Wednesday, 31 October 2012

The Woods

Well, Halloween is upon us, Readers. The NT volunteers are working at Chapel Island, Greyabbey, today; followed by a behind-the-scenes tour of Mount Stewart House; though , regrettably, my excuse is that I have a slight chill, complete with tickly throat, hence I shall remain at Belmont GHQ.

Back in the distant past, when I wore short trousers, the parents organised a fireworks display. Self and pals all trooped over to "The Woods"(formerly the grounds of Norwood Tower; how housing), where we all enjoyed ourselves.

There was a kind of swamp in The Woods, likely the former pond.

Norwood Tower, demolished about 1954, was arguably the largest house in the vicinity. Judging by an old map, it was certainly greater in size than Craigavon House, ersrwhile seat of Sir James Craig, 1st Viscount Craigavon.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Visitor Numbers

It is with a degree of pride and satisfaction that I apprise readers with regard to visitor numbers.

According to the statistics counter, the figures presently stand in excess of 970,000. The site generates over 30,000 visits per month.

It is confidently predicted that "hits" will reach one million by the end of November, 2012.

My website or blog was established in December, 2007.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Indonesian Visit

His Excellency the President of the Republic of Indonesia and Mrs Yudhoyono will pay a state visit to the United Kingdom from the 31st October until the 2nd November, 2012.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012


The President of the Republic of Indonesia and Mrs. Yudhoyono are met at their hotel by The Duke of York on behalf of The Queen.


Ceremonial Welcome attended by The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh on Horse Guards followed by State Drive to Buckingham Palace
Luncheon and exchange of presents
Visit to Westminster Abbey
Meeting with The Prince of Wales at Clarence House


Call at Buckingham Palace by the Leader of the Liberal Democrats
Call at Buckingham Palace by the Leader of the Opposition
State Banquet at Buckingham Palace

Thursday, 1 November 2012


The President attends United Nations High Level Panel on Post Millennium Development Goals at Marlborough House
Mrs. Yudhoyono visits the Royal Botanic Gardens


Visit to the Palace of Westminster by the President and Mrs. Yudhoyono.
Visit to No. 10 Downing Street by the President.
Mrs. Yudhoyono visits the Royal Collection
Visit to the Royal College of Defence Studies by the President and Mrs. Yudhoyono.


The President attends a United Nations High Level Panel on Post Millennium Development Goals Press Conference and Reception at No. 10 Downing Street
Reception and Banquet at Guildhall

Friday, 2 November 2012


Formal Farewells at Buckingham Palace
Address to Wilton Park at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, attended by the President and Mrs. Yudhoyono


The President visits the Indonesia Business Forum at St. James’s Palace
Mrs. Yudhoyono visits the Tower of London

Castle Extension

The Northern Ireland Minister of the Environment, Alex Attwood MLA,  has granted planning permission for the extension of Ballygally Castle Hotel.

This approval will see an expansion of the lobby area and an additional six bedrooms added to the front of the hotel, which is located on a key tourist route on the Antrim coast road.

This will result in a 72-bedroom hotel and will allow the bedrooms to be remodelled to current standards.

The Minister said:

“This extension is good news for boosting tourism in the Antrim Coast area. It also demonstrates my Department’s commitment to responding positively to tourist related proposals but only when they balance the enhancement and development of key tourist assets with the protection of our built heritage. 

This extension was initially set for refusal due to concerns over the Grade A listed 17th century tower house which is the only surviving structure of its type in Northern Ireland. 

However, after discussions and amendments to the proposal this can now proceed in a way that preserves the integrity of the tower. 

This means the hotel can develop in a way that protects jobs and boosts tourism but that will secure the upkeep of this tower which is so integral to the character and history of this building. 

I firmly believe that our built and natural heritage will be the biggest part of future increases in tourist numbers and spend. Six of the top ten visitor attractions are our built and natural heritage.

This approval demonstrates how we can grow our economy and the tourism sector but in a way that cherishes and preserves our rich heritage.” 

The Department consulted with Larne Borough Council on its opinion to approve this application.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Coffee Morning

I motored the six or seven miles to Holywood, County Down, this morning for coffee and a chin-wag with my aunt and Pat.

I managed to get a private parking space close to the café, the Coffee Yard.

