What is your Mussenden?

..One of the most iconic and arguably most often photographed scenes on the north coast. If you look closely enough you will find all of the elements of earth, wind, fire and water. The fire from the sun isn’t obvious, but its effects are cinematically projected onto the giant screen in the form of clouds; which in themselves reflect the presence of wind and movement. The elements give the picture it’s personality. This could be any distant landscape in the country! However, one thing makes it really stand out and instantly recognisable. Mussenden Temple, built in 1785. From this angle and with the presence of a natural backlight, the location of the photo is unmistakable. The building sets the landscape apart from other shots of undulating distant hills of the spectacular north coast. Got me thinking again about each of us and our unique dna! Everyone of us is different! Like the photo we are part of the landscape which is life, but I wonder what, if anything, sets us apart from all of the other human landscapes we encounter on an hourly, daily basis. Arguably one might say that more often than not, the defining feature which makes us stand out is found in our personality. When someone looks at us, meets us or has an encounter with us, what is it that sets us apart, what is our Mussenden? Human landscapes can be wonderful too. Undulating, curvaceous, broad, colourful, windswept, breathtaking! But sometimes you have to look for the elements. A good man, out of the good treasure of his heart, brings forth, good treasure.

An August Christmas ..

.. I am often mistaken for a well known TV detective known as Columbo.. but not because of my dishevelled dress sense! Today in true Columbo style I discovered Mary and Joseph and the stable bare with baby Jesus an ox and a nice ass! There were also a number of ewes in lamb and with lamb, lurking in a driveway near the seafront in Ballycastle, a small seaside town in Ireland with a famous annual fair.. why are this family at the Lammas Fair I asked myself ?. Perhaps they are trading the animals down the Fair Hill I answered ! Or is it a #brexit related incident ? Did they come across the Channel in a boat? Well out of season and with the angel Gabriel reportedly too cold to give me an interview the mysterious sighting remains unsolved and this question remains unanswered for now as I’m going for an ice cream to create a few more stains on my columbo coat. As I mull over my gelato I am perplexed as to why the stable is being towed behind a Ford truck.. is it because they couldn’t afford a Mercedes? Have they been kidnapped or in this case “trucknapped” in an audacious plan to sabotage this Christmas ? The more I lick the more ridiculous my self questioning becomes. But one things for sure , this isn’t the last straw, there are a couple of bales in the back of the van !

Dad

I never knew you

But when I gaze upon that photo,

The one of me in your arms

When I was only 3 months old

The day of your last breath,

I know that you loved me.

I never met you,

But when I get to meet my brothers

And my sisters

I get to see all the parts of who you were,

Reflected through them.

Their laughter and love

Kindness Godliness and goodness

Tell me a bit about who you were.

I never got to say to how much I love you dad,

But when I read my mother’s words to you and about you

I know how much you were loved and cherished,

I never got to say thank you

But I am thankful for who you were,

What you achieved,

and how you provided for us in your short life,

Thank you for being a father to me.

I love you dad,

Through Grace I will get to tell you in person

Another day!

The two donkeys.

.. so ..there were these two donkeys; and they were just in a field, up on the north coast and up a side road where two cars could hardly pass by each other. They didn’t actually need a whole pile of lookin after cos they were just kinda content out standing in their own field.. so to speak! Blackthorne was standing looking into the hedge , it was just a hedge doin what hedges do and blackthorne was stood there staring . Anyone passing by probably wouldn’t have noticed him feeling rather down as he watched the hedge rustle in the gentle breeze. “What is rustling?” he thought! Hazel wandered over and casually sniffed his ear. It smelt of donkeys ear, which was a very particular type of smell that only another donkey could appreciate. Blackthorne looked around and saw Hazel .. she was standing by his shoulder.. and in that moment Blackthorne felt his spirit lifting. He knew everything would be ok. “It’s wonderful” he mused, “that I feel so much better when I know someone is nearby, just watching the hedge grow with me”. As quiet as two donkeys in a field can be. Watching and sniffing and musing! Sometimes it’s just enough to go alongside and say nothing!

A Neat Donegal Hideaway – The Shandon Hotel & Spa

It was a cold and dreary Wednesday morning on the north coast and so I decided on a whim, to check out the possibility of a short break to Donegal, for a couple of days relaxation. The only trouble was I wasn’t sure where exactly to go! A couple of my friends had recently visited the Shandon Hotel and spa near marble Hill and had passed on quite favourable reports. That was enough for me to check it out for myself. It was an hour and a half by car to the hotel which was beautifully situated overlooking the wild Donegal coastline. Having parked the car I was slightly confused as to where reception was located and so I climbed a set of stone steps leading up to the hotel front. Again I could’ve done with a little signpost pointing towards reception as it is not immediately obvious which way to go. Eventually I arrived in reception and was greeted in a very friendly manner by front of house staff. Having signed in I proceeded to the third floor where my room was situated. Room was spacious and had a lovely view over the fields to the ocean and the wild Atlantic way on a distant headland. This was a good room for me. I quickly located tea and coffee making facilities and sat done to enjoy my coffee with a view. The bathroom was large and modern and there was definitely a feeling that I had made a good choice of location. I decided to eat in the bar area later that evening and again the service was extra friendly and attentive. I chose mussels followed by chicken korma, accompanied by a pint of Guinness. Everything was good! The bar area was perhaps a little dated but the homely atmosphere more than made up for this. Breakfast next morning was excellent and again staff were courteous and helpful. Food was well presented and a good selection was available – we do love a hearty breakfast in Ireland! I had booked the Spa facilities for later that day and again all staff were courteous and professional. The wet area was clean and relaxing and my therapist was informative and capable. I suppose if I could make one negative comment it would be that the robe I was provided with was a little snug. The hotel is very well placed to enable those who love wild beaches and pleasant country walks to indulge themselves in any kind of weather. All in all the Shandon proved to be a good choice. It’s strength is in the friendly approach and attentiveness of its staff who found nothing beyond the realms of possibility. So if you fancy a nice break on the beautiful north Donegal coast then The Shandon Hotel and Spa is well worth a visit.