Thursday, 31 January 2013

UK Interest Rates

I received a letter from my bank today, re the interest rate on my savings account, which is currently a meagre 3.20%.

They advised me that, from April, the rate will decrease to 0.50% (due to the bonus ending).

This is a ridiculous state of affairs.

The controversial £80bn Funding For Lending (FLS) scheme has been widely blamed for the cuts. The FLS offers banks and building societies access to cheap money to fund mortgage lending. Since its launch in the autumn, the rates paid on savings accounts have tumbled, as banks no longer need to compete to get deposits from ordinary savers to fund their lending. 

Who else can be culpable, other than the Government and the Bank of England?


Ros Altmann, the director-general of Saga, said government policy was punishing the nation's savers. "It has been obvious for some time that policymakers don't care about the suffering of savers," she said.

Sylvia Waycot of Moneyfacts.co.uk said: "Savers are being persecuted without borrowers getting the rewards." 

When are they going to stop punishing savers, by their ghastly policy of artificially low interest rates?

Will the new Governor of the Bank of England, Mr Carney, change course?

Of course I shall review my personal circumstances in April. I notice that the current best interest rates for savers are languishing at about 2.35%.

Malone Visit

I was at south Belfast today, the main purpose of which was to pay an old pal a visit.

James suffered a debilitating stroke several years ago and, as a consequence, now lives in a nursing home.

This particular home is at Windsor Park.

Although he has only been there for several days, he tells me that he likes it, which is very good news.

His father was a well-known solicitor. James himself was sent to Brackenber House prep school and Portora Royal School, Enniskillen.

We had a good old chin-wag about heritage matters and old Ulster families, a topic we both share a common interest in, especially since he was based once at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.

James asked me if I could contact his optician, in order to apprise him of James's whereabouts; which I shall do this afternoon; and I will also advise the optician that James needs another pair of reading and distance spectacles.

Later, I drove to Balmoral Road, where I visited a few businesses; and then lunched at the Hawthorne Restaurant, formerly part of Fulton's furnishings.

I am glad to say that standards at the Hawthorne are a high as ever; grub is terrific; and I was welcomed as an old customer.

I told them that I was glad to see them still open for business.

I had the usual, irresistible savoury mince tart with salad.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Prince Andrew in Belfast


The Duke of York this afternoon visited Northern Ireland Science Park, Queen's Island, Belfast, and was received by Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant of the County Borough of Belfast (Dame Mary Peters DBE).

His Royal Highness later attended the National Citizen Service Graduation at Titanic Signature Project, Belfast.

The Duke of York this evening attended a Dinner at Hillsborough Castle and was received by Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant of County Down (Mr David Lindsay)

Monday, 28 January 2013

Tyrwhitt Shirts

I ordered a new shirt from Charles Tyrwhitt at the end of last week.

I have several check shirts from Cordings in Piccadilly, though the weakest part of them, in my experience, is the collar, which has a tendency to fray rather easily.

I speak from some experience, since I own shirts by Turnbull & Asser, Aquascutum and Marks & Spencer, to name a few.

On this occasion, I chose a Royal, Chestnut and Burgundy large country check classic shirt from them.

I have quite a few Tyrwhitt shirts in my wardrobe and I like them. I find the cut and quality practically on a par with Cordings, at a fraction of the price.

I took delivery of my new shirt today, at lunchtime ~ a mere few days since I ordered it online. It is up to my expectations.

I think Tyrwhitt's service is exemplary.

Coronation Day Service

The sixtieth anniversary of The Queen’s Coronation in June, 2013, will be marked with a service of celebration at Westminster Abbey.

The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh, and other Members of the Royal Family will attend a Service to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Coronation Service on Tuesday, the 4th June, at 11am.


In addition to the main service, Westminster Abbey is also hosting a series of special events to celebrate the anniversary.