It was rather busy this morning. The topics of discussion included a luncheon my aunt gave for friends yesterday; Pat's imminent trip to Bristol; my week and a tiresome character at the National Trust volunteers, who persistently airs his left-wing, nationalist views on the aristocracy ~ viz. the Londonderrys ~ and everything contrary to the Conservative interest.

Of course it antagonises me, though I generally say nothing. He is likely trying to provoke me.

I am of the opinion that it is totally inappropriate to air one's political views in such a context.

The intention is to bring a radio with headphones; thus becoming blissfully oblivious to him whenever he is within ear-shot.

Of course my perspective can be reactionary, a cross I gladly bear.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Blackberry Sponge

County Down blackberry sponge pudding, made this afternoon at Belmont GHQ. The flavour is sublime.

The blackberries were picked in September at Portavo reservoir, near Donaghadee.

3rd Viscount Palmerston

One of the topics chosen on the BBC's Mastermind programme this evening is the life and career of the Right Honourable Henry John [Temple], 3rd Viscount Palmerston, KG, GCB, PC.

I have written about the Temple family and their association with Classiebawn Castle.

The TEMPLES, and the ducal house of Buckingham & Chandos, maternally descended, are said to have been of Saxon origin, and to have sprung immediately from the son and heir of Ælfgar, Earl of Mercia.

SIR WILLIAM TEMPLE, knight, a learned and eminent person in the reign of ELIZABETH I, secretary to the unfortunate Earl of Essex, removed into Ireland, and was appointed provost of Trinity College, Dublin.

He received the honour of knighthood in 1622. His elder son,

SIR JOHN TEMPLE, knight, born in 1600, who was constituted master of the Rolls in Ireland. His youngest son,

SIR JOHN TEMPLE, knight, was solicitor and attorney-general, and speaker of the House of Commons in Ireland. His grandson,

HENRY TEMPLE ESQ, who was raised to the peerage, in 1722, with the dignities of Baron Temple and VISCOUNT PALMERSTON.

The 3rd Viscount was a statesman who served twice as Prime Minister in the mid-19th century.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Gibb's Island Day

I have been on the go all day. This is the first opportunity I've had to update the blog.

I arrived at Gibb's Island at about nine-thirty this morning, despite a major diversion between Killyleagh and Delamont, County Down.

There were eight of us today, the task being to cut down a large patch of gorse. Two bonfires were lit.

For lunch I had home-made egg salad sandwiches, which were delicious: hard-boiled egg; cream cheese, onion; mustard; a little sugar; seasoning; and fresh wholemeal bread.

There were plenty of logs, so we all had a share of the spoils. I got two sackfuls.

As soon as I arrived home, I snatched my swimming apparel and dashed up to the sports club for the customary sixty lengths.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Royal Wedding

The Daily Telegraph reports that royalty from around the world attended the two-day wedding at the weekend of His Royal Highness Prince Guillaume, Hereditary Grand Duke of Luxembourg, 30, to the Countess Stéphanie Marie Claudine Christine de Lannoy, 28.

Their Royal Highnesses The Earl and Countess of Wessex, representing the Royal Family, joined counterparts from countries including Sweden, Japan and Morocco, as the couple celebrated their marriage with a civil service on Friday followed by a religious ceremony on Saturday.

Guests included King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway, their son, Crown Prince Haakon and his wife Princess Mette-Marit, Princess Caroline of Monaco, Prince Frederick and Princess Mary of Denmark and Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia of Spain.

Members of the royal families of Jordan, The Netherlands, Greece, Romania and Belgium also attended the celebrations, hosted by Luxembourg’s Grand Duke and Duchess, Henri and Maria Teresa.

Prince Guillaume and his bride began their weekend of nuptials on Friday afternoon with a civil ceremony at the town hall in Luxembourg City, the capital, where the countess took her new title, Princess Stephanie of Luxembourg.

The civil ceremony was followed by a reception and gala dinner at the Grand Ducal Palace.

On Saturday morning, their marriage was blessed with a religious service at the Notre Dame Cathedral.

Princess Stephanie was accompanied to the cathedral by her father, Count Philippe de Lannoy, and her brother, Count Jehan.

The service was conducted in a mixture of Luxembourgish, French and English and featured a minute’s silence in memory of the bride’s mother, Countess Alix de Lannoy, who died in August, aged 70, after suffering a stroke.

