Category Archives: family

happy new year!

Last year I started the New Year on the top of Errigal with a hike to welcome the dawn on the summit. I had hoped to repeat that this year but my back has been playing up all week making it unlikely. Then to top it off there was a weather warning for high winds on Atlantic coasts and high ground. The predicted wind speed on the summit at dawn was 80-100km/hr so there was no way I was chancing that, especially in the dark.

After a lazy lie in we marked the New Year all together instead with a walk on Rathmullan Beach which is a regular spot for us and Catriona’s favourite. We ended up sitting in the car for almost half an hour as the rain hammered down before deciding to get some chips from the nearby van. Instead of going home afterwards as expected we were delighted to see the weather clear and the sun actually come out. We ended up with beautiful weather for a beach walk – a strong, bracing wind but no rain!

Afterwards we paid a brief visit to my Grand Aunt Ruby who had her 106th birthday yesterday! She had a busy day with some visitors and lots of phonecalls and was pretty tired from it all so we didn’t stay very long. She’s some lady.

Finally before heading home we called via Mum and Dad’s for a visit and to wish them a Happy New Year in person. This rounded off a very enjoyable, relaxing and family orientated start to 2022.

bád eddie

One of Donegal’s most famous landmarks and probably the most photographed, lies on Magheraclogher Beach outside Bunbeg. It’s the remains of a boat (Bád Eddie is Irish for Eddie’s boat) that ran aground in the 1970s and has sat there for almost 50 years. We’ve never been there and as it’s in serious danger of collapsing completely, we made the journey today to see it for ourselves and get some photos of our own before it disappears for good.

july – a month of significant days

July is a busy month for our family and it starts straight away with my Mum’s birthday on July 1st. Two weeks later on the 14th it’s the turn of Dad and myself. It’s a joint birthday but this year it’s all about Dad as he turned 70. We had a family get-together at a restaurant in Letterkenny and then back to Mum and Dad’s for a few hours.

Just before this my blog passed it’s second blogiversary. I’m now up to 236 followers and have a good core group of regular readers, many of whom like and comment on a regular basis. This week I also passed a pretty big milestone for a blog that I don’t promote beyond my personal Facebook page.

However, by far and away the most important date this year is today. 20 years ago I married my soulmate. As Catriona eloquently said on Facebook this morning “20 years of you, me and us” We’re a perfect example of a couple that are better people together than we ever would have been apart ❤️

we haven’t changed a bit!

We arranged to have our days off together today. Yesterday evening we went for a lovely meal in The Hidden Pearl, Sion Mills. Today we went back to Portstewart and had lunch in the Anchor Bar where we first met.

We had a lovely day driving and walking around a town that is full of memories for me, having lived there for a few years but with a very special memory that we both celebrated today.

Header image by Pixabay on Pexels.com

pollan strand, ballyliffin

It’s Catriona’s birthday this week and as we’re all at work and school she wanted to celebrate today with a family day away, especially as we appear to have temporarily skipped straight from Spring to Summer.

On the way down we stopped at my brother’s coffee van (#curiouscoffee). I’ve stopped a couple of times already on my way to work but as they are only open 9 weeks now it was a first visit for Catriona and the boys.

Coincidentally Mum and my sister plus kids had a similar idea and we met them there and sat having a chat for a good while.

The main aim of the day was to go for a family walk. We had chosen Glenevin Waterfall outside Clonmany but the car park and trail were closed. According to Google it’s “temporarily closed” so it must be a victim of the lockdown restrictions.

Our next choice was always going to be a beach walk anyway so we headed for Pollan Strand less than 10 minutes away and walked pretty much the full length of the beach. It was 6km in glorious warm sunshine, as close to Summer as it gets in this part of the world.

On the way back we stopped at the Four Lanterns in Buncrana for burgers and chips topped off by 99s in Raphoe. An extravagant day of spoiling ourselves but a lovely family day out.

work stops play

I expected it to be difficult to keep up the level of activity of the last few weeks when I went back to work but I had a plan for the week. I didn’t plan on multiple days of stormy wind and rain though.