For more information, visit Westminster Abbey's website: www.westminster-abbey.org.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Fancy Dress


The noble Earl is minded to acquire a Royal Irish Rangers' caubeen with hackle; and the cap badge of a field-marshal, for use at future house parties (!).

Dangerfield, old boy, your notion of having Belmont promoted might finally come to fruition.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Burns Supper

Timothy Belmont was at a Burns Supper party last night, at an old school pal's home.

The weather conditions were awful and I finally managed to reach his house, a fine dwelling somewhat akin to Cleggan in its unusual style.

In fact it's not too far from Cleggan Lodge, near Broughshane, County Antrim.

It sits in a hundred and forty acres of lovely Ulster countryside.

We had a terrific time. If you are reading this, Gavin, many thanks indeed for a splendid and memorable evening. You and Lorraine are great and most hospitable hosts.


The grub was delicious, consisting of a wholesome chicken or pheasant soup; venison stew with haggis; chocolate and cranachan pudding; whisky; and abundant wine.


Shortly thereafter, the drone of the bagpipes could be heard and Gavin marched in. He must have learnt to play them in the CCF band at Campbell.

One of the house guests, Michael, is an accomplished musician and played the piano for us all. He also happens to be an Old Brackenbrian, so I'll see him again next Friday at the Ulster Reform Club, for the annual old boys' dinner.


I stayed over, having retired to bed at some unearthly hour, like three-thirty .

This morning we all had breakfast in the large conservatory: venison sausages, rustic bread, mustard, marmalade, mushrooms, tea.

Brackenber Relics


I recall my school-days at Brackenber House as happy ones. The trophy above was for the Senior Hurdles. It was presented by J H Martin in 1968.

I won the hurdles in 1973 and 1974. The very last name engraved on it is J S Hollywood, in 1984.

Click on the image to enlarge it.


Above are three small medallions which I won for the hurdles, long jump and 100 yards, in 1973.



Finally, this little white, gold, enamelled buttonhole badge denoted my House, which was Hawks.

Incidentally, I won the Victor Ludorum too, about 1973.

Brackenber House School was located at 6-10 Cleaver Avenue, Belfast. First published in December, 2011.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Blackberry Sponge


Another celebrated Belmont blackberry sponge, made with County Down (Rowallane and Portavo) hand-picked blackberries, butter, caster sugar, egg and self-raising flour; baking in the oven.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Ross's: II

This morning I had a good chin-wag with Daniel Clarke of Ross's, the celebrated and long-established auction-house in central Belfast.

I was consulting him about a few items of my own, with a view to selling them.

I'd passed the new café several minutes earlier, though Daniel suggested I give it a try; so, brandishing the ancient whangee umbrella, I walked downstairs and into the new café in Montgomery Street.

Ross's are furnishing it with ~ appropriately enough ~ vintage and even antique items of furniture and paintings.

I predict that it will become an established feature, especially on auction days.


TODAY I researched Kilbroney House, Rostrevor; the Lyons' of Old Park, Belfast; and the Kingans of Glenganagh, County Down.

Ross's Café

I have paid a visit to Ross's auction house this morning and they have opened a brand new café in their premises, at the corner of Montgomery Street and May Street.

The ground floor is something akin to a vaulted basement, the principal rooms being on the first floor of these Victorian premises.

Various coffees, cakes and snacks are served by Daniel Clarke's son Angus, who is presently running the café.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Weekend Break

Dear readers, Timothy Belmont has been somewhat incommunicado ~ lying doggo ~ for a few days, at a well-known hotel in central Belfast with friends.

Fool, Belmont! I was slightly inebriated on Saturday evening and, as a consequence, paid for it by suffering a sore head the next morning.

We remained in the hotel for most of the weekend, apart from venturing out to procure some essential provisions.

Lady A has a brand new ipad 4, which impressed me greatly. My little Dell Mini 9 seemed a bit dated in comparison.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Viscount Crichton


John Henry Michael Ninian Crichton, styled Viscount Crichton, is a courtesy lord and heir to the Earl of Erne.

