Monday, February 1, 2016

Where The Heart Is


Remember this house? Guess what, I went back to 12 Henrietta St on Thursday evening with my friend Alina, as it opened its doors again to welcome a pop-up Art exhibition. Illustrations, paintings, photos, poetry, prints, conceptual pieces... all for sale! The goal: raising awareness of the ongoing (and quite alarming) housing crisis in Dublin and also funds for the Irish Housing Network. Anyone, amateur or acclaimed artist, could contribute with artwork, simultaneously supporting a social cause and encouraging local artists to express themselves through this showcase of talent. Where The Heart Is struck me as a fantastic initiative, taking place in one of my favourite buildings in Dublin - all those canvases, frames and people taking turns to play the piano by the fireplace made it all feel more homely. DJs, free drinks (!) and salted peanuts made the experience even better, transforming this Georgian venue into the coolest of art galleries. Sharing a bit of social conscience and having Art on display for a good cause is not something that happens as frequently as it should. There are still so many vacant buildings and so many homeless people out there (and in this weather it's no joke) but hey, baby steps towards change.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Thorny Times


So, I woke up and January's almost over. This month has been a plague of humdrum missions and bad news. David Bowie is dead. Alan Rickman is dead. Half of my brain cells are dead. My dreams are dead. My fingertips are numb with the cold and my feet hide under the blanket as I blankly stare into the laptop screen. My stomach yearns for herby potato cakes and I can't tell if it's afternoon or evening because it's always dark and dim. 

Most people I miss I won't see anytime soon. Everyone else either bores me or annoys me. It's been now a year ever since I have left my small town in Portugal and moved to dirty old Dublin. One year. Time outruns everything, maybe even the speed of light. My relationship with this city had its ups and (melt)downs but apart from those greasy Centra breakfast rolls that I thought my liver would be able to process, I regret nothing.

I still find myself gazing at the Liffey whenever I cross a forever pretty Ha'penny Bridge. I still smile at the Moore St vendors and the butcher's jokes regarding my weekly meat needs still manage to make me giggle. The city never looks the same twice and there is always a pub around the corner I haven't set foot in yet. Sometimes I hate the tourists, the crowds, even some of the buskers. At the end of the day, I just want to go home and listen to Chet Baker after a long shower, Paddy & Ginger Ale by my side.

When I came to Ireland, I didn't have a house, a gang of friends or even the certainty of a job waiting for me. The step I took was a risky one but I kinda feel proud of my working class ass since I never had a trust fund, a sugar daddy or rich parents to pay for my rent, my luxury soaps, my hospital bills and my lobster bruschettas. Like a friend of mine once said, until the bad things catch up with the good things, let's keep on living it.

Friday, January 8, 2016

January Survival Guide


Some say that time heals. I say time hurts. Time is never ever enough, it won't wait for you and I loathe whoever says that life is too long and boring. Life is overwhelmingly short and chances are you'll be oblivious to the last time you do, see or eat something.

Fuck all your New Year resolutions; it's time for people to live and act like there's no tomorrow, like 2016 is, not the best, but the last year of a lifetime full of broken promises and ridiculous resolutions regarding diet habits, emotional epiphanies and career changes. Make your sleepless nights productive. Feed your brain. Allow yourself to stay in bed to the point of short-term hibernation. Listen to this and pretend you're an anti-hero/supervillain/Bond girl with a temper. Write down your dreams, even your nightmares, and never take your short term memory for granted. Splurge but also save money. Move, evolve and improve. Eat like a pig, repeat your meal and refill your glass like it's Ancient Rome. Make photo-worthy breakfast dishes even if you don't photograph them. Embrace your own existential crisis - I'm certainly embracing mine, 27 sounds like the right age to dive into deeper thoughts.

January is never an inspiring month; it's a bleak, goosebump-inducing, numb, barren hell of a month. 31 days of self-inflicted solitude trapped in this bell jar we call Winter, waiting for those snow flakes to clear the neverending rain out of the streets. There's no way to tell if it's Sunday, Monday or something in between. Waking up in the dark and spending my day off indoors makes me wonder if I am wasting my time or simply indulging in cosy comfort. I light every candle possible so it looks like a pyromaniac's wake and I stay up until late, entertained by an infinitity of Spotify playlists, Netflix, books, masala chai with brown sugar, Duolingo, fancy leftovers (scallops with chorizo, SO GOOD!) and Deliveroo.

I don't want to look back but I don't look ahead either. This year, like all the others, will depend on so many factors that it's hard to tell what's coming next. It's all a matter of time, money, opportunity and let's face it, luck. If we survive January, however, we'll be grand. Long nights, dark days and temperature dropping below zero. Vitamin D is the answer. And of course, whiskey-smoked bacon.

