Sunday, 30 January 2011

Abercorn Basin


The prospect today from the Abercorn Basin in Belfast. A brand new foot-bridge has been constructed in order to link the Basin with Hamilton Graving Dock. SS Nomadic is in Hamilton Dock and the massive Titanic Centre is almost completed in the distance.

Further along the Harbour, HMS Caroline is flying the White Ensign.

Murine Scratching?

I took it easy last night, viewing The Tudors and some shows I'd recorded, including Mastermind. Further indulgence followed when Timothy Belmont phoned for a takeaway.

My aunt and cousins arrived later in order for one of them to print out a flight check-in document from my computer. My aunt was waiting in the sitting-room and, when we came downstairs, inquired if I had a cat in the house. No.

My aunt had heard a scratching noise coming from above the ceiling. I joked that somebody was locked in a wardrobe and thought she must have heard creaky pipes or floorboards.

When they left I sat in the room for a few seconds and, sure enough, I heard a bizarre scratching noise. I was convinced it was a small animal like a bird or rodent.

I ran upstairs and unlocked a window - no sign of anything. I put the spot-light on outside and looked up - not a thing. The scratching persisted!

After about ten minutes it ceased. I am convinced that it was a small rodent which had managed to get between a section of roof and the ceiling.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Tree Thinning

I had a sore head this morning, having been out with Janice at a little French bistro on Ormeau Road, Belfast, called L'Etoile. It was all slightly evocative of 'Allo 'Allo! I had the pork in sauce; Janice, the swordfish; and for pudding I ate crème brûlée; while Janice had the crepe with ice-cream. In conjunction with copious amounts of plonk!

As a consequence of this - the morning after the night before - I arose from the old slumber at an unusual time and only just made it to the NT volunteer day at Minnowburn (now there's dedication for you!).

Today there were about seven of us thinning a section of woodland, the particular trees being beech. The requisite tools were bow saws and loppers. I hadn't had time to make up a packed lunch last night or this morning, so I brought some fruit along and Patricia very kindly shared her chicken tikka sandwiches with me.

Before departing I filled a few sacks with logs from the barn.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Menotti's Medium

I have just received a "flyer" from the new-born "NI Opera" advertising "NI Opera, in association with Second Movement, is delighted to present The Medium by Gian Carlo Menotti. For a limited time only, NI Opera is offering a 2 for 1 ticket deal. Book now to avoid disappointment. (Offer ends 9th Feb 2011.)".

Eh? Book now to avoid disappointment? I shan't be disappointed, believe me.

When is grand opera and, for that matter, Gilbert and Sullivan, going to return to the Grand Opera House in Belfast?

The last time I attended the Grand Opera House was on the 7th May, 2010, for a very good amateur performance of The Pirates Of Penzance.

The King-Halls

I have received a message from Ian Wilson, Manager, North Down Museum, North Down Borough Council, in which he recommends a website relating to the King-Hall family, who lived at Quintin Castle at one time:-

"Interested to see [that Quintin Castle] featured in your blog ! I recommend which is a vast site mostly comprising the diaries of several generations of King-Halls, all Naval officers.

I find them completely fascinating, especially those of Admiral George King-Hall who with his family spent a lot of time at Quintin Castle over about 20 years, 1905/25. His wife's sister Nini had inherited the Castle. She and her sister Olga ( the Admiral's wife ) were Kers of the Montalto and Portavo family.

See Peter Carr's book in two volumes 'Portavo' ( White Row Press, Dundonald ) Olga and Nini were celebrated beauties who lived for a time overlooking the Grand Canal in Venice. Daughter Magdalene was the romantic novelist, not Louise as you say, though the latter did write a book 'Sea Saga' based on the diaries of her forebears.

Life in Quintin despite its beautiful location in the early 1920s was not in the least romantic most of the time, with severe worries about being targets in the 'Troubles' raging then, major financial concerns and constantly frustrated attempts to sell or let the Castle.

