Last weekend I got to have a good nosey around and soak up the atmosphere at the Bloom in the Park festival in the Phoenix Park in Dublin.
Saturday morning was, by some miracle, really sunny, so on arrival at Heuston Station I decided to stroll from the park gate up to the festival. Pheonix park is about 1752 acres. Its a walled park and the biggest of its sort in a European capital city. Although I'm a Kildare native (about 20 minutes down the road) I have never been further in the park then Dublin Zoo. (Which il praise endlessly after another 'research visit' in a few weeks, any excuse!!)
Anyway, further into the park is Áras an Uachtaráin or the presidents gaff as its also known! It is only open for a few hours on a Saturday and most Irish people have never set foot in the place. Personally I agree with Sean Gallaghers (running for presidency) idea to open the house to the public properly and put in a little coffee shop. If the recent Royal and Presidential visits are anything to go by Mary and the hubby would be happy to have us.
I met a guy wheeling a wheelbarrow with cement blocks in it half way so we solved the problems of the world until we parted ways at the entrance. So after the 40 minute walk, the signs say 20 but I hadn't brought my running shoes I finally arrive at the gate. A courtesy bus runs from the park gate but the walk in the sun was just to tempting.
Tickets are a very reasonable €20 and €12 concession (O.A.Ps and students). Although Bloom is essentially a garden festival there is a whole lot to see and do. The main marquee houses an assortment of stands, a lot of the visitor attractions and tourism groups are represented here. One that I found super helpful and very nice were shortbreaksireland.ie. The guy recommended a book called 'Round Ireland with a fridge' - looking forward to that read!!!
Outside there are show gardens galore and everything you need to create your own little haven. As it's Saturday the buggy brigade are out in force but its still easy enough to get around. There's an entertainment stage with live music throughout the day creating a lovely festival vibe. My personal favorite are the barber shop quartet that are popping up all over the place. Its like something out of a movie where you expect them to burst into song about whats going on. "That's a wonderful watering can bom bom bom"...
|One of the many flower sculptures|
The artisan food area has stalls from all different Irish food producers. Chocolate, jams, breads, cheese...all looking and smelling wonderful. And I have to say the people on the stalls are all doing themselves proud. Chatting, joking..really engaging with the customers - Its great to see! While queuing for a 'Dees' vegi-burger' a Scottish chef (very charming and entertaining) is handing out amazing juicy steak pieces complete with veg and cocktail stick. The whole queue enjoy it and are licking the cocktail sticks clean as the lady on the vegi-burger stand asks for their order. I found myself a little patch of grass by a lovely little piece of landscaping to enjoy my burger along with everyone else oohing and aahing over their choice of lunch. It is really tasty. I am by my no means a vegetarian but I saw Dees on Dragons Den and was curious to taste. I'm not disappointed! Yummy bean burger covered in Ballymaloe Relish.
My 'Bloom' highlight is a VW camper van covered in bright fresh flowers - can anything be more cool!!!!
Whether you go home with a few petunias, a meer cat garden ornament so every time you look out to the garden you will start impersonating the add, or a few hens and a coop that you may regret buying by Tuesday - its a great day out and a 'Bloomin (cringe!!!!!) great way to start the Summer.