Probably best if you grab a cuppa, this blog entry will probably be quite long…
So, I’m at the end of a weeks stay in God’s own country (in particular, the last remaining eden in Europe – (C) Fermanagh Tourist Office). From the 8th to the 17th July I had the joy of being at home. Perhaps one of the busiest vacations I’ve ever had… lots to cover so I’ll try to take it day by day…
Friday 8th July
Well I didn’t really do much at home on Friday… probably the highlight was when I exited Belfast International Airport and called the brother (who was lifting me)… the main issue behind the fact we couldn’t see each other, despite both being at an airport exit, was that the brother was at Belfast City Airport. He informed me later that telling him in writing of where I am going doesn’t guarantee he’ll turn up to collect… Anyways, Smeeze’s record of Airport to Airport in 14 minutes is safe for a while longer… although the brother’s 20 minutes was respectable.
Saturday 9th July
Well, as the Brother didn’t arrange for me to be on his insuance – as he said he would – I had an entire day at home. As you’ll see from the photos added to the ‘Finbar On Tour’ album, I was a little short on entertainment. However, it’s nice to see how the place looks in Summer – the avenue in particular is amazing in Summer IMHO – and to see how the place compares with the Winter, snowy pictures. In the evening I had bit of a Wild West theme… I watched the ‘Quick & the Dead’ followed by ‘Young Guns’. Suitably entertained I was.
Sunday 10th July
Well… the Hottest day of the Year (so far). I had to travel to Newtonbreda Baptist Church this fine Sabbath Morn to collect my Duke of Edinburgh Gold Record book & badge. For those not in the know, I spent the best part of 6 years completing my Gold award & in the past month or two I was accepted by HRH Phil – or whoever makes these decisions – as a graduate of the DoE scheme!! Now the major highlight of this is that I get to receive the certificate from Royalty – all being well in London. I get to bring one guest on this wonderful occasion, and all being well I’ll get to see my mother meet royalty!! Anyways, once that was over, we hightailed it back to Clabby for the Annual Church Parade to St Margaret’s Parish Church. Now, I don’t know how they built old churches, but I’m pretty sure Nuclear Holocaust temperatures could be recorded in the Grave Yard at St Mag’s, yet it would be 8 degrees inside. However, given the heat outside on the parade, the coolness was much appreciated inside. In the evening, a few of us headed to the Diamond, near Loughgall, for an open air service… pleasant evening for it too.
Monday 11th July
I had to work from Home today… but I really surprised myself with how much I got completed. Only the one Telecon, but got loads of email sorted out & processed. In the evening the brother & I headed into Fivemiletown to play football. Now I haven’t run the length of myself in a week or seven, so I wasn’t planning to participate, but I ended up on the field running about after the ball like the rest of the ejits… the game finished 3-3 so no one ended up sad… I think!!
Tuesday 12th July
The biggest family day in my calendar. The day I’m guaranteed to see Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Grannies & Grandad in the year. This year the annual Fermanagh parade was held in Ballinamallard and it was a great time. The sun shone – to the point where I’ve discovered I’m going bald as I got the top of my head burnt!! – the music drifted on the air & the craic was mighty with family, neighbours & friends in plentious supply all day!! Thankfully the day passed off peacefully in the West, although in the cities there was some trouble, which was sad to hear. Also, given the heat, thankfully there weren’t any major incidents at the parade with people suffering – apart from the odd burnt scalp apparently – from the weather. After the parade, we had a family BBQ in Lisbellaw where an Aunt went to the trouble of putting most available meats on the grill!! Needless to say the feeding was shocking, but fantastic!! After that, it was back to HQ for a quick shower & change & then out to a party in the hills near Ballygawley. Now, whilst the music & all was in the hall I spent most of my night outside in the extremely mild night air, chatting to friends. It was a wonderful way to end a great day.
