Tag Archives: churches

After Worldcon

After Worldcon we’d booked a late flight, so we’d be able to relax and play tourist. We had optimistically gotten 10:30am tickets for the Book of Kells, thinking that would give us time for a little lie in and breakfast. Of course, we had stayed late at the Dead Dog, so we still had to pack, check out of the AirBnB, and find a place to store out luggage! We managed by choosing to consider donuts as out breakfast while walking over to Trinity College.

We’d been warned that The Book of Kells exhibit would be crowded, and it was. The layout cleverly funnels the crowd so that you get a good overview of the history and the art form before you get to the actual book. The best item by far though is a medieval poem about Pangur Bán the cat, I dearly wanted a copy but the gift shop sadly had none. The Book itself is displayed in two volumes (the original tome having been rebound into four volumes) one open to text and the other to illuminations. 

After the room with the book you are funnelled up some stairs, where there hangs a beautiful linen set by Greg Whelan.

And then you enter the Long Room, which is the Platonic ideal of library basically, famously not the inspiration for the Jedi Library according to Lucasfilm’s lawyers. It smelled exactly like a room full of ancient and important books should smell, and it even full of people it was wonderful. It must be practically a religious experience to be in there when it’s empty.

It was starting to drizzle when we got out, and we were starving, so we walked back for one last meal at Dollard’s. Even sober the pizza was great, and I got to try Pomegrante San Pellegrino which I hadn’t seen before. We then made our way to Christ Church Cathedral, mostly because it was nearby. We booked a tour, which allows you to go up the bell tower and ring the bell! The tour guide was a character and had a smooth patter peppered with atrocious puns, so it was worth it anyway, but I highly recommend ringing a church bell if you ever get a chance. The tour ended in the crypt, which is huge and contains the gift shop as well as some treasures, plus a display of costumes from The Tudors. The tour guide endeared himself to me by pointing out the costume worn by Peter O’Toole by declaring him the greatest actor Ireland ever produced. Damn straight tour guide, damn straight.

We stepped back out into rain, which typical of the time we were there looked torrential but was actually not too bad once you were under it. We’d arranged to meet up with Liz, whose flight was also in the evening and whose suitcase was stored at the same place. She was there getting her stuff when we walked in and we got to hang out on the ride to the airport and for a little while in the food court before it was time for her to head over to the other terminal.

The convention was now truly over, but we did manage to squeeze a hot chocolate as one final treat before leaving Dublin.

Kent!

On Friday the 14th (not quite as ominous, is it) I had a nice lunch with an old co-worker who now lives in Sweden and then after work John and I headed up to the Unity Brewing Taproom, which we had intended to go to for ages. Turns out it is moving near St. Mary’s stadium soon, so I’m glad we got to see the old digs before that. Back home we packed and got in a good night sleep in preparation for the weekend adventure exploring Kent. John’s parents got in around 9:30am and after a hearty full English at Miss Ellie’s Café in Bitterne Triangle, we hit the road.

It was early afternoon when we got into Margate, and after checking into our AirBnb we immediately walked down to the beach. It was a bit windy and overcast, but generally nice. We bought jellied eels in the spirit of experimentation, and agreed that while not as gross as the name suggests they are probably something we don’t need to have again. A soft serve ice cream palate cleanser followed shortly, then we explored the little cluster of boutiques, which had some really fantastic vintage clothes as well as other cool stuff. John and I had a cheeky snack of soul food chicken wings from the Smoke Shack at the Old Kent Market, a delightful gallery of food and shops which we meant to re-visit but didn’t quite manage. Then we met up with his parents and had a pint at The Lifeboat (not a Brewdog) before a proper dinner at a nice Caribbean place called Olbys

Sunday morning we drove to Whitstable for a walk on the beach. But first we checked out a quirky micropub called The Black Dog, a dark wood venue covered with cool art and serving very nice beers. We walked along the beach trail all the way to Herne Bay, the wind made the walk a bit more tiring that it would have been otherwise, but it was fun to see the traditional rows of colourful beach huts along the way. By the time we arrived back at the car it was time for our next beer, but sadly the place we had planned to go was closed on Mondays so instead we headed back to Margate and a tasty meal at a Sri Lankan place called Riz. We had dosas and a curry with an entire crab in it, which was messy but good, best was the mutton. After dinner we went to Fez, an even quirkier place than the Black Dog, and then one street over to The Two Halves, which was much plainer inside but made up for it with an seafront view. I was pretty tired by the time we got back but we did manage to squeeze in one game of Railroad Ink.

The flat we were staying in was cute and well located, but a bit warm – so I the next morning I started off a little bleary-eyed, though to be fair still far chipper than if I had been going to work. The plan for the day was heading first to Ramsgate, where John made his traditional pilgrimage to the local board game shop followed by a nice walk on the beach, which had more dead crabs than expected but was otherwise very nice. Then we drove over to Deal to check out Deal Castle, which is more of a coastal fort but pleasingly rounded and full of proto-stalactites. We had a walk along the waterfront and then drove over to Broadstairs four our last microbrew of the weekend, The Four Candles. Then it was back home for a dinner of fish and chips while watching the sunset.

And then it was our last day, we packed and put everything in the car with the plan to get some pastries at a bakery we’d spotted in the Old Kent Market. When we got there they only had some sausage rolls in the display case, so we walked down to The Coffee Shed, which had lovely pain au chocolat and au raisin, plus some delicious nata tarts. As we dug into out pastries, Ruth spotted the baker from the Old Kent Market bakery delivering a batch of fresh pastries, so it turned out we got exactly what we wanted anyway! 

Our last bit of sightseeing in Margate was the Shell Grotto – which is a truly wonderful mystery. A strange underground cavern/temple/folly/grotto encrusted in intricate shell patterns, built at some point before 1835, by persons unknown for reasons that seem likely to be religious but really who knows? It was great. The gift shop is pretty on point with its theming too, so I enjoyed the whole experience immensely.

We said goodbye to Margate and headed to our last adventure of the holiday; Canterbury! Or more specifically Canterbury Cathedral. Ruth and Charles had already seen it so they wandered the city while John and I spent the next couple of hours in the cathedral. It is currently undergoing renovations, because that’s what cathedrals do basically, and therefore there was quite a bit of scaffolding and whatnot, but it is a massive building with surrounding grounds and structures so we had plenty to see; the sculpture memorializing Thomas Becket’s martyrdom, beautiful stained glass, ancient murals in the crypts, plus Victorian graffiti. We even ran into someone who recognized John from Eastercon, because fandom is everywhere.

Eventually our eyes and brains were full and all that was left was the drive home with a stop for unexpectedly delicious Italian food at La Campania in Arundel.