170814-Winter Is Coming

Storms raged last night, but despite the tent swaying to and fro it remained dry and intact. Today’s weather wasn’t quite as bad as forecast, but still cold and rainy. I managed to stay (mostly) dry, dashing from place to place during dry (and semi-dry) intervals, visiting the sights around the Nature Park.

There was a technology vehicle here at the campground today. I was told they’re installing Wi-Fi for the campground. That would be great; I’ve been using the Wi-Fi at the cafe associated with the estate, about a 20 minute walk from the campground.

Castle Ward here at the estate was the location used for Winterfell Castle for Game of Thrones, and there are a number of displays around the estate relating to that filming. I also took the (long) walking tour of the 17th century manor house that proved quite interesting. I spent the remainder of the day exploring the grounds. I wandered a bit about nearby Strangford as well, making sure I have enough food to get me to Belfast. There was a nap in there as well.

Robert looked me up again, and I spent a pleasant evening with him talking about work, and countries, and life in general. He’s camped here with wife and son. While he works as a programmer for Allstate now, he used to run a 50-foot fishing boat between here and the Isle of Man. He pointed out a greenway nearby that runs about 20 km into the heart of Belfast.

I think I have my plan sorted out for the next few days. I have a reservation at a hostel I’ve never stayed at in Belfast for tomorrow night. I hope to get there early enough to extend my day to Carrickfergus Castle on the other side of Belfast, after dropping off everything at the hostel. Wednesday I should catch the ferry to the Isle of Man, and then a few days later take another ferry to Liverpool before heading south along the English coast.

Crossing from Ireland to Northern Ireland meant a change from the euro to pounds. However, it’s more complicated than that. In Northern Ireland the three or so banks issue the currency. The English pound is accepted here, but not the reverse (English businesses won’t accept the NI pound). The Isle of Man issues a completely different pound note (the Manx pound), again only accepted on the Isle of Man. Just for completeness, there’s a Scottish pound note as well. England also retired one of their five pound notes, so there are signs up in the stores to not accept those either (although banks will exchange them).  I’m still running at the ragged edge of “enough” currency to try to avoid constantly exchanging the same currency for new.

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