Friday, 29 April 2011

Ulster American Folk Park / Marble Arch Caves - more mini break!

We visited the Ulster American Folk Park this morning. We'd timed it well, and near enough had the park to ourselves. By the time we left, at lunch time, there was a queue of people lined up to come in.
It's really well done and is properly impressive! I loved the cottages and the smell of peat burning in the fireplaces.
It's not easy taking pictures underground and in the dark. The Marble Arch caves were impressive. I remember going to the Cango Caves as a kiddie and being soo impressed by the size of the caves, stalagmites and stalactites. I don't know if it's because the Cango Caves are really big or if it was because I was just so small. I'd love to go back to compare. I'm also not sure if you get a boat ride there. I do love a wee boat ride.

It was cold down there, and damp and there were other people...but I enjoyed the hour and a half tour and the sausage roll and tea at the cafe!

It's been a fairly busy and eventful week's holiday and most of it totally a surprise! It's going to be really difficult readjusting to going back to work on Tuesday! But that's still days away...

Our surprise mini break!

We were away by just after eight yesterday morning and arrived at Belle Isle just after ten. It was hot and sunny and that part of Northern Ireland is just wonderful and beautiful. We surveyed our surroundings and then went straight back out and did a tour of the Marble Arch Caves. I'll do a separate post for that.
We stayed in the courtyard. When we got back from our tour of the caves, Lee put our lunch together. We had tomato and mozzarella salad with a basil and olive oil dressing with some baguette and wine. The setting was so beautiful and the food was so simple and fresh and everything was just perfect.

Later on, in the evening, we ate a platter of cheeses, eggs, cold meats, bread and chutney. Delicious.
Belle Isle has two donkeys and a horse, some cows, some sheep and two friendly dogs. 

This morning we were up and getting ready to check out at ten. While we readied ourselves and breakfasted on poached eggs and bread, we put the telly on to watch the beginning of the royal wedding. And, in the car, on the way over to the Ulster American Folk Park, we listened to the live commentary on the radio. It was all very exciting. I was more excited that the folk park was fairly quiet, 'cos everyone else was watching on the telly or in London at street parties, or just still in their beds. As we left the park, however, the crowds were beginning to arrive. We'd timed it well.

More pictures and posts to come...

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

The best meatballs

I'm loving us being on holiday. Just like yesterday, today was lazy too. We had our breakfast with mother in law at uncle Michaels cafe in town, stopped in at the shops for some food and then spent the rest of the day lazing and sitting in the sunshine and drinking wine and chatting. this evening we made tuna meatballs for dinner. I say 'we' but it was really Lee. I just made breadcrumbs and zested lemons and cleaned up behind him. They're called 'the best tuna meatballs' and it's not for nothing either. These were delicious! And I could eat these all the time. You can find the recipe here (love Jamie).
...and...ta dah!...
The result

We were surprised when we were handed some cash and told to go enjoy ourselves while the weather is good. We weren't going to argue (too much) and so tomorrow morning we're away to Fermanagh for two days and a night! We're really excited! We're staying in a self catering cottage, so we went back to the shops and filled a basket with cheeses, meats, salad-y things and wine and we're going to picnic.

I can't wait!!

Monday, 25 April 2011

Ten Kilometers

We were up and away fairly early this morning. Lee's backpack was packed with home made sandwiches, bananas, some broken up chocolate egg and bottles of water. We were off to Glenariff Forest Park...
We walked the 'scenic' route, then up to the picnic spot and ate our sandwiches on a bench and watched all the people walk by with their dogs and their kids and pushchairs. Then we did the 'waterfall' route over to the Laragh Lodge for a half a pint. The pedometer on Lee's iPhone told us we'd covered just under ten kilometers, and a lot of that was up hill too.
It was a perfect day for a walk and I think that a lot of Northern Ireland also thought so, 'cos the picnic areas were packed as was the Laragh Lodge. 
And when we came home, we sat outside by the studio with a bottle of red wine and chatted more, and it wasn't freezing. It's been wonderful.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Sunday afternoon visitings

The day started early. The beef needed putting on if we were going to take it with us to Armoy to visit with the whole family. We stuffed it with rosemary and garlic and shoved it in the oven and then pretty much forgot about it while we dressed and readied ourselves. There was a lot of chocolate, chocolate eggs, chocolate bunnies and sheep, mini eggs, creme eggs and Roses chocolates. I doubt we'll ever get through it all. Maybe the Malteser egg though.
And then at the aunts house in Armoy there was soo much more food followed by cake and more chocolate and meringues and cheese cake and buns and petit fours and tea. Which was then followed by crisps and more sweets and another cup of tea.

I was most excited by the lambs and that I got to feed and play with them.
That's all I have. I'm tired and I need to wash off the sheep on me. 

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Forty Days

Forty days until I turn thirty. I suppose I should have done a 'thirty days 'til I'm thirty' post, but I'm forgetful and lazy and the opportunity would have passed and I would have been annoyed. 

It's too late to start a 'things to do before I'm 30' list. Forty days isn't a long time to check things off on a list like that. Besides, I think I've done alright anyway. 

When I was younger, like, in primary school, I always assumed that 21 was a magical age. By the time I turned 21, I would automatically be taller, my hair would be long and blonde and shiny and I'd have perfect skin and teeth (and boobs). Also, I'd have traveled the world and be fluent in at least three languages. I put it down to the years of playing with Barbie's.

