Sunday, September 16, 2018

Familiarity on the Other Side of the World

The most ordinary things, the most common and familiar, if we could see them in their true light, would turn out to be the grandest miracles.— Michel de Montaigne
And here we are, Belfast again. I have walked to many times around this city, and each time I realize that, wow... I am on the other side of the world yet again. Travel is a funny thing that way.

We arrived last Sunday, and it's been a full week of visiting and wandering about. We're staying at an Airbnb literally down the road from the flat we used to live in back when Belfast was our home about 15 years ago (was it that long ago already?). I have a vague feeling of half-knowing where I am, like being in a dream of a former life where everything is just a bit off... where familiar things are in strange places and things I feel I ought to recognize seem just a bit hazy. I went for a run this morning past our old flat, and it looked exactly the same, so that was strange as well. In all, it’s been an interesting stay.

The house cat at least is unperturbed. She's just hoping I leave my cereal unattended for a while so she can have a bite:

I find myself doing all the touristy things I would have never done as a resident here this time. I met a friend at City Hall the other day and realized I'd never really spent much time looking around the place. Indeed, it's already so different because there are so many tourists here these days: I had to wade through a group of French tourists to get to the bathrooms. I have a habit of taking photos without any people in them, so perhaps that is hard to believe, but they were there, I assure you. I'm glad there are people visiting it because there really are worthwhile things to see:

I also met a friend outside St. Anne's Cathedral, which is a place I'd often parked outside of but had never been inside. There was an event going on that day, but they let me wander around and take photos while I waited. How come I never spent the time to see this place before?

We did do some familiar things, like go to Castle Espie, which is a World Wetlands Trust site. I don't know if anyone has ever figured out why it's called Castle Espie, as there is no castle in sight, but I always enjoy visiting here, not least because it has a beautiful cafe with lots of nice treats:

And a wander around the wildlife sanctuary is always worthwhile:

That same day, I met a random lizard at a pet shop, who stopped to listen to all my problems:

And yesterday, we stopped in at St. George's Market for the first time in years. I must say that it has changed immensely. Years ago, it was a big, empty covered market with a few tables with knicknacks, but these days, it is a big, bustling market full of artisans and food and music:

Today, we walked out to Stormont Estate, which was a regular weekend stroll for us back in the day. Again, it was familiar but unfamiliar... tourist buses were lined up full of people taking photos, which never happened when we lived here. And again, you can't tell from my photos, but there were so many dogs running about. I can't remember there being so many people with pet dogs when we lived here. It made me miss my little Seymour at home:

This afternoon, we decided to visit Rowallene Garden, another place we'd been to before, but has changed so much. It's the site of a stately home and garden, but it's so amazing now because they allow families with children to bring their bikes and dogs and run and ride around the paths and enjoy it as much as possible. It's a far cry from years ago when hardly anyone came because we were all expected to walk sedately around the gardens and not touch anything. I'm so glad the place can be enjoyed so thoroughly by everyone. My "no people" photos are below, but it was a bit of work to take them because there really were so many children running about:

For my travel project, I’m working in a project from Hunter Hammersen’s Curls collection. This yarn has been in my stash for so long that I’ve lost the label and I believe the indie dyer is no longer in business, but I vaguely recall that it's probably over 450 yards and is probably a merino yarn. The yarn has a beautiful tight twist which was just calling out for some detailed cabling, and I'm glad I listened because the stitch pattern is coming out nicely in it:

The only thing is that the entire pattern requires you to knit and purl through the back loop. Knitting and purling thru the back loop is like scratching an itch with your non-dominant hand: satisfying, but strange, familiar... and yet...

I suppose that is the theme for this trip this year: stuff I kinda know but sorta don't. Opportunity for growth or times of confusion? I have yet to decide.

On Tuesday, we leave for Munich for a couple of days. Perhaps that shall be my dose of totally new things, we shall see! Happy Sunday.

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