Friday, May 1, 2009

Belfast in the spring?

Well, the Parkview B&B certainly ain't like most we have been in recently. It is much, much larger and being larger, does not have the same 'personal' feeling that we have experienced before. Breakfast is huge however (oh, Paul, how I miss your Scrambled eggs with smoked salmon at the Harbour Inn) and is served promptly and with a smile.

The day however is not so friendly. It is raining as hard this morning as it was yesterday and the forecast is for late clearing - around 4 pm. So I do not have much inclination to be out and about. Bed and a book sounds perfect. I started 'Count to Ten' by Karen Rose yesterday - a thriller, and it is calling to me ! Read, doze, read, doze, read - you get the picture - quite hypnotic, believe me.

Michael continues to explore the area around us on his smoking walks. Right opposite is Waterworks Park that contains a huge lake, once the only water supply for Belfast. There are loads of water birds in the park and as spring has just sprung there are lots of babies as well! The lake is stocked with trout and ever so often you can see a platform provided for fishing from. Surrounding the lake are a whole range of sporting fields and playgrounds. It certainly makes for a nice view from our attic room.

The whole area is a suburban one just to he north of the city centre. Surprisingly, between here and the City lies one of the areas that has seen the most intense fighting in battles between the nationalists and loyalists - Shankill Road. We are going to take a tour to see some of these up close. Further to our north is Cave Hill after which this area is named and its rocky basalt outcrop that is known as 'Napoleon's Nose' and supposedly formed the inspiration for the book Gulliver's Travels.

And right on 4pm, the clouds break into sunshine! How come the forecasters at home can't be so spot on?? We have had a look on the web and found a Thai restaurant that looks pretty good for dinner - the Bo Tree. We have a booking for 8:15 pm and when we leave it is still fully light. The light begins to fade around 9:15 pm and twilight is in its full splendour just before 10 pm. The restaurant is full and service is in full swing. The menu is very extensive and the staff attentive even though there is a little language barrier - no, not Auusie to Irish, Aussie to Thai! Our menu choices tonight are:
Khanom Jeeb (steamed little rice pastry dumplings filled with water chestnuts, minced pork and spring onions served with soya/garlic sauce)
Khanom Pang Na Moo (Thai toast with minced pork and fragrant Thai herbs served with sweet chilli sauce)
Khao Suay (plain steamed jasmine rice)
Mu Pad Khing (Stir fried pork with ginger and Fung Gu mushrooms)
Pad Ped Taleh (Stir fried mixed seafood with Thai herbs, lime leaves, lemongrass and oyster sauce)
Khuay Thod Thon Po (Crispy fried bananas served with ice cream and honey)
Khao Tom Mut (Steamed sticky rice with cashew nuts and banana served with cream)

(forgot the camera - so no pics) The flavours were clean and fresh and clear the sinuses and each dish was presented beautifully. Asian cooks certainly know how to finish their dished with the finest juliennes and undressed slaw, with orchid blossoms nestled daintily at the plate edge. The meal would have been perfect if it had not been for the noise that the barman was making putting all the empty bottles into a black plastic bag and then moving it from spot to spot! English food is all about the cozy favourites and nostalgia, but the asian foods are the fresh flavours of home that we miss.

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