And we’re back in the new traditional slot of May for 2022 having been moved back to the old traditional slot of September in 2020 and 2021 due to Covid, after the first year of the new traditional May slot in 2019.
I hope that makes some sort of sense.
So here we are, on the May Bank Holiday Weekend, as part of Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival.
If you don’t know what Hit The North is, it’s quite simple. A load of artists paint artwork on walls in Belfast City Centre.
It used to be in North Street, hence the name, but now takes place in Kent Street and that general area. If you’re not sure where that is, it’s basically around The Sunflower Bar. I arrived just before 2pm and things were in full swing.
I decided to do a few laps of the area and walk about and see the artwork in progress. The event was sponsored by a drinks company, who I think were giving out free (very small) samples.
There was also an interactive element where people could spraypaint their own mural in an area away from the main artwork.
One of the highlights was a mural of Phil Lynott, with images behind him of the moon and a couple dancing. Dancing In The Moonlight, a hit for Thin Lizzy. Looking forward to a similar mural for Toploader.
It’s the third mural i’m aware of Lynott, with one on a electricity box in Dublin (of course) and a mural of Thin Lizzy in Bangor. As a bonus, there was an extra piece in Queen Street. I only discovered that by fluke when I was walking home.
I went back on the Tuesday lunchtime to get some snaps but I was thwarted by parked cars. So, I decided to head back on the next available Sunday morning when there would be less cars and people about, making it easier to get photos.
Unfortunately for me, that would be nearly two weeks away.
It was worth the wait, as I headed out with my camera and got lots of photos.
You may have noticed a lack of walking related posts this month. I can only apologise.
On the Bank Holiday Weekend at the start of the month, I gave it a miss as I knew everywhere I went would be rammed.
The following weekend, it was chucking it down with rain so it wasn’t really worth going anywhere.
I did walk up Cavehill on the weekend, but the weather was dull and didn’t get any decent photos, so it felt like a wasted trip.
Finally, on the fourth weekend of the month, I got out and was able to get some photos, heading to Cregagh Glen on Saturday, and then continuing my journey onto Lisnabreeny Hill.
I was up, awake and refreshed after the previous night’s escapades in Lurgan, arriving at my usual parking spot at 8.15am for the short walk to the entrance of Cregagh Glen.
It was a nice and sunny morning, which I used to my advantage.
Curiously, there was a lot of fallen trees about, causing me to have to limbo under one of the trees to get past.
For a change, I went and fully explored more of the American War Cemetery, getting more photos of it than usual.
It felt like a certainty, that once I reached the start of Lisnabreeny Hill, the weather turned dull, the photo quality taking a drop.
At that entrance, I had a welcome party waiting for me, as a group of cows starting staring at me through a hedge.
Long-term readers will have noticed I visit the same places on a rotating basis. I am trying to diversify and go somewhere different.
I have a lot of Annual Leave to use up, so i’ll be doing that in June and July. During that time, i’ll be hoping to make use of there being less people about on a weekday when I visit Blackhead Path in Whitehead (a first time for me), Colin Glen Forest Park (again, a first time for me) and my old favourite, Blackmountain.
What better way to start a four day weekend, than to get up early and go for a walk through a forest.
Belvoir Park Forest was my destination, somewhere I’d been going every few weeks since November, having previously ignored it for a long time, despite it not being too far away. My loss.
During those previous visits, I got myself familiarised with the surroundings, there isn’t much there I haven’t previously covered. Or so I thought.
I arrived around 8am, and practically had the place to myself. I presume everybody else was still lying in bed after staying up late to watch live coverage of riots on Facebook.
On my previous visits, I got some ok photos, nothing spectacular. Nothing that could be described as “bloggable”. The fact that you are reading this, makes it obvious that this visit was different.
The biggest plus when I arrived was the weather, a mixture of daylight, mist and frost, which made for perfect shooting conditions.
While walking along, I stumbled into Lagan Meadows Park. I hadn’t been there before.
Liking what I saw, I ventured further into it. A very nice hidden gem.
Something I noticed, was that there was a lot of fallen or uprooted trees. Now I love trees, big fan of oxygen, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited by the photo opportunities provided by them lying on the ground.
Even though it was a nice day, it was still quiet when I was leaving in mid morning, a good time to leave before it started to fill up for the afternoon.
Though I have discovered more areas of Belvoir Park Forest I hadn’t been to before, I feel there is still more it it to explore.
