Archive | October, 2012

The Dublin Pug Club

31 Oct

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Paddy enjoying the autumn leaves!

Paddy had a very eventful Saturday this week. First of all, he had an appointment at the vet during which he made friends (yayyy!!) with a Siberian husky who was literally more than 10 times his size, and then got a vaccination (boo!). On our way out of the vets, a lady stopped us to have a cuddle with him and told us that she too has a black pug whose name is (you guessed it!) Paddy. She invited us to the next meeting of The Dublin Pug Club, who meet every 3rd Sunday of the month at Herbert Park in Ballsbridge. She was so friendly and excited about it that I instantly decided that it would be a great way for both Paddy and I to make new friends.

After a long walk home from the vet, we decided to stop at Il Valentino (the best bakery in Dublin, in my humble opinion) to get an afternoon treat when we were again approached by two ladies who were out walking their pugs. They also wanted to cuddle and coo over Paddy, and they too invited us to the next Dublin Pug Club meeting. If I had realised owning a pug was such a conversation-starter, I would have got one when I first moved to Ireland! We left feeling like we had joined a secret society, and with Paddy feeling like a mini-celebrity after so much attention.

We’re definitely looking forward to our first meeting (November 18th), and if anyone else fancies coming there is more information on The Dublin Pug Club Facebook page. I’ll be sure to post pictures of Paddy’s adventure on here!

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @Dublin_Diaries.

Temple Bar

31 Oct

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The Temple Bar, Dublin. Copyright Rebecca Ellis 2012.

La lucha de las tapas!

30 Oct

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Photo from Market Bar website.

As any of my friends who have come to visit me in Dublin can attest, one of my favourite places to eat in Dublin is Market Bar on Fade Street. As I lived in Spain for 6 months during my degree, tapas is always a firm favourite of mine because I like to pretend I’m back in Sevilla being footloose and fancy-free. I rarely find that tapas live up to the standard, but the food at Market Bar is of a really good quality and the portions are massive – for two people, you’d really only need to order 3 tapas or risk being overloaded. Therefore, the pair of you can come away stuffed and partially tipsy (thanks to their reasonably priced half-carafe of sangria) for around €40. Not too shabby!

Last night, the Portugueezer decided to mix things up a little and took me to a different tapas restaurant in Ranelagh, La Bodega Tapas Y Vino. This was a completely different feel – the majority of staff there are actually Spanish and the atmosphere is quiet and sophisticated as opposed to Market Bar’s slightly raucous air (due to the fact that it also serves as a cocktail bar). The menu at La Bodega is much more varied than at Market Bar, and we chose 5 tapas to share. Although I enjoyed the food and would recommend it, the price would put me off returning as for two of us (with wine) it came to around €80. The staff were very attentive and the dessert was delicious (I chose chocolate fondant, naturally!) but I can’t justify the difference in price as I actually think the food at Market Bar was slightly nicer.

If you fancy making up your own mind about which tapas would top your list, you can check out a review and the menu of La Bodega here, and the Market Bar website here.

¡Que aproveche!

Sisterly bonding in Dun Laoghaire

16 Oct

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Pier at Dun Laoghaire. Copyright Rebecca Ellis 2012.

Although I haven’t explored as much of the outskirts of Dublin as I should have, one place which I really enjoy visiting is Dún Laoghaire. We were told by various Dubliners to visit Bray or Malahide, but it was actually a fellow Brit who recommended Dún Laoghaire for its markets and seaside views. I’ve visited a few times now, and decided to take my sister there on Sunday to show her the picturesque views I’d been boasting about. In the sunshine, Dún Laoghaire looks like an Italian fishing village with its colourful houses dotted along the cliff-side and the turquoise sea, but in the rain it unfortunately loses a bit of its sparkle. One of the main attractions of visiting the town is the view – you can see out for miles from the pier – but the shine is taken off when grey clouds are closing in above you, as was the case on Sunday.

Despite the weather, we soldiered on and had a wander down around the harbour and up through the village. There isn’t much to look at in way of shops but Dún Laoghaire does boast one in particular that I would make the trip for alone – Meadows and Byrne. It is the kind of homeware shop that women adore and men get tired of traipsing round – full of scented candles, decorative photo-frames and colourful Le Creuset-style pots and pans. If you are a fan of Avoca, you would love Meadows and Byrne as it is slightly cheaper and they wrap your purchases in tissue and a glossy paper bag.

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The Hen House, Dun Laoghaire

The other star attraction is The Hen House, a chicken restaurant on the sea-front. The décor is relaxed and trendy with exposed light-bulbs and green cushions, and the food lives up to the atmosphere. We both chose corn-fed half-a-chicken with pesto and chili sauce and a portion of chips, and it was so good that my sister swore it was the best chicken she’d ever tasted. For two mains and a drink each it came to just under €30, which isn’t too bad for the service and quality of food. For the full menu, click here.

For more information about things to do and see in Dún Laoghaire, click here.

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Love pugs, not drugs!

