Northern Ireland based geekery & nerdisms

Tag Archives: tourism

Oh, I have so many blogs to write. My brain feels all busy and heavy and full of words. It should be full of more important things, like getting myself healthy (yes, I have been ill again, shock shock) or university work or learning to speak Italian.

Maybe not that last one. Anyway, I thought I would start this huge wave of blog-productivity with one about my holiday. From Friday until Tuesday, I was in Paris! And oh, it was amazing. So beautiful and wonderful and picturesque. Between my boyfriend and I, we took around five hundred pictures. Of each other, of buildings, of…everything. I loved it, I really did. I have been sulking like a child since we came home, because I would much rather be in Paris than Lisburn.

Rather than do one blog 2394728934729347289374 words long, I thought it made sense to split my Paris blogging into separate days. That way, I can go into more detail before I get bored and dander off to internet shop or cuddle my cat.

So, day one. Mostly full of airports and waiting, as day ones of holidays always tend to be. Belfast International Airport is not a bad airport, all things considered, but I have one piece of advice. Avoid The Lagan Bar, because it is ridiculously over-priced and bursting with stag and hen parties, who don’t really care that you are trying to have a conversation BECAUSE THEY JUST WANT TO SHOUT AT EACH OTHER. Instead, go and chill out in Fed & Watered – it looks much fancier, but a bottle of Corona will only sting you £3.50, instead of a freakin’ fiver. Rant over.

So, yes, on day one, we arrived in Paris. We stayed in Cambronne, about a ten minute walk away from the Eiffel Tower, with lots of little shops and restaurants around the place. I highly recommend it. Our hotel was TINY. Like, no floor space TINY, but very, very clean. I am not a picky person when it comes to hotels – the boyfriend wasn’t too thrilled with our hotel choice, but I thought it was nice. Cosy.

I am a silver linings sort of lady.

We arrived, dumped our stuff and made a bee line for the Eiffel Tower, expecting to queue for two hours or so. Joy of joys, we got there and there was literally zero queue. Straight to the top (very windy), lovely views, crazy romantic. I had been to Paris before and hadn’t bothered going up the tower (madness, I know), but it really is as incredible as people say it is. The funny thing is, the next morning when we walked past, the queue was ridiculous. Right around the bottom of the Eiffel Tower and out on the road. Take that, American coach tours, we are much smarter than you.

Have some pictures.

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The park around the Eiffel Tower is pretty damn lovely as well, no one ever mentions that. Erm, that about sums up our first day though. We had dinner and went to bed, where I did not sleep. I did not sleep the whole time we were there, in case you were wondering. It’s strange though, the sleep deprivation has actually made me a productive hyper wonder-bug.

Day Two was much more interesting…I’ll get right on that, shall I?

S.

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Oh. My. God.

This is one of, if not the, greatest episodes of Game Of Thrones so far. It had everything that a fan wants out of the show – intrigue, new characters and dragons. All three of them, at once! That, like, never happens.

I shall start my praise like I usually start – with a confirmation of my love for the Tyrells. Yet again, Margaery shows herself to be a genius little minx, leading Joffery around by with his own ego while his mother watches haplessly. Olenna, too, is well clued into the games that go on in King’s Landing, enough to even catch Varys off guard.

Sidenote: Varys’ revenge on the sorcerer who ‘cut’ him as a child was not in the books (at least, not to my recollection?), but I liked it! It made about a dozen points about his character – he’s powerful, patient and his arm stretches a very long way indeed.

And he’s from Ballycastle!

"There's a spider in the garden."

“There’s a spider in the garden.”

The episode starts with a bit of a recurring theme – pity for the bad guys. Both Jamie Lannister and Theon Greyjoy were main protagonists in seasons one and two (killing children does not really make for a hero, does it?) and now…well, comeuppance has never been so completely soul wrenching to watch. We’re meant to hate these guys, right? So why does seeing Jamie pushed in the dirt with his severed hand tied around his neck make me so very sad? And why isn’t watching Theon cling to misguided hope feel more satisfying?

