24 October 2014

My Favourite Places in Belfast: Garfield Street

Photos by Photography by Astrid
When I was asked about places I loved in Belfast, I knew I had to go to Garfield Street. Reportedly named after 20th President of the United States Andrew Garfield (history geek, I know), the street is home to Victorian Bar Aether & Echo. However, it's the amazing murals across the street from the bar that make me smile. I have no idea who did them or what they mean but the colours alone make it an amazing to visit. Murals are a big part of culture in Northern Ireland and to have something that is non-political, fun and cheerful on a wall is a change. 

The old Garfield Bar is now empty but I hope it years to come that this street is regenerated. I could see the bar being an amazing space for a small theatre or independent cinema. In the meantime, I'll always take a detour up this street just to see the murals. On another note, this post is really making me miss my longer hair!

This is the last in my series of "My Favourite Places in Belfast". A huge thank you to the beautiful Astrid from Photography by Astrid. We had such a fun afternoon taking pictures and she made me feel so at ease!
01 October 2014

Alpha H Liquid Gold- what's the hype?

I've never been the type of person to follow the crowd. As a pre-teen, I refused to read Harry Potter because everyone else was so I became an avid fan of A Series on Unfortunate Events instead. So much like my pre-teen years, I resisted Alpha H Liquid Gold until it was literally forced upon me by my blogging BFF Avril from School Gate Style.

The liquid feels like a toner and is applied by soaking a cotton pad and swiping it all over your face, post cleansing. Alpha H contains huge amounts of glycolic acid which acts as a chemical exfoliant. It can feel a little tingly when first applied but generally, after a few uses, I didn't feel it on my skin. It claims to do ample things for ageing skin but my interest was on its effect with acne scars and the general texture of skin. I have been using this for the past 8 weeks, 2 to 3 times a week. I cleanse then apply this and just go to bed. I feel like it works better that way. I have seen a huge reduction in scars which have been there for years. The overall texture of my skin is much better. I would have been prone to the odd white head around my nose or on my chin and these have rapidly disappeared. I have also noted that I don't seem to break out as much, especially around the pesky hormonal points of the month. 

Overall, I'm sold on Alpha H Liquid Gold. A little goes a long way so I could see me getting about 4 months out of a bottle. It definitely is a little luxury but if you are someone with problem skin, it is well worth the investment.
22 September 2014

My Favourite Places in Belfast: St. George's Market

Photos by Photography by Astrid
At the weekend, there is one place I love to go in the city. It's also the one place I always tell anyone to visit if they are coming to Belfast for the first time. I'm of course talking about the iconic St. George's Market. Over the past number of years, there has been a huge regeneration of the market with a mix of really interesting food and funky items on offer along with the traditional fruit, vegetables, meat and fish that the market is well known for. 

One of my favourite stalls to visit at the market is run by my friend Jeff. His amazing designs called "Belfast Times" (yes, the same man behind the blog!) are always such fun. Inspired by Andy Warhol and typography, his prints feature classic Belfast sayings, legendary people and buildings. They look beautiful framed as a gift. I also love the cards which make the best gift!

Let me know what you love to visit at St George's Market below or by tweeting me @GemmaLEBond.

17 September 2014

My Favourite Places in Belfast: City Hall

Photo credit: Photography by Astrid
If there is one iconic place in Belfast, it's the City Hall. Well known for it's blue roof, the City Hall is home to the Mayor, daily weddings, civil ceremonies and at Christmas, the Continental Markets. I was walking a few weeks ago to meet a friend and parked at the back of the City Hall. I realised how under appreciated it is! From the back, the building looks so European and governmental. Business in the back, party in the front as they say! 

I also love the outfit I am wearing in this shot. It goes so well with the flowers. My shirt is from Replay, trousers are from Next and shoes are from New Look. It is such a fun look that would be great from work to party. 
16 September 2014

My Favourite Places in Belfast: Corn Market

All picture credit: Photography by Astrid

I love when other creative people come up with fabulous ideas. I was recently approached by the lovely Photography by Astrid to take some snaps of my favourite Belfast locations. I have divided the shots up into four different locations. I had so much fun taking these with Astrid- she was so easy to work with and make a anxious me feel much better. 

My first favourite location in Belfast is Corn Market. This is the little area before you walk into Victoria Square. It has always been special to me because of my regular Saturday visits to Belfast with my grandparents. Before Victoria Square existed, there was a really run down old arcade type shopping centre. My grandparents loved the furniture store in there so Corn Market is somewhere we would frequently pass by. Now, Corn Market is a hustle and bustle of people. The city has changed so much in past 10 years and the sculpture in the middle always has people waiting on friends, playing music or eating their lunch. There are so many cool shops in the surrounding area- Dr. Martens, Joules, Jigsaw, Jack Wills, Kiehl's... and that's before you even go into the shopping centre.

My outfit consists of a Topshop top and scarf, Next trousers, H&M sunglasses and a bag that was a gift from my mum. 

Stay tuned as I share the rest of my favourite Belfast locations shot by Photography by Astrid. 

04 September 2014

How Joan Rivers gave me confidence

I've never written a blog post about a person before and their role in my life. But tonight as I sit on my sofa, drinking a Lemsip with a throat that feels like glass, I've been reflecting on the life of Joan Rivers and how her life made an impact on me.

The phenomenon of celebrity is strange. The fact someone can touch your life without ever meeting them is odd. I never got to see Joan Rivers live. I was once in Vegas and missed her performing by a day. I was also too young to see her when she came to the Ulster Hall here in Belfast. If any of my blog readers have met me in life they will know I have a really big, larger than life personality. My friend recently described me as a walking, talking cabaret act. And that I am. All hand gestures and "darling" and "fabulous". 

There is a big bit of my personality that has definitely come from watching Joan Rivers whilst growing up. Even as I child I recognised how exuberant and over-the-top she was. I just thought she was divine. As I got older, I understood and laughed at her dirty jokes. Her humour was often controversial but she said she made fun of things so people could make sense of them and deal with issues. Her own sad times- her issues with her body image, her husband's suicide became part of her act and a coping mechanism. 

My personality, although huge, isn't all truly 'me'. And I suppose that's a huge part of me being a blogger. I am hugely showbiz. I've sang since I was five- what do you expect? When we were teenagers my best friend frequently couldn't cope with the two sides of my personality- this hilarious, smiley girl in front of her friends but quieter, more thoughtful and emotional when I was alone with her. My blog has hugely repaired my relationship with her. I get to be the big personality at events and in meetings. It is that confident girl that my blog is built on. It was that big personality that allowed me to stand at Stormont and speak in front of crowds about what is was like to have depression. Then I came home, got into my PJ's and I was the normal, emotional girl making a cup of tea and crying about what I had just told hundreds of people. 

Joan Rivers taught me not to have fear. To be ballsy. To swear when it's required. But ultimately, she taught me to have confidence in myself. The old saying "Fake it till you make it" is so true. As I sit here tonight in a week where my anxiety has literally had me in convulsions, I remember Joan and that sometimes, a girl just has to pick themselves up and keep on going.