Top Ten Favourite Places in Belfast

This list is made up of hangouts in Belfast that I always come back to, from cafés to bars, to my personal favourites of the city’s tourist attractions, so that if you’re visiting, you can tell people you did cultural things … Continue reading

There’s no place like home – but what happens when you have more than one?

What exactly does ‘home’ mean? Where you were born? Where you grew up? Where you live now? Whether for university, work, or because you have loved ones living in different places, many of us have more than one base, and, for me, having two home cities means that home is much more about people than places. On the one hand, I could say that Belfast is my home – this is where I grew up, where my family live, and where myself and my best friends from school, who have all dispersed to different places, gather and catch up whenever we can. However, on the other hand, I no longer live in Belfast, and have firmly established a new base in Glasgow, with a whole new set of wonderful friends, some of whom I now consider family. As previously mentioned in my ‘Reflections on 2015’, my list of reasons to love Glasgow and never leave is growing, so it’s starting to feel more and more like home. Having my two bases relatively close together means I travel between the two fairly regularly, and I have found that there are both perks and downsides to having multiple bases. I suspect a few of these might be familiar to those of you with more than one place to call home!

 

efc46ba3b20bc29546bce4d3bdcb9d1e

Image from Pinterest

 

You’re always missing someone.

Having two homes means I have two sets of favourite people, who I often wish were all in the same place at the same time. While this can be tough, it also means that I make the most of the time I get to catch up with friends and family when we are in the same place, and I do really appreciate the people who matter most to me.

 

You understand the difference between a ‘typical’ person of a place, and stereotyping.

Stereotypes tend to arise from observations and exaggerations of people who don’t know a place well, and thus are inaccurate (and often derogatory), but having lived in more than one place, I have noticed that people who live in close proximity tend to share similar mannerisms, turns of phrase and style choices. This obviously doesn’t mean that all the people from a particular place are the same, it just means that people are part of what characterises a place. Just one example of this is in expressions unique to places. Both Glasgwegians, and ‘Belfastians’, as my siblings and I like to refer to ourselves, have some brilliant sayings. People outside Northern Ireland are unlikely to know what a ‘melter’ is, but it’s just too good not to use, even if it’s met with blank faces. Equally, the first time I heard the Glaswegian expression ‘face like a melted wellie’ I gleefully stored it up until the next possible opportunity to casually slip it into conversation. (Read excitedly used it inappropriately).

 

You know which of your homes is the superior for your favourite activities.

For me, Glasgow wins on clubs, but is missing Belfast’s late-night coffee shops. Brunches and bars are a close call between the two – I can recommend excellent choices for cocktails or pancakes in both cities. (Oops it seems my favourite activities revolve around food and drink…) I shall be following this up with guides to some of my favourite haunts in both cities very soon!

IMG_3950

Sinnamon, in Belfast, is one of my favourite places for late night coffee and life chats…

 

IMG_2829

… but Glasgow’s Gin 71 has a pretty fabulous menu. And cocktails in teapots.  

 

It always takes a few days to adjust when you move from one place to another.

After a few weeks with my very loud, crazy and lovable family, my flat seems strangely quiet, and I don’t think I will ever be able to break the habit of cooking enough food for a small army, no matter how long I live on my own. But on the plus side, there’s always enough to feed visitors!

 

You are likely to have a serious case of wanderlust.

Living between two places means you can’t help but notice similarities and differences between them, and personally, drawing comparisons between the different places that I have lived in and visited only makes me want to discover, explore and compare more adventures, places and people. If anyone needs me I’ll be at the airport…

 

Reflections on 2015

2015, for me, seems to have passed almost scarily quickly. It just doesn’t feel like a full year has gone by since last January, and so, to metaphorically press pause on the beginning of 2016, and in the spirit of thinking … Continue reading

Family: Who says we can’t choose them?

ohana-means-family-family-quote

Image from Pinterest, quote from Disney’s Lilo and Stitch

Most of us use our Christmas break to spend time with family, some who you’ve missed for months or even the whole year, and can’t wait to catch up with, others who, if you were being totally honest, you don’t really want to see but feel like you should. Why do you? Most people simply answer, ‘Because they’re family’. I’m not sure how I feel about this. Don’t get me wrong – if you have elderly relatives who are likely to be lonely, they will appreciate your company, but if this is your reasoning, a visit once a year is not going to stop this loneliness, so I would assume, if you’re seeing someone out of kindness and fondness, rather than a sense of family Christmas duty, you will have a relationship with them, and would see them fairly regularly anyway.

The type of people I’m talking about are your superficial aunt, who doesn’t give you the time of day unless she wants a picture or some gossip to share with her ladies-who-lunch club. Or the cousin who can’t hold a conversation because they are apparently incapable of listening to any voice other than their own. These are not terrible crimes. But if you had friends who behaved like them, how long would you remain friends? To me, family loyalty trumps any other kind – say something even slightly negative about any of my brothers or sisters and I am highly likely to jump down your throat – but I know that (even if they wouldn’t admit it) they would all do the same for me. Relationships, whether family or otherwise, have to be maintained, and they have to work both ways. As much as I love and appreciate the family members I am close to, I am entirely unconvinced by the idea of unconditional love for all family.

images

Image from Pinterest

I have also realised that I have gradually and selectively added to the people I consider family; friends I count among my (admittedly numerous) siblings, role models and surrogate aunts and uncles I have found in teachers and friends of my parents. At what point does an unrelated friend reach the status of family? Here are my top five things I have found are common to all my relationships with my (extra and selected blood-related) family members:

  1. Trust. You trust them with your random, at times odd thoughts and questions about life, and they are fully aware that you might be certifiably insane, but they love you anyway. For me personally, this one is really important, because I don’t trust many people – if I trust you, you have made it into the inner circle, and, if you don’t already, I will work hard to make sure you know you can trust me.
  2. Conversation, or silence, is never awkward between you. Sometimes you talk for hours about anything and everything, other times you’re happy to be quiet together, watching movies or crap TV, or listening to music, without worrying that you need to fill the silence.
  3. You can be mean to each other, and know the other wont be offended, (although they will often dramatically protest that they are mortally wounded by your insinuation) but if anyone actually hurts them, you will plot their downfall together. By extension, this also means you automatically hate everyone they hate. Even if you haven’t met them.
  4. You become an accepted member of their actual family, and find that you know as much about their crazy relatives as you do about your own.
  5. You feel like you have known them forever. This might be because, as with biological siblings, you grew up together, and have witnessed all of one another’s questionable choices in dates, fashion, music, and anything else you could possibly have got wrong. You know all of each other’s secrets, so it’s in both of your best interests to keep them, and each other, close. This could also apply to a relatively new friend, who has become a fundamental extra family member to the extent that you are unsure who you went to in a crisis, or phoned to relate your latest ridiculous escapade before you met them.

truthbomb_784

Instead of guilt tripping yourself into going to yet another extended family lunch, or visiting your dreaded Aunt Beatrice, choose your family. Surround yourself with your favourite people, whether that is your family, your friends, or a mixture of the two, and enjoy their company, whether it’s Christmas or any other time of the year.