Showing posts with label Londonderry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Londonderry. Show all posts


I Love Northern Ireland - Travel

I was born in Northern Ireland.

I have lived there for most of my life with a break from 1992-95 when we lived in Delaware, USA and another one from 2004 -2010 when we lived in Tervuren, Belgium.

First I lived in Londonderry in the North West of Northern Ireland and then after I got married we lived in Drumahoe which is a village just outside Londonderry.

When we returned from The US we went back to our house in Drumahoe but when we returned from Belgium it was time to move to a location from which it was easier for my husband to get to the airports to travel for his work so we chose a house in Banbridge, a town just off the A1 which is the road from Belfast to Dublin.

 Northern Ireland is part of the UK 

though many people throughout the world get confused and think that all of Ireland is one country because it is one island.

It is rather like Spain and Portugal which are two different countries sharing the one large Peninsula of land in Europe.

Or maybe think of The US and Canada?

The people of Northern Ireland are some of the friendliest people in the world and are definitely known for their hospitality.

Northern Ireland has so many beautiful places to experience.

Northern Ireland is the home of one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World:

The Giants Causeway

Other great features are:

The Historical Walls of Londonderry

My home city for many years.

The Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge

Along the beautiful North Coast

The Mountains of Mourne

The beautiful scenery close to where we now live.

The Lakes in Fermanagh

In the South West of Northern Ireland.

I have always loved Northern Ireland and will claim (rightly) that we have fantastic large beaches of fine sand, even though we do not have the warm weather for others to come and visit and fully appreciate them.

If you have never been to Northern Ireland it is well worth a visit of much more than a couple of days.

Yes I have met people who decide to visit "Ireland" so travel from the US or Europe or Canada to Dublin in Eire / Republic of Ireland and spend almost 2 weeks there and then think they can go "up north" for a couple of days (or for one day as one family of 4 expressed this desire to me after a late breakfast in a hotel in the south end of Eire - I still shake my head at this one) and take in the beautiful places we have here but then are surprised that there is too much to do in just so little time.

Other Posts about Northern Ireland can be found at 


Stop & Let The Ducks Cross - A Dose of Encouragement

Thinking back to some years ago there was a Saturday that was just too busy a day.

Had to have a lie-in because it was Saturday and on Saturdays we have a lie-in followed by breakfast in bed unless we absolutely have to travel somewhere early.

Then preparation for packing for the drive back to our hometown for a family event only staying overnight but outfit for the event needed and then clothes to wear travelling, pyjamas, coat and of course all the things we will not leave without like the iPad, phones, etc.

Next came the Skype call with our daughter to talk about the notes I had made while proof reading her latest script. That was a long call well 3 calls actually because there was bathroom break and another break to check up on my husband Fred to make sure he was getting ready to go away and sure enough no, he was reading instead.
His punishment was to make the very late lunch but it was a very easy lunch to make.

Then the packing and the gathering up of the Sunday School materials & other things which had to go with us to be dropped off at church on the way.

A few other texts and phone calls fill in the gaps and we are finally ready to leave at 3.30pm to be at our first destination by 5.30pm and the journey will take us almost 2 hours. We actually needed to arrive before 5.30pm to get parked and walk to the location where our younger son Daniel's band was playing at a culture event in Londonderry.

Then over to my sister's house for a light meal and chat and introduce Daniel's girlfriend Suzie to my side of the family. Change of clothes and on to the restaurant for the Surprise 40th Wedding Anniversary Dinner for Fred's brother and his wife. Time to introduce Daniel's girlfriend to the other side of the family.

Back to my sister's around 1am and flop into bed.

At least we weren't driving up the road to Belfast like Daniel and Suzie.

There have been many days when it has been just one thing after another and I feel like I'm going through one stage just as the preamble to the next and so on, never really savouring each part of the day.

One such day was when we were on a trip to Belgium in 2004 to find a school for our daughter and find our way around before finding a house and moving there to live for over 6 years.

We were driving in an area near the airport and not sure of the road at all when we came to a lake. The road ran alongside this lake and it was the approach to a small town.

          Suddenly we had to stop at a zebra crossing.

                    What was unique about that then?

Crossing the road on the zebra crossing were a duck and 3 little ducklings.

We laughed hard at the fact that the duck was taking her ducklings across the road via the crossing, was she a very clever duck or was it just by chance?

Whichever it was it caused us to stop, be amused and it brightened our hectic day. I just wish we had had a camera ready for that moment but regardless of the lack of a picture the memory hasn't faded.
I often think of it fondly and remember how we enjoyed that simple action.

That is actually the thing I remember most about that short trip to Belgium.

We need to remember to stop and wait in the busyness.

When we are very busy we just go through the motions of everything but when we are forced to stop and wait at times we can find so many other things we didn't expect.

We can find amusement in a little snippet of life.

          We can find a source of peace and contentment.

                    We can find gratitude to God for the unique times in our lives that are so special.

                              We can find joy.

We need to remember to stop and wait a while with God in the middle of our busy days as well as in the not so busy days.

