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.

 

Look me in the eye

Well, if you haven’t been enjoying the weather what have you been doing?

Yesterday I was at a training course in Craigavon. I don’t normally mingle with others in my field of work so I found it strangely reassuring that everyone, everywhere is exactly the same. The same old stories of being passed over for promotion. The same old complaints about insincere praise. The same old bitterness everywhere. And in every single break we had the majority of people became glued to their mobile phones, except for one person who brought a book. I too brought a book but had left it in my car, so had to make do with texting Dave. Anything but talk to other people!

The drive home was hot and sticky – I removed most of my clothes when I got into my house.

Back in work today I find more people are discovering I am pregnant. Nobody looks me in the eye anymore, they all talk to my bump. I guess this is normal and I should just get used to it.

Waterfoot

Over the weekend we took the dogs to Waterfoot beach, a place normally deserted except for a few hardy dog walkers, but which on Saturday was packed with kiddies and their sun-worshipping parents. On Sunday we walked up Trostan from the Glenariff side, another normally quite place, but which on Sunday was positively hiving with people. We even encountered a guy on a bike – Trostan is not exactly easy biking territory being surrounded by boggy ground.

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!

Paddy Plays Tugger and Nelly and Dave Nearly Poison Themselves



Paddy Plays Tugger, originally uploaded by ZMB.

Yesterday Nelly, Dave and I went for a walk in Portglenone Forest with the dogs (Gracie, Maya, Bonnie and Paddy). The dogs had a beezer time and Nelly and Dave nearly poisoned themselves eating Lords and Ladies.

Dave had picked up a leaf he thought was sorrel and asked my opinion – I didn’t think it was sorrel, but I couldn’t be sure. So, Dave and Nelly tore off a wee bit each and put it in their mouths and almost immediately both spat it out declaring it was definitely not sorrel.

Then their tongues started to burn a bit, and their lips. We all tried to figure out what they could possibly have eaten and whether or not they would collapse in the forest and die. Nelly eventually figured it out – Lords and Ladies – and I had a right old giggle at the thought of the pair of eejits nearly poisoning themselves.

do doo, do doo, do do do doo

Yesterday I listened to Spirtiualized – Songs in A&E 5 times. Once while visiting the Fairhill Market, once while doing the rounds of the local charity shops (coincidentally managing to meet a heap of my family – Granny in a car on Mill Street, then Granny again with Auntie T on Church Street, Mum in Barnardos and Hannah outside Oxfam), twice while contemplating doing some housework (and reading a Good Housekeeping encyclopedia from the 1960s containing tips on doing housework) and once while doing the housework (not following the Good Housekeeping tips).

Then Gracie and I headed out for a walk. At Harryville bridge we ran into a fellow dog walker, though on this occasion he was without dog and had obviously spent some time in the pub. He kept us chatting awhile. We eventually made our excuses and trotted on down Railway Street, over Stick Bridge and down towards the river past the old squash courts. This is when it started raining. We walked on and did our usual walk, despite the lashing rain. At some point I regretted that I was wearing jeans and not waterproof trousers, at another point I realised that my walking boots were letting in water. I congratulated myself on choosing a marvellous raincoat as my top half was the only part of me that was dry when I got home. Gracie was so wet Dave thought she had been swimming.

But the leaking boots are a problem. Especially as I am heading off to Scotland next weekend for a week involving a lot of walking.

Horses and the demise of my hard drive

It is almost inevitable that at some point a hard drive will die. This is why we are told to back-up our files, make multiple copies of them, make discs and keep them in fireproof boxes.

So far, I’ve been lucky. Any lost files have been due to my own carelessness and accidental deletion. Then my laptop started making a buzzing noise last weekend. It is very sicky-poorly-not-well. I’m no expert but I guessed that it is a failing hard drive. Dave suggested transplant surgery, I agreed. Sadly, I cannot get access to the hundreds of photographs I have taken since the New Year and I expect that they will be lost to me forever.

Still, it could be worse. I could have lost every photo I had ever taken.

Not a lot I can do about it now.

As for horses, I think Horses could well be Gracie’s favourite song. We went a walk from Benone to Magilligan on Sunday. At one point I turned to my left and saw two horses gallop along the beach, I urged Dave to grab Gracie but he was too slow, she saw them and off she went barking at the horses’ hooves. She is pretty speedy when she wants to be. Of course we shouted to her to come back and of course she completely ignored us. She ran after them for what seemed like ages, at the side of them for most of the time, then she moved in between them. I think she may have got a sideswipe of horse hoof as she stopped quite abruptly and came running back to us. Where she was severely reprimanded.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Reflections

Gracie likes to bark. She likes to bark in the back yard. She could bark for hours. She likes to bark at cats. She likes to bark at dogs. She would bark at her own shadow.

There is a grey cat likes to lie on a roof of a shed outside. Gracie can see the reflection of the cat in the garage window and barks at it. The cat can see her barking but doesn’t get the message because it looks like Gracie is barking at a window. In order for a quiet life I have taken to scaring the cat away myself. It isn’t that I don’t like cats, I do, I just want a bit of peace. I turn the garden hose on it. Ha ha!

Yesterday we went to the Slemish Market Garden just for a look around. I was very impressed by the selection of yummy vegetables they have. We bought 3 different types of chiles, rhubarb and a potted Chocolate Mint. I plan to experiment with the rhubarb as I have made too many crumbles recently!

Maybe rhubarb, chile and mint stewed? Maybe not.

Later we went to Glenariff Forest Park where we ate wild raspberries and bilberries and went for a lovely walk.

I woke up far too early yesterday morning, so was unable to keep myself from nodding off early last night. The fresh air and walk had exhausted me.

And the worms are still alive!

Sponsor Me!

Please!

We (D and me) have agreed to help my cousin raise some money for her volunteering internship in Nairobi in August. She will be working as a volunteer in an Aids Orphanage for four weeks with the Global Volunteer Network.

D, Gracie and I will be doing a 10 mile sponsored walk to raise funds and would be very grateful if you could sponsor us. Email me and I will send you an email with a paypal link to make a donation and an address to send money if you don’t do paypal!

We plan to do the walk while we are on holiday in Dingle during July and we plan to do the majority of this walk. Not all of it! It would be too long! I think we will ask to be driven 10 miles and then walk back to my Aunt’s house, where we will be staying.