Monday, 29 April 2013

New Gadgets

Well, dear readers, the new gadgets are functioning satisfactorily, methinks.

The Retina iPad and Ixus 510 seem to be familiar with each other.

I admit to being rather fond of these ingenious devices.

Modern technology is really amazing; perhaps taken for granted.

Such a tiny camera can focus on things within one centimetre; and has wi-fi connections, too.

The sky is the limit, as somebody once said.

History of Bloomfield

Orangefield House © PRONI 2011, taken by Lady Mabel Annesley in 1902


I'd like to make readers aware of an excellent website.

Bloomfield Belfast affords abundant information pertaining to that area of the city.

This site has currently six sections, the first three of which are largely complete.


I personally intend to spend time reading the sections in more detail.

Bloomfield House was once in relatively close proximity to Orangefield House, former seat of several prominent Belfast citizens, including the Batesons and the Blakiston-Houstons.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

New Camera

I have been out and about again today. I had morning coffee and a cherry scone at Café Smart, Belmont Road, with my aunt and Pat.
Afterwards, I motored over to Forestside shopping centre, where I purchased a new compact digital camera, viz. a Canon Ixus 510 HS.
It's tiny, though constructed like a military tank. Apparently this little camera is capable of taking close-ups at one centimetre.
This afternoon I spent forty-seven minutes on the rowing-machine (which expended 400 calories).

The Belmont Papers

I see that the Londonderry Papers have been augmented by 30,000 documents, some dating as far back as 1612.

These documents were acquired by the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) for £665,000.

We Belmonts are renowned for our adventurous exploits and historic endeavours, the facts of which have been recorded within the Belmont archive since time immemorial.

The said contents therein are sure to be of great interest to the populace.

Timothy Belmont is in a position to offer The Belmont Archive to PRONI for a figure not exceeding that of the Londonderry papers, viz. £225,000.

For family reasons, this must be a limited offer.

New DL


Sir Donal Keegan KCVO OBE, Lord-Lieutenant of the County Borough of Londonderry,

has been pleased to appoint  

Mr Gerard Guckian, Londonderry,

to be a Deputy Lieutenant of the County Borough his Commission bearing date, 11th April, 2013.

Friday, 26 April 2013

New Vice Lord-Lieutenant

APPOINTMENT OF VICE LORD-LIEUTENANT

Mr Robert Scott OBE, Lord-Lieutenant of County Tyrone, with the approval of Her Majesty The Queen, has been pleased to appoint:
 
Mr Patrick Killen OBE JP DL, Dungannon, County Tyrone,

Vice Lord-Lieutenant for the said County, his Commission bearing date the 22nd day of April, 2013.

The Hawthorne at Fulton's

Timothy Belmont was at large in Balmoral today. Balmoral, Belfast, that is to say, as opposed to Balmoral, Aberdeenshire.

My first port-of-call was Agnew's Mercedes-Benz dealership, where I admired the shiny, polished metal on display, viz. the SLK variant.

I was offered a cup of Americano coffee and a miniature buttered scone, which I gladly accepted.

Thence, I motored in the direction of Marks & Spencer's food store and Fulton's emporium.

At M&S, I bagged a bot of Pinot Grigio wine.

Fulton's furnishings is now sadly closed down, though the splendid Hawthorne Restaurant upstairs remains in business.

I have been a customer at the Hawthorne since the eighties, when it was across the road in more modest premises.

This afternoon, I decided to have the magnificent chicken, mushroom and onion tart, accompanied by a fine mixed salad, with a good portion of coleslaw.

Their creamy dressing is simply superb. It sits in a large receptacle, complete with ladle, on a counter behind the cash-till.

My salad was treated to a liberal amount of this thick, ambrosial concoction.

If anything the Hawthorne is better than ever.

I complimented the staff thereafter and bade them adieu.

On my way home, I stopped at a bicycle retailer on Ravenhill Road, where I inquired about that Range-Rover of traditional cycles, viz. the Pashley.

I call it the Range-Rover because one's sitting-position is somewhat elevated.

These sit-up-and-beg type of two-wheelers are admirable pieces of traditional British craftsmanship. I was apprised that 5% discount would be as much as patrons might expect.

UPDATE: At Halford's I was informed that they are selling Pashleys at a £60 discount until Tuesday. That includes delivery within several days.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Island Taggart

I have been on Island Taggart all day.

This is a property inalienably held by the National Trust. It lies between Ringdufferin directly to its north and Killyleagh, the nearest village, to the south, in County Down.

The island is one mile long and a quarter of a mile wide at its widest point; a total area of about 85 acres, acquired in 1984 from Patrick and Kathleen Mackie.

