Sunday 17 December 2017

Christmas festivities

This weekend was a lot of fun doing some stuff that I do every year around now - it's feeling really nice and Christmassy!
On Saturday I helped Enid out at a cocktail party she holds every year.  Below are some pics of the food and drink.
Salmon blinis with cream cheese and sweet chilli sauce - or taste explosions as Enid and I call them!

Drinks table
Jameson & Ginger
Gin & Elderflower Tonic
Vodka & Tonic
Beer and Wine

My South African aunt's amazing party food - Cream cheese & sweet chilli sauce with melba toast.  I know!  It doesn't sound much but you would not believe how great this tastes!


Devils on horseback
Mini Quiches

Prawn cocktail
Prawn toast
Chicken in filo
Mince pies

Enid, Svetlana, Elsie and myself enjoy the festivities.  We had fun catching up and it was a really lovely night.

Sunday morning we were up bright and early to meet Alice for Basket Brigade.  This is our 7th year taking part in this wonderful event which helps 190 families in Dublin at Christmas time.  Enid has done a super blog about it over on Renovating LPA, read it here!
Afterwards we went for our traditional Post Basket Brigade Pitt Bros lunch - which was fab as always.  It's always nice to see Alice before the madness of Christmas and New Years.  This year the conversation was mainly centred around our Key West trip and all the wonderful things we did there.
On our way to Pitt Bros I passed a building site, that I swear when I saw it I nearly fell off of my bike!

The controversial ESB buildings are gone!!!
I am still in shock!  After causing so much debate for so long, it's crazy to think that they have been knocked down - literally overnight.  And while I really didn't like them, well certainly not that style in that particular location, I am sad to see one of Dublin's examples of Mid Century Modern architecture gone.

The streetscape looks so different with the buildings gone. 
Do you see the building right down the end of the street, marked by the green arrow? That's the National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street where yours truly was born!!

Sunday 10 December 2017

68 Middle Abbey Street

Last week I dropped a dress and shirt into the drycleaners and picked them up two days later.  I was a little nervous about the dress.  It's a Kate Spade and really nice silk material - of two different colours - a pale pink top and a deep wine skirt.  Because of the mix of colours and because it was its first cleaning I had to sign a waiver of indemnity so I was relieved when I went to collect it and all was well and it's immaculately clean with no colour running or damage.

New York Dry Cleaners are quite the institution of Dublin having been situated in Abbey Street for a long time. I would have said from the 60's anyway, but I see from their website that they actually have been there since 1944!  Quite an interesting story actually:
It was set up by two brothers, Harry and Myer Singer. They travelled to America to buy top quality dry cleaning equipment. There they purchased a complete plant, one piece was a pressing machine called a ‘New Yorker’. This inspired the trade name New York Dry Cleaners.

Can you see from this photograph the number 68 on the large white window frame?
New York used actually be located in this building - where the business with the green and blue signage is.  And I used to work in an office above them!  I worked a magazine publishing company which I really really loved. Unfortunately it was a little small business with no opportunity for development or promotion - and the pay was not great either so with regret I moved on. That was around 17/18 years ago.

Then about 5/6 years ago there was a fire in the whole building - and this is why New York have now come to be located in 69 Middle Abbey Street.

The buildings above Tour America caught my eye. 
Can you see the sign on the right hand of the photo - displayed length ways down along the window frames.  Café Ritz is not looking very ritzy is it!!!

To see a FANTASTIC photo from 1975 when Café Ritz was in its hey day click HERE!'s getting close now!

In no particular order here's a little round up of what I've been up to over the last few days.  A lot of it is Christmas related! Hurray!!!

I had my work Christmas party where I wore a festive red dress from Marks and Spencers - I plan on wearing this to a few different events over Christmas so I was happy how it looked when I put it on.

I'm stocked up on the Christmas booze!
I saw Supervalu was selling Baileys, for just 4 days, at the amazing price of 2 for €20.  I texted Enid to say get us a bottle each in her local Supervalu.  I then picked up the Tia Maria last night in Dunnes for €18 which is a decent price. It's one of my personal traditions that I like drinking my coffee with a bit a kick in it over Christmas.

