BELFAST SNOW DECEMBER 2017

When it comes to snow, i’m a big kid. I love going out and photographing it.

When it arrived on Thursday night/Friday morning, I got as many snaps as I could during my walk to work, of Botanic Gardens and Botanic. Unfortunately, being in work on Friday denied me any more photos.

The snow was still there on Saturday morning, so I headed out to get some photos.

My number 1 target was Windsor Park. I wanted to get photos of the ground having got photos of it covered in snow in 2010, but unfortunately, the snow was cleared by the time I got there, denying me snow photos of the redeveloped ground.

As I headed back over the bridge, a steam train went past, so I tried to get some quick photos of that.

On the Saturday, I headed to Ormeau Park to get some arty photos of the snow.

On the Sunday, I headed to Botanic Gardens, getting photos now that I had daylight and time on my side.

Until the next snow day, enjoy

Friday Snow

Saturday Snow

Sunday Snow

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2017 IN PICTURES – JANUARY

2017 began for me with a trip to Windsor Park to see Linfield lose 1-0 to Coleraine. Not the best start to the year.

Things got a bit better the following Saturday when I headed to The Oval to see Linfield beat Glentoran in the Irish Cup after extra-time.

It wasn’t all football in January, as I headed out to get photos of a George Michael mural which appeared in Botanic.

Back to football, and I was on the road to Lurgan to see Linfield beat Glenavon 2-1. The following Saturday, it was back to Windsor Park to see Linfield beat Ballymena United 2-0.

The next day, it was back to murals, as I headed out to get photos of a mural of Princess Leia that appeared in East Belfast, and then across Belfast to get pictures of a mural of Jon Snow. The guy from Game Of Thrones, not Channel 4 News.

The following weekend, it was back to football and back on the road, as I headed to Stangmore Park to see Linfield take on Dungannon Swifts

I then headed to Manchester for a few days, to see United take on Hull City. While there, I got some Street Art photos of Salford Quays.

I headed over on 31st Janaury. You’ll have to wait for February’s round-up for the match and Street Art in Manchester.

Linfield v Coleraine

Glentoran v Linfield

George Michael Mural

George Michael Mural Photo Album

Glenavon v Linfield

Linfield v Ballymena United

Princess Leia Mural

Princess Leia Mural Photo Album

Winter Is Coming

Winter Is Coming Photo Album

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield

Salford Quays Street Art

Salford Quays Street Art Photo Album

OMD – LIVE AT MANDELA HALL 24.10.2017

“It’s great to be back, it’s been a long time” said OMD singer Andy McCluskey to the crowd at Mandela Hall. He wasn’t wrong. It had been 8 years since they were last in Belfast, supporting Simple Minds at The Odyssey. You have to go back to 1991 (Ulster Hall) for their last headline concert in Belfast, referenced by McCluskey during the set. Paul Humphries didn’t remember that gig, possibly because he had left the band by that stage.

I love Simple Minds and OMD. To be honest, I have no clue why I didn’t go to that Odyssey gig. I genuinely can’t think why. What a wasted opportunity.

It is the pester power of Northern Ireland fans that brought them back to Belfast, as McCluskey recently stated in an interview with Sunday Life.

For me, it began with a sick day off school in 1996.

I flicked through the channels and spotted something on the music channels (There were only two back then, it was VH1)

It was a cheery, happy, Britpop song called Walking On The Milky Way by a band called OMD. I loved it. Little did I know it was different, very different from the rest of their back catalogue.

I did know, not to confused them with OMC, who were in the charts around the same time. How bizarre.

A while later, I heard Enola Gay on a radio station. I knew I liked two OMD songs. I only knew two OMD songs.

By 2002, I had recently joined the Music Library at Belfast Central Library. I decided to be curious and borrow The OMD Singles, a 1998 Greatest Hits compilation.

I was not to be disappointed. Not once was the skip button pressed. It became one of my favourite albums.

At this point, Andy McCluskey was enjoying chart success, including the number 1s that eluded OMD in his new role as Songwriter for Atomic Kitten.

