Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category

What laptop do you use?

A few years back, that would have been an easy question to answer as laptops were so expensive that most people only had their work one.

Prices have dived though and that’s even before you consider the additional categories like netbooks and the newer tablet computers. For that matter, would you consider an ebook reader as a very small notebook computer? I suspect that most of us wouldn’t although the Sony runs a version of Linux so technically speaking it is a very small computer.

With that price drop the baby computers have long since ventured into home use and a growing number of people use several of them. I find that I use the little Acer netbook that I bought basically as a toy much more than both my other computers put together. Whilst it may not be as fast as them, it certainly makes up for lack of speed though sheer portability.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

“A penny for the Guy” is dead, long live “trick or treat”

It doesn’t seem all that long ago that British kids collected money over the Halloween period by wheeling around a dummy and collecting a “penny for the Guy”.

These days though, I doubt that many would even know the phrase or where it originally came from. In case you’re one of those, it’s a phrase commemorating Guy Fawkes and his attempt to blow up the houses of Parliament as part of the Gunpowder Plot way back in 1605.

There was a vaguely confusing few years when that went out of fashion with nothing to replace it but thanks to the Americanisation of the Halloween period we are firmly in the “trick or treat” era. Still, at least it hasn’t degenerated into the non-traditional cry of “bon bons” (sweeties) of the French who arrived at that with no previous Halloween tradition.

It’s fortunate for us this week anyway in that it’s been pouring for most of this week but was quite pleasant whilst we were walking round with the kids on Halloween night last week.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

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Where do ice cream vans go in the winter?

Icecream vanIn some ways I always expect that as the weather gets colder, the people running the ice cream vans would swap over to some kind of hot food van but they never do.

Once the summer is out of the way, both the ice cream vans and their hot food equivalents disappear until the following spring. Almost simultaneously too which is peculiar because they’re rarely in the same spots so don’t get the chance to say “is that you finished for this year?”. It’s also a bit daft as I’d have thought that most people would continue to buy from the hot food vans quite a while after it was a bit too cool for ice cream.

Just where do they go over the winter though? Aside from one, somewhat knackered, old hot dog trailer, I’ve not seen either an ice cream van nor a hot food one parked anywhere. I suppose they could migrate south for the winter but given the relative lack of fluency in foreign languages exhibited by their owners I don’t really rate them as migratory beasties.

Of course, perhaps since they’re so good at predicting when the winter will set in they’re all closet meteorologists?

Does anyone know the answer?

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

The Connswater greenway: a meandering route from the Titanic Quarter to the Castlereagh hills

The Connswater greenway is a project which will, over the course of the next two or three years, link up pretty much all of the existing smattering of parks and walkways from the Titanic quarter through to the Castlereagh hills.

Although it’s an area that I’ve been in and around for most of my life their booklet highlights a whole bunch of things that I never knew existed. In fact, it comes across as a much more interesting area than you would expect, picking out as it does interests ranging from George Best’s home and Van Morrison’s home and haunts through to a 400 year old bridge in what it a fairly compact area.

That bridge is the most surprising for me as I went to school right beside it yet never knew of its existence until Wednesday morning! To be fair, it doesn’t look that impressive these days but then ancient footbridges rarely do and this one crosses the river at a point where the flow tends to collect a whole heap of junk ranging from fallen branches through to the Tesco trolley which seem to get everywhere these days.

Whilst the majority of the open spaces exist already, many of them have seen better days and the walkways have generally fallen into disuse over the years. Thus one of the major tasks of the project is to spruce up what’s already there which is no small task given the span of the greenway. This will include re-routing some of the stretches of river to both create a more typical meandering look and to sort out the flooding problem that arises along some sections of the rivers. In addition to all the prettying up the playgrounds scattered along the route will have their numbers increased somewhat and upgrades to those that are already there.

One of the most staggering figures that was quoted in the presentation on Wednesday was that over 50% of the population in the area is “economically inactive” ie there’s a very high level of unemployment. Whilst this project won’t directly change that, it should help to pretty up the area substantially which may in turn attract more businesses to move to what was once an area with close to 100% employment thanks to the shipyard, aircraft factory and all the supporting businesses which they drew in.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Culture Night: a very lively night out in Belfast

Friday was Culture Night in Belfast which means a very, very packed night of entertainment all over the city and all free too.

We took the opportunity to finish off some things that we didn’t manage to fit in to the Heritage Weekend earlier in the month. The easy way to include them turned out to be to go on one of the three Community Taster Tours. The listing for these was a little confusing in the booklet about the culture night but it turned out that there were three entirely different tours to choose from, each lasting three hours.

For our purposes the 4pm tour seemed best in that it included the Titanic pump house which we’d missed out on earlier and which normally has a very confusing car parking arrangement that seems best avoided. Surprisingly the tours weren’t anything like fully booked and we found ourselves on an open top bus that didn’t even have a dozen people on it.

Frankly the pump house was a major disappointment. Effectively it’s a small, very overpriced, cafe with one stand containing an assortment of Titanic gifts and a dozen or so panels about various aspects of the Titanic spaced around a very bare room. Next stop was the Engine Room Gallery which is nowhere near the Titanic area as you might expect but instead at Hollywood Arches.

From there we were off to what was supposed to be an Ulster Scots event at the Spectrum Centre on the Shankill Road. Unfortunately the organisation fell apart at that point so we only saw the Lambeg drummer and didn’t see the highland dancing, the flute band nor the lone piper.

Finally, it was on to the Indian Community Centre where they were rather optimistic about the amount that could be included in the short time available. Thus we missed out on the henna and sari demonstration, Hindi class information, Indian dance and musical performance and we just about managed to fit in the Indian tea, food and snacks.

Although three hours seemed like an awfully long time for a bus tour round Belfast when we read about it in the brochure, in practice the time just flew in and really it needed to be around twice as long to do justice to everything but then that’s only to be expected of a taster tour. In fact, it was almost perfect as a taster and has highlighted a couple of places that we will be revisiting at the next opportunity.

By the time we got back, it was almost the perfect time to go on the tour round the offices of the Belfast Telegraph. No smell of fire and brimstone as you sort-of expect from seeing newspaper back-offices in movies but rather a very automated newspaper production factory. Sadly we didn’t get to see the presses running as they don’t kick off ’til a couple of hours after the tours finish but a very interesting tour nonetheless and the hour just flew in.

Both the little guys were running on empty by this point so we finished off with a brief look round some of the activities going on before heading home.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.