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Old Bushmills Distillery Tour.

Bushmills Irish Whiskey is made at the world’s oldest licenced working distillery in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, on the beautiful North Coast.

Take the tour it lasts for around 1hr, has more than 150 steps and covers 1km in distance.

At the end of our visit, all adults were given a large glass of either Blackbush or the 12year old whiskey
A fabulous chandelier made from whiskey bottles.
WE’RE NOT GOOD BECAUSE WE’RE OLD, WE’RE OLD BECAUSE WE’RE GOOD,
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Oh Lady In Red

Oh lady in red, tell me, where do you go
To the shops, to the school, or a big theatre show
Hair shining black, styled just for the night
Red shoes on your feet and your eyes sparkling bright.

Oh lady in red, tell me, what do you see
When you sit in a smart lounge and drink
Chinese tea,
Small canapés, tartlets with green olives on top
Made by the chef, not bought from a shop,

Oh lady in red, tell me, what do you think
Surrounded by flowers, large garlands in pink
Are you happy red lady all bubbly and smiling
Do you know in your heart you’re completely beguiling

Oh lady in red, tell me, how can you be
So lovely, so charming and utterly free
Are you just a dream girl, not there at all
Who like Cinders, in panto, disappears from the ball.
Or are you the lady who right from the start
Entranced me, enhanced me and took all of my heart.

Norman Turkington

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Z

He zigzagged a zany course
Passed a Zairean eating zabaglione.
Striking a zappy conversation on zarzuela
With some zeal mind you,
He spotted two zebra and a zebu.
Following zeitgeist and sometimes Zen
And quoting zeta he formed a zeugma.

Zilch came back so uttering a zinger
He grabbed his zither and played hoping for zlotys.
Suddenly he spotted a zoetrope
And not being a zombie moved to its zone.

Zonk, zoom, zoonosis hit him.
Fortunately a Zouave was passing
And taking out his zucchetto and a zwieback
Smacked him on the zygomatic bone.
Zany wasn’t it?

Norman Turkington.

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The Power Of The Sword.

The eyes of our Lord
are on the face of the sword
And the hilt of our swords
in the eyes of our foe
The lie of the sword
thrust in the theatre 
of the absurd

In the name of our father
Warriors and warlords gather
With the words of our Lord
etched into every sword

Giving power to them 
that sit on the sword
Their bloody‐minded texts 
their excuses for war.

Steve Halstead.

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Regrets

The kind of depravity we aspire to
was outlawed by the flesh
The miracle of eternal life
laid out in front of us
We walk, we hunt
we kill, we curse
In this world
we call our flesh

We take at will for
Blood needs feeding
Coursing through our veins
to flesh and bone
The cardiac cycle
building pressure
Pushing against the vessel

Once a rich circular smile
Now all
forehead and frown lines
where smiles have been
And eyes
that change to dust
All that remains are
the words we speak
A wrinkled soul
And regrets
taking the place of dreams.

Steve Halstead.

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A virtual reality

I’m running out of steam
my motors are running dry
My physical light is barely noticeable
my inner light out

The creative spark of life force
is feeding me fuel
And the light behind my eyes
is starting to glimmer

The evasive workings of my inner self
The Psychological and spiritual form
are interactive art installations
A virtual reality
software program
all in one

I’m trying to visualize the
creative experiment
as a tool for self-expression
And imagery that works
at an intuitive gut level

It comes as an unbroken whole
Evolved into carving up reality
Lifes never enhanced
by a musical score
But reality grows richer
and our worldviews evolve
Culture and creative thinking
And a more affluent understanding
of human nature.