Also, when you think about it most of us only see these places on nice summer days, but down at the tip of the Ards Peninsula it was cold, dark and windy a lot of the time in winter at Quintin.

Their father is worried about the girls then into their 20s being cut off from the world down there. George and Olga had a son whose diaries also appear - Stephen , who was present at the Battle of Jutland and gives a graphic description of being under fire.

He later became an MP and a well-known radio broadcaster. His main concern seems to have been to try to promote international peace.
This website is very highly recommended for all interested in local families, buildings and history in general."

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Killynether Copse

Well I've been on the go for most of the day today. After breakfast I gathered my stuff together and motored to Killynether Wood, which is very near Scrabo Tower in County Down.

Oh what a special place Killynether is. I am fond of it. Craig says that the bluebells are a sight to behold when they arrive.

There were eight of us today and we were hazel coppicing in the middle of the wood on a steep slope. I spent a lot of time cutting down gorse bushes. We lit a bonfire and burned the surplus branches on it, leaving the logs for whoever wanted them, viz. Kevin, Craig and self! I took two sackfuls of logs.

Lunch was a wholemeal pepperoni salad sandwich.

As soon as I arrived home I turned on the oven; threw in a pizza; ate it with salad; and dashed up to the sports club for the constitutional sixty lengths of the pool.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

New NT Blog

The National Trust's Belfast regional area has begun a brand new blog from Friday, 21st January, 2011.

I wish them every success with it and I'll certainly be following it closely. I have added the new blog to my list at the left-hand side of my own blog.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Boycott Them!

I received an email from my cousin this evening and it is self-explanatory. Although I buy my petrol from the big supermarkets, I'd urge readers to support this campaign:-

"Please see what you think and pass it on if you agree with it.

We are hitting £
129.9 a litre in some areas now and soon we will be faced with paying £1.50 per litre. So Philip Hollsworth offered this good idea:

This makes MUCH MORE SENSE than the 'don't buy petrol on a certain day campaign' that was going around last April or May! The oil companies just laughed at that because they knew we wouldn't continue to hurt ourselves by refusing to buy petrol. It was more of an inconvenience to us than it was a problem for them. BUT, whoever thought of this idea, has come up with a plan that can really work.

Please read it and join in!

Now that the oil companies and the OPEC nations have conditioned us to think that the cost of a litre is CHEAP, we need to take
aggressive action to teach them that BUYERS - not sellers control the market place. With the price of petrol going up more each day, we consumers need to take action. The only way we are going to see the price of petrol come down is if we hit someone in the pocket by not purchasing their petrol! And we can do that WITHOUT hurting ourselves. Here's the idea:

For the rest of this year DON'T purchase ANY petrol from the two biggest oil companies (which now are one) i.e. ESSO and BP.

If they are not selling any petrol, they will be inclined to reduce their prices. If they reduce their prices, the other companies will have to follow suit. But to have an impact we need to reach literally millions of Esso and BP petrol buyers. It's really simple to do!!

Now, don't wimp out on me at this point... keep reading and I'll explain how simple it is to reach millions of people!!

I am sending this note to a lot of people. If all of you send i
t to at least ten more (30 x 10 = 300)....and those 300 send it to at least ten more (300 x 10 = 3,000) ... and so on. By the time the message reaches the sixth generation of people, we will have reached over THREE MILLION consumers! If those three million get excited and pass this on to ten friends each, then 30 million people will have been contacted! If it goes one level further, you guessed it.....


Again, all YOU have to do is send this to 10 people. That's all (and not buy at ESSO/BP). How long would all that take? If each of us sends this email out to ten more people within one day of receipt, all 300 MILLION people could conceivably be contacted within the next 8 days!!! Acting together we can make a difference. If this makes sense to you, please pass this message on.

