Some edited high lights...
We were staying with cousins and friends that we've been getting to know again after decades of being apart. Some we met up with for the first time in years last year, so this was a second meeting.
It is a wonderful thing to be reunited with family and friends after so long, and find that we are still family and friends despite the gap in getting together. I'm not going to go into details, just to say that the hospitality throughout our stay was of EPIC, Biblical proportions. I daren't count the amount of cake, home-made shortbread, pieces of cake, platefuls and platters of food, cups of tea, bottles of wine that came our way. Thank you to everyone!
places we visited;
Newtonnards, ancient little town at the North end of Strangford Lough. Not much to say - we had various things to take care of, including eating cake (of course).
Tuesday 15th:Wet and rainy day, unlike the day before. We had a guided tour of Belfast City Hall
Then, after lunch we went to Paterson's Spade Mill, a National Trust Property. The same man on the website photographs was there, hammering away at a block of iron to make hand-made spades (available to purchase for £120 - not today, thanks).
American accent; "How long do these spades last?"
Northern Irish accent; "A lifetime. Or two or three lifetimes."
That must have been dark, dirty, noisy, hot, cold, dusty, exhausting work. Outside there were the ruins of the one-roomed cottages the workers lived in. You will look in vain for the waterwheel; it used a turbine, which appears very like an unexploded mine;
The day ended with a mega-meal in a restaurant in Carrickfergus; "What will you have for dessert, Madam?" Me "Just a spoon, please", so we ordered three puds between the six of us and a soon each. I could have started something here.
A Hot day - the weather was unpredictable, so say the least! We had planned to go on The Gobbins Cliff Path - have a look at the great video on the website!
On the day I backed out after the first section. I had been concerned about the up-ness and down-ness of the walk, and had contacted the centre in advance. In the end, I decided that I would hold the party up as my pace was So Slow, and we went back to the centre and enjoyed the exhibition instead. Maybe another time.
We went on to stay with more cousins where we had an amazing day; food, wine, tea, talk, music, chat, food, wine... quite a celebration.
Off to Londonderry. Or Derry. Or L'Derry. Whatever. The sun was shining as we drove over the Glenshane pass through the Sperrins.
I could see where the peat had been cut and stacked on the slopes across the valley, and the colours and the scenery was beautiful. We didn't stay for long in the city; we've had a good look round twice before (the first time was when we got mixed up in the Apprentice Boys' Parade) and we were still too full of food to move far or fast.
We had a grand time with our friends, (they are the ones with the Airfryer) talking about our children (we are all dinkies when they left England)
We left at about lunchtime to return to our base, staying with cousins in Belfast. Coming back down the Glenshane Pass, you have the whole country spread before you (on a clear day like it was then!).
Just a couple of days left... we were out and about until the very last minute. I'll finish the story another time...