Wallace Fountain, Castle Gardens, Lisburn


Couldn't resist trying out a new picture app to draw this Wallace Fountain in Lisburn.


French books on line

I've been using my Kindle reading device for over a year now. Although I love books I am not one of those readers who refuses to have anything to do with the electronic variety. One of the things I thought I would do when I was given the Kindle would be to use it to download French books. A year ago that wasn't so easy because there appeared to be some restrictions on buying from the www.amazon.fr store. Usually there was a message in French to say that the title was not available for your country and that the site was for use by people in France, Belgium and Luxembourg.

People I knew had the same experience and others around the world reported something similar online.

Sure enough yesterday I visited Amazon France to see what if anything was available, determined that if there was no Kindle availability I'd opt for a hard copy. There was the message on the Kindle store, "Ce titre n'est pas disponible pour votre pays."

Now, the title yesterday was a top seller and i was keen to get it. Before opting for the hard copy which presented no problems for ordering, I wondered what would happen if I added the title into my main account. I did and it turned up. Moments later, I downloaded it and began reading.

A fluke? No. I decided to try some titles further down the list and some older books. Same result. Not available for purchase from France but downloadable locally. So now I'll be able to get speedy access to current French texts and authors. That should help pass bus or train journeys for the next while.

Meantime, I'm off to track down and install a French e-dictionary to fully assimilate those new words and phrases. I know I'm a fan of both formats but a Kindle in one pocket and an Oxford-Hachette in the other doesn't light it for me.



La Fête à Wallace Park, Lisburn

photo: Rym Akhonzada
The bandstand in Wallace Park, Lisburn was the focal point for 14 July Bastille Day celebrations. Organised as part of the City's Park Life programme to encourage use of public spaces, it was pleasing to see the many "citizens" who gathered to occupy the bandstand area. The idea was to create a café style atmosphere by creating a round of patio tables covered in red checked cloths. A large public address system squeezed out French accordion music while people organised themselves with refreshments.

A coffee truck was stationed nearby and seemed to be doing quite a trade in not only coffee but ice cream. Local restaurant Periwig had prepared a French themed menu of treats including a liver pâté parfait served on toasted brioche; fishcakes; macarons in a variety of colours and profiteroles served with hot chocolate sauce.

Anthea McWilliams of the Sir Richard Wallace Trust moved to the stand to tell the story of Sir Richard and his connection to both Lisburn and Paris. She referred to his legacy of the "peoples park" itself, to the Wallace School which she attended and to the Wallace Fountains, his enduring gift to the people of France. Anthea shared details of the Wallace walking tour and encouraged everyone to give it a go.

After another musical interlude, Natasha and Alison from Interlinguani, a local language teaching school organised a glove puppet show in French for the many children who had come along. They then entertained them with a story, encouraging them to learn and use simple French words. They offered prizes of chocolate, checking first with mums and dads that that was okay, to those who were the loudest, the quietest and those who got the French just right.

To the left of the bandstand there was a constant queue of parents and young children lining up to have their faces painted. Moustaches were everywhere, Pierrot faces and some aristocratic Marie Antoinette looks too.

Interlinguani shared a gazebo with the Cercle Français de Belfast. Rym, Director of the school was kept busy meeting parents and supplying their children with colouring-in pictures and pens. Alongside, Hilary from the Cercle was just as busy, blowing balloons. A lot of her effort was punctured however as several youngsters burst their balloons to discover the little paper message in French that had been placed in each. Nearby, leisure staff had roped off a piste de pétanque and several adults and children tried their hand at throwing boules, many for the first time.

Back to the stand and the Bailies Mills Accordion Band had taken their seats to play an assortment of French standards including the occasional rendition of La Marseillaise. Beret and marine shirted musicians had dressed for the part adding touches of good humour to the proceedings.

Anthea took to the stage again, this time to read from the Richard Wallace Storybook created by the Trust. Its simple style and illustrations appealed to the children and were also appreciated by their elders. More puppets and story time from Alison and Natasha, then back to the accordionists to bring the event to an end.

Carolyn, event organiser with Lisburn City's Leisure Services, was pleased at the turn out. She was particularly pleased that so many French nationals had participated. Although a hundred or more people had attended, more important than the number was the fact that people had got together around the bandstand to enjoy the occasion and use the facility. Given his close connections to France, no doubt Sir Richard would have been pleased that his people's park had been the focal point for a successful local celebration of La Fête Nationale.




Bastille day: Wallace Park, Lisburn


Lisburn City's events team has planned a Park Life series to encourage as many people as possible to make use of the various parks and gardens throughout the city. With events taking place on Saturdays and one of those on the 14 July, it was a good opportunity to celebrate France's Fête Nationale and Lisburn's connections with France. The extract from the Park Life booklet above provides details of what is on offer.

Planning next year's CFB programme

Enjoying a coffee with Philip at the Dark Horse Coffee Shop. Also working on setting up website for Cercle.