You know how much I enjoy getting out of Belfast to discover boutiques and coffee shops in other local towns. Well, on Friday last, I headed to Ballymena because the town is hosting a fashion event called Ballymena Means Fashion on Saturday 8th April and so to help entice all you local girls to come to the town, I was asked by the Ballymena Means team to take a recce trip to see what's on offer!
Now first up, I find Ballymena confusing to drive in - I always lose my bearings so this time I headed straight for Fairhill Shopping Centre to park - knowing that it was just off the main road and I'd not lose the car (as I've done before when I've parked it on-street....true story)
That of course gave me the opportunity to check out the centre itself which is filled with all the high street shops I love - Topshop, Next, River Island, Debenhams, M&S and H&M. There are tons of others too - JD, Goldsmiths, Oasis and New Look to mention just a few..and there's a very swish Tommy Hilfiger shop as well. I did pick up a couple of things in Next and M&S but I'll share them on another post as this one is already photo heavy.
A short dander from the centre brought me to one of the streets you simply have to visit if you're in the town...home of lovely independent boutiques - Greenvale Street
I popped into visit Marmalade Boutique first where I met the lovely Molly. What a welcome I got - this girl was made for retail! The shop has a mix of occasion wear and separates so there's something for everyone. It's got tons of choice for all the upcoming summer events and it's just a riot of colour with the most fab shoe selection...
Not having any occasions to dress for, I tried on separates...there are some stunning wee jackets here.
Also loving this jacket/top combination. Beautiful colours for spring/summer:
It's really a one stop shop for any occasion. And there are great fitting rooms too - here's my Marmalade Selfie - no riot of colour for me on Friday though. You can follow Marmalade Boutique on Facebook on this link.
Across the road then is Primrose Boutique, where I met the owner, Julie-Anne....
For those of you who've read this blog for years, you may remember me sharing a Burberry trench coat in a Lisburn charity shop about 2 years ago. Well Julie-Anne's friend drove to Lisburn to buy it after seeing me feature it and it was through hearing all about this this trench from her friend, that Julie-Anne found my blog. So it was lovely to meet up properly and her shop is another fab location for picking up something for an occasion
I particularly love the green dress here - the cape is removable so it makes a great mother of the bride/groom option, without the traditional long coat. I'm a huge cape lover though and wouldn't want to take it off!
The shop also has amazing separates and more casual pieces. I'm actually going to do a separate blog post on one of their brands which I totally fell in love with. I'll get it up here in the next day or two, I promise!
These wee bags are fab also - perfect for events but also practical for day to day. A far better buy than a clutch in my opinion!
I tried on lots here also and here's where you'll have to excuse the different photos as I was snapping on my camera and my phone. As if trying on wasn't exhausting enough..
Starting with this lace Sister Jane dress - right up my street with my midi-obsession at the moment:
And this pink ruffle jumper was just fab - it has a pearl detail on the wrist and is the perfect nod to both the pink and the ruffle trends this spring/summer.
But this dress has stayed with me. I ADORE and am contemplating crashing a wedding just so I can wear it. It ticks so many boxes for me - loving the Self Portrait style of the lace, the mesh top half, the underskirt, the colour....I could go on, and on....
I'm wearing the size M and you can find it on this link. It does come up small - the M fits like a 10. And you can follow Primrose Boutique on Facebook on this link
After all that trying on, I was gasping for a coffee and I'd been recommended Middletown Coffee Co., which along with the Adair Arms and the Front Page Bar are getting involved in Ballymena Means Fashion - details at the bottom of this post.
The owner used to work in Established Coffee in Belfast's Cathedral Quarter and there's more than a hint of Established about Middletown. And that's a great thing because it's my favourite Belfast city centre coffee shop.
Dare I say that Middletown was better? Certainly on the day I was there, I would say it was. These kinds of fab coffee shops are owned and run by proper coffee connoisseurs so asking for a hot latte can be met with a disapproving look but I love my coffee hot - regardless of how it might degrade the taste. The team at Middletown obliged without comment and I had one of the best latte's I've EVER had in my life. Along with a piece of cake that was utter heaven - Hillstown Stout Cake...rich and chocolatey but not too sweet. Bliss.
Despite wanting to shop more, I had to reluctantly head back to Belfast for the school run after my coffee and cake. But I'm delighted to say that I've been invited back up on the 8th April for the Fashion Event so if you're about, please do come along. I'll be in the town from 10am enjoying the events (and prosecco!) in the different shops and scoffing cake and coffee in Middletown no doubt. I'll also be watching the fashion show in Fairhill at 1pm - can't wait!
For your information, here's the full schedule of promotions and events taking place on the 8th April:
Fairhill Shopping Centre - Fashion shows 1-3pm on 8th April
Adair Arms - Afternoon Tea with a Fashionable Twist, 2-5pm; Booking Essential
Front Page Bar (Ballymoney St) - Fashionista cocktails
Peacocks (Ballymoney St) - Spend £35 or more on full price you get £5 off
Marmalade (Greenvale St) - Dresses and Daiquiris & a special code for readers of this blog!
Primrose Boutique (Greenvale St) - Exclusive discount on the day; Lucky dip discount pulled from a hat; 5-30% off; Pink champagne
Chocoa (Greenvale St) - 7th April - fashion tea
31a Greenvale Street Boutique - Glass of Prosecco
Tower Centre - Sponsor of Best Dressed Shopper - £100 worth of vouchers for winner
Wallace’s (56-60 Church St) - Free shoes with every man’s suit purchased (excludes suits already discounted); 10% off all Ladies fashions and footwear when you spend £60 or more
McKillens Shoes (78-90 Church St) - £500 worth of vouchers in spot prizes throughout the day
Bluebird (55 Broughshane St) - Discount throughout the day; children’s and babies clothing
Middletown Coffee (60-64 Lower Mill St) - 10% off Bradley Mountain range
Tommy Hilfiger (Fairhill Shopping Centre) - discounts throughout the day
Sams Yard (Tower Centre) - Buy any suit an receive a shirt & tie for free
Remus Uomo (Fairhill Shopping Centre - Buy 2 shirts and receive a 3rd free
Cameron's, McKillens & Just Boutique - details to follow
Cameron's, McKillens & Just Boutique - details to follow
Thank you to the team behind Ballymena Means for inviting me up to the town and covering my travel and time costs on the visit. Funny enough, they didn't cover my shopping costs...now that could have been dangerous :) I'll report back soon on what I got...the sale in M&S was a particular hit :)