Duke of Edinburgh- reflection

When I was a 13 yr old I found it very dull were I lived in Co Armagh and I am very thankful to 1st N.Ireland Girls Brigade for the interests they nurtured in my life. It was through this organisation I became involved in the Duke of Edinburgh Award through the amazing support of Mr Roy Woolsey who encouraged my love for the mountains. I started working toward my Duke of Edinburgh award that involved so many elements.

I spent many weekends camping in the Mourne mountains and achieved my Duke of Edinburgh bronze and silver awards with a group of girls. However by the time I was ready to complete my gold award which involved a five day expedition we had covered the majority of the Mourne mountains so not acceptable to walk there as too familiar. Our group had also diminished to 3 which was not a safe number so we had to join with three guys from the Boys Brigade and we headed off to Dunfries and Galloway.

The weather was not for us and at some point we had to alter our route and come down to lower ground as rain was heavy with thunder and lightning. All in all an incredible experience.

I was also chosen to represent N.Ireland for the Duke of Edinburgh Award in Operation Kangaroo in Australia but unfortunately had to decline as the nursing college would not release me for that time.

One of the skills I started to study through the award was hand embroidery which I continued in later years and completed qualifications through the school of stitched textiles. I also took part in completing the hand embroidery on the Game of thrones tapestry.

I met the Duke of Edinburgh at St James Palace when he presented me with my gold award. I was part of a group from N.Ireland in the throne room. He spoke with us as a group and then spoke individually. I was dressed in a suit and he wanted to know why I was not wearing my Girls Brigade uniform. When I told him I had left the Brigade as unable to manage with my role as a student nurse which caused me to leave home, with a twinkle in his eye he commented “ so, you run around now with a bed pan under your arm instead of climbing mountains” I was taken a back not expecting such a comment from a Royal figure and being young and unaware of his humour so I stated that there really was a lot more to nursing than that. Reading and listening to many of the comments people have made about his humour this week after his passing I can see this now as not so much a comment from a grumpy man but part of who he was and how he expressed humour. I imagine this is what his family will miss a lot at gatherings.

I gained so much from the Duke of Edinburgh award that I feel set me up for my adult life, helping me deal with everything that crossed my path, just another mountain to climb, and for that I am deeply grateful to him. In the last week since his parting I am amazed at how much more he was involved in but if each person gained even part of what I gained from the award it is a tribute to him.

Spring already

It has been so long since I have written hard to believe we are in another season and have more or less been in some form of lock down for a year. A lot has happened in this year. We lost my father in law right at the beginning of the first lock down thankfully not due to Covid. I have lost a few older relatives to Covid and had to deal with it in our own household. Fortunately I recovered fairly quickly and was able to continue to work from home. Lots of projects and reading in my spare time and of course out and about in the security of Monty our trusted camper. Smudge has thoroughly enjoyed having us around every moment of the day and became even more of a madam.


no holidays as such but lots of day trips locally to either the beach or the Lough. We are fortunate that both are around five miles for us. We have mild days and absolutely freezing days and although it is Spring we have just had snow to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary.

Smudge got a new puffer coat at her favourite shop Murphy and Bailey https://www.facebook.com/MurphyandBailey/ and has had a few visits for treats. One of our favourite places to walk is island hill but you need to make sure you check the tides because if you hit high tide the path is under water.https://walkni.com/walks/island-hill-north-strangford-nature-reserve/

A lot of my crochet has been for gifts such as the natures walk blanket that travelled over to USA and Lollo bear for a very special little girls first birthday coming up. Lots more blankets planned as so many people I want to gift and some for myself as well.

I am presently doing a picnic by the beach cal by Eleonora of https://coastalcrochet.com/ she is such a fun designer and we have so much in common with a nursing background as well. Loving the excitement every other month when I receive my little box of crochet and so far staying up to date with completing projects. I will be starting another cal picnic by the river designed by Eleonora as well but hosted by https://www.littleboxofcrochet.co.uk/. I also plan to start a mosaic for my bed by Maud https://www.instagram.com/maud__akkermans/?hl=en-gb it’s a patchwork cal and I will be choosing different colours.

I have two wonderful sets of neighbours. On one side I have a couple recently moved from Isle of Man who gave me the beautiful tulips above for Easter and a lovely Lithuanian family whose children made us the little jelly desserts below.

As I mentioned in prior blogs Covid has not really impacted our little world too much as I walk in the waves, crochet to classic fm and give Smudge as many cuddles as ever.

November days out and preparing for Christmas

Having Monty has been such a blessing getting out and about, with a little kitchen and toilet on board which is extremely useful during a pandemic. unfortunately the government do not seem to understand the benefits. However for us we are keeping safe and away from everyone whilst enjoying the fresh air and boosting our mental health. we can be seen in Groomsport or Millisle mostly,

The decorations usually go up around the 1st of December. It is quite an event as much decor comes down to make room for them and they all have their place. We have the Christmas music on and Smudge loves the fuss as she wears her Christmas scarf Lucy bought her many years ago.

Cranberry flap jacks and short bread made as well as organising the Xmas day menu. Parsnip, bacon and roast parsnip soup followed by raspberry sorbet and melon. A little break before the turkey dinner with all the trimmings of Brussels sprouts with lardons and cocktail sausages cooked with cranberries, roast carrots, parsnips and potatoes. Cream potatoes and gravy. A glass of Prosecco and profiteroles for dessert. We always eat at 5 so we can go out in the morning to the beach.

Holiday season is over but not for us

We are making good use of ‘Monty’ with lots of days out and we plan to continue this throughout the winter. I had a day leave today and we sat at the beach listening to the wind, waves and classic fm. Smudge snoozed and we relaxed.

Some excitement in the media about a vaccine for Covid. However I will not be opting for this and will continue to keep my distance. I would be concerned I may react as have many allergies. Christmas is drawing near but work will continue and I will keep busy in between with crafts and cooking. I am still working on my Queen as well as a few other bits and pieces. The Christmas cards are ready for mailing.

Our little angel…. even when she wakes us at 0300 and 0500hrs wanting to play .

Ardglass and Ballyhornan

We slept as snug as bugs in rugs and enjoyed the extra hour with the clocks going back.

Smudge kept guard as a cat dared to visit our pitch

We went exploring as the sun was shining and no sign of rain.

Jordan’s Castle

This little village has everything close by which is ideal when your dog is 12 years old and not so keen on an early morning walk.

We have always loved Ballyhornan Beach and it’s picnic spot. However this has been refurbished and Monty does not fit under the new height restriction set on the car park so we were unable to visit and had to move further on up the road. When we bought our camper it was instead of a car so we are being discriminated against by a number of council areas, stopping us visit areas on day trips.

I always manage to find some sea anemones on this side of the Lough.