Volunteering at Culture Night 2010

It’s not long now until the Culture Night is back!

This year, on Friday 24 September, a staggering 132 venues will be welcoming late evening/night visitors across Dublin. In order to run the event successfully, the Temple Bar Cultural Trust is currently looking for volunteers to help out as:

  • Guides on the Culture Night buses
  • Assistants at Information Points
  • Assistant stewards with the outdoor events
  • Assistants at the Temple Bar Cultural Information Centre

If you would like to get involved please download an application form and forward to volunteer@templebar.ie or contact 086 041 2613.

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Gooooo Leinster!

Sure it was raining this morning but the sky is clearing up. In Ballsbridge across from the RDS, life’s astirring with stands set up to greet throngs of fans and visitors of both Leinster and Ospreys. The blue flags in support of Leinster is evident (hey, home ground, of course!) in the neighbourhood, and soon enough the pubs in the area will fill up with excited fans.

This is our last chance of the season to win a silverware of some sort. After a disappointing Six Nations campaign, and crashing out of both Leinster and Munster in Heineken Cup at the semi-finals, we want a victorious game of the Magners League Grand Final! Let’s give Malcolm O’Kelly a triumphal sent-off before his retirement!

Goooooooo Leinster – come on boys, you can do it!

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Flights grounded

Travellers due to head for the airport today and tomorrow must be frustrated. All non-emergency flights have been cancelled due to ash cloud over our airspace. For once in this modern society, the only way for an average person in Ireland to leave this island is by ferry. Almost reminiscent of centuries passed.

This is probably the kind of time we wish we’re connected by road or by rail to mainland Europe. UK has its saving grace in the form of the Channel Tunnel. Or as my friends call it, the Chunnel.

I am no meteorologist but is the volcanic ash from Iceland also causing part of the chill today?

Ps: does that mean any tourists who want to go out to Iceland right now to witness the eruptions (amazing isn’t it, how such a phenomenon is drawing in all the visitors to Iceland at the moment) or those already there are essentially also stuck in Iceland with no way in nor out either?

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Wilde’s Dorian Gray

The initiative of Dublin : One Book, One City is back and this year’s selection is Oscar Wilde’s only novel – The Picture of Dorian Gray.

The list of events organised in conjunction with the initiative is impressive, from theatre performances to novel readings, from walking tour to self-portrait workshop. Many of them have free admissions, often booking not necessary.

If you’re unfamiliar with the story and don’t think you have the time to read the book (but hey, a whole month, surely there are some time you can spare?) you can check out the movie Dorian Gray which came out last year, starring Ben Barnes, Colin Firth and Rebecca Hall. It was a pretty good one in my opinion.

Blue sky

Blue sky

Amidst the spring shower and grey, dark clouds, occassionally bursts of sunshine bring smiles to everyone’s face and there’s nothing like a blue sky with white fluffy clouds to stop you in the track, to take in the fresh air and lift your head up high.

We apologise for the lack of news on Dublin Metblogs recently. I have been away from Dublin in the last couple of months, but due back later in the week. Will be catching up accordingly when I’m in town again.

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What’s your love temperature?

Have you checked out the Love Lab over at Science Gallery? Participated in the survey and tests? Contributed your face for the construction of the reputedly most beautiful average face? Or attended either the speed dating or scientific blind date event? If so, what’s your verdict?

Anyone who hasn’t yet drop by should do it now. The exhibition is winding down, with many of the once-off associated events over now – but there’s still the Kiss and Make Up body casting event tomorrow, which will be interesting to attend.

Love Lab ends next week, on Friday 12 March 2010. So go on, measure your love temperature there.

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Recession help?

This card landed in my mailbox and my first thought was, really?

A way to earn more money at time of economic downturn is by contacting someone whose email says freeholidays (presumably as an enticer)?

Please excuse my scepticism.

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Carluccio’s is reopening

There are plenty of places to eat in Dublin, but with restaurants closing down here and there, and more noticeably among some of the good/popular ones, one can’t help but wonder what is going on. Is the recession really hitting that much harder than we’ve expected, or are there troubles in managing expectations and balancing the books at the same time.