Following the service, the royal couple travelled back to the Grand Ducal Palace, where they appeared on the balcony and exchanged a kiss, to cheering crowds.

The couple have been dating since 2009 and became engaged in April.

Prince Guillaume has studied international politics and undertaken humanitarian work in several countries. Princess Stephanie is an accomplished linguist, having studied languages at the University of Louvain in Belgium.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Wodehouse Patron

I'm delighted to read that The Duchess of Cornwall is royal patron of the P G Wodehouse Society of the Netherlands.

 I have the complete set of his Jeeves & Wooster series.

I visited Clarence House several years ago and, in the library, spotted a volume of P G Wodehouse novels; hardly surprising, since Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother was the previous royal patron of the said society.

First published in July, 2010.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Orlock Path

I have spent the day at the coast-line near Orlock Point, County Down. I was with about ten other National Trust volunteers.

Orlock lies between Donaghadee and Groomsport.

Our task today was to foster better drainage on the paths, by digging trenches and gullies where the ground was flooded.

Thankfully it was mild with sunny intervals today.

For lunch I had Marks & Spencer egg, tomato and salad-cream sandwiches on malted bread.

Molly's Yard

I have arrived home from an evening with an American friend at Molly's Yard restaurant in Belfast. Despite having reserved a table upstairs for eight o'clock, we were diverted downstairs, to the bistro; though I think the menu was the same.

We had a very good meal, comprising scallops as a starter; then LJ had a veggie lasagne with sweet potato chips and salad; while I had the venison with sauté potatoes.

My venison was cooked rare ~ pink, as I was advised. This suited me well and it was delicious.

LJ was unable to finish her lasagne, so passed some of it to me; and I can confirm its tastiness.

For pudding, I had a ramekin of stewed apple crumble in a kind of compote.

Including drinks, the meal cost about £80.

Service and grub were impeccable.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Modern Manners

The inevitability of the TV licence renewal reminder has happened this morning. I received an email from them. It now costs £145.50, a bargain for those of us who wake up from the old slumber to the mellifluous tones of John Humphrys Esq.

I HAVE never heard so many split infinitives in my life, as on the BBC. The phenomenon puts Captain Kirk's statement, To Boldly Go, into perspective.

It was drummed into me at school that split infinitives were grammatically incorrect. That was the belief of the master, at least. Perhaps that opinion is archaic now.

SPEAKING of Mr Humphrys, he's "having a go" at public discourtesy, vulgarity and rudeness in the Daily Telegraph this morning.

I broadly agree with him.

Eating and drinking on public transport beside other passengers; using mobile phones in an inconsiderate manner in public; speaking loudly in public libraries. I could carry on till the proverbial cows come home.

We all know what he means and it's a symptom of bad manners and poor upbringing ~ whether at home or at school.

The term Discipline is greatly undervalued today.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Garter Chancellorship

THE QUEEN has been graciously pleased to grant unto the Most Noble James [Hamilton], Duke of Abercorn, KG, the Office of Chancellor of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, in the room of the Right Honourable Peter Alexander Rupert [Carington], Baron Carrington, KG, GCMG, CH, MC, retired.

My sincere and cordial congratulations to His Grace on this most distinguished appointment by the Sovereign.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Bert's Bar

I spent a most enjoyable afternoon on Saturday at Bert's, the atmospheric and opulent art deco bar-restaurant of the Merchant Hotel, Belfast.

Bert's Bar is entered from the new section of the hotel at High Street, directly opposite St George's Church.

When I arrived I walked up to the bar counter and ordered a Tanqueray and tonic. I have to say they know how to serve their drinks here: The portions of ice and lemon or lime slices are impeccable.

I spotted the bar-man wearing metal elasticated arm-bands, of the type I inherited from my father. I wear them all the time.

I like Bert's. Indeed I like the grand Merchant.

I had time for another restorative before my friends arrived, when we all found a banquette at the window.

The menus arrived. We decided to have the set menu, which comprised a tempting selection of dishes.

I had the Waldorf salad, sea-bass and creme brulee; Amanda (Duchess of Calhame), the soup, beef bourguignon and sorbet; and I've forgotten what Chris had. Ha!

My Waldorf salad was good. The portion was fine for me, with the apple sculpted into little balls; plenty of walnuts, and a fine dressing.

The sea-bass was seated on top of basil mash, a remarkable green colour. It was quite delicious. I simply could not find any faults at all. Tip-top.

