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Enjoying the sunshine at Glendalough

15 Jun

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Birthday bonanza!

5 May

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My lovely birthday cake from Il Valentino bakery – tastes as good as it looks!

I’ve had a lovely birthday weekend with the boyfriend and my sister and brother-in-law who came to visit us.

We’ve managed to pack quite a lot into four days. On Friday we visited Howth, which has always been on my list of places to visit in and around Dublin. I’ve heard it’s the place to get fresh sea-food and has lots of lovely restaurants and bars, but unfortunately we got confused and only made it as far as Howth Junction which has a very small sea-front and only a couple of shops.

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We had a bracing walk and some ice-cream and then headed back to Dublin in time for a delicious birthday meal at Luigi Malones. We ended up dancing (and drinking) the night away and woke up on Saturday feeling rather delicate!

We had pre-booked an hour’s kayaking on the Grand Canal with Extreme Time-Off, and the prospect was not a very welcome one when we first woke up with fuzzy heads! It actually turned out to be a great way to banish the last vestiges of a hang-over. Unfortunately we couldn’t get any photos as I didn’t fancy coming away with a soggy iPhone, but it was a lot of fun and none of us fell in – yay! If anybody fancies giving it a try, they say wetsuits are optional but I would go for them if I were you. We opted out but we didn’t realise that there were holes in the bottom of the kayaks and we came away with rather considerable wet-patches, leading to our new nickname “The Wet-Bottomed Bandits”.

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The beautiful waterfall at Powerscourt, Wicklow

 

Today we drove out to Powerscourt Waterfall and Glendalauch. The sun was shining and the scenery was beautiful; I can’t actually say which I preferred as they were both stunning in different ways. The waterfall is so high and powerful, and the lauch is peaceful and idyllic. It’s definitely one of the best things we’ve done since we moved to Ireland, and Paddy has been snoozing for hours after expending all of his energy taking in the new surroundings!

To say I’m tired is an understatement but the weather has been glorious, the company has been great and I feel very content!

If you’ve been or have other places to suggest, I’d love to hear from you!

Enjoy the Bank Holiday 🙂 DD xX

20130505-213413.jpgThe beautiful Upper Lake at Glendalauch

Getting back on track…

14 Apr

I have been quite quiet recently, mainly due to feeling ill since February and just wanting to hibernate instead of going out to investigate new areas of Dublin. I don’t know about you but I’m a bit of a bad patient so I kept working and going out with friends and therefore prolonging my infection… not the brightest idea! I finally took some time off to recuperate at the beginning of March so I’m now feeling much brighter, and have resumed business as usual.

Here’s a break-down of some of the nice things I have managed to fit in since my recovery:

1) Going to see ‘The Full Monty’ at the Bord Gaís Energy Theatre. My friend Karen bought me tickets for Christmas, and neither of us could believe how quickly it came round! It was a fantastic night; the show was absolutely brilliant and when we left my hands were stinging from clapping so hard. I would definitely recommend seeing it if it comes to a town near you!

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Not your typical strippers…

2) Coming firmly last place at the Rainforest Adventure Golf in Dundrum. One of my friends Heather had seen half-price offer on one of the deal websites, so four of us went and had a ball showing off our “skills”. It’s normally €9 each for adults, but you get a lot for your money and can have pizza and wine whilst you wait so would make a great date night as well as being a fun group outing. Check out their website for more details.

3) Being taken for a lovely romantic evening out to The Tea Room Restaurant, which is Bono’s restaurant in the Clarence Hotel in Dublin city centre. I have always had a bit of a grudge against Bono after reading once that he chartered a plane from the UK to New York to carry his lucky hat, because he couldn’t go on stage without it. This is clearly the behaviour of a baffoon, but I did not let it ruin my enjoyment of his establishment! The food was lovely if not a little gourmet in terms of portion-size, but the restaurant was very empty and there wasn’t a lot of atmosphere. We followed it up with cocktails at my favourite bar, Lost Society, who you can follow  on Twitter @lostsocdublin. Don’t forget to follow me whilst you’re at it – @dublin_diaries 🙂

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Me and my beloved ❤

4) Enjoying the “sunshine” with Paddy. We’ve had a few reasonable weekends recently, so I’ve been a very dutiful owner and taken the pug for some nice walks near the canal and to the park in Merrion Square. He is never happier than when he’s outside causing mischief chasing other dogs and people’s children!

