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.


Connie said...

Ireland is so pretty. I've only been there a few times but every trip it just knocks my socks off. And then I have to quickly put them back on again because Ireland can be very chilly. Though it looks like you had wonderful sunny days and misty fog and all those nice flowers, not to mention the Excellent cuisine! What a lovely vacay. Your photos are stellar. Slainthe!

Vix said...

Goodness me, I felt like I was with you. What a wonderful set of photos and a great dialogue. I'm slavering over the food Celia cooked for you. It may be 7.30am but I could eat that lentil salad right now.
Northern Ireland looks gorgeous, not at all how I imagined it either. It has a feel to it like the Welsh villages we holidayed in as a child.
I so hear you over investing into run-down places before building on green belt, row upon row of boarded up shops and derelict pubs left to decay whilst some breeze block development opens up just down the road where the school playing fields once stood, utterly disgraceful.
Hope you've had a good lie-down and are ready for all the invites the Summer throws at you.
Did you get a 20p mix-up from Blaney's? xxx

Ivy Black said...

What a fabulous much gorgeousness. A wonderful place for some team building. I'm gonna suggest this at work. My last training was held in the social hall of Totton football club...class.
In know people who visit NI once and become absolutely besotted and I can see why.

Anonymous said...

What a gorgeous place and photos. How lovely to have Celia surprising you with such great food every day. You do seem to be relentlessly busy at the moment. Time to book a week of you time doing nothing? Xx

Polyester Princess said...

Love the Ireland photos, which really bring me in holiday mood. But I do know what you mean about the being an adult thing and wanting to crawl into a dark corner from time to time. The last couple of weeks have been a real frenzy here too. It's a good thing I'm off on my hols tomorrow. xxx

Fiona said...

What fab photos....they should be gracing the pages of travel brochure. How lucky to be team building in such a beautiful spot...I went to the Hollywood Bowl followed by the pub, I know where I'd rather be. How right you are about regenerating old buildings, but it seldom happens does it, as it's all about money as usual. I love that picture of the lady in Blaney's. x

Vronni's Style Meanderings said...


Portaferry looks gorgeous and what lovely photos you took. The one of the little white house across the water looks like a painting in an art gallery.

I'm glad you managed a lie down when you got home - it does sound very intense. I was dribbling at the food descriptions and although I've not long eaten I could certainly eat 20p worth of penny sweets!

Those little shops are wonderful places. I wonder if they still do twopenny, fourpenny or sixpenny ice cream wafers? When we were children we couldn't get enough of Irish ice cream; it was wonderfully creamy and you could buy slices of various sizes and prices inbetween 2 crispy wafers. No one I knew could manage to get a sixpenny wafer into their mouths, they were that big. It's all bloody Mr. Whippy now, I fear.

Love those blue toenails - I assume they're yours? I must do mine or the fecking summer will be gone.....

Onwards and upwards, Tania!

Have a lovely week.


freckleface said...

Your description of that ice cream is so wonderfully evocative. I can just imagine everyone having a go with the six penny wafer. We loved an 'ice cream sandwich'! Yep, those are my toes in the freezing cold, crystal clear waters of the lough!

freckleface said...

I bought cinnamon lozenges. Very unusual and rather lovely, they're kind of crumbly. Yes, I'm ready...for a day out?! Glad you're with me. It's not that I'm a nimby just that I think we should value what we have and invest in communities. Xxx

Sue said...

My husband was born in Belfast so I loved your little Irish trip. I would love to go to Ireland but there is a lack of $$$s for such things. How cool to go somewhere like that for a work trip, what is it that you do?? Did the little old lady in the shop with her gingham pinny have a hearty Irish accent?? My mother in law still has a strong one.

Lynn Holland said...

I've been trying to crawl in a hole since getting back from Oxford last week but the buggers keep dragging me back out. I feel like cutting the phone off and nailing up the door.
As an alternative I would settle for going round all the places you've been then sitting under a tree with a bag of sweeties from that shop xxx

Mim said...

What a lovely looking place! I've never been to Ireland, north or south, but it almost always looks delightful in photographs.

I'm with you and Vix on regeneration - we nee to learn to value what's already there rather than spoil more countryside.

As for adulting, I often need my downtime. Too much socialising does my head in...

Optimistic Existentialist said...

"sometimes I just feel the need to crawl away and lie in a darkened room with nobody to please"...ME TOO...I am a loner sometimes and I love it!

Pull Your Socks Up! said...

So companies still do all those team-building shenanigans? But what an incredible location! Yes I would definitely need some down time after three whole days with work colleagues. I've always loved your summer getaway pics and these are glorious. Thank you for sharing and have a delicious G'nT this weekend k? xoxoxo

Jill at emeraldcottage said...

How lovely to find your blog, especially as Im from Northern Ireland (though I live in England now) - and yes, it is VERY pretty :) I recognise that photo taken from the Strangford-Portaferry ferry, we always make sure to take a trip on it when we're over. I'm so glad you enjoyed your trip. Spread the word about how lovely a place it is :)