The Duchess's soup looked home-made, thick and nourishing. Her Grace's (!) beef bourguignon also looked irresistible, to such an extent that she passed me the remains of her unfinished helping, the soup course having satisfied her greatly.

I ate some of the beef and mash, the venerable nose-bag in overdrive by that stage.

Never let it be said that Timothy Belmont fails as a hearty enough trencherman in the race to the food-trough.

Puddings were, I must say, the calibre of the previous courses.

We had a bottle of white New Zealand wine with the meal.

We eventually took our leave and ambled over to a diminutive establishment in Skipper Street called The Spaniard.

It was quite crowded, and we made our way to the rear of the bar, where we chatted with a couple of "newly-weds". I drank Hendrick's and tonic, with a great chunk of cucumber; the Duchess had a cocktail; and Chris, Jack Daniel's and Coke; three drinks which set me back £20, including a tip.

We had another round prior to hailing a cab at Waring Street, which conveyed us to Madison's Hotel, Botanic Avenue, where we spent the remainder of the evening.

Her Grace and I got the train home, though she took the one going northwards, towards Calhame Manor. Chris stayed the night at Madison's.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Somerset Estate

I am currently undertaking research on the Somerset estate, which was near Coleraine, County Londonderry.

It was part of the Merchant Taylors' Company of London; then acquired by the Richardson family.

The Richardsons were the second greatest landowners in the county, with 18,159 acres.

I already have a Richardson family lineage.

If any readers are aware of any photographs of Somerset House or demesne, I should be very grateful.

The Baroness Thatcher


Lady Thatcher is 87 today.

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.

Friday, 12 October 2012

With Compliments

And all because the Lady loves...

All right, readers, I cheated a bit; cheekily using paper from the Lower House.

I had a letter from the MP and Waste Not, Want Not, as they say.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

HMS Caroline

HMS Caroline is to remain in the port of Belfast and will be restored "to her former glory".

There was controversy earlier this year over plans to move it to Portsmouth.

However, Arlene Foster MLA, NI Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Investment, has said the ship is to stay, adding "an important part of Northern Ireland's maritime history was secured".

Mrs Foster said the the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) had pledged £1m to help to restore the warship.

The announcement was made at the Imperial War Museum as part of a programme to mark the centenary of World War I.

HMS Caroline, the last surviving warship of the Battle of Jutland, has been berthed at Alexandra Dock in Belfast since 1923.

It is hoped that the restoration work will be completed by 2016, so the ship can be opened to the public in time for the centenary anniversary of the battle.

Speaking today, Mrs Foster hailed the outcome of those talks as "great news" and said she was "very pleased that our collective efforts have played an important part in ensuring HMS Caroline's future is in Belfast".

Mrs Foster said the ship had the potential to become a "must-see attraction".

"HMS Caroline is part of the fabric of Belfast and she is also an integral part of our maritime history," she said.

"The ship is of outstanding national significance and HMS Caroline has huge potential as a visitor experience as she is listed on the National Register of Historic Vessels."

The Minister's department has set aside up to £100,000 this year for "remedial work" on HMS Caroline and is also in talks with the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Arcade Tenants

I have spent an exceedingly productive morning at the Linenhall Library, Belfast.

I researched the Phibbses of Lisheen; the Ashbrooks of Castle Durrow; the Hawardens of Dundrum; and the remarkable lineage of the De la Poers of Gurteen Le Poer.

Finally I examined a 1910 street directory for Queen's Arcade, Belfast, and I have a list of the original tenants therein; including a number of milliners.

I will be posting an article about Queen's Arcade's tenants shortly.

Classic Car Rescue

Earlier this week I watched a programme on Channel 5, which I thought sounded interesting, called Classic Car Rescue.

I was right; it was marvellous. You do not even have to be a classic car enthusiast to enjoy it.

Bernie Fineman and Mario Pacione try to restore a vintage MGB GT, a sports car whose high performance, elegant design and low price made it highly popular with the British motoring public.

However, the model they set to work on is rapidly falling apart, leaving them with little time to bring it back to its former glory.

The two presenters are as alike as chalk and cheese. The follicly challenged one, Bernie, has a fierce temper.

I enjoyed this programme immensely and found parts of it amusing.

It is repeated on Thursday, 11th October, at 7pm on Channel 5.

Do not miss it!

