Sunday, 25 March 2018

Walk in the Woods

I spent a restful few hours again at Mount Stewart estate today.

I often have soup in the tea-room and today was no exception.

The chicken and tarragon soup, served with very fresh wheaten bread and butter, was nutritious and tasty.

Thence I strode into the woods and after about fifteen minutes, came upon a charming little Gothic lodge.

Could this have been the gamekeeper's cottage, I wonder.

Whilst I was there I fancied taking a "selfie", which I'm going to use for the blog and other social media.

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Mount Panther Album

Mount Panther, near Clough, County Down, was one of County Down's finest and grandest country houses.

Front elevation

It is said that the roof was removed in the early 1960s in order to avoid paying rates.

Courtyard: prospect from the house

The images of the old mansion were taken prior to this, most likely in the early 1960s.


Princess Margaret and her husband, Lord Snowdon, paid a visit to view the ballroom before the roof was removed.

The ballroom

The plasterwork in the ballroom was reputedly most exquisite.

First published in March, 2016.

Friday, 23 March 2018

Londonderry DL


Dr Angela Garvey, Lord-Lieutenant of the County Borough of Londonderry, has been pleased to appoint:-
Mr Gavin Joseph KILLEEN
County Londonderry
To be a Deputy Lieutenant of the County Borough his Commission bearing date the 31st day of March 2018.

Signed: Angela Garvey, Lord Lieutenant of the County Borough

Prince Harry in NI

His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales and his fiancée, Meghan Markle, have arrived in Belfast for their first official joint visit to Northern Ireland.

Throughout the day, Prince Harry and Miss Markle will have the opportunity to meet members of the public, to learn how young people are shaping the future of Northern Ireland, and to visit some of the city's most loved sites.

HRH and Miss Markle's first engagement was at the Eikon Centre, Sprucefield, County Down, where they attended an event to mark the second year of youth-led peace-building initiative Amazing the Space.

Thence Prince Harry and Miss Markle travelled to one of Belfast's most historic buildings, the Crown Liquor Saloon, a property of the National Trust.

They were accompanied by the Lord-Lieutenant of Belfast, Mrs Fionnuala Jay-O'Boyle CBE.

In the afternoon, the royal party will leave the Crown bar after luncheon and meet members of the public gathered on Great Victoria Street.

Prince Harry and Miss Markle will afterwards travel to the Belfast campus of Northern Ireland’s next generation science park, Catalyst Inc, to meet some of Northern Ireland's brightest young entrepreneurs and innovators.

Finally, HRH and Miss Markle will visit the iconic Titanic Belfast, Titanic Quarter, Belfast.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

On Ploughman's Hill

I enjoyed an organized walk through the new Ploughman's Hill walk at Mount Stewart estate yesterday.

For the benefit of those readers who have not been following the narrative, Mount Stewart, on the Ards Peninsula, County Down, was the magnificent County Down seat of the Marquesses of Londonderry.

It is now a property of the National Trust.

Ranger Toby met about fifteen of us at the courtyard behind the mansion.

We all ambled past the lake, and just beyond it there is the beginning of the new trail.

Ploughman's Hill Walk has not officially opened yet, though it is expected to open imminently.

En route a new red squirrel hide is being erected in the midst of wonderful silvan scenery.

Toby estimates that we have about 35 to 40 red squirrels on the estate presently, and numbers are expected to grow significantly in the next few years.

The gravel path leads to open woodland, which swerves round towards the sea and close to the Twin Lodges on the Portaferry Road.

Toby really knows his stuff and provided us with abundant facts and figures relating to the estate.

When our walk finished I didn't linger because it was a bit chilly.

I'm very glad to see that a brand new shepherd's hut, the Mark Two, is in situ and is currently being fitted out.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Gussie's Veggie Diet

JEEVES:  'I regret to inform you, sir, that Miss Bassett has insisted on Mr Fink-Nottle adopting a vegetarian diet. His mood is understandably disgruntled and rebellious.'

   I tottered. In my darkest hour I had never anticipated anything as bad as this. You wouldn't think it to look at him, because he's small and shrimplike and never puts on weight, but Gussie loves food.

   Watching him tucking into his rations at the Drones [club], a tapeworm would raise its hat respectfully, knowing that it was in the presence of a master.

   Cut him off, therefore, from the roasts and boileds and particularly from cold steak and kidney pie, a dish of which he is inordinately fond, and you turned him into something fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils, as the fellow said - the sort of chap who would break any engagement as soon as look at you.

   At the moment of my entry I had been about to light a cigarette, and now the lighter fell from my nerveless hand.

 BERTIE:  'She's made him become a vegetarian?'

   'So Mr Fink-Nottle informed me, sir.'

   'No chops?'

   'No, sir.'

   'No steaks?'

   'No, sir.'

   'Just spinach and similar garbage?'

   'So I gather, sir.'

