Monday, 22 August 2011


This weekend we picked up some of the River Cottage Handbooks at the Hodges-Figgis book store.  The handbooks are based on the BBC television show with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.  His tv program is about getting more in touch with the food we put on our table and home-farming.  Hugh began the series by moving into a gamekeeper's cottage at an estate in Dorset and tried his hand at being a "smallholder."  I had never heard of that term before the show, basically it means trying to put food on your plate by growing it yourself--or as much of it as you can--on a small plot of land.  Hugh quickly realises it's a lot harder than it looks, and yeah, you do have to buy some stuff at the store.  You can't do everything yourself.

Anyway, the thing I got out of the show was the desire to do a bit more gardening, and looking for food in my environment.  I am so keen on getting a fishing pole now and catching some pollock (a local fish.)

My other half and I have been making bread recently, and she's getting really good at it.  I'm interested in growing fruit trees like the Orleans Reinette apple they raved about on the show.  That's a French variety that was introduced in 1776!  We plan on collecting the entire series of River Cottage Handbooks.  They are written by experts in their field, who have appeared on the River Cottage show.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Hard Rock... Ow!

I tripped over a curb taking this picture.  I fell against a steel warehouse door and it made a tremendous bang noise.  You can see the Hard Rock Cafe security guard giving us a concerned look down the alley.  Argh.  I ripped one of my nice Ralph Lauren dress shirts too.  OH well.  It was just a scrape.  Perhaps the Gods are telling me that I need to avoid the Hard Rock Cafe in Temple Bar.  haha  Ok I can take a hint.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Costa Coffee by Trinity

This is the coffee shop on the corner of Nassau Street and Dawson Street, over by Trinity College.  If you look at the Google maps location it shows a clothing store called Farrell & Brown used to occupy this spot.  Anyway it's another reason to like Dawson Street.  The interior of this Costa is a cut above the other locations in town as far as cool buildings go.  Plus, its big.  They have an entire room downstairs and a living room on the first floor, off the dining area.  It's like 3 coffee shops in 1.

We like going to Costa because... well I'll just say it:  I hate Starbucks.  Apparently I'm not the only one.  People hate Starbucks so much that Starbucks has started opening stealth stores without the Starbucks logo.  You read that right; Starbucks is opening shops that do not have the word "Starbucks" anywhere in sight.

Costa is a nice alternative.  They have decent caffè latte and they serve fantastic lemon poppy seed muffins.  Mmmm.  The interiors are generally comfortable and always decorated with the same stock-image artwork depicting cobblestone streets in Italy.  They're going for the authentic-Italian angle, as opposed to the Seattle full-of-themselves angle.  Generally speaking corporate coffee is corporate coffee, and comparing Starbucks to Costa is much of a muchness.  However, attitude is everything.  Costa seems to simply be about selling you a cup of coffee; they're not so much in your face like Starbucks is, pushing their retail crap on you.  With their CEO's biography, corporate-compiled Jazz CDs and branded-breath-mints stacked up on the counter, it gets to be a bit much.  Costa isn't selling that magic kool-aid.  They're just selling coffee.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Statue of Daniel O'Connell

The figure of Daniel O'Connell watches over O'Connell street in the heart of Dublin.  O'Connell was a statesman in the early 19th century and fought for the rights of Catholics in British Government, (previously Parliament had been sectarian and Irish Catholics were not allowed to hold office.)  Basically, his efforts resulted in the Irish being able to represent themselves in government, where they had been excluded before.  His work also allowed British Jews the right to enter the British Parliament some time later.

This statue was installed in the early part of the 20th century after Irish independence.  The sculptor was John Henry Foley.  This is an example of public-friendly art.  Not only is it beautiful and aesthetically pleasing, the base of the statue is a series of steps which invites pedestrians to sit and contemplate O'Connell Street along with Daniel himself.  The statue is also bird-friendly, as you can see.  Luckily it rains a lot in Ireland.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Celtic Whiskey Shop

I like Dawson Street.  They have Café En Seine, the Hodges Figgis book shop and this little beauty, The Celtic Whiskey Shop.  This is where we get our Crabbie's Ginger Beer.  OH yes, they sell more than whiskey here.  Just perusing their shop window is like taking an around-the-world cruise of booze.  For your enjoyment:

Hee yar Matie!  Wind in the sails.  Now... bring me that horizon.

I don't think that seal is going to be balancing anything after 151 proof!

Now there's something you don't see in America every day...

He's whispering to her, "You're going to be arse over teacups in an hour."

The 80-degrees refers to your angle after drinking said beverage.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Natural History Museum II

The museum of natural history has some amazing examples of taxidermy, and many of these exhibits are over 100 years old.  They even had some of those sloths that are so cute looking.  I hear that some people keep them as pets?  I don't know why people would want sloths as pets when they could just as easily rent out their basement to some Grateful Dead fans.  The museum had platypus and armadillo too.  Now those are weird looking creatures.  God invented those when he invented shrooms, I'm thinking.

Oh, hey.  That's something you never see in natural history museums; preserved fungus.  How cool would it be to have a mushroom exhibit?  I guess they don't preserve well.  Or at least, whey you dehydrate them they don't look much like they did when they were picked.  Or the biologists keep eating the specimens.  :)

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Natural History Museum I

Lions, tigers and bears and holy crap Tasmanian devils too!  Three cheers, no wait, four cheers for Ireland for having a free Natural History Museum.  Over by Merrion Square, right next to the Taoiseach's office, (that's the Irish Prime Minister,) there is a fantastic museum.  The first floor is a showcase of indigenous Irish wildlife and the second, third, and fourth floors are wildlife collections from all over the world.

