Hello I’m Grainne McGarvey and welcome to my column which spots local hidden gems from the world of beauty, health, fashion, tourism and hospitality. I will have my ear to the ground (quite literally) to keep you up to date about the new or interesting products and services from our neck of the woods. If you know one – get in touch on twitter @grainnemcgarvey or at www.pulseprni.com
October has been a busy time for this G Spotter! not only is it my birthday month, but I’ve been on an adventure from Belfast-Derry-Hillsborough-Newry in pretty much the same week. I’m not complaining though as I’ve been able to combine my favourite things – fashion, food and a full bodied blow-dry.
Let’s start with the hair – a lovely hour spent in the leafy metropolis of Hillsborough, getting preened and pampered was the perfect way to enjoy my birthday. Shane Bennett Hairdressing is a hidden gem on Hillsborough’s Main Street and being a former NI Hairdresser of the Year and winner of the Most Stylish Salon, I knew I was in safe hands. A young, energetic bunch of friendly recruits, who have helped turn the salon into one of the most respected and successful in the north. Always one for a good gossip, I heard that the team have also picked up a few awards recently. Dorothy Sturgeon, Head of Technical, was named as winner of the Goldwell Colour Zoom Partner Category UK 2014 Award and this month she heads to Berlin to represent the UK against 26 other countries in the hope of being crowned global winner. Senior stylists Julie Cherry and Colette Fitzpatrick are both finalists for NI Hairdresser of the Year at the British Hairdressing Awards and the artistic team are also nominated for an award – the only salon in the north to be recognised. With all these award nominations, I wondered if they would have time for my curly blowdry, but it was all smiles and mini round brushes and I left looking like a bouncier, bonnier version of myself. Hard to believe that it actually looked as good the next day, so I got to enjoy the compliments for two days running.
Food next, and I managed to pack in two launches at different ends of the country– but thankfully for the same company, so I knew my way around the counter. Beady eyed G Spots! readers will know that I have featured Synge & Byrne before, but this fledging brand is spreading its wings and has ventured into two new cities – Derry (in the Foyleside Centre) and Newry (Sugar Quay House). Tasty salads, pesto chicken to die for, hot melt-in-your-mouth wraps and my favourite tray bake, caramel squares give me all the reason I need to keep coming back. I noticed that Big Brother contestant Ashleigh Coyle popped into the Derry branch the other day and Miss Paula Flynn recently played a set in the Newry branch, so it’s already getting some famous local fans.
An adventure for me isn’t complete without a fashion fix and I was lucky enough to attend the launch of the Victoria Square AW14 style invasion. Fifty mannequins decked out in key looks from the season started in Belfast’s Victoria Square and are making their way around iconic locations across the north – keep an eye out for them on your travels.
If you think that after all that I should be sitting at home with my slippers and cocoa, think again! Tonight is the launch of Alibi Belfast in Bradbury Place (the old M-Club) and I can’t wait to see what they have done to the place. The previous venue was always the place to be when I was at university, but I’m not sure that in recent years it has lived up to the heady days of the Groovy Train era. With music, dancing and cocktails on the menu, this dynamic new venue is hoping to develop the Belfast music scene in line with other cosmopolitan cities. I feel the location might dictate the crowd, but with lavender infused bourbon and strawberry liqueur cocktails on the menu, just like its clientele, this former student haunt seems to be all grown up! See you there