For today’s adventure, I visit Murlough Bay to soak up the atmosphere and to find places to weave into The Merrow Of Murlough Bay.
I spent time looking at various maps and researching some local legends before setting out to visit the coast. I knew what I wanted to see. I knew what I needed to be able to recreate in my mind’s eye to help me write.
Today I got to see Lough Doo, the residence of a devil horse who shapeshifts into The Grey Man, lulls people into a false sense of security, and then pulls them into the dark waters of his home!
I also visited the shoreline to find the spot where the merrow crawls ashore and to find places where he might be able to hide.
I managed to locate the entrance to some disused mines. And (after quite a bit of huffing and puffing) I eventually found the ancient church of Drumnakill (the place that has the magic clay)!
You can see all these places on today’s video blog.
For today’s adventure, I started doing some off-line research for my new story. The storyline is complete. The next step is for me to anchor the story to a place and time.
For this story, I didn’t really need to look for a place. A place has been calling me for a while. The place is called Murlough Bay and is on the Antrim coast, Northern Ireland.
The last time I was at Murlough Bay was in July 2012 at the time of the Venus Transit. To see the transit, I had to be at the cliffs above the bay just before dawn. Unfortunately, I arrived 24 hours early for the transit (:P – I’m very keen) but I did get to witness a fabulous, eerie sunrise.
As the sun rose, it illuminated the Mull of Kintyre, Rathlin and the Scottish islands of Islay and Jura. It was beautiful. And it was very spooky. The kind of spooky that magics your feet into the ground. The kind of spooky that turns your breath to glass.
I got out a map of the area and soaked in all the place names. I then ploughed (yes, it was quite a demanding read!) through the relevant sections of a book called The Moyle Shore. This book offered me some fascinating information that will be really useful for building the story’s set.
The book described how local fisherman would have caught glashan (coalfish) and lythe (pollock). It talked about coalmines and lime kilns; about an ancient church surrounded by healing clay; about pilgrimage routes; and about rocks in the sea with special names.
Yup. There is magic in this place. And if I can weave the magic of this place into my story… well, that story might just be potent enough to unmagic a body’s feet from the ground or turn glass breath into stardust.
Oh – and the story has a name now : The Merrow Of Murlough Bay. The story likes it 🙂 .
Today I woke up with a cosmic adventure in mind! For my 105th adventure, I watched the live-streaming of the total lunar eclipse. At 08.45am UK time, I watched the eclipse pass into the “totality” phase. This morning I saw my first “live” blood moon. This morning I saw red hot dragon’s breath enveloping the moon. This morning I shared the celebrations, and awe, of those watching live in the Griffith observatory in California. This morning I welcomed our moon safely back home. This morning I felt connected to this small, wondrous corner of our universe. This morning I felt connected to all the people watching this celestial event. This morning I felt connected to it all. (I have the feeling that my adventuring is waking me up to the aliveness of my experiences. In fact, I am feeling more alive!)
You can hear more about my experiences, and my thoughts on the benefits of adventuring, in today’s video. You can also watch a time-lapse version of today’s eclipse on CNN here. I have also popped a copy of an Adventure Report from 2012 (talking about the Venus transit) below the video ~ I think it may make you smile 🙂 .
Adventure Report June 2012 ~ Stalking The Venus Transit
Can anyone remember all that kerfuffle at the beginning of June 2012 about the Venus transit? Sky-watchers around the world were excited about witnessing a cosmic spectacle : this was an extremely rare opportunity since only six Venus transits have been observed since the invention of the telescope more than 400 years ago.
Transits happen when a planet crosses between Earth and the sun. After 2012, we won’t see another transit of Venus until 2117. If you are reading this, it means that the transit on the 5/6th June 2012 was your last chance! And that’s what I thought when I heard about it – this is my chance to witness something that I’ll never have the chance to witness again. And the really magic thing about the whole transit was this : the very last place on Earth it would be visible would be Northern Ireland (where I live!).
Morphing myself rapidly into a cosmic geek, I trawled the internet for information. I found out where the transit would be visible, I made sure I knew precisely at what time the sun would rise (the time at which the transit would be visible), I researched how to view the transit safely and I got myself rather excited about the prospect of getting up at 3:45am.
When the alarm went off, I felt like Indiana Jones. With adventure practically boiling in my blood, I leapt (okay, it may have looked like crawling to the untrained eye) into our van, hauling my half-asleep partner with me. Wooly hats firmly on, flasks of tea brewed and all cosmic tracking equipment stowed safely, we set off for Murlough Bay (one of the recommended viewing sights).
As we drove towards the coast, we could see the glimmer of dawn in the sky. Nervous anticipation built the closer we got to the sea ~ a Starsky and Hutch-style evacuation of the van ensued as we hurried not to miss our chance. Ian put up the projector screen and unpacked a set of 1950s binoculars. We were to hold up the large end of the binoculars to the sun and watch the transit on the screen.
Secretly I was thrilled about the fact that no-one else was there ~ that we had this beautiful place all to ourselves. Eventually the glimmer of light grew into the glare of dawn : it was the most awe-inspiring sight you could imagine. Still waters, a clear view over to the Mull of Kintyre, Ailsa Craig and right around to Islay and the Paps of Jura. Scotland looked a pebble’s throw away and the force of the cosmos felt like it was growing under my feet.
Eyes fixed firmly on the projector screen, we saw nothing .No transit. Just the passing of a few clouds. And yet there was no disappointment. Why? Because I felt that I had fully seized the day; I had embraced the moment that the day had presented and I had enjoyed the excitement of the whole experience. I had felt like an intrepid explorer.
We packed away our equipment and stored this experience with all the other “glad we gave it a go”experiences.
Funny thing is ~ it turned out we were 24 hours early for the cosmic event! We would never have seen it on the day we went : we did get up and do the same thing the next day but it was white-out conditions with nothing to be seen at all (and not half as exciting as the previous day’s experience).
The lesson this adventure taught me was this : it’s not just important to seize special opportunities ~ it’s important to seize every opportunity, to seize every day. In the act of seizing, you can experience life in its fullest force (regardless of what is happening). Venus transits maybe special but they are not a patch on the possibility that every day brings to us humans. Every day holds life-affirming adventure for all of us : now go and find it J