A couple of weeks back, myself and Bug headed to Dublin for Bloom.
The last time I was at Bloom, I had a toddler in a buggy and was expecting my second baby, and my mam and nephew came too. I remember thinking that I’d have to come back in more relaxing circumstances because let me tell you its no easy feat trying to get around with buggies, bags and babies.So thats what I did. My little man was great company and my mam and sister joined us for the day. We set off early in the hope to avoid the major crowds, and really when we hauled ourselves out just after 3pm we were glad we did, as the place was absolutely packed. But I must say I came away a little disappointed. I found that there was a lot more commercialism in it this year, which seemed a little bit too tacky, like infomercials, with people demonstrating in that ‘Cilit Bang’ accent how ‘This Super Mop will suck water from your floor like a camel in a desert’ kind of thing ( I really did hear him say that!!!) There were over priced dodgy clothes and handbag stalls, and a few selling plastic junk that was mildly garden related. Regular flower shops and DIY stores were well represented, but really what I wanted was something more natural. Now don’t misunderstand me, if you bypassed that particular area of the festival and headed across to the craft and food arenas, you were into something completely different. Wonderful talent and wonderful foods on show, most with samples, but you’d have to fight your way into those tents, such was the demand. The showgardens were very lovely of course, but way too perfect for me – I’m a permaculture kinda gal and really hate lawns and manicured areas – but thats just me. I liked the Fairy Garden, but only because I wished I could live in it, that it was life size or that I was fairy size – either would suffice. And the Invasive Plants garden grew on me, the concept was very good. We signed up for a years membership with An Taisce and got some sound advice on beekeeping from The Federation of Irish Beekeepers Association. And I enjoyed the Community Garden involving Greenside Up, with its ‘yarnbombing’ and plastic bottle cold frame.
It was only when I got home and had a cup of tea and pondered back over my day that I realised that I had gotten more pleasure from the natural surrounds and environment of Bloom rather than Bloom itself. The magnificent ancient trees of the Phoenix Park, The Walled Gardens with rows and rows of fruit and vegetables, the old building structures, the sounds from the nearby Dublin Zoo. The vast space and fresh air, the birds and the bees – all this wonder right in the middle of the city. To be enjoyed by everyone and anyone, everyday and any day, if only we just stepped outside.
I’m not going to lie, I’ve been out of love with Dublin for a long long time. Living now in such a beautiful place, seasonly quiet, very safe and peaceful, I found myself looking on Dublin with distain. I grew up in Dublin, happily I might add, but it started to wear me out. I remembered the library right next to our avenue, where I’d happily wile away hours ‘studying’ ahem….more likely reading Judy Blume or the like, I remembered playing down in the little park beside the old prison wall, having a game of tennis with my best friend against it and just about managing not to hit it right over – but the prison officers always used to give them back to us if we did. I remember hanging out by the Royal Canal and crossing the locks, I remember it being sunny and I remember it being safe.I remember that people used to smile and say hello to you ALL the time, But not over the last number of years. Maybe its a case of rose coloured glasses, I’m not sure, but it really has changed for me. Its noisy, full of traffic, full of people and then there are the ripped bin bags, the signs of antisocial behaviour dotted all around the outside of pubs and the 24 hour shop, often a bit smelly and very very impersonal. I visit regularly enough but after a couple of days, I just can’t wait to get away again, back here to my haven.
However this weekend was a bit different. After Bloom, we all headed to the Porterhouse North for some yummy food – hot chicken wings, nachos, tobacco onion rings (don’t even ask) and Crabbies Alcoholic Ginger Beer! YUM. My best friend and her little 2 month old called into my parents that night and we sat chatting and catching up and drinking copious amounts of tea and eating a fair bit of chocolate. The following morning, Sunday, myself and my sister took Bug to Blessington Basin Park. I wasn’t sure about it at first, fearing gangs of drunk (or worse) youths just waiting to cause trouble. But no. It was beautiful. And peaceful. The flowers and trees were all in bloom, the football courts were full with young people playing, who stopped when we were walking past with the little man so that he wouldn’t get frightened if the ball hit the rails, the playground was full of children from all places happily playing together, whilst the adults caught up with each other about whatever was important. There was gentle banter with passers by about dogs and weather, and when we went into the basin itself, a little boy offered mine a slice of his bread to feed the ducks. We paid that forward by giving half the slice to a little toddler out walking with his dad. We admired the old black and white beamed house beside the gates, as I remembered going to school with a girl who used to live there. After pausing to look at some wonderful art along the walls, we headed for home and met an old man on a bench with the tiniest dog in the world – Coco – I think he said her name was. She hopped and pipped about and we played with her a while. Picking some bluebells to bring home to nana we stopped for an ice cream and then returned back to the house to pack up. Lunch al fresco in my sisters house – next door to my mams -finished off our weekend. It was a weekend of the Dublin I remembered from old, and I liked it a lot.