Category Archives: general

stand and stare…

A video by an Irish YouTuber came up on my feed today and it’s just great. A fantastic reminder to stop and enjoy the magic that is all around us.

If you don’t believe in magick, you will never find it…

It also reminded me of this beautiful poem:

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.”

Leisure by William Henry Davies

on pause

After a reasonably busy time at work and outside of work this last week has been a time of slowing down and taking things very easy.

As the cost of living increases and the news is full of dire warnings of inflation, energy hikes and possible food shortages it seems like everyone is hunkering down and keeping their cash close. This has resulted in a very, very quiet week at work. Speaking to reps this seems to be the story countrywide so nothing to worry about just yet. After all, living through the horrors of a war would be so much worse…

After an early spring and the tease of summer temperatures Mother Nature hit us a painful slap this week with a mid week storm and wintery conditions to top it off. Yesterday’s morning commute was in heavy snow showers with heavy hailstorms at various times through the day with a final serving of sub zero overnight temperatures. Apart from a beach walk on Sunday and one mid week trip to the woods to test drive a new pair of boots I’ve hardly been out the door. The little voice that had started longingly reminding me of warm evenings on the bike has slunk back into his corner and hidden under a mound of blankets. I think Wordle has been about as strenuous as it’s been all week…

life’s a beach

i hope summer boots weren’t too optimistic!

snowy errigal yesterday © john dyer via donegal weather channel

The pause has resulted in lots of reading and I’m almost TV’d out. Tomorrow is the end of the week and some weirdos consider it the start of a new week. For me it’s a day off, I think I need to make use of it and maybe hit play again…

song of the week 09: dyin’ ain’t much of a livin’

Dyin’ Ain’t Much of a Livin’” by Jon Bon Jovi

  • Genre: Rock
  • Single Release Date: Album only (1990)
  • Album: “Blaze of Glory

Blaze of Glory was Jon Bon Jovi’s debut album and was written for and inspired by the movie Young Guns II. Only two songs from the album actually featured on the official soundtrack of the film.

This track wasn’t one of the featured songs but to me totally encapsulates the ethos of the gunslinger and the raw grit of the lifestyle that has been romanticised in many other films. This to me is the standout track of the album.

Lyrics

A whisky bottle comforts me
And tells me not to cry
While a full moon says a prayer for me
I try to close my eyes

But the night’s there to remind me
Of the guns and the early graves
The ghosts appear as I fall asleep
To sing an outlaw’s serenade

Dyin’ ain’t much of a livin’
When you’re livin’ on the run
Dyin’ ain’t much of a livin’ for the young
Is it too late to ask for forgiveness
For the things that I have done
Dyin’ ain’t much of a livin’ for the young

Oh, the desert’s been a friend to me
It covers me by night
And a snakebite’s not my enemy
But it taught me how to fight

All this fame don’t bring you freedom
Though it wears a thin disguise
And an outlaw is just a man to me
And a man has to die

Oh, dyin’ ain’t much of a livin’
When you’re livin’ on the run
Dyin’ ain’t much of a livin’ for the young
Is it too late to ask for forgiveness
For the things that I have done
Dyin’ ain’t much of a livin’ for the young
Na

And I hope someone will pray for me
When it’s my turn to die… pray for me
Dyin’ ain’t much of a livin’
When you’re livin’ on the run
Dyin’ ain’t much of a livin’ for the young
Is it too late to ask for forgiveness
For the things that I have done
Dyin’ ain’t much of a livin’ for the young
Na

Header image from 8Tracks.com

renewing old friendships

Last weekend I made the long drive to Portlaoise (3.5hrs each way) to take part in the annual Geocaching Ireland New Year Resolution Event. This takes place each year on the first/second Saturday in January. There’s a meetup in a scenic location followed by a walk, usually around 10km. As January is usually a busy month for retail and Saturday a key day I haven’t been able to make this event since 2013! However, changing jobs meant that I was able to book it off this year.

The walk mostly followed the waymarked Glenbarrow Mill Loop and for the first half it was along the River Barrow. After a few weeks of rain the river and waterfalls were in full spate with the waterfalls being especially impressive. The second half was along forest trails and a boardwalk across the more open hillside.

