20180426 – Belfast


As usual waiting to board.

Caught the 22:30 Stena Line ferry from Liverpool to Belfast. Drive through Liverpool is worst than trying to navigate a maze on a tandem. As usual get their early, so we’ve quite a wait, but being recognised as a cripple we’re first row to board.

Ship is not that big but very modern and fresh. Cabins are quite spacious and when the bursar sees a cripple hobbling through we get assigned a new cabin on that deck – how thoughtful and considerate. Bars very pleasant and drinks are not too expensive.

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You have to watch this – awesome:

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Part of our journey takes us through a wonder of the modern World, the Mersey Tunnel. Last time I was here was 58 years ago. Can you believe it as a Ten year old we all came on a school trip to go under the newly opened Mersey Tunnel. 3 hours on a coach, under the tunnel, and 3 hours back. Can you imagine suggesting that as a school trip to youngsters these days, they’s think you were having a larf, but in the impoverished days of the late 50’s this was seen as treat.

It was obviously such an awesome and memorable experience that I don’t remember any of it.


Titanic museum.

Calm and peaceful crossing. I have a very pleasant full English breakfast. Only downside of this ferry is that you land at 06:30 and we’re first off.

It’s about a half hour drive to Anna’s so we arrive about 07:30. Wendy wonders whether they’ll be up this early. Well if they’re not they soon will be. Yes, they’re up.

Anna and Leon’s home is lovely in a very up market and secluded neighbourhood just outside Bangor. They’ve five bedrooms so the two of them are rattling around like marble in a steel drum.

Must have been hot working here.

After getting the grand tour and choosing our bedroom – good wifi – we drive back into Belfast. Park up at the Titanic exhibition and do it first as it’s only just opened up. A tad pricey but would recommend it. It seems that the place is infested with a Dutch down filled jacket Company tour, everyone is wandering around in these latest fashion icons, obviously get them cheap at their factory, and muttering away in guttural Dutch.

Have a spot of early lunch and then catch the hop on and off bus tour.

Classic screw up as usual. Brochure says pay driver, the cafe that sells tickets doesn’t accept credit cards but says they do on the bus. Bus driver does not accept credit cards and gets into a full scale slanging match with Wendy – little does he know not to mess with her she’s menopausal and can make me seem like a placid Tibetan monk by comparison.

The peace wall. Is it big enough?

Tour is actually quite good with good narration and anecdotes, at least when you can hear it. Although Belfast is


booming and there is a lot of regeneration I really didn’t realise how divided the city still is. Sadly the peacewall still exists, dividing the two communties, catholics and protestant – yet another one of the many benefits that religions brings to the World. At night the gates are locked and this monstrosity is about 3 times the height of the Berlin wall. What’s even sader is tha in a recent poll 72.5% wanted it to remain. Apparently there’s still violence kicking off daily, even if not on the scale of the past, and yet none of it gets reported in the mainland. It wouldn’t take much for this place to kick off big style and the BREXIT Irish border issue may just be the spark that’s needed. Then all those shiny new, glass fronted buildings will be a real nightmare.

Awesome graffiti.

Back to Anna’s for dinner and of course a spot of wine. Then we take a bottle of Proseco to the local beach to watch the sunset. Great end to a great day.

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Hot lunch in the market.

Lazy start to the day.

All head off down to Belfast to see some of the sites on foot.

Start off with a drive past some of the murals, their very impressive. Then it’s the famous market. Wendy and Anna are in their element, but as for Leon and I well less said the better. In Leons case they must have been here so many times, doing their tourist guide stint with friends and family, that they are on first name terms and christmas card lists with all the stallholders. Have lunch in the market.

Dome with a view.

Then we’re off down to the glass domed shopping centre. Spectacular views from the top of the glass dome, very impressive and it’s free – but they’ll need more than the luck of the Irish for these glass edifices to survive if the troubles kick off again. They’ll truly get to know what the Shard means.

Then we have a grand walking tour. See some more murals. Walk to the famous Crown Pub but it oh so busy we give it a pass. Finally find a typical Irish pub where we can have a seat and try a Guinness. Can you believe it, 68 years old and never had a pint of Guinness. Tried a mouthful about 30 years ago and didn’t like it. Well either my tastes have changed or they’ve improved the taste. Actually really enjoyed it. No doubt I’ll be trying some more.

More graffiti.

Not bad for a cripple as I manage 3 miles on my cripple sticks.

Then we just get back to Bangor in time for our dinner reservation. Very pleasant dinner on the coast and then off for a short tour to see the sunset. Back home their’s just time for some wine. A pleasant end to a great day. Belfast is such a nice City, pity there’s still such a divide and it wouldn’t take much for it all to kick off again.

My first pint.

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Out for a stroll.

Another lazy morning.

Wendy and I get the joys of a trip to Next and a local Mall.

Then it’s off for a stroll along the beach in Bangor followed by a pleasant lunch out.

Sunday evening we all have a takeaway from the local Asian restaurant. A mixture of Japanese, Chinese and Korean cuisine.

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WHiskey tasting at Bushmills.

Up early and off up to Bushmills for a tour of the Worlds oldest distillery – 1608 – and of course a no tour would be complete without a tasting. Lash out and buy a bottle of the very tasty and sweet Reddish. Also but some lovely tasting glasses and a shot glass to ensure I don’t drink too much.

Drive up to the Giants Causeway. Another World Heritage site. All looks very organised and obviously a big tourist attraction, but it’s £11.50 and as I’m still on me cripple sticks, we doubt we’ll get the full advantage of it. Give it a pass and save it for another trip. Who nows may pay us to join the National Trust next time we come – yes, there definitely will be a next time.


Drive back down the picturesque coast road. Stop off for an Irish stew lunch at Ballintoy, a picturesque harbour, used as a backdrop in the Game Of Thrones, Iron Island scenes. The coastal drives very picturesque but it takes us a good 3 hours and then we’ve got the drive across Belfast and out to Bangor.

Pick up some tea – an awesome apple and black pudding sausage rolls and sandwiches – from M&S, for tea at Annas. Then it’s off to catch the overnight ferry back to Liverpool. Wendy buys a load of duty free perfume and I splash out on a Litre of Busmills single malt. Prices are very good.

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Can you believe it? The EU wants our continued co-operation on security and defence, but when it comes to the Galileo GPS system they’re going to lock us out. Of course it doesn’t have anything to do with ensuring that France and Germany want access to the lucrative commercial contracts.

It’s simple think of the play ground. If you don’t share your sweets with me I won’t share mine with you.

If the EU wants to keep us out of Galileo, fine, then tell them that they can’t have our co-operation on defence and security. If only we had someone with some gonads to stand up to these tyrants. Appeasement just doesn’t work.


Game of Thrones Harbour.

Overnight crossing was very calm and we both got a good nights sleep. But off the ship at 07:00 and then drive home, avoiding Liverpool. How do people cope with this level of crap on the motorways every day. Whatever happened to living close to work. Instead of building more roads why aren’t we incentivising employees and companies to promote working from home?

Who the hell are these two?

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Caution to our American friends on how not to behave in London – hilarious:
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