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Monday, 3 November 2014

Big Smoke Adventure Part One

"I know some sisters who only see each other on Mother’s Day and some who will never speak again. But most are like my sister and me... linked by volatile love, best friends who make other best friends ever so slightly less best."
Patricia Volk

As you might know if you're a regular reader of my blog or follow me on Twitter I had quite a big weekend away with my sister Eva Paige. At twenty four and nineteen, it was our first time away together by ourselves. Granted it was only a thirty minute train journey from where we live, we were excited nonetheless. It wouldn't seem like a big deal to most people, but it's slightly different when you're disabled and rely on the person you're with for everything. Not to mention the responsibility put on them. Then there's the regular nervousness of two young women in a city by themselves, but I digress. We got up early on Friday morning and got our stuff ready. We loaded ourselves up like pack mules and headed for the train. My puppy Edwin wanted to come with us. I felt so bad leaving him, as it was the longest I'd been away from him since I got him.  We'd hoped to stay one night, but as fate would have it by the time I booked they had a two night policy. Our little getaway for £80 between us turned into a little getaway for £180 between us. In hindsight, I'm glad.

The train journey didn't take long and in no time we reached our stop for the Titanic Quarter. It was a five or ten minute walk to the Premier Inn and it didn't take us long to get checked in. It was busier than I had thought it would be. I figured a few of the Scottish people were there to see Braehead Clan, the team the Belfast Giants were playing against. There was also four other boys in wheelchairs in the foyer when we got there. They were together and all looked like they had Duchenne MD. They ended up being at the Giants' game too. My dad said when he picked us up on Sunday it was like a wheelchair convention.

Our room and Premier Inn in general was lovely, but that was to be expected since it's very new. The staff as well were very friendly and welcoming. We were staying in a Disabled room and it was probably one of the best I've been in. So spacious. There was one bed, but it was more than big enough for Eva and I to share.

It had all the basics you need and want and was decorated simply but nicely. To be fair, it's hard to go wrong with purple and white. I also really liked the view. It was even nicer when the sky was a little clearer, and you could see across to the Odyssey too, where we were heading to see the ice hockey. There was also a new apartment building across the way and when we arrived there were some guys cleaning the windows. I can't imagine what a job that would be, dangling that high up!

The bathroom was also very spacious and although I didn't get a chance to use it, the shower looked great. It's also the first hotel type place I've been to where the sink has been accessible.

So that was a big plus. Excuse the photo of Eva in the shower with a kettle. It was a bit of an impromptu photo when Eva was getting some water to make tea. Over all I loved the Premier Inn, it was so handy to the ice hockey game and Belfast in general when we went shopping on Saturday. I would definitely recommend it and stay there again. 

The very grown up food we brought with us for the room over the weekend.

We didn't get to relax long before we had to start getting ready to head out. The game started at 7pm, but we wanted to grab a bite to eat before and we wanted to get to the arena early enough to have a drink before hand and perhaps catch warm up. We decided not to dress up for Halloween, and we slightly regretted it. There were far more adults dressed up for the game than I thought there would be. Some really awesome costumes. As usual we said that if there was a game next Halloween we would definitely dress up for it! 'We know for next time' is like our family slogan.

Obligatory getting ready mirror selfie.

We went to The Streat cafe for our dinner. We kind of forgot to take a photo of what we ordered before we ate it, but I got a chicken wrap and Eva got a pulled pork sandwich. It was nice because the cafe was in the Odyssey and there were a lot of people dressed up to go out or to the fireworks. Some really adorable kids too. It was great for people watching and seeing all the different costumes.

After our food we headed to the other part of the arena where the game is played. It was nice getting in so early. I was surprised by how many people were there already. I hope we can go that early again. The time waiting for the game to start actually flew in. We headed to McCools and got a drink, one of which Eva proceeded to knock all over the bar and the person serving her. She couldn't even use the excuse she'd had a drink since we hadn't even started yet!

 The checking your make up in the bathroom at the game selfie.

We got to our seats JUST in time for warp up. It was fun to watch as I'd never been early enough to catch it before. My favourite part is when they stretch. The pull some weird shapes. I'm not going to lie, there's something slightly erotic about it. There are times when they're basically humping the ice, but I digress. 

The game was awesome. Exactly what you want from a game on your big weekend away. We won 4 -1 and considering we hadn't beat Braehead Clan this season the victory was so much sweeter. I bought myself the Belfast Giants' 2015 calender and the obligatory fondue. It's so good. I don't know if it was the alcohol or what, but I almost finished it by myself this time. After the game we headed to McCool's like we'd planned. It's so handy having a bar beside the rink, it meant we didn't have to venture anywhere else. Plus there's the added excitement of the players coming after. I mentioned before about hoping to get photos with them next time, as the last time we had to leave before we had a chance. Well, it was a bit of a bust on that front. Giant after Giant passed us, and Eva and I were too shy and socially inept to ask for photos or autographs. There was even a space for autographs in the calender, but we just couldn't bring ourselves to ask. It's even worse when it's men, especially when they're attractive men. Eva felt really bad for me, because she knew how much I wanted to get photos etc. But I didn't blame her, I mean I was just as shy as she was and it wasn't up to her to do it for me.