Early in the week, Carluccio’s shut its door at the wake of failure to meet its rent commitment after unsuccessful renegotiation of rent with its landlord. However, last evening, a new deal was struck and they will reopen again next week. What a week, eh?

I remember reading, when they first opened on Dawson Street, the extraordinary amount of rent that they’ve agreed to per annum. But of course, that was at the height of waves just before everything came crashing down. The old agreement saw Carluccio’s paying a rent of €680,000 per year, which works out to just under €1,900 per day. Yup, you read that right, per day! I don’t know if this kind of rate is the norm for properties on Dawson Street, but by goodness, that’s more than my monthly housing rent. And to think, given the economic downturn and the landlords were initially resisting a reduction in rent payable, that’s simply absurd. I can’t imagine they’ll be able to find a new tenant that would pay that amount should Carluccio’s vacate the premises. No one in their right mind should! Premium properties at city centre location, sure. Unrealistic rent overhead, nooooo.


On other eateries coming and going in the city (while I was cocooned with work craziness), the Bang Cafe on Merrion Row has shut down last month – this most probably explains the removal of Michelin’s Bib Gourmand recognition – with some major mismanagement hanging over the head of the owners, the Stokes brothers. And the bad news is, it’s not just mismanagement of the cafe but also of their private members’ club on St Stephen’s Green. It is such a shame, since they formerly also ran Clarendon Inn and between that and Bang Cafe, they have served some really delicious grubs over the years.


Latest news on the news today – Patrick Guilbaud is stepping down as director of his namesake restaurant that currently holds two Michelin stars. Now, this is one restaurant that still posted profits in 2008 (not sure about 2009 yet), but I do wonder what’s the implication now that he’s stepping down from his directorship.

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Frivolous laws?

There have a lot of grumbles of late, of laws and regulations that many deem frivilous and a waste of resources, whereas there are other more important issues which should be tackled but seem to have been sidelined to goodness know when. (Since I haven’t personally look into the matters discussed, I won’t cast an opinion over them just yet.)

One of the latest introduction is that of speed limit of 30 kilometres per hour in city centre area. Really? The whole city is going to be crawling. Not to mention, there are already plenty of stretches where it’s unlikely for vehicles to be going over 30km/h, and in general, road safety in the city centre has been good. Road accidents are more likely at places where there are long stretches of empty road ahead, which tempt some drivers into speeding and being careless. But in city centre? Additionally, the Garda resources are already limited and now they have to be stretched further to monitor really small speed discrepancies? And the government in general will also have to spend more money to put up the speed limit signs everywhere? Many opined that this brings on board more cons than pro argument. For now, I’m inclined to agree.

Recently, a blasphemy law was also passed, and I’m afraid I still haven’t quite get the point as to why this is necessary despite the changes in the faces of the society. How much time was spent debating the points of this legislation which can be better used to sort out other problems, such as harmonising public transport ticketing system, or improving health care, or fight against anti-social behaviour? PZ Myers, on invitation by Atheist Ireland, will be speaking at Buswells Hotel tonight, at 7.30pm, on this issue. The public is welcome and the entry is free.

Do you think these laws are unnecessary and wasting tax payers’ money? What’s next that’s going to be on the list of more frivilous laws?

Flylight : Self-Weighing Luggage


It is a common sight at the airport, people struggling to redistribute items in their bags, between check-in and cabin luggage, or between cabin luggage of two or more people travelling on the same itinerary etc. Why? They’ve inevitably went overweight with one of the bags and trying to find a solution without incurring further charges.

Of course, it takes an entrepreneur (or two) to identify a gap in the market and be innovative. Introducing Flylight, a self-weighing luggage. Yup, luggage with built-in weighing scale so that travellers are not left guessing the total weight before they even get to the airport. Particularly handy when one doesn’t have a weighing scale at home. (Watch the video on their site to see how to use this nifty weighing function.)

