CAVEHILL – JUNE 2020

Coronaboredom got the better of me. When you’re stuck indoors for 22 hours a day, it’s only natural that you’ll be getting the urge to go outdoors

This blog post too six weeks to write, let me explain.

Stuck indoors all day, you just want to get out. I was planning that I would only go to Cavehill once a year, but that went out the window when other travel options become unavailable, if I wanted to go somewhere, i’d have to explore Belfast a bit more.

Regular readers will know that this blog is mostly football matches and concerts, neither of which are happening. I hadn’t taken a photo of anything since I attended the Carrick Rangers v Linfield match in early March.

Early May saw a three day weekend, with the Bank Holiday being moved from the Monday by four days to the Friday for the 75th anniversary of VE Day.

That Friday, I got up early, and drove to the entrance at Innisfayle Park. It’s the way I know how to get in to Cavehill.

Unfortunately, the gate for cars was closed, you could still get in on foot though.

So, where do I park my car?

I could have parked safely on the street, but I was worried about falling foul of a busybody resident, even though most people would be safely tucked up in bed.

I didn’t take that chance, instead heading to North Circular Road and parking at a place when I catch a bus to football matches from there (Ahh, going to football matches, remember that?) and entering Cavehill via an entrance in Ballysillan.

I’m not sure where I ended up, but it was not somewhere I was familiar with, I ended up walking along Upper Hightown Road. It might not have been Cavehill, but it was one heck of a walk.

That day didn’t go to plan.

Two weeks later, I headed back for another early morning trek, parking in one of the bays at the Antrim Road entrance.

As I was entering at a different point, further away from where I usually enter, being timebound meant I couldn’t cover as much ground, only getting about halfway up before I had to go down.

Rejoice though, as it was announced that Belfast City Council would be reopening the car parks of their Country Parks from Wednesday 27th May.

To save myself a wasted car journey, I made that my cycle route on the Saturday after just to check it out, and it was indeed true. Open gate. Party time.

However, I wouldn’t be parking the bike and going for a walk, as it was a bit of an arduous cycle there, and a walk upwards would be too much. Just wait until the following Saturday for that.

The following Saturday, I headed over in the car. The weather, was not kind, dull sky and light rain. I was up, so I might as well go for a walk.

Thankfully, when the rain came down it was when I was in the well covered foresty bit, so I didn’t get too wet. It was cold, but a good cold, if that makes sense. The sort of cold air that makes you feel refreshed, if that makes sense.

As I approached the first gate, I decided to turn left instead of going forward towards McArt’s Fort, out of curiousity as i’d never been that way before.

There wasn’t really much, other than lots of cows. I think I saw more cows than people. Try again next week, hopefully have better luck.

Well, I did walk up to the top the following week, but the weather was crap. It was dull and didn’t make for good photos, so I didn’t bother taking any, which made for an empty experience.

I did take some photos during my visits in May, collating them into an album if you wish to view.

One week later, waking up and seeing the sun shine coming though my blinds, I jumped straight out to make the most of this opportunity.

The Car Park at Innisfayle Park at Cavehill usually opens at 7.30am, which is when I aim to be there for.

You may think being up and about on a day off at that time is madness, it probably is, but it’s worth it when you see the end results.

A bonus of this is that I can stop off at Tesco on Antrim Road to get some groceries as it’s off peak, something I can’t do during the week because i’m in the house until 5pm and all the supermarkets near me sell booze so there’s always a mile long queue outside when I get there.

Sooner the pubs open the better, so I can get some groceries. Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

Where I live, I have a bit of a clear run to North Belfast, especially when the traffic is light, so I was able to arrive there at 7.45am, and had my choice of parking spaces as they were all empty, another benefit of arriving so early.

That turned out to be the case when I headed back to my car just before 10am, as every space was filled resulting in some people being creative with their parking, on grass banks and wherever they bloody well wanted to.

The sun was shining, which made for good photos.

What I wasn’t expecting, was that my path would be blocked. By cows. Yes, you read that right.

A group of cows were wandering about and blocking the path. That would have been a comical demise, getting attacked by a cow and falling down a hill.