I’m still here, I just haven’t done anything blogworthy over the past six weeks.
However, last Saturday, I headed to North Belfast for my monthly trip to Cavehill.
I struck it lucky with the weather. It was dry, which was nice. Even nicer, was that there was a lot of daylight for me to work with when getting photos. At least I avoided the 24 hours of rain that started that afternoon.
Regular readers will know that I wanted to turn up early enough to photograph the sunrise. Sadly, throughout the Winter, my bed was too cosy. Now, as Spring approaches, the sunrises are earlier, meaning I won’t be able to get there in time as the Car Park doesn’t open until 7.30am.
I arrived just after 8am. I would have arrived earlier, but I had a rotten run of luck with traffic lights.
Whilst the weather that morning was nice, having rained for a few days going into my visit, there was a lot of mud and puddles to navigate around.
It was also very windy, so like a member of U2 trying to maintain Social Distancing, it was best not to stand too close to The Edge.
As per usual, halfway up, I could see Solitude and Windsor Park at the same time. The temptation was there to see what view I could get of Cliftonville v Glenavon and Linfield v Carrick Rangers.
Briefly, there was even a small smattering of snowflakes falling down. Not lying on the ground but I still had to do a double take.
Eventually, I reached the top, McArt’s Fort, took in the view and got some photos.
However, on the way down, I took a different route. Instead of going straight down, I turned right.
The previous month, for my February walk, I headed that way.
If you’re wondering why there is no blog for this, it wasn’t really worth blogging about.
I happened to be in North Belfast that day, to collect a Decathlon delivery from ASDA. After that, I decided to pop along, only going to that point where you have to turn left or go up. I decided to go left to have a nosey.
That morning, was dull and grey, there were no good photos to be had, so I didn’t bother.
That path led me to Upper Hightown Road. There was one spot for a good view of Belfast, and the daylight set up some nice arty shots, just as I did when going down an alternative pathway to the Car Park at Innisfayle Park.
This wasn’t the only adventure I have been on since my last blog post.
In mid January, I headed to Belvoir Park Forest for a stroll, exploring more and more of it than I had previously. You can have a look at the photos here.
The following weekend, there was snow in Belfast. A nice surprise to wake up to. It didn’t last long though.
Unsurprisingly, I was out with my camera, even though the snow was underwhelming.
The following weekend, I headed to Blackmountain for my monthly walk up for January.
It was the first time I had been up there on a weekend, all my previous visits were on weekdays when I was using up Annual Leave.
Despite the fact it was 8.50am and freezing, the place was rammed. I won’t be heading up there on a Saturday for a while, not until I get my second jab. Haven’t even got my first one yet. The downside of being so young.
And worst of all, the weather was dull and grey, so I didn’t get any decent photos.
The following weekend, was the partial walk up Cavehill because I happened to be in North Belfast, mentioned earlier.
And then, more snow the following weekend. Just like in January, it was underwhelming and short lived. You can have a look at the photos here.
So that is what I’ve been up to. Up next on my hitlist is Cregagh Glen/Lisnabreeny Hill as I haven’t been there for a while.
Even though travel outside Belfast is restricted at the moment, there’s nothing wrong with having dreams and plans.
Easyjet have just announced flights between Belfast and Inverness, and they’re cheap. Might take that up in the next eighteen months for some Highland Rambling.
Slievenacloy in Lisburn is still on my radar, if I can find it.
I’m hoping to sneak off to Bray at some point this year, and visit Bray Head and Big Sugar Loaf.
Edinburgh Fringe is doubtful for this year. That’s just my opinion, but the scale of the event, I’ll be surprised if it happens. Even if it doesn’t return in August, I’ll still try to head there and do Arthur’s Seat towards the end of the year.
And of course, I have flights to Gatwick booked for July, so I’ll have to make a decision regarding wether to move them by June.
Regardless of when I go, I’ll probably ditch my hotel in London (free cancellation) instead and go to Brighton. If I do, I’ll try to sneak in Devil’s Dyke.
That are my plans for 2021 and 2022 but in the short-term, Cavehill again at some point in April 2021.
And you may see photos of it on a new Flickr account for all of my 2021 Photo Adventures. You can find it here.
It took a while for a photo adventure in November, a week of Annual Leave in the middle of the month saw me take an afternoon stroll to Minnowburn after the morning stroll got rained off.
The next day, it was dry and bright, so I made an early morning journey for my now monthly visit to Cavehill.
There was also a very wet visit to Blackmountain.
