Sunday, 31 October 2010

Sweeney's Bar

I went for my constitutional this morning after breakfast, walking past Sweeney's Bar which has been closed since early summer. It awaits a new licensee, if that's the right term.

I am reliably informed that this premises was formerly the coach-house and stabling for Seaport Lodge, once the Leslies' maritime residence (Leslie of Leslie Hill).

I haven't a clue about catering, though that shan't prevent Timothy Belmont from throwing his tuppence-worth in. Clearly whoever takes on Sweeney's will need to know their market well, because a former licensee now owns the local hotel in the village (which, incidentally, thrives).

If I were them, I shouldn't gut the place out - the owner most likely would forbid this at any rate. Personally I'd feel at home within the hallowed, rarefied ambiance and decor of a London club; and, stately homes excepted, the only place that springs to mind in the Province at present would be the Ulster Reform Club (thick carpeting, rich plasterwork, leather seating, opulence etc).

Realistically, though, the new licensee, or lessee, must know their target market very well indeed, including families with children; unless they believe they could survive and prosper without families.

At the risk of bias, I'd say that the Ramore at Portrush harbour must be one of the most successful of its kind on the Causeway Coast, so any new licensee would do well to study their techniques and form, even emulating them to an extent!

In the Bush

Well I decided to dine at the Ramore Wine Bar yesterday evening. I squeezed the baby two-seater into a slot almost beside the establishment, walked up the steps and entered. The place was buzzing, as they say. Very busy indeed; in fact I was given a ticket and waited for about 20 minutes, till they showed me to Table 35.

I ordered the fillet of beef Wellington, French-fried onions and coleslaw. Service here is very efficient and prompt. The beef Wellington was like a cross between an open Danish pastry-vol-au-vent: A thin, oval, open, puff pastry with a thick mushroom sauce and the lean beef on top. I have to say that it was very tasty. They know what their customers like at the Ramore.

I received a large portion of good coleslaw, too much really: It came in a type of dish and must have been about as much as you'd buy in a plastic, see-through carton from supermarkets. I couldn't finish it, sadly; though, nosebag firmly affixed, I devoured the steak with its pastry and the onion rings.

I washed it down with sparkling water. Bill came to about £22.

I've had meals at the Ramore for almost thirty years. In the eighties the wine bar was at ground level and there were big, fat cushy sofas and seating. One popular signature dish was the Garlic Chicken en croute which I invariably ordered; and it was utterly sumptuous. Do any readers remember this dish?

Later that evening I drove into Bushmills for a spot of karaoke. The public bar was tiny, the sort of place where everybody knows each other, so doubtless they'll remember his lordship! I must have stuck out like a proverbial sore thumb, wearing Cordings Tattersall shirt, heavy Barbour, dark green jumper, dark blue cords and brown suede shoes!

Nevertheless I ordered an orange juice, walked bravely inside to the back parlour where they all were and sat down beside 'em all! It was all very friendly and I was well received.

Good Lord, the volume of drink consumed by a few 'regulars' astounded me, pints and 'shorts' together. My renditions of popular numbers by Messrs Joel, Richie, Denvir and Sir E John got me a free drink (orange juice), so I remained till after midnight.

There was one pretty girl opposite me with her boy-friend; and about three married ladies along the way, though one of the heavy-drinking men sat in between.

No matter, it was another experience and I'm alive to tell the tale!

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Back in Town

#The boys are back in town#: Ladies, lock up your daughters, because Timothy The Stud Belmont is back in town and on the rampage, at large and let loose once again.

Well, I'm in Portballintrae, County Antrim, at least.

I visited Coleraine this lunchtime and called at the Parish Church, St Patrick's. I photographed the 17th century memorial to Sir Tristram Beresford, Bt. in the nave.

In Bushmills, I have bought a paperback book entitled "Coleraine in By-Gone Centuries", by the Rev T H Mullin.

Passing a local hostelry in the village, I see that there is Karaoke this evening at 9pm; so we'll meet there, ladies!

Retain BST!

Timothy Belmont is one of those who reckon that we ought to keep the clocks one hour forward. Of course the clocks revert back to Greenwich Mean Time tonight - or at 2am on Sunday - when most of us go to bed.

It would appear that Scotland may just be in favour of British Summer Time.

It has just struck me that I could get up at, say, seven o'clock tomorrow morning instead of eight o'clock (having moved the clock back an hour so, really, I would rise at the same time, in a sense!).

