Wednesday, 31 December 2014

VIIIth Duke of Wellington, 1915-2014

To the illustrious memory of the Most Noble ARTHUR VALERIAN VIIIth DUKE OF WELLINGTON,
Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter,
Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order,
Officer of the Military Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire,
Military Cross.


Breast star, Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order

Hearty congratulations to the Earl of Caledon, who has been appointed a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (KCVO) in the 2015 New Year Honours List.

Lord Caledon has served the office of Lord-Lieutenant of County Armagh since 1989.

Captain Peters


I have found a few photographs of Dame Mary wearing the uniform of a captain in the Royal Naval Reserve.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Dame Mary Peters CH DBE

Neck badge, Order of the Companions of Honour

I'm very pleased indeed that Dame Mary Peters has been appointed a Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour (CH).

In the late 60s and early 70s Mary Peters trained at Buster McShane's gym and health club in Upper Arthur Street, Belfast.

My father was once a member of the club and he used to take me there as a little boy, where I remember seeing Mary train.

She became Ulster's Golden Girl when she brought us home a gold medal at the Munich Olympics in 1972.

Mary Peters was appointed Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 2000.

Dame Mary served the office of Lord-Lieutenant of Belfast between 2009 and 2014 with great aplomb.

Dame Mary has been - and continues to be - a tremendous ambassador for Northern Ireland.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Lock's Travel Trilby

Some time ago I watched an old episode of Poirot, entitled Murder In Mesopotamia.

That celebrated sleuth's faithful companion, Captain Arthur Hastings OBE, wore a rather fine, sand-coloured, type of fedora or trilby hat.

Now I've a confession to make: I possess a considerable of hats, including three fedoras and trilbys.

Four of my hats are made by James Lock & Company, of St James's, London.

Are any readers remotely interested in my hat collection?

After viewing the Poirot episode, I had a rummage though the drawer and unearthed one of them, a medium brim, lightweight, soft, foldable, travel felt trilby.

It is called The Voyager.

They thoughtfully supplied the hat in a white travel tube, alas impractical for my compact hand luggage:

Turn the brim down, push out the crown shape to form a dome; softly, fold your hat convex and concave; roll your hat up; put it in the travel tube, brim uppermost; on arrival at your destination always unfold your hat, then reshape the crown and brim.
 First published in March, 2013.

Thursday, 18 December 2014


I was in central Belfast briefly this morning.

I visited the Central Library in Royal Avenue, one of Belfast's finer buildings. I invariably admire the domed ceiling with its intricate plasterwork on the first floor.

Today I was obtaining an image of Lord Pirrie's armorial bearings as a viscount, and his lineage.

A lovely lady approached me as I was leaving and introduced herself. Lord Belmont has achieved notoriety at last!

I passed the Great West Front of Belfast Cathedral, where the Dean's annual "sit-out" takes place at this time of year.

I spoke briefly to a lady canon (possibly the Rev Canon Denise Acheson, Canon Treasurer) beside the celebrated barrel.

The Bishop of Down & Dromore, the Right Rev Harold Miller, appeared on the steps, dressed informally in his v-neck jumper. 

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Passport Application

Commendation to Her Majesty's Passport Office.

I delivered an application for a new passport to their Belfast branch in Victoria Street exactly one week ago.

When I arrived home this afternoon, it had been delivered.

Annual Party

We all gathered at the old schoolhouse, Mount Stewart estate, County Down, this morning.

There were at least a dozen of us, National Trust Strangford Lough Group staff and volunteers.

During the morning we worked in and around the back yard and garden of the schoolhouse.

I managed to get two sacks of logs.

The main purpose of the day, however, was the annual Christmas party lunch, a very informal affair.

We all contributed to it: Tomasz brought home-made wild mushroom soup.

Phil provided his game pie.

Others brought sausage rolls, vol-au-vents, quiche, bread; Pavlova, chocolate cake, Christmas cake, and more.

I've written about the schoolhouse before. It's an historic building, some two centuries old.

Monday, 15 December 2014

The Slippers

A new pair of slippers regularly springs to mind at this time of the year.

