April’s escape was to Ireland – the North.
Ice Hockey UK and the IIHF were running the 2017 World Championship (Division 1B) tournament in Belfast, with Team GB competing with Japan, Croatia, The Netherlands, Lithuania and Estonia for a gold medal and promotion to 1A.
I was on the board of Ice Hockey UK when that decision was taken. I was curious to see how it would go. How would Belfast respond to British supporters running around the city waving British flags? Would locals (half of whom see themselves as Irish) turn up to support a British team?
So I got a ticket for the Wednesday night game (Lithuania), a night in an Ibis hotel, and a £70 return from Edinburgh with FlyBe.
The ice hockey was a bit dull. Team GB won comfortably and the crowd was sparse.
I did enjoy going around the Ulster Museum the afternoon before the game. It was a useful insight into local history. Recent history has played out before my eyes starting with the civil rights marches in the late 60s and finishing (I hope) with the Good Friday Agreement in 1999.
It was also a reminder of the high stakes involved with Brexit for Ireland. The open border and the European Convention on Human Rights are key aspects of the Good Friday Agreement.
ⓒ iain taylor, 2017