Sunday, 18 May 2008

Ulster Folk Museum

I've just spent a lovely day at the Ulster Folk Museum in Cultra, near Holywood in County Down. The weather was fine; the sun shone all day. I arrived before midday and parked at the Town Car-park. First stop was the visitor centre, where I picked up a map. The Museum has expanded considerably since my last visit, many summers ago.

Most of the exhibits were open; there were welcoming fires lit in many of them too. There are now more than fifty places to see at the Museum, including a picture-house, dispensary, hardware shop, drapery, churches, tea-rooms, bank - too many to mention.

This Ulster theme-park really is at the top of the visitor-list. It was particularly delightful to see the livestock happily grazing and wandering among the small fields and hedgerows. The hens, geese, sheep, donkey and pigs all seemed so contented. The big sow - and I'm not referring to a manager in my old bank - greeted me with a gentle grunt, while her piglets basked in the late Spring sunshine.

In the Old Rectory, traditional soda-farls were being baked on a griddle at the fire.

At about three o'clock I strolled in to the tea-room, hoping to indulge in an Ulster Fry. To my disappointment this wasn't available. Fancy no Ulster Fries at the Ulster folk Museum! You'd have thought it would have been an obvious item for their menu, especially with so many tourists. I had the "chef's special" - beef Stroganoff and chips. Not great at all and probably cooked four hours earlier. It cost £4.50. I ought to have known better.

I finished off my trip with a visit to the exhibition galleries and left the Museum at about four o'clock.

The previous evening I'd been to the Queen's Film Theatre, Belfast, to see a splendid film called Happy-Go-Lucky. I parked at University Square and the show started at six forty-five. The ticket cost £5.50. The QFT has to be one of the most comfortable cinemas in the Province.

Coincidentally, the tickets for the Museum and the cinema both cost £5.50 each.

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