Northern Ireland based geekery & nerdisms

Tag Archives: shopping

I have a confession to make – this was meant to be written and posted last week, but then I got horribly ill. Like, horribly. With screaming and crying and A&E.

That all aside, I had a lovely weekend, having spent a good deal of it (all day Friday, before the crippling plague struck me down) dandering around Belfast, eating and drinking. First up was a very lovely lunch in The Kitchen Bar, which is a real favourite of mine because the food is just so very good. And not overly expensive, like some places in and around Victoria Square tend to be. Unfortunately, on this particular visit I was not a happy bunny. While the food was fairly incredible, the staff were…well, they were meh. I get that it was busy and all, but I felt like they were looking rid of me, which sort of puts me off visiting again, obviously. I think there’s been a change in the staff or something? Don’t let me put you off, but be prepared to be in and out in twenty minutes, with someone wiping down your table before you’ve even left it.

That’s what she said?

On to the important part. After lunch and a decent wander around Victoria Square (the dome never fails to amuse me, although my boyfriend is less enthusiastic about acting like a tourist), we stumbled gloriously into Alley Cat for an afternoon of drinks and giggles.

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Alley Cat is very new on my radar, I went a few weeks ago for a friend’s birthday and had to stay sober (hangovers are best avoided when working with kids the next morning). I had to go back though – they have cocktails. IN TEAPOTS. Who doesn’t want to drink alcohol out of a teacup, poured from a freakin’ teapot?

In the interest of science, we felt it was only fair to try one of each flavour. I have listed the resulting league table, listing said cocktails in order of preference.

1. American Pie – tastes like cinnamon, which tastes like Christmas.

2. Cool Beans – pure sweetness and fizz.

3. London Tart – blackcurrant and lemon. Gin-based, sort of tastes like strong cordial.

4. Storm In A Teapot – Essentially, lime & rum & coke. Well nice.

5. Jacklope – SO MUCH STRAWBERRY.

You’re welcome.

The decor of the bar is awesome – giant paintings of Christian Bale (circa American Psycho), Blondie posters and kitty cats all over the place. Regardless of what my charming boy has to say, IT IS NOT A LESBIAN BAR! A few cat posters does not a lady bar make. Although one of the walls does have ‘Don’t just look at it, eat it’ sprayed across it…but that can be read a few ways, really.

The bar does food too, which I have yet to try, but after staring at other people eating their lunch/dinner (we were there for a while…), I would definitely go back to try a (slightly pricey) burger. A little while ago, I heard less than good things about their service, but hopefully that was just growing pains, because I saw no problems on either of my visits.

I only have two tiny problems with the place. When we first arrived, the reception was frosty and the atmosphere was non-existent – but this was rapidly remedied as more afternoon drinkers arrived, and when we found the Jenga and Connect 4. No really. Highlight of my life.

Secondly…now, don’t laugh…the toilet doors say ‘Pussy Cats’ and ‘Tom Cats’, and it took me a little while to figure out which one I am. I did tell you not to laugh.

All in all, well worth a visit. Get there early to claim a sofa and a board game.

S.

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This post is a special post, because it is my 100th. Marvellous! I am devoted and I remember to write things. Good ol’ me. On that note, no Sunday review this week because I was ill. So ill. I didn’t forget though, that’s the important point that I’m trying to make.

Before I delve into the wonderful world of Etsy, I thought you might be interested to know that Fox recently took a little hissy fit, contacting a number of crafty darlings who sell via the sit with cease-and-desist orders. This particular number of fiddley dears were making Firefly themed merchandise. Although Fox cancelled the show after one season and a movie, they are apparently still well within their rights to be uppity about their ‘intellectual property’. Ewk. Big co-operations. Ewk. The law.

Anyway, you can read more about this whole clusterfork here.

Onwards, to the things that people are still allowed to sell…

(As ever, click on the pictures to buy buy buy. All locally sourced, of course).

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First up, a shiny new trinket from HearHoofBeatsThinkZebras (who incidentally fell victim to Fox’s ban on Firefly merchandise. Buy other things from her, so she feels better?). This deluxe Game Of Thrones charm bracelet is extremely thoughtfully made, by a real fan for other real fans. The House sigil can be changed depending on your own personal alliances. I, for example, have recently decided I am more of a Tyrell than a Greyjoy. My blood runs quite warm, you see. The other charms are equally adoring and meaningful – tiny castles, swords and dragons.

Also. Free shipping with the code FREEPOST until April 23rd. Don’t say I never help you.