Curse you, George R. R. Martin, you are causing me inner turmoil.

This week we finally, FINALLY, got a look at one of the new characters that I have been looking forward to the most. Berric Dondarrion, head of the Brotherhood Without Banners has finally got some screen time – I’ve been expecting him since episode two! He looks a little bit the worse for wear, which is not surprising considering…well, if you’ve read the books, you’ll know he’s had a tough time. He made a rousing little speech about the role the Brotherhood had to play in the war (justice!), and sentenced the captive Hound to trial by combat. Awesome.

I like the eye patch. I think I would suit something similar.

I like the eye patch. I think I would suit something similar.

I’m going to say something really weird, but give me a minute. Look at both those pictures. The details that go into the costumes and make up and accessories and…everything! These characters are perfectly constructed – Olenna could not be more like how I imagined her if I’d cast her myself. I did picture Berric as being younger and hotter but, well, that’s just me, I suppose.

Anyway, there were, in my opinion, two main scenes in this episode, an icy one and a fiery one. DID YOU SEE WHAT I DID THERE?

While we got some nice new characters, we lost one. Mormont, the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, was struck down in cold blood during a mutiny. Sniff. Poor, poor James Cosmo. He was at Heroes and Legends in W5 this year, y’know. He wasn’t there when I was, or else I would’ve given him a preemptive hug. Craster had his last moment as well, which was well deserved, obviously. During the ensuing fighting and killing and dying, Sam grabs Gilly and her son and slips off into the darkness.

Slightly different from the scene has they had it in the book, but as I has said before, this doesn’t really bother me, as long as everyone is still pointed in the right direction. On the other hand…aren’t we getting anymore white walkers this season?

Meanwhile in Astapor, Daenerys is kicking ass. The moment she was all like, “Yeah, I speak Valyrian, I AM DAENERYS STORMBORN, IT IS MY MOTHER TONGUE”, I screamed. Yes yes yes, I’ve read the books, but I sort of forgot that little detail. And it was so well done!

She’s definitely becoming a queen in her own right, I like how it’s been a gradual change too, and not a haphazard montage or something.

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The closing scene of the episode was literally the greatest scene in anything ever, and it goes without saying but I really can’t wait for next week. *

S.

*Next week, I shall be watching a recorded Game Of Thrones on Tuesday night, because I’ll be in Paris for a long weekend. It is a hard, hard life.


I have a confession to make – this was meant to be written and posted last week, but then I got horribly ill. Like, horribly. With screaming and crying and A&E.

That all aside, I had a lovely weekend, having spent a good deal of it (all day Friday, before the crippling plague struck me down) dandering around Belfast, eating and drinking. First up was a very lovely lunch in The Kitchen Bar, which is a real favourite of mine because the food is just so very good. And not overly expensive, like some places in and around Victoria Square tend to be. Unfortunately, on this particular visit I was not a happy bunny. While the food was fairly incredible, the staff were…well, they were meh. I get that it was busy and all, but I felt like they were looking rid of me, which sort of puts me off visiting again, obviously. I think there’s been a change in the staff or something? Don’t let me put you off, but be prepared to be in and out in twenty minutes, with someone wiping down your table before you’ve even left it.

That’s what she said?

On to the important part. After lunch and a decent wander around Victoria Square (the dome never fails to amuse me, although my boyfriend is less enthusiastic about acting like a tourist), we stumbled gloriously into Alley Cat for an afternoon of drinks and giggles.

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Alley Cat is very new on my radar, I went a few weeks ago for a friend’s birthday and had to stay sober (hangovers are best avoided when working with kids the next morning). I had to go back though – they have cocktails. IN TEAPOTS. Who doesn’t want to drink alcohol out of a teacup, poured from a freakin’ teapot?

In the interest of science, we felt it was only fair to try one of each flavour. I have listed the resulting league table, listing said cocktails in order of preference.

