Friday, 31 July 2009

Bits of Belfast - Part 2

North Belfast Kitteh

I stumbled to the supermarket after what proved a mind sapping day at work and found myself a dinner for one. I’m not used to this making something for one malarkey anymore. Thankfully it’s only a temporary situation, for tonight was another night for the girls of the wedding party to get together to discuss and plan plot for the wedding.

On my path from the tills to my sofa and with my bag of goodies for nom’s in hand (3 slices of beef, 1 still warm bread roll, a pack of cherry tomatoes, a tin of Sweetcorn, a litre of milk, a bag of frozen peas and the most important thing of all – a chocolate bar) I happened to stumble across a furry friend who made my day. A friendly tabby who just wanted some attention and revelled in a free head massage. I should probably state in clear cut terms that it was a cat. I’m not wandering the streets stroking just anything!

I dunno what it is about cats but when one has a friendly nature I find them one of the most wonderful creatures to be around. I was brought up with other members of the kitteh persuasion and I miss not being able to have a kitteh around the place. Landlords just don’t appreciate that the kitteh is a clean creature who usually head to take a leak in other peoples gardens and often burry their number 2’s - unlike the random drunk dude who once arrived at our door in the early hours of the morning banging on the door after giving a golden shower to our path.

Sure, I could have gone all out and used the kitteh family name; Felidae, but kitteh has a ring to it, and like most LOLspeak its worryingly addictive. Oh hai! I haz nom’s now plez? The answer being, hadz noms but wud needz halps to getz thru. The giant maize, beef and tomato sandwiches were great though! has a lot to answer for but it sure is a nice realise. Norn Girl forwarded me this one recently that made me make a noise I’m finding hard to describe. It was along the lines of a scoff, a grunt, a hiccup and a laugh:

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

To tie this little furry story all together, in the absence of my fair maiden to wedding planning, I have done my bit! Focusing on the wedding vows, just as an option, I'll be putting forward LOL Speak Wedding vows.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Bits of Belfast - Part 1

After a little reading it seems that a picture could be worth any number of words! Curious as to where the phrase "A picture is worth a Thousand words” has its origins rooted and also armed as ever with a Google search box, I set to the task. I came across this web page entitled: "The History of a Picture's Worth" and like the marketing phrase coined by Fred R. Barnard ('One Look is Worth a Thousand Words') suggests - I thought it might be a good time to see if this is true for a random photo of a bit of Belfast I took on July 29th 2009:

Belfast City Hall July 29th 2009

I have to admit I’m not finding it too descriptive. Given a subtitle, I would put forward - ‘Just another summers day’.

Replaced by words, it would probably go down the route of... The clouds were dancing unpredictably and providing us with rain, sun, overcast, rain, sun, and overcast again, Belfast City hall didn’t look too happy and had its slightly damp ‘not impressed’ look going on. The ‘Streets ahead’ project and other works currently going on along several areas in the city center have the pavement out of action on Donegall Place with oversized red and white barriers restricting anything that moves. Anything that is except the pigeons and workmen who inhabit the trenches that expose a myriad of pipes that keeps the place ticking.

The tree’s have their green coats on and people are going about their journeys with either; their coats on or sweating as they go, or ready for sun and about to get soaked. Whichever way the human variety of walker is dressed, I reckon they’re all being laughed at by the pigeons. The very same pigeons who are now so used to walking in our footsteps that they often try a game of dare. I have to admit, I lose when I take part in this game and end up being the one having to avoid walking into them. I wouldn’t mind so much if it was just that they had been in an accident or had their wings clipped but they take to the air quickly enough when a bus is close to contact. In a survival of the fittest between me and a streetwise pigeon, I’m afraid I would probably lose - ah well!

So as you may have already fathomed, not much is happening in my little world at the moment. I’m spending too much time wasting the time I do have on Facebook games and too little time with Norn Girl and blogging. That’s defiantly painted a picture that I hope to remedy. Though pictures aren't going to be able to replace words in my blog, with just a few more pictures to save just a few more words it's going to be a big help. I intend to use more blogging with photos as an incentive to discourage me from writing a small essay as often. I hope it’ll encourage me to blog a little more often. The aim being to kill two pigeons with one stone - 1. to distract me to something productive from the world of Facebook and 2. to save some time that can be better spent cuddled up to my fiancĂ©e.

So like this post, Bits of Belfast will hopefully fill in those voids between posts. The aim, to put my mind at ease instead of trying to remember what I had hoped to get around to blogging a small essay about (*ponders that Leeds United at the Oval/ Crusaders in Europe post that’s still in my head and in un-resized photos*).

A post a day is the dream, could it be possible? No matter, at least you'll get to see more of Belfast! I'll blog to that :)

Saturday, 25 July 2009

What does the Belfast Transformer turn into?

