Sunday, 10 December 2017

Something to do with the sea

I blame the government for my lack of photographic and blogging action recently. This school year we have a new syllabus in place for two year groups, which makes for a much heavier workload than usual. I'm missing my weekends driving round the country - I seem to be spending far too much time sitting at my dining room table surrounded by A level notes instead.

But I did escape briefly from the Renaissance church anthem last weekend to drive one of my nieces along the County Down coast for an afternoon. It was a beautiful cold November day, ideal for a ten-minute walk every time we came to a harbour or a beach. Also ideal for eating at the Mourne Seafood Bar in Dundrum the instant the light went. We had salt and chilli squid, whitebait and mussels, all fantastic. 

It's funny how a short outing like that can completely revive your spirits. It's something to do with the sea, I think. I had to sit down with my notes the instant I got home, but it didn't seem quite such a chore as usual.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Frames and spaces

A high, beautiful space in the centre of Belfast. It's full of ghosts, emanating in layers from its Victorian brickwork. And every corner's a frame for a view, out or through.

We're upstairs in, appropriately, the old Frames snooker hall complex, once Robert Watson's beautiful furniture warehouse. It's stood through world wars, troubles, development and devastation and at least once it's been on the brink of demolition. Now it's waiting for its next act - perhaps an office space, perhaps an apartment.

All around us are faces, torn from magazines, preserved in the aspic of their heydays. It makes me wonder, randomly, how much I'd pay for the chance to look out of these high windows and see the old Belfast they saw. I'd give a lot.

Later, we're in another empty, lovely space. This is the Carnegie Library on the lower end of the Oldpark Road. It's also ready for new life and love, but full of the old energy of its hundred years of reading and learning. 

The architectural details are beautiful. The institutional pink paintwork, a pale, delicate version of the famous Baker-Miller pink, adds to the feeling that we're surrounded by benign spirits, wanting only to sit at a long mahogany table and take their turn with the day's newspapers or request a new Greek primer from the shelves.

You can find out more about the plans for this building here.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Ophelia Day

Unexpected bonuses - and counting my blessings very gratefully as I thought about people who hadn't been so fortunate in her wake - of Ex-Hurricane Ophelia's sweep through Belfast were a day off work and some beautiful light. The afternoon sun was warm and low and the clouds were busy and dramatic.

I went for a long walk round part of the west side of Belfast Harbour, exploring the area round Corry Road, Dufferin Road and McCaughey Road. I was hoping to find some subject matter that would fit the theme of 'Infrastructure', a forthcoming competition round in my camera club. I'm still not exactly sure what will count for this, despite lots of helpful advice. I suspect I'm focusing too much on the details that go on around the infrastructure and not enough on the infrastructure itself. And now that I keep saying and thinking of that word, it's beginning to sound wrong and strange, the way words do when you concentrate too hard on them.

But whatever with the infrastructure, it was an exhilarating walk. There were no other pedestrians round, just one guy on a bike, who winked at me and called out, 'Good luck!'. With what, who knows. But thank you very much.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Everytown blues

You look behind Main Street.

You let the shadows sink deeper and the cracks show more clearly.

You see the words which hang empty and painful at the back of beyond.

You find the blues of everytown, the sad/beautiful poem that's different and the same every time.