Wednesday, 31 December 2014

VIIIth Duke of Wellington, 1915-2014

To the illustrious memory of the Most Noble ARTHUR VALERIAN VIIIth DUKE OF WELLINGTON,
Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter,
Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order,
Officer of the Military Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire,
Military Cross.


Breast star, Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order

Hearty congratulations to the Earl of Caledon, who has been appointed a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (KCVO) in the 2015 New Year Honours List.

Lord Caledon has served the office of Lord-Lieutenant of County Armagh since 1989.

Captain Peters


I have found a few photographs of Dame Mary wearing the uniform of a captain in the Royal Naval Reserve.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Dame Mary Peters CH DBE

Neck badge, Order of the Companions of Honour

I'm very pleased indeed that Dame Mary Peters has been appointed a Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour (CH).

In the late 60s and early 70s Mary Peters trained at Buster McShane's gym and health club in Upper Arthur Street, Belfast.

My father was once a member of the club and he used to take me there as a little boy, where I remember seeing Mary train.

She became Ulster's Golden Girl when she brought us home a gold medal at the Munich Olympics in 1972.

Mary Peters was appointed Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 2000.

Dame Mary served the office of Lord-Lieutenant of Belfast between 2009 and 2014 with great aplomb.

Dame Mary has been - and continues to be - a tremendous ambassador for Northern Ireland.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Lock's Travel Trilby

Some time ago I watched an old episode of Poirot, entitled Murder In Mesopotamia.

That celebrated sleuth's faithful companion, Captain Arthur Hastings OBE, wore a rather fine, sand-coloured, type of fedora or trilby hat.

Now I've a confession to make: I possess a considerable of hats, including three fedoras and trilbys.

Four of my hats are made by James Lock & Company, of St James's, London.

Are any readers remotely interested in my hat collection?

After viewing the Poirot episode, I had a rummage though the drawer and unearthed one of them, a medium brim, lightweight, soft, foldable, travel felt trilby.

It is called The Voyager.

They thoughtfully supplied the hat in a white travel tube, alas impractical for my compact hand luggage:

Turn the brim down, push out the crown shape to form a dome; softly, fold your hat convex and concave; roll your hat up; put it in the travel tube, brim uppermost; on arrival at your destination always unfold your hat, then reshape the crown and brim.
 First published in March, 2013.

Thursday, 18 December 2014


I was in central Belfast briefly this morning.

I visited the Central Library in Royal Avenue, one of Belfast's finer buildings. I invariably admire the domed ceiling with its intricate plasterwork on the first floor.

Today I was obtaining an image of Lord Pirrie's armorial bearings as a viscount, and his lineage.

A lovely lady approached me as I was leaving and introduced herself. Lord Belmont has achieved notoriety at last!

I passed the Great West Front of Belfast Cathedral, where the Dean's annual "sit-out" takes place at this time of year.

I spoke briefly to a lady canon (possibly the Rev Canon Denise Acheson, Canon Treasurer) beside the celebrated barrel.

The Bishop of Down & Dromore, the Right Rev Harold Miller, appeared on the steps, dressed informally in his v-neck jumper. 

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Passport Application

Commendation to Her Majesty's Passport Office.

I delivered an application for a new passport to their Belfast branch in Victoria Street exactly one week ago.

When I arrived home this afternoon, it had been delivered.

Annual Party

We all gathered at the old schoolhouse, Mount Stewart estate, County Down, this morning.

There were at least a dozen of us, National Trust Strangford Lough Group staff and volunteers.

During the morning we worked in and around the back yard and garden of the schoolhouse.

I managed to get two sacks of logs.

The main purpose of the day, however, was the annual Christmas party lunch, a very informal affair.

We all contributed to it: Tomasz brought home-made wild mushroom soup.

Phil provided his game pie.

Others brought sausage rolls, vol-au-vents, quiche, bread; Pavlova, chocolate cake, Christmas cake, and more.

I've written about the schoolhouse before. It's an historic building, some two centuries old.

Monday, 15 December 2014

The Slippers

A new pair of slippers regularly springs to mind at this time of the year.

Admittedly I've achieved a fairly good mileage from the present ones, judging by the tread.

My Number Threes are invariably from Marks & Spencer's.

It might amuse you to know that I have a Number One pair, by Church's, which are aired on Red Letter Days or special occasions.

They are made of velvet, with a kind of monogram atop, leather soled, red in colour.

The Number Twos, by Morland's, also have hard leather soles, a sheepskin fleece lining, and beige suede upper.

Friday, 12 December 2014

New DLs

Mrs Joan Christie OBE, Lord-Lieutenant of County Antrim, has been pleased to appoint
Colonel Neil SALISBURY OBE, Ballycastle, County Antrim
Mr David McCORKELL, Lisburn, County Antrim
To be Deputy Lieutenants of the County her Commission bearing the date of 8 December 2014.

Joan Christie, Lord Lieutenant of the County.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

New iPad

Mulholland arms

I ventured into town - viz. central Belfast - today. I sought one of the latest Apple iPad Air 2 tablets.

It's "Space Grey" and 64GB capacity.

Accordingly, I started the two-seater - also dark grey, as it happens - and motored to Gloucester Street, where I was fortunate enough to find a parking space.

In the Apple Store, at Victoria Square shopping centre, I was seen fairly promptly by an assistant.

It was all quite straightforward, given that I knew what I wanted.

The latest iPad is considerably lighter and slimmer than my fourth generation model.

The original intention had been to buy the new iPad at the giant Tesco store at Knocknagoney though, to my disappointment, they had none in stock (apart from the 16GB variant).

THENCE I presented my new passport application at the Home Office's passport section in Victoria Street which, as it happens, is almost opposite Gloucester Street.

AT the venerable Linenhall Library I found a 1960s Burke's peerage and baronetage and the armorial bearings of the Rt Hon Sir Henry (Harry) Mulholland Bt.

Incidentally, I'll be posting a piece about Ballyscullion Park imminently.