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Day 59: Disco machine

This sign was spotted by Herbert Park. Someone has been getting creative while tampering with the sign, and what was meant to be the disc machine (for parking discs) is now a disco machine. Might the effect be better had the “o” also came in the size as all other letters rather than being the stuck-in-the-middle-red-ring?

However, this sign is not quite as amusing and clever as another I saw a couple of years back at Wellington Place nearby. Someone has transformed the “children crossing” sign to a grim reaper leading a child across the road, by adding a pointy hoody and a scythe. And it was nearly Halloween then. How apt :D

Day 58: Lunch @ Roly’s

Roly’s is a place pretty close to my heart. Situated in Ballsbridge, it was here where many a celebration have take place, from first day of college to birthday parties to no-excuse-needed “just because” meals with family and friends. However, since the departure of the Chef Patron Colin O’Daly, I haven’t been to the restaurant. With my imminent leaving on the card, why not a going-away meal there?

I was mildly surprised at the changes the place have undergone. There’s now a more informal cafe on the ground floor, with table service as well takeaway option of ready-made meals. The space upstairs remains reserved for restaurant service, with menu that hasn’t changed too much over time. The prices also remained of good value.

The food portion at Roly’s has always been on the generous side – methinks this is one of the winning factors for many customers – but this visit, I found it simply too much for me and my dining companions. However, the tragedy, in our opinion, came in the form of desserts. If you know me, you know I love my sweet course. Does this make me hard to please? Maybe. This is what we found. The Pavlova pillow was saccharine beyond words, the Paris-Brest heavy, and the pear and almont tart barely got a couple of bites out before being abandoned. Ooops…

Day 57: Millenium Child(ren)

More sculpture from around Dublin and today, I trekked over to Christchurch for this piece by John Behan, commissioned by Barnardos, a children-focused charity, with support of Tipperary Crystal. It was unveiled at the end of 2000, in line with its aim to celebrate children in the new millenium.

I must say I have not worked with/on behalf of Barnardos before. Normally, I’m involved with fundraising for Unicef and I also sponsor a child through Action Aid. I know what I’ve been doing so far are the “easy” options, nonetheless I hope that some impact are made even if I’m not involved in a more hands-on approach or out on active advocacy efforts.

Day 56: Hawthorne blossom

The weather has cleared up when I went out for a walk around Clyde Road and Herbert Park in the morning. When I spotted a cluster of hawthorne blossom, I naturally stopped and try to work some magic with my digital toy. I initially tested the macro lens, but let’s face it, given this camera is compact yet equipped with a 14x optical zoom, we all know that clear macro images would be a pretty tough one to pull off.

I switched to give the fisheye lens another go after the museum shot a few days ago. I quite like the outcome and I am also pleased to get a reasonably sharp close-up photo of the blossom. Of course, I was also squatting by the fence for a while to get this right. When I stood up, a bunch of kids at football practice nearby were staring at me, as if I’ve grown a pair of horns and a tail. Oops. Best be off so.

Day 55: Very rude gnomes

Soooo, speak no evil, see no evil, and give the finger?

I was en route out from the Chester Beatty Library today when I passed by Gallery Number One and spotted these chunks of gnomes at the windows. I had a double take when my assumption of “gnomes reenacting hear/speak/see no evil” turned out to have implants between them who happened to be a little rude.

The gnomes also reminded me of the travelling gnome à la Amélie. You know, the one which was posed at various famous landmarks so photos can be snapped? I think that’s a pretty sweet idea, except it would be hell should one flies low-cost and does not check any luggage in. That gnome can’t be light. However, I must say, if I could find such gnome as a plushy, I probably wouldn’t mind doing my own version of The Adventure of Travelling Gnome. Do you know where I can find one?