Not sure that this idea will catch on.

Broadband Blackout!

My broadband connection was inoperative yesterday evening. I switched the Home Hub on and off throughout the evening, to no avail.

Here is an article from the BBC about the situation:-

A technical fault that left tens of thousands of homes without internet broadband has been fixed, BT has said. The company said the problems affected a "significant part of the UK", including Northern Ireland, Scotland and northern England, on Friday night.

Engineers worked through the night to correct the fault at an exchange in the Edinburgh area, BT said in a statement. A spokesman said the situation was being monitored and phone services had not been not affected.

"Following a technical fault at an exchange in the Edinburgh area last night which caused disruption to some broadband services, BT confirms that all services have been restored to customers," he said.

"BT's engineering teams worked throughout the night to resolve outstanding customer issues and to monitor the performance of the network."

Perhaps the weather had been the cause. I have never seen such a lengthy period of rain here for a long time. Indeed, it caused flooding in parts of east Belfast.

I'm glad to report that, having switched on this morning, normal service appears to have resumed.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Opera House Woes

I have read that Belfast's Grand Opera House has experienced "a difficult time" and suffered "a shortfall of 50% in sponsorship funding. We had to look at our internal costs and make really difficult decisions."

I haven't been to the opera house for almost six months, when there was a production of Gilbert and Sullivan.

If I indulge in a pre-theatre snifter, I invariably head to the Europa Hotel's Piano Bar which I find more conducive than the opera house extension.

There has been no grand opera in the theatre, to the best of my knowledge, since then.

I have had a look at their new website and, indeed, readers shall be unsurprised to learn that I preferred the previous one. Is this the result of another cost-cutting measure? How is the renovated website improved by trendier fonts and colours?

The Grand Opera House is essentially a Victorian theatre, with Victorian - and even Edwardian - décor and plasterwork. Any website and letter-heading ought to reflect and celebrate such sumptuous surroundings and grandeur, to my mind at least.

Timothy Belmont designed his own website - within limitations - making use of fonts and colours which reflect my ethos and beliefs; using the Edwardian Script sparingly. I hope that traditional fonts and quiet colours reflect traditional, classic values.

Blatant advertising is loud and vulgar, utterly inappropriate; however, I suppose we must accept it, given that the sponsors demand it.

I invite the Management of the theatre to respond.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Poppy Code

Attending a funeral service yesterday, I encountered my old swimming pal Robert, and he gently reproached me for wearing my poppy prematurely, if that is the correct way of putting it.

I retorted by saying "not according to the BBC". I've noticed BBC presenters wearing them all week.

Robert would appear to be right, though. A member of Poppy Appeal staff was interviewed this morning and he said that, as far as the Legion was concerned, it's fine to wear a poppy now, though the Appeal doesn't officially begin till today.

Proper Pronunciation

I was listening to a piece on BBC Radio Four's Today Programme an hour ago about pronunciation and "how English has evolved", a subject fairly close to Timothy Belmont's heart. Perhaps I am being too pedantic and intolerant. They tell me that, in many cases, some pronunciation of certain words is neither correct nor incorrect. It is simply "old-fashioned" on one hand; trendy on the other.

Old-fashioned or traditional? I know a few of my strengths and many weaknesses. I reckon that I could safely be placed in the Traditional Category here.

Har-ass? No. Har-ass! Mischievous, as in miss-chiv-us? Yes. Mis-cheev-i-us? Absolutely not, at least according to Nuttall's Standard English Dictionary.

Heaven knows what our children are being taught. And, indeed, there is a difference between our Classic English and American English.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

State Banquet

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh gave a State Banquet at Windsor Castle on Tuesday evening in honour of The Emir of the State of Qatar and Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned, at which The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, The Duke of York, The Earl and Countess of Wessex, The Princess Royal and Vice-Admiral Timothy Laurence, The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, The Duke of Kent, and Princess Michael of Kent were present.

Her Majesty presented The Emir of the State of Qatar with the Insignia of an Honorary Knight Grand Cross of the Civil Division of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath.

The breast star of the Order is pictured to the right.

Three TA Units

In 1958 eight independent units of the Territorial Army operated in Northern Ireland.


Honorary Colonel, Colonel CFC Lindsay
Commanding Officer, Major JFH Pearcey TD

On the reorganisation of Anti Aircraft Command in 1955, all signal units of 51 (Ulster) Anti Aircraft Brigade were amalgamated to form the present unit.


