Wow, our flight to Belfast only took forty minutes from Glasgow. And fifteen of them were taxi-ing to the runway.
My other half and I planned slightly different weekends. While he was heading off to see Stiff Little Fingers, the Damned and the Buzzcocks, I’d decided to take it easy at a yoga class. And maybe head out to the Giants’ Causeway and do some pastel sketches.
Alas, the best laid plans of mice and men. I arrived with precious little sleep and awoke from my hotel room at 4pm, though totally refreshed. Then set about exploring.
A wee stint at the hotel spa – a swim and a sauna – saw me right. Superstars on feet, I headed out for coffee and veggie grub at Home Restaurant. One of the few times I’ve ever booked a restaurant – and it was worth the wait for the delicious Super Salad and Sweet Potato Curry.
In Glasgow they say you should look up if you’re a tourist, for there’s plenty of interesting architecture. And the same goes for Belfast.
There’s a lot of evidence of the wealth that has passed through Northern Ireland’s capital. And plenty of impressive buildings themselves host stores and businesses. This red one was once a Marks and Spencer while the white was a Freemason’s Hall. Plus the stunning Bank of Ireland building, whose Art Deco splendour I totally missed photographing (damn those recyclable batteries!).
And this one below, of course.
BELFAST CITY HALL
With art galleries shut on a Sunday, Belfast City Hall was a great place to escape a rainy afternoon. And totally free. Fabulous staircases, carpets and relief sculpture. Not to mention exhibitions on Northern Ireland’s history, people and languages.
Plus a room dedicated to the Troubles, describing painful personal histories and hopes for the future. A moving experience.
Meanwhile, the stained glass windows were my personal favourite here. And an inspiration of what I’d like to aim for in my own work. Well, I’ve a long way to go!
A great mix of modern and traditional glass art. Just look at the detail on the Titanic. The modern window on the left depicts the Celtic legend of the Cattle Raid of Cooley. At the bottom there’s that beautiful blue window with the acid-etched writing. Plus plenty other panels to feast your eyes on.
Photographing stained glass from inside a building on a dull day is never going to produce great snapshots, which is why I honed in on segments. So you’ll just have to see them for yourselves.
ST. GEORGE’S MARKET
A fabulous indoor market replete with fruit and veg, vegan snacks (and otherwise) and art galore. We bought some fused glass coasters with a shamrock design from Ruth Walker Glass. And had a chat with the lady herself. And I was taken by these gorgeous works by Lindsay Press Ceramics. All those Aries rams looking for a place on my mantlepiece! But my favourite item of hers is the fish sculpture set on wood.
As usual when I visit art markets and galleries, I come away knowing that I need a bigger house.
THE BELLE OF BELFAST CITY
So much of Belfast reminds me of Glasgow, right down to the changeable weather, the river and the docks. I loved it – yes, even the dreich Sunday afternoon (I’m not hot weather’s greatest fan).
And Stephen does love his boats, so it was down to the Lagan for us and a wee stroll towards the Titanic Belfast. Time prevented us from going in, but we still enjoyed our few hours. With more time and some shelter it would be out with the sketch book (yes, it’s in that pink bag in the top photo). What a lovely, plein air painting to be rustled up with the warehouses and boats reflected in the Lagan. Next time, for sure.
Have you been to Belfast? Drop me a comment below.