Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Last Supper

In 5 minutes, summer will be officially over!

Today was somewhat of a stressful event. We were to be at the olds' house around 3PM to cook a special dinner for the family. Unfortunately, on Sundays stores don't open until 1PM, which meant I really had to book it to Marks & Spencer. On the way over, I realized that this would probably be my last walk up to the Lisburn Road. I took a shortcut and crossed through Adelaide Park and soaked in the scenery. I love neighborhoods with tree-lined streets and the huge period homes were easy on the eyes.

Craig and I cooked a meal that impressed the family. Fresh salmon, mussels, and scallops we bought at St. George's Market. It was a seafood bonanza. The starter was pan seared scallops with a lemon butter, parsley sauce and mussels steamed in white wine. Main course: Pan seared salmon with roasted new potatoes and asparagus. Even though Craig was supposed to be head chef and I was his sous chef, he was kind of lost in the coordination in the beginning and walking around in circles. He got back on track and pulled it off. His mom was amazed how much he has changed. He couldn't even boil an egg and now he's searing salmon? AND he wants to shop at St. George's every weekend to pick up fresh ingredients to cook from scratch? Unbelievable! I take pride in the fact that my love for food rubbed off of him. I don't think I could deal with someone who isn't into food as much as I am. For dessert, we had Tarte aux pommes with velvety frozen clotted cream. YUMMY! Sorry, no pictures. I didn't have time to pick up the camera in a state of frenzy.

After dinner, we chilled for awhile. Craig washed my motorcycle gear to sell on ebay. Since it was Craig's brother's birthday, we dropped by to say hi since I haven't met his fiancee. They will be getting married in Cuba in 2010. I don't think we're invited.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Food Porn

Today we went to St. George's Market to pick up seafood ingredients for our Mafaldine Frutti di Mare for tonight's dinner and for our surprise dinner with the olds. Craig and I will be cooking them Pan seared Salmon with new baby potatoes and asparagus. We scored on a whole side salmon for £15, the fishmonger was going to include the other half for and extra fiver but the one side was enough! Craig was so taken by the Salmon that was all he was talking about the whole night. I am jealous the salmon is getting paid more attention than me. I caught him taking pics with his camera phone! I was afraid I was intruding in an intimate moment between the two of them so I just let them be!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

No More Hop-Along

We spent a grueling 4 hours in the Belfast City Hospital waiting room until Craig was called to be seen by the doctor. Craig finally got his cast off. I was surprised the doctor expected for him to walk right away without crutches despite the fact the x-ray shows that he still has a slight fracture. Hmmmm....

Craig was just so elated that he has a leg and a foot again, we went to the city centre right after the hospital. I didn't think it was a good idea but he's such a stubborn mule. We went shopping at Victoria Centre. I wanted to buy some yoga pants for my flight home. All my yoga pants I brought with me were tattered and gross. I ended up going crazy at Next with all the selection of shoes. Shoes, shoes galore. I spotted a coat that screamed out my name and what do you know that it only costs £50. Craig says it looked perfect on me and was very Audrey Hepburnish. Craig got a new coat at H&M, my farewell treat! He looked so delicious in it, I had to buy it for him! I now have a Belfast coat and everytime I wear it in San Francisco (just in time for indian summer - yeah right), I will think of Craig and Belfast. Craig also has a San Francisco coat he bought when he was here last year. We can time it so we can both wear our coats at the same time even though we are at opposite ends of the world! How romantic!

I finally got my wish and ate at the Spanish Restaurant La Tasca. The menu was overwhelming and we didn't know what to order. It was tapas after tapas after tapas. And when the waitress explained to us the procedure we were doubly confused. We ended up getting the Seafood Chef special with a side order of Albondigas (meatballs) because I have been craving Albondigas ever since I ended up here. Oh and a pitcher of Sangria, of course! The meal was excellent. In the Seafood special we had a mixed green salad, fried calamari, mussels, white fish in tomato sauce, and battered shrimp. The Albondigas blew my mind and for a chain restaurant set in a mall it wasn't too bad. The ambience was great and the decor was astounding, it felt like I was in Spain. On top of that, the servers were Spanish. They were very cordial and checked up on us if everything was fine (very rare phenomenon in Belfast). All this place needs is a flamenco dancer. I give this place an overall 4 for food, service, and ambience. I would come back here again.

A wide array of tapas!

I almost forgot the most important highlight of our evening -- the dessert -- Mousse de Crema Catalana! Decadent chocolate and airy creaminess - in center was an oozing surprise too provocative to mention on television. It was utterly orgasmic!

Mousse de Crema Catalana

Afterwards we had a nice evening walk. I notice as each day passes it is getting dark earlier and earlier. Nature's way of reminding me that summer is almost over, fall is approaching, and my Belfast adventure is soon coming to an end.

Belfast Aye at Night

I'm not gonna say 'I told you so!'

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Gracious Loser!

