Riding around the Emerald Isle

 

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Image by PublicDomainPictures

Northern Ireland is awash with the colour pink, due to the fact that the Giro d’Italia has decided to grace us with it’s presence. I don’t profess to know much about the race other than it involves bicycles, bicycle riding and hopefully lots of men in lycra shorts!

The roads are being swept and cleaned, pink posters bidding everyone  a warm welcome are being hung from lamp posts and there are strategically placed pink painted bicycles at every roundabout and layby with available space.

Tourism is good for Northern Ireland, we are blessed with some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, but the bad press we have received over the years has, I am sure made many people reluctant to visit. Hopefully this event will pass off without any kind of drama.

Recently the Northern Ireland Tourist Board posted a video of a cyclist performing stunts at various locations around the proposed route of the race. It shows places like The Giant’s Causeway and Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge to name just two. While watching the video I felt a sense of pride at coming from this little country with it’s green fields, breath taking scenery and welcoming people.

I’m pretty sure I touched on this before with a previous blog entry, but it’s amazing how accustomed we become to our surroundings, taking them for granted and unable to see them sometimes as they really are. My friend Paul came over at the end of last summer and it was only then I realised, while sightseeing with him, how much of my own homeland I had not even seen, and viewing it through the lens of a camera added yet another angle.

Why would I pay to go anywhere else when I already have so much beauty on my own doorstep. I look forward to seeing a lot more of it in the coming years.

Good luck to all those taking part in the Giro d’Italia and I hope you enjoy the video.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Horizon

This weeks Daily Post: Weekly Photo Challenge: Horizon

Horizon. The space or line where the sky meets the earth. So many places where the sky meets the earth around the world, and millions of interactions between two elements. It can be water, a city skyline, a forest, a wasteland, a desert, a sunset outside your bedroom window. Is there a particular horizon which speaks to you?

StrangfordThe view from the Strangford ferry as we approached Strangford itself. Awesome sky for a July day.

Good Morning Rathlin Island!

In response to The Daily Post weekly photo challenge: Good Morning!

Puffin Stacks
Puffin Stacks at Rathlin Island

A few years back, a couple of my friends and I decided to take the early morning crossing out to Rathlin Island to try and get some pictures.

The crossing on the ferry was terrible as we sailed at the same time as the ‘meeting of the tides’, but the views upon arrival were amazing and so worth the white knuckle ride.

This is a picture of one of the Puffin stacks on the island. Rathlin plays host to one of Northern Ireland’s biggest seabird colonies and it truly is something amazing to watch. Puffins and many other seabirds congregate in their thousands to breed from approximately May to July.

Imagine living in a house and waking up to that view every morning! It sure would make it a good one!

Ello…..remember me?

TIT
This TIT was at the Titanic!

Well hello there. Some of you may have realised (although probably not lol) that I have been absent for the last week. It’s been hectic!

Paul, as in he of Purple Shirt Paul was here for a few days for a holiday, and we have been traveling the length and breadth of Northern Ireland, well ok, perhaps that is a slight exaggeration, but we did cover a fair amount of ground, thank you Sis and Brother in Law for the photo session.

Normal blogging should hopefully resume, but in the mean time I thought I would post a few pictures from our travels to keep you all amused.

Belfast
River Lagan – Belfast

The view that greeted us nearly everyday, well before the rain came, on our way into Belfast Central Station.

Custom-House-Square
Here, guess what?

This guy thought my blog was a great idea and was helping get the word around, apparently he’s an excellent speaker!

Kearney
Kearney

The gorgeous views from the shortline at Kearney.

Scrabo-Tower
Scrabo Tower

The walk up to the tower almost killed me, but alien leg and I made it and were quite proud of ourselves.

Kite-surfing
Kite Surfing at Ballywalter!

Last one is for you Rob, to let you see how the surfers roll over here. I’m guessing the waves are no where near the size of the ones you guys have, but they still manage!

Daily Prompt: I Pledge Allegiance!

Daily Prompt: I Pledge Allegiance 

Are you patriotic? What does being patriotic mean to you?

I’d pledge allegiance to Swizzel’s Matlow (see here), only I am pretty sure that’s not what this is all about.

Seriously though, on the day I make a promise to undertake more of the Daily Prompt’s and not shy away from using the few brain cells I have left, up comes this Daily Prompt! I live in Northern Ireland ffs, this is not going to be easy!

Patriotism is a devotion to one’s country

I couldn’t give a flying fig if you are Catholic, Protestant or any of the other many religions out there. I was brought up to believe that both sides are equal. One human being is the same as any other regardless of class, colour, religion or sexual orientation. It matters very little to me, if you treat me with respect, then that is exactly how I will treat you.

