Saturday, 31 July 2010

Facebook Link

I've added "share it" links at the bottom of each post for Facebook, Twitter and Google Buzz.

Loughries Party

I was at a birthday bash last night; three of us shared a taxi to Loughries, which is just outside Newtownards in County Down. The party was in a private barn so we brought our own booze. I filled three mini gin bottles with you-know-what, brought a bottle of tonic-water and a cling film-wrapped slice of lemon. The taxi fare was reasonable enough at £18 so, divided by three, that came to £6 each; £12 each, return.

I have been restoring - or reconditioning - the firescreen I bought at Ross's earlier in the week: I took it apart completely, cleaned the glass pane, washed the tapestry and treated the woodwork with a special mixture of stuff which had a potent aroma!

I'm off to Holywood this morning for coffee and a scone at one of the coffee-houses.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

A Proper Pasty

I ventured into central Belfast this morning. I had my eye on a tapestry firescreen, so I registered upstairs, at Ross's office, had a browse round the sale-room and waited.

Well, I won the bid and bagged it for twenty pounds. I'm not terribly keen on the tapestry design. It's all right; however I shall have a look on the Web for something more fitting.

I was having a little chat with the lovely girl behind the counter at Ross's, joking that I felt like a minnow among sharks what with all the dealers hovering about! I settled my account with them; though I popped in to Lunn's earlier in order to collect some jewellery.

Whilst ambling down Queen's Arcade, I noticed a chap munching away at something or other; then spotted a member of staff from what turned out to be a new pasty shop in the Arcade, offering bite-size pieces of pasties to passers-by in order to generate interest and awareness. I did a U-turn and grabbed a sample from her tray.

It was delicious! Better than supermarket pasties, at any rate; so I discovered the new shop at the far end of Queen's Arcade. It was called The Proper Pasty Company. I wandered in, explaining that the girl outside had just persuaded me to buy one. I purchased a traditional Cornish pasty which, I think, cost about £2.60. They have a big selection of other kinds, too. I thought the beef and Stilton ones sounded good.

A Good Shave

I used the new shaving brush this morning. I followed their instructions, which included squirting a small ball of gel into the brush head. Given that I can be slightly sceptical - not to say cynical - about some things, I was rather impressed. This method seems to work. Using a shaving brush provides one with a lot more lather than smearing the gel on manually.

I may well be converted already!

Many thanks, Theo.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

New Index

I'm compiling a comprehensive alphabetical index of the Northern Ireland peerage and peers, both extant and extinct, whom I've written about. I shall provide links to individual articles about each peer and courtesy lord. For example:-


Hamilton, Marquess of; see Duke of Abercorn


...and so on. Would anyone find this a useful feature?

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Ballymacormick Footpath

I'm just back from a day's volunteering at Ballymacormick, beside Groomsport in County Down. I joined a National Trust working party, a group of people spending their holiday working at various projects around Strangford Lough. There must have been about fifteen of us altogether. We were widening a footpath.

Craig invited me to a boat trip on the Lough this Sunday; and suggested that we retire to one of the hostelries in Strangford afterwards! Hopefully I'll be able to have a meal there.

Kent's Shaving Brush

I was watching Dragons' Den, the BBC's flagship entrepreneurial programme, last week and chuckled when some loony invention appeared, viz. an electric shaving brush: Apply gel or foam and the stuff doubtless peppers the walls, floor and towels of your bathroom.

Theo Paphitis told us that he uses a shaving brush to spread the gel on his face which, I thought, sounded quite a good idea. I've been using my fingers to spread the shaving foam ever since I grew out of short trousers.

Consequently, I have bought a shaving brush by Kent Brushes. My father always shaved in the old-fashioned manner, with shaving soap and brush. He had several authentic shaving brushes and I have tried to find them; but I must have got rid of them years ago. I never bothered with the classic method, myself. It just seemed simpler to spread foam from a can directly onto the face.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Grey Abbey Gardens

I just happened to be perusing the National Trust Events leaflet in bed last night, when a small list of open gardens in the Ulster Gardens Scheme caught my eye.

