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Tuesday, 24 April 2012

The Summer House

We were surprised to see the horses back in the field at Greenmount! Unfortunately we couldn't stop to greet them because Lola was barking like a maniac, but we'll return when the weather clears up, leaving Lola at home. We walked up the side of the field to the nature trail area and Mark lead me down a path which we've not taken before, it sort of just cuts off into a dead end, but we found some ruins along the way and I am wondering if they're the ruins of the summer house?

The ruins are sheltered in the woodland and even though it's only bricks it does give off a creepy vibe! I swear I can see a face in one of the photographs, I'll label which one below.
Look at the bottom right hand corner...ghost!!

Saturday, 21 April 2012

The Postcard

Some of you have been messaging me via The Mitford Society to hurry up and post a photograph of the postcard that we received from Debo's secretary, Helen. Well, here it is!

A lovely photograph of Debo's garden.

Helen glued this letter to the back of the postcard.

I wasn't expecting a reply, so when I received this I was over the moon. It arrived on Friday the 13th and what a lucky day that was! I have it proudly on display in my alcove amongst the Mitford paraphernalia!

Thursday, 19 April 2012

A Day Away

As of lately things have been a bit haywire, so it was nice to get away for a few hours to a secluded spot with little Lola and Mark, who tagged along for the trip, and surprisingly he was happy enough to run around the ruins and climb along the banks of the lough. The sun was out, I sense I might have to dig out the SPF50 any day now, and we spent a few hours at Cranfield. One canoeist was paddling far off into the distance, and he was the only human presence.

A mysterious cat lurked at the foot of the old graveyard and wouldn't come over to greet us, it wasn't even fazed by Lola's growling. Some birds hopped around and we let Lola off her leash to run across the fields, until one minor mishap happened and she became stuck in some brambles. I sat on the rock of St. Olcan's tomb watching Mark and Lola explore the marshlands.

And then we decided to go home, stopping off at the Lough Shore park on our way through. It was quite busy with children and animals, and Lola, as per usual, went nuts, so we brought her home.

But I haven't been able to settle all day. I can't stand being indoors and I'm feeling restless. Hopefully tomorrow is another nice day and we can head off somewhere, or maybe just spend the day in the back garden.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Regulation 18B

The weather is making a prisoner of all of us! So, rather than rush out and snap lots of photographs, I've had some quiet time to process and play around with some photographs from past excursions. I am also working on a flickr account to accompany this blog.

I hope you enjoy these...

Lola at Holestone, Parkgate

My brother approaching Holestone

St. John's Parish, Donegore

Clotworthy House, Antrim

Mussenden Temple, Co. Londonderry

Downhill House, Co. Londonderry

Portglenone Forest

The Causeway School, Bushmills

Templeton Mausoleum, Templepatrick

The old graveyard, Castle Upton, Templepatrick

Randalstown Forest

Lough Neagh, Antrim

Friday, 13 April 2012

"I note yr. graph"...

Today I received a beautiful postcard from Chatsworth addressed to The Mitford Society. It goes without saying that I am ecstatic!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

The National Trust

On a sunnier note, I joined the National Trust today for £18.75, this is a special rate they are promoting for anyone under 25. I am very excited to receive my free National Trust binoculars.

Return to Cavehill: the disaster

I returned to Cavehill today, this time with my brother in tow because he's been banging on about visiting Napoleon's Nose, however, I wanted to visit the castle, and he agreed. So off we went to the country park where we parked the car. Last week when I climbed to the top of Cavehill I noticed Belfast Castle down below (remember the photo?) so I assumed it was a short walk via the lower path. Four miles later and we reached the end of the path, having walked past farmland, imposing livestock, a field full of horses and a short woodland, it brought us out to a nice housing area...right beside the motorway! Not one to be discouraged I asked a nice lady who was walking her dog for directions to the castle, she pointed me in the right direction and off I went up another hill which brought me to another woodland.

I forgot to mention that my brother had been quite grumpy and stormed on, which is so unlike him as he's usually so keen to get out. Anyhow, Mark decided to experiment with a shortcut and like a fool I followed him, only to discover that it was indeed a mudslide, so I slipped the entire way down, holding little Lola in my arms and trying in vain to keep my balance. I fell down, my new gloves fell into the mud and my shoes were a mess. Onward and upward.

We walked up a long driveway leading to the castle and out of no where it appeared, a miniscule version of a German castle. I was very excited, Mark was less enthusiastic. As we approached the beautiful garden the sky opened and hail stones pelted down on us. I kept edging closer, saying, "Oh isn't this lovely!" and other sentiments but Mark had turned on his heels and was heading back.

