Sunday, 31 March 2013

Larne Excursion

I jumped into the two-seater, roof firmly closed, and drove in a northerly direction - as the rook flies at any rate - towards the town of Larne, County Antrim.

Major roadworks are being undertaken on the main road to Larne.

It was still cold today, though I found Carnfunnock Country Park, parked and made a bee-line for the visitor centre, where I took a pot of tea (£1.50) and perused some of ther literature.

Carnfunnock is a relatively new name for what was Cairncastle Lodge, a residence of the Agnews for twenty years; then the Chaines; till it was bought by Sir Thomas Dixon Bt.

I am in the process of writing an article about Cairncastle Lodge and its owners. Many thanks to the family at the gate lodge who granted me permission to photograph the Agnew arms emblazoned above the porch.

The park now belongs to the local council.

The Lodge was demolished a long time ago, in the 1940s I think.

THENCE, I motored the short distance to Drumalis House, erstwhile residence of the Smiley Baronets, proprietors of The Northern Whig newspaper.

I was told that they have an open day for the general public on Easter Monday. I am grateful to Drumalis Retreat Centre for permission to take the two pictures.

ON THE WAY home, I made a detour towards Kilwaughter Castle, or what remains of that once noble edifice.

I might return when the weather improves, to take a few pictures of it in its present sorry state.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Kevin Whately

I have long considered Inspector Morse to be one of the best contemporary detective series.

Indeed I have the entire DVD box set; and the more recent series, Lewis, continued the tradition.

Kevin Whately's great-great-great-great-grandfather was a director of the Bank of England.

His great-great-grandfather happened to be none other than the Most Rev and Rt Hon Dr Richard Whately, DD, Lord Archbishop of Dublin, Primate of Ireland and Metropolitan, 1831-63.

His Grace is seen wearing the Chancellor's badge of the Order of St Patrick.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Richard Griffiths, 1947-2013

I am saddened to learn that the actor Richard Griffiths, OBE, has died, aged 65, after complications following heart surgery.

He starred in the Harry Potter movies and Withnail and I.

Mr Griffiths enjoyed a long career of success on film and on TV, but also on the stage where he was a Tony-winning character actor.

He was best known for playing Vernon Dursley in the Harry Potter films and Uncle Monty in Withnail and I.

TV roles included playing a cookery-loving detective in Pie in the Sky; a role I personally associate with him.

He was appointed an OBE in the 2008 New Year Honours.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Balsamic Delectation

All right. Belmont admits that he's had a modest restorative, viz. the Tanqueray mixed with requisite dosage of tonic-water.

Perhaps the noble prose flows even more eloquently thus.

I needed it, having shuddered at the effrontery of the head honcho of Fitness First gymnasia, a cove by the name of Seibold, who sent me an advisory letter, apprising of an increase in their charge by a whopping 65%.

We Belmonts are renowned for standing firm. This is utterly outrageous. I have emailed this Sideball, putting him the picture. Gawd help us.

Perhaps I ought to consider Branson's health centre, Virgin Active.

WILKIN'S tomato ketchup is the usual sauce of choice at Belmont GHQ. Nevertheless, I tried the Heinz Tomato Ketchup Blended With Balsamic Vinegar today.

Dear readership, I can inform you exclusively that this sauce receives the coveted Belmont Seal of Approval and Commendation.

Wilkin's ketchup still has the edge, with very few additives other than 75% tomatoes, though.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

UAE State Visit

The President of the United Arab Emirates, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has accepted an invitation from The Queen to pay a State Visit to the United Kingdom from 30th April to 1st May, 2013.

The Queen will host His Highness at Windsor Castle.

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh paid a State Visit to United Arab Emirates at the invitation of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan in 2010.

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh paid a State Visit to the United Arab Emirates visiting The Late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in 1979.

The Late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan paid a State Visit to the United Kingdom in 1989.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Wodehouse in Exile

Although I'll be viewing Boris Johnson: The Irresistible Rise this evening on BBC2, I will be recording Wodehouse In Exile at 9pm on BBC4.

