Archive for the 'Nature' Category

20
Mar
10

Various things

Visiting my much-neglected blog earlier, I felt really sad that I’d let things slide so much. Could it really be so long since I blogged? Life has been insanity recently. There are no hours in the day, for anything, it seems!

So much recent news. My business is great- I’m working so, so hard, but there’s lots of quality time with the kids too, and the rewards are infinitely worth it. I’m earning more than I did when in my old job, for fewer hours, WAY more flexibility, and, best of all, I get to see my kids grow up. On the downside, oh…wait…there isn’t one.

The house still looks like a shit heap, but what am I gonna do. :p

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My pony, Morning, had to be put down, three weeks ago. I haven’t been able to bring myself to write about it yet, and it’s really too painful for words.

I know a few of you will be wondering why I am so upset over the death of a horse- I would say to those people, you’ve clearly never had a very special animal in your life. To my family, animals ARE a part of our family.

Her legs gave up. She was pretty well in herself, but she had been having some mobility issues, and this Friday she just couldn’t get up in her stable. The vet discussed it with us, and we knew it was time to let her go. She was 28- quite old for a horse. I don’t want to go into the process too much. She was too big for an injection. The vet shot her. I knew that this is how it would happen, but it was just awful. I don’t think I’ll ever really get over it.

Morning had been with me since I was eleven years old- a child. We grew up together. We were partners in crime; like minded people. She loved to jump and hated flat work- so did I, though we grudgingly worked at it.

We didn’t know very much about competing when we bought Morning- but through my teenage years, we had huge success in the fields of eventing and showing. She was so beautiful, and so clever. She also could be a complete bitch if her mind wasn’t on the job, or if she felt like taking the piss.

We had a lot of success, and I owe her a lot. I’ll always remember her most for her sense of adventure, though. We’re going to Donegal in a few weeks and the beaches there will be filled with the ghosts of Morning, my Mum and our dog Jamie. May they all be running together somewhere better.

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The kids are gorgeous; I am so, so lucky, even though they make me crazy sometimes. Rob’s speech is spectacular, for a two year old, and he’s hilarious. Ricky is just sooo beautiful, and boy, does he know it!

Here are a few pics, from St Patrick’s Day. We took the drive up the stunning Antrim Coast Road and stopped at Ballintoy Harbour, which has chalk stone on one side and some kind of igneous rock on the other- the world famous Giant’s Causeway is only a few miles down the road and you can see the similarity in the rock formations (finished Suzy, lamely, having forgotten all of her 3rd form geography lessons).

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Nice-

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Nasty-

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You can nearly feel the lava below the surface there!

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They’re pretty good kids. ๐Ÿ™‚

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I have a new website, I’ll share it in due course, though most of you know about it already. It’s still in development, but I am very excited about the year that’s to come.

Love to all of my friends out there who have been horrendously neglected recently. I am truly sorry.

23
Aug
09

Trying to get back on the horse!

Hello, hello! How is everyone? Do you even remember me? It’s been nearly two months, I can’t believe it! I’ve actually had a lot to blog about but somehow it hasn’t happened.

We had a lovely holiday- three weeks of not having to think about anything very much and enjoying spending lots of time with my family. It has really helped me make a lot of decisions about where I want life to take me in the next number of years, as some of you know. I’ll do a password protected post on that though! Password will be the same as last time but please don’t feel weird about asking me for it if you’ve forgotten it.

So, until I can come up with something more fascinating, here are a loose collection of tales from our travels. I keep getting grief from my family for not blogging about the kids because apparently it’s the only time they get to hear about silly stuff they’ve done!!

Ricky spent most of the holiday in the sea! Even though the air temperature wasn’t very high, the sea stayed comparatively warm through our whole break (the sea in Donegal could normally cause frostbite even in the middle of summer!) and it was great to see him really gaining confidence in the water. We bought him his first proper wetsuit and he LOVED it!

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It’s fascinating to me how all the kids on the beach are now wearing full body wetsuits- you hardly see any kid in a normal swimsuit at all any more. When we were kids we hardly even bothered to put a swimming costume on- you’d absolutely never see a butt nekkid child on the beach these days. I think it must be a combinating of fashion, protecting children from the sun, and, sadly, loss of innocence!

Ricky has also developed a new interest- kind of a strange one too. When out on a walk at a local Friary, we passed a shrine to Mary. Ricky was fascinated by it and wanted to know what it was for. I explained the principles behind it, and he was very interested. There was a little bench in front of it, and before I knew it, he’d plonked himself down and started doing this!

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Ricky tells me that he is meditating and that this is what they do in China. I was very surprised that, coming from our household which is not very religious, he grasped the concept of spirituality and prayer with incredible ease!

That walk came as a surprise to me, because I don’t believe I’ve ever done it before, and the views were so stunning that I feel compelled to post some pictures of them!

