Archive for July, 2012

The alarm had been set for 6am but we were awake before it went off. Quick showers. Deirdre had put together a take-away breakfast for us. Much appreciated. As we were putting the last bits and pieces in the car, a taxi turned up to take a group of Americans to the port, so Mark suggested following him. He took a different route – not through town – and we were there in good time. What a contrast to the boat over! The Stena+ lounge was packed with families. It was truly awful. All the window seats had gone, taken mostly by kids. When we were that age, parents would have told their offspring to move and let the adults sit down. Now it seems their little darlings take priority. We found a table and had some of the complimentary cold buffet. I don’t understand why people order those over-priced cooked breakfasts on the boat, when the free stuff is perfectly adequate for a journey of this length.

Shortly after we sat down, the volume on the nearby TV shot up. It was showing some noisy film. I went to the staff to complain (politely) and was told they couldn’t discriminate against parents who wanted the volume up! And what about the rest of us? I pointed out that the Stena+ lounge had been advertised as ‘VIP luxury’ but this young crewmember just turned his back on me. Definitely in need of some customer service training. VIP? Vile Interfering Parents! We moved to another area, but were then subjected to the screams of kids playing on the Wii! We managed to survive the journey. I made sure to have some of the complimentary wine – so what if it was only 10:30am!

Disembarkation was fairly rapid. After about an hour we stopped at the services to have some of the Ariel House breakfast. We’d stopped here last year too. The 55 Café where we’d had breakfast that day had been demolished, though, and the area was fenced off and overgrown. Now there was just a petrol station, with a shop and a coffee machine. We sat in the car and delved into the bag. There were two big tubs of yoghurt, granola, fresh fruit, bread, cheese, cakes and biscuits! We had the yoghurt, granola and fruit, which were gorgeous, leaving the rest for later. Yet another uneventful journey. We got home about six, dumped our bags and stuff in the hall, and headed to West Bridgford to pick up Sam and Dave (the cats). They were fine, and didn’t seem at all grumpy with us for having abandoned them for two weeks. I often think of catteries as cat prison, but this place was more like a five-star hotel. Back home, we dug out the rest of our breakfast for tea. And very good it was too.

Breakfast for Tea

Shattered after such a long day, we decided to leave the unpacking till tomorrow. So good to be back in our own bed again. Night-night!



Another thing in Ariel House’s favour is that they serve breakfast till noon on a Sunday. How very civilised. We’d talked about taking the DART to Kilbarrack today to find the graves of my ancestors (the Arnolds). We didn’t want to take the car, having found a great parking spot that’d be easy to get out of in the morning (with such an early start, we didn’t want to risk getting blocked in and having to rouse someone at that hour). However, we discovered that the DART service is a bit sporadic on Sundays, and we needed to be back by 6pm to hook up with my brother. He’d been away on business when we’d arrived in Dublin. We decided to leave Kilbarrack for another time; anyway, I wanted to do some more research on that side of the family first. Around mid-afternoon we headed out to find Juniors Deli and Café, which had been recommended for dinner. We certainly liked the look of it, and went in to book a table for that evening. Unfortunately, it was closed on Sunday evenings, but Mark had fun chatting with the Lancashire lass who ran it! She suggested we try their sister restaurant, Paulie’s Pizza, which was just around the corner. That wasn’t yet open, but we were less keen on the interior, with its long benches. The barman at The Tavern in Murrisk (Mayo) had recommended The Chop House, but we’d read some unfavourable reviews and had been undecided. The receptionist at Ariel House had raved about it though, so we thought we’d give it a try.

We wandered around the locality. At 6 Lansdowne Terrace is the Lansdowne Lodge Pre-School Montessori. Hanging above the door was a banner:

Oh dear, you’d think that an establishment concerned with education would know when to use an apostrophe! I must write to them about that.

Next we went in search of the Baggot Street Tesco to get some Jameson, for which Mark had now developed a taste. I also wanted to stock up on Barry’s Tea, and several packets of Kimberley and Mikado biscuits (childhood favourites that are not available in the UK; at least I haven’t found them). En route we spotted a wine shop that claimed to stock a good range of whiskeys, so in we went. The proprietor seemed less than interested in selling us Jameson, but brought out a very expensive bottle for us to try. “Isn’t that smooth!” he enthused. Er, no, it nearly burned the back of my throat off. We didn’t like his manner – he clearly thought we had no taste when it came to whiskey – so left and headed on to the supermarket. Filled our basket with biccies and tea (bags and loose). The Jameson was behind the till but it seemed pricey. Maybe it’d be cheaper on the boat, or even at home. Everything rung up, I realised I didn’t have my card with me; luckily Mark had enough cash. Back to Ariel House to drop the shopping off, and get ready for dinner.

I was so looking forward to spending some time with my brother, whom I so rarely see. Unfortunately, he was delayed and couldn’t join us for dinner. The Chop House turned out to be first-rate. We’d been impressed with the Citron last night but this matched it. We’d intended to have just one course, but couldn’t resist the desserts when we saw them on other tables! The service was excellent; they even turned the music right down as soon as we asked.

We got chatting to two women on the next table (not a couple, although we thought they were at first). They’d been on a walking holiday. The subject of house-swapping came up, and they seemed keen. It’s something we’ve been talking about doing, so we gave them our cards. They left before us, one of them keen to get back to a local pub, where she’d been smitten by one of the barmen.

We got back to Ariel House about quarter to nine, and my brother turned up soon after. We’d hoped to get to bed by about nine – what with the early start and the long drive home – but stayed chatting till about 11pm. It was good to see him but we had way too little time, as always. He’s such a busy man. He’d brought along a shoebox full of photos from my childhood. I’d hoped he’d bring the entire collection (well, I’d asked him to) as we had the car to get them home safely, and I’d have plenty of time to sort and scan them. I was disappointed, as I don’t know when we’ll be back in Dublin again. Maybe he’ll visit us in Nottingham someday soon.

We paid our bill before heading up to bed: this place is such great value.