Last post ever...

I've given it a lot of thought and, much as I've enjoyed writing this blog, I think it's time to call it a day. When I first arrived in Dublin in 2009 I was very much a country mouse discovering what I still believe to be one of the most exciting cities in the world. But over the last year and a half, I feel that I've become if not a native, then somehow a citizen! I belong here now. And that's not all. Yesterday, my boyfriend and I got engaged to be married! Everything is different, and I think that would-be visitors to Dublin would benefit more from a fresh view. I hope you've enjoyed reading. And do come to Dublin. It's a wonderful place to visit, and it's so easy to feel at home here. There's always lots to do and a warm welcome.

And if you don't believe me, come and see for yourselves :-)

Oh, the weather outside ....

It's been snowing! It's a bright sunny day in Dublin today and it snowed over the weekend, so the parks are looking very pretty and even the streets have that bright wintry look. Kids all over the city rushed into every park to make snowmen, so wherever you go you're overseen by chubby guys with sticks for noses and eyes made of whatever could be found at the time -- bottle caps, etc.

This weekend I braved the weather and made it town to the Kildare Village Shopping outlet. Well, there's certainly plenty of shopping down there :-) I picked up some Xmas presents and quite enjoyed the bus ride down, which took just under an hour. In the winter, it can be too easy to stay in the city and it's good to be reminded that there's a great big green countryside just down the road (well, a lot of it is white right now, but you get the idea). County Kildare is famous for its horses and racing, and you can totally see it when you drive through the landscape. There are stud farms all over the place.

I went to see my favourite Dublin band, Jimmy Cake playing in Whelan's and brought along Bepe. We're so loved up right now. Anyway, funny thing is that I was actually introduced to this band by an ex-boyfriend who turned out to be really bad news. And he was there. So we met. Honestly, I don't know what I ever saw in that guy. He's married now, but he said, "It's not going well -- we're just not having fun any more."

What a total loser.

There's a fantastic festival coming up in Dundrum, the One Act Festival. Check it out! I'm going to try to reorganise my schedule at work so's to go see as much as possible!

Bright winter

It's just been the most beautiful day. Short, of course, because winter days get dark early, and definitely cold, but just gorgeous - sunny, bright and blue-skied, without a cloud in sight. I ventured out of the apartment without gloves this morning, picked up a pair for ONE EURO in Penneys (how do they do that?) and went about my day. I'm being careful with money because I want to have enough to do the Christmas shopping at the markets that they are putting on all over the city.  The lights are not just up now, but have been switched on and everything is looking oh-so-pretty. There was a frost last night and for this Newfoundlander, the sight of the ice on the pavements was a very welcome reminder of home.

One thing though -- I wonder why the Irish haven't cottoned on to roast chestnuts? There are lots of other winter treats (I love the hot spiced apple juice with brandy in the Saturday market in Meeting House Square) but this weather does sort of suggest chestnuts!

So... today's the 25th, so it's a one-month countdown to Xmas. Here's hoping for some snow. Just a little, to make things pretty, not enough to make a nuisance of itself like all the snow we had last January!

Afro Celt Sound System

Wow! My ears are still ringing. I was at a concert last night and it was just fabulous. I can't believe I hadn't heard of those guys before.

The Afro-Celt Sound System was playing the National Concert Hall and I got to go at the last minute, because a friend-of-a-friend was ill and there was a spare ticket on the loose. Amazing.  There really is an incredible synergy between Irish and African music. The NCH is a very dignified sort of a place, so it was strange to see everyone standing and dancing among the seats. They got a standing ovation!!!

I so love the way Irish traditional music isn't just alive and well but growing and evolving all the time.I wish I was musical; I would love to play the uillean pipes. They have a much sweeter sound than the Scottish bagpipes.

In Dublin, Christmas shopping is very much underway. There's a new shop in town, Forever 21, and every second girl you see on the street is toting a bag around from there. I haven't been in, but I guess I might check it out -- although with all these concerts I've been going to, I'll more likely find some things I can afford at Penneys. Everything is looking super-Christmassy these days, with lights in the streets -- it's getting dark by 4.30 so they are very welcome -- shop windows all dressed up and people dressed for the cold. I've been told by the best of authorities (local greengrocer) that anyone who hand home-made Christmas pudding should be making it now, so I was thinking of giving it a shot. Recipe, anyone??


One of the many good things about winter is the fact the clothes are heavier, which in turn means that the odd extra kilo or three is less noticeable. In other words, you can eat more, and it doesn't matter so much. There's always the spring for getting in shape.

So: good news for those of us relaxing into our winter clothes is the fact that there's a massive chocolate festival in Temple Bar in the preChristmas season. I'm trying to persuade my boss to pay for me to go to some of the non-free events as part of my cooking education, but so far he hasn't been won over. But I'm gonna keep trying!

In other news, I'm wearing my boyfriend's clothes :-) One of the great perks of being in a couple, or at least being the female part of the couple, is that your wardrobe effectively doubles. I'm tall, so all his sweaters and shirts fit me quite well and in this chilly weather there's nothing like man-clothes to warm you up!

Yum, yum

I've picked up some extra work at the Taste of Christmas do at the Dublin convention centre next week! This is great because A) it will give me the chance to earn a little extra money for Christmas and B) otherwise I probably wouldn't go and this way I'll get to enjoy it without having to pay the entrance fee.

So, it looks like a lot of fun. There are going to be lots of famous chefs showing people how to cook and, I fondly suppose, loads and loads of things to taste. I hope so, because this gal likes to eat!! I can't believe I used to see food as just something to get me through the day. Since I started working at the restaurant -- and living with an Italian chef! -- I've really learned a lot about how to enjoy it.

This Christmas, we (funny to be part of a "we" after all this time) have been thinking of having a few friends around for dinner and are planning an elaborate feast. I was thinking, maybe stuffing with chestnuts would be nice ... or maybe something exotic and not-traditional-christmassy. There are so many really cool foreign grocery stores in my neighbourhood. Maybe something piquant and African? Or Asian? Well, I guess there are still five weeks to work on the menu.


I've been told by the best of authorities -- my friendly local greengrocer -- that one of the things to do in Ireland in the winter season is to see a pantomime. Now, I've never seen one but I've consulted a few friends and everyone has concurred that it's definitely something to do at least once, and that the pantomimes in Dublin are the best in the business.

So, I was thinking I might go to this one in the Gaiety Theatre. I believe pantomimes involve a lot of in-jokes about Irish politics and culture and goodness knows there must be a lot to make fun of :-) I wonder how old pantomimes are, as an art form? There's something very folklorish about the whole thing.

Anyways, I was planning to take my beloved (blush) out after work tomorrow for a glass of wine and am thinking of this place. I need to sweeten him up, because I've got some alarming news for him: my Mom and Dad found cheap tickets and are planning a visit in the New Year. And I think they want to stay -- and as I haven't gotten around to telling them about the new living arrangements, it's going to be, ahem, interesting!!!

Things to get used to

Life is strange these days. Suddenly, I not only have a boyfriend - and he's a heck of a lot nicer than the last one - but we are already living together, because we're flatmates. The etiquette of this situation is pretty hard to get my head around. Like, can I still complain about the remote control planes all over the place? Is my room still "my" room or is there an "our" room?

Well, I guess we'll try to have fun sorting it all out :-)

Ireland is experiencing gales right now and although I know it's a pain in the ass for a lot of people now that I'm back home (not working tonight) I'm enjoying the sound of the wind and watching the waves on the river Liffey beneath my window.

Anyway, winter in Dublin is good. The Christmas lights are going up and whatever the groaners say, I think it's lovely to see them in November. Without leaves on the trees, they make things pretty! There are going to be lots of Christmas markets like this one in the Docklands and something that this Newfoundlander appreciates greatly, skating! So, early or not, I say hooray for Christmas! And I'm really looking forward to it this year. :-)

The status quo

So... life is sweet. I have just had the strangest, and most wonderful weekend. And now everything just seems absolutely different than before.

It all started on Friday when I was getting ready to go to the cinema. (There's a Frank Capra season on at the Irish Film Institute -- fabulous!)

Anyway, I went into the bathroom to put on some make-up and once again found that there were LONG BLOND HAIRS in the sink. I was outraged because I thought, well, fine if he's got a new girlfriend but I'm his flatmate and the least he could do is tell me about it. So I stormed the short distance to the living room and yelled at Bepe who was sitting there with, ah, Robert, who is a kitchen porter at the restaurant where we both work and who is between flats at the moment and who has, ahem, long blond hair. So Robert has been kipping in various people's pads and needed a shower so he came to ours.