PLEASE HOLD OUT UNTIL THEY LOWER THEIR PRICES It's easy to make this happen. Just forward this email, and buy your petrol at Shell,Asda,Tesco, Sainsburys, Morrisons, Jet etc. i.e. Boycott BP and Esso

The Forgotten Colony

Mark Thompson has kindly sent me a most interesting publication entitled Sir Thomas Smith's Forgotten English Colony Of The Ards And North Down In 1572.

Mark runs an excellent blog with lots of historical information about the Ards Peninsula and more.

Sir Thomas Smith (23 December 1513 – 12 August 1577) was an English scholar and diplomat; and his attempts to settle the Ards proved unsuccessful.

For his contemporary spelled "Thomas Smythe" or "Thomas Smith" (1522-1591), see Customer Smythe, antecedent of the Viscounts Strangford.

The Trusty Bicycle

When I arrived home yesterday the trusty bicycle was still in its place outside Belfast City Airport, chained to the metal bars of the trolley park literally beside the main entrance.

It took me a while to get the case secured to the carrier-tray behind the saddle, though Timothy Belmont managed to fasten it satisfactorily in the event.

By Jove, it's still chilly! I have turned the central heating up a notch again, having turned it down about a fortnight ago.

Sunday, 23 January 2011


In November, 2009, I published a poem by John Lenaghan entitled Enter The Demesne. John has asked me if I'd give a mention to an exhibition of his work, including photographs and poems, at the library in Newcastle, County Down, running from Saturday, 25th June, 2011, until Saturday, 2nd July, 2011, inclusive.

It will include both photographs and poems about Newcastle and John's home of Stoke-on-Trent.

Wolf Hall

I picked up a novel at the bedside of my friends' home last night, Wolf Hall. It was written by Hilary Mantel CBE, a fictitious though historically true tale about the rise of Thomas Cromwell in King Henry VIII's Tudor England.

I read the first half-dozen pages and found it rivetting; to the extent that I'm minded to order a copy when I return home.

Have any readers read any of Hilary Mantel's novels?

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Day at Rickmansworth

I visited Rickmansworth today. We took the Chiltern Line train from Harrow-on-the-Hill to Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, an "old-World" village. Following a good lunch in the Pennsylvanian pub, we ambled towards St Mary's parish church.

Pennsylvania is the American state founded by William Penn who, at one time, lived in High Street, Rickmansworth. Penn died in 1718, and was buried at the Friends Meeting House, Jordans, near Rickmansworth.

Thence we walked to the Aquadrome, a former quarry and now a bird sancuary with several lakes.

Friday, 21 January 2011

London: Day 3

Today has been uneventful. We walked into central Harrow and walked through St George's shopping centre followed, closely, by St Anne's centre.

Later we took a tube to Westminster, where we ambled to a bar at Whitehall called the Lord Moon of the Mall. I had a fair snifter, viz. a large Tanqueray and tonic; followed closely by a chicken wrap; and then a single Tanqeray.

From the bar we jumped on a bus at Trafalgar Square for Regent Street, which was moderately busy.

At four forty-five we took another tube to Green Park and went to the royal cheese merchants, Paxton and Whitfield at Jermyn Street.

Nothing terribly exciting today.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Doctor Carol

That cerebral doctor, Carol Vorderman MBE, spotted me as I passed her outside the Wolseley in Piccadilly (or vice versa!). She was on her mobile telephone. I asked her if she'd be kind enough to calculate the cost per millilitre of champers in the aforementioned cafe. No, I didn't actually!

I chuckled as I perused Fortnum's Fountain menu outside Jermyn Street, the cost of a full, cooked breakfast being the princely sum of twenty pounds.

London: Day 2

Well Timothy Belmont has breakfasted on tea and toast and, after nine-thirty, I shall walk to the Northwick Park tube station and take the "Met" Line into central London, where I expect to pay Bonham's auction-house a visit.

I am presently pondering whether to bring the Mini 9 with me, or not. You shall know, dear readers, if I post a missive!

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Barony of Empey

I see that Sir Reg Empey has been gazetted with other working peers in the Conservative interest as, to afford him his full legal syle, the Right Honourable Reginald Norman Morgan, Baron Empey, OBE MLA, of Shandon in the City of Belfast; or, more simply, Lord Empey, informally and socially.

