Instead of London

Well, thanks to the ash cloud, we've been grounded - Andrea and I had big plans for a long weekend in London and we had to abandon them because our flights were cancelled (twice). My two biggest regrets were not getting to see the Van Gogh exhibition at the Royal Academy, which I had been really looking forward to, and not seeing our various friends, who had planned a Soho afternoon drink and a Saturday night meal and a knees-up respectively.

Anyway - we decided to make the very best of it, and become tourists in BELFAST for the weekend. So, on Friday, we cycled down to St. George's Market and bought some nice food for dinner (we also met Eilidh Patterson and chatted for a while). We cycled past the Law Courts at lunchtime, just as all the barristers came out to play... A shoal of them in their suits, carrying folders and grinning like grammar school kids going home on a Friday.

And then we went to Avoca for lunch... And fnished off the afternoon with a visit to Waterstone's and bought some books. The grounds of the City Hall were a-sparkle with loungers in the sun, and the streets were breezy and bright.

On Saturday we drove out of the city to Ballinderry Antiques, where we looked at some wonderful pieces. We're planning to buy a new house, so in our imaginations, we're looking at all kinds of things that would look good in its various lovely corners.

We came back and said hello to Terri Hooley at Good Vibrations record store, because it was International Record Store Day (and I bought a Townes Van Zant album), then we drank coffee in the Belfast Coffee Company and read the Saturday papers.

After that it was The Ulster Museum - Visions exhibition, some of the most magnificent art in its collection. We loved the Delargy and the Yeats and the Conor. But most of all we loved the Derek Hill - Tory Island. As I write, it's Saturday afternoon - we have a dinner reservation for the Barking Dog, and plans for The Sunday Sessions at Oh Yeah tomorrow, and then cocktails at The Merchant, until the money runs out.

The arms of Belfast feel open wide in the warm weather. If and when we get back to London, it will have a tough act to follow.