Camchain and tensioner seen up close in a cutaway bike engine

Home Travel StoriesNorthern Ireland Under Grey Skies

Time To Go Home

Ride Date 18 September 2021

By Ren Withnell

I'm not quite sure how I should feel this morning. On the one hand it's the end of our trip today which means a disheartening return to normality, and there's over 210 miles to ride home as well. On the other hand I'm in this posh hotel in a big bed and there's a full Scottish breakfast to look forward too. First world problem right there. Poor poor Ren.

Sharon chose this hotel as it has great views across Loch Ryan so she's frustrated, almost angry, to find this morning is very misty. First world problem right there. Poor poor Sharon.

Save for the outline of a house and garden all we can see is mist over loch Ryan
Oh, oh dear!

Our host serves breakfast as we sit at a real table with a tablecloth and cutlery and plates and bowls and marmalade in little pots, it's all very nice. It's nice not to be sat on a damp top box in a tent with a small stove eating porridge from a pan while drinking tea from a plastic cup. It's nice that we don't have to wash up afterwards then disassemble our lodgings into bags. 

We still have to pack and load up the bikes. The mist has cleared from the loch so Sharon snaps a few images from the bedroom before we lock up and return the key.  

Looking our from the window we see the waters and surrounding hills of Loch Ryan
That's better.

The weather for this trip has been "mixed", so typically today being our last day the weather has improved. The A75 leads us swiftly and smoothly out of Stranraer, which is disappointing as I think I'm developing an illogical affinity with the place. It's not exactly beautiful or quaint yet I think I like it there. Go figure.

We flow with the light traffic, comfortable and relaxed. After an hour or so I'm already thinking of tea and a stretch, I'm looking for a cafe but none is to be found. In the village of Springholm I spot a cafe that looks open so we stop. It's not a cafe, it's a pub, "The Grapes". No matter, there's a table outside in the sun making it Covid friendly and there's signs of life. Within the friendly landlord and landlady are happy to make tea for two and even join us outside for a pleasant social interlude.

Rather than simply follow the A75 to the M6 I lead Sharon a merry dance south of Dumfries. We pass through tiny farming hamlets such as Bankend. I decide I really need to come and explore here more. We fill up at Tesco in Annan then catch the motorway network at Gretna Green. The rest as they say is motorway.

With the benefit of hindsight, how do I feel about our trip to Northern Ireland?

Good. We have enjoyed a simple 6 nights away with barely any complications from Covid and no disasters. It was always a risk to share a house with friends and 2 random strangers, however we all seem to have muddled along absolutely fine, I'd argue very well in fact. The weather wasn't perfect but it wasn't a washout. 

As previously stated Northern Ireland's coastline is quite lovely and worthy of exploration. In the interest of balance - it's not quite as breathtaking as The Highlands or as dramatic as The Alps. But then it's far prettier than Blackpool and exponentially more attractive than Manchester.

Rocks, sand, cliffs, green hills on a beach in Northern Ireland
There are some stunning scenes to be found along the coast.

That kind of sums up this holiday. It's not been amazing, fantastic, brilliant and mind-blowing. Nor has it been a disappointing, awful, dreary failure. I tell you what it has been. It's been a welcome break from lockdowns, from grinding work, from my house, from miserable news reports. It's been exactly what a holiday should be, a break from the normal, a chance to catch our breath.

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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.

Reader's Comments

Upt'North ¹ said :-
Ed, glad the other 5 could put up with you.
We also like Dumphries and Galloway. Very underrated by many and unvisited by many more; who will claim to "have done" Scotland.
Nights are opening up Ed, won't be long now, it's 4.40 pm on the 55th parallel and still light. Blummin lovely.
21/01/2022 16:31:23 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Yeah, you wanna be more careful about what ya sayin Upt'. I'm gettin a hankering for a ride and I'm wondering if Northumberland might be a suitable destination. You might find yourself with a dirty CB500X dripping chain lube on your driveway.

Hmmmm... I'ma gunna see if I still have your email address...
21/01/2022 19:01:03 UTC
Borsuk said :-
I know you are the computering guru Ren but even you would have difficulty riding to an email address. Walks away whistling innocently.

09/02/2022 13:45:53 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
"I can tell you I don't have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career... I will find you and I will drink your tea"
09/02/2022 17:11:36 UTC
Bogger said :-
And eat all your biscuits and prompt you for yet another cup of tea, with biscuits and ask you to turn the heating up.

09/02/2022 20:09:44 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
It's all true, except the heating - YOU were the one complaining about the cold, Sharon and I were toasty in our bike kit. That and the hot tea and endless biscuits kept us warm.
10/02/2022 12:50:59 UTC

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