Day 54: DARTing along Dublin Bay

The suburban train system in Dublin is known as DART (i.e. Dublin Area Rapid Transit) and it runs mainly along the coastline of Dublin Bay. On a good day, there’s nothing I enjoy more than to either head northward to Howth and Malahide (pick a seat on the right) or southward for Dun Laoghaire, Dalkey and Bray (now sit to the left), looking out the window and take in the beautiful views of sun, sea, blue sky and rolling landscape.

However, when I travelled by DART today, it was late in the evening and just too dark for me to grab any photos along the route. So a photo of a moving train as substitute then? I thought I’d got a reasonable shot when reviewing the image on my camera, but I guess not quite so. Sorry about this rather shoddy photo…

Day 53: The Kiss

There are sculptures tucked away here and there aplenty in Dublin. The Kiss is tucked away from unaware public eyes across the road from the National Concert Hall, where Earlsfort Terrace meets Hatch Street. A commission casted by Blackrock-based sculptor, Rowan Gillespie some two decades ago, this is my favourite among his many works.

I’ve always been quite fascinated by the height and the elegance of the figures, closing in for a kiss but remains physically separated. Indeed, even the lips are not quite locked in yet, projecting a sense of longing and intimacy simultaneously. The bodies, untouching one another, makes me wonder if this is a moment of tentative reunion or a long goodbye; the figures putting a distance akin to holding an invisible shield to protect themselves from hurt.

Quite a number of Gillespie’s other works can also be found around Dublin. Among those that I’ve seen for myself, they usually hold much emotion in gestures and body language that one cannot help but be moved by the mood projected. I’ll try to grab some shots of them in the next couple of weeks if I have time to venture over to the sites.

Day 52: Ambassador’s mansion

The embassy belt of Dublin lies around Ballsbridge and its environs. Quite pronouncedly, just walk down Ailesbury Road (off Donnybrook) anyday and the majority of the compounds, both left and right of the road, would bear flags of one country or another. This photo of an ambassador’s mansion may not be particularly clear (it was a still day, with nary a gust of wind to fly the flags) but look closely – could you guess who lives here?

Security measure at the embassies are undoubtedly tight. Just take the American embassy on Elgin Road. It is like a small fortress in its own right. Security gate with guarding policemen, and if I recall my visit there a few years ago correctly, they will only admit someone in accordance to appointment list (no random drop-ins), they will take away your mobile phone/digital equipment (no recording policy inside the embassy) and there are scanners and delayed doors etc. I do wonder how did they do it, when they held election parties in the past, to vet US citizens plus guests in a relatively high number. Can’t be easy.

Day 51: Florists of Grafton St

There are a couple of spots where florists ply their colourful goods on Grafton Street. The first, at the junction to Harry Street (that’s the very short laneway leading towards Bruxelles and Westbury Hotel for most of Dubliners) and the second, at the junction to Duke Street, right besides Marks and Spencer.

I love flowers and blooms but oddly, I am not usually one to buy cut flowers. It feels wrong somehow, that they’re not growing out from soil in accordance to the season. Isn’t it much nicer to sit out in a garden somewhere and watch them all spruced up in rows with concerted adoration of the sun? Admittedly, sometimes, we do need something to cheer up the interiors, like a small bundle of daffodils in the lab. Nothing says spring better than these golden beauties!

Day 50: Red brick and glass

The home to Irish rugby in Dublin reopened last summer in the form of Aviva Stadium. I don’t know if I can even label it as an reopening per se, because truly, the old Landsdowne Road Stadium was demolished before this new glassy structure was put on site as replacement. It is, in essence, a brand new stadium, with the seating capacity doubled in comparison to the old stadium. Pretty impressive.

However, I am more charmed by the row of red brick houses along Landsdowne Road. Unlike many parts of south Dublin inner city, where Georgian architecture dominates the landscape, these houses are Victorian. The bricks used and stacked form much of the exterior styling and embellishment. No frivolous carvings, no fancy columns, no unessential portico. Perhaps I simply have a soft spot for red bricks – they look natural and timeless, no repainting required.

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