About a bloody month.
Because it was almost a month ago that I went away to Belfast to stay with my cousin for the weekend.
I know. I apologise for being so tardy with my tales of adventure. But also don’t get too excited because there isn’t really an adventure to tell. Apologies.
So I put on my Not Really Resolutions of 2011 list that I wanted to go over to Belfast to see my family at some point this year. I guess this kind of needs some explanation...
My Mum is from Belfast and moved to Hull over 40 years ago when she married a Hull man and had babies. When she first came over to Hull she spent quite a bit of time going back home to see family etc. However by the time I came along this was kind of wavering. Mum and her brother are not particularly close and I don’t know if it’s a man thing generally or my Uncle’s thing in particular, but he’s not great at making the effort and reciprocating visits over the water. And so I didn’t go over to Ireland as much as my brother and sister would have when they were small.
I have done my fair share of visiting though, and in 2005, before I went back to uni to do my Masters degree, I lived with my Aunt and Uncle for the summer and worked in Belfast city centre for a few months.
I have 2 cousins from this side of the family, a girl and boy, about 9 and 7 years older than me respectively. This age gap meant that they had all kind of flown the nest and weren’t about that much when I was a whippersnapper so I don’t really “know” them. And of course now, the only time we see each other is for weddings and christenings and then you’re restricted to small-talk and don’t get the chance to properly get to know each other.
So I decided I would rectify this and go over to see them this year. I went to stay with Tory, but luckily Roger only lives around the corner so I would get to see plenty of them and there was a date booked in to see my Uncle and his wife and my littlest cousin (who is younger than 2 of my nephews, which confuses my head at times – aaah modern family life).
Shortly before I took off for the ridiculously short flight I had a slight wobble – what the hell would I do if it turns out I don’t really like my cousins? What if there’s a reason that we don’t really have a relationship? What if I get there and we literally have nothing to say to one another?
Oh the panic.
I flippin' love taking photos of clouds when I'm in a plane.
Obviously I’m a moron. Of course we got on and I’m yet to be in a situation where I can’t find anything to say to someone so we were sortedamundo.
There followed one of the loveliest weekends I’ve ever had. It coincided with some very stressful time at work which meant that I think I appreciated the break even more. It was chilled and relaxed with no pressure to do anything or go anywhere in particular. Just time to sit and talk and get to know these people that I’m related to.
Sightseeing isn’t really necessary for me because I’ve seen that much of Belfast but I’ve never been to Stormont before. I think that’s because when I was a wee thing and going over there, you couldn’t actually get up the Royal Mile because of the peskiness that was going on at the time. (Is it appropriate to call terrorism, peskiness? I’m going to say yes because I’m trying to keep it lighthearted here.)
So off to Stormont Roger and I went. We rejected walking up the Royal Mile because it was flippin’ freezing and there was a distinct threat of rain in the not too far distance. But we scampered about and I played around with all the different settings on my camera taking photos of the building.
(See I haven’t even told you about my camera yet have I?!)
What I love so much about Belfast is, surprisingly for me, how small it is. It’s like the perfect combination of urban and countryside combined. It’s urban and paved enough that I’m not going to break out in to a cold sweat, and yet you can be wandering around town and suddenly catch a glimpse of greenery and hilliness and a sense of freedom not too far away.
We also went to The Grand Opera House (which has the most exquisite ceiling ever by the way) to see James Vincent McMorrow. Have you heard the Love Film adverts with a man singing “Higher Love”? That’s this guy. I guess you’d call him kind of folky? I don’t know I suck at music but I do know that it was hauntingly beautiful at times. Oh and a band called The Staves were supporting them and their singing was so mesmeric that I floated away on a little cloud of eurphoria and was only brought down to earth when someone needed me to move so they could go to the toilet. (Incidentally they were named The Guardian's Band of the Day on 8th November - look at me! I'm ahead of the times!) I’m now stalking both on Facebook although I’m guessing it’ll be a long time until Hull is on their list of places to travel to.
Sorry there isn’t more to tell you. Sorry there aren’t really any photos. It just wasn’t that kind of weekend but it was exactly what I hoped it would be and unfortunately there aint no camera that can capture that.
*Don't you love how imaginative this post title is? You can tell I'm not firing on all cylinders. I told you, at the moment I'm afraid it's below par blogging or no blogging at all.