There's a reason I'm not a poet

Archive for the ‘Photies’ Category

Ciao, cuoiaio

I’ve had a pretty good couple of months. Shortly after my last blog I went to Venice for a couple of days with my family. My sister was having a big birthday, and knew she was going on holiday with her husband and son, but didn’t know (a) where they were going or (b) that we were all coming to.

The surprise was slightly spoiled by my dad shouting at my other sister to get out of eyesight when the birthday girl arrived in the airport. Apparently his voice carries. But it was a really lovely holiday, in a flipping beautiful setting.

I was really impressed by Venice; it was unlike any other city I’ve been to. You don’t drive to work, you hop in your boat, and then moor it outside your house at the end of the working day. I had so much fun just casually exploring the city and working my way between various glorious food vendors.

Needless to say I would have loved to stay there for longer. Thankfully, I’m off to Italy again at the start of June! There are twelve of us going, staying in an AirBnB villa for week. To say I’m excited to get back to the land of pasta would be an understatement.

Venice did give me a a bit of language jealousy. Similar to when I was in Japan, I found myself frustrated at not being able to properly navigate the place on account of not having a clue what anyone was saying. In Japan, I had some Chinese ability to allow me to read a couple of characters, and in Italy I had my French (and fifteen-year-old vague memories of Latin). But it’s no substitute for actually speaking the language, and being able to order something in a restaurant/shop/ice cream stand (you can really tell food is my driving factor in life can’t you).

So, on returning to Norn Iron, I managed to find myself some Italian lessons! It’s only a six week course and it’s very much for beginners, and in fact I’m only able to make it to 4 out of 6 lessons. But I’m excited to give a new language a whack and see if I can work on becoming the man in the Dolmio adverts.

Other recent enjoyments have been the Belfast Film Festival (including a virtual reality studio and an absolutely phenomenal Chinese film called Still Tomorrow), the long-awaited death of winter, binges of RuPaul’s Drag Race, the Festival of Fools, and particular mention goes to having Flaming Lip and Classic Girl over visiting me a few weeks ago. They’re both from London and the downside of having lots of friends living there is that your amount-of-time-per-friend really starts to suffer. So I really had the best time actually getting to hang out with them, and properly chat. I put on my Belfast tour guide cap and took them around a couple of museums, a lot of food locations, and a balance of both super-Catholic and super-Protestant murals.

It was all a plan to slowly try and convince all my uni friends that Belfast is the place to be and they should just all move here. I don’t really fancy my chances but you can’t blame a guy for trying.

M

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This little light of mine

… It has been a while since I last blogged. I’ve had a nice few months! Work has been great, plenty of fun times with my friends, and lots of good wholesome family moments- really enjoying spending time with the nephew. 

I’m unlikely to say much more than that cause let’s face it I’m a lazy sod. So instead let’s talk about my wee winter trip! I’m just back from a couple of days in the French city of Lyon, which is a really beautiful city. Aside from the fact that it’s the gastronomic capital of France (obviously nothing I’d be remotely interested in), part of the reason I went to Lyon specifically was to see a French friend of mine I’d made earlier in the year. 

I was sitting in the park one day on the grass when a guy comes down and sits next to me. I did the standard British thing of thinking “what does he want is he selling something check if he’s crazy do you think he’s in a cult”, as well as the standard Irish thing of talking away to him. It turns out he’s just really friendly and perhaps was missing his family/girlfriend. Anyway over the few months he was in NI on placement I got to know him and he met my friends a few times. So PJB and I decided we’d pay him a visit in Lyon!

I’ve been to France a couple of times: Paris maybe three or four times, Val Thorens and Tignes for skiing, and Nice earlier in the year. Each time I had a bit of interaction with the French people but it was usually in the form of me being a customer. But my friend invited us round for a family meal and I was able to see what PJB (who’d spent a year in France on her year abroad) meant when she was talking about French hospitality. My previous experience with French people has been somewhat variable when it comes to how nice they’ve been, but it turns out that’s cause most of the ones I’ve met have been Parisians.. The family were so ridiculously welcoming. His niece was being baptised the next day, so we were greeted by his immediate family, his cousins, aunt and uncle, and his kickass granny. I had a wee moment reflecting on how a chance opportunity had led me to having such a rewarding experience. They were all so nice, so attentive, and they ploughed us with so much food. And wine. Oh man the wine. 

That actually brings us nicely to the next topic: the fooooooood. Sweet Lord almighty, did we eat well over the four days. As with anywhere in France, you don’t have to walk far to find a glorious bakery, or a patisserie with a window display that’d make you mug your granny just so you can buy something. We subscribed to the standard Michael philosophy of “why have three meals a day when you can just eat constantly”, and there was no lack of options. We dropped into a bakery at almost every available opportunity, and hunger became a distant memory. Lyonnaise food tends to be a little rich: cured meats, pâtés, obviously lots of cheese. There’s also a classic dessert which is a tart made from candied pralines, and as a result of the sugar the tart is a beautiful red/pink colour. Hoping to make it myself some day! Restaurants commonly call themselves “bouchons”, which are small traditional taverns serving local fare on checkered tablecloths accompanied by lovely bread and the warm greeting of the host. We tried two out and it was definitely worth it. Now that I’m home, the plan is to try and train my body to not expect the constant infusion of butter that it’s been treated to for the past few days. 

The reason we visited Lyon when we did is for their annual Fête des Lumières (festival of lights). In commemoration of the installation of a statue of the Virgin Mary, the whole city is covered in lights, be they candles on windowsills or artistic light shows projected onto the beautiful Renaissance architecture of the city. And it’s class! The city is full of hundreds of thousands of people, so there’s a fair amount of crowding/security presence, but it was a great atmosphere and really beautiful. I’ll leave you with a wee snap or two.


M

The Good and The Ugly    

So I’ll start off with a picture of Mournes scenery

And now some shots from Halloween!  

R.I.P in peace

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If it wasn’t for my thumb this would be a decent photo

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My new joke

There needs to stop being so much chocolate/biscuits in my house

Slash I need to stop trying to get rid of them

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Let’s get this show on the road

Let's get this show on the road