We left Leeds at 8am on Sat 9th for the 220 mile drive up to Stranraer in Scotland to catch the 14:30 ferry across to Belfast. I've made that journey so many times over the last 40 years that I could do it with my eyes closed so as a result, Stephen drove !
Being a passenger for the first time ever, I was finally able to fulfil a dream. I was able to photograph the Welcome To Scotland sign on the M6. I'd tried it several times as a driver but as you can imagine, the results were never worth keeping. Actually I almost messed it up this time too as they'd erected a new one since my last trip and it took me by surprise as I thought from a distance it was some sort of roadworks sign being that it was big, bold and very blue.
We stopped for a meal in Castle Douglas, one of the small towns along the Scottish leg of the route that are now bypassed by the A75 and have probably suffered business losses as a result. We chose The Mad Hatter and this menu photo shows the distinctly local flavour of the items......
Even I wasn't sure about the 'tattie scones' but Daphne said it was probably their name for potato cakes or potato bread, also known as fadge in parts of Northern Ireland. Never known a food item have so many names ! Anyway it was as she said and it was delicious.
Then it was back on the road and what a lovely road it was that day. The sun was out, there were few cars about and we sped along in fine style.
We reached Stranraer with over an hour to spare before boarding and I just had time to take a photo of Daphne and Stephen outside the ferry terminal before we were called back to our cars.
Boarding was quick and easy and as we made our way towards the HSS, the high speed ferry that would take us to Belfast in 2hrs instead of the usual 4hrs, I wished it had been around when I was going back and forth, back in the day. On a rough crossing, those long hours were miserable.
So smooth was our crossing that I never even realised the ferry had left the port. We found seats by the windows and, more importantly, by some power points as our phones needed recharging. It was fun to send messages and load photos to Facebook and Twitter while crossing the Irish Sea. There wasn't wifi but the 3G signal was good enough.
In no time we were docking in Belfast........
.....and 45 minutes later we were at my cousin's house in Magherafelt where we were staying for the week as they had left a few hours earlier to spend a week in Southern Ireland.
After settling in and freshening up, we walked into the town and had a meal at the excellent Sizzlers restaurant. Back 'home' and after such a long day we were all pretty tired and wanted to be right for the morning so we went off to bed by 10pm !
More to come.......beaches, waterfalls, harbours, a forest, a parade, an island and a load of world famous stones. Oh and the home course of the newly crowned British Open Golf Champion.