On Sunday I had a notion to do the Greystones to Bray coastal walk. The fly in the ointment was that I didn’t leave my tastefully appointed flat until 2.30pm. This ought not to have been an impediment except for the fact that I had an arrangement to meet a friend in Bewley’s on Grafton Street at 5.30pm. The return train journeys added to the length of time it would take to do the walk, put paid to my lofty ambitions. Being a fine August day however, I decided to take the train to Dun Laoghaire and walk back in the direction of town.
Dun Laoghaire is a very pleasant coastal village (formerly called Kingstown as it was where the British civil servants lived during colonial time) with grand old homes and funky cafes. I shuddered with horror at a venue that styled itself a ‘gourmet food parlour’. That description is even worse than the abomination of a word ‘eatery’. I doubt even the ‘Lovin’ Dublin’ website would use such a foul phrase. After all the GFP (gourmet food parlour) looked like simply a café to my proletarian eyes. I fancied an extravagant ice-cream from an ice-cream shop called Scrum-Diddly. To my disgust the queue outside the shop stretched up the street. I’d be having none of that. Ice-cream or iPhones are not products worth queuing for.
I walked along the seafront admiring the wealthy surroundings. You know that you’re in a rich part of town when you see dog-grooming businesses. You might meet the likes of Twink or Linda Martin in one of those places. After an hour’s stroll I found myself in the salubrious surroundings of Blackrock. Into Blackrock Market I went. This is an indoor market featuring an eclectic mix of stalls selling everything from books, to home décor, to sustainable furniture, to Poké (Hawaiian sushi). Not having succeeded in buying an ice-cream in Dun Laoghaire, my heart soared when I saw Arctic Stone Hand Rolled Ice-Cream stall. The smallest portion weighing in at a hefty five euro price-tag. There was only 1 person in the queue ahead of me. That was tolerable. It all seemed very slow however. I know that the ice-cream is made on the spot but this seemed excessive. Until I realised that the ‘customer’ was in fact filming the shop assistant for Instagram and that he was explaining his actions in a very fruity Southside D.A.R.T. (pronounced Dort) accent. She had the look of an ‘influencer’ or a Lovin’ Dublin typist off her. Clearly this was a stall interested in capturing moments rather than selling ice-cream. I flounced off in a huff. Ice-cream did not seem on the menu today.
Onward I marched. Before me lay the Frascati Shopping Centre. What was this? Beside the McDonald’s on the ground floor was a Five Guys burger bar. I had heard of this American fast food chain previously. When they launched in Ireland a few years ago it appears they paid Lovin’ Dublin handsomely to run advertisements for the place. Adverts posing as ‘unbiased’ glowing reviews – and a quick Google search confirmed my suspicion – a total of nineteen articles about the fast food joint in the last few years. That’s the Lovin’ Dublin way. Their reviews are always suspicious as they are clearly paid for.
Anyone who knows me knows of my misanthropic nature when it comes to this website. Try as I might however I still hate-read it on occasion – they sometimes run useful articles about the best city walks in Dublin which have given me some suggestions over the years. Having missed the ice-cream, and having walked for over an hour I was now hungry. I ordered a cheeseburger. It cost €9.70 which is a mighty price for a burger. It was slightly nauseating in its massiveness. I didn’t see the need for a burger to be so colossal. It was pleasant enough I guess – not as extravagantly delish or totes amazeballs as described by the Lovin’ Dublin typist.
I continued my walk as far as the RDS. As it was approaching 5pm and as my rendezvous in the recently reopened Bewleys was at 5.30 I hopped on the bus into town. I was horrified by the new Bewleys. In the olden days before it closed, Bewleys was an institution in Dublin. Open until all hours it was a meeting place for the city. It had no airs and graces about it. You could stagger in at midnight after a few drinks and order a tea and toast and slump at a table for soakage. I had heard tales that an ever changing group of gay men would meet there discreetly on a Saturday afternoon for a tea and chat in the years before decriminalisation. Before Starbucks murdered coffee in Ireland, Bewleys was the caffeine icon. How it has changed. You now have to wait to be seated. I harrumphed my displeasure and we turned on our heel and marched out. Table service? In Bewleys. I don’t think so.