Posts Tagged ‘ariel house’

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.

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Ariel House Hotel, Lansdowne Road

[Written by Mark unless AB before paragraph]

We both rose early this morning. We knew we had a long drive ahead of us and the weather forecast wasn’t good. Deirdre had asked us to take some photographs of the breakfast table for their website. We took a handful of photographs while we waited for a table. Breakfast was first class again. We felt we had both over-eaten over the last couple of days, so we opted for natural yoghurt and granola, the vegetarian breakfast and homemade soda bread. Perfect!

After breakfast, we left comments in the visitors’ book: “Tá sé ar fheabas ar fad. Bricfeasta blasta, táimid sásta! Tá sé go hiontach!” Google translate that!!

Back up to the room to finish packing, then loading up the car. I took one last photograph of the hotel, then negotiated my way out of the car park. The SatNav found a route, so we headed up towards the Liffey to find a petrol station. The SatNav then lost its signal, so we were driving blind for the best part of half an hour. We got onto the N4 (Ushers Quay), filled up the car at the first petrol station we found (nearly 1.57 a litre), then followed the signs for Westport.

We did think about avoiding toll roads and heading through the back roads, but it turned out that the only toll was €2.80! Again, the run was uneventful. As soon as we got out of Dublin, the roads got quieter and quieter. We stopped off at Ballaghadereen for tea and a ham sandwich (nothing to write home about), then carried on to Westport. The weather was deteriorating – mist and rain. We finally got to Westport and it felt cold enough to be March. We found a small supermarket and stopped for supplies. Westport was very busy – it turned out there was a festival on over the weekend and several well-known artists were performing, including Seasick Steve. We had no idea!! Supplies purchased: tea, milk, bread, beer, wine, bacon, eggs – just the essentials.

Heading off to Louisburgh on the R335, we passed what should have been Croagh Patrick, but it was shrouded in mist, as was Clew Bay. The view was still impressive. The road takes you right along the coast and is a challenging drive – mind you, most of the roads round here are challenging! Louisburgh is small and looks a bit run down, but blink and you miss it.

Room with a view

From Louisburgh, we headed south through Carrowniskey and Roonith Hill, finally arriving at Killeen and turning right up the hill towards Aillemore. This road is fiddly – it’s a single-track road and we met a couple of other road users coming the other way. There are occasional passing places, so we took turns pulling on to grass verges, etc. We finally got to the cottage – a largish, grey-walled bungalow. The caretaker, Mary, was waiting for us. She gave us a brief guided tour then left us to unpack. The lounge has a huge picture window, stretching almost floor to ceiling, and a sliding patio door of the same proportion. From the window, it should have been possible to see Clare Island but, yes, you guessed it, it was obscured by the low cloud and rain. Oh well, maybe we’ll get a better view tomorrow.

AB: The controls for the central heating (needed) were in a little brick hut in the garden. You had to crouch down and back into it to access them.  Nigh impossible for those who are not agile. Why not put them in the cottage? Mary had left bedding out on all the beds, so we could choose which room we liked. Hobson’s Choice: there was only one double room. It had an en suite, not that that made any difference with just the two of us staying there. The duvet was heavy and lumpy, and the bedding was poly-cotton. Hmm, should have brought our own lovely Egyptian cotton stuff. We didn’t relish a week lying under that, so decided to head to Galway early tomorrow to buy some decent stuff. There was the makings of a fire in the porch: kindling and briquettes. A real fire was one the criteria for choosing this place, so Mark got to work setting it. But then we couldn’t find any matches! A quick text to Mary and her daughter dropped some round. Yay, we had a fire! But then smoke started billowing into the room, and we had to open the windows. So maybe we won’t be snuggling up in front of a roaring fire every evening after all. I made tuna with wholewheat pasta for dinner; I always find that comforting and grounding in a new place. Once the fire had died down, we headed for our not-so-lovely bed. Not liking pitch darkness, and expecting it to be like that with no streetlights around, I’d bought a nightlight to plug in. Turned out it wasn’t needed; the sky retained a hint of light. Night-night!

Another early start: about 6:30am. A cuppa and a cereal bar. Quick showers; water pressure terrible. Got to the ferry terminal before 7:30am. Very few on board. Just a handful of people in the Stena+ lounge. Worth paying the extra, though. It’s quiet and the complimentary snacks are welcome.

MS: Had a wander on deck while Angie was writing the above bit. I was at least expecting to see a couple of people out there, but there was no-one. The sky is grey, but it was trying to clear. Looking out now, it’s grey again. I managed to get a handful of photographs, before coming back in. I always find it surprising that however warm it feels on land, it’s always colder at sea. Anyway, the sea is calm – just a few ripples, so no real sense of movement. If it wasn’t for the rumble of the engines, you’d think that we were still in dock. I had a wander down to the main lounge and was surprised to find only a handful of people. One of the staff said that it’s been like this all week.