Tuesday onwards has been pretty grim which had a big impact on my cycling. My plan was 60km each of my days off (Wednesday and Sunday) with 25km two mornings before work (Tuesday and Friday). Tuesday morning wasn’t happening as I really needed the extra hour in bed. Wednesday I did get out but the worst of the storm was to hit that afternoon into Thursday so I only managed a wet and windy 26km. It was still stormy Friday morning so the bike was out again. Today it’s Mother’s Day and #2 son’s 13th birthday so 2.5hrs on the bike was never going to happen. I had hoped for an hour in the morning but a walk was just about enjoyable, a cycle would have been hateful. A total of 26km for the week, how the mighty have fallen!

© strava

Walking has been more successful. I’ve managed to keep up my streak of walking every day. Even on the wettest days it’s not hard to dress up appropriately and make it at least partially enjoyable. My target for the week is 30km and finishing on 28.9 my only issue was skipping the 2km walk on Thursday morning. Heavy rain and hail showers was not my idea of a good way to start the day.

© garmin connect

The biggest result of the week has been finally starting a strength and conditioning program. I’ve been following the Chain Reactions kettlebell routine from YouTube. Monday, Thursday, Saturday with a 2km warm up walk (skipped on Thursday). I’ve also added in some upper body movements to give a 25-30min routine. I was very stiff on Wednesday but OK since and hopefully it’s the start of a new habit.

#2 son 2008-2021

mother’s day

If St Patrick’s Day was strange then Mother’s Day wasn’t going to be much different. We wanted to do as much as possible today while being sensible so we went to visit Mum and with a great idea from Catriona we wrote Happy Mother’s Day on A4 sheets and greeted her from outside her garden wall having already left her present outside the front door. It was a bit weird but we got to say what we wanted and she and Dad both stayed safe.

Catriona’s wish was a walk on the beach. We went to Rathmullan as it’s a big wide beach with plenty of space for keeping away from others and allowed us to visit Catriona’s Mum’s grave on the way.

When we arrived in Rathmullan the car park was as busy as I’ve seen it with about 40 cars parked up already. Having seen pictures of crowds in the Wicklow Mountains yesterday we were on the verge of turning away but as there was nobody actually in the car park we decided to have a look down the beach.

It was heartening to see how everyone was behaving. There were a lot of people out walking, lots of couples and lots of small family groups. Everyone was very responsible with everyone well spread out up and down the beach with lots of space. We saw a couple of groups of people meeting who knew each other but just waving. One pair of younger couples were kind of messing but one of the guys was pretty clear about the need to stay apart and made sure the other guy didn’t come too close while still being able to have a conversation.

It was really uplifting to see everyone enjoying the day, the first of the proper Spring weather and to be able to put aside the worries and concerns for just a little while but still being sensible enough to stay safe.

Catriona’s favourite thing is to walk on the beach and it was great we were able to give her that today.

happy mother’s day

a traditional christmas

With my change of job this year has come an unplanned bonus, traditional Xmas opening hours and therefore traditional Xmas holidays. We worked right up until Xmas Eve with an early dart home and have been closed for the last 3 days giving me my first Boxing Day off and at home for 7 years and, according to Facebook Memories only my second in the last 10 years!

It has been a nice, family orientated Xmas this year with the last minute addition of Mum and Dad and my brother for dinner on Xmas Day, visiting a lot of the rest of my family on Boxing Day in Mum and Dad’s and obviously having 3 days to spend with my own family.

As a bonus I even managed to get out on the bike for a couple of hours this morning. A spin organised by MTB Donegal in Barnes Gap which turned out to be really enjoyable and gave me a fitness confidence boost that I wasn’t expecting after at least 2 weeks of inactivity and crap eating culminating in the excess that is also a traditional Xmas!

click the image to view on strava

super sunday

After a very busy and successful first week in my new job and twice having to withdraw plans midweek to cycle due to either tiredness, bad weather or both I was determined to get out cycling this morning.

My initial plan was to lie in until 8.30 and be on the road between 9 and 9.30. When I woke it was raining hard and with the forecast I decided to go back to bed and eventually got on the road for 10.