Commanding Officer, Major CW Bamford
Second-in-Command, Captain KS Thornton

The unit was raised in 1947 as a Mixed Anti Aircraft Company forming part of 112 Transport Column RASC. In 1952, the unit became part of 3 Anti Aircraft Group which consisted of one NI and three Scottish Companies.

On reorganisation of Anti Aircraft Command in 1955, the unit was reformed as an Independent General Transport Company and was the only RASC Company to have a Pipe Band.


Commanding Officer, Lieutenant-Colonel TC Teuton
Second-in-Command, Major DL Stanley

The NI District Intelligence Unit was formed in 1957 and had its GHQ and two sections in Belfast and one section in Londonderry. The Sections were raised in 1947.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

ISM Appointments

The Queen has been graciously pleased to award the Imperial Service Medal to the following Officers on their retirement:-


Allison, Mr Thomas Michael, Officer
Graham, Mr Brian John, Officer
Hardy, Mr Bernard Ernest, Officer
Hutchinson, Mr William Joseph, Officer
Leatham, Mr David, Officer
Lyness, Mr William Leslie, Officer


Brown, Mrs Ellen, SSO2
Hanna, Mr John Francis, SSO2
McBride, Mrs Rachel Mary, SSO2
McGown, Miss Elizabeth Marion, SSO2
Nulty, Miss Marie Celine, SSO2

Monday, 25 October 2010

Henderson Funeral

Oscar William James (Bill) OBE, DL. On 22nd October 2010. Much loved husband of Primrose and beloved father of Gail, Jackie and Penny.

Funeral Service will be held on Wednesday 27th October 2010 at 1 p.m. in St. Marks Parish Church, Holywood Road, Belfast. Family flowers only please.

Donations in lieu, if desired, to Help for Heroes, Unit 6, Aspire Business Centre (CC), Ordnance Road, Tidworth, Wiltshire, SP9 7QD. Sadly missed by grandchildren Michael, Rory, Rachael, Rebecca, Ivan, Clare, Alexander, and great grandson Harry.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Weekend Activities

Well I was at the Dirty Duck Ale House last night. They hadn't any Tanqueray; no matter, I drank Bombay instead. The scampi and chips was excellent, as usual. It was busy inside, owing to the colder weather, since those patrons who'd frequent the outside of the bar obviously remained indoors.

The last train from Holywood departs at ten forty-five. Ideally there'd be one an hour or so later, because the live music at the pub doesn't begin till after ten thirty!

Today I drove to Ballymacormick Point at Groomsport in County Down. The path (above) has been steadily improved, with gullies constructed to improve drainage.

His lordship donned the nose-bag once again for lunch at Donaghadee Garden Centre (sister to Bushmills). I thoroughly enjoy the nosh here. I devoured the daily special, stuffed steak with champ, roasted parsnip and shredded cabbage (£7.70).

Motoring homewards via Jollye's in order to procure a sack of black sunflower seeds for my wild birds, I have lit a fire for this evening.

Sunday Service

The radio alarm woke me up, as usual, this morning and, after the review of the morning newspapers, it was announced that the Morning Service would be from the Priory Church in Great Malvern, Worcestershire, taken by the vicar, the Rev John Barr.

John Boy! Good Lord, that woke me all right. John and I were pals at the old school; the Barrs lived very close to us, in fact. Lovely family, including his parents, Jay and Betty, and his brother Stephen.

As sixth-formers at school, we often shared lifts and a crowd of us spent Saturday evenings upstairs at the George Inn, Clandeboye (now part of a hotel). John was very clever (unlike Timothy Belmont!), passing his exams with flying colours and moving up to Oxford for an MA.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

O W J Henderson 1924-2010

I am sorry to learn that Captain Bill Henderson has died, following a short illness.

Captain Oscar William James "Bill" Henderson OBE DL served in the Irish Guards achieving the honorary rank of captain in 1949.

His family owned the Belfast Newsletter from 1844 until 1991 when he was the final member of the Henderson family to be in control between 1964-91; he was, by his retirement, the only member of a three person Board with Executive responsibilities.

Century Newspapers, the holding company, sold the title to Thompson Regional Newspapers in 1991 as the family could no longer guarantee the viability of the paper following Bill Henderson's retirement despite attempts to hire suitably qualified management.

