Sunday, February 14, 2016

Valentine's Day in Dublin 2016

Dublin's Fair City 12-February-2016

This is our fourth Valentine's weekend in Dublin. Mary worked here on and off for three years and sometimes I would go out there for the weekend instead of her coming home. Last month RyanAir were doing cheap flights. Yes I know they are always cheap but some are cheaper than others. And sometimes they have been more expensive than scheduled airlines, believe it or not. Anyhoo we booked a long weekend.

Sometimes my posts seem like a concatenation of Mary's FaceBook check-in's so here we go...

We stayed very central in the Harrington Hall Hotel - a lovely Georgian building within easy walking distance of the centre of Dublin and the restaurants we had booked for Saturday and Sunday.

First priority, after checking in to the hotel, was to go out and sample some Guinness:
  • FaceBook: Mary Galashan was drinking Guinness with Mark McLellan at The Bleeding Horse Pub.
  • FaceBook: Mary Galashan drinking Guinness with Mark McLellan at Cassidys Pub Camden Street.
For Friday evening's meal we went with the hotel's recommendation: Restaurant 1900 where we also got a discount as it is a sister hotel. A bit ho-hum but we saved some money.

Mary used to live in Malahide and we had a number of wine glasses from Gibney's Pub which had got broken over the years so it was time to go there, have a pub lunch, drink Guinness, watch the Rugby and stock up on glasses for her and her sister.
  • FaceBook: Mary Galashan was watching France vs Ireland with Mark McLellan at Gibneys Malahide.
Back to the hotel for a quick snooze and then out for the next meal which was superb, so much so that Mary was moved to write a review on Trip Advisor.
  • FaceBook: Mary Galashan with Mark McLellan at Bloom Brasserie.
"The food was excellent - a 4 course set meal for Valentine's weekend. A tasty crab tian starter was followed by scallops for me and duck for husband, then steaks for both of us; all cooked perfectly and scrumptious. [...] Excellent wine list with a range of prices and a good selection of wines by the glass. The service from all staff was first rate and it was a joy to watch the team working together. [...]" Full review...


Despite many trips to Dublin we had never done a historical walking tour so that was Sunday morning's outing sorted. A seriously educational history lesson enlivened with a dry wit and some bad jokes.

Then it was time for lunch.
Recommended by the man in the department store where I bought a jacket to replace the one I left at home. Well it was probably about time to refresh the wardrobe anyway.

The food was good and the decor very smart. They've not been open long so all very fresh.

The evening meal was meant to be in the restaurant where we had a very extravagant meal some years ago but it turned out that Mary had booked in to the Bistro rather than the main restaurant. No matter, it was fine.
  • FaceBook: Mary Galashan eating dinner with Mark McLellan at Citron Restaurant, Fitzwilliam Hotel, Dublin.
Saturday and Sunday we went for a pre-dinner cocktails across the road from the hotel at The Dean where, apparently, the roof top Italian restaurant is excellent, and fully booked :-( One for the next visit to Dublin.

It was drink, eat, sleep, rinse and repeat - a kind of gastronomic Groundhog Day. Excellent.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

North Downs Way 04 - Oxted to Otford

Surrey / Kent. Sunday 07-February-2016

Continuing our relentless if sporadic march across the English countryside with episode four of the long distance path that is the North Downs way with friends Kate and John.

The recent rain made for some very muddy paths. Chalk-land mud is different to clay soil mud but it still sticks to the boots and weighs you down. Trying to go round the margins bring you in conflict with branches and brambles as John here illustrates.

I have a soft spot for the Greenwich Meridian partly through being born nearby in Greenwich Memorial Hospital and, like many small boys, going through an astronomy phase. So it was nice to come across this plaque.

Perfect walking weather i.e. not raining. The sun shone and it was all rather lovely.

Our route did not provide any convenient hostelries so we had our contingency packed lunch on a log.

There is a huge discrepancy between our mileage as recorded by my Garmin Montana 300 and this milepost. I'm going with the Garmin on this one.

It was a good walk for flora. First up some lovely Turkey Tail fungus.

Then keen-eyed John spotted some Daldinia concentrica, better known as King Alfred's Cake.

Spring flowers are out early: wild Primrose.

Then snowdrops:

Not just the odd bunch of snowdrops but a full carpet under the trees.

As with previous legs, we had a brisk last mile to catch a train from Otford thus avoiding a half hour cooling our heels in the station waiting room.

This leg gets us out of Surrey and we are now in Kent.

This leg: 14 miles
Total so far: 61 miles

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Ruby Turner at Ronnie Scott's

London. Wednesday 03-February-2016.

At the recommendation of our friends Grant and Helen we booked for this gig although Ruby is not an artiste I am familiar with. Boy, can she belt it out! A real down to earth person with a good line in audience banter.

The excellent sound system meant we could hear every thing perfectly; I was ungracious enough to contrast it with the Paul Weller gig which had been organised by Grant but it really does make an huge difference.

Ruby Turner paying a tribute to Terry Wogan
Posted by Official Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club & Ronnie's Bar on Monday, 8 February 2016

She concluded the second set with a heart-rending version of "I'd Rather Go Blind" which brought the audience to their feet. A powerful performance all round.

Honourable mention should be given to The Al Cherry Quartet who, like any support band, do not always get the full attention their musicianship deserves. They played some fine classics while we dined.

Ronnie Scott's four times in a week. It's a good life if you don't weaken!