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I hope you are laughing as hard as I laughed when I first saw this. Picard facepalm t-shirt. Is there a nicer three word phrase in the English language? I doubt it.

I only recently encountered Hallion Clothing, but they have some really brilliant t-shirts (and only £7.50!). You should go take a look.

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I am pretty sure I’ve babbled away about shoes pretty similar to these at least once before…but hell, look at how cute they are, they deserve all the babbling. Look at the little bows! The best thing about these particular shoes is that the lovely lady who makes them is willing to collaborate on the design. So you could have Batman shoes! Or Spider-Man! Or Thor! Or Batman!

Another bargain, only £20, but if you’re looking for something more glamorous, there are heeled versions available for £35.

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I seem to pop something from this Etsy store in every other blog, but I cannot help it. I like that everything is handmade, I like the little faces, I like the bright colours. I can’t help it, I am a girl and as such, I am easily led by woodland creatures.

Especially bunnies. Yesterday, I was in Pets At Home at Sprucefield, watching the cutest white baby bunny eat hay with his fat little paws. Then loads of French teenagers came in and started shouting ‘Oooo, LAPIN!’, which apparently means ‘rabbit’. Both an interesting anecdote and a learning experience. If a tad irrelevant.

Anyway, go forth and shop. If you buy anything beautiful and geeky, I want to know about it. I want to know very much.

S.


I have done many things in my life, things of which I am proud. Yet none of these things I could boast about compares to the greatness of that title. What a glorious pun, I clearly have the most advanced and magnificent of minds.

ANYWAY. I am always in rush, recently. My alarm goes off early, I am on the go all day, I get to bed later than I would like. I work, I study, I clean and I blog. Go, go, go. Yet, somehow, I always seem to find at least an hour a day to play a game on my phone. It’s the strangest thing; almost as if the rules of time and space don’t really apply to me when I’m playing Angry Birds or whatever. Magical, even.

Well. I say Angry Birds, but I feel I have finally outgrown it. Even Angry Birds Space and Star Wars Angry Birds are boring me now – there’s only so many times you can fling a bird at a pig, while taking into account rickety obstacles and the laws of gravity. Besides, the pigs would’ve figured out that they should be using cement by now, surely?

Mind you, that is a pretty dim face, considering he's meant to be some sort of ruler.

Mind you, that is a pretty dim face, considering he’s meant to be some sort of ruler.

I have discovered new games – better games. Great games. Okay, great is an exaggeration – they are addictive, if nothing else.

I shall do them in the order I discovered them, saving the best for last, as is tradition. So, first up, is The Simpsons: Tapped Out. The premise is simple – Homer Simpson is playing with his MyPad (teehee) in work at the nuclear plant, gets distracted and somehow causes a melt down that destroys all of Springfield. You, the player, then have to earn money and donuts to unlock and build all of the town’s buildings and characters. Simples.

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It is too addictive. It takes forever to earn enough money to do anything, but somehow, this is not so much a deterrent to play as a motivational tool. The game builds on years of Simpsons trivia and hilarity – catch phrases, famous episodes, beloved minor characters – all are pimped in the hope of keeping you hooked. Unfortunately, they want you hooked for a very obvious reason. In order to get the game to progress any faster, you need to spend (rather a lot) of real world money on in-game bonuses.

Urm, no. If I wanted to pay for a game, I would not be scrolling the ‘Top Free’ chart on the App Store, thank you very much.

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Next up is Sonic Dash. I went through a good month long phase of being hooked on Temple Run (and Temple Run 2), so when I saw that my favourite blue hedgehog had stepped into the arena, I knew I had to give the little guy a chance. And not to be a fangirl, but it’s SO GOOD. Like Temple Run, but more colourful, cuter and with more incentive to play (I must, must earn enough red rings to unlock Knuckles).

It’s also a great deal harder, which is nice, because as a constant phone gamer (which is like a step down from casual gamer, but I step up from VTech children’s games, I reckon) I appreciate a bit more of a challenge. Usually you just feel like your doing something to keep your idle hands busy, you know? Yet this little number is a great time burner, and calls for real concentration. An unfortunate side effect of this is the swearing on public transport and the splitting pain of dry eyeballs.

Oh well.

Gameplay screen shot.

Game play screen shot.

FINALLY. My most recent download, which is unfortunately not going to be on my phone for very long, because it runs about as slowly as I do. That is very, very slowly indeed.

