Showing posts with label belfast. Show all posts
Showing posts with label belfast. Show all posts


Segway Titanic Tour - Xtra Special Day

Okay so I never learned to ride a bike when I was young.

I know you are all thinking

                    "Who can't ride a bike?"

Well I can't.

But I can definitely ride a Segway!

Over the last several years I have occasionally seen people on segways and I always thought I would love to have a go but even though I am attracted to trying more unusual things I do not like making a fool of myself in front of others.

Then I read that they were very easy to ride/drive so I probably would not fall over and make a fool of myself and I also found out that a company in Northern Ireland were running "Titanic" Segway Tours which were obviously tours around the "Titanic Quarter" of Belfast on Segways.

I kept thinking how I would love to do it and hinted to my husband several times but Fred is not one to really take a hint - well not quickly anyway..

Then last year I decided we were going to go on the Titanic Segway Tour when all of the family would be together in Northern Ireland - not something that often happens now that our oldest son is living in Leeds and our daughter is living in South Korea.

To make a full day out of it we were going to go to the Titanic Exhibition first and then do the Segway tour and then go for dinner.

So we went online and booked 6 places on the tour one day in August, yes 6 because of course our middle son got married so we have a daughter-in-law as well.

Unfortunately Jonathan (the one from Leeds) took ill that morning and had to stay in bed all day so there were only the five of us in the end.

You can see the Titanic Building in the background - a rather impressive sight as you drive across the M3 over Belfast - designed to make you think of a ship.

I was so looking forward to this and as soon as the guy said we could get on the segways I didn't wait for the others.

It was so easy to do and very enjoyable.

We were told to go in single file and follow the tour guide so Linda led us off after him.

We were like ducks in a row and Linda enjoyed taking these selfies trying to get us all in as we rode along.

I laughed and laughed as we segwayed all around the Titanic quarter even though everyone we passed stared at us.  In fact I think that made me laugh even more.

The guide took us to different parts of the Titanic Quarter and we did listen as he explained what had happened at each part.

You can see me concentrating in the picture below when we were beside the dock.

Well shortly before that shot I had been giggling and not long after it I was giggling again but I did stop to listen in between.

When we had been all round the Titanic quarter and heard all about it we stopped for a ...

It seemed very strange parking the segways alongside the water and sitting in the coffee shop looking out at them.

Then after coffee we segwayed back toward the Odyssey Arena where the guide then let us have about 15 mins of free time on the large flat area riding round just as we pleased.

It was hilarious!

Daniel took this video.

No-one fell off, no-one collided with anyone else (although Daniel and Suzie almost did) or with the posts or the benches in the area.

Linda took this one.

Can't remember who took this one.  All I know is I was too busy enjoying the play time that I didn't take any videos or pictures at all.

But all good things have to come to an end and when Jonathan - the guide, said it was time to go back to the tour Office we were all disappointed but we had to go.

Well the chat was great after this event as we had all thoroughly enjoyed it and felt the time had gone too quick and I was already wondering when I could do it again.

However it is not a cheap day out, but it was a Special Day for us.

They do claim to be the only Segway Tours in the UK you see.

And I have been scheming & planning and hopefully there will be another Xtra Special Day !!!


The Tall Ships in Belfast - Xtra Special Day

Many years ago (around 20) when the children were small, we had been to see the Tall Ships in Delaware.

A few years ago the Tall Ships were at our hometown of Londonderry in Northern Ireland but we were not living there anymore and also could not get there at the right time to see them.

Then when we heard that they were coming to Belfast (30 minutes from where we now live in Northern Ireland), I was determined that I would get to see them.

Well that was planned for last Thursday and yes it did happen as planned.

Everything seemed to be well organized for arrangements for transport and we we chose to drive to one of the Park & Ride locations to then be driven by bus to the docks at the Titanic Quarter of Belfast.

Wandering around looking at the ships from the dock  is enjoyable but who would go to this event without boarding one of the ships if possible.

