Today felt like a vintage memory. I took my kids for a snack picnic at a National Trust property called Mount Stewart. Ok, so it wasn’t a proper vintage picnic with elegant looking picnic food. There were no finger sandwiches wrapped in baking parchment and tied in a bow: it was raspberries in a plastic punnet, mini doughnuts and I was drinking coffee out of a not-so-elegant flask. But the day felt like it was seeped in vintage energy. Maybe it was the setting with its grand mansion; maybe it was because the day reminded me of childhood: picking daisies, sitting on a picnic blanket, looking upwards at a blue and white swirled sky; or maybe it was because we’ve barely seen real sunlight in Northern Ireland since 1971. Anyway, I decided to take some photos to try to capture the vintage vibe of our day. It has given me ideas for a proper vintage picnic, you know, with a basket instead of a plastic bag. Let’s call today an impromptu day trip.
There’s something about sitting on the grass on a checked picnic blanket that makes it feel like you’ve been transported back in time. Even though my childhood wasn’t in the 1960’s. I wish.
Today I arrived at the decision that I am going to go on vintage adventures to different areas of Belfast and to other towns in Northern Ireland to find out where the vintage is. So, I started with Ballyhackamore. (I already knew the answer to this one but needed to take some pictures; so off I went.) In case anyone doesn’t know this and I doubt many do, it is a community in East Belfast: a bit like its own village within the city. There aren’t any shops devoted entirely to vintage, but it has a selection of charity shops that I like to frequent.
So, are there many true vintage items to be found there? In short, not really. However, for lovers of vintage reproduction and fans of knitted and crocheted items, it is definitely deserving of a visit. (Look at the cute little knitted teddies I found today.) I wish I’d got them now, not even for my kids; for me. As I write this, it is becoming clear to me why every time I open a cupboard in my house, an avalanche occurs.
There are five different charity shops, all located within a couple of blocks. One of them is dedicated to second hand books, one often holds vintage furniture and the rest stock clothing, toys and knick knacks.
Of all of them, I would say that I have found the largest number of vintage style clothes in The Hospice Shop, which sits beside the library. I found a new Trollied Dolly Dress for £5 once, that would have retailed at £50. However, I once also found a new tartan coat in Marie Curie for £25. It would have cost at least £100 if I had bought it new. You can definitely find impressive items with a little patience and a lot of persistence.
I also just love strolling along this street. I like to imagine that it has the air of somewhere abroad (at least when it isn’t raining anyway.) You always see interesting or pretty things along the way. I think that is the aim of vintage shopping anyway: it isn’t about leaving with a good quality piece every single time; the real joy comes from taking your time, rummaging for treasures and taking notice of a few simple things along the way.