Friday, December 25, 2015

About Christmas


While people were opening Christmas presents this morning, I was commuting. Dublin looked eerily beautiful, quiet and empty and silent in a post-apocalyptical fashion. I was yawning under my umbrella, dreading the early morning hours. It's just another day, really. My birthday was yesterday and I spent it at work and at the pub (where I talked about Downton Abbey Christmas Special with Allen Leech after bumping into a shopaholic Conor McGregor in Grafton St and missing Bono and Glen Hansard singing in the crowd), then got home to a hungry Alsatian and Marks & Spencer luxury roast (that stuffing...!) waiting for me in the fridge. My canine flatmate looks content and the Christmas tree resembles a little red light district. There's no mulled wine, only Bushmills. I honestly think that the only time I was happy during Christmas time was when I was a kid and that the best Christmas was the one I've never had (I wonder if it's yet to come or if it will only get worse as the years pass by...). When we're kids we are happy simply because it's Christmas, and that's it. No expectations, just excitement and euphoria. It feels weird being an adult at this time of the year, specially when so many people you love are away. Whether you feel lonely, heartbroken, hungover, miserable, homesick or penniless... Christmas will only intensify the whole feeling factor. Passing out and falling asleep becomes the same thing and you wonder why a drooling dog is the creature you identify with the most. Filthy animal alright. Now, let's all listen to this and chill.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Gone with the dead leaves


Autumn is so sadly ephemeral. Bare trees remind me of how subtly seasons change without time waiting for people to catch up with the weather forecast, temperature drop and festive spirit. Life is a fading metamorphosis and I've been spending it cocooning in bed like some sloth-otter hybrid, surrounded by cups of coffee, Calvin Klein candles and intensive Tumblr scrolling. My bed becomes a comfortable prison as I say farewell to my favourite season. It's so cold and dark outside, it almost makes me miss Portugal. Almost. There was a sneaky fox exploring my front yard a few nights ago and I wondered if he or she was okay with the Winterfell-esque nocturnal negative degrees. 

November has been hectic: my best friend Cláudia visited Dublin for the first time - she was staying at my place for one week and we ended up eating so much that we had to crawl back to bed in order to digest properly (she basically ate her weight in oysters; and don't even get me started on that colossal wild boar burger with fried apple that we shared after some potted crab and veggie scotch eggs and before this majestic white chocolate mousse with lemon curd and blackberry coulis...!). Money and time are never enough so I hope she comes back when the weather gets less hostile. After all, we managed to witness 2 storms (Abigail and Barney), both of them a bit overrated and not Biblical at all, in my humble opinion - I can't take a storm seriously if there's no sign of thunder.

The other day I went to IMMA for the first time and got lost in Dublin 8 (yes, I live in Dublin for 11 months and still get lost sometimes - how cool is that?), ended up in a real-deal-kinda-pub and got some strange looks as I convinced myself that The Angelus was just a Christmassy Guinness commercial - classic Nancy, the heathen mouthy foreigner.

My immune system has seen better days so I'm staying away from processed foods, nights out and so on for the next few days. Meanwhile, I spend my day off dancing to Missy Elliott (her lyrics = gospel), playing with a direwolf german shepherd by the fireplace while he fearlessly farts like there's no tomorrow (falafel farts, the ones that smell like chickpea fermentation, if there is such a thing), trying to decide what to cook for dinner, based on my current appetite for comfort food with a Mediterranean twist.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Open House Dublin: 12 Henrietta Street


Henrietta Street is Dublin's earliest Georgian Street and this house is Georgian Dublin's finest. A street full of surprises, I tell you. The entrance to King's Inn is spectacular and there is a picnic-worthy park right behind the cul-de-sac. Also, quite a few movies and TV shows were filmed there, such as Albert Nobbs and Penny Dreadful.

The moment I stepped into this majestic house, I immediately knew I was in for a treat. An architectural titan. A throwback to the 18th century. This quintessentially Georgian townhouse was built in 1731 and designed by Sir Edward Lovett Pearce. From wealthy aristocratic ballers to slummy tenement housing, this house has seen everything; no. 12 is the epitome of the glory and the misery of an era. Centuries of history with no witnesses left - just imagine the stories this house could tell. The whole place screams haunted - some creepy displays of taxidermy, an eerie garden in the backyard, creaky stairs... You could almost hear footsteps from the past.


Let's focus on the beautiful interiors. Ceilings so high it makes you feel as if there's no roof. A bit like Downton Abbey with a touch of Addams Family. Gems and relics like paintings, piano and antiques add some bygone opulent luxury to the decadent decor. Rich details like embellished stairways and plasterwork wonders are an absolute delight to the sight. I wonder how exactly did it look like before being converted to tenements.The property has this atmospheric allure that one can only experience when the house itself has a soul (in this case, plenty of souls, I reckon) and the mirrors harbour memories.


Open House Dublin, presented by the Irish Architecture Foundation, offered the visitors the opportunity to get an up close and personal sneak peek, inviting the people to explore the urban secret side of the city. It's not like this house (and many other venues) would be open to public on a regular basis. I was so impressed with this piece of heritage that I couldn't help daydreaming and thinking how it would be if that house was my home. What struck me the most was the timeless nostalgia around those spacious rooms, with candle-lit chandeliers and old furniture smell. I'll never look at a building the same way as I will always wonder what would I find behind those bricks, beneath those layers of fading wallpaper... Gosh, I would've been a great real estate agent, ah! Anyway, if you look at these photos and still think "It's just a feckin' old house", think twice.
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