Cushendun

We spent the weekend in Cushendun, arriving late on Friday evening and staying until Sunday morning. Our accommodation was in one of the camping cabins at the Cushendun Caravan Holiday Park. They have five cabins at the park, which is predominantly full of static caravans with a small section for touring vans and tents. We stayed in the cabin called Glenaan, which was right next to the beginning of the path that runs to the village. The cabin has basic amenities – electric, a kettle, fridge, heater and a toilet with a small sink. Outside there is a water tap and a picnic table with metal plate for barbeques. Cooking inside the cabin is not permitted, there are kitchen facilities elsewhere within the site. We didn’t intend to cook anything beyond cup-a-soup anyway.

The cabin was very well insulated so we all wound up creeping out of our sleeping bags in the middle of the night.

The only problem that I had was that I had been in such a panic to pack on the Friday that I forgot to pack my coffee making kit. At 9am on Saturday morning, with the beginnings of a coffee hangover, I marched Miss M and Miss E into the village. It is a very pleasant walk via Glenmona House, with it’s squirrel playground (sadly we didn’t spot any), past the Church of Ireland, around the back of the Council Houses, past Mary McBride’s pub and over to The Corner House Cafe – which was closed. Boo hoo! At least there were ducks and a swan to look at at the harbour car park. We visited the shop and walked back to the cabin. At 10am I marched them back into the village, accompanied by Dave and his fishing gear. This time the cafe was open. Oh happy me. Dave went fishing and I went to the cafe with the girls. Coffee and a scone for me and Kids Breakfasts for the girls. I thought about ordering a second cup of coffee, but I didn’t have to as I was given a free one as they were testing out a new coffee machine.

Afterwards we walked along the beach and Miss M splashed around. She decided that she wanted to go swimming, fortunately our cabin was only a five minute walk from the beach. We got wet suited up and splashed around for a while. The water wasn’t too bad – I am told, by Dave, that at this time of the year the sea is at its warmest, having been warmed up by all those hours of sunlight over the summer. Miss E was not one bit interested in coming into the sea. Dave went back to the cabin to fetch our lunch and we picnicked by the sea.

After lunch we cleaned up, dressed in our proper clothes and went exploring. We went back into the village via the river walk, where we threw huge stones into a very deep and dark brown River Dun. It is named after its brown colour, which comes from the peat bogs at its source. Then over the bridge and down to the harbour, past the local goat and the Ropeworks Bar. At the end of the harbour past the apartments is a road leading down to the caves – used as a Game of Thrones location, where Melisandre gave birth to a shadow. We explored the caves and, fortunately, found no evidence of shadow babies!

Miss E gathered some pebbles, Miss M told us they were special stones that you bang together when you are annoyed by something. So, if you feel like crying you bang the stones together instead. They were big pebbles and Miss E wanted to take them back with her. She tried to get me to carry them for her, but I wasn’t falling for that. I showed her how to make a hammock out of the bottom of her jumper to carry them in and she carried them all the way back to the cabin, past the Ropeworks Bar, past the goat, over the bridge, past the Corner House Cafe, past the village shop, past the Village Square, past the Council Houses, past the Church of Ireland, past the squirrel playground, past Glenmona House, through the woods and back to our cabin.

Growing

Mentally I am the same size I was before I grew my bump. Physically I cannot fit through the same tight gaps – especially between car wing mirrors. According to my mother my arse looks bigger. I guess it’s a balance thing, my arse grows to balance out the big belly so that I don’t topple forwards.

I have a new hobby – sleeping during the day. It is brilliant! The dogs love it too, we all pile up on the bed and rest a spell.

If it is quiet here it is because: I have been away; I am sleeping; I am working; I am talking about bathrooms; I am knitting; I am walking the dogs; I am eating my dinner.

I am slowly gathering together all the basics I will need for the arrival of my baby. Some stuff is bought and some is made. I threw together a quick homemade version of this. Dave wasn’t very impressed by it, his attention was only held for a couple of seconds. He reckons a boy would never be engrossed by something so silly. I said, just you wait to see your wee idiot son playing away with it! Actually, I didn’t really say that, I said something a lot less PC and had myself a hugh, wobbling belly laugh.

The Best Face Wash in the World

Going away on holiday has many positive points, not least of which is the greeting that the dogs gave us on our return. Both waggled with excitement from their noses to the tips of their tails. Gracie’s full greeting takes up to an hour and includes much waggling, jumping up, climbing onto our shoulders; where she rests herself like a fox stole, but an alive one, with a big tongue to wash our faces and probe deep into our nostrils.