Enid and I called over to Mam's this morning. Mam is away at the moment - in Amsterdam with Kate visiting Lydia - so it was just Dad who we had a nice chat with.  The Christmas tree and decorations are up in Lyttle Holme and it all is looking very festive.  I am looking forward to Christmas and St Stephens' day at home!

So what else?!

I finished wrapping Christmas presents today.  I don't really have too many to buy for - main ones are my niece and nephew, mam and dad etc. 

While we were in Navan Road this morning we took the opportunity to pop into the newly opened The Planted Bean in Baggot Road. It's vegan and healthy and the brainchild of chef Kevin Odgers.  We were really impressed with it.  I cannot describe how divine this Superfoods Seeds and Chocolate bar tasted! We will be back no doubt to try some of the lovely pasta and wraps. 

From there we went to the supermarket to buy all the food and alcohol for Enid's party next week. For drinks we will have beer, wine, Jameson and Ginger, Gin and Fever Tree elderflower tonic, vodka and tonic etc.  Food wise we are making lots and lots of lovely little canapes - amongst other things I am going to make salmon blinis and little mini prawn cocktails in some cute little martini glasses I have.  We've a big job ahead of us but we enjoy this type of thing so it will be fun.

Saturday 2 December 2017

December comings and goings

A little lazy wrap up post of what's going on with me lately.
Thursday I strolled up to Grafton Street to collect a dress my mam had ordered for me in Marks and Spencers - technically it's my Christmas present but she gave it to me early so I can wear it to a party next week and on Christmas day. 
Thank you Enie! It's a beautiful red dress which will look fabulous over Christmas.
There, I grabbed a quick lunch in the M&S café.while I was there. 
Glass bottles of diet coke and coke!  I enjoyed that!

I have started using my reusable cup for all my coffee - especially any I buy from coffee shops (i.e. STARBUCKS) to avoid using the disposable cups which go straight to landfill. I still find it crazy that a company like starbucks has not managed to come up with a recycleable coffee cup.
This cup was sent to me by a facebook friend who saw an online conversation I was having about cups.  How nice was that of Jane!  Thank you Jane :-)

My tree is up!
Topped by the very last remaining barbie doll out of my collection of vintage Barbie dolls which I sold about 2 years ago. I miss those gals!  But glad they all went to good homes as I simply had nowhere to store them.  And super glad I saved this lovely lady!

Ok I don't know if it's just this photo, but in the light of the day this tree looks a little bit crooked! I need to sort that out!
I must say, I really like the serenity of my silver and white decorated tree up against the beautiful chaos of my Pigsy.  Quite the antithesis!

Moland Street, Dublin 1

Last week I went to collect my bike in the Irish Life carpark via route different to my normal way. This route brought me from the Irish Life Mall down a stairs and past a very unusual piece of Dublin history - and certainly not something you would expect to see in the entranceway of a carpark.
Placed on a high bed amongst some plants in an a type of atrium sits "The Moland Street stone"
The plaque positioned below the 1810 stone explains what it is related to. 
I've done some digging around the internet to see if I can get any more information about this old street but alas I have not uncovered much.  I guess somewhere like the Land Registry office might have more information on it if I was so inclined
I did however find out that this apartment block, on Talbot Street across the road from the Irish Life Mall, and above the Tescos I frequent is named Moland  House!

I think then look of the atrium/display of the stone quite em "unique".  The carpark was likely built late 1970s/early 1980s and I guess this was the best they could come up with at this time time!  That aside, I am glad they kept this stone so I will forgive them on the dodgy display.


It's very 1980s looking don't you think!


Monday 27 November 2017

Pre Christmas Clean Up

My mother is awesome!
Friday she was over with Enid going through her wardrobe and this morning at 9am she came over to do mine.  I am trying to think of the word to describe her skills at wardrobe organising :-) It will come to me...but in the meantime take it from me she's got a real talent for it! 
So much so that this was the result. 1 big bag of rubbish for the bin. and 6 other bags of varying size packed full of clothes for donating to the charity shop.  This is on top of me giving away the same amount only about 3/4 months ago after a previous clear out assisted by Mam.
I decided I'd bring the bags straight to the charity shop as otherwise the bags would sit there 'til kingdom come.  Actually funnily enough, later on that evening I saw a cartoon on facebook "saying happy anniversary to the clothes for donating that have been sitting on the chair in the corner of my bedroom for a year now".   Ha! 
So to avoid that happening I loaded up my bike - probably looked a bit crazy, I really couldn't care less - and Mam and I walked (while I pushed my bike) from my place over to George's Street.  There are 3 charity shops literally beside each other but thankfully I didn't have to choose one over the others as only the St Vincent De Paul shop was open.
As we walked home for a quick coffee and some nibbles before Mam got her bus home we made a plan that we will do another clear out after Christms focussing on "stuff" (read junk!!!) rather than clothes.  I look forward to that, it will be good to do a declutter.