I suggested that we stand under a tree but he declined. He thought he knew the way back, even though I told him we had to walk toward the hill and then to the left, but he charged on and we walked for a mile in a circle which brought us back to the housing area. He marched on this time, very crossly, along the stony path. At this point I didn't care if I was able to keep up, my makeup was running down my face and I kept envisioning we were getting closer and closer. We passed the familiar woodland, the livestock, I stopped, convinced I was having a heart attack, a large cow stared at me, I am so afraid of cows etc but I didn't care, I just thought if it should charge at me I won't be able to run. It continued to eat its grass.
Grey skies were closing in

Mark kept snapping at me like a terrier, incidentally my terrier was beautifully behaved. He then stopped halfway and began to pelt me with stones, I was literally lynched on the side of Cavehill, it almost felt Biblical. And then he raced ahead.

Four miles later we made it to the car...all uphill and battling the elements. My lungs are still sore.

I am going to return to Belfast Castle, and next time I will drive. I am anxious to visit the Cat Garden and the antique shop inside the castle. The caste itself is now a hotel and I believe they serve a very good lunch at a reasonable price.

Saturday, 7 April 2012


A friendly horse
 My original plans were the visit the Mourne Mountains and Tollymore Forest in Newcaste, Co. Down, however I woke up to grey skies and decided to venture closer to home. My dad drove us to Cave Hill, which is a large Basaltic hill overlooking Belfast. In hindsight I can see why I probably wanted to go there, it was on Easter Tuesday, 1941 that the luftwaffe bombed Belfast and those who lived in the city sough refuse on Cavehill.

My great granny was one of those people, she often told me that she slept on the hill that night. As you can see from my photographs, the city looks miniscule below. Can you imagine sitting up there on that night with the entire city ablaze with bombs? 

My great granny
Belfast was ill prepared for the Blitz, the British government informed Lord Craigavon, Prime Minister of Northern Ireland until his death in 1940, that N.I. would pose as no threat to the German army. Well, we all know what happened next.  Because little to no preparations were enforced in the city, when the bombing did happen it was a catastrophe, it is mind boggling to think there were no major provisions in place should an air raid happen.

On Easter Monday some people suspected that a Luftwaffe plane was circling high above the city, and those who felt it would be a threat decided to make plans to leave for the countryside. Of course, there were those who dismissed the fact that the Luftwaffe were sussing out Belfast. I am not entirely sure what my great grandmother felt about this, I only recall her telling me that on Easter Tuesday she slept on Cavehill. I asked her sister, my great great aunt Clara, and she told me that after the bombings they relocated to their uncle's house in the countryside. So it is plausible that my great granny was caught up in the chaos.

A small stream divided by a pathway

 We approached Cavehill from the country roads into Belfast, so really we started halfway up and reached the top which is known as Napoleon's Nose, it is 1200 ft above sea level. The pathway leading upward is very similar to the Moors, we even noticed some horses in various fields. The views are specacular, it was quite overcast today so we didn't see its full potential, but in the distance you can see the Mourne Mountains, and then of course, the drop is of the city.  On a clear day you can see Scotland and the Isle of Man.

The Mourne Mountains in the distance

Don't fall off the edge!

Harland & Wolf, where the Titanic was built

There are various different pathways which you can take. We decided to just keep walking upward to Napoleon's nose, which meant I missed the pathway for Belfast Castle.  You can also approach Cavehill from the Zoo.

View of the Irish Sea

Me & my dad

There's no health & safety!
Sadly it started to rain, but next time I am going to take the pathway for the Castle. Now that I know how to reach Cavehill I plan to return, I bet there's so much to explore! My next goal is to get some proper hiking shoes...very reluctantly...
Belfast Castle

The boat coming from Scotland

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

A Mini Adventure

Today the sun was shining, but don't be fooled, it was freezing outside!! We visited Donegore Motte, which some of you might remember from the post about St. John's Parish. Donegore Motte dates back from pre Anglo-Norman times and it is situated in a private farmer's field, but no gates or fences ever kept us out! It was a bit of a struggle climbing through the wired fence and nettles but once we got there it was pretty much plain sailing. The land is all rocky and uneven, and some horses were grazing close by. This itself didn't make me feel very confident, but luckily we were quiet and they didn't notice us. Mark practically pulled me onto the motte, which is quite tall despite how small it looks in photographs. From the top of the motte you can see all six Ulster counties, and it had a lovely view of the Lough Neagh.

St. John's Parish

The Moat Inn, an old pub which is now a house

We've been to St. John's Parish before so we decided to head down the hill into Templepatrick to visit an old graveyard which I always drive past but never explore. Castle Upton is opposite, and on our way back to the car we decided to call in and visit the Mausoleum, which we've also visited it before. We really need to branch out of Antrim!!

View of Lough Neagh

Approaching the moat

A pretty gravestone

The old gate into Castle Upton

Approaching the mausoleum

Castle Upton

Inside the mausoleum

A specter

We began our journey on that hill