Tag Archives: rosie

just not feeling it…

I’ve been finding it difficult to get into a good headspace for a good few weeks now. I wrote back in the middle of July that I was finding it difficult to get motivated to walk and cycle and basically get past the planning stage of anything really. Despite pushing myself to do some things I still feel that I’m only operating at something like 75% of normal. It’s like a series of those days when the weather is full of low hanging clouds and misty drizzle, grey and dispiriting.

With those kind of feelings along comes that good friend comfort eating. I’ve definitely been guilty of resorting to a much increased consumption of chocolate, crisps and biscuits over the last 6/8 weeks. That combined with a considerable drop in activity has resulted in weight gain and I’m now at the top end of my scale. I’m really not comfortable in this zone as it’s getting easier to just let it go.

Energy levels are poor. I’m sleepy and lethargic at strange parts of the day. I almost nodded off at lunchtime today and I’ve found the evening commute difficult on a number of occasions with a sleepy head and droopy eyelids. I’m going to bed at decent times but don’t think my sleep quality is where it should be.

I’ve also been having some “digestive” issues in the last month. I’m not sure if that is a symptom or a contributing cause. I’m concerned that it is the beginning of an intolerance or maybe a form of IBS but have a feeling that it’s mostly dietary and stress related. I’m hoping that a few weeks of cleaner eating will help settle me down again. It can only help with the weight gain also!

I had very little interest in riding my bike today and with a mid morning vaccine appointment for the two boys and an afternoon forecast for persistent rain I knew it was unlikely to happen anyway. Shortly after lunch and almost nodding off I decided to try and lift some of this hateful lethargy and went for a walk in the rain. It was quite warm with no wind and mostly just drizzle when I set off. The heavier rain came along the road but I don’t really mind walking in these kind of conditions. Along the way I met some new neighbours 🐮

The route was mostly local minor roads and lanes but also skirts through one of the local forestry plantations. I took a small bag with me containing my gas cannister, stove, cook pot and water. The plan was to go into the trees and make a hot chocolate.

I didn’t really want a hot chocolate but it’s difficult to rush one without scalding your mouth so it forces you to slow down and take your time. I had Rosie with me too which wasn’t a great idea as she can’t settle when out like this, wants to keep moving and whines a lot.

zero patience!

I ended up sitting for at least half an hour while I prepared my drink and allowed it to cool. It was nice to sit and enjoy the forest and try to settle my mind. I found it surprisingly difficult to switch off my brain, random nonsense and ideas flitting around but I guess I just need more practice to get better at it.

Header image from NAMI.org

barnes gap loop

The weather forecast all week has been giving today to be pretty grim with wind and heavy rain all day. I had resigned myself to a day off in the house with possibly a short walk at some stage. However, the forecast was slightly wrong with the weather front breaking into two with a spell of pretty decent weather in between. As the morning progressed this looked more and more likely so I decided a change of scenery was in order and jumped in the car with Rosie and headed for Barnes Gap.

I was last up this track just over a year ago. Either I way underestimated how long it takes to construct a wind farm or Covid shut them down for ages. Construction is still very much ongoing with the hateful implications for the forest environment. The narrow, rocky, rutted and overgrown tracks that were really nice for walking and mountain biking have been replaced with construction sites, quarries and wide roads for construction vehicles.

In general I feel windfarms are a good thing. They will be part of the wider strategy to move away from oil dependency. I’m not a fan of the destruction involved in their construction though. With the amount of road building, use of plastics and heavy machinery it’s hard to see how they can offset the environmental cost of construction during their lifetime. I’m no expert though and also don’t have any alternative to propose. This site was also the location of the infamous moving bog last year.

no welcome but also nobody around on a sunday afternoon

Despite essentially walking through an active construction site I had the place entirely to myself this afternoon. I also had the pleasure of the wind in the trees, water running in the drains and streams as well as lots of birds singing.

After the dire forecast the weather was actually quite pleasant for most of the walk. During the last 20min the rain did arrive but I did expect it and had dressed appropriately. I did catch the start of the second band of wet and windy weather but just managed to miss the worst of it.

I had estimated the walk to be about 7km but it turned out to be 8km. As the weather has continued to keep me off the bike, despite my back gradually improving, I’ve managed a total of 35km this week. The weather is set to finally improve this week so I hope to get some short evening spins as well as a longer spin Wednesday. If I’m to get in a last minute 100k spin this day week I need to get myself back in shape!

click the image to view on strava

Header image by Pixabay from Pexels

video: bessy bell hike

Over the last 6 months or so I’ve been watching progressively more on YouTube. I’ve become a regular follower of quite a few channels, some cycling but mostly outdoor – hiking, wild camping and bushcraft. A while back I made my first YouTube video and shared it here. Since then the idea of making this a more frequent thing has been rattling around in my head.

One thing that has held me back is the worry of ridicule. Putting myself out there in film feels pretty pretentious and there is the fear that I could be making a complete arse of myself. However, on my Bessy Bell walk this week I took along a tripod and did some filming as well as photography.

I have to say I did enjoy the filming. Looking for shots and compositions as well as sharing the sights and sounds brought a different dimension to the day. I also enjoyed the post filming editing and production, finding the right footage and mixing in music, commentary and photos. It’s a bit like writing this blog, just a different medium.