Thankfully, I avoided such a fate, waiting for them to pass before moving on.

It’s quite the experience when a cow walks up to you, looks you in the eyes, and moos at you.

When I reached the top in February, I walked straight ahead, taking in Carnmoney Hills. This time, I turned left to have a look as i’d never been that way before.

There was some nice areas to shoot as well as somewhere if you want to have a short break and/or picnic. Unfortunately, some had already done that and left their rubbish behind.

I headed towards a mast but there was barb wire and an inconvenient walkway. I could have carried on if I wanted to, but I didn’t want to risk getting into trouble for possible trespassing, so I turned back.

On my way back, I headed to McArt’s Fort and had a look over Belfast, before heading back down.

The next time I head up Cavehill, i’ll go an explore more of Carnmoney Hill. That might not be too far away, as I might make an early morning visit when i’m off during the July Holidays.

Next week (29th June – 1st July) I should have been having a short break in Dublin/Bray, trying to blag a ticket for the Euro 2020 game on 30th June and walking up Bray Head while i’m there.

As we now know, Euro 2020 has been put back a year, and even if I wanted to go, my hotel cancelled on me (I get a refund, if you were wondering).

However, I have rebooked for the new date in 2021, so at least I’ve got to look forward to. Although, if things calm down, I might try and sneak in a Dublin/Bray trip later in the year, although the weather won’t be on my side in terms of temperature and daylight if I want to walk up Bray Head.

Despite not going anywhere, i’m still going to use the Annual Leave that has been booked and just relax.

I may use that time to explore Blackmountain. If you’ve got any suggestions for what I should do on my time off, feel free to leave a comment.

One walk I did last year which is up in the air for 2020 is Arthur’s Seat.

I hadn’t anything booked, but I usually head to Edinburgh in August, but there is no Fringe so I won’t be there in August. I may try to sneak in a short break to Scotland (ideally, a Edinburgh/Glasgow/Stirling triple header) later in the year.

Another travel idea i’m having is Brecon Beacons. Being in lockdown, I’ve been watching a lot of TV, some of which has been shows about Brecon Beacons, which looks an amazing place to visit.

If things had been normal, I would have been looking at a short break to Warsaw in October, but everything is up in the air at the moment.

Even staying in Belfast, my plans are taking a hit.

This week has seen concerts by Lightning Seeds (September, already postponed from March and then May) and Paul Weller (October) both being moved to 2021.

2020 is already looking like a write-off. The only entertainment i’ll be having is walking up hills.

Photo Album

Cavehill May 2020 Photo Album

Cavehill February 2020

Cavehill November 2019

WEATHERALL

Nobody reacts to a celebrity death quite like the Artists of Belfast, as the recent death of Andrew Weatherall, Music Producer famed for his work with Primal Scream, showed.

A new mural has appeared of him, on the side of The Telegraph Building.

If you’re looking to find it, it’s on Donegall Street as you walk towards the Irish News offices. The mural of The Beastie Boys is beside it.

It was done by Glenn Molloy, a familiar face, or brush, on Belfast’s Street Art Scene.

However, when it came to painted tributes to Weatherall, Belfast was beaten to it by Edinburgh.

Local artist Shona Hardie painted a tribute to him on a wall outside Meadowbank Stadium, which is currently undergoing building work.

I plan on going to Edinburgh in August and might make this part of my itinerary, if it is still there.

Photo Album

CAVEHILL – FEBRUARY 2020

As it was Leap Year’s Day, I though I would do something memorable. Might as well, seeing as it’s a day that only comes around every four years, especially as it won’t fall on a Saturday until 2048.

I might make this a thing from now on. It will fall on a Thursday in 2024, so it might be a (long) weekend away. I’ve got four years to book it, so no rush.

This, like my only previous visit to Cavehill, was postponed from my intended date due to the weather. My original plan was to walk it two weeks previously, but I decided to leave it because of the weather when it was raining, raining and then raining some more.

That day, was a football free Saturday due to Linfield not being involved in the League Cup Final. I was going to Ash at HMV that afternoon that afternoon, so this would filled up the morning.