1. American Pie – tastes like cinnamon, which tastes like Christmas.

2. Cool Beans – pure sweetness and fizz.

3. London Tart – blackcurrant and lemon. Gin-based, sort of tastes like strong cordial.

4. Storm In A Teapot – Essentially, lime & rum & coke. Well nice.

5. Jacklope – SO MUCH STRAWBERRY.

You’re welcome.

The decor of the bar is awesome – giant paintings of Christian Bale (circa American Psycho), Blondie posters and kitty cats all over the place. Regardless of what my charming boy has to say, IT IS NOT A LESBIAN BAR! A few cat posters does not a lady bar make. Although one of the walls does have ‘Don’t just look at it, eat it’ sprayed across it…but that can be read a few ways, really.

The bar does food too, which I have yet to try, but after staring at other people eating their lunch/dinner (we were there for a while…), I would definitely go back to try a (slightly pricey) burger. A little while ago, I heard less than good things about their service, but hopefully that was just growing pains, because I saw no problems on either of my visits.

I only have two tiny problems with the place. When we first arrived, the reception was frosty and the atmosphere was non-existent – but this was rapidly remedied as more afternoon drinkers arrived, and when we found the Jenga and Connect 4. No really. Highlight of my life.

Secondly…now, don’t laugh…the toilet doors say ‘Pussy Cats’ and ‘Tom Cats’, and it took me a little while to figure out which one I am. I did tell you not to laugh.

All in all, well worth a visit. Get there early to claim a sofa and a board game.

S.


Season three, episode three already. Blimey, it feels like HBO only announced they were making Game Of Thrones yesterday, doesn’t it? Time flies when you’re having fun and getting old.

Anyway, obviously I thought the episode was fantastic, but this one stood out for me a little from the rest of the season so far, particularly the first half of the episode. It stood out for me because it was, well, funny. The scene with the small council meeting with Tywin for the first time was brilliant, as they all battle for position (albeit only around the table). It was a real insight into the politics of Kings Landing – petty, spiteful and self-serving. I have to admit though, I was disappointed by the lack of Tyrell in this episode (I’m not even picky now, Olenna and Margaery are equally fantastic).

As wonderful as the musical chairs were, this was not the only giggle I got from Walk Of Punishment – Podrick, urm, becoming a man, was hilarious. Especially the aftermath.

Observe - a legend.

Observe – a legend.

While a lot of the episode did have that wonderful humorous aspect, a lot of it most definitely did not. The episode started with a funeral (and the introduction of Brynden Blackfish, Catelyn’s awesome uncle), and while there were a few giggle moments, watching a woman who has lost nearly all of her children cry at the loss of her father was not pleasant. Most women would have gone mad by now, but Cat perseveres, albeit in a world of pain and misery.

New character alert! New old man crush, also.

New character alert! This scene was filmed in Tollymore, apparently. Could be anywhere, but once again, my father reassures me.

Speaking of pain and misery, oh Jamie, just when we were beginning to think you aren’t a complete tool. There is a whole lot of comeuppance going around at the minute, which is bizarre mixture of satisfying and horrifying. I mean really, how are you meant to hate characters that you also love?

HOW?

HOW?

Finally, in this waffle of a blog about a show that everyone has already watched, Daenerys is finally becoming majestic! If only she would learn some foreign languages, so that people couldn’t call her a tart right to her face. She’s building up her entourage nicely; she’s got Jorah, Barristan and a little interpreter with a ridiculous amount of side boob! Having read all the books, I am meant to be totally enlightened as to what her game plan is, but I read Storm Of Swords so long ago that I can’t really remember, which is great because I can still be hanging on the edge of my seat.

You get the best of both worlds, you do.

Season Three is shaping up nicely, although is it just me, or is it going just a little bit slowly? I found this with the last season, they take eight or nine episodes to build up sufficient levels of tension and frustration, before they explode all over the place in the last episode.