Monday, 8 October 2012

Henry VIII's Crown

The lost crown of HENRY VIII has been recreated in minute detail, down to the last pearl and thumbnail-sized enamelled sculpture, almost four centuries after the royal regalia was destroyed by Cromwell.

The replica will be exhibited at Hampton Court Palace, where the King wore the original crown on great occasions of state and church.

It will be displayed in the royal pew of the Chapel Royal, which re-opens in October, 2012, after seven years of restoration work.

The crown may have been made for the King's father, HENRY VII, and was used in the coronations of his children Edward, Mary and Elizabeth; and then of JAMES I and CHARLES I.

During this period it was a sacred object: a portrait by Daniel Mytens in 1631 ~ now in the National Portrait Gallery ~  and crucial evidence for the historians who pored over every surviving image and account, shows CHARLES I standing bare-headed by a velvet-draped table, on which the crown is shown in scrupulous detail.

In 1649 King Charles I  was beheaded outside Whitehall Palace and the crown was broken up at the Tower of London.

The gold went straight to the royal mint for coinage; the jewels were said to have been sold off in mixed packets, like loose sweets.

HENRY VIII's crown is first mentioned as "the kingis crowne of golde", in an inventory of his jewels in 1521.

Historians on the staff of Historic Royal Palaces (HRP), tracked it through later inventories, including the one made after Henry's death in 1547 when every royal cupboard was turned out to record everything from torn bedsheets to the crown and its 344 gems, including "nyne perles not all of one sorte and three Saphires".

The inventories showed how the King remodelled the crown during his reign to reinforce his new role as head of the Church of England, substituting three kings for three small figures of Christ.

Few in the watching crowds could have spotted that at the back of the crown, shown in the Mytens painting, he kept the tiny image of the Virgin and Child.

The materials, costing an undisclosed five-figure sum, were paid for by HRP, and the hundreds of hours of labour, faithfully following Tudor metalworking techniques including use of hand-twisted square gold wire, were donated by Harry Collins, who retired this year as crown jeweller, though remains HM The Queen's personal jeweller.

The gems and pearls in the recreated crown are real; but fortunately for the HRP budget, the Tudors cared more about size and colour than flawless quality.

The only substitute was rock crystal for the huge diamonds and gold-plated silver instead of the original three kilos of solid gold, which would now cost considerably more than a king's ransom.

The recreated crown of HENRY VIII goes on display at Hampton Court Palace from 27 October, 2012.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Gran Canaria: XV

My flight arrived back in the UK at seven forty-five this morning. All went smoothly and I got home quickly.

The weather in County Down does not seem too bad at all.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Law Repeal

My learned readers and friends,

Can the devolved assemblies of the United Kingdom legislate for the introduction of capital punishment?

If so, I should exhort the Northern Ireland Assembly to debate this measure instanter.

Capital Punishment

Timothy Belmont is of the firm opinion that whomsoever is found guilty of the murder of April Jones must face the ultimate penalty for such a heinous crime against a beautiful, innocent, little girl: Capital punishment.

Let there be a referendum of the British People.

Let the legislature of the United Kingdom repeal the law.

Gran Canaria: XIV

I had an informal meal at a bar-restaurant called Gio's last night. I fancied risotto again, so ordered the mushroom risotto with Porcini; and some garlic bread with Mozzarella cheese.

I had a similar meal several nights ago at Mamma Mia's, which was of a good standard, though ungenerous in its portion.

Gio's risotto was generous in size, though, with plenty of mushroom and parsley on the side. Its deficiency, however, was that it lacked the finesse ~ the viscosity, if that's the word ~ of Mamma Mia's.

I asked for the bill and it came to €22.50, which included the risotto, garlic bread and a soft drink.

I gave them a €50 note.

When the waiter brought me my change, he did indeed count it at the table. However, within seconds of his leaving, I realised that he had short-changed me by €10.

It was quite busy. I eventually beckoned him over and he went through the usual rigmarole of counting it out in front of me, seeing his error and correcting it.

In fairness, were one to give him the benefit of the doubt, it was a simple error; though one always suspects dishonesty.

I am of the opinion that if there is an opportunity for more profit, some unscrupulous folk might just take advantage; whether it be short-changing or over-charging.

Bear in mind that consumers can also be overcharged, in the form of adding an "extra" to a large bill, if they think they'll "get away with" it, especially for large parties.

