You all know that my dear friend of over 20 years … Mary … has been visiting me from Oz on her European hols.
She spent 10 days in Edinburgh during the Festival with another dear friend of hers Anne.
They had a great time at dance and music and a food festival. One thing I loved hearing about was a bar that served Pottails.
Yup … cocktails in a teapot … my kind of place.
Think I might organise a Pottail party in Ballinamore … are you up for it Mags?
Mary arrived in Ballinamore last Friday … and as you know from previous posts and Facebook notes … I had been cleaning for days before she arrived … I lost the will to live a few times.
As soon as Mary arrived we went down to Smyths pub for a great lunch …. Mary is fascinated by the Irish tradition of chips and mashed potatoes on the same plate!
For the next day or so we literally sat by the fire … yeh … in the summer. It feels like it’s been raining for 3 years.
Mary says that staying in the cottage with me is the only time she actually slows down and does nothing … she knows she’s in the presence of a lolling zen mistress!!
Just to give you a comparison.
If ‘normal’ humans have the drive and energy of 1 gerbil running in a cage …. Mary is the equivalent of about 5 of the little devils!!!
So … we chill and chat and watch the rain come down … and in the 5 minutes when the rain stops …. We take Coco for a walk.
Mary is charmed by Coco … big surprise.
I think Coco is the dog equivalent of a super model.
On Sunday we get the train to Dublin and go the apartment we booked in Capel St.
Capel St is a great old street on the northside and just off the Liffey River.
The apartment was stunning and is over a great gay bar called Panti Bar. The bar and apartments are owned by Miss Panti and was really gorgeous …. High ceilings … big bedroom …. Big couch that I got to sleep on … nice bathroom.
All for the amazing price of 70 euro per night during the week … min booking of 2 days.
Mary gets the bedroom because she’s paying for the whole trip as a 50th birthdayth present for me … I am blessed with fantastic and generous friends.
Speaking of fantastic and generous friends … many thanks to Mags for looking after Coco for 3 days.
Coco loves going to Mags as she gets to play with all the other dogs …. And she adores Patsy cat …. Who treats Coco with suitable disdain.
So … Mary and I throw the bags in the apartment and go for a wander to the Jervis St shopping center right around the corner.
As evening approaches we go back to the apartment and get dressed up for dinner at Koh.
It’s a Thai/asian restaurant that I had read about online and wanted to check out as a potential venue for Dublin Design your own Blog site workshops … and I also love Thai food.
We were given a private room … and we proceeded to eat some of the best food I have tasted in a long while.
Top that with a lovely bottle of French wine and some great chat and you have a fab evening.
Mary wanted to take some photos … no probs … until she says ‘do something silly’
‘Like what?’ says I …. Thinking ‘yeh … right … I really want a photo of me looking like an eeedjit’.
And here you have my eedjit photo …. Lovely …. Not.
Here are some better photos.
Mary also turned 50 this year so we had a long chat about the new plans we have for our lives.
We ate a lot of starters as we love lots of different tastes … brilliant food at very reasonable prices.
We introduced ourselves to one of the owners (hi Connor) and congratulated him on a great restaurant … and excellent staff.
Here are a few more photos I took of the place … we went there again last night and I talked with Connor about using their large private room for my workshops with cultural and creative entrepreneurs …more about all that later.
we were the last to go … that’s why there’s no people in the shots.
this is the large private dining area where I hope to run my Design Your Own Blog Workshops … beautiful … and wified.
Mary and I then went to Panti Bar for our free welcome drink as part of the apartment package … I had a great margarita.
We ran into a friend of mine … Sean …. And his mate Jack …. And had a great chat about …. The Lisbon Treaty … the Civil Partnership Bill … science …. Urban planning …. Design …. Multi media.
Yeh … the usual trivial stuff.
Home and in bed by midnight.
Up at 7am on Monday for a major day of wandering and me being Mary’s personal shopper and introducing her to some of Dublins great shops … Penneys in Henry St … Brown Thomas … BT2 …. And funky shops in Georges Arcade on the southside.
We went into one of my fave shops … Om Diva where Mary had a great time.
This shop is amazing with some of the best jewellery … sparkly shoes …. And vintage clothes … all at good prices.
The shop assistant was a delight and has the best name … Clara Belle.
I’m love the shop and will be popping in whenever I’m in Dublin.
We went to Mao for lunch and more great Asian food.
More wandering in Grafton St …we charmed the very attractive man in Ted Baker into letting us take photos of the shop. Mary’s husband John runs the top menswear shop in Perth and sells Ted Baker clothes.
It’s late afternoon and we were due to meet Shani for afternoon tea in the Queen of Tarts café in Temple Bar.
