Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Belfast in pictures

This blog is called "Belfast Boy", so sooner or later the city had to receive an entry all on its own. Despite living here for two full decades, I feel like I am always discovering new territory/architecture now that the troubled times of the past are just that, allowing me to wander and explore more than ever before. What follow are a series of photos I have taken around Belfast. Past photos are taken from various sources, as credited.

Belfast City Hall was first built in 1906 and the view from Royal Avenue looked something like this:

Credit: BBC

104 years later, very little has changed:

Mine, 2009

The Albert Clock has been a mainstay monument in the city for even longer, and serves as a reminder that Belfast will forever be a Victorian city. But with street names like Great Victoria, Albert Square, Royal Avenue, were we ever really in any chance of forgetting our heritage?

Mine, 2010

Further examples of the Georgian/Victorian architecture:

Mine, 2010

Mine, 2010

Mine, 2010

Mine, 2010

The Botanical Gardens house many statues and remnants of past eras in the city, but more than anything, the Gardens present one of the rare place in the city to escape from traffic, crowds and politics:

Close to Botanical Gardens is Queen's University, which has remained fairly untouched throughout the years:

Credit: Jacob Henry Connop, 1864

Today, it is my very own academic institution:

Mine, 2010

In the past, City Hall was frequently a site for protests like these...

Credit: wn.com

...but now is now more often seen in much happier scenes like this:

Mine, 2010

Mine, 2009
Mine, 2009

I would be remiss if I did not mention the murals which decorate many streets here. All, in some variable way, reference The Troubles but each has its own mark of individuality. The one which makes me stop and think almost every time I see it is this:

Mine, 2007

So there you have it. A little glimpse of my city - just a little one because the East and West sides are for another blog post. I'll leave you with a panoramic shot of outside my house. The Odyssey Arena and the Harland & Wolff cranes are visible in the distance:

Mine, 2010

Saturday, 6 November 2010

We all have to start somewhere.

So I have been thinking about making a blog for some time. I am an avid Twitter user, but it becomes tiring to constantly fit comments into 140 characters or less. Just look at what I've written in this post so far: I am easily heading into Twitlonger territory!

I have not yet decided the purpose of this blog. I love photography (sharing others mainly, I am no where near skilled enough in my own right), my city, technology, travelling, theatre, writing: and all of these things will no doubt seep into this new outlet, but for now I end this post with some of my favourite websites and why I love them:

Twitter - I first joined this site in February 2009 and never expected to find it that alluring. I had previously tried out MySpace and Facebook to little success, leaving one account to fester in the nether-regions of the web, while the other was deleted on my behalf because it remained inactive for so long. Yet something about Twitter hooked me in and throughout Twitter.com, Tweetr, TweetDeck, Tweetie, Osfoora, Twitter for iPhone, and now "Old Twitter vs. New Twitter", I have not been able to let go. I do have Facebook, but it always feels like such a restricting place in comparison to Twitter. On Twitter I have access to cultures and races and opinions and an expressiveness which I have never found before on the web. Some wonderful friendships have been forged since I set up my account, and while many people scoff at the notion of having an "online friend" as if he/she was some sleazy, unemployed pervert surfing unmoderated chat-rooms for new prey, the truth is I find more diversity of thought than in any nightclub, student's union or workplace in my day-to-day life.

Instagram - Okay, so technically not a website but rather a rapidly-growing social-networking iPhone application for photography which is free, quick to set up, and featuring some of the most stunning photographs of the most beautiful places on the planet. What is more is that, unlike other photography sites, there is a real community vibe to Instagram. Anyone can like or comment on anyone else's photos, and the filters on offer to enhance a photo are so simple and basic that they always preserve the initial appeal of any shot you take. No creepy "Funhouse Mirrors" effect to be found here! Just wonderful, candid, creative and unpredictable images of everything from architecture and travel to wildlife and oceans. With it's optional toggling of Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare sharing, Instagram allows its users to interact with their other favourite sites in a way that allows the community to widen without the user automatically bombarding their friends and followers with every photo they take. Instagram is a simply charming creation.

Fan Forum - Like TV? Movies? Books? Politics? Art? Travel? Sport? Acting? Well, you see where I am going with this. The site offers forums for discussion on all of the aforementioned topics as well as on a slew of others. I have been a member on the site for close to four years and through ups and downs, I have been constantly amazed, as I have been with Twitter and now Instagram, how open it is as a community and how no culture, race, gender or belief is frowned upon. I am a big fan of tolerance and, you know, not being a dick, so I always admire any public forum which holds up these beliefs too. Plus, I am a moderator on Fan Forum so I am bound to say nice things ;)

Other websites which I frequently visit include The Golden Girls @ Couch Potatoes (a place full of TV lovers who as a group pretty much represent the nicest bunch of people on the Internet!), Photobucket (a slightly out-dated form of photo sharing but still a place I call home), Ken Levine Blog (a truly remarkable place full of musings and stories from one of America's most successful comedy writers in recent memory) and The Gown (alright, I will admit this one is self-serving since I freelance write for it!).

Now, I do not assume anyone is particularly interested in my online wanderings, but this list does give you an idea of the sorts of places to which I am attracted, and of the subjects which this blog will hopefully touch upon if I can be committed enough to see through.

Thanks for reading!