In future years, I might actually make a walk up Cavehill on the morning of the League Cup Final an annual event. Even if Linfield are involved, it will be a teatime or evening kick-off, so there won’t be a danger of a clash.

I can actually see Cavehill from my desk at work, and have noticed over the post few weeks it being snow covered during the recent cold spell. I’ve also done some work at work in case you’ve been wondering.

That cold spell hasn’t put off Jake O’Kane, who regularly posts videos of his walks up Cavehill, incuding one of those days when it was covered in snow. Watching the videos of the snow was tempting me.

Weather would be a dominating issue of this walk. Rain originally delayed it, and the Leap Year’s Day walk would be dependent on Storm Jorge.

There was no sign of Jorge when I woke up, off to a good start. Thankfully, the rain didn’t make a single appearance on Saturday morning.

I did plan on being up there for sunset, but ha ha ha ha, you didn’t really expect that to happen.

From where I live, I’ve got a clear run to North Belfast, especially when the traffic was light as it was, which enabled me to get there at the relatively early time of 8.30am.

I’d had plenty of practice leading up to this walk, as one of the lifts in work were buggered all week, meaning I had to walk up four flights of stairs every morning.

I also did more practical preparation by layering up. I’d need to as it would be a bit chilly.

As I was going to a football match that afternoon, my last visit was timebound. This one was not, meaning I had more time to explore more of Cavehill.

Of course, I observed the unwritten rule of saying “Hello” to everybody I walked past, even if it made me sound like Shaughan McGuigan off View From The Terrace.

Something that I didn’t notice the last time I walked up is that you can see Solitude and Windsor Park from Cavehill. At the same time. Just adding that to the list of football grounds I’ve seen from hills after seeing Easter Road from Arthur’s Seat. I’m not sure what other grounds are visible from hills, apart from Brann Stadion in Bergen. I only know that from watching Travel Man.

My legs were sore the further I went up, but I managed to push through it and reach McArt’s Fort.

The last time I reached McArt’s Fort, I turned around, but with time on my hands I carried walking on for another ten minutes or so, on a downward curve.

When I reached McArt’s Fort again, I went in for a look about.

It was very windy. So windy in fact, that my hat was almost blowing away. I decided to walk about with caution for fear of being blown away and appearing on Weird News Websites in a story about a man who was blown off a hill.

I was able to get some photos on McArt’s Fort. Thankfully, after dropping some batteries on my way up. An incredible act of stupidity. Amazingly, I found them on the way down, and they work. My batteries still had enough juice in them when I got to McArt’s Fort.

From there, I headed down, passing dogs (all 13/10s, good doggies) and cyclists. I do love a cycle, but i’m not sure i’d fancy cycling up Cavehill.

I can’t help but feel that I’ve got more of Cavehill to explore, which i’ll definitely do on my future visits.

I’ve got the bug for hillwalking. I’ll be spending some time in Bray taking in a Euro 2020 game (well, tickets permitting) so i’ll definitely be walking up Bray Head ..… all the way this time after my visit there last year.

BBC Four to blame for this, i’m currently indulging on Yorkshire Walks, The Pennine Way and Extreme Wales (Well, that’s BBC 2)

In August, I plan on being in Edinburgh, and going up Arthur’s Seat again. And yes, early in the morning again.

Next on my hitlist, is Blackmountain/Divis. As soon as I work out how to get there.

Maybe at some point in the future, do a long weekend at a United game in March/April, and do some of the Peak District.

That will probably be me for Cavehill in 2020, but you never know.

Photo Album

Cavehill – November 2019

BADLY DRAWN BOY – LIVE AT BLACK BOX 18.1.2020

And so, 2020 in concerts is underway.

Badly Drawn Boy arrived in Belfast as part of Out To Lunch Festival. Although, this wasn’t a lunchtime engagement, taking place in the evening, as most concerts do.

It was an evening that was very cold. Hat and coat weather in fact. I got very comfortable with the headgear, it looked liked I was cosplaying as Badly Drawn Boy, but it was basically just practicality. I can see why him and The Edge always wear a hat.

Support came from Duke Special, which was a pleasant surprise as it wasn’t on the original announcement for the concert.