I see that the private gardens of Grey Abbey House are open for three hours on Sunday, 12th September, 2010, from 2pm till 5pm.

I have written an article about Grey Abbey House and the Montgomerys here.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Optical Progress

My left eye seems to be improving steadily. It has taken two weeks and, miraculously, I have noticed a dramatic advance. It still takes a while for my eye to focus when I rise in the mornings, though I believe that the time it takes is reducing every day.

I now seem to have better vision in my treated eye than the right one, which was stronger! Trouble is that I think I'd like to have the right one lasered. I have already paid for this, though the surgeon judged that the left eye only required treatment on the day of surgery, mainly regarding the issue of reading and seeing things at close range (mobile, watch, shaving, using kitchen knives etc). They phoned to apprise me that I'd receive money back if only one eye were treated; however we agreed that it would be reasonable to wait and see - spot the dreadful pun!

I'll accept their advice when I revisit them in several weeks' time.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Colonel Dick

That is Lieutenant-Colonel Richard "Dick" Strawbridge MBE, a former Army engineer-turned-environmentalist. He has come a very long way since his time in the Army in 2001.

It's fascinating to peruse his biography to date. I know there are Strawbridges in County Londonderry; however Dick Strawbridge was born in Burma, of all places, and went to Ballyclare High School in County Antrim.

He seems rather a good egg to me. I imagine he has lots of relatives living in Northern Ireland. He even has his own website.

Last published in August, 2009.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010


Prince William's would-be paramour, Eva, has sent me - or, should I say, Prince William - three messages. Eva implores HRH to contact her and be her best chum. Chump, more like. Just who do you think Timothy Belmont is, Eva? I have no connections at all, tenuous or otherwise, with the second-in-line to the Throne.

I intercepted Eva's messages and deleted them. Sorry, Eva.

Made in Belfast!

I was in Belfast again this morning, having an appointment at my laser eye clinic. However, I took advantage of the situation and visited a few other places. Ross's auction-house was open, though the upstairs sale-room seemed to be closed today.

I called in to the Linen Hall Library in order to undertake a little research, too.

No need for Timothy Belmont to make himself any dinner this evening! I ambled in to a restaurant in Wellington Street called Made In Belfast. I have lunched here about two years ago, I think. I arrived very early, before noon in fact. They were still writing the Specials on the blackboard and I noticed what sounded a rather tasty starter: Black Pudding Fritters with Plum & Apple Chutney, at £5.95.

I ordered this dish and was not disappointed. There were three fritters accompanied by a little side salad and a ramekin of chutney. "Very Tasty!", pronounced his lordship.

I had the Fermanagh steak burger with Welsh rarebit topping served with two huge, thick slices of bread and an onion chutney of some kind on top. The burger was firm in texture which, to myself, would indicate that the beef had been very finely minced. The chips seemed to be home-made, quite modest in size and shape and they were served quite imaginatively in an enamel mug. Indeed most things in this "restolounge" have a good measure of imagination; it would be fair to call the experience somewhat Bohemian.

I was unable to finish one slice of the very thick bread and a few of the chips, though I ate everything else. I thought it was fairly good, though too substantial for me at lunchtime.

The total bill amounted to £16.90 and I gave them £1.50 as a tip. Made In Belfast was popular with Ladies Who Lunch today. We chaps were outnumbered by about 15 to two or three! More men arrived later, though.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

815 Daily Visitors

Yesterday I had the highest number of "hits" in one day since the blog began in December, 2007. Encouragingly, 16% of the visitors have been from the United States of America. 60% of traffic still emanates from the United Kingdom.

Methinks I shall lunch in Belfast tomorrow. I do have a place in mind, though I'll keep everyone in suspense! I have an appointment with my optical clinic in the morning re the laser treatment; and I'll dash over to see if Ross's auction-house has re-opened.

