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.


What are you doing for Christmas? Advent 3

This is the third Sunday of Advent

The other day there was a small explosion in the Cathedral Quarter of Belfast, Northern Ireland.  A bomb had been left outside a restaurant very close to St. Anne's Cathedral and and warning phoned in to the police.  While the nearby residents and the diners in the restaurants were being evacuated part of the device blew up but not enough to do any real damage or injury.

The Cathedral and all the people nearby were safe and sound but by the comments of people who were there at that time is now anger and unrest about whether we really do have peace in Northern Ireland.

We are in the time of the year when 

 is one of the things we talk about, Peace on Earth, wishing you Peace at Christmas, Have the Peace of God in your hearts.  Today in church I spoke to the children about Peace because the story in Sunday School was about the Angel's Proclamation to the Shepherds.  

But so many people are going around every day without this peace in their hearts.  

I believe this is simply because they can't believe that Peace is an easy thing to have. They think that it would be a complicated matter to make this type of change in their lives.  

Thankfully God has made it easy for us because He is the one who brings about this Peace through His Son Jesus.  

Our easy part is just to stop resisting and accept that God loves us so much that He sent Jesus to be our Peace.  Of course if we keep edging Jesus out of the picture at Christmas then it is harder to even draw our thoughts to Him let alone trust that He will be the way to Peace this Christmas. 

A couple of years ago I chose this Christmas card (below) that has the message I wanted to send, a message that I feel strongly about and also I loved the look of the card, simple but eye-catching at the same time.  I loved the card so much that I kept one so that each year I can display it.  I have even written on it from Fred & Sandra, because I want to continue to send this message to myself as well.

So this card is sitting at the front left hand side of the TV this year and will remind us of that special message.

   There is no Christmas without Jesus and there is no Peace without Him too.

Here is a very quick Advent video on Peace.

Do you keep Jesus at the heart of Christmas?

We have a true high Priest in Jesus

We have a Saviour who is at the right hand of God

We have a mediator in Jesus

We have life because Jesus came 

We know that Jesus Christ is Lord

We know that God gave Jesus to bring freedom and Joy 

We know that Jesus wants to send us to others 

We know that Jesus has the power over Satan so that we can be free

Are you still enjoying this time of preparation in the run up to Christmas?

This week coming our oldest son Jonathan arrives from Leeds!

So you can all guess some of the things I was up to this past week but some of the others might surprise you.

  • A bedroom had to be dusted and hoovered.
  • An ensuite had to be cleaned.
  • A bed had to be made.
  • A check of "plain biscuits" (this son nibbles on plain biscuits regularly throughout the day).
  • A check of "Northern Ireland Tea" (this son always goes back home with a supply of Northern Ireland Punjana Tea which is hard to get in England).
  • A certain Agatha Christie Poirot novel had to be started (the two of us are looking forward to sitting down one day to watch "Curtain" which I recorded when it was on ITV a few weeks ago and we had decided to reread the book first).

I bet you didn't guess the last 3 things!

It will feel even more like Christmas once Jonathan arrives as no doubt there will be renditions of

                                                                                      which is His favourite Advent hymn.

I think there may also be

Lots of talk about blogs as he is also a blogger.
Lots of talk about church as he is a Pastor.
Lots of talk about books as he is an avid reader.
Lots of talk about food as he loves to eat.

Of course I can say all this because I know him so well.

Which makes me think about something Fred & I and a couple of friends were talking about last night. 

How can we express ourselves towards Jesus if we do not know Him well.  
Surely we will run out of words to describe Him, to praise Him and to worship Him.

Do you know Him well?


Water, Water, Everywhere? - A Dose of Encouragement

Well not quite, but most areas in Northern Ireland were getting very heavy rain yet again today after the flooding in Belfast yesterday.  
Some great pics have been tweeted around and the papers are full of them too, especially the one of the police jeep half submerged and where can the police go but onto the roof.

We drove from Banbridge to Londonderry yesterday afternoon via Belfast and the journey was okay until we got closer to Londonderry and the rain came down so hard I could scarcely see a few metres in front of me.  We laughed and said thank goodness we live at the top of a hill and so does my sister (our destination).

Great visit seeing our new great nephew only one week old and of course taking lots of pictures of everyone provided they got close enough to the baby because, of course, he was the star attraction.  

We were actually celebrating so many things yesterday that our nephew declared it was like a mini Christmas with all the cards and gifts being exchanged.  

There was a new baby, a birthday, an anniversary, and a new home.

Then came all the news about the flooding, the many roads that were closed, the damage done to homes and businesses and about the way people were helping others like the guy with the surf board, yes I did say surf board, and the guy in the canoe/kayak.  The RNLI were out helping with 2 boats as well and the Red Cross were distributing aid.

Travelling back this morning was relatively rain free but now as I write this the rain is pouring down in Banbridge again and probably elsewhere too.  As we came through Belfast this morning to drop off our son most of the roads that had been shut down to traffic last night were open again but loads of damage done that will not be fixed up as quickly as the roads can dry up.  

Most of the talk in the coming days and weeks will be of how the flooding should never have happened, the council were not prepared for it etc. and the city will be rife with criticism and the caring, helpful people will not be talked about in all the major discussions. 

I love the way these people and organisations I have mentioned above and others didn't sit back and complain but got out there and helped in there own small or large but generous way.  There were probably many other good samaritans around the city who I will never hear about but they all deserve praise for helping others.

They say there could be more flooding today and maybe tomorrow but then too there will be people who will step forward to help and show that they care for others.  This is something we should all be ready to do but usually we are too concerned with what irritates us rather than thinking about who we could make a difference for.

The Bible teaches us to look out for our neighbours and our friends and not to stop there but to care about all people.  Jesus cared for young, old, Jew or gentile.  He didn't stop and think now where do they live or who are they associated with or what did someone say about them the other day?- no He cares about everyone.    

So we are also to care about everyone and help to make a difference for good in this world.  

It's even a command from the Lord.

We don't need to wait for something like a flood to happen but there are many ways we can look out for others, we just need to notice what their needs might be.

If we follow the command from the Bible to love others then we will want to help in all situations.

We don't need to wait for something like a flood to happen

We should ask God each day to make us aware of people we can help or even needs we should be praying for.

Here are some other  Doses of Encouragement

And some other Posts about Northern Ireland


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