NI Coastal Cycle - Day Two

Today you are going to have a little history. Marconi for your electrification and edification, Paddy the pigeon for your amusement and the saga of the hotel in case you also are organising a coastal challenge. But first how did the day go. Well Philip woke up with a sore knee, I woke with an upset stomach- my usual reaction to extreme exercise, Jim had a sore back and Leo woke with a sore head. We weren’t sure why Leo was suffering though there were a few suggestions. Perhaps if the rest of us had stayed up past 9.30pm to keep the poor man company instead of leaving him to the mercy of the Ballycastle people....

As for Paddy, Patrick and Greer, they seemed to have sailed through the challenge and even now, writing this that has continued, damn them.

Well the first 10 miles saw the worst of the hills over but the wind prevented full enjoyment of the down hill and the next miles along the coast. We had coffee and scones in Carnlough in the harbour cafe and lunch in Larne. Philips knee continued to give him problems but some strong pain relief saw him through. And he is REALLY determined. Trying to find a safe cycle path through Belfast was re would be clear signs for a while then a gap, thank you for the internet, and then signs again. Heading from the city airport to Bangor was the same. The cycle path would suddenly disappear around Helens Bay leaving us to the mercy of the very noisy and unpleasant traffic and then reappear on the other side. Would it fair of me to suggest that the residents may not like the idea of a cycle path along the bottom of their not insubstantial gardens, and know the right people to make sure it doesn’t happen?

Bangor appeared at just after 6 and the hotel took our bikes and supplied us with rooms and SHOWERS. Yeah!!

Now I promised you history. Marconi first, and this is from Philips research. A half Italian aristocrat, home schooled, interested in this new wireless communication stuff. Uses mams money to do his experiments and comes up with an idea. So what was its first useful application. To relay messages from Rathlin where all the shipping for Liverpool had to pass, over to a cottage on the mainland in Ballycastle, the messages sent to Lloyd’s insurances so that they would have advanced notice of what ships hadn’t foundered and undoubtedly use the information to make even more money. I am sure that Marconi himself will have had shares in Lloyd’s but that I doubt that the owner of the cottage did. That last bit was obviously not part of Philips research.

Next Paddy the pigeon. 2nd world war, maybe Dunkirk, or some other significant incident, a carrier pigeon called Paddy made a record breaking flight to carry a crucial message home. Thereby earning himself the equivalent of the Victoria cross for animals. Now who knew they had a Victoria cross for animals? Maybe it was WW1, and was it before or after Marconi because then they could have sent a wireless message, or maybe they had to have silence on the airwaves in cast the enemy was listening. Whatever, Leo has a photo of Paddy Moore in front of the plaque and you can get the right details there. Apparently Paddy, the pigeon that is, died at 11 years old but I can’t tell you if that was a record too - use your own internet.

I am not an animal person, or a pigeon person, so please do not judge me on the quality of that last paragraph. Finally the saga of the hotel, and I will make it succinct. Kate from Mainstay rings the hotel in Ballycastle, negotiates a rate for larger group, pays deposit and then changes for smaller numbers and a different date. They don’t want to give reduced rate for smaller group and tell Kate they have no rooms free the new date. So Philip rings independently. Any rooms for new date? Certainly sir. Let me think about it. Kate rings hotel revealing insider info that they have rooms free. Ok so they can probably try and manage to squeeze us in. We arrive. The bikes are left in a room that smells more than a little stale but the bikes don’t care. Double room for Paddy and me-yes. Twin rooms for four men- actually they go up and find doubles, not happy, the hotel replaces with two rooms with double and single bed, one has faulty shower, that one changed to another. Single room for last man- turns out to be another room with double and single. Lucky they have all those spare rooms to offer us. All ready for bed, let’s eat. Meal was ok, just ok. The treacle tart had no treacle in it ( I’m sure I would have seen any BLACK treacle but the desert was creamy colour), but the cheese board took the biscuit. ‘Special irish cheeses’ they replied included Parmesan, Mozzarella, Coleraine cheddar, a goats cheese, a blue cheese and Brie. Jim declined feeling more than a little bemused. So don’t go there if you’re u have the funds to go elsewhere.

And now I am done. I have given what I promised. More later.

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