St. George's Market
My friend Maeve hosted a Sylvia Plath retrospective on February 11th, marking the 50th anniversary of Plath's death. I stayed with her over the weekend, and I hope I acted as a foil to all the stresses that come with hosting an event single-handedly! Not that she needed the support, an impressive crowd filled the large lecture hall in the University of Ulster lecture hall. In fact, it was the only Sylvia Plath event on the island of Ireland. So congratulations to Maeve for pulling it off so successfullly. She had some engaging speakers, from Plath academics to poetry students, and she gave some impassioned speeches of her own. Maeve is big on promoting Plath studies, removing the layers of myth that come with biographical readings of Plath.
A selection of Plath books donated by the publisher Faber and Faber, especially for the Retrospective.
This time last year my only experience of Belfast was from the motorway. Thanks to Maeve for introducing me to the sights and sounds of the city, I've grown to love the place! When I was up last Spring I visited Titanic Belfast and The MAC.
Due to the trouble in the city before Christmas, local businesses have been running the Backin' Belfast campaign to combat the bad press surrounding the city over the past few months and to encourage people to visit Belfast and support it's vibrant local businesses, who were hit badly by the decline in turnover over the Christmas. On twitter they've been using the hashtag #backinbelfast to offer discounts in local restaurants, as well as printing it on t-shirts and other merchandise.
Vegetarian paella - not sure why there's two forks, I wasn't going to share!
Lily Pink Bakery treats
No visit to Belfast is complete with a visit to St. George's Market. There I visited Belfast blogger, and friend, Claire at her stall - The Lily Pink Bakery, where she sells a popular selection of delicious cupcakes.
The place was buzzing, we skipped breakfast and decided to get brunch at the market. I had vegetarian paella, Maeve and her pal got burritos. Finding a table is a bit of a challenge in the mid-morning, so you do a bit of ducking and diving, but you get to enjoy your food at the end of it! All our food was very tasty and fresh!
One of my favourite stalls at the market is the Blue Door Studio where a mother and daughter team make these very contemporary, quirky birthday cards. I bought a gin one for my desk, for the days I need cheering up (there alongside Tavi's First Kiss Zine from 2010)! The illustration is taken from an original pen and ink drawing by Sarah Majury and you can buy her work from her Etsy shop 'White Hart'.
I wandered around the stalls for a cheeky browse, they sell everything you could think of under the lofty Victorian roof of the market. Cakes, jewellery, retro clothing - an abundance of locally made crafts and goods, and it heartens me to see the place so bustling with people eager to buy local. I'd love to see something similar in Sligo, or the North-West. Though, Belfast has the population to cater for it. I do remember enjoying a similar market whe I was in Leeds in the autumn.
Lovely copper studs from Beadmag.
I purchased these lovely copper star earrings from beadmag, made in Belfast, at the Silver Trilogy stall (I assume its a collective of 3 jewelry sellers). Now I have much less money, I'm not inclined to buy cheaper bits of jewellery from high street shops. I cleared a lot of my trinkets out in January. I'd rather buy items made from more quality materials when I can afford it. Copper is very expensive now, but I thought these were good value for £10! I love how you can see the indentations in the metal.
My top purchase was this hot chocolate from the O'Conaill stall. They've recently set up shop in Belfast. Their flagship and only other store is in Cork, and has been high regarded for many years now. As I giddily waited, for my dark chocolate drink to be prepared, I jokingly expressed my dissatisfaction at being stranded in the middle of the two best chocolate shops in Ireland, over a 3 hour journey each way! I don't know if the poor fellow running the stall has any sway in the company, but I was insistent that they open a store in Galway at least! There's plenty of greedy chocoholics in the West!
Find out more about the #backinbelfast campaign here.