In a shocking but entirely predictable turn of events, Ross is soon turning thirty. Thirty! Ross, with his cheeky grin and his amazing ability to display seditious imagery concerning his line manager in your eyeline while you talk to the aforementioned person and try your best to retain a straight face. Thirty!
Since he now lives in Dublin, a subset of the usual suspects flew over on Saturday to help celebrate. Chris and Melanie took the 8am flight, which I’m sure was lovely if you like getting up before you’ve gone to bed. Lynda, Andy, Chef and I took the more reasonable 11am flight.
The descent into Dublin airport was a little bumpy, there being a gale blowing. Lynda, the only nervous flier I know who flies to Australia, grabbed hold of my leg to help her through the more exciting parts of landing. A gentleman a few rows up lost his lunch; sadly for him Ryanair neglected to include such unnecessary frivolities as seat pockets containing sick bags. The unmistakeable aroma of a half-digested meal drifted around the cabin as the obligatory hen party whooped and clapped on touchdown; a little prematurely I thought, since the nose was still up and we were proceeding at a fair old lick down the runway. They were probably already drunk anyway.
We deplaned, eyes averted from vomit man who sat impassively with his lady companion and a fat wodge of tissues supplied by a stewardess.
Next we endured Dublin’s Funniest Taxi Driver™. Lynda was especially fond of his punchline habit of digging her in the elbow on which she recently had surgery.
All except Chris and Melanie stayed in Cassidys on O’Connell Street. Very nice, and a room to myself. We checked in and almost immediately set off to find somewhere for lunch. An icy gale blew us towards the river, past the Spire: impressive and ridiculously tall, but a little incongruous. After a few false starts we found a little Italian place that I quickly identified as the best Dublin restaurant I’d ever visited. The bottle of wine we drank helped us brave the weather – now enhanced with drizzle – back to the hotel to warm up and put on our faces for the night out. (Chris and Melanie stayed in a higher-class establishment that served champagne and strawberries and such like. First up against the wall, etc.)
I took advantage of the free wifi for an hour or two, and found an iPhone bug or two.
At 5.30 we walked to Pravda, a themed bar as if you couldn’t guess, where we met Ross and later some of his chums. Chris was already merry, having started drinking with his customary airport pint at around 6am. At 7.45 or so we crossed the river and found La Caverna, home for the evening’s nosh.
Ross had booked the entire cellar area for the 25 attendees. Sadly five of those were unable to attend; this was enough for management to invoke strop privileges and turf us out of our seats for five minutes while they rearranged the furniture to accommodate more drop-ins. They left us with a table that quickly proved a tight squeeze for twenty.
The wine flowed remorselessly; if only the food service was as efficient. I don’t think they took our order until 8.30. The starters didn’t arrive until 9.30. Two guests received their main course as their starters were removed, having told the waiter that they had to leave early; the rest of us were kept waiting until 10.30, by which time Melanie didn’t feel like eating much at all. Dessert, ordered with the other courses all those hours ago, arrived at 11.15.
Chris turned down the offer of coffee, pointing out that we were only there for the weekend.
The lightweights, in which category I include myself, bowed out at 11.45 and returned to our hotels. Chef stayed out until 2am; I believe Ross got home at 5.30am. The tray of flaming sambucas, in lieu of candles on a cake, helped keep him (and several others) going.
Avaragado’s rating: 30 glorious beers
Roughly speaking, Sunday was Saturday in reverse. Hotel breakfast, checkout, wander round town in a gale, taxi to airport (this time driven by someone not entirely unlike Jim from Corrie, so he was), tedious waiting at the gate, flight, drive home. Despite warnings of a bumpy flight the landing back at Stansted was fine: my leg remained unsullied, and to the best of my knowledge nobody vomited (bags were supplied this time).