The walk was really enjoyable, a gentle rambling pace and beautiful scenery. However, the main aim and most enjoyable thing about the day was meeting old friends that I haven’t seen for a good few years. That was by far the best part of the day and more than worth the long drive each way 😊

with my old bud – mammy eileen

On Wednesday I then reacquainted myself with another old friend that I haven’t seen much of since August. We’ve seen each other in passing but I’ve always felt awkward about not spending time together like we used to and I’ve usually rushed on past with my eyes averted pretending not to notice him….

Since I screwed up my digestive system back in August I haven’t been cycling at all hardly and anything I did do was on the MTB. On Wednesday, after a 5 month gap, I finally went out for a road spin. I was way more nervous and anxious than I expected but despite my fitness being shot to shit I managed a pretty hilly route and even managed to enjoy myself. It felt good to be back out and good to finally break my duck 💪🚴

click here to view on strava

Header image by Chanikarn Thongsupa from rawpixel.com

catch up

I’ve been very quiet on here recently and although it’s been 3 weeks since I last posted it doesn’t mean that life has been quiet, quite the opposite in fact.

The last two weeks have been pretty momentous from a personal perspective. It’s all been very surreal but also very positive but I’m going to be annoyingly enigmatic and park that one for a little while yet. More details over the next couple of weeks but it’s consumed my time and thoughts for most of the last two weeks…

Shortly after my last post I took my buff for a proper walk and ticked off another of my 50 nearest summits by climbing Altnapaste. This is a hill I’ve been looking forward to for a while now and I had almost the perfect day for a hugely enjoyable walk.

view original post on instagram

I hope to write more about that soon as I also filmed the walk and have some footage to edit and post also.

Last week I had a good long walk around the local roads and laneways. I left it quite late in the day so was short on daylight but stopped in the forest and made myself a hot chocolate as the last of the daylight faded. It was a really enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon especially with a head that needed emptying out for a while.

view original post on strava

I also decided to take my camera on that walk and made a video for YouTube. I’m still learning and it’s far from perfect but the link is below if you want to have a look.

I’m still trying to work out why I’m doing the YouTube videos. I don’t fully understand my motivation for them. I don’t expect to be a YouTube star (although humble beginnings and all that) and I don’t have any great insights to impart but so far I am enjoying the extra element it brings to days out as well as the editing and post production process. As long as that stays true I think I’ll keep at it.

Despite my lack of book reports I’ve kept reading. I finished a very good book called The Gold Coast by Nelson DeMille that took me just over a week to read. I’m a pretty fast reader so this was one of the longest books I’ve read for a while. It continues the trend of reading books that I have read before but many years ago.

My current read is a new author for me and it’s the first in a series. The Northern Lights by Philip Pullman. So far I’m enjoying it even though it was written for a much younger reader than me!

I’ve also started listening to audiobooks on my daily commute again. I recently finished Wild by Cheryl Strayed which was mentioned in an Outside Magazine article mentioned by another blogger (Reg Spittle: Books and my Backpack). This was a fantastic story and I’ll definitely give a more detailed review of that soon.

So, that’s been the last 3 weeks for me, 3 more and Xmas will be past. Hard to believe that we’ll finally be saying goodbye to 2021 soon and hopefully welcoming in a more enjoyable 2022…

Header image by Mike from Pexels

50 for 50

It was my birthday last month and at 48 I am now slap bang in the middle age zone and also deep into mid-life crisis territory. One wrong step and I’ll be hunting for a girl half my age and driving fast cars that I can’t afford!

about as far as the budget will stretch!

This is the first birthday that I’ve really felt my age. I was happy at every milestone in my life but for some reason 50 feels much more ominous. Some of you who come here regularly will scoff but it feels old and I don’t like feeling old.

This topic came up on a recent trip to the barbers. She is almost exactly 10 years younger than me and while she isn’t dreading 40 she has a plan to mark it with 40 things for her 40th birthday. The conversation reminded me of personal challenges set by two friends (Eileen and Yvonne) to mark significant birthdays of their own. Inspired by these 3 ladies I have come up with my own list.

Some of these are things I’ve been thinking of for a while and some are things I’m planning to do over the next few years anyway. There are no rules and no particular order. I’ll do some together and sometimes one thing might count for more than one item on the list. I’m allowing myself until the end of 2023 so have just over 2 years but, if I don’t get them all done then no worries. The goal here is to have fun!

