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09 December 2009

Belfast

Today was spent on busses on the way to Belfast. I had to make myself get out of bed as soon as my alarm went off because last night I got distracted and didn't end up packing. I made bikkies instead. So this morning I had to get up, pack, and get myself to uni so that I could get the barnacles fed before leaving. Just like having a pet really, except not as fun. They are just not sentient enough for my liking. I have never felt the need to have pet fish and now I have a heap of barnacles to keep alive. They are interesting enough to look at, but far more of a decoration than a pet.

So I go the barnacles fed and left a note for the honours student who is looking after them while we are away. Then had to get to the bus stop which is alway further than you think, but we made it on time and the bus didn't leave right away anyway. That bus to Dublin is so fancy. It's double decker and has really comfortable seats, and the seats at the front of the bus are facing each other with a table in between, how cool is that? And the bus has wireless internet! Plus it is a non-stop service so it seemed really fast. There were four of us - myself, my supervisor, and two other PhD students. We talked most of the way, quite a lot about science and quite a lot about the Antarctica because of this lecture that was on yesterday and because one of the PhD students has been there diving and stuff. I would love to go. So other people might have been bored by our conversation but I thought it was quite a good trip. I took my knitting, I am knitting a shawl out of this really fluffy sor of sparkly wook, sort of a fawn/gold colour. And I had the bikkies that I baked last night which of course everybody loved.

At Dublin airport we changed bus and the second bus was just fine but not at all fancy. Once again most of the ride was spent talking, but we were all starting to feel quite tired I think, the way travelling makes you. It starts getting dark so early aswell, which leaves you feeling like it is late and bed-time already.

So we finally left the Republic of Ireland and entered Northern Ireland. My supervisor explained to me how it all works. It turns out that it isn't a part of the UK anymore, so I am not in the UK. It isn't part of Ireland though either, it has it's own parliment. It is supported by both Dublin and London but leans more towards London. It seems that while a good proportion of the Northern Irelanders would like to be part of Ireland, just as many want to be a part of the UK, so they can't really choose because either way would piss off too many people. Instead they will probably end up becoming their own separate state.

The country side looks different, though of course I am no expert (not yet anyway). It is still farmland but more green rolling hills, less bogland and big rocky areas. Instead of stone walls around the fields there are hedges. The city of Belfast also looks different, but it is hard for me to say for sure. My supervisor tells me it looks very different from Ireland here, more like London. It does look different from Galway but Galway is a smaller city and very medieval, so perhaps it is not a good comparison? I will have to see Dublin properly before I can really say. The buildings are taller though, and the roads are proper roads. The cars are also different, the cabs look like the British ones that you see on the tele, and some of them are black like in England. The accent is strange, I couldn't Also they use the pound here so I will have to get out some money in case I need anything (and so that I have pounds because having foreign money is fun). I haven't got any decent photos yet, only blurry in the dark ones, and probably won't have time to get any. I will have to come back up here one day instead.
So soon we are going out for a meal, and the next couple of days will be very busy. Luckily the workshop does not start too early. Before it is time to meet for dinner I will have to go down to the reception and see if I can get some bandaids, because my new boots have caused a couple of blisters. The are the type of boot that you can tuck your jeans into so I am trying that, I mean everybody else does it and it does keep the hem of your pants nice and dry in the rain. This hotel is also very nice, though I am not actually sure if it is a hotel or a B&B. My room is large, the bed is big and very comfortable, the bathroom is large. It has no bath, only a shower, but that is okay (yet among the free toiletries is bath salts?).
There is not much in the way of free stuff to swipe, just some soap and lotions, your general tea and coffee, a couple of bikkies. No hot chocolate so I can't even make use of the little kettle. There is free wireless which is always great. I would like to see if the other rooms are as nice, you see another supervisor was supposed to come with us but cancelled so maybe I have her room and it is fancier than what would generally be given to a student? We will see. It is a shame that it gets dark so early, it is only 5.30 but too dark to go out and see anything.

And what would you know but my bag has broken. Trust Mum to bring me a shoddy bag. The zip broke and won't go back together so I will have to find some big safety pins. And I was going to take it to Abu Dhabi too, so I didn't have to take an actual suitcase.

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