I had the luxury of some time to kill in Belfast city centre recently, and, lacking anything better to do, took the chance to grab a coffee (and a tasty, calorific snack I have to admit) and sit awhile in the grounds of the City Hall. As I kicked back and watched the world go by, it struck me what a great resource the little green haven I was sitting in is to both the people of Belfast and to visitors to the city.
Go there at any time and sit as I did, and you’re sure to see a wide cross section of city life. The grounds are used as a meeting spot, an al-fresco cafe, ad-hoc game pitch or just somewhere to sit with friends and discuss the day. You’ll see children, teenagers, students and families sitting, talking, playing, eating and so on. Site soiled builders, neat office workers and power suited businessmen alike gain temporary escape from their work days. Tourists snap each other in front of the the main building and statutes, working photographers take more considered shots and television outside broadcast crews interview local celebrities, dignitaries and politicians. Before the City Hall refit began and the registry office moved to Adelaide Street, you would have seen wedding parties in full regalia. You also can’t miss the Belfast Wheel, Continental Market (when it’s in town) or the numerous other cultural events, fairs and attractions that the grounds host throughout the year. There’s even the occasional political demonstration.
And of course there are also people like me, just sitting, watching it all happen.
The point is that this patch of green in amongst the grey city buildings is a vital part of city centre life and must be maintained and kept accessible to the public. Don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty sure it’s not under any threat, I just think it’s worth pointing out it’s importance.
If you’re about Belfast city centre at all, do yourself a favour and take fifteen or twenty minutes out of your (no-doubt) busy schedule to sit on your a$$ in the park, try to forget about the shopping, what to make for dinner, catching the bus and the million other buzzing insects in your head and just observe as the rest of the city buzzes around you instead.
I guarantee that when finally you can resist no longer and get back up to rejoin your personal rat race, the rest of your day will seem better for doing it.