My friend Fiona who I met through the pages of WordPress has succumbed to COVID. We met in her garden yesterday after she had tested positive. I met one of her daughters which was lovely. I have read about her so often and seen so many photos it was delightful to meet her in person. Also met Harry, the dog. Again lovely, big ears, more bark than bite. We got on. Fiona was feeling perky. Not so today. But perky or not she would not have been able to come with me as planned to the Ulster Museum to see the small but perfectly formed Bloomsbury Group exhibition, or the larger and completely wondrous Light from the West exhibition which had me lusting after a Paul Henry painting of a sunrise. Annoyingly the museum has a very small postcard selection for sale, a selection which does not include this painting. Maybe she’ll get to both before they finish.
In 2019 Fiona and I had lunch at a place called Falafel at 9 Botanic Avenue. It was great. Last year, my first time back since the pandemic I took myself there anticipating a good lunch, only to find it very closed. I assumed it was a victim of COVID and lunched at a good, but not as good as Falafel, place a few doors up the road. Going along Botanic Avenue today on the bus I nearly had whiplash when I realised the restaurant was open. I am meeting Petra for lunch tomorrow, and suggested this is where we could eat. She’s agreed, so I am hoping it’s the same management and as good as before.
I’m in Belfast as my cousin Kathryn offered me the use of her house while she and her family are away. It’s been terrific. The first night was weird, as I have only been here when the house has been full of people. I am alone. But I have settled in, and apart from missing MasterB, and being bemused by the lack of tea towels, teaspoons and vegetable knives, I couldn’t be happier. It’s given me a much better understanding of the geography of south Belfast, and I am even getting to grips with the bus app. There’s a three day visitor pass you can buy which allows unlimited travel within the central district. So I have been catching buses here and there, although I haven’t always correctly identified the right bus stop and have watched dismayed as the bus I want has sailed by me. I have also waited for buses which haven’t appeared at all, but where the app informs me they stopped at my bus stop while I was there. Small worries. I’ve walked familiar and unfamiliar neighbourhoods; connected up places I have been to but not realised were so close to each other, talked to dog walkers and dog owners, met a beautiful but unsocialised Whippet, who flattered me by making friends after initial fear of a stranger, a long haired dachshund who accepted attention as his due, a cocker poo who was supervising his owner’s hedge trimming.
Kathryn is back on Sunday night. I thought of buying her some tea towels I saw today, but as she evidently is quite happy without them, I think it will be flowers.
Truly, Belfast is a very liveable city. I am daily more seduced. I just need to win the lottery so I can have a home here as well as in London.