September Roundup

I don’t have the habit of doing monthly roundups but September flew by with so many things happening that I feel like I need to take stock of it all.

The month started with us just back from Milan – and me with a cold that I’d picked up on the way back that refused to go away. The lemon and honey water I drank to fight the sore throat has since evolved into drinking water with a squeeze of lemon on a daily basis to detox. It may just be psychological, but I do feel cleaner and lighter on the inside – something like drinking lots of green tea without the effects of caffeine. Green tea here also tastes different from the light, fresh green tea in Japan for some reason, so the lemon water seems like a good substitute.

Routine-wise, ballet has started up again and it’s nice to be back to going to class twice a week. I’ve also purchased a 10 class pass for yoga, and I plan to keep at it to see if it’s beneficial to my strength and flexibility. Currently, it seems to be helping with my upper body strength, which is another of my weak areas, and helps with stretching out the muscles from Monday’s ballet to get them fit and ready again for Friday’s class. I’ve also joined a Japanese conversation class that takes place before ballet on Fridays, so hopefully I’ll be able to pick up the language again.

September has been eventful. A colleague was over from London, and it was an intense four-days of training that coincided with preparations for the firm’s corporate away day at Castle Ward. Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, which is great. Clear Sky Adventure Centre at Castle Ward did a fabulous job of the afternoon’s games, and I thoroughly enjoyed the evening’s Game of Thrones-themed dinner which included an open fire, a blue-grass band that really added to the atmosphere, and Night’s Watch cloaks for each of us.

Yesterday_s__GoT_themed_dinner_after_a_splendid_day_at__CastleWard._Check_out_the_cloaks_that_each_of_us_got_to_wear_
Socially, I attended a party which was originally thought to be a birthday party of a ballet classmate’s husband, but turned out to actually be in celebration of his sister’s birthday. She’d asked him to jointly celebrate their birthdays but eventually took over the show. Nonetheless, it was good craic and a welcome opportunity to hang out with other classmates. I also went for a colleague’s farewell drinks at the Northern Whig, and had dinner with a mixed group of friends at Home Restaurant.

In addition, I met up with M from Singapore, and, together with her boyfriend T, had a great Saturday roaming about. We went to St Georges Market, shopped about in town, and shopped some more at Junction One in Antrim. It was my first time there and was delighted to get some black flat boots from Clarks for the coming winter, as well as this pair of lovely, comfy Onitsuka Tigers for the sake of my arches which are increasingly prone to aches. I originally thought that they were going to be just half price from the RRP of £52,  but eventually paid just £12.80 for them. What a steal!

Got_these_lovely__comfy_Onitsuka_Tigers_for__12.80_yesterday._What_a_steal_
It’s been a good month for food too. At Remedy Cafe I tried their Remedy Burger with chips in skin. The company was great but the food was average – the patty was a tad dry and the chips in skin were a bit too soggy. The visit to Home Restaurant yielded a gorgeous lamb dish with barley, kale, beetroot and pesto, as well as a delectable sticky toffee pudding. However, as much as the food was delicious, it was pricey as well – those few pieces of lamb cost £14.50 while the tiny portion of pudding was £5.50. Home Restaurant is, thus far, only the second ultra-hyped up restaurant whose food I’ve enjoyed – the first being Mourne Seafood. Shame about the prices though; while I’d recommend Home to others it’ll come with a caveat about the cost.

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Speaking of ultra-hyped up eating establishments, one which fell way flat is Boojum. Yes, I’ve seen the queues and heard people rave about their cravings and how Boojum is the best thing ever, but I tried it for the first time last Saturday and was thoroughly unimpressed. Compared to Chalcos, another Mexican burrito outlet with branches on Lisburn Road and Ormeau Road, Boojum’s food was not as tasty, came in smaller portions, had less salsa (which wasn’t as spicy either), didn’t come with tomatoes/lettuce/sweetcorn that you can add into your burrito at Chalcos, wasn’t piping hot, did not come with tortilla chips and a drink for the same price as Chalcos – and, to top it off, included chewy bits of dried-out beef. Not acceptable at all.

Thankfully, my experience at The Canteen @ The Mac was better. It was strange and a little daunting at the beginning, as we didn’t even know if we were in the right place when we first walked in. The Canteen looks more like a cafe/bar than a place that sells food with table service, until you spot the kitchen area and notice the brunch menu in tiny font on the wall behind the bar. As we had arrived slightly before noon, when the lunch service starts, there were also no menus about and we had to ask, peruse, order and pay at the counter – it was rather awkward. It was nice once we sat down at a table near the windows though, as the place is spacious and quiet.

My duck ragu fettuccine (£9) below was rather plain and could have done with a lot more sauce, but the taste and texture of the pasta were perfect. I had a bite of E’s pulled pork burger (£9), which came with a side of salad, coleslaw and warm, fat chips – I liked his better than my pasta. The food wasn’t any better or worse than most other places, and its reasonable prices, sizable portions and comfortable atmosphere means that The Canteen has some points in its favour.

Duck_ragu_fettuccine__Canteen_at_The_Mac._Would_ve_liked_more_sauce_but_the_pasta_was_perfect.
But I haven’t just been eating and heading out. I’ve gotten back into the driving after a two month hiatus – it’s been hard and I’m very rusty, but I’ll still be attempting my driving test on Friday. According to my instructor, the pass rate on the first attempt for the Belfast area is less than 40%, so I shouldn’t feel too bad about myself if I don’t nail it on the first go – to him, passing on the first try means that the student has done very well (or has had some luck too). I’ve also been reading more than I used to, which mostly involves getting myself off Facebook and onto my Kindle. I’ve still some way to go in that regard I think.

So, that’s my September in a (big) nutshell. How was yours? 🙂

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