Sunday, 30 June 2013


Here is one very popular Mexican burrito takeaway bar in Botanic Avenue, Belfast, on a Sunday afternoon at two-thirty during June.

I was out for a stroll at the time. It started to rain shortly later.

Even the local rozzers arrived and joined the queue.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Castle Stewart Arms

The armorial bearings of the Earls Castle Stewart, as interpreted in an old peerage of 1885.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Caledon Arms


These arms appear in an old peerage of 1885. 

I found the rather muscular mermaid - who seems to have a "six-pack" stomach -  somewhat amusing; and the elephant gazes across rampantly, as if looking into her mirror.

Architectural Detail

Detail of columns at main entrance to the Scottish Mutual building, 15-16 Donegall Square South, Belfast: Black polished granite and red Scottish sandstone.

Robert Hill Hanna VC


Robert Hanna was born near Hanna's Close, Kilkeel, County Down, in 1886, and migrated to Canada in 1905.

He joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the 1st World War, and by the summer of 1917 was a Company Sergeant-Major (CSM) serving with the 29th Infantry Battalion.

In 1917, CSM Hanna’s company was attempting to overpower a German strongpoint on Hill 70, near Lens in France.

In the course of three assaults on the enemy position, the company had suffered several casualties, including the loss of all of its officers.

While his company continued to take casualties from the heavy machine gun fire coming from the strongpoint, Hanna calmly collected a party of men and led them in a fourth attack, rushing through the dense barbed wire protecting the position.

When he arrived inside the strongpoint, CSM Hanna bayoneted three of the enemy and clubbed a fourth with his rifle, enabling the position and its machine gun to be captured.

For the bravery and leadership he demonstrated in this action, Robert Hanna received the Victoria Cross.

“For most conspicuous bravery in attack, when his company met with most severe enemy resistance and all the company officers became casualties. A strong point, heavily protected by wire and held by a machine gun, had beaten off three assaults of the company with heavy casualties.

This Warrant Officer under heavy machine gun and rifle fire, coolly collected a party of men, and leading them against this strong point, rushed through the wire and personally bayonetted three of the enemy and brained the fourth, capturing the position and silencing the machine gun.

This most courageous action, displayed courage and personal bravery of the highest order at this most critical moment of the attack, was responsible for the capture of a most important tactical point, and but for his daring action and determined handling of a desperate situation the attack would not have succeeded.

CSM Hanna’s outstanding gallantry, personal courage and determined leading of his company is deserving of the highest possible reward.” 

He died in Mount Lehman, British Columbia on the 15th June, 1967.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Kettyle v O'Doherty

I have complimented the quality of Kettyle bacon before, particularly its flavour and thickness.

Last week, I ambled into Sawers' delicatessen shop in College Street, Belfast, and purchased a pack of O'Doherty's Black Bacon. The packet contains six rashers and mine was "original oak smoked".

Both Kettyle and O'Doherty are prominent purveyors of bacon in County Fermanagh. Kettyle's are based in Lisnaskea and O'Doherty's have a shop in Enniskillen.

I grilled a rasher of O'Doherty's this morning. The rasher is noticably thinner in cut than Kettyle's. There is a fair amount of fat on both rashers, though more fat drips from the Kettyle bacon, as far as I recall.

I have to say - and this is a personal opinion - that I prefer the Kettyle bacon, because it is a lot thicker and has more flavour.

I paid £3.99 for O'Doherty's. The pack states "minimum 160 grams". I cannot remember the weight and price of Kettyle's, though they pack their products very well, with cardboard on the outside, I think.

Readers, if you've tried both of these brands, do let me know your feelings.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Royal Visit to Caledon

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall this morning visited Caledon Village and were received by Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant of County Armagh (the Earl of Caledon).


Their Royal Highnesses later met representatives of the local community and Youth Action at St. James' Church of Ireland Parish Hall, the Square, Moy, and were received by Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant of County Tyrone (Mr. Robert Scott OBE).

Ballyreagh Day

I have spent a wonderful day on the Ard Peninsula, specifically at the Maltings lay-by in the townland of Ballyreagh.

There were eleven of us. We managed to disassemble and remove a delapidated stone wall, or two-thirds of it, at least.

