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SWMBO gets ready for Hallowe’en.

Today we set off to do different scary stuff (DSS). Lastborn agreed to come with us as long as we didn’t go on a tour and didn’t stay out for hours. She is officially done with long, boring tours.

Unidentified Flying Objects (aka soap bubbles blown by Onlyboy)

Unidentified Flying Objects (aka soap bubbles blown by Onlyboy)

First we drove to the dark hedges. I had heard of these and how difficult they were to find. I asked in Bushmills and got detailed directions on how to get there. Necessary since the road isn’t sign marked. It says something about Northern Ireland that one of the most photographed sites in the country is on an un-signed, country road on which we saw about 3 non-rural/non-farm vehicles. The dark hedges are about a 20 minute drive from Bushmills/Giant’s Causeway.

A car drives through the dark hedges

A car drives through the dark hedges

The dark hedges are an alley of beech trees planted in the 1700s to provide an atmospheric approach to the Stuart family home. Mission accomplished.

The key represents 25 years of growth on a felled dark hedge tree

The key represents 25 years of growth on a felled dark hedge tree

Old graffiti on a beech tree

Old graffiti on a beech tree

We arrived on a beautiful, sunny fall day so the “spooky” road had an ambience, more than anything. Onlyboy was amazed right off. He bounded around, in his element, and said that from the whole trip, his favourite places of all had been Wales, England and, now, Ireland. He often stops in the UK to comment on the beautiful view, something he hasn’t done anywhere else except Macedonia. Paris wanted to come back with her friends and film a music video.

Paris and Lastborn soak up the atmosphere

Paris and Lastborn soak up the atmosphere

The dark hedges are short, free of charge and prove that you don’t need to spend big bucks or seek major sites to have a memorable and meaningful holiday. I always love places like the dark hedges because they show that if someone writes about it, people will come. I believe it proves my point that just because you haven’t heard of it, doesn’t mean it isn’t just as important. Start your own dark hedges and the world will discover your special neck of the woods.

Crevice in beech tree large enough for Onlyboy to climb into

Crevice in beech tree large enough for Onlyboy to climb into

From there, we drove about 10 minutes to Ballycastle. We stopped at the non-descript, yet charming and tasty, Brannigans. We had fish and chips ordered to fit the minimal amount of $ we had left. The server was lovely and told us that everything was homemade and that the owner’s father peeled all the spuds for the chips. Lastborn had been asking for fish and chips since France – thank-you, we all enjoyed it.

Our fish (chips came in a separate paper bag)

Our fish (chips come in a separate paper bag).  Scary?  You bet – think about arteries clogging!

We enjoyed a chat with the server

We enjoyed a chat with the server

On to the piece de resistance, another 10 or 15 minutes by car. On the way, we saw a raging bushfire that almost made us abandon our mission.

Raging bush fire in the direction we want to drive

Raging bush fire in the direction we want to drive

Carrick-a-rede (“rock in the road”) is a National Trust site. It’s a rope bridge, used by salmon fishermen for hundreds of years, and connects Northern Ireland with a small island. In the old days, the bridge was set up every year and only had one rail – fishermen would cross the bridge to check their nets and carry back salmon. Today, the bridge has two handrails and, frankly, I found the hype about how scary it would be, over the top.   I am a super-chicken and I strolled that thing with no problem.

The rope bridge

The rope bridge

car ropes2

That said, the island itself is pretty dangerous with undercut cliffs. The beauty, however, is beyond compare. The site is well worth a visit. Price for a family: £14/$25. Or just become a member :-)

Rope bridge leads to islands with stunning views and dangerous cliffs

Rope bridge leads to islands with stunning views and dangerous cliffs

We enjoyed ourselves yet had an eye on the clock. We’d had several pleas from Firstborn back home for a Skype session. We’d never Skyped before but had a rendez-vous for 5 pm GMT, noon EST. Needless to say, our Ballylinny internet, which conks out if you try to send an email with a photo attachment, just couldn’t deal with the concept of Skype. Sisters managed to chat via email and a new thing called “Snap-chat”.

View of mainland from bridge

View of mainland from bridge

As a mother, I admit that sometimes I get in the moment and completely forget about Firstborn, back at home. Other times, I ache to see her so bad. I guess that is one reason to count down the days until we return. It’ll make going home easier on me, since I have discovered that I could otherwise live on the road indefinitely.