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Day 31: Chocolates and heart

It seems the shops are gearing up for Valentine’s Day. Passing by the junction where Wicklow Street, St Andrew’s Street, Exchequer Street and South William Street meet, Butler’s is all red and pink and aiming to catch lovebirds’ attention to their heart-melting chocolate gift boxes.

Meanwhile, I continue to experiment with my new-ish camera. I have just (a couple of days ago, in fact) discovered the in-built miniature/tiltshift mode (no, I haven’t read the manual) so I couldn’t help playing around this function. The effect is pretty impressive too, given my baby is a compact PnS at the end of the day. What do you think?

Day 30: Chocolate biscuit cupcake

There is a sweet little stand of delicious goodness in the form of cupcakes at the Powerscourt Centre. They look pretty and well-iced, although I don’t normally buy them, given the rather extravagant price tag (for me) and I could bake them myself at home (although I admit to not being very good at icing the cupcakes). Still, today, I gave in to the temptation of a chocolate biscuit cupcake.

This is the most delectable marriage between chocolate and biscuit, and possibly a very Irish thing too since I’ve not seen this elsewhere abroad. Maybe I have not paid enough attention? In any case, it is actually quite easy to make some at home too, except it takes time for the cake to set. Not ideal, however, if one is looking for instant gratification.

My favourite places for immediate chocolate biscuit cake in Dublin:
– chocolate biscuit cupcake (€2.25) at Cupcakes
– chocolate biscuit slice (€2.60) at Café Sol
– chocolate biscuit slice (€2.00) at Pichet

Day 29: Saturday night Jazz

Another weekend comes round quickly and for anyone who claims January as a slow month for socials, they are wrong! And on this Saturday night, we’re out to celebrate Cait’s upcoming nuptial! No faux glittery tiaras or bunny ears folks, Miss C is waaay classier than that. Instead, we each receive a beautiful white silk peony as our group hairpiece.

We went to the Mint Bar at Westin Hotel for cocktails and music after dinner, and a live jazz band was in the house to entertain us all. The band seems to love playing songs by Michael Bublé (which I like anyway) in up-tempo beats and there were even couples swing-dancing to the lively tunes. Totally different vibe to last Saturday’s dance session but I love it! A big thank you to Fi who organised the evening out. :)

Day 28: Visceral

A new exhibition has just been launched at the Science Gallery called Visceral, so I nipped in quickly to have a look at what’s touted as “the living art experiment”.

Conceptualising and visualising science as art is a challenge that few can meet, but once again Science Gallery has came up with a winner. Each exhibit incorporates living cells (mini books with cover made from explant skin tissue, beautiful calve-derived installation in a bioreactor dome, allegory of Alzheimer’s disease etc) and each display prompted me to think of the inspirations for each experiment in a different light.

Visceral is open until 25 February, daily except Monday, from noon until 8pm weekdays, until 6pm weekends. If you are confounded by certain exhibits, there are assistants throughout the gallery who can walk you through the creative minds behind the projects. And like all living things, we die eventually. A Visceral funeral is due to be held on 24 February.

Day 27: Be kind to one another

I’ve found a sister graffiti to Kindness!

A stroll along the Grand Canal has always been lovely, from spotting swans and mallards further inland (towards the direction of Ranelagh/Portobello and beyond), to studying the gates system that controls the water level (near Leeson Street), to pondering food options (lunchtime market on Thursdays, the docked La Peniche, restaurants flanking the sides) and now, with a bit of philosophy thrown into the mix.

Reading this reminds me of an unkind remark that I uttered a couple of years back. I lashed out in a moment of frustration and anger. As soon as the words flew out my mouth, I berated myself over it. This behaviour was (and still is) inexcusable and that one sentence caused much hurt and damage. My apologies haven’t quite yet mend the bridge as I’d hope for. If only I’ve held my fraying temper tighter…

Day 26: Gentle sunset

I tagged along for a drive today to Dungarvan. It has been a while since I headed south of the country, so I thought, why not? I was hoping to get into the quaint harbour town for a walk and hopefully snap a few photos during my walk-about. Unfortunately, we got in a little late and even then, we were bypassing the town in order to make it for a meeting.

Unwilling to give up, I stood outside the meeting venue and surveyed the surrounding. Colligan River Estuary wasn’t as picturesque as it should be; its riverbed dry with murky puddles in parts in the low tide. Coolnasmearmountain looked majestic in the distant but in the dying lights of the day, I simply couldn’t get a good shot out of it. However, as I turned around, the colour of the sky took a soft shade of pastel pink and blue. Voila, the photo of the day.

Day 25: Passionately coquelicot

The unfurled ribbon-like Chinese fringe flowers in hues of red and coquelicot have by far been the prettiest sight of this mild and sunny winter day. The colours vibrant, the petals swaying gently in the wind, it’s akin to a beckoning of spring. And I <3 Spring.

In the mean time, I’m starting to map my travels for the year. First up, I’m off to Paris for a couple of days next week to deal with matters related to my big move to the City of Light. Hopefully there will be a couple of trips to Asia and a number others in Europe. If I’m lucky, I could make five new countries this year to go towards the challenge?

Day 24: A quiet Monday

Taking a break from going through all my worldly possessions (one really does accummulate without needing to give it much thought), I grabbed a late bus to Wexford for a wee bit of R&R. It may be viewed as running away or procrastination, I see this as an opportunity for some quality time with my family before my big move in a couple of weeks.

While things are still mostly bustling in Dublin, Wexford is another kettle of fish altogether. You do feel the recession here. Sure, Monday is traditionally a more quiet and subdued night, but the town felt dead in general. I was half expecting some tumbleweed to roll past me somehow. Maggie Mays may have live music this evening, but where is life heading for this country right now without a coherent working government in place?

Day 23: Big yellow-signed taxis

When a friend visited Dublin about a year ago, the very first thing he noticed and pointed out to me was the number of taxis in the city. They are absolutely everywhere. Reports at that time had it peg at 25,000 of them servicing Dublin, but as you can see from the taxi identifier number, it wouldn’t be too far off the mark to say there are a lot more of them on the road today.

I am not one who hail taxis on a regular basis, but I have observed something odd recently – there have been a number of taxis of which the driver doesn’t look anything like the person on the displayed licence (a case of bad ID photo?) and at times, I doubt the name is even the driver’s (e.g. very Irish name on display but the driver speaks with a foreign accent). I am quite sure driving taxi with someone else’s licence is not legal.

There have been reports of illegal drivers operating in the city, with a few of them sharing a single taxi/licence by working in shifts. This is dangerous, considering these drivers would most likely be uninsured, have not been vetted by the Garda, and may even be living here illegally and/or owning false driving licences. The crackdown process have been slow, much to the consternation and annoyance of genuine taxi drivers in their city, as their livelihood and their trade are under threat.

Day 22: Let’s dance

Saturday night: my friends and I have a surprise party to pull out of the bag. And I think we did rather well on that front. Mim was certainly surprised (“you guys are very bold to do this to me”) and we were all further taken aback (and roaring with laughter) when she couldn’t put the candles out. I did not realise that I have bought the inextinguishable variety… ops!

A delicious and perhaps overindulged dinner party later, it was rightly followed with a good dancing night out. Well, we need to burn the calories off the chocolate fudge cake, you know. ;) We headed over to Café en Seine which was busy and packed with the DJ spinning a good series of tunes to dance to. It was a lot of fun, reminding me how much I enjoy dancing. Certainly on my list, once settled in Paris, I’ll be looking for something like salsa clubs to go to. Woo!

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