We checked into the Princetown Guesthouse in Bangor (NI), a 40 minute train ride from Belfast.

It’s very pleasant, though no longer the bargain you might have expected.

Turns out, Ed Sheeran was in town (well, a football pitch in the Belfast suburbs) that weekend, and we were lucky to get a room. How unlucky is it to see your room rate raised by Ed Sheeran ?

At check-in, the efficient host gave us a ten minute run-through on important information. I wasn’t listening.

WHAT TIME DID I SAY THE LOCAL MUSEUM CLOSED ?” she asked. I looked ashamed. In Travelodge they just wordlessly hand you a key card with the room number written on a post it note, and I like that.

Get to the WiFi code already” thought Mrs RM.

Mrs RM rested, whatever that is, and I went in to town to do my ticks ensure Matt and Emma got in the right train after a skinful of outrageously overpriced Guinness in Temple Bar.

A reminder of my targets;

Just a couple of newbies to do, both of which seemed to be actually open all day. These wacky Irish with their actually open pubs !

Lanyon Place is the newish station from which you leave for the south, and from which you wander through a sea of street art to reach the Sunflower.

Some of it is beautiful, some funny, some profane.

Readers will know that TITS stands for Top pressure Is The Solution, a body set up in Belfast to counter the threat of real ale.

The Sunflower has real ale, and is a marvellously lively place a few yards from the gay bar where we would be watching Eurovision 2 days later.

Note the cage at the front to keep undesirables (folk wanting tasters) out of the pub during busy times.

Sir Quinno had raved about this pub on his guest blog post on Tim’s site that very month.

I arrived to find the local folkies warming up, and nabbed the lone low-standing seat near the bar.

Note the album covers on the wall. There’s also lots of brewery tat (no, not THAT !), and the famous lone handpump with a pump clip fallen off, lying forlornly on the bar (top).

Do you have real ale ?” I asked, and the “We do” was almost apologetic. Quinno said the cask wasn’t shifting on his trip, and it wasn’t here, but the Hilden was strangely OK (3). The music was a 4.

But if you come to ONE pub in Belfast, come here. It had the feel of a Cambridge Blue, or a City Arms, without the great cask but with added music. And pizzas in the sun trap garden.

Oh, and a lovely model pub on the wall.

But please, please, NO TOPLESS SUNBATHING.


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