  • Give up social media for 1 month
  • Climb Mt Everest (walking elevation)
  • Sleep on a mountain top with no tent
  • Camp on a beach
  • Raise €5,000 for charity
  • Walk a marathon
  • Cycle the Ireland Way
  • Climb the Ulster County Tops
  • Climb the Ireland 4 Peaks
  • Midnight Skinny Dip
  • Read 5 Classic Novels
  • Gift 5 coffees to strangers
  • Carve an item from wood
  • Give flowers to 5 strangers
  • Drive the Wild Atlantic Way
  • Visit the 32 counties of Ireland
  • Take a photo of 5 strangers and get their stories
  • Run a 10K
  • Stay silent for 24hrs
  • Abseil off a cliff or tall building
  • Complete a multi day bikepacking trip
  • Complete a multi day backpacking trip
  • Take 5 photos that are worth framing
  • Learn to swim
  • Cycle from dusk to dawn
  • Kiss the Blarney Stone
  • Firewalk
  • Have acupuncture
  • Take 5 yoga lessons
  • Take 5 dance lessons
  • Volunteer for a day
  • Plant 5 trees
  • Grow a meal
  • Catch and cook a fish
  • Bake a cake
  • Visit Tory Island
  • Spend a night on Aranmore Island
  • Re-visit the Aran Islands
  • Visit Glasnevin cemetery
  • Visit the War Memorial Gardens
  • Make a pen pal
  • Send a message in a bottle
  • Make a time capsule
  • Donate blood
  • Make a memory box
  • Climb the closest 50 hills to home on MountainViews.ie
  • Go pony trekking
  • Go for a wild swim
  • Do a pier jump
  • Grow a tree from seed

Header image © Pixabay

resetting expectations

Almost two weeks ago I wrote about how my motivation had slumped and how I was feeling lethargic and unwilling to get out and about. Having written that I had a bit of a lift. I think it was cathartic recognising and expressing how I was feeling. Later that week the weather also started to improve again getting warmer and a bit more settled. I decided to give the 30 Days of Biking Challenge a go as a way to change things up and maybe give me a cycling boost. I started well with 4 days done but then hit a mental wall again. This wasn’t helped by plummeting weather conditions and a return to very wintery weather. After a taste of Spring it feels like we’ve been catapulted back to the end of January!

On Easter Monday the forecast was for a wet and windy week with snow and hail showers also expected and I lost all interest in the 30 Days Challenge. In fact I pretty much lost interest in cycling for the whole week!

❄ 3″ of snow on my car tuesday morning! ❄

Since then I’ve spent some time taking stock. For the last two weeks I’d been getting progressively tired and fed up. I’d also started to develop pains in my knees and legs. Something was going wrong and needed to change. A number of the supportive comments on that last post mentioned Covid and/or overdoing it. Dpedece’s comment in particular stood out for me:

However, it seems to me that needing to take the lazy option means that something inside–mind? spirit?–needs healing. The lazy option allows the opportunity for that to heal.

I’ve been back at work now for 5 weeks and it’s been a big change. I’m in work from 9:30am to 6pm with a 45min lunch break. Apart from lunch I’m mostly stood in the one spot as, with lockdown, most sales and queries are coming via the phone. It’s pretty full on with the phone almost constantly ringing and possibly juggling 3/4 queries at once. It requires constant focus and concentration to ensure nothing gets missed or messed up while still maximising sales. That’s tiring both mentally and physically.

During my time off at the start of lockdown I steadily built up my activity and consequently my fitness. I was determined not to lose this by returning to work. I was also following Intermittent Fasting to try and get to my ideal weight. The table below shows my weekly activity plan going back to work.

Retrospectively now it’s a bit much and combined with work it was way too much! Additionally my sleeping pattern has been bad. To get an activity in before work I was getting up at 6:30am (away to work at 8:30am, home at 7pm) but most nights not settling down until at least 11:30pm or even midnight. No wonder I was feeling burnt out, I was and as dpedece said my spirit needed healing.

I’ve really dialled it back since Monday. The weather has stopped me cycling so I’ve just been walking and only once a day. Most days I’ve been able to have a lie in and I’ve been making a better effort to get to sleep by 11pm. I’ve completely given up on fasting by eating a small breakfast. At work I’m making an effort to reduce stress by not feeling that I have to answer every single call and dealing properly with queries before moving on to the next.