Monday, 19 July 2010


I took many black bin bags full of the Dowager's clothing to a charity shop this morning. I performed the task quite unceremoniously, because I didn't want to become sentimental about any of it. My mother had a fine wardrobe of items, amassed during a lifetime; though during her period of incapacity she gained a little weight and, as a consequence, was unable to wear some of her best skirts, dresses, jackets and coats.

The charity shop assistant reminded me that they were unable to accept electrical items and I know there's a travel hair-dryer - of little use to me! - somewhere amongst all the stuff. I told them to throw it out if it was unwanted.

Belfast City Cemetery

I paid my very first visit to Belfast City Cemetery on Sunday, and most interesting - not to say agreeable - it was, too. I simply strolled up and down the rows of graves. The Cemetery is located on the Falls Road. I drove through central Belfast; along the Grosvenor Road (passing the Royal Victoria Hospital); turned left on to the Falls Road; and continued along the Falls for a few minutes till I encountered it. It isn't hard to find because it is on the Falls Road itself and it has a corner entrance with railings and a large gate lodge.

Belfast City Council informs us that "Belfast City Cemetery is one of the oldest public cemeteries in Belfast and the city's first municipal burial ground. It was purchased in 1866 by Belfast Corporation (now Belfast City Council). It officially opened on August 1, 1869 and contains a wealth of historical information. Approximately 225,153 people have been buried on the site, including politicians, businessmen, inventors and industrialists".

The Cemetery is 99 acres in extent.
This Victorian graveyard contains a true cross-section of civic Society, including a viscount and viscountess, and several baronets.

It took me a while to discover Lord and Lady Pirrie's burial site (top), though find it I did. The Pirrie plot is remarkably modest, given that the 1st and last Viscount could have had a lofty obelisk or memorial erected, with a viscount's coronet and coat-of-arms thereon.

There were also the graves of the Anderson, Corry, Coates, Clark and Cunningham Baronets.

Several esteemed merchants and businessmen from east Belfast are interred here, too, including the Shillingtons of Glenmachan Tower; and the Henderson family, erstwhile proprietors of the Belfast Newsletter newspaper.

Finally, I wish to pay tribute to Councillor Hartley because I know that, despite our differing political stances and allegiances, he has committed a great deal of his time - a labour of love - to the City's cemetery. Having paid my first visit to the cemetery, I can easily understand why. Click on the images to enlarge the detail.

Commander Oscar Henderson CVO CBE DSO RN, father of Captain Bill Henderson OBE, was, I believe, aide-de-camp to His Excellency the Governor of Northern Ireland, the Duke of Abercorn, whose official residence was Hillsborough Castle in County Down.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Vote for Lord Belmont!

I was alerted by a reader that the link on my previous post about the 2010 Best Blog Poll was faulty. I've hopefully fixed the link now, so here it is again. Apologies to those of you who've already seen it!

Might I beg readers' indulgence by blowing my own trumpet? I know it's a little vulgar; however, Lord Belmont was voted Number 14 in the Northern Ireland category in last year's Total Politics Best Blogs Poll.

Please do cast your vote at the link here. It would be much appreciated.

Friday, 16 July 2010

M&S Chicken Korma

I have just consumed Marks and Spencer's Chicken Korma this evening and, to my mind, it is very good. Bear in mind that I have tasted many chicken Kormas over the years - home-made, Indian restaurants, takeaways and supermarket brands.

I found it the right consistency, with chunks of chicken breast therein. Their description is: "A mild, creamy curry made with pieces of marinated chargrilled chicken breast, toasted almond, coconut, cardamom and mace". Quite so.

It weighs 350g and they recommend that, for best results, it is microwaved; and that takes three and a half minutes.

I made the pilau rice myself with the Basmati variety. I cannot remember what it cost; however, for one person, it is substantial enough and suited me perfectly. It was probably worth paying a little extra because it saved me the bother of making it myself.

I think I shall try their Tikka Masala the next time.