Admittedly I've achieved a fairly good mileage from the present ones, judging by the tread.

My Number Threes are invariably from Marks & Spencer's.

It might amuse you to know that I have a Number One pair, by Church's, which are aired on Red Letter Days or special occasions.

They are made of velvet, with a kind of monogram atop, leather soled, red in colour.

The Number Twos, by Morland's, also have hard leather soles, a sheepskin fleece lining, and beige suede upper.

Friday, 12 December 2014

New DLs

Mrs Joan Christie OBE, Lord-Lieutenant of County Antrim, has been pleased to appoint
Colonel Neil SALISBURY OBE, Ballycastle, County Antrim
Mr David McCORKELL, Lisburn, County Antrim
To be Deputy Lieutenants of the County her Commission bearing the date of 8 December 2014.

Joan Christie, Lord Lieutenant of the County.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

New iPad

Mulholland arms

I ventured into town - viz. central Belfast - today. I sought one of the latest Apple iPad Air 2 tablets.

It's "Space Grey" and 64GB capacity.

Accordingly, I started the two-seater - also dark grey, as it happens - and motored to Gloucester Street, where I was fortunate enough to find a parking space.

In the Apple Store, at Victoria Square shopping centre, I was seen fairly promptly by an assistant.

It was all quite straightforward, given that I knew what I wanted.

The latest iPad is considerably lighter and slimmer than my fourth generation model.

The original intention had been to buy the new iPad at the giant Tesco store at Knocknagoney though, to my disappointment, they had none in stock (apart from the 16GB variant).

THENCE I presented my new passport application at the Home Office's passport section in Victoria Street which, as it happens, is almost opposite Gloucester Street.

AT the venerable Linenhall Library I found a 1960s Burke's peerage and baronetage and the armorial bearings of the Rt Hon Sir Henry (Harry) Mulholland Bt.

Incidentally, I'll be posting a piece about Ballyscullion Park imminently.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Bombay Masala

I dined again with my pals, Susan and Derek from Worcestershire, at the little Indian restaurant near Music Square, Corralejo, last night.

It's called Bombay Masala. Isn't it a wonder the Political Correctness Police haven't changed that to Mumbai?

The Indian family who run it are utterly charming and courteous.

The decor is unpretentious and unsophisticated.

We ordered small glasses of beer.

Having considered the menu, I chose the Kashmiri Chicken; while the others had the lamb and chicken bhuna.

We shared two portions of pilau rice and one large piece of peschwari naan bread.

My curry was enjoyable and tasty, though I have to declare I prefer the Korma version.

The bill came to about €51 excluding the tip.

They offered us the usual brandy or liqueur and the conclusion.

Thence we ambled several yards across the Square to La Plaza café bar, where a middle-aged singer-guitarist dressed like a cowboy was playing to three boisterous young women tourists.

His rendition of Bamboléo is legendary, I gather (!).

Suitably fortified with liqueur coffees, we strolled back to base. 

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Piazza Grande: II

Alas, the weather in the Canary Islands has been poor recently, to put it mildly (!).

We have endured very strong winds, heavy rain, and local flooding.

In fact I've asked my aunt to send me a pair of Wellington boots instanter!

Nevertheless, I met my new friends from Worcestershire and we struggled against the Elements en route to the fine Italian bistro café, Piazza Grande.

Unsurprisingly they had few patrons owing to the inclement conditions outside.

The three of us took a pew inside, where we ordered a bot of red plonk and perused the menu.

We opted for a kind of daily "Special" which consisted of small, battered, hollow cushions of some sort, with a plate of cured meats and cheese.

This was all rather good.

For pudding I had the apricot and almond tart with whipped cream.

Thence we made a beeline for the so-called Music Square in Corralejo, which was totally deserted.

The restaurateurs had all succumbed to the ghastly weather.

One of the few establishments to remain open was a bar called The Blue Rock. We wandered in, had cocktails, and thereafter departed for home, as it were.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Letter from Corralejo

At the moment I'm seated outside the little Italian café, Piazza Grande, in central Corralejo.