Hillary for Obama! YAY!!!! The first black candidate for presidency! Who woulda thunk?!?!? It ain't a white man's world anymore! Although the hispanics in California already know this a looooooooooooong time ago! LOL!!!

The US presidential election is being televised left and right here in the UK. I was very surprised that the Brits make a big deal out of it. It feels kind of weird watching it from afar. Craig says it kind of reminds him of the MTV Awards.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Pleasure In The Simple Things

Today is a bank holiday. Everyone is enjoying their three day weekend. Even the sun came out to play. Craig and I didn't venture out very far. We just did laundry and explored the university's residential compound.

There are many major sites I haven't seen like The Giant's Causeway, riding the Belfast Wheel, experiencing a traditional Irish music session in a pub, and visiting Londonderry. But that's ok, because this trip is about being together and how we cope with the ups and downs that life throws up (I mean throws us...LOL).

Leaving is just another one of life's major pukage that is spewing our way. This is why I have been taking pleasure in the simple things Craig and I do together lately. Craig is what makes Belfast so awesome! I'm finding it harder and harder to leave leave this place.

The simple things I enjoyed today...doing laundry and folding the sheets together, walking around and experiencing the rare patches of sun beat on our skin, taking naps together in the afternoon. I wake up and find him snoring away and whisper, "I love you" in his ear and he responds in a deep sleep a barely audible, "Love you."

Earlier in the day, Craig suggested that we get to the airport very early next week so we don't have to rush around and get stressed out and we could cherish our last moments together. He wants a long drawn out goodbye. I don't want to say goodbye. Especially long drawn out ones. You might as well cut my heart out and play hackey sack with it. Just the mention of the airport makes my heart sink to the bottom of my stomach. Right now the airport is the scariest place in the world to me. The airport is going to be a very ugly scene.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

What's for Dinner?

Grilled peri peri chicken with Cajun Rice and Sauteed Green Beans.

For the step by step recipe, please visit Get It Down Yer Fat Neck.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Got Meds?

In Less Than Two Weeks, I will be on a plane back home to America. Land of free. Home of the Brave and Work like a slave to afford expensive healthcare.

Today, I had the all too familiar field trip to the NHS. I was running out of my prescription medication. I don't have enough to cover me before I left so Craig called his doctor earlier this week to make me an appointment. I checked in with the receptionist, she asked me if I was a permanent or temporary resident. I said that I am just visiting on a tourist visa. She told me to write down my name, address, date of birth, and doctor. I sat down and waited for my name to be flashed on the digital screen.

"....Flippinyank please report to Surgery 3...."

SURGERY?!?!? I find it interesting that they call doctor's offices surgeries here. It is sinister and freaks me out to no end. I feel like once I step into the exam room, I am going to be sliced open. So I report to surgery 3 and there was the doctor sitting at his desk. It didn't look clinical at all, but it looked like an old 1950's exam room where the doctor's office and exam table were self contained and it had those dividers. He greeted me and I explained to him the situation. He asked if I was under the NHS and I said no, but I consulted with the pharmacist and she said that I can have a doctor here write a private prescription. He examined the info on the bottle and wrote me a prescription. Off to the pharmacy I went. Which was across the hall.

I got it filled and the pharmacist was like it's three fifty since this is a private prescription. I was like £350?!?!?! No, he said, £3.50. Oh (phew!). Like the dork I am, I didn't have cash on hand. "Do you take visa?", I asked. He said, "No, we don't have a credit card machine. But there's a cash point at the garage across the street." So I ran and almost got ran over. I come back with the money breathless and sweaty. He says, "Sorry about that, we're not really technologically advanced."

I called me dad and said we're in the clear. I got the meds from Craig's doctor and it costed an equivalent of a whopping $7.00!!! There was silence at the other end of the phone. I could have sworn I heard a loud thump as if the phone hit the floor. My dad was astonished. He was like you might as well not come back. Since I quit my employer, and my insurance lapsed. My dad said he'd foot the bill if I couldn' t afford it, and he would send it to me. He found out without insurance, just one bottle would cost $400! Mind you, I got a private prescription and I am not under NHS. And it only cost $7.00. And the doctor gave me 2 months worth! Something is wrong here!

I am certainly not looking forward to coming back and dealing with this insurance crap. I'd have to find loopholes around getting health insurance since I have a pre-existing condition. Does this mean that I am going to have to look for yet another soul sucking office job so I won't die? This is the reason why I quit my job in the first place, to go back to school, get a higher degree, and finally pursue what I set out to do.. But...but...I'm not being a responsible citizen. Why don't have I have health insurance now? Why did I let it lapse. Oh, I don 't know. Maybe I can't afford $1,000 a month on COBRA. Also for me to have to choose between being with the man I love and living my life for me -- or being trapped in what felt like a coffin of a cubicle and watching my life slip before me to sacrifice myself as a productive American citizen (blackmailed into being a cog in the machine) JUST to keep my health insurance! Call me irresponsible, but sometimes you have to follow your heart. I'm sure if I'm ever at my deathbed and think about on my experience here and have no regrets at all. I took the chance, and did what made me happy.