Lord Empey is granted a Life Barony and his children are entitled to the prefix Honourable (Hon) before their Christian names.

London Flight

Timothy Belmont is having a modest restorative in London presently. I had an uneventful flight to Heathrow, the only person I recognized being the Lord Browne of Belmont (Councillor Wallace Browne), doubtless en route to Westminster. We have never met.

I shall have a restful afternoon before heading to Harrow, where I'm staying with friends.

City Airport

I'm on my way to London and presently waiting in the Departures Lounge at 9am. I strapped my hand luggage to the back of my trusty bike and rode down the icy road, crossing the foot-bridge, through the old entrance to Belfast City Airport and past Shamus's aircraft (well secured to the ground!).

I remembered to declare my netbook pc; however omitted to show them the toiletries which I'd put in a see-through plastic bag, so they xrayed the trolley case.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

A Stellar Performance (except NI)

The United Kingdom, except Northern Ireland, has been awarded a record number of Michelin Stars.

A mere four establishments (all in or near London) are awarded three Stars.

Scotland has one Two Star restaurant; and Eire also has a two-star establishment.

If I'm counting correctly, Scotland has fourteen one-star restaurants; and Wales, four; whereas the Irish Republic has five places with one star.

I know and believe that we, in Ulster, have some of the finest game, beef and poultry; and some splendid establishments with wonderful locations.

So why are there no Michelin Star restaurants in Northern Ireland?

4th Coronation

I'm getting blasé about these matters, now. A fourth coronation in as many years. I had the fitting about ten days ago and, I am in no doubt, it shall be a snug fit. The one I have chosen has no gold thereon; it does have sharp edges, though. A costly business.

The new crown ought to snuggle in amongst the old gnashers very well indeed. Whatever did you think I was alluding to?

Monday, 17 January 2011

Smart Sale

The baby two-seater has a new owner, Catherine. The Dowager always used to call it a little gem. Cat came with her father to view the car this afternoon and we agreed terms swiftly.

I am just so delighted that our little gem now has a new home.

1st Viscount Strangford

I was at the Linen Hall Library in central Belfast again today, researching the 1st Viscount Strangford, about whom I can find little information; information pertaining to Strangford and his connection with the area, why that particular territorial title was selected.

Nevertheless I have done what I can and I've written an article about Lord Strangford and his family.

Seemingly there were two gentlemen in Ulster during the 1600s with the title Sir Thomas Smith, Smythe or Smithe and spelling most likely was not standardized in those days. The family I am interested in is mentioned here.

I'm aware of Sir Thomas Smith and his plantation in the Ards.

I brought the little Dell Mini 9 along to the library and I obtained a good reception from BT Openzone; so I was able to draft the article for my blog in the reading-room.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

The Little Bercow

I am not at all surprised that a number of Conservative MPs are "running a whispering campaign" against the Speaker, little Bercow.

I cannot stand the man being Speaker, quite intolerable. I know that I can be reactionary at times; however, little Bercow is beyond the Pale.

The man is a "Modernizer" and refuses to wear the traditional ceremonial attire of the Speaker. How he ever got elected as a Conservative MP is incomprehensible to Timothy Belmont.

I imagine that almost all right-wing MPs are unfavourably disposed to him.

Let the Commons have a debate and vote on the man, dismiss him as Speaker and cast him adrift without a life peerage.

A Mammoth Task

Here's a fascinating article which tells us that the woolly mammoth, extinct for thousands of years, could be brought back to life in as little as four years thanks to a breakthrough in cloning technology.

Akira Iritani, a professor at Kyoto University, intends to use Dr Wakayama's technique to identify the nuclei of viable mammoth cells before extracting the healthy ones.

The nuclei will then be inserted into the egg cells of an African elephant, which will act as the surrogate mother for the mammoth.