Below is the finished article. It’s far from perfect and I learned a lot from this first proper attempt but at least I’m happy to share it.

bessy bell hike

I haven’t been on the bike since the 100km spin for April. The following Bank Holiday weekend was pretty grim weather wise and the Wednesday after I managed to hurt my back doing some clearing out of the attic and garage. I’ve had problems with my lower back for a good number of years with a slightly bulging disc that causes sciatica when irritated. Nothing major but it flares up from time to time. I’ve had various physio treatments for it but I have a weak core and a terrible lazy streak that means I never totally get rid of it.

This time I strained my left side which resulted in pain and inflammation on both sides of my lower back. I’ve had to start on a course of pain killers and wear a back support to work to allow me to stay on my feet all day. I’ve been able to keep working and walking but had to stop cycling to allow it to heal. It had improved towards the end of last week so I decided that a hike was in order to get me out in the fresh air for a few hours and to test the limits of my back in a situation where I could easily bail if I was in too much discomfort.

Bessy Bell is a large hill/small mountain just outside Newtownstewart and approximately 25min from home. I was last up here about 5 years ago and figured this would be a good time for a revisit. The 12km loop is completely on stone forest roads and easy for navigation. The climb to the summit isn’t too taxing (maximum height 420m) and the views are very rewarding.

Rosie isn’t a good traveller, she gets car sick, but at only a 25min journey I decided she could come too. She’s getting on at 10 1/2 now but has been full of energy all week so I figured she would manage better than me!

After the summit you descend most of the way by the same track before branching off to follow the Ulster Way most of the way back to the start. This is pretty level all the way with a mix of forest and clearfell areas, very easy and pleasant walking.

The Ulster Way is overlapped in this region by the International Appalachian Trail. New signage has been installed in the last 6 months or so and this is a later section than my previous walk in Killeter Forest a few weeks ago.

For food I took the usual packed lunch but also decided to take a gas cannister and stove for the first time ever. Normally I carry a flask of tea which usually results in a sub standard, stale tasting and lukewarm drink for lunch. Using the stove provided a very refreshing cup to accompany my sandwiches and definitely worth the slight extra weight.

The final 1.5-2km section is along a stretch of rural road. It’s a busy enough road but quieter than I expected this time. Also there was still lots of flowers to admire and nice scenery to enjoy along the way.

tired but happy 🐶

Despite the rest of the country being under a thunderstorm warning it managed to stay dry, warm and mostly sunny for the day. My back coped well and has continued to improve slightly every day since. I hope to get back on the bike for short spins this week.

click image to view on strava

sundays have become run days

In the last couple of weeks Conor’s gaelic training has changed from Saturday afternoon to Sunday. It has put a real spanner in my cycling. His training starts at 1130am and finishes at 1245pm. It doesn’t give me enough time before unless I get up really early and afterwards I only have a couple of hours before darkness. I’ve found it difficult to get motivated to go out in the cold and wet afternoons. However, both of the last two Sundays I’ve made it out for a run.

Today my legs were feeling tired and heavy but the bright winter sunshine was nice to be out in. I did underestimate how cold the strong breeze was though and was glad to finish the warm up walk and start running.

There is a local 5K running event scheduled for Boxing Day. I’m still in two minds whether to enter or not. I’m not sure I can run the 5K without walking and I don’t see the point of doing it otherwise. I plan to run Tuesday and Thursday and then decide.

water, water, everywhere…

After a long morning and early afternoon of consistent heavy rain it was nice to get out and take advantage of a short break in the weather for a rare afternoon run.

All my runs for the last couple of months have been early morning before work so it felt very unusual to be running in daylight.

Header image by Oleg Magni from Pexels

none to run

I’ve been cycling for almost 7 years now and I’ve always enjoyed hiking and walking but I’ve never been a runner! Up to now this image has described me perfectly:

I’ve tried running a few times but it was always a case of too much, too soon due to lack of understanding how to start running. I’ve tried Couch25K a couple of times but gave up after a couple of runs due to lack of motivation. I also have a really bad running style that combined with a poor training strategy has resulted in a tendency towards shin splints.

I was researching C25K again last week and came across NoneToRun (N2R) which is for pure beginners. C25K is distance based with the ultimate aim of running 5km at the end of 9 weeks. N2R is time based with the aim of running 25min non-stop at the end of 12 weeks. It’s also walk/run based but incorporates some basic strength training to build endurance and avoid injury. It also has a very active and very supportive Facebook Group.

I had planned to cycle this morning but was suffering from a complete lack of motivation to get on the bike. Eventually I was that pissed off I decided to give N2R Week 1 a go 😱

To make things that bit easier I decided to go to Monellan Woods so I could run on the trails. I know Monellan well from walking the dog and MTBing and figured it would be less public and easier on the joints as well as a more enjoyable environment.

The first couple of run/walk intervals felt quite easy but I could feel the effects increasing towards the end. I did feel pretty comfortable throughout and could see the temptation to do more but stuck to the plan.

click the photo to see on strava

I ended up at 35min as my 25min finished and I was still 10min from the car but left the watch recording to the end.

I did have a few niggles with my shins but nothing bad so hopefully that doesn’t get any worse and with time my legs will get stronger and my gait and form will improve so that I avoid injury.

I had Rosie with me for company. She loves Monellan but her reaction to my running sections was so funny. Totally confused and over excited the first couple of times. Only issue was having to stop twice to put her on the lead when we met other walkers. If I go early or later in the evening then I won’t have that issue.

rosie doesn’t really get selfies 🤣

back where she belongs ❤️

She’s home again! The vet rang this morning with a positive report and to say we could collect her today.

A few medications to take and she’s in the cone of shame (which she hates!) but we’re delighted to have her home.

She has to go back in one week for a check up but she’s in great form this evening.