Walking in the rain

About the only good thing to come out of a pretty soggy Saturday in Belfast, is that I gave up on the cricket by about 3 pm, and headed back into town. This enabled me to have a walk around a city that hasnt always been as peaceful as it is now. Not that it doesnt occasionally have its moments, but compared to that period known as ‘The Troubles’, its very quiet now. Yes, even on a Saturday afternoon with all those shoppers about!

Even more so on a Sunday morning about 10, when its very quiet, to say the least, most shops dont seem to open for as many hours over there on a Sunday as over here. In fact, all I could find open were a couple of souvenir shops, and a number of coffee houses, one of which I retired to, for my last drink before heading out to the airport, and home.

No, I never actually walked around Belfast during the Troubles, I wasnt that crazy! All I saw were the pictures on the news, and the advice of not to go into the city centre, at any time. So I didnt! Whereas now, the whole idea of this trip was to stay downtown, thats how much its all changed for the better.

Oh, of course, there is a new tourist attraction in Belfast, though it is just outside the city centre. It concerns something that happened just over 100 years ago, when a ship was the only way to cross the Atlantic, and it took forever. Yes, the Titanic exhibition, if you hadnt worked that out already. No, I dont know how good it is, I only saw the outside of the buildings from the bus heading out to the airport. Hopefully I can get back next year, and hopefully the weather will be good enough that I dont spend Saturday afternoon walking around Belfast city centre!

The video, well it sums up what I was doing on Saturday

Its got to be…

Perfect?

No, not the weather, you must be joking! Yesterday we got in most of the days cricket before the rain came down, today it was a mere 16 overs play due to the rain. No wonder Ireland is so green lol! A great shame, but its been a nice break from work all the same.

Seriously, I’m talking about the hotel I’ve stayed at, the Days Hotel in Central Belfast. Let me add that this is a comparative matter. If you’re used to the Hilton, or 5 star luxury, it wouldnt be perfect. If like me, you’re used to budget hotels, and some of the delights related to them, then this place is exceedingly good value for your money.

Being honest, the only fault I’ve found so far, is that the internet connection can be patchy and temperamental at times. Not in the sense of losing service (other than the daily code renewal), just occasional non connections, thats all. The room is comfortable and spacious, and would be even if there were 2 of us in here, as its designed for.

Really good reception service too, but the main delight for me with a budget hotel was the restaurant, the food being really good when I ate there on my first night. Oh, alright, the breakfast coffee is out of a machine, but otherwise… as I said, its not perfect for the price, just very good.

Its actually been nice staying downtown in Belfast this time around, allowed me to see a bit of the city. Oh, and to be entertained tonight by some marching bands too, presumably a parade for the Queens birthday today? Tomorrow, back to England, hopefully without cancellations this time around. Yes, Flybe let me down coming out, thankfully only made me 2 hours late, but enough to mess up Thursday evening plans all the same.

The video, well, this place is almost it, in terms of value…

Cricket at Stormont, and other summer issues.

Yes, tomorrow I set off for Belfast, and hopefully a couple of days of watching Ireland play cricket. Yes, its been downgraded to hopefully, given the fact that the brief British summer seems to have ended just in time for my trip. Yes, its still warm enough, but unfortunately, its also supposed to be getting wet as well, aargh!

Maybe its not the weather, maybe its the concept of playing cricket at Stormont, just on the edge of Belfast, that brings on the rain. Seriously, yes, I did catch the sun a bit one day while watching cricket there, but even on that day, we had a short, but sharp rain shower during the morning! Most other days there, its been more of a challenge to see the sun, than miss the rain!

The weather has actually been quite nice of late, and today, not for the first time, I went to work without any jacket whatsoever. And this was leaving home before 7.30, and it was already 60 out there! When I first saw the 10 day forecasts for the next few days for Belfast, they didnt look too bad at all. But then terms like showers, and rain started to enter the reports, and now…well hopefully I get a decent amount of cricket to watch, all the same.

I know one thing, it will be nice to have a few days off work before the craziness that will be Royal Ascot strikes at work next week.

So, in tribute to the weather, and things, a song from Travis. And no, thats not a skirt he’s wearing, its a kilt, they were a Scottish band lol!

Trips away

Yes, just to confirm for any reader that maybe interested, September will be in Richmond. So if anyone wants to dress me up in Scarlett O’Hara mode for a photoshoot, I’m open to offers, and I suspect Kate would quite enjoy that too. No, I dont expect to find my Rhett Butler there though, I’m just not interested, sorry and all that.