Its length and the height of its two drumlins make it particularly attractive in the southern half of Strangford Lough.

There were only four of us on this occasion, though we managed to get a lot of work done: Old hawthorn branches were burned; logs were gathered; and we began digging a new pond on the southeast of the island, within sight of Dunnyneil Islands.

We also recorded ten nests at a heronry towards the southern tip of Taggart.

I had prawn mayonnaise sandwiches and tea for lunch today; and Craig offered us all chunky Kit-Kat bars.

Royal Brushmakers

Timothy Belmont's new hair (!) brush and shaving-brush arrived yesterday. I ordered them directly from Kent Brushes, Hertfordshire, merely a day ago.

I wish to compliment them, because their service and presentation is second-to-none.


G B Kent & Sons Ltd, manufacturers of brushes since the 18th century, is one of the oldest established companies in the United Kingdom.

Kent Brushes (as they are now more commonly known) was founded in 1777 by William Kent in the reign of GEORGE III.
Kent holds a pre-eminent place in the history of brush making, with an unbroken record of excellence in the quality of its production which has been recognised by the granting of Royal Warrants for nine reigns.
The Kent family continued to run the company for six generations until 1932, when the last of the three Kent brothers passed away.

This is when Mr Eric Cosby, owner of Cosby Brushes Ltd, entered into an association with G.B Kent & Sons. A new chapter was then opened in Kent's long history, and since that time the company has been under the creative and dynamic direction of the Cosby family.


Today, Mr Alan Cosby, grandson to Eric Cosby is the Managing Director and Chairman, with his wife, son and one of his three daughters working for the business.

The company headquarters moved from London to their existing factory in Apsley, Hertfordshire, in 1984, and remains there to this day.

The company continues to retain the craftsmanship and unprecedented quality that is Kent's reputation.

Even in today's fast moving, mass-produced assembly, Kent are proud to still be manufacturing many of their original brushes by hand.

Nevertheless, Kent Brushes is committed to developing and enhancing its products with every step they take.

Kent harness the latest hi-tech manufacturing processes, whilst building on the time-honoured traditional methods to create the world's finest example of each and every brush that leaves their factory.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Fresh Fish

When I strode up to the fresh fish counter my my local Tesco's this morning, I mused for awhile as to whether to go for the salmon or cod.

The amicable fishmonger asked whether I'd prefer the smoked or plain cod loin.

I bought a lovely cod loin.

Moreover, to my slight delight, she enquired if I'd like it in an oven bag. Behind the counter, there were complimentary discs of savoury butter. I opted for the garlic & herb variety.

These oven bags facilitate the cooking, complete with instructions thereon.

Steady, lovely female admirers and devotees: Timothy Belmont has indeed had a modest Plymouth Gin restorative.

Like Bertie Wooster's valet, Jeeves, the considerable Belmont cranial cortex has swollen in extent, principally as a direct consequence of the consumption of fresh fish.

It baked in the oven like a dream. It was superb. Not one bone. Sumptuous.

Tasteless Loaf

I bought a freshly-baked "Multi-grain Farmhouse Loaf, 400g" at the Tesco bakery the other day. It cost 80p.

It looked tempting and I fancied it would make a delicious egg sandwich.

At home, I cut a few slices.

To my disappointment it was fairly tasteless, apart from the nutritious grains and seeds.

About half of it was consumed; the rest thrown to the birds, which doubtless appreciated it more than self.

I put this tastelessness down to little or no salt. I believe it had no salt!

Call me old-fashioned, but bread needs salt for flavour.

Gin Test

Would I be correct in stating that there are no Aldi supermarkets in Northern Ireland? I read the other day that Aldi is opening stores in the Irish Republic.

Readers, if you have any budget or obscure gin recommendations, let me know. Do send a comment with your reasons.

Sarah Rainey, a Daily Telegraph journalist, reports today on budget gin:

 "In 2011, an advertisement by the budget supermarket chain Aldi became an internet sensation.

An elderly lady – 83‑year-old Jean Jones from Middlesbrough – is sitting at a mahogany dining table, comparing a popular make of tea with an Aldi own-brand product
“I buy this tea for my husband,” she says, deadpan. “He likes tea. I don’t like tea.” She picks up a glass of clear liquid, complete with ice and lemon, hidden behind one of the boxes. “I like gin.”
Aldi’s gin is making headlines once again. Its Oliver Cromwell London Dry Gin (£9.65 for a 70cl) has won a silver medal in blind taste-testing at this year’s International Spirits Challenge.

