Now, if, like me, you have a fear of falling over, then I’m not sure ice skating is the best idea. I KNEW I hated the thought of slipping so I have no idea why I thought ice skating would be any kind of fun for me. But we have to try these things for ourselves so we know for the future. Silly Sam!
Sure enough, it took me around 20 minutes to even consider setting foot on the rink, even though I was kitted out in skates and watching my 16 year old daughter, skating effortlessly around the ice albeit laughing at her petrified mother.
With only 10 minutes left of the session, that’s right, I had spent the entire time contemplating doing it that I wasted an entire session! So after 5 minutes of manoeuvring and dithering, I was finally on the ice. Resembling a scene from Bambi, I was wobbly legged and gripping on to the sides as I aimlessly tried to ‘skate’ around the edge. It’s safe to say that ice skating is definitely not for me!
Picture purely to certify that I got on to the ice!
The rink itself was large and well covered, perfect for this wet December. With the addition of a Christmas tree and festive fairy lights that gave it some added warmth. Having come during the evening, once the park itself had closed, I noticed there were traditional style wooden stalls that sold a range of hot snacks, similar to those you’d find at a Christmas market.
After our session, we then headed over to the on-site Steak Barn for our dinner.
Having not been given a time slot for our visit, we did arrive around 30 minutes before the kitchen had opened but nevertheless, we were welcomed with the offer of drinks at our table and the waiting staff couldn’t have been more attentive.
This rustic Steak Barn, with stone walks and timber beams was wonderfully cosy in such a horrid wet and windy Saturday night. With more fairy lights, Christmas decorations and a big log burner, we felt warmed and at home. The Barn also had a family nook, with activities to keep children entertained and big comfortable sofas for the parents. Dogs on leads were also welcomed, much to the delight of my daughter who got to smooch with a furry guest on the next table.
Ordering our food, we enjoyed a plate of complimentary toast whilst we waited. Thick slabs of hot, smoky bread with a generous knob of smoked salted butter.
I’m so easily pleased. Bread and butter is a sure fire way to keeping me happy!
For my main course, I ordered the rib eye steak (£19) which came with chunky chips and a sauce of my choice. I went for the Stilton butter of course!
The steak was perfectly cooked to my liking- medium rare, with a more than generous knob of the Stilton butter. So much so, that my daughter took some for meal. She opted for one of the few vegetarian options, the caramelised onion and Brie pie (£9.95) but was sadly disappointed. With only the slightest hint of either elements, her pie was more pepper, tomato and spinach and struggled with a strange aftertaste. There was a very limited choice for both vegan and vegetarian customers which let the meal down slightly.
Overall, our visit to Old Down Country Park was a positive one. The staff were fantastic and a real credit to this place. A huge thank you and mention to the lovely girl that looked after us at the rink. She was patient, warm and very friendly.
The rink will be open throughout December at the hours listed below, and through to the 23rd of January, although I would suggest checking the website for the listed days and times of these. Prices for the skating are £7.50 for adults and £5.50 for children. You can buy tickets online or at the Barn Cafe during opening hours. https://olddownestate.co.uk/events/ice-rink-real-ice/