Belfast Northern Ireland September 2015

A grand view looking down at Belfast
A grand view looking down at Belfast
Bridge over troubled water
Bridge over troubled water
Shiny waterfront Belfast
Shiny waterfront Belfast

 

I couldn’t go to Belfast and not say anything about ‘the troubles’.

The troubles.’

I embarked on a degree course as a mature student at age 30  in 1992 at N.L.U North London University.!  I studied Humanities and my subjects were Irish & French studies.

After a year I dropped the French and switched to English. A fantastic course that absorbed me for years and I’m forever grateful for having that opportunity. I studied for 3 month at Galway University and delighted in the chance to do so. It was always challenging but worth it. For my dissertation (10,000 words) I chose to write about the Civil Rights Movement in Northern Ireland. I started with good intentions but felt lost and overwhelmed – in too deep. Although I was sympathetic to the Nationalist cause, I had to be objective. I got through it but strangely I had never visited Belfast before now.

On this journey we took a guided tour round Belfast the coach led us through the Shankhill Road , there we’re union jack flags everywhere, as well as Unionist murals at every turn. In such a tiny area almost a 100 peace walls exist,heavy gates and even an old prison .

The commentator relayed the tales of the troubles. The whole area felt claustrophobic oppressive and very sad, although I’d studied it many years ago and thought I knew about the area,there was nothing like seeing it so close, it felt extremly intense and I fought to hold back the tears but couldn’t it was just awful.

Almost 3,000 lives lost there. Strangely enough after I returned from Belfast I was browsing online and came across an article in the Guardian recently titled.

will Belfast ever have a Berlin Wall moment and tear down its peace walls’?

Talks continue.

The Flag is everywhere in Belfast.
The Flag is everywhere in Belfast.

 

The following day we took a coach tour to The Giant’s Causeway somewhat hungover after a night out in Belfast’s many bars

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Myself  looking a bit chubby cheeked and cockney mole
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Rocks at Giant Causeway
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Looking out to sea

The Hills are alive

Ode to rusty vessel!
Ode to rusty vessel!

 

The old vessel above is just outside on the river front of the area which is now called The Titanic Quarter. Seeing the Titanic experience really brought home how grand a city Belfast once was and the exhibiton was full of visual experiences illustrating the  Titanic experience from the building of the ship to the impact on the economy in Belfast. It was thrilling, grand and ultimately tragic.

The whole city was booming from employment at Belfast shipyards as well as the massive econmic rise from the linen industry; the Titanic was massive for Belfast. Part of the tour you actually get into a car similiar to going on a ghost train,it takes you deep down to the bottom of the recreated ship where you can see where the boiler makers and all of the crew worked, in the extremly dark.  Emerging from there there are further displays of the ship, different floors show it from different levels and angles video and audio recordings, give you a sense of the dizzy heights the richest millionaires would have felt floating 1st class on this magnificent ship, and the depths of the toil workers endured day and night to build this ship.

After the Titanic experience we visited  St Georges 19th century indoor Market which was packed with stalls, too many food stalls and live music.  We had a browse bought a couple of items, then walked back to the Botanic Quarter to pick up our luggage.

We had our farewell drink and lunch at The Woodworkers, a new bar with the best craft beers on six rotating taps. A wide selection of beers a very relaxed atmosphere, and  decent music.

Previous to this we had found an Egyption cafe in the same area close to the University,  I loved the fact that we were given warm hospitality a really lovely lunch which was well needed after a cold morning and afternoon sight seeing.

Since being back I have joined up with a new walking group

More about that next episode.

 

 

Ramble on!

 

Ramble On, “The story of our love for Walking Britain “by Sinclair Mckay

ramblers everywhere

 

particular like his chapter with the very long title “In the Gower Peninsular to consider the surprisingly Long History of walking  Gear – While Wearing Quite Unsuitable Clothes.”!

I have to agree  with his rant about the insane  growth in popularity, and commercialism of walking gear which has taken over.To see people walking around Central London in Clothes that are suitable for wearing  for skiing in the alps or , ramblers in towns with walking sticks is laughable. You may feel you can’t go out for a walk unless your head to toe in Jack Wolfskin  or another extremely expensive brand Cotswold. gear!! total nonsense of course.  This is worth a read , and I recommend it.

McKay discusses the commercialism of the countryside the years of battles and forbidden land rules among many other subjects he writes about, he manages to drop in a quote from Withnail & I  a film I watched again a couple of years ago and it was  still  hilarious. Based in the Lake district when Withnail asks “What’s the point of the country”? The fundamental comic point being that it is an error for town dwellers to think that they can rejuvenate in the country!. Mckay has some interesting stories about the history of walking as well as a  wry observation of some of the more  general trends with walkers.

I have been a member of the Ramblers association for nearly three years now, and although I haven’t done any dramatic long walks it still is a good group to join in when the need takes you. In all walks of life some people take everything really serious and with any group there is a certain mentality. But on the positive side a group has the basic mindset that walking is good for you mentally as well as physically and a good old day out. At best you can meet interesting people who you can get talking too   The brain can free flow and with the right scenery that can be truly enjoyable.

 

I would just like to add that I hosted my first WordPress for intermediate WordPress users.My second one will be the first Wednesday after the Bank Holiday.

I have been doing a lot of walking around London lately and came across some intersting spots.

Off for a walk down the Old Seaford Sussex area this weekend.

 

Best Wishes Julie.

 

 

 

 

 

Rye- Hastings walk

Rye to  Hastings 13 miles

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A brisk walk through a wonderful section of the Kent Coast, following parts of the Saxon Shore Way. Thus- described by walk leader Margaret Wasdell.

 

 An early start from Charing Cross we took the Hastings train then changed to a local network train to  Rye.  We walked through the picturesque village of  Rye,  and down hill across a small bridge over a river  at  Brede; then up a steep hill , catching a glimpse of the sea as we walked  towards an ancient village called Winchelsea.

There we had a picnic under the sun in the churchyard of St Thomas the Martyr; incidentally Spike Milligan was buried there.

 After half an hour lunch we walked on and over some fields towards a 16th century castle  built by Henry the  V111. We then followed a path alongside the royal Military Canal & walked briskly  for 30- 40 minutes. Then arriving at an open road towards the seafront of Pett Level & further on until approaching The Fairlight National Trust Reserve.
We then walked up into some woodland taking us up to Fairlight  Cliffs .
The walk provided us with a stunning view out into sea and led into Hastings Country Park from there on the walk consisted of many steep ascents and descents eventually arriving at Hastings.
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 PETT LEVEL SEA FRONT
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A VIEW FROM FAIRLIGHT CLIFFS

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Up and down and Up, and—Down, and ….

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It was an invigorating walk and well worth the effort to get there.

It’s worth joining up with a walking group as they have experienced guides which without I would have given up. I’m not much of a map reader, but eventually as I get out more I will start to learn

Until next time.

Enjoy the views

Julie