Dublin with Ed and Helen

After much organisation and planning, we finally made it over to Ireland again. This time we were with my Uncle Ed and his wonderful wife Helen, both of whom had visited Dublin before, but not for a long time.

As there were four of us, we couldn’t crash at anyone’s house so my sister Claire managed to get us a deal on the Doubletree Morrison Hotel, right in the centre, on the banks of the River Liffey. It’s a beautiful hotel and the service was excellent (warm cookies while you check in!) so big thank you to Claire – you’re a star!

Taxi from the airport was a bit of an adventure as I asked to go to the Doubletree Hotel and it turns out there are two and our driver thought we meant the other one. It was only when he said that we had a thirty minute walk to get into the centre that it all came out, but he’d passed our hotel at that point – he said it was his fault, and I agreed. But no-one else did unfortunately.

I’ve never had a bad time in Dublin and this trip was no exception. We explored a few places in Temple Bar and met up with my brother Peter and my sister Claire on the Friday night. Starting in the Palace Bar where we somehow managed to adopt two drunken cockney golfers.

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The weather was grey and wet for the whole three days but we didn’t let it get us down. On Saturday we held Helen back from beating up a miserable bus driver who wouldn’t accept notes, even though it was the exact fare, and we jumped a cab to Kilmainham Gaol. This was the where the leaders of the Easter Rising were held before they were shot by firing squad. The subsequent outcry lead to Ireland gaining independence from the British, so it’s a fascinating place and very topical at the moment.

Once there we discovered it was fully booked – something about a centenary or something.

Never mind. Onto the National Museum with a special exhibition all about the uprising. It was here that Clare stood looking at an exhibit next to an Irish lady and a teenager with an American accent. The lady was explain the exhibit to the teenage girl, who then exclaimed “the British are such bastards!” Clare turned round and replied, “we’re very sorry”, to which a nearby Irishman answered, “apology accepted.”

I’m not sure what the teenager made of it all but we felt we’d done our bit for Anglo-Irish diplomacy – that’s that sorted, well done us!

Saturday night, we all met up at the Fallon & Byrne restaurant for a meal, again organised by my sister Claire- she really played a blinder on this trip, thanks again.

Food was great and the company even better. Once fed, we staggered to the Stag’s Head pub and managed to bag a table. More friends turned up and the Guinness flowed, it’s been a long time since I’ve had as good a night as that, over far too quickly.

Sunday, we checked out of the hotel but still had the day before our evening flight, so we visited Dublin Castle and did the tour there. I love a bit of history, so this was great. The castle is where all the Irish Presidents are sworn in and was suitably impressive.

Our last real taste of Dublin was the Brazen Head pub for lunch with my Irish Dad John and his wife Anne. This is apparently the oldest pub in Dublin and we just had one thing left on Helen’s list to tick off, so it was Irish Stew all round.

A quick hop back over the Irish Sea, courtesy of Ryanair, and we were back in tropical Manchester. Overall, a great trip, great company – especially Ed and Helen and all my family in Ireland, can’t wait for the next time. Thanks to Peter and Helen for letting me nick a few of their photos – if only I had a selfie stick of my own Helen.



Back to the Globe

Last Christmas, as a gift, Lady Hughes gave me two tickets to see A Winter’s Tale at the Globe Theatre in London.

The Globe is the recreation of the Elizabethan Theatre that stood on the same site when Shakespeare was alive. We did the tour last year and I’d said that I’d love to see a show there. It was a wonderful, thoughtful gift – so after much thought I offered to take her with me. It was the least I could do I suppose.

Clare actually presented the gift to me in the form of a globe paperweight, she then asked me to guess where we were going. I guessed wrong, and I sensed she was a bit disappointed when I shouted out ‘round the world trip’ – but hey, this is good also.

As it’s the winter season they don’t use the open air theatre, instead they have new indoor theatre, the Sam Wanamaker Theatre. This is still a recreation of an Elizabethan Theatre but its inside.


(Picture courtesy of Shakespeare’s Globe)

One problem we had was whether Clare would be well enough to travel as she was involved in an accident at work a week or two before, and had been poisoned. Just the day before we were supposed to go, she called the theatre to see whether it was possible to resell the tickets if we couldn’t go. In the end she felt that as long as we took it easy, she’d give it a go, so we jumped the train and headed off to ‘that London’ – as we call it in the North.

The theatre itself is wonderful. It’s small so you’re very close to the action and the whole thing is lit by candles. They’ve managed to do some deal with health & safety so there isn’t even the usual ‘exit’ signs to spoil the period mood.

The performance was excellent, lively, dramatic and surprisingly funny. The creative use of the limited staging and props kept it interesting, my only gripe was the cramped seating, but that’s the price of authenticity I suppose.

We stayed at the Hamilton by Hilton in Waterloo so everything was walking distance – which was nice.


The next morning we wandered over the Thames to Somerset House for a quick look before sticking our heads in the National Gallery which was somewhere else I’d wanted to visit after we went to the National Portrait Gallery a while back.

We couldn’t do too much as Clare was still recovering so we kept it light and were quickly jumping the train back home.

Overall, if you like the theatre and/or Shakespeare, I’d heartily recommend the Globe, it’s a different experience to other, more traditional theatres (which is a bit ironic if you think about it) but it’s still a lot of fun.



Elliott’s 18th Birthday

Catching up on my blog today so it’s important to record the 18th Birthday of our son Elliott.

This was a bit of a low-key affair as Elliott was more interested in going out clubbing with his mates – the days of jelly and pass-the-parcel are all gone now I’m afraid.

Having said that, we couldn’t let such an important event go without some sort of a do, so we had an open house for a few friends and family and my sister Bev helped us out with another of her wonderful cakes.

There was much merriment and a we even had a drink or two as we celebrated Elliott’s step into adulthood. One of the highlights was probably my mate Andy bringing in three adorable black Labrador puppies, who everyone loved – even when they messed all over the floor, thanks Andy!

To commemorate the occasion I wrote this poem:

Elliott’s 18th Birthday

Elliott’s eighteen, hip, hip, hooray,

We hope he enjoys it, has a wonderful day.

He’s tall now,

And skinny,

And his hair’s really long.

We’re just grateful he hasn’t gone and pierced through his tongue.


His childhood behind him, he strides on ahead,

At least, after noon, when he gets out of bed.

He’s clever,


And very polite.

But his bedroom’s a tip, it’s a terrible sight.


His future is bright as he starts his new college,

Just don’t think of the debt that he’ll now have to manage.

He’s trendy,

He’s cool,

He wears mainly black.

And he brushes twice daily to avoid getting plaque.


Along with his brother, they’ve made us quite proud,

But two are enough, is what we have vowed.

They’re hard work,


Expensive, and yet.

They came out much better than we ever could bet.


Happy 18th Birthday, Elliott.


Elliott’s had his share of struggles over the years and he’s worked really hard to get where he is today so we’re very proud of him, he’s a great lad with a brilliant personality and we love him.

happy birthday son!