That was sandwiched inbetween two football matches, Linfield’s home matches against Glenavon and Glentoran.
My only photo adventure so far in December was a trip to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Dungannon Swifts.
Unfortunately, there will be no Boxing Day game against Glentoran this year.
I have a bit of time off over Christmas, and I plan on using it to explore the great outdoors with Cavehill, Blackmountain, Lisnabreeny Hill and Belvoir Park Forest on my hitlist, weather permitting. So keep an eye out for that.
Talking of weather, i’ve always got an eye out for snow. Doesn’t even look like that will happen.
So, 2021, what is planned?
Well, I have tickets for concerts (Paul Weller, Doves, Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott, Ash, Lightning Seedsm Beabadoobee) but who knows when they will be?
I do hope to walk up Bray Head, and visit Mourne Mountains and Arthur’s Seat. I also hope to go to football matches on a regular basis.
Seriously people, can you all start behaving yourselves so that I can go places and take photos of things again?
Got a bit of time off at Christmas, so might as well head out for some walks, starting with my now monthly trip to Blackmountain.
Although, I only started with Blackmountain because the planned trip to Cavehill the previous day got rained off.
I had planned to arrive at Sunrise but my bed was too comfy. I did eventually drag myself out of it, arriving at around 8.50am.
The sun was still rising and was quite spectacular. I could see the glare in my left eye as I drove through West Belfast so it was good to get a proper view of it.
It was nearly a perfect storm in terms of weather. It was foggy, frosty, icy and the sun was rising. It made for some interesting photo opportunities.
As spectacular as that was, the fog meant I couldn’t get the views of Belfast that I am used to when I visit Blackmountain.
Despite being cold as well, getting chillier the further you went up, I wasn’t on my own, passing lots of walkers, runners and cyclists, even some doggy footprints. There was even one runner wearing shorts.
Weather permitting, by the end of my time off, I hope to visit Cavehill, Lisnabreeny Hill and Belvoir Forest Park.
You will have seen in my previous blog post that I might be changing my weekend in London (I have late cancellation on my hotel) to a weekend in Brighton (I’m flying into Gatwick) next July as a back-up.
If I do, i’ll take the time to visit Devil’s Dyke. Yep, i’m already looking up things to do in Brighton just in case.
Also on my hitlist for 2021 is Binevenagh, Mourne Mountains, Bray Head and Arthur’s Seat.
Although, circumstances other than my inability to act upon my intentions may ultimately determine if I will or won’t.
Coronavirus isn’t going to stop Street Art being painted in Belfast. It might delay it though.
Hit The North, having recently moved from it’s traditional September slot as part of Culture Night, moved to the first May Bank Holiday Weekend last year. Before they had a chance to settle into their new date, Coronavirus saw it get cancelled, before they were able to slot in a smaller scale event in September, taking place seven days ago on 20th September.
Part of the May event was a Lisburn event leading into it on the Thursday night before. Unfortunately, that did bite the dust.
If you don’t know, Hit The North is a Street Art event where new pieces get painted in the Northern End of Belfast City Centre.
This year’s location was Kent Street and Union Street. Or to put it in simpler terms, near The Sunflower.
As it was near Stephen Street, where a mural of Catwoman and Joker was painted last year, I took an opportunity to have a look. Sadly, it has since been defaced.
The event started at 12pm, and I arrived there at around 12.30pm, having a look about and snapping pictures every ten to fifteen minutes to chart the progress.
As it was a much smaller event, there were no sneaky starters. In previous years, due to the size of the artwork and time needed, some artists would start a few days in advance.
There was a decent sized crowd during the day but very little concerns regarding Social Distancing as people were keeping their distance. It did help that the streets hosting the event were pedestrianised for the day.
Another plus was the weather, dry throughout, which helped make the day a more enjoyable experience.
Amongst the Artists on display included KVLR, Holly Pereira, Danni Simpson, Glen Molloy and Friz.
Holly Pereira incidentally, turned up in advance to paint the entry that leads from the back of Guiney’s.
It was interesting, but not surprising, to note that the mural of Lyra McKee painted as part of last year’s event was untouched.
I left just after 4pm on the Sunday, but returned on the Monday night after work to have a look, and there was already a crowd of people getting photos.
With brighter weather and more daylight to work with on Wednesday, I returned to get some photos when out for my lunch. I had to be quick though due to not having a lot of time to work with.
While I was there, there was someone else getting photos ….. of their dog in front of the artwork.
