Thursday 16 June 2016

The Emerald Isle

I've noticed a pattern in my life, whereby during January, February and March, I'm mainly left to my own devices, so I can go at my own pace, following my little routines and keeping up with all my little jobs. But then, once Spring hits, it just becomes this crazy whirlwind of trips and invitations and weekends away and visitors and being ON all the time, with precious little down time.
The Portaferry side of the Lough
Don't get me wrong; I enjoy every minute of it, but sometimes I just feel the need to crawl away and lie in a darkened room with nobody to please. I think this phenomenon is called being an adult. Do you ever suffer from it?
So, the last few weeks have been busy, full of all the things above, and the next month is pretty booked up too. 
The most recent event has been three days in Ireland with work. The whole team went on a bespoke residential training course/team building thing, which was really interesting and lovely, but also quite intense since we spent every waking hour together. I'm not used to that much talking and listening. I came home and went straight for a lie down.

It wasn't quite, 'Hello Q, I'm off to bed', but very nearly.
But anyway, look at this beautiful place! Who knew Northern Ireland was so pretty?
This is an hour's drive from Belfast, but a world away from what I'd expect. Wonderfully peaceful, and  such a different pace to where I live.
Strangford village on the other side of the water is the very definition of pretty
We stayed on the shores of a lough which is fed by the Irish sea. A ferry whizzes you across to the other side, but when the fog comes up, even on a beautiful sunny day, you get trapped until it disappears again.
In our odd bits of spare time, we paddled in the water. It was freezing cold and totally heavenly. We went for a beach walk, a village tour and a woodland wander. 
And we ate for England! Celia, our host at the b&b is a top notch cook and real foodie. In fact, turns out that amongst many other things, she's the leader of the Slow Food movement for Northern Ireland.
We ate lentil salad with miso paste, shredded beetroot and cabbage salad, seaweed with labneh and herbs, cauliflower cheese, homemade quiche, soda bread farls with dulse, plant-based yoghurt with stewed rhubarb and granola, lemon drizzle cake with ginger and turmeric, her own honey..the list goes on. It was exactly the kind of food I like to eat. She made all our meals except for one, when we ate out, so that the carnivores amongst us could get their chops round some meat.
When we first googled the little town of Portaferry, we saw a lot of photos of boarded up houses. It all looked a bit run down, but with people like Celia and her partner moving in and doing grass roots regeneration projects, it's being brought back to life.
I love that. It seems to me, that it would be better to invest money into places and communities which exist and are run down in the first instance, before building all over the green belt? These places have history and soul and there are always lovely old buildings waiting to be brought back to life.

Look at this lady! She runs a little shop called Blaney's which sells penny sweets and smells like the kind of shop my grandparents used to take me to. Gosh, I'm a sucker for nostalgia.