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Maggie's Hut

Maggie's Hut

At the beginning of the Blue and Red trails at the National Trust's Mount Stewart estate on the Ards Peninsula, County Down, there was a blue shepherd's hut where a member of staff greeted visitors and provided information.

Unfortunately that quaint little hut was crushed by a large tree during a storm in December, 2017.

I have just been informed, however, that a replacement arrives in the estate today, the 20th March, 2018.

It seems, however, that shepherd's huts or keepers' watch huts do have a history.

The one at Mount Stewart (above) was built by a company in County Fermanagh.

My cousin Shirley and her family purchased one, and it's installed in the grounds of their home at Fittleworth in West Sussex.

In fact, if you like the look of it and its location at the village of Fittleworth, you can stay in it.

It is close to the Duke of Richmond's magnificent seat, Goodwood.

Maggie's Hut has a double bed and wood-burning stove.

The Swan Inn, a family-run 15th century pub, is a short stroll away, too, convenient for the South Downs National Park, Chichester, Petworth and Arundel.

Maggie's hut during winter, 2018.

Maggie's Hut has a separate outdoor 'Eco' composting loo, and showering facilities are presently available in the main house.

I wish them every success with their imaginative endeavour; and may many guests enjoy Maggie's Hut.

I know who "Maggie" is, by the way (!).

First published in September, 2016.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

The Belmont Stew

You might recall the traditional recipe I shared for proper Irish stew?

Well, I'm cooking it today.

Here is my method and list of ingredients:-
1 lb lean lamb pieces;
1 lb onions;
1 lb carrots;
1 lb potatoes;
salt & pepper;
pinch of thyme.

  1. Place mutton with thyme in pot and add cold water to cover.
  2. Bring slowly to the boil and simmer for one hour.
  3. Add vegetables, all peeled and roughly chopped.
  4. Season (I add one teaspoon of salt at first, and pepper).
  5. Continue cooking until vegetables are tender.
  6. Adjust seasoning. 
The lamb - which I trim well - is cut into pieces, placed in the sauce-pan with about half a teaspoon of thyme, covered with cold water, brought to the boil, and simmered for one hour.

Next I add the roughly chopped vegetables.

This has to be one of the tastiest, simplest, healthiest, most nutritious stews.

Using this method the lamb is very tender, and the water it is simmered in becomes a liquid stock, in fact.

I do cover cover the pot initially, though prefer to keep the lid off because condensation generates too much water (though this can be reduced at a later stage).

Simply simmer the stew and turn the ingredients occasionally.

It takes several hours.

Don't rush it.

First published in January, 2014; modified 2018.

Monday, 5 March 2018

Four-Way Tie

I inherited several ties from my father, one of which is cherished.

It's unashamedly old-fashioned, classic, tweedy and a la Bertie Wooster.

This ancient little sartorial number is called the Four-Way.

It has four sides, depending on how it's tied.

The length is 48 inches; the width, 2¾.

Four woollen ties for the value of one!

This cloth tie was made by J G Wilson, of Callander, Perthshire.

Quite frankly I'd dearly covet a few more checked tweed ties.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Londonderry City Lieutenancy



GARVEY, Dr Angela J,




KEYS, Mr Stuart C, DL

HILL, Mr Donald A, JP DL


KEEGAN, Dame Geraldine, DBE DL

DAVIDSON, Mrs Margaret J, DL

SHARMA, Mr Naresh, DL





GUCKIAN, Mr Gerard, DL

MORTON, Very Rev William, DL

WATT, Dr Lucinda, DL

QUIGLEY, Mrs Helen, DL

KILLEEN, Mr Gavin Joseph, DL

MZIMBA, Mr Zola Sipo, DL

Please advise me of any retirements or deaths.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Belfast Lieutenancy



JAY-O’BOYLE, Mrs Fionnuala, CBE




SMYTH, Mrs Anthea Linda, DL


ELDER, Colonel Mervyn, MBE TD JP DL

DEENY, The Hon Mr Justice (Sir Donnell), DL

CAMPBELL, Mrs Jennifer, DL



CAMPBELL, Colonel Mark, CBE DL

CORBETT, Mr Joseph Garth, MBE DL


CARR, Dr Nigel J, DL

HILL, Dame Judith, DBE DL FRCN

McGARRY, Dr Philip J, DL

BRADLEY, Professor Martin E J, OBE DL FRCN

PRICE, Nicholas (Nick) W N, DL

SHARMA, Mukesh, DL

MARKEN, Mrs Michelle, OBE DL

ADAIR, Professor Alastair Samuel, CBE DL

EVE, Mrs Judith Mary, CBE DL

SHERIDAN, Dr Mark Christopher, DL

SELLAR, Very Rev Dr Francis Paul, DL

CORBETT, Mrs Patricia Sarah, DL

LOGAN, Mr Robert Alan, DL

RADAR, Mr Walter, OBE DL

GREER, Prof. Ian Andrew, DL


Please advise me of any retirements or deaths.