To be honest, Dogs In Front Of Murals sounds very Tumblr.
With more time on my hands after work and daylight until 6.30pm, I cycled over on the Wednesday teatime to get more photos as the ones at lunchtime were rushed. Again, there were people turning up to get photos and admire them.
A lot of events in Belfast are doubtful, even for 2021, because this city is too stupid to not spread a virus. I’m actually considering staging a coup at Belfast City Hall and putting myself in charge. Thankfully, this event looks safe.
Whatever the situation regarding Coronavirus in 2021 and beyond, at least Belfast has it’s Street Art, the only decent thing about the city. Might be worth someone painting a mural which simply says “WALK ON THE LEFT YOU IDIOTS”.
After a hectic and draining four weeks, I was using up Annual Leave by taking a week off in mid September. There’s usually one freakishly warm week in mid September, so I gambled that this would be it.
Due to circumstances, I hadn’t any overnight stays booked, so this would be a Staycation, a word that has lost all meaning this Summer.
Just for clarity, a Staycation is when you wake up in your own bed and go to sleep in your own bed. A week in Donegal isn’t a Staycation, that’s a week long holiday in Donegal. Or a week long break, or a week long trip, but not a Staycation.
Just because you’re not flying anywhere doesn’t mean it’s not a holiday. Glad to clear that up.
I decided the theme of my week off would be Week Of Walking.
Monday would be my monthly trek up Cavehill. I got some photos.
Unfortunately, the weather was dull, so it made for crap photos, I couldn’t be bothered doing a standalone blog for Cavehill.
If you want to view the photos, you can do so here.
Of course, as soon as I got home, the sun came out and would have made for decent photos.
Tuesday would see me visit Giant’s Ring.
I had actually visited Giant’s Ring a few weeks earlier, by accident.
I was driving in that area, saw the sign and decided to follow my curiousity. I had an enjoyable walk but didn’t have my camera with me in an area that was incredibly photogenic.
Whenever I woke up on Tuesday morning, it was dull and wet, so I headed to a nearby supermarket for a few things and as the weather improved, I decided to head over to Giant’s Ring.
As I arrived, the sun came out, making for some good photo opportunities as I did a lap of the hill, circling around the stone monument before getting a closer look at the aforementioned monument.
The previous time I was there, I went for a walk down a nearby path. That time, I went one way, this time, I decided to go the other way, walking and walking and keeping on walking, not really knowing where I was. That’s part of the fun.
Even more part of the fun is when you see some signage and having to make a decision which way to go.
Be warned, if you do follow this path, there are some road crossings (it is signposted) so be alert and all that.
I ended up arriving at a place called Gilchrist Bridge, which I know well as I usually pass it when cycling along Lagan Towpath, usually from the other side.
Once, I was curious and crossed the bridge and went to Edenderry. Edenderry was where my previous walk ended, so I knew I could get back to my car from there without having to go back from where I came.
Just to be sure, I asked a couple who were walking past if this route did lead to Edenderry Village, and they suggested that next time I visit Giant’s Ring that I should visit Terrace Hill Gardens, which I walked past. I might take them up on that suggestion out of curiosity.
Overall, it was an enjoyable walk, lots of photo opportunities when the weather is nice. I’d definitely consider coming back sometime to get some sunrise and/or sunset photos. I’ll definitely at some point check out Terrace Hill Gardens.
Next up, on the Wednesday of my Week Of Walking was, um, a cycle.
Every six months, I head to the Peace Wall at Cupar Way to get some photos.
As pieces of Street Art, they’re crap, but I just have an urge to document it every six months to see the changes.
One advantage of getting out early in the morning was that there were no parked taxis blocking you from getting some backlift on photos.
If you want to have a look at the photos, you can do so here.
Thursday morning, saw me head back to go to Cregagh Glen and Lisnabreeny Hill, although I gave the American War Cemetery a miss.
As with my adventure to Cavehill on Monday, the weather was dull and didn’t make for good photos. You can have a look at them here.
Of course, as soon as I got home, the sun came out.
With Winter coming soon, sunrises will be getting later, so I might be returning to these locations for sunrise photos over the coming months, all being well.
In terms of travel, I still have my eye on Bray (Bray Head) and Edinburgh (Arthur’s Seat) but it’s being monitored on a week by week basis, it’s hard to make any sort of travel commitment for fear of having to cancel my plans.
A busy week, and there was still one more walk planned, up Blackmountain. You can see that in my next blog.