This may be the first time a group of Londoners have fled the City to Belfast and felt significantly safer. The reason for this jaunt — my first to “Norn Iron” — was Ruth and Jonny’s wedding. Angie, Rav and I decided to make a long weekend of it, and arranged to meet up with Dave and Chima while out here too. While Angie’s mother is away we have the run of her house (predominantly for sleeping and watching episodes of the massively un-PC Archer late at night).
A damp Friday and Saturday morning fortunately gave way to great weather for the ceremony and reception, the intermittent drizzling being remarkably well-behaved. The very traditional service was conducted in a pretty, rural parish Church a little way outside Lisburn. It was great to see Oli, Paul and Dan cravatted and all looking unusually dapper, as well as a strong contingent of Cambridge friends who made it over.
Following the ceremony we adjourned to the Tap Room at the Hilden Brewery, a beautiful cosy venue in a working brewery with a fantastic restaurant. Al fresco canapés were served while the weather held, before retiring upstairs for the wedding breakfast. The speeches resulted in rapidly accelerating inebriation as our table imposed unfortunate drinking rules that included both the bride and groom’s names, the word “beautiful” and the inevitable joke about Jonny succeeding in arranging a piss-up in a brewery…
So far the remainder of the trip has been spent on the typical excursions to the Bushmills distillery and the Giant’s Causeway, and generally taking in the gorgeous countryside around here. A full set of photos from both the wedding and trip in general will, of course, follow soon.
Christmas has very much snuck up on me this year, largely since it’s the first time I have been working right up until Christmas Eve. I have no complaints though, and a couple of boxes of Krispy Kreme doughnuts successfully lightened the mood in the office. Because of the way the weekends have fallen, taking time off between Christmas and New Year barely uses up any holiday this year, so I am left with a surplus to use up realistically some time in January of February. The current plan is to take two weeks off and just sleep, watch films and generally indulge without ulterior motive. I am, however, open to suggestions.
I spent last weekend on a very brief trip to Ireland with several uni friends, masterminded by Irina who had bought Andy tickets to see Coldplay at the new O2 venue in Dublin. It actually felt like a rather studenty trip between the hostel accomodation (Barnacles — cheap, clean, secure but with no curfew) and the decidedly alcoholic bent to our sightseeing. By which I mean both the Guinness breweryand the Jameson distillery. The former was prettier with plenty of marginally related photo opportunities, despite the fact I have scant interest in the drink itself. Jameson offered a more informative guided tour followed by a tasting that compared Scotch whisky with Irish whiskey and American Bourbon. Despite being offered a place, I relinquished it to Sparkie which only made sense given that we were also celebrating his birthday. I also seem to have ended up with a couple of hundred photos so expect more once I’ve managed to get them sorted out, which may take some time.
And finally as a sort of Christmas present, here’s some unashamedly geeky free music by Jonathan Coulton. He’s an interesting chap whom I initially came across when his Code Monkey song did the rounds online, and more recently in Portal’s closing credits which he composed. His blend of folk and rock styles lead to interesting results but he really showed off his versatility in the Thing-A-Week project in which he, uh, released a new song every week, free to download under the Creative Commons licence. I recently stumbled across this trove. The breadth of his work covers topics as varied as the Mandelbrot set, the problems with being an evil villain in love, Olympic Curling, a sort of dumped stalker’s anthem, a very odd apology with monkeys, the zombie apocalypse, DNA and of course a folk cover of Baby Got Back. Obviously. Because why wouldn’t you.