Not thinking about always sitting still and not doing anything else but thinking of always being ready to think of Him in all the busyness of our lives while we are in the midst of each of those busy days.

You know we don't need to let the busyness take over and swamp out our thoughts and prayers because we can still pray as we go, as we make the decisions that we face each day as we do all the practical, usual or sometimes unusual things we have to do.

In stead of having our minds dwell all the time on what is next on the list to be done we can be more aware of how God has said He will always be with us and that means even when we are busy, not just when we are sitting down saying "Ok God my to-do list is complete, I have time for you now."

He always has time for us.

The Cows in the City! - A Dose of Encouragement

I know this sounded crazy to my husband who grew up on a dairy farm and who had often taken me out to the farm and then loved taking the children out to the farm when they came along.

But yes I was saying to him

I want to go and see the Cows in the city.

The city I was referring to was our hometown of Londonderry, in Northern Ireland, which is almost a 2 hour drive from the town of Banbridge, where we now live.

You see when we lived in Belgium I had just missed the cows in Brussels because they had come there shortly before us.  There was an odd cow here and there still in Brussels but I missed out on seeing all the cows that had been there.

Now you probably think I'm crazy because don't all cows look the same?

Well usually any one field of cows you might come across would have all the same breed of cow anyway.

But of course the cows I had wanted to go and see were not real live cows.

These cows were referred to as the painted cows.

During recent years different cities or countries have taken on this idea of having full size models of cows made and then painted by businesses, schools, organisations etc. as a form of advertising.

In Belgium apparently there had been many, many cows all over Brussels and perhaps in some other places too.

A few years ago Northern Ireland had the cows in a few places and one of the major places was in Londonderry.

Again there were cows painted by school children, businesses, charities and other organizations.

But there was one cow in particular that I really wanted to see in Londonderry.

The red one.

The one to commemorate Amelia Earhart (see info. on Amelia here)

Amelia was the first woman to fly the Atlantic and she landed in a field on the outskirts of Londonderry.  She is one of the claims to fame of my hometown and a small tourist attraction has been set up for any visitors who might be interested in learning more about this famous woman and her airplane and the special flight in which she succeeded in making history and showing that women could do some of the things that only seemed to be considered as things that men would do.

Google even celebrated Amelia Earhart's 115th Birthday with one of their Doodles.

Image from July 24, 2012

So I was thankful it did work out that within the time frame of the Cows being in Londonderry we were able to make a trip there to stay with my sister and her husband and I did have the opportunity to go to see the cows.

And we found the one in commemoration of Amelia,

the red one.

I thought this cow was very cleverly created because it was not just painted to depict Amelia as a famous and respected aviator but had also been shaped in a different way to the other cows.

To me this cow really stood out among the others.
Not just because of the expanse of red and because of the unique shape but also because of the simplicity in which the creator of it had portrayed the airplane and the woman who flew it.

It made me think of two things.

The cleverness of the creator and the respect to the person and their accomplishment.

We have the most clever creator of all.

We have the creator who made us so that every single little part of us works together to form a living being with an intellect and feelings.

How great is that?

We have the greatest creator of all.

We have the creator who respects us and all that we accomplish and has given us the ability to learn and create other things.

How wonderful to be part of such an intricate and planned creation.

How wonderful to be part of such an intricate and planned creation.

We have the best creator of all.

We have the original creator of all things.

I am thankful that God made us each unique and with abilities to do great things in all situations in life.

I am thankful that He respects us and cares about us so much we were not just a "toy" for Him.

I am thankful that we were created to have life and to love and to be loved by God.

We were created to have life and to love and to be loved by God.

I may have had my picture taken beside this clever cow creation but I (no matter how weak, sinful or small I am) am a more wonderful creation than this man-made one.

And so are you.


Olympic Torch Run in Northern Ireland - Xtra Special Day

On Monday 4th June 2012 we were delighted to return to our hometown of Londonderry, Northern Ireland, to see our nephew Lee Kitson carry the Olympic Torch through part of the Waterside area. 

Lee is a good fencer, coach and referee, although where he gets this from is beyond all of us as none of the immediate family are very sporty but Lee has a good talent when it comes to fencing. He also started a Fencing Club in Jordanstown, Belfast in 2011. 

Lee with his mum & dad

Well I was armed with the video camera and Fred (my husband) was armed with one of his cameras, while Lee's mum and dad and brother and sister and brother-in-law also had cameras and video cameras.  As soon as Lee was left off at his starting position with his torch in his hand he became a celebrity.  

Later I asked Fred why he had taken quite a few photos of strangers with Lee only to be told that he didn't know if Lee knew them or not because Lee just stood and smiled and let everyone pose with him.  

Friends got pictures taken, children got pictures, grown-ups got pictures and teenage girls got pictures (that bit we could understand completely as Lee is a good looking 20 year old) and even the family managed to push in and get pictures taken with him.

Lighting the Torch

Then it was his time to run and we all got very excited seeing his torch being lit and taking over in the relay from a young girl.  Getting pictures and video was relatively easy when he was standing still but much harder when he took off on the run. Now we had warned him to run slowly so we could have more time to enjoy but Lee is about 6 foot 4 ins tall with long legs and running slowly for him is fast for someone like me (being quite petite in height).  