In my case, I had a large bank-note and paid for a small amount; ergo, room for error.

Caveat Emptor!

The moral is: Be ever vigilant, Tourist.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Archiepiscopal Attire

A reliable ecclesiastical source has apprised my American cousins with the following details regarding the cope & mitre of the Lord Archbishop of Armagh:

"Armagh Cathedral possesses the fine cope and mitre that Archbishop Harper wore for The Queen's Maundy visit.  I am not aware that he ever wore them on other occasions!  He has now presented them to the cathedral and so they could be worn by the new Archbishop. The latter's ministry has been spent mainly in the Republic of Ireland, where mitres now commonly appear on bishop's heads as well as on their notepaper. This of course could either encourage him or deter him from wearing one in Armagh!  The previous Archbishop of Dublin, John Neill, habitually wore a mitre. On the other hand the present Archbishop of Dublin, Michael Jackson, does not. It would be fair to say that mitres are worn quite often in the Republic of Ireland and very rarely in Northern Ireland." 

Gran Canaria: XIII

A funny thing happened to me last night. Whose catchphrase was that? Max Bygraves? I had had a satisfactory meal at an Italian brasserie, Mamma Mia's, last night.

There was a karaoke bar across the square so, ever willing to exercise the old vocal chords, I paid them a visit.

I was perusing the song-book when a woman accosted me and enquired as to my name. She asked me if I was English.

This lady then proceeded to apprise me that her name was Audrey Hepburn and she hailed from Dundee. She was quite earnest. She asked me if a particular song featured in the book.

I had a look and indeed it was.

Subsequently she left me and returned to her partner outside.

Fifteen minutes later, Audrey came up to me again and asked if Pounds sterling were acceptable at the bar. Well, I informed Audrey that I had no idea; I paid in euros.

Later still, after I'd sung a song, Audrey offered me a drink. I politely declined, because I had enough liquor for the evening; though offered her a drink.

About half an hour later, Audrey passed me en route to the lavatory and practically ignored me. I was puzzled. Had she taken umbrage about something?

Back at my apartment I pondered this incident. Suddenly it dawned on me: Audrey believed I was the compere! I expect she might have been slightly embarrassed at this misunderstanding of hers.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Cope & Mitre

I wondered if learned readers well versed in matters ecclesiastical could enlighten me as to whether the bishops of the Church of Ireland wear the episcopal cope and mitre at ceremonial services nowadays?

The archbishops of Armagh and Dublin do wear such attire occasionally.

Will the Most Rev Dr Richard Clarke wear the cope and mitre which Archbishop Harper wore? Or does each bishop have his own unique attire?

I should be glad to see the revival of such a tradition myself.

Gran Canaria: XII

I returned to Dali's restaurant yesterday evening, clutching the nose-bag once more. It was quiet, though I always arrive early and tend to sit at the same table.

I was greeted warmly as usual and shown the menu. They have regular "Gourmet Specials", though I tend to choose from the main menu.

I fancied the breast of lamb. It's awhile since I had lamb. Wolfie asked me how I'd like it cooked (medium).

In the meantime I was brought a small.hors d'oeuvre.

The breast of lamb arrived, cut neatly into about four chunky pieces. It was served with a small side-salad and french fries.

The lamb was excellent; as tender as fillet of beef and completely free of fat.

Wolfie is always attentive, though not irritatingly so. During every course he is anxious to know if the meal is all right.

For dessert I had banana in puff-pastry with a caramel sauce and ice-cream, which was perfectly satisfactory though too akin to the variety served in European Chinese restaurants. Perhaps I am being a bit unfair; it just wasn't out of the ordinary to me.

I drank a small carafe of red house wine with the meal.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

105th Archbishop

The Earl of Belmont wishes the new Lord Archbishop-elect of Armagh, Primate of All Ireland and Metropolitan well.

The Most Reverend Richard Lionel Clarke, Lord Bishop of Meath & Kildare, premier bishop of the Church of Ireland (hence the prefix Most Reverend), succeeds the Right Reverend Alan Harper OBE, who has retired as Primate.

Dr Clarke, a widowed father of two from Dublin, is the 105th in the succession of abbots, bishops and archbishops of Armagh since St Patrick.

