Our first night in the castle was pretty good. Willow only woke up one time! We got up and headed down to the Dining Hall for breakfast, which was bacon (Ham), potato pancake, yogurt flavor of choice (I had Lemon Lime), toast with jelly (I love the orange marmalade), tea and orange juice.
*Ryan enjoying our first breakfast at the castle.
After breakfast we had the option of heading into Belfast for a few hours or heading over to Tollymore Forest, which is where C.S. Lewis was inspired to write the Chronicles of Narnia. Ryan, Willow & I opted to head in to Belfast to see the sights. The drive was about an hour from Castlewellen, so we loaded up on a small charter bus to go into town. Willow has taken quite a liking to Terry Lindsay, and she cuddled up on him for a nice morning nap on our drive. I don’t think he minded that too much either. 😉
*Willow snuggling up with ‘Uncle’ Terry.
Once we got into Belfast we dropped half of our group off at City Hall downtown to go off on their own to explore the city centre. The bus took the rest of us over to Titanic Belfast to visit the museum and the launching place of the famous Titanic ship that was built in Belfast. The museum was simply amazing, from the views of the ship yard to the replicas of different parts of the ship, to information about how it was constructed and the interesting insights on its tragic end.
*First class sleeping quarters replica. They had replicas of the first, second and third class’s sleeping quarters, which was really interesting to see how they compared in size and materials that were used.
*Here you can see an old time clock similar to what the ship’s workers would have used to clock in & out of work, and a copy of an old launch ticket used to watch the ship’s send off from Belfast to Southampton.
*Ryan, Willow & I enjoying Titanic Belfast.
One of the things that struck me as interesting were the morse code messages sent to and from the Titanic’s captain before and during the tragic event. A few hours before the tragedy, the captain received messages from a few different ships warning them of the icebergs ahead. Some of the ships warned that they even had to come to a dead stop because of the ice. Due to the messages clogging up their regular communications, the captain from the Titanic actually told the other ships to “Shut up. Shut up. I am busy.” The ships then discontinued sending their messages at 23:30, and the Titanic struck the iceberg just ten minutes later.
*Here are the last messages sent and received over the radio before the Titanic lost power due to the water flooding the captain’s quarters.
As I contemplate how this relates to my own life, I find it funny how we tend to react the same way. There have been times in my life when God has used friends or family to try to send a warning of things up ahead that I can’t see. And many times my response has been to get angry, ignore their warnings, or to allow my pride to think that I know better than the person(s) providing me with the warning. I continue on my merry way and ignore the loving words my friends or family so kindly tried to share. Then tragedy strikes and I foolishly find myself scrambling to keep my head above water.
Why do we put ourselves through this unnecessary outcome? Why do we have to be so stubborn? More often than not God uses our friends and family to lovingly reveal Himself to us. What if we were to soften our hearts and let go of our pride to allow the Holy Spirit to help us discern how to respond to these warnings in our lives? We could avoid a lot of the pain and disappointment we experience if we would just humble our hearts and be open to God’s words of warning in our lives. So I ask myself these questions, ‘Are you listening to the warnings being given to you from loved ones or your Heavenly Father?’ ‘How do you respond when someone is trying to lovingly protect and warn you of things up ahead?’
After visiting Titanic Belfast we needed to get a taxi back to city centre. We weren’t quite sure how we were going to do this, but we got out front the main building and there were four ready to be used. Praise the Lord! This was my first time in a taxi, and it went quite well! The driver only cut off one car, and they ended up having a nice little squabble through their windows at the light. That was entertaining! 😂
The taxi dropped us off at City Hall, and we headed off towards the local music shop to find some things for Ryan’s guitar for the weekend. Chennel and I enjoyed popping in and out of the local charity shops, which are like our resale shops, to see what kinds of neat things they had in there. She found quite a few plates and serving dishes made in the U.K.
Ryan wanted to find an Irish handmade teapot, and Chennel spotted a local shop with lots of neat items in it. He found the perfect teapot in a gorgeous blue with an Irish symbol on the side. They wrapped it up tight for our trip home before I got a picture of it, so I’ll have to post one after we get home. 😊
After shopping around for a bit we stopped in a local cafe, Clements, for scones and coffee. I don’t know what they do differently with their breads here, except maybe less processed ingredients, but their breads are so much fluffier than back home. Scones are usually dense, but these were so light and fluffy inside their crisp exterior.
*Chennel, Terry, Ryan & I at Clements cafe. Chennel had a Carmel latte, Terry an Americano, and Ryan & I had Mocha Lattes. The scones were raspberry and blueberry. Delicious!
*Some of the neat old buildings on our walk back to City Hall.
*Chennel , Willow & I walking back to City Hall.
After getting warmed up we headed back towards City Hall to meet up with the rest of the group. We popped into the visitor’s center to see what kinds of gifts they had in there, and I found a couple of neat tea towels for my new kitchen. One is decorated in Belfast’s famous sights and the other with Irish recipes. Can’t wait to try them out! Then we walked across the street to the bus to head back to Castlewellen.
*City Hall in Belfast is starting to get decorated for Christmas already! The sign says, ‘Happy Christmas, Belfast!’ I bet it’s beautiful that time of year.
The drive back was filled with beautiful scenery of the sun setting behind the mountains. There wasn’t a bad seat on the bus.
*Sunset behind the mountains of Northern Ireland.
When we got back in Castlewellen we had the option to hop off and walk back to the castle, so Ryan, Willow & I hopped off to enjoy the sights home.
*Willow looked so cute wrapped up underneath my blanket scarf.
*Working phone booth in downtown Castlewellen, and the front entrance to Castlewellen Castle.
*View of Castlewellen Castle on our walk back from downtown.
*Lo & I in front of Castlewellen Castle.
For dinner we enjoyed carrot soup, bread, and potato chips. Dessert was the U.K. version of the Kit Kat bar. Delish.
*Ryan shared the evening devotion for the group.
Today was a good first day with our Castlewellen friends and visiting Belfast. Tomorrow starts the early preparations for The Way.