When speaking to the crowd, Mr Drawn Boy spoke glowingly of Duke Special.

I got into Badly Drawn Boy back in 2000, with the release of his album The Hour Of Bewilderbeast, and the singles Pissing In The Wind, Disillusion and Once Around The Block.

That interest continued over the coming years with singles such as Silent Sigh, Something To Talk About, All Possibilities and You Were Right.

As a result of that early interest, I was straight to get a ticket when this was announced.

Our paths did cross previously, as he was doing a concert in Waterford when I was there in November 2018, but I wasn’t able to get a ticket for it.

Notoriously grumpy, you never know what you are going to get with him.

The previous time I saw him in Belfast, at Mandela Hall in 2007, he stormed off halfway through his set. He returned a few minutes later and finished his set, the second half being a lot better than the first.

To use a football analogy, it’s like being 3-0 down at half-time and coming back to win 4-3.

Looking up his previous appearances in Belfast online, it appears this would be the third time I will have seen him.

Seemingly, he was one of the support acts for Primal Scream when I saw them perform in a tent in the very first first Tennent’s Vital in 2002. I genuinely can’t remember seeing him at all, but seemingly it happened.

There was one thing that we would be sure of, that it would just be him on stage, solo with no backing band.

He was loaded with the cold, and his cure was unconventional, a bottle of J2O. It seemed to work, having said that he sounded horrible in the soundcheck.

Inbetween the songs, he gave us stories about them, or just stories in general.

Stories included swearing at Movie Executives through an intercom, being excited at one of his songs being featured in Gossip Girl, even though he doesn’t watch it, his excitement at meeting Bobby Ball, Caroline Aherne and George Best (not at the same time), his meeting with Best, at a TV show in Belfast, saw him getting a lend of George’s private jet.

One downside was that the place was full of Banter Bores. You know the sort, shout out random shit thinking they’re funny, act as if they’re best mates with the performer. We’re not here to listen to you, and never forget that.

There’s a high possibility that they probably share and retweet posts by LAD. Definite Jeans and Sheux behaviour.

Why can’t we just be a normal city with normal people?

We got a lot of hits, so there wasn’t much to complain about apart from the Banter Bores, even getting some covers such as Sexual Healing and I Wanna Be Adored.

Up next, is Ash doing an instore gig at HMV in mid February.

Remember when I was complaining that Linfield’s trip to Ballymena not being moved to Saturday afternoon? Scrap that, the Friday night game suits me now.

After that, a busy March with two trips to The Limelight to see Blossoms and The Lightning Seeds.

Photo Album

2019 IN PICTURES – NOVEMBER

November 2019 began with a trip to Windsor Park to see Linfield get a win over Carrick Rangers.

A few days later, I made my first trip of the season to Old Trafford, to see United beat Partizan Belgrade in the UEFA Cup.

While I was there, I got photos of Street Art in Manchester, and then visit to Rochdale in search of Street Art, after there was a festival held there in August.

The following weekend, I headed to The Brandywell to see Linfield take on Institute. While I was there, I was able to get some photos (from a fence outside) of Institute’s abandoned former stadium, Drumahoe.

Later that day, on my return from the North-West, I took in a second football match, Northern Ireland’s European Championship Qualifier against Holland.

Six days later, I was on the road again, to see Linfield lose 1-0 to Glenavon.

A few days later, I headed to Vilnius in Lithuania for a very short, very cheap and very cold break. Unsurprisingly, I was out snapping with my camera.

On the last day of the month, I got up early and walked up Cavehill, my first time doing so. Later that day, I headed to Windsor Park to see Linfield face Larne.

Linfield v Carrick Rangers

Manchester Street Art

Manchester Street Art Photo Album

Manchester United v Partizan Belgrade

Manchester United v Partizan Belgrade Photo Album

Rochdale Uprising

Rochdale Uprising Photo Album

Drumahoe

Drumahoe Photo Album

Institute v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Holland

Northern Ireland v Holland Photo Album

Glenavon v Linfield

Vilnius

Vilnius Photo Album

Vilnius Street Art

Vilnius Street Art Photo Album

Cavehill

Cavehill Photo Album

Linfield v Larne

PRIMAL SCREAM – LIVE AT ULSTER HALL 10.12.2019

Unless something dramatic happens, this was my final concert of 2019, and it ended how it started, by seeing a Scottish act at Ulster Hall.