The Belfast Transformer (also known as the construction of the Obel building - or in my little world, The Obeltron) which is sat overlooking the Lagan weir and now overlooking a good chunk of Belfast, has been twisted, pulled and clicked into place. For the past few months it has been an ever growing shell of a robot rising above the Royal Mail building, and now at last we're starting to be able to see what it's non-robot-like form is going to be!

The Obeltron is.... a giant Bumper Car! A Fin McCool sized dodgem if ever there was one!

Sunday, 19 July 2009

11th July, except on a Sunday

I've now had the chance to seen many a 11th and 12th July come and go but last weekend I think was the most bizarre yet. I had become used to how it usually runs but this time it changed.

The usual run of events in those predominantly loyalist areas of Belfast are for the youth's to gather wood leading up to the night of the 11th. This is then built into as gigantic a structure as possible and then burn it whilst having a street party - a party that usually combines trance music cheap Larger and cider and for the ladies bottles of WKD.

The bonfires and fireworks are quite a sight and as with this years, there is often a lot of the community out to watch them - adults, kids and a few of the older generation. Unlike the English bonfire night, these bonfires aren't very well controlled or organized though I’ve seen less go wrong here than at other bonfires when fireworks have headed towards the onlookers. Usually due to the typical N.I summer weather the wood gets soaked and ends up with several gallons of petrol being tipped on it to get it started.

Going back even just a few years, the bonfires were made largely from a mixture of household waste, old furniture etc, wooden crates and tires. The tires were usually built into the structure and placed on top of the fire and would catch light before rolling down the thing as the wood succumbed to the flames.

Thankfully the police have cracked down on that and the tires and other heavy polluting items that really shouldn't be burnt at all - let alone where people are gathered around and breathing in the smoke. However these things still have a tendency to perform a not so stable burning tower of Pisa impression. It’s not uncommon, aided by the wind, to have one end up on its side.

The other change in recent years is that they've largely moved those that used to block the streets to now be placed to the sides of the road or on derelict land.

This year though, the 'Bonies' (as they're locally called) weren't lit in North Belfast on the 11th night but on the night of the 12th/early hours of the 13th due to the postponement of the majority of the 12th July parades to the 13th. This threw us as we were wondering why the streets on Saturday night were deserted when you expect them to be full of folks wandering from one fire to the next.

The internet's a great thing and Norn Girl soon found out that this is a bit of a confusion and debate every time the 12th falls on a Sunday. So we went to bed happy to know that Sunday wasn't the last day before having to head back to work again and we even managed to get some rest before the best kind of working week… a short working week.

The bonfires and fireworks were soon over for another year. The majority of the 12th Parades aka - Orange Fest, went on on the Sunday. It was, as usual an interesting time of the year. I just wish tradition didn't have so much marching band music and now seemingly dance/trance music involved.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

The Belfast Carnival

The streets of Belfast held host to Belfast Carnival a week ago today and I was lucky enough to be there and enjoy the parade. The theme celebrating the International Year of Astronomy 2009 was exploring the stars and the universe.

It started off as a muggy overcast afternoon but the sun wasn’t hiding too far behind the clouds. Norn Girl and I had gone into town having almost forgotten about the Carnival and were heading to check on a detail with our honeymoon plans and also to pick up a few things from the shops. The main item on the list, a light blanket for the bed to help alleviate the hot and sticky nights.

We found ourselves initially down by St Anne’s Cathedral and walked up Royal Avenue to Castlecourt. As the Parade hadn’t quite got into full swing we were parading past the precession rather than the precession parading past us, though there was a point we stopped to get a video... loved the spinning wheel!

Further along the street, there was a recycled float from last year, that of a giant Gulliver but it was still impressive to see. The folks who put that together must have spent an age doing it, almost as impressive as the one at Blackpool Pleasure beach that holds the monorail up.

A few of the floats including the Cannon and the spinney wheel were the same but were tied into the new theme with a bit of a costume change and some redecorating. The drums were rhythmic and the dancers and performers giving their all to add to a lively and fun atmosphere. A sea of bright colours and shapes that weren’t far from those in beyond our planet. To see some of these in picture sizes bigger than your computer screen, currently ongoing is an outdoor astronomy exhibition in the grounds of Belfast City Hall, so if you want to see some pretty pictures of space from the middle of Belfast - thats the place to be. Having had a look there are some great pictures.

A handy side effect was that the roads were closed and as a pedestrian in town, no one was having to wait for traffic when crossing the road (we should have a carnival every Saturday!).

The many types of dancers and gymnasts were very impressive and to keep going for so long in the heat and never letting the smiles drop was really impressive. The crowds were several deep in places and stretched the length of the route. I never saw it on the news though, I tend to stay away from watching it a lot of the time due to the repetitive depression it provides.

We only saw the new lord Mayors bus from a distance but hopefully the influence she has on the city from her new position will be as positive and inclusive as the carnival.


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