Needless to say, I am not looking forward to going home thinking about all the crap I have to deal with. I have just one reason to come back home and that is...

My Maggie!

She is probably counting the days, minutes, and seconds for when I walk through that door and give her a great big hug. It is love, Yes!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Dating Rituals: Yanks vs. Ulstermen


1) Spot a woman you'd like to fuck and think of someting witty to say.

2) You go up to her. You say something witty and unique (so you think). In her mind, it just sound really corny but if you're cute you've got a chance.

3) You buy her a drink and she thinks you're cute (or she's just desperate) and you exchange witty banter.

4) You exchange phone numbers and say you'll give her a call sometime.

5) That sometime must be three days. Call too early you're too desperate. Call too late she thinks you're not interested.

6) Three days pass and you give her a call and ask her out to coffee. Coffee first because you don't want to spend loads on her for dinner if she turns out to be a dudd.

7) You pick her up at her place. She checks out your car and the way you dress and sees if you brought her a token present, and if you open her car door. If she only gets 2 out of 4, then she'll end the date at coffee.

8) Coffee becomes like a job interview. So what do you do? Where you originally from? What kind of movies do you like? What do you usually do on the weekends? What kind of food do you like? If guy likes girl then he'll use the "What kind of food do you like?" to transition into the dinner date.

9) Dinner date. More of the date interview. At this juncture, she sizes you up by checking out how much you make by the type of restaurant you take her and how you treat wait staff.

10) Dinner is over and the bill comes. Girl does the wallet reach to test out if he's a cheapskate. If he says don't even think about footing for the bill, then he's good to go. If he say, ok let's go dutch, he's toast.

11) You drop her home and say you had a nice time and wish her goodnight. What you do at this point will make or break a second date. Do you kiss her on the lips, forehead, cheek? Do you give her a big hug or a hug and a pat on the back? Or what? If the guy really likes her and wants her on the second date then he either kisses her on the cheek or gives her a great big hug. He wants to really get laid so he kisses her on the cheeks AND gives her a great big hug.

12) At this point she becomes smitten and anxiously awaits his call.

13) You call in a week. Guy wants to make like he has a life and has no time for her but despite his busy schedule has made time for her. She becomes even more smitten so he takes her a to a movie.

15) After the movie, he tries the hand reach and tries to hold her hand. He does and she blushes.

16) He invites her for a drink at his house. She says it's getting late and she is expecting him to kiss her on the lips. He kisses her on the lips.

17) Guy has a real good chance at getting laid. He sends her a text message and reminds her that he had a really great time last night. She's smitten and showing the text message to her coworkers and friends.

18) You can't wait so you call her the next day and set up another date ASAP.

19) You invite her over to your house for dinner. You cook her an elaborate meal.

20) Pop a bottle of wine and makeout in the living room and then you fuck her. You bid her goodnight and tell her you will call.

21) She never hears from you again.


1) Get yourself drunk enough to get the balls to walk up to a girl and talk to her.

2) Buy her drinks and get her drunk and make her laugh a lot.

3) You both stumble drunk to her place and end up fucking.

4) Once you finally become sober, you realize you're married and have 4 kids.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Craig's Salmon

Master Chef Craig prepares Salmon w/ roasted asparagus and new baby potatoes.


Marinate Salmon in orange juice, soy sauce, honey, crushed garlic, lemon thyme, and rosemary for at least 30 minutes.

Pan fry salmon and brown each side

Stick Salmon in the oven at 170 degrees celsius and wait for 7 minutes.

Now on to the Asparagus:

Cut wooden ends off asparagus and splash with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Pop in the oven for 10 minutes at 170 degrees celsius.

New Baby Potatoes:

Crush garlic, cut potatoes in half, and chop parsley and rosemary.

Place all ingredients in a ziplock bag with 2 dollops of butter and sprinkle with fresh cracked black pepper.

Place potatoes in roasting pan and roast in oven at 170 degrees Celcius for at least 25 minutes.

Once everything is cooked assemble all the components.

Get it down yer fat neck!


Ok if there is one that Belfast really is falling short on is ethnic food. I'm not talking about gourmet schmormay fancy pants food, I'm talking authentic ethnic food, rustic cooking -- your mom's cooking. In my book, Michelin stars and cordon bleu training doesn't mean jack when it comes to down home ethnic cooking. It's simple and there's no pretentious bullshit.

It is a real shame that most people here probably think that chips and curry is a regular staple in China since it is served at a Chinese restaurant. I find out of the many ethnic restaurants I have eaten here, I have been deeply disappointed. Tonight was not an exception when we dined at THAItanic. Cute name but...

When I want Thai food, I WANT AUTHENTIC THAI FOOD at least really, really close to it. Expecially if those who are in the kitchen are Thai. I placed my order at the counter: Chicken Satay, Tom Kha, Pad Thai, and Thai Chicken Fried Rice on and of course, Thai Iced Tea.

