As some of you may know, one of the things I enjoy is Casting Silver. I love the creativity. I use ‘found’ objects, be it stones, twigs, pieces of bark. Basically anything. So wherever I am, particularly when I am on holiday, I look for things which would make great pieces of jewellery.
This week, I was over in Northern Ireland to see a very good friend who has not been well. I had no plans, however, fortunately she was feeling a bit better, so we went off for a couple of trips.
Tuesday 6th took us to our home town, Portrush, where we had both grown up. The weather was lovely. but very changeable. It started off fairly calm, there were a few surfers on the beach, then the wind got up and all of a sudden, the sea was rough! Fortunately, the surfers decided, it was time to go. The lifeboat was not needed.
Both my friend’s Dad and my Dad were unpaid volunteers on the lifeboat (RNLI), It is a UK & Ireland charity that exists just to rescue people at peril on the sea. That means that the volunteers turn out at any hour of the day or night to risk their lives to save others. They often win well deserved awards for bravery. I well remember many a stormy night, when the phone would ring, and Dad would pull on clothes and head out, while we stayed by the fire, or in our comfy beds. Such is the life of many volunteers across the world, whatever their calling is.
The current lifeboat house is in the harbour, but the boat is now too big to fit in it, so the boat sits in the harbour permanently. My best fun as a youngster was to be allowed to join the boat in the boathouse, and go down the slipway, and the very satisfying splash the boat made! (boathouse is on the right of the photo, lifeboat – large & bright orange, centre left!)
and here’s a larger picture of the lifeboat, from a different view. I can just see the house I grew up in on the top right hand side of the photograph. There have been so many new houses built down by the sea, it is hard to recognise it. The vast majority of the houses in this picture have been built in the last twenty years.
You never appreciate what a lovely place you grow up in, until later on. I just didn’t realise how lucky I was. Here is a picture of a few surfers trying out the water on the East Strand before the wind got up. The sand hills in the background form part of the course at Royal Portrush Golf Club, which is where the British Open is being held in 2019.
Less than half a mile away, the story is a bit different.
If any of you are thinking about visiting that part of the world I can really recommend it. There really are amazing beaches all the way across the north of the coast, and lovely little villages. Many bits of Game of Thrones were filmed around Northern Ireland. Ballintoy, a few miles around the coast, Stranocum (Dark Hedges) a few miles inland, and Islandmagee to name a few.
If you are into cold water swimming as I know Fritz at Retirement Manifesto is, then this is a paradise, because every beach has a different opportunity. From the 7 mile long Magilligan Strand/ Benone, to the 2 mile long Portstewart Strand (Cars are allowed on both beaches – but watch out for the tides, my cousin had to get rescued by a tractor one day and is still trying to live it down!), the beaches at Portrush, then on along the coast to Portballintrae, White Park Bay, Red Bay…. etc. Portrush, Portstewart and Benone all have the EU Blue Flag award for clean beaches.
Wednesday 7th took us further around the coast to Glenarm, near Larne, a very small village with a medieval castle, and this is where the title of Creativity comes from.
We stopped at a small arts centre in Glenarm, where they made many of the pieces for Game Of Thrones. Their work is just stunning. The jewellers are working away at their workbenches right in front of you. For me as a jewellery artist, this was a highlight. The jewellers are Steensons The setting was amazing.
I picked up a few stones off the beach, because over the next few weeks I will cast them in silver. I also took a picture of the pebbles I picked up, with the background of Glenarm, just to set the scene. I have decided it is nice if you are buying a unique piece of jewellery, to get a bit of history / scene setting, and also the piece itself that the cast was taken from. However, while there may be restrictions in sending pieces of wood, there are no problems with sending stones, so this gets me round different country import restrictions
Glenarm Castle is amazing. They are trying to fund the upkeep through a restaurant and tours. I hope they do well . It is a lovely setting. The restaurant was pretty busy when I was there, but we didn’t pay to go and see the gardens.
There are some amazing views. As I looked along this river, not only could I see the sea, I also had a pretty good view of Scotland. (It’s on the horizon!) They are really very close
The castle itself is quite old. Here is the keep
And the castle itself
So now I have got back home again, tomorrow I will be found casting silver for pieces to add into my Folksy Shop. I am awaiting 20+ pieces coming back from the Assay Office, and then hopefully one of them will sell!!
I am off to set up tomorrows casting.
Have a lovely weekend