Saturday 25 November 2017

Teelings Whiskey - Launch of Revival IV

Earlier this week Enid and I went to a lovely event in Ely Chq where Teelings shared a sampling of their whiskeys and unveiled the fourth release of the Revival series - a really intriguing 15 year old single malt finished in Muscat caskets
While it wasn't a food and whiskey pairing night Teelings kindly laid on a fine spread of some beautiful cheese and charcuterie! 
Our host for the night was Teelings Brand Ambassador Kevin Hurley.  Kevin was entertaining and knowledgeable, and we learnt lots about each whiskey and the whiskey process and industry.  Did you know that whiskey distillers negotiate and buy their casks through a cask broker?!
A lovely addition to the night was award winning sommelier Julia Depouy who brought us through the notes of a lovely Muscat,  Do you remember I mentioned at the beginning of this post how the Revival was finished in a Muscat casket.  It was a wonderful fortified sweet floral wine and it nicely brought the night full circle.
The venue!

Special mention to Ely Chq of which I am a big fan.  It's a 200 year old cigar and tobacco warehouse converted to a wine bar and restaurant.  The vaulted caverns and old brickwork are visually stunning.  And since I was there last. they have done a small redesign adding in some booth areas which really suit the space.

It's all decorated for Chirstmas which was lovely! These photos really don't capture how atmospheric it looked.  It was really a great night all round.  And in other good news, between this night and a previous Paddy's whiskey event I am becoming quite the whiskey aficionado!



Sunday 19 November 2017

One night trip to the West

There's nothing like a trip outside Dublin to make your weekend stretch! 

Yesterday morning I got a bus to Galway to see my little sister Katie perform in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat with her amateur dramatic musical society (the ClareGalway Society).  It was a great night!  I am completely biased of course but I thought Katie was wonderful as Mrs Potiphar and it was a wonderful production all round.

I came back today and honestly it feels like I was away for a few days and nights.  Galway is a special place and has that effect on you.  Particularly as it is feeling very Christmassy and festive at the moment.

And here I am with the woman of the hour after the show.  My mother took this photo and continuing the longstanding joke in our family about her photography skills there's her finger top left.  She is also famous for chopping heads off so actually we are lucky that this pic is semi decent at all!

Let's get Quizzical!

The time has rolled around for our annual big huge company Quiz night - the Ultimate Irish Life Quiz - in aid of our Staff Charities
Here is me wearing my purple Staff Charities committee member polo shirt.  I just adore this shirt!
The night was a great success - as it always is.  Our quizmaster is a brilliant MC who runs through the questions and answers at a nice pace. And a huge part of the night is his brilliant method of awarding extra points!  If you get up on a chair and sing a song this gets you ten or so points. If you can get everyone singing along with you then this could be worth as much as twenty.  And if you get boo-ed well that might be worth twenty or so also!
New for this year we arranged for pizzas to be delivered  - extra large, and one for every table! The novelty of a big load of pizzas arriving was great.  Plus from an organisational perspective this worked so much better than any other food option we have done in the past: in terms of service and quantity of food for everyone. I think this is something we will be doing again in the future as everyone really seemed happy with it

Here's just 25% of our the total pizza delivery so you can imagine what the full order looked like!

Monday 13 November 2017

The red cups are here!

Sign that Christmas is Coming #1

Today I met my mam for a quick coffee at lunch.  We had a lovely chat about lots of great stuff.  Plus we were both excited to see that the Starbucks Christmas cup (aka the red cups) are here.  We did however discuss how we are disappointed that Starbucks do not use a recyclable  cup, and in fact how much waste in general Starbucks generate in just one transaction. 

Em I will say however.
Is it just me?  Or does this sleeve remind you of Give Blood ad or slogan??!:-)

Like this!

