Published: June 21st 2012June 18th 2012
(Note: There are more photos on pages 2 & 3 of most of the blog entries!) Friday 15th
Car from Biarritz to Bordeaux;
Plane from Bordeaux to Dublin;
Bus from Dublin to Belfast
= 11 hours.
Flight delayed 30 mins, and then a screw-up with the Irish bus company, who hadn't enough places on the Express bus for all the punters coming home from various European football matches. So I ended up on whatever the opposite of Express is, and got into Belfast at 9:30 pm, instead of the predicted 6:00 pm! >:/
Met at the bus station by the fabulous
Ian and Janet Corry, and whisked off for Billecart champagne, a great Spanish red, and an excellent dinner in a restaurant called Cayenne. Home by midnight to sample some of their poteen, sloe gin, and damson gin. Purely for research purposes, you understand. Anyway the conclusion of the experiment was that: Yes, that combination of drinks, does give you a bit of a headache the following day! Janet is my third cousin. Her grandmother and
Ian & Janet's house
my grandmother were first cousins. Which makes our children, who all know each other, fourth cousins. Which is fairly unusual, from opposite ends of the Earth, I think.
She is a GP, who grew up in Scotland, and he is an Orthopod from Belfast. They met at Edinburgh University, and settled in Belfast. They restored a beautiful 1910 Edwardian house in Newtownards on the outskirts of Belfast. Complete with a fully functional bell system for maid/butler from days gone by! They came to Sydney for a year in 1996, when Ian was doing his fellowship, and we (and our 18 month old daughters) spent a lot of time together. Hazy memories of boozy dinner parties at each other's places.
We have seen each other in Australia and Ireland several times since, including a combined family holiday in Cairns. We have a lot in common and are very close. They are extremely good value, and mad about Australian wine! They have a daughter, Shona, Ellen's age, just in the thick of her A Levels; a son, Malcolm who is Jordan's age; and a younger daughter, Eve who is 12. They are all lovely. Saturday 16th
Woke up (eventually) in a cosy cloud of feathers on Saturday morning in their beautifully furnished self-contained guest house above the old garage. Into Belfast for a look at the Metropolitan Art Centre, a Guinness at the classic Crown Bar, and then on to see the absolutely fascinating and brilliantly
done Titanic museum. It was up and running just last month, in time to mark the 100th anniversary of that sad, sad day. It is so popular that they have to limit and stagger the numbers of people coming through. It was amazing! Apart from the parts about the building of the ship, and (*SPOILER ALERT* lol) its sinking, there was all sorts of fascinating background history, about Belfast, its linen mills, all the other enterprises that sprang up to support the shipping industry, how the people lived ... I could've spent another day there, easily.
But we had people coming for a dinner party (the Murphys, who have come for dinner each time I've been here, and who now feel like old friends), so we dragged ourselves away from the museum after 4 hours. John and Carol Murphy are also mad about wine, so the big guns always
come out! (I've photographed the vast and impressive array of wines we had that night, but can't upload it from my iPhone for another few days.) We ate a delicious salmon that Janet had caught herself, among other home-cooked treats. Sunday 17th
Bit of a road trip down towards Dublin - Ian, Janet, Eve & me - to see a Neolithic 'passage grave' tomb, dating back to 3200BC! Amazing and kinda goose bumpy. Very well preserved and interesting. Back home for a family roast dinner and more fine whiskey and wines! Monday 18th
Saw Ian and the kids off this morning, on their way to work, a physics exam, and school, respectively. Then Janet, who'd taken the morning off, took me the airport. Another sad goodbye. They are so welcoming and generous and hilariously funny - I can't wait for them to come back over to Australia!
There are more photos below