Primal Scream rolled into Belfast, as they seem to do every three years, to promote a Greatest Hits album called Maximum Rock n Roll. I didn’t realise there were limits on Rock n Roll.

This time there would be a change of venue from those concerts in 2013 and 2016, with Ulster Hall hosting them instead of The Limelight, a return to the venue after 25 years according to Gillespie, before adding that his memory was hazy. A quick search online suggests it was 1992 rather than 1994.

As with my last visit to Ulster Hall, there would be no cloakroom facilities. So, I had a choice between wearing a raincoat indoors like a dick, or carrying my raincoat like a dick. I went for the option of looking like a dick.

Bobby Gillespie strode on stage, wearing a pink suit, but looking more like The Joker than Mr Blobby, being tripped out and chilled out, as per his usual vibe.

On Tuesdays we wear pink. So fetch.

Elsewhere on stage, Andrew Innes and Simone Butler, bounced off each other, metaphorically not literally, as they plucked their strings.

Those three were the only ones on stage who were visible, with Keyboards and Drums being hidden by their large equipment.

Butlet is now a permanent member of the band, having replace Mani who left to work on Stone Roses third album, which i’m sure will be released soon. Just finishing it off i’m sure.

For the early stage of the concert, it was mostly hits from their B List and C List, a lot of guitar driven songs and not a lot of dancing.

As a result, this concert took a while to get going.

Then, Gillespie asks the crowd “Do you want to party?”, before an automated voiced asked that immortal question, “Just what is it that you want?”

The party had now started, with Innes revelling in getting the opportunity to do the guitar solos he had been waiting all night to do.

At the end of that song, Gillespie said the next song had a choir and asked the crowd if they would fill in. We all knew what it would be, Moving On Up, and we all sang along, giving the band a standing ovation, and when our hands were sore, started stomping our feet.

From there, we moved on to Jailbird, then Country Girl, before finishing on Rocks, before Gillespie wished the crowd Merry Christmas.

It took a while to get going, but when it did, Primal Scream were unstoppable, a very enjoyable concert.

From Rocks to Roxette, and it was sad to hear about the death of Marie Fredriksson earlier in the day. Can’t say I would have rushed to see them in concert (They played Dublin in 2015) but you have to acknowledge they had some absolutely banging tunes back in the day.

So that is me in terms of concerts for 2019, but I’ve already got concerts for 2020 booked – Badly Drawn Boy in January, Blossoms in March, and Paul Heaton/Jacqui Abbott in April.

There are a few i’m going to pin my hopes on for 2020.

Crowded House announced a concert for Dublin on July 1st, the night i’ll be leaving Dublin after a short break. This triggered a rediscovering of Crowded House for me, it’s easy to forget how good they were.

They announced a UK tour this week. No Belfast gig. Hopefully, a Belfast concert can be squeezed in around their Dublin and Cork concerts.

While i’m in Dublin in late June/early July, Haim will be playing Dublin. Tempted, but then I remember that I hate outdoor concerts.

As a result, i’ll be giving Liam Gallagher at Boucher Road a miss. Sat in a field in the middle of nowhere, miles away from the stage as the Golden Circle is kept for people who know people and plebs like me can fuck off. Add into that, the place will stink of fags and vapes, and it will be infested with spotty faced fuckwits from Ards putting on crap Manchester accents and doing the Gallagher Strut, boasting how they’ll “Beat up some Cockney bastards”. I think i’ll pass.

Next time Liam, just do The Odyssey. I’ll pin my hopes on Noel turning up there.

Duran Duran have announced an outdoor concert for Dublin in the Summer with a new album also on the way in 2020. Fingers crossed a tour later in the year that takes in Belfast.

Ash are playing Dublin concert for New Year’s Eve, so i’ll be expecting a Dublin concert in 2020 to be embargoed, with a Dublin/Belfast double header being announced.