Goodness, I did not mean that to sound quite as sexual. Oh well, this is Game Of Thrones we are talking about.

S.


Finally! I have been waiting so very long for this precious announcement, and it was starting to look as though it might not be coming at all…but yes, TitanCon 2013 has been confirmed and announced.

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For those of you that have read by blog faithfully and devotedly (lovely people), you’ll know that it was at TitanCon last year that I decided I should start a blog for the geeks and nerds of Northern Ireland. With this in mind, I sort of consider TitanCon weekend to be RefugeekNI’s birthday. I should get a cake or something, maybe. However, the date has changed. As has the venue. While the last two conventions have been held in the Europa Hotel in Belfast City Centre, this year, proceedings have been moved to the Wellington Park Hotel (up Malone Road direction). At first I was a bit like…’oh’, because I like the Europa (so fancy!), but apparently this venue change means that the organizers can spend more of the limited budget on guests – obviously, this is a good thing.

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For those of you unfamiliar with the event, it’s over three days and is essentially a sci-fi fantasy convention – with a whole lot of Game Of Thrones. A Friday evening event (last year, Belfast Culture Night. This year, a TitanCon specific Literature Night, with readings by the author guests), the convention on a Saturday, and then the coach tour on the Sunday. Friday night is a free event, but the rest of the weekend requires a membership to the event. It’s so worth it, though. I promise.

While guests have yet to be announced, the extra budget should mean even shinier people to adore – I’ll try my very best to keep you updated, as long as you promise you’re not planning on kidnapping anyone.

If you are intent on getting a Game Of Thrones cast member to keep for your very own, well. That might be okay, too. I want an Alfie Allen, after all.

He will be mine. Oh yes, he will be mine.

He will be mine. Oh yes, he will be mine.

You can find ALL THE DETAILS – here, and you can find ME – here.

S.


There we have it; episode two of season three has just aired in the UK and I don’t know about you, but I was glued to the screen. I don’t think I blinked, in all seriousness, I think my contact lenses have fused to my eyeballs.

While episode one had that ‘and that’s what everyone is up to’ vibe that I’m not overly fond of, Dark Wings, Dark Words struck a much better balance – we could see more along the lines of what characters were THINKING. Sansa, for example, with her torturous, constant inner turmoil; Tyrion and his sincere fears for Shae’s safety; and Ayra’s determination to get back onto familiar soil and family territory.

Speaking of which, Ayra made her first appearance of the series, on the run from Harrenhal with Gendry (yum) and Hot Pie (bless). They don’t seem to be getting very far, mind you. I’m really trying not to give to much away to those of you who have not read the books, but if I remember correctly, there was a certain character I was really expecting to see at the end of this episode, but I suppose I’ll have to wait another week. Sigh.

The rest of the younger Starks made their first appearance too; Bran and Rickon (or as I like to call him, The Forgotten Stark), are still on their way to the wall. Actually, considering Ayra, Bran and Rickon…by the time you throw in Jamie and Brienne, this episode was really just watching a lot of people walking. Sort of like Lord Of The Rings, really. Not a bad thing, just an observation. Bran’s little entourage (HODOR!) are treated to the precious gift of new characters, in the form of the Reeds; Meera and Jojen.

I have to admit, like with many of the characters introduced in the later stages of A Song Of Ice And Fire, I was not a fan of this odd, frog-eating brother and sister duo, but having now seen them brought to life, I am reasonably pleased. They are exactly how I pictured them! I love when that happens.

Also! That is totally the kid from Love Actually.

Also! That is totally the kid from Love Actually.

Another thing this week that was exactly how I pictured it when reading the books, was the meeting of Margaery, Sansa and Olenna. Perfection. Let’s just take a moment to congratulate the Tyrell’s on being so completely awesome, witty and wonderful. As much as I love Margaery (who showed yet more of her abilities to be manipulative and foxy this week), Olenna is in a league of her own – a true matriarch, and one of the few characters in Martin’s works who really is just THAT straight forward. She’s such a pip.