In 1953 Henderson became Ulster Unionist MP for the safe Victoria seat. In 1958 he became a director of Ulster Television before taking up the post of managing director of the Newsletter, moving to Chairman of Century in 1964.

Between 2005-10 he was a trustee of the Ulster Reform Club. Between 1970-81 he was President of Knock Motor Cycle & Car Club in Belfast.

The Henderson family residence used to be Norwood Tower, a mansion in east Belfast set in about 50 acres with two gate lodges, thus the connection with St Mark's parish church and east Belfast generally.

Glastry Reserve

I dropped a Malteser chocolate down the sofa last night and the ruddy thing melted, causing a mess. I didn't know it was there until I got up! I got the worst of it tidied up; however I've tackled the stain this afternoon and it seems to be all right.

Yet another day of toil; a labour of love. We - the NT Volunteers - met at Glastry today. Glastry is about a mile from the fishing village of Ballyhalbert in County Down.

The National Trust owns the land which was once the old brick-works at Glastry. It closed a long time ago, in 1872. The former clay pits filled naturally with rain-water; and now form a series of ponds surrounded by a lovely nature reserve. I think it once formed part of the 2nd World War air base, RAF Ballyhalbert.

The weather was fairly rotten today, the rain relentless for most of the day. Still, we managed to get a substantial amount of gorse cleared, lighting a bonfire to burn it.

Glastry Nature Reserve project involves the regeneration of a former waste tip site, into a wild life promoting habitat and green area for use by local residents near the 35 acre site. Formerly the site of Glastry Brickworks at the turn of the 19th century, the area now benefits from several small ponds created by clay mining for the production of bricks used in many of Belfast's buildings.

The land was presented to the National Trust in 1978 but was left wild, grazed by local cattle, for a few years before being used as a council waste tip in the early 1980s. The tip was capped in the late 1980s and once again the land was left to return to open grassland. There are two sections to the site with the Glastry road separating them.

Currently funding is being sought to support this initiative from the Rural Development Programme, National Lottery, and the Arts Council.

Some of the plans for the area, including tree planting, picnic tables, car parking facilities, and fencing. It is also hoped to attract local artists to create woodland themed art installations in the area, including sculptures of wildlife, and popular fictional themes such as 'The Ents' the guardians of Fangorn Forest from the Lord of the Rings stories.

Friday, 22 October 2010

The Loaded Footballer

Every time I've switched on the television set recently one name has inevitably cropped up: Dwayne Rooney (if I have the name correct).

For the benefit of overseas readers, Dwayne kicks a football around a pitch for Manchester United Football Club.

Undoubtedly Dwayne, like many of his peers, has his principal prowess and talent around the vicinity of his feet at the expense of other organs the good Lord has blessed him with.

There must be many, including self, with the utmost respect, who are inestimably uninterested in Dwayne and his career. Might one suggest that he removes himself indefinitely about ten thousand miles from these shores?

Pop Ferguson, at any rate, seems glad that Dwayne remains at his football club.

The Queen: Day Two

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh are on the second day of their visit to Northern Ireland.

This morning, Her Majesty and His Royal Highness attended a reception at Hillsborough Castle to celebrate 150 years of cadet forces. They met cadets aged between 14 and 17 years old with their leaders, before being joined by around 180 guests in the throne room of the castle.

The Queen's next engagement was in Lisburn, where HM officially opened a new visitors' centre at the Coca-Cola bottling plant. Her Majesty toured the factory at Knockmore Hill, meeting staff and watching the bottle blowing process take place.

Her Majesty, Patron, and His Royal Highness on Thursday attended a Reception at Hillsborough Castle to mark the Tenth Anniversary of Action for Children and were received by Mrs. Fionnuala Cook (Vice Lord-Lieutenant of County Down) and Ms. Pam Chesters (Chairman, Action for Children).

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh on Thursday evening attended a Dinner given by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland at Hillsborough Castle.The Queen also met with Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and the First Minister of Northern Ireland.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland was received in audience by The Queen at Hillsborough Castle. The Rt. Hon. Peter Robinson MLA (First Minister of Northern Ireland) was received by Her Majesty.

The final engagement of the two day visit was at Belfast International Airport, for the completion of a major £10m refurbishment to the terminal, which has been in development since last year.

Her Majesty and His Royal Highness were greeted by Mrs Joan Christie OBE, HM Lord-Lieutenant of County Antrim and went on to meet Mr John Doran, Managing Director, Belfast International Airport and Mr Alan Whiteside, Operations Director, Belfast International Airport.