Wodehouse In Exile is set during the 2nd World War, focusing on how that distinguished author, Sir PG Wodehouse, came to face a charge of Treason that led to his exile from the United Kingdom.

I notice that the character Leonora Cazalet is played by Flora Montgomery, daughter of William Montgomery, of Grey Abbey House, County Down.

Sunday, 24 March 2013


The office of Lord-Lieutenant is of military origin and dates back to the time of HENRY VIII when they were appointed for the maintenance of law and order and for the raising of the militia.

The military role has largely disappeared, but links are maintained by association with Volunteer Reserve Forces and with the Army Cadet Force, the Air Training Corps and the Sea Cadet Corps together with other uniformed organisations such as the Fire, Police and Ambulance services and various volunteer bodies.

The Lord-Lieutenant is appointed by The Queen, on the advice of the Prime Minister, and is Her Majesty's personal representative in the county or city.

Their prime duty is to uphold the dignity of the Crown. Within that remit, the Lord-Lieutenant will exercise the following functions:

  • Arranging visits of members of the Royal Family and escorting Royal visitors as appropriate.
  • Presentation of honours, medals and awards on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen.
  • Liaison with local units of the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Army, Royal Air Force, their Volunteer Reserves and Cadet Forces.
  • Attendance at civic and social events.
  • Support to charities and other voluntary organisations.

As the sovereign's representative in his or her county, the lord-lieutenant remains non-political and does not hold office in any political party.

They are appointed for life, although the customary age of retirement is 75 and the sovereign may remove them.

The lord-lieutenant is supported by a vice lord-lieutenant and deputy lieutenants that he or she appoints.

The vice lord-lieutenant deputizes when the lord-lieutenant is abroad, ill, or otherwise incapacitated. 

The lord-lieutenant appoints a number of deputy lieutenants depending on the county's population size. 

They are unpaid, but receive minimal allowances for secretarial help, mileage allowance and a driver.

Male lord-lieutenants receive an allowance for the ceremonial uniform, worn when receiving members of the royal family and on other formal occasions. 

There is no uniform for a female lord-lieutenant, but there is a badge which can be worn on ceremonial occasions.

Male lord-lieutenants wear a dark blue uniform in the style of an Army No. 1 dress along with a cap and sword with a steel scabbard. 

First published in September, 2011.

Lord Anthony Hamilton


The Viscount Brookeborough, Lord-Lieutenant of County Fermanagh, with the approval of Her Majesty The Queen, has been pleased to re-appoint

Lord Anthony Hamilton DL

Vice Lord-Lieutenant for the said County, his Commission bearing the date, 14th March, 2013.

Lord Anthony is younger son of the 4th Duke of Abercorn and brother of the present Duke of Abercorn

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Guest Visit

I've been with an old pal from Harrow since Thursday, who has been staying at Belmont GHQ as my guest.

We have visited Titanic Belfast and The Ulster Museum, now greatly improved since its major renovation awhile ago.

At Titanic Belfast, we spent several hours, despite the treacherous conditions outside.

There is a replica of a first-class suite (Top) on RMS Titanic.

At The Ulster Museum, Botanic Gardens, we spent a few hours.

Insignia of the Most Illustrious Order of St Patrick is on display, including the mantle of the 9th Earl of Shaftesbury.

There is a collection of Belleek Pottery items, including a rare vase.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Pc Parkes

The local rozzers chastised me this morning for shoddy parking. I abandoned the two-seater at the far end of the Tesco car-park, Knocknagoney, well away from other vehicles.

I was in a hurry because I've a guest staying for a few days and I needed some last-minute provisions.

No excuses, Belmont!

When I returned, Constable Plodd, seated comfortably in his solid Land-Rover with a colleague, drove over, grinned at me, and proceeded to apprise of road traffic legislation, which he said was applicable to private car-parks, if a vehicle is deemed to be suspiciously parked (!).

