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!