Sunday, May 11, 2008

Down South

"In which I return to Northern Ireland and make a foray south of the border too"

A long weekend! A short break planned so I could catch up with my writing buddy, Cathy. I had taken the Friday off work and my pal Shani took me to the airport bright and early (6.30 am) so I could catch the 8.35 to Belfast. Only... they cancelled it. I was, however, lucky enough to get onto the next flight at 11.50. OK... a few hours to kill at the airport. That's enough about that part of my adventure - it was BORING!

When I arrived, Paul and Cathy were there to meet me and the first thing we did was drive to a cafe for an 'Ulster Fry'. Breakfast! (It was nearly 1pm, but it was breakfast.) We headed down to the 'Point and visited Cathy's parents. I'd not met her dad on my previous trip but he was awake and about this time. Marie showed me her latest embroidery, a patchwork of bunnies and hearts.

As the afternoon was pleasant, we headed up the nearest mountain (as you do) which is called Cloughmore. At the summit is a huge stone. This is said to have been thrown by a giant who is on the Mourne mountains on the other side of the estuary (and in fact in Southern Ireland). It was lovely - wonderful woods and below us the ... well, not sure what exactly because, as if on cue (same as my last visit), the mountains were clothed in mist and so was the bay so we couldn't see too much.

We headed for home, and after Pizza and a beer or two (well, actually I drank cider but from hereon 'a beer' means beer for Cathy, cider for me, alright?).

We went out for the evening quite late - 9.30pm - but that was usual. The 'craic' doesn't start early. We went to a small pub in Rostrevor where I'd gone last time with Penni (see A trip to Ireland) and had a good time playing along on my little travel guitar and singing a few songs. They were a warm crowd and we had a few beers (and ciders, remember?). It was Gerry's birthday (the guy who hosted the session) and at the end of the evening they ended with 'Wild Mountain Thyme' - asked to take the last verse, I promptly forgot it! Oh well, we still all sang and had a good time.

Saturday morning, after another cooked breakfast (this time at a small cafe in the 'Point), Cathy's mum took us to the station and we caught the train to Dublin. After only a few miles we were over the border (no passport, no visible border - so different to how it was a few years ago with guards and police and army) and chugging down the coast. We arrived in the city and lugged our bags to the hotel. Stopping to read directions, a passer by instantly asked if he could help and directed us. The hotel was smart, and we had a quick beer in the bar while we waited for the room to be ready (are you detecting a theme here yet? Yes! I had cider, I did say, didn't I?....)

What happened next? Mmmm... I'll save that for the next post I think.
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