"I thought I was going to get a call saying 'Not today'."
So said our smiling B&B proprietor, Peter Monroe as we rode up the driveway, soggy and bedraggled.
"Who us? Nah," we responded between clattering teeth.
After a long, cold, wet day on the bike, the Water's Edge B&B was a sight for sore eyes.
£40 per person per night gets you a large, seafront room (we stayed in the Beach Room) with a king-sized bed, ensuite bathroom, and the breakfast of your choice, including two salmon dishes made with fish from right outside the front window. It's all absolutely delicious.
Peter was also generous enough to let us keep our tandem out of the elements in his large garage. All in all, this was exactly what we needed.
We quickly learned that Peter was as charming and kind as he was generous, and a fantastic storyteller to boot. He told us about the history of the property, which had served as a police station until he bought it in 2014 with his wife, Jenny. This was their second season open to the public, and as we were nearing the end of the touristy period, we had the whole place pretty much to ourselves.
Inevitably, the rain which had plagued us all afternoon dried up as soon as we arrived at the guesthouse. Two hot showers and a cup of tea later, we thought we'd get out for a wander around town whilst conditions were in our favour, because round here, things never stay the same for long.
Facts about Glenarm:
- Has two pubs.
- And not much else.
Because of this, Peter graciously offered to drive us three miles north to the neighbouring village of Carnlough. Normally, we would have just ridden there, but we had had quite enough of the rainy weather, and besides, the bike needed a bit of attention.
Carnlough is almost as sleepy as Glenarm, with two restaurants, a couple of Chinese-takeaways-cum-chip-shops, and a general feeling that the world has passed it by and it doesn't really mind. We had dinner at the Londonderry Arms Hotel (where Winston Churchill once stayed), and sat and watched how Friday evening unfolds in these parts.
Our wild night out drew to a close around 9PM, and Peter came to pick us up. On the ride home, the conversation turned to a perennial favourite topic in Northern Ireland: flegs*.
"Glenarm is a mainly Protestant village, and Carnlough is mostly Catholic. But everybody gets along fine, and marriage connects many families on both sides. So there's a gentleman's agreement that the Orange Order gets to put up their flags in Glenarm, but they come down at the end of August.
This year, for some reason, they've kept them up. So in response, Carnlough has put up a load of Irish flags, just to annoy the Orangemen."
Unfortunately, although Northern Ireland is now peaceful, some people still haven't managed to grow out of this sort of tit-for-tat nonsense.
Back in Glenarm, we ended our first day with a round of gin rummy at The Bridge End Tavern, where the furniture was well worn and everybody knew everybody. Early to bed, early to rise, for tomorrow is our "First Rest Day That Really Wasn't".
*Ironic pronunciation of "flag" intended to mock those who care too much about such things.