Hi ye daen! I was away over the 12th, unlike last year when I stayed to watch the main orange order parade in Belfast. Returning home to the Lisburn Road I find more changes. Some businesses have closed in the past year because of the economic downturn. Last month I called into the butchers only to discover that the nearby greengrocers shop had shut permanently. But others have come to take their place, especially in the hospitality sector. I have not done a survey but there are now several eateries in the area including pizza restaurants, some of them situated alongside each other. A well-established one has been joined by at least three rivals and some more further down the road, towards the city centre. Take-aways, fish and chip shops, coffee shops, a tea room and sandwich bars also thrive as well as other types of restaurants. Who would expect a queue outside a coffee shop on a Sunday evening, as happened on at least one occasion. No doubt a sociologist could tell us what this means about the eating habits of local residents! I have just returned from lunch at one of the new pizza restaurants but I will not offer a review here. One positive sign was that when I complained about the taste of the glass of red wine I ordered, it was replaced with another type. It is sometimes difficult to find a good restaurant with a reasonably-priced menu. But when I was in Littlehampton in England this week where I stayed overnight, I discovered a very good fish restaurant at 9pm in the evening, thanks to a recommendation from the bed-and-breakfast owner. In fact the dinner there (scallops starter & fish curry main course, with 2 pints of beer) worked out only £3 more expensive than my Belfast lunch (bruschetta, prawn pizza and a red wine).
This blog page is in its infancy, so please be patient while I construct it. Comments (and followers!) are welcome. In the meantime I continue tweeting @fishbelfast. Go raibh maith agaibh/Danke sehr/Merci/Thanks



I grew up in London in the 1960s in the era of the trolleybus. The service from Wimbledon literally went out with a bang as the last journey was made and the vehicles were sold off to other operators or sent to a museum. Returning to London over 45 years later I noticed a new form of public transport was beginning to appear. Streaks of blue were evident along some of the city’s main roads (not a celebration of the Tories’ return to government). These are the new cycle routes designed to encourage pedal power. Each has its own marking eg CS7, which stands for “Cycle Superhighway”. The paint was still fresh when I passed one in Colliers Wood. Further into the city, there were more signs of a return to two wheels instead of four.

St Pancras at entrance to congestion zone

Docking stations have been set up at various locations, where people will be able to hire a bike in a new initiative promoted by Transport for London (new window). It’s nice to think that for once, Dublin has been ahead of London in introducing this form of transport. There are plans for up to 400 such stations for bicycles but only 300 will be ready for use next week when the scheme is due to begin.

St Paul's Cathedral
TfL bike hire

Each station holds 20 bikes and only those cyclists who register from Friday will be able to use the bikes next week. According to the Evening Standard (new window) most users will have to wait until the end of August while the docking stations are completed. The first superhighway from Merton to the City was officially launched yesterday. But judging by the state of roadworks at Colliers Wood and at Southwark Bridge at the weekend, cyclists are going to have problems tackling the route, especially beginners. I can recall cycling along some of these roads heading towards the centre in the mid 1960s when there was much less congestion. But the way things are now, I don’t think I will chance it again for the moment! I will leave that to my daughter, who occasionally cycles to work in the centre of London.

Latest: She has now signed up for the scheme, received her key in the post, and has made her debut on one of the TfL bikes!

Bikes outside University College Hospital


UPDATE on the tennis: Serena Williams won the womens’ final in very convincing style, 6-3 6-2. It was her fourth Wimbledon title. This AP photo was accessed through CBS News (new window)

In a BBC interview live on court Serena thanked her family, including her sister Venus, her father, and the crowd. Serena has now moved ahead of Billie Jean King into sixth place on the list of women’s Grand Slam champions with 13, the most of any active woman player. She turned to King, who was sitting in the Royal Box, and said: “Hey, Billie — I got you. This is No. 13 for me now. It’s just amazing to able to be among such great people.” King grinned and applauded. “That’s actually my lucky number,” Williams said of number 13.

The new champion graciously congratulated her opponent, Vera Zvonareva from Russia, who played in her first Grand Slam final and was the second-lowest ranked women’s finalist ever at Wimbledon. “Everyone should give her a big round of applause,” Williams said. “She defines what being a champion and never giving up means.”


Front steps at entrance to Parliament in Belfast

Parliament Buildings Stormont

The marvels of new technology! This page is at an early stage of construction, starting today. I am looking forward to an NUJ training course in London later this month on web page development. Please be patient as I learn some NEW TRICKS. Which reminds me. The BBC series is now running on RTÉ1 on Saturday nights (10.35pm). It’s always interesting to spot how many clues there are as to the team Brian (Alun Armstrong) supports. It happens to be the same as mine, AFC Wimbledon. So look out for the scarf, the mug and the (early) team photo in the office scenes. It’s great to see the Dons embarking on only their second season in the Conference Premier league, with a mainly full-time squad. There will be plenty more about them on these pages over the coming season as I attempt to make more use of my season ticket. Still on sport and Wimbledon in particular, I’m now going to watch the womens’ final on TV between Serena Williams (USA) and Vera Zvonareva from Russia. Could be a good match.