We had two trailers, which were used to take the stones from the lay-by to the yard at the Old Schoolhouse, about a mile along the peninsula.

One feature of this wall was a kind of "honesty" collection box, which was surprisingly well constructed and proved to be considerably stubborn to remove.

We packed up at about four-thirty.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Duchess of Cornwall in Broughshane

The Duchess of Cornwall, on the second engagement of the day, attended Broughshane Library, County Antrim, to celebrate National Bookstart Week.

Upon arrival, HRH was greeted by the Vice Lord-Lieutenant of County Antrim, Mr Richard Reade DL.

Moving inside the Library, HRH met a number of representative groups including:
Valerie Christie, Children’s Services Manager, Libraries NI;
Jenny Bristow, cookery writer;
Julie McMaster, Cookery Assistant;
Richard Topping, Principal, Broughshane Primary School.
Mrs Knox said a few words of thanks and invited a pupil, Laura Moore, to present gifts to HRH.

Prior to departure, Her Royal Highness signed the visitors’ book.

ON HIS second engagement of the day, The Prince of Wales attended a reception hosted by Larne Borough Council, to meet with members of the community who were affected by the recent severe weather.

On arrival at Larne Town Hall, HRH was greeted by the Lord Lieutenant of County Antrim, Mrs Joan Christie OBE; Chief Executive of Larne Borough Council; and Sammy Wilson, MP, MLA for East Antrim.

Prince Charles was presented to a number of groups representing the farming community who were affected by the severe weather as well as the many agencies which provided much needed support.

Prior to leaving, Mrs McGahey invited HRH to unveil a plaque to commemorate the visit and sign the visitors' book.

Prince Charles in Ballymena

Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall are today paying a visit to County Antrim.

TRH this afternoon visited the Wright Group, Galgorm, Ballymena, and were received by Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant of County Antrim (Mrs. Joan Christie OBE).

His Royal Highness afterwards attended a Reception for members of the farming community at the Town Hall, Upper Cross Street, Larne, County Antrim.

The Prince of Wales, President, later visited The Prince's Trust Centre, 8 Weavers Court, Belfast, and was received by Sir Nigel Hamilton (Vice Lord-Lieutenant of the County Borough of Belfast).

The Duchess of Cornwall, Patron, Book Trust, attended a children's healthy eating cookery class at Broughshane Library, Main Street, Broughshane, to mark National Bookstart Week, and was received by Mr. Richard Reade (Vice Lord-Lieutenant of County Antrim).

Her Royal Highness afterwards officially opened the Rowan Sexual Assault Referral Centre, Antrim Area Hospital, 45 Bush Road, Antrim.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Weekend Antics

Timothy Belmont has been lying doggo today, having spent the last twenty-four hours here and there in the city of Belfast.

We enjoyed a modest snifter, for instance, in the Piano Bar of the Europa Hotel.

Later, having attached the long-suffering nose-bags, we dined at an esteemed Asian establishment in the vicinity.

The sparring partner, Dangerfield, phoned while we were munching. I think I've alluded to Dangerfield, the old school chum, who happens to be Laird of Broughshane and Hereditary Grand Keeper of Cleggan.

The Duchess subsequently invited me to stay over at Calhame Manor, so we caught the last train to the nearest station, viz. Ballymoney, County Antrim.

Now I am back at Belmont GHQ, ready for a quiet evening with Miss Marple (whilst recording the two clashing programmes on BBC 1).

Friday, 21 June 2013

Curry Baron

Good Gracious! I hear you exclaim. Belmont always performs splendidly when he's had a modest refresher.

Well, dear readers, this just happens to be the time and place.

I called in on the Lord Empey, OBE, this afternoon, in order to express my opinion on Prince William's birthday, celebrated throughout the realm with the hoisting of the national flag, with the exception of government buildings in Northern Ireland, as presently constituted.

I am glad to report that his lordship was not unsympathetic to my pronouncement.

I HAVE enjoyed an early repast of lamb Rogan Josh with pilau rice; accompanied by Peshwari naan bread.

Readers, disregard the instructions that the bread should be sprinkled with water. Instead, spread it liberally with butter, then honey; encase in tin foil; and cook in the oven at, say, 180c, for ten minutes.

It emerges hot, soft and moist (!).



