I think impromptu trips are always the best. I love the idea of waking up on a given morning and, by the afternoon, deciding to go away camping for the weekend, just because!
It’s a bit like being able to eat breakfast cereal for dinner just cause you’re an adult, but not adulting.
Anyway, that’s just what we did last Friday. We have had camping gear stored in the attic for ages, ever since we sold our campervan, so this weekend just passed. I decided to pull it all out, pack us and our two springer spaniels into our car and just head off.
Coupled with a few jobs we had to get sorted, the adult bit of our trip, which meant a visit to the Apple store in Belfast and a visit to family, the rest of the time was spent hanging out with our two dogs.
Hand on heart, hanging out with my two dogs, Missy and Daisy, makes me so happy. Daisy had been a bit sick recently, so it was really good to just spend time with them. They are apparently getting older, a fact I was in complete denial of until our recent trips to the vet, and it just made me so conscious of how short the life of a pet family member can be as it passes through ours. NO taking for granted anymore!!!
Side note: Last Christmas, on a trip to Belfast, we stayed in Lisburn, and we had breakfast at Bob & Berts. Because we are new vegans, it was hard to find places to eat. As I read the menu, it seemed that porridge was the way to go, and then I came across their peanut butter, maple syrup and porridge offering. I thought it sounded weird, that was until I tasted it. Bob & Berts single handily converted me to liking porridge made with water, topped with peanut butter and maple syrup, which I have been eating for breakfast ever since. Needless to say, when in the vicinity, I had to revisit to make sure I hadn’t imagined it. Hands down my favourite breakfast with coffee.
Porridge, peanut butter and maple syrup in Bob & Berts, Lisburn
One of the main things I wanted to do was bring the dogs to Tollymore Forest Park in Newcastle. We had been there earlier in the year, and at the time, I thought they would love it.
Missy loved the wind in her hair, mouth, nose, and eyes !!!
I also wanted to camp there, but sadly, it was full when we arrived. Next time though, I will book. As we were being turned away, the forest warden there kindly told us about a place just two miles away called Meelemore Lodge, where they would have areas to camp.
Camping with our Dogs
Following the direction, we quickly found it and the incredible vista of Hare’s Gap that we would be waking up to the following morning. Tent/Awning erected, we went for a short walk up towards the Hare’s Gap, but as it was pretty warm, we took it easy and sat by a small stream with the dogs.
Campsite with Hare’s Gap in the distance.
The campsite was lovely, with a café/restaurant attached, ample washing area, and dog-friendly, a lucky find.
Awning pitched for the night, the first outing without the camper van.
The pathway up towards Hare’s Gap.
Missy is ready and waiting for her walk.
That evening we went into Newcastle, walked by the beach with the pups and had a vegan curry takeaway sitting beneath the Mourne Mountains.
On the way to the river.
The following morning, up bright and early, we headed to the initially intended destination, Tollymore Forest Park. Parking up, we made our down towards the river Shimna, which runs through the forest. Sitting out on the river with the dogs as they played in the water.
Puppies in the river Shimna.
We then opted for the Arboretum walk, which is relatively short.
Alan & Daisy
Towards the end of the walk, we came across a Cork tree native to the Mediterranean basin, Spain, Italy, France, Portugal and Northern Africa. I’d never actually seen one, but of course, I’m very familiar with the product created from it, corks for the top of wine bottles, and the many bags and shoe designs found throughout the shops in Portugal. The tree is quite stunning to see up close.
A short video about cork harvesting
Finally, it was back to the car for the trip home, with many coffee and water breaks. Till next weekend that is 🙂