Instead of the usual coffee, viz. Leche Leche Largo, I'm enjoying a salubrious mixed smoothie fruit juice  drink.

Since last Wednesday we have endured heavy rain, local flooding, strong winds, and cooler temperatures.

Today, Monday, is calmer. The signs of the thunderstorm remain, however, with some large puddles.

The tennis court resembles a swimming pool!

I've encountered some interesting people during my time here; indeed I'm dining with two of them in two days' time at a Brazilian restaurant.

Tomorrow evening I look forward to a bite of dinner at a Danish establishment called The Ugly Duckling.

It has a limited menu which, to my mind, is good.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Corralejo Sculptures

There are two sculptures at the old quay, Corralejo.

Corralejo, Fuerteventura, remains essentially a fishing town, though tourism must be its principal source of income now.

The maritime heritage is reflected in these sculptures, of families whose fathers, husbands, sons, or brothers, put to a cruel sea to earn a living.

It reminds us of the hope and despair; the relief and heartbreak of fishermen's families.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Piazza Grande

had a bite of supper at an agreeable little Italian bistro or café called Piazza Grande last night.

It's located at the children's playground in Plaza de Los Niños, Corralejo.

There was intended to be a live musician, though inclement weather called that off.

So I ambled inside, took a pew, and ordered a G&T

The menu is on a blackboard.

In the interim the bar staff placed a complimentary plate of garlic pizza slices beside me.

After some perusal I went for Granny's Raviolacci, three very large pieces of pasta with salty, though tasty, bits of bacon, or its Italian equivalent, atop.

The nosebag was quivering with anticipation, given that I had a hearty appetite on this occasion.

I overheard two other diners inquiring as to the name of the red house wine, so it must have been acceptable to them.

The bill, including two Beefeater gins and another basket of garlic bread, came to €21.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Morning Constitutional

There have been thundery showers in Corralejo lately, I can declare! 

I find it agreeable to take a morning 'constitutional' down to the sea-front and past many of the small establishments bringing out their tables and chairs or their wares for sale.

En route for Belmont GHQ, I happened upon a small Italian café or bistro called Piazza Grande.

It's located at the town square.

They have several blackboards with the menu written in various languages.

Fresh pasta predominates; and prices are in the region of a mere €5 or €6.

Granny's cakes and Granny's ravioli with butter and Salvia (sage?) sounds tempting.

They have live musicians, too, dependant on the weather.

I think I'll try it this evening.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Episcopal Mischief

Frederick Hervey, 4th Earl of Bristol and 48th Lord Bishop of Derry, was renowned for spending much of his time travelling abroad and little time in his diocese.

On one such occasion, when Lord Bristol had been absent from his See for over five years, three of his fellow bishops rebuked the Earl-Bishop for this.

The Bishop's reaction was typically offensive.

He placed three peas in an inflated bladder and posted it to none other than the Archbishop of Armagh, with the following riddle, signed "Bristol and Derry":
Three large bluebottles sat upon three blown bladders; Blow, bottle-flies, blow. Burst, blown bladders, burst.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

The Beefeater

I consumed far too many White Russians and, indeed, a few Beefeaters, last night, for my own good.

'Twas enjoyable! And I'm up and about as I type on the iPad.

I can run the blog quite satisfactorily on the iPad, provisionally at least.

 I continue to peruse The Mitred Earl.

The 1st Earl of Charlemont was somewhat less than complimentary in his judgement on the Earl-Bishop's character: Like a shallow stream: rapid, noisy; diverting but useless.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Afternoon Refresher

Now I do not consider myself to be a connoisseur of that noble spirit, gin, by any stretch of the imagination.

It's true, however, that I have sampled quite a few brands since I ceased wearing short trousers on a regular basis.

This afternoon, the sun came out at the old pier of Corralejo, Fuerteventura.

I stopped for a look at the drinks menu in a pavement bar called Barrakuda.

They had a fair selection of premium gins, the dearest being one I'm unfamiliar with, known as No. 209.

This gin is distilled in California.

Today, though, I enjoyed a beautifully served Tanqueray Ten.