The Injustice: Gods Among Us app is obviously just another advertising tool that DC/Warner Bros./NetherRealm have pulled out of their box of tricks; but oh, it is such a fantastic box. The build up to this game has been so well done that fans are working themselves in a frenzy counting down the hours to the UK release. From the YouTube interviews, to the character reveal clips and the MASSIVE roster, this is surely what advertising should be.

On the other hand, I think I’ve seen everything the game has to offer, and I occasionally feel like I’m drowning in clips of Bane fighting Batman AGAIN.

He's still my boy though, aren't you Batman?

He’s still my boy though, aren’t you Batman? (Screen shot of the opening sequence)

On to the game itself – it’s obviously just a snippet of the glory the full console game will have. Attacks and blocks are done by well timed taps and swipes, and you don’t get a lot of characters to fight as (you start with Sinestro, Nightwing and Lex – I’m not sure if you get more as the game goes on) and there’s no story line at all, just little fights. Still, the graphics are neat, it’s another good little time burner, and Nightwing is sexy.

All these games are available to download now, FOR FREE! I may have to do another blog on apps that are actually helpful and useful, and not just for filling in your commute to and from work, but for now, that’s your lot.

If you have been hooked on an awesome smartphone game, I want to know about it. Go tell me on the FACEBOOK PAGE! Also, like it, because I like you. So very, very much.

S.


I am showering you with blogs today! April showers. See what I did there? It’s April now.

Lisburn has been really disappointing recently as far as magical geeky shopping is concerned – I suppose it doesn’t help that all the shops are closing. I’ve seen a few wee bits and bobs I would rather like, though. I thought you might like them too, although I’m not convinced all of them are geeky enough to warrant blog coverage. Still, they’re nice, you might like them. Bear with me.

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The pictures are giant, to make my blog look nice and colourful. And to make you think this is longer than it looks, because I am crafty that way. First up, this framed poster. It’s both adorable and geeky, because it references Twitter. Geeks like Twitter, almost as most as C-list celebrities and comedians do. I only meant to take a picture of the one poster, but I seem to have caught a second, equally adorable one in the bottom right. It’s mean and sarcastic.

I like it.

These works of art were in TK Maxx (Lisburn). They’re probably not there anymore, but there’s usually a great variety of every-changing oddities in that place, so it’s always worth a look.

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And we come, inevitably, to Primark. This time last year you couldn’t move in Primark without walking into something with a Bat-symbol on it. However, the times have changed, and Batman isn’t ‘trendy’ anymore. It’s okay, Bruce. I still love you. While ‘geek-chic’ is finally over (don’t get me wrong, it was handy, but there’s nothing I hate more than a chav or a skank with a Superman t-shirt), there are still a few precious gems to be found. The picture above (another Twitter reference, obviously) is from a pair of girly pants. Adorable.

Boys, zone out for a moment. Thank you. Ladies, have you noticed that Primark have changed their pant sizings? You can now either get them in ‘too small’ or ‘too big’. I do not like this, not one little bit.

Sorry. Back on track now.

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I am aware this is not remotely ‘geeky’ (unless you are passionate and enthusiastic about ice-cream…which come to think of it, everyone should be), but so cute! And it smells like summer and sugar and everything nice. I’m just so glad that winter finally appears to be ending, that I am suddenly attracted to everything yellow and shiny.

Like a magpie, but with candles.

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Okay okay, so again, maybe not super-geeky, but who doesn’t love a nice pug? Look at that face. I am mad about cushions, but my boyfriend doesn’t see the point of them.

Maybe he’ll read this and realise that I’m rather upset we don’t have more snuggley lovely cushions on our sad, cold sofas? Maybe? Hello?

Ack. Nevermind.

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And finally (still in Primark, by the way), there is this thing. It’s a shower glove? Face cloth pocket? I don’t really see the point of these things at all, but mostly they’re for children, so I don’t really think about it. I think this one goes under the name ‘wash mitt’. Good to know. Anyway, it’s only £1 and has Spiderman on it, so it must be worth owning.

So, that’s your lot. Mini-findings. I intend to have a good hunt around Belfast at some point this week, as places get their Spring/Summer stock in around now, so there could be a Batman themed stationary set that I’ve never seen before. How exciting!

That was only a little bit of sarcasm. I really like stationary.

S.


Not even a Monday review, it’s freaking Tuesday and I am only getting around to this now. Oh, gentle, devoted readers, I am sorry. I am a but a weak willed little lady…and the chocolate eggs, they call to me. I spent my Easter weekend eating all my mother’s food (she dreads my visits, I bet), and talking to kids about Indonesian shadow puppets and Inuits.

