They seek them here, they seek them there...Portrush Rocks!
It's a teeth-chatteringly cold Hallowe'en day on the promenade in Portrush.
The time of year when tourists normally stay warmly wrapped up by their firesides and even locals only brave the chill air if they really need to go out.
However, stomping along the harbour today, the hardy walker can’t fail to have missed the throngs of people out walking around this seaside town, intently scouring every wall and corner and bench.
And why? Because Portrush Rocks!
The town has been gripped by a new craze which was started by Portrush mum Amanda Gibson, dedicated to encouraging children away from TV screen and iPhones and out into the fresh air of the seaside resort.
And, like all brilliant ideas, it’s really beautifully simple: find a rock, decorate it, hide it somewhere around the town, wait for someone to find it, post the picture on the Portrush Rocks Facebook page, then rehide it and start all over again.
And hundreds of people have been doing just that - quite literally hundreds - as the Facebook page which was set up in the summer of 2017 with around 300 followers now boasts 2,500!
Amanda explained: “I work in childcare and have always been passionate about getting children outside into the environment, into the fresh air and away from screens. I am always on Facebook looking for ideas about getting outside to play and I came across an initiative in Washington DC which involved painting rocks and using them for an outside treasure hunt.
“I loved the idea and when I thought about doing it here in my hometown, ‘Portrush Rocks’ just named itself!
“My daughter Jolene and I started to paint rocks and hide them last summer. We posted the pictures on a Facebook page and asked people to either keep the rocks or rehide them if they found them.
“People are now coming to Portrush in the winter especially to hunt for rocks. I have had lots of people contact me, asking would I mind if they did the same in their towns?
“Now people have gone home and started hiding rocks around Ballymena, Dungannon, Cookstown and Glenavy and I was contacted today by someone from North Down. I am delighted, the more places getting involved the better!
“And it’s not just children getting out and about, I’ve had older people contacting me saying how much they are enjoying painting rocks and hiding them. For many people it’s therapeutic.
“We’ve had a local restaurant and an ice cream man hiding rocks and offering a free dessert or ice cream to the finders. One older lady told me that once her husband found a rock he was a like a bloodhound during the rest of their walk,” laughed Amanda.
Check out the Facebook page Portrush Rocks and join in the fun!