"I'm sorry. We don't have Thai Iced Tea"

WHAT?!?!? No Thai Iced Tea. What the hell kind of Thai restaurant does not have Thai iced tea?!?!?!

According to their website...

"We are Belfast's first Authentic Thai noodle bar.

We can offer both a take out and eat in option. Providing both locally produced produce mixed with the ambient flavours of Thailand."

I don't think so! You lost points on not having Thai Iced Tea on the menu. Ooh that really ticked me off but I guess it's not their fault. Any variation on tea other than Nambarrie with milk, is not acceptable to the Belfast palate.

First came the appetizer. Chicken Satay - perfectly grilled, peanut sauce very watery, and as with any Chicken satay, a side of at least a variation of Prik dong (Thai chile peppers pickled with white rice vinegar) is mandatory of the dish to counteract the sweet of the peanut sauce. Instead, the satay was garnished with little matchstick slices of dry carrots and cabbage. Pathetic!

Then on to the soup - Tom Kha absolutely perfect! - The soup was an epiphany. There are little of diamonds hidden away in street corners and they have been hiding in this restaurant. Such greatness can exist in Belfast! At least they did that right.

Tom Kha

Main Courses: Pad Thai - bland and noodles soggy. Did not taste remotely like pad thai but egg foo yung. For being an authentic Thai noodle house, their signature dish really sucks! Chicken Fried Rice - It's nothing I hadn't had before in any CHINESE restaurant.

Pad Thai and chicken fried rice.

I tried to look for the typical condiments you would find at a thai restaurant like chili or nam pla to douse over my bland pad thai, I only found a saucer full of dried chilli flakes which is definitely not Thai. Thai condiments are the backbone of Thai food and they was no sign of them within a 20 mile radius.

Ok, a restaurant is also a business and they have to cater to their consumers, but dayum. If I go to a Thai restaurant, I expect Thai food. Otherwise, I'd go to the Chinkers! People of Belfast, I hope you know that you are being jipped on the ethnic food front. Authentic Thai Noodlehouse my ass!

Food: 2 (my only kudo is for the soup)
Service: 2 (nothing spectacular)
Atmosphere: 2 (seats were not comfortable too low. Long table to evoke communal style eating but I don't think it vibes well with the very shy and aloof Belfastians, some seating outside)

Would I come back here? ONLY FOR THE SOUP and my own thermos of thai iced tea from home!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Hurm...I Don't Get It!

Since it has been pouring this weekend, I have been spending time indoors watching a great deal of tv. UK commercials are an oddity to me. Maybe I'm just a dumb American, and I need things spelled out but some of them just go over my head and I just don't get it!!! They're weird, I tell ya! Here are some of my favorites...

Reggae Reggae Subway

Burger King Dark Knight

Oasis Cactus Kid

Meerkat Clorets

Lynx - Craig gets grossed out at this commercial

The Churchill Dog!

Smarties Blue is Back

Starburst Choozers

I Wish Girls Were More Like Pot Noodle

They can also be blunt and Harsh. Not so funny commercials...

Binge Drinking

Always wear a seatbelt-View at your Own Risk

Ireland Road Safety Ad - View at your own risk

My favorite commercials...

Beck's Canvas Art

MasterCard School's Out

House of Saddam

Beijing Olympics 2008 - Monkey


Lick the Lid of Life

Master Craig Goes Beserk!

At 2:45AM, I am awoken by the smell of freshly baked brownies. WTF?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Craig's Chicken Adobo

Master Chef Craig demonstrates how to cook the perfect Chicken Adobo...

Marinate chicken for 30 minutes in the secret marinade

Fry chicken in vegetable oil until golden brown.

Once golden brown, pour secret marinade over the chicken

Throw a couple of crushed garlic cloves, whole peppercorn, and bay leaves into the pot

Cover the pot and let simmer until sauce is thick

Once sauce has thickened, taste the sauce and add more water for preferred consistency

Serve adobo over rice and enjoy!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Four Stages

There are four stages to culture shock and living abroad...

1) The honeymoon stage

Symptoms of the honeymoon stage:

-Excitement and euphoria
-General anticipation of everything that you are about to experience
-Everything and everyone you encounter is new and many times exciting
-You’ll probably be eager to learn the language spoken in your host country
During the honeymoon stage you will be poised to take on the challenges of living broad.

Examples of my honeymoon stage:
Grim Reminder of Home
Diamond in the Rough

2) Frustration Stage

After the honeymoon stage your initial excitement may wane. You also may start to feel frustration; this is the onset of the frustration stage. Frustration can occur for various reasons.