Confronted with the sight of a furious woman, Robert slinked away whereupon Bepe tells me that the reason why he hasn't had a girlfriend all this time is that he likes ME. I didn't know what to say so I went and met my friend Saoirse for the cinema anyway. But I couldn't even see the film. I just sat in the dark and tried to figure out what this meant. In the end, I thought, well, why not? Maybe it's worth a shot.

After the film, Saoirse and I went for a drink in the Mezz, but I just wanted to go home. Finally, I told her what had happened, and she was like, "So what are you still doing here? Go!!!" so off I went.

And the rest was history.


I've said it before and I'll say it again: Dublin isn't on the list of the world's great fashion cities, but there's a real Dublin style and it's very cool and funky. I was never a girlie girl, but I've got more into clothes since coming here, and I LOVE all the flea markets and second hand stores.

Last week, there was a report in the newspaper about one of Dublin's fashion stores, A/Wear, which is celebrating 25 years with a big party on Grafton Street on November 10th. I've emailed in hope of getting a ticket, so fingers crossed.

Anyways, as it's the season for doing things indoors, I'm going to check out something else on Grafton Street; a season of short Irish films at the Bewleys Cafe Theatre. The time works pretty well for me as they are on just before I have go to to work most Thursdays. It's called "Discover Irish Film". 

In other news, I've got a date! Tonight! It's a guy I don't know. As in, I've seen him but we haven't really met. He ate at the restaurant last week and left me a note on his business card asking me to call because he'd like to meet up for a drink. Bepe, my flatmate, is all like "That's sordid, don't go." But I think, why not? We're just meeting for a drink in town, so if it goes well, great, and if not, well, I haven't lost anything. Right?

Utterly miserable...

... the weather, that is, not me. It's been raining all day, it's windy, and it's cold. But what the heck, it's November after all, so it should be like this. Anyway, what do I care? I'm working long hours this week so I'll be inside most of the time anyway.

I'll tell you this, though: I bought a big bottle of Jameson whiskey yesterday, as well as some cloves, so as to be able to make hot whiskey at home. Although I like most -- OK, all -- Irish whiskies, I feel a sort of loyalty to the Jameson brand because I live so close to the distillery in Smithfield. I think, with this weather, a girl has a constitutional right to a stiff hot whiskey after work, don't you?

Exciting news at the apartment, too. My flatmate Bepe is moving to work at another restaurant, for more money. It's good for him and I think it's good for our living arrangements too because sometimes it's hard sharing living space with someone you work with. He is going to be working at a very fancy place and, seriously, I wouldn't be surprised if he wound being famous. I've also been thinking of maybe doing some professional cooking classes. You get a lot of experience in a restaurant and I never thought I'd be able to cook the things I already can, but I'd like to move it up a notch. Cue my Mom saying, "Is this why you went to university for five years?" But the fact is, there's a lot more work in catering than there is in Gothic literature, international crisis or no international crisis, and I kind of like the idea of being able to read my beloved books for fun, not work. Towards the end of my MA I had started to hate my favourite Dublin authors, Bram Stoker and Le Fanu, and now I can love 'em again.

One good thing about this awful weather  -- it makes  you go see all the exhibitions and shows you've missed because you were out doing something else. I'm going to check out a show about Metsu, a Dutch painter, at the National Gallery. Pretty cultured, huh?

Ghost bus!!!!!!

As everyone knows, Halloween is fast approaching and in Dublin the excitement is mounting! I feel a bit silly confessing this but Bepe and I actually bought and carved a pumpkin last night and now it is adorning the outside window of our apartment. So if you're on Bachelor's Walk and you up to see a particularly scary pumpkin grimacing down at you, that's ours. I designed it! I'm disproportionately proud, but I'd like to think that my masters in Gothic literature is finally paying some dividends :-)

Purists will tell you that the real traditional lantern in Ireland is not made from a pumpkin but from a turnip. But as I've had a lot of experience chopping up turnips (they're widely eaten where I come from) I wouldn't relish the thought of trying to hack one of those hard things into a viable lantern.

Our boss at work has had a cool idea and has organised for us all to go on Dublin's Ghost Bus (in three shifts, of course, or the restaurant wouldn't open). It's going to be fantastic and very Halloweeny because they take you to all the scariest, most atmospheric places in the city. They have keys to all the historic cemetaries! I can't wait.

Halloween isn't even upon us and already my Mom is worrying at me about Xmas. I don't know how I'm going to tell her that there's no way I'll be able to get home. I can't leave work and I don't really feeling like going, anyway. Somehow it seems that I'm ready to have my first proper Christmas as an adult...

Free cinema!

I've loved the IFI since I arrived in Dublin, although lately I haven't been getting there as often as I'd like. It's not just an arty cinema, it's also a film archive. Every month they are doing free showings of old films from the archive at lunch time.

What a great idea! Of course, this is one of those things I think I'll get and then don't, because life and work get in the way. But I'm definitely going to go tomorrow. In fact, I'm going to try to work it into my weekly schedule somehow because it just seems like such a great idea. And of couse it's free, which makes it even better. So, hooray for the IFI. This month it's an American film about Ireland, made in 1961. I'm hoping there will be lots of street scenes as I'd like to see what Dublin looked like in 1961. I actually asked my greengrocer (born in 1955) what Dublin was like when he was a kid and he said, "Smellier, because in those days most people only had a bath once a week".

Anyway, I'm glad that people have showers nowadays!

And while I'm on the subject of showers, I noticed some long, red hairs in MY shower this morning. Now, as I'm blonde and my flatmate Bepe's got black hair, I think there must be a new girl on the scene. And he has such horrible taste in girlfriends, too!! I was out at the Cobblestone bar last night after work and didn't get in until late so I didn't see anyone. But the thought is annoying as this flat's just too small to have three people in it on a regular basis. The Cobblestone is great, by the way. It's a real "old man" pub, as in a genuine sort of place with great music. When you go in, you feel as though you're not just stepping into a pub, but into the countryside. I was surprised to see that they have such a nifty website, as a matter of fact. Anyway, highly recommended!

costume ideas

I want to dress up for Hallow'een this year. I'd been resisting the notion for quite a while but what the hey. Hallow'een only comes once a year, and while I'm sure the festival has changed a lot over the years, it started here in Ireland, right?

So I've been pounding the streets of Dublin in the search for the perfect costume. The thing is, most of what's on offer are sexy little numbers of one kind or another, and I'd really rather go with a ghoulish look, in the spirit of the whole thing. Someone told me that a good way to make fake blood was by mixing corn syrup and food dye, so I might give that a go.

Anyway, most of the nightclubs about town will be having events for Hallow'een for the grown-ups but there's also a lot on for families and I'm seriously tempted by the fireworks display in Marlay Park or perhaps Airfield. Town is full of excited foreign students getting ready for their first Hallow'een in Ireland and it all reminds me of myself last year!!

I've been getting into the spirit of things. The restaurant where I work will be serving pumpkin ravioli this week and they only use the best bits of the pumpkin, so I've been taking home odds and ends with a view to making a gigantic pot of pumpkin soup this evening, 'cause I'm having a few friends over for a meal. I've never made it, but soup is my speciality, after all. I was thinking I'd maybe go up to Moore Street and pick up some fresh vegetables for a salad too. We'll probably be consuming way too many calories in liquid form this weekend, so it makes sense to eat healthy tonight, right?

The weather is so amazing right now. It's coldish (it's the end of October, after all) but it's bright and sunny, and the city looks just beautiful. In the parks and on the leafier streets all the trees are in their fall colours, and people are wearing knitwear and winter coats, which I think suit the Irish better than summer wear. All in all, this is my favourite time of year in Dublin!

Arctics winds

After a long, lovely period of mild weather, it's turned cold. Not nasty cold, because it's actually a very sunny day, but definitely time to root out the winter boots, gloves and coats and absolutely time to break into a hot port and brandy! The old-style bars about town have lit their fires, and there's a real feeling of winter in the air, even though it's not quite Hallow'een.

Anyways, somehow this colder weather makes me feel more like doing and thinking about serious things, so I've decided to splash out on a couple of tickets to see an Ibsen show at the Abbey theatre. I've never seen anything by Ibsen before although it's one of those names you hear a lot of, and although I spent 5 years studying literature. So it's definitely time to go.

On the homefront, I've been practising my traditional Irish fall recipes. Calcannon (spelling?) is a wonderful thing. Somehow you combine potatoes, dark cabbage and a few other ingredients and you get something wonderful. I'm not that fond of cabbage as a rule but I can make a big exception in this case. My local greengrocer told me that, at Hallow'een, the traditional thing is to hide money in the food for the children to find!


My friends at Dublin Tourism have just given me a "Visit Dublin" app that someone over there has developed for the iPhone. As I'm the proud owner of an iPhone as of a couple of weeks ago, I've been having some fun trying it out. It's not really for me anymore as I've been here for quite a while now, but I think it would be cool if you were visiting and didn't want to carry a guidebook around. For the spatially challenged who get lost easily (hi Mom) it's good because it gives directions.

Anyways, if you are planning to visit Dublin you can check it out here.

Though I haven't been babysitting much lately, I've picked up some work watching the kids I used to take care of every Saturday over their mid-term break, which starts next week. I've totted up the hours and that means that next week I'll be working at least sixty hours. But it's all in a good cause: Christmas.

Anyway, the good news is that there's actually a lot on over Hallow'een and because their Mom likes me to take them out and about as much as possible, we'll probably be doing that. I hope it won't be too cold because I'm thinking that our best option is probably a Hidden Dublin walk.  Or not. I just checked and it's adults only. But I do want to do it anyway!!! 

Weekends for kitchen workers

When you work in a restaurant, weekends don't feel quite the same. In fact, you tend to take your weekends piecemeal, whenever they give you a day off. Still, I like the weekend vibe on the streets of Dublin and it's fun to just get out and stroll up and down a bit.

This Saturday, I didn't start working till late so I went and had jolof rice, fish and other goodies at the African diner in Moore Street Mall. With all-you-can-eat for 6.99 I went to town and was actually physically unable to eat for the rest of the day. Which is probably just as well. Next time, I want to try one of the Polish diners down there. It's a great little place, with a fun atmosphere and a shoe shop featuring some of the oddest shoes I've ever seen in my life. Not sure that I'd want to wear them, but it's kind of entertaining thinking about it.

Check out the one-man band. He was performing on Mary Street and to judge by all the coins in his cup, was doing really well. I've had a cool idea for a Dublin event: a face-off between the street performers of Grafton Street and Mary Street! Strange as it seems, there does seem to be a distinctive music and performance style in the two areas. 

Fall is definitely here now and it is getting colder; almost time to take out the gloves, and definitely time to put on a scarf before heading out. It's just under two weeks to Hallow'een, and I'm absolutely looking forward to that. Now that I know how to cook, I'm thinking I'll make my own Barm Brack. I like a cake that you can eat and get a fortune from. I guess it's the Irish equivalent of a fortune cookie! But much tastier, of course.

I'm going out with a man tomorrow! Just a guy from the restaurant next to mine and no big expectations, but it might be fun. He's got vouchers to spend at La Cuvee, which looks pretty swanky!

Perks of the job

I had a nice surprise today. A lady from the Kildare Village outlet got in touch to offer me free tickets down there, to the National Stud and for lunch at the restaurant. All I have to do is somehow find a day when I'm not working!

I have been to the National Stud before, and it's certainly very interesting. I've never been to Kildare Village, I guess because I'm not the biggest shopper in the world. This does mean, however, that any review I give is going to be totally unbiased!! Anything, this will be a bit of a treat.

I've been examining their fancy website and apparently the deal is that there are lots of boutiques that sell designer clothes and you can spend the whole day there, and even eat at a restaurant (which this lucky girl will be doing for free!) All in the name of research, you understand!

This weekend I'll mostly be working and luxuriating in having my own space at the apartment, now that Vicki's gone back home, but I've also been invited by my friend Saoirse's Mom to a concert in the National Concert Hall. Classical music is usually not so much my thing but this does look great and the pianist is absolutely gorgeous. Last time I went to the Concert Hall, I was surprised to see the performers having drinks in the bar along with everyone else afterwards. Hopefully this will also be the case on Sunday ;-)

I'm loving the fall vibe. There's been a bit of wind the last couple of days and there are crunchy leaves all over lots of the streets. I know it's extra work for the city sweepers and all, but there's just something super-satisifying about stomping through the piles of leaves and kicking them aside.

Speaking of which, it's time for me to get to work, so I'd better start pounding the pavement on my way!

Back to work tomorrow

Well, Vicki's in the living room packing her bags for the big trip back to Newfoundland tomorrow, and I'm back to work at the restaurant. We've done so much this week that it'll seem like more of a break working in the kitchen than anything else!

I'm glad she had such a great time, but I'm also not sorry that she's leaving now because this apartment is really tiny and after a while it's hard for everyone when somebody's sleeping in the living room!

I thought I would add a few pictures from my recent trip to the Botanic Gardens. There are times in any city when you just need a bit of a nature fix, and fortunately Dublin does well in this area, with the Botanic Gardens possibly the number one best place to visit.

The first picture is of some fall gourds that were heaped up in the walled garden, where they grow fruits and vegetables.

These are just some flowers that I thought were kind of pretty:

And this is a crazy sculpture installation called The Onlookers. If you look closely, you'll see that everyone has a moment phone in their hand!

Anyways, for Vicki's last night, we're going to do something unashamedly touristy and go to the Irish House Party. I've heard great things about it and of course the quality of traditional music is always high in Dublin! There's nothing like finishing off a vacation with a bang!

two days left

I never thought I'd say this, but I'm almost looking forward to when my friend Vicki leaves! I've had a fantastic week, and she's here for two more days, but she's totally got the hots for my flatmate and it is making me very uncomfortable! I feel like I can't even leave them alone in the living room together in case she jumps his bones! Sorry for being so direct but it's just freaking me out!!!

Anyway, it HAS been a great week. Because I haven't been working, I've been able to do all the touristy things, the Guinness Storehouse, a Viking Splash tour, a Wild Wicklow tour and I've seen all the museums. I never do get tired of the Bronze Age gold and the squished mummy people at the National Museum. We've eaten out every day. (I've gained two kiloes). We've been to Dalkey Island courtesy of friends-of-a-friend and their lovely boat. It's been a wonderful week in many ways. But something that's been making me a little sad is that I think there's a new distance between me and my oldest friend, and that's quite apart from the whole flirting-with-my-flatmate issue. Maybe we'll find ourselves back in the same space at some time in the future, but right now it's like we're singing from different hymn sheets. It's very strange for me, because we'd always been so close. It's probably me, more than her. I've been away from home for quite a long time now, and I guess I've changed more than I thought. Living in a big city is very different to living in a small community like the place we grew up, and it's even different to living in a small city, like where we went to college straight after school.

Well, never mind, I still have a couple of days to try and get our vibe back. I hope it will work. Tonight is my treat, and we are going to Taste of Emilia, which really couldn't be any closer to my place, and then out for drinks. Bepe should be out training, so hopefully I'll have Vicki all to myself for once and we'll get to connect. I'm sure a few glasses of wine won't hurt any, either!


Last night, I took Vicki, my visiting friend, to the imaginatively named Exchequer gastropub on Exchequer Street! No, I'm not rich, but I had bought vouchers from Citydeal so we were able to pay for most of the meal with them.

I'd never been to the Exchequer before. It's really pretty. There was a very rowdy elderly bunch shouting at each other so enthusiastically about golf or something we had to move tables to get away from them (seriously!!) but we had a great heart-to-heart and a fantastic meal. There's even a brooding, mysterious-looking chef type person swanning around, so we had a bit of a look at him, too. I must say, now that I work in a restaurant, it's really very nice to be on the other side of receiving service and a cooked meal for a change.

Unbelievable goings-on

I have steam coming out of my ears! I wanted my friend Vicki to get along with my flatmate Bepe as she'd be staying at our place, so the three of us went out last night. We bumped into some friends of his and between one thing and another ended up in Hogan's on George's Street.

Hogan's isn't a place I usually go, but it's nice. Anyway, the evening was going great, and then I noticed that she was flirting with Bepe, big time. Surely that's not on? Of course, it's not really my business, but she's here to visit ME, goshdarnit, and I don't want to have to deal with hurt feelings, etc., or whatever. Anyway, it's all pretty awkward and needless to say I haven't even mentioned it to her because I don't want to cause any hard feelings... but still. Grumph.