Although I have lived in Northern Ireland all my life, I don’t really understand all the fighting myself, I’m like the majority of the population who wish it would all just stop so we could live in actual peace. The way I see it, if the fighting continues, there will come a day when there is nothing left to fight for.

Something that was said by the the wife of a gentleman who was murdered by terrorists always stuck in my head. When talking of his death she said,  “And what for? A piece of land that my husband is going to get six feet of.” It doesn’t matter who said it, those words could have been uttered by a grieving relative of someone on either side of the divide, it’s the importance of what was said that struck me. A  6ft rectangle is all any of us are going to get, why waste the important days of your life fighting over it and wrecking the beautiful country in which you live.

So everything else aside, Northern Ireland actually is a beautiful place to live. We’re blessed with some of the most gorgeous scenery in the United Kingdom, we pull a pretty mean pint of Guinness and there is always great craic and banter to be had with the locals.

Giants_Causeway
‘The Giants Causeway’ – Image by Patrice78500

Probably one of the most famous landmarks is ‘The Giants Causeway‘ which many believe to be all that remains of a bridge made by the Irish Giant Finn McCool when trying to link Ireland to Scotland.

The landscape became so imbued with the spirit of this legend that it gave rise to the name – the Giant’s Causeway.

We also have castles, beautiful beaches, wonderful Abbeys, that although now in ruins are still a magnificent sight and well worth a visit,  stately homes, amazing gardens, the list goes on. Some of these fine days I’m going to take myself on a road trip with my camera and go exploring, there are still so many things I have yet to see. It’s something however, that I would like to experience with someone who has never been here before, because sometimes a fresh perspective can open eyes that have become oblivious to their surroundings.

A few years back I became interested in photography, I saw my surroundings a lot differently whilst looking through the lens of a camera, but I shall let you see for yourself, here are some of my shots of various places in Northern Ireland. Hopefully it will let you see us a bit differently, than what you perhaps hear and see via the media.

Whitepark Bay2
Whitepark Bay
The-Cliffs-3
The Cliffs at Dunluce Castle
Sand-Dunes2
Sand Dunes at Whitepark Bay
Old Youth Hostel
Old Youth Hostel – Whitepark Bay
Gatepost
Rathlin Island
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The Big Fish – A printed ceramic mosaic
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Grey Abbey
Day out with Dad
Carnalbanagh
Bonamargy-Abbey
Bonamargy Friary
Bog Cotton
Bog Cotton at Spelga Dam
Scrabo Tower_JulieStewart
Scrabo Tower (my favourite out of all I have taken)

So, you were taking the piss!

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There was rejoicing in the Isle of Eejits!

It doesn’t happen that often, in fact I could count the times it has happened on two hands and one foot. Due to the rarity of it’s nature I wanted to share this momentous occasion with you all, and let you know that…..I WAS RIGHT!!!

For anyone who does not have a clue what I am wittering on about, may I please refer you to my previous post entitled ‘You are taking the piss’ in which I had a mini meltdown, right good old rant, discussion about the postage rates being charged by Ebay sellers on the UK mainland. I was so incensed by the extra £20 postage fee, that I felt compelled to send a message to the seller;

Hi,
Out of interest can I ask why someone like myself from Northern Ireland has to pay an additional £20 for postage, when it costs exactly the same for you to send a parcel to your next door neighbor as it would to me here if using Royal Mail?

I didn’t expect a reply and had actually forgotten I had sent the message in the first place. After blogging my displeasure I had obviously found some kind of inner peace with regards to the whole situation! So you can imagine my surprise when a notification tone alerted me to the fact that I had received a message from the seller!

Only for the fact that it makes it a little awkward to use the mouse, I was ready to don boxing gloves and fight to the end of the auction for my right to purchase the CD boxes and NOT pay postage! I was incensed all over again, ready for a war. I located the message and clicked open;

Dear Geeky G4mer,
Sorry thats on that listing by mistake,,, as you quite rightly say its free!

Wait, what!! That’s it? I was like a balloon someone had just stabbed with a huge pin, de fecking flated, there was to be no war of words today! It was a shallow victory!

I didn’t even want the item, I mean what am I going to do with 50 CD postage boxes!

Sad-Cardboard-Robot
Note to self: Buy Rescue remedy for mini meltdown situations!

You are taking the piss!!

Mail_delivery
How the UK mainland thinks we get our post delivered!

I’m irritated, annoyed, a little bit cross, and if I had two good legs I would kick something!

