Our final day was pretty low key. We visited another one of B.’s family members and did a little shopping in the lovely town of Moira. I scored some tasty baked goods at MBmmm bakery. Fancy a bite? Why yes I would. In the evening we ate out at the Stonebridge Restaurant and the service and food was excellent. I was absolutely stuffed as I’m writing this about an hour after dinner. I’ve enjoyed Northern Ireland thoroughly. It has been a great trip but I do long to back to comforts of home.
Sadly the final day at the cottage has arrived. We packed, cleaned and were on our way to Bushmills. The distillery grounds stunk of something nasty. Phew! The gift shop was nice, you can get pretty much anything imaginable with the Bushmills name on it. I don’t really care for whiskey much but there was a lot of interesting history about Bushmills and their factory. After Bushmills we stopped one of B.’s aunt’s friends that lives in the area. Her friend was lively and outgoing; it was a pleasure to have met her. We continued from there down the coast. Wow… the roads along the coast are crazy and intimidating often barely one lane along beside a massive drop to rocks below. Eek! Is that tiny stone wall really going to stop a car? I don’t think so. We stopped for lunch in Cushendall. By some strange coincidence we came across the only Vizsla in Northern Ireland in Cushendall. We met a typically bouncy and fun V. named Molly who was from Southhampton U.K., it made me miss my dog a little more. We carried on to Carrickfergus to see the castle there. The castle was very impressive. Sadly there was little to do at the castle and there were no activities or tours available. Still to stand within a castle that was actually sieged and has stood for hundreds of years was awesome. In the evening we visited more of B.’s family. Her family is very friendly. Today we finally got some rain in the evening, must be because we are leaving.
Today we wanted to get some souvenirs for friends and family back home. Sadly I didn’t find any green coal for my sister. We drove down to Port Stewart. It was another gorgeous warn and sunny day in Northern Ireland. I needed some more cash and happy to find my Bank card spit out Pounds. Strangely it didn’t ask me which account to withdraw from. Hmm. We return to Lurgan tomorrow. I’ve really enjoyed the cottage and the cottage area. You could spend much more time exploring the area for sure.
Woke up rather burnt today. I lathered on the sunscreen to avoid more sun damage, who’d a thunk in Northern Ireland? Not that I’m complaining the weather has been amazing since we touched down in NI. Today was pretty laid back after yesterday’s monster climbing marathon. We have been looking at the Mussenden Temple all week long, today we visited the site. There are some impressive ruins at the site which created some great photographic opportunities with shadow and light. In the afternoon we stopped in Coleraine. There is a massive church in the middle of town. The denomination is Church of Ireland. Why isn’t there Church of Canada? After enjoying a caramel chocolate shortbread cookie at Starbucks (what vacation isn’t complete without a stop for overpriced coffee?) which is decorated almost identically to the Starbucks in Brampton. After returning to cottage area we went back down to the beach. The rest of the evening was spent relaxing.
Don’t let anyone tell you it is never hot in Ireland! Gawd after a full day of sun my face is a deep nasty shade of pink. Today we did a lot. The body feels pretty worn. We climbed all over the Giant’s Causeway. It was quite interesting. The stones looked like something Escher would have thought up. It was strange to such geometric repetition with rocks in nature. We walked around the cliffs along the coastal causeway. More beautiful views. After the causeway we stopped by a small coastal village. The village had a wee church. It is interesting to note there is a 55km coastal trail for walking which passed through the village. If we had more time it would be nice to walk more of it. After the village we stopped at the Carrick-a-Rede bridge area. It looks far more intimidating in photos than it did actually crossing it. It was actually quite a short span. We did a little shopping on the way home at the Tesco. Tesco is much like our Fortinos or A&P. We picked up a bunch of ‘crisps’ and cookies.
It is quite apparent how much more enjoyable this trip is thanks to B.’s Aunt. She is very accommodating and knows the area very well.
In the morning we visited a local art shop. They had some neat stuff. We enjoyed tea and biscuits on their patio. Strangely enough they had roosters and peacocks walking around in the patio area. It was pretty funny. B. had some family over most of the day. We journeyed to the cliffs which overlook Downhill Strand in Binevenagh Forest. A stunning vista. In the afternoon we returned to Downhill Strand. The Ocean was cool but refreshing considering how warm it was. Unfortunately we ending up having an incredibly obnoxious family (I referred to as Monty Python’s Gumby’s) setup beside us. They were stunningly unaware of the incredible noise they were making. First they set off their car alarm three times and seemed to need to shout everything they said to each other. More and more family members kept arriving as well. One arrival stopped and parked directly in front of us blocking the ocean view. (Understand the beach is massive and there is tons of space) Fortunately one of B.’s family said something to them and they moved. Unbelievable. Afterward we went to Maggill Point for dinner. It was quite good. We passed a prison and the most rabbits I have ever seen running around in one place. They really do multiply… I needed some chill time and watched a bunch of Death Note episodes on my PSP when we returned to the cottage. The PSP is a wonderful portable device. And for the record, B. ate the last brownie.
Today we drove North to B.’s Aunt’s cottage along the coast of Northern Ireland near Castlerock. It was about an hour north of Lurgan. We stopped in Atrium at a massive outlet-mall for some unsuccessful shoe shopping. The stores were pretty much the same major brands as in North America. Once arriving at the cottage we sat outside for awhile enjoying the view looking towards Mussenden Temple. After dinner we drove down another crazy one lane road downhill to a beach. Yes! Ireland has beaches and they are huge with soft sand. The beaches there are called ‘strands’ and we were on ‘Downhill Strand’. The sand appears to stretch on forever into the distance. The area has a long cliff running along the beach. It is very picturesque. The sunsets here aren’t very spectacular. We did notice how late into the night there was light however… Ireland is much farther North than I thought, there was light close to 11PM at night! We ended the evening watching some BBC at the cottage. There was an interesting political roundtable on, every time George Bush was referred to negatively the audience applauded. –smirk- The cottage is fairly modest but has three bedrooms, living area, kitchen and washroom; small and cozy.
I’ve landed in Ireland. The flight was incredibly cramped. Fortunately mid-flight passengers were able to move into empty seats throughout the plane. Initially we sat with a nice man who was returning home to Ireland after working for a year in Canada. Considering the exchange and upheaval in his life, I’m surprised he made the move, it must have been an impressive contract! Getting off the plane it was pleasantly warm. Getting into Ireland was quick and painless. There were several signs up in the passport lobby regarding ‘assaults on staff’. Curious indeed. Who the hell in their right mind is going to assault an immigration officer?!
My initital impression after the drive to B.’s aunt’s house, through several small towns, is that the countryside reminds me a lot of rural Niagara. (With much more dramatic hills and valleys) There were many farms (there seem to be as many sheep in Northern Ireland as people) and green fields which stretch far into the horizon. I was zonked after arriving at her Aunt’s townhouse. I don’t fly well. I felt really run down. B.’s Aunt lives in a town called Lurgan. In the evening we enjoyed a walk with her Aunt’s dog Kristi in the massive Lurgan park. The park was quite nice and full of people as it was a warm evening.
North Ireland is beautiful. Here is a small taste of what we saw on our vacation. A day by day detailed entry is forthcoming when time permits. Sister 😛
Just a quick hello. Northern Ireland is a beautiful country. We have had uncommonly great weather, sunny and warm everyday since we arrived except for today. I’ve kept a bit of journal of the holidays so I’ll have a detailed account of the vacation later… I’m on painfully slow dial-up. Anyway, we leave in two days. The trip has been adventuresome, relaxing and interesting… still I’m looking forward to getting home.