A few random jottings and photographs from my recent parental visit to the home country.
Is it the London Eye?
No, it's the Belfast WHEEL!
Is it the Gherkin?
No, it's Belfast's very own Pickled Onion!
Is it just me or are tourist attractions in danger of becoming as homogenised as High Streets these days?
Though there's always Tesco's ceiling to admire in Belfast city centre.
And railway stations to marvel at in the former UK capital of terrorism flaunting LITTER BINS.
Dear readers, you'll be heartened to know I resisted temptation. Probably something to do with my ecstasy at the £6.40 return fare from Ballymena-Belfast, a journey of some 26 miles which would have cost at least three times that on the mainland. No wonder English railways don't trust we disenfranchised 'travelling public' with LITTER BINS! Oh and NI trains arrive on time and have empty seats as well.
Civilisation in railway stations goes on.
Hmm. I wonder if this would work on the Tube?
Did I mention the splendid shopping in Ballymena?
'Go Gay. Now. Before it's too late! And don't forget our big Gay giveaway on late opening Thursday.'
Where else can you buy a brand new 1980's radio alarm with no FM band on, as I did (inadvertantly) on my last visit, and see clock and watch boxes stacked up to the ceiling on all sides?
It will be a sad day when shops still selling 1970's/1980's stock are no more. Northern Ireland is pretty well the last bastion of these treasure houses to catch one before they die. But make no mistake, Donaghy's sells some pretty funky clocks and pocket radios (as long as you don't mind about the FM thing).
You will find household emporia by the dozen, so no excuses not to perfect the art of Housewifery. I guarantee you will care about the perfect tea towel weft within the space of a week and truly appreciate the difference between the good and the type water drips off. Northern Irish linen is second to none. NI bath towels even cover your whole body from neck to ankles. As a tall girl, sick of trying to dry myself on English face cloth size bath 'sheets', I salute them.
But never fear, the Northern Irish housewife likes a bit of glamour too.
Like a lot of UK towns, Ballymena has made some planning mistakes.
Demolishing this for example.
To make way for this
And plonking a brand spanking new museum to celebrate Ballymena's history (for which a row of Edwardian buildings were demolished)
Next to this! (Town Hall)
Meantime on a main street in Belfast city centre I was shocked to see
this. What a fortune a Period city centre pad would be worth in the middle of Oxford, whatever its parlous state!