Ireland, March 2013

March 15, 2013 at 12:26 pm | Posted in books, food, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Restaurant review, travel, Waterstones | Leave a comment
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Ireland: land of leprechauns, Guinness, potatoes and poetry. Well, yes, but, as any Father Ted fans will know, ‘Der’s more to Ireland dan dis’.

The main purpose of my trip was to meet my great nephew, Jamie, who was born in Co Louth in January. However, I also wanted to see more of the North, as having been to Dublin seven times, I was getting slightly bored of it (sorry, Dubbers).

Originally, as I cherish my time alone, I was going independently, but my dad came with me in the end (I’m nearly thirty, but he still worries). We hired a car at the airport and stayed at the rather expensive Bewley’s Hotel, five minutes from the airport. It was nice, but frankly not worth the money.

The next day, we set off about ten for Drogheda, a rather boring town which, nonetheless, has the historically significant River Boyne flowing through it, named, of course, after the battle. Its saving grace has to be its proximity to Newgrance, the Irish Stonehenge, if you like, and a surprisingly nice shopping centre (within which lies a rather lovely Waterstones).

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After I met the lovely chap above, Dad and I made our way to Belfast. After checking into the IBIS Castle St (more central and better value than Bewley’s), Dad chilled in our room and I made my way into the town, where I looked up the newly refitted Waterstones on Fountain St and was interviewed by BBC Radio Belfast.

That night, having been recommended Home on Donegall Sq for a good meal, but not being able to get in (always a good sign), we went to Coco on Linenhall St instead. The decor was fabulous – my favourite piece of art depicted a cigarette packet with the words, ‘Religion can seriously harm you and others around you’. Usefully, the food was even better: Dad had beetroot risotto and I had chicken liver parfait to start, then we both had shoulder of lamb, which was divine.

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After breakfast on Tuesday, we drove to the Giant’s Causeway. It was freezing at the very north of the country, but worth it to see the amazing stones, which really are hexagonal. The visitors’ centre, rebuilt and redesigned in 2012, was impressive too. Dad enjoyed seafood chowder and I wolfed down soda bread pizza.

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Back in Belfast, after an afternoon of reading, we headed to Salt Bistro in the Cathedral Quarter. Unfortunately, my meal was disappointing: the bread served was unsuited to my tapenade and hummus starter, and my thai vegetable curry also contained mussels and prawns, which the waitress suggested I had ordered.

On Wednesday morning, after a delicious breakfast of berry and cinnamon scones and sweetened cream in Avoca on Arthur St, we headed south again. Dad fancied seafood in Howth, but as time was getting on, we headed through Dublin Bay to Dalkey. Again, our food was pretty ordinary, but not a bad end to another lovely stay in Ireland.

So, do I prefer Belfast or Dublin? It’s got to be Belfast!

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I have had a lovely, lovely weekend…

February 4, 2012 at 6:58 pm | Posted in books | 2 Comments
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…because I met my dear friend in a pub in Kew yesterday afternoon, had a lovely conversation with him which led to dinner at Pizza Express, followed by watching Pyscho back at his.  It has also been very lovely because I just met the wonderful writer Jacqueline Wilson at an event at which I was working at the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill.  This was all rounded off, naturally, with a gin and tonic.  What a great start to my week off.

And the best bit is…..

January 20, 2012 at 8:13 pm | Posted in Career, London, Waterstone's, work | Leave a comment
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….I’ve got an assistant manager interview Friday! In London! Wooooooo!

What will survive of us is love

January 15, 2011 at 11:13 pm | Posted in books, debate, men, Waterstone's, work | Leave a comment
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The Doobyman

When I was but thirteen or so (ok, sixteen, but I wanted to go all poetical), my parents started giving me £100 a month pocket money (what a spoiled brat I was).  It never went very far, for on that first Saturday of the month, I would hotfoot it to Canterbury in search of the finest gin, kitten heels and new publications.  Yes, I would dabble with Methuen, the charity shops and the independent bookshops, but Waterstone’s was my favourite.  Back in the day, there was only the one in Canterbury, the ‘chip shop one’, as I call it, and I would linger there in the poetry section, hoping to meet my future husband (what a ridiculously romantic teenager I was).

 I am no longer that sixteen year old in her secondhand Burberry trench, scouting the Sylvia Plath section for lines to rip off.  Twelve years on, and my lyrical tastes are more Thomas Hardy and Hugo Williams than the suicidal poets (although Anne Sexton’s verse is truly beautiful).  But I still believe in beautiful bookshops, and I still rage against the company which offers half price chocolate at its tills and employs someone who thinks The Life of Pi is a cookbook.  I still believe in bookshops in beautiful buildings, where the booksellers actually know if Nigel Slater wrote a cookbook called Simple Suppers and who the author of The Master and the Margarita is.  And I really do believe that the company for whom I work will rise, Phoenix-like (how fitting), out of its slightly financially dubious ashes and remain the bookseller’s in which I once loved to roam and for whom I now love to work.  Simples.

Blue Monday indeed

May 24, 2010 at 7:55 pm | Posted in books, Boredom, Literature, Reading, sleep, Uncategorized, Waterstone's, work | Leave a comment
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I want to be doing this:

but I also yearn to feel inspired (that sentence makes me sound as if I need to read Women Who Think Too Much, or an equally cringeworthy read, but hey).

The fact is, my friends, that after work, which I love very much and don’t want to do less of (bad Amy – you ended a clause in a preposition!), Dooby feeding, bathing, dressing and entertaining, and sleep (mmmm, sleep, come to me), there really isn’t much time for anything else.  Yes, I know that their not being enough hours in the days is not exactly a new idea, but that’s not quite what I mean.  What I want is to feel interested again.  It’s been too long since I finished a book; I managed about six in Florida this March, where the hell is the next novel which makes me let my coffee sink to arctic temperatures?

I’m not depressed; I don’t think so, anyway.  It’s true that boredom is often just a mask for the black dog, but I don’t think that’s my problem.  I just want something to stun me.  Is that too much to ask?

P.S.  Yes, I know I sell books and should be able to find one which takes my fancy quite easily, but I can’t.  So there.

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