Well not Fred & I anyway.

We joined a small queue and boarded the Netherlands ship The "Gulden-Leeuw" (Golden Lion)

Quite appropriate for us as we spent over 6 years living in Tervuren, Belgium and had to learn to speak some Dutch while we were there.

Although it was a bit overcast while we were onboard we did manage to get a few pictures.

I suppose I should be thankful that this Mechanical Engineer of a husband of mine did not end up in the engine room which happened one other time we were on a ship (another story to tell).

The ship in the background here is The Europa (The Hague, Netherlands)
and after we got back on dry land we noticed that something was happening onboard this ship but not where they would normally allow people to climb.

A well known reporter for The BBC was filming part of a report.

The BBC Early Evening Programme "The One Show" was going to be broadcasting live from the Tall Ships the following evening and his report would be featured then.

The thing I found most interesting was seeing how he got down from this position safely because of the harness and rope and clip (there is probably a proper name for that but Fred isn't here to help me with that).

When Dan Snow was unharnessed Fred suggested I go up to the same spot and he could get a picture of me.  
My husband thinks he's funny sometimes!

Just noting that there were some more quicker forms of transport around the Tall Ships too which definitely could not be classed as tall. 

Around this main dock there were two markets, one with international stalls and one with craft stalls.

We naturally walked around these and also saw the main stage with musicians, a funfair and another smaller stage with more musicians.

There were some activities for children but we did not see any of the street performers that we had read about online.
I was rather disappointed about this because I felt it would really have added to the atmosphere of the whole event - plus I wanted to see how large the bubbles were that the bubbleman was supposed to be making.

Perhaps they were not there because it was the first afternoon of the Tall Ships visit but the people were there so the entertainment should have been there as well.

Not all of the Tall Ships were moored at this main dock so we took one of the event buses over to Pollock Dock to see some more.

The largest ship here was the Statsraad Lehmkuhl from Bergen in Norway.

You can tell it had got sunnier now and I was able to hide behind my sunglasses.

The HMS Northumberland was moored here too but they were not allowing visitors onboard it.

This Type 23 Frigate was here to lead the Flotilla of Tall Ships away to the start of their races after their stay in Belfast.

Pollock dock was a smaller Dock however there was also a funfair here, a place to eat, another international market, a bar and a few tents which I think was to represent a Viking Village.

Then the thing Fred had been looking forward to - The BBC Zone.

He had a wander round their first tent while I found a seat to wait for him.

In the second tent I thought he was going to volunteer to do the weather forecast but I must say now we know more about green screens and what the weatherman himself actually sees as he is explaining the weather to us.

The third tent had the Daleks.
I got out the camera because I just knew Fred was going to have to have a go at programming the Dalek round a maze - well a few corners anyway.

I decided it would be good to try a short video on my phone camera so if you want to see how Fred managed with the Dalek you can watch it below.

Now apparently it was not Fred's fault the Dalek broke.

The girl explained that it was not programmed as accurately by them originally as it should have been.

So then he had another go

Actually before he had tried we saw two of the Daleks come apart and after he tried it was still happening to others but they were easily put together again.

There were various sizes of Tall Ships here at Pollock Dock as there were at the other docks.

To the right behind the Statsraad Lehmkuhl was the Sorlandet from Norway and then the Guayas from Spain.

To the left were some of the smaller ships.

After our time of much walking we rounded our day off nicely by meeting up with our son and daughter-in-law in Belfast and going out for a relaxing meal.

Yesterday the Flotilla of Tall Ships, starting with The Christian Radich (also from Norway), left the docks at Belfast and sailed up the Lough towards Bangor to the East, then turning to Whitehead on the West.  They eventually proceeded on up along the north coast until they were at the starting point for their races starting today.

We will have to wait now to find out which of the ships win in each of the 4 classes but I suppose we will be hoping that the winner Class A might just possibly be The Gulden Leeuw just because that is the one we were on.


