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Published: September 30th 2014
The Queens Northern Ireland residence
Beannachtaí (greetings) from Northern Ireland!
I’ll begin this blog by commenting on the weather (surprised?). Northern Ireland is famous for its weather, especially bad weather. Well folks, we have been bathed in sunshine since we arrived. The great weather has followed us from Wales.
We’re very happy to be back in Hillsborough with David and Barbara and family. David and Barbara live on a beautiful property near the Hillsborough village. Their main crops are flowers and eucalyptus which they sell locally. Barbara also grows tomatoes WITH flavour! Their secret ingredient is alpaca poo. The Erwins have two alpacas whose main role is lawn mowing but they also provide great fertiliser. Rest assured that the poo is mixed into the soil and not spread on the tomatoes!
She also make the BEST jam you’ve ever tasted. She roped David and Peter into jam making process as you will see you can see in the photos. They weren’t best pleased! Feeling that they had done some great work, they treated them to a couple of beers afterwards
As always David and Barbara spoiled us rotten. God bless Barbara, she is the
Lunch in a country cafe
See David lurking in the corner
washing queen so huge bag of smelly clothes was soon converted into nice clean ones. It’s so nice to have clean washing when you’re on a long trip. Wearing jeans for several days in a row isn’t the nicest thing to do.
We hadn’t seen David and Barbara for about 3 years and there was a lot to catch up with so we had an agenda of things to discuss. Unfortunately, because we were all pretty mellowed by wine and whisky no one took notes. We have no choice but to reconvene and try again!
We had some great food with the Erwins. One night we had an incredible paella with huge prawns which were small lobsters like the ones we had in Iceland. To die for, trust me! While we’re on the subject of food we visited the Erwin family fish and chip shop, The Bridge, in East Belfast. This area is a very depressed part of Belfast and things have been very tough for a long time so it’s not an easy place to have a chippy. I can personally report that the fish and chips they serve are world class! Recently Carl has
We had THE best time.
started to sell a line of fried chicken which is delicious. Like KFC but better! I’m already pining for it.
On Friday we went to the Titanic Experience. It takes you from Belfast from its earliest days, through the titanic era and into modern Belfast. It’s not a museum because it doesn’t have any actual artifacts but it very informative and interesting nonetheless. The best thing for me was the Titanic ride where they took you though a shipyard to give you an idea of the life of the workers. I found it very poignant because Dad worked in a shipyard for a lot of his working life. The only thing missing was the smell of diesel. The smell takes me straight back to my childhood.
We were lucky enough to be able to spend some time with the grandchildren Claire and Jack. Claire and I spent quite a bit of time singing “Let it Go” from Frozen. Fortunately I had some earlier practice with Floss and Bess. Claire and I liked it but I think everyone else hoped the door to the study could be shut!
Thursday was a bit of a bad day work wise.
I had to run two online tutorials and the technology failed me. I felt really bad knowing that the students were over in Australia waiting for me and there was nothing I could do. Little did I know the things we about to get much works!
I had submitted exams for both of my subjects and had thought everything was OK. Unfortunately I got a rejection and had to resubmit by Friday or get into BIG trouble with the university. To cut a long story short I was badly let down by another lecturer. Anyway, off I went to download the exam and I couldn’t get into the system where they are stored.
Because of the time difference I wasn’t able to get on to the IT people for 12 hours so I had to write another exam from scratch. After 5 calls to the UK, I finally got the bloody thing lodged. It made me realise how difficult it must be to work across time zones.
Very sadly, after a splendid Sunday roast lunch, we waved good bye to our dear friends and departed for Edinburgh and the next part of our journey. We are looking
at getting together in South America for a cruise next year. I hope we can pull that off.
love pj and Sandy
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