Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Royal Visitor in County Down

On the second appointment of the day, The Prince Edward was in Newcastle, County Down, to present gold Duke of Edinburgh Award certificates to participants from the NI Cancer Fund for Children.

His Royal Highness met a number of the award recipients and their parents, as well as workers and volunteers involved in the scheme run at Shimna Valley Village.

HRH was then invited to unveil a plaque, before being presented with a gift of 'Daisy' shortbread by a Gold Award recipient, Barbara Kennedy.

Prince Edward in NI

His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex is in Northern Ireland today for a series of engagements.

Prince Edward officially opened the Duke of Edinburgh's Award new regional office at Forestgrove Business Park, Belfast.


On arrival, HRH was met by the Lord-Lieutenant of County Down, Mr David Lindsay.

A trustee of the award scheme, Prince Edward plays an active role in the programme for young people set up by his father in the 1950s.

The mission of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award is to inspire, guide and support young people in their self-development and recognise their achievements.

Dauntless Annihilation

God bless and long live the Royal Navy. HMS Dauntless is setting sail for the South Atlantic, sending a powerful signal to the Argentines, sabre-rattling over the Falkland Islands.

Dauntless, a Type 45 destroyer, is the most advanced anti-aircraft and anti-ballistic ship in the world, equipped with 48 Sea Viper missiles and the Sampson radar, which is more advanced than Heathrow air traffic control. She is in a league of her own in air defence, with the capacity to track dozens of multiple targets.

The deployment, expected in late March, comes as Argentina has stepped up its sabre rattling over possession of the islands with a ban on all Falkland registered ships in South American ports.

CAPTAIN WILL WARRENDER RN

Sending the £1 billion war-ship on her first mission to the area will reinforce our position, although it will cause difficulties for the Foreign Office, which is trying to downplay the rhetoric.

Admiral Lord West, the former First Sea Lord and Falklands veteran, said the Type 45 has an “amazing anti-air warfare capability.”

He also sent a warning to the Argentine government. “Should there be any foolish nonsense from Argentina, Dauntless can sit just off the airfield and take down any aircraft coming in. It’s a game-changing capability.”

Monday, 30 January 2012

Old-Style Invitation

I have unearthed an old invitation to a Brackenber prize day and thought I'd attempt my own version below for the dinner!




Brackenber House Association 
 requests the pleasure of your Company at  the Europa Hotel,
Great Victoria Street, Belfast,
on the Occasion of 
the Annual Dinner on 
Friday, 10th February, 2012, at 7.45 p.m.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Aston Martin?


Does one detect a tenuous resemblance between these two? The red car is the new Ford Mondeo; the gun-metal grey vehicle, below, the Aston Martin DB9.

I believe a new series of that excellent BBC series, Top Gear, resumes tomorrow evening. Amen to that. Keep up the good work, chaps.


Friday, 27 January 2012

Deputy Lieutenant

APPOINTMENT OF DEPUTY LIEUTENANT

Mr David Lindsay, HM Lord-Lieutenant of County Down, has been pleased to appoint

DR WILLIAM GERARD O'HARE CBE, Rostrevor, County Down

To be a Deputy Lieutenant of the County, his Commission bearing date the 24th January, 2012.

BIOGRAPHY

Dr O'Hare is one of Northern Ireland's most successful property and business entrepreneurs with a portfolio of developments across the UK, Central Europe and the USA.

As founder and CEO of Parker Green, Dr O'Hare has grown an international portfolio of properties and investments fast approaching $1bn, which includes the Quays Shopping & Leisure Centre in Newry.

Dr O'Hare has been the catalyst in bringing together many major developments and attracting outside investment into Northern Ireland from the early 1990s to present day, motivating and securing some of the early PFI schemes.

He has served as Chairman of the Communities Support Group, President of the Newry Chamber of Commerce and Trade, Chairman of the University of Ulster Foundation and as a visiting professor at the University of Ulster's School of the Built Environment.

In June 2009, The Prince of Wales appointed Dr O’Hare as his Ambassador for Business and Corporate Social Responsibility in Northern Ireland.

In October 2009, Dr O’Hare along with Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama, received a joint Lambda Alpha International Award for International Urban Affairs.

Dr O’Hare has recently also been appointed as Honorary Consul for Latvia, where he will have a special role both for Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

More recently, Dr O’Hare was listed in the 2009 New Year Honours list, when he became a CBE.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

The Argory Mosses


National Trust colleagues gathered from Murlough, Strangford Lough, Castle Ward, Springhill and The Argory today, our task being to remove birch and Scots pine saplings from the indigenous Argory moss bogland.

