In the early years our caravan was positioned along the back edge of the field. Behind us was the potato field and beyond that the coast road, leading left to Ballywalter and right towards Millisle. In front, a field of long grass and wild flowers, beyond that the beach and after a rocky foreshore the grey Irish Sea. The field was reached down a narrow lane which led to the beach, and on the left it was bordered by another caravan field . It was the first time that I had ever seen the kind of wild flowers that I had loved in the Flower Fairy books. Heartsease, wild thyme, marguerites, buttercups and lots more to thrill the soul of a dreaming child. Skylarks sang overhead as they soared higher and higher into the air luring us away from their nests hidden in the long grass .The air was sweet and spicey and when the wind dried on your lips they tasted salty and full of the sea. In later years pride of place right in the middle of all this was a flagpole and flying proudly from the top, the British Union Jack. Dad said that the farmer who owned the field ,called it the “Flag of Prosperity” -pronounced “persparety” but this may only be a family fable. Caravans of various sizes and shapes were sited all around the perimeter of the field and thus began for me a life totally separate from the routine of home , school , home, in Belfast.
National Trust: Ards Peninsula.
■sandhoppers, a little shrimp-like crustacean
■seaweed flies, insects which are food for turnstones, starlings and badgers
■sea aster (Aster tripolium) flowering from July to October
■thrift (Armeria maritima) flowering from June to August
■sea lavender (Limonium spp) flowering from July to December
■wild thyme (Thymus drucei)
■stonecrops and squills flowering in the summer
■bell heather (Erica cinerea) flowering from June to September
■bee orchids (Ophrys apifera) flowering from April to May
■pyramidal orchids (Anacamptis pyramidalis) flowering from June to August
■twayblade orchids (Listera ovata) flowering from May to July
Of course I didn't know the names of any of these wonderful bits of nature, I just reveled in their beauty and in my new found freedom.