With the earlier rain I decided to go for my waterproof socks which then required my slightly roomier winter shoes. Probably too warm but at least I’d be dry.

dry feet all the way home

I’d decided on the 50km route and being optimistic I decided to head into Clady and tackle the climb up over The Glebe. This is a two stage climb that is 2.3km long, averages 4.3% and is classed as a Category 4 climb on the current Strava segment.

My record on this segment is 6:49 putting me in 31st position on the leaderboard. Today’s effort was 9:13 which would be equivalent to 115th. It sounds like a big difference but I’m happy I made it to the top today without stopping and in 2016 I was in much better condition. It’s also not my slowest time and not far off my average.

The current Strava segment shows it as one climb but it’s really two with a short flatter bit in between allowing for a slight recovery.

approaching the first climb
the second part ahead

The hard work of the climb is more than made up for by a nice, fast 3km descent to Victoria Bridge. This was much easier and I was only 11sec off my PB 😆

The rest of the run was into Strabane via Victoria Bridge and back home via Clady, Castlefinn and Killygordon.

the mourne river at victoria bridge

I wanted 50km so went up the road towards Ballybofey a few kilometres to get the distance. Met a couple of guys from the club that I hadn’t met before. One of them had a puncture and I was able to lend a hand by supplying a CO2 cannister and pump.

On the way back home I also had a chance to see the local annual Vintage rally setting up.

vintage tractors
vintage cars
vintage bikes and a 🚜 shaped bouncy castle 😆
click the image above to go to strava

In the afternoon the boys were at Robert Emmets Summer Camp and we went down for the BBQ and the round up including photos with two of the Donegal team and the Anglo-Celt Cup.

summer camp group photo

Afterwards we called to visit Mum and Dad who were away last week. As they’re in the middle of renovations and staying with Mum and Dad we also saw Rachel and her family.

Home for dinner, bike cleaned and oiled and a relaxing evening at home. Fully recharged for another week at work.

banged up abroad

Friday was definitely our best day in London. Our 3rd pre-booked activity was London Dungeons. This is totally in darkness and photography was forbidden so I’ve no photos to show. It’s a mixture of live actors, props, noises, spooky music and two rides covering the dungeons in Henry VIII’s time, the torturer, Guy Fawkes, Sweeney Todd and Mrs Lovett, The Black Plague, The Great Fire, a mock court and jailhouse and a ride to simulate a hanging. Really well done and scared the bejeebus out of Conor. Definitely wouldn’t advise it for u10s but we all had a ball, even Conor!

Afterwards it was food time. We had vouchers for McDonald’s so headed for the nearest one in Leicester Square. As we got nearer we spotted a Pizza Hut. It’s our favourite place to eat and very rare we get an opportunity to visit one so we ditched McD’s for the “all you can eat” buffet.

Outside we took in the atmosphere of Leicester Square which has to be the coolest place in London. I could have sat there all day listening to the music and watching the world go by.

leicester square

Next stop was Catriona’s choice – Harrods. We decided to walk this time and really glad we did as the route took us by the M&M store, The Apollo Theatre, Piccadilly Circus, The Wellington Monument, Hyde Park Corner and Kensington with all it’s very fancy car dealerships and stores.

this place was mental

entrance to chinatown

even the side streets are decorated and colourful

apollo theatre

eros

picadilly screens

wellington monument

hyde park corner

Harrods was crazy, even more than the M&M store but for very different reasons! It was equally as busy but only about half of the people there were spending any money, probably about 10% spending serious money. The wealth on display from this 10% and the disregard for cost was eye opening.

even the escalator area was extravagant

While Catriona and the boys looked around the sweet hall for something small to take home I went looking for the beds department just to see what the other half buy. It was amazing although I was seriously unimpressed by the sales guy I could overhear showing a customer around. If he works on commission it didn’t show! I considered leaving my CV 😆

that’s correct, a kingsize mattress costs almost £17k and the display is over £31k!

After Harrods it was back on the tube and back to the apartment. All the way home I couldn’t help but wonder what all those mega wealthy people were doing right now.