Wednesday, 16 November 2016

As I Walked Through London

Smallest police station in London

Christine and Anne returned from their relaxing jaunt in Bruges bearing gifts of chocolates and earrings for me.  We met at the National Portrait Gallery, and as we were a little early, I took them down to Trafalgar Square to show them the smallest police station in London

Really Good on the Fourth Plinth

 and the new art installation on the fourth plinth, which is a giant hand giving a thumbs up sign called Really Good.  I think I like this one the best out of all the ones that I have seen so far.  We also checked out the traffic lights around Trafalgar Square where the green man has been replaced with symbols celebrating same-sex relationships. 

Then it was over to the National Gallery, as I wanted to show Christine and Anne one of my favourite paintings, The Execution of Lady Jane Grey by Paul Delaroche.  The painting has been moved into a small room downstairs and it seems that not many people know about this room.  The lack of crowds means that you can spend as long as you like admiring the painting and I knew that Christine, particularly, would like the subject.
Execution of Lady Jane Grey
The National Portrait Gallery was by now well and truly open, so we wandered through the various rooms admiring the portraits of the most famous people in British history.  I have been there a number of times now, however I always find something else of interest that I haven’t seen before as well as visiting old favourites.  
National Portrait Gallery

It was time for lunch and we headed over to Fleet Street, as I wanted to go to The Old Bank of England.  I had walked past there numerous times however I had never actually gone there.  The pub is situated the former Law Courts branch of the Bank of England and was built back in the late 1800’s and is beautifully preserved.  The tunnels and vaults below the pub are said to be where Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, carried out his atrocities.  We enjoyed a nice pie (what else) in the opulent surroundings and had a brief rest before continuing our explorations.

The Old Bank of England

Next stop was the Temple Church.  This was to be my third attempt to see this church.  Michael and I tried to visit there on our last trip to London however it was closed.  Next, I tried to view it when I was wandering around by myself on the weekend however there was a wedding taking place (a very fancy one with the men wearing morning dress and the ladies wearing exquisitely tailored outfits and hats).  

Effigy Temple Church

Temple Church

 I have wanted to see this church since reading Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code (don’t judge me).  This church is famed for being a round church (one of only 5 remaining round churches in England) and for its 13th and 14th century stone effigies. There are nine stone effigies of knights showing them posed for battle.  It is a very interesting church and I loved the grotesque portrait heads, many of which were pulling silly faces.  There was an added bonus of an exhibition on The Magna Carta, which was fascinating.
Grotesque in the Temple Church

Christine and Anne were keen to visit St Bride’s Church, as they wanted to see where Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Hall were married earlier this year.  This is a particularly interesting Sir Christopher Wren church, which was largely gutted by fire during the Blitz in 1940.  After the war, St Bride’s was rebuilt at the expense of newspaper proprietors and journalists.  The church’s original 6th century Saxon foundations were discovered after the bombing and the crypt is open to the public and there are a number of ancient relics on display.

St Bride's Church

The following day was to be my last in London and so I packed my bag and wheeled it in to town for a last hurrah.  I met Christine and Anne at Covent Garden for one last look around the fabulous market.  We then had a coffee at Charles Dickens Coffee House before heading to lunch at San Carlo Cicchetti.  We had selected this restaurant as it served Venetian style cicchetti – small, tapas like dishes.  We ordered a selection of dishes, which were all superb and, coupled with a bottle of wine, settled in for an enjoyable luncheon.  It was a lovely way to end my trip before heading to Gatwick for my flight home.  Christine and Anne still had a trip to Edinburgh to look forward to, so their holiday was not quite over as yet.  I had a wonderful time in London and I hope that Christine and Anne enjoyed their time there as well.
Farewell Lunch

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

All By Myself

Singing See-Saws

There was an art exhibition of singing see-saws called Impulse, that I wanted to see in Leicester Square, so I set off early.  London is lovely early in the morning with the possible exception of travelling on the tube.  It is a marvel of efficiency however I wouldn’t want to travel in peak hour every day.  

Street Art at the Broadway Market
 I arrived at Leicester Square and saw 15 see-saws spread out with couples enjoying playing on them.  Unfortunately, I had no one to counterbalance me so I couldn’t use a see-saw (obviously).  Sadly, I couldn’t hear them sing either as I couldn’t get near enough to hear the music coming from the see-saws that were in use.  They looked fun though.

