Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Bank Holiday Weekend

The bank holiday weekend got off to a great start with a staff BBQ on the roof terrace on Friday lunchtime and despite the lack of sunshine, it was warm enough for everyone to sit outside and enjoy themselves. We agreed that, weather permitting, another BBQ should be held in September but as we edge towards autumn, it's the strength of the sunshine that has to hold up its side of the bargain.

That afternoon was much more enjoyable as the dullness had cleared to leave a blue sky with small fluffy white clouds and a few of us finished up early and sat upstairs with glasses of wine.

Leaving prematurely to make it home in time for the rugby match, we settled in front of the TV to watch Ireland thrash Italy in their first game in Ravenhill since the 1950's. What we witnessed was one the worst Ireland performances in the last few years and they struggled against a far weaker side and stole the game 23-20 in the final minute. If they play like this in the World Cup, it will be disastrous.

Saturday was the second day of the Hilden Brewery beer festival and we all met up in Central Station to make our way towards Lisburn. It was another day that could go either way weather-wise although the prediction was for a decent afternoon. We hopped off at the Hilden stop and followed a small crowd in front of us as they walked the few minutes up the road to the brewery.

Not too many people had arrived yet and we were afforded pick of the seats in the central aisle with a view of the stage. Unlike the Belfast beer festival, there were no flyer's with a list of beer available so we had choose quickly at the bar. As usual at these events, the best way to sample most beers is to purchase halves but also because they end up filling two-thirds of the glass so you get more for your money too.

I was lucky not to get a beer I didn't like and half-way through I choose a cider to refresh the palette and give my taste-buds a change of pace. The first band to take the stage was Catch 23 and they were pretty non-offensive although we had to shout to make ourselves heard which we didn't appreciate. I got the feeling that the crowd would have preferred music over the P.A. system although it may have something to do with a legality about serving beer outside with an event such as live music.

It rained several times but it was light and didn't last long and the sun periodically appeared to boost our moral. Nevertheless, after some time, many beers tasted somewhat similar and it was time to hit the tracks.

On Sunday we went along to the Mela Festival in Botanic Park which is a celebration of ethnic minorities with a heavy influence of Indian culture. After making our way in, I was looking forward to checking out the stalls thinking there would be food and other interesting items to buy and take home with me. Boy was I sorely disappointed. High end disappointment stalls came in the forms of a Western Union, PSNI and one in particular advising what you could and couldn't put in your suitcase when going abroad. Another lackluster stall offered Tarot and Palm reading and a billion recalled Chinese toys looked like a safer bet.

An announcement came from the stage that the procession to the stage was about to start and around a dozen people playing instruments and dressed as performers made their way through the crowd to the stage where organisers talked about what a great day this would be and Martin McGuinness made a speech about inclusiveness and made a pun about the sash he was wearing. As the next speaker took over, I made my way to find some lunch. Again, I was disappointed. Despite there being several Indian food stalls, all they seemed to offer was basic offering of pakoras and spring rolls and such like. I was expecting unusual dishes to peak punters interest in foreign cuisine, not 2am Saturday night food.

The other stalls were selling Japanese food and another two offered western food such as burgers and crepes. I was no longer hungry so I bought some noodles and a salmon rice cake. As soon as had eaten them, I left. If you're looking for culinary inspiration, check out the Gourmet Garden in Botanic on 15/16 September.


Blogger Skry said...

I found out what the deal was with the stalls and their weird offerings - the event was largely sponsored by the local police force and government agencies, who were trying to inform foreign nationals (mainly Indian by the looks of it) about what they could and couldn't bring home with them, give them a chance to meet the local constabulary and get used to our laws and customs.

I think the idea with the PSNI was to show them who the police were, what they wore and the things (including dogs) that they would be able to bring into force should the public ever need them. I wouldn't be messing with the PSNI dog squad after seeing some of the arm-biting action on display that day!

With that in mind I can see why the government had such a large informative presence, but it still doesn't explain the poor choice of food on offer (I opted for going hungry rather than purchasing food, as it all looked bland, samey and expensive), the low quality of many of the other stalls and general mishmash of styles the stalls were offerring.

Overall I was more sorry to hear that the Indian Onam festival was on Saturday and that I'd missed it for the Mela Festival, although I was happy enough to have missed it because I was at the Hilden Brewery Beer Festival :D

Speaking of which, where are the pics from that?

2:45 am  
Blogger Jay Tea said...

You took the pictures on your camera so I should be asking you (again!) :D

7:23 am  

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