My tour guiding course continues, this time with a trip down the Ards Peninsula and to Mount Stewart (above). We had a tour of the house, home to Lord and Lady Londonderry for many years and now owned by the national trust.
The head gardener also gave us a tour of the amazing garden and I saw giant shamrock, the likes of which I've never seen before.
I also did my first ever paid tour recently - a one hour coach tour of Belfast - in Spanish! It took a lot of preparation and not a little help from my mother but I got through it without any major disasters and am really quite proud of myself. The tour ended at the new Titanic Belfast museum, below.
A full seven months after buying my beautious bell tent, Danny and I finally got a weekend with decent enough weather to get out and use it. We went to Tullymore Forest Park in Newcastle, Co.Down and got a spot with a view over the forest and the tallest mountain in Ulster - Slieve Donard.
Bell tents are pretty easy to erect because the central pole does most of the work of holding the tent up, and I brought lots of throws, thai cushions and a proper feather duvet and pillows to make things comfy.
It's not quite the sumptuous game-of-thrones style tent I've been planning but it's halfway there and there's another camping trip planned with friends for the summer solstice. And next time I'm bringing board games, nights in a tent with no entertainment can be very long!
Above, the view from Carlough on the Antrim Coast Road.
My mum and I have started a course to become language tour guides in Northern Ireland and so far it has been an absolute pleasure. We spent Saturday afternoon on a coach travelling along the beautiful Antrim Coast Road, passing through villages like Glenarm, Carnlough, Ballycastle, travelling over the still snowy Antrim Plateau and visiting the famous Giant's Causeway, Bushmills Whiskey Distillery and Dunluce Castle.
I was lucky enough to get my obligatory 10 minutes tour-guiding on the microphone out of the way early on and without any major disasters. And then I was free to enjoy the scenery, the commentary and the free whiskey in the distillery at lunchtime which sweetened the journey no end!
Above, views down to Carrick-a-rede rope bridge with Sheep Island behind and below, Rathlin Island, Fair Head and the traditional raven watching over Dunluce Castle.
This year Belfast City Council pulled out all the stops and put on a four day festival for Saint Patrick's day and I was drafted in to do origami and papercraft workshops for three days.
We made shamrock badges, hairclips, necklaces and origami shamrocks and four-leaf clovers with kids from one to a hundred (more or less) and it was great craic, the only thing problem being that I was kept so busy that I hardly got a chance to take many photos or indeed to take part in some of the amazing other traditional crafts that were on offer.
I hope you all rose a glass for luck on Sunday, wherever you were in the world.
During a brief spell of sunshine last week Danny and I escaped the big bad city and found a little oasis of calm which I never even knew existed before, just 16 miles out of the city. I'm mapping out sacred Ireland for myself inch by inch.
On the edge of Strangford Lough lie a series of tiny islands connected by causeways and on the very last one, Mahee Island, sits Nendrum monastic site dating from the mid fifth century, when Christianity was beginning to flourish in Ireland under St. Patrick. This monastery was founded by an associate of his called Saint Mo Choí.
The monastery had its greatest days between the 7th and 10th Centuries and the ruins include a church, a round tower and a sundial all within enclosures of three concentric circles.
We brought the sunday papers with us and sat on the grass overlooking a bay full of yachts.
So you may have gathered that I like getting my craft on, but I've always been a bit useless when it comes to fabric crafts. My seamstress granny taught me to sew (ish) but to my shame I've never learned to crochet, knit or make clothes.
So I made my fabric crafts debut with this little ring cushion. My sister was recently bridesmaid for her lovely friend Angharad's winter wedding in Cambridge and I undertook to make this for her. The burgundy felt went with the colours of the wedding and as she was a Northern Irish girl marrying an American in England, we chose to use the vintage Irish lace doilies to reflect her roots.
It turned out quite cute I think, just don't look too closely at the stitiching!
(I took these photos before posting the ring cushion so that's my beautious engagement ring that Danny chose all on his own-io. Clever boy!)