Sunday, 12 June 2016

Adventures in the Urban Jungle

I wanted to share with you today my experience of visiting Wildflower Alley in South Belfast, as part of the annual Big Lunch celebrations.

The Big Lunch is a simple idea, founded by The Eden Project in 2009, to encourage communities to come together and share food, drink and a bit of Craic!

Their mission is to connect people and many groups and venues across the UK braved the rain this weekend to do just that - with local events including a Steampunk picnic at Belfast City Hall and get together at Ballyeamon Barn hostel in Cushendall.

My friend Susan alerted me to the fact that the residents of Wildflower Alley were holding such a gathering and I jumped at the chance to attend!

Wildflower Alley refers to a communal alley in the Holylands area of South Belfast that was revamped last year by a group of residents who wanted to create something beautiful and foster a sense of pride and community.

Usually access to this magical place is for residents only so it was a wonderful opportunity to pop along and get a sense of the place.

When we arrived I was not disappointed - bright colours and friendly faces welcomed us to a street party, with salads, cakes and pots of tea galore!

Everywhere I turned something happy caught my eye - inspiring murals, colourful (and importantly non-tribal!) bunting criss-crossing the path,  handmade mobiles and upcycled materials surrounded by herbs and flowers.

All manner of items are now home to plants, including wellies, cups, wooden pallets and even a washing machine drum!

Entertainment was even provided with live music from harpist Marie Burns and storytelling by Eamon Keenan - a very engaging chap that I could have chatted to for hours about the Wee Folk. 

We were made to feel very welcome by the local residents, including some four-legged ones such as Monty the cat :) 
They told us that the plantlife has been attracting birds, bees and butterflies to the area. 

I had been curious about Wildflower Alley since hearing about it last year and in spite of the inclement weather, it more than lived up to my expectations.

The area is a cheery breath of fresh air in an often grey and divided landscape and shows what a group with a goal can achieve - hopefully it will inspire similar initiatives elsewhere.

Do pop back in a couple of days to learn more about some upcoming events in Norn Iron - Kirsty Woo x

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