In the Business Lounge HM The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, accompanied by Mr Doran and Mr Whiteside, met around 70 guests from the Airport Senior Management Team, Airport Fire Service, Air Traffic Control, Airport Constabulary, Emergency and Support Staff and Airport Administration.

Her Majesty and His Royal Highness also met representatives from organisations associated with the Airport, including UK Border Agency, Portal Policing, Airline Representatives and Handling Agents and local Business representatives.

Following a few words of thanks Mr Doran invited Her Majesty and His Royal Highness to unveil a plaque to commemorate the visit before then signing the visitors book.

Mrs Patricia McDonagh , who has worked at the Airport for over 25 years, presented Her Majesty with a gift of a posy of flowers, bringing the visit to a close.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Malvern Water

It is disappointing to learn that Malvern Water is to cease production. I have occasionally sought it in supermarkets and restaurants in Northern Ireland, mostly to no avail.

For a history of the brand, here is an article. I wonder which mineral water the Queen shall now consume abroad.

The Queen Visits NI

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh have arrived in the Province for an official visit. They will carry out a number of engagements in Belfast over the course of their stay.

Her Majesty and His Royal Highness arrived at Belfast City Airport this morning. Dame Mary Peters DBE, HM Lord-Lieutenant of the County Borough of Belfast, and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland greeted them on arrival.

The first engagement was to the studios of Ulster Television on the Ormeau Road in Belfast. The royal visit marks the company's 50th year of broadcasting and its switchover to high definition transmissions. They were welcomed by its chairman, Mr John McGuckian, and were taken on a tour of the building.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Dearer Petrol

Beware! The cost of fuel at the pumps to predicted to rise imminently, according to Peter Hutchison in the Daily Telegraph.

Oil prices have soared by $10 a barrel in the past month and the escalation in fuel duty at the beginning of October adding 1p a litre has already pushed prices to near record levels.

Now the blockade of oil refineries in France by protesters striking against government plans to increase the pensionable age is set to bring further misery to British motorists.

With fuel duty set to rise again by 0.76p on 1 January and the standard VAT rate to rise from 17.5% to 20% from 4 January the immediate outlook is bleak and expensive for motorists.

If record petrol prices are not reached before Christmas, motoring groups have said it is certain that the tax rises in the new year will ensure that it does then.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

National Trust Pink

I was motoring into Belfast this morning and a deep pink National Trust bill-board advertisement caught my eye. Dark green (above) is the natural colour, indeed the most appropriate colour, for the National Trust.

The contemporary administration of the National Trust - and I deliberately include the definite article - would do well to remember their benefactors and those who choose to leave them legacies, bequests and estates.

The National Trust is expending a fortune on lining the pockets of public relations gurus who advise them that the colour pink will attract more visitors. They consider that they are seen as being old-fashioned. What of it?

The National Trust is wrong to change its image in this way. I reject any perceived change of ethos and will continue to support the Trust's traditional image.

Royal Wedding Fever

Eager speculation, not to say excitement, continues regarding the matrimonial plans of Prince William. Even the Daily Telegraph mentions HRH and his girlfriend, Miss Kate Middleton.

One newspaper suggests that the royal dukedom of Cambridge could be conferred. I have already written about royal dukedoms and other possibilities include the dukedoms of Sussex or Clarence:-

"Other royal dukedoms include the Dukedom of Clarence, derived from the Honour of Clare in Suffolk; the Dukedoms of Cumberland and Albany; the Dukedom of Kendal; the Dukedom of Sussex; the Dukedom of Connaught; and the Dukedom of Cambridge.

Since the Dukedoms of Albany and Connaught no longer pertain to the Realm, they may be considered virtually extinct. The Dukedom of Windsor was created especially for HM King Edward VIII following his abdication; so, though technically vacant, it is unlikely that this title shall be revived.

The Dukedom of Cambridge was re-conferred as a marquesssate in the 20th century which has since become extinct; so it is possible that this royal dukedom could be revived one day.

The Duchy of Lancaster has been merged with the Crown; and the dukedoms of Cornwall and Rothesay are used by the Heir Apparent.

It has been proclaimed that, following the deaths of his parents, HRH The Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex shall become The Duke of Edinburgh.

Whilst it cannot be discounted that a new royal dukedom could be created, the most likely dukedoms to be re-conferred in future are those of Sussex, Clarence or Cambridge. There has, indeed, been some speculation that, on the day of Prince William's marriage, such a title may be conferred".