Professor Iritani said he estimates that another two years will be needed before the elephant can be impregnated, followed by the approximately 600-day gestation period.

He has announced plans to travel to Siberia in the summer to search for mammoths in the permafrost and to recover a sample of skin or tissue.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Lady McCorkell 1921-2010

The Daily Telegraph has published an obituary for Lady McCorkell, OBE, who died at Dublin on Christmas Day.

Aileen Allen McCorkell was born on September 18 1921 in the Indian hill station of Ootacamund, the second daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel EB Booth DSO, RAMC, who was serving in India after the First World War.

In 1950 she married Michael McCorkell from a Londonderry family which had run a well-known sailing fleet in the 19th century. In 1975 he became HM Lord-Lieutenant of County Londonderry and in 1994 was appointed KCVO as Colonel Sir Michael McCorkell KCVO OBE TD JP.

She turned to voluntary work in 1961, having broken her back in a riding accident. She founded the Londonderry City Red Cross group in 1962, which became a fully-fledged branch in 1965, with her as its first president. She also became a member of the Northern Ireland Council of the British Red Cross.

For her work during the Troubles she was awarded, in 1972, the Red Cross Badge of Honour for Distinguished Service. In 1975 she was appointed OBE. Her experiences with the Red Cross during the Northern Ireland Troubles were recorded in a short memoir, A Red Cross in My Pocket, published in 1992.

Aileen McCorkell’s husband died in 2006 and she is survived by three sons and a daughter.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Miranda, Countess of Iveagh

The funeral service was held in London on Tuesday of Miranda, Countess of Iveagh.

The service in St George’s Church in Hanover Square, which she had had organised in her final months, was conducted by the Venerable David Pierpoint, Archdeacon of Dublin, assisted by the Rev Roderick Leece.

She died, aged 70, shortly after Christmas at her Wiltshire home surrounded by four children, Edward, Rory, Emma and Louisa, and close friends, the Archdeacon told the crowded congregation.

The service was attended by the present Earl and Countess of Iveagh; the Hon Rory and Mrs Guinness; Lady Emma and James Barnard; and Lady Louisa Uloth and Rupert Uloth. Also there were her grandchildren, including Arthur Benjamin Geoffrey Guinness, Viscount Elveden (b 2003).

HRH The Duke of Kent; Princess Salimah Aga Khan; the Duchess of Grafton GCVO; the Duchess of Abercorn OBE; the Marquess of Londonderry; the Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava; the Viscount and Viscountess Cowdray; and Teresa Stopford Sackville also attended.

Her coffin was draped in a bouquet of cream roses and lilies, while a choir sang a number of hymns, including O Christ The Same, Through All Our Story’s Pages to the tune of the Londonderry Air.

Miranda Lady Iveagh celebrated her 70th birthday in August 2010 at a large party attended by many members of the family. The Guinness Storehouse at St James’s Gate, Dublin, was the venue for the party as Iveagh House, which was the old family town-house in Dublin, has been occupied by the Irish Government and was unavailable for the occasion.

Among those who joined in the celebrations were the Duke and Duchess of Abercorn; the Marquess and Marchioness Conyngham; the Earl and Countess of Rosse; Anna Harvey, editorial director of Vogue in London; Jonathan Irwin of the Jack and Jill Foundation; James Mellon of the famous New York banking dynasty; Jennifer Guinness and Robert Guinness; and Mr Sean Rafferty of BBC Radio 3.

1st Earl of Iveagh's arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Tesco Belmont Update: II

A member of Tesco's staff spoke to me on the blower this morning and apprised me that their new Express store on Belmont Road should open on the last week of February, 2011.

I was advised that the new store will have a similar format to that of the Holywood store.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

By-Pass Incident

I motored over to the hardware store at Holywood Exchange this morning in the two-seater to obtain a refund for some EU specification light fitting; and, on the way home, a large section of the by-pass was closed!