A juvenile goldfinch munching contentedly at the nyjer seeds yesterday.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

The Secret Rooms

For the benefit of those readers who haven't been keeping up with my activities, I was in the metropolis last week, doing this and that.

Whilst biding my time in Belfast City Airport, a book by Catherine Bailey, entitled The Secret Rooms, caught my eye.

It is described as non-fiction.

The narrative is described thus:-
A castle filled with intrigue, a plotting duchess and a mysterious death. At 6am in 1940, John, 9th Duke of Rutland, and one of Britain's wealthiest men, ended his days, virtually alone, lying on a makeshift bed in a dank cramped suite of rooms in the servants' quarters of his own home, Belvoir Castle, in Leicestershire.

For weeks, as his health deteriorated, his family, his servants - even the King's doctor - pleaded with him to come out, but he refused. After his death, his son and heir, Charles, 10th Duke, ordered that the rooms be locked up and they remained untouched for sixty years. What lay behind this extraordinary set of circumstances?
WH Smith were flogging it for its cover price, viz. £9.99. I chose to purchase it from Amazon, at £6.89.

Today, whilst at Holywood Exchange retail park, I spotted an amusing little mug, with, rather appropriately (!), a crown thereon, in their Sale at £1.50 (originally £3).

Cognizant that I have a bottle of white Pinot Grigio plonk in the cellar (!), I whacked the stuff into the freezer, where it will remain for a minimal period, awaiting due consumption (not the whole bottle!).

George Gardiner VC


George Gardiner was born at Warrenpoint, County Down, in 1821.

He enlisted in the 57th (later the Middlesex) Regiment, which was based in Ireland from 1818-31; and was posted to Lifford barracks in 1846.

George married Elizabeth Courtney in Dublin in 1848. Their eldest son, George, was born a year later, in 1849.

Sergeant Gardiner was discharged from the Regiment in 1861 and re-posted, as Sergeant Major, to the permanent staff of the Prince of Wales Own Donegal Militia, based at Lifford.

He was about 34 years old during the Crimean War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross:

On the 22nd March, 1855, at Sebastopol, Crimea, Sergeant Gardiner acted with great gallantry upon the occasion of a sortie by the enemy, in having rallied the covering parties which had been driven in by the Russians, thus regaining the trenches.

On the 18th June, during the attack on the Redan, he himself remained and encouraged others to remain in the holes made by the explosions of the shells, and whence they were able to keep up a continuous fire until their ammunition was exhausted, and the enemy cleared away from the parapet.
Sergeant Gardiner later achieved the rank of Colour-Sergeant.

He died at Lifford, County Donegal, in 1891, and is buried at Clonleigh parish Churchyard.

His Victoria Cross is displayed at the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment (Queen's and Royal Hampshires), Dover Castle.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Royal Convalescence

I'm delighted that The Duke of Edinburgh has left hospital this morning, eleven nights after he was admitted for exploratory abdominal surgery.

Prince Philip walked out of the private London Clinic where he had been recovering since His Royal Highness's admission on 6 June, 2013.

Buckingham Palace has previously said the surgery was pre-arranged and not an emergency.

HRH is expected to take about two months to convalesce, having been expected to stay for two weeks, and missed several official royal events during his stay, but is due to resume official duties in the autumn.

As Prince Philip left the clinic he shook hands with staff, then waved and smiled to waiting journalists before getting into a car to be driven to Windsor Castle.

HRH received more than 1,000 cards from well-wishers while at the hospital.

Throughout HRH's stay, family members visited him, including The Queen, and Princes Charles, Edward, William and Harry.

Sunday, 16 June 2013


I arrived back at Belmont GHQ about twenty minutes ago.

A fleet of USA presidential vehicles, including a "Beast" with flags of the UK and USA on its front wings, were parked at the airport.

Is Mr President arriving at Belfast City Airport? Or his deputies and minions?

The weather in Belfast seems to be better than the metropolis, which was cool and cloudy when I left.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

London: IV

I'm staying with friends in Harrow, Middlesex. The nearest Tube is Northwick Park, on the Metropolitan Line.

Today has been spent at home, viz. at my pals' residence, helping them prepare for a birthday party this evening.

We were at north Harrow this morning, procuring ingredients for the supper.

I managed to watch Her Majesty's official birthday parade, Trooping the Colour, this morning.

