Archive for March, 2008

Earth Hour – Turn Off Your Lights

Earth Hour, run by the conservation organization WWF, is a climate change initiative, calling on individuals and businesses to turn off their lights for one hour on Saturday March 29 2008, between 8 pm and 9pm. The inaugural Earth Hour took place in Sydney Australia last year. 2.2 million people and 2100 Sydney businesses participated in an effort that darkened icons such as the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. The massive collective effort reduced Sydney’s energy consumption by 10.2% for one hour, equivalent to taking 48,000 cars off the road for a year.

This year, Earth Hour is a global campaign. Dublin has joined other major cities round the world in supporting the initiative, with the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Councilor Paddy Bourke, pledging commitment.

If you go to the website, you can find lot of information about the recent news for earth Hour in Dublin, various participants, businesses n individuals and how you can contribute. Some simple things to do: turn of lights which you don’t need (non-essential), switch off laptops, computers, printers, lamps, TV (no stand-by), particularly equipments which go on stand-by,  etc.

Join the earth hour to make it a success.

The price of a year in Dublin

A recent survey by UBS Wealth Management Research has put Dublin as the third most expensive city to live in, with an index of 105.2 (including rent expense – I just don’t quite buy indices that don’t include rent, especially if it’s to reflect accurately the cost of living of a city) following comparison with New York as the base index of 100. Coming out ahead of Dublin are London (120.2) and Oslo (112.3), while Copenhagen (102.6) trails closely behind Dublin.

A good thing though, according to the same survey, that those living in Dublin has a relatively strong earning power, ranking fifth in gross pay and second(!!!) in net pay with indices of 111.7 and 132.3 respectively. Really? Certainly, I need to find a job that pays this well.

Just in this month’s issue of The Dubliner magazine, John Lowe reveals that it costs an average of €33K per annum (gross salary level) to live in Dublin. And he gives a breakdown of how the expenses (monthly) may be incurred.

    Rent €650
    Mobile €100
    Food €350
    Gym €55
    Utilities €70
    Dubliner Subscription €50
    Health Insurance €30
    Pension €200
    Fun €300
    Travel €70
    Clothes €200
    Banking €100
    Holidays €150

Looking at the breakdown, I agree on the observations with regards to rent, utility bills, mobile expenses (although it definitely can be a lot less if one be more aware of his/her phone usage), food, transport, health insurance and pension.

Fun, clothes and holidays, they are equally important but I guess if cutbacks are required at any point, these would be the first places to look into a reduction of spending. As for the gym, well, surely there are other way to get fit at lower/no costs such as jogging at the park? Nonetheless, it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle and I’m all for spending the amount for this than to spend the same on, say, a few pints at the pub or another couple of cocktails in a fancy pub in town.

Mind, I did find the €100 for banking/credit cards somewhat unrealistic, as that is based on minimum payment of 5% on a €2000 balance. This means no matter how you’ll always be owing the bank on your credit card balance and hardly ever going to be able to clear this out. I’d rather stick to the principle that if you can’t clear your credit card balance by at most 3 months, particularly after a large credit transaction, then you’ve overspent!

To be honest, I am a little scared that I know of quite a few people who are living very much on credit. I was once told by a colleague where I held a part-time job with, that she wouldn’t be able to pay her credit card bills even if she put all of her salary that month towards the payment. And yet right the next day, she was out shopping during lunch break again. What’s even more amazing was, the bank would have no qualm giving her increases in credit limit, as long as she doesn’t miss any of her minimum repayment requirement.

So, how much is it costing you to live in Dublin?

Flora Women’s Mini Marathon 2008

This post is directed for all you ladies out there (and guys too, with a great sense of humour of course). ;-)

Are you looking for a reason and source of motivation to get fit for the summer? Are you searching for a way to get involved in fundraising event for your favourite charity?

It may be some 10 weeks away, which may constitute long term planning for many, but the Flora Women’s Mini Marathon 2008 is coming to town sooner than you realise. The race will be taking place on the June Bank Holiday Monday, i.e. 2nd June. With the registration (online or via entry form on Evening Herald) started since the end of February, this is the time for you to sign up too and make a difference, be it as a personal challenge or a charitable quest.

Flora Women’s Mini Marathon

The race requires a run course of 10km, which is a very doable distance, and women of all ages have been taking part in the mini marathon in the last 25 years. Every year, the number of participants grow phenomenally, so much so that in current years, there are some 40,000 women running! You’re not under any pressure to run the race, as you can also jog or walk the distance.

