Ahoy there me hearties! Okay, let's just quickly accept the fact this is the perfect post to make pirate puns. I mean, they arrrgh pretty hilarious! (See what I did there eh? eh? I'm sorry.) Last weekend was a very exciting one for the wee city of Belfast in Northern Ireland. As a tiny country that doesn't usually have a place on many maps, it was a delight to many people for us to hold the beginning of the Tall Ship Races 2015. For those of you who aren't familiar with the tall ships, it is a race between many magnificent tall ships and is Europe's largest free family festival. The ships often attract many visitors for obvious reasons but there are many other attractions at the festival too - street performers, carnivals, fireworks, food, drink and crafts. The list goes on. It is an amazing experience for everyone in the family and I am so pleased Belfast got to hold such a stunning event and also proud that the weather managed to actually, for once, keep its water works under reasonable control!
The last time I saw the tall ships was way back in 2009 when I was just ten years old. I lived in England back then and was visiting family in Dublin at the time. Other than shaking hands with a huge built up sailor man with hat and drinking a Capri Sun, the day is pretty much a blur. When I went to Belfast on Friday to see the ships, I don't know what I was expecting... but it definitely was not the huge festival I was met with. I do not remember there being so many crowds and so much stuff to do! It was completely insane and it was pretty much impossible to ride my bike through the crowds. I ended up giving up pretty quickly.
Despite the time I wasted pining over the fact I couldn't actually travel on the ships with all of the crews, I did take advantage of the actual festival that although was chaotic and completely overcrowded did have many hidden gems. The Titanic Quarters was completely packed with street performers that were so amusing and talented. I could have sat for days listening to the actors, telling tales of what it was like to be on board the titanic or laughing at the hilariously inappropriate acrobats. All of this entertainment, including the live music was completely free to watch and enjoy, this includes actually going on board of the ships and having a good little nose! I was also practically rolling in the freebies and food testers. I didn't even need to buy lunch, I just had to hang around the food tent for a good fifteen minutes to get a free three course menu out of testers!
I find prices at festivals like these to be quite expensive and I tend to avoid actually buying anything. Chances are, if there is a stall I really like, I will see it another day at a different Belfast event when the time eventually comes around. By then, I will have money saved and be ready! However, after walking around the dock market with my mother dearest, we bumped into a lovely lady running a stall called The Scented Thread. Imagine you are at a Lush store but it's much more prettier and daintier - that is this shop. The Scented Thread is run by a lovely woman named Laurie Curran and all the soaps and bath products are completely homemade, skin friendly and SLS free. Even the bags she gave out are completely eco-friendly and support street children in India who have an income by making the newspaper bags. After browsing, we purchased the St Clements Bath Salts and the Creamy Poppy Seed Soap. Both products feel amazing on the skin and smell absolutely delicious, I'm so excited to keep using them! It's quite brilliant what you can find in your local town or city if you just open your eyes and actually see! There are so many quirky and pretty local businesses surrounding you and I urge you to try some of them out! You will be surprised with the amount of amazing unique products that have all along been right at your doorstep!
The Tall Ship Festival was overall a huge success for Belfast and I hope that if you live in Europe you will one day get to have the experience too. I'm hoping that in the future I will be able to be on one of the magnificent ships and actually compete in the races too! But, until that day arrives, I will just have to keep on dreaming!