A slightly more expensive bottle from Asda won gold. But those in the know say Aldi’s is the top tipple, beating mainstream brands such as Bombay Sapphire and Hendricks, and comparable to upmarket rivals, including gins from Harrods and Waitrose.
“Price isn’t everything,” Charles Maxwell, master distiller and one of the judges, insists. “With gin, you’re governed by two things: juniper must be predominant, and the strength must be at least 37.5 per cent. After that, the botanicals [the combination of aromatic plant extracts that create a 'signature’ flavour] are your toy cupboard.”
Lucy Britner, Bars Editor at Drinks International, says:
“If citrus botanicals are present, we assess whether they are balanced with the earthy notes of juniper, and whether the finish is pleasant.” 
Now, I’m no gin expert, but there is nothing more pleasant on a spring afternoon than a cool, tinkling glass of gin, tonic and a slice of lime.

Wine will become 'unaffordable' luxury and gin is fast-becoming Britain’s spirit of choice. Last year, sales rose by 12 per cent in pubs, with supermarket sales up 5 per cent.

Sitting in the sunny gardens of London’s Goring Hotel, I put Aldi’s £10 tipple – and six others – to the test.

Gordon’s London Gin £17.69 from Sainsbury’s

The market leader (50 per cent of gin sales in the UK), Gordon’s is the most iconic.

But I don’t know why. Bland, tart and one-dimensional, it’s not worth savouring. “The variety of gins is tremendous – they can be complex or straightforward,” explains Maxwell. “Some contain up to 19 different botanicals; others, including some of the better-known brands, only have four.” 1/5

London No 1 Original Blue Gin £35 from Harrods

At 47 per cent proof, it’s the strongest by alcohol volume – and you can certainly taste it. Sharp and punchy, this is one of the most expensive on the market. Its translucent blue colour (from being infused with gentian flowers) mimics Bombay Sapphire, but it’s superior in taste and texture.

The makers describe it as “uniquely elegant”, and I could happily sup this refined spirit all day. 4/5

Sipsmith London Dry Gin, £27.95

Another iconic brand, this tipple is produced in a residential street in Hammersmith, west London, by a small team of enthusiasts. Delicate, herby and full of citrus, it’s my favourite.

“Sipsmith’s is a good quality gin,” says Brian Kinsella, bar and lounge manager of The Goring, where gin is the most popular drink on the menu. “It’s one of the only distilleries to use a copper still, which gives great flavour.” 5/5

Oliver Cromwell Dry Gin, £9.65 from Aldi

The critics’ favourite comes in a dark green bottle, with italicised label and royal crest, which looks an awful lot like Gordon’s. It’s refreshingly crisp, lemony and smooth – as every good gin should be – and unbeatable on price.

But, for me, the flavours are too subtle and my drink tastes more of tonic than gin. “The Aldi gin has been consistently good,” says Maxwell, “but it’s competing in a vibrant marketplace.” 3/5

Heston from Waitrose Earl Grey and Lemon Gin £23

More like an alcoholic cuppa, this gin has been subjected to Heston Blumenthal’s madcap molecular gastronomy, using bergamot to “make this spirit a real spirit”. Sadly, it hasn’t worked.

There’s far too much going on to taste even a hint of gin, and I can’t take more than a few sips. Interestingly, it’s the only one to offer nutritional information – but the 220 calories per 100ml only puts me off more. 2/5

London Dry Gin £11 from Asda

Despite its gold medal, this is sweet and too sickly for me. Liquoricey and tangy, it’s like a bag of pick’n’mix has been dissolved in my glass. The bottle, decorated with a green London skyline, makes it look downmarket. 2/5

Bathtub Gin £32.95 from Master of Malt (masterofmalt.com)

Part of a range of spirits supposedly cooked up by a wacky fictional amateur distiller, Professor Cornelius Ampleforth, this is wrapped in a Prohibition‑esque brown paper. Made in small batches of 30 to 60 bottles, it is noticeably spicier, tasting of Christmassy cinnamon and cloves. 4/5

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

The Lord Stirrup KG


THE QUEEN has been graciously pleased to appoint the Right Honourable Graham Eric (Jock), Baron Stirrup, GCB, AFC, to be a Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter.

Air Chief Marshal Lord Stirrup, 63, is a former Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS).

The most recent three vacancies have been created due to the deaths of:
1. The Duke of Grafton (7 April 2011)
2. The Viscount Ridley (22 March 2012)
3. The Baroness Thatcher (8 April 2013)
Two vacancies now remain within the Order.

Lord Stirrup was CDS when British forces were committed in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Lord Stirrup was educated at Merchant Taylors' School in Northwood, Hertfordshire, before receiving his commission from RAF College Cranwell, in Lincolnshire, in 1970.

After being promoted to squadron leader in January 1980, he was awarded an Air Force Cross in 1983 for his role in landing a severely damaged aircraft while instructing a trainee.