So this morning we went for Irish Breakfast at T.P. Smiths, which is near where I live.  (Very nice, by the way, I haven't needed lunch in consequence). She could tell that something was up, but I didn't tell her. I don't know why it's getting to me so much!!! I advised her to go the Hugh Lane on her own this afternoon, because I've already been there several times, so that's what she's doing now. Sigh. Maybe I should just get over it already. I honestly don't know why it's bugging me so much.

Anyway, we're going to the theatre tonight. Maybe we can talk about it after the show. It's a new play. We're going to two things as part of the Theatre Festival, one Irish classic, and one new. It was hard to choose as there's so much on, so in the end I selected almost at random. Looking forward to it though! :-)


Hallow'een is coming! I think it's my favourite festival. I've loved it ever since I saw Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas as a little kids. It scared the bejesus out of me, as my local greengrocer would say, but I think it's my favourite film of all time, and quite possibly the reason why I ended up studying Gothic literature in the first place.

And of course it's particularly special to celebrate Hallow'een in Ireland, where the festival originates. People say it's become "Americanised" and I'm guessing that's supposed to be a bad thing, but I'd be more inclined to see it as part of the ebb and flow of Irish culture across the Atlantic. Anyway, if you can't beat it, you might as well join in!!! And this year, I'm gonna have a party. Although this event in Marlay Park also looks like fun.

I'm having a wonderful week so far -- OK, so it's only Monday -- because my best galpal, Vicki, is here, and we are just seeing all the sights -- many of which I've already seen over my year-and-a-half here and also plenty of new ones. We've lucked out with all the stuff on right now, from the Theatre Festival to Oktoberfest, and I already know that I'm going to be crawling to the boss and looking for overtime to pay for all this, but what the hey -- it's worth it because my best, oldest friend is here and we are making memories that are going to last a lifetime!

I was a little nervous about introducing her to my best Irish friend, Saoirse, and sure enough, it was a little awkward. Why is it hard when friends from different parts of one's life meet up? I've never been able to understand that! Fortunately, considering the bijou size of our apartment, she's hit it off with my flatmate Bepe. That's a relief.

Google maps!

There's great excitement in Ireland right now -- or at least in my apartment right now -- because Google maps has launched, and now you can see all the streetscenes around the country just as though you were walking down the road. I have to say, this is loads of fun! I found my window on the facade of the apartment building where I live and can distinctly see my sneakers on the window ledge. I can even see that they could have done with a bit of a wash.

Anyway, you can take it from me, it's really fun browsing Dublin on your computer. You can walk all around the main squares, and even see into the parks. What's more, the nice people at Google kindly took all their pictures of Dublin in the late spring, when all the leaves were on the trees, which is SO much nicer than January when there's still plenty to do, but things are looking greyer. Go on - it's fun, kind of like peeping into a dolls' house.

Last year, I went to the Irish Botanic Gardens to see the Sculpture in Context exhibition. It was absolutely wonderful. It's on again this October, so if you're coming to, or live in Dublin, you've just got to go. I love the Botanic Gardens - but because they are a little way out of the centre, I think they sometimes get overlooked. The exhibition is a great time to go because it's fantastic, and it's not just about the plants.

Well, I'm a very happy girl right now because not only is my oldest friend coming over, but I'm about to start a week off. Tonight's my last night and work and ... woohoooo!!! Just try to stop me. And I feel that we've really lucked out with the timing of her visit as the question is really going to be what not to do because there's so much on. Like this, for example.


I'm counting down the days ... my friend Vicki arrives on Sunday night, and I'll be off for a week. I've been Googling like crazy, finding out what's on next week. Something she's just going to really enjoy is the Oktoberfest.

Apparently, this was on last year too, but somehow it managed to slip me by. I can't imagine how or why, but it looks like load of fun. As you can no doubt guess from the name, Oktoberfest is a celebration of German culture involving lots of German beer, music and food.

Well, that sounds good. And while I've knocked back a few German beers in my time, I'm pretty sure I've never actually had any real German food. Too bad Vicki is going to miss it, but there's plenty on next week to keep us occupied. I'm a bit nervous about introducing her to Saoirse, my best friend in Ireland. What if they don't hit it off?

I've done it before, but will definitely take her on one of those Wild Wicklow tours, because I think a trip to Dublin just isn't complete without seeing it from the mountains. I'm actually really looking forward to that, and hoping for one of these bright, golden fall days that we're having two or three times a week as opposed to the grey, overcast days we have the reset of the time...

Getting the Dublin look

Dublin's actually a very stylish city. OK, not everyone is super-stylish (including yours truly, alas) but the ones who are, really are. There's an edgy look on the streets of Dublin that seems to involve mixing high-street brands with charity shop and fleamarket finds with designer gear. Personally, I don't like the head-to-toe in branded items look so I appreciate the diversity in Dublin.

Anyways, the point is, Dublin Fashion Week is coming up soon.  And it's fabulous timing, darlings, because although I'm not particularly a fashionista, my best galpal Vicki is, and she's arriving JUST ON TIME! And I am taking NEXT WEEK OFF! Well, it's all just great. She's always been a bit of a girlie-girl. Our friendship is one of those "opposites attract" relationships. But for sake of my great affection for her, I'll be tuning into my girlie side next week. Between that and soaking in the culture at the theatre, that is.

I'm hoping she'll get along OK with my flatmate. Bepe's such a guy. Personally, I can cope with the socks on the bathroom floor and the dirty dishes in the sink, because while I'm tidier than he is, I know he's keeping mum about all the blonde hairs clogging up the shower. But Vicki, well, I'm hoping for the best.

Right now, I'm getting fond of a funky little venue near St Patrick's Cathedral. I've joined their Facebook page. They've an event coming up involving, if I've understood it corrently, making art out of odds 'n' ends Very zeitgeisty of them. I'll definitely be checking that out!

The Fair City

Way too often, free events (of which there seems to be an endless supply) pass me by. Now that I'm working, there just isn't time to get to everything. I thought life was busy when I was a student, but I didn't have a clue!

Anyway, yesterday I did get to check out the Living Streets festival. It was fun. They'd done the street up with palm trees and things! Plus, there was an exhibition of cargo bicycles. I think I might even get one. In the summer in Dublin there's a surprising number of rickshaws about, mostly being driven by male students. (Tip to female visitors: maybe a good way to meet a nice Irish man?]

I like this part of Dublin; it's all a bit higgledypiggeldy and interesting. It was a good choice for the event!

Free massage!!

Anyways, it was a great idea, and I hope they keep on having this particular event.

In other news, a friend of mine tells me that there's a new piano bar sort of place at the Tivoli Theatre on Francis street. I've been to gigs at the Tivoli before; it's a great venue. My friend said that the new place " is worth going to just to have a look inside" (his exact words) and that they specialise in swing, jazz and blues, and that sort of stuff. Well, I am so ready to go and check it out!!!


Well, I think I've figured out what I want to do on Culture Night. This looks like the coolest thing. It's on at 7.30ish, which is early, so it's touch and go as to whether or not I'll make it, but hopefully!

Basically, there's going to be a workshop on how to make your own camera. It looks like a really interesting experence. I'm just used to pointing my mobile phone at things and making snapshots.

Seriously, though, Culture Night is just fantastic. I want to go to everything, basically. Fall is just the best season here; there's so much to do, and you can forget about summer clothes, put on a wooly jumper and just get with the we're-in-Northern-Europe vibe. I'm psyched about my week off in two weeks' time and can't wait to do a bunch of cool things with my oldest friend! I've been accumulating vouchers from City Deal so's to be able to hit the town without spending too much money.

On the home front, suspicions that my flatmate might have a new girlfriend have been confirmed. I met her last night. Honestly, she looks just as dumb as the last one. I hated her. Bepe's a great guy but his taste in women... well, words fail me!

Any excuse!

Last year was a big-deal anniversary for the founder of the Guinness, Arthur Guinness, and so of course there was a huge, enormous party. It was supposed to be a once-off thing, or so I gathered last year, but apparently it was so successful they're doing it again this year, and presumbably the one after that, and so on. That's how traditions are born, I guess.

Anyway, this year it's a rather big deal with LOADS of things going on. Seriously, it's going to be big fun, and I think there may even be some free Guinness here and there. It's on the 23rd, followed by Culture Night on the 24th, when museums and other venues will be open until late all over town, with lots of free music, etc. I'll be working on the 23rd, but the 24th is great for me because it goes on until late, and I should be able to make at least the last couple of hours. All in all, come Saturday I think Dublin is going to be chock-full of a lot of very tired people!