The Argory Mosses comprise a bog of about twenty acres in extent.

I drove to Sprucefield and we shared vehicles thereafter to The Argory in County Armagh. We numbered about three dozen.

Although I'd brought a packed lunch with me, the staff at The Argory most generously provided us with refreshments, including a sausage barbecue, complete with gazebo.

At lunch-time, I had a great chin-wag with the House Steward of Springhill, another National Trust property in County Londonderry.

Despite our task of uprooting the birch and Scots pine saplings from the bog, these were not wasted, since we placed them in plastic sacks for re-planting elsewhere.

These little trees will be planted in County Down, at the Portavo plantation, within the next few weeks.

Monday, 23 January 2012

USA Interest

Lord Belmont is gaining a reputation in the United States of America. The Blog had fifteen per cent of visits from our American cousins yesterday.

I have paid visits to California and Florida, though have not been to the United States recently. I'm overdue a trip!

I am personally delighted to welcome new readers and followers, especially from overseas.

Yesterday the Blog had 1,377 hits.


Country

59.20%United KingdomUnited Kingdom Flag

15.00%United StatesUnited States Flag

6.80%CanadaCanada Flag

6.40%IrelandIreland Flag

5.20%AustraliaAustralia Flag

1.00%TurkeyTurkey Flag

1.00%New ZealandNew Zealand Flag

0.80%FranceFrance Flag

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0.80%Korea, Republic OfKorea, Republic Of Flag

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0.40%JapanJapan Flag

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0.20%DenmarkDenmark Flag

0.20%Russian FederationRussian Federation Flag

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0.20%MexicoMexico Flag

0.20%Hong KongHong Kong Flag


Thank you.

The Lady Faulkner of Downpatrick CBE, 1925-2012

I am saddened to hear that Lucy, Lady Faulkner, the widow of Northern Ireland's last prime minister, the Right Honourable the Lord Faulkner of Downpatrick PC, has died. She was 87 years old.

Lucy Faulkner, nee Forsythe, married Brian Faulkner in 1952 after they met through their common interests of politics and hunting.

The couple had three children, a daughter and two sons, and lived at the Highlands estate, near Seaforde, County Down.

Lady Faulkner had worked as a Belfast Telegraph journalist before her marriage. She was also the first national governor of BBC Northern Ireland.

Lord Faulkner died as the result of a tragic equestrian accident in 1977.

She died peacefully at home with her three children, the Hon David, the Hon Michael and the Hon Clare at her bedside.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Crowning Glory

The crown has suffered a mishap. I have several. I was chewing a fruit pastille earlier, when the inevitable occurred. That is the second time it has come out.

Damn! I shall have to pay my dentist another visit. I was there last Thursday for a routine check-up. I have the little blighter in a sealed pouch.

My next field trip with the NT volunteers might well be to The Argory, County Armagh, next week.

Ashcroft Contribution

I salute Michael Ashcroft for his generous offer to donate £5 million towards a new royal yacht to commemorate Her Majesty's diamond jubilee.

The Right Honourable Michael Anthony [Ashcroft], Baron Ashcroft KCMG, was created a life peer in 2000.

Lord Ashcroft, a former Conservative Party deputy chairman, has said he will contribute the money to the charitable trust trying to raise £100m to build a national flagship.

The trust is University of the Oceans; the project, FSP21.

Rear-Admiral David Bawtree CB DL (Rtd), the chairman of the trust, said he hoped Lord Ashcroft's move would encourage others to come forward and donate.

In a statement on his website, Lord Ashcroft said:
     The murmurings this week of a privately financed replacement for Britannia are hugely heartening, even if there is a very long way to go to make this happen. But I would like to be one of the first to offer tangible support to the concept, by offering up to £5m towards the construction costs of building a new, effective and flexible royal yacht.

The proposed vessel – 650ft long and as tall as St Paul's Cathedral – would provide education and vocational training for young people, facilities for scientific research, and a venue for trade missions and commercial exhibitions as well as staterooms for the use of the Royal Family on trips around the United Kingdom and overseas.

Lord Ashcroft added that the new vessel could be used by other members of the Royal Family.

The Prime Minister has offered his support to the project, and in a letter to the Admiral Bawtree in October described it as a "splendid idea".

