Random Stuff! Here & There.

This is just a few pictures I had lying around on my computer that Ive taken over the last year or two. I didnt have enough of each location for a full post (on the place) so Im just gonna dump them individually here. All pics are of course coming from Northern Ireland and as ever, are taken with a compact camera only 🙂

 

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Early morning spiders, taken at Murlough Bay, near Newcastle Co.Down, a few weeks ago.

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Tranquility at Seahill. Only about 15mins walk from the beach at Helens Bay, but things are much quieter here and actually rather nice.

 

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Just a tree and high flying birds on a grey morning. Taken around about Craigavad (between Seahill and Cultra) County Down.

 

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Big Dipper reflections…

 

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There are many dolmen (portal tombs) scattered around Northern Ireland, and several seem to be on farmers land. This is “Wateresk” which is right in the middle of a farmers field between Dundrum and Newcastle.

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A snail. Outside my house. Outside his house.

Ulster Transport Museum, Cultra, County Down

Sitting less than 7 miles from Belfast (with its own very handy train station which makes it easy to reach from the city), the Ulster Transport Museum aka The Ulster Folk and Transport Museum comprises of 2 distinct museums featuring both historical vehicles and old cottages, shops, and churches. It has won Irish museum of the year on occasion and remains one of the most visited attractions in Northern Ireland. You can buy a ticket to enter both museums (theres a short walk between them) or just pick the one you want to see. Among its many sights it includes a DeLorean car, which movie fans will know from the three Back To The Future films. DeLorean cars were built in a factory just a few miles outside Belfast (now gone).

Inside the transport museum, one of the old Belfast and Northern Counties Railway (BNCR) stations, a company which served the north-east of Ireland, and the huge No.800 locomotive “Maeḋḃ” which was one of the three largest and most powerful steam locomotives ever to be built and run in Ireland.

 

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One of the “101” Class diesel locomotives at the museum. This is No.102 “Falcon” which is the last surviving engine of its class (there were 3) after the other two were scrapped many years ago. I actually had a chance to drive this engine myself many years ago although I never saw it as this (original) colour (it was always blue). It was known simply as the “Hunslet” back then. Full details of this little engine and the fates of its two sisters are here:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NIR_101_Class

 

No, the blue bus on the left isnt actually a bus that ran on the road, its actually a Great Northern Railway “railbus” (built in 1928) that ran on the rails. Northern Ireland Railways had another one of these many decades later too but it wasnt exactly successful (lets just say). On the right are two Belfast Corporation buses with one being a diesel built in 1973 and one a trolleybus built in 1948. I think these are the only buses preserved in the museum.

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Tram No.249 would have been one of the first trams to use the electrified overhead line system through the centre of Belfast in 1905 (249 was built in 1905). Its seen here in its original colours and beautifully preserved.

 

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Both parts of the museum (I will put up a post about the folk museum one day too) are really worth visiting. Its a great day out and you can spend hours walking around looking at the various cars, planes, trains, buses etc and afterwards go for a lovely stroll into the countryside amidst the old preserved cottages, churches, and commercial buildings. Theres a cafe inside as well, but if youre trying to save some money its perfectly fine to bring a packed lunch and sit at one of the picnic benches there.

St. Patricks Cathedral, County Armagh

Standing on a hill in Armagh City, the twin spires of St Patricks Cathedral dominate the skyline and can be seen from quite a distance away. It was built in phases between 1840 and 1904 to serve as the Catholic cathedral for the Archdiocese of Armagh.

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Much needed work took place in 1982 where some of the granite floors were lain with carpet and a huge cross was removed (to be replaced with an installation called “The Tree of Life”) which almost everyone hated. Further work took place in 2003 that met with a bit more acceptance but with a bill that reached £6,000,000 (yes thats 6 million) I think I could suggest much better things to be spending that kind of money on (but as we all know, Northern Ireland really loves its old relics of religious fervour). I reckon it would make a really nice natural history museum myself 🙂

 

I think one visit was probably enough for me.

Ballintoy, Dawn to Dusk. Co. Antrim

Its not until recently that we actually discovered theres something of a hidden beach at Balintoy. We normally just drove down the hill into the car park and walked left along the shore, but it turns out theres a beautiful little cove halfway down the hill which you will find by taking a path that looks as if it belongs to someones house (its doesnt, but there is a house there).

 

 

I took these pictures very early one morning, having left Belfast about 430am. I visited the Dark Hedges first (the only way to get a photograph without people in it) and watched a stunning sunrise, all by myself. Brilliant.

 

You can see the sand is really quite red here, not something Ive seen very often on the beaches of NI.

Certainly worth getting up early for!

 

The second picture here was actually taken on a different day (and is of a sunset at Ballintoy and not a sunrise like these others). But such a great little spot it is.

A Return to Mussenden Temple & Downhill House January 2018

Sitting comfortably as one of my all time favourite places in Northern Ireland, Downhill Demesne has such a wonderful atmosphere of lost elegance and abandonment. Maybe thats just because I tend to visit here in the depths of Winter (or at the very least late Autumn) but theres definitely something magical about the place for me. I jumped on the first train from Belfast yesterday morning arriving at Castlerock Station at 750am (the Sun hadnt yet risen) and I walked along the empty streets of Castlerock town (waves crashing on the beach in a dark blue oncoming dawn) making my way across the Black Glen and up into Downhill. 

By now the Sun had just poked its head above the horizon illuminating the temple with a warm orange glow.

 

Looking up towards the ominous shadow of Downhill House lurking at the end of the path from Mussenden Temple.

 

Dawn breaks above one of the faux fortified “castle” walls of Downhill House.

 

Upon entering the gate into what is left of the house I got a brilliant light show of sunbeams and shadows.

 

Most only venture up here to photograph the Temple but Ive always found the house just as photogenic. It has a monolithic presence on the skyline.

Behind the house sits the “mausoleum” not actually a tomb, just a rememberance monument. The winter morning sky gave it much more reverence.

One last shot of the Temple (taken from a less common angle) sitting as a coastal sentinel as it has done for 233 years.

 

Autumn around County Down

I’m a bit late putting these up as Winter is well and truly upon us but having found them on my camera I thought Id stick them here as a reminder of Autumn 2016 which has left us for ever.

Picture 1: Queens University Belfast, Picture 2: The Ulster Museum (Botanic Gardens), Picture 3: Palm House (Botanic Gardens).

 

Picture 1: Tree shadows in Botanic Gardens, Picture 2: Yellow tree at Queens University Belfast.

 

Holywood, County Down. Looking over Belfast Lough just after an Autumn sunset.

 

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A burst of yellow @ Ballymenoch Park, Holywood, Autumn 2016