When I first started to travel to Northern Ireland about 30 some years ago, people always used to talk about going ‘across the water’ referring to the sea that separates this part of Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom. Well, now we have moved, lock, stock and CD collection, across the water and, as they say ‘things are different here’! Shopping in Coleraine a few days ago I was struck by how ‘English’ I sound in contrast to the lively mix of Ulster accents around me, and as my wife helpfully pointed out “you’re in the minority now”! You would think that after over 25 years as a Methodist minister (or a ‘minister of religion’ as the generally denomination blind bureaucracy usually demands) I would be used to being in a minority but it is clear that I have a lot to get used to.
Our plans to move here elicited some interesting comments, from the plain curious (“I’ve never been to Northern Ireland”) to the downright ridiculous (“do they have postcodes there?”). In some ways you would think we had moved to the dark side of the moon! But I was talking recently to someone about our move here and she said she knew little about this part of the island of Ireland (or of this part of the (still) United Kingdom!), but as soon as I mentioned that several locations here had been used in the HBO TV series ‘Game of Thrones’ she knew exactly where I was talking about! Talk about the influence of popular culture!!
I conclude this post with a series of impressions; the long strand at Portstewart, a place for walking and watching the sea, the 12th of July parade snaking through the town and across the river, the delights of the Ulster Fry and its varied versions, ice creams and sunsets, and as they say, many more!! I am not sure why I chose the picture of the bicycle to accompany this post – perhaps because bicycles speak of movement, or just because I like it. It was taken in the garden of the Red Door, a restaurant and tea room on the road above Ballintoy (which is another favourite place on the North Antrim Coast) – the subject of a previous post and, yes, a location featured in that sword n’ sorcery thing that used to be many people’s water cooler moment!