Me keeping up with Lee but not for long

Fred (who is 6 foot tall & a bit fit) ran along one side of the road stopping and turning to snap shots of Lee and I gallantly ran off on the other side trying to keep up with lee or even get in front of him to try to take more video.  

That was a laugh for everyone as I was out of puff in no time at all, even calling out to him to run slowly just got a laugh from him in return (plus laughs from the security guys running alongside him).

Needless to say Fred got some nice shots as he could easily keep up with Lee but I just have shaky, blurry video for that part.

Front Page of the Local Paper

Lee gets to keep his torch so he will have a great momento of that "Moment to Shine" as well as all the photos the family and other friends have taken.  He even got his picture on the front page of the local paper (the Sentinel) with a little write up inside and then also discovered he was on You Tube as part of the video of the Torch Run in Londonderry.
The next day he was on the go again and raised money for a local charity by allowing more pictures to be taken of him and the torch.

Lee with Fred & I

The City of Londonderry was also in the news because some people tried to disrupt the Torch Relay but I am grateful that those who ran and completed the relay around the city where not thinking of anything political but instead they were proud to represent their country (no matter what their religion) in this once in a lifetime opportunity. 

         The smiles on the faces of all the runners proved that.

Here are some other  Xtra Special Days

And some Other Posts about Northern Ireland or Travel


Daddy ........ Chips??? Decision Time - A Dose of Encouragement

Decisions, decisions, decisions!!!

Who likes to have to make them? there must be someone?

Several years ago there was a television ad in the UK for McCain oven chips

Daddy ........ Chips?

Our family loved it and forever, yes even still now we go "Daddy.......chips", when there are two things we would like but have to make the decision between the two.  It's our way of saying this is very tricky as we really like or want to do both and a sort of plea of

Do we have to decide?

Oh why can't things be simple we often say. Sometimes I am heard to complain why do things all happen together, why can't we have events spaced out more? Why does one week have to be very busy and the next one relatively free?

Why is it that when you want to go away for a while there will be something just have to occur in the middle of that time frame?

One month we were so busy and made several trips back to our birth town of Londonderry each just for a few days but for several months before that we weren't back there at all.  Then I saw the clippers were coming into Londonderry at the end of that month but just felt that we couldn't really justify the 2 hour journey each way to go back yet again.

Sad to say we missed a really great event.

Sometimes I like to make the effort to do different things even if they are sort of smaller things but may turn out to be quite enjoyable.

The first Sunday of the this month we went to Belfast to have lunch there with our son Daniel and then went on into the city centre to see the street theatre the circus school were organising. Fred was a bit dubious but I assured him we would have a relaxing time and be entertained. Well he enjoyed it - I could tell by how he clapped and laughed.

Now do we mention the restaurant or not?

Daniel says it is what you call modern /cool but I didn't think it was either. The food was okay, but I think that if I am paying to go somewhere and eat that I want nice surroundings and comfortable seats. I really don't want to be in a room where they have mismatched, chairs, plates etc.
Okay so I'm not cool!

We didn't have time to sample their coffee however and as it was an Italian place 
the coffee could have made a big difference.

I would have liked to have been able to go back to Belfast each Sunday afternoon this month and enjoy the Street Theatre & I am hoping for good weather.


It did make our Sunday rather busy with Church in the morning, driving to Belfast, lunch, street theatres, driving home again, preparation for the music for church in the evening and then church itself again.


Every day can be busy and we need to remember to keep time in each of those days for God

                    especially on Sunday

                                        but not just on Sunday


That is often where we have to make another of those  Daddy ........ Chips? decisions

Bible Reading & Prayer  ....... TV, Book, Tidy up etc.

I know for some people first thing in the morning is just not the suitable time for us to read and pray regularly so some other time in the day needs to be found.
This is also not always easy with busy homes, families, work schedules and we are often left feeling tired, too busy ..... and it is so tempting to go for the Chips decision - you know the one where we get to have what seems nicest and tempts us with relaxation and a treat maybe.


Look at that other word in our phrase


and think of how spending time with God our Father can teach us, refresh us and encourage us for the next busy day, week, month .....

At that decision time let's be ready to plump for the one that is going to be a lasting help and comfort and not the temporary one.

Do you have a Daddy ........ Chips? decision time?

Well we also had tea and biscuits after the evening service that Sunday so we didn't get home until after 9 o'clock to be greeted by the phone ringing and our oldest son Jonathan declaring

 "Are you only getting in now?   

What kept you?    

Well my day has been busy!"

He just had to hold on for a while until I made a cup of tea for Fred and got a coffee for me and then we sat down and listened to his day.

There could have been the temptation to say.

Coffee ........ Jonathan? 

but fortunately for him there are some pleasures you can have together and not have to make the big decision, because that could have been a difficult one, seeing how fond I am of my coffee.

Do you have a Daddy ........ Chips decision time?

You are very welcome to read my other  Doses of Encouragement