Mister Softee and a shark

Our Magilligan Point beach parkup is quickly becoming one of our favorites. Unlike most beach locations, it’s small, quiet, level, and close to the water, and although we’re right off the road there’s very little traffic.

During the day cars stream in and out of this tight squeeze on the beach. Sometimes people just take a few photos, but some visit with the people in the motorhome that was already here when we arrived. We are out of the way so it doesn’t bother us, but we wonder if we’re intruding on a designated meetup spot of a group of friends or family.

In the afternoon another motorhome arrived and the driver looked us over as he squeezed past us to where the dirt road gets rutted and potholed and a flat and level parking spot is harder to find. He got settled, then walked up to the resident motorhome, confirming our suspicion that this is a regular gathering of friends and we had plunked ourselves right in the midst, claiming a prime spot. We wondered if we should vacate the premises.

We’re always mindful that we’re guests in any country or community that we visit, and we want to be both friendly and unobtrusive so as not to wear out our welcome. This is especially important traveling in the campervan because we’re parking on public land, not paying for a hotel or B&B, and we know that an influx of tourists in motorhomes can overwhelm the resources of small communities. We needn’t have worried.

It was a beautiful day and we had our door open to the sea as we drank our morning coffee. The driver of the new motorhome came over to chat, found out we’re American, and before long we were welcomed and included in the circle of friends.

We continued to do our thing, which included another walk to the point and the Martello tower, then back along the beach where luckily no red flag was flying.

Later we saw a line of classic cars drive toward the ferry and we hustled down to the dock to see what was up. It was an Austin Six club on their way to Donegal for a few days.

One of our motorhome neighbors spent 25 years as a policeman in America, then retired back home to Northern Ireland and now drives an ice cream truck most days at Downhill Beach just for fun. He has two trucks, a classic pink Mister Whippy and a newer Mister Softee. We told him we’ve enjoyed several ice cream trucks along the coast but we hadn’t been to Downhill Beach to visit his.

We were savoring an afternoon coffee at home when Mister Softee drove right up into the parkup and Sean’s wife Patricia served us all an ice cream cone. Now that’s what I call home delivery!

Our other motorhome neighbor and one of the frequent visitors had gone fishing for the day, and our Mister Softee friend shared a photo they sent. Turns out the fellows caught a 5’ shark and we were all abuzz waiting for the heroes to return.

Where’s the shark? we asked. They told us they dropped it off at the restaurant across from the ferry dock to be butchered into steaks for the grill, then motored across the Lough to a pub in Donegal to celebrate their good fortune. By the time they returned to the campsite they were three sheets to the wind which only enhanced the elaborate detail in the telling of how they caught a shark on a line meant for smaller fish and how they wrestled it into their small fishing boat.

Later, in the course of conversation, we asked if anyone knew a mechanic nearby who could address a few issues in our van. Within an hour a mechanic showed up with a diagnostic computer and all the menfolk were crawling around the van, peering at the engine and offering advice. John, the mechanic, is the nephew or cousin or something to one of our parkup neighbors and we liked him immediately. In no time we concocted a plan. John will order parts and let us know when they’re in, and Jack and I will explore the area until we get the high sign.

This has definitely been one of the best parkups ever. Beautiful spot, daily entertainment and a warm welcome from a group of friends, free ice cream, and a bonus mechanic. What more could you want?

Now it’s off to Derry/Londonderry for us.

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One Response to Mister Softee and a shark

  1. Dana Greyson

    No matter where we go the memories we treasure most are the kindness of strangers we encounter in our travels. No doubt given stories like these the same is true for you.

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