He was made wing commander in July 1984 and was station commander of RAF Marham, in Norfolk, during the Gulf War in 1991.

In August 2003 he was promoted to air chief marshal and appointed chief of the air staff after serving as UK national contingent commander at the start of the war in Afghanistan in 2001.

He sits as a crossbench peer in the House of Lords where he has argued the case for Afghan interpreters and their families to be allowed to settle in Britain.

Married with with one son, Lord Stirrup is said to enjoy golf, music, theatre and history.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Garter Vacancies


There are currently three vacancies within the Most Noble Order of the Garter. The royal website states that

If there are vacancies in the Order, appointments are announced on St George's Day (23 April).
Former prime ministers are invariably appointed to the Order, Sir John Major being the last prime ministerial appointment.

Two former prime ministers have yet to be appointed, though membership of the Order is within the personal gift of the sovereign.

There has been speculation that Prince Henry of Wales ~ Prince Harry ~ shall be appointed to the Order shortly.

Antiques Roadshow

The flagship BBC series Antiques Roadshow today revisits Castle Coole, a property of The National Trust near Enniskillen in County Fermanagh. It is broadcast at 8pm.

Fiona Bruce and the team of experts welcome visitors as they bring their family treasures for inspection.

Pieces featured include a poignant reminder from the battlefields of World War One, a beautiful and valuable modern painting of an Irish landscape, and a collection of compacts with a jaw-dropping valuation.

A lady brings in an exquisite diamond brooch with a fascinating story attached; there’s a clever novelty Victorian bracelet and a pair of earrings that sends the expert into raptures.

Elsewhere, there’s a poignant First World War battlefield cross accompanied by a sad tale from the Somme, and two lovely Irish paintings.

A collector with a passion for ladies’ powder compacts brings in just a fraction of her enormous collection.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Godfrey Bloom TD MEP


Mr Bloom, I salute you.

If the video doesn't work above, try here.

The Post-nominal letters TD represent Territorial Decoration, incidentally. My father had the TD with two bars.

Café Smart

This is my very first missive from the iPad. The sun is shining, the lark is on the wing, and it is a beautiful morning.
I could not work out how to transfer images from the iPad to the blog, as yet, so I emailed them to my email address and uploaded them from my main computer at home. There is doubtless an "app" for importing photos to blogs from iPads.
I motored the short distance - I really ought to have cycled - to Belmont Road, where I ambled in to Café Smart.

This is a lovely, bright, cheerful coffee-house. 

I ascended the stairs and sat on a leather sofa in the upstairs lounge. There were three other customers here, though it was only about 10am.


A very agreeable waitress appeared and immediately provided me with the wi-fi address for my iPad, which connected instantaneously.

I ordered a regular mocha coffee and a fruit scone. 

I have to say that the coffee and scone were both presented impeccably. The coffee tasted superlative to me. The scone was freshly baked and filled with a fair amount of fruit.

I was provided with two pats of Ulster butter and home-made raspberry jam.

On my departure, the downstairs area was almost full.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Shirt Sale

I made a brief sortie into town this morning in the two-wheeler. There was a feisty head-wind en route.

Having spent awhile in the Linenhall Library (I am tempted to write an article about the Herdmans of Sion House), I ambled in to Marks & Spencer, where I bought garlic-bread and a roast chicken breast.

In the menswear department I spotted a number of perfectly good shirts, which were in the sale.

The £5 price sticker proved to be irresistible. Moreover, there was a very good selection of shirts in my size.

I purchased a lilac, cutaway collar, slim-fit, double-cuff, "sartorial" little number, reduced from £39.50 to a fiver.

A "heritage" shirt in pure cotton twill was reduced from £27.50 to £5.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Simple Food


Comfort fodder was the Order of the Day today. A pack of Marks & Spencer chunky battered cod was found in the freezer.

As a consequence, this was baked instanter, with a couple of potatoes and asparagus tips.

A jar of beetroot relish - Belmont's favourite - was produced; as was the requisite Jersey butter.

Stately Epitaph

CHERISH FREEDOM

IN GLORIOUS MEMORY OF THE RIGHT HONOURABLE MARGARET HILDA BARONESS THATCHER

LADY OF THE MOST NOBLE ORDER OF THE GARTER

MEMBER OF THE ORDER OF MERIT

ONE OF HER MAJESTY'S MOST HONOURABLE PRIVY COUNCIL

PRIME MINISTER OF THE UNITED KINGDOM 1979-1990

A GREAT BRITON, A TRUE PATRIOT

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Santander UK: II

I am now in a position to apprise you that my complaint to Santander UK has been resolved satisfactorily.