Monday, 18 October 2010

What Ho, Jeeves!

Now that I have the new DVD hard disc drive recorder, there's no stopping me! I shall record Jeeves and Wooster on ITV 3 this evening because it invariably clashes with University Challenge on BBC Two. I'm presently reading Jeeves in the Offing, by Sir P G Wodehouse.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

The Reunion Dinner

I jumped out of bed an hour later this morning, suffering from a slight hangover. The Class of '78 Reunion Dinner had taken place at the Strangford Arms Hotel in Newtownards, County Down, on Saturday night.

It was great to see so many old faces, including about eight teachers.

At six-thirty we were all welcomed with a Champagne reception accompanied by delicious canapés; welcome introductions began an hour or so later; while at eight forty-five there was a humorous Mastermind-story-telling game on the stage.

The buffet-style dinner was held in a function room upstairs, with a choice of chicken curry or beef stroganoff and rice. Garlic bread was available, too. Dessert was a sumptuous kind of Pavlova affair with strawberries and whipped cream. Coffee and wine were also served.

As far as I remember we all generally behaved fairly well! The guest speakers were Billy Gray (former Head Boy) and John Knox (former master). It was really a very memorable occasion.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

The Maxwell Remedy

Anyone remember that naughty old egg, pop Maxwell? The press baron found floating motionless near his gin palace off the Canaries?

Well I recall that old pop Maxwell always swore by a kind of remedy for the consumption of liquor: Yoghurt.

Seemingly he believed that it lined the stomach prior to a heavy night on the tiles or whatever.

I have some of the stuff in my fridge and I am minded to consume some of it instanter.

Dressed for Dinner

Never let it be said that Timothy Belmont does not like to dress for the occasion. The old school's Class of '78 Re-Union bash takes place in County Down this evening and the revered 1933 dinner jacket, matching trousers, white piqué dress shirt, bow-tie, cummerbund and black Oxford calf leather shoes are all ready to see the light of day once again. The bow-tie is ancient, too. Only the shirt is relatively new.

All moths of discerning taste have flown off till its reappearance. Now that I think of it, this must be somewhat akin to the Chilean Thirty-three.

Note the detail in the old jacket, no longer standard issue nowadays lest one forks out a ruddy fortune. The non-cloth buttons, very wide, ribbed silk lapel; functional cuffs. In 1933 Bertie Wooster and Hercule Poirot must have worn something along these lines.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Rotten Lemon!

Reckoning that T Belmont was due a modest restorative, following the travails of the past few days, I poured myself a standard issue gin, opened the fridge door and brought out the container with the lemon therein.

The confounded lemon had gone off. It was mouldy and rotten! Damned nuisance.

Nevertheless, it didn't prevent me from the main purpose.

I must add a lemon or lime to the shopping-list.

The Oxford Shoes

It is almost thirty years since I bought my first pair of Oxford calf leather shoes by Church and Company. They are called Consul. I acquired them at Harrod's in the early eighties (part of the House of Fraser in those days). I considered them costly enough then, at about £60 as far as I remember.

They are among the most comfortable items in my wardrobe.

I shall be wearing them at a dinner in County Down tomorrow evening, Saturday, October 16th, 2010.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

The Ambani Residence

The Daily Telegraph has a rivetting article about one of the world's wealthiest men and his new pied-à-terre.

Mukesh Ambani, his wife and three children have moved into the building which is named Antilia, after a mythical Island. It contains a health club with a gym and dance studio, at least one studio, a ballroom, guestrooms and a range of lounges and a 50 seater cinema.

The 53 year-old tycoon is not only the richest man in India but the fourth richest man in the world. In total there is reported to be 37,000 square metres of space, which is more than the Palace of Versailles.

To keep it running smoothly requires 600 staff.

Ugly, isn't it? If I were so filthy rich I think I'd prefer to buy Versailles!

Cabin Baggage

I was quite astonished by the amount of large hand baggage on the flight home yesterday. Despite its size, it presumably fell within the 55cm x 40cm x 20cm limit and weight limit, too.

In my experience, cabin trolley cases can still weigh five or more kilograms before any items are packed.

I have a very light and robust holdall which measures about 46cm x 32cm x 20cm. It is very light indeed and could take a lot of clothing.

It was as cheap as chips at the time. Trolley cabin luggage with bells and whistles can be expensive and weigh almost as much as their contents.

