Early morning caffeine from the small but perfectly formed Attridge & Cole, Forestside. My closest proper barista joint, serving fantastic coffee, a great selection of pastries and tasty lunches. How do they do it all from their beautiful little premise?!
What a colourful, euphoric and uplifting Saturday we had at Belfast's first ever Color Run™. The 5k charity race was routed around the titanic quarter and after each kilometer we were 'bombed' with a different paint colour by the all too eager volunteers! Less of a time trial, and more of a hop, skip or dance around the course with some participants even enthusiastically writhing around on the ground in an effort to get as much paint powder on themselves as possible. We joined in the fun by trying as hard as possible to get 'bombed', but having the husband grab me and mischievously hold me right in front of one of the bombers was not my favourite thing!
This was a wonderfully organised event with extremely helpful volunteers, who all seemed to be soaking up the spirit of the day as much as the participants. After the run, the excellent DJ's were pumping out tune after tune from the staging in front of the Titanic building and we were invited to join the dancing and throw some of our own colour bombs. The Ibiza atmosphere made me feel like I could have stayed all day dancing in the sunshine.
The ground seemed to be saturated in pink....and so in the end was my hair, skin, teeth, and trainers. Will try for blue next year!
I do love a Michael Deane establishment. I can still get excited about Deanes Deli, The Vin Cafe and Deanes at Queens as much as the fantastic up and comers like Coppi, Ox & Bubbacue. Having once spent 3 weeks in Italy, Coppi has got the traditional authentic Italian thing nailed for me (absent for years in Belfast until Il Pirata), whereas Deane & Decano on the Lisburn Road just misses the mark.
The decor is nice. The menu is nice. The pasta is nice. See where I am going? In terms of the Interior design, it's perfectly modern and comfortable, but is just a smidgen too twee compared to, say, Deanes Deli, which is like a well cut grey suit. On Ryan Gosling. I ate the 'mushrooms on toast' for lunch which was tasty and perfectly acceptable, followed by a cappuccino.
I would say that if you are in this end of town to give it a go. I have also eaten dinner here before and can't actually recall what I had. I do recall though that it was.....nice.
It was time for some retro sci-fi on Friday evening with Belfast Film Festival's open air screening of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. Am I allowed to say out loud that I had never seen it? Not in it's 2 hours and forty minute entirety anyway.
The weather cleared thankfully and the setting at Titanic dry dock under a dark red sky added extra an extra eerie atmosphere to what is already a fairly surreal production. It was refreshing to get to this part of the city and we can only welcome more events in this vast regeneration area.
I completely loved the whole experience. Yes this film has a slow narrative, but as most of it is visually stunning with a perfectly matched score this was okay with me. The fact that it was made 45 years ago blows my mind. Please check out it's trivia entries on IMDB. The full text of the instructions of the 'Zero Gravity Toilet' are worth it alone.
Bank holiday weekend and...lots on, lots on, lots on! Here is just a little corner of it...
Even with this wonderful line-up I shall be in Wedding Photographer mode on Sunday then catching a plane to London where I hope to see some of The Notting Hill Carnival. Can I have 50 hour days this weekend please?!
Mourne Mountains view from the hills above Katesbridge where I grew up.
Well, it's just too pretty for anymore words.
When staying in Paris for a month visiting the local food markets was a 'must do' activity on my list. When we were in Melbourne for 3 months almost all of our grocery shopping was done in The Queen Victoria Market in the city (the husband got very good at knowing the best fruit and veg prices). Whilst living in Cape Town I would walk through the vibrant stalls in Greenmarket Square almost daily. So I began to wonder why on earth I don't visit the fantastic St. George's Market in Belfast City on a weekly basis. This award winning Victorian covered market is one of the city's oldest attractions and the variety and quality of the produce on offer is as good as anywhere I have been in the world.
There has been a Friday market on the site from 1604 (the current building dates from 1890) and Friday is still considered 'fish' day. If you are game, get there when it opens at 6am for the best selection not long off the boats. Still offering quality grocery items, Saturdays and Sundays also showcase a variety of specialist food products, as well as crafts, art and gifts. Have breakfast, lunch, sample the global produce or just grab a coffee (I chose one called 'The Red Eye' that I was told was guaranteed to keep me awake all afternoon) all with a background of live music and entertainment. I even ordered a crêpe to remind me of Paris and it was every bit as delicious as any I have had before.