The staff brought a collapsible side-table; served the said gin, with thin slices of lemon peel and large ice-cubes.

She poured the tonic-water on to a kind of long, thin skewer into the glass.

This drink cost €8, including the tonic.

The No 209 costs €11.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

La Taberna

I enjoyed a very good meal at a little restaurant I occasionally frequent whilst in the resort of Corralejo, La Taberna, Hernan Cortes Street, run by 
Mine Host, Juan, ably assisted in the kitchen by his diligent wife, Ana.

Juan happens to be a passionate fan of the major Spanish football club, Real Madrid. 

He is also a follower of the jazz musician, Jamie Cullum.

La Taberna operates a unique formula which works admirably, whereby the fillet steak meals are accompanied by a moderate portion of crisp and dry saute potatoes and home-made coleslaw. 

I ordered the steak - medium done - with a Roquefort cheese sauce. it was simply sumptuous. There was no fat at all and it was so juicy, too.

Juan also brings diners his lovely fresh crusty rolls with his signature alioli garlic mayonnaise, the best alioli in Corralejo to my mind! I shouldn't wish for any finer.

I sat outside La Taberna at a pavement table.

The bill came to €27, including the tip.

Juan brought me a tumbler of Irish Cream before I bade them Farewell.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Bouganville Bar

I've returned to the stylish, bijou Bouganville cocktail bar in Corralejo several times.

Last night I had a largish Tanqueray gin and Nordic blue tonic-water, which cost €4.50.

The blue tonic is purely for effect though its aesthetics are undeniable.

The decor of this little bar seems to be based on the arabesque or moorish: subtle shades of red and gold predominate.

The owner told me that she made many of the artistic items herself.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

The Earl Bishop's Daughters

I fancied a curry last night and knew of a good little Indian restaurant at Music Square, Corralejo, called Bombay Masala.

Having enjoyed my onion bhajis, chicken korma and peshwari naan bread, I ambled round the corner, to the lovely bijou Bouganville Bar; though more about that in another article.

For the benefit of those not following the blog regularly, I'm reading a wonderful book about Frederick Hervey, commonly known as The Earl Bishop.

Of his lordship's daughters, Lady Mary wedded the 2nd Baron Erne (afterwards 1st Earl of Erne).

Lady Elizabeth was married to John Thomas Foster MP, an Irish politician. 

This turned out to be a most unhappy marriage for her. They separated in 1781.

Lady Elizabeth was well acquainted with Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire.

Her Grace wrote to Elizabeth, suggesting that she look after - like a sort of nanny of governess - one of her children.

The rest is History: Lady Elizabeth and the Duke became intimate, shall we say; a kind of ménage à trois developed; and Elizabeth ultimately became Duchess of Devonshire herself.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

The Mitred Earl

I'm reading The Mitred Earl: An Eighteenth-Century Eccentric at the moment.

It is written by Brian Fothergill for National Trust Classics.

The Right Honourable and Right Reverend Frederick Hervey was 4th Earl of Bristol and 48th Lord Bishop of Derry.

He was appointed to his first bishopric (Cloyne) by his brother, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and 2nd Earl of Bristol.

The desired See of Derry was not vacant at that time; though Hervey was almost immediately translated to the said diocese on the death of the previous bishop.

Derry was said to be the richest and most lucrative bishopric in the established Church of Ireland.

The Earl-Bishop's income from the bishopric was £20,000 in the 18th century.

When he became 4th Earl of Bristol, his annual income doubled by £20,000 to £40,000, in the region of £6 million in today's money.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Casa Manolo's

Last night I dined at a small, family-run establishment called Restaurante Casa Manolo.

It's located at Calle Crucero Baleares.

Avenida is closed on Mondays, hence a slightly further walk across Corralejo to Casa Manolo.

This is actually a charming little place. I was greeted cordially and a table just inside the restaurant was suggested.

The walls are adorned with souvenir plates and family items.

So far (!) I have been moderating my consumption of alcohol, so I ordered a pot of tea.

This was swiftly followed by crusty bread and alioli.