Eat humble pie, Belmont.

I grinned back, apologised profusely; said it wouldn't happen again.

All's well that ends well.

Flixton Hall

Flixton is a small village located near Waveney in Suffolk. The village was well known for the very grand Flixton Hall - a seat of the Adair family.

The Adairs resided at Flixton Hall for nearly 200 years. It was built in 1615 by John Tasburgh and was originally surrounded by a moat.

In 1753, the direct male line of the Tasburgh family became extinct and the estate passed to the Wyborne family, who sold it to the first of the Adairs, William Adair, who died in 1783 and in his Will left “as much money as should be found in my charity bag at the time of my death for charitable purposes”. 

The bag contained £300 13s 7d. The charity provided red cloaks for the schoolgirls, blue jerseys for the boys and boots for both, so “Flixton children” were easily distinguished when visiting town.

The charity survives in a different form, providing “extras” for deserving people in the area at Christmas time.

When William died in 1783, the Estate passed to Alexander Adair, great-grandson of Sir Robert Adair of Ballymena and Custos Rotulorum of County Antrim.

This branch of the family, who thus succeeded to the Flixton Estate and the Lordship of the Manor of South Elmham, were of Scottish descent and one of their ancestors had fallen on the Flodden Field.

The family subsequently settled in Ulster. Sir Robert Adair of Ballymena (1659-1745) raised a regiment for King William III and was knighted on the battlefield of the Boyne.

He was married four times and was succeeded in the Ballymena estates by the son of his first wife William Robert Adair (1745-1760).

He was a Captain in Lord Mark Kerr’s Regiment of Horse at the Battle of Culloden.

Research next shows that, in 1805, Alexander Adair raised and commanded the Loyal South Elmham or 9th Troop of Suffolk Yeomanry.

They encamped at Flixton Hall, and their weapons were preserved in the Armoury at the hall until its contents were sold.

Alexander Adair died in 1834 and was succeeded by his cousin Hugh Adair, who held a commission in the King’s Own Scottish Borderers and was present at the siege of Gibraltar. He married Camilla Shafto, heiress of Benwell Tower. 

As he was 80, when inheriting the Hall he made it to his eldest son, Sir Robert Shafto Adair, born 1786 and created 1st Baronet in 1838.

A fire caused major damage to Flixton Hall in December 1846 and repairs took some years. Ten years later, the already ruined local church collapsed further so he paid for its complete restoration.

The architect - a Mr Salvin - completed it in 1861 and the lines of the original building (Saxon tower, Norman nave, aisle and chancel) were closely followed.

Queen Victoria subsequently created the 2nd Baronet 1st Baron Waveney.

In 1870, he had the Bungay to Harleston road re-routed so that traffic no longer passed close to the hall.

Sir Robert died childless in 1886 so the title then lapsed.

He was succeeded by his brother, Sir Hugh Edward Adair, 3rd Baronet. He had Flixton Hall reconstructed and a new wing added (1888-92), making it a mansion of 60 rooms and 365 windows; he died in 1902.

He was followed by his eldest son, Sir Frederick Edward Shafto Adair, 4th Baronet. He was very fond of his seaside residence “Adair Lodge” at Aldeburgh and formed a strong friendship with James Cable, then Coxswain of the Aldeburgh lifeboat.

Sir Frederick died in 1915 at the young age of 54. His funeral was made all the more imposing because some 800 members of the Shropshire Yeomanry were then encamped at Flixton Hall.

He was succeeded by his brother Sir Robert Shafto Adair, 5th Baronet, always known as Sir Shafto, who spent much of his time in London where he was once a barrister.

He was a great patron of the arts and a director of the Royal Academy of Music, a Deputy Lieutenant of County Antrim and held the unique office of “King’s Clog”, a right granted by the King in connection with taxes imposed by the Metropolitan Water Board.

