The Committee was chaired by "Wander Woman", Eileen Fitzgerald because she has dandered up the great wall of China and sundry other things that go up as much as they go down and is the best qualified in all things of a dandering nature as she is in possession of not one but TWO camel pack's.
The rest of the team was made up of Matt White and Mark Myers who represented the marginially sensible phlange of the Domino Danderers and Bill Buchan and myself made up the quorum representing the "Old enough to know fecking better than to walk up that many steps without oxgyen, sherpas and a stannah chair lift " sub-committee.
The committee assembled using the good services of Easyjet, Stena Sea Link and the N1 from Dublin and all roads, ferries and planes converged on the small sea side town of Portballintrae where the comfortable if spartanlty furnished bus shelter orginally planned as our base was changed to the more wind and rain proof "Fermanagh Cottage" opposite Sweeny's Pub (bring your own towels in case the Vogon's invade), This change of venue also allowed for the use of a fridge to keep the beer, cider, wine, red bull, Iron Brew, Vodka, mars bars,Cadbury's Turkish Delight, black pudding and haggis at the correct temperature
Mr Myers and Mr White were first to arrive, followed closely by Ms Fitzgerald, who had unexpectedly (well for Mr Myers) brought several boxes of 2000AD comics for Mr Buchan. Mr Myers went into paraoxisms of delight and sat cross legged on the floor sorting them out into neat piles. Mr White, Ms Fitzgerald and myself looked on in wonder and exchanged quips of a slightly derogatory nature as is required when more that 2 geeks are gathered together in the name of domino.
Mr Buchan, duly arrived and in doing so both a critical mass and quorum was reached . The first sitting down committee of the domino danderers was in session. As I was driving home to Casa McDonagh I took my leave at 12:30am with strict instructions that we would be leaving at 10:45am to catch the bus and all members should be fed, watered and appropriately dressed by that time. Many raspberries where blown and wine bottles waved as I retreated into the midnight gloom.
Saturday started as is so often in the Irish Lesser Rainy Season with big grey clouds and the promise of showers, but it was mild and not too unpleasant as I set off to pick up the other Danderers from their overnight bacchanalia I was pleasantly surprised to find them sober and ready, having had a hearty full Norn Iron Breakfast.
Mr Buchan a neophyte danderer was most impressed with Ms Fitzgerald's Camel Pack and was offered the use of her spare pack. The rest of the committee had to physically restrain him briefy and explain that it should be filled with water and not beer, vodka or whiskey. Having "Fettled-up" we caught the bus to Ballintoy and started our dander.
We made a short detour to a "wee shop" so essential supplies could be purchased by Mr Buchan, namely 5 toffee crisp's which he assured us were not only the food of the gods but packed full of dandery goodness.
and off we set at a brisk trot down to Balintoy harbour. This is most of the committee ready to meet whatever nature would throw at them, note Mr Buchan's borrowed bondage Camel Back which he informed us
"Kept his boobs from wobbling to much". You can also tell this is at the beginning of the walk because
(a) we are all standing
(b) we are not all covered in mud.
From there we marched Briskly around the headland and onto White Park Bay beach where we were honoured by the sudden and all be it short appearance of a hot, bright yellow lotus logo in the sky. We where that surprised we felt we had to "point" it out.
From white park we scrambled around the base of the cliffs to the lovely small village (4 houses, a very very small chruch, and no pub) of Port Bradden. This bit of the walk was all relatively flat and mud less however it was around then we met the first folk from and Action Cancer sponsored walk going in the opposite direction it was noted by all the Domino Danderers that they were covered in mud and were puffing and panting rather a lot.
From Port Bradden we dandered at a respectable rate around to Dunservick harbour where The gentlemen tucked into Chocolate and the lady tucked into sensible high energy nuts and dried fruit. It should be noted that the rugby team in wet suits warming up for a spot of canyoning paid no part in Ms. Fitzgerald's accquiessence to a "bit of a sit" down at this point.
It wasn;t that much later when Mr Buchan asked "Are we there yet" , I informed him that "the pub was not that far away" and as you can see from this picture Mr White is shocked by the subterfuge as he unlike Mr Buchan actually knows how far a mile is..
