcome by Nikki and she generously shared her knowledge and passion for the area. The chat among guests was easy as we wandered through the woodland and rose gardens and despite the cold the rain thankfully stayed away!
After an hour’s walking, we left the parkland and crossed the road to make our way to Huntley House – a stunning 1820s family home a short drive from Belfast City Centre which is set in 5 acres of gardens. Owner, Antonia, and her little dog, Dilly, welcomed us into their beautiful home which now operates as a B&B.
The dining table was beautifully laid and awaiting our arrival, complete with special touches from Nikki including a poem and beautiful cards she had made for each of us – those thoughtful little details really added a touch of sparkle. Lunch was served and we were treated to homemade roasted red pepper and tomato soup (delicious!), fresh breads and a selection of cheeses, homemade elderflower cordial, followed by a dessert of tasty homemade biscuits and cake, tea and coffee – we were all fit to burst but felt so well looked after. While we ate, Antonia kindly shared stories of Huntley House’s history and of her own life and travels which was fascinating to hear.
When it was time to leave, a beautiful fresh heather arrangement was given to Tammie as winner of the online competition and everyone hugged – how nice to arrive as strangers and leave as friends. The chit-chat continued as we were shown around the gardens and greenhouse before wandering back through Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park towards the carpark, everyone agreeing that it had been a really special way to spend a Thursday morning and had felt like a real treat. Massive thanks to Nikki from Walk It Off NI for organising the event and to Antonia for welcoming us into your home so warmly – a wonderful experience!