Friday, 26 December 2008

A Walk From Bedford Street To Botanic Avenue

Since Christmas Day was spent lounging at home - eating, drinking and watching television - I decided to drive into Belfast. Not to do any shopping, I hasten to add. The purpose of this outing was for some stimulation, fresh air and exercise.

I parked close to the Ulster Hall on Bedford Street. It looks as if there is some work still to be done at the Ulster Hall, on the exterior at least, before it re-opens in March, 2009. I crossed the street and walked up Clarence Street West, a small street which now boasts a large, new hotel called the Park Inn. The hotel itself looked empty of residents; not surprising, since it has only just opened its doors.

Ambling back to Bedford Street, I turned right towards Dublin Road. I see that the Burger King restaurant at the cinema is now closed down. There is a Tesco Express supermarket at the corner of Hartington Street, possibly where the Christopher Wray Lighting Emporium formerly stood.

At the start of Botanic Avenue, beside Shaftesbury Square, I glanced over at the place where I used to work - my very first posting in the Bank, in fact - at 9-11 Botanic Avenue. It has been converted into two shop units now.

Continuing my walk along Botanic Avenue, I came to its junction with University Street. This is a long street, stretching from Ormeau Road to University Road. I had a look at Renshaw's Hotel, which is beside Fitzroy Presbyterian Church. Renshaw's is in the process of renovation, with an extension at the rear which shall double it in size. Shaftesbury House College was formerly here.

Duke's Hotel, at 65 University Street, is also being completely renovated. The health and social services used to have offices at this site.

At last I arrived at my destination: Molly's Yard. It's at College Green Mews, although its main entrance seems to be on Botanic Avenue. This building housed the stables and coach-house for College Green House around the corner. By the way, College Green House has an interesting history itself; and has recently been sympathetically restored. Molly's was closed; I did have a look at the menu, though. I'm afraid the combination of poor daylight and my modest camera mean that the December menu, on the right, cannot be perused!

I crossed the street and ambled up University Street again, towards University Road. It's a bit disappointing to see so many terraces with an air of neglect along this road. This ought not to be the case, since it is a relatively prosperous area. I imagine the decrepit buildings will be restored eventually, should the landlords so wish it. A number of them seem derelict, with filthy facades, broken windows and overgrown frontages. Fine Georgian houses, utterly neglected and unloved.

Sections of Upper Crescent and Lower Crescent aren't much better. These Regency-style streets, with a nice little park, or green, in the middle would otherwise be among the finest in Belfast, architecturally speaking. I think so anyway. This is one of my favourite parts of Belfast; I like the architecture and buildings here.

So I came full-circle. It was a pleasurable stroll.

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