Belfast Titanic Museum

Belfast 2016

This past weekend, B and I went up to Belfast for an overnight stay. There was a big tattoo convention on up there at the Titanic Museum. The drive up from Dublin is only about an hour and a half, and is a simple easy straight shot up on the M1. We left early Saturday morning and arrived to Belfast about Noon. This enabled us to go through the Titanic Museum and then on to the convention.

Belfast 2016

First the museum. It’s on the waterfront of the harbor at Belfast (view above) where many ships were built about 100 years ago. Among others for the White Star lines were the Olympic, the Titanic and many others. To commemorate the building and launch of the Titanic, and its subsequent sinking -there is now a museum built in a modern architecture style – which is designed to look like the prow of a ship. You can see it just behind us, below.

Belfast 2016

The museum itself is 5 stories and it costs 17.50 for the basic entry to the museum and the ship nearby. What I expected was not quite what it was though. The place was packed full of people (it was a weekend) and you went up to the main museum based on the time on your ticket. We started out by visiting the large ship nearby – the SS Nomadic. This was the ship that ferried passengers for the Titanic from the port of Cherbourg, France to the Titanic. The vessel itself is dry docked, and has been restored on the inside. There are a few tables, some wooden benches, and a partially interactive museum system. There are some displays of old luggage and some history of a few of the passengers that crossed on the Nomadic to the Titanic. The ship itself is a “supplement” to the larger titanic museum, so while it did lack in information and history (they could have told more about the service of the ship itself) it was ok. The decks were easy to wander and it was good for the 45 minutes we were there.

Belfast 2016
The main steam pipe for the Nomadic

Belfast 2016
Iceburg Lettuce Ahead!

After touring the SS Nomadic we headed inside the main building and were herded into a line with everyone that was on the 1:15 walk through. They promptly had us stand in front of a green screen to take a picture (to be super imposed on a deck of the Titanic, in front of the museum or any of 5 other poses you could later buy for 7.50 each). Then we were sent up an escalator. What we were expecting was a museum of history and artifacts and lots of details on the people who were aboard the Titanic. It’s not really what we got. There were lots people – and as you shuffled through – it was walls of reading and posters and old blown up pictures that were about Belfast, the manufacture of the Titanic (and other ships) and then about the white star line. You walked though area after area like this – much of which in such crowded conditions was impractical to try and read. (It was also quite warm). Eventually, you get to a point they send you up an escalator to the third floor and you stand for about 20 minutes to take a “ride” in a bucket around a room that comprises most of the 2nd and third floor). The ride moves you about from video screen to video screen while you listen to a radio broadcast telling you stories from those that worked building ships. They talk about the heat, they talk about the riveting process, and so on.

Once done with that, you’re marched into another room with more reading / large photo displays, a replica of two rooms of the titanic, a display of carpet samples, and some china samples from the manufacturing process. Eventually, you end up in an area with a repeating video of an ocean (and a fake railing which everyone poses in front of) and the lone item from the time – a letter sent before the Titanic disembarked from Ireland. Finally, you’re sent into a theater room with a repeating video of the underwater oceanographic view of the wreck itself. It is pretty much the same video you see in the movie Titanic with DiCaprio. Here, you take a breather – and then are sent through a bunch of oceanographic displays of old diving gear and modern technology (scuba type subs). There’s also an interactive display on multiple screens where you can “pilot” the subs over the computerized video of wreckage and try to pick out what’s there.

The last rooms are dedicated to the telegraph dispatches from the titanic, the lifeboats, and the survivors. There’s also an interactive computer system set up where you can look up individuals on the ship – and get some other very basic details. Again though -with the crowded nature of the museum – there were bottle necks and folks just didn’t try to read what was there -because it was almost impractical.

After leaving the museum, we headed downstairs for some refreshments at the cafe. I ended up getting a sandwich and white star lines piece of carrot cake:

Belfast 2016

The cake was fine, but it was served on a replica Titanic plate (let’s all ooh and ahh):

Belfast 2016

After that, we went up to the 5th floor of the building and into the Tattoo convention. This was very cool (though I didn’t take any pictures – how did I not take pictures?!?). Before heading to our hotel – the Tara lodge. The Lodge is straight downtown Belfast – and within walking distance to just about everything including the bars, the Queen’s College, and the Botanical Gardens. More on the botanic gardens tomorrow.

