I defy anyone raised in Northern Ireland to say that 'the Troubles' did not effect their childhood in some way and for me, now in my forty's, it is clear that a child growing up in Northern Ireland missed out on so much but my goodness how we are making up for lost time.
I recall as a child, in the 70's, we would occasionally venture into Belfast, mum needed her M&S fix even back then, bombs or no bombs. My parents were understandably cautious and we always had an emergency meeting point in case of a bomb scare and on several occasions this plan came into action. I still remember walking up the large ramp, waiting to be checked by the security personnel. I can still hear the sound of shoes clattering on the metal and have an image of a lady with an ample bosom taking, what I found, to be an unhealthy interest in the contents of my toy handbag.
Thankfully, my children of 7 and 10 are lucky enough instead to experience a warm and vibrant relationship with Belfast. A trip to St.George's Market to buy a large Smarties cookie whilst listening to some jazz is a favourite.
So when a friend posted on Facebook about Belfast Culture Night we thought we would give it ago.
Cobble streets, lined with strings of fairy lights, magicians, curry popcorn, stilt walkers, circus schools, recording studios, fire eaters. Streets and places I did not know existed, St.Anne's Square in the thriving Cathedral Quarter where my children enjoyed the open space and the opportunity to create a colourful mask.
St.Anne's Cathedral is more than a place of worship, it is steeped in history, bombed in the blitz and then in recent years, modernised to include a fabulous spire which from inside appears to have been stabbed through the cathedral roof.
More culture on Saturday night when I was lucky enough to attend The Aspects Irish Literature Festival in Bangor, Co.Down.
Duke Special performed with the help of his quirky instrumental companion, Chip.
Duke Special, who was born and bred in Northern Ireland entertained the crowd, linking his songs to literature and stopping occasionally to explain the link or to readjust his long dreadlocks. His performance was both witty and intimate.
After the show I was lucky enough to catch a few words and get my photograph taken with the man himself.
What a truly cultured weekend.
P.S. Have X Factor on Sky+, I'm just so cultured!