Paddy enjoying the beer garden at The Bath Pub in Ballsbridge.

a Paddy enjoying the beer garden at The Bath Pub in Ballsbridge.

5) Going to check out the Farmer’s Market in Dún Laoghaire. This morning I met my friend Laura in Dún Laoghaire for a wander around the weekly farmer’s market. I’ve been wanting to try this for a while as I’ve heard good things, and as previous readers of my blog may know, I LOVE Dún Laoghaire. With the sun shining and the stunning views over the bay, you feel like you’re on holiday and I wouldn’t mind making the move out there if I was ever to leave my current flat.

The bay in Dún Laoghaire - beautiful!

The bay in Dún Laoghaire – beautiful!

The farmer’s market is lovely, much better than the paltry Christmas market I visited at the IFSC in December which had a bit of a jumble sale feel to it. The Dún Laoghaire version mainly sells delicious food, such as fresh breads, olives, chutneys, relishes and cakes. There was almost too much choice, and in the end I opted for a tomato and mozerella pizza from Dave’s Wood-Fired Pizza Co., whilst Laura chose a falafel. Both of us were satisfied with our decisions!

Lovely fudge!

Lovely fudge!

Dave's Wood-fired Pizza

Dave’s Wood-fired Pizza

Yum!

Yum!

Lovely lavendar

Lovely lavendar – it smelled amazing!

The smells were amazing and it was lovely to peruse the different stalls, although I was tempted by far too many of them! In the end I settled for my pizza and a pair of lovely hand-made earrings from Trinket Box. I can’t wait to visit again when my sister comes to visit in May – I know she’ll love it just as much as I did!

My lovely new earrings from Trinket Box.

My lovely new earrings from Trinket Box.

So that’s me up-to-date – I’d love to hear from any of you if you have any suggestions of nice places to visit in or around Dublin. Leave a comment below or tweet me 🙂

DD xX

A bit of the black stuff!

7 Feb

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My baby Guinness & the boyf’s man-size one!

I went to the Guinness Storehouse today with my boyfriend and his parents who are visiting. I didn’t expect to enjoy it that much as I’m not a big fan of the “black stuff” but I was intrigued to see what it might be like after my research last year for Arthur’s Day.

Fun fact of the tour was that Arthur Guinness originally signed a lease for 9,000 years on the Dublin St. James Gate site – quite the commitment!

I definitely found it entertaining and it’s quite interactive so I’d recommend it to everyone, even non-beer drinkers like myself!

Follow @homeofguinness on Twitter for the latest updates, or check out their webpage for admission prices.

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Samsara Cafe Bar

3 Dec

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One of my favourite bars in Dublin is Samsara on Dawson Street. They play really good music (in my humble opinion!) and have a range of cocktails for 5€, which is as cheap as I’ve seen them in Dublin. They also offer you free bowls of popcorn with your cocktail… what more could you possibly want?

For more information, follow them on Twitter @SamsaraCafeBar.

Laughing it up at the Capital Comedy Club!

29 Nov

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Simon O’Keeffe from http://www.capitalcomedyclub.com

A couple of weeks ago some friends and I went to watch stand-up at the Capital Comedy Club, which operates from the upstairs bar in the Ha’penny Inn next to the Quays. The stand-up acts had us in stitches but we all agreed that the true star of the night was the MC, Simon O’Keeffe. It got me wondering about how people progress from doing a few gigs here and there to compering a popular show twice a week. Luckily for me, Mr. O’Keeffe kindly agreed to answer that question – amongst others – during a pre-show interview last week…

Dublin Diaries: Seeing as comedy nights are such a popular tourist attraction in Dublin, what would you say makes Capital Comedy Club better than the rest?

Simon O’Keeffe: It’s difficult to find good venues for comedy nights, so we’re lucky to have enough space for people to have a few drinks and be able to relax while they watch the show. It’s easy enough for someone to get out for a smoke during the show and we have a larger capacity than some other venues. Also, we show professional comedians for a low price – we have a lot to offer the audience.

DD: You’ve been MC-ing at the Capital Comedy Club for eight years now. How did you get into that?