Royal Cruise

A two week, Western Isles cruise has been organized next week by the Royal Family in order to celebrate the sixtieth birthday of the Princess Royal and - belatedly - the fiftieth birthday of the Duke of York.

The MV Hebridean Princess has been chartered. It will be recalled that HMY Britannia was decommissioned over a decade ago, much to my chagrin.

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall are unable to be on the cruise due to other engagements; though Prince Charles shall host a luncheon at the Castle of Mey for the Royal party.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Chicken Dinner

Please let me assure you that Timothy Belmont shan't make a habit of photographing his fodder prior to annihilation.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed another tasty meal this evening: Viz., M&S roast chicken; Jersey Royal potatoes coated with Jersey butter and chives; asparagus tips; Perino tomato; and home-made sage-and-onion stuffing (extra large portion because his lordship is partial to stuffing).

Do note the sturdy contemporary wine-glass.

Crystal Drawback

Timothy Belmont always seems to be learning and, occasionally, slipping over similar banana skins. During the last few weeks, I have habitually been using an old Tyrone glass wine goblet. Well, I've concluded - at a price - that this custom is imprudent; for daily, every-day usage, that is to say. And definitely do not endeavour to put the clean glass back inside a cupboard or cabinet, having just imbibed a glass or two of the red stuff.

The incident occurred yesterday. I was carelessly placing the goblet up on a high glass shelf, when I knocked its rim - the most fragile part - against the shelf. Of course it broke instantaneously. Within seconds I had unceremoniously dumped it into the bin. What a waste! Now there are five goblets of the same variety.

The moral of it all is that it would be more judicious to use a sturdier, thicker, less valuable wine glass every day. Leave the crystal ones in mothballs for special occasions, Belmont.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

The Daily Nosh

This blog has helped me to keep going; and the knowledge that my readers and friends are following me, occasionally. Those who have been following recent events shall know what I mean.

I am passionate about Lord Belmont - self!

Simply in order to reassure "regulars" that I am still prandially sustaining myself, I have taken a picture of this evening's Belmont nosh-up, viz. one Marks and Spencer Cornish pasty; onion mash; carrot; broccoli; Perino tomato and chives; accompanied by Jersey butter.

As if you did not already know, the image was taken prior to his lordship having donned the feed-bag and demolished the meal instanter.

Ducal Sale

I was listening to BBC Radio 4 in bed this morning when my ears "picked up" a piece about Chatsworth House in Derbyshire and an important sale of items from Chatsworth's attic-rooms.

A hoard of objects, including a marble fireplace designed by the Derbyshire home's architect, William Kent, will go under the hammer in the autumn. The mansion is the residence of Their Graces the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. The Duke said "the attics are absolutely choc-a-block. We needed to make some space and that's why we're having the sale."

Other items up for sale range from a Victorian back-scratcher to bedposts, bookcases and candelabras. Chatsworth has been the principle ancestral seat of the Dukes of Devonshire since the 17th century. The auction will comprise 20,000 objects - many of the items are from properties the family used to own, including Devonshire House and Chiswick House. The three-day sale, to be organised by Sotheby's but held at Chatsworth House, is expected to raise in the region of £23.5m.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Qatari State Visit

At the invitation of The Queen, His Highness The Emir of the State of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, will pay a State Visit to the United Kingdom from Tuesday 26 October to Thursday 28 October 2010. The Emir will stay at Windsor Castle with his Consort, Her Highness Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al-Missned.

His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad Al-Thani of Qatar paid a State Visit to the United Kingdom from 12th to 15th November 1985.

Earlier this year, Mohammed al Fayed sold Harrod's department store to the Qatari Royal Family for £1.5 billion.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Lloyd-Webber and Highclere

The Lord Lloyd-Webber has expressed a serious interest in acquiring Highclere Castle in Berkshire, the ancestral seat of the Earls of Carnarvon.

Andrew Lloyd-Webber is eager to purchase the Castle in order to house his extensive art collection.

