Enjoying Dun Laoghaire in the sun

I’m in Dublin for work right now, staying here until Thursday night. And lucky for me, I get to stay in the town where I grew up, Dun Laoghaire, which is south of the City. 

I landed to a surprising – but welcome! – amount of winter sunshine, so as soon as I’d unpacked and organised my hotel room, I headed out to walk the pier and enjoy some sunshine, while it lasted. 

Walking the pier was really a Sunday afternoon tradition when I was growing up here. And the crowds today showed that it’s still a popular venue for a walk and a natter. The town has changed a lot since I grew up here, but the coast is relatively unchanged. The pier still faces out towards Dublin Bay and you can follow the path along the coach to Sandycove – so I did!

I walked the length of the pier in record time, so took it a little easier as I made my way over to Sandycove and its Martello tower. And amazingly, despite the cold, there were some people swimming in the sea at Forty Foot. Colloquially known as the ‘Gentlemens’ Bathing Place’, Forty Foot was always known for all-year swimming and a contingent of gentlemen who preferred (and were allows) to swim ‘sans shorts’.  

I came back to my hotel via the new library, the Dun Laoghaire Lexicon. Its striking design is very different to everything around it, but I think it’s fabulous. I know it divided opinion, but I think it makes a bold and confident addition to how Dun Laoghaire faces out to the sea. 

Sun a fantastic way to spend a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon. I love coming back to Dublin, especially when I can combine it with work. Now to catch up with some old friends and (hopefully) something to eat. 
 

A tale of two check-ins…

I’ve just checked-in to my hotel here in Dublin and had to share this…

I got a taxi out from the airport and had a surprisingly nice chat with the driver, considering we were discussing Brexit and Trump. We both felt a little helpless and both agreed that focusing on the sunshine was probably more productive, at least for today!

I realised when I got to my hotel that I was probably a little early to check-in and decided I’d only ask to leave my suitcase with them, so I could go for a walk by the sea (I’m staying in Dun Laoghaire, south of the City Centre). 

But I was checked in by the nicest, friendliest Brazilian girl, with whom I had a great chat about coming back home, how London compares to São Paulo and what Dublin is like for a Brazilian. 

We laughed, smiled and treated each other like humans. I got a free room upgrade, so I’m now in an executive room overlooking the sea. 

However, the woman checking in to my right had come from the US and was pretty much berating the staff member who was trying to tell her that her room wasn’t ready. I thought that maybe if she’d started with a smile, or a ‘hello’, the encounter might have gone so differently. 

But, no. As far as I know, she’s still waiting for her room and probably silently fuming at how she felt she was treated. Meanwhile, I’m in my room, admiring the sunny views over Dun Laoghaire pier, have unpacked and am planning a nice walk in the unexpected sun. 

I’ll also be leaving an excellent online review of the hotel, in the hope it goes some way to cancel out the negative one she’s inevitably going to leave. 

Food and exercise: another accountability update

I’ll raise my hand right now – this has not been a good week. In fact, it’s been such a ‘not good week’, that I’ve avoided weighing myself so I don’t have to see the harsh reality. The plan has been somewhat abandoned for the last five days or so.

Don’t worry, I’m not ‘get the paramedics to remove the door to get him to hospital’, but I’ve hardly exercised and ‘treated’ myself to food that was off the menu since before New Year’s day.

For (greasy) example, I had a blow out on Papa John’s pizza on Thursday evening. This was on top of failing to get my arse down to the gym, even with the pleasant prospect of an hour in the sauna afterwards.

Not only that, but I had the leftover pizza for lunch on Friday. Talk about adding insult to injury.

It’s very easy to fall back into bad habits and this week’s cause was pure workload and logistics. Lots of early starts and running about the place made healthy breakfasts more difficult, while exhaustion in the evening made it so much easier to get something delivered.

Oh. And that includes last night, when we used Deliveroo to bring us something tasty from Wagamama. On the upside, it was such a disappointment, I’ll never do it again. Some things travel well – pizza being one of them. Chicken katsu curry is never the same having been on the back of a delivery bike.

