As I needed to travel to Dublin for a work-related conference, Madame Oui decided to come down with me for a trip nostalgic (we lived in Fairview for a few years in the late 1990s).
In many ways, not much has changed. But we were both conscious that it had been a while since we’ve paid this place a visit. Nowadays, seeing Polish grocery stores is hardly worth mentioning. Twenty-five years ago, my first visit, it really was dirty old town. Now, the Spire (skyward metal sculpture) evokes an upward optimism. Of course, with the recent economic crash, keeping such a positive spirit will be a challenge.
We were grateful for the fine weather, chilly but sunny. Went to my favourite tea house, Bewley’s Cafe. (I thought this place had gone out of business; I’m confused.) Upstairs, there was Belfast musician Duke Special, with his unmistakeable dreadlocks. A mate tells me he’s a decent bloke; plays football with him.
Went to the shopping mall at St Stephen’s Green, where I picked up a complimentary issue of Colors magazine from the Benetton shop. I can never find Colors for sale in the newsagents in Belfast; I’ll likely take out a subscription. I really like the controversial and investigative reportage in Colors, which is superbly designed as well.
Next stop was Brown Thomas, which I had never graced before. I knew it was fine shopping, and expected something akin to our new House of Fraser at the Victoria Square Mall in Belfast. Um, no comparison. Brown Thomas is a pure luxury experience.I asked a random sales assistant if they sold Hermes perfumes. (I’ve been after Un Jardin en Méditerranée for a while; not found in Belfast.) “You’ll find them around the corner,” I was told. At first, I couldn’t identify which shelves had the Hermes bottles. That’s because there’s an entire ensconced Hermes shop. I showed Madame Oui some 2,000 euro blouses that I thought she’d look nice in, and offered to get her a 300 euro scarf (men’s ties a snip at 150 euro).
Alas, I purchased my desired eau de toilette, which I am enjoying very much. Smells like a Mediterranean holiday: cypress and fig leaf base notes, with bergamot and orange blossom. Billed for both men and women, I say it’s definitely for the men.Time for lunch, we really went nostalgic and went to our local shop, Smyths Bar. It was decent pub grub, but being the middle of the day in the middle of the week, the atmosphere just wasn’t the same as those Friday night pints. We even called round to our former residence for a vain attempt to talk to the current residents. By now it was time to head back in for my main purpose of coming down, so we took a bus back in and wandered through the grounds of Trinity. All in all, a fun day out.