Steve Halstead

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Sunshine Too

Sunshine greet me in the dawn
caress and warm my tomb
Shinning across a striking landscape
the mist lifting to your tune
Beckoning flares from ancient days
disperse across the land
Meaningful rays from long-gone ways
walk hand in hand

Withered by clouds
pursued by the crowd
worshipped for easing pain
Yellowed by time, only half alive
I avert my eyes from your gaze
Don’t hide away no need to be shy
your arrival is everyone’s gain
The key to a life trapped in your light
is stolen for holidays

Faith must desert you
when you make room for the moon
But time and tide will set aside
the rules you must obey
And in our hearts
you haven’t forsaken
or deserted us
you’ll be back soon
To battle the night and bring the light
to dry the rain and clouds so grey.

Steve Halstead

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The fly on the wall

The fly on the wall didn’t appear to be listening.
Motionless, like the absence of time
Blue in colour like old medicine bottles
Nowhere to be
Nothing to do
Sat motionless just being

Wings covered with an
unmistakable metallic glaze
Short antennas raised, ready for battle
One move from me initiates
involuntary and nearly
instantaneous movement
Faster than the hand can strike

Then I get the show
A view of the getaway
All the exquisite manoeuvres
The iridescent blue body and abdomen
a loud buzzing bluster of flight
Then the walk across the ceiling
Ultimately, the suicidal fascination for light.

Steve Halstead.

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Causeway Coastal Route.

Driving north, hugging the Antrim coast, leaving Carrickfergus and its fabulous castle behind us.

Journeying along the Causeway Coastal Route is to experience one of the most panoramic routes in the world.
A recent poll ranks the Antrim Coast Road area fifth in a list of the world’s most breathtaking views.
Eighty miles of spectacular coastline has rugged and windswept cliffs, spectacular scenery and fabulous unspoilt beaches.
It is a coastline sprinkled with historic castles, churches and forts, many are now just ruins, but each holds memories of a mysterious and brave history.
A journey not to be rushed; every twist and turn in the road will reveal new sights.
The road goes on over bridges and under arches, past bays, beaches and strange rock formations.
Travel inland and experience hills and valleys, dramatic scenery and historical sites steeped in myths and legends.
The route will provide a journey of exploration where imagination meets reality and where every village, town, castle, and rocky shore, is waiting to be discovered.

Our driver insisted we relax and enjoy the exquisite view along one of the World’s most famous coastal drives.

Shipping in the distance sailing in and out of Belfast Lough.
It is easy to see why the Antrim coast and glens were designated an area of outstanding natural beauty in 1988.
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Almanac.

A distant memory lingers on
Ageing year the dying sun
Scented stock, its perfume strong
Sounds of autumn, fading song

I will watch the shadows grow.
Another almanac close
Embers flicker in the grate.
Outside world hibernates

The rain turns to snow.
Winter strikes a cruel blow.
Calm descends upon the land.
Silence hangs below Gods hand.

The year takes its final breath.

Steve Halstead.

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Snow.

I fixed my stare to the top of the wall
A small chip in the stone
Gradually filling with snow
Brown leaves on wilting hydrangeas
Bow then silently fall

Hypnotic gems of chilling snowflake
Rough diamonds of tumbling purity form,
Complex shapes in a crystal of virgin white
Falling before god as the atonement of sin

As quiet and soft like an angel’s wings a
Fluffy featherbed covers the night,
Like a woolly white duvet
Forming a blanket of melancholy soft as a lovers kiss

But a perennial killer silently waits to stalk
Thrusting its cold knife into the countryside
Chewing underfoot
Not empathizing with the way I feel
About hibernation and winters big sleep.

Steve Halstead

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Nothing But Musical Words.

A devastating couplet crooning sweet melodies,
Illuminates and elevates like a secret chord,
Words bring clarity, drama then strain for grandeur,
Completely from the heart, from the calm to the crescendo.

The gritty to the gaudy, common, unjustly obscured,
A composition movingly articulates anger and apologies,
Lacerating diagnosis, aches with torrid lyricism,
The aching ear of humanity’s words that glimmer darkly.

Sad and searing like a jangling guitar solo,
Harmonies locate the dreamy underside of your suburbia,
Speaking of the asphyxiating conformity in song,
Counterpointing the purgatory of life in each line.