Lord Crichton divides his time between the ancestral family seat, Crom Castle, County Fermanagh, and his home in London, where he is a property consultant.

David Walliams (left) with Viscount Crichton and Amanda and Noel Johnston
 David Walliams (left) with Lord Crichton and Amanda and Noel Johnston outside Crom Castle

Crom is one of the most stately and imposing places in Northern Ireland. The Castle and immediate grounds are private (Lord & Lady Erne); and the estate, which is a property of the National Trust, is open to the public.

The west wing of Crom Castle, where Lord Crichton lives, has been transformed into a sumptuous and discrete apartment within the Castle which is available, on a commercial basis, for luxury breaks, parties, weddings or functions. Here is an interesting press article.

Lord Crichton's other interests include shooting, skiing, theatre and amateur dramatics.

First published in August, 2008.

Friday, 18 January 2013

TV Highlights

Freddy Fox was wailing to his heart's content outside Belmont GHQ forty-five minutes earlier this morning, at three forty-five.

The thing is, dear readers, I am quite a light sleeper.

Our vulpine pal must sense this and make return calls.


I HAVE been viewing the brand new Father Brown series on BBC One this week. So far, I am enjoying it hugely. I'm recording the series, and watch individual episodes later.

At Campbell, the then College Chaplain, the Reverend David Erskine, used to sit atop an ancient wooden chair and read us G K Chesterton's Father Brown novels at the end of term.

BBC Four's Lost Kingdoms of South America, presented by the very enthusiastic Dr Jago Cooper, is also a great series.


DO ANY readers find it tiresome that the BBC has this ridiculous policy, doubtless supported by legislation, at some European Union directive, that metric values are used throughout their broadcasts?

Summit heights in metres; distances in kilometres. One gets "the drift". This must be condemned; especially since distances on our roads are measured, still, in miles and inches.

Alas, Timothy Belmont must ~ in a cognitive sense ~ convert kilometres into the best of British miles!

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Vulpine Raucosity

I was disturbed at four-thirty this morning by the screeching and howling of something akin to a banshee.

The disturbance occurred, I estimate, within twenty or thirty yards of Belmont GHQ.

It could only have been a male fox, emitting a series of short, high-pitched screeches; followed by a kind of loud clucking.


LORD COURTOWN has apprised me of his new blog, News From The Red Carpet.

Patrick, 9th Earl of Courtown, is a representative hereditary peer in the upper house.

He complimented me about my article some time ago on his ancestral home, Courtown House, County Wexford.

The Earls of Courtown owned 14,426 acres there in Victorian times.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Partridge Dinner


This was Belmont's fodder tonight: Partridge, samphire and mashed potato; with blackcurrant jelly.

Looks better than it tasted!

Which Game?

Timothy Belmont donned the robust British Warm overcoat with all the other winter paraphernalia, and ventured into Northern Ireland's capital city this morning.

I strode in to the venerable Linenhall Library, where I installed myself opposite a pretty, petite girl who, as it happened, smiled at me when I left.

I researched the Musgrave Baronets of Tourin and the Smyths of Ballynegall.

Afterwards, I made a bee-line for Marks & Spencer, where a few choice groceries were obtained.

Can any readers name the little game bird on the image above. I'm having it for dinner this evening.


FORDE, Northern Ireland justice minister! The royal coat-of-arms, attached at a considerable height (where binoculars are required) to Belfast crown court, Oxford Street, is noticeably faded.

Ignorance or negligence?

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Royal Victorian Chain


15 January 2013


THE QUEEN has been graciously pleased to confer the Royal Victorian Chain upon the undermentioned:

The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Rowan Douglas WILLIAMS, Lord Archbishop of Canterbury.

