Wednesday, 23 July 2014

The Slieve

Most of the peaks in the Mourne Mountains are called Slieve something-or-other, the highest being Slieve Donard at 2,790 feet (853 metres). Actually, Slieve Donard is the highest mountain in Northern Ireland. I have walked to the top several times, as well as walking to the top of Slieve Commedagh (the next highest) and other Mourne walks. Have any of you heard of the song The Mountains o' Mourne? Here are the lyrics just to remind you:
Oh, Mary this London's a wonderful sight,
With the people here workin' by day and by night.
They don't sow potatoes, nor barley, nor wheat,
But there's gangs of them digging for gold in the street.
At least when I asked them that's what I was told,
So I just took a hand at this digging for gold.
But for all that I found there I might as well be,
Where the Mountains o' Mourne sweep down to the sea.

Now, where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea is in Newcastle, County Down. As you can imagine, since Slieve Donard is looming over the small seaside town, there are plenty of references to the mountain in the naming of various locations in the area. The song was written by the talented Percy French and there is a really nice restaurant named after him (we've eaten there a few times). The Percy French restaurant is situated at the entrance to the Slieve Donard Resort and Spa; a beautiful old hotel. In these parts it is simply referred to as The Slieve.

We (the husband and I) were privileged to be invited to a wedding yesterday. The marriage ceremony was held in Belfast and the reception at the Slieve Donard. The bride's father is a friend and work colleague of the husband's. They have been discussing the ins and outs of all the wedding planning and preparations for the past year!!

Enough of the talk and let's see some photos of the big day. It was very hot in Belfast so some sensible person thought to leave all the church doors open. The flowers were really beautiful.


Entrance to church
Church vestibule
Bridesmaids' flowers
Bride's bouquet
Men's buttonholes

Inside the church was very nicely decorated.

After the ceremony the bride and groom walked down the aisle to the band playing We Go Together from Grease. We were all given little cones made from the sheet music for the song and filled with confetti.

Everyone threw their confetti together - as directed by the photographer.

And here's the result of all the confetti throwing.

They had three vintage cars to transport the bridal party to the reception. It was rather a large bridal party as there were five bridesmaids, best man and four groomsmen, flower girl and page boy. The Beauford was my favourite of the three cars.

Isn't the bride lovely?

And what do you think of the tie I picked for the husband? It matched in really well with the bridal party - though that was totally unintentional!

We all headed off to Newcastle and the Slieve Donard for the reception, hoping that there would be a bit of a sea breeze to cool us down. Thankfully there was, though there was also a bit of a sea mist rolling in. The mist cleared and rolled back in again several times over the remainder of the day but wasn't a problem.

There were a few surprises in store for the guests, the first being the arrival of the bride and groom at the Slieve Donard. Yes, they started off from the church in a lovely white Beauford but it only took them to the nearest airfield where they boarded a helicopter and flew to Newcastle. The Slieve Donard is a big hotel and has a helipad at the front.

They attracted some attention from holiday makers on the beach
And the helicopter soon took off again

While the bride and groom were manoeuvred to the beach and various picturesque spots in the hotel grounds for the photographers to work their magic, the guests were free to have 'light refreshments' in the hotel (tea, coffee, heart shaped shortbread and tray bakes) or wander about and try to get whatever photos they wanted to themselves. Here are some of the photos I took to give you an idea of what the hotel is like, what Newcastle is like and what Slieve Donard is like as it sweeps down to the sea.

There are two lions guarding the entrance.

This is the hotel later on in the evening when the mist settled in.

Back to the afternoon and views of the mountains and Newcastle from the hotel. This is Slieve Donard.

Slieve Commodagh is to the right of Donard

Look at how bent the trees are from their wind-battering.

Looking back to the entrance and showing the Percy French restaurant.

The hotel have their own beach gate.

Some better photos of the wedding cars; except the Beauford never made it to the reception.

There are various works of art dotted around the grounds of the Slieve Donard. This is just a few of them. The first is called Wind & Sea.

What about this work of art hiding behind the foliage??? That's me!

The husband and I were having a little rest on this bench when the photographers came and asked us, very nicely, to move so they could take more photos of the bride and groom. It gave me the opportunity to take some as well!

Once the majority of the photos had been taken we were able to go inside and enjoy our meal. The room was beautifully decorated; white carpet (specially laid for this reception and then to be disposed of), lots of white blossom and curtains of lights covered with a gauzy film of lace. There was also a very tall wedding cake; photo taken from the only place I could position myself so the cake looks like the leaning tower of Pisa.

After dinner the husband and I walked along the promenade while the room was tidied up for the evening 'do'. Some more guests arrived for that, laden down with wedding presents. Of course, the bride and groom had to have their first dance - with everyone watching. I'm glad it wasn't me!

There was more food (!!) for everyone. They had an ice-cream stand, a sweet stall and mini fish and chips served in cones. It would have been rude not to try some.

There was another surprise in store for the guests. At 10:30 we were asked to go outside onto the lawn. By this time it was almost completely dark because of how thick the mist had become. Some music started playing and then there was a fireworks display.

We didn't stay much longer after the fireworks finished. We needed to get to the other side of the mountains to get home again. The husband's contact lenses were giving him problems so I drove home. The mist had become a bad fog and it was really hard to drive, especially when we got onto the wee roads with no white line down the middle! Anyway, we got home safely in the end.

I hope that wasn't boring for you - it was a very long but very enjoyable day. Just in case you thought I didn't do anything productive at all for a whole day, you're wrong! I took Dhaveena's blanket with me to crochet in the car on the long daylight journeys. I'm now working on the edging and it will very soon be finished. I can't wait to let you see it.

And here are a few garden photos to finish off with. There is so much sweet pea I have to cut two big bunches every day. Not that I'm complaining! It smells so lovely in the house.

I really like this particular colour of sweet pea. There's only a small amount of it among all the rest so I kept it separate.

Another dahlia just started to flower.

The strawberry runners planted into pots to make new plants for next year.

And the tomatoes are ripening an an increasing rate. I'm having to start freezing them now.

Finally (you'll be glad to hear) we bought three hydrangeas. The one in the middle is a lovely pale pink but the flowers are pointing towards the hedge.

This is my favourite!

Well done if you made it to this point. Hope you enjoyed at least some of this post and will come back again for more.

All the best for now.


  1. What a wonderful day!!! The flowers are stunning and the reception venue looks beautiful, especially in the mist, very romantic indeed. I hope that the bride and groom enjoyed it and that they have a long and happy marriage. Your garden looks as though it is doing really well indeed! Love the sweet peas. xx

    1. Everyone - but especially the bride and groom - seemed to really enjoy the day. It wil be long remembered!

  2. Congrats to the beautiful bride and groom , it all looked like the perfect day. You captured the day perfectly .And yes I agree it would have been rude not to eat the ice cream

    1. It was delicious - I was so tempted to have another but I really didn't need it!

  3. Your blog is an excellent advertisement for Northern Ireland. This is a part of the country I don't know that well either.

    1. I love the Mournes and Newcastle (best of both worlds - mountains AND sea). I don't really know where you come from well.


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