The plane touches down before the sun has risen over Belfast. The Christmas lights are up and the trees outside the terminal building glow white in the icy wind as we shelter inside a rain-spattered screen waiting for the bus that will take us into the city centre. "Welcome onboard," says a pre-recorded voice. I rub the window with the sleeve of my coat but it's hard to see much further than the edge of the road through the mist and early morning damp. "Lot warmer than Newcastle, isn't it?" says a man across the aisle. His partner looks at him, and smiles.