Needless to say our holiday was very pleasant. We stayed in a cabin in the woods in the Dordogne. It was bliss. We ate tasty food, we relaxed, we rafted on our little lake, we fed carp our leftover bread.

On our return we stopped over a night in London, where we visited the Cybercandy shop near Covent Garden (Hannah would love this place). We bought Hot Tamales, Jelly Belly Jellybeans and Watermelon Jolly Ranchers (which proudly proclaim on their packaging that they are both ‘Naturally and Artificially flavored’, so they are twice as good as other sweets!)

We ate lunch/dinner in Wahaca and then went to stay with London Aunt. The following day we were treated to a delicious brunch with London Aunt, her hubby and Ganching. A very pleasant morning was had.

May Days

Gracie in the Bluebells

I started the bank holiday weekend a little early by taking the afternoon off work on Friday. I used the time to cook the ‘no knead bread’ I had started the night before and to go for a photowalk in Top Wood with Dave and the dogs. Gracie was in fine posing form and Maya was just having a brilliant time.

Later, for dinner, I made omelette with a goose egg and hen eggs I had got from my Mum. I added chard and thyme from the garden and we ate it with the bread I had just cooked. For pudding we had vanilla ice cream with stewed rhubarb that our neighbour gave us.

Saturday was spent knitting, walking the dogs, playing Frisbee with Dave and Gracie, tidying the house and eating tasty food. We had scrambled eggs (from Mum) and bacon (from Hillstown Farm Shop) for lunch. For dinner we had sausage and bean bake with a pile of buttered ‘no knead bread’.

On Sunday we went walking – a fine stroll, into the wind, along Portstewart Strand. Back at home we dozed, then we ate pasta with aubergine (cooked by Dave), then back to sleep.

Oatcakes

Monday we took easy – I made oatcakes for lunch, which we ate with melted cheese and more of our bacon. It was a rainy day so we just went walking to Waterfoot Beach – nothing too strenuous. Then I visited my Granny. Later we had lightly smoked salmon, béarnaise sauce, mashed potatoes and puy lentils for dinner. All cooked by Dave and a marvellous job it was! I ate until I thought I would burst.

Last night I dreamt that there was something wrong with daylight – it was broken – and everything was the colour of a film negative but 3-dimensional.

So, that is what I have been up to. What is coming up is a week away in France, happy me! We leave on Saturday for a week in a wooden cabin in the Dordogne. Sadly, the dogs aren’t able to join us on this trip and will have to spend a week in the Leighinmohr Dog Hotel. On our return we will stop over in London for a night and maybe take in a few sights. I can’t wait!

Gracie and Maya (and me too) wish you a Happy Christmas

Gracie & Maya

Just to prove that I am not a Christmas grouch, I give you Gracie and Maya frolicking in the winter snow in their Christmas hats. No dogs were harmed in any way in the making of this photo.

Gracie hopes that she will get a Big Bone from Santa Paws and Maya wants Sausages and a cuddly toy. Santa Paws, if you are listening, I can vouch for the fact that they have both been very good girls.

Happy Christmas!

Icy Cold

It’s ffffffffffreezing outside. Not good weather to be walking on icy paths with two dogs who think they are trying out for the sled dog team.

So, I have just had a week off work and it has been great. I could do with another month off just to get properly caught up with everything, but the week will have to do for now. There is so much that I had hoped to get done that I didn’t get around to (sorry I didn’t get to visit my Granny – I blame the ice!)

While I have been off work, Dave has been away scuba diving in the Red Sea. I think he will get a bit of a shock when he gets home to the big freeze. I am off now to make a big batch of buns for his welcome home. We missed him terribly.

Tourist Hats

Day 1 – Travel by ferry to Scotland. Drive to Spean Bridge to pet-friendly guesthouse. Very pleasant, with fresh flowers all over the place. Gracie makes herself at home and jumps onto the bed. Eat in guesthouse restaurant – yummy food.

Day 2 – Eat smoked haddock for breakfast then climb Ben Nevis. Get drenched at top. Gracie barks loudly that she wants to go down again because she is cold. We attract the attention of a handsome Spanish man with very white teeth and travel back down the mountain with him. Back at the guest house we turn all the heaters on to dry our clothes and open the windows so we can breathe. Retire to bed with blocked sinuses.