No, really. I have a cool job, did I mention?

ANYWAY. The Sunday Review. The very, very late Sunday review.

In the past few weeks, I’ve reviewed books, movies, comics…all very serious, proper things. Wonderfully geeky and marvellous things. This week, I thought I might try and remind myself that this is a blog for those of us based (stuck) in the Northern Ireland area, and get a little bit ‘Norn Iron’ specific.

If you’re not from Northern Ireland, I apologise…but also, you should visit sometime, because it’s occasionally pretty and nice to look at.

While my own little home town mall is slowly closing down and turning into a…ghost mall (that’s definitely a thing) and Castlecourt has neglected to modernize since the mid-eighties, Victoria Square, in my opinion, is going from strength to strength. There is no other shopping centre in Northern Ireland that I take quite so much pleasure in dandering around, but most importantly, it’s the shopping centre that puts the most effort into drawing the people in and keeping them there. And not just children! Last week, there was a petting zoo! WITH A LLAMA.

On second thoughts, that might have been for children, but I enjoyed it more than they ever could have.

Moving on. The stores in Victoria Square have something that nowhere else really does (Lisburn, in particular); they have variety. If you need a quirky, fancy, thoughtful, funny gift for someone – this is the place to go. And oh, the subtle geekeries that domed paradise has to offer. Like…

THIS in Topshop/Topman.

THIS in Topshop/Topman

THIS (Rainbow Dash!) in Build-A-Bear.

THIS (Rainbow Dash!) in Build-A-Bear

THIS in Paperchase.

THIS in Paperchase

Such lovely things. And such lovely shops! If you REALLY want a fancy day of shopping, it’s fun to dress up real nice and stroll around House Of Fraser or Ted Baker and pretend you can afford things…

I never do that.

Honest.

S.

p.s. If you aren’t terrified of heights, climbing to the top of the Square and squinting at things from the Dome is must. As in, YOU MUST.


I really must have mentioned this brilliant little shop before, but I figured that I should devote a whole blog to it’s wonders, because it truly is a treasure trove.
The Corium sells handmade, locally sourced nick-nacks and whosits, and recently opened an online store (so if you’re stuck indoors because of, for example, snow, you can still shop ’til you drop). If you are out and about braving the weather, you can visit the shop in Belfast, just around the corner from Forbidden Planet and Urban Outfitters, right opposite Alley Cat.

Goodo.

Anyway, I’ve been browsing their online store – here are a few of my very favourite things.

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Mushroom salt & pepper shakers

These are adorable, are they not? Anyone who buys them and does not immediately draw little faces on them so that they look like Mario mushrooms is no friend of mine.

Only £5.50, too! Bargain, especially if you compare with the extortionate prices for similar products in a certain nearby hipster-factory.

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Lego Boba Fett necklace

Have you ever seen anything that is such a perfect balance of kick-ass and adorable? No, you have not. Look at his little hands! There are a few necklaces in this style – and £8 is a steal for something like this. Mind you, they do have a Jar Jar Binks necklace, which is of course the ugliest, most inappropriate thing I’ve ever seen, you should only buy it if you plan to melt it.

I am not a Jar Jar fan, could you guess?

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Batman key-ring

Plucked from the sale section of The Corium’s website, these freakin’ adorable little key-ring people are in short supply. At £3.99, it’s no wonder. I would like one, please. He could keep my little string-person-Spiderman key-ring company.

I like that his slightly wonky eyes make it look like he’s glaring at you. Realism.

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Titanic t-shirt

I find it a tad bizarre that Belfast is proud of the Titanic. Yes, it’s cool that it was made here, but there are some very quiet rumours that the ship didn’t actually do very well once it was out on the big blue wet thing.

Still, it pulls in the tourists, so I suppose it can only be a good thing. And the witty t-shirt (£9.99, by the by), has a point…

Next time you are in Belfast, it is well worth hunting this tiny little cave of magical thing-a-ma-bobs. Be prepared to spend a small fortune though, you won’t be able to resist. You can find The Corium on Facebook, here.

You can find me on Facebook, here.

S.


I may have discovered the cure for writer’s block…and it may be snow. Seriously, I have been freakin’ prolific this week, because it’s too cold and difficult to get anywhere or do anything. Hence, a Sunday review that’s actually on time. It’s such a shame that my life is quiet and simple, and I am desperately running out of things to review. Without turning this into a movie blog, which would be dumb, because I like to watch the same flicks over and over and over and over.

Clerks and Tangled are currently in heavy rotation. I think the trick is to have insane variety. And catchy Disney tunes.

