Hello lovely friends and readers :)
School holidays have rather gotten in the way of my blogging flow .... but hey-ho, here I am now :)
I've got another National Trust visit to share with you today. Whilst we were in Norn Irn we visited Castleward which is my favouritey favouritist most favourite NT property EvEr. I Looooooooove Love LOVE Castleward. Its got the usual NT goodies on offer - great grounds, lovely walks, second-hand bookshop, a fab tea-room, and playgrounds for the Little People, but best of all it is coastal and its grounds go right down to the shores of Strangford Lough.
As it was midday when we arrived we headed straight to the aforementioned tea-room. It's situated on one side of a gorgeous courtyard, so you can eat your lunch outisde, the children can mess around, and Mums can slope off to the second-hand bookshop for a sneaky mooch. I found some card-making magazines for 30p each, I bought 5 so just a teeny spend of £1.50 - but the husband rolled his eyes as usual anyway ...
For lunch we decided to keep it simple and have toasties and scones. Look, how lovely, the tea even came in a tea-cup. That hardly ever happens these days :)
After lunch we met up with my cousin as she was joining us for the afternoon. She has 2 children, who I think are my children's second cousins ? Anyway, they are similar ages to my children, but they live in Texas so we don't get to see them very often, but they all get on like a house on fire so lots of fun was to be had. We went for a wander (or a wee dander as we say in Norn Irn) down to the clock tower, and the chat got to geocaching (https://www.geocaching.com). Have you ever tried geocaching ? We had, once, years ago when it was in its infancy, and we found it a bit tricky (or maybe we were just rubbish??). My cousin goes geocaching loads but hadn't found the one at the Castleward Clock Tower and wanted to give it another go.
So what is geocaching I hear you cry ? Well, it describes itself as "the world's largest treasure hunt". In a nutshell, any random person can hide some "treasure" - usually a plastic box with a little something in it like a car, shell, matchbox, plus a logbook and pen. They then log the GPS position of it on the geocaching website. Then when you want to "do" geocaching you go on their website and look for the caches near the position of where you are (or where you want to go a-looking). When youhave the coordinates, and with the help of a GPS device (eg your smart phone), and some hints if needed, you go off, find the treasure, add something to the box if you want to (providing you've found it of course!) and log your name in the log book. And put the box back in its hiding place. And then you can log on the website that you've found it. Yes I realise it sounds a bit pointless but its actually a lot of fun :)
After a bit of random wandering, and then by using our phones' GPS we managed to find the Castleward Clock Tower cache - hurrah! Inside the (very very grubby) box were crayons, a barbie bat and ball, and some other bits and pieces. Oh and the logbook of course.
We wrote some little messages in the logbook, added a pinecone and a stick (that was from one of the boys - what is it with boys and sticks ???) to the box, re-hid it, and went off exploring the rest of the grounds.
Oh one other interesting thing about Castleward is that a lot of the TV series Game of Thrones is filmed here. Do you recognise Winterfell ?
Lots of the TV series is also filmed in the Titanic Studios in Belfast, more of that another time :)
Just down from the Clock Tower you get a lovely view of Strangford Lough - you can see the little town of Portaferry on the opposite shore, I'll be posting about Portaferry next time.
The children wanted to say hello to Mervyn the donkey - I don't remember him looking quite so alarmed! During our visit there was a wedding going on - I tell you, they were bloomin' lucky with the weather, they had the ceremony outside - very risky - it rained every day the week before, but was completely still and dry for their wedding. We reckon they had some photos taken in a boat because we spotted someone (the best man ?) retrieving said boat in his kilt with his wellies on ...... random or what ....
... and he carried it back ashore. On his head. As you do.
See what I mean about lovely views ....
Through the arched window (remember Playschool anyone ??!) there is a sort of quay thing which is perfect for crabbing from.
Although I find it totally heart-stopping and can't stop myself from telling everyone to be careful all the time! Hubby and I are vegetarian but we are ok with crabbing as the crabs don't get hooked on the hook, they just grab the bait with their pincer thingy. Our bait was prawns which weren't too successful, the crabs just grab the prawns then the prawns disintegrate and the crabs fall off the line, with the prawns. So you don't get the really fun part of watching the prawns scuttle back to the water!
We did manage to bring one all the way up though - the children were braver than me, I wasn't going to hold it for love nor money!
It was getting late and there was just time for a quick wander along the shore (ie a slither around on the seaweed) ....
.... before heading off for home.
Well actually not home, but to the distant shores of Portaferry for tea.
Looking forward to sharing Portaferry pictures next time :)