Born in 1964, pretty much all of the childhood that I can remember (i.e. from the age of 6) and well into young adulthood, was a life surrounded by ‘The Troubles’. Don’t worry, I do not intend to be political in my posts, however, there is no doubt that living in Belfast during this time was a different and often difficult way of living, but life it was and we just had to get on with it. Perhaps sometime I will write about some of the very negative things we had to live with as a matter of routine, but not now.
Since the whole ‘peace process’ thing, life here has certainly changed for the better in many ways. For me, one significant improvement is to be able to have much more freedom to safely enjoy the lovely little country in which we live. In the past we were often compared to Beirut, ironically now with everything else going on everywhere else in the world perhaps we are one of the safest cities/countries to be in.
As a keen photographer, I am happy to go off with my camera most places and try to capture the atmosphere of what we have on offer in and around Belfast and other places in NI. Actually we are such a small country that almost everywhere is ‘on our doorstep’ – an hour and 15 minutes will take me from Belfast to the furtherest point on the beautiful North Antrim Coast, home of the Giant’s Causeway, Dunluce Castle, Royal Portrush Golf Club, filming of The Game of Thrones, not to mention the Titanic (we like to remind people that it was fine when it left Belfast!) and many of the most beautiful beaches in Europe.
One of the places I have enjoyed exploring over the last couple of years has been St. Georges Indoor Market, right on the edge of Belfast City Centre. I had always known it was there but until my son began to frequent it for the fresh food on offer I had never been. Having benefited from one of the National Lottery Heritage Projects it was named UK’s Best Large Indoor Market 2014 by the National Association of British Market Authorities. So, I took the plunge (and my camera) one Sunday morning to see what all the fuss was about…
I discovered that it is a vibrant, happy, cosmopolitan place, busy with traders, eateries, musicians, locals and many tourists. A place that underlines how far we as a little country have come in the last number of years.
Browsing or buying local fresh food and crafts and enjoying cooked food from all over the world (including Belfast Baps (aka buns) filled with a mountainous supply of bacon, sausage, eggs and of course ketchup) to the sound of a live musician is a real pleasure.
The opportunity to browse with my camera is what I tend to do there – other than maybe buying a ball of wool or two every now and then ;). I always liked to photograph the mundane and see the beauty in it…
As a photographer I always prefer to capture the candid, and what a great place to do this.
However, what strikes me most when I pop down to the market is that the range of both stall holders and visitors make it a truly cosmopolitan place. Tourists from all over the world, China, Germany, America – everywhere, huge countries coming to ‘our wee country’ to to enjoy what we have to offer. Perhaps this is one of the biggest changes our country has seen since the ‘peace process’, not only can I, who had to endure the many years of The Troubles, enjoy life here but so also can so thousands of visitors from every corner of the world.