Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Since the start of summer there has been talk between a few friends of going camping on a weekend to get away from the city and relax in the rural idyll.

This culminated last weekend when we rose early(ish) on Saturday morning, packed the car and set off across the province to Fermanagh. Namely the Share Centre.

The last time I was here was when I was in the Cub Scouts. If memory serves, this would have been the late 80's and I don't recall much except for being on a sailing sailing vessel, possibly banana boating and camping on one of the islands on lake Erne and having quite an uncomfortable night.

Thanks to the power of modern conveniences, this was going to be far from uncomfortable. Forget cramped tents, waking in the middle of the night to find you've been lying on a rock and requiring a chiropractor, this is the 21st century.

After selling our camping gear in New Zealand and giving away most of our gear before we left, we were buying all our gear from scratch which affords the opportunity of updating your equipment.

Out with the old, in with the 4 man tent with separate living room, battery-powered inflatable bed, table, chairs and everything but the kitchen sink. This is living rough.

As suggested, the Share Centre is situated beside the lower lough Erne in quite picturesque surroundings and there are plenty of activities to undertake besides relaxing. The centre offers, canoeing, kayaking, sailing and banana boating although for some reason you have to be under 16 to banana boat which we were quite dismayed about and booked ourselves in for canoeing on Sunday morning.

Saturday afternoon was a relaxed affair; relaxing, chatting, drinking a few beers, playing poker and throwing a frisbee about. Everything that camping should be except for the near constant drizzle of rain.

Sunday morning was altogether different and in between showers, it was glorious and warm. Canoeing, especially using Canadian canoes, is not our favourite water sport. We prefer the more controlling and personal kayak but unfortunately there was no session organised for that morning and unlike NZ, you need to have a certificate to take out a kayak by yourself which is faintly ridiculous since a canoe is more precarious in my opinion.

We took some time rowing against the current to get to the island where I had camped all those years ago but our timing was impeccable as we were just approaching the shelter it provided when a shower struck.

After a few minutes, the rain was replaced with blue skies and sunshine and we made our way back to base.

We had a great weekend and intend to go back next month for a longer time and explore more of the surrounding area.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Playing Catch-Up

This is the first update in over a month so apologies for not having anything new in quite some time. Everything has been quite hectic recently with birthdays, weddings and most stressful of all, moving house.

It's also been the beginning of summer since my last post and we have had some fantastic weather in between the usual fayre of thunderstorms and general washouts that consist in this Northern Irish season.

There has been some great afternoons and evenings spent outside with the shades on, music in the background, a good book and a glass of iced cider.
We've also had some hazy afternoons and evenings with friends, BBQs and the odd bottle or so of wine to grease the wheels of conversation.

A few weeks ago our friends Cheryl and Graeme were married at Castleward which is a glorious 18th century mansion with classical and gothic faรงade overlooking Strangford Lough. Fortunately it was one of the fabulous days and after the marriage, a fine afternoon was had sipping champagne in the sunken gardens, followed by dinner and dancing and a courtyard setting enjoying some great banter and watching the sun go down.

Lou and I have also been busy house hunting and found a great little place that we're moving into at the end of the month. It will be the first time in over a year that we'll be back to living in our own after house-sharing with my brother and sister-in-law in New Zealand, with friends and family in Australia and family back home so I'm looking forward to having that 'space'.

In all, the summer has got off to a good start and I'm looking forward to taking holidays at the end of August and hitting the road down and around Ireland. Our plan is to head through central Ireland to Cork and head back up the east coast. I've never been further south than Limerick on the west coast or Meath on the east coast so it's something I'm very much looking forward to. Any suggestions of places to visit would be more than welcome.

Hopefully this will mark the start of more updates as the summer progresses. I hope you're all having a lovely time whatever you're up to. See you soon.

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