Lord and Lady Carnarvon need to generate more income in order to fund essential repairs to the fabric of buildings within the estate.

However, Lady Carnarvon has stated quite categorically that the Castle is not for sale.

Castle Ward Sunday

I spent about five hours at Castle Ward, County Down, yesterday and most relaxing it was, too. I made myself a round of corned-beef and salad-cream sandwiches (nursery food!) beforehand. Parking at the main car-park, I walked to the former Gamekeeper's Cottage, thence past the ponds and on to the Colonel's Walk.

At Ballyculter Gate Lodge, I strolled over to the Church Walk which took me directly to Castle Ward House.

Having munched my sandwiches at the car, I enjoyed another walk to Downpatrick Gate Lodge, which is now available to rent as a country cottage; indeed there were people reading their newspapers outside in the sunshine as I passed by.

Later, I ambled over to the stable-yard. It was one of those European Heritage days and entry to the House was free for all, which did not make any difference to me since I am a Life Member of the National Trust. Nevertheless, since I hadn't taken a tour of the house for many years, I decided to go ahead. I feel I'd like to revisit Castle Ward House again, because the tour merely included the ground floor, excellent as our guide most certainly was.

The Barn has been transformed into a sort of interactive children's play area, with toy tractors, straw and tracks outside; quite a change from the erstwhile Countryside Centre.

On my way home in the car, I made a detour to Ballyculter Parish Church and the Bangor family graves. The 5th Viscount was the last Lord Bangor to be interred there.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

The Prodigal Duchess

The Duchess of York has reportedly made seven of her staff redundant in an attempt to save her money. Seven members of staff? Little wonder the Duchess has been living well beyond her means.

A former Private Secretary to HM The Queen, the Lord Charteris of Amisfield, once described the Duchess as "vulgar". Quite so. No need to add further.

Lyons Estate for Sale

One of the finest country estates in the Republic of Ireland, Lyons, is for sale. Latterly the County Kildare home of the Ryanair founder, the estate comprises 600 acres and offers are requested in the region of €50 million.

A Night Out

I'm envious of my cousin and her family at Fittleworth in West Sussex. I phoned her yesterday to apprise her of my laser surgery and she told me that, due to the glorious hot weather they were having, she was taking the kids down to the river nearby. I moaned about our rotten climate in Northern Ireland presently, languishing at 14 or 15 degrees Celsius!

The inclement weather failed to deter me from venturing out on the trusty bicycle to the railway station last night. I dumped it in the bushes, well along the platform, crossed the footbridge and jumped on to the next train to Holywood, County Down. I'd timed it too finely because the carriage arrived within about three minutes! Indeed Peter, the school chum of thirty-five decades ago, missed the same train at Belfast "Central" station.

I ambled on to the Dirty Duck Ale House, wearing my all-weather apparel, and ordered a little restorative forthwith. They had Bombay Sapphire or Gordon's, so I opted for the former with tonic-water and parked myself at a seat downstairs.

Big Pete arrived about half an hour later. The bar downstairs was initially quiet, though they were doing a roaring trade in meals, waitresses popping up and down the stairs every few minutes with platefuls of nosh.

I had their very good scampi with chunky chips, dressed salad and plenty of tartare sauce.

The evening's indulgence came to fifty pounds, including the tip.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Anderson Investiture


It gives me the greatest pleasure to proclaim that David Anderson, the former Household Manager at Hillsborough Castle, is today being invested by the Prince of Wales with the insignia of a Member of the Royal Victorian Order at Buckingham Palace.

Mr Anderson is pictured above at Montalto House in County Down.

David Anderson trained in hospitality services at the College of Business Studies in Belfast and then at various hotels in Switzerland before his appointment to the position of Household Manager of Hillsborough Castle, Hillsborough, County Down, in 1984. Between 1922 and 1972 Hillsborough Castle was known as Government House and served as the residence and official place of entertaining for the Governors of Northern Ireland.

