Belfast; surprising, confusing…and worrying?

 

As a footnote to the previous post…having arrived and paid for a day at the automatic machine, we squelch our way into the city in search of a couple of beers and some food. At 9.30 there are some bars open but none serving even a sandwich. An increasingly anxious dash round various shut restaurants does not lift the spirits until we come across a Mexican fast food outlet called Boojum. They are starting to clean down but welcome us with apparent joy as if they had spent most of the day waiting for two damp old blokes to come in. It gets even better when they serve us some beer (lager really). The food was excellent and very reasonable in price.

The next day is spent drying out and doing laundry and exciting stuff in preparation for leaving her for a couple of weeks. Despite repeated calls we still have no response from the harbour admin re an extended stay, but we meet Elliot who almost lives aboard his small yacht in the harbour and Dave the harbour attendant. They exchange knowing glances when we ask about formalities and happily give us codes to get us in and out.

Belfast of course, comes with a set of expectations, assumptions and perhaps even prejudice for those  of us old enough to remember the nightly news in the 70s and 80s of yet another shooting, bombing or knee-capping. We are in what is now described as the Titanic Quarter and it has preserved two of the big iconic gantrys called Samson and Goliath which were used in building the Olympic class ships including Titanic herself. The area is very much like many other up-market harbour redevelopments and links via a new foot-bridge to the Cathedral Quarter with its bars and shops …and cathedrals.we later see a Thai restaurant…

 

But back to the assumptions… whilst waiting for laundry to dry (our reader can probably hardly be contained at this point), Dave and Elliot have a very detailed discussion about the police reaction to the London Bridge van attack. They both are very knowledgeable about weaponry, ordinance and things of that nature. Our reader may be mildly surprised to know that James does not get involved in this particular discussion, but within very few minutes it is so abundantly clear that they are from the protestant community. They clearly intensely dislike Jeremy Corbin (“…obviously as he is an IRA sympathiser…”) and even want the ‘return’ of a further two counties now in the republic that apparently should be part of Ulster. Dave it turns out, used to be in the forces, but not Elliot whose parents moved to Scotland to get away from the troubles. He however returned as an 18 year old “…to be part of it”. We put two and two together and make a few hundred about Elliot and wonder about how he managed to get so much knowledge of ordinance…just askin’!.

The early morning flight out gives us a bird’s eye view of the marina. The issue of payment is unresolved even though we have no idea what they will do with Heydays when the international sailing festival arrives while we are away. Oh well, we’ll find out in a couple of weeks.

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