The weather in London is unseasonably cool and windy.

Friday, 14 June 2013

London: III

My first visit of the day was to the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich. I took the Docklands light railway from Canary Wharf to Cutty Sark and walked the rest of the way.

The royal barge is on display on the ground floor.

From the maritime museum, I took the Tube to Green Park, where I spent some time in Fortnum and Mason's, purchasing gifts for pals.

Later on, I paid my first visit to the Royal Mews in about twenty-five summers. The Crown Equerry during that era was Sir John Miller.

Above is the Irish State Coach.

The magnificent Coronation Coach, which is 250 years old and weighs four tons, was last used during the Queen's Golden Jubilee.


Here are some more photographs I took yesterday, during my visit to the Savoy Chapel and Museum of London.

The Lord Grey of Naunton was the last Governor of Northern Ireland.

the Rev Prof Peter Galloway is Chaplain of The Queen's Chapel of the Savoy.

Old St. Paul's Cathedral and Southwark Cathedral were prominent in medieval London.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Museum of London

I took the Tube from Charing Cross to Barbican, where I alighted and made a bee-line for a branch of Pret a Manger, where I ate a smoked salmon sandwich and coffee.

The Museum of London is entered by way of a staircase and pedestrian viaduct. It's still free to visitors.

This museum is of great interest to those who wish to learn more about London, from Roman times to the 21st century.

There is a fine scale model of old St. Paul's Cathedral.

Also on display are the coronets of HRH Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, and the Countess of Dudley.

Tucked away on the ground floor is the state coach of the Rt Hon The Lord Mayor of London, which is 250 years old.

Mayoral robes are displayed in a cabinet.

Queen's Chapel of the Savoy

Images taken today of The Savoy Chapel, off The Strand, London.

Savoy Chapel

Having taken the London Underground, viz. the Tube, from Northwick Park to Charing Cross via Baker Street, I ambled along The Strand, past such hallowed establishments as the Savoy Hotel and Simpson's in the Strand, to my ultimate destination, The Queen's Chapel of the Savoy.

At eleven, I met the Rev Prof Peter Galloway OBE, the Chaplain.

We had a good conversation about heraldry and he showed me many of the heraldic plaques which adorn the wooden panelling of the chapel.

Recipients of Knight Grand Cross, including royalty courtiers, were among the GCVOs.

the Savoy Chapel boasts a magnificent ceiling and the stained glass windows are wonderful, too.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Corrigan's Menu

Corrigan's is a thoroughly decent establishment indeed. It wasn't particularly busy at lunchtime today and I counted one mere lady amongst about a dozen gentlemen.

Service here is, as one would expect, first rate. I hadn't reserved a table and was shown to one beside Upper Grosvenor Street immediately.

The staff are courteous and attentive. I was brought some fresh granary bread, baked in something resembling a miniature earthenware flowerpot. This was delicious with the country butter, served in a metal dish.

Tiny morsels of vol au vents were also brought to me.

I had a Tanqueray and tonic water with the meal.

My starter consisted of smoked salmon with a subtle sauce, greens and other morsels I am unable to describe at present (!).

The main course was plaice. I was persuaded to order a portion of honeyed carrots with it.

Everything was delicious, though the portions were not substantial.

Before my bill arrived, another waiter offered me a freshly baked Madeleine.


two course lunch  £25
carrots.                   £5
Cover charge.         £2
Tanqueray &Tonic £11.60
Service charge.       £5.45
TOTAL.                 £49.05


I took the Tube from Victoria to Marble Arch and walked onwards to Upper Grosvenor Street, where Corrigan's is located.

The left luggage office at Victoria station wanted £9, a right rip-off. I decided to keep my little case instead.

Corrigan's is fairly quiet.

I await my luncheon.

London: I

Security at Belfast City Airport was hellishly tight this morning. My toiletries, including some liquids, were in a transparent plastic bag, which was rejected because it was too large.

I was provided with a much smaller bag and sent away. How frustrating.

No matter, a large restorative, viz. a Bombay Sapphire, on the flight to London Gatwick did the trick.

My train departs at 12.25 to London Victoria. Lunch at a decent restaurant beckons, though I haven't booked anything.