The Bishop said:
“I look forward to fresh challenges and joys, along with new friendships and discoveries, in the phase of ministry in the Gospel that now lies ahead, both in the Diocese of Armagh and within the wider fellowship of the Church of Ireland and beyond.”

His election will take effect from December 15th this year when he will be enthroned at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh.

Dr Clarke said:
“I truly feel neither worthy of the heritage into which I am to enter, nor adequate for the tasks that lie ahead. The God of Christian belief is, however, a God of grace rather than a God who looks for human self-sufficiency. All I can pledge is that I will give this task the very best of which I am capable and the prayer of all of us must be that God in his grace will enable some good to come from this.”

Dr Clarke said one of the main challenges confronting him and the church’s 480,000 members would be secularism:
“That to me is the danger, to think that religious faith is an add on and the normal default is to be without faith,” he said.

Dr Clarke was educated at Trinity College Dublin and King’s College London.

He began as a curate at Holywood, County Down; worked in Dublin, as dean in residence at Trinity; Dean of Cork; and Perth in Scotland.

Gran Canaria: XI+

The lingering haze and smell of cigarette smoke pervades most, if not all, of the establishments in this resort.

Lest you think I am biased, readers, I have no issue with smokers themselves, most of whom are as decent and honourable a bunch as the next man or woman.

My gripe is with the smoke in bars, clubs and even restaurants, which is horrid and obnoxious.

I suspect that holiday-makers take advantage of Spain's liberal stance on Smoking.

Certainly in the United Kingdom we have rigorous laws on Smoking, firmly enforced.

The great irony, of course, as always, is that we British adhere religiously to EU directives and legislation; whereas other states in Euroland might well flaunt and evade it.

Gran Canaria: XI

Timothy Belmont gets into the old tried and tested routine instanter on most hols.

Breakfast invariably consists of wholemeal buttered toast with home-made marmalade, though whilst abroad I'm quite content to have peach jam.

In lieu of English Breakfast tea, I have coffee with leche condensado ~ sweet, condensed milk ~ which does the job of milk and sugar.

In my experience, the milk turns sour swiftly in this climate.

I HAD A gin-and-tonic at about five o'clock yesterday whilst checking the emails; thereafter, seeing that the bottle of tonic-water remained half-full, I ordered another gin.

Gio's generally places three large ice-cubes in tall glasses. This, in my experience, dilutes the drink too much; so I reduce the number to one cube.

I can tell you that a very large measure of gin can be evaluated when two cubes are removed.

I felt the effects of these snifters afterwards so, as a consequence, ambled back to my apartment. I lay down in the bed and promptly drifted off!

When I looked at the watch, it was too late to get the glad rags on.

Accordingly, I am up and about this morning, ablutions duly accomplished.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Gran Canaria: X

I ate at at little pavement restaurant called Mamma Mia last night. It is rated highly in Tripadvisor, so I went on the strength of its reviews.

I sat outside at a little table facing the square.

The staff at this bistro are well turned out and polite.

Mamma Mia serves Italian food and, unfortunately, a few of the most popular items were unavailable, so the waiter suggested a "special", beef ravioli in a tomato sauce with mozzarella cheese, for the main course.

I inquired if they had garlic bread or alioli, which they did not; so again prosciutto bread with a salad was offered to me as an alternative. I wish now that I hadn't ordered it.

This starter was perfectly acceptable, though the bread was crisp and dry, not my preferred texture in bread. I ought to have known.

The ravioli was also perfectly acceptable; not outstanding in my book. It was served in a small casserole dish. I confess I did wonder whether it had been prepared in advance and reheated in an oven; though I could well be mistaken. It has been known!

I omitted to add that I was given a complimentary half-glass of sparkling wine (Prosecco?) served in a glass flute. I liked this, so had another two glasses.

The bill came to about €25.

I should imagine I'll return to Dali's for my next nosh-up.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Visitor Numbers

Lord Belmont in Northern Ireland generated 32,252 hits in September; still on target to achieve a cumulative figure of 1,000,000 by December, 2012.

Since December, 2007, there have been 938,000 visitors throughout the world.

Gran Canaria: IX

Nine thirty-five. Sun rising; clear blue sky; very warm already; merchants and traders preparing for their day's work.

The beach here must be a few miles long. People walk along the shore-line like a mighty army, in both directions.

Homo Sapiens of all shapes and sizes: The human walruses and hippopotamuses; the children with their parents; the elderly and the sprightly.