Sunday 27 August 2023


Just two days after returning home from our recent trip, we were off on our travels again, only  this time we were flying. After a very early (even by my usual standards) start, we enjoyed an incredibly smooth flight, arriving in our destination of Belfast by mid-morning. Why Belfast? Well, quite simply because it was somewhere we had never been before :) And we had such a good time.

After a late breakfast, we checked our bags in at the hotel and went for a wander around. Again, we were blessed with some lovely weather for our sightseeing. This came as quite a relief, as in an attempt to get all my clothes into just my hand luggage, I had taken the unusual and possibly reckless decision to leave my waterproof jacket at home. 

Our hotel was down beside the River Lagan and we needed to cross over the footbridge, passing The Big Fish and The Beacon of Hope (or Nuala with the Hoola), whenever we went into the city centre. We didn't notice at first, but The Albert Memorial Clock, which came in very useful for helping us to find our bearings, has a slight lean to it.

The City Hall is such a beautiful building and it was here that we ate our picnic lunch in the garden each day. Inside, there is an exhibition outlining the history of Belfast, and gives a fascinating insight into the city and it's culture, with a rather poignant Reflection Space, where we were able to read individual's lived experiences of The Troubles. It is also well known for it's many stained glass windows, which commemorate various historical events, and contributions to the city by individuals and organisations. 

On our second morning in Belfast, we walked the Maritime Mile. This took us out towards The Great Light and beyond, passing Titanic Belfast, SS Nomadic and HMS Caroline. The last photograph above is taken from what would have been the slipway where the Titanic first launched. As is often a tradition these days, people have placed padlocks there, engraved with their names and significant dates. 

In the afternoon we walked back into the centre of Belfast, where we were able to take in the views across the city from the very top of the shopping centre. You can see the clock tower and the huge Harland & Wolff cranes, which dominate the skyline. The glass roof acted like a greenhouse and it was incredibly hot in there, so we didn't hang around for very long. Instead we went to indulge ourselves in a little bit of shopping. I know! I'm not entirely sure who I am any more ;)

After such a busy day, it was a relief to sit down and enjoy our evening meal, before taking in the sunset from down by the riverside. There was also a brief pause to experience a drink in McHugh's. A lively Irish bar and the oldest surviving building in Belfast.

On our final morning we visited Titanic Belfast. This imposing building, located at the side of the Titanic Slipway where we had been the day before, houses a brilliant and interactive exhibition telling the story of The Titanic. Seeing the exhibits and reading about the personal experiences from some of  the individuals on board the ship was a captivating experience, especially discovering certain details I hadn't been aware of previously.

Then all too soon, it was time to return home. We had a brilliant time in Belfast and I would definitely like to go back again some time.

After a busy couple of weeks it feels good to pause and catch my breath. The beginning of the school year is almost upon us, which means there will be uniform to sort out and a new daily routine to navigate. There is definitely a change in the air, and autumn is fast approaching. I have resigned myself to the fact that summer, this year, was in fact the three weeks of good weather we experienced back in June. 

J. X