A haunting ballad that punches the reader in the heart,
Sounds make peace with the person you are becoming,
Accepting the pain running through the lyrics,
Solos that cut you in half then poetry, poise, the repressed sob.

Or this undying lament from a final farewell,
Simple words that come to define us in the wider world,
Come crashing down shortly after the first love song,
Petty betrayals that get you right in the chest.

Layered textures rise and fall within each metre,
The seam of genuine pain running through the verse,
Amid the choirs and the primordial vocal,
Painting forceful pictures in the listener’s head.

Childhood memories that inhabit musical tenderness know,
There’s a howl of pain woven deep into the song’s fabric,
The trademark last word in romantic demises, love the,
Blinding light of spiritual torment, cosmic tempo joke and howl.

A prism of nightmarish aural hallucination,
Chords delivering with riveting understatement,
Articulating the under siege reality of the rock gods,
Pummelling visual refusal of the mythology and message.

The destructive temptations of fame, driven to perform,
Tradition of riotous excess, in an acid bath of liquor and oblivion,
A trans-continental odyssey of magisterial eulogy,
The uncanny last will and testament, the ticking clock of a vinyl record.

A strut of swaggering confidence captured in musical form,
The drink will flow and the noise will spill,
With a gently swaying, almost resigned delivery,
A perfect accompaniment to one of the greatest riffs.

By Steve Halstead.

Featured

One Last Hope

One last hope.

Forgiveness is our one last hope.

But there is only anger.

So it will be a dying rose on a table,

A scarlet body, a child.

Maybe one day——-

One last hope.

This will be the last you hear from me

Yet you once promised me

Until the end of time.

Now it’s my time, not our time.

I feel forever shattered,

Not just in body,

In a second, in a flash, it’s just——-

One last hope.

Darkness descends.

Does the soul have the heart to live forever?

Never die, be forever silent?

Our time has come to say goodbye,

An empty life, a wry smile

And one last hope.

I once promised you forever,

To stay together until the end of time.

There is only loss,

Not just a stolen kiss,

In a flash, in a moment.

May the universe come to claim us,

So say goodbye to one last hope.

Bleak and tortured

I am but a blood-stained complexion,

Forgiveness in my heart

In an instant, an instant——-

Why did it come to this?

For when the time comes, and the curtain closes

Love is our one last hope.

A hand-written note stained with a silver tear,

I see only loneliness.

There is only anger where soulless shadows fade,

Tormented, blighted,

There is only anonymity,

Endless time to abolish forever

One last hope.

Shall we depart, yet we sin?

I beg for forgiveness.

And forever silence.

You once promised me infinity,

Now it’s gone, gone on the wind——-

With ‘it’ ——-

My one last hope.

By: Steve Halstead.

Old Mrs Brown

Like a clown without a smile
Old Mrs Brown
From two doors down
Had lived in her house since time
Her face
Like a well-read map
Worn and wrinkled

She was the granddam of the street
Talking to all she would meet
Stories from times long gone
Yet to her
Real and tangible

In her front doorway she’d stand
Her form
Too large to move at any speed
Her breathing laboured from damaged lungs

She couldn’t shop
So we the local kids
Would run errands for her
The baker the butcher
The weekly tick money
For the furniture store

She never gave much away
Perhaps the odd penny or two
And we coins in hand
Headed straight to the sweetie shop

She’d always been a widow
No-one remembered otherwise
But a sage in so many ways
Her favourite phrase
No matter what the situation
This too will pass

Invariably she was right
As time moved on
Always changing
Never ceasing

And now she’s gone
No more leaning at the gate post
An empty house
Where once
Old Mrs Brown
Whose face was like a clown
Without a smile
Has left the stage

We’ll miss her
But we’ll remember
And unlike old Mrs Brown
We’ll allow ourselves a smile.

Norman Turkington.