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.

Carrick-a-Rede

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Co. Antrim

Having kids doesn’t make me braver, it just makes me quieter about the things that scare me, such as heights and being on a rope bridge that is swaying around. The last time I crossed Carrick-a-Rede my legs turned to jelly before I crossed. This time I had to be brave for the sake of the six year old and nearly 4 year old accompanying me. They crossed without complaint and I encouraged them to enjoy the experience. Not a scary trip – an exhilarating trip! Fortunately the rope bridge doesn’t look like it does above anymore. It is much safer, the whole place is a lot safer, with various barriers on the island to keep silly visitors from plunging over the cliffs.

Evie crossing Carrick-a-Rede followed by her personal cameraman.

Evie crossing Carrick-a-Rede followed by her personal documentary filmmaker.

 

My Big Head

A while back I was asked for permission (via Flickr) to use one of my photos to advertise the Chillifest in the Open House Festival programme, I gave permission and sent my picture plus a better picture that hadn’t been posted on Flickr to them (the one they eventually used), along with my mail address – so they could mail me a copy of the programme. The pictures were of one of the stalls at last years Chillifest.

The programme arrived last week and I now have a very big head. Every time I looked at the programme I smiled.

It’s not the first time I have had pictures published in print, I have had a few dodgy experiences with finding that local groups have used my pictures without crediting me correctly, but it’s the first time that I have been asked, have given approval and have got to see the result.

So, if you are interested in the festival or the brochure you can order a copy of the programme at www.openhousefestival.com

The Dark Hedges



The Dark Hedges

Originally uploaded by ZMB.


If you are wondering who that woman is with the camera, tripod and small white dog, taking photographs around town – it is me doing my homework. I wouldn’t really say I’m a fan of nighttime photography; or maybe it’s just this town that is the problem – I haven’t found anything inspiring to photograph and the boy racers keep shouting ‘cheese’ at me.

So this may be the hardest week for me. Last week was taking pictures of my favourite things and I had a ball taking photos. Gracie and I went on two long walks, the first being from Portstewart to Portrush. I was all set to walk all the way to White Rocks beach when I realised that I had lost my mobile phone (my way of telling D where to pick me up). I had the white rocks in sight when I had to turn back to Portrush East Strand, where earlier I had sat down to rest and Gracie had dug me a nice hole. Natch, the phone was buried in the hole.

Our second walk was at Ballycastle. Gracie is a total beach bum – beaches send her into a complete tizzy. She also likes forests a lot, but beaches narrowly win the competition.

But the best bit of the day for photographs was visiting the Dark Hedges, near Armoy. The results (above) are delightfully spooky, I think.

This weekend I will have to clear the laptop for what will surely be a memory assault next weekend when we go to Edinburgh. Both D and I will be using DSLRs and I plan to take a heap of pictures.

Chillifest



Chillifest

Originally uploaded by ZMB.


I try to fit in at least one ‘fest’ a year. Last year it was Woolfest – held in Ballymena Livestock Market. This year is was Chillifest.

The venue was the marquee at custom house square. The theme was chillies. The soundtrack was cajun. It is part of the 9th Open House Festival currently being held in Belfast.

If you like chillies this is the place to be. My favourite stall was the one with all the fresh chillies, the variety of which we don’t often see in these parts. I came home with poblano to stuff and a selection of hot, hot, hot chillies for tentative tasting.

We left before the chilli eating contest (damn those other commitments) but the musicians were trying to encourage people to enter. They asked for a show of hands of who was taking part. One eager man raised his arm. They said, ‘well it looks like you’re gonna win!’ Though, ‘you still have to eat the chillies, even if you’re the only one.’

We came home with a habanero chilli plant, various chillies, hot sauce, flavoured oil and a set of chilli lights.

Chillifest is on again tomorrow, if you get a chance to visit.

While I was in Belfast I thought I would pay a visit to Lush. Normally, I buy Lush stuff online, but I am still in my no spendy online month. I got quite a shock as I rounded the corner past Starbucks to find that the building which had previously held Lush has been completely demolished. Fortunately, they had relocated to a shop across the street.

Bilberry Muncher



Gracie & Macy

Originally uploaded by ZMB.


My holiday photos have now been added to Flickr – there are a lot of them!

Yesterday we climbed Slemish and the view was lovely. I had forgotten that it provides a wonderful view of the Antrim Hills. We saw hills, Lough Neagh, sea and Scotland. Gracie thought it was brilliant and spent her time hopping through the mossy grass and heather and barking at anyone who approached her on, what is now, her mountain. On the way back down we found patches of delicious bilberries. D gave Gracie one of them to try and she was hooked, she started looking for them and eating them straight off the bushes.

Eating, drinking and being merry



Titanic Model Deck

Originally uploaded by ZMB.


The picture above is of a model of SS Titanic that is onboard SS Nomadic.

I had meant to write about all the fun things I have been up to and all the delicious food I have cooked and eaten, but now I am having difficulty remembering everything (I hate getting older).

We bought some delicious mackerel from a fisherman at Ballintoy harbour which we simply pan fried and ate with potatoes and veg.

Another tasty meal involved lamb leg steak, potato gratin, red cabbage and redcurrant jelly. It was blissful.