I’m hoping to go away over the July Holidays, i’m still trying to get those plans in place. I’ll keep an eye out on the listings for Galway International Arts Festival and Live At The Marquee in Cork around those dates.

So, that’s my plans for 2020. We shall see if it comes to fruition.

Photo Album

Primal Scream live at The Limelight 2016

Primal Scream live at The Limelight 2013

CAVEHILL

It’s a bit embarrassing for someone from Belfast to admit, but i’d never been to Cavehill before. I’d been to the area before, but not the actual County Park.

I had been thinking about it in the last few years, but never got around to it. A few years back, I drove up one sunny Easter Monday, but seeing cars having to park (very badly) in the streets nearby, not a space to be had, put me off.

The problems is, if i’m off work and the weather is nice, i’m straight out on my bike. I don’t usually do walking when i’m in Belfast on my spare time.

I could cycle there, but by the time I get there, i’d be too knackered to get home, I would have to drive there.

And drive there I did, entering by Innisfayle Street.

I was meant to go there last weekend, as I was using up Annual Leave last Friday. However, it was dark and wet outside. Nothing that would be tempting me to go outside.

The next day, no football, time on my hands. Again, dark and miserable.

So, I decided to wait until the next Saturday morning. And so it arrived, and the weather was a complete contrast, it was dry, and I had a lot of daylight.

I got up, dressed and washed. Just like my recent visit to Lithuania, it was all about layers, as it was a bit chilly.

I left the house at around 9.30am and arrived there just before 10.00am.

As I would be going to the Linfield match that afternoon, my visit would be timebound. I planned on returning back at 11.00am, no matter where I was.

At around 10.45am, I was near the top, so I decided to push on.

Unsurprisingly, throughout my visit, I managed to get some decent photos. The higher up I got, my photos had to be from longer range than I wanted to be, as I didn’t want to lose my footing and fall to my demise.

If anybody from BBCNI is reading, I might pitch a TV show where a member of Slade walks it, called Dave Hill does Cavehill.

Even though I got quite high, as far as McArts Fort. I definitely plan on going again, and exploring more of it when I have more time on my hands.

When I do go again, I might go really early, as the sun is rising.

I had three things I wanted to do, walk up Arthur’s Seat, Cavehill and Bray Head. I’ve done two out of three, and plan on finishing off Bray Head in 2020.

As a frequent visitor to Manchester, I might get myself into gear and properly visit the Peak District during spare time I have there. The problem is, I usually visit Manchester during Winter, so it’ll be a bit chilly. It’s a bit chilly at ground level though.

Feel free to hit me up with suggestions for places to walk. Nothing too strenuous.

Photo Album

CULTURE NIGHT BELFAST 2019

Nothing says Summer is over and Winter is imminent quite like Aston Villa 0-0 West Ham United on a Monday night. Fast forward four days, and we have the annual event which gives us something to look forward to as we try to convince ourselves that the Summer isn’t quite over yet.

Talking of Summer, we certainly got the weather for it. Nice and warm, decent daylight and most importantly, no rain. Although that was the weather all week leading into this, you had the fear it was going to unravel when we needed it most. I think Frank Mitchell must have had a word.

Culture Night in Belfast was a milestone this year, marking ten years since it started. This was the eleventh such event obviously, and I’ve been to nine of them, not a bad ratio.

I missed the first year and got tickets to an event in 2010 that was part of it. After the event in question, I wandered about and enjoyed myself, making a note to come back each year, which I’ve done.

Back then, i’d come home from work, have a bit to eat, and head straight out back into Belfast City Centre, usually arriving around 7pm.

Usually by then, things would be in full swing, so I decided from about 2015 onwards to take a half day and arrive a bit early, usually between 4pm and 5pm.

This year was no different, out of work at lunchtime, home, watch a bit of the Rugger, relax a bit, get showered and get ready to get cultured, arriving in Belfast City Centre just after 5pm.

Helpfully, there were programmes being handed out outside McDonalds if you wanted one, so you could see what was happening where.

I declined one at first, getting a dose of PTSD from Edinburgh, thinking that I was being handed a flyer, so I politely declined at first.

