Bangor, Northern Ireland

Bangor, from the Bangor Marina seawall

It’s 9:45pm in Bangor and Maryl has already gone to bed, on the pull-out sofa bed in the living room of the apartment, we have booked for the week. The sun has not set yet. I have a hard time going to bed when it is still light outside when school is in session, so even with a looming swim, I’m not ready to wind down and go to sleep. It is only 1:45pm at home. I think my body clock favors Pacific Standard Time. After sight-seeing and 15-20 miles of walking (many of those uphills on cliff-side stairs between natural attractions) over the past two days, we had a pretty mellow Sunday.

I slept in until 9:45 am. Took some pictures of the apartment, which we moved into yesterday, after taking the train from Belfast, and made scrambled eggs for breakfast to top the re-heated chips (what we call french fries in the states) from dinner number one yesterday (yes that is correct we ate two dinners yesterday! I’ll get to that in a bit), all while listening to “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” Thank you Maryl for tolerating this routine!

Back to the dinners. We ate first dinner early (maybe 4:30-5:00), after scoping out the marina and looking for a place, where I could safely hop in, to acclimate to the temperature. The restaurant was called The Salty Dog and they had gluten free fish and chips. I have not eaten fish in chips since being diagnosed with celiac disease, so more than 8 years ago. This was very exciting! Also really fun, was that there were well behaved pups everywhere in the restaurant and out our window, in view, on the porch. This was the dog friendliest restaurant I’ve ever been to, and overall I’ve seen more dogs in Bangor than anywhere else in Ireland. The city is full of cute furry pups. I’ve been on a mission to learn what Irish people name their dogs, while visiting with the dog walkers heading in the opposite direction. Today I met “Meg” and “Molly.” Maryl met a “Shingle,” while I was swimming, and we met a lovely woman/yoga teacher for children with ASD/North Channel Crew support, who has a dog named “Chunk.” She named him after Chunk in The Goonies (her favorite Movie).

Anyways here we go yet again, to last night’s dinner number two. After the The Salty Dog, we walked a couple of miles along the waterfront, still searching for the best possible swim spot, since the tide was very low and there were many exposed, barnacle-covered rocks breaking through the sea surface off shore. We found a nice, sandy beach, but with the tide so far out, the beach was like a quicksand mudflat, for at least 200 yards. I decided not to embarrass myself, getting stuck to my knees in mud, while trying to get out to the sea, and to just wait for high tide the next day. When we got back to the apartment, we sat out on the patio, where we were bombarded with the aroma of Indian cooking. Our front door apparently looks into the kitchen, on the back side, of an Indian restaurant! We only fasted about 15-20 minutes before both Maryl and I were in agreement that it was going to be a two dinner day. She ordered a prawn curry (the best of our orders), and I got the butter chicken. I’m pretty positive that I have never experienced two-dinners, in different restaurants, on the same night before. Maybe we’ll do it again after my big swim!

Our empty patio chairs after the decision was made.

This morning after washing the breakfast dishes, we walked up another decent hill, to Bangor Castle. The main castle is now a city building, but where the stables and laundry facility used to be, there is a very informative museum with high quality exhibits.

Bangor Castle

A model of Bangor Castle made out of 43,000 sugar cubes.

Padraig Mallon, the director of the crew company for my swim, messaged me as we were leaving Bangor Castle for a meet-up at The Salty Dog. I’ve read about Paidraig on the Infinity Channel website. He has an extensive, ultra distance athletic marathon, which includes finishing the North Channel resume. I’m hopeful he will be my pilot, and I was eager to meet him and find out swim logistics. Maryl and I met up with him and his partner Shirley, and left the conference feeling confident of our safe passage. I did learn that the swim route I will be taking is more likely 45km or 27.9 miles rather than the 22 miles that is the most direct route between the Irish starting point at Donaghadee and the Scottish point at Portpatrick. This is due to the currents and the changing tides. The strongest currents will be at the end when I’m approximately 3 miles off the Scottish coast, so I must maintain stamina and keep my mind in the swim!

After our departure from Shirley and Padraig, Maryl and I hit the beach and I got my first swim in the Irish Sea since swimming off Forty Foot near Dublin last August! I’m feeling ready! Padraig messaged me later and thinks I will start early Tuesday morning with the high tide. This is subject to change of course if the weather predictions change significantly. Tomorrow (Monday here) will be a busy day of feed, gear, and mindfulness preparations. Hopefully a good sleep-in too, since this is likely my last night and subsequent, relaxed morning before the swim. I will try to post something on #rijl_swims on instagram. Can’t Wait!

Padraig and I on sidewalk in front of The Salty Dog.

One thought on “Bangor, Northern Ireland”

  1. Hey Rijl, looks like you’re gearing up. You landed pretty with an Indian restaurant out your back door!
    I am relearning FaceTime so I can speak to ye eventually! Enjoy and Tuesday it is looking like your day.
    Love, Threase


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