I used to be a vegetarian and when I was my favourite pizza in the whole world was pear and gorgonzola from La Porchetta. Recently I managed to make some passable homemade pizza dough (from the Pizza Express cookbook) and decided to try some proper pizza toppings. I have made American Hots and last weekend I made pear and gorgonzola. It was different to the La Porchetta pizza, yet had the same delicous pear and gorgonzola taste. Mmmmm!

Today I made lamb kebabs with cannellini bean salad. I also made pesto with our homegrown basil.



Zebu and Crane

Originally uploaded by ZMB.


Yesterday we went to the Belfast Maritime Festival with D’s neice, who is visting from Australia. We ate yummy burritos and ice cream from Glastry Farm.

Now we are preparing for a holiday next week in County Kerry. I can’t wait!

Rathlin Island

We camped on Rathlin Island on Saturday night. Unfortunately the good weather ended while we were there and it rained and rained through the night.

We managed to get the tent put up just before the rain started, then we went out for dinner from the chip van and went for a couple of pints. Gracie came with us and lay under the table in the bar. She wasn’t the only dog there, but she sure was the rowdiest! One wee Jack Russell was tied to the leg of a bar stool and when her owner got up to the bar she followed him dragging the stool behind her.

I didn’t really sleep much that night. Our camp was on a slight slope and I kept rolling down to the bottom of the tent. The only good thing was that Gracie is just the perfect size for snuggling inside a sleeping bag, she takes up hardly any room.

On Sunday I made a breakfast of scrambled eggs and wheaten bread, we then broke camp and headed off on a walk to the RSPB viewpoint at the West Lighthouse. I wanted to catch the bus part of the way and D wanted to walk the whole way. He won as the bus drove past us without stopping (I think the driver didn’t like the look of Gracie).

Given the great weather we had last week I wasn’t really prepared for heavy rain, wind and cold on our trip. I was glad we were only camping one night! Next time we will pick a better camping spot and I will bring my woolie hat and gloves.

Sleepy Sunday Afternoon

This morning Gracie and I went for a walk at Murlough Bay. We started at the top car park and walked along the top of the cliff until we came to a track which leads down to the sea via an old farmhouse and through some woodland. We walked back up the steep road at a pace that suited me – normally, D sets an exhausting pace. It took us about 2 and a half hours with many photography stops.

Back in Ballycastle we went for a dander up the town, then stopped for a choccy bear icecream from Mauds. Just as I was walking to the harbour the dive boat with D turned around the corner – perfect timing!

We got home at about 4 and all lay down on the sofa and went for a nap. It is very unusual for me to sleep during the day. Normally, I have to be sick to nap. Both D and Gracie are still napping. Lazy dogs!

Fractured

Last weekend was spent gadding about and walking into things.

On Saturday I went to St George’s Market with my mum and sister. Gracie went to Cully and spent the day being chased around Pearlie’s mobile by Bonnie the German Shepherd.

On Sunday we climbed Slieve Donard and were rewarded with a bit of a view, our last attempt had been in very poor visibility. Gracie decided that she has a thing against men carrying walking poles, or who look a bit like Willie Drennan. After climbing the big mountain, we drove home and I made a very tasty roast chicken dinner. I was fit for nothing afterwards and fell asleep at 9.45.

On Monday, still sore from climbing the previous day, we went to Ballycastle where D was going diving from. Things were not going well from the start. The Bank Holiday turned out to be predictably grey and overcast. There were only two other divers along with D, whose diving buddy didn’t show up. Gracie and I were offered a wee sail in the boat. It wasn’t exactly the nicest day for a boat trip but my aching legs told me that it would be much easier than going for a walk. Gracie vibrated most of the time she was in the boat, from fear and cold.

The diving was called to a halt when the other two divers had equipment troubles and came back on board. D spent a little extra time in the water trying to free an anchor and then we headed back to shore. The boat ride was fun.

To make up for Gracie’s terrible morning being vibrodog we took her for a walk along the beach in Ballycastle. Sadly, the walk was not so pleasant for me as D spent most of it laughing at my having walked into a lamppost by the marina. I gave the lamppost quite a thump. It was the classic, stupid, looking the wrong way while moving forward walk into a lamppost. My glasses made a crunch noise and I yelped. Immediately my forehead came out with a large bump and I think I may have given my nose a hairline fracture (it still hurts). So, yes, the walk wasn’t so pleasant. The only thing that made the pain go away was a big feed of scallops and chips from Morton’s.

Minibus Wars Part II

We went to Rathlin Island at the weekend and as we had travelled with Ray last time we visited, for free, we queued up for his bus. This time his bus was packed full and he did not have space for a small dog, so we went to the Puffin Tour Bus where there was more than enough space for a small furball (or Four Paws Skywards as we now call her).

The rivalry between Ray and the Puffin Man seems to have increased. Ray’s current method to get one over on the Puffin Man is to have rebranded his bus ‘The Puffin Bus’. Previously Ray’s name was written all over the sides of his bus, now it would seem that he has taken a scraper to his name and erased it, along with a fair amount of the paint on the bus! An addition is a hand written sign in the front window saying ‘The Puffin Bus’.

Ray is an angry man.