OMD would later reform and tour, but there was to be no Belfast gig, until now.

When I arrived at the venue, I wasn’t really in the mood for it. I was tired, had a sore head, and was drenched due to walking from Belfast City Hospital. The reason why I was parked there because people in Elmwood Avenue found parking one car in one parking bay to be too much fucking effort.

Forget about The Punishment Of Luxury, this was The Punishment Of Idiot Drivers.

The band appeared on stage, with Andy doing his trademark Dad Dancing. At 58, he is of peak Dad Dancing age. His best Dad Dancing years are still ahead of him. In truth, he has been dad dancing since his early 20s.

I googled his name for this article just to make sure if was McCluskey rather than McCloskey. The first suggestion was “Andy McCluskey Dancing”

Two songs in, he grabbed his Bass, proceeding to play it like Brian May rather than John Deacon.

To keep up with the Queen theme, we even had the fans doing a Radio Ga Ga style clapping in unison during Locomotion.

McCluskey then asked the crowd if they had their dancing shoes on. He certainly had. The answer was a resounding yes.

He was putting his life in his hands dancing on stage, saying that the stage was sticky due to years of cheap university beer. Ahhh, the (in)famous Mandela Hall sticky floor. I’d forgotten about it until he mentioned it. It wasn’t too bad where I was. You don’t think they’ve got round to finally cleaning it?

I wasn’t sure if I was an a Pop Concert or an Aerobics Class. Either way, it was brilliant.

Nevermind Aerobics Oz Style, this was Arobics OMD Style. I might pitch that to Sky Sports as a TV show idea.

If Joan Of Arc had a heart, it probably would have been racing from all the dancing.

Paul and Andy then had an onstage argument, sort of. It was staged as Paul, dripping of sweat, complained about standing under the lights, and that Andy’s job was a “Piece of cake”, so Andy invited him out to sing, which he did, performing Forever Live And Die.

While doing so, he was hit by a bra thrown from the crowd, but carried on like a pro, adding that the bra wasn’t his size.

Fans arriving were given a chance to vote for a song to appear on the setlist on a poll via the website, with a magic password for this at the venue.

The choices were The New Stone Age and Generic Engineering.

Genetic Engineering won with 75% of the vote.

Andy introduced this by saying that people had voted wisely, unlike a couple of Junes ago when they voted for Trump.

I think he’s got Brexit and Trump a bit confused there.

There were a lot of hits played – Messages, Locomotion, Souvenir, Tesla Girls, Joan Of Arc, Maid Of Orleans, So In Love, Forever Live And Die, Enola Gay and Sailing On The Seven Seas.

Not bad.

We also got to hear new song The Punishment Of Luxury, the excellent title track to their new album.

I would have loved it if they played If You Leave, If You Want It or Dreaming, but that is being greedy.

During the encore, they played the song that started it all for me, Walking On The Milky Way, with a slight change in arrangement.

They could just about fit four people on stage, they were hardly going to fit an orchestra as well.

As they left the stage, they said they won’t leave it so long before returning to Belfast. If they don’t return before 2043, we’ll be demanding answers.

In 2043, Andy McCluskey will be 84 years old. He’ll probably still be energetically dancing around on stage.

In the words of If You Leave, promise me, just one more night.

Photo Album

CULTURE NIGHT BELFAST 2017

Winter is coming.

I know you’re going to expect this post to go in a Game Of Thrones direction but i’m going to disappoint you. I know this is a Game Of Thrones quote, but I don’t know any more than that. No, this is a statement of fact. Winter, is coming.

How do I know that? The appearance of Belfast Culture Night on the calendar, the last event of the summer, one last chance to enjoy oursleves, and Belfast got to work to ensure they did just that.

As it tradition, more a happy accident but we’ll take it, the weather behaved itself and gave us dry skies. Off to a good start.

Culture Night is one of the highlights of the year but it wasn’t in my schedule in 2016 as I missed it due to being in England that weekend.

Ironically, this year’s event was held a week later than in 2016. If they’d held it on this weekend in 2016, I would have been able to make it.

