Dublin

To make the most of our time in Dublin, we got the overnight coach from Digbeth and arrived at 6am. We were exhausted but the weather was great. We sat by the Liffey, quietly enjoying having an entire city centre to ourselves.

After dropping our bags off at the Marilyn Mansion in Rathmines, a suburb in the south of the city, we visited the Guinness Storehouse. I would have liked to have sat in the top floor bar to draw the panoramic view, but it was too packed, I couldn't even get photos. It did help me get a grip on the size and shape of the city.

In the evening we went on a walk to Rathgar to get some Thai food. It felt like every house within a mile of where we were staying could have been the setting for A Film With Me In It. I'm not usually a fan of sleepy suburbs, but I guess the good weather put a rose tint on things.

The second day was mainly spent at the botanical gardens, and yet we barely covered a quarter of the site. Luckily, they are free to get into and so there was less pressure to cover everything. I have been struggling with photography recently, but to get a decent photo here was effortless. It also inspired me to revisit the botanical gardens in Birmingham to do some drawing from life.

That night we went on a walk from O'Connell street to the last bridge before the docks, returning up the other side of the Liffey. It was at this point that the reality of any capital city hit home. Sat outside a restaurant, I had been asked for change twice.  There was no rose tint any more, just a sadness every time we walked past a bench someone was sleeping on. It's a small relief, a very small relief that Dublin doesn't appear to be hiding its homeless; most benches in other cities nowadays are designed so they can't be slept on, if there are any benches at all.

The following day we tried to take a shortcut through the Trinity College grounds, finding ourselves lost in a dystopian brutalist maze of thoroughfares it didn't feel like we should be walking down. We eventually made our way to Archaeological branch of The National Museum of Ireland, but only got to see some of the ground floor exhibits. It was, again, beautiful.

The only time I had left after that was to draw. I spent my final night using watercolours to illustrate the street our hotel was on, and the following day we went back up to the Liffey. I got a final line drawing in before getting back on the coach to Fermanagh.