An afternoon on the Antrim Coast

It rained for most of our time in Northern Ireland last week but our last full day there was dry, so we headed to the coast. Portballantrae is a small community with a population of 734 in the 2001 census.

The harbour it was very busy with lots of paddle boarders and several people taking turns at jumping off the harbour wall into the water.

There were a few people sitting at the back of the beach but no-one else walking on it. There was an incredible amount of plastic waste among the rocks and on the sand, some of it very small. It made me feel very grateful for all the people who pick up the rubbish on the beaches of our home town. I did manage to find a few very small pieces of sea glass.

At the other end of the relatively small beach we walked up the pier and back to the road we had parked the car on.

The next stop was the more familiar Whitepark Bay, a three-mile beach we have visited on numerous occasions. It has been under the care of the National Trust since 1938.

There is a Youth Hostel there and a farmer is allowed to graze his animals on the land. Apparently, the cows and sheep can sometimes be seen on the beach although there were none there on our visit. The National Trust says that they are the most-photographed cows in Northern Ireland and that they appear in numerous selfies.

Fossils of creatures called Belemnites can be found here in the rocks. They were marine animals belonging to the phylum Mollusca and the class Cephalopoda. Their closest living relatives are squids and cuttlefish. I have a small collection from previous visits.

The beach was much busier than we have ever seen it before. As I was walking back up to the car park, I met a wedding party heading down to the beach for photographs. A long wedding dress and bridesmaids’ dresses, stiletto heels and smart suits for the men did not look as if they would cope with the sand. They were struggling a little with the steep steps down to the dunes. Some of their elderly relatives or friends were struggling with the steps so I did wonder how they would manage the path through the dunes where the others were heading.

It was time for us to head back for our last evening with James’s parents and prepare for our departure the following morning.

Street Art

Our first trip to Northern Ireland to visit my husband’s parents in almost two years coincided with an art project on the North Coast which it was hoped, would increase footfall to the area again. It began in early August and involved street artists from the UK and Ireland to add murals to towns on the coast between Limavady to Ballycastle.  On our visit, not all were completed but we managed to see some. In James’s hometown of Ballymoney which is also known as ‘cow town’ there is a cow on the gable end of a building

and another by Shane O’Driscoll elsewhere in the town.

Queen Street, Coleraine has a large work by artist EMIC.

Port Stewart has two; a Sea Eagle by Danleo adorns one building

and a monochrome one by JMK sits below the Dominican College.

There are five works in Limavady, off Market Street but we did not have chance to see them. Two more are due to be unveiled there. There is also one in Castle Street, Ballycastle but we missed that also.

We have seen a lot of street art on our journeys including a mural of Amelia Earhart in Cuba.

The Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas on Route 66 has regular updates from the public.

This is in Lisbon, Ohio on the Lincoln Highway which we drove in 2016.

Here is a side street in Melbourne, Australia which we found on our journey round Highway One in 2018.

In 2017 we saw a Banksy at Jökulsárlón, Iceland.

St John’s church at the west end of Princes St in Edinburgh has a group of artists who regularly paint a mural on the side of the building, often commenting on current issues. This one was done in December 2016 after a small child migrant’s body was washed up on a shore in the Mediterranean.

I always enjoy spotting some new street art wherever I am, even though it is not something I have tried myself.