In 1948, the whole Flixton Estate of 2,970 acres - then under the management of (Major-General Sir) Allan Shafto Adair - was offered for sale: there were 21 farms, several small-holdings, two licensed public houses, two schools, three village post offices, various houses, numerous cottages, marshlands, woodlands, and grazing rights.

The family retained ownership of Flixton Hall and Flixton Park, plus Home Farm and Home Woods.

Everything was purchased by Metropolitan Railway Country Estates Limited, although many of the cottage dwellers were later able to buy their homes.

Sir Robert died in 1949 and was succeeded by his only son, Major-General Sir Allan Adair, GCVO,CB, DSO, MC, JP, DL, 6th Baronet, who had been commissioned into the Grenadier Guards in 1916.

He then resided at Amner Hall on Her Majesty the Queen’s Sandringham Estate and served in the Queen’s Bodyguard of the Yeoman of the Guard. He was a distinguished soldier of both World Wars and commanded the Guards Armoured Division in World War ll.

According to his 1986 memoirs, Sir Allan regarded Flixton Hall as ‘a vast, uncomfortable mausoleum, still with no proper central heating. In winter the children had to wear their overcoats when moving from room to room’. 

The Estate was expensive to keep and maintain, and owing to heavy death duties levied on his father’s Estate, the 6th Baronet was forced to sell.

His only son and heir had been killed whilst serving with the Grenadier Guards in World War II, during the battle of Monte Camino in Italy.

On retirement the 6th Baronet had set up residence in Raveningham and, in 1950, the massive library and all the fine contents of Flixton Hall were offered for sale.

Despite efforts by both the East and West Suffolk County Councils to buy Flixton Hall and 250 acres of the land for use as a joint farm institute, it was sold privately to a speculator.

Two years after the purchaser had removed and sold all the protective lead from the roof, water was causing serious problems to the interior so he applied and gained permission to demolish the building in June 1952.

As a result, one of the most magnificent buildings in Suffolk was allowed to disappear forever - only the shell of part of the ground floor survives today and is used for farm storage. 

First published in October, 2010.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Darragh Island

We assembled at Whiterock, near Killinchy, County Down, this morning and were ferried across to Darragh Island in the National Trust's Stangford Lough boat (I think it's called Corbo).

There were twenty-three of us today. We were burning cuttings from hawthorne bushes, mostly. We managed to light about four or five bonfires throughout the little island.

Darragh Island, a NT property on Strangford Lough, lies east of Killinchy. Its shape reminds me of a lobster. It comprises almost 19 acres and was acquired in 1978 from John Metcalfe.
We passed Conly Island on the way, a heavily wooded isle with a holiday cottage in a secluded location overlooking Darragh.
I lunched on the usual cheese & onion sandwiches, washed down with a good flask of tea.

Darragh has an old disused kelp kiln.

At about five o'clock, when we had all disembarked on the mainland, we drove the short distance to Sketrick Island, location of the well-known restaurant and bar Daft Eddy's.

This is Emma's last week with The National Trust and, indeed, Northern Ireland. She begins a new job in Herefordshire shortly; so we all had a drink to wish her well. Craig presented Emma with a hard-back book about Strangford Lough, as a memento.

I arrived home at Belmont GHQ about six, just in time to collect my swimming gear, for my usual sixty lengths at the sports club.

Monday, 18 March 2013


The Duke of Cambridge KG KT pictured at the traditional St Patrick's Day Irish Guards' ceremony, wearing the uniform of  Colonel of the Irish Guards.

Prince William wears the insignia of a personal aide-de-camp to HM The Queen.

The badge of office for an aide-de-camp (ADC) is usually a braided cord in gold or other colours, worn on the shoulder of a uniform.

A small shoulder badge with the Sovereign's regnal cypher is also worn.

Smallest House

I motored into town this morning in order to have my car serviced. Walking up Great Victoria Street, I passed what is reputedly the smallest house in Belfast, a single-bay, two-storey extension to the Baptist church, at 66 Great Victoria Street.