Wednesday 13th July
The day after the day before… but thankfully this one had a slow start!! Anyways, whilst in my waking up process I had a call from a friend about travelling to Scarva (or is it Scarvagh??). Now, I’ve never been to this event before – well at least not in living memory… the auld doll tells me that I was there in a pram – so I decided now was the time. So we jumped into the car & hit the road. Another beautiful day in NI, and having learnt of my folical challenge baseball cap in tow, we landed in the wee village – might even be a hamlet. Such a crowd!! Thousands of folks in this little place to see the parade & sham fight. Was amazing. I’ve added a few pics of the crew as we watched the parade leave the field. Anyways, was a great day’s craic… which involved going rounds of cheese burgers with Chris… there was only ever going to be one winner there & it wasn’t me (!!), getting caught in another parade in Portadown & having an amazing Chinese in the Golden Bridge in Portadown – highly recommended!! Once home, another quick turn around, this time for a party near to Augher. Again, I spent a large proportion of my night outside in the cool air chatting to friends. Great to be home!!
Thursday 14th July
At last some respite from the tornado that is a trip home!! Actually, today was nice. I got to mow the back lawn for the first time in a long time & despite the yapping I sometimes do about the task, I enjoy it if truth be told. Anyways, beside that, today is the Auld Man’s Birthday… I’ll not record your age here, the history books will bear record to that, but needless to say, you’re making a good stab at matching your auld man!! So in celebration, the childer of the house took the Patriarch & Matriarch to the Valley Hotel, Fivemiletown for dinner. And then we left them to their own devices as I had the important task of getting to Portadown to see the might Ports versus Viking FK in the first qualifying round of the UEFA cup. A entertaining enough game – with West Brom’s current manager Bryan Robson sitting about three rows in front of me – which ended up with the Ports getting a respectable result of 1-2 loss to a Professional outfit from Norway. I don’t hold much hope for the return leg, but at least I got my Ports fix… just have to make it to December now before the next one!!
Friday 15th July
Now… I’ve not been to a wedding since I was six – worked this out with the Auntie whos wedding it was on Tuesday. Today, I had my second – I’ll say nothing more on that point until you read tomorrow’s summary – in Ballymoney (added some pictures under Richard & Clair’s wedding). I used to live with Richard in Belfast whilst at Uni, I’ve pretty much known him since I was knee high as he lived down the road, went to the same church (and youth meetings consequently) and to the same school as me. A decent lad, and I wish him & his new wife all the very best of God’s richest blessings in the future together. Anyways, decent day all told & I also got to see the North Coast – Bushmills, Ballycastle & Giant’s Causeway – in the process.
Saturday 16th July
And to to my Second Wedding in as many days & number 3 in my list of weddings attended. Now, if you know NI, you’ll know that Fermanagh & Ballymoney aren’t exactly next door. Well, today we headed for Borris-in-Ossary (spelling might be out there slightly) in Co Laoise, Republic of Ireland – 150 miles from home. This time the connection was my auld boy’s cousin Gaye – see pictures in Gaye & Ricky’s Wedding – who although born in New Zealand & living in London, decided it was prudent to marry in the church her Grandmother grew up in . So here we all were in Laoise & Kilkenny (for the reception). Another scorching day in Ireland, and a good reception to follow a pleasant wedding.
Sunday 17th July
And so all good things come to an end… I woke, had my irish breakfast (not sure what distinguishes this from an English Breakfast or an Ulster Fry), packed & my parents took me to Dublin Aiport for my journey back to Hove. All my travel went to plan & I made it back safely to base camp. Tomorrow is back to work & I’m wondering how many emails await me… but still, it has to be done, so head down, sleeves rolled up & lets go for it!!
Anyways, apologies for the length of this… if you’ve made it this far, well done!! You’ll probably need a refill of the tea tho… I’ll owe you one for that!! Enjoy the photos – including a couple of muggins in his new suits – and I’ll chat you all soon.