I am minded to use the holdall the next time I holiday abroad.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Paper-Clip Alert

I was going through the security screening scanner at Fuerteventura Airport yesterday and the warning buzzer sounded. Now I had taken everything off, including belt, coins etc, so I simply couldn't fathom the cause of this.

The attendant checked me in a few seconds and waved me through.

On the flight I pondered what could have caused the machine to sound and now I know. The cause was a paper-clip which I used on my euros inside a money-belt type of thing!

One little paper-clip! There you have it.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Corralejo: Finale

By this time tomorrow Timothy Belmont shall, God willing, be home and normal service shall resume to faithful readers. Indeed I have a fair number of articles already drafted on Ulster's country houses and gentry for future perusal, concentrating presently on the county of Tyrone.

My flight departs from Fuerteventura at 20:25 hours, or so I am led to believe.

Today would seem to be a national holiday in Spain and its off-shore islands.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Corralejo: X

It rained this morning for the first time! Of course the sun came out afterwards, drying everything up. I'm presently enjoying a Tanqueray gin - does the Strangford Arms Hotel in County Down have this brand? - and may well begin packing my case tonight. The flight tomorrow evening is scheduled to depart at 20:25 hours.

I have heard on Sky News that Sir Philip Green has exposed the scandalous wastage occuring within the Civil Service regarding mobile phone contracts, flights etc. How astonishing, though unsurprising.

Sir Philip deserves a life peerage for this exposure, thereby saving the Taxpayer many millions of pounds; in contrast to fuzzy-bearded, socialist, little Hitlers who are swanned around in stately Rolls-Royces, thinking they are God-knows-who.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Bizarre Administration

The observation of an apparent row - or spat - between Messrs Robinson and McGuinness, First and Deputy First Ministers of Northern Ireland, seems bizarre from 2,400 miles away, though unsurprising given what must be the most complicated, rigged system of government in the western world.

Such is the nature of Northern Ireland and the 'divided society' John Hume always liked to refer to. To coin another memorable phrase - this time from Sir Winston Churchill - "jaw-jaw is better than war-war", or words to that effect.



Several messages sent to me may have inadvertently ended up in the Spam Folder, so would anyone who suspects this re-send their message. I received one message regarding the the Kilmorey Estates which has disappeared.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Corralejo: IX

Well, the hols are nearing their conclusion and I have moderated my alcohol consumption so, cognizant of this fact, readers shan't be at all surprised that I have a glass of lemonade beside the Dell Mini 9 presently. Please do not be too alarmed, though, because I had a few little Tanqueray restoratives in my room earlier.

I had lasagne and salad garnish at Michael's place, the Casbah, last night and drifted into the adjoining bar, the Blue Rock - for a few more teetotal beverages, viz. Fanta Orange. This little bar is popular with British clientele (which suits Timothy Belmont well since I generally shun Irish bars like the Bubonic Plague). Last night there was a couple from north Devon who owned an apartment in the resort and stay for 8-12 weeks annually.

Another couple hailed from Torquay and the woman asked me if I'd heard of it. Self replied: "The English Riviera, home to Basil Fawlty and I have his entire DVD box-set!"

Nothing more to report presently, so I shall sign off.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Corralejo: VIII

There has been an exceptionally high tide at Cotillo beach today. As it happened, I parked myself inland because my usual spot had been occupied; though this decision proved to be correct since many visitors had to remove themselves! The tide was so high that the little lagoon became filled swiftly and, for a while, the main beach itself succumbed to sea-water.

A few intrepid - or foolhardy - souls tried to remain in situ by digging trenches and acting like King Canute. This folly was futile, of course, because the sea-water enveloped them in a pincer movement. It was amusing to watch the spectacle from the side-lines.

I haven't really been imbibing at Torino's Bar this year. I drink enough back at base and must endeavour to restrict myself. The bottle of Tanqueray is fast becoming depleted! I initially purchased a large bottle of Canada Dry tonic-water - owing to no Schweppes - and it was utterly rotten, so much so that I poured it down the sink!

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Corralejo: VII

I enjoyed a very good meal at a little restaurant I occasionally frequent whilst in the resort of Corralejo, La Taberna, Hernan Cortes Street, run by Mine Host, Juan, ably assisted in the kitchen by his diligent wife, Ana.