The Royal Victorian Chain is an award, instituted in 1902 by King Edward VII as a personal award of the Monarch. Although it is similar in appearance to the Royal Victorian Order, this highly coveted award does not constitute part of that Order of Knighthood.
The Royal Victorian Chain does not confer upon its recipients any style or title - in fact, the Chain is not even given a precedence within any Commonwealth honours system - but it represents a personal token of high distinction and esteem from the Monarch.

The Royal Victorian Chain must be returned to the Monarch upon the death of the recipient.

Plastic Bag Tax


A plastic bag tax, which will charge customers 5p for every carrier bag supplied to them by retailers, is to be introduced in Northern Ireland.

The regulations were approved by the Northern Ireland Assembly on Monday. They will come into effect on 8 April, 2013.

As far as I am aware, this charge is in line with that of Wales. The Irish Republic charges a levy of 22 cents per bag.

The proceeds of the levy will be forwarded to the NI Department of Environment. The Minister, Alex Attwood MLA, said he hoped to see an 80% reduction in the use of carrier bags as a result of the levy:

 "Recent statistics have shown a significant increase in single use carrier bags handed out by major supermarkets in Northern Ireland, it is the big retailers which I am most interested in. We can reduce the number of carrier bags by at least 80%, this levy helps."

"This is an area where consumers can really help the environment. The image of Northern Ireland as "green & clean" - a major part of the character of our lives and the appeal of this place - can be deepened if we deal decisively with carrier bags and the damage they cause."

The levy also applies to bags made from paper, plant-based material or natural starch.

The regulations also provide for a range of exemptions from the levy on the grounds of hygiene and food safety, the protection of both goods and consumers and confidentiality in respect of prescription medicines.

Monday, 14 January 2013

TV Guides

I'm keen to hear from readers re their views on TV guides; particularly the "free" ones which come with weekend newspapers.

I'd be a Daily Telegraph reader (despite reading nearly everything online these days).

I have been told that The Daily Mail has a fairly good listings guide, on Saturdays presumably.

I presently receive the Radio Times by mail order, the London edition, in order that I can obtain the London channel listings. It costs £1.60 per week, as I write.

I assume that all newspapers sold in Northern Ireland have local editions; hence, The Times, Telegraph, Mail etc sell local editions in Ulster.

Royal Infant


St James's Palace

Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are delighted to confirm they are expecting a baby in July, 2013.

Her Royal Highness's condition continues to improve since her stay in hospital last month.

The infant shall be known officially as His (or Her) Royal Highness Prince (or Princess) [name] of Cambridge.

Bentley Stalling!


The Daily Telegraph has provided some light-hearted relief, recounting the tale of Her Majesty's Bentley State Limousine, which stalled for a short period after divine service at Sandringham, Norfolk:


IT IS normally no laughing matter when your car will not start on a freezing cold day.

But the Queen evidently saw the funny side when her state Bentley, said to be worth £10m, refused to come to life after a church service at Sandringham today [Sunday, 13/01/13].


Standing nearby, she was seen laughing and pointing as her chauffeur tried to coax the motor into action outside St Mary Magdalene church on the Norfolk estate.

The car's V8 6.75 litre engine finally spluttered into life at the seventh attempt and the Queen, wearing a checked black and white coat with a white hat decorated with black bows, climbed in for the quarter-of-a-mile drive back to Sandringham House.

The Duke of Edinburgh walked to and from the church as normal, despite the freezing weather.

The car is one of two purpose-built Bentley state limousines owned by the Queen. They are the only two ever made and have been valued at £10m each.

The first of the cars was given to her by Bentley in 2002 to mark her Golden Jubilee and she was said to be so impressed with it that she ordered a second one.

Each of the motors is armoured and blast resistant, with kevlar-reinforced tyres and has a top speed of 130mph. Both were converted to run on biofuel in 2009.

The driver of the Bentley was the Queen's head chauffeur Joe Last, 65, who has worked for her since 1986.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Blandings at Crom

I'll be tuned in to BBC One this evening at six-thirty for the first episode of the brand new comedy drama series, Blandings, based on the Wodehouse novels.