It was originally the caretaker's house, with a frontage of eight feet.

Although I had brought my netbook with me, there was no need because the Linenhall Library's shutters were firmly down.

At Marks & Spencer's store, I spotted a navy cashmere scarf, reduced from £38 to £19, which I purchased.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Hezlett House

My weekend in County Londonderry concluded with a visit to Hezlett House, a National Trust property near Castlerock.

It's a very long time indeed since I've been to this 17th century rectory-turned-farmhouse.

Hezlett House is one of the oldest thatched cottages left standing in Northern Ireland. The Hezletts inhabited it for two centuries.

Lodge Hotel: II

The hotel is, unsurprisingly, busier this morning at breakfast. A partition has been drawn back in the dining-room, thereby doubling its size.

Last night the lounge bar, Elliott's, was heaving with contented diners. Ulster beef prevailed. I had The Mating Season with me.

I think I remained in the bar till elevenish or so (!).

I THINK The Lodge Hotel is closer in calibre to a rating of Four Stars, rather than its Three Star grade. The bedrooms are well-appointed, with trouser-press, ironing-board and iron, tea-making facilities and biscuits, little chocolates and Fox's Glacier Mints; complimentary toiletries; super-king-size bed; sofa; side-tables; television; clock-alarm.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Macosquin Visit

This afternoon I motored the short distance - possibly a few miles - to the village of Macosquin. Its most prominent buildings are the parish church of St Mary, Camus-juxta-Bann, and the Richardson National School, at the top of a hill.

The little church is of considerable interest. I was introduced to the Rector, the Rev Michael Roemmele, who soon realized my alter ego, Lord Belmont (!).

The Rev Michael very kindly brought me a beaker of tea, greatly appreciated on a cold day. They were preparing for Sunday worship.

The stained-glass windows are beautiful: One (displaying the Richardson of Somerset arms) commemorates the local landowners and patrons, the Richardson family, now, alas, extinct it would seem.

Memorials to the Richardsons abound, too; and two old graves outside.

Fool, Belmont: My camera's lithium batteries decided to expire as I was about to photograph the interior of the church. I have new ones back at base.

I'd like to revisit St Mary's Camus-juxta-Bann. Perhaps during the summer months.

Coleraine Visit

After a refreshing beaker of tea in my room at The Lodge, I fancied some fresh local air. It was damp and showery, so armed with the whangee brolly, I strolled the fifteen-minute walk from my hotel to the centre of Coleraine

There was a local pipe band playing near the parish church, St Patrick's. I fancied another look round the church, so entered at a side door. I was greeted by a member of the congregation on duty.

We chatted about this and that, including the church's heritage. The present church is late-Victorian, though its immediate predecessor was of 17th century origin.

LODGE ROAD has a fair assortment of various villas and terraces. The fire and police stations are located on Lodge Road, as is the masonic lodge.

Lodge Cottage, above, was the first house to be built on the road in the late 17th century.

Lodge Hotel: I

Timothy Belmont awoke from the ethereal slumber at eight this morning, about sixty miles away from Belmont GHQ.

I am in the fair county of Londonderry; at The Lodge Hotel, Coleraine, to be precise.

I am feeling moderately satisfied, having attached the heavy-duty, Number One nose-bag, Travel Class, for the big breakfast half an hour ago.

Having dined at the hotel last night, Lady A and self visited R at the Causeway Hospital ~ a hop, skip and jump from The Lodge, as it happens.

Thence we drove to Ballymoney, to a local hostelry, where I duly exercised the mighty Belmont vocal chords at a suitably late stage in the proceedings.

We took a cab back to our respective quarters thereafter.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Papal Mass

THE QUEEN will be represented by The Duke of Gloucester at the Inaugural Mass for Pope Francis which will be held in St Peter’s Square, Vatican City, on Tuesday 19 March.

Prince Richard will be accompanied by The Duchess of Gloucester.

