Bratts tour of UK & Ireland



Auckland to Heathrow

Heathrow to Gatwick

Gatwick to Bath

Bath to Port Isaac

Port Isaac to Dorchester

Dorchester to Abbey Wood

London - Day 7

London - Day 8

Abbey Wood to Ashford


Ashford to Brecon

Brecon to Abergavenny

Abergavenny to Chester

Chester to Stranraer

Stranraer to Omagh

Omagh to Dublin

Dublin to Glenville

Glenville to Lough Ree

Lough Ree to Belfast

Belfast to Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond to Inverness

Inverness to the Grampians

The Grampians to Edinburgh

Edinburgh to Consett

Consett to Doncaster

Doncaster to Warwick

Warwick to Moreton-In-Marsh

Moreton-In-Marsh to Cirencester

Cirencester to Fareham

Fareham to Heathrow to Hong Kong

Hong Kong - Day 1

Hong Kong - Day 2

Hong Kong - Day 3

The Director's Cut

Tour Costs


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DAY 15 - Stranraer to Omagh 12/06/2005
street mural belfastThe ferry ride to Belfast was like a Cook Strait crossing; expensive food, pale sick people, revolting toilets and annoying children. The mere difference was the arrival. Landing in Wellington, NZ is never as impressive as the scenic beauty of Picton, but arriving in Belfast made Wellington look like the Garden of Eden. The Belfast port looks like the depressions of the 30’s, dirty, grey and gloomy, with derelict buildings and machinery left lying around to rot and decay.

street mural belfastThe only consolation is that the ferry staff are very efficient. But then again what’s the hurry when what’s on offer in Belfast was worse than the port. The “lets go” guide said the best tourist features were the murals here and in Derry (Londonderry) left from the days when the Protestants and Catholics or IRA and Loyalists (Irish and the Poms) were at war. Don’t let anybody tell you they are not still at war. Every day they still have shootings and reports in the paper of deaths and maimings.

street mural shankill roadWe went to the streets indicated as the having the best murals; a bit of a mission as somebody has stolen the street signs. The streets were filled with rubbish, spray-painted/tagged roller doors over shop windows, abandoned buildings with boarded up or smashed windows, barricaded and barbed wire entrances, stray peeing dogs and of course violent murals . Piles of pallets were piled up for burning for some commemoration ceremony. There were no people, they must be at church. Although I have enclosed photos of the murals (Belfast & Londonderry) we never actually took any of our own as Roger was to reluctant to get out of the van to take photos. We therefore left depressed and scared with a bad impression of Ireland, a country we had admired from TV programs and readings.

We hadn't had breakfast and were tired and dirty from lack of sleep and not showering as we had got up early to catch the ferry. The sights of Belfast hadn’t helped. We thought a hearty breakfast was in order to brighten up our spirits. I thought Antrim, a larger town where my previously mentioned ancestor's wife came from, would be a good place. I thought wrong, it didn't open until 1.00pm. We managed to miss a town where a Macdonalds sign was pointing and ended up in Harryville at the small local dairy that had a suspiciously large carpark.

We ignored the suspicion and went inside, willing to settle for a pie. No pies, no food on display, just people standing around and then we smelled the bacon. After several attempts of trying to interpret what the lady said was on offer we simply just ordered two of them, real brave. We soon discovered that this is why they have a big carpark because people come from miles all at the same time to buy the mystery items for their Sunday breakfast.

Bacon and egg soda sarnieBreakfast finally arrived, "Soda Sarny", soda bread filled with a fried egg, sausage, bacon and, as described by the shop lady, brown or red sauce, such class. Whatever happened to tomato or steak sauce? Although we paid in English pounds sterling we were given change in Ulster pounds sterling. Northern Ireland works in pounds sterling but has three different types of bank notes for the three different banks. You can use these notes in England except for the ones dated before the big 2004 bank robbery. We also brought a paper displaying the heading of “Maoris tame the Lions”.

As you drive through Northern Ireland the residents proudly display their Union Jack or Irish flag. This must be the only way the people of Northern Ireland can express their sense of belonging, because everywhere else there is confusion. They have 2 languages Irish and English, they have Irish notes of English currency and live in a country called Ireland owned and ruled by England. Statistics show that over 60% of the people who live here are young males with no future.

We escaped the cities and headed to the top of Northern Ireland to the Giants Causeway. The wind was fast and cold so we had a nap before taking on a hike around coast. The walk was well worth it to see the fascinating interlocking stacks of hexagonal rocks either made by a giant if you believe legend (tall tales) or by geographic and volcanic acGiants Causewaytion if you chose the scientific explanation. How ever they were formed it is intriguing and more spectacular than NZ’s Punakaiki (Pancake) rocks.

the bridge to Carrick-a-Rede islandFrom there we drove along the coast to the famed rope bridge and other coastal fishing towns. Before heading off south we drove through Derry, formerly Londonderry to see more murals and the 9 metre thick wall around the city. We finally parked up in Omagh for a spot of free camping, only because the local forest one had shut down.







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