As soon as we decided to finish our trip in Ireland, our last port of call was only ever going to be one place. Ali and her family have been coming to Portsalon for years and know everyone up there, from farmers to landladies as well as multiple holiday home-owning friends.
A point of contention soon became apparent; while Portsalon village lies at one end of a three mile crescent of golden sand, the campsite sits at the other. It soon became clear that the short drive or long stroll was going to take some getting used to for Ali (and Dot, and Ali’s mum and brother!). Luckily the weather was pretty good, and we started a new tradition of walking the beach in the late afternoon to enjoy a pint or two of Guinness in the bar over-looking the small harbour.
Annoyingly for OCD-maths types like me, this was campsite no 49, one short of a nice round 50. Our 10 days here was the longest we had spent in one place, even though the site itself wasn’t great. Too many static caravans and gangs of screaming children for my liking. At least the site shop sold the Daily Record, so I could keep up to date with the Scottish football news (the owner said it was the first copy he had sold all summer).
Ali’s friend Noirin was in town with her family, and Dot was glad to have a friend to play with for a few days. They introduced us to the joys/frustrations of pitch and putt, on what must be one of the world’s most scenic mini golf courses on the very northern tip of the Fanad peninsula.
During our stay we were joined by a several people to help us celebrate the end of an amazing six months.
Firstly, it was great to meet up with Sarah and Davide (whose own adventures inspired us to take the trip in the first place). Like us they have been travelling for several months, and were in Ireland after visiting Spain, Portugal and Morocco. They parked their campervan next to us and we swapped touring stories and marvelled at how fast their little boy, Giorgio, was growing up.
Then Ali’s Dad and Stepmum, Linda, came across for a couple of days, followed by Ali’s mum, Helen, and then her brother Stuart. Finally in the second week, Ali’s childhood friend Margot came up from Belfast. From her car tumbled out Malorie, Merlyn, Rory, Ross and baby Logan. Just as well they had brought a tent as there was no way we could fit everyone into our small van!
We took them to the Portsalon for the daily ritual that is jumping off the pier at high tide. There wasn’t a wetsuit in site as one by one people got the courage to plunge into the icy water, each pretending to those still to jump that it wasn’t actually that cold.
That night was one of the stormiest of the whole trip, and even though the caravan shook furiously all night in the wind, we were glad it was them and not us under canvas!
On our last day we were all tickled by the strange site of an entire family asleep in the pub, including their dog! Zzzzz.
There were a few tears shed as we packed up the caravan for the final time and headed for Belfast, to store the caravan for a few nights and sleep in a real house with walls!