Plus – and I know this, having had more than my fair share of chicken katsu curries at Wagamama – the recipe for deliveries is…different? The breaded chicken was bargain basement stuff and the curry sauce tasted like it had some straight from a packet. It was like a Tesco Own Brand version of the meal. An insult to all the amazing versions of katsu curry I’ve had in Japan, too! 😁

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Anyway…all this has left me feeling distinctly sub-par and eager to get back into healthy eating and exercise. I’m lethargic and bloated, feeling very different to the last four weeks – so I can only blame the change in diet.

Tomorrow I fly to Dublin for a business trip that lasts until Thursday night. It’ll be tough to eat as healthily as I’d like, but I’ll bring Huel bars to avoid snacking or unhealthy (but oh-so-delicious) hotel breakfasts. I’m also going to be staying five minutes’ walk from the sea and so will make sure I get some nice walks and/or runs by the sea front built into my days.

And maybe next Saturday I’ll have a weigh-in and see how it’s all going.

Maybe.

Huel breakfast on the go

Keeping a Huel bar close at hand saves me from a calorific airline breakfast. Three cheers for Huel!

I’m writing this in Dublin, where I’m working for the day. It’s a typical in-and-out workday, with an early flight in and a late flight back to London this evening.

I used precious time in bed to wake up gradually this morning – the alarm went off at 04:45! – rather than make some breakfast. I did, however, grab a Huel bar from the kitchen on my way out the door to London City Airport.

And boy was I glad I did. I’ve managed to lose over 2kg since the start of the New Year’s better eating habits and I didn’t want to undermine it by eating lousy food at the airport or (sorry, British Airways!) on the plane.

The breakfast offered was a ham and cheese stuffed croissant. Basically, half my daily calorie allowance packed in the form of butter and fat. So I politely declined and had a coffee and a Huel bar. It was tasty and filling and I kept to my plan.

Yay me.

It’s 11:45am and I still couldn’t eat a thing. Huel is incredibly filling. Lunch, however, is going to be a nightmare, as I’m with clients and won’t have much of a choice. But I’ll get back in the saddle for dinner and make sure I don’t over-indulge in the airport lounge.

I’m so pleased I can have something like Huel on the go – especially when airport security rules mean it’s impossible to bring a liquid with me. So I’ll be ordering some more Huel bars when I get home and they’ll become a fixture of my backpack when I’m traveling.

Testing the iPhone 7 Plus camera

I’ve had the new iPhone 7 Plus for a little over a week, but I’ve still managed to put it through its paces, indoors and out, and I thought I’d share a few of those photos here. Overall, I’m really impressed with the quality of pics.

The camera app seems faster and more responsive than in my iPhone 6s Plus (of course, it could be my imagination!) and the focus is sharper. But have a look below and let me know what you think. Photos were taken in a variety of locations and conditions – there’s no central theme at all!

I’ve included a few shots from last week’s overnight trip to Dublin and some from outside a local bar here in Canary Wharf.

I haven’t shot any video with it yet, but might do during this week’s trip to Barcelona and Sitges. At this rate, it’s beginning to feel like a high quality camera with a mobile phone attached.

Hey brain: why you no work?

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It’s Saturday afternoon and I’ve had three (that I’m aware of) epileptic seizures this week. Maybe more on the horizon. My overwhelming reaction is one of disappointment. Quickly followed by boredom.

I had a couple of nighttime seizures earlier in the week, which left me feeling like I had the mother of all hangovers each following morning. The kind where you can’t bend over to tie your show-laces without searing head-pain and the feeling that your brain is about to pour itself out of your skull via your nostrils. The kind that leaves me fumbling for words and feeling quite spaced out for hours afterwards.

I then had a night of only four hours sleep Thursday night, due to a crappy hotel in Dublin and its proximity to some particularly shady nightclubs. (Top tip: never stay in Harrington Hall on Harcourt Street, unless you like to listen to screams, fights and club music all night).

So, this morning’s absence seizure wasn’t entirely unexpected. I’ve had a busy week and have missed a lot of sleep. The perfect formula for unwanted brain-spasms.

Still, unexpected is one thing. Unwelcome is something else. I slept for about 10 hours last night, but still woke up feeling hollowed out inside. Managed to get as far as Starbucks and back today before I had a passing absence seizure in the hallway of our apartment and took myself off to bed for an hour.