Day 3 – Chase the Harry Potter train trying to get a decent photo. Take ferry over the sea to Skye. Arrive in Portree and purchase Tourist Hats from the Tibetan Fair Trade market so that locals know to treat us like idiots. Go for walk to the Old Man of Storr. Gracie thinks it is the best bit of the trip because the place is hootchin’ with rabbits. Eat in fish restaurant which is out of fish and chips. Very yummy mackerel instead.

Day 4 – Pissing with rain and wind howling. Put on Tourist Hats and drive around Trotternish peninsula in rain visiting many pleasant places. Arrive at campsite in lashing rain, drive around, eventually pick a spot. Man at campsite says that camping in this weather will be a true test of our relationship. Survive camping on the rainiest, windiest day of our holiday. Must be true love.

Day 5 – Plenty of opportunities to wear our Tourist Hats with visits to the wind-battered Neist Lighthouse and a dander from Glen Brittle. Tourist Hats had to be removed for a large section of the day in order to eat Magnums and bask in the sunshine.

Day 6 – Tourist Hats hardly on at all as sun blazing all day. Took a boat trip to Loch Coruisk, went for a walk, had a picnic. On return to campsite had showers as totally minging from days of camping. Put on skirt. Went out for very, very fancy dinner at The Three Chimneys. Gracie guarded the car while we ate.

Day 7 – Another Tourist Hat free day. Visited Coral Beaches but couldn’t get access to the turquoise water as it was surrounded by seaweed and shells. Paddled to cool our feet. Walked around the Quiraing on the Trotternish Peninsula. Gracie thought the Quiraing was great because it was hootchin’ with rabbits. She was disappointed not to be let off the lead, this was because she couldn’t be trusted after her visit to The Old Man of Storr.

Day 8 – Looked like another Tourist Hat free day, until we left the Isle of Skye and arrived by the not so bonnie banks of Loch Lomond. Pitched our tent in a campsite then changed our minds and erected it on a beach by the Loch at about 10 pm. Midges a real problem here and had to wear both Tourist Hat and Midge Net Hat. Slept in Tourist Hat.

Day 9 – Woken by Park Ranger telling us that we couldn’t camp where we were. Depressed by unwelcoming officials. Curse their midge-ridden-rotten Loch. Should have stayed in Skye! Get dressed and go for a walk along part of the West Highland Way. Then ferry back home.

Making Time To Do the Things You Need To Do



Over Looking

Originally uploaded by ZMB.


…Like taking Granny out for a spin to the new museum in Ballymena.

I started off this bank holiday weekend with a huge list of things I wanted to do. Now it’s Monday and I feel that I haven’t done all that much. But the things I have done have been very positive, like seeing my granny, sowing seeds for the cold-frame and knitting. Knitting keeps me calm and not so bothered about the stuff I haven’t done.

I had seen Heike’s site before but not all the pictures of Ireland loaded properly for me, now it is working – photographs of Ireland.

10 Things

Inspired by Hannah’s list of never done before things, I decided to come up with one of my own.

1. Travelled in a Cessna plane.

Cessna

2. Watched a movie in the Cameo cinema in Edinburgh.

3. Visited Oaxaca, went hiking in Mexican mountains.

Mercado Juarez

Piedra Larga from a distance

4. Climbed to the top of Mount Brandon. After years of visiting and time spent living at the bottom of the second highest mountain range in Ireland, I eventually made it to the top of the Mountain. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. Slieve Donard took more out of me.

5. Saw Sonic Youth perform Daydream Nation at the Roundhouse in London.

6. Cooked a turkey. Not just any old turkey but a 22lb beast of a turkey.

7. Travelled on a boat on the Norfolk Broads.

Sweet Lady?

8. Camped on Rathlin Island.

Our Campsite

9. Met D’s niece for the first time.

10. Took part in a photography exhibition at Tate Britain.

Things I would like to do in 2008:

1. Visit Scotland and go hiking.

2. Sleep under canvas as many times as possible.

3. Grow my own vegetables.

4. Eat as much wild, free food as possible.

5. Make lots of ice-cream.

6. Knit D a sweater and ignore the Sweater Curse.

I’m sure I’ll think of more, that’s just the start of it!