A member of staff phoned me this morning, apologised on the bank's behalf, offered me an explanation and, as a gesture of goodwill, a credit to my account of £5.

At least it's a result and pays for my phone-calls to them.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Spending Spree


Timothy Belmont was on a spending spree today. I motored over to Richer Sounds in order to procure a pair of "Premium Foldable Mini Headphones".

These were for my newly-acquired iPad 32gb Retina.

They were in stock, so that was the first purchase.

Since I still had plenty of time left on the parking-ticket, I ventured across the street to the Castle Court shopping-centre.

Passing Laura Ashley's store, I noticed that bright red "Sale" signs proliferated. Ambling in, I bagged one silk cushion, one beaker and one Britannia Doormat, Duck-Egg.

Those readers who happen to be cognizant of my admiration for the late noble Baroness shall be particularly gratified that the acquisition of the said doormat is indeed propitious.

Santander UK

Further to my complaints and criticism of the bank Santander UK plc, I was kept on the phone ~ an 0845 number ~ for 29 minutes and 12 seconds on Friday morning.

I checked my phone account and this can be verified.

I was unable to close my savings account online, so I was compelled to phone them, unfortunately.

I was merely trying to close a savings account.

Is this how Santander UK treats all its savers?

I should not object were Santander to offer me some recompense as consolation for my time and trouble, merely to close an account which now pays the princely interest rate of 0.50%.

I shall keep you apprised if this article generates a reaction from them.

Dear readers, please do not be fooled by recent Santander UK advertisements featuring the sporting celebrities McIlroy, Button and Ennis.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Flight Upgrade

The Daily Telegraph investigates the chances of obtaining a flight upgrade:-

Most air passengers will never fly in anything but economy class.  Premium seats are shockingly unaffordable.

During its last January sale, British Airways advertised first-class return flights to Sri Lanka for £2,599, down from the usual £5,179.

Not a bad deal, but that’s still more than a month’s salary for the average British worker. Business class is less dear, but still remains beyond the reach of most people.

So unless you know your way around a hedge-fund, or happen to be flying the plane, there’s only one way you’ll find yourself turning left when you board an aircraft: the free upgrade.

Nabbing one is rare. A few years ago the website MoneySavingExpert.com polled nearly 9,000 travellers to find out whether they had ever received a free upgrade. Less than a third of those questioned had done.

But there are numerous ways you can boost your chances.

Choose your route carefully
Most upgrades will be offered for “operational reasons”, such as when the economy class cabin is full or oversold, but the premium cabins are not. Therefore travelling on a busy route, where this is more likely to occur, will help. Flights to beach resorts during the school holidays, when the majority of fellow passengers will be families, are a good bet. Monday morning flights to Frankfurt – not so much.

Be loyal, and pay more for your ticket
Regular customers will normally be given priority when an upgrade is available. “It is sometimes necessary to upgrade customers,” said a BA spokesman. “This is rare and will normally apply to frequent flyers who are members of our loyalty programme first.”  A spokesman for Lufthansa said: “Passengers who paid more for their tickets are more likely to be upgraded than passengers who bought a discounted ticket. The frequent flier program status is also taken into account.”

Travel alone
If there are just one or two seats available up front, they will probably be offered to single travellers first.

Just ask
Four per cent of those questioned in the MoneySavingExpert.com poll said they had received a free upgrade by simply asking for one at the check-in desk. With some airlines, however, it won’t matter how charming you are. A Virgin Atlantic spokesman, for example, said it does not give upgrades to anyone who requests one. The airline also recently revealed some unusual reasons given by passengers requiring an upgrade. They included the following: “Manchester United lost today, I am really upset and need the space to get over it” “My wife is pregnant – I need an upgrade as it is a really stressful time for me” “My newborn baby has claustrophobia, we really need an upgrade so she has more space” “I am Sir Richard Branson’s dentist” “I have lost all of my money in Vegas but really need an upgrade” “It’s a Sunday. No-one flies on a Sunday, so please can I have an upgrade?”  

But have a good reason
If you’ve got a more genuine reason than those listed above, such as being exceptionally tall, pregnant, or even celebrating a honeymoon, birthday, or anniversary, it will go in your favour. A Lufthansa spokesman said “it never hurts to ask”, and offering a reason such as these “would certainly improve your chances”.

And be nice
It goes without saying that the lucky few who have received an upgrade after requesting one were polite, and probably smartly dressed. They didn’t demand one.

Be unlucky
If you’ve got a faulty entertainment system, or a chair that won’t recline, you’ve got good reason to complain, particularly if you’re on a long-haul flight. You may simply be moved to another economy class seat, but if none are free... Equally, if you’ve got a legitimate grievance against another passenger – harassment, for example – you could ask to be relocated.

