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The highs and lows of our Easter break

THURSDAY: The K Club has an Easter egg hunt this weekend and will have 50 children staying over.

The drawing room is set out for a children's lunch. There are families in the pool. For an extra €100 they will give you an adjoining room.

I live two miles from the K Club and have been a visitor to the house since Kevin McClory's time but have never stayed there. Easter Thursday sounded like a good time to try it.

North Kildare is looking its best as we check in. From our turreted corner room the sun is shimmering on the mile-and-a-half stretch of Liffey. There are miles of woodland walks through the gardens and storied golf courses.

Caitriona from Blessington sorts out a series of complicated back knots in the spa and a fillet of seabass with fresh native mussels, crayfish, artichoke and yellow coconut sauce awaits in the dining room.

It is not yet Easter Sunday but I have a pint in the Vintage Crop bar - Guinness €6.50 and worth it. My annual Lenten fast has never been broken in better ambience.

FRIDAY: John the barman gives an engaging tour of the house and artwork.

SATURDAY: It was a splendid visit, way above expectations, and a revelation of how times have changed in our country and my county. And I am home in a minute and a half.

SUNDAY: The Lenten regime ends. No desserts, dairy, red meat, chocolate, alcohol or caffeine for six and a half weeks and I am two stone lighter.

MONDAY: What a sweet view of Dublin port in the sunshine as we depart for Holyhead. The channel out of the harbour is surprisingly narrow - just 100m wide at the end point and the Ulysses is 30m wide so no room for error.

Captain Paul Rayment reveals an ironic oddity - the seabed on northside Dublin is muddy and the seabed to the south is sandy. Irish Ferries have just introduced free wi-fi - the comfort belies the childhood memories of overnight boat journeys to England in the days before Ryanair.

Bigger means more reliable as well. Over the 11 years, Ulysses has been cancelled just once.

We are en route to sample the Alton Towers packages offered by Irish Ferries. The drive to Alton Towers takes just over three hours, and we land in time to check in to the hotel and for a quick saunter to the park to try some of the biggest rollercoasters.

Nemesis changed Alton Towers from a small regional park to the big time. This year's biggie is Sub-Terra, the first ride to be given a British Board of Film Classification (they gave it plus-12 because of its "intense moments").

TUESDAY: You will get wet, said the notice at Alton Towers and they were right. It rains icy Shropshire drizzle as we battle our way into the theme park. The monorail does not work. The signature Sub-Terra attraction has a 40-minute queue and has technical difficulties. My teenage trialists Siofra and Rachel found it a bit disappointing.

WEDNESDAY: A tip: Alton Towers has magnificent park walks to unwhiten any knuckles. If you want to avoid the frenzied kiddy zone that is the hotel dining room, it is a five-mile drive to the Tavern in Denstone, a 17th-century inn (they claimed) in a stone village, where we dined in a very 20th century conservatory with the personality of the English countryside.


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