I spent the rest of the day meandering through the streets and visiting past favourites.  I was the only person in the M & M store and it was amazing to walk around and actually see the merchandise instead of pushing my way through the crowds.  I visited some of my favourite paintings at the National Gallery although I was a little disappointed that the Water-Lily Pond by Monet was not on display however there were some other paintings by the artist that I hadn’t seen before.    I walked up to Fortnum & Mason, as there was an exhibition of sculptures taking place.  The sculptures were dotted throughout the store and whilst some of them were a little ”way out” for my taste, there were some truly beautiful gold animal masks that were well worth seeing.  The Christmas department was up and running and it was nice to look at all of the beautiful decorations as well as to see the amazing hampers for sale in the food hall.  I also visited the Prestat store to treat myself to some violet creams.  I walked absolutely everywhere, including my old haunts the Seven Dials, Covent Garden, Fleet Street, The Strand, Jermyn Street, Carnaby Street and Soho, not even stopping to sit down for lunch.  I enjoyed walking around so much that I walked from the city to home.  Time is such a luxury.
Dog enjoying a swim
James and Amber had told me about the Broadway Market & the Netil Market so I set off along the canal to find them on Saturday morning.  The weather was beautiful and the canal was picture perfect.  It was very peaceful walking next to the water and watching the swans and other water birds gliding along the canal.  The Broadway Market is one of the oldest chartered markets in London and includes a farmer’s market, food stalls, arts and crafts.  It has a really nice vibe and I had a great time looking at the various stalls and checking out all the local dogs that were enjoying the market with their owners.  Whippets and greyhounds seemed to be the dogs of choice however there were many other dogs out and about.  I enjoyed a coffee and picked up a scotch egg for my dinner from the gourmet scotch egg stall.  It is funny seeing a childhood favourite, described as being gourmet and I have never seen so many different varieties.  

Traditional cockney food

 I will definitely come back with Michael next time we are in London, as I know that he would love it and I also discovered one of the original East End pie and eel shops – F Cooke.  I won’t be trying the jellied eels however I will try one of their pies with mash and parsley liquor.  Next, I took a very short walk to the Netil Market, a small area with food sellers, vintage stalls and hand crafted goods.  I stopped for a cheese toastie, which James had assured me was the best in London, and I have to agree that it was delicious.  I also had a relaxing walk through London Fields where there were many dogs, walkers and children enjoying the sunshine.
A peaceful walk along the canal
Sunday was another market day for me.  I was able to walk along the canal again to reach the Columbia Road Flower Market.  I know I was only there the week before, however there is always something different and I love the little shops along the street.  Next was Brick Lane and the markets were in full throttle with crowds of people enjoying themselves and various musicians playing.  I spent considerable time looking at the stalls and marvelling at the variety of food for sale.  I finished with a visit to Old Spitalfields Market and there was a section that had been set up for The London Cocktail Week. The cocktails on offer looked fantastic however, I wasn’t going to drink alone.  Instead, I contented myself with checking out the clothing and jewellery stalls.  A stroll back along the canal was the perfect way to end a perfect day.  

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Breaking The Code

Recreation of a classroom at Bletchley Park

The next day I met Christine and Anne at Euston Station, as we were off to Bletchley Park.  This was the central site for Britain’s code breakers during World II.  A pleasant train journey and a short walk took us to the visitor’s centre.  This was full of interactive and audio-visual displays detailing some of the fascinating work that was undertaken at this site, as well as filmed, first hand accounts from some of the staff that worked there during the war.  We then toured some of the huts in the extensive grounds and saw first hand the equipment used and the conditions under which the personnel worked.  It was all the more interesting when you realised that 75% of people who worked there were women.  

Enigma Machine

 We saw the working rebuilt bombe, which had been partly designed by Alan Turing and watched a very instructive talk on how the electromechanical device was used to discover the daily settings of the Enigma machines used by the Germans.  I won’t pretend that I understood completely how this complex machine worked however I did follow the explanation up to a certain point. We finished our visit with a tour of the mansion and saw exhibits from the film, The Imitation Game, as some scenes from the film were filmed on site. 
Bletchley Park Mansion

