I had me a day out in Belfast yesterday, my first in four months. I made the usual rounds of the Botanic Gardens and Ulster Museum. The museum was thronged with pre and primary schoolies and their courageous minders known to the rest of us as 'teachers'. The noise was deafening. The draw was the big lad in the photo, Dippy the Diplodocus dinosaur skeleton on loan from the Natural History Museum in London.
After that and a dip into the vintage shop on Botanic Avenue (I bought a yellow Rupert scarf), I walked to the city centre and had a dander through the continental market which was thronged and a complete rip-off. Then off to Next to buy pyjamas for Master James. Whilst examining the racks I heard a familiar voice address me. Banjo Man in his painter whites there to measure up a job. We looked at each other awkwardly and decided not to hug. We always hug. But not while I'm shopping and he's working and he's got a mate with him. Like I said, awkward.
My next stop was Cath Kidston for Miss Emily's nightwear. Yet again I noticed how very pleasant and friendly Belfast sales assistants are. Job done, it was time to shop for me. I went to the new Seasalt store and had a most enjoyable time picking out a few items. I liked almost everything in the shop which is an unusual experience for me.
The only fly in my ointment was that, yet again, I'd left my phone on the kitchen table and that was where I'd stashed my book token so I had to buy some books with my real money. I'll have to brave the dour salespeople of Ballymena to get that book token spent.
The other difficulty of the left behind phone was that I had to use a public phone box to call home for a lift from the station and of course no one answered and the phone box still took my sixty pence. Sixty pence for a phone call! Outrageous. So I had to spend a fiver on a taxi. We met Bert on the lane and made him reverse. According to Hannah, he'd been on eggs all afternoon waiting for me to phone and the two minutes he popped out for firewood was when I called. My own fault, for forgetting my phone. And my book token.
Later that evening Banjo Man called round. Still in his whites, on his way home from work. I said,
I know why you're here!
And we hugged.