Brainchild of Noel Regan and Pat Madigan, Flylight come in sets of twos – one suitable for cabin luggage (even by Ryanair’s measurement) and one larger size for check-in luggage. Retailing at €79.99 per set, it does seem good value although it may be a while before reviews come in to evaluate how sturdy are these weighing scale, particularly for check-in luggage which are liable to be handled roughly by baggage handlers.

If you have any experience using Flylight, let us know how they fare. Are they providing good value for money? Are they durable? Is the scale accurate? Would you recommend this for frequent travellers? Leave us a comment below.

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Science Gallery M+, take II

So a couple of days ago, I voiced my opinion of what I thought about Science Gallery M+ scheme. Seems like I’m not the only current member to react to it, as I see this little snippet in the newsletter I received today from Dublin Event Guide for Free Events.

Joerg opined it as “this is odd”.


My beloved and often highly praised Science Gallery dropped dramatically in my estimation. It is not that they are showing awful exhibitions (“What if” was not as great as others, but nevertheless interesting.), instead they decided to downgrade all their loyal members by raising the bar. Membership in the Science Gallery was always free and it included a few perks. As a member you got a 10% discount on tickets for non-free events, and on purchases in the shop and café and you got access to some events that were only available to the members.

We are now told that they need to raise money and therefore are introducing the wonderful Membership PLUS programme. Only problem is that the “PLUS” Members don’t get anything extra. Instead they get for EUR 30 per year (temporarily discounted to EUR 20 if you “upgrade” before 10 Feb) the perks that the non-Plus members previously got for free. And even worse: all normal members will not get ANY perks anymore. BAD move, dear Science Gallery! Kicking the 8500 people in the backside that felt passionate enough about the Science Gallery to join up, is not smart marketing.

By the way, I am not complaining about the fact that the Science Gallery needs to make money. Sure, it is a pity, but THEY need to decide what is needed to keep the “show” running. However, I wonder if it wouldn’t have been a better idea to charge an admission charge of just 1 Euro (not more!) from every visitor. With 500,000 visitors since the Science Gallery was opened 2 years ago, this might be a much better approach. http://www.sciencegallery.com/membership_plus

I can certainly understand Joerg’s point of view. He has, over the last couple of years, regularly promotes Science Gallery to thousand of subscribers to his newsletter, your truly included, because he genuinely cares about what’s going on in Science Gallery. His stand and mine is not at all too different – we both found it perplexing to have nearly everything taken away from the loyal regular members.

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Happy bin

Happy bin

Street spotting: a cheerfully decorated bin. Cute, right?

Science Gallery Membership Plus

Nano logo of Science Gallery

Do you know the Science Gallery?

If you don’t, you should check it out sometimes – they have some pretty amazing exhibitions and since its launch nearly two years ago, they’ve brought us, among others, Lightwave, Lab in the Gallery: Pay Attention, Bubble and most recently, What If.

The exhibitions are free to enter, but participations in certain events and experiments are fee-paying. Visitors of the Science Gallery may apply for a free membership, which perks include free wi-fi at the Science Gallery, a 10% discount from Flux Café, discounted event tickets, advanced invitations to events at the Science Gallery, etc.

But in the times of funding cuts, sustaining the level of activities while maintaining the high standard means Science Gallery is now looking for an alternative mean to raise some money.

Introducing Science Gallery Membership Plus.

Its cost is €30 annually, €20 for students. For anyone who sign up before 10 February, the price is discounted to €20 and they’ll also throw in a free invitation to the LOVELAB preview party and a behind the scenes tour of the show.

With this introduction, they’re taking away most of the perks that basic members have been able to enjoy so far and shift those privileges only to paying members. Yup, from the transition date of 10 February onwards, no more free wi-fi, no more 10% discount at Flux Café, no more discounted event tickets. Basic members will retain access to the Science Gallery website and event ticket bookings only.

What bugs me a little is that this whole thing is akin to scamming trade promotions, when you’re promised certain perks until they decided they’re going to raise the bar in order to enjoy more or less the same perks again. Why can’t they just add new perks for the fee-paying members? Or take away only some, not all, of the practical perks that most members use?