Symptoms of the frustration stage:

-Some of your initial excitement dissipates
-Feelings of anxiety, anger and homesickness creep in
-You might reject your new environment and begin to have a lack of interest in your new surroundings
-You’ll become frustrated with trying to speak a foreign language

Examples of my frustration stage:

The Irony of the Peacline
The Day After
No Cake
Royal Mail vs. USPS
What I Miss About San Francisco

3) Understanding Stage

The understanding stage arrives when you develop a more balanced view of your experience abroad.

Characteristics of the understanding stage

-You become more familiar with the culture, people, food and language of your host country
-You will have made friends
-You become less homesick
-You’ll be more comfortable with speaking and listening to the language spoken in your host country
-You become more comfortable and relaxed in your new environment
-You better handle the situations you previously found frustrating

I think I have reached the Understanding Stage. I have been thinking about where Craig and I should move permanently. I know before I wanted us to live in San Francisco but then I've got to thinking about how we will both benefit for our future and what is best for us and our family in the long run (socially, financially, etc). I have been weighing the pros and cons between the UK and America. I realize it is inconvenient here, but people have seemed to survive without satiating their sundae cravings at 2am when everything is closed. I mean do I really need a sundae at that hour? Don't think so. Yes, the royal mail drives me up the wall, but in reality, I wouldn't be dealing with them on a daily basis. My statement, "You are not allowed to get sick after 5:30PM and Sundays because the pharmacy is closed." As I think about it, it can wait until tomorrow when the pharmacy is open, if it can't then you can go to the ER. It's free ANYWAY!!!! Well not exactly free, you pay health tax but at least you won't be charged $200 just for walking through the doors of the ER, and whatever they add on the tab like lab tests/xrays as they do in America. These are little things I have mentioned (healthcare isn't exactly little), and I can easily get over it.

So...I am vascillating and can't make up my mind. The pros and cons are still circling in my head. I haven't been sleeping well for the past few days because there is too much on my mind. Thinking about the aforementioned, counting down the days when I have to leave my soulmate for a long while, and prepping/researching the visa process in both countries. I feel so overwhelmed.

But I digress. I almost forgot about the last stage...

4) Acclimation Stage

During the acclimation stage you will begin to feel like you really belong in your new environment.

Characteristics of the acclimation stage

-You’ll be able to compare the good and bad of your host country with the good and bad of your home country
-You feel less like a foreigner and more like your host country is your second home
-You laugh about things that frustrated you at earlier stages of cultural shock
-Once you reach the acclimation, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you -can live successfully in two cultures; this is a huge milestone.

Obviously, I haven't gotten to this stage yet and I won't be here long enough to experience this stage. Maybe someday perhaps. ;)

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Clock is Ticking...

I can't sleep. I have been tossing and turning, in and out of bed. I am anxious.

I lay in bed for awhile watching Craig sleep. And I realize that the time I have with him is scarce. I'm counting the days now. 24 days. Each minute, hour, day passes my heart sinks and I feel like a tiny piece of me is being chipped away until I'm nothing. I watched him sleep and my tears started to flow. When the 24 days are up, I won't be able to feel him next to me or hear him snore (and boy, does he snore!). I have nobody to cook for. Nobody to make me french toast, pancakes, or burgers (yes, he has added more entrees to his food repetoire! slowly but surely). Nobody to laugh with the way I laugh with him.

Last week, Craig reminded me we only have four weeks together. His eyes welled up and was in tears. I didn't feel it back then and didn't really understand why he was so melancholy.

Now it's only 3.

It really isn't fair.

Full of Beans

Finally, a healthclub that won't fill you with empty promises, but will leave you full of beans.

Full of beans = full of energy

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Cafe Paul Rankin

Paul Rankin, celebrity chef of Belfast, has a few eating establishments scattered throughout Belfast. Craig and I accidentally stumbled across his cafe, which serves affordable food for the masses.

Craig is so excited, he can't contain himself.

It was a hot and humid today. The last thing we wanted to do was sit inside a stuffy cafe. Unfortunately, seating outside was all full. We decided to sacrafice our discomfort to sample celebrity food Belfast stylie. The place was completely packed but we managed to find a seat. I ordered at the counter and the food was brought to our table. I was surprised the food came as quickly as it did, despite it being very busy.

Craig ordered the Chicken Ceasar Salad and I had the Chef Sandwich, a grilled chicken sandwich w/ roasted red peppers, and pesto served in a bap with chips and salad with a mustard vinagrette. I wasn't really impressed with my meal. The Grilled chicken was very dry, and the pesto wasn't substantial to the sandwich. It was mediocre at best. Craig's dish on the other hand was amazing! It was THE best chicken ceasar salad I have ever had! It was so good that Craig ate in silence. And here I was sitting across him watching him in envy while I ate my dry grilled chicken sandwich. :(

While Craig was devouring his salad, I had the opportunity to witness delinquency close up. Outside, a riot was about to ensue between two patrons fighting over table. A shifty women next to our table was acting very shifty and stole a deli sandwich. She noticed that I noticed and she got up to pretend to order at the queue but turned around and left. The food at Cafe Rankin is good but I wouldn't say it was that good you would commit a crime.