The waitress was eager to show me their specialities, and brought out a large baking-tray with fish they called dorada (sea bream?). 

Then another tray of individual cooked cordero (lamb) appeared.

I opted for the fish, which duly arrived with thinly sliced potatoes and a medley of local vegetables.

The dorada was good: delicate, mild, and easily digested. There were two fillets on the plate.

The ancient gnashers had an evening off!

This otherwise fine repast was marred, I felt, by an abundance of an oily sea of stock or liquid, which might have been a mixture of olive oil and butter.

Tip One: Do not wear your best shirt!

Nevertheless, it was a well executed dish and the dorada was the main feature.

On settling my bill of about €17, I was offered a local liqueur which was reminiscent of Irish Cream; and a chocolate!

Monday, 10 November 2014

New DL

Dr Angela Garvey, Lord-Lieutenant of the City of Londonderry, has been pleased to appoint the Very Rev William Morton, The Deanery, Londonderry, to be a Deputy Lieutenant.

Dated the 31st October, 2014.

Corralejo: Arrival

I had rather a restful day yesterday, ambling about the resort and becoming familiar with old haunts.

Despite abstaining from The Devil's Brew at the airport and on the flight, I decided to let my hair (!) down, as it were.

Consequently, I parked myself at an establishment called El Cantante, which overlooks the isle of Los Lobos.

I ordered a Bacardi and cola, requested the Internet password, and began to surf.

Alas, despite the free wi-fi, it was frustratingly slow and weak.

Nevertheless, I had a very agreeable chat with a couple beside me, who were on a day trip from the neighbouring island of Lanzarote.

Thence I darkened the threshold of The Banana Bar, which affords a lovely rooftop terrace and beanbag seating.

True to form, I resorted to the Tanqueray and tonic-water.

The Internet connection was faster here; they'll receive another visit from me.

I'm expecting to dine at Avenida this evening, if I manage to get a table.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Titanic Amble

It has been a fine day in Belfast: I drove to the city's Titanic Quarter - formerly Harland & Wolff shipyard - this morning for a brief stroll.

Belfast Harbour Marina, beside the Odyssey Complex, had a number of yachts.

This marina is at Abercorn Basin; as are numerous, high-rise apartments; a hotel; a convenience store; and a café.

SS Nomadic is berthed, of course, at Hamilton Dock, which is itself at Abercorn Basin.

Closer to Alexandra Dock, where HMS Caroline is berthed, there is wasteland on one side of the road, where a "prop" belonging to the Game Of Thrones drama series rests on scaffolding.

Friday, 31 October 2014

About Town

I spent two hours in central Belfast this morning.

I strolled through House of Fraser, emerging at Victoria Square shopping centre, where I ambled in to the Apple Store.

I scrutinized the brand new iPad Air 2 and, I must declare, it is noticably lighter and thinner than my 4th generation model.

I am tempted to buy one.

Passing the Masonic Buildings  of ca 1870, at Arthur Square, I headed towards Marks & Spencer in Donegall Place.

I photographed the fantasy castle carved near the apex of Queen's Arcade.

My final port-of-call was the venerable Linenhall Library, where an image of the coat-of-arms of Bailie of Ringdufferin eluded me, despite searching for fifteen minutes.

I did, however, manage to obtain a good likeness of their crest, a hand and dagger (top).

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

McCutcheon's Day

Groomsport from McCutcheon's Field

I've spent the day with other National Trust volunteers at a place known as McCutcheon's Field.

This comprises several acres of coastline at Brigg's Rocks and close to Sandeel Bay, in north County Down.

There's a holiday park here called Windsor Caravan Park.

This field is close to Groomsport.

Today we were gathering old gorse cuttings and burning them.

There were several young Dexter cattle in the vicinity.

We numbered about twelve today, enjoying our packed lunches at the coast-line, watching the ferries and container ships sailing up and down Belfast Lough.

Phil treated us all to some of his wife's German biscuits.

I visited Clandeboye estate on my way home. The walled garden no longer sells spindleberry shrubs, though they still grow some for the seeds.

