Travel StoriesNorthern Ireland Under Grey Skies
Of Mist And Magic
Ride Date Monday September 2021
By Sharon Parker
I did not sleep well. I never do when I know I should be asleep because I have to be up early... que can not sleep, every time. I catch snatches here and there and then the alarms are buzzing for wake up time. I have been waking fairly early at home so getting up early today is not much of a struggle. At home |I have been leaving my blinds up in my bedroom so that the summer sun shining through my window wakes me up. Being solar powered this has helped a lot. I fear I will hibernate once winter and dark mornings return.
Ren is happy that we are loaded and ready to ride bang on schedule. As usual I think Ren has left too early, as usual slow moving traffic here and there proves Ren's prudence right, I have learned to trust his ways. Ok so we do end up being early even so but Ren is far more relaxed when we are early. There is enough going on with incoming ferries to watch and another biker to talk with to keep us entertained whilst we wait to board the ferry. There are only our two bikes and one other bike waiting for this crossing, all other vehicles are the usual 4 wheeled variety. The other biker is a Scottish guy on a Rebel 500 who was visiting his father who now lives in Ireland. We chat bikes and trips on bikes and finally we get the go ahead to board the ferry.
Watching the ferry go by
Despite my usual ferry nerves the bikes were both loaded on with no problem. I didn't suddenly ride the bike off the ramp into the sea, neither did I slip on the damp ramp and deliver my bike into the ship sideways. Yes, all these scenarios and more occur to me. I didn't even get searched for once and also managed to calmly get myself organised before setting off after I had received my boarding ticket etc. Maybe, just maybe I might get ok at catching ferries one day.
I doubt I will ever forget the absolute idiotic me when I panicked so badly on a ferry crossing I almost came a cropper. I was over-conscious of the queue waiting behind me and the feeling I was holding everyone up whilst fighting with putting papers away and pulling on gloves etc. I pulled my helmet on in such a rush I rode off with the straps covering my eyes. Blind panic in its true essence right there. So every time now I feel that pressure to rush I remind myself of my blind panic and breathe, other folks - sorry you are just going to have to wait while I sort myself out. During the crossing Ren wanders around while I catch up on sleep with a quick nap.
As we approach the docking area it is grey outside. Waterproofs are pulled on and we rejoin our bikes for the off. Our Rebel rider advises me that as soon as the door opens I am to shoot off and get out otherwise I will be trapped inside the ferry for ages. I don't respond, for I have no intention of taking up his advice. I will do what I always do and wait until directed to move by the stewards onboard.
The rebel rider is probably none too happy with me because I am in front of him and not going anywhere as the doors open wide. He decides to ride around me in his bid to escape. He is promptly halted by a steward and a bit of an argument ensues between them. When it is our time to leave the ferry the same steward waves me out with a scowl. Pfft tar brush comes to mind. I was being a good girl and waiting my turn.
Coming off the ferry felt much of a repeat as last year. Grey and damp. The coastal route was initially thrilling. A twisting road cutting through tunnels carved through the jagged rocks that descend to the sea. The rolling waves crash against the rocks or tumble across the sands of small beaches inhabited only by seabirds on a day such as this. Ahh yes I remember this road with great fondness.
However unlike last year the rain became heavier, the skies darker and then a thick mist envelopes us. I can now see nothing of the scenery, I am struggling to see anything at all. Even the road in front of me begins to disappear into the grey mist. This is not fun, this is simply now endurance but I have been here before on the bike. The gritting of the teeth and just getting on with it phase is all part and parcel of a biker's life. I ride slow and cautiously. What else can you do when you are riding almost blind into a thick grey soup? The mists thankfully eventually lift, the rain abates but the grey and chill remains.
However a warm welcome and a hot cup of tea is on offer once we arrive at our destination. Alas we are the last to arrive and therefore have not got the pick of the rooms. Old friend Rob, as in long term friend not old old, has claimed the big room with the en-suite. He offers to swap but I decline because I now have the opportunity to pull his leg over his damn selfish ways for the rest of the holiday, hee hee. The house is large with plenty of parking for our various bikes and car. The views from the top floor lounges are lovely with uninterrupted views of the sea.
Room with a view
A most pleasant evening follows that consists of walking into the local town, of talking, drinking and eating with old friends re-acquainted and with new friends just made. We chat over chilli and cheesecake which is made by our new acquaintance Rob2 while I try to become accustomed to being social.
After Covid lockdown and now working alone from home it still feels strange to me to be around people. Fortunately Rob2 and his partner Janine are easy to get along with so I am eased back into socialising in a most pleasant way. With my worst fears laid to rest all is well in our large shared house in Portballintrae and it soon is time for us all to put ourselves abed and drift to sleep in our warm comfortable beds.
The kitchen or should we say alchemy room where Rob2 turns everyday ingredients into something magical.
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The Whyfors Of Our Impending Return
Ren unnecessarily tries to justify their return to Northern Ireland. Sharon takes out Ren with a fiscal left hook. Is there any hope?
Sauntering Up To Dumfries
It's a slow slow start to this year's Northern Irish adventure. There's no rush and not rushing is something Ren isn't very good at. On the other hand Sharon is so laid back she's horizontal.
Of Work And Holiday Fears
In between working far too hard and the fear of middle aged spread Sharon manages to squeeze into her bike gear and change into holiday mode. It's time to try and forget work and enjoy the ride.
A Ferry, Some Mist And Strangers
It's time to cross the vast ocean betwixt Scotland and Northern Ireland. What will the Irish weather hold in store and there's some strangers to be met.
Of Mist And Magic
With little sleep and the prospect of a ferry Sharon is doing her best to keep calm and concentrate. It's a bit of a mixed kinda day for the motorcycling hobbit.
West Of The Causeway
Exploring the coast west of Giant's Causeway turns out to be more interesting than Ren expected. It's all a question of attitude apparently.
So Are The Days Of Our Lives
It seems maturity won't let today's less than ideal weather spoil Sharon's day exploring Northern Ireland's northern coastline.
Underwhelmed In The Sperrins
It's time to explore some hills, maybe mountains in Northern Ireland. Thing is Ren's not sure they're up to the task in hand.
Dull Grey Day With A Dash Of Orange
Sharon is exploring the hinterlands of The Republic Of Ireland. To be honest it appears she's entirely underwhelmed by it all. Oh well, it can't be all wonderful can it.
Captivating Coastlines And Countryside Culture
Sharon and Ren are joined by Rob as they take on familiar ground, an easy day's ride in alluring surroundings. There's a little culture shock to round off the last evening.
A Challenging Day In Northern Ireland
It's time to leave Northern Ireland but logistics, health and electricity are conspiring against The Dynamic Muppets.
Time To Go Home
It's the final day and all that's left to do is ride home. It's also time for Ren to reflect on this excursion.
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Travel StoriesNorthern Ireland Under Grey Skies