Hail assembled geek, nerds and allied trades!
OOOO what a weekend! It is Tuesday and I am only now returning to a point of what passes for normality. I look for no sympathy as it was all self inflicted and more importantly it was FUN!
Chris Coates was first to arrive on Thursday and after a trip to Portstewart to watch the final practise and have a brisk walk along the prom. He was introduced the culinary joys of Jimmy Lavery's chip van's portions of fish chips and curry sauce. Since we were planning an early start for some touristy things it was off to bed quite early.
Come Friday morning, the sun was streaming through the windows, but the wind was brisk and there was a hint of rain, mind you it is the less-rainy season in NornIron. So Chris and I set out to explore the local. First off was the Mussenden demense and the high point for Chris was the swaths of wild garlic in the black glen. (For those that don't know Chris, he is the Dutch King of Beetroot and Corgettee cultivation.) Although considered a bit of a weed and an "interesting smell" in the glens and forests of the North it is not that common in Chris's stomping grounds.
From there we moved East ahead of a rain cloud that thankfully was slower than my mothers Nissan Micra into Coleraine for a cup of hot coffee in Ground and then off around the coast road through Portrush to Portballintrae were we "Winkled".
Oh please do stop tittering at the back! This is a Winkle
and we spent a hour or so winkling in the rock pools and seaweed of the Portballintrea sea shore. To be honest I havent actually done that since my son was very small and it turns out that Chris hadn't done it since he was very young.
Having collected a bag full of winkles we headed up the road, again a few hours ahead of the rain, to the giant's causeway. Were we had some lunch at "The nook"
a nice wee hostelry at the main gate of the Causeway marred only by a large sign about the open fire that informs patrons that there is "No Spitting Allowed". Chris and I took a pint and sat outside and watched the world (including a very fetching baby pink suzuki 750) go by.
Having seen that we "did" the causeway which was full of tourists. YEAH! for the Norn Iron economy, BOO! for the atmosphere that brings. The silence of the savage cliffs and strange rock formations is kinda diminished by the clatter of thousands of camera shutters.
Off again on out travels to White Park Bay
Where we saw a wild stoat, beachcombed and found a "perhaps" worked flint from the late stoneage.
A quick visit to Balintoy harbour
Where the wee cafe that serves the BEST Rhubarb Crumble and proper custard was full of late middle aged BMW driving bikers. Their bikes were experiencing the first drops of rain in their pristine shop shiney lives.
Or trip ended in Ballycastle where we ended the trip with a visit to Marconi's cottage
Where the aforementioned Mr Marconi (whose mother was a Jameson of the whiskey fame), may or may not have made his first call over water and from there we went back home in the pouring rain which had eventually caught us up.
Chris then boiled and ate his winkles with must relish and marvelled at how much more up and down's there were in Ireland compared to Holland.
Bill Buchan wasn't due to arrive until 11pm so we adjourned to Yokos Coleraine's only Japanese Noodle restaurant for a nice meal and a few beers whilst we waited for Bill to arrive, which he duely did at 11ish and he bravely attempted to catch up with Chris and I ..... He almost did.
Up early, if a little jaded, breakfasted and down to Portstewart where it was raining so Chris bought a very fetching NW200 paddock jacket to keep the rain off ... the rain promptly stopped. :-)
We waited for the races to start in the balcony bar of the York Hotel, whose owners had opened nice an early for folk like ourselves.
The races started, then stopped then started again and the day developed into a succession of racing glitches, it was cold, damp in places and not terribly exciting from our or any vantage point. Thankfully the day was rescued by the appearance of a friend of Chris's one Martin Presley, whose sartorial bravery knows no bounds in that he was wearing SHORTS!!!! Martin being a sharply dressed and eminently nice chap complimented our party perfectly and we drank beer and talked of the healing powers of herbs, whether I look like Eric Pollard from Emmerdale (a UK soap) and the election of Martin as a GONAD. This continued until my son Niall who happened to be around at the time managed to get his ancient father and his younger but equally confused chums a taxi home. Kudos to the SPROG and thank you Anne the taxi lady.
Home and bed.
Sunday .... well it happened I think .. I know there was a Saturday and there was a Monday so Sunday must have happened. I have vague memories of making breakfast and waving g'bye to Bill and Chris when they left to get Plane and Ferry home.
As a bike racing day, frankly it could have been way better, but those are the chances you take and it is better that we the viewers are bored than risks are taken with the riders safety. One the other hand I had a great time with some great friends both old and new which I would have not missed for the world.
Thanks chaps for comming :-) lets do it again next year !
PS My Mum (in whose house we slept and breakfasted) thinks you are cool too ;-)