My friend Kirsty has since before Christmas 2016 been unable to meet up on our usual occasional Wednesday evening for a little bit of welcome conversation, gossip and a light snack due to other current commitments so we both agreed that a weekend meet up would be a good idea. Before seeking to arrange a suitable Saturday evening I wanted to give her space to sort a few private matters out. You can read all about that in her recent blog. Knowing that matters had gone well for her, in fact very well indeed, I contacted her to find out if she might be available this weekend (21/01/17). Indeed she was. So what to do then was the question. Kirsty asked would I like a cinema outing so I asked what was currently showing. She knows that I have no interest in sci-fi type films so she suggested a musical currently on release called La La Land. She explained it was a musical that aped the heyday of the great musicals.Yes that might do, and added to that she suggested an early evening meal, possibly at The Plough in Hillsborough. Great. I did ask as she was organising the film session would she mind booking the table for the meal that way we could avoid crossed lines of communication with respect to timings. Kirsty explained that she does like to pre book the cinema for two main reasons. You are assured of avoiding disapointment at the box office should the showing be booked out, and you can choose where you wish to sit. I had bever realised that some cinemas worked on seat allocation. She is way more experiened as a cinema goer than I am, so knew right away where the best seats were to be found. Excellent seat choice Kirsty, but I am running ahead of myself.
Saturday 21st arrived as a beautiful sunny but chilly January morning. The sunny calm conditions lasted throughout the day. As Mrs M was to be away for the weekend it was easier not having to think of a valid reason for my prolonged absence for the day and shortly after her departure I made my preparations and hit the road for the Belfast Butterfly Club premises to get ready to face the world at around 11.30 am. As I was approaching Lisburn where our support centre is situated I heard my phone give its familiar ‘ping’ sound telling me that I had a message. I suspected it would be Kirsty letting me know her own arrival time. As I turned into the street where the support premises are at 1.20pm I noticed her Ford parked up, so once I got parked myself I checked my messages. Sure enough it was from Kirsty
K “I’ll see you at the BBC around 5.30”
M “Outside now”
Clearly we both had expected the other to be arriving solely for the meal and cinema, not thinking the other may be planning something solo prior to this. In all honesty I had intended to be at the club premises earlier but was delayed at home. Anyhow this was not a problem as there are two changing areas available. By 3 pm I was ready to head out, Kirsty was already away almost an hour before me. My plan was initially go to the Junction One retail park in Antrim town and then make my way into the town centre. I lived in Antrim for seven years but having left there 26 years ago I was curious to see how much things had changed. However due to my later than planned arrival time, time was against me. I was looking for a few specific kitchen utensil items and at Junction One there is an excellent kitchen / household outlet store except! There no longer was. The store was closed down like at least 60% of the Junction One outlet stores. In The North Of Ireland there are two Outlet retail parks, the second being located on the outskirts of Banbridge. Both are virtual ghost towns, both are essentially struggling to survive. In essence, well this is my theory anyhow, the bargains promised are not that great. Stores seem to offer what does not sell easily in the main stores, or last year’s product. Linked to these high street store ‘clearing houses’, there are also outlets for a few overpriced designer labels. So a combination of factors such as those I have already mentioned, allied to the economic recession over the last 10 years and the shine has faded from these outlet centres. And I doubt the eceonomic troubles will improve with Brexit. But I am getting off the storeyline. So as I was at The Outlet I thought why not! I shall browse what stores remain though I had nothing additional that I was looking for. Just over an hour later and I had exhaused the decent stores that remained in business and it was time to return to Lisburn to meet with Kirsty.
Around 5.45pm both Kirsty and I were on our way for a meal. The venue was to be The Hillside in Hillsborough. A new one for me, though I think Kirsty had been there before. It was located less than 100 yrds away from our usual dining venue The Plough. It was really nice to have somewhere new to dine. The Hillside turned out to be a bit of a ‘Tardis’. On the exterior it gave the appearance of a small public house which no doubt it begain its life as, but it went back and back and back plus it had a small first floor dining area, which was where we were both lead to our seats. I must say I was quite taken by the overall feel of the place. Rustic is I suppose an apt description. Service was very good and our waitress attentive. The food I would say was good also, but given my choice of dish, battered haddock with chips and mushy peas, getting that wrong would have been a sin. My only complaint and to be honest it is minor, and that us why serve this dish in a mock chip basket with mock news paper lining the basket? I personally find that whilst it may look visually pleasing, that is where it ends. Serve it on a plate, thats what plates are designed for! Should I be back at the Hillside, and I hope I am, and I order fish and chips I shall request a proper plate. Grumpy old lady rant over 😂😂. Kirsty sermed to enjoy her meal also, though I shall not comment too much as she may speak about it if she includes last night in her next blog. As we were under a time contraint, one course was all we had plus a coffee. I honestly believe Kirsty was a little disapointed at not having a sweet course. 😕
We left a very busy Hillside around 7.20pm and made the 500yrd walk back to my car. Climbing the steep main street back was much easier than coming down it. My heels were only approx 2.5 inches but walking down the hill going to the Hillside was a bit of work. Stepping into the chilly night air felt good and refreshing. So back to Lisburn and the cinema complex. Parking looked like it could be problematic, but fate was with us and we found a convenient parking spot less than 100yrds from the cinema door. Because Kirsty had pre booked we were able to enter quickly by-passing the box office queues. She simply presented her phone to have a bar code scanned. First stop though was a quick visit to the ladies. Kirsty turned right and I stopped her to tell her the toilets we to the left. “Not ours” Kirsty said. I looked at the sign again and then I saw it. I had simply read toilets not seeing the male symbol. Doh!!! Silly girl. Exiting the ladies and whilst walking across the foyer, Kirsty discretly announced that I had a piece of toilet roll caught on my heel. Yes I did indeed. A quick pause to remove the offending debris. Well at least I had not caught it in my knickers and was trailing a whole roll behind me. Now that would have been amusing. 😂😂
Talk about perfect timing. We settled into our comfortable, well positioned seats (Excellent choice Kirsty) just as the ads and trailers had finished. Straight down to business. Now I don’t mind admitting that I not a fan of musicals, but I was keen to give this one a chance and more so hoped that I enjoyed it. I will not spoil the story for anyone wishing to go and see this film. What I shall say is this though. This is a musical in the style of the traditional Hollywood style of the 40s & 50s heydays of the big musical right down to the music style of Jazz. It is very much a feel good movie of boy meets girl, both struggling to make it in entertainment. Well two things happened for me. After a very slow start, the film picked up and I can say with all honesty, that I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think Kirsty felt the same about the slow start. The other thing for me was getting an appreciation of where Jazz originated, or should I saw how it orginated. I am not a fan of Jazz by any streatch of the imagination, but as a lover of Blues and even some Funk, I appreciste that it is an essential element within the bigger mix. Jazz permetes so many styles if modern music. Rock and Blues (listen to the late Rory Gallagher, it is heard in quite a bit if his work), Country (Willie Nelson can be very Jazz orrientated), to just name two musical forms. Just after 10pm we left the cinema. Kirsty asked me how I enjoyed it and I told her honestly that after the very slow start, it really picked up and yes I really enjoyed it. She agreed totally but added that she would love to watch it again. So success then.
We made our short drive back to the BBC support premises and said our respective good nights to each other. Kirsty made her way back home and I had the prospect of diguising myself as Bob again. :?. A very very enjoyable evening. Thank you Kirsty, and so great to see you again after a month.
So folks, time to sign off again. Be yourself and reach for that goal. It is your journey. Make the most of it.