Overall I am always so impressed with the fantastic atmosphere and the always friendly vendors. My bag of fruit and veg from 'Cabbage Patch' came to £9.53. The stallholder in broad Belfast said "Ach sure gimme 9 love". I insisted on 10. He still insisted on 9. So I gave him £9 and with a wink and a smile he said "sure, we'll see ya again". They will. He knows good PR.
Any visitors to Belfast on a Sunday morning? Opening at 10am on Sunday, this is the place to come...
What's happening in this great land over the next few days? Well, this week we see the big name music festivals in town, Tennents Vital & Belsonic. Avicii is on the bill for Friday night with tickets still available, although I would bet that Rudimental, the early Friday support will be a great live gig. The beautiful Ben Howard plays Belsonic on Saturday. Having seen him twice before, I can say it will be an immense performance. Amazing song writing, voice, and backed up by an extremely talented band, he well deserved those Brit Awards.
The Stendhal Festival of Art begins in Limavady tomorrow with a varied line up of Music, Comedy, Theatre & Art. Acts include Duke Special & The Divine Comedy. Still in that part of the world, the biggest celebration of Irish culture anywhere in the world Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, finishes up in Derry~Londonderry on Saturday.
The world’s fastest road race, The International Ulster Grand Prix runs until Saturday at Dunrod, let's hope the roads dry up a little? The Portrush Regatta is running until 18th with a full programme of dry land events on Saturday and Sunday.
More summer Sunday treats are offered up by The Festival of Fools and if you fancy something a little different on Friday night, try The Floating Speakeasy on The Belfast Barge. A monthly Electro Swing night which is also, refreshingly, BYOB. With a DJ set and live jazz drums, sounds interesting and worth a look?
May it feel like a long time until Monday....
It may have been our intention on Sunday to go to Sunflowerfest, but after quite a late night in Coppi and El Divino, reading the Sunday papers whilst listening to Jazz at Castle Ward seemed like the more laid back option. Thankfully the early afternoon rain cleared and the rest of the day was beautiful.
We decided to visit the inside of the house for the first time. There was a showcase of local crafts inside, as well as craftsmen and women creating wonderful sculptures, blown glass, wood turnings amongst others in the central courtyard outside. The main building dates from the early 1760s and a marital spat occurred regarding the finished architectural style. Lord Bangor was a traditionalist who favored a very classic style whereas his wife Lady Ann (who by all accounts didn't really like him very much) preferred a more flamboyant, Gothic approach. As such the house is divided exactly down the middle with each side fashioned in the opposing styles. I'm sure a lot of women can relate, but what a treat to have a wing each!
The lovely Sarah and I were 2 of the 120,000 to 180,000 weekly visitors to the largest antique market in the world, Les Puces de Saint-Ouen, Paris. Vast, eclectic, and an interior designer's dream (so much so that Philippe Starck created his own restaurant, Ma Cocottes, right in the centre of the market). We discovered a beautiful Christian Lacroix wedding dress, original Eames lounge chairs, pristine Dinky toys and a community of people for whom vintage, is a way of life.
After working abroad for 12 years Belfast born Jill O'Neill spotted a gap in the market in Northern Ireland for a thriving vintage scene. This led to the creation of ReFound in 2010. After opening a number of successful pop-up shops, the once derelict building at 7 Wellington Place became the current showroom in 2012. After much hard work, it has been transformed into a perfect space for the totally bespoke pieces it houses. It serves to showcase the work of local artists and designers who have breathed life into preloved items of furniture, ceramics, mirrors, light fittings and an abundance of other objects to be used for home styling.
Everything is for sale at not unreasonable prices and the collection is always changing. In our current flat pack and over crowded landfill world, this, can only be a good thing.
Mr Starck - maybe you will visit?
Who needs to pay for expensive office space in the Cathedral Quarter when you can rock up to The Mac with, your Mac, hide yourself in one of the booths or in the upper floor common room, log onto the wifi and suddenly you have the best workspace in the city.
I had really looked forward to The Mac (Metropolitan Arts Centre) opening last year, and wasn't disappointed. An exciting new venue in the city for the Arts and a wonderful piece of Architecture by Belfast based firm Hackett Hall McKnight (now Hall McKnight) on what was, a fairly difficult corner plot between 2 existing buildings. There is much I like about the design, but my favorite thing is how the natural light enters in such a wonderful way, and how each time I visit, the light is different.
'The Permanent Present' by Mark Garry (the rainbow strings suspended across the main void of the building) always make me smile, whilst the temporary exhibitions did not thrill this time. Always free and always worth a look though. The butternut squash risotto was, unfortunately not free. But.....it was very good.
Worth noting: St. Anne's Square car park doesn't actually try to rob you blind! (unlike others)....