The Savoy Chapel

The Queen's Most Excellent Majesty

The Queen’s Chapel of the Savoy, off The Strand, London, has long been associated with the Duchy of Lancaster.

The Chapel is the only building of a hospital founded by HENRY VII for homeless people in 1512.

This hallowed place of worship belongs to Her Majesty The Queen in Her Right as Duke of Lancaster.

It is a ‘free’ chapel or ‘peculiar’, not falling within any bishop’s jurisdiction, though remaining firmly within the established Church.

The Chapel remains an important part of the Savoy Estate, the Duchy of Lancaster’s principal London land holding.

It continues to provide spiritual service to the community, as it has done for nearly five hundred years.

The Savoy Chapel is also the chapel of the Royal Victorian Order, an Order of Chivalry within the Sovereign’s personal gift.

By The Queen’s appointment, the present Chaplain is also Chaplain of the Order.

The expenses of the Chapel are borne by the sovereign, and collections are donated to charity.

Maintenance of this historic building remains the Duchy of Lancaster’s responsibility.

Work began on a new development plan for the Chapel in 2012.

The last extensions were constructed in 1957, with the creation of the ante-chapel, the royal Robing room and the Chaplain's office.


The new work, improved and extended in a project in 2012, included:-

  • The royal Robing room was enlarged.
  • A new door from the retiring room into the newly-excavated semi-circular courtyard.
  • The Chaplain's office was divided into a new office for the Verger.
  • A new Chaplain's office was created adjacent to the Verger's office, accessible to the courtyard.
  • The present ante-chapel now has windows opening on to the new courtyard.
  • The choir vestry was refurbished.
  • There is a new kitchen.
In the chapel itself, the wooden dais was removed to reveal the earlier Victorian stone and patterned tile dais.

The chancel carpet was removed to reveal the Victorian tiled floor, together with the brass memorials to two bishops, both of whom are buried in the churchyard.

Heraldic banners are being made for the Sovereign and the Grand Master of the Royal Victorian Order.

The brief was also for the re-landscaping of the Chapel in conjunction with a major development on the adjoining land.

The vestries were re-roofed with copper; the churchyard re-landscaped, to form an oval lawn, path and stone border carved with an inscription recording the re-opening by Her Majesty the Queen.

THE ROYAL VICTORIAN ORDER has about eighteen members in Northern Ireland.

The photograph above shows His Grace the Duke of Abercorn, KG, attending a reception with some members of the Order at Hillsborough Castle.

First published in January, 2014.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

The Bewitching Spindleberry

Many thanks to all those readers who apprised me of this shrub's name.

I am informed that the wood of Euonymus europaeus is very hard and was once used for spindles, skewers, pipe stems and artists' charcoal.

The bark was used medicinally to treat liver disorders.

I took these pictures myself on Sunday, 26th October, 2014, at the National Trust's Minnowburn property, near Shaw's Bridge, Belfast.

The spindleberry stands out alone among a newly-planted wood beside the Rose Garden.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Minnowburn Walk

I motored over to Minnowburn, the National Trust's wonderful property near Belfast, this afternoon.

The little car-park was full and the mobile diner van was parked, as usual, at one corner.

One particular shrub was conspicuous by the boldness of its colour.

Alas, I'm a reluctant gardener and didn't recognize it at all.

Do any readers know of it?

AT the Rose Garden there is a relatively new path which skirts one side. It has sturdy, traditional fencing.

Flamboyant bird-boxes proliferate the woods beside the car-park.

Robinson Arms

The armorial bearings of William Auchinleck Robinson JP MP adorn a gable wall of the Culloden Hotel, Cultra, near Holywood, County Down.

The arms are halved.

I believe that the right-hand section ~ three bears' heads muzzled, below a trefoil ~ are those of his wife, whose family name was CULLODEN.

Intriguingly, the armorial bearings of FORBES, of Culloden House, Inverness-shire, include three bears' heads muzzled.

The possibility cannot be discounted that Patrick Culloden, or his ancestors, were natural offspring of a Forbes of Culloden.

First published in October, 2012; revised.