Murder, they cried

IN WHICH WE WITNESSED THE FINAL WEEK OF THE GENERAL ELECTION WHERE MANY LIFELONG POLITICAL HEAVYWEIGHTS CAME TUMBLING TO THE GROUND, BUT THE REST OF US PRETTY MUCH GOT ON WITH THINGS… AS YOU DO!


 

This week, Ireland was probably not the place to be if you don’t like politics. Of course, it could be worse; you could be in America and have to suffer the fools there, running for election. Iran too was voting, but I admit my knowledge of Iranian politics is sketchy at best.

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This is a grab from a debate on the telly. I just happened to pause it on this particular tableau, and what’s remarkable is that no-one is actually looking into the camera. The guy on the left is Leo Varadkar of Fine Gael, who was subsequently re-elected, and the lady on the right is Sinn Féin’s Mary-Lou MacDonald, who also retained her seat. In between is a gulf in which the average citizen can be found, all really rather unsure of what the hell is going on around them. It seems to encapsulate everything about Irish politics. 

As far as training goes, Monday was a gym morning, followed by Pilates in the evening. I don’t think I did anything strenuous on Tuesday, but made up for it on Wednesday with a gym session in the morning, followed by a swim in the afternoon, and then I managed to get roped into playing five-a-side footie in the evening, which I haven’t done for a while, and generally try and avoid when I’m training for something as it plays havoc with your joints (when you’re at my tender age). We’d had a bad call during the day (in the fire service) and I just felt like running around, kicking a ball.

Friday morning was gym again, and in the evening, a run in the park. Which sounds rather easy when you say it like that! I had left it ’til after six, but already you can feel the difference in terms of daylight. I could run without the head-torch. As I made my down the Black Avenue, the rooks were gathering to roost. The noise is quite impressive as they settle into the tops of the beeches, but my mischievous streak is just too wide and I couldn’t help clapping my hands and sending them streaking skyward again, screaming blue murder as they went, wheeling and screeching away. Clouds of black confetti. Soot from a fire. Albeit with a cacophony for a soundtrack.

Keen ornithologists know many of the collective nouns for birds. Some of them are quite nutty (the terms, though it applies equally to birders too 😉 ). And many of us have heard of ‘a murder of crows’. Well, it turns out there are other ones too, such as horde, hover, mob, muster, parcel, parliament and a storytelling of crows. And these same keen birding types will also point out that we don’t really have crows here in Ireland. Well, not the common Carrion Crow that is found in the UK and the continent. By some strange wildlife wrinkle, we have replaced, wholesale, our crow population with Rooks and Hooded Crows. So now we need to find the collective noun for Rooks instead. Well, some of them are the same, though you can have ‘a building of rooks’. Or a clamour. I didn’t find a term for Hooded Crows though. How about ‘a hanger of hoodies’?

Into the woods as the run continued, and a fox darted across the path and vanished amongst the trees. Oh to be able to run free like that. On the return leg with the gloom chasing me home, bats flitted around the wet meadow near the river. Bats probably would complain about always ‘flitting’, if they could. I’m sure they do other things in flight too, and indeed they are wonderfully aerobatic. But no. When it comes to bats, they seem doomed to flit forever, as far as we’re concerned. I doubt they pay much attention to us, unless we get in their way.

We also cast our ballots on Friday, and it was our son’s first election, so that was another milestone. Bless him. He even listened to the waffle at the doors when they came canvassing. He’s young. He will learn!

Saturday was a bad day for the Irish rugby team, but a good day for training. I hit the pool early and managed the mile in 45 minutes. This seems to be about my lot as far as swimming goes. I will try and take on board triathlete Rob Cummins’ advice and step up the volume. For now, a couple of sessions a week is about as much as I can do.

I then took my dear old Mercian out for a spin. I haven’t been out cycling for ages. Instead I’ve confined my pedaling to the gym bike, which is never as much fun. And it gives you a false sense too; 35km/h on a gym bike is not the same as 35km/h on a real bike, on the road. Same applies to the treadmill. But I’ll let someone smarter and altogether more anally-retentive explain the reasons why this is so. Just take it as gospel for now, okay?

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It was a relatively short-lived thing, but achieved two things. Firstly, it got me out on the bike again. Secondly, it brought it home how much work I am going to have to do on the bike to get up to speed for the Ironman in August. I do have a new bike on the way which will be an aluminium frame with carbon forks and smarty-pants gears that work from the bars as opposed to downtube shifters. You can see the current shifters here on the Mercian; they are old-school Shimano 600s. The levers are replacement Campagnolo. When we rebuilt the bike, we did replace all the cables, so in reality, all the ‘bits’ on the bike are in good shape (except the idiot sitting in the saddle, ha ha!). Anyways, the new bike will be much lighter than the steel-framed Mercian, and will have smoother gears, so no doubt there will be a blog or three when it arrives. And a naming ceremony too, of course. The new bike will have to be given a name.

Above are a few random images of the spot where I parked up on my spin yesterday. Locals will instantly recognise it as Conolly’s Folly or the Obelisk. It has a wonderful history which I won’t dwell on here, but check it out online. I expect fellow blogger Ed Mooney has covered this fine specimen at some point on his blog, though in fairness, the folly is in great shape, and the OPW (who have just spent a small fortune on conservation) wouldn’t appreciate it being described as a ruin!

I am also trying to work out how to build a simple DIY lower back traction device for S who suffers from prolapsed L4 and L5 discs. I went to the local Lidl store and bought a few bits, including some luggage bungee cords, a ratchet strap and a suspension trainer, so I reckon I can make something out of it. Or, failing that, shoot myself into outer space. One or the other. If you don’t hear from me again, you know it’s gone horribly wrong.

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Sunday, and a fine day too. Went for a nice jog with Mark up into the woods and by the river. Followed by hot chocolate and cake. It’s the way Sundays should be.

Now all we need is for the politicians to remove their mugs from our streets, and all will be well again. For another five years, anyway…

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