Wednesday, February 22, 2012

21st Birthday in Dublin

Ive had some very buisy days this past weekend, and almost no time or internet connection to update. Theres more information and details than I could really write up at this point, already being days behind. On Sunday, I ried to enjoy sleeping in, bu the weather was too nice. I got up and enjoyed walking around the nearby woods wih Feargal as he checked a few spots he considers points of entry to the property. He had been asked by his wife, Katie to come into Dublin and spend the day with her and the kids. He offered me a lift down and a place to stay rather than me going through the hassle of making it to Rathdrum to catch a train and worry about finding a hostle to spend the night. Honestly, I was doupting I would even go through all that and considered just staying in the local pubs at Rathdrum if I would be on my own. With Feargal's generous offer, we headed North just after noon. I started my journey with a few drinks and a short jam session on my mandolin to raise my already high spirit. From their place just out of Dublin I was able to catch a tram called Laus into the center of the city. Feargal had told me about a local tour bus company called hop on hop off, which allows one to pay for a two day ticket and go through the guided tour, being able to get on or off at any of the twenty sights for personal adventuring. I felt more confident in simply using the tram and walking the streets with my tour book to guide me to some interesting sights. First I spent some time wandering North Dublin with is less touristy and more like a small town in itself crammed with shops, pubs and resturaunts. I first bought a watch so I could keep time and make it back to the tram for the last trip out of town later that night. I spent a few hours just walking and enjoyed a slice of hot pizza at a tiny sop called Papas Pies. Then around three I caught the tram down to The Old Jameson Distillery, which I can only assume would be my favorite whiskey, and such a tour would be the best way to celebrate my 21st birthday on my own. I wandered the outside of the distillery and the gift shop while I waited for the last tour of the day, shortly after four. I made my way to the bar, stocked with nothing but walls of Jameson, and ordered a distillery special Irish coffee. The bartender poured two measures of Jameson into a glass and mixed that with a helping of brown sugar and lemon juice. Then she filled the rest with strong black coffee, topping it with steamed cream. The drink only costed as much as a beer and tasted better than any coffee I've ever had. I even considered grabbing a second before the tour began. When the crowd went to the first room to watch a video about John Jameson and his legacy I made sure to be in the front row, taking notes on every detail about what makes this spirit different from other Irish, American, and Scotish whiskeys. As we began the walk through, the tour guide explained that eight volunteers would be offered an oppourtune whiskey tasting at the end, chosen depending of interest and excitement to be in the distillery. I will likely devote an entry later on to explain the several steps in roasting, fermenting triple distilling the barley which makes the drink so smooth and tasteful at a time when I don't have as much to write about. At the end of the walk through, when he offered small green tubes to the crowd for the whiskey tasting and nearly everyone raised their hands, I was the first to recieve one. The guide said I was one of the most bright eyed and entergetic guy he had seen come through all day. I recieved my complemetary Jameson and ginger ale mix and was seated at a table set with eight places, each having three shots of varried whiskeys and a glass of water. We were guided through a taste comparison of Johnny Walker Black Label, Jack Daniels Single Barrel and Jameson  18 Year Reserve. I found the Johnny walker quite smoothe and dry, very similar to the Jameson, yet the Jameson had a distinct roasted vanilla taste that enveloped the senses which won my choice. The Jack Daniels was too sweet for my taste and did not swallow as well as the others. I recieved a certificate with my name and birth date claiming I was a certified distillery whisley taster, something Ill likely frame and place with my own expanding collection of Jameson bottles. After I finished my drinks and purchased a bottle of 12 year distillery reserve only available at that location as a gift to myself I headed back into the main part of town for dinner. I went to a resturaunt called "The Church', which is a name that's significant to me. It was an old temple that had been redesigned into several levels of loungess, pubs and a high class resturaunt. The seater told me the house was full of resevations for the night, but some tables were free as long as I could be finished with my meal within two hours. I ofcourse took the seating, which was the only single table in he resturaunt. the table was set under the old expansive pipe organ with a string quartet playing right beside it. I got myself a 10 ounce sirloin, musculin house salad and a glass of Australlian Siraz Cabernet. The meal was perfect. I really enjoy taking myself out on dates, spending a bit of money and taking the time to enjoy my peacful thoughts. As soon as I left The Church, I headed directly into temple bar, passing several street preformers as I crossed the Rive Liffey. I went to the Temple Bar pub, which had two stages of traditional Irish music and started on rounds of Guiness. I started a conversation with an interesting German fellow with a very uniqe instrument he was hoping to play at the next oppourtunity. We chatted about politics and agriculture differences