Corrigan's Mayfair or even the Wolseley, perhaps.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Sir John O'Hara

The Queen has been pleased to approve that the honour of Knighthood be conferred upon the Honourable Mr Justice O’Hara on his appointment as a Justice of the High Court in Northern Ireland.

Mr Justice O'Hara was sworn into office before the Rt Hon Sir Declan Morgan, Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland, on the 8th April, 2013.

Mr Justice O’Hara was called to the Bar of Northern Ireland in 1979 and took Silk in 1999.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Socialist QE

Richard Evans of the Daily Telegraph reports that a highly regarded fund manager, Jason Pidcock, who runs the Newton Asian Income fund, said QE amounted to "a redistribution of wealth" and was
"a very unfair way of stealing money from savers and giving it to undeserving borrowers".
I wholeheartedly concur.

"It is very statist," he said, adding that printing money "diminishes trust in institutions" and "distorts economic incentives":
"A policy of deliberately debasing the currency is absolutely disgraceful. I agree with critics in America who have likened it to treason. It should be illegal," he added.
QE helps borrowers by eroding the real value of their debts through inflation, but Mr Pidcock said the alternative, a period of deflation as economies adjusted to the financial crisis, was preferable. "There have been plenty of periods in history when economic growth has coincided with deflation," he said.

In an outspoken address to journalists on Wednesday, he also attacked the EU, likening it to the former Soviet Union:
"The European Soviet Union is a disaster. Let's hope that within five years we will be out of it. EU laws are like an octopus – it wants to get involved in everything, as the Communists in Russia did."
He described the EU as "rotten to the core", adding:
"There are too many vested interests. It seems clear that Britain will leave. I don't think the Prime Minister's attempts to renegotiate will bring about enough changes."
Mr Pidcock said a British exit from the EU would be "very good" for the economy,
"Fears that jobs would be lost are a red herring. The World Trade Organisation's rules would ensure that we could keep trading with EU countries."
Being outside has done Switzerland no harm, he pointed out:
"The cost savings of leaving would be immense. The government budget would be reduced, duplication of regulation would be cut, there would be less red tape generally and trade relations with countries outside the EU would improve."
Mr Pidcock said he "welcomed the change in the political mood towards euroscepticism" but did not belong to any political party.

In recent weeks several well known City figures have come out in support of the UK Independence Party, including Andy Brough, a fund manager at Schroders.

Mr Pidcock's fund, the largest Asian income fund at about £4bn, has returned 50% since 2009, according to Morningstar, and outperformed its benchmark.

It is on the core buy list of Chelsea Financial Services, which organised the event at which Mr Pidcock was speaking, and is regularly tipped by fund experts.


I have a family of blue tits nesting in my box beside the kitchen window. The chicks are now quite vociferous.

The parents have been dutifully popping in and out, their tiny beaks containing soft insects and caterpillars.

However, in the last few days I have discerned that the frequency of the visits to the box, though regular, have lessened.

Are the parents endeavouring to coax their offspring out into the brave new world, by generating hunger?

I expect the chicks to vacate their snug home imminently.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Triumph Roadster

This lovely Triumph two-seater was parked outside The Cuan Inn yesterday.

Strangford: II

Strangford is undoubtedly a singularly charming village, not to say exceptionally picturesque.

We are enjoying our stay at The Cuan Inn, which is situated in the village square.

Yesterday afternoon was spent socialising with other National Trust volunteers and staff. We were bidding fond farewells to Craig and Anna, who are leaving Northern Ireland soon.

The Duchess and self dined with them at the inn in the evening.

This morning will are checking out. I'd like to take a few photographs of Isle O'Valla House. The Duchess wishes to visit Castle Ward.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Strangford: I

We have a lovely bedroom overlooking the Square in Strangford. I jumped out of bed at eight. It's a truly beautiful morning.

Last night we dined at The Cuan's restaurant. I had the haddock fish cake with mixed salad as a starter.

My main course consisted of scampi with vegetables. The Duchess had a delicious seafood chowder.

Our bedroom is well appointed, with virtually everything one would expect in a highly-graded hotel.

I hear a dog barking at the rear somewhere.

I think I'll stretch the old legs now.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Strangford Break

Lady A ~ henceforth known as the Duchess of Calhame (!) ~ and self have arrived at the County Down village of Strangford. We're staying at The Cuan.