I have completely thrown my teddies out of the proverbial pram!

For anyone that doesn’t already know, I live in Northern Ireland, Strawberry Quicksand excluded, she thinks I live in Scotland, but to be fair she is a bit of an eejit :) So to continue the lesson, Northern Ireland is part of the UK. Bear with me here, I promise I have a point!

I’ve been selling some of my old CD’s on Ebay as I rarely listen to them these days. More often that not I buy my music digitally and listen to it on the Ipod via a docking station.

CD’s are not worth much, in fact things seem to have gone full circle and vinyl is now back in favour and fetching a tidy sum for it’s sellers.

Posting either of these two items requires sturdy packaging, so to ensure my items arrive with the buyers in tip top condition,  I decided to have a look at postage boxes.

The first couple of listings I happened across did not offer postage to Northern Ireland, that’s fair enough, especially if you are delivering by courier. Then I came across another listing, in which the seller offered Free economy delivery, which according to the blurb was provided by Royal Mail, however further down the description for the item it stated:

Customers in Northern Ireland & Ireland, please add £20 for carriage.

WTF!! I mean really….Ireland fair enough is classed as being part of Europe and therefore incurs Airmail rates, but we are classed as part of the UK and therefore fall under the same Royal Mail postage rates as the seller! I took a few deep breaths, composed a question, and sent it while giving my departing message the middle finger. So now I wait for the reply, and there may well be a very good explanation, but surely you see why I am a tad irked!!

Hi,

Out of interest can I ask why someone like myself from Northern Ireland has to pay an additional £20 for postage, when it costs exactly the same for you to send a parcel to your next door neighbor as it would to me here if using Royal Mail?

I mean ffs, it would be fecking cheaper for me to move into the house next door! Money grabbing gits!

World Police and Fire Games

WPFG

Craic – (Pronounced crack) Means great fun, good banter, a good laugh. i.e. “We were at the pub last night and the craic was mighty!”

So for anyone that didn’t know, the World Police and Fire Games were held in Northern Ireland this year.

It was a strange sight to see police officers dandering about without a care in the world, their occupation blazoned across their backs. Well it was certainly strange for here anyway, given our unusual situation.

According to the news reports a good time was had by all, people loved our little country, some even electing to stay a little longer and sightsee when the hype was over and the games had finished.

Being a constant worrier I don’t watch the news much, but one night I happened to catch a snippet of a report about a married couple, who were FBI and had travelled over for the games. The reporter when finishing the interview advised them to visit some of the local pubs and enjoy the craic. I’m not sure the gentleman understood what she was meaning, but he laughed and said he would indeed.

Fast forward a week and the same gentleman is being interviewed after completing his event and saying how much both he and his wife were enjoying the trip, so the reporter asks, and this is not word for word cos I have the memory of a Goldfish, “Did you manage to find any craic?”, to which the gentleman replied, “I’m not sure I would want my bosses to hear me saying on television that I enjoyed craic whilst I was in Northern Ireland.”

Oh how I laughed! Good on ye sir! Would be especially embarrassing if you worked for the DEA!

Meet Billy and Seamus!

So I had an idea, well I had it a couple of days ago, but I’ve been mulling it over . I enjoyed doing my A to Z post, the one where my two characters ended up going to the Zoo. It was fun to introduce you to some of the dialect from Norn Ireland, although it does lose some charm in the process of transferring it from brain to page. Hearing the scenarios spoken is much funnier.

So my idea was to give the characters names and possibly a regular spot on the page. The seeds are sown, I’m just not sure I have enough brain power to cultivate them into saplings….I figure it’s worth a shot tho.

I’ll try it out and see what happens. If I or for that matter you think it’s complete and utter tripe it will most likely be consigned to the trash can.

The Characters

Meet Billy and Seamus. Two fun loving eejits, neither of whom could pick up the prize for the brightest pixie in the forest. Well come on, there had to be a little of me in there somewhere.

They come from different religious divides, but are the best of friends and have been  since childhood.

Both are currently  unemployed, although to be fair it’s not through lack of trying. Times are tough and jobs are hard to come by these days. The lack of work however allows them the time to indulge in lots of mirth and mayhem…..hopefully (think brain think).

At the kitchen table……..

Billy: Seamus?

Seamus: Wha?

Billy: Are ye happy?

Seamus: Aye, why?

Billy: Are ye sure you’re happy Seamus, like, really sure?

Seamus: Aye I’m sure.

Billy: Well could ye tell your feckin face then!

For anyone who doesn’t understand I apologise, interpretation can be given on request.

Is it worth giving Billy and Seamus a shot?