However, they are missing the dodo but then again, aren't we all?

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Saint Stephen's Green

It hasn't been the best summer as far as weather goes, but that doesn't stop people from enjoying Saint Stephen's Green in the heart of Dublin.  This was a particularly grey day, with the sky warning those below with light sprinkles of the of the evening's impending heavy shower.

Regardless of the disposition of the clouds, people sat on the manicured lawns, enjoying the day.  Groups of students in hoodies and tight Emo pants sat in circles and smoked, tourists made long movies of swans grooming, and two-year-olds tottered madly on the lawn with parents chasing after.

We sat by a lovely fountain and took it all in until it was time to deploy our umbrellas and head off.  We made our way over to Dunnes Stores and bought our dinner, (pizza) then waited in the downpour on Dawson Street for the Dublin Bus to carry us home.  There is more to explore in this park and we shall be back soon.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Houston, we have a problem

The first time we went to Eddie Rocket's, I thought it was totally cool.  They served us a big hamburger with big French fries and the meal was alright.  The interior is decorated in neon lights with rocket-red vinyl booths.  They have these funky chrome jukebox controls at the table where you can flip through the metal pages and choose a song.  I stuck a couple 20 cent coins in the jukebox but my songs never came up and we stayed there almost an hour.  I chose "Ring of Fire" and "I Walk the Line" by Johnny Cash.  After one trip to a roadhouse in Hubbleton, Wisconsin back about ten years ago, I learned to appreciate hearing Johnny Cash on the jukebox.

The second time I went to Eddie Rocket's, I have decided the novelty has totally worn off.  We were there for about 45 minutes and again my jukebox songs never came up.  Damn!  Is this thing even working?

So... this is supposed to be a 50s diner right?  Bless her for trying, but our waitress was just off the bus from Poland who barely spoke English and didn't understand the word, "refill."  She also got my order wrong:  I ordered sliders and got chicken tenders.  That culinary mistake consisted of three of over-fried nuggets of chicken dumped unceremoniously on top of a small pile of pathetic fries.  I called them "digital fries" because each one was only an inch long and looked like a component from a digital display.

How much did all this cost?  €6.50 for the "value meal" (chicken tenders and a Coke) plus €2.50 for a refill.  In dollars that's $9.36 for just half of what McDonalds gives you in a "six piece chicken McNuggets" and a whopping $3.60 for a refill of Coke.

In my own head, I make up nicknames for fast-food chains.  For example, Burger King becomes "booger fling" and Jack in the Box becomes "Yak in the box."  I think Eddie Rocket's has become Eddie F**kit's.  This rocket failed to get off the pad and cost us a small aerospace budget.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

I flushed Nemo!

OMG do they still sell these things?  I remember going to the hardware store in 1976 and seeing these funny epoxy plastic toilet seats.  I was fascinated by the one that had pennies, nickels and dimes stuck in it.  I thought they were totally cool.  Haha, I remember my mother giving a firm and resounding, "NO" when I asked enthusiastically, "Mom! Mom!  Can we get one?"  (By the way, Mom you were totally right.)  Wow... I guess the 70's is still alive and kicking in some parts of the world.  Oh wait, is that Carly Simon playing on the radio?  "Clouds in my coffee, clouds in my coffee..."  Well, I'm off to get a cup of Sanka and buy some flash cubes at the Woolworth store.  Anybody see the keys to the Pinto?

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

110 Pick Up

I am quite fond of green pick up trucks.  My vehicle back in the states was a trustworthy old Ford truck painted hunter green.  Yesterday I was at Eason's book store on O'Connell Street and I saw this truck parked out front.  Very cool.  This is a Land Rover Defender 110.  They look very sturdy don't they?  I am told that you can dismantle the entire vehicle with a screwdriver.  haha  Anyway, they are supposed to be easy to work on.  My other half tells me that one of her coworkers gave her a ride home once in his Land Rover.  She said, "It was a bone shaker."  Apparently, the suspension needs a little improvement in the comfort department.  One thing I have noticed about Ireland--or at least about Connemara--is that they have a lot of roads with grass growing down the middle.  I used to say that you know you are lost when you are on a road with grass growing down the middle of it.  Now, I kind of like those roads.  They lead to wonderful places.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Monday, 1 August 2011

Heuston Station

We are having a bank holiday weekend, so hooray, Ireland gets Monday off.  My other half's parents came up on the train and visited this weekend.  We cooked chicken korma for dinner on Saturday night and tomato-bean-chorizo soup for dinner on Sunday night.  Today they are heading back on the train to Galway.

The train station in Dublin is very nice.  Construction began in 1844 and it opened 1846.  The railway company in Ireland is called:  Iarnród Éireann.  The trains are very clean and quiet, however the ticket prices are a bit steep; the cost for a round trip from Dublin to Galway is 48 euro.  However, they do give a pretty good senior discount.  Ireland has a free travel scheme where senior citizens do not have to pay for the bus, train or light rail.  Frequent users of public transportation are able to opt-in to a tax scheme where they can deduct all their public transportation fares from their yearly tax liability.  Another thing I just found out about:  Ireland has a bike-to-work scheme where the government will reimburse you for 51% of the purchase price of a new bike costing up to €1000.  Isn't that amazing?  I am totally getting a new bike.