Saturday, October 20, 2012

Our Night Out at Harold's Cross Greyhound Stadium

It's unusual to say the least, when we go out at night - but then - we are approaching Halloween!

The children are now almost 6, 7 and 11 and we genuinely were not sure what to expect. Both Mum and I had been Greyhound racing in the past - but that was pre-children and to be frank, we thought we'd have to wait either until they were a little older or make a night of it on our own sometime - but no - we didn't need to worry at all.

We arrived on Friday night, found parking easily enough (there is lots) and the children got their first glimpse of some "real" greyhounds and the track.

Andrew wondered if we had just arrived at the Aviva, fascinated by the floodlights and the buzz around as we collected our Race Card and went through the Turnstiles! We were about to experience Greyhound Racing as a family for the first time!

Walking trackside, with the viewing stand on our left we noticed several families with children around the same age as ours, and seemed to be regulars, in fact, there is a great sense that down by the track, everyone knows each other. Being early, first race starting at 7.55pm, we went inside to find our table.

On the ground floor there are several outlets where you can choose some food and also a bar, lots of tables and screens - so you don't even need to go outside if you don't want to. There is a Tote there too if you wanted to have a flutter. However, we had opted to eat in DOBBINS at the cross which is on the first floor.

Taking the stairs and we were amazed on arrival at the restaurant. Firstly by the speed at which we found our table but also by the decor and vista we had of the track. We were introduced to our waiter, Ramsey, who quickly took our orders and explained how it all worked. We opted for starters of Salad and Focaccia, followed by a lovely Sirloin for Dad and Chicken and Melon dish for Mum. For the kids there was a set menu, where they could choose Soup or Garlic Bread for starters, followed by either Goujons and Chips or Bangers and Mash - with customer Ice Cream to top it all off!

While awaiting our starters to arrive, Edel, arrived to look after us with Table-Side Tote Betting. She was brilliant.

Being total novices she explained how it all worked and was brilliant with the Children. She became "the lady who knows all about the races".

We placed a couple of €2 bets and a competition started between Mum and Dad, that was the first mistake Dad made on the night!!

Dinner arrived just in time for the first race - it really was superb and the children enjoyed eating and watching the races on what felt like a giant TV! Dinner was followed by deserts which the kids literally demolished!!!

What works really well here, is the visibility and the atmosphere Upstairs, it doesn't really matter where you are sitting you will be able to see what's going on. Once the race gets going the noise is deafening and you can’t help get involved in the cheering for “your” dog – it’s brilliant fun.

And we're off!!!
The squeals of excitement coming from the kids are something we'll never forget - they just got so into the race. Once the bell went to signal we were about to go - they pinned themselves to the windows screaming and shouting for whatever Dog we had picked - it was brilliant craic.

There were 11 races on the card - we stayed for 8 inside and then went outside to experience it from a different perspective as it was a mild evening.

For Race 9 we were trackside and our dog started well which only increased the tempo of the shouting – from us and all around us – however it was not to be and “number 4” finished third!

Oh well – time to go and with some gentle persuasion we said goodbye to Harold's Cross Greyhound Stadium.

The boys were exhausted but genuinely enjoyed the night so much. It’s the morning after now and Andrew (7) just walked in and said “thank you for the best night ever” – high praise indeed!

There are a number of great packages available which offer great value, particularly for Halloween where for €38.50 Adults get Admission, Race Programme, 4 Course Dinner plus Children under 12 dine Free (Max 2 per booking). There’s face painting and treats all laid on and this promises to be a brilliant night out.

Special thanks from the Rovers to Philip, Ramsey, Edel and all the staff at Harold's Cross Greyhound Stadium for an amazing night out to remember!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Our Viking Splash Tour - Dublin October 6th 2012

If you have visited Dublin City anytime since 1999, there is little doubt you will have seen (and heard) the Viking Roars coming from the Yellow Amphibious vehicles dotted around the capital.

These are the transportation of the Honorary "Vikings for a Day" - created by Viking Splash Tours.

Essentially, the tour is a fun, Viking themed tour of Dublin’s main sites on board a World War II DUKW, complete with knowledgable (and extremely witty) Tour Guide - in our case Captain Pat.

Departing Stephens Green, the tour takes approximately 1 Hour 15 minutes and it is a thrill from start to finish. Tours cost €20 for Adults and €10 for Children (3+).The ultimate thrill comes near the end!

Before we left, we were given a brief, comprehensive safety instruction and then the Fun begins in earnest. Everyone, young and old, is encouraged to don their helmets and practice their roar!! We practiced on Dawson Street - roaring at the "Cappuccino Dubliners" sipping their drinks Al Fresco in the autumn sun - it was hilarious watching their reaction as the merry band of "Vikings" let rip!

The tour route takes in sights along the route such as Trinity College, Christ Church Cathedral, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Viking Dublin, Medieval Dublin, Georgian Dublin, Government buildings, the Dublin Docklands and much more.

 It was amazing, as Dubliners, the nuggets of information Captain Pat shared, which we didn't know or had forgotten. We were told about the origins of Dubh Linn, the Easter Rising, tales of Molly Malone and Anna Livia.

We were shown some of the highs and lows of the Celtic Tiger and shown the impact it had, and is having on Dublin Today.

As we arrived at Spencer Dock in Dublin’s Docklands, or DUKW was fitted with floats and we were all given life jackets and another safety briefing.

Then - We SPLASHED into the water and took a tour around the Surf Dock - taking in the sights such as Facebook HQ, The Board Gais Theatre and the recording studios of U2.

Back on terra firma we proceeded back towards Stephens Green, via Pearse Street, passing Trinity College, just in time for some more roaring for our tiring band of marauding Vikings.

Our trip had come to an end and as we turned onto the green, the children sighed, knowing we had come to the end of our journey. Anticipating the next question, I told them we would definitely come back and do the tour again, perhaps in the spring.

Truly, a wonderful way to see Dublin - suitable for young and old. If you fancy a couple of hours seeing the sights of Dublin - while role playing a Viking - or just want to have some good old fashioned fun - this tour is definitely for you!! Check it out!