Category Archives: England


We are enjoying Northern Ireland – though wish the weather was better! We took a tour around Belfast and then a tour out to the Giant’s Causeway – both were interesting but a little disappointing.

The tour of Belfast highlights a city recovering from the turmoil of the ‘Troubles’ but I have to say that to us it appears, despite words to the contrary from the bus drivers,  as though the troubles are lurking close beneath the surface. As we went down the Falls Road and then The Shankhill Road, famous streets for sectarian violence, there were flags and murals on display – and being kept up to date – announcing the desire to break away from the UK – or to remain within it. I have to say that the Loyalists with all their Union Jacks and Red White and Blue emblazoned everywhere were far more in your face than the Republicans. Why on earth they can’t all just let it go is beyond me, but with fervent flag waving like this, I fear it would be very easy for a careless match to start the fight all over again. Meanwhile, Belfast is a thriving city and there does seem to be harmony within the general population. It’s clearly just a minority of ijits that have and always will carry on the stupidity. OK, political posturing over!

The trip to the Causeway was interesting with a fun driver giving us an amusing (if somewhat constant!) commentary on everything out the window as we travelled along the coastal road (the long way). We stopped at Carrickfergus to look at the castle – though Laurie and I checked out the marina instead! We stopped at the ‘Rope Bridge’ – a robust swing bridge so we didn’t even bother going over! Then we went to the Bushmills Whiskey site – and didn’t buy any Whiskey!

Finally we made it to the Giant’s Causeway. It’s an interesting place, but having already been to Fingal’s Cave in Scotland (Isle of Staffa), the Giant’s Causeway is certainly a disappointment in comparison. The rock formations – which are very interesting – are not as extensive or as well defined as those on Staffa. We had a good walk while there however – in spite of the bloody weather.

Yesterday afternoon we took a walk around and found some delightful entertainment – an award winning walled garden that was an absolute delight, a very nice park with hugely diverse tree species and then came upon a crown bowling green – open to the public. So we paid our equipment rental fees and had ourselves our first game of full size (as opposed to carpet) Bowls. What an excellent game! A close fought game was finally concluded at 21:15!

Today, if the rain gives over we’ll take a ride on the tandem to Strangford Lough (pr Lock!) so that we can at least say we’ve been to the place (Marine Sanctuary). On Friday I take off for 2 weeks to India to earn a crust while Laurie remains aboard to make sure all systems are kept up and in working order! Friend Sandra arrives next week for a visit…

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Muker Show Day Rounds Out the Visit

Well, we’ve left Whitehaven and the family behind us – but it was a lot of fun spending a good deal of time with nearly all of my family over the past month. We had time to climb several of the mountains of the Lake District and Dales and finally managed to get Kate and Dustin onto the boat for a somewhat blowy and cold sail outside of Whitehaven.


Our visit culminated the most enjoyable Muker Show day I have ever experienced.The show sports judged displays of arts and crafts from local folk, flowers and vegetables, walking sticks, handwriting and of course sheep! Swaledale being at the center of breeding Swaledale sheep – the males (Tups) fetching huge amounts of money occasionally. Apparently the standard this year was very high…


There’s also sheep dog trials, but unfortunately that was a bit of a mess as the field in which they performed was not secured properly and nearly every shepherd lost sheep to a poorly constructed wire fence! Muker Silver Band (including brother Steve, his wife Sue, sister Kate and her husband Dustin) plays tunes throughout the day to accompany all the various activities.




The highlight of the day is the Fell Race. Competitors come from far and wide to participate in Muker’s fell race – which leaves the showground, heads across the river Swale (try not to fall in) and up Ivelet Side – a stupidly steep incline of about 45%, across the top of the hill and then back down and across the river to the finish. Daughter Abigail made her debut this year and I’m proud to say she finished – and not last in the 61 strong field. Way to go Abigail!

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The show winds up outside the Farmer’s Arms in the village (the pub my parents owned for quite a while) and the band plays a series of hymns and local songs – and the whole crowd participates. A wonderful finale to a wonderful day.



We departed Whitehaven, which turned out to be a very nice little town (unfortunately inundated with seagulls and way too much litter) – it is ready to be a busy tourist town, but somehow didn’t quite manage to capture the tourists. We headed next to the Isle of Man that sits in the middle of the Irish Sea…



Dinner Aboard

Last night we had niece Hannah, Mark, Nicky, Jenny, Molly, Abigail, myself and Laurie sat around the dinner table enjoying Laurie’s magnificent Lasagna with Salad, followed by home made apple (from Simon Mardel’s garden) crumble and ice cream. Talk about gourmet cooking! Way to go Laurie!


Great Gable

Today we were going to go sailing with niece Hannah’s lot today, but the weather was not particularly favorable for 3 kids aboard – with gusts to 35… so instead we opted for a walk – up Great Gable… England’s second highest mountain I believe.

We arrived at Wasdale Head and met Hannah, Nicky, Jenny and Molly there and set off on a blustery day. The mountain was in cloud – would it lift for our arrival?  Would it heck!

An enjoyable if taxing day – it’s a bit of an all UP followed by all DOWN walk – but the pints at the bottom tasted ever so good!


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More Family Fun

Great times at the river (Rainby), exploring the ruins of a 2nd century Roman Fort s and then yesterday climbing England’s third tallest ‘Hill’ Helvelyn – remembering camping on top as idiot teenagers with Simon Mardel. We went up via Striding Edge – an arret between two glacial valleys with very steep drop offs on both sides – and with countless kids bouncing from rock to rock while us old geezers held on for dear life!

Swimming and fishing (and avoiding Midges) at Rainby waterfall…

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Hardknot Pass in the Lake District

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And climbing Helvelyn

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