Chores, chores

Yesterday one of my radiators just stopped working. Like literally went kaput as I stood against it - it was freezing yesterday, and I had the heating up high, and was having a whale of a time leaning up against the rad while people watching out the window.  What a great Sunday lol!
So I figured first thing to do would be try bleeding the radiator.  I searched high and low for something to do it with.  I was thinking maybe an allen key, or better even a pliers.  Anyway (a) I don't possess any of these anymore - I really need to work on getting a basic tool kit together and (b) in my heart I knew I needed the proper utensil for it (a proper radiator key)
This little bad boy cost me the princely sum of €2.50 in a dodgy little huckster type hardware shop in Talbot Street.  To be fair in larger shops they wouldn't stock this type of thing so Talbot Street rocks for these kind of things.

As I walked to the hardware shop I saw this pub which gave me a good laugh. 
It's a long story, I won't go into the details but I was in this pub (it's verrrrry touristy) for drinks quite recently and had a really great night! 
It still makes me laugh however, thinking of  how twee and touristy it is - and let's not forget - it'sTalbot Street!!!! Dodgy!!!

Anyway, I digress,  The good news is that my heating is back working after bleeding the rad.  Good because it's cold at the moment.  And in other good news tomorrow I get to defrost my freezer with a hairdryer.  The good times just keep on coming!

Saturday 11 November 2017

This is 40

Key West 2017
What's there to say about the trip of a lifetime with my two best friends, to one of the best little islands in the whole world?? Enid and I know Alice 33 years, this holiday has been in the planning for 3's been worth the wait!
Great fishing, eating, drinking, singing (Alice), sunning, shopping, biking, chatting and laughing. Can't ask for more than that!


Tuesday 31 October 2017

Key West 2017 - First Flight Out - a close call

I'm a reasonably travelled person I like to think.  And thankfully I've never missed a flight.  Well on Sunday we were thiiiiss close to doing so.  Listed below are a litany of issues we encountered on our trip to Key West

Enid and I arrived at Terminal 2 at 7.00am for our 10.05 am flight to Toronto (3 hours in advance of our flight time).
According to our itinerary we were flying with United.

Issue 1: There was no United Toronto flight listed on the board.  A lady working for United told us we were actually flying with Air Canada (ummm not according to our itinerary!!!)

So we walked to Terminal 1 (ringing Alice on the way and telling her to go to T1 not T2)

Issue 2
If you recall our flight time (noted above) was supposedly 10.05 - again, this was according to our itinerary.  There was no 10.05am Air Canada flight to Toronto listed on the board.  Instead there was a 9.05am flight.  This meant our 3 hour timeline was suddenly reduced to 2 hours

Before we could even get into the queue for check in we were met by a Swissport/Air Canada official who told us we needed visas for our Toronto layover.
Enid and I quickly went online and applied for the visas (took about 10 minutes and cost CAD $7). 

We will take responsibility for this! We should have checked if a visa was needed - even though we were just transiting through.

Issue 3
Enid got accepted immediately.  My visa was "referred for review, we'll be back with a decision in 72 hours"

Alice had arrived at this point - and her visa application was accepted automatically also. 

Enid and Alice got into the queue and I went off to the Swissport desk to try ring Canada to see what was happening with my application.  Literally as the guy got through to Canada I got an email through saying my visa was accepted.  I ran back to Alice and Enid who had just arrived at the check-in desk. It was now 7.40am.

So you're probably thinking that surely nothing worse could happen.  Well you'd be wrong

Issue 4
At the check-in desk we were told that we were not flying Air Canada but United ("as per your itinerary") and need to go to Terminal 2.  After explaining we were there already - and that in fact the 10.05 flight did not even exist the staff member looked up the flight number

The staff member confirmed it was a Air Canada Flight.  Not United as per our itinerary.
The staff member confirmed the flight was at 9.05.  Not 10.05 as per our itinerary

Issue 5 - and this is the major one!!!
The staff member stated that no tickets existed for us!
Even though we had booked the flights back in January 2017.  Even though we had been getting monthly emails/updates from ebookers.  No Tickets!  What does that even mean??

It was now 7.45am.  Check-in for this 9.05 flight closed at 8.05.  And we had no tickets!

We were told to go to the Swissport desk to explain there was a "ticketing issue".