From 1972 onwards Hillsborough Castle has been the residence of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and serves as the home to members of the Royal Family when they visit Northern Ireland. Mr Anderson was appointed MBE - Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire - from The Queen in 1997. He left Hillsborough Castle in October, 2009, to pursue new interests.

The Royal Victorian Order was established in 1896, as an award for personal service to the Sovereign and the Royal Family. By 1896, prime ministers and governments had increased their influence over the distribution of awards and had gained almost total control of the system. Therefore, Queen Victoria instituted The Royal Victorian Order as a personal award for services performed on her behalf.

Today this honour is still awarded in recognition of services to the royal family. The ranks are Knight or Dame Grand Cross (GCVO), Knight or Dame Commander (KCVO or DCVO), Commander (CVO), Lieutenant (LVO) and Member (MVO).

The badge (right) - or medal - of a Member consists of an eight-pointed Maltese cross in frosted silver; on an oval centre of crimson enamel the Royal and Imperial cypher of Queen Victoria (VRI) in gold, within a blue enamelled circle, thereon the motto of the Order, viz. "Victoria" in letters of gold, the circle being surmounted by an Imperial Crown enamelled in proper colours. The Ribbon is dark blue with a narrow edge either side of three stripes - red, white and red.

Who is Morton?

I knew it wasn't a Chippendale. I bought it for a purpose, mainly. My new console table could be, I believe, Edwardian; which would make it an antique, if you use the hundred-year yard-stick.

The name-plate on its interior proclaims G W Morton, Bold Street, Liverpool. Are there any readers from Liverpool who specialize in this field? I'm unable to discover much information about Morton and Son - or sons - at all, even on the Internet.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

The Console Table

I have quite an unusual day today. I went into central Belfast again because I had an appointment at my eye clinic. However, I had my eye on a little marble-topped satinwood console table in Ross's auction-house; so I paid them a visit first in order to register.

I won the bid! The porter had given me an indication of the target price and the reserve price; and, at literally the last few seconds, up shot my hand and I won it for the reserve price, plus a hefty premium for the auctioneer.

I only just managed to squeeze it into the baby two-seater with the assistance of a sale-room porter, at Music-hall Lane. Being marble, it is quite heavy.

Now, at last, I have an appropriate item of furniture to mask the double radiator in the hall.

Optic Recovery

I spend a large part of my time in Belfast yesterday, mainly to have a laser operation performed on my left eye. I was to have both eyes done, though the surgeon judged that only the left one required treatment, in the interim at least. This would be good news because I'd probably receive a substantive refund, provided that the right eye doesn't need treatment. Time will tell.

My left eye is running like a stream and there is discomfort, as one is advised prior to treatment. I return today for an initial check-up.

I enjoyed a light lunch of smoked salmon tart with a mixed salad at Alden's in the City; and think I may have found a suitable hall table at Ross's auction-house. I'll give them a ring this morning in order to see if there is a reserve price thereon.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

The Royal Victorian Order

The Royal Victorian Order is given by The Sovereign to people who have served them or the Monarchy in a personal way. It is believed that there are fewer than a dozen or so recipients of the Order in Northern Ireland presently, the Lord O'Neill and Sir William Hall both being Knight Commanders of the Order.

The Breast Star of a Knight/Dame Grand Cross (GCVO) is pictured to the right; the Mantle of a GCVO below.

Recipients may include officials of the Royal Household, family members or perhaps British Ambassadors who have helped to organise a State Visit to a particular country.

The Order was founded in April 1896 by Queen Victoria as a way of rewarding personal service to her, on her own initiative rather than by ministerial recommendation.

The Order was, and remains, entirely within the Sovereign's personal gift.

The anniversary of the institution of the Order is the 20th June, the day of Queen Victoria's accession to the throne.

There have never been any limits on the number of appointments made. Today, people receive their award either privately from The Queen or another member of the Royal Family, or during an Investiture.