between our home countries and how Ireland had its own individuality about it. His friend, Michael carried on the conversation as I enjoyed my brews, and I missed getting to see the intersting instrument being played because of my distraction in political talk. Later on I made my way to the center stage to watch a guitar and accordian duet play some reconizable songs while talking with a group of French men. Come half past ten, I resilliantly left the pub and made my way to the Laus, feeling the wieght of the several pints hit me as I waited for my stop. On the tram I talked with yet another couple about my agriculture experience and travels through the country. I had started to realize how americanized and politically controlled that Dublin really was, and was missing the peace I had found back in Wicklow. I slept well in the house next to Feargal and Katies which they normally rented out and met them in the morning for a bit of tea and toast. I went back into Dublin around eleven to catch as many other sights as I could, this time starting in the tourist area of temple bar, exploring all the various shops. I stopped in a small pub for lunch where I  got an Irish coffee with a plate of traditional fish and chips. The meal was too hot and very greasy, but was nontheless very good. I visited the local wax museum, that was itself very American, and the National Museums of architecture and art. There I chatted with a redhaired girl from Trinity college named Sue about several pieces of work. She told me she often visited the gallery to get peace from the fast paced class scheduel and contemplate the ancient work which showed images of the lands before war and buisness corrupted it. She invited me to join her at a nearby pub and dance club where she was meeting some friends for drinks. The club, O'Sherrys, was a drink bar with a few counters and a large open floor where several kids were dancing and singing to a Mumford and Son's record playing loudly on the speakers. I had a pint and continued chatting with some kids my age as Sue asked me to dance and afterwards bought me a cheap glass of some Irish Whiskey I didn't recognize. I really enjoyed the music that I new nearly every word to and the dancing which was very different from that back home. I left the dance club and made my way to the outter part of the city to the Guiness Storehouse which I was told by several people was a great tour. The storehouse was built to resemple a giant pint glass and had serveral floors laid out in a self tour fashion exploring every aspect of brewing and selling the world famous stout. The op floor was a pub called the Gravity Bar which overlooked all of Dublin in several directions. It was not a clear day, but I could still see an amazing view of the skyline. Personally, I am not a fan of Guiness outside of Ireland where the taps are inspected weekly for balance of gases and cleanliness for a perfect pour. Back home, bottled Guiness does not stand up to micro breweries and locally made stouts. I enjoyed my visit to the Jameson Distillery more than the Guiness, given seeing the home of Jameson was almost a type of pilgrimage to me. After my complementary pint of Guiness, I made my way back to the tram, exhausted from a long day of on my feet and stopped at a small pub called The Boars Head I recalled my brother Ryan telling me was one of his favorites. There I enjoyed three more pints and a dish of seasoned chips while I conversed with the local crowd about that days news. After that I couldn't do any more, being almost sick of the crowds, buildings and concrete. I considered a trip back to Temple Bar for a pub crawl or back to the O'sherrys where I had been told would be a great party, but my legs wouldn't have it. I instead joined Feargal back at his place for a bottle of red wine and more conspiracy talk. The two days in Dublin were truely memorable, but I was deperate to get back to the Vale of Avoca where the air was clean and silent. I find it hard to understand how anyone can stand going in and out of the concrete forest when such beauty is only miles outside all its walls and traffic lights. The next day, Feargal, Frances, little Duncan, and I drove back down to Wicklow, where I started back to work. I loved having the muck back under my finger nails. I got to work on the raised beds I had left unfinished a few days before. After the first box, which was jsut cladding planks I had broken apart from the old crates to the sides of the already built frames, I was beuilding my own frames out of three inch steakes and attaching planks between them. After taking out the section of sod I would level out the soil for the area and set one box at the level and build my frame of steaks off of that. The last few boxes will be built completely of steaks with out any divisions. I can fit up to seven beds in the area, but it's unlikely Ill have enough time given there are other big jobs to move on to in my final week. I am now done with two out of the four beds and have steaks prepared to finish the others. The weather forcast called for three clear days Wednesday through Friday, but heavy showers last night proved them wrong. Today was very rainy and muddy with slow work. I had to wear a rain jacket all day because it never let up and the power even gave out. But progress is progress and it won't be long before we are ready to start filling them with top soil and planting. Once I finish them tomorrow or Friday, Ill start preparing the area where we will grow the potatoes with a mulcher and rotovator. The workl may not end, but my time here in Knockanode will, and Ill probably spend every day doing what I can to have everything in line.

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