Search This Blog

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Wish List

What I want more than anything in the world is an Edwardian riding jacket, preferably with a boned waist (but not necessary) and a ruffled bustle. If you have one please sell it to me, or if you know of one please point me in the right direction.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Deer Spotting

We're back on the culture trail once again. Today we took the opportunity to visit Randalstown Forest which is home to wild deer. The forest is a bit boring in comparison to other woodland across the province, trees upon trees, yes I know, it's a forest, but I do enjoy a bit of scenery with my trees! The paths were quite muddy today thanks to our heavy rainfall and the sign posts are only highlighted with coloured arrows, the forest is very dense so it is easy to get lost. Thankfully Mark knew where he was going. On our last visit we spotted some deer, some even quite close up but the camera was broken. Today we climbed to the top of the look out tower and saw nothing!

I am looking forward to the middle of the month when the conquers should be ready! It's lovely to go to the Castle Grounds to gather them up. So Halloween!
Worst dog in the world!

The look out tower

A bit of a struggle

Some bones

A skull

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Customs in a Cold Climate

Autumn has arrived and not a day too soon. Sorry to all of you sun worshipers but I'm thrilled that it has been a chilly summer, I detest strong sunlight and I'm not a fan of summer clothing, it seems to bring out the worst in people! I seemed to sail through August in a daze looking rougher than Wallis Simpson after the abdication! Anyhow, as it is Autumn I have resumed my annual customs which are:

Religiously watching Blithe Spirit at bed time
Going for walks through the Castle Grounds
Drinking endless cups of tea
And buying a new jumper!

Sad, I know.  Now that the season is changing I have decided to venture off on more expeditions, so expect some photo updates!

Saturday, 27 August 2011

The Round Tower

 The Round Tower is located in an area known as the Steeple and is right next door to my old high school. I suppose I take it for granted because I come here all the time with Lola. Here is a little bit of info:  Antrim Round Tower was built around the 10th century and is one of the finest of its kind in Ireland,  there are only a few Round Towers in Ireland and it was in here that monks would seek refuge from the vikings. It stands 28 metres tall and was built as part of a monastic settlement. Lough Neagh used to run up to the tower via a stream, which is now empty, making it easy access for the vikings to reach the monks settlement.

Next to the Round Tower is a large rock known as the Witches Stone, folk lore tells of a witch named Ann Trim who plunged from the top of the tower and landed on the rock. The rock has two dents which are said to be the markings of her knee and elbow.

The tower now has metal bars on the bottom window, but back in the days before health and safety we used to climb inside the tower and I once broke my wrist jumping from the bottom window!

 Anyhow, I plan to visit the old Ice House tomorrow, weather and head cold permitting!

Lola is loving life!

Take me home!

Sniffing around the witches stone 

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Climbing Slemish

Slemish mountain is not for the faint hearted...As we were approaching in the car I thought, oh this looks tiny, but believe me when I say it is hard work! First of all there is no pathway up the mountain and why should there be? It is a mass of spiked rocks which one has to maneuver around and climb over...and onto, by the time we reached the bottom of the rugged steps to get up the highest part of the mountain I was gasping for air. At first I thought I was very unfit until I noticed a rambler leaning against a tree doing the same thing. It sounds insane, but I think the altitude is the problem for I was getting light headed, ears ringing, funny eyes etc. I climbed to the middle point and decided to return to the bottom, my brother continued on to the top. As I was descending the mountain my legs were shaking and I had one main objective- not to slip! I was also carrying a rather fidgety small dog...

I reached the bottom, stumbling over rocks with the strong winds whipping my hair every which way and obscuring my vision and sunglasses that wouldn't stay on...and then I decided, I'm either going to be sick or fall flat on my face! I lay down on the grass completely worn out, probably looking like a dead body and my parents, who were waiting at the bottom began to laugh at me. mum climbed to the bottom of the mountain and had to return and my dad was worn out! So you see, it really is a nightmare.

The scenery from the top is amazing, you get to see the patchwork fields and Sperrin mountains in the background. And then the dark clouds moved inward and it began to rain heavily. At this point my dad was up the mountain and I was locked out of the car, bliss.

So, after a scenic drive home I shunned some ice cream and headed for bed. Slemish really wore me out!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Cranfield Church & Healing Well

Hello! Sorry for the hiatus from uploading pix of historical places around N.I. Yes, I have been visiting them but the fact is my camera suddenly decided to break at Cranfield Church :-( What an inconvenience! Anyhow, I did manage to salvage some photos, and even though they're not the best quality I do hope you enjoy them. 

Cranfield Church is located just outside of Randalstown on the shores of Lough Neagh, I'd heard of the healing well but not of the church, so it was a treat to explore! The church dates back to the 13th century and its current state is in ruins and the body of St. Olcan (ordained by St. Patrick) is said to be buried on the grounds in soil brought from Rome. There is an old burial ground at the church with some interested headstones, one in particular which has a skull and cross bones and is dated from the 1700s! Don't worry, I do have a photo of it.

