Archive for the ‘Tourist Events’ Category

The Somme parade

Every year in Northern Ireland, there’s a Somme commemoration parade on the evening of the first of July.

It’s not such a major production as the parades on the 12th and, since it’s not on a public holiday, it has to be in the evening. Net effect of all that is that it’s a simple round-trip parade with none of the speeches that you get on the 12th day in the “field” and because of that it’s quite a bit shorter. That said, every year it seems to throw a number of people who aren’t expecting roads to be closed along the route with the loop format tending to strand a number of cars in the middle for 20-30 minutes.

In Belfast, the parade starts and finishes around Templemore Avenue, moving along Beersbridge Road, turning up the Bloomfield Road (with the road-works stopped for the day for the second year in a row), then on the North Road, taking a diversion along Kirkliston before heading down the Newtownards Road to the starting point.Since it’s a Somme commemoration, a number of those in the bands or lodges taking part dress in period costume.

The one earlier in the week was surprisingly short. In years gone by, it’s run for over an hour but it seemed to be more like 40 minutes this time around. That wasn’t particularly due to there being fewer bands or lodges but that they seemed much more organised this year and there were none of the regular stops due to other bands or lodges grinding to a halt. It was also a relatively late start and it was starting to get dark towards the half-way mark.

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

Catching up with old friends

There’s been a bit of a run of retirement do’s to go to over the last year or two and one a few months ago prompted the thoughts of a reunion of our team from around the 1990s which ended up being held a week ago.

Despite almost everyone having moved on over that time, we ended up with around 40 people turning up. My first thought was that I’d not recognise any of them or that it would be a crowd of doddery old men and women on their way to zimmer frame territory. However, it was nothing like that at all and in fact not only did most people change relatively little over what’s been anything up to 25 years or so but one even managed to look years younger than she did 20-odd years ago!

As usual with these things it was mix of reminiscing over the good old days and pumping people for information about job prospects (the grass always being greener elsewhere, of course). Although set around lunch, most people stayed on ’til into the evening and the last stragglers only heading home around 10pm.

Coincidently, I ran across and even older friend at the family fun day on Saturday and it looks like there’ll be a reunion of our merry band from the 1980s in the not too distant future too.


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

Halloween is cancelled because of the bad weather

We were meaning to take a Halloween weekend break and had spent ages tracking down somewhere that had lots of stuff going on locally and even more time finding accommodation.

And then we looked out the window and looked up the weather forecast.

One of the roads we’d have been going along is already impassable due to the flooding and the weather for the whole weekend looks pretty dire. Somehow I suspect that we’d have ended up baling out the cottage by the lake that we were aiming for rather than going round the Halloween events that we’d picked out.

Oh well. I guess we’ll have to keep the money aside for the Christmas break instead.

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

The Titanic boat tour

As always the Heritage Days weekend is a bit hectic so today the schedule included a family fun day, the Titanic tour and Springhill.

The tour basically takes a run along the harbour emphasising various spots that had a role in the history of the Titanic or of Belfast shipbuilding generally. It starts off in what was one of the oldest parts of Belfast harbour but which has since seen the most renovation work so, at the moment, is the most modern area in use although that’s going to change soon when building of the Titanic Quarter is completed.

As with the architectural tour we saw a number of places where we’ll be going back to for a more detailed look. The first major one of those is the harbour masters office, then it continues on past the various drawing offices where the Titanic was designed. Along the way you get to see the pillars which are the only visible part that remains of the giant slipway built for the Titanic. They’re constructing a gigantic Titanic exhibition at the end of that and there are some plans to restore at least part of the slipway. From there it’s on past some of the older parts of the docks before reaching the Titanic pump house where the Titanic’s dry dock remains completely dry after almost 100 years. That’s having a special opening later in the month when we hope to have a closer look.

The whole tour runs to around an hour and would be reasonable value at the normal £10 (£30 for families) price though obviously if you’re not in a rush it would be best to wait for the Heritage Weekend next year as it’s free then.

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Maritime festival in Belfast, Titanic town

All being well, we’re heading off to the maritime festival in Belfast shortly.

It’s one of the original festivals (which include the summer carnival and autumn film festival) that were started before we began to get large numbers of tourists. In fact, the last time we were there was just before the big jump in the number of tourists so it’ll be interesting to see how they cope (not well if last year was anything to go by!).

It’s one of the natural festivals for Belfast in that there’s quite a substantial history of things naval including, of course, the construction of the Titanic. Last time we were at it, the kids wouldn’t go on the baby Titanic that was there as they were sure it would sink! Worth pencilling in is the opening of the major Titanic exhibition in 2012 (the hundredth anniversary of the sailing).

Anyway, must tootle on as we’ve several other things to do today as well as the festival.

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