It has been produced on location at Crom Castle, County Fermanagh.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Killynether Day


I have spent the day at Killynether Wood, near Scrabo, County Down, with about a dozen others. We were working at a coppiced area in the middle of the woods.

Yet again, it was fine and dry. We lit a hearty bonfire.


A fairly large birch tree was felled in the afternoon.

The packed lunch today included an apple and prawn sandwiches.

There were plenty of logs left at the end of the day, so we all shared the spoils ~ a perk of the task!

Friday, 11 January 2013

Brackenber Request


Do any readers have photographs of Brackenber House? It was known as Cherryhill House before it became a school.

I presently have no images at all of the building.

I'm keen to acquire pictures ~ black & white or colour ~ from front, back and side elevations; and also the interior.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

The Glorious Empire


The Secret of England's Greatness

© National Portrait Gallery, London  

Her Most Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria presenting a Bible in the Audience Chamber at Windsor, by Thomas Jones Barker, ca 1863.

Brackenber Dinner


Old Brackenbrian Dinner


The annual Old Brackenbrian dinner is being held on Friday, 1st February, 2013, at 7.45pm, in the Ulster Reform Club, Royal Avenue, Belfast.

The guest speaker will be the Lord Bew.

The dress code is smart-casual. 

The cost of the meal is £30.

Old Brackenbrians are requested to reply early and include the payment - cheques should be made payable to Brackenber House Association (or BHA).

Old Brackenbrians are encouraged to make every effort to attend and also try to contact old colleagues who may have been absent in recent years, to come and see if we can make this year the biggest turnout for many years.

Please reply before the 28th January, 2013, to (please note different recipient for replies):

Gordon Harvey Esq
54 Greenwood Glen
Belfast
BT8 7WE


Email: dinner@brackenber.org

Kettyle Bacon

I have almost finished the packet of Kettyle Fermanagh streaky bacon. There is one rasher remaining.
 
I don't know if readers can recall that I mentioned this local brand some weeks ago, and I was full of praise about the quality and flavour of their back bacon.
So the grill was turned on this morning; the butter was placed at the bottom for a while; the bacon was brought out of the fridge; the Nutty Krust high fibre bread was trimmed in readiness for toasting; and a few rashers were placed under the grill.

Now I realize why I never received any acknowledgement, let alone a reply, from Kettlye: Their streaky variety does not crispen. Not at all; unless it is burned to the colour of charcoal.

Believe me. I have tried. It was even cooked in the microwave oven, though still did not crispen. It's simply not that kind of bacon.

Abundant fat emanates from the rashers as they cook; though they remain ~ well, soft in texture.

However ~ and I cannot overemphasize this point ~ the flavour of the finished product is quite supreme; indeed possibly amongst the best streaky rashers I have ever tasted.

In this instance, the fat seems good and enhances the full, rich flavour of the County Fermanagh bacon.

I have to admit to preferring streaky bacon very crispy; that's my personal preference.

Hence, in future, I shall revert to good quality "thin & crispy" streaky bacon.

I'd have no hesitation in buying the Kettyle back bacon, which is of the same high standard as their other products.

I am eager to try other Kettyle products, given the high standards of their bacon.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Royal Decree


THE QUEEN has been pleased, by Letters Patent under the Great Seal of the Realm, dated 31 December, 2012, to declare that all the children of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales should have and enjoy the style, title and attribute of Royal Highness with the titular dignity of Prince or Princess prefixed to their Christian names or with such other titles of honour.

In practice this means that newborn sons or daughters of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge shall be known as His/Her Royal Highness Prince/ess [name] of Cambridge.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Blog Traffic

Lord Belmont was inundated with 1,500 hits yesterday, very close to a record for one day's traffic.

So far this month, January 8th, there have been over 9,000 hits.

It is most gratifying to have so much support from my esteemed readers.

