I haven’t blogged in a very long time and so I have missed recapping several adventures. So this is a whistle stop tour of what I have been up to over the last few weeks.
DAY TRIP TO DUBLIN
Recently myself and my culture club mates decided to take in a play in Dublin. After breakfast at St. George’s Market, we hopped on the train from Lanyon Place station to Dublin. The train was packed but we managed to get seats close together and after two hours we rolled in to Connolly station.
After a cheeky pint (or two) we made our way to Smock Alley Theatre, right on the edge of Temple Bar. The play we were seeing was the matinée showing of Colin McPherson‘s St. Nicholas. The one-man-show featuring Brendan Coyle, tells the story of a disgruntled theatre critic whose life begins to unravel when he becomes infatuated with a young actress. When it seems he has hit rock bottom, he meets the enigmatic William, who just happens to be a vampire.
Smock Alley is a fantastic space with the stage nestled at the heart of raised green leather backed seating; the result is an intimate and at times unsettling experience. Audience members were seated in touching distance of Coyle as he paced the floor whilst recounting his tale. It’s testament to how powerful his performance was that once he delved into the world of vampires you unquestioningly went with it.
St. Nicholas is an absorbing tale that illustrates McPherson’s skills as a storyteller and Coyle’s superb talents as a performer. From start to finish I was gripped, and every so often I had to remind myself to keep breathing.
After escaping from the dark world of McPherson’s creation, we had time for dinner in Porterhouse, Temple Bar before getting the train back to Belfast. With another helping of culture a mere train journey away, this definitely will not be the last culture club day trip to Dublin.
24 HOURS IN LONDON
I love London, there’s something about big cities that get my heart going, and so when the opportunity arose to attend the PPA Independent Publishers conference and awards in the city, I jumped at the chance. Although the conference and awards were taking place on the Friday, I arrived on the Thursday and had a chance to see some of the city. After dumping my bag at the stunning Hilton Bankside Waterloo – also the venue for the conference and awards – it was time to explore.
First stop was The Marquis of Granby on Rathbone Street. The former haunt of Dylan Thomas and T. S Eliot, this traditional pub has a unique character and was bustling with people enjoying the rich history and eclectic atmosphere. A short walk from here was Siam Central on Charlotte Street. It been a while since I had Thai food and this eatery had me questioning why. We were seated in the basement area, which was still bright, airy and welcoming. The menu was extensive and had something to suit all moods. I ordered the pad thai which was a generous portion and I honestly savoured every mouthful. To round the night off it was to The Toucan in Soho Square. The Toucan is an intimate Irish pub that specialises in Guinness and whiskey and once featured a remarkable gig from Jimi Hendrix in the basement.
The following day saw an early start for registration at the conference. After coffee and networking, we were invited to take a seat as we listened to talks from such industry experts as Juan Senor, President, Innovation Media Consulting/ Author of the FIPP Innovation Report and Catrin Griffiths, PPA Editor of the Year for 2018. We also had the opportunity to participate in roundtables, getting to chat to professionals who gave key advice on dealing with different challenges affecting publishers.
After the scintillating conference we were invited to a drinks reception whilst the room was transformed for the awards. Once complete the conversion was so impressive, especially in such a tight time frame. The awards, which were presented by comedian Stuart Mitchell, were expertly run, the food was delicious and the atmosphere was superb. After the winners were announced, it was straight to the Tube to head to Gatwick and make my way back to Belfast.
Although a speedy visit, my 24 hours in London have got me wanting to return for a proper visit as soon as possible.
A WEEKEND IN TORONTO
It’s not every day you can say you spent the weekend in Toronto. But last weekend I could say just that. I was invited to visit the city by Tourism Toronto to explore what is on offer in this part of Canada throughout the winter. The answer is a lot! I’m writing a complete review of my journey for Ulster Tatler but I thought I would share some of my picture highlights here. From the light installations at Ontario Place, the Christmas tree light switch on at Nathan Phillips Square, and the Christmas Market at the Distillery District, this was the perfect place to kick of the festive season. In addition to food and drink tours, art at Royal Ontario Museum as well as Graffiti Alley, and the chance to see local NBA team Toronto Raptors wipe the floor with Miami Heat at Scotiabank Stadium, my time in Toronto was very special and I would return in a heartbeat.
For my full review, check out the January issue of Ulster Tatler.