 I am glad that we were able to visit Bletchley Park as we gained an insight into the crucial work undertaken during the war and which, until fairly recently, has largely gone unrecognised.
The next day was museum day with visits to both the London Museum and the Foundling Museum.  I love the London Museum and I usually find an excuse to go there each time that I am in London.  There is always something different to see and it is not difficult to spend a couple of hours wandering the different rooms and looking at all the displays.  Christine and Anne enjoyed the Foundling Museum, as they hadn’t been there before.  There was a special exhibition, Feeding the 400, which I enjoyed.  This was a collection of paintings, tableware and archival audios detailing all aspects of feeding the children over the years at the hospital.
London Museum

We finished our sightseeing early that afternoon, as Christine and Anne needed to pack for their trip to Bruges.  Michael was supposed to be joining me for the weekend however his trip was cancelled at the last minute due to work commitments.  I dropped very large hints to Christine and Anne that I was available to join them on their jaunt, however they pretended not to hear me!  James and Amber had left for Bali, Michael was in Ireland, Christine and Anne were heading to Bruges and I was going to be left all alone in London, my most favourite city in the world, for three days.  Bliss!  

Ay Up, Me Duck

Sir John Betjeman at St Pancras International

The next day, I had another early start, as I was meeting Christine and Anne at St Pancras International for breakfast, before heading off for our trip to Leicester.  Christine had arranged a special surprise for both Anne and I.  Unbeknownst to either of us, she had organised first class tickets for our train journey and accordingly, we were allowed use of the first class lounge at the station.  This got the day started very well indeed, as we availed ourselves of the complimentary breakfast in the peaceful surrounds of the private lounge.  All too soon, it was time to leave and find our seats on board the train.  The journey itself was very comfortable and it seemed that in no time at all we had arrived at our destination.

We dropped our bags at our respective hotels.  I was staying at the Mercure and was pleasantly surprised to see that my room had been upgraded, so that I had a lounge area, coffee machine and, best of all, a bathrobe and slippers.  Christine and Anne were staying at the Holiday Inn, which was down the other end of the city.  We didn’t waste any time settling in to our hotels, as we were off to see one of the main reasons for visiting Leicester.
Projection of the bones of Richard III 

In 2012 the remains of Richard III were discovered after the excavation of a car park in Leicester, the site of which was once occupied by Greyfriars Priory Church.  Christine, who is a paid up member of the Richard III Society (yes, there is such a society and it was in fact the society which commissioned the dig in search of his remains), wanted to see the site of his discovery and his subsequent reburial place in Leicester Cathedral.

The first port of call was the Richard III Visitor Centre.  This was very well laid out with a number of exhibits explaining the history of Richard III and his subsequent death in the Battle of Bosworth Field.  We spent a great deal of time reading the interesting displays before finishing with a look at the actual site of his burial.  The visitor centre occupies the site of the former car park, and the excavation site has been preserved behind glass so that you are able to see the empty grave.  There is a very clever projection of his bones showing exactly how the king was originally laid to rest.

A very short walk took us to Leicester Cathedral. The cathedral itself is a grand building dating back to around 1086, with a number of restorations and additions over the years.  The stained glass windows are lovely and there are a number of chapels.  The actual tomb of Richard III is a plain, large, rectangular block of Swaledale fossil stone, which has been set upon a low plinth made of Kilkenny marble.  The effect is quietly dramatic.
Tomb of Richard III

We had time for a quick bite of lunch and then it was off in search of our second reason for our trip to Leicester.  My mother was born in Leicester and we intended to find the house where she was born.  Christine had visited the site on a trip to England with mum some 40 years ago, and so armed with a fading photograph and street name (no house number), we set off in a taxi to see if we could locate the house.  The taxi driver dropped us at the end of St Andrew’s Road and we walked slowly up and down trying to find a house that matched the one in the photograph.  It didn’t take too long before we found a house façade which, despite a few modifications, matched the one in the photo.  It was quite special to find the house, especially as mum had actually been born there, as many women gave birth at home in those times.  In fact, my grandmother (mum’s mother) used to be the “go to person” when a baby was being born in the neighbourhood, a sort of quasi mid-wife, if you like.  I like to think that mum would have been tickled pink that we made the effort to find her old home.
Mum's House
Mum's most treasured possession - a photograph of her parents

We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around the shops of Leicester and checking out the local information centre.  Two major events in recent times seem to have turned the fortunes of Leicester around.  The first was the discovery and reinterment of Richard III.  The second was Leicester City winning the 2015-16 Premier League.  Shops are still adorned with Leicester City colours and merchandise is for sale everywhere.  Tourists are now flocking to a city, which was once overlooked and the people in the shops and restaurants are genuinely welcoming.
Jewry Wall
Ruins of the Roman baths

