After the birthday excitement Nic and I had another few lovely days in Northern Ireland and, while it was pretty cold, it stayed dry. On Thursday we had made plans to go to Belfast to have dinner with our friends Emma and Adrian. I love visiting Belfast - it's such a quirky city with lots of personality and interesting things to do. Although we weren't meeting Emma and Adrian until the evening we got the bus down in the morning so we had the whole day to spend. First thing though was a visit to Boojum on Botanic Avenue for a burrito for lunch. I'm both sad and relieved there's no Boojum over here because it's so tasty but no doubt I'd be a bit obese from eating there all the time - their massive burritos are definitely a 'sometimes treat'!
From Botanic we took a walk down to the waterfront. For no real reason other than getting a bit of (sort-of) sea air felt like a good idea. It was really windy and pretty chilly but I'm glad we did, it's a part of Belfast that I don't know as well as I'd like and it's very pretty, even with the questionable municipal art all over the place. Aw well that's maybe a bit harsh, Nic is partial to the Lagan Big Fish:
Personally I think it's worth visiting the waterfront just so that you can see Titanic Boat Tours are an actual thing and that this is really, honestly their slogan:
I beg to differ...
If I could get a dress with the Albert Clock on it, I would wear it to Belfast. Instead I made do with a dress with the Eiffel Tower on it. No I didn't actually consider all that when I was getting dressed, but it's good fashion blogger bullshit isn't it? Truth is I need no reason at all to wear this dress:
River Island Paris dress and Bertie Sardinia shoes
I love this dress a LOT. When this dress came out, River Island brought out five in various prints. I have all of them because... well, I'm a bit obsessive and ebay exists and it's such a lovely dress. Out of them, I think this is the one I wear the most because I just love the print. You can't quite see in this photo but it does have the Eiffel Tower on it! So Fraaawwwwwwwnch.
We had a little look in the shops (Nic bought comics, I bought shoes) and we settled in for the afternoon in one of Belfast's fine drinking establishments. I'd been to Muriel's on Church Lane before and I wanted to introduce Nic to the place. It's such a fabulous bar with an impressive gin menu. I love the decor - when I'd been before I sat outside (drinking outside in the drizzle is a bit of a theme in Belfast) so this time we sat indoors. Muriel's was, at one time, a hat shop with a night-time trade as a brothel. Downstairs has a distinct sewing theme. And a distinct gin theme:
Each table had a different gin bottle candlestick on it, which was very pleasing
I was sitting in front of this antique Singer machine
This was one of the displays - along with hat boxes. Fezzes are cool.
But what use is impressive decor if the drinks aren't much cop? Luckily they are in Muriel's. Nic tried the gin of the month (Edinburgh Gin) and I went for a delightful drink of Brockman's Berry Gin with lemonade and frozen raspberries. Absolutely delicious. I'd imagine Muriel's gets busy in the evenings but in the late afternoon the atmosphere was lovely and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone visiting Belfast. From Muriel's we went to Home on Wellington Place to meet Emma and Adrian for dinner. Over cocktails and lots of laughter we had a delicious dinner and were spoiled rotten by the chef (an old friend of Adrian's and someone I knew as a teenager as well) who sent us out a plate of all of the desserts. I practically had to be rolled down the road to the bus station! As always it was wonderful to catch up with such dear friends and I'm already excited about seeing them again before too long!
Friday was equally sociable. Nic and I had a coffee date with my old friend Claire and her less old baby Jimbo, over coffee and scones in Menary's. Apart from running into Claire in the street a few times I haven't seen her properly for a good few years now. Such is the wonder of Twitter, though, she and I were able to put together a date. It was really great - and excellent to meet young master James in the flesh and discover he's even cuter in real life than he is on Instagram! You also absolutely cannot beat the apple and cinnamon scones in Menary's.
Fucking YUM is all I'm saying. These are my Proustian Madeleines. One bite is all it takes to make me feel 17 again.
Lovely old Dungannon is just as mad and quirky as Belfast, I think. As there's a new visitor centre opening at the foot of Castle Hill there was some festival going on, and it was being advertised all over the town.
Now, I'm not too sure who Nathan Carter is but apparently he stinks, is possibly French (the speech bubble reads "wee wee oui oui") has excessive ear-hair and glasses, and "goes around with some sort of miniature catpig on his shoulder" (tm Claire). Never change, Dungannon. Seriously.
We were double-booked on Friday night with an invitation to an engagement party in McAleer's (the venue was off-putting) and out to dinner in Coalisland for my aunt's 50th birthday. There was really no competition - Tish is my godmother and my favourite auntie, and my cousin who is in the navy was going to be there so Coalisland won out. I thought I'd take my new shooooooos out for a spin:
Red Herring floral dress and Carvela court shoes
The shoes in question are by Carvela and were a ridiculous £14 on clearance in TK Maxx in Belfast. Happy days, they're the most adorable shade of baby blue. Dinner was wonderful and it was excellent to see my cousin and spend more time with my parents:
Me and my parents. He never smiles in photos but my Daddy was having a good night! But what a serious wee face.
And then, all too soon, it was time to be heading to the airport (god, Dublin Airport, what a shithole) and back to Leamington. I'm so glad to have had a few days at home. I'm so blessed to have such a wonderful family and such amazing friends and it was a pleasure and a tonic to spend time with them last week. Now just roll on Christmas!
I'm going to share two more photos with you before I tip out. This is Nic, getting a spin in the back of the van:
Man. Van. Happy Face!
And I know you all love the dog, so Princess Mini
Now there's a hot bath and a gin and tonic waiting for me. Night!