But before then, squeezed in between the trip to Rochester, and the trip to Richmond, is a brief visit to somewhere that doesnt begin with the letter R, Belfast. Yes, about 2 and a half weeks from now, I will be over there for a few days, four in all, including both travel days, heading to the cricket. I’m going to the first 2 days of the match against Australia A, and hoping for some decent weather then. I know, knowing my luck and all that, but its probably the only chance I’ll get for live cricket this year. Sadly a number of the top Irish players wont be there, they will be busy playing for their counties over here in the UK, and unlikely to be released. But hopefully I will get to see a good game, and see Ireland perform well.

Its funny though, its not that long ago that if you said you were visiting Belfast, that people would look at you, and think you must be crazy, or something. Yes, at the time of the Troubles, it was not a tourist haven, thats for sure. And though they have the occasional ‘lively moment’ still, things are far better now, and yes, I should be fine. I actually went over to Northern Ireland a number of times during those years, though never to central Belfast. I did get to Londonderry one though, but all seemed peaceful then to an innocent visitor. Whether it truly was, no idea, but I like to think so.

This will actually be the first time I’ve stayed in Central Belfast, I normally stop at a hotel on the outskirts, in the direction of the ground at Stormont, but their prices have gone up, and this hotel in the centre caught my eye, so trying something new. Hopefully getting to and from the ground wont prove too complex, I know there is a bus service from the city, I just dont know any details at present! I’m also open to suggestions for reasonably priced places in the city to eat on the 3 nights I’m there, so if anyone reads this, and knows…? But yes, I do mean reasonably priced lol! Unless you’re offering to pay? Thought not lol!

Right, the video. The title is suitable, though I find little in it that really relates to the city itself. Suspect the word just worked for another in the chain of Boney M hits in the 70’s, and that was that? To be honest, its not a great song, you’re warned if you still click on the link.

Far, far away

Well, why not, it makes for a good title, and it will be true in just over a week from now? it also gives away the song in the video, but thats old enough not to be recognised by all, I suspect?

Just a week from now, I will have left home, to start the journey to America. I know, I could do the Simon & Garfunkel song of that name, maybe I will the end of next week, or while I’m away, as its certainly what I do. Even more so, as this time I will be going on a Greyhound bus, for the first time, for the day trip to and from Buffalo. Yes, I’d rather do it by train if I had a choice, but that doesnt work schedule wise.

Oh, and no, no offers of a dinner companion as yet lol, shock horror!

Yes, the social rush is about to start, as after the week after next, I have the OMD concert in early May, and the trip to Ireland for cricket in June. Then all goes quiet until September, when it will be Kansas (somewhere, over the rainbow?), though I’m not sure of the full details on that one yet. I suspect that will be one of the matters discussed when I either see Kate when over there, or more likely, speak to her on the phone while there.

Only thing I hope for, is reasonable weather, could do with some of that. Oh, and the chance to catch up on sleep! Beyond that, some fun, and some due respect too.

The video, is only depressing in that I remember it coming out, and thats nearly 40 years ago now. Ah well… where I will be a week tomorrow

An extra hour

Yes, tonight is the night that the clocks go back, signifying the end of summertime, though weather wise I think it might already have been over! Hopefully given my comments of late about lack of sleep, and lousy shift splits, I intend to sleep through my extra hour tonight, I think I need it!

As seems to happen every time of late that we do so, there seems to be all sort of talk about moving our time zone forward one hour, a move I see as the most stupid thing possible. Maybe someone should tell our idiots in government that we are in this time zone for a good reason, it fits in with our longitude, but thats clearly far too sensible for some! They actually tried it back in the 60’s, it didnt work, or last then, and I dont think it would work now. But anyway…

In the ‘old days’ it used to be the case that people rarely left their home area in their whole lives, and I’m feeling a slight deja vu over that. Since the clocks went forward, I’ve left West Yorkshire…4 times! Alright, 2 of those were transatlantic, 1 was Belfast, and the other was all the way to Manchester! A whole 35 minutes by train lol! And given its Trans Pennine Express, that was not a high speed one!

But those 3 longer trips were all good ones, visited 3 wonderful cities, only one new one, but hadnt been to the other 2 (Belfast city centre, that is) for a very long time. Got to meet some really nice people, again some for the first time, but others I’d seen on my previous trip to Belfast (yes, then I went to Stormont ground, but not into town) as well.

Maybe I’m methodical, maybe I’m just too practical, but the 2 big holidays for next year are already settled on, the April one will be booked in the next few days too. The September one will only be a delayed booking because I need to wait for next seasons NFL schedule to sort it out. Is it terrible that I’m already thinking about April 2013 lol?

The video seems apt for tonight, one of this artists lesser songs sales wise, but I do like it. Hopefully, so will you.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdQY7BusJNU&ob=av2e