Ulster Fries and Meat Loaf

Belfast Panorama

Belfast Panorama

Well, I’m about four days into settling into Ireland for the month and I’m having quite the time!

Friday night Carol took me to her friend’s place out in the country where I ate tons of curry and drank loads of Guinness. I’ve waited until Ireland to have a drop of Ireland, and with the amount of pubs I’ve visited since my journey began, it’s not been easy. We basically just sat around and shot the shit, which was quite cool.

Saturday Carol and I got up “early” (I think we were on the road by like eleven – after a bit of an Ulster Fry breakfast consisting of bacon, soda bread and some sort of potato bread thing). Carol took me down south through County Down. We went to a city called Downpatrick that has a cathedral that features the alleged grave of St. Patrick – the patron saint of Ireland, better known for the guy we toast with green beer every year.

A Castle. I wish I could remember the names of these places – but unfortunately the map is still in the car.

A Castle. I wish I could remember the names of these places – but unfortunately the map is still in the car.

The Cathedral … now to find the grave.

The Cathedral … now to find the grave.

Ah… maybe this is the way…

Ah… maybe this is the way…

Saint Patrick’s grave. I’ve seen nicer tombstones to tell you the truth. Sort of a rustic look.

Saint Patrick’s grave. I’ve seen nicer tombstones to tell you the truth. Sort of a rustic look.

From there we continued south to a mountain range called the Mournes, which were absolutely spectacular. The weather was dry, but grey, so I couldn’t truly appreciate them, but if I’m around in the warmer months, I’m definitely going to take advantage of all the hiking paths the range contains.

After travelling through the Mournes, and stopping at a dam just for a quick moment as it was dam(n) cold, we went to this park/craft fair that had a big pond and a castle.

Belfast-0312-5

This is the damn cold dam in the Mournes. Good thing they had that sign posted, I was about to unpack my Irish Spring.

This is the damn cold dam in the Mournes. Good thing they had that sign posted, I was about to unpack my Irish Spring.

The picnic area with the castle and pond … and ducks. And dogs. And grass. And a REALLY big hedge maze, but it was closed.

The picnic area with the castle and pond … and ducks. And dogs. And grass. And a REALLY big hedge maze, but it was closed.

Carol

Carol

Beaten by the cold and driving all day, we headed back to Comber — the little township on the outskirts of Belfast where Carol lives. She had plans that night, so I just stayed in, finished off the rest of my Guinness watching Bowling For Columbine. It’s the third time I’ve seen it, but it still has the same emotional impact. What a phenomenal movie.

Sunday Carol got back from her friend’s and because the weather was so nice, she wanted to take me up along the north east coast. First she dropped me off at Belfast Castle while she went and got her mum to come with us.

Belfast Castle

Belfast Castle

The gardens at Belfast Castle. There are supposedly nine cat references in the garden, but I could only find five.

The gardens at Belfast Castle. There are supposedly nine cat references in the garden, but I could only find five.

Belfast Castle

Belfast Castle

We then headed up past Larne to Ballygalley. Ballygalley is only a few kilometres from Cairecastle and Corkermain, the place where William McLaughlin was born, my Great, Great, Great relative. We travelled around the area but couldn’t find the church that related to my family history. We did find a church close by, but there were no McLaughlins in the cemetery and the church appeared closed. So, I think we’re going to head back up that way in a couple weeks on our way to Giant’s Causeway on the north coast.

The coast north of Belfast

The coast north of Belfast

The coast north of Belfast

The coast north of Belfast

A church in the area of Cairecastle, where my ancestors are from.

A church in the area of Cairecastle, where my ancestors are from.

Coming back from the coast we hit up a big fish and chip chain restaurant that was awesome. Another bonus at dinner was I got to meet some more of my Irish relatives. (Ok, get ready to go cross-eyed). Carol is my grandmother’s cousin’s daughter. One of the people at the restaurant was another of my grandmother’s cousins, as well as his son. Then after dinner we dropped off Carol’s mum and went out for some Meat Loaf … that’s right, the big man himself! We went and saw Meat Loaf in concert, and it was fantastic! I’ve never been what you’d call a “fan” of his, but I was quite impressed. I really only knew his big hits, but there was quite a few of them, and it was great fun. Cory: He announced last night, even though this was supposed to be his last tour, that he is going into the studio in January to work on Bat III. So there ya go, a bit of inside information for ya pal! And here are some (rather terrible) photos:

Meat Loaf sadly suffering in photographic glory due to the limits of my little camera.

Meat Loaf sadly suffering in photographic glory due to the limits of my little camera.

Meat Loaf sadly suffering in photographic glory due to the limits of my little camera.

Meat Loaf sadly suffering in photographic glory due to the limits of my little camera.

Today I’ve spent just sort of lounging around and trying to work on my Scotland article. Sadly I’ve gotten nowhere on it, so perhaps I’ll spend tomorrow in and try again, ah the benefit of having few, if any, commitments. Oh! I’ve sorted things out and will be heading down to Dublin to visit Julie and Gerard this weekend.

I realized last night that I’ve been too much in the mentality that I’m just on vacation and because I’ve been visiting different people every week, I’ve shared TOO many drinks. So time to dry out.

Rundown on Ryan’s drinking (a ‘what not to do when trying to save money’):

  • Sunday, Dec. 7th: Pint for dinner, 3 at concert and one after concert.
  • Saturday, Dec. 6th: Seven cans of Guinness to pass the night away.
  • Friday, Dec. 5th: Five cans of Guinness with Carol’s friends.
  • Thursday, Dec. 4th: Shared bottle of wine with Carol and a pint with dinner at Pizza Hut.
  • Wednesday, Dec. 3rd: A bottle of nice South African red.
  • Tuesday, Dec. 2nd: Excessive drinking in Edinburgh with Tori.
  • Monday, Dec. 1st: Pints upon arriving in Edinburgh with Tori and Scott.
  • Sunday, Nov. 30th: Pints with Simon and Gemma in Inverness.
  • Saturday, Nov. 29th: Pints out on the town with Simon.
  • Friday, Nov. 28th: A few beers hanging in with Barbara in Glasgow.
  • Thursday, Nov. 27th: A few pints out in Glasgow with Barbara.
  • Wednesday, Nov. 26th: Hot Toddies to keep away the chill of Glasgow.
  • Tuesday, Nov. 25th: A bottle of wine shared with Barbara with dinner in Glasgow.
  • Monday, Nov. 24th: The extra night in Manchester after failed hitching – much cider was consumed by all.
  • Sunday, Nov. 23rd: Last night in Manchester (supposed to be), I am not 100% if I drank anything this night.
  • Saturday, Nov. 22nd: A night in and a bottle of wine, along with some Crown Royal and Malibu Rum.
  • Friday, Nov. 21st: Bass beer and some Absinthe! (oh gawd…)

Yeah, that’s bad. That’s over two weeks of consecutive drinking. Mind you, most nights were not nights that would be drinking until drunk, but still… my poor liver. I think it’s about to rebel and try its luck on the market in India. It does show you a bit of the culture over here though…

3 Responses

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*