Olympic Torch Run in Northern Ireland - Xtra Special Day

On Monday 4th June 2012 we were delighted to return to our hometown of Londonderry, Northern Ireland, to see our nephew Lee Kitson carry the Olympic Torch through part of the Waterside area. 

Lee is a good fencer, coach and referee, although where he gets this from is beyond all of us as none of the immediate family are very sporty but Lee has a good talent when it comes to fencing. He also started a Fencing Club in Jordanstown, Belfast in 2011. 

Lee with his mum & dad

Well I was armed with the video camera and Fred (my husband) was armed with one of his cameras, while Lee's mum and dad and brother and sister and brother-in-law also had cameras and video cameras.  As soon as Lee was left off at his starting position with his torch in his hand he became a celebrity.  

Later I asked Fred why he had taken quite a few photos of strangers with Lee only to be told that he didn't know if Lee knew them or not because Lee just stood and smiled and let everyone pose with him.  

Friends got pictures taken, children got pictures, grown-ups got pictures and teenage girls got pictures (that bit we could understand completely as Lee is a good looking 20 year old) and even the family managed to push in and get pictures taken with him.

Lighting the Torch

Then it was his time to run and we all got very excited seeing his torch being lit and taking over in the relay from a young girl.  Getting pictures and video was relatively easy when he was standing still but much harder when he took off on the run. Now we had warned him to run slowly so we could have more time to enjoy but Lee is about 6 foot 4 ins tall with long legs and running slowly for him is fast for someone like me (being quite petite in height).  

Me keeping up with Lee but not for long

Fred (who is 6 foot tall & a bit fit) ran along one side of the road stopping and turning to snap shots of Lee and I gallantly ran off on the other side trying to keep up with lee or even get in front of him to try to take more video.  

That was a laugh for everyone as I was out of puff in no time at all, even calling out to him to run slowly just got a laugh from him in return (plus laughs from the security guys running alongside him).

Needless to say Fred got some nice shots as he could easily keep up with Lee but I just have shaky, blurry video for that part.

Front Page of the Local Paper

Lee gets to keep his torch so he will have a great momento of that "Moment to Shine" as well as all the photos the family and other friends have taken.  He even got his picture on the front page of the local paper (the Sentinel) with a little write up inside and then also discovered he was on You Tube as part of the video of the Torch Run in Londonderry.
The next day he was on the go again and raised money for a local charity by allowing more pictures to be taken of him and the torch.

Lee with Fred & I

The City of Londonderry was also in the news because some people tried to disrupt the Torch Relay but I am grateful that those who ran and completed the relay around the city where not thinking of anything political but instead they were proud to represent their country (no matter what their religion) in this once in a lifetime opportunity. 

         The smiles on the faces of all the runners proved that.

Here are some other  Xtra Special Days

And some Other Posts about Northern Ireland or Travel


Daddy ........ Chips??? Decision Time - A Dose of Encouragement

Decisions, decisions, decisions!!!

Who likes to have to make them? there must be someone?

Several years ago there was a television ad in the UK for McCain oven chips

Daddy ........ Chips?

Our family loved it and forever, yes even still now we go "Daddy.......chips", when there are two things we would like but have to make the decision between the two.  It's our way of saying this is very tricky as we really like or want to do both and a sort of plea of

Do we have to decide?

Oh why can't things be simple we often say. Sometimes I am heard to complain why do things all happen together, why can't we have events spaced out more? Why does one week have to be very busy and the next one relatively free?

Why is it that when you want to go away for a while there will be something just have to occur in the middle of that time frame?

One month we were so busy and made several trips back to our birth town of Londonderry each just for a few days but for several months before that we weren't back there at all.  Then I saw the clippers were coming into Londonderry at the end of that month but just felt that we couldn't really justify the 2 hour journey each way to go back yet again.

Sad to say we missed a really great event.