Hand-Sown Gloves

The old brogues remained shiny and dry today, Timothy Belmont having paid a visit to the optician's for an examination of the right eye again. My left eye has almost perfect vision; so I've asked them to see if they can zap the right one again.

A pretty blonde examined me. Of course, I couldn't help myself and thought of something nice to say to her; so remarked upon her beautiful necklace. My eyes eventually fell down to her left hand and her fourth finger wore a diamond ring. No matter.

I do tend to get dry eyes, though; particularly upon waking from the nocturnal slumber. They gave me some ointment.

I have an appointment with the ophthalmic surgeon in early February.

We shall see.

A new pair of formal black leather gloves was on the shopping-list, so I revisited the House of Fraser, where I saw a good little pair of hand-sown Dent's gloves, at £55; though reduced by 20%.

What a shame that House of Fraser, including their flagship store, Harrod's, was sold to Fayed in 1985; the consequence of which has been that Harrod's is no longer part of the House of Fraser group.

Alas, I mislaid one of my other black leather gloves in the Mad Pierre's automobile one night after a knees-up in town, before Christmas.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Political Honours

THE QUEEN has been pleased to appoint the Rt Hon the Lord Strathclyde PC to the Order of the Companions of Honour (CH).

The Order of the Companions of Honour is conferred on people for recognised services of national importance, for a pre-eminent and sustained contribution in the arts, science, medicine or government.

It confers no Knighthood or other title or status, but recipients are entitled to use the post-nominal letters “CH”.

The Order was instituted in 1917 by GEORGE V at the same time as the Order of the British Empire was founded.  The Order of CH consists of the Sovereign and 65 members.


HER MAJESTY has been pleased to approve the appointment of the Lord Henley, the Lord Brabazon of Tara DL, the Earl Howe, and the Lord Williams of Elvel CBE to Her Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council.

The Queen has been pleased to approve the appointment of the Lord Hill of Oareford CBE to Her Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council. Lord Hill will be a member of the Cabinet.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Anmer Hall

It has been disclosed that Anmer Hall is to be the family home of TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Anmer Hall is situated in the Norfolk village of Anmer, about two miles east of The Queen's residence at Sandringham.

It was leased by TRH The Duke and Duchess of Kent as their country house from 1972 until 1990.

Anmer Hall has formed part of the Sandringham estate since 1898. It is a late-Georgian house, of brick and tile to the front elevations, and of Carstone and tile to the rear and north.

The long front comprises eleven bays, with a three-bay central pediment, and the house has two storeys and dormers, with a bell tower slightly off centre.

The ground-floor windows are set in blank arches and there is a semicircular porch on two Tuscan columns.

In 1990, The Duke and Duchess of Kent left Anmer Hall, since when it has been leased to the Everett family.


THE DUKE and Duchess of Cambridge will move into their official London home at Kensington Palace this summer:

Apartment 1A, which is being renovated, was previously home to The Princess Margaret. The property, which has five bedrooms and three reception rooms, has had to have asbestos removed and undergo rewiring and an overhaul of its antiquated heating and plumbing systems.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Granolas


Can any readers recall my moaning about how uninspiring I find breakfast cereals? And my lamentation re the fact that honey and nut bran flakes are no longer widely available?

Well, two granola cereals have been procured today for the Belmont seal of approval, don't you know.

Honey Granola by Dorset Cereals Limited, which costs £3.99 for 19½ oz (550 g) will be on the table for the trusty gnashers. Dorset trumpets their cereal "gently baked with pecans & almonds".

Next shall be Tesco's Finest Nut Granola, at £2.69 for 17½ oz (500g); which claims to have ten various kinds of nuts and seeds.

I encountered a lovely young lady at the cereal aisle, whom I consulted; and it transpired that she had tasted both.

She advised me to buy both the Dorset and Tesco varieties; though she bagged Quaker Oat Granola because it has less fat; whereas I tend to focus on the fibre content.