All of this has helped a lot. I’m feeling a good bit better and the pains are going from my legs. Mentally I feel a lot less wrung out and depending on the weather tomorrow I may even get out for a spin on the bike. Some of our restrictions are being eased and we are permitted to travel anywhere within our county boundary. It will be refreshing to be able to ride different routes and areas I haven’t ridden since October/November. Hopefully the customers I meet through work will also be in better form and more positive and thereby easier to deal with. There’s a rumour that winter may be retreating again later this week which will give everyone an extra boost 🤞

Header image by Castorly Stock from Pexels

a week of meh!

I finished last week on a pretty positive note with a really enjoyable 80km spin. Monday I started the week according to plan with a short walk and kettlebell session but wasn’t in the mood for a walk after work. Instead I took a lazy night sitting chatting with Catriona. Tuesday I was up and out for my short pre work 25km spin as usual and felt good. That evening after dinner I did go out for a walk and pushed myself to complete the 6km route to make up for Monday evening.

It all went down hill from then. I had an important household maintenance job to complete Wednesday morning but the plan was to cycle late morning/early afternoon depending on the weather conditions. Whatever happened overnight though I just couldn’t be arsed. No matter how I tried I just couldn’t get motivated for any kind of decent activity. In the afternoon I eventually talked myself into going to Monellan for a wander off the trails and through the trees. I did really enjoy that, bushwacking along the length of the river and exploring the wooded areas for possible camp spots. I also found a massive den, possibly badger but more likely fox that I intend to go back to.

The rest of the week was worse. The weather turned quite wet and windy on Wednesday afternoon and stayed that way for the rest of the week, even turning very wintry on Friday with snow and hail. This gave me all the reasons in the world to take the foot off the pedal and just drift through the end of the week.

I was able to get through the working day having found a system of dealing with the volume of phonecalls and messages without getting stressed but outside of that I had zero interest. I managed to push myself enough to keep my daily walking streak going but it was the bare minium of 2-3km just once each day with no cycling since Tuesday and no further kettlebell sessions. Somehow I clocked up a reasonable 24km walking for the week which surprised me!

© garmin connect

I also decided during the week that Intermittent Fasting wasn’t working for me, that I was too active for my calorific intake and that I wasn’t at my most productive during the morning at work. All this is correct but it gave me the excuse to eat very poorly for most of the week. I’ve been tired and out of sorts since Wednesday, feeling a bit rundown and at least some of that is probably due to diet and a bad sleeping pattern. It’s been another great excuse for taking the lazy option.

From Tuesday the weather is set to improve again and I’m hoping that the time shift to Summer Time last night and the resulting longer evenings will help me break out of this funk and get back on track. The plan is to restart the week tomorrow morning with the usual kettlebells and see how it goes.

february 2021 review

  • a full month of lockdown v3.0
  • lots of walking especially in the first half of the month: 201.5km in 31 activities with at least one walk every day
  • my longest walk was 21.72km, just over the half marathon distance
  • lots of cycling especially towards the end of the month: 568km in 11 activities
  • cycled 5 days in a row to end the month including my longest ride of 101.6km on the last day
  • restarted intermittent fasting and dropped approximately 2kg
  • a mixed up month of multiple storms and long cold, dry spells including signs of an early spring
  • homeschooling continued for two seriously fed up teenagers
  • got the call from work with a restarting date
  • almost a fortnight of amazing sunsets

february in photos

new vocabulary

Two phrases that have probably been around for years but I’ve only heard them for the first time in the last week or so.

graupel

Heard this on “Dermot and Dave” on TodayFM during an interview with Carlow Weather. We had it a few times during the very cold days during the first part of last week.

small particles of snow with a fragile crust of ice; soft hail.

Irish Central

type II fun

I came across this in a Bikepacking.com article. Although it’s a new phrase for me it’s definitely one I’ve experienced before!

Type 2 fun is miserable while it’s happening, but fun in retrospect. It usually begins with the best intentions, and then things get carried away. Riding your bicycle across the country. Doing an ultramarathon. Working out till you puke, and, usually, ice and alpine climbing. Also surely familiar to mothers, at least during childbirth and the dreaded teenage years.

REI.com

Header image by Snapwire from Pexels