I was advised to take a route along the harbour foreshore, past the RSPB Reserve. I gave that up, due to heavy congestion; about-turned, and motored along the part of the carriageway open towards Palace Barracks and up the hill to the Old Holywood Road.

The BBC has reported that "Hundreds of drivers were caught up in traffic chaos during a huge police operation in east Belfast on Thursday.

Traffic on the Belfast-Bangor A2 road was diverted away from what police have described as "an incident" at the flyover at Holywood Exchange.

The road was re-opened after being closed in both directions as officers attempted to deal with "a woman in distress". Police said a woman has been taken to hospital".

I merely wondered if the local constabulary could possibly provide motorists with a little more information?

Baron Fellowes of West Stafford

I am delighted to learn that Julian Fellowes, now newly ennobled as the Right Honourable Julian Alexander, Baron Fellowes of West Stafford, DL, will take his seat in the House of Lords as a Conservative peer later.

Lord Fellowes, who has been granted a life peerage, takes the territorial part of his title from the Dorset village where he lives.

While taking the oath, Lord Fellowes is set to be flanked by his supporters, the Lord Northbrook and the Lord Marland.

At the beginning of the ceremony he will process into the House of Lords following the acting Black Rod, the Yeoman Usher Ted Lloyd-Jukes, and the Garter Principal King of Arms, Thomas Woodcock.

A clerk will then read out Lord Fellowes' Letters Patent, a document issued by the Queen granting a new life peerage, before he swears an oath or makes a solemn affirmation and then signs up to the code of conduct for peers.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Euro Fitting

I have just endured a tiresome attempt at replacing an old fluorescent light fitting with a new one; and the difficulty has been that the older six foot lights have a thicker girth than the skinny new ones (always blame it on Eurocrats!).

I turned off the electricity; disassembled the old fitting, wires, screws etc; erected the new one - as per instructions; wired it up; and the confounded thing refuses to work!

I'm going to return it for a refund and endeavour to obtain one of the older lights elsewhere.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Church News

I have received the following message from the Very Reverend Dr Houston McKelvey OBE QVRM TD, Dean of Belfast:-

"We have launched a new web site at
It may be of interest to some of your blog readers.

I should like to express my compliments to the Dean and I wish him all that he wishes himself on his retirement in several months' time.

Imperial Service Medal

11th January 2011

The QUEEN has been graciously pleased to award the Imperial Service Medal to the following Officers on their retirement:


Kitson, Mrs Maureen, Administrative Assistant
Nicholl, Mrs Brenda, Typist

Monday, 10 January 2011

Prince's Trust Visit

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, The Right Honourable Owen Paterson MP, has today visited the offices of The Prince’s Trust in Northern Ireland to hear the summary of the Trust’s Cost of Exclusion Report which outlined the cost of youth disadvantage in Northern Ireland.

The Secretary of State was welcomed by Sir Nigel Hamilton KCB DL, Chairman of the Prince’s Trust Northern Ireland and Ian Jeffers, Director of the Prince’s Trust Northern Ireland.

Sir Nigel is Vice Lord-Lieutenant of the County Borough of Belfast.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

ATQ Stewart, 1929-2010

The Daily Telegraph has published an obituary of Professor Anthony Terence Quincey (Tony) Stewart (1929-17 December 2010), historian, teacher, academic and a best-selling author on Ulster politics.

Stewart was born on July 8th, 1929, at Belfast, where his father's family had been bakers and confectioners since the early 19th century. He was educated at Royal Belfast Academical Institution and took a first in History at the Queen's University of Belfast. He taught for five years at Belfast Royal Academy.

He was appointed a reader in 1975, but controversially was never granted a chair by Queen's University.

The Legendary Duck

I spent a most enjoyable evening at the Dirty Duck (DD) in Holywood, County Down, last night, getting the train as usual.

The first thing that caught my eye was a big, white Rolls-Royce Phantom with a distinctive number-plate parked right outside the DD. It seemed to take up half the road!

Big Pete and self found a seat easily, beside the unlit fire at the front. Shame it wasn't lit last night, given that it was cold and draughty from the door.