The next day we visited the Jewry Wall.  The wall dates back to around 125 AD and is one of the largest pieces of surviving Roman architecture in Britain.  Next to the wall, the remains of the Roman public baths are visible.  There is an excellent museum there, which we enjoyed wandering around and learning about the history of the site.  Well, we were enjoying being there until we embarrassed ourselves that is.  We discovered in the grounds of the museum, a large Roman shield, helmet and sword.  Thinking that they were for public use, I had a quick look around and, making sure that no one was watching, I quickly donned the helmet and picked up the sword and shield, and asked Christine to take a photo.  Having a bit of a laugh, I encouraged her to do the same whilst I took her photo.  Well, she decided to ham it up – pulling fierce faces and pretending to charge at me – and all the while I was taking photos.  Suddenly, I saw movement out of the corner of my eye and I saw, to my horror, that there was entire class of primary school children pressed up against the window of the museum watching us play the fool.  I have never seen Christine move so fast to drop everything and run away!  The look on the children’s faces was priceless however the glare that we received from the class teacher was mortifying.  We subsequently discovered that various interactive activities had been set up for the school children only and that members of the public were politely requested not to touch!  Anne thought it was hysterically funny as she had been the only one to behave.
You never know who is watching!

We moved on from that embarrassment and walked through some beautiful gardens along the River Soar to the Newarke Houses Museum.  This was a fascinating museum telling the social history of Leicester.  There was a fantastic re-creation of a cobble-stoned street complete with shops and the museum also incorporates the museum of the Royal Leicestershire Regiment.  This was particularly of interest to Christine and I, as our grandfather (mum’s father), had served in World War I, and it started us wondering if he had served with this regiment.  

 Christine subsequently researched him and we discovered that he had indeed served with this regiment and I have included an extract of his war service at the end of this blog.

River Soar
Detail on bridge over River Soar

A quick lunch and it was soon time to board the train for our journey back to London.  I really enjoyed Leicester and I would love to re-visit the city again, as I felt that there was still more to see.
A sad fact of life that will hopefully change

I arrived home just in time to drop my bag and race off to meet James and Amber for dinner at a local Afghan restaurant.  The meal was superb and it was nice to hear what they had been up to and for me to fill them in on my Leicester adventures.  It was to be our last night together as they were heading off early for their holiday in Bali.  I wasn’t too sad saying goodbye, as we will be seeing them again at Christmas.  It is wonderful having them on the same side of the world as us.

Carroll, John William - DCM 


Rank: Lance Corporal
Army Number: 8686
Unit: 2nd Bn
'Jack' Carroll enlisted in the Regiment on 4.5.1909, and served in 2nd Bn in the First World War, initially in France. He was promoted Unpaid Lance Corporal on 30.9.1915 and Paid Lance Corporal on 2.1.1916. He later served in 2nd Bn in Mesopotamia, where he was wounded in action on 13.1.1916. Awarded Distinguished Conduct Medal for his actions (L.G.15.4.1916, page 3988: "'For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty when in command of a machine gun. He handled his gun with ability and judgement, and gave excellent support to the attacking line."). He was discharged on 18.8.1916 on account of those wounds to his leg.
Medal Card: Carroll John William - Depot Leic. R - 8686 - Lcpl - enlisted- discharged 18.8.16 - cause of discharge: wounds. - 1914 Star, Victory, British War Medal and Silver War Badge.
Regimental Medal Entitlement Sheet: 8686 Lcpl Carroll John William DCM - 2/Leic R - 1914 Star, Victory, British War Medal and Silver War Badge.
Newspaper report:
DCM for Leicester Soldier
In Saturday's official announcement of the award of 13 DCM's to men in the Leicestershire regiment, appeared the name of Lance-Corporal W Carroll, of 22 Grundon Street, Leicester. The father is also an old soldier, having served throughout the South African War, and is now doing more as a National Reservist, and another son is in the Leicester Pioneers. Lance-Corporal Carroll has almost completed seven years' service. According to the Gazette he was awaded the DCM for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty when in command of a machine-gun. He handled his gun with ability and judgement, and gave excellent support to the attacking line. Unfortunately Lance-Corporal Carroll was wounded in the left leg, and has been at Netley Hospital for six weeks.


Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Two Sisters

Coffee at Buckingham Palace

My sister, Christine, and her good friend, Anne, were on a bucket list vacation that was to include London and I needed very little persuasion to join them there for a week.  London, as I have stated before, is my very favourite city in the world, and it is even better now that James and Amber live there. 

I arrived at Gatwick after an easy flight and made my way via train to James and Amber’s apartment.  Unfortunately for them, I arrived on the very day that their belongings arrived from Australia.  It didn’t worry me however they were a little upset that their house was full of boxes, which left little room to move around their home.  I was just happy to see them looking so well and we did a quick catch up on everything that had been going on with their jobs and London life.
Two Sisters

The next day, I was up and out the
door early as I was meeting Christine and Anne at Buckingham Palace.  I mistimed my journey and arrived very early so I was able to take a walk through Green Park and all around the outside of the palace.  It was a beautiful day and there were squirrels scampering all through the park, which was virtually empty except for a few joggers.  Finally I spotted Christine and Anne and they briefly filled me in on some of the highlights of their trip to Berlin.  It was great to see them again.

Christine had booked us a tour of the State Rooms and we had a lovely time wandering through the opulent surroundings.  It was all very well organised with an informative audio guide.  Photos were not allowed, and whilst at first this seemed disappointing, you quickly realised how pleasant it was not to be surrounded by people jostling for photos or taking a never-ending stream of selfies.  This meant that the crowds moved easily through the various rooms and galleries.  The furniture, artworks and décor were all fabulous and the rooms were much more ornate that I had thought that they would be.  The most thrilling aspect, for me anyway, was the special exhibition of the Queen’s clothes, which was being held in honour of her 90th birthday.  There were clothes from her childhood right through to the present day.  Highlights were her many beautiful evening gowns, many of which are just as fashionable today as they were when she wore them 50 years ago or more.  The Queen’s wedding dress was on display and it was lovely to see it close up and appreciate its beauty.  The showpiece of the exhibition though was the Coronation gown.  The intricate embroidery on this gown was absolutely stunning.  It was worth going to the palace just to see this gown alone.  There was also a display of Her Majesty’s many and varied hats, including one, which I swear was a dead bird, complete with beak! We finished out tour with a coffee in the palace café, a visit to the gift shop (very tasteful souvenirs) and a stroll through the gardens to the exit. 

Parliament Hill
Our next stop was Hampstead Heath as this was a place on Anne’s wish list.  A short train trip and walk took us to this massive 320 hectares parkland.  We took a walk up to Parliament Hill, from where the view over London is protected by law.  Needless to say, the view was pretty impressive and you could see the skyscrapers and the City of London along with St Paul’s Cathedral.  It was very peaceful walking through the park along the tracks and thankfully we didn’t see any grass snakes.  There were a number of ponds with lots of water birds and swans enjoying themselves and even a lido.  It never ceases to amaze me just how much open space there is in a city of over eight and a half million people.

Well, if I thought that I had an early start the day before, then the next day was a doozy.  It was grand final day and the match was between Michael’s beloved Swans and the Western Bulldogs.  James had organised tickets for himself, Amber and I at Belushi’s in Camden and the kick-off was 5.30am.  There was no way that I was going to miss the grand final so we were up and ready before dawn.  James had booked a ride with Uber, so that was a first for me.  The pub was filled with Aussies, all seeming to barrack for the Doggies except for our small group and one brave fellow wearing a Swan’s scarf.  Another first for me was drinking gin and tonic at 6.30am!  The least said about the game the better.  A disappointing result for the Swans however, at least they made it to the grand final.  Perhaps next year the Hawks will be back although the recent trade week has had some huge surprises/shocks for us.

I said farewell to James and Amber as they had their own plans for the day and headed into meet Christine and Anne at the Wallace Collection.  There have been some major refurbishments and the displays are laid out much better.  It really is an astonishing collection of Old Master paintings, the most famous of which is The Laughing Cavalier as well as a number by of artworks by Rembrandt, Rubens and Canaletto.  None of the items on display can ever leave the collection, not even for a temporary loan exhibition, as this was a condition of the bequest by Sir Richard Wallace’s widow.  It is one of my favourite places to visit in London.
Robin Hood
Next, it was off to St Paul’s Covent Garden, otherwise known as the actor’s church.  This lovely church was designed by Inigo Jones and contains many memorials to famous actors and entertainers including Charlie Chaplin, Noel Coward, Boris Karloff and Richard Greene (best Robin Hood ever).  The choir was rehearsing which added a nice touch and we returned to the church later in the week so that Christine and Anne could finish looking at all of the different memorial plaques.  The first Punch and Judy performance took place under the portico at the front of the church.
Anne & I in the West End

