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Murlough is cared for as Ireland's first nature reserve since 1967, the fragile 6000 year old sand dune system offers some lovely walks. Due to the reserves wild nature you can discover birds, flowers, butterflies and more, all overlooked by the rounded peaks of the Mourne Mountains to the south.

Friday, 31 May 2013

Warning; contains strong views.  May not suit those with Globophobia (fear of balloons)
...Ah, there is naught so romantic as strolling the beach and seeing those sad, shrivelled little sacs lying prostrate in the claggy sand, their flaccid folds reminiscent of the deflated remains of some bygone childhood summer.  The leached rubbery hues of half-sucked sweets or exotic prophylactics, confusing and bewildering to amorous jellyfish. 

A battered wash-up of glitzy Disney characters; favourite Princesses or talking animals, their cartoon eyes softened and saddened by long months at sea.  The pink metallic sheen shagreened by the slow pulse of the ocean, and grinding of silica.   Curled and knotted intimately with fronds of decaying seaweed; they cling with stringy ribbons like exhausted tapeworms in satin bodystockings.

I speak of balloons, yes, those hearty, happy inflatable friends,  beloved of children's parties and special occassions everywhere. 
To me they are many things: the swarms of ascending red globes that I genuinely believed (age 4) could stop Trident; the squeaky-skinned terror of raucous parties where one sadistic child had the irresistable compulsion to compress every available balloon until they exploded; seedy city nights seeing giggling clubbers huffing in and out to get their inflatable high as if they possessed an absurd third lung. 

Nobody can escape them, balloons are an expected part of our accepted communal rituals; a fusion of silliness and solid physics, a lesson in measuring distances and letting go.

Every time we go out litterpicking on the beach we find remains, count how many we collect, hypothesise that this is evidence of the secret parties Poseidon throws from time to time.  We rant and reminisce in equal measure.  Leonie (who beach cleans on weekends, out of love for the place) collates the messages she finds, unearthing the plucky little plastic tags, so weathered by the elements they can barely be read.  Sometimes it is only half a message

                  £10 reward...
                                                        in loving memory of......

                                                                                                           please return to...

Remaining angry becomes complicated after that.

Of all the litter that is tossed, trodden or washed-in by the tide there is something poignant about balloons, seeing them emasculated amidst the bits of crab and trawler detritus.  Each one potentially a loving or joyous moment; each one also potentially a dead seal, seabird or turtle.  What is the answer?  Where do we direct our frustration?   Who wants to be told to stop having fun?

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