Something I love here are the markets, and I think they're worth visiting for anyone coming to Dublin. They're not about big fashion labels, generally, or about pretentious dining, but they are about seriously good food, clothing that encompasses everything from vintage to new, and all sorts of things you didn't know you just had to have until you found 'em. Like a fantastic book I picked up, published in 1908, that explains how to be a housewife, including (get this) warming your husband's slippers while he enjoys the meal you've prepared for him.

There's the easy-to-find, like the one in Temple Bar, there's my personal favourite, the Flea Market at Newmarket Square (not that easy to find, and it's a shame, because it's a great secret), the slightly odd Meath Street Market, various chichi markets in places like Dun Laoighaire and now a new one out near The o2, the Point Village Market. I think it's just opened recently. Certainly, I haven't been there yet, but I'll be putting that right this weekend.

As of now, I'm no longer a student. The real world awaits. I'm starting my minimum wage job in an Italian restaurant next week, hoping that I'll be able to keep up with the cooks (until recently, all I could make was soup), and feeling very grateful for having a job. I've done the math and between this and the babysitting-on-Saturday gig I should be able to make ends meet, just about. Fortunately, I'm a low-maintenance sort of gal! :-) My parents are still horrified that I'm doing this instead of getting my teaching diploma, but life's short, right? And we've all experienced teachers who hate the job and are just putting in time because someone told them "Go on, do a teaching diploma, it's something you can always fall back on". Maybe I will decide to be a teacher -- but not yet.

One thing that I'm a little worried about so far as the new job goes is the fact that I'll be working with my housemate, Bepe. We get along fine at home -- but we don't see all that much of each other. Now we'll be working together too. I hope it's not going to be all a bit too much. Also, as he's a professional chef, won't it be kind of weird, being a junior person in his restaurant? Well, time will tell.

Have a great weekend.

No sex in the city, just fish and chips

I got the urge to go to the cinema last night but, honestly, just couldn't cope with all the Sex and the City posters in the bigscreen place. I HATE SATC.

After browsing the options at Cineworld for a while, I just couldn't take all the posters of those four awful women any more and fled to the nearby Lighthouse in Smithfield. It's a more artsy sort of a place and while I like a good blockbuster as much as the next woman, Sex and the City is just a step too far.

OK, the rant is over.

Today is a very important day in the Irish calendar. Guess what? It's National Fish and Chips day! This was set up by the Irish Traditional Italian Chippers Association!! So, apparently, we're all celebrating 125 years of fish & chips in Ireland. Apparently, this food of the gods was actually introduced by Italians. Amazing. Well, it all sounds good to me. I have two main favourites for fish and chips. One is the incredible Burdocks, and the other is Beshoffs. But then again, I also like the Borza fish and chips. Well, what to do? I guess we're spoiled for choice in this fair city!

But isn't funny that fish and chips, beloved of Dubliners everywhere, was actually introduced by Italians? I bet most of the Italian tourists I see with their paper bags full of greasy treats don't know that!


I know, it's a cliche to talk about Dublin as a city of literature, but like so many cliches, it's true. Whether it's all the pubs celebrating the fact that James Joyce or Brendan Behan used to drink there, or the former Taoiseach's daugher writing best-selling chick-lit (not necessarily my sort of thing, but if you like that stuff, I've heard its good), or the arts student scribbing on his ipod, it's all there. Basically, everyone in Dublin is a writer or wants to be a writer or at least goes to the pub with a writer.

Which is a long-winded way of introducing the Dublin Writer's Festival. I might have mentioned it before, but it's coming up next week so I thought I'd say it again. Writers in English from around the world will be presenting talks and it's all very exciting! Even though I won't be a student for much longer (just a week now) I do like the thought of being able to sit at the feet of all those great, famous people and listen to their words of wisdom, not to mention the prospect of maybe, just maybe, splitting a round of drinks with Ian McEwan!! Or Yann Martel.

The weather has been amazing in Dublin over the last few days, turning it from an attractive city to the MOST BEAUTIFUL CITY IN THE WORLD!!!

I'm sure it's bad for the buildings, but there's a sort of a tree in Dublin that likes to grow on chimney tops and out of walls. It looks like a lilac, but it seems to favour very improbable spots and to be able to grow just about anywhere. The flowers are starting to come out now. You won't see this on the big, fancy squares, but turn down a side street and there it is; living, beautiful proof that if you give a plant and the process of evolution long enough it will come up with a smart way to grow in an invisible crack in the most inhospitable wall.

And I'll leave you with that thought. If you're coming to Dublin soon, keep your eye open for 'em.


I don't need anyone to tell me how lucky I am right now to be able to tell everyone my news: I have found a job. I will be staying in Ireland for at least another year. As my mother told me mournfully, working for minimum wage in a restaurant kitchen isn't why she and Dad put me through college. But it's just for a while, and I'm looking forward to it. Training to be a teacher right now when I'm not sure I even want to be a teacher doesn't make sense.

Totally psyched. My personal victory is the fact that over the last month or so I've gone from someone who can't cook to someone who can, at least a little bit. I'm going to be a very humble member of staff and I don't know that they'll actually be letting me at the oven but still: very happy. The thought of leaving Dublin was really distressing me, badly. I think I'm even beginning to sound like an Irish person and I'm absolutely not ready to leave. I've signed a lease with the landlord committing to another year so it's serious!

Dublin is fantastic in the summer, so I'm also happy to be here for all that's going on, and now I think I'll feel as though I'm attending as a local. Last year, fr'instance, I didn't go to the Maritime Festival, which is on in a week or so, so I don't really know what it involves, although I'm hoping for deck-swabbing, grog-downing and stuff like that. I really like the Docklands area, where it's on. There are a lot of impressive, shiny, new buildings that are a cool counterpoint to all the history that's going on downtown.

Speaking of history, last night I was at my first Irish wedding; I was a bit of a gatecrasher, because I was invited at the last minute. What a cute couple they were, too. A band called Mute Fish, which I'd seen before on Grafton Street, provided the music. AMAZING!!!!! Where does history come in? Well, the hotel in Ballsbridge, a big Victorian Gothic sort of affair (my favourite architecture -- it was just lacking a few gargoyles to be absolutely perfect) used to be a Masonic school for girls! How odd is that? There were Masonic symbols everywhere, in the mosaics, in the stained glass windows ... most peculiar. Very nice hotel, though. In a future life when I actually have money to spend, I'll go there for a night. I'm curious to see if there are masonic symbols on the bedroom ceilings, too.