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UK 2002/03

Dublin |

So it’s been a while since I last wrote, and I apologise, but the only thing I can say is that I’ve kind of been a bit distracted and in my own world of late. It’s been a long cold winter in London, and the most exciting thing that happened was that it snowed lots in early January, which was pretty fun. I spent Christmas with Darrel and his family in Rugely, Staffordshire, and had a really good, although quiet, New Years’ in London.

I was, however, really glad when all my friends started reappearing in London, and soon everything was back in swing. I’ve spent some time catching up with everyone and seeing lots of pictures from home – it’s wonderful how healthy everyone looks back there! I also went to see a play called “What the night is for” in the West End, which starred Gillian Anderson (from the X-Files) and Roger Allam, and despite it having very mixed reviews, I thought it was absolutely excellent – particularly her (and she really is tiny!).

I went to Dublin on the weekend with Andy and Craig, and I had a really good time – it was really great to get out of London and away from everything, I have to say. We stayed in a pretty nice hostel (with en-suite bathrooms!!) called Avalon House, just near St. Stephen’s Green – and fantastically close to town. On arrival we dumped our stuff and then headed straight for Temple bar and a nice cold pint. Bizarrely enough as soon as we arrived we bumped into Bruce Sutherland, who the boys know from CT, and who is over in Dublin doing a 3-month Ernst &Young secondment – funny how small a place can be sometimes, huh? After quenching our thirst we headed over to the renowned Bad Ass Café, where legend has it Sinead O’Connor once worked as a waitress. Then back out for more drinkies and eventually home to a lovely drafty room and an unsurprisingly hard top-bunk bed!

Out to make the most of sightseeing Dublin, we were up and at breakfast (pretty impressive by YH standards – yoghurt, muffin, fruit, juice, although tea that was absolutely undrinkable!) by 9 o’clock and met Bruce in town to catch the Dublin Bus for a bit of a tour. We had the most fantastic driver, Jim, who jauntily informed us of all the visitors information we could wish to know J As it was a lovely sunny day we chose to sit on the top, although by the time we got off at the end of the circuit, we felt like a couple of icicles and wandered off to find some nice warm hot chocolate.

We then headed for Trinity college to see the Book of Kells, which was pretty cool. Dating from 800AD, it’s one of the oldest books in the world, but is most famous for it’s amazing and incredibly complex illustrations. We also saw the rest of the library, and had a look at the Long Room, which it turns out is what the Library in the latest Star Wars is based on – and you can see the resemblance too, it’s almost eerie…

After Lunch we stopped off at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and I wasn’t expecting much, having seen my fair share of churches – but I was really impressed, it really was lovely and had a real charm to it. And then it was off again to the inevitable stop at the Guinness Storehouse… Truly high tech (although a bit too much ra ra Arthur Guinness), it has multiple floors that trace the history of the brewery and then take you through the process of brewing a good pint of Guinness – and all leading up to the grand finale of your very own pint of Guinness in the Gravity Bar at the very top of the building. We timed it beautifully for sunset – and the 360o view out over Dublin is quite spectacular. I’m quite proud of myself for managing about half my pint of Guinness, it’s certainly not my favourite and definitely an acquired taste, but I enjoyed it none the less!

Then, after a bit of a rest back at Avalon House, we headed back out to Temple Bar, this time to the Porter House, where we discovered, to our delight, that there was a great band playing really good Irish music, and we had a good meal and many happy pints!

On Sunday we thought we might do a day trip, but managed to be so disorganised that by the time we got to the station the only tour for the day had left! So we decided to go to the Dublin Writer’s Museum, which houses various letter, photos and first edition books of such famous authors as Bram Stroker (Dracula), Jonathan Swift (Gulliver’s Travels), James Joyce (Ulysses) and Oscar Wilde.

Next we headed for the castle and particularly the Chester Beatty Library. This is truly one of the most spectacular things I’ve seen in all my travels – it has over 20,000 manuscripts and rare books – and although I’m not much one for museums and libraries, I thoroughly enjoyed browsing this really spectacular collection, particularly the religious floor (the Islamic section is fantastic!), which has an awesome collection of some of the oldest books and manuscripts on display anywhere in the world.

And then, just to top off a good trip, our flight got delayed and so when we checked in they moved us to an earlier flight which had been delayed – and bumped us to Business Class – and this on a £16 ticket!! So we wound our way leisurely to the business class lounge, sipped our drinks and watched TV, until it was time for our flight and had a leisurely trip home…

Locations Visited: London, Dublin, London

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