Sunday, 13 April 2008

Spring Is In The Air

We cobbled together two rounds of sandwiches, two tea-cakes, a clementine and a flask of tea this morning, having decided to go for a Sunday drive. The destination today was the lake at Ballydugan, near Downpatrick in County Down. On our way there I paid a short visit to Gibb's Island to inspect the hawthorn hedging and saplings which I planted several weeks' ago with the NT Volunteers. Everything seemed fine.

We drove on towards the historic county town of Downpatrick, where I parked the car opposite the old gaol, now a museum. I ambled up to Down Cathedral and immediately spotted Billy Hastings' gold Rolls-Royce and his wife Joy's little Mercedes-Benz, the registration numbers - the Battle of Hastings date - making them easily identifiable; Dr Hastings being probably the Province's best-known hotelier. There was a Service taking place in the cathedral as I passed. I strolled down the street, admiring the old, granite buildings.

A moment later, we drove on to yet another of my favourite scenic places; a true beauty spot hidden away in the Ulster countryside, the lake at Ballydugan. This is close to the family home of the late Lord (Brian) Faulkner, the last prime minister of Northern Ireland (tragically killed whilst riding his horse not long after he retired). There's an old mill nearby which has been sympathetically restored and is now a hotel. Adjacent to the lake there is what an American would describe as a quaint little pub, the Lakeside Inn. Sadly it's never open any time we're there (perhaps just as well) - it opens during the evenings daily, except Sundays. We parked at the lake and I watched the birds with my binoculars; plenty of ducks, blue tits, chaffinches, sparrows, jackdaws, a coot, a moor hen, a swan and a rather large rat! I chatted to a chap who works as a photographer for the Daily Mirror.

An agreeable way to spend a Sunday. I've a picture of Ballydugan Mill above.

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