Friday, 19 September 2014

Belfast Daytrippers.

I managed to get around to doing pretty much everything I wanted to when we visited Ireland this time around, apart from the £6 lobster and chips but I had so much other great food that it really doesn't matter.

A day trip to Belfast was big on the cards after visiting in a rush when we were in Northern Ireland last year. This time there was no plane to catch and no hurry, we just had to be back by 7 for Moon's Nana to give us our dinner.

I kind of wish we'd picked a clearer day to go, although it was sunny and warm, the whole city seemed to be enshrouded in a pretty thick mist. It didn't ruin our day though and we were still able to have a great time exploring new places.

First up was Belfast Castle, it's more of a fancy hotel really but it's open to the public and has a beautiful (cat-themed) garden as well as (probably, there was too much mist) a view of the whole city.

Posing with cat topiary, naturally.

There's a view there somewhere(!)

There's also a walk up to the Belfast Caves but it seemed like too much of a hike for such a warm day and we weren't very well prepared, plus there was food to be eaten and the rest of the city to mosey around.
Still, it was pretty special to explore even part of a woodland knowing that there's a bustling city working away just a couple of miles away down the hill.

Belfast Garden's Cat Garden is named as such for good luck and it's said as long as there are cats at Belfast Castle it will always be safe. The garden was inspired by a white cat incidentally, which naturally held my attention and there are 9 little tributes dotted around - I think I managed to snap them all!

Scouring Trip Advisor, it wasn't easy to make a decision for lunch but in the end I chose The (wonderful) Barking Dog. The decision was based completely on the name but their simple tapas menu and trendy interior meant it held up well with all the other wonderful food we stuffed our faces with during our trip.

The rest of the afternoon was spent having a potter and getting a bit stressed out about getting lost. After deciding the Titanic Quarter didn't have much to offer we spent our last hour in the City Centre, which is wonderful if you know what you're doing and where you're going - we didn't.
I got a kind of London stress-out but once I got my bearings it was fine and we were able to find Victoria Square, arguably 'just a shopping centre' but it has a great viewing platform at the top so you can look out on the whole city, even on misty days.

My want to see the view outweighed my fear of heights by the smidgiest smidge.

Back on solid ground \o/

Having mainly spent time in the suburbs when visiting Belfast when I was little, it's strange to visit a city I've been to so many times before** but see places and do things that I have almost no connection with.
Still, as a city, Belfast has a lot going for it and I still find myself thinking that I could spend a lot more time there.

**The non-Chinese half of my family is from Northern Ireland, my grandparents are from Belfast and my dad, as well as a couple of my uncles were born there. They didn't move over to England until my dad was around 10. We used to go to Belfast to visit my great-grandma all the time before she passed away, now we haven't got really any family in Northern Ireland as most of them are here in England but there's always talk of going back over together some time soon.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

NI Mini-Break Photo Diary

It's still sinking in that I've left my old job and am day three into the first week of a new one. I feel like it was a strange way to break it up but our mini-break to Northern Ireland definitely did the trick of bringing me back to life after a stressful couple of months.

We were beyond lucky with the weather, with not a drop of rain for our whole trip. Of course, we prepared for the worst, bringing thick jumpers and rain coats but it was around 20°C every day and we were even able to paddle in the sea without getting an almighty shock.

As usual, I took a ton of photographs, all with my Nikon J1 (as I did in Bruges and I'm really surprised and happy with the results. It's not that I want to retire my big ol' DSLR just yet but when trekking about, especially at the beach, it can be a bit of a pain when I want to enjoy the scenery rather than be stuck behind the lens. The J1 is definitely the one for holiday snaps from now on.

Managing to snap the Supermoon at its fullest just as we got to Moon's dad's house.
Not a bad job for a tiny 110mm lens.

I've never seen Portstewart looking so nice, would you believe this was taken next to the town car park?

Could almost be somewhere tropical, don't you think?

Because being at the beach on a Wednesday calls for accidentally flashing your belly.

The Whiterocks in Portrush is Moon's favourite beach and I have to agree with him, when the sun is shining like that, it's pretty unbeatable.

As a natural phenomenon, I'd definitely recommend paying the Dark Hedges a visit, there are quite a few tourists considering it's just a road with some slightly weird trees but even if you just drive through, it's definitely something to see.

This is the look I get when I've taken too long taking too many pictures 'of the same thing'.

Really realising just how high up Carrick-a-Rede is and quite how brave I was to have crossed it.

The sheep and cows in County Antrim get by far the best sea views going.

Coleraine's brew bar, Lost & Found was almost too hipster to handle.

Moon and I can't stop talking about Neptune & Prawn, even after going to Ireland for years, Moon now says this might be his favourite place to go... did this to him, such food comas on Friday night.

Moon's Nana's favourite beach, Port Ballintrae.
Shame our walk along the front was when the sun decided it was time to start packing up.

Please appreciate this dog and his bear good looks.

By the time it came to our last afternoon, the weather was slightly more what I was used to - although still no rain and warm, everything got a little moodier.

I think I might have managed to tick everything off my Ireland to-do list, not to mention eat all the amazing food. Who'd have thought that Northern Ireland would be the place to eat?

These photos just go to show that I'm not ready to give up on summertime just yet and that little bit of sunshine does so much to make me want to photograph and get my mood up-up-up! Hope that you're having a wonderful Wednesday.

You might also like: