Heatwave boost for Northern Ireland businesses

The hot spell is giving businesses along the coast a welcome summer boost. One enterprising family, though, has brought the coast to them.

The McAleese family runs Rose Park Farm near Ballymoney. It's a petting zoo, adventure park, and nature reserve. But it's also home to an artificial beach with bright white sand and clear blue waters.

Building a beach on a farm that's miles from the coast was the brainchild of farm owner Seamus McAleese: "The idea popped into my head because we already had the lake, and when I announced to my family that I was for doing it, they said 'Daddy, your head's cut, you're away with the wee fairies.

"They thought I was crazy, but we're 18 miles from the sea and now we have the beach and on sunny days like this there are crowds, there are families galore having a great time and they don't have to sit in traffic jams at the coast to get to the beach."

Rose Park Farm has a variety of animals and birds, from Llamas and Red Deer to ponies, Highland Cattle and wildfowl.

In this heat, just keeping them all watered is a day-long job.

Farm manager Gemma McAleese says: "We spend quite a bit of our day keeping the water topped up and throwing water around them to keep them nice and cool, as much as we possibly can.

"The Highland Cattle, for instance, they can really drink a lot of water on days like this.

"One of our Highland cows has just calfed and we're constantly running back and forth just to keep her nice and hydrated, and she'll be needing extra water just to keep her milk right for that wee calf."

For some businesses, the hot sun is a blessing and a curse. The staff who keep our golf clubs in top condition regard water as the lifeblood of their trade.

At Fortwilliam Golf Club, the grass is parched and the ground is baked rock hard.

Fortwilliam Golf Club staff have been working hard to keep the course in pristine condition during the heatwave

Club spokesman Gareth Quigley explains: "It's a real challenge for greenkeeping staff.

"They'll have to go out and work quite hard to keep the greens in good condition, they'll have to water them from time to time, just a little extra to stop them drying out.

"We try to make sure we're not overdoing it to make sure we're not impacting on carbon footprints too badly.

"Revenue obviously increases when the weather is better. More people are getting out to play more golf, bars and restaurants do better, more people are buying food and snacks, and drink sales increase."

The Fortwilliam golfers may be trying to avoid the sand, but near Ballymoney families are enjoying a trip to a Mid-Ulster strand where the tide never goes out.

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