Friday, 13 April 2012


One of my harshest critics recently told me that nobody cares what I've been up to and what I've eaten, (claiming it's all 'rather embarrassing').
If this tendency towards toe curling includes you, I suggest you stop reading now.

Yesterday, I returned from a short trip to Dublin.
Despite being fairly well travelled, it was my first visit to the Emerald Isle.

I wanted to treat my dad to a mini break and his choice of destination was Dublin, so that's where we headed.

We were met at Dublin airport by dad's old friend Justin and his wife Emer, then whisked through the Dublin suburbs towards Harcourt Street where I had booked, (with some trepidation), our accommodation.

Luckily for me, we had fallen on our feet and were lodging in a fine looking Georgian townhouse converted into a comfortable hotel.
All the necessities such as power shower, free WiFi, comfortable sitting area with plush leather sofas were all boxes that were duly ticked.

A quick drop of our bags, then out for a bowl of soup before having a wander around Dublin.
On first impression, Dublin seemed very much like home, with the same shops and cars driving on the left etc.
Compared to London it did seem fairly quiet and relaxed and it didn't feel like going 'abroad', more like visiting a provincial English town such as Southampton or Newcastle.

It didn't take me long to become entranced though.
We walked around the St Stephen's Green area and Trinity College campus, just drinking in the sights and sounds.
I particularly enjoyed the modern looking statue of Oscar Wilde looking very laid back.
He really does have a look of Stephen Fry.

We dived into a bookshop as the heavens opened.
The place had a vaguely familiar name and I was quickly told it was "the Sweny's Pharmacy featured in James Joyce's Ulysses, and is described in sumptuous detail within the novel, a description which stands to this day".

We had stumbled into the middle of a book reading, Joyce's 'Dubliners' being the book of choice. 
We were told by an interesting looking fella behind the counter that it was read "every day" and then each handed a paperback copy and the page number whispered to us.

I read about 5 pages before eye strain got the better of me.
 Nobody complained at my rather obvious English accent sullying the great work and we left, with me personally feeling I'd had my own private 'Dublin experience' that I'd remember forever.

Trinity College is beautiful. 
I'd love to be able to say it reminded me of my own University experience but as I didn't go to either Oxford or Cambridge, it just made me think what a gorgeous place it was to do your learning.
The surroundings I enjoyed all those years ago in South Wales were a little grimier and rather industrial/modern/functional.

We ambled about, enjoying the peace and quiet of one of Europe's capital cities.

Only when we got to Grafton Street did it get a little busier, especially when we got near to the tourist photo opportunity of Molly Malone.

I waved my iPhone above the other tourists heads in order to get my own picture, just the same as everyone else's!
tart with the cart.

We ate at one of Dublin's finest eateries, One Pico.
I could wax lyrical about our dining experience for hours but, (sorry to my critic), I believe a picture is worth a thousand words.
We were joined by Justin and Emer's son Brendan, who has that instantly likeable charm that Irish blokes seem to pull off with ease.

Dad was getting rather tired so we went back to our hotel so he could fall asleep waiting for Newsnight to come on television. 
I headed back out again to have a stab at trying to find the difference between the Guinness poured at the Rose of Denmark and the untravelled stuff.

 I don't think I ever found a difference but as I only popped out for a swifty and ended up having four pints, I can certainly state with some authority it slides down very easily.

According to dad, i was in a 'very good mood' when I got back anyway.

I was interested to find out what a traditional Irish breakfast included.
I can report it was just like a really good, traditional English/British one!

I was really pleased that both black and white pudding were on my plate, the sausages and bacon were good quality and the eggs were just as I like them.

We headed out for a walk and despite expecting heavy rain, I really could have done with some sunglasses.

Having now spent a day in Dublin, I was starting to be able to guess my position, so I felt I knew where I was going without referring to a map.
We decided against heading to the Guinness brewery as dad had been there before and I've done other brewery tours.

We ambled about, went and had a look at the book of Kells, loafed around in the sunshine and just enjoyed each others company. 
We heard what sounded like lots of girls screaming and car horns honking so went to investigate.
All the traffic had been stopped by a tractor blocking the road, two blokes in farmer clobber looking very pleased with themselves and some girls with pneumatic breasts waving placards. I'm not sure what they were demonstrating about but it definitely grabbed everyones attention, not least the coach driver who was shouting abuse at them, being unable to pass.
"Down with this sort of thing! "

We ate our lunch sitting on the banks of the Liffey.
It was a less gourmet affair but I think we both enjoyed our pastie pies and cans of Sprite!

Next we headed for the Spike, (millennium spire), on O'Connell street as I'd seen it featured in one of the challenges on the Gadget show.

It's pretty pointless, (arf, arf), but then so are many things that I would consider part of the joys of living in a city.
Public art shouldn't have to be for a purpose, it should be enjoyed.
I enjoyed it and I'm glad it's there.

We went for another wander, dad went on a church visit while I enjoyed another Guinness then we headed towards the Merrion hotel where we had arranged to meet Justin.

Dad and Justin had a natter about 'important things' while I headed off to sit in the park at St Stephens Green, reading my Kindle and also making a start on my copy of Dubliners that Justin had presented me with after doing my 'reading' the day before.

Later, we headed to where my guidebook reliably announced is 'Dublin's best hotel', The Shelbourne, for a few drinks and then dinner.
Justin informed us it was a more 'traditional' hotel whereas the Merrion had been more modern.

I did feel at home at the Shelbourne and noticed they were doing a Titanic themed afternoon tea to commemorate the centenary.
I wonder if they splash the linen with salt water?
The Shelbourne


My Steak.
Next it was a race back to the airport and a comfortable flight back to London Heathrow.

I had a great time away with dad and I know I'll be going back to Dublin.
Dad surveying the scene from our hotel.


Blucher said...

A great place, Dublin. Lots to see, a sense of history, walkable and lots of first class old bars. You can also understand why so many period dramas are filmed there.

I found The Dubliners an excellent read - unlike Joyce's later, totally impenetrable offerings !

Anonymous said...

Down With This Sort Of Thing!
I love the Father Ted reference.