Would I come back to Cafe Paul Rankin again? The answer is definitely yes. Very casual atmosphere. Staff are friendly, attentive and nice. Fast service. Chicken Ceasar, hell yes! Chef Sandwich, hell no!

Food: 5 (for chicken ceasar salad only)
Customer Service: 4
Atmosphere: 3

Friday, August 8, 2008

Well We're Movin' On Up....

to the southside (again). To a deluxe apartment in the sky. We've finally got a piece of the pie!

Bye bye Stranmillis! Hello, Malone Road! Craig's mom scored us a flat last minute. As soon as they got back from Spain, we moved all our stuff out of the Stranmillis house, and moved into the flat. Let me tell ya, it was the fastest move I've ever done in my entire life! And boy we have so much crap! I can't believe I've only been here a few months and I've moved 6 times! From my mother-in-law's house on the Shankill, to Fanore, to Glenwood Avenue, back to my mother-in-law's, to Stranmillis, now Malone Road. I feel like a hobo, a carpetbagger, a travelling gypsy. At least we're moving up instead of down. The Malone Road is regarded as the wealthy part of Belfast.

Although, it seems like I'm revisiting my college hell days, we have this place to ourselves. Nobody walking in on us, no more people freeloading off of us, slamming doors at 3am, no drunken parties or leaving a trail of mess for us to clean. For 4 weeks, it will be just us, the way it should be.

I will miss Stranmillis though. Everything good and bad happened there. It was the place that Craig asked me to spend the rest of my life with him. Let's hope that Malone Road will be an even happier place.

Anyways, I'm knackered. Off to bed!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Irony of the Peaceline

I find it odd that they close the Peaceline at 10:00PM.

It's rather an inconvenience really. After the Brian Kennedy Concert which was near the Falls Road, we took a taxi home, and because it was 11:30PM, we had to go back into town and around the wall onto the Shankill. What could have taken us 3 minutes to get home, took us 15 minutes because of that stupid wall.

I wonder what would happen if they broke down the Peaceline. Would people celebrate the same way as they did when they broke down the Berlin wall? [Not!]

Something tells me that this wall be up for a very, very, very long time.

Made In Belfast: Brian Kennedy

Tonight Craig and I saw every woman's best gay boyfriend --- Belfast Heartthrob, Brian Kennedy. Brian Kennedy is like the Julio to the Inglesias, the Tom to the Jones. He's got a brilliant voice, he's sexy, and he is flamin'. His claim to fame was when he was discovered by Van Morrison and Brian has been up Van Morrison's ass ever since.

But truly, I really enjoyed his concert despite the fact that Craig went kicking and screaming. For one, Craig was reluctant to take part in Feile an Phobail because it is a Catholic event. And two, Brian Kennedy is a threat to his manhood and thanks to me, Craig is now the laughing stock at his place of work. And between you and me, he really enjoyed the concert too but will not admit it. I saw him sneak a snapshot of the pretty boy. I found it kind of funny that over 97% of the audience were female young and old. Clonard Monastery became a big receptacle of estrogen. I'm sure if the gig wasn't held in the house of God, unmentionables would be thrown on the stage. I was also surprised to see sober durdles so vibrant and having so much fun! There was a lot of audience participation, everyone was singing and clapping. They go nuts for this dude, it was amazing! It was touching to see everyone so into the songs and singing them. It was like being in a pub at a mass scale.

Clonard Monastery is such a beautiful cathedral and it was the perfect place to experience music. The acoustics were sublime and it really complimented Brian Kennedy's voice beautifully. He sang a lot of Van Morrison covers (of course), excellent renditions of Al Greene's 'Let's Stick Together' and Cole Porter's 'Night and Day'. He also sang my favorite song 'Crazy Love' which was featured in the movie, When A Man Loves A Woman, starring Meg Ryan and Andy Garcia. Craig's favorite song was 'Raise You Up'. I recorded some of the songs mentioned above. I will try to post them up, that is if it doesn't sound like crap.

Opening acts were the Feile choir and Eemir Kenny. Emir Kenny is from County Louth. She sounded like Dolores O'Riordan on crack in a forgetful mood. She couldn't remember the words to her own songs. It sounded like she was making it up as she went along. Boy, was she hard to sit through.

Even though I'm not a big fan of Brian Kennedy. I mean I think he is good but it's not like I would buy any of his albums. He has ten albums by the way. Hard to forget since he's mentioned it like 50 times all throughout the concert. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity to see him play in Belfast and in the very place where he as a young altar boy sang in the Clonard Monastery choir. Priceless. You can't get any better than that.

BTW...the guitar that Brian was playing was a Lowden guitar. The very guitar that Craig aka Hop Along fretted meaning he built the frets on the guitar. He was fretting throughout the whole concert because the guitar was screaming 'Daddy'. Get it? Hahaha. Fretting!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Hop Along Gets A New Cast

We are back home after a long and exhausting day. We had an early start this morning and headed straight to City Hospital. After 3 hours, Craig got his xray and a new cast. Everything is looking good and his leg is healing nicely!