Speaking of tired, my flatmate, Bepe, has a new girlfriend. Or at least, I think he does. He's been staying out late and stuff, and being surprisingly unavailable. My question is why doesn't he tell me? I'm not his Mom!!! Oh well, what do I care? He can do whatever he wants. Anyway, I'll be busy pretty soon. My galpal Vicki will be here soon, and I'm taking a week off to show her around. She says she's got money to spend and it's burning a hole in her pocket, so yours truly will be here to help. :-)

I'm hoping for nice weather, thinking that it would be fun for her to see the city from a Dublin Bike. Anyway, if anyone has ideas, I'd love to hear them!

Roads, travel and transport

One of the really cool things about Ireland is that it's small, so places are closer together than you think. For instance, the landscape changes really dramatically when you travel from east to west. You can hardly believe that you're in the same country. My friendly greengrocer, sage and general dispenser of wisdom on all things Irish, told me that when he was young, Galways was up to four and a half, even five hours away. Now, it's more like two, two and a half. He said: "You wouldn't believe the state of the roads back in those days."

The new, good roads make lots of places accessible for day trips from Dublin whereas I guess before you'd have to stay the night. Anyways, next weekend, the 25th/26th, I've been invited to accompany my friends Mom (in lieu of my friend who is a) away and b) not interested) on a day trip to a place called New Ross, where there's a piano festival. It's in Wexford, not far from where my uncle is bunked up, and less than two hours away apparently! I love Saoirse's Mom. She is a real Dubliner. She lives in a posh suburb on the south side now, but she grew up in the Liberties, and like to cook traditional Dublin food like coddle and stuff. Now that I know how to cook, I must ask her to show me how one of these days.

The Fringe Festival is rollicking on and only budgetary constraint are stopping me from seeing a show, or even two or three, every night. Tonight, though? Jazz! Yay!

ghosts on grave

Well, I've been totally chilled all day. Last night, I went to see a show in the Fringe Festival that freaked me out. I guess that's a good thing because it just shows how powerful theatre can be, but it's spooky.

The name of the show was "Jerk", and it was a puppet show about a horrendous serial killer. That probably sounds weird and, in fact, it was pretty weird. But it was also very powerful stuff. I'm glad I went, but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone of a nervous disposition. Boy, I think I need to be sure that the next thing I go to see is a comedy show.

Anyways, today is my housemate's birthday and while he's going out with some friends later on (I'm staying in; tired from working too hard), I've been shopping for ingredients to make him a special meal. I love the area I live in, just on the north side of the river, for shopping, because it's got the best stores. Just five minutes' away from our place there's a famous fishmongers, Kish. It's in Smithfield, which is a really old neighbourhood. I got some large fresh sardines, and I'll grill them and make a provencale sauce. It's such a buzz for me, being able to cook stuff, because just a year ago all I could manage was soup! I actually owe Bepe a lot. He taught me how to cook and even set me up with my current job in the restaurant. Love it.

Anyways, while I was at the shop, I ran into a couple from Maine, who are over in Ireland on an extended holiday and, of course, being from Maine, like to eat a lot of fish. They asked me about good places to shop, so I took them on a whistlestop tour of the area, leaving them in Moore Street. I think they were suitably impressed by the pigs' feet and heads on the display in the windows of the traditional butchers up there!!
Well, it was a splendid weekend that started in fantastic style with a big outdoors event to kick off the Fringe Festival, a giant puppet show after dark on Saturday evening. Check out the pics I took on my mobile:

There were thousands of people there, and it didn't even rain so it was just great. The venue was the big courtyard at the Collins Barracks Museum on the north side of the Liffey. The show was by a Galway trouple called Macnas. Words can't describe it, but the Macnas website makes a fair stab at it!

Workwise, it's a busy time for all of us in the restaurant trade, because we're getting psyched up for the Dine in Dublin week, starting on the 18th. There are lots of cheap offers for diners, but I would like to mention that we humble kitchen staff are hoping that this won't also mean no tips! :-) We'll be doing our best! I'm just glad I'm not going to be working on Culture Night, because I'm totally looking forward to it and plan to go to at least 15 things, even if I have to plough through the rain to do so. And speaking of rain, I'm prepared for the autumn in a flowered raincoat I picked up at a fleamarket at the weekend for 2 Euros. Fantastic!

hoo-boy, men in shorts

I've just had some news that I'm a little ambivalent about. On the one hand, I've been promised a much-coveted ticket to go see the GAA Gaelic football fan in Croke Park. On the other, I'm not so sure that it's my thing. In theory, I'm all for Gaelic games -- they're fast, they're exciting and I love the fact that there are so many years of history behind them. But I feel like a bit of a fraud taking a ticket and going to stand in the stadium with all the fans! I guess I'll try to get swept up in the excitement of the whole thing. I've been in Croke Park before, and it's pretty nice. And I do like the buzz in the city when there's a big match and all of a sudden the city centre is chock full of culchies up for the day. Just last week, there was a massive hurling match and the streets were full of supporters wearing blue (Tipperary) or black-and-yellow (Kilkenny). When it was all over, the Tipperary fans celebrated and the Kilkenny fans drowned their sorrows in the same pubs all over the city. It's pretty cool the way the fans don't get mad at each other! And as a culchie myself, albeit not an Irish culchie, I'm on their side when it comes to deflecting sarcastic remarks tossed in their general direction by the Dublin crew.

If you ever needed proof of the wonderful Irish ability to poke fun of themselves, check out the Culchie Festival, an annual event. You couldn't make this stuff up!!

Tonight's a rare occasion: me and my flatmate are both off work at the same time and as despite working in the same restaurant and living in the same flat we've hardly exchanged a word for weeks, we're gonna put on our glad rags and head out. I feel like going somewhere fancy, so I'm thinking maybe the Church (which is also convenient for the quick stagger back to our place) but he's more a sports-boy, so if I'm not careful I'll end up in one of those places where thousands of sweaty guys raise their pint glasses and shout at the high-definition TV, and we still won't have exchanged more than a couple of words by the end of the evening!

Goodness, what have I done?!?

One of my friends from the restaurant just talked me into something I know I'm gonna regret. It involves getting dressed up in bridal gear (thank you, Oxfam charity shop) and running two kilometres in an attempt to fundraise for a charity.

No sooner had I agreed to this scheme than my friend told basically everybody either of us knows, so there'll be plenty of onlookers to poke fun. I told my Mom and her comment was "I was hoping to see you in a wedding dress, dear, but this isn't exactly what I had in mind."

Sheesh. Anyways, here's the deal.  Appropriately enough, the money raised will go to a psychiatric hospital.

While we're on the topic of fundraising, apparently one of my favorite paintings in the Irish National Gallery, Jack Yeats's Liffy Swim, is going to be recreated on Saturday when loads of swimmers get into the murky-looking waters of the River Liffy (it's a tidal river, so there's seaweed on the edges, it's actually perfectly clean). My friendly greengrocer remarked that "It was a bigger challenge years ago when the Liffey was still polluted, but today's boyos don't know the half of it." I love the way that guy talks. And I wish I had the guys to strip down to a swimming costume and take to the water, but it ain't gonna happen!!

The rain in spain

...and also in Ireland. Boy, is it raining right now!

Last week, we residents of Dublin were enjoying a real Indian summer. Anyone who had packed away the sandals and shorts for another year had to root them out and there were last barbecues going on in every second garden.

Well, today it's a whole 'nother story. The temperature dropped, it's windy and autumn is really in the air. For me, this is the perfect excuse to buy a proper winter coat; a real wool one. I've been saving my pennies and although some people consider it a tourist trap, following my visit there with my mom last year, I have a sneaking foodness for the Blarney Woolen Mills and will be going there on a fact-finding mission later today. My grandmother always told me, "You can save money on most clothes, but nothing beats a good coat." Well, we come from a place where the winters are serious and in consequence I have the deepest respect for a good coat. I get most of my clothes in flea markets and  hippie stalls around town so my thinking here is that I deserve something warm and snug, and costing a little more than five Euros.

Anyways, on the entertainment front the people of Dublin are doing their usual thing and flocking out in droves no matter what the weather or the international news. There's a festival on in the suburb of Skerries this coming weekend which looks like a lot of fun. I may not be able to go because I'm working hard so's to take some time off when my friend Vicki gets here in October, but it looks like a good one!

