After out main holiday in France I had a few shorter holidays away during August - several days in London, a visit to Market Harborough to visit my sister and a trip to Northern Ireland.
The London trip was a kind of reward for Kate for working so hard for her exams. We stayed in a great Airbnb place in Bloomsbury, just near the British Museum which was both convenient and quiet. Not that we spent much time at the museum - we did go in but after seeing a few mummies and the Rosetta stone, we left, doing the whole thing in under an hour. There were just too many tourists. Most of our time was spent exploring - she liked the trendy shops and bars in Soho though laughed at me for using the word 'trendy' rather than 'cool'. She met an old school friend while I explored Somerset House, a recommendation from my blogger friend ganching who lives in London. There were fewer tourists there - even though it's just of The Strand - just locals in the know. Parents picnicking while their kids raced around cooling off in the fountains designed for their entertainment. I met ganching for coffee on our final morning. She grew up not too far from me in Co Antrim so we had plenty to talk about - I really enjoyed chatting to her.
We also spent a day with my sister who got the train in from Hurst Pierpoint and her daughter, who has just started her first job in London, working in Westminster on a graduate training scheme and living in a shared house near Clapham Common. I am a little envious - it seems only a few years ago since I was doing much the same thing in.....1982. With them we explored Borough Market and Shoreditch which is full of 'cool' bars where apparently you can play ping-pong or board games or jump about in one of those ball-pits you get in children's soft play areas. Perhaps young people are getting bored with their mobile phones and are looking for more real social interaction? Anyway Shoreditch was a bit dead on a Wednesday lunchtime so we went back to St Paul's Cathedral; we viewed it from the adjacent shopping centre which has a convenient and free roof terrace. Then we walked across 'The Apprentice' bridge or at least that is what my niece calls the pedestrian bridge by St Paul's as it is shown in the opening sequence of the programme. The rest of the day was spent exploring the South Bank, Westminster and St James's Park.
On our way back from London we stopped off in Market Harborough where my youngest sister and lives. My cousin also lives there and so we had a night out catching up with her. I was going to call it a 'girls' night out' but really we could hardly call it that since Kate is the only 'girl' and two of us are over 50. The weather was still hot at that stage. We went to a food festival in the park; visited my aunt; enjoyed a barbecue in the garden and played Uno with the kids.
I then travelled by myself to Northern Ireland for a long weekend to visit another sister - just needed a trip to NZ and I'd have seen them all. It was a bit cooler by then in Northern Ireland though still sunny most of the days I was there - the sort of weather I prefer. I'm not that comfortable if the temperature goes much above 21 degrees. We went into Belfast on the Sunday afternoon and went to the Ulster Museum which I really liked. There's big display about The Troubles - it was strange to see events that I remember presented as history like this. Another big attraction for visitors is a huge tapestry, looking a bit like the Bayeux Tapestry but actually a recent work, which tells the story of The Game of Thrones, which was filmed in various locations in NI. We also visited the Botantic Gardens - the new modern glasshouses as well as the old Victorian ones which I remembered.
On the Monday we called into The Home Place, the Seamus Heaney centre and had a look at the exhibition. It's a brilliant place with information about the poet's life and recordings of him reading his poems as well as lots of interactive displays and things that would appeal to young people. They have lots of school groups visiting - I'd love to take a group there. I can't think of anything similar in England.
The final night of my trip was spent with my cousin near Ballyronan. I had a lovely time catching up with her. We visited some more of the family and I continued gathering more information on family history. More of this in another post.