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The third day in Ireland was also Independence Day for us Americans, so we wanted to celebrate in style.  ‘In style’ basically meant packing up our things and heading up the north coast and eating chocolate cake decorated like an American Flag.  It was unique, to say the least.

The ride up the north coast was splendid.  While Karen narrated each town we passed through and gave the dramatic cliffs and quaint clusters of buildings a dismissive shrug, Hannah and I were exclaiming with joy at every turn of the winding coastal road.

It was all glorious to us.  Even Larne, home of the grannies.  We liked Larne too.  I mean, really, how could you not love a cute little Irish town full of grannies?The weather predicted spotty rain and clouds all day and it started out just like that.  We were happy, though. It was Independence Day and we were driving up the coast of Northern Ireland.  Nothing could be better.

Of course, as soon as you think that, something goes wrong.  We were driving merrily down just such a road as the one above when the low petrol light began to chime at us.  No trouble, says Karen, it can go for ages before it runs out.

Well, ages were passing and there was nowhere to stop to refill.  We began to worry just a tad.  We passed through a town called Ballygalley and Hannah and I couldn’t get over the cuteness of the name.  There are many Bally-somethings in Ireland.  My best guess is that it comes from the Irish word for town.  I know this because half a year of Scots Gaelic has taught me that ‘baile’ is the word for ‘town’ and Irish is quite similar.  I put all that together myself.  Oh yes, I have learned much this year.

Anyway, we pretty much rolled into a petrol station in the charming coastal town of Ballycastle and decided we deserved a break.

A break for ice cream, that is!

On we went, with the occasional stop for some photographs.  Karen is a good tour guide because she actually pulls over when I start exclaiming about some beautiful vista or other.  I got a lot of pictures that day…

During our drive, Karen points out this or that place that she has visited.  At one point, she explains to us that ‘here is where people holibob during the summer.’

‘Holi-what?’ we ask.

‘Holibob.  Like… holiday.’

Oh, Ireland, you are amazing.

So we continued on our own holibobbing adventure up, up, up the coast.

Oh, did I mention that the sky began to clear about halfway up the coast?  First, it was just little bits of blue.  But the blue began to spread, slowly but surely.

One of our stops was at a beach.  Of course, in Ireland, the beaches have cows sometimes too.

At one point, we saw a sign for a castle.  We eagerly pulled off to see it.

And there it was.  Modest, yes, but the location can’t be beat.

We finally reached the Giant’s Causeway.  A new centre had just opened up the day before, so it was actually very busy, but it was still enjoyable, especially since the weather was choosing to cooperate.

The story is simple, really.  The Irish hero Fionn MacCumhaill (Finn MacCool) built a massive bridge that spans from Ireland to Scotland and taunted a giant into coming across, but then Fionn was too cowardly to fight him.  His wife tricked the giant into thinking that Fionn was actually a baby and that Papa Fionn was much bigger.  The giant was so scared, he ran all the way back across the bridge, breaking most of it as he went.  So, what we have left is one bit of the bridge.

The stones are bizarre.  They are all hexagonal, all about the same size, and all nicely fitted together like paving stones.

We were given audio tours to listen to as we went, which was great, except the narrator was kind of cheesy.  What we found out is that every weird rock formation has been turned into part of Fionn’s story.  For example, here’s one of his boots.  It makes a nice chair.

As we made our way up along the cliffs, we ran into a pair of fellow Americans.   After sharing Happy Independence Day’s, they offered to take our picture.  It’s always fun meeting random friendly tourists.

Here’s the Giant’s Causeway from above.

And then we walked along the boardwalk in Port Rush for a bit.  The sun had finally come out!

We had one final stop to make before heading to the holibob flat for our celebratory cake making extravaganza: Dunluce Castle.

This was my second visit to the castle that inspired Lewis’s Cair Paraval.  Back at Christmas, Karen and I went up for a visit, but that was the ill fated day that my camera died on the way up.  While we got a few pictures, it was a cold winter’s day and I was a bit too sad to enjoy it properly.

No such problems today.

I can easily imagine the Golden Age of Narnia happening somewhere around here.  I am so glad I had the chance to come back and truly enjoy it.

Now, we had only to get to the flat and relax and bake cake.

Okay, maybe some music and dancing first.  Nothing wrong with that.

I think I could have a future in taking photos for album covers.  Doesn’t Hannah look epic here?

So we went back inside and I whipped up some cake batter.  As we were waiting for it to bake, I happened to glance back out the window.

A second later, I was flying out the door, camera in tow.

Then it turned into this.

And finally this.

It was so incredible, I couldn’t bear to go inside until it was done.  The cake nearly burned as a result, but I rescued it just in time.

Some cunning decorations were in order, of course, to mark the occasion.  Oh, and it’s in a frying pan because there were no cake pans to bake it in.  We made do, though.

I can say without a doubt that this was the best holibob I have ever been on.