Thursday, November 01, 2007

Dublin Wednesday - or how much can you fit into a day?

Well, the Black Angel is tweaked mercilessly and sent back to my editor. And now I can back to giving the details of the Dublin trip. There has of course been a sort of secondary blog on Dublin over on Anne McAllister's blog where the story of Abby Green and Eamon has been attracting lots of attention. For those of you who have been following this serial, the third and final part will be posted just as soon as Anne can manage it.

In the meantime, back before Abby met Eamon and was transfixed with love, she and I had arranged to meet around lunchtime on the Tuesday so that we could go off exploring together. The BM was spending the morning tramping the streets of Dublin and taking the photographs he needed for his book so I spent the morning in Grafton Street wandering around the shops. That at noon the BM joined me and Abby to go exploring further.

The rest of the day was just wonderful. Abby had remembered that I had talked of wanting to go to Sandymount, just outside Dublin. This was where I spent so many of my childhood holidays, staying with my grandfather and my aunt, my mother 's father and sister, and it was where I grew to love Ireland so much. So Abby drove us to this village that has such happy memories for me.

It had changed so very little - a few more shops, restaurants that were never there beofre, but the little village green was there, with the house where I spent many happy hours with my cousin overlooking it. I could also remember exactly where to go to find my grandfather's house which was still there. And I could find my way to the beach - 'The Strand' just as I had done all those years before. Perfect nostalgia. Such great memories

Then we needed to find a place for lunch. Abby suggested we drive to Powerscourt in Enniskerry - a beautiful great estate where there is a fantastic old house and gorgeous gardens. They had a lovely restaurant there too - in Avoc, a great shop. And She was right. Powerscourt is just beautiful. So beautiful that it has been used many times as the setting for period films. And that was what was happening when we arrived. (Yes India - this is the bit you wanted to know about!)

At the moment, Powerscourt is part of the setting for the filming of the second part of The Tudors. Part one is currently showing on BBC 2 in the UK. As you'll remember from our earlier trip to Ireland this year, Abby's 'day job was as a second assistant director on many film and TV projects. So when we arrived at Powersourt to find they were filming parts of The Tudors she was able to introduce us to many people working on the set. The stars weren't filming there that day but we were able to watch a 'royal' procession and see the filming of that before we went into the house for lunch.

It was such a gorgeous day, sunny and mild , ridiculously so for late October, so we were able to sit outside on the terrace to eat lunch and look out over the huge gradens and the wonderful waterfall in the distance, with the Sugarloaf mountain over on the horizon. And once we'd eaten then Abby and I raided the Avoca shop where it would have been popssible to spend a small fortune. Believe me, I was tempted by lots. But I contented myself by buying a black embroidered wool coat - and persuading Abby to treat herself too, to a pink jacket that looked just great on her. The BM took this photo of two happy shoppers on our way back to the car.

The next stop was at the film studios at Ardmore - where the filming of the Tudors was also going on . Again we met lots of the crew and people who Abby had worked with (which is where I fell for a very handsome Irishman - but then I always has a soft spot for Irishmen, after all my father and my uncle were both handsome 'Paddies). They had been filming Anne Boleyn's execution but we missed that! Perhaps just as well as the stories of fake blood being squirted all over the place was enough to make me feel a little queasy as it was.

But we were lucky enough to meet Irish costume designer Joan Bergin and congratulate her on her recent win of a Creative Emmy Award for the costumes on The Tudors. And we wandered round the great sets for the production, watching them set up for a banquet scene the next day - and Abby and the BM were able to sit on one of the great four-poster beds. I'm not sure if it actually was King Henry's bed or not - but it looked fine enough to be so!

I loved being able to get close to the fantasy pretence of the sets and see the makebelieve that goes to make up the wonderful images that will appear on the TV scenes. It reminded me of the bits of amateur dramatics I did at school and university and it was fascinating to see the way that the 'food' for the banquet was fake and sprayed with varnish etc to make it look as if it was freshly cooked. It was great to see the way that old and new - even a tree - was all bundled together behind the flats ready for use when needed.
Eventually we made our way back to Dublin, had a quick chance to refresh ourselves and then set out again (with Abby and I both wearing our new coats!) to head for the Shelborne Hotel on St Stephen's Green where, in real lady novelist style we drank champagne and toasted our new books - and a couple of wonderful reviews ) and one really nasty one too! But after a glass of champagne we just didn't care.)

Finally, needing something to soak up the champagne, we headed for a restaurant for dinner and sat talking late into the night again.
It was a fantastic day filled with so many wonderful moments, reliving special memories and creating new ones. And it wouldn't have been possible without lovely Abby's generosity with her time, her car, and her knowledge of Ireland.

Thank you Abby, love. It was a day I will always remember.

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