We took a bus to the City Centre and had a bite to eat at the Gourmet Burger Kitchen in Victoria Square. I was dubious and was expecting overpriced, mediocre burgers but I was impressed at the choices they offer and it was, in fact, gourmet. Craig ordered the chorizo burger which is topped with spicy chorizo, sweet potato, rocket, and tomato. I ordered the portabella burger with roasted red peppers, rocket, pesto, and may. We shared a side order of chips and for £1.50 they have several sauces to choose from Garlic Mayo, Sweet Chilli, Barbecue, etc. We went with the Garlic Mayo. There seems to be a growing trend of going up to the counter to order and pre-paying. They will take your drink order at the table but food orders must be at the counter. It doesn't make sense.

Our burgers were stacked high. My portabella burger was very good, somewhat watery, the juice was dripping down my forearm. The only thing missing was cheese. It needed melted monterey jack cheese like the Portabella burgers at Barney's back home. *Sigh* I couldn't complain. I enjoyed my meal. Craig's chorizo burger was awkward to eat. They shouldn't have used a burger bun because the long strips of sausage didn't quite fit in the bun, it was like forcing a square peg into a round hole. He at his burger with a fork and knife. Chips were decent and the garlic mayo sauce was very rich and garlicky. Although it is quite pricey, I would eat here again.

Food: 4
Service: 2 (there wasn't any really, but the food came out quick)
Atmosphere: 1 (it was in a bleh)

After lunch, we decided to check out what was showing at the Odeon, the new cinemaplex at the Victoria Centre. I heard Wall-E had good reviews and it was showing at 3.00PM. We had an hour to kill before the movie so we went shopping. I made poor Craig hobble about and follow me around. Luckily, his new cast is lighter and didn't really cause him discomfort. He had the patience of a saint. I could be a handful expecially when I shop.

I love him soooooooo bad. Excuse me while I cuddle with my best friend until the sun shines down on Ireland.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Breaking News: The Latest Craze in Men's Fashion is Sweeping Europe!!!

Ultra-luxurious sheer tights for men! Sporting lightly reinforced toes and a crotch gusset for strength and added durability, this style is sheer pleasure to wear. This style features a perfect lighter weight fabric for warmer weather. The fabric in the graduated full support leg and comfortable sheer control brief is so soft and fine. This is truly a breakthrough in hosiery design, and you will be very impressed. Once you put these on, the word "unbelievable!" will come to mind, and you just won’t want to take them off! They’re THAT good...truly superb! This is proving to be a best seller!

No joke. This was on this morning's BBC NI news. Apparently, they are selling like hotcakes! I wonder if American men will ever catch on to what is basically control top pantyhose?

Belfastians on Belfast

I have fallen into the habit of burning the candle at both ends with Craig. I stayed up all night with him into the wee hours of the morning. Don't ask me why.

I have only slept for 3 hours and I'm really struggling to stay at awake so I can go to bed at a decent hour. I woke up around 2pm because Craig had to mail an urgent parcel. Of course, he couldn't go to the post office himself because he can't carry the parcel. We took a taxi to the Lisburn Road post office. We figure, we can kill two birds with one stone and pick up my parcel that has been touring around Belfast for that past month. So we get dropped off blocks away from the post office. Craig kept stopping every few feet because he was tired. After the long trek, we discovered that the post office shut down. I just had to laugh maniacally because this is the icing on the cake. This further justifies my hatred for the Royal Mail.

So we walked down towards the other side of the Lisburn Road for the other post office that is located in the Cooperative Superstore. Poor Craig was dead tired so we stopped at a cafe and had something to drink. And then we dredged on. We finally posted his parcel. Since we were at the grocery store, I decided to pick up some items for dinner.

Craig was supposed to go to the hospital to get his cast changed. He couldn't be arsed and unlike me he has not had a wink of sleep. He just wanted to get to bed. After today, I don't blame him. So we took a taxi back to the Shankill. The taxi driver was chatty. He was talking about his upcoming vacation to Vegas and California and that the entire trip will cost £1100, not a bad price. Craig mentions that I'm from San Francisco, the taxi driver's eyes lit up. He said he's always wanted to go to San Francisco, but unfortunately won't be going on this trip. I told him that I highly recommend it. San Francisco is the most European of US cities and it is very compact. You don't need a car to get around and public transportation is very cheap and efficient. Craig interjects on how San Francisco is 'Craicin' (translation: Awesome, great). Both he and the taxi driver go on a tirade about how Belfast sucks. The public transportation isn't user friendly, it's expensive and you can only get in and out of the city center, shops are closed at 6pm, nothing is convenient, prices are sky high and a rip off. Belfast pretty much makes your life hard (ie. the Royal Mail). As opposed to San Francisco --- the diversity, beautiful city, the friendly outgoing laid back people, anything you want is at our doorstep, anytime you want. They both agree it's a whole different lifestyle. The taxi driver made the point that when Americans do something to go all out and invest in it. Here in Northern Ireland, they're afraid to move forward or they just go half ass. Craig tells him, with me being here, he can see Belfast through my eyes. With me pointing out things he now sees how things don't quite makes sense and gets annoyed with them as well. He hasn't really noticed before because he was forced to resign, shrugs his shoulders, and just tell himself that is just the way it is. You have no options. There are no choices. People in Belfast know Belfast is crap. They straight out say it and make no qualms about it. Everytime they ask me how I like Belfast, it's like they expect a negative answer. They are ashamed of their own city. I find it kind of funny that Craig boasted to the taxi driver that we are getting married in San Francisco and THANK FUCK we are not living in Belfast. The driver called him a Lucky Git!