Still, we continued the same old habit of reading the menu and opted for scampi and chips - Plus ça change! - which was up to its usual standard and very good. A lovely new waitress - young, slim, petite, coiffured hair, enthusiastic, brought the menus and caught the noble eye.

Nick, an old pal from the school-days, was there with a crowd as well.

There was a jolly crowd last night, plenty of pretty girls and I'd like to have stayed longer because I was asked why I had to leave so soon (the last train departs at 22:46). Pete suggested that we should remain later occasionally and get a taxi back.

So here I am tapping away on the keyboard with the remnants of a slightly sore head - on a gauge of One to Ten, a Two.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Tesco Belmont Update

I have spoken to Tesco's Property Department and I am informed that the estimated date for opening of the new Tesco Express store, at 1-5, Belmont Road, Strandtown, shall be the 24th January, 2011.

New Tesco Store

I passed the location of the former Tesco Local store at 1-3, Belmont Road, Belfast (within the exempt jurisdiction of the Earldom of Belmont!) this morning en route to the gym.

It is believed that a brand new Express store will open in several months' time.

As soon as I receive further details, I'll post them on the Blog.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Crown Preparation

I had a completely painless visit to my dentist this morning, when preparatory work was undertaken for a new crown, to be fitted on January 18th.

It must have taken him 20-30 minutes.

I see that work has begun on the site of the former Tesco Local store at 1, Belmont Road.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Royal Wedding Update

Clarence House has issued an update on the arrangements for the forthcoming wedding of HRH Prince William of Wales KG and Miss Catherine Middleton:-


Prince William and Miss Middleton have made the following decisions about their wedding day on 29th April 2011 at Westminster Abbey:

  • Miss Middleton will travel to the wedding service at Westminster Abbey by car along a route that will include The Mall, Horse Guards Parade, Whitehall and Parliament Square.
  • The wedding service will begin at 11am. The Dean of Westminster will conduct the service, the Archbishop of Canterbury will marry Prince William and Miss Middleton, and the Bishop of London will give the address.
  • The couple, now married, will return along a Processional Route in a carriage procession to Buckingham Palace. The route will include Parliament Square, Whitehall, Horse Guards Parade and The Mall.
  • On arrival at Buckingham Palace, The Queen will give a Reception for the couple and guests drawn from the congregation representing the couple’s official and private lives.
  • The Prince of Wales will give a private dinner, followed by dancing, at Buckingham Palace in the evening, for the couple and their close friends and family.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Another Crown

I've had a couple of bomb-shells today, the first being that I require yet another crown on a tooth which broke a few days ago. The last one, which was done privately, cost £395; and I have reluctantly decided to have the same treatment with this one, because my dentist showed me three casts with three differing crowns - two private and one NHS. I'll return to the surgery on Thursday for a fitting.

The second slight disappointment, unsurprisingly, is that the swimming-pool at my sports club shall remain closed for the remainder of this week due to a burst pipe; so my swimming will have to wait till next week, hopefully.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Broken Tooth

Sundays are invariably Crispy Bacon Days for Timothy Belmont and today was no exception. I find that streaky bacon cooks very well indeed in the microwave oven.

I brought my tea and toast up to the computer room and checked the Blog; then experienced what felt like a foreign object as I ate my bacon-on-toast - a tooth or, at least, a side of one.

Yet another pricey trip to the dentist, you hear me groan. I've already had a crown fitted about three months ago.

At least it isn't painful. The broken tooth, that is, not coughing up the fee!

Saturday, 1 January 2011

The Empty Platform

Big Pete and self eventually arrived at the Dirty Duck Ale House in Holywood, County Down, this evening, having misread the "holiday" timetable which Northern Ireland Railways produce for the great benefit of their customers; speaking of which, their so-called "journey planner" really is hopeless. It simply doesn't function. Why don't they get a journey planner like that of the London Underground? Too expensive?