My first visit was to North Street, to have a look at the new mural on Garfield Street. The building work on that street meant it looked drab and was in need of something like that. The artwork is ok but it’s basically an advert for Tribeca and i’m not really that fussed on advertising murals, unless they’re done well and aren’t an in your face advert like the Derry Girls mural in Derry or the John Lydon mural in Bangor.

I then headed to Rosemary Street to see that the chess board was there again.

A major part of Culture Night in the past has been street art painted as part of Hit The North.

However, Hit The North was brought forward to May this year, meaning there would be no live street art painting as part of Culture Night.

The organisers of Hit The North announced the day before Culture Night that their event will only be taking place in May from now on. On the plus side, it’s only eight months away.

The National tried to plug that gap by hosting a Street Art even in their Beer Garden. It wasn’t really much of an event, two guys painting on a canvas for about 20-30 minutes and that was it.

A regular feature of Culture Night is Street Countdown, the TV show Countdown, but performed on the street. The one I popped along to see was won by someone selecting “Haribos” from the letters assembled.

That was in St Anne’s Square, where there is usually wrestling matches, but not this year.

I’m not really into WWE (although I am aware it is now called WWE and not WWF) but I enjoyed watching wrestling bouts at Culture Night.

There’s also usually a parade of something through North Street, but that was also missing this year.

Also changed this year was the Roller Derby, which was moved to an indoor venue at University Of Ulster.

It felt like it wasn’t as busy as it was in previous years, not as many people there.

The loss of a few mainstays meant that I found myself having to flick through the programme to see what else there was.

I called into University Of Ulster and it wasn’t as busy as it usually is.

I then returned to St Anne’s Square to catch up with Street Countdown, which had now gone (turns out it finished around 7.30pm) and the stage taken up with Flamenco Dancers, which I did enjoy watching.

There were a lot of venues that had showcases in previous years which weren’t involved this year.

It was a strange contradiction of a lot of things being on but not a long of things to do.

It did feel heavily commercialised this year. There was one group of performers whose outfit was plastered with the logo of an energy company. Meanwhile, a car showroom hired a projector to advertise on the exterior wall of a hotel.

I really hope we don’t end up being Edinburgh lite with posters plastered all over the venues and being unable to move due to Flyerers.

It was bearable in terms of fagbreaths. That’s not really something to celebrate or be proud of, there were still too many of them about.

It was disheartening to see the programme for the event encouraging people how to get rid of their cigarette butts instead of perhaps, telling them not to be a fucking tramp in the first place and just keep them in their pockets, considering it’s marketed as a family event.

To be honest, it felt a bit underwhelming, which was a bit sad, as it’s an event I’ve always looked to.

I left around 9pm, the earliest i’d ever left a Culture Night.

However, that was not the end of the weekend festivities.

For the first time, the Saturday would be designated as Culture Day. There was a market at St Anne’s Cathedral which interested me, so I popped along to that on the Saturday morning.

As we now hurtle towards Winter, i’m looking for travel inspiration to give me something to look forward to.

I had hoped to book a weekend in London over 12th July next year, so it was disappointing to check the prices on the day Easyjet released their flights that it was £150 just to get on the plane. That’s before I check in luggage and book a hotel.

Looks like I might be looking somewhere closer to home. Galway is the European Capital Of Culture in 2020, so I might head there that weekend.

Or I might go to Waterford again, to check out Waterford Walls.

Talking of Street Art, with Linfield having a free Saturday in a fortnight time, I might use that Saturday to do a day trip to check out Drogheda’s Street Art. I’m still trying to find out if Bridge Jam is on that weekend. It was on that weekend in 2018, so fingers crossed.

And finally, here’s somewhere you might not associate with Street Art …… Rochdale.

Rochdale Uprising is a Street Art festival organised by Nomad Clan, who are regular visitors to Belfast.

I’m heading to Manchester to see United play in early November, so i’m planning to take some time to visit Rochdale and it’s Street Art.

So that was Culture Night, it wasn’t awful, but it did feel a wee bit flat and a wee bit different.

The biggest difference is I won’t be out on my bike on the Sunday after to cover Hit The North.