Juan happens to be a passionate fan of the major Spanish football club, Real Madrid. He is also a follower of the jazz musician, - if that is the correct terminolgy - Jamie Cullum.

La Taberna operates a unique formula which works admirably, whereby the fillet steak meals are accompanied by a moderate portion of crisp and dry saute potatoes and a small remekin of coleslaw. I ordered the steak - medium done - with a Roquefort cheese sauce. it was simply sumptuous. There was no fat at all and it was so juicy, too.

Juan also brings diners his lovely fresh crusty rolls with his signature alioli garlic mayonnaise, the best alioli in Corralejo to my mind! I shouldn't wish for any finer.

I prefer to sit outside La Taberna at a pavement table, though none were available last night so I sat just inside the restaurant. Juan and Ana know me now and he always admires my watch!

The bill came to €22 including the tip. La Taberna is seriously underrated in my opinion, which is, perhaps, apt since I shouldn't wish it to be too busy.

Today I spotted a pair of hoopoes, quite unmistakable with their Mohican-style tufts; as distinctive in their livery as our goldfinches really.

Norman Wisdom 1915-2010


I've received a timely reminder about a great comedy hero of my childhood who passed away peacefully, the entertainer Norman Wisdom.

Sir Norman was married twice and is survived by his son and daughter.

I relished watching his films as a boy in short trousers. I'm uncertain whether my parents enjoyed his childish sense of humour so much, in retrospect.

Sir Norman's obituary is published in the Daily Telegraph.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Corralejo: VI

There remains quite a surfing set on Fuerteventura. There is even a surfing hotel in the middle of El Cotillo, called the Marea Viva Hotel. I needed to use a loo several days ago, so I called with them and there was no problem. I asked the 'receptionist' - who looked more akin to a surfing youth - for the tariff and he quoted me €240 for one week's bed and breakfast at this time of year. That figure is for single occupancy. Judging by first impressions, it would appear to be a Bohemian type of place.

En route to El Cotillo, you pass through a village called Lajares, which also has a surfing community - or commune!

I ought to give surfing a try. I might actually enjoy it!

Monday, 4 October 2010

Corralejo: V

Guess where Timothy Belmont has been spending the day? All right, lazing on the beach, building up the old tan to sustain self over those dreadful winter months in Northern Ireland.

The good news today has been a remarkable performance by our two worthy Ulstermen, viz. Messrs McDowell and McIlroy, predominating an intrepid British team of golfers playing for Europe. I groan whenever I see them all flying those silly European flags. What ever did they fly for the Continent prior to the star-spangled blue duster?

Cordial congratulations to The Province's golfing duo.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Corralejo: IV

I went to see a Barbra Streisand tribute act at an establishment called Castaways last night. The singer, Lisa Faye, certainly had a powerful voice and could easily belt out all the popular numbers. She told us that she'd been performing at the Edinburgh Festival and was returning to the UK on Sunday. Two couples from the north of England came and sat down at my table, so I chatted with them till the interval when I made my departure.

This morning I fried a few rashers of that good bacon by Oscar Mayer in the microwave oven, and ate them with buttered toast. Very tasty. I've spent the day at El Cotillo again.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Corralejo: III

I've been reading an old favourite while I'm on holiday, Jeeves in the Offing, by Sir P G Wodehouse. I cannot resist quoting from the end of Chapter Three, a paragraph about the "loony doctor", Sir Roderick Glossop:

"We seated ourselves and had just started sipping, when the butler came out of the house bearing a bowl of fruit and hove to beside the table with it.

Well, when I say the term 'butler', I use the term loosely. He was dressed like a butler and he behaved like a butler, but in the deepest and truest sense of the word he was not a butler.

Reading from left to right, he was Sir Roderick Glossop ... there could not be two men with that vast bald head and those bushy eyebrows, and it would be deceiving the customer to say that I remained unshaken".

Classic Wodehouse. The Master of the English Language. Ever notice how sparingly he uses colons and semi-colons? There's a lesson for us today indeed.

The 3D Phenomenon

Sky News isn't half promoting their new "3D" channel on the box. You can't blame them, of course, though the quality would need to be superior to that on the Big Screen.

I have been to several so-called 3D movies and, to date, have been somewhat non-plussed be the experience. The special spectacles seem to subdue to picture, making it appear duller.

No, Timothy Belmont is more than happy with the current High Definition Experience on our screens. Let us leave it at that, in the interim. I shan't be buying a 3D telly in the near future, at any rate.