Friday, 18 March 2016

New DL


Mrs Fionnuala Jay-O’Boyle CBE, Lord-Lieutenant of the County Borough of Belfast, has been pleased to appoint the following to be a Deputy Lieutenant of the County Borough of Belfast, her Commission bearing the date the 14th day of March 2016:

Mrs Michele MARKEN OBE, Belfast

Signed: Gary Smyth MBE, Clerk of the Lieutenancy

Thursday, 17 March 2016

5th Duke's Portrait

A fine portrait of Northern Ireland's premier peer, James, 5th Duke of Abercorn KG, in uniform as Regimental Colonel of the Irish Guards.

The Duke was a serving officer in the Grenadier Guards in 1952 and lately Lord Steward of the Household.

His Grace is a Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, the most senior Order of chivalry in the personal gift of the Sovereign.

He wears the sash and star of the Order.

HRH The Duke of Cambridge is now Colonel of the regiment. 

First published May, 2008.

Ballyquintin Point

Mount Stewart

I arose from the heavenly slumber (!) at about 7am yesterday morning, breakfasted on muesli, assembled my gear, packed-lunch, and motored out of town.

Bypassing Dundonald and Newtownards (my place of birth, incidentally), I motored in a southerly direction along the Ards Peninsula to the former schoolhouse of Mount Stewart estate, now a property of the National Trust.

We drove the entire length of the peninsula, past Kircubbin and Rubane; Cloghy and Quintin Castle; to our ultimate destination, Ballyquintin Point.

Mount Stewart Estate

Ballyquintin is a 64 acre farm set amid rolling drumlin countryside at the southern tip of the Ards Peninsula, beside Ballyquintin National Nature Reserve.

The property is located in one of the most secluded parts of Northern Ireland and is great for walking with spectacular views across the Strangford Narrows to the Isle of Man, and of the Lecale coast stretching south towards the Mourne Mountains.

A path, suitable for wheelchair use leads to an old 2nd World War lookout tower.

The land is let for farming and is managed to provide habitats suitable for the Irish Hare and a number of species of bird that are declining nationally.

An increase in the quality and quantity of the hedgerows is particularly important towards achieving this aim.

There were about eight of us today; and I spent the day digging a shallow trench for a plastic water pipe.

The pipe is conspicuously blue in colour and leads to a water-trough in a large field.

We had our lunch in a sort of barn or byre. Although it was mainly sunny and the sky was blue, this part of the peninsula is particularly exposed to the elements; and there was a chilly breeze.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

The Lookout

There was a very good turnout today for the National Trust Strangford Lough Volunteers.

About a dozen of us met at the Strangford Lough Lookout at the main car-park, Mount Stewart Estate, County Down.

Out task today was to give the exterior of the Lookout a spring-clean, viz. treating the wooden cladding with a stain paint.

We also removed some vegetation from the sea side of the Lookout in order to provide an unrestricted view of the Lough.

At lunch-time, Tomasz gave us Volunteer passes, which are far more beneficial than I thought.

Properties running events permit Volunteers to claim 10% discount; up to 35% off NT Holiday Cottages; up to 30% off at NT Historic House Hotels; discounted RAC membership; 20% off at the NT Online Shop; 15% off at Cotswold Outdoor stores; the NT London Theatre Club.

I have been a volunteer with the National Trust long before the Pass was introduced, though this is a worthy incentive for new volunteers to join us whenever they can, enjoy the camaraderie, and the great sense of satisfaction generated by the work.

I had cheese & onion sandwiches for lunch today, by the way.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Connswater Bridge

I ambled across to the Connswater Bridge this afternoon and took a few photographs of developments as part of the Connswater Greenway Project.

What, I wonder, is happening?

The river has been considerably narrowed immediately below the south side of the bridge.

It is culverted for a few hundred yards to the north.

Will this be stylish new terracing? And what are the short cylindrical columns?

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Orlock Revisited

The weather has been quite treacherous today.

I arrived at Orlock, County Down, shortly before 9am, where we all assembled for our tasks, viz. burning old branches and foliage; and planting hawthorn saplings.

It was wet, windy, 5c, muddy, you name it. It actually felt colder due to the wind chill.

Nevertheless, we carried on intrepidly; mission accomplished.

Mind you, a modicum of diesel fuel fostered the blazes.

I had a healthy lunch today: banana sandwiches.