Their Royal Highnesses attended the Beatification of Pope John-Paul in 2011; and were in Rome to celebrate the teaching and history of the British Pontifical Colleges in 2012.

HMS Belfast

HMS Belfast's diamond anniversary was celebrated in 2013.

His Majesty's Ship Belfast was launched on St Patrick's Day, 1938, at the Belfast Shipyard, Harland & Wolff, by the then Prime Minister's wife, Mrs Chamberlain. GEORGE VI reigned.

The light cruiser cost £2.14 million to construct.

The City of Belfast has strong bonds with HMS Belfast.

I am indeed proud of HMS Belfast's enduring heritage and salute her 75th anniversary.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Savings Rate


I am dismayed and appalled at the current rates of interest provided to savers by financial institutions.

I believe that this has been caused as a direct result of Treasury and Bank of England policies; particularly so-called quantitative easing.

These policies are  having a very detrimental effect on savers.

I am of the opinion that prudent savers are being punished (inadvertently) by the Bank of England and HMG.

On the other hand, prodigal borrowers are being rewarded.

Plundering savings is not only manifestly unfair to those who have put money aside, but is actually harmful to the future health of the economy, reducing investment, de-capitalising the country and worsening the future crisis for retirement and senior care.

I call upon the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Bank of England to begin rewarding savers, at the earliest convenience.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Belmont's Scallops

The indefatigable gnashers were zealously placed in overdrive tonight for a feast of fodder fit for self.

With nose-bag firmly attached, I got stuck in to the daily helping, on this occasion the battered scallops, mash, asparagus tips, lashings of Jersey butter and tartare sauce.

Has anybody tried these diminutive battered scallops? I think they're delicious. It takes a mere eight minutes to heat them in the oven.

M&S seldom disappoints; certainly not since I chewed their tough little partridge, adhering strictly to their cooking instructions.

My erstwhile school chum, known to self as Dangerfield, himself a master hunter of deer round and about his fine pad of a hundred and forty acres of lush Ulster countryside near Broughshane, scoffed and insisted that they were incorrect in their instructions for such a small bird.

Imminent Articles

I am continually revising articles and, where possible, adding to them, albeit in a concise, easily-digestible manner.

Forthcoming articles shall include the Warings of Waringstown, the McGillicuddys of the Reeks, the Musgraves of Tourin, and the Knights of Glin, of Glin Castle.


I had the pleasure of encountering an old banking colleague this morning, whom I hadn't met for almost twenty years, at the Linenhall Library.

I took the opportunity to congratulate Colin on tying the matrimonial knot; and apprised him of this and that, including the noble alter ego, Lord Belmont.

Later, I cycled over to Donegall Place, where I dismounted and ambled into Marks & Spencer's food-hall in the basement, where I bagged battered scallops, a cheese & onion pasty, Jersey butter, softer butter, asparagus tips, Ambrosia apples from Italy (!) and strong mints.

I passed SS Nomadic in the Hamilton Dock on the way home, where traditional granite paving was being laid. Nomadic is enveloped in protective sheeting.

Killeavy Sale

I am very glad to learn that Killeavy Castle has been sold at auction to a new owner.

I have written about Killeavy and its previous owners here.

I gather that the new owner does not live in Northern Ireland, though having paid almost £2 million for Killeavy, is eager to restore the house to its former glory.

Garry Best, of Best Property Services, added,

"He has said he will take a long-term view, about five to ten years, and is keen to restore it. It's very much a one-off type of property and in a very scenic spot. It also comes with 130 acres so it's not too surprising that it went for more than the guide price."

The building started life as a farm house, built in a gothic style by the Foxall family between 1810 and 1820.

In 1836, four stone towers, outbuildings and Tudor-style windows were added and the house became known as Killeavy Castle.

By 1881, the 4,000 sq ft castle was the home of the Bell family, who owned it until recently.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Ancient Coat

Prince Charles has the right idea, and I fully understand his reasons for continuing to use a clapped-out, torn jacket for purposes such as hedging.