And that was after cancelling my training run this morning. Only a few weeks until the Royal Parks Half-marathon, so I should really be out there, pounding the pavements.

But not today.

(And no, the irony isn’t lost on me – I’m training to run a race to raise money for Epilepsy Action, while my own epilepsy prevents me from training…)

I’m feeling better, but still not myself. I’d actually like to sleep now, but I’m afraid that if I do, I won’t sleep tonight and we’ll be back to square one.

We’re due to go to the cinema this evening and I’m really going to have to see how I feel after dinner before committing. Unless my brain tidies itself up by then, I’m not sure how it’ll cope with a couple of hours of ‘The Magnificent Seven’.

In summary, epilepsy sucks donkey balls. But then we knew that already, right? So I’m really only writing this to make myself feel better about the whole thing, put it into context and move on. I think my epilepsy tends to make me more introspective. Hopefully not self-pitying though. This is where getting the terminology right is key: I live with epilepsy, I don’t suffer from epilepsy.

So, as ever, tomorrow is another day. I’ll chalk this one up to experience, rest up and recharge my batteries. But if epilepsy was my flat-mate, I’d be leaving them a post-it note on the fridge right now.

Next!

A sunny day in Dun Laoghaire

As I’m working in Dublin tomorrow, I decided to make a weekend of it and revisit some of my old stomping grounds. I couldn’t have asked for better weather as @FrankDJS and I visited Dun Laoghaire, where I grew up. Just a short train ride from the city centre, with beautiful views out into Dublin Bay, it’s somewhere I encourage all friends visiting Dublin to go and see.

After a suitable volume of coffee (at one of two Starbucks cafes on Marine Road – ever so slightly confusing), we met my friend Claudina and walked the pier – something I really miss since moving to London many moons ago. We weren’t alone – as on most dry Sundays, the pier was full of dog-walkers and families.

Afterwards, we went for a wander through the People’s Park and its Sunday farmer’s market. Despite the size of my hotel breakfast, I was quickly tempted by several of the food stalls. In no time at all, I demolished the most delicious Italian sausage in a baguette, leaving more than a little evidence all down the front of my jeans.

But it was definitely worth it.

And then some more coffee in the park’s newly-refurbished cafe. It was great to see Dun Laoghaire in the sun again and even better so see so many people enjoying the pier and the park. I admit it made me homesick for the first time in a very long time!

I’m so very happy I’ll be back again soon.

Zombie Neuroscience

Shane O’Mara from Trinity College Dublin presents at TEDxDublin 2013 on the subject of… Zombie Neuroscience.

Something we all need to know more about!

Very entertaining, but also educational. What more could you ask for?

And remember: as Shane says… “Don’t kiss a zombie”.

 

My mission for the remainder of this week is to include the term “cephalophagic” in as many conversations as possible.

As an aside, I had Shane as a lecturer when I was a psychology undergrad at Trinity. If only he’d used zombies as a teaching tool then… I’d probably be a neuroscientist now!

Flashback: Technicolour Dublin

I’m in the middle of a massive household sort and clear-out mission this weekend, all in preparation for moving house in the coming weeks.

I came across a box of the most amazing old postcards from Ireland. I have a vague memory of getting these from my grandmother in Dublin and have had them in a box for years. I thought I’d scan some and share them here.

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The first of these is a view down the Liffey, with the green dome of the Four Courts in the background. This view isn’t that different nowadays, give or take an additional bridge over the river! It’s impossible to date these postcards accurately, but the next one gives us a hint.

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This is a view of O’Connell Street and as we can see Nelson’s Pillar and not The Spire in the background, we can conclude this was taken some time before 1966 (when the IRA made a hamfisted attempt to blow the thing up). Judging by the cars and fashions on the picture, not that long before 1966.

A few things strike me about the photo. One, don’t Dublin busses look much better in green? I miss them. Nowadays, they come in a lurid blue and yellow combo. Also, look how many ads for cigarettes/tobacco there are on the buildings. A very different time.

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This final photo is of the Customs House, which is now the Dept. of Environment, Community and Local Government. It’s one of my favourite Dublin buildings, especially when lit up at night.

Anyway, if anybody out there can somehow hep me date these postcards, I’d be very grateful.