Pilgrims visit the church, particularly twice a year to pay their respects and to bathe in the healing well, which is filled with water from the Lough. There are ancient customs associated with the well...Individuals who are sick or troubled by an ailment dip a rag in the well and rub the water onto the afflicted area, once this ritual has been carried out they tie the rag to the large tree next to the well and as the rag disintegrates it is believed the ailment will clear up. Secondly, another strange custom is to swallow a small pebble from the well, this is said to protect you against danger...During the Irish Famine immigrants heading for America would swallow the pebble in order to ensure a smooth crossing.

Last but not least, another odd custom is still carried out by pilgrims today... they collect seven stones from the well, and as they walk around the ruins of Cranfield church they drop a stone at each corner, including the front door and once this is complete they bathe in the well. I think the well is relatively safe, there are steps down into it and the water is not overly deep, however it is covered in a layer of green moss on top of the water, so this did put me off!

All in all an interesting day out! The scenery is lovely and the views across the Lough are spectacular, including a great view of the Sperrin mountains in Co. Londonderry. Actually, we can see them from my brothers bedroom, isn't he lucky!

Randalstown Forrest is very close to Cranfield and this proved to be another surprisingly nice day out, the World of Owls is located just off the car park where they have a very sweet pygmy goat, I noticed him through the fence. There is not much to see in the forest except for trees upon ponds or waterfalls etc but the main point of the forest is deer spotting and we were lucky enough to catch a glimpse, relatively close up, of three or four deer as they grazed. Oh yes, the deer look out tower is quite handy but it is not for the faint hearted!

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Costume Exhibition

The costume exhibition at the Ulster Museum was amazing, the tickets are only £3.50 so if you're in the area make it a point to visit. I was surprised at how tiny a lot of the costumes were, I know a lot of the period dresses required corsets so that in itself made everything about half its usual size but the stature of the gowns were very short, I noticed that Helen Mirren's elaborate gown from Elizabeth I was only about 5ft high. The highlights of the exhibition were Helena Bonham Carter's wedding dress from Frankenstein, the costumes from Downton Abbey and Elizabeth Taylor's costume, she was also very tiny! There was a cinema which played Pathe archived footage and it was wonderful to see Vivien Leigh on the big screen. Liz Taylor and Viv, what more could I want?

There are lots of photos from the exhibition which I have added to Flickr. 
Cora's costume from Downton Abbey

Lady Mary's costume from Downton Abbey

Lady Sybil's costume from Downton Abbey

Elizabeth Taylor

Lady Edith's costume from Downton Abbey

Violet's costume from Downton Abbey

With my brother and 3rd cousins Robyn & Gillian, who is visiting from Canada!

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Culture & Costumes

Well, I haven't been exploring the great outdoors in two days because I've been busy in work but on Friday I am swapping my country rags for city clothes...yes, I like themed outfits! I am going to meet up with my cousin who is visiting from Canada and we're going to visit a costume exhibition at the Ulster Museum. I am very excited because a number of my favourite costumes will be on display including a dress worn by Elizabeth Taylor and some Edwardian costumes from my favourite TV series, Downton Abbey. Perhaps I should wear Egyptian eyeliner and a snake bangle as a tribute to Dame Elizabeth...oh wait, there is a Mummy on site. Anyhow, photos (if allowed) will follow on Friday. Til' then here is a book which I can't recommend enough and is always on top of my reading pile- The Mitfords: Letter's Between Six Sisters.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Castle Upton & Templeton Mausoleum

Yes! We actually managed to visit three historic places today, next on our stop after Donegore was Castle Upton in Templepatrick. First of all, I have traveled past the stone walls of Castle Upton more times than I can remember and I've often wondered what was inside, I've been told various things ranging from 'A castle' (obviously) to 'apartments' only half true. You can read more about Castle Upton here.

First of all the castle is private property which houses an art gallery and an antique store, so I believe visits to the actual building are only for this purpose. The original castle, complete with a tower was constructed in 1611 with the building being extended in 1783. The Kinahan family currently live in the castle and it is only open for special functions. Do contact the owners before you make an improptu visit as I noticed there is a sign 'No Trespassers.' 

Sadly we could only see the roof of the castle but our main point of visiting the grounds was to venture into the historic graveyard which houses the Templeton mausoleum, this is owned by the National Trust and is open to the public. The gate remains shut, so remember to close it on your way out. Read more about the Mausoleum here.

Although over three hundred years old the graveyard is easy to maneuver around, some headstones have fallen down but all in all they are in very good condition. The large tombs and statues are interesting and I noticed a grave from 1734. The Mausoleum's doors were open, so we had a look inside, I snapped some photos of the Viscount's headstones to give you an idea of who lived at Castle Upton a few centuries ago!

Take a look at the photos and click to enlarge, the writing on the headstones is very clear.

Inside the Mausoleum

A wagon wheel on the gate

Pathway leading to and from the graveyard