Often, after a State Visit, the Queen will invest people in the country visited before returning to the United Kingdom.

The Order is also conferred on foreigners, and it is often awarded by the Sovereign during official tours overseas.

The first foreigners to receive the Order were the Prefect of Alpes Maritimes and the Mayor of Nice, during Queen Victoria's visit to the south of France in 1896.

The Chapel of the Order is The Queen's Chapel of the Savoy, a 'Royal peculiar' which for historic reasons is in the private possession of the Sovereign in his or her right as the Duke of Lancaster.

The number of members in recent years has outgrown the available space in the Savoy Chapel, so the service for those who have received awards is now held in St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle every four years.

Many members of the Royal Family who have themselves received the award are present, along with the many recipients, who include servants of The Queen who have served the Monarchy for many years.

The Order's ribbon is blue with red-white-red stripe edging, the only difference being that for foreigners appointed into the society, their ribbon bearing an additional central white stripe. For Knights Grand Cross, the ribbon is 3.25 inches wide; for Dames Grand Cross, 2.25 inches; for Knights and Dames Commander, 1.75 inches; and for all other members, 1.25 inches.

Motto: Victoria

Chapel: The Queen's Chapel of the Savoy

Ranks: Knight/Dame Grand Cross, Knight/Dame Commander, Commander, Lieutenant and Member

Post-nominals: GCVO, KCVO/DCVO, CVO, LVO and MVO

Founded: 1896

Shun Drop-Off Charge!

According to the Northern Ireland Consumer Council, the £1 "drop-off" levy at Aldergrove Airport (aka Belfast International Airport) can be avoided by using a free 10-minute period in the long-stay car park.

My advice, unless it is essential for those with incapacity or otherwise, would be to avoid the tariff by taking advantage of the free ten-minute period.

Seemingly the charge is being introduced today. Daylight robbery.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Menu d'Aujourd'Hui

It is remarkable how well the big supermarkets cater for single people. I think I shall shop more often at Marks and Spencer's. I was at Tesco's today and bought a finest Classic Fish Pie for one. It included salmon, prawns and haddock. It was quite enjoyable, actually. I had it with broccoli, Perino tomatoes and cheese coleslaw (the preferred brand is presently the luxury one by Country Kitchen of County Armagh).

Almost forget to mention that I had a few glasses of red plonk to wash it down with.

I had a slice of toasted Hovis wholemeal bread with Dromona butter and home-made marmalade for breakfast; and I lunched on an apple, a Clementine, half a banana and a mug of Twinings tea.

I think the trick is to immediately freeze the loaf of bread, retaining three or four slices unfrozen in the kitchen, well sealed; otherwise it starts "going off" eventually. More grub for the magpies!

Not too expensive to maintain, am I!

State Visits

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will pay a State Visit to Oman this autumn at the invitation of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said. His Majesty is an honorary general in the British Army. The Sultan's arms are displayed above.

Thereafter Her Majesty and HRH will pay a State Visit to the United Arab Emirates at the invitation of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan.

This will be the second visit by The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh to both Oman and the United Arab Emirates. The previous visit took place in 1979. This year’s visit to Oman will mark the occasion of the 40th year of the reign of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said.

Monday, 5 July 2010

The Olde Priory Inn

The Olde Priory Inn at Holywood, County Down, was probably my favourite bar in the town during the 1980s. It had thick carpeting, wood and brass features, and was altogether a cosy little bar. I disliked the refurbishment which took place in the 1990s and, like many, ceased to visit it.

As young Timothy William, Viscount Sydenham, I spent my first two years of life at Holywood.

The Olde Priory Inn was reputedly Holywood's oldest established public house, having first opened its doors as the Belfast Bar during the 1840s. the name did not change to the Olde Priory until the 1920s, taking its name from the old Priory Church nearby.

The building was built on the site of a row of 18th century cottages and the first publican was John Killips; then his widow; before the Rogers family acquired it in the 1880s.

