Monday, 29 July 2013

Of Bikes and Ballintoy

 Just when you think Northern Ireland can't get any prettier you discover something else that simply blows you away.
On Saturday Mrs P and I re-discovered Castlewellan Park and Tullymore Forest Park. We cycled through both. Two memorable trips both for their beauty and the latter because that's where I came off my mountain bike - in some style too : straight over the handlebars somersaulting unceremoniously onto my back. I had had the back luck to hit a major rock in the pathway while my attention was drawn to people playing in the river.

On Sunday we headed to Ballintoy which is in between the two great NI tourist attractions of The Giant's Causeway and Carrick-a-rede rope bridge.
 This small harbour has to be one of the quaintest places I've seen in NI. It has a tiny coffee shop, a small sandy beach and some fantastic rocks that just ordered Anna and I to come back soon with our snorkeling gear.
The weather was kind to us too. We arrived and the sun shone bright and hard until it dropped over the horizon. We hopped into the car and it rained pretty much all the way home.
Not such an unlucky weekend I guess.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Of The Best Man's Speech

I was Best Man yesterday to my old school friend Andy Owen. It's a great role. You get to see the wedding form the inside. You're right up close when the Groom and Bride are exchanging vows. You can hear the tremors in their voices You're first to see the tears welling up. You're first to congratulate both on their new lives together.
And then there's the Best Man's Speech. For many men this is a terrifying experience but yesterday was my third go and I have to say I really enjoyed it. There's something rather wonderful about making people laugh on a special day and wrapping up leaving everyone feeling on high - especially the married couple.
Here's a tip for anyone having to do a Best Man's Speech in the near future. Think you'll goof up and the chances are you will. Visualise success beforehand and chances are you'll really deliver. It's such a mental thing public speaking and the mental game you have to be on top of more than anything else.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Of One Glorious Week

Mrs P and I are just off the back of a really great week. On Wednesday evening last, we completed our first tri-athlon. We ran in last but didn't come away with the wooden spoon really because at least 10 competitors failed to finish the 750 metre sea swim, the 22km bike ride or the 5km run. The Glenarm tri-athlon, we found out afterwards, is avoided by many because most of the bike ride is up hill. In fact about 10km is up hill and quite a gradient at that.
On Friday we took off in the Legal-Island hot air balloon. Anna loved the flight. I suffered it I guess.
Saturday was more relaxing with a trip to the Ballymena Steam Engine Rally.
Loved it!

Friday, 12 July 2013

Of Using our Heads Off Torr Head

Mrs P and I took the kayak out yesterday and went for a paddle near Torr Head. It was sunny. It was beautiful. It was also a close run thing. As we paddled along the coast with Scotland in full view just 12 miles away I noted the pattern in an otherwise tranquil sea, change. I noted too a buoy chained to the ocean floor appear to go whizzing by us. I told me clearly we were in a outward current and a strong one at that.
I turned the boat around and tried to paddle back the way we had come. Despite paddling full out for a good two minutes we appeared to make no progress back. Mrs P then tried herself with the emergency paddle and, when timed with me at the back, we slowly edged our way further from Scotland and back to port. Phew! Close run thing!

Monday, 8 July 2013

Of MG @ MOT = AA

I took the MG for it's MOT on Saturday evening along with Mrs P for good luck. As we approached the test centre I could see the needle on the temperature gauge threatening to dip into the red. I was pleased we were early with time to switch off the engine and let the old girl cool down a bit -- or so I thought. As soon as we arrived we were beckoned forward into Lane 3 asked for the mileage and then told to turn on the headlights. As the wheels were tested the assistant was pointing out something to me on the screen which suggested that rear wheel left was underinflated. But I was watching the temperature needle which was firmly in the red zone and the car bonnet for signs of smoke. Mercifully, we moved forward onto the ramp when I was asked to exit and the engine was finally turned off.
Remarkably, the MG passed! We hopped into the car and burned off into the sunny evening with a real sense we'd been lucky. Really lucky. 5 minutes later we broke down and had to call the AA to get us home. As my ex brother-in-law said to me on Facebook MOT certify your car is safe, not reliable. The two we discovered are not always the twain.