David Cameron's official spokesman said this week that he would "react favourably" to requests for government assistance but believed it would be "inappropriate" for taxpayers' money to be used.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Portavo Revisited

The old lungs have been invigorated by abundant fresh Ulster air this week. I spent the day at the National Trust's land beside Portavo again today. This land was bequeathed to the Trust by a gentleman in his will.

There were about two dozen of us and we managed to plant 1,500 trees, which totals 2,000 this week. There are another 5,000 to plant. The field was akin to a rugger pitch today, abounding in mud. Nevertheless, the ash trees will thrive here, complemented by oak at a lower level; interspersed with  a mixture of other varieties.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Bentley Convertible


I was motoring along the carriageway yesterday, towards Portavo, when a large Bentley Continental convertible wafted past. The hood was down; the chap driving it, follicly challenged. It was white and I believe the registration number was NXI 8.

That's the first Bentley convertible I've seen on Ulster's roads recently.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Portavo Plantation


We are planting a brand new broadleaf woodland on a field beside Portavo reservoir, in the townland of Balloo Lower, County Down. This spot is close to Orlock.

Six of us spent the day there and we managed to plant five hundred ash saplings; however, this will be a mixed wood and we shall plant oak, cherry and some Scots pine.

The field is about eight acres in extent; the total plantation will comprise not less than seven thousand trees.

We will assemble with the Woodland Trust on Saturday morning again, in order to plant the remainder. Everybody is welcome. We meet at about ten o'clock.

Oh, and I had ham and beetroot relish sandwiches today!

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Minnowburn Pond


Great news from my pals at Minnowburn, a property of the National Trust and the woodland gem of Belfast.

New paths have been created at the pond and saplings will shortly be planted, as shall a willow bird hide.

See more images here.

Monday, 16 January 2012

HMY Britannia


The Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Education, has proposed that Her Majesty The Queen should be delivered of a new royal yacht by the Nation (including Scotland).

Mr Gove said:
      In spite, and perhaps because of the austere times, the celebration should go beyond those of previous jubilees and mark the greater achievement that the diamond anniversary represents. I feel strongly that the Diamond Jubilee gives us a tremendous opportunity to recognise in a very fitting way the Queen’s highly significant contribution to the life of the nation and the Commonwealth. 
     I feel strongly more should be done to achieve a longer lasting legacy. Events such as proms and the party at the palace organised for the diamond jubilee, and street parties, although excellent, are transient.
     It would be appropriate to do something that will mark the significance of this occasion with fitting ceremony. My suggestion would be a gift from the nation to her majesty.

He ended his letter by suggesting that if not enough taxpayer funds were available for the project, a private donation could be sought.

Lord Belmont suggests that Her Majesty's Yacht Britannia which, I believe, is on public display in Scotland, be re-commissioned. Britannia is immeasurably more noble and dignified than any modern super-yacht.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Leisurely Drives

I have to admit that it has been quite a while since I had a leisurely drive on a Sunday - or any day, for that matter - in the two-seater. I am becoming a fair-weather motorist.

The roads are so filthy anyway, what with the requisite invasion of the gritter lorries.

When my parents were alive we used to go for a Sunday drive regularly during the winter months, often to a forest park, a National Trust property, or even Bangor and Groomsport, both in County Down.

Timothy Belmont is a confirmed sun-worshipper, so the present weather is not agreeable enough for me. Don't get me wrong. I enjoy the exceptional days when it is dry and sunny, albeit cold.

Perhaps hibernation or seasonal migration is the answer!

Unique Rolls-Royce


This 1911 Rolls-Royce "Titanic Ghost" was made to order for the chairman of Harland and Wolff, and it returns to Northern Ireland for the first time in eighty-five years later this month.

The car was built for Lord Pirrie before RMS Titanic's maiden voyage in April, 1912. It will be the main attraction at a vintage car show in County Down.


"This car has a unique link to a special time and place in our history and we are thrilled to be able to bring it back to Northern Ireland in the year when so much attention is focused on the Titanic," said the organiser of the Newcastle Vintage, Classic and Sports Car Show, Martin Cromwell.


There is a cast metal plate on the scuttle under the centre of the windscreen proclaimed it to be the “Titanic Ghost”.  


The chassis (each owner had the body made and fitted separately) was ordered from Rolls-Royce in November 1909 by the Rt. Hon. Lord Pirrie KP PC, of Witley Park, Godalming, Surrey.  


The chassis was delivered to Morgan and Co Ltd of Long Acre, London in May 1910 to be fitted with “ceremonial double phaeton” coachwork. 


