Hello and welcome to the next stage of my fundraising bonanza.

Rather than blog every day for a month, disappear for a while and then pop up, asking for your time and attention again, I thought I’d stay visible. I’m going to blog weekly about what I’m doing, how the running is going, and general information about things. Weekly is much more manageable than daily- I was totally out of words at the end of last month- and I’d like to think you’re keen on hearing what’s going on.

The blog posts will have two parts; first there will be what I’ve been up to and stuff, and then there will be a bit about the running and how that’s going.

With regards to fundraising, my JustGiving page is still live and happy to take donations. It’ll stay open till after the Great North Run.

What I’ve been up to

I’m just back from a couple of days in Dublin. It wasn’t exactly a proper holiday but nice and very needed. You see, I’ve rather blown my holiday allowance on a part-time Master’s degree. Foolish, I know, but I feel it will pay off somewhere down the line. It means that I don’t exactly have the luxury of a long summer holiday. This is fine most of the time, but occasionally I throw a tiny wobbly and insist on going away for a few days, hence our two days in Dublin.

I’ve been before, Ireland being the go-to holiday destination for most of my teens, but young Andy (my accomplice) has never been. I think he had fun. He seemed to be enjoying himself.

We stayed in an apartment rather than hostel or hotel or motel or whatever other accommodation you can think of. This was mainly motivated by cost, Dublin not being the cheapest accommodating place in Europe, but it turned out to suit us well. I like mornings and Andy doesn’t, so the luxury of a living room for early morning reading proved to be very useful.

Our activities were the typical tourist fodder, but who cares? We started off at Kilmainham Gaol which was literally around the corner from our apartment, and worked our way into town. I thought about taking pictures at the gaol but it didn’t feel right somehow. We were shown the courtyard where they (the British) executed some of the leaders of the 1916 uprising*. It was hard, if I’m honest. The atmosphere of the place was very affecting, sort of sad mixed with angry. It was these executions that lead to the Irish War of Independence after all, so that anger had definite consequences.

We then progressed to the Guinness Storehouse. I’d been before and knew that the end result is a pint in the Gravity Bar which has views over Dublin. I also know my Andy and know that he likes a pint. It just made sense. What also made sense was booking ahead. I’m now going to sound like my mother, but bear with me. It saved money, and we got to skip the mother of all queues. There is nothing more satisfying than strolling past a very long, fairly grumpy queue of tourists. Whistling as you go is optional but adds an extra layer of satisfaction.

I really liked this place. They’d re-done it since I was last there (which was about 8 years ago, so you’d kind of hope they’d re-do it) and it was really quite fun. There was beer sampling, photo booths, a huge surround screen that played their best adverts, and a How to Drink Guinness experience. This last one was weird, cool and a little pretentious. You walked through this orange illuminated tunnel to a bright white room with a bar, and four columns spewing smoke and smells. These were the key scents of Guinness and the room was white so as to not interfere with your other senses whilst experiencing the smells of Guinness. Yes, I know.

We were then poured tiny pint glasses of cold Guinness but not allowed to drink them. No, for that we had to proceed to the Tasting Room. The Tasting Room was decorated to mimic the experience of tasting Guinness. It was very dark, and the walls were lined with velvet and hung with portraits of the original Guinness family. Again, yes I know.

“This room is designed to let all your sense feel the magic of tasting Guinness”, extolled the Guinness person. “When the velvet darkness hits your palate, the taste will be a multi-sensory wonder experience.”

“Bollocks!” snorted Andy, earning himself a frosty look from the Guinness person. Well, she would have looked at him frostily, but the room was too dark for her to see who said it.

We worked our way up the floors, through cooperage and transport, advertising and animals, to the bar at the top. I do quite like Guinness now. I used to hate it, but my opinion has changed. Must have been the velvety darkness of the Tasting Room what done it.

This is me in the Gravity Bar

We actually spent hours in the Guinness Storehouse, meaning we didn’t really have time for anything else that day. We had no choice but to hit the pub.

We managed to find one of the few pubs in Dublin that doesn’t serve Guinness. It was quite by accident, to be honest. Our landlord/host recommended the Italian restaurant opposite but we were a bit early for dinner. The place was the Porterhouse and they served their own beer. They actually had a Beer Menu, there was so much choice. Instead of ordering a pint, we had Paddles of Beer. These were a wooden paddle with three third pints of different beers on. Each came with its own tasting notes, as you’ll see in the picture below.
I have been trying to drink less alcohol recently, so by this point I was quite merry. I do know my limits, so in the next bar- the Palace Bar where Flann O’Brien and Patrick Kavanagh used to drink**- I did the sensible thing and switched to gin, specifically Dingle Gin. It was such a lovely spirit that I convinced Andy to get a bottle in Duty Free on the way home. It’s really floral, in a nice way, and refreshing with it. I like gin in a way that people like whisky, and we now have 7 varieties in our Gin Cabinet. Apparently I have to drink it before we get another bottle, but what if a really unusual one crosses my path? I cannot be held responsible for rogue gins. Anyway, after a last half in a hipster pub called the Beer Market, we wound our way home.
The next day we were flying home, so needed to be out of the apartment by half 11 in the morning. But this did not stop our exploring, oh no. We lugged our stuff all the way to Trinity College for a guided tour and a look at the Book of Kells. I’ve been wanting to see this since I was a teenager, but never had the chance before. It’s beautiful and intricate in a way I don’t think I’ve seen anywhere else. If you get the chance to see it, go.
The best bit of Trinity College was definitely the Library.
Wooden panelling and shelves as far as the eye can see. I kept thinking about all the great and the good who studied at Trinity and picturing them using this library as students. Yes, I have a bit of an active imagination, but I’m sure anyone would do the same. Bram Stoker, Oscar Wilde, Sheridan le Fanu, they all studied here. Isn’t that just grand?
That was a rather whistlestop tour of our time in Dublin, which in itself was rather whistlestop. But I had a lovely time, and really relaxed in a way I haven’t for a long time. I’d really recommend Dublin and Ireland if you fancy a European holiday. I get annoyed when people say “oh I’ve been to the UK, I’ve been to London” because London is not the UK, in a way Dublin is not Ireland. Go for longer and see more if you can. If you can’t, Dublin is a good start.
The Running
It hasn’t been the most run-active week ever, given the trip away and various other things. I did make it out for a 5K today and recorded my fastest ever time (yeehaw!)
I bought a Fitbit in Duty Free. I’ve been droning on about getting one for ages and ages, but procrastinating about actually buying the thing. When Lindy, my best friend, bought one, I got very excited and caused Andy to say “for f*ck’s sake, just buy the bloody thing!” He obviously said this in very calm and measure tones because clearly I had not been driving him mad.
Anyway, it was significantly cheaper in Duty Free than online, so I bought it. Finally. Today is my first day of wear, and while I’m not convinced as to the pinpoint accuracy of the thing, I appreciate what it’s doing. I nearly went for an extra walk before bed, just to make sure I was over my Daily Step Goal.
What can I say? I’m a data driven person.
This week, I’m going to run more. My training plan starts in the near future, and I want to be totally ready for it. Which I am. Ready and raring to go. Sort of.
That’s it for now. I’ll be back next week.
Caitlin x
 *If you have no clue what I’m talking about, learn your Irish history. It’s important.
**If you have no clue what I’m on about, read up on your Irish literature. There’s more to it than Ulysses. Which I’ve read, incidentally. Not that I go on about it because it’s totally not an achievement. Just a pretty cool thing to have done.

Also, did you know that Samuel Beckett used to be James Joyce’s secretary? No, me either.

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