Tesco are selling masses of large Samsung televisions. I notice that they now proudly display a conspicuous royal warrant on the packaging:

"Samsung UK proudly announces that it has been awarded the Royal Warrant of Appointment to Her Majesty the Queen as supplier of televisions and audio-visual equipment.

Samsung was awarded the Queen’s Royal Warrant in 2012 - the first time that a manufacturer of televisions and audio-visual equipment has received the honour.

In 2006, Samsung Electronics became the first official provider of TVs to the British Royal Family, also offering them a dedicated support service.

Since then, Samsung UK has provided more than 100 premium TV and AV products to the Royal residences.
 

Samsung is delighted to have achieved the right to display the Queen’s coat of arms and continues to strive for the highest standards of quality and service."

Don't Panic!

Timothy Belmont was in top gear this morning; since, when the telephone rang and my aunt told me she had suffered a nasty leak in a water hose in her shower-room, I came to the rescue (!), and provided her with my plumber's number.

Michael came round in a jiffy, stemmed the leak, turned off the requisite valves; took a photograph of the parts; and bade us Goodbye.

A new tap and hose shall be required; so he will order it for fitment next week, we expect.

What ho!

Orangefield House: 1971

A former form master from Orangefield Boys Secondary School contacted a friend of mine recently to show a few 8mm films from 1971.

One of the films was made in the grounds of Orangefield House, then a burnt-out shell with a scrapyard of cars.

I am very grateful to Matt Maginnis for the use of these valuable photographic relics, taken prior to the imminent demolition of Orangefield House, Knockbreda, Belfast.

I have written extensively about the Orangefield Park, once the home of the Blakiston-Houstons. They owned over 5,000 acres at one time.

© MATT MAGINNIS 2013

The side elevation of the mansion, facing southwards, with its characteristic three-bay bow.

© MATT MAGINNIS 2013

Above, the entrance front, to the east.

© MATT MAGINNIS 2013

A closer aspect of the great columns at the entrance front.


© MATT MAGINNIS 2013

Finally, what was once the courtyard of a noble mansion house, used as a scrapyard. Are the remains of the white car those of a Morris Minor?

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

The Hawthorne Restaurant


I am delighted to learn that The Hawthorne Restaurant, although associated with the Fulton's Furnishings business for two decades, shall continue to trade, as usual, at Fulton's premises on Boucher Road, Belfast.

The owner of the Hawthorne writes:-

"The Hawthorne Restaurant is ... an independent business which will continue to trade in spite of the recklessness of the bank and its agents who plan to close the renowned and long-standing Fulton family furnishing business, which has been established for over 40 years."

Sylvia will continue to provide "the best in cuisine and friendly service to our very loyal customers".

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Reluctant Teetotaler

For the benefit of any readers who have not yet read his column, here is the latest splendid missive from Peter Oborne.

One whole month without the devil's brew? I raise my glass, No, my hat, to you!

Best of British, Peter; and I will be following your progress keenly.

Period Comedy

I'm eagerly anticipating the new period comedy series to be broadcast on BBC One shortly, Blandings, based on the books by Sir P G Wodehouse KBE.

As far as I know, the first episode begins on Sunday, 13th January, 6.30-7pm.

Many of my friends and readers will be aware that Wodehouse is possibly my favourite writer of his genre; and that I am particularly fond of Crom, too.

Set in 1929 in the fictional Blandings Castle, Timothy Spall OBE plays the amiable but befuddled 9th Earl of Emsworth (Clarence to his friends).


Jennifer Saunders stars as his indomitable sister, Lady Constance Keeble (Connie).

Blandings was filmed on location at Crom Castle, County Fermanagh, with the support of Northern Ireland Screen.

THE EARL OF ERNE KCVO; NOEL JOHNSTON; JENNIFER SAUNDERS; ARLENE FOSTER MLA; JOHN, VISCOUNT CRICHTON

Crom Castle is the seat and family home of the Earl and Countess of Erne.