I guess that's it from me today, because I'm off to work in the restaurant. I've graduated recently from doing the simplest jobs, including vegetable preparation, to actually making minestrone. Look at me! Last year, about all I could manage was opening a tin of soup; now I'm churning it out and selling it to customers who give every impression of enjoying it. That might not sound like such a big deal, but I'm very proud!

Another lovely day

The sun is shining down on Dublin, and it suits it. As you'll know, the weather's notoriously volatile here. Personally, I like it, because the light changes so much throughout the day that the city can look very different, depending on whether it's sunny or cloudy, or whether the sun is shining in a clear sky or a foggy one. A lot of the buildings downtown are brick and when it's sunny the brick seems to soak in the light somehow. Maybe there's a scientific explanation for it... not sure.

Anyway, I'm excitedly planning for my friend's visit. She's not coming for a month, but I'm workign my a** off now so's to be able to take time off when she's over. She's bringing her daughter, too. That was an unexpected piece of news, because I was expecting the kid to be left with her grandma, but what the hey. I've found out that The Ark is running a number of shows as part of the October Theatre Festival so I think maybe I'll book tickets for some of them. I've been there before, as part of my babysitting job (now, alas, just an occasional thing), and my experience has been that the shows those guys put on might be simple enough for kids, but they're also good enough for adults to enjoy, too.

Anyway, that's the good bit of the kid coming. The only thing I'm disappointed about is that I was hoping to spend a day or two doing some hiking in the Dublin/Wicklow mountains before it gets too cold, and maybe that's not such an easy thing to do with a child. We'll see... 

Trinity College and Surroundings

I haven't been a student at Trinity for several months now, but because it's slap-bang in the centre of town, you can't help walking by/through the college pretty often. Right now there are several good reasons to go, and that's not even counting spotting the fresh, shiny new first-years and going "ahhh.... aren't they cute?"

At the back of Trinity there's the Science Gallery which is cool because it has smallish exhibitions that you can pop into, and they're always interesting. The one they have on right now is the one I've liked best so far for sure, though. It's all about sound and music, "Biorythm Live". The sonic bed was my favourite.

My housemate, who's definitely the sportsy one in the place, also told me about an outdoors photo exhibition that's being held in Trinity after dark, as in, they are illuminating the whole front square with massive shots. It does sound amazing, and I think I'll try and take it in after work in the brief period between frantically chopping vegetables and collapsing into bed. Restaurant work sure is tiring. On the plus side, I'm now an expert at Mediterranean grilled vegetables and even though I make 'em at work most days, I've gotten used to the eating them at home, too. I've lost 3 kilos. Totally pleased about that although now that that evenings are getting darker and chillier, the many hot whiskeys I'm planning to consume during the autumn and winter evenings will probably take care of that

I'm really looking forward to my friend's visit which is getting close. I've known Vicki since forever and while I wouldn't say I've been pining for her or anything, being able to just sit and talk to someone who understands the way I see the world as she does, well, it's going to be great. Also, she hasn't travelled all that much, and I'm really quite excited about showing her around my adopted city!! I am not a girlie girl, but she is, and she's probably the only friend I'd even consider doing anything like going to a day spa with (she actually asked if they have these exotic things in Dublin).

sunny days

According to my friend the greengrocer up the road, the weather's going to be "only fantastic" for the next two weeks, because the children are going back to school and the weather in Dublin likes to taunt schoolchildren by being wonderful in May and June  ("exam weather") and then again in September ("back to school weather").

I can still remember what it was like being a kid and waiting for the end of the holidays with massive ambivalence, torn between wanting to see all my friends and dreading the new teacher and the lessons. All the shops near where I live, on Henry Street, etc. are full of window displays of "back to school" bits and pieces, and they make for a pretty sobering display begging the question of why, just why, do school uninforms have to be in drab colours, and why school shoes have to be ugly. Seriously; the fall is coming and the days are going to start getting darker. Wouldn't it be nice to see the streetscapes lived up by the sight of kids in bright uniforms? I think that's a great idea! Imagine: hordes of little boys in Hawaiin school shirts, and girls in polka-dots. Wouldn't that just be nicer than dark blue and grey and khaki?

Well, that's my opinion on the matter.

Although it's always hard to say "goodbye" to the summer I'm actually loving the fact that it's finally getting dark a bit earlier in the evening. It never feels quite right to be in a pub when it's broad daylight outdoors, and pubs just feel and look a lot cosier when they're all bright and lit up inside, and you can see the dark night through the window. I have my favourite pubs, of course, but I think it's time to, ahem, research a few more. My friend Vicki is coming in a few weeks and I'd like to have a few nice places to take her. She's a cleancut sort of a gal so I think I'll freak her out a little by organising an outing to Gravediggers', which has an alarming name but is actually a real cool old-style pub in Glasnevin.

Anyway, it's a beautiful day, I'm not working until late, and I'm going to do the healthy thing and hop on a DART and go to the beach for some fresh air and exercise! I'm soooo outta here!

Missing books

I totally don't regret not doing teacher training, as my parents wanted me to do, because I'm having a great time in Dublin and I like my minimum-wage job at the restaurant. Hopefully, I'll move on to Greater Things one of these days but for now I'm doing just fine.

I do miss books though, and the way I used to have all the time in the world to read, and had to read, loads of great books because I was studying literature. In Dublin, they hype up the great writers to the max, but there really is a sense of the importance of literature here that's totally real, and it's very cool to be able to walk into a pub and know that James Joyce at some point probably sat right where you are, enjoying a pint.

This year, Dublin was made a UNESCO city of literature. Now, that's something. There are lots of literary events here all the time. I'm going to see Seamus Heaney soon, and then there's a festival of literature in Dun Laoighire. Hyped up it may be, but Dublin's love of literature is also very, very real.

season of mist and mellow fruitfulness

So, fall is just around the corner and if you look carefully, you can see the leaves on the trees beginning to turn. I'm not complaining; one of the unsung pleasures of Dublin is walking through the residential areas on a sunny fall day, kicking your way through the piles of leaves on the ground. One windy night can knock a lot of leaves off, and it takes the city workers a while to get through them -- the upside is that all the children, and this blogger, have a lot of fun stomping through the crunchy piles!

Seriously, though, Dublin is great in the fall. The students are all back in college, so there are lots of young people everywhere, including all the wide-eyed first years from small towns and villages, loose in the city for the first time. You gotta love 'em. There's lots to do and, let's face it, the Irish look their best in the more muted colours of fall/winter wear. They're always very eager to strip down to their smalls when the sun shines, but they look somehow unconvinced in their caribbean colours. For my money, there's nothing more handsome than a pale-skinned Galway man with dark hair and a granddad shirt. Maybe that's not a trendy look, but it's a good one.

Here in Ireland, Heritage Week is underway. Work has prevented me from seeing much yet, but things are a bit less hectic for the next few days and I'm hoping to attend some events. Apparently, it's great. There was a big queue on Grafton Street for a lecture about the history of Dublin, so there must be a lot of interest out there. Saturday's the last day of my babysitting job, because I'm getting more horus in the restaurant, so I'm looking for something to take the kids to as a goodbye. So there's my plans for the weekend!

Vikings on the loose

Many people don't realise that Dublin was founded by Vikings, which I guess is kind of understandable, because the Irish are very proud of their Celtic heritage, and most of Dublin was actually built by the British! But all the downtown area was once a Viking town including, I suppose, the part where I live. So far as I can gather, the Vikings used to be viewed in these parts as general bad guys, because of the whole pillaging-and-looting business, but have undergone a sort of posthumous improvement, as having been the founders of the capital city. Which I presume also means that there are wild Viking genes in at least some of the citizens of Dublin. Hmmm... explains a lot!!

The Dublin Viking festival has just been celebrated, and it's on every year, so I guess the Vikings are being taken on board a bit more! I think it's a good thing. The Irish culture has absorbed loads of influences over the years, and I'm sure it will continue to do that for the foreseeable future!

Well, that's my two cents for the day. I'm off to work!

city deals!!

Apparently, City Deals have been around for a while, but I've only just heard of 'em, probably because I'm working so much these days that I haven't have much time to be on Facebook, which is where most people seem to have encountered them for the first time. Anyway, they're great!! I think it's not just a Dublin thing but, basically, you sign up and then every day you get sent the possibility to buy a thing or service super-cheap. I suppose the idea is so that you can try it and then go back.