He went on to tell us how he picked up an Australian tourist today and they got talking. She is an avid traveller and is on tour around the world. He asked her what is the best place she's been to so far. She said Belfast and she wants to move here. He asked her, "Why on earth Belfast?". She said it's an up and coming city, it's growing economically, great nightlife, cafes but mostly it's because of the people. Craig interrupts and tell him I've been here 3 months and I hate it. I politely say that I don't hate it. It definitely has its shining moments. Taxi driver saw right through me and said, "If I had to choose Belfast or San Francisco. Definitely, San Francisco would be the best choice."

As for the tourist girl, I wonder how long she's been here. I suspect she hasn't been here long enough to see the real Belfast and I know she definitely did not have dealings with the royal mail. To each their own.

My Name is Flippin' Yank and I Am A Pluviophobic

I just realized that I may have a phobic condition called Pluviophobia: The Fear of rain or of being rained on. I have to learn that life doesn't stop because of the rain. Because of my Pluviophobia, I missed all the amazing events that happened this weekend...

Fellow blogger welldonefillet just reminded me that the Gay Pride festival was last Saturday. I'm sorry I missed it. It would have been interesting to see how it compares to the mother of Gay Pride Parades in San Francisco. I didn't hear any controversy over it other than the comment made by MP Iris Robinson who said that "gay sex was an abomination". As a result of her ignorance, party official demand that she resign as Chair from the Stormont Health Committee. Despite the downpour, thousands of people were still out there cheering the LGBT community! It goes to show that Belfast is slowly turning over a new leaf and becoming more tolerant of 'alternative' lifestyles. Baby steps.

I'm also sorry I missed the opening of Feile An Phobail in West Belfast, which is the largest community festival in Europe. All is not lost. There will be a full week full of events comedy acts, art exhibits workshops, music concerts, drive-in movies the list goes on and on. The options are so daunting, there's so many to choose from! I'm planning to attend some of them, if I can figure out which ones to go to.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Activity Report

Weather: Intermittent pissing of rain

Food: Honey Nut Cornflakes & Milk, 2 Ham and Mustard Sandwiches, a bowl of tomato soup, 1 blue Riband, and a soon freshly baked chocolate fudge brownie

Activities: Sat my ass on the recliner mesmerized by Welsh television, went to the bathroom, Annoyed a sleeping man

Mood: Extremely, mind numbingly BORED!!!!

Sadistic Sun

I swear the sun likes to play hide and seek. It hides behind the clouds and then every so often it makes it's appearance. Once you step outside the house it says, "Haha, psyche!" And it squeezes the clouds to make rain and then you're soaked to the bone.

No wonder people here are so obsessed with the weather, go to tanning salons, and run away to Spain!!!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Belfast Taboos

It is still pissing down with rain today. Nothing accomplished today but taking a nice, not relaxing bath. As I was in the bath, it dawned on me that Belfast has a lot of religious/political taboos. More so than any other country I have visited:

1) Don't talk about religion or politics.

2) Don't walk around Protestant areas wearing a Celtic shirt, rosary beads, and waving a Republic of Ireland Flag. The colors orange, white, and green are strictly prohbited.

3) As for the Catholics areas, don't wear a rangers shirt, wave the St. George's Cross or the Union Flag.

4) Don't call a Catholic a Fenian or a Taig. Not unless you want a kicking.

5) Don't call a Protestant an Orange Bastard, or your knees will be capped.

6) It is taboo to ask someone the question "Which part of Belfast do you live?" if you are from here. Seems like an innocent enough question but if it happens that the other person is from the Falls and you are from the Shankill, it can be very awkward. If you ask, they give you a very shady answer and not a very specific place.

7) A large majority of Protestants say "Northern Ireland" and Catholics say "the North of Ireland"

8) Catholics call it "Derry" and Protestants say "Londonderry".

9) Do not play Hurling or Gaelic football in a Protestant area. They are 'Catholic Sports'.

10) Do not yell off the top of your lungs that the Pope Sucks in a Catholic Area.

11) As for Protestant area, do not take the Queen's name in vain.

That's it off the top of my head.