So!  It is now 8am (remember check-in closes at 8.05) and the ticketing issue still is not resolved!

Enid runs back to the check-in to see if they can hold open the check-in for us.  Apparently they can't.  Which seems strange considering this is their massive cockup with their incorrect itinerary (airline and flight time).
Hmm on second thought maybe it is ebookers or United, and not Air Canada's mistake??

She arrives back and literally right at that moment we are handed two passports (mine and Enid's) and told our tickets are sorted.

We run back to check-in where they (thankfully!!) OPEN check in for us in order to check in.  Alice arrives 2 minutes after.

Issue 6
We are handed boarding passes - that have no seats!!  And told to RUN to the gate.  It's now 8.20 - for 8.25 boarding (and 9.05 flight).  And we are told that it is currently taking 30 minutes to get through security.

We RUN. Alice grabs a security guy and explains (very quickly) about the whole debacle.  He RUNS us through security in 5 minutes - although not before Enid's bag is pulled for a random drugs swab,

Alice and I leave Enid and run through the airport to our gate.  From here thing go smooth we are given new boarding passes with seat numbers (all separate - that's ok) and on we board.

We are off!  A trip, 3 years in the planning and all of the above happening before we even left.  Not good for the heart I tell you!

Sunday 1 October 2017

Nostalgia's not what it was

Following on from my blog post last week, the excitement about Irish artist Pigsy's exhibition (Nostalgia's not what it was) continues to grow. 

Pigsy as you know is my brother in law - and if you will allow me the immodesty I am just a little bit proud of him. And how could I be anything but, after coming across THIS in the Irish Times on Thursday.  Not bad being referenced in a piece with the incredible Jean-Michel Basquiat eh?!

For the online text of the article see here.  And for more info on Ciaran/Pigsy check out his website. 

If  you are around Dublin this Thurs/Fri/Sat/Sun why not drop into the Fumbally Exchange on Dame Lane and say hi.  I shall be there most of the weekend helping out and enjoying the vibe :-)

Saturday 30 September 2017

The Winding Stair

Looking for a nice restaurant in a city centre or Northside location?  You absolutely CANNOT go wrong with the Winding Stair.

How picturesque is the Georgian building where its located, overlooking the Liffey.  Right beside the Ha'penny bridge - which you get a lovely view of from inside the restaurant.

Hence its name :-)

I started with the whiskey cured salmon, char-grilled cucumber and cucumber ketchup, sea beet, dill and Goatsbridge Farm trout caviar.  The flavour combination was incredible!

And then this masterpiece!
Cider braised McLoughlin’s pork cheeks, black pudding scotch egg, grilled baby leeks and crushed swede.  The black pudding scotch egg was something special I tell you. 
A glass of malbec rounded it all out.  I'll definitely be back here. And soon I hope! That scotch egg is calling me :-) 

Digital detox

Enid sent me this pic last week of an article from the weekend section of the Sunday Independent. 
I'm way ahead of the pack! I've been switching my phone off and removing it from my bedroom at around 9pm for over a month now.  It is not an overstatement to say that I am enjoying life so much better since I've started doing this. I am back to reading more books and I am sleeping better.  I cannot recommend it enough.
The one question that everyone asks me when I tell them I do this is "but what do you do for your alarm".  Like in the article, I too have bought an alarm clock!

Wednesday 20 September 2017

Oireachtas Committee - 8th Amendment

When asked by a journalist for a few words on the lobby at Dail Eireann today this is what I said:

"As a supporter of the Repeal the 8th campaign I felt that the "Handmaids" made for a powerful visual representation of how a lot of women in Ireland are feeling today - you must remember that many women who are of an age where they are accessing healthcare under the regime of the 8th Amendment have not actually had an opportunity to have their say previously. And equally there are people who have voted previously who will never actually have to make choices related to the amendment. I believe that the results of the recent Citizen's Assembly was a considered and fair reflection of the people of Ireland today. And I thank the citizens for that.

Our stand today, was to say to the Oireachtas Committee that we will not accept any retreat from the recommendations of the Citizen Assembly."
We got a tremendously positive reaction today with many people stopping during their lunch break to take photos and say messages of support to us. I truly believe Ireland is changing for the better (again), and now we just need a referendum (on legislation according to the citizens assembly) to demonstrate that"