...and on we dandered ...by this time we had moved off the flat and were starting to go up and down, rather a lot and every now and then a wall or fence would block our path. Mr Buchan had not loaded his "dealing with obstacles" library and I have to explain to him how a style worked, being a consumate professional Mr Buchan contructed a Web Service on the spot, conpiled it and to Ms Fitzgerald's dismay may it live without complying with the recognised change control methodology
We reached the half way point and had a bit of a sit down, a bit more chocolate (or nuts and fruit) a sip from Mr Buchans hip flask and took the opperturnity to have the committee's photo taken, After a brief and heated discussion about F-Stops, Apatures and how to get the automatic picture taker widget thingie to work the offical picture was taken
At this point we were sitting on a bench 3 feet from the edge of a 150 meter cliff, hence the general look that any competent body language reader will tell you is the "I am gripping this bench with both buttocks and NOTHING is going to make me let go"
Onwards and upwards we went.. onto the causeway itself. Which it has to be said was a lot more breezy that when we started. I managed to loose my wallet (it has since turned up having stayed on the bus and taken a 250 mile trip to Dublin) and Mr Myers "ran" (yes i said ran) at a brisk trot back to see if it was at the bench.. The rest of the committee were treated to a view of Mr Myers yomping along the top of the 150 meter cliff like a 6 foot 2 mutant ginger goat.
It was around this time that Mr Buchan fell a little behind us and was seen surupticiously putting his iPhone away.. shortly thereafter an Airbus appeared very low in the sky and attempted to lower a grappling hook for Mr Buchan ... we were not amused!!!
I said a VERY rude word. because he could have got one for me too,
Mr Buchan was that shocked by the rude word that he had to pause for a moment to collect himself and put out his ears which had spontaneously combusted
In Due course we arrived at the bit of the giant's causeway that most people recognise. The gentlemen decieded that a wee sit down was in order and duely did so.
Ms Fitzgerald needed a different sort of sitdown and having failed to convince a rather unsympathetic bus driver of the urgency of her need took off at a brisk trot in search of the the specialised seat that she required for a satisfactory period of sitting and going "Ahhhhhhhhhhhh". Having rested for a while the gentlemen plodded somewhat wearily after the quickly disappearing Ms Fitzgerald.
There were several periods of having to stop and look at the awesome view, and NONE of thse stops had anything to do with cramp, dodgey knees, exhaustion,dizzy spells or the fact that it was a VERY steep hill. Mr Buchan was told half way up the hill that it was only 200m to a pub and pulled the remaining dander-ers up the hill at a hell of a rate.
Safely installed under the "no spitting" sign beside the fire in the downstairs bar of "The Nook", several celebratory pints were consumed (coffee for the drivers) and after a short (90 minute) meeting (rest) the final 2 miles of the walk back to the cottage was completed.
After cleaning up (and cancelling all my credit cards) the committee reconvened in The Harbour Bar, Portrush where an excellent meal was consumed (Thanks to all for standing Val and I the meal and drinkies in my hour of need - in that i had a total absence of any method of payment) and t'was after midnite before the Danderers took to their beds tired and full of Strawboffee (ask Bill if you can get him to stop dribbling)
I have to add at this point that while Eileen and Mark are resonably fit and bounded along with an excess of energy, the rest of the pack were somewhat less endowed with this bountious exuberance and although I have done this walk several times it still makes my knees sore, leaves me out of puff and that last hill to the pub is a killer!!! So mucho mucho kudos to Matt, who is a fairly recent Dandering acolyte and Bill for whom this was the first "long" and "pretty hilly" walk, You did 13 and a bit miles of serious walking .... chaps we are proud of you WELL DONE!
It should also be noted that there was more drink left at the end of our weekend than we consumed. i know we should really hang our heads in shame.. but we WERE being healthy so .. perhaps it can be excused ;-)
It has been agreed that the Domino Danderers will be come a semi regular thing in different locations, and any Domino (or non domino) reader that wants to join us on a 10-15 mile wander through the countryside is more than welcome to don their dandering boots and come along :-) Watch This Space!
Perhaps we may get to the point of being able to joing the master and misteress of Domino Dandering (Warren and Kitty Elsmore) on the Moon Walk next year :-)
Thanks to all the Domino Danderers for coming over and sharing one of my "big" walks .. walking by yourself can be quite lonely, and I had great (and very sober) craic having you with me, you are all welcome back any time :-)
PS Oh and KUDOS to Eileen for the great pictures above that enabled me to take the piss out of Bill you can see them all here