The way the race goes – starting line is filled by elite runners (must have records of completing 10K in 45 minutes), followed by runners (records of 10K in 60 minutes), joggers and last but not least, walkers. In past years, with the large number of entrants, one common but minor grumble was that of enthusiastic joggers who were held up by slower joggers/walkers in their section. Therefore this year, a new category for proven joggers (10K in 80 minutes) should help smoothes out the path somewhat, and to give a better chance for these joggers to improve their time should they wish to make it for the runners category next year.

The race is meant for the ladies only but in the past I’ve seen a good number of guys who also took part, in drags. Personally I found them great fun, and they were such great source of motivation as they spurred you on along the way with their wild and happy encouragements that you could do it! Unfortunately though, at the finishing line, while all the women receive commemorative medals, the guys’ efforts are underappreciated and unacknowledged. Not that this has stop those lovely guys from doing it anyway. Thus, from me, bravo guys!

So come on, sign up and take part in the run.

As for myself, I have registered, and like the previous couple of years I will be running for my favourite charity Unicef. If you’re feeling generous, I’m open for sponsorships and pledges! You may contact me through lil.metblogs[at] :D

Cold Irish Soup

Last week, was watching Conan, and he suggested some of his favourite recipes; here is one called Conan’s Cold Irish Soup. I thought it was quite funny. Mebbe now I can finally eat some cereals.. Enjoy if you can!!

Conan’s Irish Soup

Dublin Beaches

First off, I’m sorry to have been so silent of late. It’s just that it’s hard to “Metblog” a place when you’re spending all of your time at work. I mean, I could blog on about the Belfield Office Park, and how wonderfully red it’s bricks are, but do you really want to hear about that? I’ve already said too much…

Anyhow, it turns out that I do manage to slink away from my desk every so often and get to the Dublin beaches from time to time, either to learn how to kite surf (well, learn how to watch other people kite surf), or to play Ultimate frisbee. So far I’ve spent the bulk of my time on Bull Island and Sutton Strand.

Bull Island is a great spot, with a southeasterly beach aspect assuring mid-day sunshine. However, you have to stare at those big smoke stacks that pierce the sky. Bull Island gets it fair share of beach-goers on the weekends due to it’s location close to the City Centre, and it’s also a haven for kite surfers.

Sutton Strand is my personal favorite, as it offers a northerly view of the North Dublin coast, Ireland’s Eye, and exactly zero smoke stacks. Hey, I’m a purist. Sutton is the kiting beach of choice when there’s a northerly wind, which isn’t all that often. It’s a fairly quite beach, but well worth the trip if you want to go for a stroll with your favorite pet, child, or special someone (or some combination therein). One thing though…high tide at Sutton leaves little room for walking on the beach, so check the tide tables, or bring your Wellingtons. 

Léon Bistro

When you are next in town, and wondering where you can grab a good bite at a reasonable price, give Léon Bistro (website not live at the moment, unfortunately) on Exchequer Street a try. This is one of my current favourite place for some hearty and classic French food that even the French couldn’t really fault.

Or at least I know I wouldn’t. ;-)

I was there recently for lunch with a friend, and upon presentation of the menu, I was soon torn between the different items on the menu. I felt like ordering them all, but of course I couldn’t. The only solution that I can think of in order to stop myself from agonising too much over them was to return sometimes soon.

Leon menu cover

Given the relatively cold wintry weather, both of us decided to have some French onion soup, to be served with croutons. The soup actually arrived capped with large portions of garlic bread topped with melted Emmental but neither of us minded that at all. It was delicious, and the melted cheese and flavoursome bread complimented the soup nicely. And I definitely love the way they caramelised the onion for the soup. I could never somehow get that each time I attempted cooking the soup at home.

For our main courses, I have chosen roast mushroom risotto with toasted pine nuts while my friend opted for Toulouse sausages with onion jus, whole grain mustard cream and mashed potatoes. These dishes were essentially comfort food, and easily hit the spot as we chatted over the meal.

Leon dishes

I, for one, am never the person to resist the temptation of a good dessert. Pain perdu with caramelised apple and caramel sauce caught my attention and soon it was served. It was a very sweet dish, perhaps too sweet for some, but I simply loved it! Definitely something that I will order time and time again, even if the bread made it quite a filling dessert.

The meal – 2-courses and an expresso for my friend, 3-courses for myself, and a glass of white wine each – came up to just a little over €60, putting the bistro as one of the best value mid-range restaurants in town. The same menu used throughout the day, so it also makes the bistro one of the few places that doesn’t have a price difference between lunch and dinner.