On Pirrie’s death in 1924, the car was passed to his brother-in-law, the Hon Alexander Montgomery Carlisle, who was chief designer at the shipyard and who represented the company at the Board of Trade enquiry into the sinking of RMS Titanic in April 1912. Carlisle had the phaeton body removed and a cabriolet body substituted.

  • When the Carlisle died in 1926 the car was sold for £35 and fitted with an ambulance body.
  •  In 1932 the body was removed and the car used as a breakdown truck and subsequently as the prime mover for a set of gang mowers on a Surrey golf club.
  • It was again for sale in 1950 in a breaker’s yard on the main London to Maidstone road for the derisory sum of £3 10s (£3.50).
  • It was then purchased to continue its life as a breakdown truck; but in 1955 when recognition had set in that these old cars might become more valuable.
The car’s fortunes changed for the better.
 

The, by now, very well used Rolls-Royce breakdown truck came into the hands of London Rolls-Royce agents Jack Barclay, who had a period style body built on this very early example of the marque for use as a sales promotional vehicle.


The rejuvenated old car served them well for thirty years until it was sold to an American owner in June, 1985.

As has happened with quite a lot of these cars that made their way over to the USA, the car was “repatriated” in 2000 and became the subject of a four-year restoration to return the car to as near original as possible.

The work included the construction of a replica of the double phaeton coachwork, made possible by the discovery of contemporary photographs.

The result is magnificent and one would need to be a RR expert of world class to know that it is not totally authentic; in fact it might well be better (or more polished) in some respects than when Lord Pirrie first took delivery 100 years ago.


A former Lord Mayor of Belfast, the 1st and last Viscount Pirrie was chairman of Harland and Wolff until his death in 1924 and was instrumental in ensuring Titanic and its sister ships were built in Belfast.

His lordship was one of the last recipients of the most illustrious Order of St Patrick.

His bespoke car was sold shortly after he died at sea off the coast of Cuba and was converted into an ambulance. It later became a breakdown truck before being renovated in the 1950s and sold to an American owner in the 1980s.

It was brought back to the UK in 2000 and painstakingly restored over four years, and is now kept by a collector in Lincolnshire.

The car still bears its Titanic Ghost nameplate and Lord Pirrie's family crest.

William James Pirrie was born in Canada but moved to Conlig, County Down, at the age of two. He was educated at Belfast Royal Academy and joined Harland and Wolff aged 15 as a 'gentleman apprentice'.

He was appointed chairman of the shipbuilding firm in 1874; Lord Mayor of Belfast, 1896-97.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Bistro Iona

Godmother and self dined at Bistro Iona in Holywood, County Down, this evening. I brought the bottle of Marks and Spencer Old Vines Grenache Noir 2009 with me.

We like this little first-floor establishment. It is rather bijou. It has been renovated within the last year, with smarter tables and chairs, and upgraded décor, too.

When we arrived we were shown to our table at the window. Thereafter the room filled steadily, till it was buzzing and full.

There was a jug of water on the table and a dish of butter.

The staff are most agreeable, affable and helpful.

We both had the chicken liver parfait, plum and apple relish, brioche for starters. The portion was ideal; the pâté, a thin slice, not too heavy and easily digested. 

Thereafter, Godmother ordered the duck: Confit of duck, mash, wild mushroom cream; while I had the braised lamb shank, mash, red wine, shallot & rosemary sauce. We shared a medley of vegetables.

First off, the wine: a delightful choice, easy on the palate, fruity and not too dry. Highly recommended at £6.99. Buy a case.

Godmother's duck looked good and I was assured that this was the case.

My lamb was equally good; very good, in actual fact. Abundant lean meat; minimal fat. It sat on a small portion of mashed potato. For me, the helping was ideal.

We shared the pudding: Lemon curd cheesecake with strawberries. This was, as one might imagine, great.

It was a terrific evening. I simply cannot find any significant faults with the Iona.

I'll be back.

Ducal Party


The Duke of Westminster is throwing a momentous party at his seat, Eaton Hall, for the 21st birthday of his son and heir Hugh, Earl Grosvenor, on January 29, 2012.

The Duke was born at Omagh, County Tyrone, and brought up at Ely Lodge estate in County Fermanagh.

More than 500 guests are expected, including Hugh Grosvenor's godfather, The Prince of Wales. 

Lord Grosvenor's sisters are Lady Edwina, married to TV’s Dan Snow, and Lady Tamara, wife of Edward van Cutsem, another of Prince Charles's godsons. 

