Thursday, 17 March 2011 – my first (and possibly last) St. Patricks Day in Ireland was marked with the arrival of Liv from Germany for a weekend in my home town. What followed was a particularly civilised, tame if you will afternoon and evening introduction to my hood. Warily we watched the green and orange wearing, flag donning revellers nursing cans of cider stumble merrily towards the annual Paddy’s day parade and made the decision to head in the opposite direction.
Post bag dropping and the inaugural glass of white for the weekend we strolled back into the city while I showed off the sights ‘This is my local Aldi, I get coffee here, don’t stand in that 800th piece of dog shite’. We eventually ended up in The Bleeding Horse, a two story, wooden panelled, red carpeted ‘traditional’ pub. Filled with custodians anywhere between 18 and 68 and gripping a Bulmer’s and a Guinness we took a seat near the window. It was at this early point in the game, Liv made the startling discovery I’ve been avoiding accepting for near on 6 months. The Irish population, left in Ireland, for the lack of any accurately available politically correct adjectives- are an average looking bunch of folk. Coupled with this realisation and the assumption of our fellow male and female patrons that we were lesbian life partners – an assumption the whole of Dublin made for the entire weekend – we took our leave. Cassidy’s, an aptly, though fondly, described ‘old mans pub’ however proved our final undoing. Filled with drunk middle aged men and women we were this time confronted with the ghosts of our future selves. One pair of white leggings and reference to Annie Lennox too many, we hot footed it (soberly) to feed our rumbling bellies. After a calorie jammed meal at Irelands ‘gourmet’ burger joint Eddie Rockets, we found ourselves tucked up in bed by 9pm amongst only a few half-arsed grumbles about us giving up on Paddy too early.
Friday dawned and with it one of the most stunning mornings I’ve experienced in Dublin to date. Wearing matching lesbian shirts – a horrible post outing realisation- and take-away coffee in hand we were ready to get our tourist on. I walked Liv up through our toy town streets and into St. Stephens Green Park, packed with sun adoring folk with the same idea. We walked from the South side to the North side as I describe the cultural divide the River Liffey gives the city. We took the afternoon casually, meeting a pal of Liv’s from Germany for lunch and then making the (foolish in hindsight) decision (again!) to attempt to shop. Somewhat bolstered by the prospect of cheap non-H&M purchases, we headed into Penny’s, the Irish Primark, for a stock up on Spring/Summer essentials. A change room, a mirror, a ridiculous queue and mini meltdown later, we thought it was best if we perhaps take our chunky bodies out for a drink instead.
Alfie’s a Cocktail Bar/Restaurant recommended to me by a colleague saw the civilised beginnings of our uncivilised downfall. Sitting outside in the crisp afternoon light we ordered a beautiful Chilean Sauv Blanc in grooming for our €5 Cocktails. Eyeing off our fellow diners choices, we polished off the bottle and ordered a couple of our favourite classics with a mojito and strawberry daiquiri. Both equally as fresh as and fruity as a gay man after a shower. Encouraged by the price tag and the lack of excess mixer we merrily ordered our second. A tangy margarita for the Mane and a sweet and summery ‘Sexy Chick’ for the Crop. By now we were inside and propped up at a table near the bar with the eastern European bartender meters from our beady cocktail trained eyes. We watched him cockily mix our drinks and then revel in our expressions of delight as they came towards us. And then with a mere 20 minutes to spare before we were due at a bus stop to our dinner reservations we decided that a third and final cocktail was a magnificent idea! Alas, we steamrolled towards the clear winners in another mojito and the ‘mojito for mint haters’ – the caprioska. Joyous at our life loving natures we respectively skulled our last drinks and ran out the door in a whirl of shirt and flat boot.