Just a word of note – don’t confuse the bistro with the other two flagship cafés nearby (on Trinity Street and on Wicklow Street). Have a look at this Google Map as reference. All three of them are just steps away from one another. The cafés are geared more towards those who wanted some drinks and pastries, or quick sandwiches (French style, bien sûr) or quiches. Handy for afternoon breaks. ;-)

Léon Bistro
33 Exchequer Street, Dublin 2
+353 (0)1 670 7238

View in Google Map

Opera Ireland Spring 2008

Are you an opera lover? Or perhaps curious to try opera for the first time?

In that case, it’s time to grab yourself (and your friends) some tickets from either the box office of Gaiety Theatre or Opera Ireland, in order to catch the productions on offer this spring – The Marriage of Figaro and Ariadne auf Naxos. (Images below courtesy of OI)

Marriage of Figaro

Ariadne auf Naxos

The season is short, running from 29th March to 6th April. With ticket prices ranging from €25 to €100, it can be as affordable or as luxurious as you’d like to be. If you are worried about this being a fancy hoity-toity event, please don’t. It is perfectly acceptable to enjoy a night at the opera in jeans and shirt/fancy top. Of course, if you want an excuse to be dressy (think suits or dresses), this is your chance!

Dispel any negative opera-related myth that you may have heard of. Opera can be fun and is not reserved for just the upper classes and senior generations.

I was introduced to opera a few years ago by a friend who knows of my love for classical music. I guess I was very lucky – my initiation took place on one beautiful summer evening in Verona. We went to see Aida at the Arena di Verona, and I never got over that amazing experience. Instead it kick-started my love affair with opera.

I have returned several times to Verona since, as well as visited other European opera houses, to catch different productions over the year. Of course, I also try to at least see one opera per Opera Ireland season (in spring and in autumn) in Dublin.

You bet I already have my ticket to The Marriage of Figaro. ;-)

Dynamic Wind – Part 2

Few months back, I posted (Dynamic Wind) of my first experience of so much wind in Dublin/Ireland :D (in my opinion its windy all the time) and its role in giving an alternative source of energy for Ireland and about how new architectural buildings (in Dubai, Chicago) will be exploiting the powers of wind. And with the advancements in the sustainable sources of energy, its one of the best sources of energy for Ireland.

Today, CNet has an interesting article on Ireland: Where Wind Power is King. Excerpts:

Studies show that onshore and offshore wind turbines located in the republic could deliver approximately 5,000 megawatts of power over both parts of the island, he added.

The government will likely surpass its goal of having 1,200 megawatts of wind by 2010. (Ireland’s ultimate goal is to get 33 percent to 42 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020, a fairly high figure for an industrialized nation.)

The island is one of the first landfalls for winds crossing the Atlantic, so wind hits harder and more constantly than most places in continental Europe. The capacity factory for onshore wind turbines–the measure of how much of the time the turbine is actually cranking out power..

SEI, is the Irish Energy Centre set up by the government in 2002 as Ireland’s national energy agency, and are doing lots of interesting sustainable energy related projects and research n development in the field too.

Great work for the country, for any future possible energy crisis, which we (as world) are sure to face.

PS: You already heard from Matt in previous posts, n I would officially like to welcome Matt as a new author to Metblog Dublin. Welcome n Have fun Matt.

Stephen’s Day Adventure

Today is St. Stephen’s Day here in Ireland, which is also known as Boxing Day in the UK and December 26 to us normal folk from America. The thing that frustrates me about spending the holidays in Ireland is the lack of what I like to call “comfort space”.Comfort space is a state of mind, more than a place, reserved for the holidays. It’s the feeling you get when you’ve watched two DVD’s and you’re about to choose a third, and there’s no pressure to be doing something else. It’s when you can sit around a messy dinner table and talk and laugh and not worry about how or when the dishes need to be cleared, and the most pressing issue on your mind is where you’re going to lay your stuffed, weak body for a long, undisturbed nap. (more…)

Welcome to my mind

Hello there, Dublin Metblogs readers. I’m new here, so bear with me while I get up to speed with this crazy thing you call Metblogging. Your good friend Mo invited me to join the author rolls, and I see that he’s set the bar high for Dublin blogging. I’ll try to keep things interesting and informative. I have some archived stuff to get started, so apologies if it isn’t fresh and of-the-moment, but I think you’ll enjoy!

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