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I arrived last night and we were all quite exhausted, so after dinner and looking at my Flickr photos, we all went to bed. Bek and John live in South Belfast, and I’m staying up the road from them at John’s mum’s place. I can decipher John’s accent pretty well, but his mum’s accent is very thick; she also has a wicked sense of humour so she makes a lot of black jokes that I can’t quite work out until my Babelfish kicks in*. But I’m just at Margaret’s to sleep; we’re generally hanging around at B & J’s cool flat that has wireless everything, including a projector hooked up to a computer so you can watch movies on the ‘big screen’ (aka the wall).

Today we woke early and drove back to Belfast International to pick up Jake. Bek and John had to work today, so Jake and I were left to our own devices to wander around Belfast. Unfortunately it was drizzling all day, not raining enough to get really wet, and just blustery enough to blow umbrellas inside out. Neither of us knows anything about Belfast, we’re basically here to hang out with Bek and John, so we were at a bit of a loss as to what to do. We walked into the centre of town and had a ride on the Belfast Wheel, which John tells me is the Belfast version of the London Eye but “nobody can be bothered to take it down and it probably costs too much to take down so they’ve just left it up.”

Belfast is a hard place to gauge. It’s hard to tell whether it feels grey because of the weather or because it’s actually grey. Everything looks a bit worn out and faded. Bek said that she just plays the ‘dumb Australian’ card when she wanders into Irish political conversational areas. She says that although the Troubles are over and the whole place wants to move on, if you scratch the surface the attitudes are still there, especially amongst the working class. We drove past a hotel that John described as “the most bombed hotel in the world”. There are bright yellow phone boxes that look like industrial containers, which we realised were probably built that way to be bomb-proof. But the city is just kind of shut down and grey.

There wasn’t much to see, so we went back to the Botanic Gardens to wait for John to meet us for lunch. There were some stunning flowers in a glasshouse where we took shelter from the rain, but oddly enough there were no places to sit under cover (which is much the same as when Jen and I were walking in the rain to Oxford station there were absolutely no places to find shelter, no awnings or doorways or anything…the British just don’t want people to stop and be dry anywhere).

We had a delicious Indian meal for lunch (best Indian I’ve eaten in ages) and then Jake and I came back to the house to blob out. We watched Kill Bill vol 1 & 2, then Bek and John came home and now we’re having cocktails. It’s so good to be with friends; the sadness of yesterday has dissolved somewhat, though the relentless greyness doesn’t do much to lift the spirits. So tonight we’re just going to chill out with our cocktails, make some pizzas and watch movies. It’s just like old times, back in Sydney when we were all at uni.

* Irish accented words or phrases I like so far:
the beg whale = the big wheel
aisles and squorls = owls and squirrels
dander = to wander
clampet / plank = an idiot
boggan / piggan = disgusting