Anyway. Yes. It’s Sunday, I should decide what I’m going to review…shall I be a tad more intellectual, perhaps?

REFUGEEKNI’S 10 BOOKS TO READ BEFORE YOU DIE

SO LITTLE TIME.

SO LITTLE TIME.

I always hate those sort of titles, because it’s like…your death is imminent. And probably zombie related. It is sort of catchy though, so I suppose I shall leave it. Anyway, I’ve tried not to be too obvious in my choices (I could have just picked any book from A Song Of Ice And Fire or The Hobbit and gone back to bed, but I owe you more than that).

  1. The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks

    This recommendation comes with a warning; this is one twisted, horrible book. Not one for animal lovers. Or fans of basic human decency. Banks’ novel is centered around Frank, who kills wasps (and various other small creatures) in complex rituals, believing the outcome to indicate some aspect of the future.

    Gory, soul-destroying and fascinating – this is not a novel for the faint of heart.

  2. The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom

    While my first choice is dark and terrible, my second is deep, but uplifting. I am not a religious person and despite the title, I truly believe that this is not a religious book. It’s very human, revolving around the idea that when you die and go to heaven, you meet the five people to whom your life was most influential. The protagonist, Eddie, tells the story of his 83 year long life through these people he meets – although some of them he didn’t even really know at all.

    It’s a thought provoking read, and while it isn’t necessarily ‘geeky’, everyone should read this book.

  3. Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

    Androids and bounty hunters! Strongly influenced Bladerunner. Need I say more?

  4. The Dice Man by “Luke Rhinehart”

    What if you left everything in your life entirely to chance? To the roll of some dice? Luke Rhinehart does this, and the results range from entertaining to life-destroying. A truly intriguing read – sex, murder and psychology.

  5. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

    Inspired one of the greatest movies of all time (Demolition Man. No, really, I truly believe that it is a masterpiece), Brave New World is set in 2540, in a world where psychological conditioning and ‘reproductive technology’ are the order of the day. I guarantee, you won’t be able to put this book down.

    Sidenote: my cat is named Huxley. Surely, that is the greatest of all honours ever to be bestowed on an author?

  6. The Road by Cormac McCarthy

    If you haven’t heard of the book, you’ve surely heard of the movie, starring Aragorn. Um. I mean Viggo Mortenson. McCarthy gives us the post-apocalyptic world that we most definitely do not want to think about. Zombies are all well and good, but starvation and complete and utter hopelessness? Very real fears. The novel follows a father and son through the murderous wilderness, and the massive lack of punctuation is just further testament to how THERE IS NO POINT TO ANYTHING.

    Don’t expect a happy ending.

  7. Misery by Stephen King

    I am not a huge horror fan, but this book really stuck with me. In an age where celebrities are considered public property, the scenario of a super-fan abducting an idol and keeping them locked away is not as fanciful as you might like to think.King at his very best – you’ll never want your fifteen minutes of fame, after all.

    If you don't want to read it, it's cool - Family Guy did a recap.

    If you don’t want to read it, it’s cool – Family Guy did a recap.

  8. The Great Gatbsy by F. Scott Fitzgerald

    A strange choice for a geeky selection of books, I’ll grant you, but this is truly a masterpiece. I read it at least once a year, but I’m amazed every time. The characters are so real that you’ll want to scream at them (or hug them), and you’ll further lose your faith in humanity. Because everyone is a dick who is out to use and abuse you.

    Also, this is happening soon.

    Also, this is happening soon.

  9. The Picture Of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

    Oscar! Beloved Oscar. Another book I consider to be extremely psychological (it would seem I do like a page turner that messes with your head…), Dorian Gray is a vain narcissist, granted immortality. While his physical self is left untouched by his years and his sins, his portrait bears the scars.
    I am a massive Oscar Wilde fan, for the same reason I am a Shakespeare fan. People and their attitudes never really change; The Portrait Of Dorian Gray is as morally relevant today as it was when it was written.

  10. Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell

    TERRIFYING, because it practically came true. The government are in your homes, in your heads, watching your every move! Big Brother is watching, people. Always watching.

There! I think my book choices may say more about myself than anything else, but at least you’ve got a nice little peek inside my brain. Obviously, there are also hundreds of other books you NEED to read – I am a huge fan of the fantasy genre, and while I’ve avoided it successfully for this whole blog, I do so love a book with a nice wizard or a lost prince or an angry god.

That’s another blog for another time, though.

S.

p.s. I have a Facebook page. It needs your love.