As it turned out, I was hoping it was held in the same weekend as last year due to Linfield’s match being moved forward to the Friday.

I didn’t want to miss Culture Night two years in a row and Linfield go to Warrenpoint again in January, so I thought to myself that I could give this one a miss. My lucky scarf was in my right hand coat pocket as is now superstition. If I can’t bring them good luck in person, I may as well do it in spirit.

In the first years I started going to this, I arrived in Belfast City Centre just after 7pm. As each year passed, it became clear that I was already missing out on a lot by doing this, so I booked a half day, just as a did in 2015, arriving in the City Centre just after 5pm. However, the earlier arrival does make me lose track of time, wondering why it’s still daylight so late in September, not realising what time it really is.

My first port of call was the Cathedral Quarter, to take in the atmosphere, and to check out some of the Street Art photos I was monitoring over the previous days.

I headed to City Quays which was hosted events but there was nothing which interested me, so it was back to the City Centre and Cathedral Quarter.

I stopped off to St Anne’s Square to take in a wrestling match, there were matches all night. The match I saw (I didn’t picked up what their names were) the guy in the orange leotard beat the guy in the black trunks via a submission despite the guy in the black trunks giving him a hiding throughout.

There was more walking, venturing to University Of Ulster and Buoys Park, and then to the Gay Village in Donegall Street which was hosting live cabaret.

Inbetween that, I managed to check out some fencing and fire displays.

It was then back to Buoys Park to take in some Street Countdown, and that was me or the night, I was knackered and my feet were sore.

I’d like to think I will have recovered by the time Culture Night 2018 comes around

Photo Album

Culture Night 2015

Culture Night 2014

Culture Night 2013

Culture Night 2012

THE THREE JIMMYS AND CARL COX

Some more artwork from Glen Molloy which recently appeared in Belfast to bring you.

The first is from an alleyway along the side of Duke Of York, just at the corner before you turn left to go to Premier Inn, walking from Hill Street, where you can see his recent Hill Street Wall Of Fame mural.

It is of Jimmy Cricket. Wait, there’s more (Sorry. Not sorry). There are murals of Jimmy Nesbitt (who had a couple of repaints) and Jimmy Young beside it, complimented with an image of a flower beside it.

If it is a theme of famous Jimmys, Jimmy Callacher is an obvious omission.

There was a delay in getting the piece finished as Molloy was busy working on other projects in Dublin and Magherafelt while working on this as well.

Meanwhile, beside Thompson’s, Molloy has replaced his own mural of Ice Cube with one of Carl Cox.

The delay in getting the pictures of The Three Jimmys meant this blog would be posted after Carl Cox did a gig at Custom House Square, allowing me to get my hopes up that the man himself would post a picture on his social media feed of him at the mural.

Sadly, I was to be disappointed in that regard.

Carl Cox Mural Photo Album

The Three Jimmys Mural Photo Album

HILL STREET WALL OF FAME

If you’ve been in the Cathedral Quarter over the past month, chances are you’ve seen Glen Molloy hard at work on a new mural beside The Harp Bar, covering building work taking place at what is/was (sorry for not being up to date with Civil Service locations) NIEA offices in Hill Street.

It began for me with a social media post that there was a new mural of David Holmes in Hill Street. So, armed with my camera, I went to investigate.

I was busy doing other stuff and actually forgot to check out the main thing I was in Belfast City Centre for.

So, I came back later, saw a mural of David Holmes, and other works which were works in progress. Naturally, I got snapping.

There was a clear theme of music legends developing, so I went back every lunchtime and evening to snap the work that was in progress.

There was a brief stop in the work here as Glen Molloy was working elsewhere on a mural at Filthy McNasty. You can see a write-up of that here

Gradually, the wall was getting filled. Frustratingly, I missed photographing a key day in the painting of Van Morrison and Bap Kennedy due to biblical rain.

It wan’t the first mural of Morrison to appear in Belfast. There was one near the away entrance to The Oval in 2007, but that soon disappeared due to housing being build on that site.

