So last night I went for a walk to find the university and things, so today we will all know where we are going. Belfast, it turns out, is the place with the docks where they built the Titanic. Also if you want to see the Giant's causeway you have to come up here, so I will have to visit Northern Ireland again one day. Also, it is Belfast and Northern Ireland where there is so much trouble over religion. You see, Ireland is Catholic so that's okay, they all agree there. But England is Protestant, and Northern Ireland has always been about half and half. So just like they can't agree on whether they want to be Ireland or UK they don't agree on religion. And they all live together in the one place. And each won't accept the other, they want them to leave. So for the past 20 years or so (I think it was worst in 80s) there have been gangs and groups that cause trouble, terrorise and throw bombs and things. It was called The Troubles and was largely about whether they should be UK or Ireland, so it is better since they agreed to be neither. Now there are just a couple of extremist groups I think but they still cause trouble. And that is also the deal with the Orange order, who are the protestants. They have a parade every year or something like that. Anyway, that's the deal with Northern Ireland.
Anyway enough of all that. This morning we didn't have to be anywhere too early so I took my time over breakfast. This is a very nice B&B, the breakfast's are all very good, and there's loads of it if only you had the appetite for it. The workshop seemed very long to me - the first couple of talks were a bit dull, then there were some good ones, and then they seemed to get worse. I thought most of the PhD talks this afternoon were not very good but my supervisor does not agree. I think we are talking about different things though. I think that the talks were not good as far as presentation goes, while she thinks that they were good in that they have some big results so early into their PhDs. But they were all very similar which was a problem. Who would have thought that so many people study sponges? And they all seem to study the same thing about sponges too. It is hard to say though, which is were their presentations were lacking. I can remember bits and pieces, but none of them really managed to make their project stand out. And they all kept repeating one another, you would think that after a couple they would just skim over what has been said and get more into their specific stuff. But no, they had to barrel on through their planned talk no matter how repetitive they were being. Perhaps I should not be so harsh but they are mostly from the same university so you think they would have some idea of what the others are doing, and also I was rather bored by the end of the day.
So anyway that is all very boring and tomorrow will be just as full on. After the talks I went shopping with some other people from Galway, from the Marine Institute (which is not the same one that I work at) and Belfast is a very cool city. The buildings are big and very impressive, it is very British looking here. The shopping centre was all lit up and there was this big sort of palace-y building with a market around it, also all lit up, and a big ferris wheel. It was called the continental market and it was a shame that we had to go back for the dinner because it looked really interesting and was full of all sorts of yummy looking food. The lights and decorations amazing. I will have to come back up here next Christmas if I can to see it all again properly, since there wasn't time this year.
So to get to the end of the day, there was a dinner put on by the workshop. Only it wasn't put on because we had to pay for ourselves. It was a Japanese restaurant called Zen 2 and it was nice, but a little disorganised. Dinner was at 8, and they didn't seat us straight away (and when they did it was cramped and there were not enough seats, despite the big long empty table in the middle of the room), and by the time they began to take orders it was 9. The food was really good and the people were good to talk to, we didn't finish until 11 (and there was no desert, I think because we were there so late. But who seated us so late in the first place? The restaurant did.). So it was a very long day. Now it is late because there was yet more talking after dinner and on the way home.
In the morning we start at 9, and before that we have to have had breakfast and checked out. It finishes earlier tomorrow but starts earlier so really it will be just as long a day, and after that we have to get back to Galway. I will be so glad of the weekend, although with looking after barnacles I don't really just get to stay home in bed (like I said, they are all the responsibility of a pet without all the fun). The bus ride will be no rest either because all the people to talk to have given my supervisor all sorts of information and ideas so tomorrows bus ride will be all work talk.
Hopefully I will have some photos to post tomorrow of Belfast.