Be a VIP or know someone at the airline
The Virgin spokesman added that: “There is an upgrade list at check in (this could be journalists, travel industry VIPs, etc) and all these upgrades are agreed in advance and signed off at head office.” So if you have a good friend who works for an airline, it can’t hurt to ask.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Leslie Hill Closure


The Ballymoney Times reports that Leslie Hill Farm, which brought thousands of visitors to the Borough since it began in 1989, has closed to the general public.

The estate was not opened at Easter, 2013,  and a message on the website said:
“Unfortunately, Leslie Hill will not be opening for Easter 2013 and will remain closed throughout June, July and August. We thank you wholeheartedly for your visits in previous years and are sorry to disappoint you at this time.”
A council spokesperson confirmed that they had been contacted to not include the Farm on their tourist information brochures.

A member of the family, Mr John Leslie, said his parents who ran the farm since it opened, were both over 80 and had “done as much as they could.”

He added that they had wanted to retire. Mr Leslie said it was regrettable that the Farm had to close but did not rule it re-opening in the future.

Councillor Bill Kennedy said the news had saddened him. It was, he said, a very popular and well established facility in Ballymoney and provided the Borough with a great tourist boost:
“Leslie Hill was ideal for families and young children and had helped educate a great many in the ways of farming and how to care and look after animals. Mr and Mrs James Leslie deserve to step back and take things a bit easier and I wish both a very happy retirement."

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Belmont Fodder


Yet again, for another countless time, I attached the venerable nose-bag for a memorable dinner.

Tonight, at Belmont GHQ, I had the fresh loin of cod-fish with parsley sauce; mashed potato with lashings of Jersey butter; and broccoli.

It was divine. The fish was moist, flaky and really fresh.

As any cove shall tell you, Timothy Belmont enjoys his bit of pudding thereafter. This evening was no exception.


It was moist, juicy, creamy and I devoured it.

Lady A will attest that I got stuck in to the "afters" about half an hour after the main course, last Saturday night: The noble Earl devoured that spongy Pavlova instanter.

Tonight it was the County Down blackberry sponge, made freshly in the Belmont kitchen.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Clandeboye Birds

Anthony McGeehan will give a talk about the birds at Clandeboye estate, County Down, seat of the Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava, on Thursday, 11th April, 2013, at 7.30pm:-

Belmore Interview

THE PRESENT 8TH EARL OF BELMORE TALKED TO JENNY CATHCART IN 2011

LORD AND LADY BELMORE LIVE AT THE GARDEN HOUSE, CASTLE COOLE ESTATE, COUNTY FERMANAGH

In May, 1949, Major Galbraith Lowry-Corry was serving with the Inniskilling Fusiliers in Malaya when his commanding officer handed him a telegram addressed ‘Lord Belmore’.

It signalled that he, a great-nephew of the 4th Earl, had become the 7th Earl of Belmore, for his bachelor cousin, Cecil Lowry-Corry, the 6th Earl, had just died.

He took emergency leave and returned home immediately. When he and his family arrived home at Castle Coole, County Fermanagh, they had their photograph taken on the steps of the south-facing colonnade.

A tall man of aristocratic bearing, Lord Belmore stands protectively beside Lady Belmore and their daughters, Lady Anthea and Lady Wendy Lowry-Corry.

Their son and heir John, [now 8th Earl] was born in 1951. Because of death duties, sweeping changes were required to secure the future of Castle Coole.

The house and 70 acres of land were transferred to the National Trust and, by 1955, parts of the house were open to the public.

However, the family retained ownership of the contents and are able to use some of the private rooms in the castle.

In the same year, Lady Belmore commissioned Raymond Piper to make drawings of Castle Coole as a birthday present for her husband.

In 1960, Derek Hill was asked to paint the family in a conversation piece for which they sat in the Saloon. This painting was especially poignant, given that Lord Belmore died later in the year aged just 47.

John Corry became the 8th Earl of Belmore. His earliest memories of Castle Coole are of the Christmas turkey belonging to the National Trust caretakers, Mr and Mrs Wright, which he freed from its pen in the basement.

This landed him in a lot of trouble with his parents. He recalls an idyllic childhood with private lessons in the nursery in the east wing, fishing for pike and tours of the demesne with his father.

During the summer holidays he enjoyed the company of friends including Alan [now the Viscount Brookeborough] and Christopher Brooke from Colebrooke, and Gerald Grosvenor [now the Duke of Westminster] from Ely Lodge.

He attended the Portora preparatory school at Gloucester House; then continued his education as a boarder at Lancing College in Sussex, his father’s alma mater.