In the 19th century the Olde Priory Inn provided accommodation on the first floor and was popular with business men travelling between Belfast and Bangor.

In 1940 the building was destroyed by fire, thereafter being refurbished the in the Mock-Tudor style. Major renovations were undertaken in 1982, when the Inn was sold by the Brady family. The River Twisel runs directly underneath the premises. During the 1980s the Inn boasted the Twisel Grill Bar for evening meals, while the Priory Bistro was more casual. The so-called Strathearn Room was a function room on the first floor capable of holding up to seventy people.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

HM's Working Day

Her Majesty's working day. Here's a fascinating article in the Sunday Telegraph about a day in the life of The Queen, including an investiture at 11am; a weekly audience with the Prime Minister at six-thirty; and a daily report on parliamentary proceedings at seven-thirty.

Royal Irish Fusiliers

click to enlarge

5th Battalion, The Royal Irish Fusiliers, traces its origin back to the 3rd Battalion of the Regiment, formed from the Armagh Militia.

5th Battalion was action in the 1st World War in the 10th (Irish) Division at Gallipoli, Macedonia and Palestine, returning to the Western Front in May, 1918.

The GHQ of the Battalion was at Armagh, with Companies at Lurgan, Banbridge, Newry and Portadown.

In 1958 the Colonel of the Regiment was Field Marshal Sir Gerald Templer GCB GCMG KBE DSO.

The Honorary Colonel was Colonel the Right Honourable Sir Norman Stronge Bt MC MP.

  • Commanding Officer: Lieutenant-Colonel J H Morgan MC TD
  • 2nd-in-Command: Major J D Stronge
  • Adjutant: Captain M D Fitzmaurice

Saturday, 3 July 2010

A Coffee Yard Morning

I've just returned from Holywood, County Down, where I met my aunt and another friend at the Coffee Yard café. They seemed to be doing a roaring trade in their cooked breakfasts, though we only had coffee and scones, a fresh raspberry scone in my case which was, incidentally, good.

It's the first time we have met for coffee since Mum died. Whereas there were four of us, now there are three.

I paid a fleeting visit to Gould's shop on Church Road and the staff were quite inattentive. There were two women chatting to each other, one of whom, I assume, was staff. I wished to inquire about curtain material, though I didn't bother in the end. I walked out and decided I'd try elsewhere, viz. Warden's in Newtownards or some such emporium.

I haven't been sleeping terribly well since my mother died, though I am not a heavy sleeper at the best of times anyway.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Your Freedom!

Wish to get rid of a particular Law? Well, The Government wants to hear from you; with the exception, naturally, of loony directives from the well beloved European Union.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

A Formidable Partnership?

Belfast International Airport (aka Aldergrove Airport) and Ryanair could potentially make a great partnership.

Ryanair is always conceiving innovative ways of generating their profits, like the notion of loo charges, and so-called "vertical seats".

The Airport intends to introduce a £1 tariff for collecting and leaving off passengers. Whatever next?

The sooner we have a rail link to the Airport, the better.

Consumers ought to bombard the Office of Fair Trading and other bodies with complaints.

The Spring has Sprung!

I have spent part of the morning writing a number of Thank You cards which sometimes involves looking up addresses. I have sent email messages to those whose email addresses I have; and I'll deliver a few cards by hand.

I spent the rest of the morning - or should I say wasted it - endeavouring to fix an old roller blind in my bedroom. The spring-clutch mechanism is simply knackered - worn out - so I eventually gave up and cheated, by swapping the entire blind for one that works from another room!

Visitor Numbers

June, 2010, saw the largest number of visitors to Lord Belmont since the blog began in December, 2007.

There were 15,795 page loads; 8,859 unique visitors; and 2,439 returning visitors.

  • 72% of visitors came from the United Kingdom
  • 10% from the USA
  • 6% from Ireland
  • 4% from Australia
  • 4% from Canada
  • 1% from Germany
I'd be keen to welcome more visitors from New Zealand!