A lovely place … where the iron sign fell on my head last time!
When the staff saw me coming in they all got a bit wild eyed and gave me a table well away from the sign … but near a huge mirror!
Shani joins us but is off to work at my fave restaurant … Eden …. where she is one of the managers.
Every celebration I have had in the last 5 years (when I’m in Dublin) has been at Eden … including my recent 50th birthday.
Billy. Mary, Liz, Shani & Mia celebrating with me in Eden
(and here’s a special offer to my lovely readers … if you become an Eden Facebook fan you will be able to use the special offers they will be posting only for their Fans. Things like discount cocktails and meals … love it.)
By this stage it’s about 5.30pm and we’ve been out and about for nearly 8 hours … time to stop for a drink.
We were at the lights in Georges St on our way to the Bar with No Name in Fade St when I hear a voice call out ‘’ Hey Liz’.
It’s another good friend of mine from Leitrim … Anna Legge.
Anna is Artistic Director of the Glens Centre and one of the most amazing women. She organizes and attracts some of the best Irish and international music and literary talent to the (relatively) small venue in a small rural community … people like Sheamus Heaney … Dermot Healy … Pat McCabe … Damien Dempsey.
I invite Anna to join us and we chat for an hour or so before she leaves to drive back to Leitrim.
Meanwhile … Mary and I are chatting about where we will go for dinner … do you sense a theme running through this adventure?
Yup … great food … great wine … great people.
As we’re chatting Mary gets a text from Shani letting us know that Monday nights there is a pre theatre menu going all evening … 3 courses for 29 euro.
And because I am a cosseted and much loved customer … Shani offers us free cocktails as well … life is tough folks.
We walk across to Eden and are just about to go inside when Mary hears 3 people chatting about where they can go to eat for the evening.
I know what it’s like to be a visitor in a city and not know where the good places are to eat … so I walk over and tell them about Eden and their Monday offer.
They thank me and say they will go and talk with their other companion … and yes … they came in later and had a fab time … and I ended up giving them a Dublin map and marking where the cool shops and other places to eat … including Koh.
Shani shows us to our table and we are soon seated with our cocktail.
I have never had a bad meal in Eden (and I’ve been going there for 5 years) and the staff are wonderful.
Everyone exceeded themselves and the meal was amazing.
when Mary cut into the chocolate (it’s hot) it oozed out … and then there were the hot cherries and honey comb icecream.
We had finished our meal and were thinking of calling it a night when Shani came over with a complimentary after dinner liquer … so we stayed a little longer.
Shani suggest we go outside with her on the terrace for an end of evening chat.
We’re outside when 2 guys come out and join us … one of them knows Shani.
We all get chatting happily about the food and then natter away about Japan (Shani learnt and speaks Japanese) …and architecture … and design.
One of the men asks me where I live and when I say Ballinamore in Leitrim … he says ‘I didn’t think anyone lived in Leitrim’.
I smiled and told him that not only was it the best kept secret in Ireland but it was chock full of great people and some of the finest artists, entrepreneurs, writers, musicians, film makers, architects ….
We get chatting about some of the really interesting contemporary and sustainable houses that have been built in Leitrim … specifically the Mimetic Home designed by Dominic Stevens in Dromohair.
Turns out one of the guys is an architect who knows Dominic … he’s also Italian so Mary and he get chatting about Italy … she’s Oz/Italian and will be there in a few days visiting her rellies.
The other guy asks me if I have seen the work of a particular Japanese architect and we chat happily away about how he uses light and space … and how great designers can integrate traditional and contemporary influences in their creations.
We all start talking about travel and he says ‘I’m off to New York shortly’ … a city I love and want to visit again … and Paris and Rome … and ….
I ask him if he’s going to NYC for work or pleasure … he says work.
Mary asks him what work he does …. And he says he’s in a band.
‘What’s the name of your band’. Asks Mary.
‘U2’. Says he.
‘Oh … that band … I think I’ve heard of you’. Says I.
I said ‘so it was your fault that my train was packed on the Sunday I came up to Dublin for my birthday … all your bleedin’ fans were going up for one of the concerts!’.
We all laughed and just keep chatting away.
I asked him if he was enjoying their world tour and he said that they were having a great time.
Mary asks ‘what instrument do you play in the band?’
“drums’ says he.
‘ You must have very strong arms’ says me
Mary and I are obviously right up there with who’s who in music … not!
And we all chatted for a while before his party called him in to go home.
When he got up to go he shook our hands and said it was a pleasure meeting us (but of course!) … and I wished him only good times on the tour.