MS: I’m quite pleased with the camera I have been loaned while mine is being repaired (again). It has a lot of features that I’m looking forward to trying.

I wandered over to the duty-free shop to see what was on offer. Always on the lookout for my favourite perfume (Calvin Klein Eternity) at a sensible price; out of stock. Got chatting to Mike, the crew member on duty. Interesting guy. We covered a lot of ground – the awfulness of Holyhead, books, beaches, weather, the ferry, languages, Second Life. It was lovely to see his passion for his native tongue (Welsh). Mark turned up after a bit, having become concerned because I’d been gone so long! The subject turned to music and DJing. It was now close to docking time, so we went on deck for more photos and to watch the Dublin port approach.

Entrance to Dublin Port

Dublin

With so few people on board, disembarkation was rapid. So good to be driving (being driven) through the city again. I always smile when I see the ‘Canary Dwarves’. The SatNav was getting her knickers in a twist but Mark ignored her and we got to Ariel House without incident. Such a warm welcome from Deirdre (the manager)! Our room wasn’t quite ready (well, it was only noon) but we were brought tea and banana bread while we waited in the lounge. Feckin’ gorgeous! We were in the Jonathan Swift mini-suite again (room 255). We’d had some minor issues with house-keeping standards last time we stayed (a year ago) but they’d all been addressed. The place was immaculate, and the chrome in the bathroom gleamed. They’d added bathrobes and slippers too! Not your usual toweling hotel robes, but big (very big) fleece ones. The bed is huge…and it’s not one of those hideous zip-links. Perfect. Absolutely perfect. The padded bed head put us in mind of the Blockbuster game board. ILY (I Love You), ILYT (I Love You Too), IWST (I Want Some Tea), YKWTKI (You Know Where The Kettle Is). LOL!

Unpacked. The place still lacks a chest of drawers, but I mentioned that to Deirdre; I suspect there will be one next time we stay. The DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) station is just two minutes from here, so we caught that to Tara Street. The first thing we needed to do was get my mobile working. I’d bought a bottom-of-the-range PAYG handset last year; cheaper than using our UK mobiles and incurring those outrageous roaming charges. The SIM wasn’t being recognised. Turns out that numbers expire after six months if not topped up; no one had told me that. A quick call to customer services (at the Vodafone shop in Grafton Street) soon had it reinstated, although I’d lost whatever credit was on there (probably not much). Topped up and ready to go. The phone is too basic: it can’t do predictive texting, so sending an SMS is a laborious process. Still, I don’t need to use it much. I called Caitriona (an old friend), as we’d arranged to meet her after work. In the meantime, we pootled around, and stopped off at Bewley’s for a coffee and scone. Luckily, we got a window table upstairs; great for people watching.

Nipped into Brown Thomas to see if they’d any Oska clothing on offer (too expensive otherwise) but they no longer stock it. Sniffed a few bottles of Molton Brown shower gel, but didn’t buy. They’d a special offer on packs with two bottles (30 euros for two instead of the usual 22 euros for one) but we didn’t like any of them. The one we did like wasn’t included. Typical! Why not offer us two of those for 30 euros? We did buy one in the Molton Brown shop in Wicklow Street, though, having had the opportunity to actually try them, rather than just sniff them (handbasin and towels in the shop).

Mark had wanted to get a polarising filter for his camera. A shop in Wicklow Street had what he wanted but it’d cost around 60 euros. I successfully searched my memory banks for where I’d bought my Olympus back in 2005. It had closed down; now a jeweller. The chap there told us there was another branch in George’s Street, near Decwells (a hardware store). “I have a secondhand one I can give you”, said the very helpful camera shop man. Only a fiver! One very happy Mark.

Got to the Fitzwilliam Hotel about quarter past five. Checked out parking arrangements for next weekend, then settled in reception to wait for Caitriona. Good to see her again. We were footsore and she was very hungry, so we got no farther that TGI Fridays (next door). Not a place that’s usually at the top of our list, but it was fine. Caitriona and I shared a bottle of decent red wine, and Mark had a couple of pints of Guinness. We were less shocked by Dublin prices this time, but they’re still shocking: almost 23 euros for ribs and fries! We’d a really nice evening; so much to catch up on. Delighted that Caitriona plans to visit us in Notts before long. It was raining lightly when we left TGIF but that made for a very pleasant walk back to Pearse Street station to catch the DART.