Sunday, 25 January 2015

The Umbrella Collection

I have a Number One umbrella, for special occasions; a Number Two, which is used more often; and a country umbrella, which has a National Trust logo.

The Number One is manufactured by Swaine, Adeney and Brigg.

It is a Prince of Wales Malacca umbrella, with a sterling silver nose-cap and collar. The collar displays an engraving of the Prince of Wales's feathers and Warrant. 

This umbrella is of solid construction and feels sturdy.

Click on the image above to see intricate detail.

The Number Two is a lighter umbrella with a Whangee handle. This belonged to my father and I'm rather fond of it.

The country umbrella is considerably larger in size and canopy than the town umbrellas; heavier, too.

A fourth umbrella is broken and, consequently, no longer used. 

It was a gift from my late father, bought in Harrod's.

This umbrella has an ebonized handle with a gold-plated nose-cap.

I’ve produced a short video below.

First published in 2010.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Stormont Visit

I paid a visit to that noble and august edifice, viz. the Parliament Buildings, at Stormont, Belfast, yesterday.

I had an appointment with a member of staff, who very kindly took the time to show me many of the principal state reception rooms, including the Senate Chamber, Assembly Chamber, Members' Dining-Room, etc.

Major construction works are presently being undertaken in the building. I gather it needs a new roof.

The main restaurant or dining-room is in the basement, where we had tea and scones.

I was sorely tempted by the splendid Ulster Fry, though desisted lest I metamorphose into Billy Bunter.

There is a grander dining-room upstairs, near the centre of the building.

My favourite room is the former Senate Chamber, which is largely intact from any major alterations.

Its plush red leather upholstery and ambiance is, I gather, quite reminiscent of the House of Lords at Westminster.

It was indeed poignant to see a large picture of Sir Norman Stronge, Speaker of the NI House of Commons from 1945-69 (I had the honour of meeting Sir Norman once or twice in the early 1970s).

I spent about two hours in the building before driving out the side entrance, along Massey Avenue.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Lisburn Road Walk

20 Windsor Avenue, Belfast

I had a very early appointment at Belfast City Hospital yesterday morning - at eight-thirty - which necessitated another visit to the same unit precisely three hours afterwards.

I had some time to kill.

So wearing the old British Warm overcoat, the woollen scarf, and gloves, I decided to walk up the Lisburn Road.

I haven't walked along this busy arterial route for about eleven years.

I seem to recall there having been more charity shops. There are still several.

I stopped to have a look at old Ulsterville Presbyterian Church, at number 139, which has been transformed into a restaurant called Saphyre.

I walked as far as Drumglass Park, former seat of the Musgrave Baronets.

20, Windsor Avenue (top), was once the home of Thomas Andrews, designer of RMS Titanic.

This is now the headquarters of the Irish Football Association.

Most of these large villas had been converted into flats by the 1970s.

Windsor Park rang a bell (not the soccer grounds!). I recalled an old pal who is now incarcerated - if that is the word -  in a nursing home there.

Accordingly, I paid him a visit for about an hour. They were kind enough to offer me a cup of tea.

It's a pleasant enough place. It even has BT Openzone; though I was concerned to see my friend bedridden.

I had to keep an eye on the time, so closer to eleven o'clock I bade him Farewell and walked back to the hospital.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Brackenber Dinner

Old Boys! Unearth the Number One nose-bag and do make an effort to attend the annual Brackenbrian bash within the hallowed opulence of the Ulster Reform Club, Royal Avenue, Belfast.

The annual Old Brackenbrian dinner is being held on Friday, 6th February, 2015, at 7.45pm.

There will be a bar!

I attended the dinner last year and, as usual, it proved to be a most enjoyable occasion. I wrote about it here.

The dress code is "smart-casual". 

The cost of the meal this year will remain, yet again, at £30.

Old Brackenbrians are requested to reply early and include the payment - cheques should be made payable to Brackenber House Association (or BHA).

Old Brackenbrians are encouraged to make every effort to attend (please cancel all prior engagements!); and also try to contact old colleagues who may have been absent in recent years to come and see if we can make this year the biggest turnout for many years.

Please reply before the 2nd February, 2015, to (please note different recipient for replies):

Gordon Harvey Esq
54 Greenwood Glen

If you are replying by email, please reply to:

Sunday, 4 January 2015

The Belmont Hamburger

Having gone to a certain degree of diligence earlier, I present The uncommon Belmont Hamburger: Half a pound of lean Ulster beef, mixed with seasoning, garlic, and tomato purée.

The chips, comprising two Maris Piper potatoes, were personally chipped, and triple-cooked.

The sauce consisted of mayonnaise, mustard, a pinch of caster sugar, and fine raw onion.

The ancient nose-bag quivered with glee, and its performance was not inadequate.

Orangefield Revisited

I revisited Orangefield Park this morning. Much work has been undertaken in the Park since my last visit a few years ago.

The Knock River has been diverted through the park; new bridges abound; and new, enhanced paths and lighting.

Little or no evidence remains of the Blakiston-Houstons' country estate, except perhaps a number of old trees.

Orangefield Lane entrance in 2015; the site of twin gate lodges

The Orangefield Lane entrance has been completely renovated and a footbridge now crosses the river.

Twin gate lodges once stood here.

The name "Orangefield" aroused my curiosity.

Photo credit: Matt Maginnis © 2013

Orangefield House was finally swept away by Belfast City Council in the early 1970s.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Sheriff Appointments


COUNTY ANTRIM: John Pinkerton Esq, Ballymoney

COUNTY ARMAGH: Mrs Anna Louise Shepherd, Tandragee

COUNTY DOWN: Patrick Cross Esq, Downpatrick

COUNTY FERMANAGH: Mrs Hope Kerr, Enniskillen

COUNTY LONDONDERRY: Mrs Helen Mark, Limavady

COUNTY TYRONE: Dr Lisheen Webb, Benburb

COUNTY BOROUGH OF BELFAST: Councillor Gareth McKee, Newtownabbey

COUNTY BOROUGH OF LONDONDERRY: Mrs Harvinder Torney, Londonderry