It comes a month after the Duke’s 60th birthday (22nd December!). He plans to install specially designed decorative gates at Eaton Hall to mark his, and his son’s, birthdays.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Waterstone, Booksellers

The bookseller, Waterstone's, has ditched the apostrophe before its final letter in order to make its spelling "easier in the digital age", the company has claimed.

The chain has been known as Waterstone’s since it was founded in 1982 by the entrepreneur, Tim Waterstone. 

However the retailer’s new head honcho, James Daunt, who also founded rival book chain Daunt Books, is jettisoning 30 years of book-selling history by altering the punctuation, to become Waterstones [sic]. 

“Waterstones without an apostrophe is, in a digital world of URLs and email addresses, a more versatile and practical spelling,” asserted Mr Daunt. 

Rest assured, readers, that Timothy Belmont shall continue to maintain proper standards on this Blog, including apostrophes; whilst shunning such grammatical errors as split infinitives, which are commonplace today.   

There are precedents for this slovenly grammar: Harrod's department store no longer uses an apostrophe.

Language experts are outraged. John Richards, the chairman of the Apostrophe Protection Society, described the change as "slapdash", particularly from a bookshop. 

The removal of the apostrophe also has subtler connotations.

Mr Waterstone has not worked at the chain for well over a decade and the removal of the possessive punctuation makes it clear to shoppers that the bookshops no longer belong to him.

Mr Daunt said: “It reflects an altogether truer picture of our business today which, while created by one, is now built on the continued contribution of thousands of individual booksellers.” 

The retailer’s logo will also revert to its old Baskerville typeface after a trendy redesign a few years ago resulted in the ‘W’ being written in the lower case. 

“Waterstones is an iconic brand deserving of a capital W,” said Mr Daunt.

The new, apostrophe-free name will be gradually implemented on all of the retailer’s written communication, in stores and online.

The book chain was bought last year by the Russian businessman Alexander Mamut from HMV Group.

Killynether Copse

It was fine and mild with sunny intervals today at Killynether Wood, near Newtownards in County Down.

We met at nine-thirty and continued with our coppicing project, which is progressing very satisfactorily indeed. There were about ten of us.

We spotted a raven hovering above, keeping an eye on us; and a buzzard, too. A song thrush welcomed us to the woods with a beautiful melody.

I have been out all day, nipping home for a pizza and apple crumble, before heading up for a swim; hence the lack of postings earlier!

Nambarrie Tea

Did readers know that Nambarrie Tea is owned by Twinings? I was unaware of this myself.

Nambarrie is the brand name of a tea company based in Belfast, owned by Twinings.

On 10 April 2008 Nambarrie announced its plans to close its factory in Belfast. The factory is now closed and production currently takes place in England.

Founded in 1860, the company began trading in York Street, originally as 'Pratt and Montgomery'. However, during wartime bombing in 1941, the company's premises in Tomb Street were completely destroyed, reportedly leaving only a horse drawn delivery van intact.

Nambarrie Tea Co. Ltd. now operates delivery depots in Mallusk, County Antrim, and Glasgow, being the third biggest brand in Scotland.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

New Civic Lawns

I am returned from my weekly jaunt into town, where I undertook research on the Jocelyns, Earls of Roden; the family of De La Touche; and the ancient family of Dillon.

The lawns at City Hall are being re-laid, having suffered  some detriment following the Continental Market at Christmas.

Following a brief visit to Sawer's - in vain, as it transpired - I strolled into Queen's Arcade, where I bought a half-pound of my favourite pastilles in an established confectioner's shop.

I am dining out with Godmother at the weekend (watch for the review), so a most helpful assistant helped me to select a bottle of wine in Marks and Spencer, Old Vines Grenache Noir 2009:
"A soft, ripe and generously fruity red with appealing flavour of mulberry and brambles. Look out for the smooth note of chocolate on the finish."
On a more mundane level, I bought a few pairs of socks and slippers!

NI Warrant-Holders

Cordial Congratulations to Lakeland Computer Consultancy Services Limited, of Irvinestown, County Fermanagh, which has been granted a royal warrant. The company makes software systems for specialist food stores, including the Windsor Farm Shop.

McCaw-Allan and Company, Lurgan, County Armagh, holds a royal warrant as manufacturers of fine bed linens. Their long family tradition reaches back to 1820, when the Company was founded by Johnston McCaw. His grandson,  R.J. McCaw, formed a partnership in 1904 with Harry Allan, an old Lurgan College friend.

