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Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Happy 40th

I turned 40 on Nov 16 and as my friends know, there is no such thing as celebrating only on the day. Here’s what I was up to in Nov.

November 1st was an absolutely gorgeous day. The perfect way to kick off a birthday month.

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We had an awesome family day at Belgrave Square playing in the leaves.

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November 3-5 was Web Summit, a huge technology conference that takes place in Dublin every year, except next year it’s in Lisbon. I felt privileged to go. It’s like a Euro version of SxSW.

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The first talk I went to was great. It was part of the Marketing tract and Thomas Crampton from Ogilvy talked about deep social. Worthwhile for sure.

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Marie Kondo on the magic of tidying up was inspirational. She had a translator and I always love the chance to sit back and absorb another language.

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Dan Brown was my last session of the conference and he was fantastic. The talk was about spirituality and technology and where there are gaps, there is religion.

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Food Summit was also on the go during Web Summit. Irish food producers had lunch on offer. This is the duck dish I had. Delicious.

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IDA Ireland was active at Web Summit too. James spoke on behalf of Slack for one of their evening panels. The canapes at this party were divine.

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Fall is absolutely beautiful in Ireland. And you finally see more than shades of green.

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I got a bunch of nice birthday cards around my birthday.

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The weather continued to hold.

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I went to a Publishing Ireland trade day on Nov 13 and met some Irish publishers and heard about the challenges and opportunities facing the industry here.

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The event coincided with the Dublin Book Festival.

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And the publication of this creative annual, which is full of essays, interviews and creative pieces by various Irish artists, writers, journalists, filmmakers, etc.

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Swimming is still a big hit in our house. Don’t misread that. We go to a community centre pool, we don’t have a pool in our house.

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My birthday weekend. On Sunday night Julie flew in from Bonn, Germany and we had a party at our house with a mutual friend Ger and her 3 kids. It was super fun and we drank champagne. Thanks James. Then Monday, Nov 16, James flew to Paris (the multiple shootings/bombings happened on the Friday). Julie and I went for coffee after dropping off Finlay at creche. Then we headed to the National Gallery to see a few exhibits before carrying on to the Shelbourne for afternoon tea with Ger. After we did some shopping, visited the Little Museum of Dublin and then headed back into Rathmines to pick up Finaly and home for dinner.

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Nov 17, Julie and I dropped off Finlay and made our way through the rain to a rental car then off to Summerhill Spa in Wicklow, near Powerscourt Garden, where we then stopped for lunch. I had a fab massage and Julie a facial. While we were waiting for our treatments, this beautiful rainbow appeared.

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After a few recovery days at home, James, Finlay and I were off to Scotland. We landed in Edinburgh and drove to St Andrew’s. We stayed at the Fairmont where James had a conference, and Finlay and I vegged out on tv and toured around the village. St Andrew’s is where Will and Kate met so it was fun to see places like the North Point cafe and the university campus, which is integrated into the town.

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The cathedral and St Rule’s Tower ruins were my favourite spot.

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And Forgan’s was a great Scottish restaurant. Finlay and I had a date night. Great Scotch broth and an amazing spicy chickpea, butternut squash salad.

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The golf course at the Fairmont is spectacular as well.

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James “Bond” went off to a party at Stirling Castle.

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And I met Alan Santry, who made the scarf worn by Hermione in the last film.

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Edinburgh was a beautiful city on a cool, crisp day.

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We found a playground for Fin, just below Edinburgh Castle, where JK Rowling did a huge book release that I was involved with many moons ago.

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The Christmas markets have started through Europe. And they all seem to have carnival rides.

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Finlay was keen to go on Helter Skelter, which is featured in a Peppa Pig episode that he enjoys.

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And I took him on his first rollercoaster ride. He loved Helter Skelter, which is an external swirly slide, whereas the rollercoaster was a bit too fast and jarring on one of the corners. Less fun.

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In an attempt to get Fin into a nap, James and I walked the length of Edinburgh (practically). This is just passed the government buildings.

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The walk back to the car was especially pretty as the sun set.

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On our last day in Scotland, we drove up to Dundee, where James’ great grandfather was born. May 2, 1872. Dundee is home to one of the six oldest ships in the world.

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The HMS Unicorn launched in 1824 as a 46 gun frigate for the Royal Navy.

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Since young boys are uninterested in sightseeing, we stopped at an indoor play area to get out of the rain and into some exercise. Peppa Pig made an appearance.

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Not to waste any moment of my birthday month, shortly after returning from Scotland, I snuck in a trip to Bonn, Germany to visit Darren and Julie and experience the German Christmas markets. Darren was off to Paris for the Climate Change talks, but we snuck in a quick visit to the UN. This is one of two UN campuses in Bonn. Both are along the Reine. The building on the left is a UN building.

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The grotto along the way.

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The Marshall Room. A WWII war recovery plan was settled here.

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Bonn wasn’t heavily bombed during WWII so the architecture is really interesting.

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Darren, Julie and I celebrated American Thanksgiving in Germany with a French meal.

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Then Julie and I hit the Christmas market.

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Dublin, St Andrew’s and Bonn all have very distinct building styles. I especially liked the Munster in Bonn.

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Bonn is the birth place of Beethovan. His statue is supervising the Gl├╝hwein drinking at the Christmas market. I wonder if Ludwig liked mulled wine.

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Julie and I took the fast train from Bonn to Mainz to visit the Guttenberg Museum.

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I love all the public squares and pedestrain thoroughfares in Germany. Here’s Mainz.

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The Dom, right next to the Guttenberg Museum.

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Guttenberg printing press.

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A page in one of the two Guttenberg bibles on display.

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The Mainz Christmas market was our lunch stop. Yum.

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Back in Bonn on my last day, Julie and I did a little trek to a lookout.

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Then, since it was noon, we stopped for some Kolsch, which is the regional beer to drink in Bonn.

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One last zip around the market then off to the bus and back home to Dublin.

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As the month drew to a close, Finlay organized our Christmas decorations.

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A well-rounded birthday month.

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