Moreover, how is this bringing the membership to the next level (quoting the e-mail I received)? No matter the spin, this looks like paying to get the membership to the same previous level, except now my profile will have a nice little badge that says “Member Plus”. I’d rather they come out and say directly that membership is no longer free. I would have understand the need to introduce the fee, and happily paid for it.

Even I admit that €30 per annum is not too much, but it would be nice to think that the Science Gallery hasn’t just gone all elitist suddenly… and that’s how I felt when they try to sugarcoat the intent behind this initiative.

Dublin Michelin recognition 2010

Michelin Guide UK & Ireland 2010

The Michelin guide 2010 for UK and Ireland has been leaked by Amazon, causing another rushed release ahead of schedule. (It was also leaked ahead of the official release last year.)

Regarded by many as the ultimate best restaurants bible, you may or may not agree with their assessments. I’m lucky that I’ve dined in most of the Michelin-star adorned restaurants in Dublin, some out of interest in the early days before they even receive the recognitions, some out of generosity of my aunt who never hesitated in giving me a treat at these establishments.

Let’s see which eateries in Dublin made the cut for this edition.

2 Stars:
Patrick Guilbaud (Upper Merrion Street, D2)

1 Star:
Bon Apetit (Malahide)
Chapter One (Parnell Square North, D1)
L’Ecrivain (Upper Baggot Street, D2)
Thornton’s at Fitzwilliam Hotel (St Stephen’s Green, D2)

Bib Gourmand – New Additions:
La Maison (formerly La Maison des Gourmets, Castlemarket Street, D2)
Pichet (Trinity Street, D2)
The Pig’s Ear (Nassau Street, D2)

Mint Restaurant (Ranelagh, D6) has been stripped of their one star because, as some are aware of, it shut down last year just before the summer. In its place, Dillinger’s opened just last November, and it’s on my list of new places to try.

Additionally, Bang Café (Merrion Row, D2) and The Winding Stair (Ormond Quay, D1) lost their Bib Gourmand recognition. Just to clarify, Bib Gourmand refers to places that offer good food at moderate prices.

I was actually in Pichet and The Pig’s Ear just before Christmas, with photos taken but the review not yet written. Pichet is already doing very well, although I was thinking it’s somewhat pricey for the portion size (not a problem for Michelin’s assessment as they’re eyeing more at quality as opposed to quantity but definitely a consideration at times of recession for diners). The Pig’s Ear, I wondered, if was suffering from a less-than-ideal location despite being quite central. The last couple of times I was in there, it was very quiet and now that they’re being recognised for the quality food that they serve, I hope they’ll do better in terms of business volume but not changing the price structure majorly. That will make me quite sad…

Look like I’ll have to make a trip out to Malahide sometimes soon. That’s the only place on this list that I have not personally experienced.

What do you think? Do you have other favourite restaurants that you believe merit a Michelin recognition?

A little water…

Happy 2010 everyone!

It’s rather amazing that we’re already two weeks into the new year, and somehow it felt like so little had been achieved in this time frame.

Blanketed under inches of snow and sleet, and icy weather abound, the first ten days or so saw the country coming to a relative stand still. The pace of life slowed down, and the fracas over mismanagement of road maintenance had plenty of people irked and annoyed, and rather inconvenienced.


Gradually, in the last few days, things began thawing up as the temperature climbs back to what is the norm at this time of year. Indeed, -10°C is not something we’re accustomed to, more so when extended over days, not just hours. A single digit above 0°C works nicely really.

But of course, now we’re facing new problems, of flooding and of water shortage. Yup, a country with plenty of rain having water shortages, no thanks to the bursting pipes following the big freeze.

The various city councils are implementing water restrictions, with some water mains being shut off or the pressure lowered in different areas, in order to conserve water as well as necessitate various reparation. Dubliners should keep an eye on notices on the website of the Dublin City Council, especially if you find yourself suddenly without water supply. Chances are, it’s a scheduled shut-down and there’s no need to panic – the water will be back up, usually overnight in these cases.

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