Ulster Weavers Limited is a home textiles company based in Holywood, County Down. The company can trace its history back to the 19th century as The Ulster Weaving Company, which was originally founded in 1880.

Their factory was originally at Linfield Road, Belfast;  Managing Directors, John S Larmor and John Hogg. In the 20th century, its managing director was Sir Graham Larmor.

Ulster Weavers Home Fashions has held the royal warrant as suppliers of kitchen textiles to HM The Queen  since 1995.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Two Dinners

I cannot believe it! as Mr Meldrew exclaimed. The two old school dinners are both taking place at the same date this year, 2012.

The Old Brackenbrian dinner is at the top-storey Penthouse suite in the Europa Hotel, Belfast.

The Old Campbellian dinner takes place at the College, the guest speaker being Jonathan Bardon OBE.

Both dinners coincide on Friday, February 10th, 2012.

The Brackenbrian bash was most enjoyable in 2011. Cognizant of this, I am minded to opt for the Europa.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Revised Articles

Regular readers will doubtless have perceived that I am in the habit of re-issuing articles written more than a year ago and, in some cases, eighteen months ago.

There are mainly two reasons for this: I am always getting new readers, who may not have seen the pieces; and I endeavour to elaborate on older articles, with fuller information regarding the lineage of the families, the most recent example being Mourne Park, ancestral seat of the Earls of Kilmorey, about whom I have provided a brief lineal narrative.

I hope all readers appreciate this and, as always, my objective is to share my passion and knowledge with others in order to gain a greater understanding of our heritage.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Mount Panther Visit

I have spent a most illuminating day at Mount Panther estate today. I was invited to accompany a friend on a private visit. The estate comprises 170 acres. Mount Panther House, despite having been built around 1770, remains a noble mansion, now ruinous without a roof.

I saw the very large walled garden; the extensive outbuildings, including stable block with its clock tower (alas the clock faces and bell are no longer there); the old kitchen with its Aga still in situ, in the corner, the remains of a curved wall that once encased a spiral staircase giving access to upper floors.

The library, though now in a state of disrepair, still has the original bookshelves set into the walls.

The basement is magical: A labyrinth of vaulted rooms. One can almost sense the hive of activity that this part of the house would have generated.

Le morceau du bijou was the ballroom, once used by the cream of County Down society. Sections of the 18th century stucco plasterwork with Wedgewood blue paint still remain, an extraordinary phenomenon given its age and exposure to the elements for half a century.

The house has three storeys over a basement.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

On Your Bike!

Horror of all horrors! Timothy Belmont is considering some kind of occupation. If there happen to be any billionaire readers out there prepared to sponsor me or whatever, let me know.

I am not yet of pensionable age; I believe I am physically fit and healthy. To be quite truthful, I'd like a little more money.

I think I'd be quite keen to spend more time in the capital, London. I enjoy the feeling of heritage, its life.

The Blog - my passion - makes no profit at all. Not a penny.

Having some kind of occupation could have an impact on the amount of research I can do for the Blog.

In an ideal situation, sponsorship from reputable establishments which reflect my values and do not clash with my ethos; being able to travel to properties I write about, exploring them and photographing houses, ruins and other places of interest, whilst getting an appropriate income for this, without compromising my freedom to express my own views, might be one means of achieving a satisfactory outcome.

This is all tentative. I can carry on regardless, as usual; though these are my thoughts.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Merkozy Spoof

This is a hoot.

Blog Traffic

Well, dear readers, you may be interested to know that, since the New Year, visitor numbers are up on 2011 and averaging 1,000 per day. I am receiving visits from the USA, Canada, Australia, Europe; throughout the world indeed, viz two hits from Iraq and one from Costa Rica.

The vast majority of visits, 70%, are from the United Kingdom.

At this rate I might even hit my one millionth visitor within twelve months.

First Swim?

Timothy Belmont is hopeful that the swimming-pool at the sports club will be adequately heated tonight. It would be my first swim since the term ended in December. I do miss the old lengths and quite often I have the pool to myself.

At Belmont GHQ, an apple and blackberry crumble has been made, so I keenly anticipate a portion of that this evening, too.

If there are any Old Brackenbrians or Old Campbellians reading this, would you be at all interested in making up a party for the annual dinners?

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Happy New Year

Quiet, what? The principal reason being that Timothy Belmont is a touch fragile, having stayed the evening with some friends at Ballyclare, County Antrim.

Abundant amounts of wine and nibbles were consumed.

And a happy new year!