It's another wet and very windy day, it really doesn't help us explore Belfast but at least we've done the stuff we really wanted. First port of call is the weekend market, only open until mid-afternoon. It's a mix of food market, craft stalls, clothes stalls, and antique tat. Lots of interesting local produce and a lot of fish. We buy meat and vegetables for a stew and coffee beans and tea from a local roaster/blender. Liz hunts the antique (well junk, really, stalls) but fails to find any Girlguiding badges.
Chucking it down now but I stupidly didn't buy the couple of CDs I wanted yesterday so we set sail (seems the apt description) for HMV, only to take a break in the Oxfam bookshop. We tend to avoid these at home as prices are usually top drawer but this was good - Liz picked up 2 quilting books at a couple of quid or so each whilst I found the Irish novel that was my first choice holiday reading - Flann O'Brien's At Swim-Two-Birds. A good trawl. HMV shopping also completed and still raining steadily we could head for home - but lunch first.
Northern Ireland's major contribution to world cuisine appears to be the fry-up, and allied to that fish'n'chips. It's a welcoming sight to see so many chippies, the corollary to which is - so few McDonald's. And according to many authorities the best of these chippies is John Longs, an establishment that has been feeding Belfast for over 100 years. Hidden alongside multi-storey car parks at the side of the Grand Opera House it's not a place you'd stumble upon. But if good, really good fish'n'chips take your fancy it's worth hunting down.
Reminds me of my teenage days, simple Formica tables in the nearly-full restaurant and a long queue in the take-out section. Service is impeccable, down to bring asked exactly how we like our tea and being served a scalding mug each, exactly to specification. The fish is in beautiful batter, not a hint of sogginess but so thin that it couldn't be classified as crunchy. And the fish itself is absolutely top notch. The chips are real chips, British chips, a decent heft to them, wide cut, not those effete French jobbies. A hint of grease probably betraying animal fat but cooked to perfection.
Now I won't say these are the best fish and chips I've ever eaten, there's a restaurant in Lytham St. Anne's that holds that accolade but the're in the top 3 and for the chippy experience definitely number 1. The owner employs sufficient staff to not only ensure prompt service and piping hot food but also to allow himself the luxury to wander amongst the guests checking all is OK and swapping stories. Prices were pretty reasonable too, reckon on about £9-10 for fish'n'chips, a mug of tea and round of bread and butter. Recommended.
Still raining so schlep our way back to the bus stop and back to the van. We can tidy, shower, blog, read and just catch up. Of course, in typical fashion the strong biting wind drops, the rain abates and at 6:30 a beautiful sunny evening dawns.
No photos today - too wet.