The BBC weather forecast for 15th July 2011 had not been good. In fact it had been pretty naff, even by UK summer standards.
As a result, because it listens to BBC forecasts, the sun rose early, had a quick look and decided to have a lie in.....all day. But it wasn't going to spoil OUR day. Oh no. We were going to explore funny shaped rocks and a bit of cloud and a lazy sun weren't going to stop us.
By now, I'd got into the overnight routine of recharging my camera batteries as well as my own and so my phone and dSLR were on my bedside table all ready to go snapping. Sadly for blog purposes, the dSLR remained there all day as I somehow forgot to take it with me. Given the choice, I'd have left the phone but I wasn't given the choice and so fate dealt me a nasty blow and thus it was that I went to the only World Heritage Site in all of Ireland without a decent camera.
I say for blog purposes as of course I'd been many times before, even back in the day when it was free to visit. Back then, Finn wasn't Cool yet and so tourists could visit his partly finished causeway and compare it to the stretch of motorway nearby which also went nowhere and never would. Giants aren't all that dependable it seems and easily give up on most projects. Employers beware I'd say.
Squillions of UK pounds are being spent at the moment hiding the Giant's Causeway Visitors Centre underground. I'm not really sure why as it's not like any building would hide the causeway from passing eyes as you have to walk down a long pathway to get to it. There is also a whacking great hotel on the site already so unless they plan on hiding it underground as well, the exercise seems pointless to me.
Anyway we got parked in one of the few remaining bays (parking is severely restricted during construction work) and were soon standing at the top of the pathway with a view of the possibilities just around the corner. No really. I'm being literal. The Causeway WAS just round the corner. I mean, ever one to keep tourists in suspense for as long as possible, Finn had built it well away from the casual passer by.
See the path over on the right ? Well follow it to the left and it comes to the V where the hill bit meets that sleeping camel bit (I must lay off the little red pills) and that's where the path goes around a corner.
Once there, we got our first view of The Causeway and even then, it didn't give off much of a 'wow' factor. Well it never has for me but then my eyesight isn't the best and I need to be much closer to things before they impress me. Mostly. Add to that the overcast weather and I had to get right down to the rocks before I heard an 'ooohhhh' and a few 'aaahhhhs' and even a 'wow' from Daphne.
Considering we'd left her in the restroom at the top of the path, that was pretty impressive hearing on my part !
For the next 2 hrs we walked all over the rocks and enjoyed taking photos of each other taking photos of each other.
In that last photo, Daphne looks like the atmosphere has got to her and she's about to give us a burst of Riverdance.
The rocks ARE amazing. No doubt about it. I was looking over them trying to find something different for a not-so-usual photo and this one seemed unreal, as if it was a man made entrance cover leading down to secret passageways full of leprechauns, pixies and fairies - like similar underground passageways in Disney World where the characters move around under the park unseen by the tourists. Yes, I know, I have an overactive imagination.
Mostly though, the rocks were flat and multi-sided but just as spectacular for all that.
Waves constantly crashing against the rocks have caused erosion over the centuries and it's only a question of time before The Causeway will be no more. I don't mean you need to book a ticket over to it any time soon but let's just say that if another giant isn't found to do some rebuilding, Ireland may lose its only World Heritage Site. Maybe a sea barrier would be a better idea than an underground visitor's centre but what do I know !?!
Here is a panoramic view of The Causeway. I'd advise muting the sound as the phone camera's microphone picked up a lot of wind noise and so far I've not found any editing software for reducing the audio or adding music to phone footage.
We didn't want to walk beyond the main causeway and so by 2pm we were ready to leave. The climb back up to the top and then down to the car park was completed just in time as the rain finally arrived. We drove to nearby Bushmills (of whiskey fame) and had lunch at 'The Coffee Shop' before heading back towards Magherafelt. We wanted to see some part of Lough Neagh before leaving the country as at 20 miles long and 9 miles wide, it's the largest lake in the UK.
Just a few miles short of Magherafelt, we stopped off at Ballyronan marina but the rain was still lashing down and so there wasn't much of a view, which was a shame.
Back in Magheraflt we rested up and then went out for supper. It was Daphne's 21st birthday (ha !) so I took us all out for a meal at our favourite restaurant there, Sizzlers. Going in first, I quietly asked the greeter if they did anything for people celebrating a birthday and she said they did. I just had time to tell her it was Daphne's birthday when she and Stephen came in and we were seated.
We had lovely entrees and then ordered desserts. I was beginning to think they'd forgotten about the birthday as, of course, I'd no idea what they were going to do. Suddenly a few staff members appeared with our desserts and Daphne's had a single lit candle in it. When presented to her, the staff sang 'Happy Birthday' and looked as self conscious about it as anyone would do.
It was a nice touch but unlike when this is done in most American restaurants, only the candle and song were free !
So despite the rain and generally dull day weatherwise, I think we had a great time. The next day would be our last full day in Norn Iron and we were to visit the best preserved Norman castle in Ireland and a waterfall system even better than we visited in Glenariff Forest. And best of all, I would have my camera !
To be continued..........