SO: I’d done quite a few open-mic nights at the club, so the MC asked me to stand in one night. After that I did it a few more times, and eventually I took over when he left.

DD: You’ve gigged in the UK, Spain, Austria… do you prefer a home crowd or do you like trying out new crowds?

SO: A bit of both. I mean the advantage of gigging in Ireland is that you have more material; people are going to understand your jokes more. The cultural references go down better. The good thing about working at the Capital Comedy Club is that we get a very international audience so I’m used to catering to a wider crowd.

DD: So are there any nationalities that have a better sense of humour than others?

SO: I’d say the Baltic countries… Lithuania, Finland. They love comedy because stand-up comedy still doesn’t really exist in northern Europe. They’ve grown up watching Chris Rock and Eddie Murphy on TV, and then they come here and they get the chance to see it live so they’re much more enthusiastic.

DD: Are there any topics that are off-limits for your acts, or does anything go?

SO: I mean as long as they’re funny, nothing is off-limits. We’ve had people walk out at some jokes which other people have loved – it’s so subjective. We’re so over-exposed these days to offensive jokes – the minute somebody famous dies a hundred jokes start doing the rounds on the internet – so people are used to it. What I would say is that if you’re going to be offensive – for example if you’re going to go down what we call the “rapey paedo” route – you have to be really, really good and you have to be able to vary your material. A set of samey, offensive jokes won’t go down too well with everyone.

DD: Who is your favourite act to ever grace the Capital Comedy Club stage?

SO: I would say David McSavage or Scott Capurro. Scott’s this really tall, extremely gay guy who is deliberately quite offensive. One of the best put-downs he did at the club when somebody left in disgust was “You know you’ve offended an Irish person if they leave without finishing their pint”. David McSavage does quite polarising comedy; he always picks on somebody who doesn’t seem to be enjoying his act. In fact, some of my mates who were dating ended up splitting up during his act, because she hated it so much that she wanted to leave and he refused.

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Scott Capurro, from http://www.scottcapurro.com

DD: That’s quite some claim to fame, to have caused a break-up during your act! Talking of girlfriends, when I came to the show you mentioned both your girlfriend and your dad in your act. Do they ever get fed up of being mentioned?

SO: My girlfriend has a rougher sense of humour than me! Once, my mum and girlfriend came to one of my gigs together and I was worried about telling this particularly dodgy joke in front of my mum, but in the end she thought it was hilarious and it was my girlfriend who was embarrassed! They’re used to it at this stage I think.

DD: Is it difficult to come up with new material performing at the same venue every week?

SO: It forces you to be more creative and to come up with new stuff. You get more experience thinking on your feet and you can retell jokes but add new elements and develop it. Also, because we get a lot of tourists you often need to explain the references and that can lead you down a different, funnier path.

DD: Do you prefer doing a set, or MC-ing?

SO: I would say I prefer doing a set, because logistically it’s easier. Sometimes with MC-ing, it’s like any job and you could turn up and just not be feeling it. With a set, you already have the material ready so even if you’re not in the mood you can still go for it.

DD: You have experience writing for television shows too. What’s that like?

SO: It’s a good change but I prefer writing for myself because you get a live reaction from the audience and you can see what works well. Plus, nobody can come along and tell you to change it! I’m writing a pilot for a sitcom at the moment which I’m really excited about, so I’m just waiting to see if it’s going to be developed.

DD: Finally, what advice would you give to any aspiring comedians out there who want to make their debut at the Capital Comedy Club?

SO: I would say do as many gigs as you can, and record them. Then watch it back the next day – not that night – and see what worked and what didn’t. Also, be polite when you’re ringing up to ask for gigs. Some of the people who call us are so rude and have such an ego – as if it’s their right to perform here. We always get back to people who call us, but they need to be realistic. There’s a 4-6 month waiting list to perform in one of our open spots, so it’s competitive. We have one open spot a night; people need to realise how many people are going to try out.

DD: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me! I’ll definitely be coming to see another show soon!

Click here to watch some of Simon’s stand-up:

For more information about upcoming events, check out any of the following links:

www.capitalcomedyclub.com
www.youtube.com/capitalcomedyclub
www.facebook.com/capitalcomedyclub
https://twitter.com/capitalcomedycl

Stay classy San Diego!

