Beach Buddies in Northern Ireland

It seemed such a long time ago that my chum Tanya from BeachLifeEtc and I booked flights to see our lovely friend Jo in Northern Ireland, that I was almost surprised when last Friday came upon us and it was actually time to head off to the airport.  After various showdowns about the fact that I was a) taking (MY) iPad and b) not taking any children, Tanya picked me up at 3.30pm and off we went!

I think I had mentioned to poor Tan that I’m not a great flyer, and we’ve known each other for nearly 15 years (FIFTEEN? How did THAT happen) so she is aware of my tendency to get hyperactive and flappy when I’m nervous. But even so, I think she was taken aback by just how hyperactive and flappy I managed to become as the time for takeoff came closer. I might even have had a dirty look from the cabin crew for swearing slightly  during the safety briefing, in response to Tan whispering to me that the scraping noise I could hear outside was ‘just them tightening the wings up, sweetie’. Ooops.

But once we were up there things weren’t too bad, except for the odd minor panic attack whenever the plane turned (why does it have to do that? Can’t all runways everywhere be giant turning circles so the flipping things can just take off in the right direction and fly in a straight line?) and then in no time we were coming down, getting off the plane, and jumping in the car with Jo to head off to Magilligan Point, where there was everything we needed – cottage, pub and beach, all within 30 seconds walk. Perfect!

What with catching up on all the gossip, we didn’t make it to bed until well after midnight – not that it mattered as none of us woke up until about half past nine – bliss, bliss bliss! After a frankly amazing breakfast prepared by Jo involving pistachios, couscous, raspberries, oranges and natural yoghurt, we headed out go for a bracing walk around the National Trust property of Downhill Demesne where in true Muppet form I managed to fall over and get half caked in mud…

We reached Mussenden Temple without further muppetry, and my goodness I can see why it’s reputed to be one of the most photographed spots in Northern Ireland. The temple was originally built as a reading room but is now used as a venue for weddings amongst other things, though on wet and muddy days you’d probably need to travel in a 4 x 4 rather than a vintage motor.

We then headed over to explore the now ruined Downhill House for some more exploring – and star jumps and selfies!

After all this fresh air, we headed home for some lunch before going for a long and lovely beach walk along Magilligan Point, ending up back in the pub where we had a cheeky Guinness (or two) to set us up for our evening meal…

I cannot tell you how lovely and long the day seemed. You know how time races when you have kids, because you’re always running for the next pickup, planning the next meal, preventing the next world war? Well, we didn’t have to do any of those things, having left our various husbands and kids elsewhere, and I think I speak for all three of us when I say that this gave us a real sense of headspace.

Unfortunately the time going slowly bit did not last into the next day! Sunday seemed to whizz by all too quickly, though we did manage to get a short and freezing walk up a mountain, a coffee and a cake and some bookshop browsing in Coleraine (though the world’s biggest shoe shop wasn’t open, sob) and of course LOADS more chat before it was time to get on the plane back to Bristol…and this time I managed not to swear during the flight safety briefing. Da iawn fi!

A MAHOOSIVE thank you to Jo for having us, and Tan for holding my hand on the flight, and to both of you lovely ladies for putting up with my general muppetness for the last fifteen years….let’s do it again soon, yeah? x x

Since I’ve had a break, I’m DEFINITELY being much less grumpy at home. And that’s good, right? Well guess what – you too can help prevent my kids from phoning Childline by helping me get another grownup night away – this time at a swanky dinner! All you have to do is click this lovely picture and nominate me for whatever takes your fancy. There’s no biggest muppet award but there is a ‘Best New Blog’ category…THANKYOU!

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