After two years at agricultural college he returned to Castle Coole in 1974. These were grim times in Northern Ireland.

Lord Belmore made a key decision to renovate the gardener’s cottage in the walled garden where he and his family now live, although their eldest son [Viscount Corry] still uses the private rooms in Castle Coole.

Gradually and tastefully he refurbished and extended it in collaboration with architects Richard Pierce, John O’Connell and Mary Kerrigan, local builder, Terry McGovern and Robert Gormley of Precision Joinery.

Since there was not a single painting of Castle Coole in existence, he commissioned the Enniskillen-born artist, TP Flanagan, to produce a series of watercolours and oils.

Lord Belmore developed a good working relationship with the National Trust and over the last 25 years he has been adding to the family portraits and paintings with key pieces, which are in keeping with the style and period of the house.

He was pleased to take me [Jenny Cathcart] on a tour of the art works. In the entrance hall, he drew my attention to the warmth of colour in the Cuban mahogany doors and the scagliola columns.

At this time of year, when the National Trust diligently puts the house to bed after the summer season, calico covers are draped on the furniture and lamps and chandeliers are muffled in muslin to preserve them from the dust.

We make our way to the breakfast-room to see Giovanni Battista Cipriani’s ‘Heavenly Twins’ Castor and Pollux, which Lord Belmore believes is now the best painting in the house.

Dated 1783, it was one of three paintings commissioned for Houghton Hall in Norfolk. Lord Belmore purchased it in 1990 and it is so large that it had to be brought frameless through the breakfast room window.

He also bought ‘The Flight into Egypt’, by an unknown north Italian painter, which dates from the early 18th century. It hangs harmoniously alongside Hugh Douglas Hamilton’s portrait of the adventurous, impetuous 2nd Earl who was governor of Jamaica from 1828–32.

He took his family on a grand tour of the Mediterranean on the brig Osprey and then furnished Castle Coole in the regency style almost bankrupting the family in the process.

In the same room is ‘Miss Morgan’ by the Irish painter Garrett Morphey, which was singled out by the late Sir Oliver Millar, the Queen’s picture surveyor, as an excellent example of late 17th century Irish portraiture.

In the north-facing drawing-room hang original portraits of Armar Lowry-Corry, who built Castle Coole from 1788-95 and two of his three wives. These are by the two most eminent Irish portrait painters of the day, Hugh Douglas-Hamilton and Robert Hunter.

The first wife, Lady Margaret Butler, was the eldest daughter of the Earl of Carrick. The second, Lady Henrietta Hobart, daughter of the Earl of Buckinghamshire, chose Belmore, the name of the nearby mountain, when the peerage was offered to her husband.

The [1st] Earl’s third wife was Mary Anne Caldwell.

Near the main staircase is a charcoal drawing of doves by Mildred Ann Butler, a study for a watercolour.

Here too is a small oil painting by Hans Iten, a Swiss damask designer who lived in Belfast and a painting by Nathaniel Hone the Younger, a landscape at Cassis in the south of France.

We pause on the landing to look at Belfast-born Peter Turnerelli’s bust of the Duke of Wellington, champion of Home Rule for Ireland and friend of the 2nd Earl of Belmore.

In 1978, a gift to the National Trust from a private benefactor made it possible to refurbish the first floor Bow Room with a brand new set of chintz curtains and wallpaper copied from an original sample discovered behind a mirror.

In this room is another of Lord Belmore’s acquisitions, ‘Le Pont du Gard at Nimes’, a painting of the Roman aqueduct by Nathaniel Hone the Younger.

When, in 1988, ‘The Leslie Conversation Piece’, which had hung at Castle Leslie in County Monaghan, came up for sale, Lord Belmore bought it from a picture dealer in London.

Painted in 1770, this work by Mortimer depicts some of the most colourful and prosperous landowners of the day.

Lord Mornington, who was ennobled by the king for his music making, entertains the company at the piano.

The painting now hangs in the state bedroom which was kitted out in regal red for a planned visit by King George IV, who never came but preferred to dally with his mistress at Slane Castle.

Lord Belmore has donated some paintings to the Castle Museum in Enniskillen of which he is a patron.

These include ‘Still Life with Garlic’, by William Scott, which he describes as 'one of the strongest and most important 20th century paintings in the North West of Ireland'.

‘Pears’ by Scott is also in the museum, as well as the above-mentioned ‘The Saloon at Castle Coole’ by TP Flanagan.

Published by the Ulster Historical Foundation in 2007, the fully illustrated book Belmore: The Lowry Corry’s of Castle Coole 1646 - 1913 has been one of Lord Belmore’s most important projects, for it traces the history of Castle Coole and the union of the Lowry-Corry families.