I missed the latest episode of Countryfile on the BBC, though I gather that HRH showed off an old coat, patched up with so many different pieces of leather he confided he could “hardly move”.

The jacket, donned while he built hedges on his estate, is now made up of an array of green and brown shades, with rough holes and hanging threads.

“Well of course the trouble is it gets torn up. I got somebody to patch it up with leather and now I can hardly move”. 

I POSSESS a forty year-old Barbour jacket. It has been gathering a modicum of dust in the garage for a few winters, so methinks I shall put it to good use.

I occasionally burn gorse and old bramble in the woods and, as anybody who has performed this task will know, fleece jackets are particularly vulnerable to cinders and sparks.

The ancient Barbour should do the trick famously.

That's my jacket at the top, by the way.

Malcolm Brown MBE

Many belated congratulations to my cousin's husband, Malcolm Brown, on his appointment as a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE).

Malcolm, who has coached the Brownlee brothers for eight years, has been the Olympic Performance Manager for British Triathlon.

His award is for services to triathlon and the Games.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Ballymacormick Walk

Glenganagh, March 2013 © Lord Belmont in Northern Ireland

It was another bitterly cold day today, weighing in at 4.5 Celsius, according to my thermometer. It felt colder, taking the "wind-chill-factor" into account.

I motored towards Groomsport, County Down, with the hood down in the two-seater. At Clandeboye, I swiftly closed it, feeling somewhat chilly.

At Groomsport, I parked, donned the Hunter wellingtons, and began my walk round the coast, towards Ballyholme Bay.

The numerous, lofty chimneys of Glenganagh House could easily be seen from the shore.

I returned via the main road, passing Glenganagh's gate lodge, built ca 1900.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Whalley's Café

Notwithstanding the miserable weather, I motored into Holywood, County Down, this morning for coffee and a chin-wag with my aunt and Pat.

I've lost count re the number of coffee-houses in Holywood, though we tried a different one today, Whalley's Café, located near the may-pole.

Whalley's is quite compact, the café being directly as you enter, on the ground floor. I believe they also have an art gallery.

I seated myself at a side table, perused the menu, and ordered a regular Americano coffee with a fruit scone.

The scones are accompanied by a tripartite, oblong plate which has jam, butter and whipped cream.

The coffee is made by a company called Illy, I think.

Whilst awaiting my coffee, I turned on the netbook and was glad to see that there is a strong wi-fi signal -  not from Whalley's, but from BT outside.

My coffee and scones arrived: Very good coffee, though the regular cup is small. I'd probably pay a little more for the "large" size.

The scone was of average size, though they weren't hugely lavish with the old currants - I counted about three little blighters. It had been heated, so the butter melted when I spread it on.

Service is good, as are the staff. My bill came to £4.05.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Fuerteventura: Finale

Loyal readers will be relieved to hear (!) that Timothy Belmont has arrived safely back in the United Kingdom, firing on all cylinders and keenly looking forward to resuming normal service on the blog.

It took me about twelve hours to get home from the Canary Island of Fuerteventura, mostly spent sitting, waiting and travelling.

I look forward, also, to visiting the Linenhall Library; swimming at the sports club; and so on.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Necarne Sale

Necarne estate
I see that Castle Irvine, now known as Necarne Castle, is for sale. Its current owner is Fermanagh District Council.

Necarne has been renowned as being an equestrian centre in Northern Ireland.

During the 2nd World War, the 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma and Prince Bernhardt of the Netherlands were visitors; as was The Princess Royal several years ago.

I have written about Necarne Castle and the Irvine Baronetcy.

MG T Type

This beautiful vintage MG two-seater was parked outide my apartment at Corralejo, Fuerteventura, Canary Islands,in 2011

Sky blue in colour, it appeared to be immaculate. It had tan leather seating and 84,000 miles on the clock; and it was left-hand drive.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Fuerteventura: XVII

By Jove, there was a storm here in Fuerteventura last night. It began during the evening. Heavy rain lashed the French windows; plastic chairs and tables were tossed unceremoniously across the floor outside; sand was blown in.