We got to the DD at about seven which was too late for grub, because, on New Year's Day, Chef obviously ceased to operate thereafter; so we had one round, got up and left.

The first port o' call in Holywood was an establishment which now calls itself the Platform Bar, formerly Carmichael's. It was empty, apart from a few staff. Nevertheless, we were hungry and "needs must", so we ventured in; I checked that meals were being served (they were); and we were shown to a table ( they were all available).

I ordered what I believed to be a Hendrick's gin, which was brought in one of those cheap tall glasses you see everywhere; and a whole baby bottle of tonic-water had been poured in already (how dare they presume that a patron wishes a whole bottle of tonic-water in their drink?).

For dinner I ordered the Stilton burger. This was very dull, because it was so lonely on a large plate with no garnish, salad, greenery or any vegetables at all. we were, however, brought another plate of chips. Big Pete had chicken breast with pepper sauce.

The second time we ordered drinks I was told that they had run out of gin except for Miller's gin at £3.65 a shot. I was brought the gin with no ice, lemon or lime for that matter. I had a slice of lemon from the previous round, though went up to the bar to ask for ice.

I cannot, therefore, recommend the Platform bar in Holywood to readers. We'll return to the DD next Saturday as usual.

We had to make a sprint for the last train towards Belfast at ten-sixteen, having heard it trundling along the track just as we'd emerged from the subway!

Crown Equerry Quits

The Daily Telegraph reports that the Crown Equerry, Major Simon Robinson, has tendered his resignation, though will remain in the post until March, 2011.

The Crown Equerry is responsible for the provision of vehicular transport for the Sovereign, both cars and horse-drawn carriages.

Major Robinson is understood to have been moved to a temporary role with the team planning the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, which will take place after he has left his post on April 29.

During his time as Crown Equerry Major Robinson was one of the Queen’s closest members of staff and lived in a three-storey house within the grounds of Buckingham Palace.

He would invite the Queen and Prince Philip to his home for tea, and enjoyed going shooting with Prince Philip.

"Major Robinson was one of only a handful of aides permitted to telephone the Queen directly.

But his position at the palace came under scrutiny in 2009 when rumours arose of a breakdown in his marriage. Major Robinson insists no improper behaviour took place.

He was initially asked to leave his post and offered a redundancy package of up to £80,000 but was kept at the palace after a personal intervention by the Queen, the Daily Mail reported.

Major Robinson reportedly continued to work at the palace in a diminished role until October, when he quit as Crown Equerry and took up the post of Assistant Comptroller in the Lord Chamberlain’s office".

Thai Village, Belfast

Thai Village restaurant, at Dublin Road in Belfast, states on its website that their menu "offers traditional Thai cuisine using fresh ingredients including premium spices and herbs imported directly from Thailand."

Our table had been reserved for eight o'clock and the four of us sat down at the table not far from the bar in the middle of the restaurant. It wasn't too busy at all.

We were given menus by the agreeable and attentive staff; and ordered drinks from the bar consisting of an orange juice, two Thai Tiger beers and a gin-and-tonic.

This is an unpretentious little restaurant, plain from the outside though the experience inside doesn't disappoint.

I ordered Kung Tempura, Deep-fried prawns in Thai butter served with sweet chilli sauce, as a starter at £4.95.

My main dish was Kung Priew Wan, Stir-fried prawns with cucumber, pineapple, tomatoes, red and green peppers, spring onion, coriander and sweet and sour sauce at £8.95; egg fried rice cost £2.50.

I opted for Irish Coffee - which was very good - instead of dessert.

I enjoyed my meal. Despite the helpings being generous in size, they were light and the batter was light. there were plenty of vegetables, as you'd expect from a stir-fry. The flavours were rather subtle; certainly not overpowering.

We stayed for about two hours when we took our leave and made for Auntie Annie's bar almost next door, which was busy though not completely full, since we found a table near the front door. I think we had about three or four rounds there; saw in the New Year; and took our leave at about twelve-twenty for home.