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Dem’s Abroad Pub Quiz

Here in Ireland, going to the pub is a part of life. Sometimes you have a Pint, sometimes you don’t. I often wondered why it’s such a big part of the Irish culture. For me, the answer came when I started realizing that traditionally – Irish have large families and very small homes. This means that the Pub became what is effectively everyone’s living room when you wanted a bit of space to “yourself”. It also became a place to meet your mates and a heart of the community. Now – with a housing crisis here in Ireland and many individuals and families forced to share houses and apartments (I know of several single mums that share eg. a 3 bedroom house – in which each mum has a room – shared with their youngest one or two – and the older kids all share a bedroom too!) what I’ve found is that folks spend time at the pub. Eg. Your roommate or the kids are using the living room to watch something. You go to the pub to give them space and not spend your life in the bedroom or kitchen.

That being said – part of Irish life and the center of everything is the Pub quiz. Some Pubs have them weekly, while others have special events to fund raise. I’ve been to a few while here – but recently had my chance to help organise one for the democrats abroad. Basically, several of us wrote up 50 questions – and then the “host” chose a few from each area to include in the sections. Because so many of us wrote questions – we could still participate – because in total only 4-6 questions (out of 50 asked) were used -and we didn’t know all the answers.

The First annual Pub quiz for Dems abroad was held on July 13, at the Stag’s Head Pub in the city center. There were about 50 ex-pats that showed up and answered questions from about 8 pm – 11:30pm. Marja and her husband were the “tally” for the team and then the Dem’s Abroad Chair (TJ) was the host.

Dems Abroad Pub Quiz 2016
Marja and TJ

My team was made up of Paddy, myself, Stephanie, and then another Patrick and his wife (Irish) who we met at the table quiz. Our team name was the “#NeverTrump-eteers”. The 3 of us from work were stumped on many questions -but amazingly – the couple we met knew many of the answers. My team came in 2nd.

Dems Abroad Pub Quiz 2016

Dems Abroad Pub Quiz 2016

Some other teams had really great names – like “Make America Great Britain again”

Dems Abroad Pub Quiz 2016

And Donald Trump’s Tiny T-Rex Hands.

Dems Abroad Pub Quiz 2016

The entire night – we had a great time – and the first, second, and third place teams were all within 2 points of each other (55, 54, 53 points).

The first place team: the Kew Tours! – who won the glamourous hotel voucher for 2.

Dems Abroad Pub Quiz 2016

The second place team (mine): The #Never Trump-eteers (who won back the 3 bottles of wine that I donated):

Dems Abroad Pub Quiz 2016

And the third place team -I can see Ballsbridge from my house – who won a fabulous bag of gourmet Gummy bears:

Dems Abroad Pub Quiz 2016

it was a great evening – and very successful in terms of fund raising. Hopefully, we can do another one sometime soon!

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Crochet – Lattice Scarf Necklace

Crochet

When I was in the US for my Sabbatical back in June, I brought with me two lovely skeins of cotton thread to the US. The previous December – I had an idea to make a summer lattice scarf necklace with some flowers. The scarf itself worked up quickly but get set aside in the shuffle of other orders in the new year. Picking it back up for the trip from Dublin to London (and a 3 hour layover before an 8 hour flight to the US), I managed to complete it.

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The scarf itself was easy to make. Basically a series of single crochet on the beginning and end rows – then a V stitch followed by 7 single chains, skipping the 6 stitches, to v stitch in the 7th over and over again. It’s worked in the round and lets you have a nice open work almost chain mail type scarf as wide or as thin as you might like.

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I turned mine into a cowl – and then added a flower. The flower closeup is below. This is actually the correct color of the yarn – as the flash seems to have caused it to be much brighter than the lovely peachy tan with blue flecks that it was.

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Modelling the scarf at the London Airport. Forgive the hair, and the lack of make up (and the slight scowl). I had been up since 4am – my flight was delayed – turning the 3 hour layover into 4 (thank goodness I brought plenty of yarn) and the flight to Chicago being later than expected. I did make it though – and get plenty of other projects completed while on my holidays in the US.

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