When I arose during the early hours and placed my bare feet on the floor, it was wet. There was a puddle! Rain-water had permeated the windows during the night and flooded the room.

I used bath-towels to soak up the water.

AS I WRITE this journal, the storm has subsided. The sun shines. A small lake has formed across the street, demonstrating the extent of rain-fall.

I shall shortly begin my constitutional, thus witnessing any damage done in the town.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Fuerteventura: XVI

I STROLLED out on the constitutional yesterday morning and, passing a so-called foot spa clinic, watched as several clients sat on cushions with their feet immersed in transparent glass water tanks.

There were literally dozens of little fish frantically nibbling away at these customers' feet. Now, readers, I reckon that my feet ~ or, at least, the soles of my feet ~ are moderately tough, having walked barefoot for miles during this vacation.

Therefore, I decided to permit these tiny fry the privilege of having a complimentary feast on the noble feet: Free, gratis and for nothing; apart, of course, from the €8 cost for fifteen minutes' worth.

I can report back that it is a most agreeable experience, having the sprightly pins nibbled by these blighters. Slightly ticklish, I suppose. I am glad I did it, though; despite remaining unconvinced of its efficacy.

I DINED at La Taberna in the evening. Juan was there to greet me like an old pal. I sat at a little table just inside the restaurant.

Juan's daughter is living presently in Tenerife, he recounted. Incidentally, Juan is a very contented fellow indeed: La Taberna opens seven days a week and he often sings during service. His wife Anna is in the kitchen, equally appears.

I ordered a glass of Rioja wine, continuing my abstemiousness; then the fresh salmon steak in white wine sauce, served with gamey chips and his ramekin of coleslaw.

La Taberna must surely be one of the oldest eating-dens in Corralejo, having been established in 1989. I wonder what the street was like in those days.

Juan brought me his fresh crusty bread roll and superb alioli (good and strong, for confirmed garlic-lovers).

The salmon was excellent, so moist and delicate.

At the conclusion, I was brought a complimentary liqueur, Irish Cream.

AFTER THE MEAL, I took my leave and ambled to the cocktail bar, On The Beach, where I sat up at the counter. I watched the barman performing his art of making cocktails. I was truly impressed at this cove's diligence and expertise.

He had a tool for every job, including lime-squeezer, sharp paring knives, whisks, special mixer glassware, and every conceivable liqueur. He was methodical, too, cleaning everything after use; and putting items back in their place.

I remained to watch the Flamenco show, following which I got up and headed home.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

2nd Baron Strathclyde


THE QUEEN has been graciously pleased to give orders for the following appointment to the Order of the Companions of Honour (CH):~

To be a Member:

The Rt Hon Thomas Galloway Dunlop du Roy de Blicquy [Galbraith], Baron STRATHCLYDE, PC.

(To be dated 6 January 2013)

Fuerteventura: XV

Timothy Belmont has been lying doggo for the last couple of days, endeavouring (with good results) to restore the old equilibrium.

I have spent time, naturally, at the beach; though I have largely refrained from imbibing the Devil's Brew.

The evenings here have been rather cool, in the sense that long trousers, jumpers or jackets are called for.

Last night, I wandered over to the music square, where I sat at the little Plaza Cafe-Bar. I was, as previously indicated, somewhat abstemious; hence, a piña colada cocktail was called for, at a not unreasonable €5.

There was no sign of my pals from County Westmeath.

I STILL drink cafe condensado back at base and elsewhere, finding that the sweet, condensed milk doubles up, in lieu of real milk and sugar.

I wonder if any of the well-known coffee-houses in the UK have ever heard of cafe condensado, what with their lengthy lists of fancily-named coffees? Could I finally stump them by requesting a condensado?