29 Nov

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This week, I entered a competition to win tickets to a screening of Anchorman at the pop-up Bean Bag Cinema at the Hampton Hotel in Ballsbridge. The competition was advertised through the Dublin Events Guide (more about that later), and I was pleasantly surprised to find out I’d won!

I’ve never heard of a Bean Bag Cinema before, and I’ve seen Anchorman about 100 times but the idea of doing something a bit different and getting a free date out of it appealed. The Hampton Hotel is a boutique hotel near Herbert Park, and the room they’d converted into the cinema would fit about 20 bean bags. It costs 15€ to hire a double bean bag, and a single is 10€. You can buy popcorn for 2€, but you can get some for free if you sign up to like the Bean Bag Cinema page on Facebook (1 free portion per couple).

We enjoyed the experience and Ron Burgundy had us chuckling away as usual (“Milk was a bad choice!”) – the only thing I would say is that the screening room is freezing so make sure you’re dressed warmly and you’ll be fine.

For more information, follow @beanbagcinema on Twitter, find them on Facebook or check out their site here.

To get information about what’s going on in Dublin, especially free events, sign up for the Dublin Events Guide newsletter here. He runs different competitions every week and it’s a really comprehensive guide to what’s going on in the city.

Johnnie Fox’s rocks!

27 Nov

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Johnnie Fox’s, Dublin. Copyright Rebecca Ellis 2012.

One of my favourite tourist attractions in Dublin is Johnnie Fox’s, the highest pub in Ireland. It’s up in the Dublin mountains and so is quite a drive out of the city centre, but in my opinion it’s well worth it!

I first visited the pub when my sister and brother-in-law came to visit over the summer, and we decided to make a night of it by getting the shuttle bus from outside the Shelbourne Hotel in St. Stephen’s Green which will take you there and bring you back for only 10€. After a large meal, we ended up listening to the live music from one of the side rooms whilst we got progressively drunk off bottles of white wine, and so perhaps didn’t take full advantage of all that was on offer – although we still had a LOT of fun.

 

Some of the tasty food on offer.

On my second visit last weekend, I got to take it all in a little better. I went up there during the day with some friends who were visiting from the UK, and it had a completely different feel from the slightly raucous night we’d experienced during the summer. We sat around a large table at the back of the pub next to an open fire and ordered hot ports and whiskeys whilst we caught up on what was going on in each other’s lives. It was the perfect venue for a girly reunion. The sawdust-covered floor and the wide range of traditional Irish paraphernalia all added to the cosy atmosphere. One of the girls even found a photo of one of her Irish relatives who had been sent over to New York from Ireland decades ago to play a historic game of Gaelic football, which was pretty amazing.

 

Some of the knick-knacks at Johnnie Fox’s.

Johnnie Fox’s is the kind of place which appeals to tourists and Irish people alike, so I would definitely recommend it. They have traditional Irish music playing every night as well as their famous Hooley nights (dinner and a show), and as I discovered on Saturday they can also offer a more peaceful experience if you just fancy a quiet drink.

For more information, including details of the shuttle bus, check out the website at http://www.jfp.ie.

IFI French Film Festival

15 Nov

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When I was walking to work today I saw a billboard for the annual French film festival at the IFI (Irish Film Institute). The festival started yesterday and is running until the 25th November, with at least 2 films showing every day and special appearances from selected actors and directors – for example Juliette Binoche (of Chocolat fame) is appearing on the 24th November. Who wouldn’t want the chance to ask her what it’s like to kiss Johnny Depp?!

I’m a big fan of French films as they always seem to be a bit edgier and more darkly funny than Hollywood films so I’m definitely going to go, providing that I can convince some of my friends to accompany me! The full schedule is on the IFI website.

If anybody ends up watching a movie, please let me know what you thought in the Comments section, or on Twitter @Dublin_Diaries. You can also get updates and more information from the IFI by following their Twitter account @IFI_Dub.

Amusez-vous!

Best hot chocolate ever!

12 Nov

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This is the best hot chocolate ever! You get a cup of hot milk and a chocolate lolly complete with marshmallows. Add the lolly to the milk and hey presto – perfect antidote to these wintery afternoons! This was from Herb Street in Grand Canal Dock.

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