A tootle around town

Yippee – a day off, to recharge the batteries and experience the wonderful, natural beauty of Belfast on my bicycle.

A proper breakfast, of course (3 beef sausages, 2 rashers of bacon and 3 slices of honey bread with seeds) set me up for the day. I took a packed lunch, wore plenty of warm layers and the bright morning sun was in my eyes as I set off East.

Lisburn Road hoarding mural

By the time I had followed my traditional route into Belfast along the Lisburn Road, I was beginning to miss my baseball/golf cap. I nipped into a couple of charity shops – but no luck. Being a ‘creative’, I improvised with a rather jazzy hat of dark, acrylic colours for £1. OK, it’s a woman’s hat. But in today’s Belfast, surely one can doff the look of an Easy Rawlins?

police land rover and crowd

I reached Austin’s around 1pm, parked my bike and went to the nearest hostelry for a pint and some space to write. Madison’s is a great place for that. The Guinness is good, the decor stylish and the waitress friendly. What more can you ask? My pint finished and the writing coming along, I returned to the Cycle Workshops in Lawrence Street for a mug of tea, some biscuits and a bit of craic.

Tommy brews a lovely strong cuppa, Stephen was pottering away at some bicycle maintenance and Austin was his usual charmingly efficient self. Words were tossed out, anecdotes exchanged and the world seemed a decent place.

I called in at my mother-in-law’s, had a shufti round her garden, admired the primroses and was on my way again.

This is hardly riveting reading, so I’ll come to an abrupt stop without mentioning my crossing over the Lagan and reaching the high ground of my brother and sister-in-law’s place in Newtownbreda. SW to SE and later on a mix up over an Ice Dome.

ice skates ice dome belfast

Bullets flew past me as I pedalled furiously to get behind the police Land Rover – didn’t happen. Everyone being chatty and civil to each other did. Opposite the mural on the Sandy Row I finally ate my packed lunch and wondered where the Ice Bowl was…

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