Setting Off From Sandwell valley

Friday, 18 June 2010

Happy Birthday to me!

Right, better catch up on where I have been since Rathlin Island ;-

Saturday 12th June

After a long cycle, with a strong wind behind me for a change, from Ballycastle, had reached Glenarm when after 2 soft tyres camped beside the sea and the coast road. Cyled on to larne, couldn't go swimming in the baths there due to refurbishment, watched the local football and shopped. Then on the way through Glynn, stopped when I saw a Vintage tractor and engine rally in aid of disabled riders. Paid my £3, chatted with the girls on the entrance desk and spent a few very pleasant hours looking around, photographing the cars, tractors and motorbikes and meeting people. Thanks to the girls on the refreshments counter, especially for the Florentine cake! Thanks also to Gladys Elliott for her very generous donation.
Met the farm's owner, Ian DJ McKee, who made me feel most welcome and listened to the music provided by The Grousebeaters. Their male leadsinger had an unusual stage presence, preferring most of the time with a loo of Albert Steptoe!
At the back of the rally's ground there was a large lake adjacent to the Lough and on it there was a whooper swan. Must be an injured one that hadn't gone back north with the others from the winter.

Got to a point opposite Magheramore Island and try as I might couldn't find any roseate terns here. Another case of where a telescope is needed.

Got to Carrickfergus and after advice from the local constabulary had a meal at a pub and watched the England USA World Cup match. A geriatric slug could have saved that one!!!

There had been a large pageant that day in carrickfergus. Shame I had missed it. It was for the 60th anniversary, the Siege of Carrickfergus in 1689 by the Duke of Schomberg. The two police officers I'd met joked that he was the reason why they were wearing body armour and carrying guns.

It was almost dark after my meal and I eventually camped on a lawn at the back of a church! My usual rules applied and I am sure that no one would be able to tell that I'd been there. I even put upright any grass flattened by my backside.

Sunday 13th June

Heavy rain overnight and packed up the tent in the same. Got to the port for the ferry over to the Isle of man early; very early and had a coffee with the girls on the reception desk.

One of the workers there had arranged a skit on the security guards. There was a consigment of monkeys and bats due to make the crossing in a van. Well the guards were told that there was a robbery at Belfast Zoo the night before and that police were looking for monkeys and bats that were still missing. A code word was arranged so that the reception girls and I would know when the van had arrived but in the end it all went rather flat as only bats arrived! [Hello Christine and Liz. Thanks for the coffee]
If you do make the crossing from Belfast on the Isle of Man ferry ask the girls to tell you about the man with the donkey!

Maybe a silly thought as the ferry got to full speed as it passed the power station at the end of Belfast Lough; how much oxygen does a ferry like this add to the seawater as it's engine surge out? Just a thought.

Black guillemots, manx shearwaters and gannets seen on the crossing and we arrived at Douglas 2 hours late because of the number of motorcyclists leaving the boat at Belfast after the TT races.

Monday 14th June

Lloyds bank closed on Mondays in Castletown and the libary only open at 2.00pm, so spent the morning exploring the castle and the House of Keys, which is the old government house of the Isle of Man. In this there was a great audience participation show using the original room and furniture. One was asked to vote on certain issues appertaining to specific important dates in the history of the island's parliament. Good fun but what a shame that there was only myself and a fellow Brummie in there.

Also went in the old grammar school house there.

Had lunch on a bench overlooking the bay and rushed for my bins when a summer plumaged great northern diver flew around before landing on the water in front of me. Fabulous bird. Shame I couldn't phone anyone to say of its presernce as the Isle of Man is treated as a foreign country by my mobile phone provider.

After bank and library cycled to the nearby headland, Dreswick Point, seawatched and counted the seals on the rocks here; 18 grey seals.

Met some people whilst sitiing here and was informed that the beautiful large lighthouse here was one of the homes of Jeremy Clarkson. Some dog walkers it seems resent this but others seem to think that he has done an excellent job restoring the building and so what if a some of the headland is fenced off. Considering the amount of dog faeces and the usual faeces filled plastic bags on evidence here I don't blame Mr Clarkson for doing so!

More in a bit. Coffee first.

Happy birthday to me ........


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