On a vessel built like an aircraft with all the luxuries of a ship, we sailed from Belfast to Stranraer in total comfort sitting on the Port side in The Quiet Area. A perfect position in which to enjoy the seascape of the North Channel; that strip of water that separates the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland from exotic Scotland.
Our Host greeted us warmly and drove us safely to our secret destination, several miles further south close to the Solway Firth. Along the route buzzards sat on roadside as if by way of a greeting.
The sky line showed small mountains or large hills, whose tops were shrouded in cloud that glowed with the twilight blue of near dusk. 'It's getting dark' I said to which mine Host replied 'This is as dark as it gets and there is always light to be seen in the Northern sky' That proved to be very true.
'Nearly there now' said our Host and just ahead of us I could see between the trees a very large old country house. We turned left, slowing down to pass between large stone pillars, behind which was the manicured lawn of a formal garden, sheltered by mature trees. To the rear a lily pond and a great variety of specimen plants, more than a few from New Zealand, others to from Africa. I was looking forward to
exploring the secrets of the grounds as well as the house its' self.
Later, in a sheltered area out of sight from road or drive, I found 'Her' amongst purple and white lupins, a giant sized Earth Mother, carved from a single piece of wood. Her placement was exactly right, for she neither commanded nor was she swallowed by her surroundings.
The fields at the rear of the property abounded with wildlife. Buzzards swooped over a nearby woodland, Roe Deer pranced across the open plain to leap gracefully over a burn (stream) as a pair of Hares dined daily on the sward. In the garden small brown birds pecked nuts from a feeder, joined occasionally by a pair of Doves and a solitary Woodpecker.
We were gifted in having a delightful beach within a four miles of the house. The approach to it was via a gated road, reminding me of an earlier visit to the Highlands, where such road gates are common place.
The beach was mainly pebbles of various sizes with only a small strip of sand visible at half low water, with lots of seaweed attached to the rocks at either end of the cove. We found a grassy knoll to sit on and have a picnic, which gave us a good view of a large uninhabited island, uninhabited that is apart from a Red Deer nibbling on seaweed at the waters edge.
A few minutes later our attention returned to the sea, for a brown Seal had surfaced to swim in towards the beach. It's colour indicated the probability that it was a young male and it looked to be about two metres long. Well, we were obviously not what he was looking for and he soon disappeared beneath the waves.
My companions ventured on to the sand to paddle knee deep in the sea, as I sat day dreaming enjoying the warm sunshine. In no time at all I realised that my skin was starting to burn, fortunately there was a remedy close at hand. 'Bladderwrack' a greenish seaweed with pimpled bubbles.
When placed in the palm you burst them and apply to the skin, they provide a jelly like film that prevents sunburn.
These I applied very liberally to all of my exposed areas. My next duty was to demonstrate this to my companions, so that they might partake of the preventative.
The holiday ended all to soon, the child within me did not want to leave and it was only the thought of another trip on the Seacat that kept me happy. So on my first day back I very much begrudged being back at home. The sign of a good holiday!