One-handed

Hamper

I am typing one-handed as a small dog is lying, softly snoring, on my lap with her head resting on my left wrist. She can quite often be found on my lap when I am at the computer. She is also very fond of lap lying while I am knitting.

This week I won the top prize in our local community group’s Christmas raffle, a food hamper. It has been ages since I’d won anything in a raffle. I recall winning a pie dish and a packet of biscuits in a raffle in the Protestant Hall when I was a wee girl, the pie dish became our official Shepherds Pie dish. I loved Shepherds Pie.

We always enter the community group’s raffles but have never won anything. Then there was that raffle I entered in the pub near Auntie T’s last summer, where everybody in the pub walked out with a prize (or 2!) and I got nothing. I think what I am trying to say is that I am not normally blessed with any luck in raffles.

So, I’m pretty chuffed!

Edinburgh Underground

Edinburgh is stunning, but not so much if you have been before. The first time is like magic. Last time I was here I followed D in a daze, just absorbing all the new sights. This time I feel like I am getting a better understanding of where places are in relation to each other. I think that If D were to blindfold me, take me somewhere, spin me round and round and then abandon me, I would be able to figure out where I was and find my way home.

On our first day we went to the Camera Obscura, St Gile’s Cathedral and then Lupe Pintos Deli. We took our time and took plenty of photographs. Later we ate in the Bombay Bicycle Club, which was good, but not super scrummy. D has been farting ever since and it is not pleasant. Afterwards, we went to the Cameo cinema, where we watched Control. It was a very good film, very moving. I doubt there was a dry eye in the room at the end.

Yesterday we ate eggs for breakfast and then headed to Holyrood Park in order to climb Arthur’s Seat. The views were, as expected, wonderful. We got a good clear day. From there we walked down to Duddingston Village, where we hopped on a bus and went to Portobello beach. We ate lunch in the Dalriada Pub on the promenade; D had Cullen Skink and I had hummus. Further down the beach I lost my Canonet lens cap and had to run around looking for it, fortunately it turned up.

We went to the amusement arcade as I fancied a go on the slots – damn things get you hooked and make it very difficult to leave. I was trying very hard to get myself a lollipop, but a wee boy next to me gave me a packet of Haribo chews as I was having no luck. Outside the amusements I discovered that I had lost the lens cap of my DSLR. A quick retrace of our steps and it turned up.

Next we jumped on a bus to get to Calton Hill. We had a quick detour in John Lewis so I could ogle some yarn. Up on Calton Hill I took some photos, my last being of D with the columns behind him. Then I walked a short distance to take some more shots, only to find that I had lost my lens cap again. I retraced my steps, but in the couple of minutes since losing it and realising it was gone someone must have picked it up. I felt pretty stupid having lost a lens cap three times in one day. So my photographs suffered from an inattentive photographer.

We raced to Jessops to buy a new lens cap.

For dinner we ate in Viva Mexico. It was very nice. I didn’t have time to finish my choc chili cheescake as we had booked ourselves on the Mercat Tours Ghosthunter Trail. It started at 10 pm and took us into the Edinburgh Vaults and then to Canongate Cemetery. It is Halloween after all! The Vaults themselves were interesting, our guide, Black Agnes, was very good and put on a good show. Fortunately, I am not a believer in ghosts so I had no reason to feel spooked. The cemetery was lovely; the moon was out and the night was mild. One of the best things was getting to see all the people out in the city in their Halloween costumes.

It wasn’t until I went to bed that I started to think about all the ghost stories and get a bit scared. I pulled the duvet over my head so that nothing could get me.

How much is that doggy in the window?



How much is that doggy in the window?

Originally uploaded by ZMB.


Macy kept us all entertained with her marvellous renditions of “How much is that doggy in the window?” while we were on holiday in Co Kerry. She sings beautifully. It really was a doggy heaven holiday. Macy and Gracie were delighted to be reunited and spent lots of their time rolling around on the ground playing fight, though many of Macy’s bites turned into grooming licks.

We are all quite flat now that we are home, but Gracie is truly down in the dumps. No more playing with Scruffy and Macy, no more Hound Patrol, no more chasing imaginary “Russell Robbers” off the property.

I went into work this morning and decided that I would take the afternoon off. My work isn’t really stressful but I felt quite panicky being back in the office. If only life could be one big holiday.

Now I have to wash all my dirty clothes, unpack, go to the cinema, walk the dog, eat and start getting my many photographs on flickr (it may take some time).