Peter Marson was commissioned to write it and it was 12 years in the making.

When Lord Belmore was introduced to Patrick Prendergast by the artist, Philip Flanagan, he invited him to photograph the forgotten spaces of the attic and the basement at Castle Coole where the last vestiges of his boyhood life in the 1950s still remained intact: the 7th Earl’s travel trunk; the schoolroom with bookshelves still lined with books.

The photographer continued on the same theme in other country houses throughout Ireland including Lisadell in County Sligo.

These photographs appear in Ancestral Interiors, published by the Irish Architectural Archive in 2010.

First published in April, 2011. The full interview can be read here

Monday, 8 April 2013

Lady of the Garter


Ceremonial Funeral


Downing Street can announce that, with The Queen’s consent, Lady Thatcher will receive a Ceremonial funeral with military honours.

The service will be held at St Paul’s Cathedral.

A wide and diverse range of people and groups with connections to Lady Thatcher will be invited. The service will be followed by a private cremation.

All the arrangements being put in place are in line with wishes of Lady Thatcher’s family. Further details will be published over the coming days.

In response to the news that Lady Thatcher had died the Prime Minister said:
“It was with great sadness that I learned of the death of Lady Thatcher. We have lost a great leader, a great Prime Minister and a great Briton.”

The Baroness Thatcher, 1925-2013

I am profoundly saddened to learn of the death today of Lady Thatcher.

The Right Honourable Margaret Hilda [Thatcher], Baroness Thatcher, LG, OM, PC, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, 1979-90:

The Right Honourable Margaret Hilda [Thatcher], Baroness Thatcher, Lady of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, Member of the Order of Merit, One of Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council.

Lady Thatcher's coat-of-arms is illustrated at the top, including the coronet of a peer of the fifth degree; and the badge of the Order of Merit, suspended below.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Sunday Carvery

I awoke from the ethereal slumber this morning, ready for The Big Breakfast, viz. sausage, bacon, egg, mushrooms, tomato, potato-bread, soda-bread, tea and toast; and fruit juice, too.


Alas, we couldn't do sufficient justice to the Bushtown Hotel's celebrated Sunday Carvery, where patrons from throughout the county and further afield indulge in splendid arrays of nosh, hearty nose-bags abound, and well-rounded trenchermen and women compete for the cooked offerings.

Stirring Sticks

I am a tad unimpressed by the current trend, in the hospitality sector, of using little, flat, wooden sticks for stirring beverages, whether it's tea or coffee.

These sticks are generally placed in a receptacle on the dining-table, with other condiments.

I assume that this practice saves hotels, cafes, bars and restaurants from the provision of real teaspoons and the necessity of having to clean them.

Personally I prefer real, traditional, metal spoons.

Wooden sticks are perhaps better suited to fast-food establishments, rather than hotels.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Bushtown: I

I'm staying at the Bushtown Hotel, Coleraine, County Londonderry, this weekend.

I met Lady A at the hotel, while she was getting tucked in to a rather toothsome roast beef dinner.

Well, it will be no surprise to regular readers to learn that we indulged in several restoratives.

It's fine and sunny today. We might go for a drive in the two-seater. I'd be keen enough to visit Ballycastle, a town I've written about recently.

Particularly, what remains of Clare Park, that former country estate.

I was interested to hear that Lord Belmore has acquired Fardross Estate, Country Tyrone, a demesne I have composed an article about, viz. the Gledstanes of Fardross; and which I expect to publish imminently.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Re-Issues

Regular readers will have discerned that I repeat, or reissue, articles, most of which were posted about eighteen months ago.

Whilst it's true that my scope for new pieces pertaining to Ulster country houses is diminishing (mainly because I feel I've already written about the majority of the more interesting ones), I continue to search for new demesnes or estates.

When an old article is reissued, I generally revise it, adding "meat to the bones". I often undertake further research on the family, for instance.

I have an established format for these articles, so I'm sometimes re-writing older posts in the preferred format.

I currently have twenty-six drafts of brand new articles, which will be published throughout 2013.

This week I have been investigating the Gledstanes' of Fardross.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

NT Ties


I have amassed four National Trust ties, which all date from the 1980s.

I possess a large, matching silk handkerchief for the tie on the right (though never wear them together).

The silver-grey tie belonged to my father.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Richmond Coronet

The 10th and present Duke of Richmond holding his ducal coronet.

Am I mistaken, or does it appear rather large in relation to His Grace's head? The lining must be well padded.

Ducal coronets are distinguished from others by eight gold strawberry leaves.

Coronets are customarily worn by hereditary peers and peeresses at coronations.

I have written an article about ducal coronets here.

First published in September, 2010.