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Ups and downs of life in shadow of ash cloud

By Pamela Ballantine

Published 21/05/2010

Sarah Bell and Alison Fleming at Cruise in Victoria Square
Sarah Bell and Alison Fleming at Cruise in Victoria Square
Peter Gilroy and Alison Campbell in designer store Cruise
Vicky Smyth and Rebecca Whittmore enjoy the evening
Olivia Danielli and Dawn Whalley enjoy the festivities in Cruise
Tori Saunders and Sarah Girvin enjoy the festivities in Cruise

In the past week I have been volcanic ashed not once but twice! I was meant to head to the Spanish sunshine for a few days last week but my departure was delayed by two days by the unpronounceable Icelandic volcano spewing 27,000 feet into the air.

I was due to return on Sunday only to be thwarted by the damn volcano again.

On the plus side it meant that I had a another two days in Spain and we were looked after by my lovely friends the O'Gormans. Also the delay meant I was there to help Brian celebrate his 70th birthday - sunshine and a party, you cant be bad to that.

The downside was what I was missing out on at home. I was supposed to be celebrating what is good about our built environment at a launch with the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors but didn't make it.

However, I was delighted to hear that St Malachy's in the Markets area of Belfast beat off stiff competition which included many multi-millioncommercial and government schemes to become NI Project of the Year.

I was equally gutted not to have made it to Cruise in Victoria Square as the designer store kicked off the celebrations of the release of Sex and the City II, not least of all because I was missing out on the fab NYC-inspired nibbles and cocktails but also top miss the fashions. Cruise is now the only store here to stock Halston Heritage which will be seen draping the shoulders of the diminutive Sarah Jessica Parker in SATC II.

See the fashion in Belfast before it makes the big screen next week.

Good news - ash cloud lifted and I landed back in Belfast in time to get up at the crack of dawn to head to Helens Bay Golf Club for The North Down Rotary Club breakfast in aid of Leukaemia Research. Well it would have been rude not to make the effort - I could smell the bacon and eggs wafting down the road.

The effervescent and evergreen Jim Neilly was guest speaker. Our table was hosted by my good friend from Radio Ulster Linda McAuley and her delightful Rotarian husband Paul, and included past and present European representatives, consumer champions and insurance gurus.

Of course the converstaion turned to comparing tales of being inconvenienced by that volcano, but no-one could come up with a better story than former RAF officer Noel Williams who described what it was like when he was flying Hercules in the desert. I'll stick to being a passenger and just keep my fingers crossed that Eyjafjallajokull will calm down soon.

Belfast Telegraph

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