It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day…

Misty morning on the Lane.
Misty morning on the Lane.

Friday. Nearly a week since we set off up north for the Ireman Triathlon. The running gag in this house for the whole summer has been to look out the window, and if it was a fine day, say “great weather for a triathlon…”

Well, as it turned out, the weather was perfect for Ireman. Calm. Plenty of sunshine, and a cooling gentle sea breeze for the bike ride and run. The kit has since been washed, the bike stashed, and the aching legs occasionally rubbed. The medal is hanging from the office door, along with the race number. And that’s it. On to the next one. The Big One. The Hardman in Kerry next year. That’s the plan anyway. As someone said, if you want to make God laugh, tell him what you’re doing tomorrow…

Today was the first spot of organised exercise since Ireman, and it was a loosener in the pool. We accosted one of the coaches and got some good advice on our stroke. Which it turns out needs a bit of work. We are both turning our arms in on the catch, and then sweeping too far under the body. She gave us a couple of really good pointers, and simple exercises to try out. Plenty of time to get it right for next year.

Sow-thistle.
Sow-thistle.

During the week, I stayed away from any training, and instead enjoyed the recent fine weather and S and I took Holly out for a walk in the Park.

There are still plenty of interesting things to see of a wildlife nature out there, not least some late-flowering plants that often get overlooked. Among these are the very pretty sow-thistles. I am not sure if these are of the prickly or perennial variety, so I have bottled it in terms of naming them. Also on view in the fields were Yarrow and the ends of Ragwort, which are quite photogenic.

Ragwort.
Ragwort.

Further up into the fields we came across a bright splash of red which turned out to be a few late poppies doing their thing.

Poppies.
Poppies.

In the trees line bordering the fields, ash keys abound, and the familiar blotches of tar-spot fungus (Rhytisma acerinum) on the Sycamores leaves were prolific.

It’s quite a common and harmless infection of maples and once you see it, you will start noticing it everywhere.

Tar-spot fungus on Sycamore leaf.
Tar-spot fungus on Sycamore leaf.

All these things are a sign that we are heading into autumn, and the ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’.

It’s probably my favourite time of year, though it won’t lend itself to getting out on the bike as much.

On the way home, we had a most wonderful wildlife encounter. In the stream behind the station, I spotted an Otter. We followed it down the culvert ’til it vanished underground.

It then reappeared downstream, but was moving around so lithely that, together with the reflections off the water and the waving around of mobile phones, a decent pic was impossible.

Spot the otter!
Spot the otter!

The best effort (which is quite poor) is attached here, and if you trace the bubbles, you will see the shape of the Otter underwater.

This is the first time I’ve ever seen one in Leixlip, and certainly the first I know of in the Silleacháin Stream. It quickly tired of our feeble attempts to catch it on camera and headed back upstream into the woods.

It was certainly a highlight of the week so far.

A few late flying butterflies are still out and about. This one was along the Lane today, enjoying the Indian Summer that we often witness, which is to say, a couple of warm days of pleasant sunshine after a typical washout Irish ‘summer’.

Speckled Wood.
Speckled Wood.

The main focus of the walk, apart from a light stretch for tired and sore muscles, was to collect some blackberries for an apple and blackberry pie. Hard not to think of ‘Famous’ Seamus Heaney’s poem when you set out to collect some free fruit from the hedgerows. Read it here.

Blackberry haul.
Blackberry haul.

The secret weapon to improve the cycle times arrived in the post this week. A set of Shimano clip-less pedals. I need to pick up a pair of shoes to match, and hopefully Adverts.ie will provide!

Onwards and upwards.

The new secret weapon!
The new secret weapon!
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