But I turned 21 and I was still short and skinny with mousy frizzy hair, with spots and skew teeth. I could barely get by on the one extra language I was meant to master in school and I'd never left South Africa. In fact, I'd never even gone to Durban and the only times we ever went back to Cape Town, was for funerals.
Fifteen. This photo is so nineties. 
I don't have such high expectations of 30.

By now, I've been told countless times that blonde wouldn't suit me and I've abandoned hope of growing any taller. I have things to do on my to do list, but I'm not going to pressure myself by putting a silly time frame on them.

Anyway, I've come a long way since fifteen, twenty one too even. And I've enjoyed my twenties, most of them.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Foodie Friday - A Good Friday

We're on holidays until the beginning of May. I'm so thankful for holidays and 'nice' weather. After almost three years in the UK I'm still not entirely acclimatized to the weather. No, it's not 'roasting', I have goosebumps.
Milk Tart, or Melktert.
Lee's been asking for so long. I don't have a clue where my recipe book from South Africa is, so my mommy kindly emailed me her recipe. I didn't want to take any chances with online versions, and my ma's is the best anyway.
 Lee cooked us some sea bass for our dinner. He made a chilli glaze/marinade for it. 

By midday, the sun was shining, the washing was drying on the line, and everyone had stripped down to their shorts and t-shirts/vest tops. I tried to be tough, but it was just too cold at 16 degrees. Lee brought me my blanket and constructed the wind break for me, and also poured me a Pimms and lemonade. Bless him.

It did get hot an hour or so later, and I even put my shorts on. Mother-in-law and I sunned ourselves and chatted and it was lovely until we started to sing 'My Fair Lady' theme songs and almost immediately it began to rain. Big heavy drops and we had to run to gather our things together and get the clothes off the line.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

A full Sunday

I was up early this morning, showered and dressed and ready for the day. It was sunny so I washed our clothes and hung them up to dry outside. And for once it didn't rain as soon as the clothes were on the line, so I was pleased. 

We all sat outside in the sunshine and drank cups of tea and chatted. Later, the five of us went to the Spinning Mill for our lunch.

And I got to get in a trip to the Tower Centre to do a wee spot of shopping. I'll photograph my purchases soon!

The day took an unexpected turn when, after we'd got back, a whole lot of family arrived. Aunts and cousins and their children and babies and we all sat outside and drank tea and ate cake and talked and talked.
Wee Ciara, Tina and Sarah
Uncle Joe and Shaun
It warranted a sunhat
Uncle Joe also needed a hat
I've had the best weekend.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Our first anniversary and County Down

It was our first anniversary on Thursday. One whole (wonderful) year of being married! 

We spent some time in County Down this weekend. Mother-in-law got us a room at the Slieve Donard in Newcastle. We arrived yesterday before five, had our room upgraded, changed and went down to the spa. We swam and sauna-ed and steam roomed and then readied ourselves for our dinner. We feasted and drank and talked holes in each others heads. 
Ardglass, Co. Down


Slieve Donard, Newcastle
Tollymore Forest Park
Tyrella Beach
After checking out this morning, we just drove all around Co. Down, stopping off at the villages, walking on the beaches, searching for whippy ice-cream and snapping pictures. It's been lovely! All of it.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Castlerock [and sentences hastily strewn together*]

The sun continued on to today. I fancied pancakes this morning. So I made them and filled them with strawberries and bananas and syrup and we all ate them outside in the garden. Then we loaded the dogs into the back of the car and the five of us, and Benny and Tina headed for Castlerock. I'd not been before. If I'd known it'd be so hot, I'd have worn shorts. You just can't roll jeggings up so that you can run into the sea. But I did make a good go of it.
We bought cider and sat on the sand and after we'd sat there for long enough, we dusted off the sand and went for lunch where they gave me far too much goats cheese in my goat cheese salad. We went home and drank tea in the garden and we all talked and giggled and acted silly. I couldn't hang the washing up because Lee was tickling me and I was shrieking and his mother was laughing.

*I want to get my washing in before it rains or gets too dark and I get too scared to go out and get it by myself.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

In the summer time

The sun shone so brightly today. I was so excited, I changed my clothes three times. I had to be sure I was wearing the right thing for this weather, because who knows when the next time will be that I'll be able to wear my green and white dress I bought at the Bruma Lake flea market in Jo'burg? Even then I wasn't sure if I'd made the right choice. I have too many summer clothes and not enough opportunities to wear them.

We bbq'd and I drank Pimms (too quickly) and then I fell asleep on the couch and woke up feeling dreadful. I've spent the rest of the day lying down and whimpering and tearing up over Mamma Mia, which I was delighted to see was on telly this evening. I also did some half hearted couch dancing. I'm not ashamed to admit that I love Abba. I do.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

The Journey - a play

Mother-in-law and I went to see 'The Journey' at the Braid in town. Aisling had got us tickets to see her Sarah dance ballet. 

The play goes through a little girls experience of trying to find a hobby that suits her, and goes through loads of different dances and singing until she discovers Irish dancing. I preferred the ballet, but it wasn't about me. Anyway, the whole thing was really good and I was grinning like a fool throughout. 
They were just too cute.

And now I'm scouring the Grand Opera House website for a 'real' ballet to watch. I'm keen.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Mother's Day Sunday

My own mommy :)
The O'Boyles at lunch
It's not mothers day in South Africa, but it made me think of my own ma at home. I love you marmee x