That is a face of  knowing.

That is a face of knowing.

For me, one of the most triumphant aspects of this episode was how EXTREMELY obvious it was that these people were wandering arounD Northern Ireland! Indeed! Bran & co. were obviously walking in the Mourne mountains (which I know to be a definite fact, because my father pointed this out and was very pleased, because he’s been there) and Jamie and Brienne’s fight scene was filmed in Shane’s Castle. The latter statement I know to be a fact because I was actually on that bridge in September last year, about a week after they had filmed that exact scene.

And then I saw Brienne get out of a taxi in front of the Europa hotel, but that’s completely irrelevant.

Overall, another fantastic episode, more new and wonderful characters than I have even mentioned here (Thoros! Hello, you!) – and just enough of a cliffhanger to make me actually want Mondays to happen.

Speaking of ending on a cliffhanger…

HIM!

HIM!

S.

p.s., Theon, what you are experiencing is called ‘comeuppance’.


I am showering you with blogs today! April showers. See what I did there? It’s April now.

Lisburn has been really disappointing recently as far as magical geeky shopping is concerned – I suppose it doesn’t help that all the shops are closing. I’ve seen a few wee bits and bobs I would rather like, though. I thought you might like them too, although I’m not convinced all of them are geeky enough to warrant blog coverage. Still, they’re nice, you might like them. Bear with me.

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The pictures are giant, to make my blog look nice and colourful. And to make you think this is longer than it looks, because I am crafty that way. First up, this framed poster. It’s both adorable and geeky, because it references Twitter. Geeks like Twitter, almost as most as C-list celebrities and comedians do. I only meant to take a picture of the one poster, but I seem to have caught a second, equally adorable one in the bottom right. It’s mean and sarcastic.

I like it.

These works of art were in TK Maxx (Lisburn). They’re probably not there anymore, but there’s usually a great variety of every-changing oddities in that place, so it’s always worth a look.

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And we come, inevitably, to Primark. This time last year you couldn’t move in Primark without walking into something with a Bat-symbol on it. However, the times have changed, and Batman isn’t ‘trendy’ anymore. It’s okay, Bruce. I still love you. While ‘geek-chic’ is finally over (don’t get me wrong, it was handy, but there’s nothing I hate more than a chav or a skank with a Superman t-shirt), there are still a few precious gems to be found. The picture above (another Twitter reference, obviously) is from a pair of girly pants. Adorable.

Boys, zone out for a moment. Thank you. Ladies, have you noticed that Primark have changed their pant sizings? You can now either get them in ‘too small’ or ‘too big’. I do not like this, not one little bit.

Sorry. Back on track now.

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I am aware this is not remotely ‘geeky’ (unless you are passionate and enthusiastic about ice-cream…which come to think of it, everyone should be), but so cute! And it smells like summer and sugar and everything nice. I’m just so glad that winter finally appears to be ending, that I am suddenly attracted to everything yellow and shiny.

Like a magpie, but with candles.

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Okay okay, so again, maybe not super-geeky, but who doesn’t love a nice pug? Look at that face. I am mad about cushions, but my boyfriend doesn’t see the point of them.

Maybe he’ll read this and realise that I’m rather upset we don’t have more snuggley lovely cushions on our sad, cold sofas? Maybe? Hello?

Ack. Nevermind.

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And finally (still in Primark, by the way), there is this thing. It’s a shower glove? Face cloth pocket? I don’t really see the point of these things at all, but mostly they’re for children, so I don’t really think about it. I think this one goes under the name ‘wash mitt’. Good to know. Anyway, it’s only £1 and has Spiderman on it, so it must be worth owning.

So, that’s your lot. Mini-findings. I intend to have a good hunt around Belfast at some point this week, as places get their Spring/Summer stock in around now, so there could be a Batman themed stationary set that I’ve never seen before. How exciting!

That was only a little bit of sarcasm. I really like stationary.

S.