Monday, August 15, 2011

One Giant Step

We left the B&B this morning and headed straight to the Giant’s Causeway. Roughly 40,000 hexagonal basalt columns were formed  by volcanic eruptions nearly  60 million years ago and now they creates tightly packed honeycomb stepping stones that stretch from the sea right up into the mountains. Scientific explanation aside, ancient people believed the formations to be the work of Giants. Another romantic legend tells the tale of Finn McCool, who built it as a land over the sea to bring his great love over the sea from the Isle of Hebrides that has similar rock formations.  
Arriving bright and early and before all the tour groups allowed us to get some great pictures:

Gavin pointing out the rainbow he has spotted.

40000 of these all squished together to make a remakrable landscape

Tried to capture the dissappearing rainbow to their right

What used to be a working bridge that allowed salmon fisherman access to the 30 m high rock formation on the other side, Carrick-a-Rede is now a tourist attraction. And after not being able to cross the Capillano suspension bridge in Vancouver five years ago, I wasn’t sure I would be able to cross.  The pictures make the 20m bridge look longer that it does up close- more of a beginner bridge compared to Capillano but that’s not to say that the guy jumping across before us on the way back made it any less stressful. Because of the rain the whole area was quite slippery and I must admit that I found the really steep stairs down to the bridge slightly more nerve racking. Kyra got a certificate for crossing the bridge and I got a fist bump for facing a fear.
There was one place I had seen pictures of several places but looking into it before we left for the weekend had me frustrated beyond. Looking at a map and various postcards and tourist pamphlets, I had three different coordinates within a ten mile radius of each other. The tourist center at the causeway had given us clear directions and we were on our way.  Gavin fell asleep on the way there but as we turned the corner to see our destination a quiet, excited little boy’s voice called out “Tree Tunnel!”from the back. Three hundred year old beech trees arch over the road making the Dark Hedges truely magical.
We headed back through Bushmills to on our way to Dunluce Castle and happened to pass near the Bushmills Distillery. Hungry for lunch we stopped into see what they offered. Once again, Kids aren’t allowed on certain parts of the tour but we did manage to stop by the gift shop and picked up a bottle of the Distillery Reserve only available at the Distillery itself. A request has been made for some homemade butterscotch pudding so we all should be able to have a taste form Ireland’s oldest whiskey distillery.
Dunluce Castle was a frustrating to get to. A U shaped road led up from the main coastal route and we were trapped by cars parked on either side (one trying to leave and tour buses before and after us. As we understood there was no coach bus parking and we had no idea how long the tours would stay.  We were stuck for a few minutes but all in all those tourists could not have been given more than ten minutes to look around the beautiful grounds and that was a shame for them. Naturally, the stones that made up the castle would have been sourced close by. It was nice to see the hexagonal shapes of the stones in the walls that would have come from the Causeway. What set this castle audio tour apart from others we have done was the little screen in the audio guide. After talking about each section we were given a visual of what the rooms would have looked like. This castle is set right on the edge of a cliff and we were able to explore right down to the bottom of the cliff where Elliot went underneath the castle to a cave that looked straight through to the sea on the other side.
On our drive back home we were lucky to stumble on a dairy farm that had ice cream for sale. With our cones in hand we watched the cows being milked by a robotic milker. It is an interesting contrast to how dairy farms work back home.  Rather than having the rows of cows indoors in their own stall and all milked at the same time three times a day, the cows here graze outdoors and come into the barn as they like to be milked by this one single robot. We were told that the do enjoy the feed that they get at the robot and cows will often try to be milked up to eight times in the day but the robot will only milk them three times. 
A scenic detour we took had steep ascents and descents high above the coast. Having crossed the rope bridge did not help my nerves on these narrow roads to Torr Head. The times I did open my eyes, the views across to Rathlin Island and across to Scotland were gorgeous. It rained fairly steadily on our way home but, just as we had been treated to in the morning; we spent most of the drive chasing vibrant rainbows.

Butterscotch Pudding
  • 4Tbsp Butter
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 4 T Cornstarch
  • 2 1/2 Milk
  • 3 Eggs
  • 2 tsp Whiskey
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
Melt butter and brown sugar together in a sauce pan and remove from heat. Add sea salt. Combine cornstarch with about 1/4 cup of milk and whisk in eggs. Pour in remaining milk into sugar mixture and whisk in cornstarch mixture. Whisk continuously until bubbling and strain through a sieve for best texture. Add whiskey and vanilla, whisk together and place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin. Cool in fridge. Best served with fresh unsweetened whipped cream. Makes enough for six servings, some of the time.

A note for actual scotch drinkers: I usually like to use Dalwhinnie Single Malt Scotch. It's light to medium body, smooth tasteand  hints of vanilla and honey lend nicely to the flavour of the custard. For non-scotch drinkers, it was a nice choice because it doesn't taste like someone mowed the lawn, smoked a cigarette, rolled around in the dirt and then sweat in your dessert.
Adapted from David Lebovitz's recipe.

1 comment:

  1. This area certainly looks much better for walking on rocks than Peggy's Cove in Nova Scotia. The photos are really beautiful