Just for the record, it's worked out brilliantly for everyone. This city is rebuilding, and it's a good time to visit. Many people the English side of the water are prejudiced about Northern Ireland, so the queues are small. This week has turned round forty years of negative media Northern Ireland images for me.
People have been amazing. There's good and bad in everyone, everywhere, but along with a certain 'in your face' quality, we've seldom encountered such kindness and honesty elsewhere:
- "Was it safe?" people asked. When I lost my wallet containing cash and everything in a swimming pool in Lisburn, Ray (14), who found it, took it straight round to the police station, no ifs ands or buts. Any big city has its dangers, but there's a fundamental honesty about the place here you don't find everywhere.
- Hotel staff (in a no frills place) went out of their way to be friendly to the children, and help us out, way beyond the call of duty.
- When we had bought £40 of lunch for the children at Belfast Zoo, we realised they didn't take debit cards at the café till, and hadn't the cash to cover it. The lady at the till got us to write our address on the bill, and they'll send it when they get round to it.
We're all really glad we ignored the propaganda and enjoyed a fantastic holiday together in a beautiful place!