The latest one in my in-box is an invitation to a very cheap spray-tan, which isn't really my bag. What serious Bram Stoker fanatic would go bronzed when she could stay pallid and interesting? But there are lots of other things.  A friend of mine took me out to dinner at a restaurant called Darwin's, on Aungier Street. The decor is very professional, and also a bit odd; they have pictures of humans at various stages of evolution all over the walls. The food was amazing, though -- and I say this as someone with several months of restaurant work under her belt. My buddy paid for most of our meal with the vouches he brought on City Deal, making it nearly as cheap as going out for a kebab and chips. No that there's anything wrong with a kebab (au contraire) but sometimes it's nice to be a bit fancy for a change.

Anyways, flushed with the success of our night out, I think City Deal rocks and hope it lasts.

Culture Night

Well, it's just over a month to go to the night that people-who-work-all-day-long look forward to all year round: Culture Night. All the museums and places with any association to "culture" no matter how vague that association stay open late to host exhibitions, shows, readings, and lots more, all or almost all completely free. I love it. It's on all over the city, as the map I just filched from their site shows:

Last year was my first, of course, and I still remember the inner city steel drum band giving it all they'd got outside the Bad Art Gallery on Francis Street. They have their own website and it really looks fantastic. A couple of my friends are volunteering on the grounds that there's a good chance they'll meet a smouldering Irish artist or two. Seriously, I would totally recommend these. You go to places you usually wouldn't think of visiting, just for the novelty of being able to do it late at night. I think they have nights like this in other cities, too. Such a cool idea. Let's hope the rain stays away. Although, note to self, someone could probably make a killing hawking cheap umbrellas if it does rain...

Speaking of smouldering Irish artists, it's been so long since I had a man on my arm. I'm getting really fed up. Sure, I meet guys at work, but seeing someone sweating over a sink of greasy dishes doesn't really predispose me to romance. Plus, I'm hanging out with my flatmate so much these days people probably think we're joined at the hip, which hardly encourages anyone who might  like me. 

Huh. So maybe I'll volunteer for Culture Night too. As they say in Ireland, you never know your luck!  

Back to school

Back to school: that's the sign in all the shop windows at the moment. The kids of Dublin all head back to their classes soon, so their moms and dads are out in force getting new school bags and uniforms for them. This will be the first fall when I'm not "back to school" -- as in, I'm out of university now. I have to say, much as I enjoyed studying back home and in Trinity College, I'm really glad it's over. Sure, the work I'm doing is not really a "career" -- although I've learned a lot in the kitchen already -- but I do feel ready and willing to take on more than just studying!

I guess for a lot of people this is a melancholy time of year, what with going back to school and the days starting get shorter, and all the rest of it, but here in Dublin fall is actually perhaps the nicest season. The unpredictable weather ceases to tease you because it's fall, and it's supposed to be like that, and because there's so much on. In September and October alone, there's the Fringe Festival and the Theatre Festival followed by Hallow'een, which was, of course invented by the Irish in the first place. Going out every night is beyond my budget, and not possible as I'll be working a lot of the time anyway, but there are free things on too, so with a little organisation, it's possible to join in the fun even without spending a lot of money.

Another great pleasure of the coming fall in the city is the fact that the pubs start to go into winter mode. And personally, I prefer them like that. The old-style pubs have real fires in the grates, and hot whiskey or that great decadent treat, hot port-and-whiskey replace mojitos and chilled beer. I love hot whiskey, but you'd feel silly drinking it in the summer. 

I have a major treat coming up that will bring my back to my love of Irish writing: My best-friend-in-Ireland's Mom has bought tickets for the three of us to go see a Night with Seamus Heaney at the National Theatre, the Abbey. Seamus Heaney, as you probably know, is Ireland's most famous living poet, and a holder of the Nobel prize for literature. It's exciting to think of seeing him in the relatively intimate setting of the Abbey. Something I love so much about Dublin, and still haven't gotten used to, is how accessible the great and glorious are here. You can go to a concert, and the odds are good the famous guy on the stage will be having a quiet drink in the bar afterwards, and people won't disturb him because it's not cool, or they don't want  him to get a big head. Seriously -- I saw Neil Jordan at the Museum of Modern Art a few months ago, and everyone just ignored him studiously as he drank his coffee downstairs.


It'll come as no surprise to you that the Irish really like beer. Since I move here, I've gotten to realise that Guinness is absolutely part of Dublin culture and life. On days like today, when the clouds are low and it's not too windy, you can smell the factory, brewing away. Now, personally I prefer something like the stuff they have in the Porterhouse, but you can't deny the fact that Guinness is everywhere, and in more ways than one.

The good people at Guinness as also real champions of very inventive advertising. I remember last year, the Guinness corporation whipped up a festival in the form of "Arthur's day" when the birthday of the Guinness factory is celebrated. Swear to God, there were people all over the city actually raising their glasses and wishing him the best of birthdays. It's advertising, alright, but not as we know it. And if it's fun, why the heck not? Guinness sponsors the best billboard ads in the city, so in their own commercial way, they are helping Irish artists, I guess...

I'm pretty much bushed after an extremely busy weekend of babysitting all day Saturday, working Saturday night and then Sunday from noon until midnight. Tiring stuff. I took the children to Dublin Zoo. I don't have a lot of experience of zoos, but this one seems pretty enormous to me. We managed to spend a good twenty minutes or so peering at the hippo and wondering how they breathe. Man, walking around that place is exercise!! My flatmate Bepe was flying his remote control plane in Phoenix Park afterwards so we hooked up with him. The kids think he's great. Hilariously, one of them seems to think he's my boyfriend, while the other is convinced he's my brother, despite the fact that he's Italian and I'm a Newfoundlander! Childhood must be a wonderful place. When you're a kid, there's no need to let reality stand in the way of a good story!

I just can't believe summer's nearly over and autumn's on the way, but you can feel it in their. It's not cold yet or anything, but it just feels different, and the leaves on the trees in the parks have darkened and will start to turn. Still, there's one good thing: I just love kicking the leaves about on Dublin's residential streets on windy days in October!

round and round we go

Just the other day I noticed an unfamiliar sight on the riverside; a giant ferris wheel. After excitedly exclaiming about it to a few people, I found out that everyone but me already knew about it. It's Dublin's latest thing, a giant Ferris wheel that, well, goes round and road on Dublin's docklands. Apparently, the deal is that you get huge views across the city to the mountains and the sea and so forth!

It's down near the Point market, so I might check it out one of these days. Although I am kind of scared of heights. I've never been on a Ferris wheel before. Seriously. I get vertigo if I stand on a kitchen chair, so it's not exactly my sort of thing. But hey, I'm prepared to take a chance once in a while, and apparently it's as smooth as an elevator.

Anyway, I'm starting to plan for my friend Vicki's visit. She's coming in October so she'll miss the Fringe Festival but she'll make it in time for the Theatre Festival. I just hope she doesn't mind knocking around on her own a bit, because I'm going to be working, obviously, and I mostly work in the evening, because that's when the restaurant is at its busiest. I haven't told my flatmate yet that we'll be having a visitor and, honestly, although we work together (well, technically, he's one of my bosses), we don't actually communicate that much these days because we're working so hard. It's a question of getting home and falling into bed, exhausted. Bepe's due some time off soon and I'm hoping it'll coincide with Vicki's visit so that there'll be room in the apartment for her. Otherwise, it'll be the sofa!!

Well, here's hoping for a good weekend. I'd so love to have a barbecue!


I don't understand Irish people who don't like trad music. Sure, I don't think there are many of them, but honestly... for me, one of the great things here is the music, and the way you can love tradtional music, rock, goth, whatever, all at the same time.

Another great thing about Irish music and dancing is that the dancing is great exercise and, as a result, male Irish dancers are generally really, really fit and, because they often are from the West of Ireland where everyone is good-looking, very, very handsome. Trust me, ladies; it's the voice of experience. The girls are pretty too, OK?

Anyway, all of this is a prelude to mentioning that this weekend there's going to be a mini-festival this weekend in Temple Bar with, among others, the fantastic band Kila. I love those guys, I mean, I'm a really crap dancer, and even I get up and dance when I hear them. Electrifying!

Of course, I'm going to be working most of the weekend, but as the restaurant isn't far away, hopefully I'll be able to pop over at some point. It does look like a whole lot of fun, so check it out.

In other news, what's going on with all the cupcakes in Dublin? All of a sudden, there seem to be cupcake vendors all over the place. How many cupcakes can people eat?

clothes, clothes, clothes

I've never been what you'd call a shopaholic, mostly because I've never had a whole lot of money, and it's shown in my clothes. They come in every colour, so long as it's black, and my hems have often been held up my safety pins. But I'm in my mid-20s now, and have a job, and it's definitely time to smarten up a bit.