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As for Robbie, he’s my little animal guru- he’s totally mad about animals of all kinds at the moment.

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I think I blogged before about his obsession with horses, and that definitely continued during the break! We were able to send the kids out along the beach on ponies from the riding school across the road, and seriously, if we’d let Robbie stay on for as long as he wanted he’d probably still be sitting there now!

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He had THE best time and I will definitely have to arrange some riding lessons for him I think. Ricky enjoyed it but not to the same extent. I was just showing Robbie the pics from the holiday and he couldn’t stop talking about going out on the pony, and how much fun he’d had!

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We also took the kids to some sheepdog trials, which was actually much more fun than I’d been expecting. The sheepdogs were great, and it was very interesting to see them in action.

They were also showing sheep in a different part of the field. Now, I come from a background of showing ponies and horses, which is very civilised and elegant. Showing sheep involves a lot of men sweating profusely and swearing under their breath as they grapple with a sheep that desparately wants to get back to the herd and that definitely doesn’t want the judge to look at its teeth.

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The variety of sheep was amazing and some of them were as big as a shetland pony, which surprised me! Some were pretty and soft, some were ugly as sin with wiry wool.
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Robbie predictably thought it was absolutely brilliant- the child has no fear! He had fallen and hurt his head the previous evening, which is why he looks like he’s been duffed up!
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The eventual Champion of the sheep was crowned, and I managed to make a total pillock of myself by missing the photo opportunity- then, when I was surreptitiously trying to take a pic, they realised and went through the whole palaver of getting all the trophies and rosettes out again. To be fair they did this with a very good grace, but I felt like an idiot! So, here, for posterity, is a picture of the king of the sheep. Father Ted fans out there will know why I find this vaguely amusing.
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There’s loads more but I have rambled on for long enough! Hope everyone is well. I do want to blog more but time is really against me at the minute. I definitely need to get some stuff off my chest though and will do so later today, with luck!

Now the challenge will be to get caught up with everyone else! ๐Ÿ˜€

26
Apr
09

From the journey home…

I had a gorgeous weekend with my Aunt, and have a post ready to go for tomorrow about our evening out, which was fantastic! I just need to finalise a permission or two and it will be good to go! ๐Ÿ™‚

I got a mixture of bus and train home today. I sat at the top of the double decker bus, and the view was wonderful though the day was cloudy. We were diverted up this little back road, though, and to say it was bumpy was the understatement of the year! That road was not designed to take a bus!!

The mountain you can see in the distance is Slemish, where St Patrick allegedly tended sheep in his formative years-

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On the train, coming into Belfast- the Cave Hill is in the background (can you guess why it has it’s name? Someone must have spent YEARS naming that place. So original. ๐Ÿ˜› )

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Belfast is really a city on the up- as you can see from all the construction that’s taking place. The city is almost unrecognisable from fifteen or twenty years ago, when pretty much none of the buildings you can see here existed. Lagan Weir is in the foreground.

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More building work! You can see the Albert Clock on the right hand side, which dominated the area when I was a child, and was a local hang out for hookers… ๐Ÿ˜€ It now looks so tiny, but it’s about the only non modern construction you can see, as it dates back to Victorian times and is named for Queen Victoria’s husband.

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Could this post BE any more random?!

Better things to come during the week, I promise! ๐Ÿ™‚

20
Apr
09

Inishowen Peninsula at Easter

My plan for today is to completely fob you all off with some scenery pics- these are from the Inishowen Peninsula and were taken a week ago today, on Ian and my anniversary. It is so gorgeous up there!

We had a lovely anniversary. The forecast for the area of Donegal we were staying in wasn’t too great, so we decided to head east along the North coast to Inishowen. It’s the most northerly point in Ireland. As you can see, the weather wasn’t perfect, but we were really lucky and the rain mostly stayed off.

We stopped for lunch near Malin at a pub, which overlooked the harbour, and despite it being very, very windy, they were having a bungee jumping event, hoisting the victims, sorry, participants up a crane in a cage and then pushing them out- I couldn’t believe how close they were bouncing to the crane! We were too far away to get pictures, but it was a bit insane!

We went for a walk on a beach nearby but it really did start to rain then!

It was still a lovely day out. I don’t really know Inishowen too well, so it was great to see a part of Ireland I haven’t been round much before.

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04
Apr
09

NI Hospice Walk at Castle Ward

Today was the annual charity walk in aid of the Northern Ireland Hospice, so I met up with various family and friends at the Castle Ward Estate to complete the 5 mile walk. It was so much fun! I had a lovely day out. I took about ten thousand photos and can’t begin to post them all, but there are some below. In fact, I may be spamming you a bit today!! ๐Ÿ˜€

Castle Ward is owned by the National Trust and is set in stunning parkland sweeping down to Strangford Lough. The 18th century house itself is really interesting, as the Ward family who built it couldn’t decide what style to make it- the lady of the house wished for Gothic style of architecture whilst her husband preferred Classical. In an unusual move, they made one side of the house Gothic and one side Classical, and even the rooms on the inside are split in this style. It’s a lovely place to visit if stately homes are your bag. ๐Ÿ™‚ Sadly, the walk didn’t allow me to really get any good pictures of the house itself, to my irritation!