Sometimes I like to make the effort to do different things even if they are sort of smaller things but may turn out to be quite enjoyable.

The first Sunday of the this month we went to Belfast to have lunch there with our son Daniel and then went on into the city centre to see the street theatre the circus school were organising. Fred was a bit dubious but I assured him we would have a relaxing time and be entertained. Well he enjoyed it - I could tell by how he clapped and laughed.

Now do we mention the restaurant or not?

Daniel says it is what you call modern /cool but I didn't think it was either. The food was okay, but I think that if I am paying to go somewhere and eat that I want nice surroundings and comfortable seats. I really don't want to be in a room where they have mismatched, chairs, plates etc.
Okay so I'm not cool!

We didn't have time to sample their coffee however and as it was an Italian place 
the coffee could have made a big difference.

I would have liked to have been able to go back to Belfast each Sunday afternoon this month and enjoy the Street Theatre & I am hoping for good weather.


It did make our Sunday rather busy with Church in the morning, driving to Belfast, lunch, street theatres, driving home again, preparation for the music for church in the evening and then church itself again.


Every day can be busy and we need to remember to keep time in each of those days for God

                    especially on Sunday

                                        but not just on Sunday


That is often where we have to make another of those  Daddy ........ Chips? decisions

Bible Reading & Prayer  ....... TV, Book, Tidy up etc.

I know for some people first thing in the morning is just not the suitable time for us to read and pray regularly so some other time in the day needs to be found.
This is also not always easy with busy homes, families, work schedules and we are often left feeling tired, too busy ..... and it is so tempting to go for the Chips decision - you know the one where we get to have what seems nicest and tempts us with relaxation and a treat maybe.


Look at that other word in our phrase


and think of how spending time with God our Father can teach us, refresh us and encourage us for the next busy day, week, month .....

At that decision time let's be ready to plump for the one that is going to be a lasting help and comfort and not the temporary one.

Do you have a Daddy ........ Chips? decision time?

Well we also had tea and biscuits after the evening service that Sunday so we didn't get home until after 9 o'clock to be greeted by the phone ringing and our oldest son Jonathan declaring

 "Are you only getting in now?   

What kept you?    

Well my day has been busy!"

He just had to hold on for a while until I made a cup of tea for Fred and got a coffee for me and then we sat down and listened to his day.

There could have been the temptation to say.

Coffee ........ Jonathan? 

but fortunately for him there are some pleasures you can have together and not have to make the big decision, because that could have been a difficult one, seeing how fond I am of my coffee.

Do you have a Daddy ........ Chips decision time?

You are very welcome to read my other  Doses of Encouragement

Praise and Old Friends - A Dose of Encouragement

Fred (my husband) and I along with 2 old friends from university days went to the Keith & Kristyn Getty concert in the Waterfront Hall in Belfast last week. 

We love going to Praise events but don't often have such an opportunity as this one.

 The Gettys were joined by Stuart Townend who co-wrote the modern hymn "In Christ Alone" with them and also some other pieces. 

I have to say that I enjoyed the pieces Stuart was involved in most but overall it was a good night out made better by going with friends. 

The four of us had dinner first in Benedicts restaurant which Fred & I had only been to once before on the graduation of our son Daniel from Queens University (a great university but then I'm biased because both Fred & I studied there).  

We had been living in Belgium for over 6 years and had not seen these friends all during that time and also for a few years before that but when it is true friends the time gap doesn't matter.  Yes there is more to catch up on but the familiarity and the ease of conversation and the knowledge of the care and understanding on each side is still there.

True friendship lasts throughout any space of time.

Let's Praise and Thank God for Old friends (and New friends).

This was the third night of concerts in the Waterfront for the Gettys and it is lovely to think of so many people singing God's praise there together.

Do you keep in touch with old friends?

I'm grateful for old friends, aren't you?

You are very welcome to read my other  Doses of Encouragement