Lockdown Blues

After two months at home, thank the Stars and the Moon

We’re easing the lock-down and can move about soon.

Oh, I’ve missed my swimming in the Sea and the Lake

and my hands are all calloused from wielding a rake!

For years the garden had a perfunctory skiff;

A quick dash with the mower to tidy a bit,

A few Veggies planted then fend for themselves

But now, like so many, I’ve had time to delve.

My ramshackle greenhouse near bursts at the seams

With cavalcades of Courgette and Micro Greens.

The Tomatoes are stretching their limbs to the sky

While Carrots and Parsnips drain the water-butt dry.

And I’m learning the birds in the Garden that feed;

Chaffinch and Goldfinch, I keep them in seed.

I’ve now decorated the rooms in my home

Refresh and declutter – too long alone!

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And with all the exercise, I’ve realised I Like,

Walking and Yoga and going out on the Bike.

But I STILL miss my Swimming, so, while sipping Sloe Gin,

I came up with an idea, to bring the Outside… IN…

With too much time, and left-over paint I fear –

I happened to come up with this SPLENDID IDEA!

Bored with my Bathroom and no plumber to help

I decided to do a makeover, myself!

“What a Great Idea!” It seemed in my head,

“I can’t go to the Lake – it can come to ME instead!”

So, here is the consequence of binge-watching shows

On home décor and Art; “We’re ALL artists you know…”

I blame GRAYSON PERRY, so please heed my warning

Lest you should wake up to THIS every morning;

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My bathroom now has, at least for a while,

This Waterside visitor, who DOES make me smile;

He may not be Perfect, he may not be Grand,

But he was My piece of Lakeside, whilst Swimming was banned!

Words and photos by

Maureen McCoy 19th May 2020

THE HERMITAGE The Mournes – Tollymore Forest Park

Hermitage Tollymore 11b web

THE HERMITAGE    Tollymore Forest Park       Mournes, Co. Down

Words by Maureen McCoy

Photos by Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media

From the car park at Tollymore Forest follow the River Trail under the impressive stone arch and follow the stream as it chatters on its way down to meet the Shimna. The first of many pools sits just below a small waterfall and bridge, pleasant for swimming with broad flat rocks on the edge.

Continue walking upstream and in a matter of minutes you come to the Hermitage, perched on the edge of the rocks, this whimsical folly leads you through tiny medieval style buildings.  The open windows look down into the miniature gorge beneath and a deep pool that curves around the rocks.  Follow the path through each room to a low, castellated wall, step over and climb down the rocks to the pool.

Allow your imagination to run wild as you swim downstream, under the turrets of the Hermitage, looking out for trolls or other dangerous creatures hiding in the crevasses! Returning upstream, the light, dapples as it breaks its way through the trees to play on the waters’ surface. As you approach the top of the pool the flow of the water increases as it spills from the river above, forced into a narrow channel. With the thrill of fast moving water bubbling past your ears, swim hard towards the fall into the melee of churning water, a natural jacuzzi, then relax and let the force sweep you back to the calm of the wide pool.

Hermitage 1

The little row of charming buildings tends to bring out the child in each of us, the urge to duck through the low doorways and play games of knights and castles. They never fail to bring a smile to my face and it’s lovely to think of the thousands who have sheltered from the rain in them since they were built in the 1770s by James Hamilton, 2nd Earl of Clanbrassil, in memory of the Marquis of Monthermer.  In those days gone by the ladies would shelter inside while the gentlemen fished for salmon in the Shimna below.

Children will love exploring the path and buildings and for a longer walk continue on up the river where there are many more pools to explore. A full day can be spent happily walking the many paths of this superb park.

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