A brief wander around the market followed by a quick bite of lunch in the West End and then it was time for a real treat – we had tickets for the matinee of The Mousetrap!  I saw the play 32 years ago at St Martin’s Theatre, and incredibly, it is now in its 64th continuous year.  Anne had never seen the play however she didn’t need to fear me giving away the ending, as I had forgotten “who did it” a long time ago.  This was Christine’s 4th time seeing the production!  The acting was very good and we had a fun time and were surprised by the ending (except for Christine).  The cast finished with the traditional request for the audience not to reveal the ending after leaving the theatre.
To cap off our busy day, we took a train ride out to Brick Lane.  We had our obligatory drink at the White Hart (famous for where one of Jack the Ripper’s victims was last seen) and then it was off to find a good Indian restaurant for dinner.  Anne and I took a back seat and let Christine drive the negotiations for our meal.  Christine is very good at haggling and we were soon seated and enjoying our negotiated free bottle of wine.  The food was fabulous (definitely the best meal I have had on Brick Lane) and it was nice to relax and hear a bit more about Anne & Christine’s travels to date.  We went our separate ways, with me catching the tube by myself at 11.00pm.  I felt very safe and even walking through the streets from the station to James & Amber’s apartment, I didn’t feel at all nervous.
Columbia Road Flower Market

Anne had never been to a flower market so naturally I suggested a trip to Columbia Road.  We arrived about midday, and the market was in full throttle and quite crowded.  It was interesting to see the change in the flowers on display from when I was last there in August.  Pretty soon, I suppose, the mistletoe will be on sale.
Regent's Canal

Next on the agenda was the Postman’s Park.  Christine wanted to show Anne the Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice, but do you think I could find the park?  It took a considerable time of wandering in circles before we chanced upon it.  We were the only people in the park and it was peaceful and sad reading the tragic tales the plaques told.  We timed our visit perfectly because, as we were leaving, a tour group arrived which would no doubt have shattered the peace.
Happy Birthday Tim!

We met James at Angel station and he took us for a walk along Regent’s Canal.  The weather was perfect and it was very picturesque with beautifully decorated canal boats tied up and other long boats travelling along the canal.  He and Amber live in a lovely part of London.  Amber was minding us a table at the Island Queen, a fabulous pub, as Christine wanted to have a traditional roast for her Sunday lunch.  We had a great meal (my roast pork was perfect as was the crackling) and we spent a fun afternoon just chatting. 

Monday, 31 October 2016

Through the Barricades

Michael and I decided to escape Dublin for a weekend in Belfast.  Dublin was being invaded by 20,000 Americans that had descended on the city to watch a game of college football.  We were in the city the last time that occurred and had no desire for a repeat performance!
The train trip was very relaxing as usual and upon our arrival in Belfast we headed straight to St George’s Market for breakfast.  No prizes for guessing what was on the menu – an enormous Belfast Bap.  Michael thoroughly enjoyed his and I enjoyed my smaller version.  A stroll around the market and then it was a walk through the rain to drop our bags at the hotel.  It always rains in Belfast however we never let that stop us doing what we want.
The afternoon was spent wandering through the many different bookstores and charity shops in search of more reading material.  Dinner was at a fabulous restaurant, which had been recommended to us – The Barking Dog.  The food was excellent and the restaurant was full of local people enjoying their evening.
On Sunday, we saw the sun for the first time ever on our numerous trips to Belfast.  We took full advantage and were able to stroll through the beautiful Botanic Gardens.  There is the Palm House conservatory which was built in 1840, which is lovely however, the highlight for me, was the rose garden.  I have previously raved about Queen Mary’s rose garden in London but I must say that the roses on display in Belfast were even better.  The blooms were numerous and perfect in shape and perfume, despite it being towards the end of the season.  The colours were gorgeous and there we many more buds waiting to burst forth. 
We thoroughly enjoyed our weekend in Belfast. It is lovely and relaxing spending time in a city that you have already visited, as there is no pressure or compulsion to rush about.