Wednesday 27 February 2008

Seven Days In Dublin Again #2

Just reading the rather excellent Pies and Prejudice by Stuart Maconie and the man from Wigan points out that Dublin's name is extrapolated from the gaelic "dubh" meaning black and 'linh" meaning pool. So Dublin is Ireland's very own Blackpool!! I think generally the name is about the only thing the two places have in common.

As this was our second time we managed to track down decent places to go and hit the target every time.

The Ha'penny Bridge pub , next to the Ha'penny Bridge (no surprise there) , serves an excellent pint of Guinness (to everyone in the pub when I was there) , and managed to screen the Manchester United and Celtic matches simultaneously , and still provide a warm welcome and superb service.

Across the Halfpenny Bridge is The Winding Stair and book shop cum restaurant (Michelin Guide Listed) that scores highly in both departments. Some excellent and unusual books are on sale and the food was absolutely gorgeous, though I get the impression that you do have to book , so make sure you phone if you fancy a meal there.

Also this there seem to be fewer beggars , being split between sad cases who sit holding out a McDonald's cup and the cheery ones selling The Big Issue or plaing some musical instruments. The latter ones actually brighten up the streets and walkways so got some donations from me.

Also checked out Tower records which among the normal stuff had many unusual psychedelic gems and is recommended. They were playing Beefheart and Amon Duul over the PA , not something you hear everyday anywhere!!!

As well as that we visited some museum in Dublin Castle which had a Japanese art display and a green area decorated with snakes in the form of a Celtic design . Well worth a look.
Another thing about Dublin , is the preposterous number of pharmacies everywhere. The Irish don't strike me as being a particularly ill race, far from it. Maybe it's because of the number of pharmacies that they manage to stave off all the possible ailments. Theres one particularly pleasant example in Dalkey (out of the four that I noticed , which is the one below.

Monday 25 February 2008

Seven Days On A Train

My current work situation means that I travel on a daily basis between Newcastle and Darlington using a combination of bus and train . Amazingly a 40 odd mile journey generally takes around 70 minutes door to door . I doubt I could do that by car.

The first time I made the journey it was by car , and in the first 45 minutes I'd managed to progress aropund three miles . Once I'd passed the Metro Centre bottle neck it was plain sailing down the A1 until the Darlington turn off whereupon I became hindered by an RAC tow truck for about 5 miles . Not really a great recommendation for travel by car.

However despite the general excellence of the public transport in this part of the country there are strill those who contrive to make the journey as awkward as possible. For instance:

  • As you run for the bus at the stop, the driver who shuts the doors and refuses to acknowledge you as you hammer on the side of his bus as he pulls away, despite the fact that he's two or three minutes early. And you know the next bus will be cancelled or at the least very late.
  • When you run into the train station , the train is standing there (doors shut) and you're told by the smarmy uniformed rail employee that "You've missed it"!! Five minutes later the train pulls out . It makes you want to visit physical violence on these people.
  • On the Arriva busses in Darlington the ticket printers havent been re inked for years resulting in very faint weekly tickets being printed. Certain myopic drivers cant read these and take ages before grudgingly letting you on the bus. In Newcastle the tickets are generally very legible.
  • Why is it on trains , when your trying to find a seat , certain people insist on standing in the gangway to rummage through their luggage , ensuring that no one can get past them!!
  • Similarly is the drinks / sarnie trolley that pins you in your seat just as you need to leave the train.

Despite the number on annoyances on the trains and busses , they're still far preferable to and hour in a traffic jam , followed by an age trying to park your motor!!

Tuesday 19 February 2008

Seven Days In Dublin Again #1

Back in Dublin this January , with the knowledge to avoid awful pubs like Goggerty's in Temple bar.

We decided to try either end of the DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transport) line , well Howth at one end and Bray ate the other.


Howth is a small village with a marina that makes no attempts to pander to tourists. It's obviously just "take us as we are" , none of your normal seaside rubbish. Unfortunately this was the day I forgot my camera so had to rely on my mobile phone . However one place that caught my eye was a photographic studios. The pictures in the window were obviously someones pride and joy , but I thought it was more like the children of the damned!! Well maybe that's a bit harsh , but they were scary none the less.

The town centre is pleasant and there's one fish 'n' chip shop , but we lunched in the Abbey Tavern , where the Guinness was excellent , the fish and chips likewise , and the T-Shirts reasonable!!


Bray was a different kettle of fish entirely , or so it seemed. Got off the train and were accosted by some drunk outside a Chinese takeaway . Didnt get much better and although the coastal scenery is breathtaking we couldnt find the town centre and when we did it looked like two steps down from Gateshead high street (that's not good), We took our chances in the first pub we came across , expecting the worst , but onece through the door the place was very pleasant , service and Guinness again absolutely excellent. We didnt have much time in Bray but will check it out properly next year.

Monday 18 February 2008

Newcastle Observation #2

My current method employment requires me to leave home very early and traverse the streets of Newcastle , pre 7 am! this means you see many odd and inexplicable sights such as:

  • A sign in the window of the Clayton Street Ladbrokes stating "Money Back On All Non Runners" as though it were something new and extraordinary. As far as I'm aware that's been the state of affairs for as long as I know. Most Odd! If you want a free £10 bet click Here
  • Then theres the legions of window cleaners with their long extendable pipes , who manage to flood the pavements between the Eldon and Central Station. Make sure you wear waterproof footwear.
  • And the odd pastry delivery van outside Clayton Street Gregg's / Eldon Milligan's that can never ever get started. Obviously it must do at some point otherwise it would still be there now!
  • Outside The Black Garter pub (prior to 7 am remember) a bunch of pensioners were pushing each other around prior to a full blown fight I assume. Who the hell waits outside a Newcastle Centre pub (of such dubious repute) at that time in a morning??

And theres probably much more , but can't think at the moment