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Litter, louts and lobsters: An alternative guide to the Ulster summer

By Lindy McDowell

Published 01/07/2015

Motor mayhem: visitors to Portstewart Strand
Motor mayhem: visitors to Portstewart Strand

School's out. Summer is officially here. And with summer, the tourists. The tourist agencies are doing their bit to showcase our top attractions to these visitors. But could we not also be doing with an alternative visitors' guide to promote some of our more hidden gems?

Such as this top 10 of unmissable local sights ... (I'm sure you can think of a few more.)

The Collapsing Assembly:

As with the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, marvel at how this shaky structure manages to remain intact despite constant wobble and threat of disintegration. Location: Stormont. Entry: free. (Cut price lunch available in the subsidised restaurant for members only.) Full day tour includes visits to The Brink and The Abyss - the Assembly is extremely close to both. Not suitable for those afraid of hype. Health and Safety Officer Theresa Villiers has issued a warning about getting too near the edge.


Various venues throughout the summer. Check out social media for special recreational rioting events for younger members of the family.

The Ulster Littery Festival:

Summer's here and no better time to view the full range of colour decorating the local hedgerows. Everything from discarded picnic packaging to dog poo tied up in little fluorescent bags adorn some of our loveliest beauty spots at this time of year. Bring the kids along and have fun seeing who can identify the more common species. The squashed lager can. The polystyrene burger pack. If you're lucky you might even catch sight of one of those leviathans of the Ulster lay-by, the lesser spotted discarded mattress.

Drive-in Sunbathing:

No need to get out of your car for the full seaside experience. Drive right on to the strand and park there to catch those rays. Available - various beaches. Prices range from free to several hundred quid for high-tide tow-away service and complete engine overhaul.


At almost every festival, in almost every town centre, fair, sporting event or car boot sale there's an opportunity to savour the flavour of that local veg favourite as you discover that almost every local culinary delight is fried onion-based. Later, you can even take the aroma home with you as this pungent perfume clings to your clothes, your nostrils, your lungs ...

The Great Indoor Bar-B-Queue:

The sun's out so do like the locals and head for your nearest shopping centre or DIY store to stock up on those barbie essentials you didn't think to buy earlier. Join the fun queue for the checkout where you'll spend so much time, you'll be too weary to even think about marinading and grilling when you get home. Besides, it'll be raining.


Belfast City Hall Grounds and various other locations. The sun's out so the spaghetti strap top is in. Also those weirdy three-quarter length shorts men still wear here. Locals don't get to see a lot of the sun so this is their time to get down and get scarlet. Join in the fun with your own choice of inappropriate clothing. Sun cream optional.

Camera Magic:

Chance for drivers to get themselves on film. Just stray on to any one of our many bus lanes and wait for the lights, camera, follow-up fixed penalty action. Entrance fee: £45 and up.

The Cone Zone:

For drivers who like to take things at a slower pace. Check out the many coned-off roads around our towns and cities as the annual summer festival of digging up, resurfacing and generally bringing traffic to a standstill gets underway. Sit back, chill and breathe in those fumes. Slowing down. It's what you came on holiday for.

Finally - Quiet Time:

Available in most towns and cities. Often even at weekends. Even in high season. Shops closed. Streets deserted. There's nothing to do but just explore. And play that old favourite game of Try to Find a Loo That's Actually Open.

No rules will test teachers' resilience

The head of a primary school in England has come under fire after it was revealed that her pupils are never chastised or subject to rules, but are instead encouraged to resolve disputes by talking through their anger.

Instead of throwing a strop they're encouraged to say things like: "You've emptied my resilience bucket."

Could it catch on here? Too late to debate as local teachers are now off on their long (too long?) summer vacation.

Although in fairness, at this time of the year there may be a few much-depleted resilience buckets there too.

I'm losing faith in Glastonbury's cool

The Dalai Lama at Glastonbury?

Come on. Surely that's the death knell for Glasto cool?

All due respect to the man (although he is a bit too much of a "celeb" for my taste), but when you have an octogenarian religious leader introducing Lionel Richie on the Pyramid stage you've gone a bit beyond current.

Next year a duet from the Pope and the Archbish of Canterbury?

Or Rev Willie McCrea giving them a ring.

Hello, is it me you're looking for?

Belfast Telegraph

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