The villagers shan't know what has hit 'em!

In fact, Craig & Anna are leaving Northern Ireland shortly for new employment in Cumbria, so we're having a farewell bash tomorrow in the said establishment.

Parterre Image

An aerial view of the catastrophic fire at Florence Court House, in 1955.

The parterre to the rear of the mansion can be seen.

There was also a curved row of lean-to cottages in the Stick Yard (close to the new Butler's Apartments), which were removed thereafter.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Caisson Gate

I mounted the trusty two-wheeler this morning and cycled into Belfast, via Titanic Quarter.

Dismounting at Fountain Street, I ambled in to Sawers in order to see if they had any of their fine scampi ~ affirmative.

Once again, my mission was largely accomplished within the hallowed walls of the Linenhall Library, where I managed to obtain an image of Lord Lismore's arms.

Also on the agenda was the lineage of the Leslies of Ballibay.

I purchased a birthday-card at Paperchase, in Arthur Street, for an old pal I'm visiting in London soon.


SS Nomadic is looking well and having a bit of a spruce-up. The ancient Caisson gate (top), built in 1867, sits in front of Nomadic's bow.

To a blissfully unaware cove like me, this "gate" is more like a plain, rather ugly, boat of some kind. Seemingly it plugged the entrance to the Hamilton dry dock, before permanent gates were constructed.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Royal Thanksgiving

Our greatly beloved Queen arrives at Westminster Abbey, accompanied by Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, for the Service of Thanksgiving to commemorate the coronation of Her Majesty sixty years ago.

I have been listening to David Dimbeby narrating for the BBC. He commentated on the arrival of the Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, at about ten fifty-five, making some reference to the time when Prince Charles becomes King.

Then pop Dimbleby stated "if" he becomes King, the silly ass. Quite inappropriate, not to say insensitive.

When pop Dimbleby gets home ~ if he gets home ~ he ought to dwell on this.

The Prime Minister wears his favourite deep purple tie; has he been liaising with the Leader of HM Opposition on this matter?

Britannia in Belfast

The Prince of Wales began a three-day visit to Northern Ireland in June, 1996. HRH arrived in Belfast aboard HM Yacht Britannia.

Britannia's captain was Commodore AJC Morrow CVO.

Prince Charles was greeted by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, the Rt Hon Sir Patrick Mayhew QC MP (now the Lord Mayhew of Twysden PC QC).

I took these pictures of the royal yacht myself, when it was docked at the port of Belfast.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Roseate Excellence

As some poetic cove pronounced, The lark is on the wing, the snail is on the thorn, or words to that effect.

The roses are blooming outside Belmont GHQ. Alas, I am unable to purvey their most fragrant bouquet, though suffice it to say that the scent is divine.

The variety is Etoile de Hollande.

Bernard Diamond VC


Bernard Diamond was born at Portglenone, County Antrim, in 1827.

He was approximately 30 years old, and a sergeant in the Bengal Horse Artillery, Bengal Army, during the Indian Mutiny when the following deed took place on the 28th September, 1857, at Bolandshahr, India for which he and Gunner Richard Fitzgerald were awarded the Victoria Cross:

"For an act of valour performed in action against the rebels and mutineers at Boolundshur, on the 28th September, 1857, when these two soldiers evinced the most determined bravery in working their gun under a very heavy fire of musketry, whereby they cleared the road of the enemy, after every other man belonging to it had been either killed or disabled by wounds". (Despatch of Major Turner, Bengal Horse Artillery, dated Boolundshur, 2nd October, 1857).
Sergeant Diamond married a widow in 1854 named Mrs Mary Collins, whose family was from County Down. They emigrated to New Zealand in 1875 and settled eventually at Masterton.

They had three or four children born to them in India.

He died in 1892.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Diamond Service

I attended a service of thanksgiving this afternoon for The Queen on the occasion of the sixtieth anniversary of Her Majesty's coronation.

Evensong took place at Belfast Cathedral.

The Queen was represented by the Lord-Lieutenant of Belfast, Dame Mary Peters DBE.

The City of Belfast was represented by the Right Honourable the Lord Mayor, Aderman Gavin Robinson.

The First Minister of Northern Ireland, the Rt Hon Peter Robinson MLA, attended.