Merrily we bounded for the bus which would ferry us to our final port – Johnny Foxes . Dublin’s highest restaurant, famous for its Hooley Show and fresh seafood. The Johnny Fox novelty bus rounded the corner and we clambered on amongst our coupled, middle-aged American and English friends towards our evening. Prepared only slightly for what would eventuate we entered the heaving bar and restaurant and were slipped passed the queuing diners to our reserved table for two. Seated Liv and I looked up to notice the room was crammed with men. On all sides. Who swiftly proceeded to join forces, raise their glasses and lift their voices in a national song. Only the language wasn’t English, and the nation was Ireland. A guestimation at Sweden, one of the men correct our assumption. Norway. 43 birthday celebrating Norwegian men. And us. In our matching shirts and make-up less faces. And so it began. Beautiful, steaming mussels in white wine and garlic sauce, crumbed goats cheese salads, more Chilean Sauv Blancs and more obnoxious cheering to ‘the good life’.
Two hours later we were off our chairs, unable to finish our mains and enticed to the dance floor by the chequered shirt wearing, lumbering Norwegians for a jig. The three piece traditional Irish band were a joy to listen to, and I’d imagine even sober would lift the most sullen of faces. The jigging continued, as did the drinking. Spun left and right, Liv nearly met her untimely end in a tumble that resulting in a bruised arse. A ‘River Dance’ performance by us and two of our new best friends dizzied us and sent us to new heights of glee. That is until I was ‘beered’*. Unexpectedly, unprovoked and belligerently beered in the face, by a drunk man mid dip. I was quickly whisked away by a caring youth (the waiter) and offered serviettes as I recovered myself in waves of crying and fury. Unbeknownst to me, whilst I was mopping myself up, Liv my knight in shining armour came to my rescue and in retribution beered the man. He proceed to beer her. She beered him back. He beered her again. Until a co-reveller desperately gripped Liv’s arm pleading for her not to throw the third glass of dregs onto the man. Obviously satiated at the idea of taking the high road, Liv seemed to let the situation lie.
Egged on only by our resilience and obvious ‘awesomeness’ we headed to the bar for shots! The Baby Guinness was introduced to me by Dwayne on my weekend to Cork (link to Cork) and is a shooter of Kahula and Baileys which Liv proceed to rename the ‘Mini Baileys’. Four…or five…perhaps six of these later last round was called. Sometime after 12:30 we reboarded our bus and headed back down the hill. The bus ride included a spectacular meltdown where my booming Saffa tones failed to subside under the desperate pleading of my equally as drunk life partner.
Without highlighting the obvious, Saturday rolled around in a wave of one of the most epic hangovers I’ve had to date. Epic. Perhaps a combination of age as well as the volume and varied amounts of alcohol consumed. We managed, barely, to shower and leave the house for breakfast where we stuffed our vomit prone faces with an Irish breakfast much to the amusement of the café owner. We rolled, literally back home and back to the couch, where we remained with blankets, pizza and bumper episodes of ‘Nothing to Declare’ until it was time to sleep away the nasty repercussions of being ‘Foxxed’.
More sluggishly than we’d hoped, we woke up on Sunday determined to re-enter the world in all our former glory. Though it would have to be a slow, tender re-entry at first with a few of the side affects still lingering. Through slitty eyeballs we popped on a fresh coat of mascara and clothes sans beer stains. Dublin put on another spectacular day as I took Liv up to one of my favourite places in the city. The quaint, postcard coastal town of Howth is home to amazing food markets on a Sunday and I had every intention of indulging. Which we did, purchasing a feast of homemade Italian pestos, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh strawberries and bread we enjoyed a lovers picnic on the green. Enjoying the coastal air and colours we strolled and took photos, stopping to cruise a book sale and enjoy the sun on our pasty faces. Lulled into a near coma, we sauntered into a local café, Il Panorama to enjoy a late afternoon latte. Cajoled into staying for a few Australian Chardonnays on the house, by the charming Australian proprietor and his Italian staff, the afternoon escaped us until we begrudgingly ran for the bus back to the city.
We enjoyed dinner with Paul and Dwayne – to reunite some of my favourite people- at Green Nineteen, a hip little restaurant with €10 mains also on Camden Street and then headed home to draw the weekend to its final stages. A farcical episode with a 3:45am German alarm clock and a sleepless night later and this crazy tale of faux lesbians, Norwegians, jigging and Dublin’s fair city finally drew to a close.
Next stop. London bruvva.
Full photo album here.
*the act of beer tossing