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I brought the kids, and my brother Brian and friend Heather, in the car, and Ian followed us down on the motorbike. He was to look after the kids while the rest of us did the walk. We were also accompanied by my Dad and some of his friends, not to mention my Dad’s dogs Sophie and Bonzo, and a very special three legged doggie called Archie who is getting on a little in years, but who completed the first half of the walk with great enthusiasm!

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The first loop of the walk took us in front of the house, and through the woods, with lovely views of the surrounding countryside. It was quite a clear day, so you could see across the Irish Sea to the Isle of Man and Scotland, and see over to the Mourne Mountains which aren’t too far away.

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When we got back to the start, which you had to go past to complete the second part of the walk, we were met by Ian and the kids, who had apparently wanted to come with us a little of the way.

This turned out to be a bad move- their little legs wouldn’t take them very far and Ian ended up with Ricky on his shoulders (he is big for his age and weighs a ton) pretty much all of the 2 1/2-3 miles…Robbie went mostly on my Dad’s shoulders and some of the time on Brian’s. ๐Ÿ˜€ Needless to say, they were all totally knackered by the time we finished!

My brother Brian with Robbie on his shoulders, and my partner Ian with Ricky weighing him down-

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I don’t know why Dad, Brian and Heather are all looking at me like I just jumped out of a hedge with a knife, but they do…

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The second loop of the walk took us around Temple Water, a man-made lake, and then down to the familiar woods and 15th century towerhouse at Audley’s Castle- regular readers will know that it’s a favourite haunt of mine.

Me and Heather at Temple Water-

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Some from the woods at Audley’s Castle-

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We then skirted the shoreline until we got back to the estate itself and climbed the hill back up the house and cars.

My Dad then treated us to a gorgeous meal in The Cuan, Strangford, and I had lovely crab claws and mussels.

I really enjoyed my day out, got lots of fresh air and exercise, and contributed to a really worthy cause. Thanks to everyone who walked with me for making it such a wonderful day!

24
Mar
09

The Giant’s Ring, Belfast

On Sunday I took the kids for a walk to the Giant’s Ring, near Belfast. It’s a megalithic monument, a peaceful and wonderful place. If it was in England, it would be mobbed by tourists, but as you can see, it’s more or less deserted, which is exactly how I like it! ๐Ÿ˜‰

It’s a bit hard to take a picture of the place- but basically it’s like a huge circular enclosure with banks around the edges and a dolmen (the stones) near the middle (the dolmen is actually off centre). Noone is really sure what it was for- there’s not much evidence that anyone ever lived there, so it’s thought that it was for ceremonial purposes.

They used to hold horse races inside the ring, but although it’s big, the riders must have got a bit dizzy!

Ricky was very disappointed not to see any giants. I told him it was a bit like looking for the Gruffalo when we were in the woods- just because we’ve never seen one yet, doesn’t mean we won’t see one… ๐Ÿ˜›

Belfast is in between the mountains and the trees you can see in the background. It always amazes me that the city is so close and you’d never know it was there!

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Ricky decided the dolmen was his new house, but quickly complained that his new house had no central heating!

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Heading for a walk at the other side of the Ring- Mummy not going fast enough…

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Ricky’s standard photo pose at the moment…sigh…

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Robbie just before he pitched a massive “I want to go the other way” fit… ๐Ÿ˜€

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Oh, to be a child again. Places like that have so much wonder! ๐Ÿ™‚

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06
Jan
09

Dundrum Castle, Co. Down

OK, so the light was seriously fading and Ricky seems to have lost the ability to pose for a photo without making a silly face dry.gif but here are some pics from our trip to Dundrum Castle on Sunday afternoon. It’sย a fewย miles from where we live, and dates back to around 1210- what an amazingly old place! It’s in the most stunning location, set up on a rocky outcrop looking over the sea and the Mourne Mountains, which are the largest mountains in Northern Ireland.

It wasย freezing here, the kids were a bit cold but we still had a fantastic time. Ricky and Robbie have recently discovered the inherent childhood joy of running down steep hills whilst yelling “ahahaahaaaaaaaaaa…”ย  so with it being such a steep site, they really enjoyed doing that a LOT…

I am such a poor photographer.

I love the shadow of the trees on the keep in this one-

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Absolutely my favourite kind of tree, ha ha! I love those kind of gnarly ones! biggrin.gif

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Sunset over the Mournes- Slieve Donard is NI’s biggest mountain and is on the left, Slieve Commedagh is on the right.

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Thanks for looking! smile.gif




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