Saturday, July 30, 2011

Taste, Sight, Smell, Touch and Sound of NI

We woke this morning and, to tick something else off the summer to-do list, we went for breakfast.
Chris brought me an Avoca Cookbook on his weekend home in June.  It is has beautiful pictures and wonderful ideas. The cafe is on the second floor of a small department store and just my type of store to browse and I am not usually a browser.  A great mix of unique clothes, toys, house wares, books and jewellery; it is basically an Anthropolgie with a similarly styled cafe, whimsical unpretentious and well put together.  They served up a wonderful latte and the vanilla, pear & almond scone I had was superb.  Kyra had hot chocolate with mini marshmallows and a flake bar to go with the pancakes her and Gavin split.  Elliot had a breakfast sandwich and Chris had a basket of assorted breads- all very different, all very good.  Simple food very well made and presented. I don’t think you could go wrong here. I’ll be back for lunch one day.
With a planned trip back home right afterwards we took advantage of the market and picked up some of the fresh fish that we had to pass on a few weeks before. We got some bass that truly looked like it could still swim if placed in back in the water.  It was served it up with some spinach, leeks and new potatoes for dinner.
Our afternoon was spent visiting Patterson’s Spade Mill. Such and important tool to Ireland, over 170 different styles are vital to potato crops, extracting peat for fuel and heat and dug  many of the canals, roads and railways across the Ireland, England and the US. Secrets to the trade were passed down through families and nearly died out before the National Trust (NT) bought this Mill in the 1990’s. Sure it doesn’t sound like much fun for a seven year old to see how spades were made 300 years ago but leave it to NT to make it more fun. Gavin and Kyra were given hats, protective eyewear and suede aprons to wear for the tour.
Sadly the site doesn’t get nearly the amount of tourists they would like, but for us it meant a nice intimate tour with only one other couple.  See that spade that Gavin is holding?  It is only slightly too big for him. I t should come just up to the breast bone. The thought of four year olds regularly using something that heavy is kind of amazing. Wonder if they had the size 9 steel toe boots back then too?
After our tour we headed to Stormont Estate. We lucked out getting parking only steps from the gate.  We followed our ears and walked through the beautiful grounds towards the European Pipe Band Championship. Tartans of all colours dressed the very wee, the Smartphone-totting teens and "experienced" pipers.  Over thirty teams of pipers filled the cricket pitch taking their turns playing for the crowd. There was a great energy it was fascinating to watch the drummers. We only arrived towards the end but it was just the taste we were looking for and a great way to cap off the day.

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