In the end though, she REALLY came through for me. As Steve Thornton the Giants' coach walked by Eva asked him for a photo with me. Now, Steve Thornton is more than JUST a coach. I mentioned him in this post about my nostalgic hockey feels when I started going again this season. The first time I became obsessed with the team when I was thirteen (a whopping 11 years ago! Jeez...) and I made them all friendship bracelets, Steve Thornton was a new player on the team. When I was lucky enough to go to the dressing room to give out the bracelets, he was one of the fondest memories that stuck with me. He was just such a lovely gentleman. When I met him on Friday night, I felt like that thirteen year old girl again. He was so lovely, and hadn't really changed all that much. He was making conversation and asking us if we enjoyed the game and such, and I just couldn't find the words. All I could do was smile and say yes to everything he said. As you can see from the photo he has his hand on my shoulder, and I don't even remember him being that close to me. Like I was numb to the whole experience and it went by in a blur. I don't know how people have actual conversations with these people! Or anyone they're in awe of for that matter. I really hope I came across awestruck and not rude. After meeting him I had the idea of maybe doing my friendship bracelet thing again, not because I want to meet them. The last time I did it I had no idea they'd offer that, but just because I think it would be a fun thing to do. I wonder if he even remembers it. Either way, I thought it might be cool and I really enjoyed making them last time. Though it might not be as cute coming from a twenty four year old woman as it was coming from a thirteen year old girl. It might just be a little sad, but anyway...

On a night full of missed opportunities, another that sticks out was when I went to the bar with Eva and Adam Keefe was standing getting a drink. I guess he caught me sneaking a peek and he kind of smiled and gave me a little wave. I smiled back and gave an awkward wave. Perfect opportunity to ask for a photo or something, but again the words stuck in my throat. I don't know how other people are so brave, or why I'm so not. It's not like that wasn't basically what they're there for. I guess these things aren't always rational.

Despite the lack of photographs and autographs, I really enjoyed the night. I was a little bummed at first, but then I reminded myself it wasn't like it was really my one opportunity. A few go to the bar after almost every game, so I have time to work up the nerve. Most of them had left by 11pm, so that isn't so late that my dad couldn't pick Eva and I up around then after a game. Plus, I wasn't completely empty handed this time. I want to print out the photo of Steve and I and frame it in my room. I actually look decent in it! By the end of the night I was a little worse for ware. I'm a light weight at the best of times, but it's been a long time since I've drank vodka. I had to switch to water. Sadly nausea was all being drunk afforded me, and not the Dutch courage people talk about. Luckily I didn't get sick or anything, nor did I get a hangover the next day. Eva and I got back to the Premier Inn, shared a Pot Noodle and got into bed and that was end to our first day up in the Big Smoke, otherwise known as Belfast.

When it was all over, I just wanted to do it all over again. Not even so I could really do anything differently, but just because I had been looking forward to it all and enjoyed it so much. I guess there's always a bit of a come down. Still I knew I had our big day of shopping the next day and I was looking forward to that too. But that's a story for part two of our adventure to the big smoke, coming tomorrow!

Find Part Two here.


  1. Oh your poor Edwin! I get that face from Baker even when I just pop to the loo! lol

    I was sooo excited to read this and am super over the moon that your weekend was a success...or at least part one ;) I am exactly the same with being a little to shy to ask for photos and stuff but I'm sure you'll get another opportunity - it wasn't a total bust anyway with getting to talk to the coach.
    You guys are so lucky to have each other and I have to admit I'm a little jealous of your relationship being an only child. I also had to have a little giggle at 'She couldn't even use the excuse she'd had a drink since we hadn't even started yet!' hahhaa!


    1. I know! He kept waiting at the front door. I felt so bad. Even worse because he hasn't been for a walk in a while because he had his cone on so long and he LOVES going out. :(

      Awh, I'm glad you were looking forward to reading it! It really was awesome. It's a bit of a long read, especially because I split it into two parts. I just had such an awesome time I didn't want to leave anything out. But yeah, I'm sure it's just something I have to work up to... Or just get even more drunk next time! But yeah, I was so glad I got my photo with him. <3

      I know, we really are. I have an older sister too, but she lives in London. I don't know what Eva and I would do without each other. Or well, more so me. She's basically my social life. :D It's lucky we get along so well and have so much in common. I can't imagine being an only child!



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