But you know i’ll be back out to do it all again in September 2020.

Photo Album

Culture Night 2018

Culture Night 2017

Culture Night 2015

Culture Night 2014

Culture Night 2013

Culture Night 2012

EAST BELFAST STREET ART – JUNE 2019

AKA, Tower Street Art, a post that took two weeks.

They can’t seem to keep their paintbrushes down in East Belfast, following on from the mural along the Connswater Greenway in April.

A new spot this, and i’m frustrated that I missed this live at the start of the month.

The former BIFHE campus in Tower Street has now become an arts hub, known as Vault Studios.

If you’re looking to find it, there is still a signpost for a Belfast Metropolitan College (which BIFHE later became known as) campus if you are driving to the City Centre from East Belfast.

If you aren’t good with street signs, just keep an eye out for the Linenopolis mural painted last year, you can’t miss it.

At the beginning of June, there was an event held there called Vault Fringe, and part of it was live Street Art painting.

So, I decided to head down the following week to have a look, making a cameraless trip to check it out.

Impressed with what I saw, I returned on the Friday to get some photos.

To my frustration, one of the pieces, a series of hearts had a food van parked in front of it, so I had to go back and get photos of that at a later date.

I was starting to worry that it was going to be a repeat of the time I took two months to get a picture of a Linfield mural in 2011 because there was always a car parked in front of it when I went to get a photo.

Eventually, two weeks later, the food van moved so I made my move to get the final piece, a series of hearts, the best piece of all.

I got drenched cycling home, but it was worth it.

You may recognise some of the artists, who have featured regularly on this blog.

Photo Album

ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN – LIVE AT CUSTOM HOUSE SQUARE 3.5.2019 (CATHEDRAL QUARTER ARTS FESTIVAL)

If I was Philip Lowry, i’d be insisting that Echo and the Bunnymen perform at Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, as they performed at the event for the first time since 2010, the last time he scored in an Irish Cup Final.

It wasn’t their first return to Belfast since then, stopping off in the city in 2015, but not since.

To the frustration of their Belfast fans, they made a visit to Dublin last year when touring their most recent album, The Stars, The Oceans and The Moon, an orchestral reworking of their greatest hits.

Fans in Belfast were treated to their greatest hits, but no orchestra, it was the crowd who provided the support, singing along to all of their favourites.

It was the weekend of Ian McCulloch’s 60th birthday, which took place two days after the concert, a section of the crowd signing Happy Birthday to him. I’m not sure if it was to celebrate his birthday. but he prepared for this gig with grub at Fish City.

It wasn’t the first time i’d seen a pop star on or around their birthday. In fact, it wasn’t even the first member of Echo and the Bunnymen, having seen them in Glasgow in 2013 the day after Will Sergeant’s birthday, when McCulloch got the crowd to sing Happy Birthday to him.

Outside of The Bunnymen, I saw The Kooks the day before Luke Pritchard’s 30th birthday in 2015.

Throughout the concert, McCulloch complained about having itchy feet, but that he wasn’t prepared to take his shoes off as it wasn’t a good look. Didn’t do Sandie Shaw any harm.

For some reason, some numpty in the crowd kept chanting “Pete De Frietas”. You know the sort, tedious bores who think they’re funny and that the band want to have “Banter” with them.

McCulloch corrected his pronunciation of “De Freetas” by pointing out it was “De Freytas”

Among the hits performed were Bedbugs and Ballyhoo, Rescue, Never Stop, Villiers Terrace, Nothing Lasts Forever, Seven Seas, The Killing Moon and The Cutter.

The version of Nothing Lasts Forever was a nice chilled out acoustic version of the song, one of a few songs which saw them deviate into snippets of covers of famous songs such as Jean Genie, Walk On The Wild Side, Don’t Let Me Down and Sex Machine

With so many big hits in the main set, it was interesting to see what they saved for the encore. They finished with Lips Like Sugar and Do It Clean.

Photo Album

Echo and the Bunnymen live at Mandela Hall 2015

Echo and the Bunnymen live at SECC 2013

Echo and the Bunnymen live at Custom House Square 2010