The faces appearing on the mural are : David Holmes, Gary Lightbody, Nathan Connolly, Una Healy, Van Morrison, Bap Kennedy, Brian Kennedy, Fatboy Slim.

Photo Album

PURE HERE …… SO IT IS

Some new artwork to report in Belfast this week.

I saw reports on something developing on Social Media on Monday, so I headed out with my camera to investigate, and then again on Tuesday and Wednesday before getting photos of the finished piece on Thursday.

It’s at a pub called The Dirty Onion in Hill Street in the Cathedral Quarter. I went there once before heading to a work Christmas dinner. It was satisfactory. Think i’ll just stick to Football, Music and Street Art and give Pub Reviews a miss, though if any Bar Managers are reading, I will do reviews in exchange for free food.

As you’ve guessed from the pictures, it’s not the easiest mural to photograph due to it’s location. I don’t fancy climbing up to try and get some close-up shots.

The image is of Belfast celebrities and landmarks such as Colin Murray, Julian Simmons, Samson and Goliath, and The Big Fish.

It’s sponsored by a beer company and painted by Visual Waste, who probably thinks i’m stalking him, as i’m usually at the scene when he paints something.

As with anything done by Visual Waste, there is an accompanying video of how it was done. You can find it here.

Enjoy.

Photo Album

EAST BELFAST WALL OF LEGENDS

Anyone passing through East Belfast recently will have noticed some painting going on around the back of East Side Visitor Centre on the Newtownards Road. As more was painted, it started to become clear what it was, a collage of legendary people and landmarks of East Belfast such as George Best, Van Morrison and Holywood Arches.

A full list can be found beside the mural, as well as online here.

For information, the piece was painted by an artist called Dee Craig.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t do a complete progress piece due to it being too dark after work to get decent pictures, so the progress pieces I was doing was once a week, so I visited on successive weekends to get photos until it was completed.

Unfortunately, if you want to get close to it, you’ll have to wait, as there’s railings around it. When the area becomes open to the public, i’ll return to get some better photos.

In other Street Art news, I was out on my lunch on Thursday and spotted Donald Trump. It is to advertise a Burrito company in the City Centre, with the tagline “Make burritos bad ass again”. These are the sort of policies that got him into the White House.

The piece is done by Visual Waste.

As a bonus, there is a video of how the piece progressed from start to finish.

You’d better be quick if you want to see it, as it is on a board which is hiding building work, at the back of Belfast City Hall and next door to Ten Square Hotel.

East Belfast Wall Of Legends Photo Album

BE MY VALENTINE

New Street Art in Belfast to report, drawn especially for Valentine’s Day, depicting Jamie Dornan in the 50 Shades Of Grey (I don’t what that means but my female friends are fans of this) and the tagline “Be My Valentine”, done by the artist Visual Waste.

This image is on North Street and replaces the Sons Of Anarchy mural which was there previously, but was sadly defaced.

It isn’t the first time that Visual Waste has painted a mural of a man in a mask in Belfast, having previously painted a mural of Zorro at the other end of North Street as part of Belfast Culture Night in 2012.

The work of Visual Waste has been a regular feature on this blog over the past few years, and now he is on the BBC website, featuring in an article on Street Art in Belfast, alongside Emic, Friz and Glen Molloy, all of whom have also appeared on this blog over the past few years.

Photo Album

BELFAST PEACE WALL ART – FEBRUARY 2017

It’s that time of year folks, my every six months look at the Peace Wall in Belfast on Cupar Way.

As Street Art goes, I don’t think it’s of great quality, but for some reason I feel compelled to document it’s changes every six months.

Tourists seem to like it, as there were quite a lot of people at about 10.30am on a Sunday morning.

If I was a tourist in Belfast wanting to check out Street Art, i’d go to Donegall Street and North Street instead to be honest.

So, here you go, a collection of images from Belfast Peace Wall.

See you again in August

Photo Album

Belfast Peace Wall Art August 2016

Belfast Peace Wall Art August 2015