9 Oct

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I’ve been offline for a couple of days because all my time has been taken up with a new arrival to my household – a gorgeous 2-month old “pugell” (pug crossed with a Jack Russell). I saw an advert for him on Done Deal, which seems to be Ireland’s answer to Gumtree, and after much pestering I finally managed to get the other half on board with the idea.

We got a Bus Éireann coach down to Cavan, which we presumed would be much quicker than it actually was. It was my first experience using that company, and I wouldn’t be keen to repeat it. The times advertised online bore no relation to what time we actually arrived at our destination! What should have taken 3 hours in total took over 5; we were not impressed! Although the journey made me feel travel-sick and exhausted, it did give us plenty of time to come up with a name for him. We decided on Paddy to reflect his Irish roots, and he seems to like it as he’s already responding when we call him!

Although we don’t have a garden, we do live next to the Grand Canal and several parks where he will be able to run his little legs off. When he’s a bit older, we plan on taking him to the beach near our apartment (close to the Aviva stadium) at weekends, as there always seems to be some kind of dog party going on so he will be able to make some friends.

I am definitely going to be one of those people who talks about and posts pictures of their dogs all the time and expects everyone to be interested, so apologies in advance!

If anyone knows of any nice walks in Dublin, or can recommend a good vet and dog training classes, please comment below.

Chocoholic!

4 Oct

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Delicious profiteroles at Harry’s Cafe on Dawson Street, Dublin.

Namaste

3 Oct

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A week or so ago I saw an offer on Groupon for reduced-price Bikram Yoga classes. I’ve always fancied trying it, and seeing as I haven’t exercised at all since moving to Ireland I thought I’d give it a go. There were two options – 3 classes for €18 or 8 classes for €39. I decided to pick the 3-class option to be on the safe side; I have a history of giving up exercise classes when they get too tough!

The offer stated that all participants must bring their own towel, yoga mat and bottle of water, but that these could also be rented (or bought in the case of the water) for €2 each.

I booked my first class for yesterday evening at 6.30pm. The classes last for 90 minutes, and we were asked to turn up 20 minutes early to register. I ended up being about 40 minutes early as I decided to go straight from work, but in the end I was glad as the amount of people who turned up was ridiculous.

Whilst completing my registration form, I was chatting to the owner. I asked if they’d had much uptake. She told me that they’d sold over 1,000 of the deals on Groupon. That means that they were raking in at least €18,000 for the month. Add on the €2 here and there for renting the mats and towels and this was turning out to be a proper money-spinner for them.

Due to the popularity of the class, it was unpleasantly overcrowded. There was a small changing room and showers, but as a class was finishing as ours was starting you had to push and shove for a space. It was a little chaotic to say the least. I would recommend anyone else who goes to change before they arrive, or to wear their yoga outfit under their clothes as it was not a very calming way to start a class!

The class itself was better than I expected, although it was quite difficult and very sweaty. The instructor was clearly experienced and offered exercises to interest beginners and experts alike. He had arranged the room so that the more proficient amongst us were at the front to help demonstrate for the novices. Evidently, I was at the back of the class! We were encouraged to take our time and not to push ourselves too far, and to sit down and breathe calmly if we felt dizzy or overwhelmed, which a lot of us did.

I had to sit down a couple of times but overall I was quite proud of my effort. Despite having a wobbly moment when I couldn’t stop laughing at the instructor’s order to “twist like a pearl necklace”, I felt like I had pushed myself and had definitely benefited from the poses I managed to complete.

Although the whole experience was a bit shambolic, I think this is largely due to the fact that they weren’t expecting such a large uptake on the offer and that a smaller class would be much more peaceful and rewarding. For my next class, I will choose a weekend session instead and I’m hoping this will mean I’m able to get more out of it.

For anyone who’s interested in taking up Bikram Yoga, the studio can be found at 56-58 Drury Street and there is more information on their website or on Facebook.

Rockin’ Robin

2 Oct

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Robin in Iveagh Gardens, Dublin. Copyright Rebecca Ellis 2012

Dublin date night

1 Oct

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On Saturday, the boyfriend and I went for a date-night at Ely in Grand Canal Dock. There are a few Elys dotted about the city – one over at IFSC and another near St. Stephen’s Green, but the Grand Canal Dock branch has got to be my favourite.

The décor is luxurious with dark wood and low-lighting, and the mix of comfy armchairs and chandeliers gives it a homely yet exclusive feel. This makes it a perfect date venue, as you can let your guard down, lounge back with a glass of wine and watch the world go by.

I ordered a mini onion and porter cheese quiche and a portion of hand-cut chips with alioli sauce. The quiche was actually delicious – I would even go as far as to say melt-in-the-mouth, and the chips were pretty good too! The boyfriend had rare breed organic pork banger and mash, and also left a clean plate.

Although it’s not a cheap night out (with a bottle of wine and dessert it came to over €70), I definitely enjoyed it and would keep it in mind for special occasions. The staff are also very helpful and accommodating, despite the fact that it is nearly always packed whenever I’ve visited.

For more information or to check out the menu, see their website or follow them on Twitter @elywinebars.

 

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