Since coming to Ireland, I've been buying my clothes in Penneys and in the great charity shops and flea markets all over the city.

But I've just had a nice surprise. Despite the fact that I'm working in a restaurant and eating loads, I've actually got quite a bit thinner, I guess because I'm running around all the time instead of sitting over a book or a computer. So, I've had to go buy some new clothes. Well, truth be told, I didn't HAVE to buy them, but with a couple of hundred Euros in my bank account for a change, I thought, what the heck.

There are some great clothes shops in the city centre. It's hard to put a finger on Dublin style and define it exactly, but it's definitely there. People don't dress the same as they do in other places. It's very much a street look, with lots of elements thrown together -- and here you can see that I'm not really used to talking about clothes and don't have the vocabulary for it! Anyway, I've been lurking around this one particular shop, Retro, ever since I got here, and for the first time I've actually been able to buy something there. What I needed were some casual pants and tops to wear to work and stuff, but what I actually BOUGHT was a sort of rockabilly dress with a fitted top and a big skirt. Who the heck knows where I'm going to wear it. Of course, with a dress like that you've gotta have the right shoes, so that's my next challenge. Then I'll have to find a man to go out with when I've got it on 'cause, again, a dress like that calls for a bit of an occasion.

Along a totally different line, I have a yearning for a coat from the Blarney Woolen Mills shop. Not sure where they fit on the cool-o-meter, but I like them anyway. Winter's not up for a while yet, so I guess there's time to save...

Oh, and an old friend of mine (we grew up together) is coming over soon. Totally psyched about that, and hoping she'll be here in September or Autumn when there's so much on!

Going Dutch

Well, here I am (almost) fresh back from my super-short trip to Amsterdam. Because I was on a budget (euphemism for a lack of funds) we stayed in the cheapest place I could find, and I'm pretty sure that those lumps on my legs and arms are fleabites!!!

Fleas aside, Amsterdam was great, and it's fun to go away for a short trip. Europeans are spoilt, with all the cheap flights they have to choose from. Now it's another day back at work, as if nothing had happened, and all I've got to show for my weekend away is a bunch of wooden tulips, a possibly ill-advised small tattoo and dark circles under my eyes.

I had a nice surprise, though: I got onto this blog and found an invitation to the launch of the Fringe Festival next week, which is going to be held in the National Boxing Stadium on the South Circular Road. I've never been in the stadium before, but I have eaten at the little diner on the mosque nearby (delicious). Not many people realise that that diner is open to the public, but the food's really good, and very cheap.

Anyway, the Fringe Festival launch! How exciting is that! The festival is one of the most important events in Ireland's cultural calendar. Last year, I met an elderly Canadian guy who is actually spending his retirement travelling from one Fringe Festival to another, all aroud the world. He told me that the Dublin one is up there with the best, and you gotta believe it.

I'm on a break from work right now. Heh. It's actually a "smoking" break. I don't smoke but because the chef does, he gives people all sorts of breaks so that they can have a cigarette and leaves us non-smokers to pick up the slack. I picked up a pretend smoking habit pretty quickly but so's not to bust my cover I have to sneak away from the other smokers on one pretext or another.

Life is complicated.  But, work is going surprisingly well. Thinking of buying my own bicycle instead of relying on the city bikes. Does that mean I'm putting down roots  You know, your own bike, it's a big commitment!

Fringe Festival again!

You know that "where's time gone" feeling? I'm having it right now. The Dublin Fringe Festival is on in a month or so, and it really, seriously only feels as though a few weeks have passed since the last one! What happened? I guess I've just been so busy, that's all. But is that what it's going to be like for the rest of my life? I'll be an old lady by December at this rate.

Anyhow, the fringe festival is fantastic. I had such a good time at it last year. Among the many wonderful thing about the festival is that the shows are a heck of a lot cheaper than mainstream theatre so you can afford to take chances. Odds are good that the show will be great. Not necesssarily very easy to understand, but great nonetheless.

The barbecue Tuesday was a bit of a washout as it rained on the grill and half the stuff ended up undercooked. Today, on the other hand, the sun is out so you never know; maybe we'll try again.

In other exciting  news, I'm off to Amsterdam for one day and one night. It's not long, I know, but Dublin is so close to other European cities, in terms of the number of hours spent travelling and it's so darn cheap to get around this continent I thought, what the hey... let's do it. I'm going on my own because nobody was free to come with me, but seriously, I actually really enjoy being on my own at times. I'm totally psyched. Amsterdam!! Who cares if I'm staying in the cheapest hostel I could find online.

barbecue time

It's grey, it's not that warm and overall I've seen better days in Dublin's Fair City, but I don't care; we're having some friends around and we're having a barbecue! There aren't many days when housemate Bepe and I are both off work, but today is one of them.

Having a barbecue at our place is a complicated business, because our balcony is small. Complicated, because it's difficult making sure that the smoke stays outside, where it's supposed to be, rather than inside, where it's not supposed to be!! I have bought some fancy stuff on the cheap on Moore Street. Also some African peanut sauce from one of the diners in Moore Street Mall, which I may try to pass off as my own, depending on how much people like it.

If you're in town and you like gruesome/sad histories, there's a great exhibition on in Collins Barracks museum (near my place; you might even smell the barbecue from there!) It's about the Irish at war. Personally, I find shows like that pretty upsetting. I prefer my blood-and-guts to be of the fictional variety. But I am aware that there are lots of people who don't agree, and it is a fantastic spot to visit.

So, ladies and gentleman, my disposable barbecue and a fridgeful of cold beer await me. If you're on Bachelor's Walk, and you see a cloud of smoke, don't be alarmed. It's me and Bepe cooking dinner!


I don't know how I missed this one, but (fairly) hot on the heels of the Gay Theatre Festival, there's another "gay" festival, this time of film. I guess one day there'll be no need for there to be separate "gay" events -- although my experience of the ones in Dublin has been that they've been such fun it'd be a real shame to see them wrapped up.

Anyway, this festival is on in the lighthouse, which is just near where I live, and is my favourite cinema in Dublin, being a little slice of Manhattan in a very Irish, slightly scruffy, end of town. I'm hoping that it will be possible for me to go. Always work permitting of course!

I'm down from two to three jobs now. The restaurant is giving me more hours, so I've had to quit the few hours I was doing in Dublin Tourism. I don't really mind. I enjoyed meeting and greeting but it's good to have a vote of confidence from the restaurant. I may even have to quit the babysitting job if they want me to come in on Saturdays in the daytime.

I never thought I'd be so pleased with myself for chopping vegetables. I actually really enjoy lining 'em up and getting out the big knives. Seriously; it's fun. And it's good, at the end of a shift, to be actually physically tired. So different to when you're studying and you just get mentally exhausted. I'm not saying I want to do this for the rest of my life but... well, I'm thinking of doing a part-time cooking course in Liberties College. I haven't looked into the details, but someone told me they do a cooking course there and I'm thinking, why the heck not?

Another funny thing: since I started working in the restaurant, I've actually lost weight! You'd think with all that food around, that'd be the last thing that would happen but seriously... we run around like headless chickens in there, and I'm probably getting more exercise than I have for months!!

I may be having some visitors soon, so hoping for a little time off and open for suggestions for things to do, in Ireland or out of it!

Small things

I was in Bewley's Cafe on Grafton Street today, and checked out an exhibition they've got on right now. It's so cool, for a start, that the cafe has a theatre. I've been to some lunch time shows there, and it's a fantastic venue.

Right now, though, there's an art exhibition of miniatures called Small World. But it's only on until the end of the month, so hurry over!!! They're not just ordinary little scupltures, either, but very witty.

I'm going to get another fix of culture later on, too. There's a new show in the Chester Beatty. It's called Murqqa, of old Indian illustrations, and it looks just great. Then it'll back to the office or, in my case, back to a sweaty, steamy basement kitchen and work! I'm working really hard to save some money, and one of the perks of work, it turns out, is that we staff get to eat when it's all over in the evening. So long as you can hold out until midnight or so, there's a meal on the house for the employees. Sadly, we usually undo the savings involved by buying wine to go along with it but I'm planning to NOT do that this week and really try to put aside some money. Something's going wrong; I'm working really hard and still reach the end of the week without any dough left. Hence all the exhibitions I'm going to: they're free, unlike the cinema and definitely unlike the pub!!