There were nefarious gremlins in the acoustics today and I can recount that it was warmer outside the cathedral (!).

Spence's Mountain

The townland of Glasdrumman, where Spence's River flows gently down to the sea, is close to Annalong, a small fishing village in County Down.

The popular seaside resort of Newcastle is several miles further north. Spence's Mountain itself skirts a section of the famous Mourne Wall.

My [late] uncle and aunt have a lovely cottage in this vicinity, which commands a splendid prospect.

You couldn't really wish for a finer setting: forest, mountains, a lovely river, wildlife. The scenery is spectacular.

There's an old, disused quarry higher up the mountain with its very own natural swimming-pool. I often swam here on fine summer days.

This was the location of a terrible tragedy on Saturday, 1st June, 2013.

My uncle had an admirable organic vegetable garden adjacent to the cottage, where a large variety of fruit and vegetables thrived. Comfrey was mainly used as compost.

I've been visiting this part of the Mourne Mountains for a large part of my life.

There are several pictures of me, as a baby, being held outside my uncle's first cottage at the other side of the river. Surnames such as Newell and Burdon are familiar to me.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Sweet & Sour Sauce

When I was at the Crumlin Road Gaol in Belfast this morning, I purchased a book about life at the prison - which closed its doors in 1996 - by a former prison officer, Patrick Greg.

It's entitled The Crum.

I've already read a chapter and, I can assure you, readers, that it promises to be a fascinating insight of life and times within the Victorian walls of that austere establishment.

Architecturally speaking, the exterior is not austere at all. Rather interesting, in fact, with many fine features carved into the stone-work.

The interior, particularly the inmates' quarters, is a different matter. Austerity reigns in the compact cells, which measure 12' by 7', at times with three prisoners to a cell.

Timothy Belmont pronounces that prison is for punishment and redemption, not comfort!

CHINSESE takeaways are utterly hopeless at sweet & sour sauce nowadays, to my mind at least.

The sauce is not what it used to be, thirty years ago.

It has exasperated me to to such an extent that Belmont GHQ now makes its own sweet & sour sauce, viz.
  • Vinegar
  • Sugar
  • Soy sauce
  • Tomato sauce
  • Pineapple juice
  • Cornflour
Pineapple chunks and raw onion pieces are added. This makes a far superior sauce to the stuff doled out to customers in the 21st century, in my experience at any rate.

The takeaway meal is provided, the supplied sauce is discarded, and the Belmont Household version is substituted.


HMP Belfast

I spent two hours at Belfast's old Crumlin Road Gaol this morning, not, I hasten to mention, at Her Majesty's Pleasure.

I parked the two-seater on the road. The old, derelict, Victorian court-house (above), directly opposite the gaol, is in a most pitiful state indeed.

I was on duty at the court-house as a potential juror during the 1990s, though the defendant's legal representative rejected me, possibly (probably) because I was wearing my chalk-stripe, grey, double-breasted suit, brandishing a copy of The Daily Telegraph.

Shame on the authorities and its present owner.

The gaol tour began at ten, sufficient time for me to absorb the surroundings. This old building has been totally restored at great expense.

It is very similar in design to Pentonville prison in London. At the height of the Northern Ireland "Troubles", the gaol contained up to 1,400 inmates.

Hundreds of the vermiculated or reticulated stones and quoins have been replaced by beautifully carved new ones.

The tour commences at the shop inside the main entrance. We are shown the Governor's block (below), including his office and corridor.

There are four wings, viz A, B, C, and D, each of three storeys. We are shown the ground floor of Wing C. Wing D was used to incarcerate high-risk and particularly vulnerable prisoners, like informers or "supergrasses".

We viewed the "condemned man's cell" , more spacious because staff needed to keep watch over him, or her prior to the execution.

The execution chamber is beside this room, with its trap-doors, noose, chambers below with coffin etc.

The condemned prisoner would live in a large cell (large enough for two guards to live in as well), unknowingly living next to the gallows, which were concealed by a moveable bookcase.

The bodies of the executed were buried inside the prison in unconsecrated ground and the graves were marked only with their initials and year of execution on the prison wall.

I am in no doubt that Crumlin Road Gaol will swiftly become an integral part of Belfast's tourist trail.