A really lovely man …. regardless of the fact he plays in a band that a few people know about!
After he left I asked Shani ‘’ What a lovely man … what’s his name?’
‘Larry Mullen’ says she.
‘Oh’ says me.
He was delightful and before I knew he was in a band I thought he was hot and wondered if he was single … yup … nothing like repeating my pattern of finding unavailable men attractive.
Anything can happen when you’re open and friendly … and eat at Eden.
Up again on Tuesday after a good nights sleep.
We met Shani for morning tea in Lemon Jelly … a lovely café around from the apartment.
Then more wandering … I can recommend the newly refurbished Arnotts in the Jervis Centre … some lovely fashion.
I didn’t have any money to buy anything but I had a great time helping Mary spend hers.
We had lunch in the Italian restaurant in Arnotts and a glass of prosseco (in fond memory of the trip Mary and I made to Rome a few years ago) … delicious … and once again a gift from Mary.
We were in the homewares section of the store when I saw some really interesting merchandise that gave me some ideas for Life Dreaming … Mary took some photos for me and I’ll send them off to Marc …. The Life Dreaming Chief of Ideas.
Back to the apartment to relax before going out again to meet my dear friend Feargus.
The weather had been sunny all day … I think September will be the new Summer.
On our way to the bar we popped in again to Om Diva as they always have new stuff coming in … Mary bought this lovely neckpiece … and they gave her a discount.
We met in the same bar as the previous evening and chatted over a few wines.
We were having such a good time chatting that we all decided to continue on to dinner … back to Koh where they welcomed us with open arms and gave us the same private room.
Feargus hadn’t been there before and was blown away by the food … it was exceptional.
The conversation was wide ranging and as delicious as the food … as was the bottle of prosseco … which was accompanied by a iced glass filled with strawberries.
I went and had a chat to Conor (owner) about using their larger private dining room as a venue for my Design Your Own BlogSite workshops.
For 55 euros I will be running a 5 hour workshop in his place. The cost includes a cup of tea/coffee and I’ll bring in chocolates … and if people want food or drink as they are learning … they can.
The whole restaurant is wified and beautiful … and I believe that we can learn in beautiful and social places better than in boring old rooms that remind us of school.
This is the area where I will be teaching the blogsite design course … beautiful.
I’m going to target a lot of young cultural and creative entrepreneurs that I know who want to develop a site to promote themselves but can’t afford to pay thousands for a designer.
For 50 euro they will:
- Learn and design their blog site – totally hands on learning
- Meet and network with other entrepreneurs
- Have a good time eating chocs
What’s not to Love?
It’s a very low price but these crew don’t have a lot of money … but they know heaps of people … so I’m going to ask them to promote my workshops to their friends.
If it all goes well I’m thinking of then having 4 to 6 weekly gatherings at Koh of everyone that does the workshops so they can network … bring along their computers … and do some free learning.
And … running the paid workshops every 6 weeks or so.
Shani is going to help me promote it … I’m starting by opening a Fan Page on Facebook when I get home today. [update … it’s done].
We had a night cap in Panti Bar and then off to sleep.
Mary and I were up and packed and had breakfast again in Lemon Jelly.
The hot waiter gave me a free tea to take away.
Then Mary and I said our goodbyes … both got a bit teary but we’ll see each other within a year.
Mary has asked Marc and myself to kick her consultancy brand up a notch … Marc doing the visual branding of the site … and me doing the words.
I said that instead of giving me a fee … that all the meals and wine and accommodation she had paid for on the Dublin trip would be the barter … she knew I didn’t have any money … and I felt better doing a barter … rather than feeling like I was sponging off a friend … although Mary definitely did not see it that way … generous lady.
So … I am Marys Wordsmith and Multi Media R&D person for her business … cool.
As I type the Irish countryside blurs past … I’m on the train home.
I had the best time with Mary and my friends in Dublin … it was a wonderfully rich adventure for 3 days … and now I’m looking forward to getting home to Ballinamore and seeing Coco and Mags and just chilling down.
I feel that there are big changes about to happen in my life over the next 6 months … all good … and I intend too put myself in the way of new adventures and experiences.
I said to Feargus and Mary last night that we can get stuck in what I call Ruts of Competence …. Being great at what we do … enjoying our life … and maybe not being as mindful and aware and open to new ways of being.
I think I’m about to shake up my life … and that delights and scares me.
Bring it on.
p.s I’ve been home a few hours now … Coco and I had a happy reunion and I’ve been doing this blog post and setting up the blog workshop facebook fan page … all while lolling on the sofa bed.
Many many thanks to Mary for being part of a wonderful few days.
Think I’ll just chill down now.