I can see Ciara now Lorraine has gone…

TIGER, tiger, burning bright
 In the forests of the night,
 What immortal hand or eye
 Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

William Blake
‘The Tiger’


Another busy week. Three runs (Tuesday, Thursday and today, Saturday,) for about 32k all told. And there should be another 10k tomorrow. With Pilates on Monday, and a gym session on Wednesday and Friday, it’s not a bad return. Plus, we had our second paddle this morning on the Grand Canal, and we did about 8k. What 8k in a GP kayak equates to in terms of a workout is a mystery to me. But then, for now, all I really want to do is try and keep the damn thing in a straight line, which is not as easy as it sounds. On the plus side, I didn’t fall out. Well, not yet, anyway. I am assured I will. No argument there.

In a recent post I touched on a few of the signs of impending old age. If one of them is ailing eyesight (and it is), then surely a more telling one is how often you are at funerals. The trick, of course, is to make sure you’re not the one in the box. But, joking aside, we seem to have been in a lot of churches lately, plodding through the funeral mass.

Yesterday we went to pay our respects to an old friend we used to do a lot of historical reenactment with. A sudden heart problem, it seems. I haven’t done any serious living history stuff since I joined the brigade, as time off really made weekend gigs impossible. Same went for the live music. It’s half the reason why I run so much…

After the funeral home, we did a little retail therapy to cheer ourselves up. Some tasty food for dinner, and a whip around a Tiger store. If you don’t know Tiger, they’re a Danish brand, and it’s all about cheap and cheerful but mostly useful products for the home. A sort of Habitat meets Ikea, with a dash of Poundland thrown in. I believe the correct term is ‘variety store’ but that doesn’t make a shedload of sense; a vegetable shop sells a variety of potatoes… is that a variety store?

Anyway, it’s easy to chuck twenty or thirty quid into Tiger on stuff you really don’t need. But I think part of it touches on the love affair we have in Ireland with anything Scandinavian. We try and ape their education and health services, but of course, we don’t actually pay taxes like a Swede, or have the social conscience of a Dane (nor the oil and gas of the Norwegians, or, if we do, not the candour and nous to exploit it to our advantage). So all those little knick-knacks that have even a whiff of hygge about them are gleefully hoovered up and scattered around one’s home in a vain attempt to bring a little Scandi-lite to your life. We have Danish friends. They will absolutely piss themselves laughing if they read this. Though pissing one’s self laughing is very much an Irish thing… at least we have that.

After the paddle this morning, I had a nice run into the woods, and then out by the canal, because I was off-call today. A little tired, as we were up half the night at a house fire, but the day was just too glorious to stay inside.

There are plenty of woodland flowers out at the moment, and I am a sucker for a display of Wood Anemones.

Down near the sluice, the woodland floods when the river is high. With these aquatic invasions come uninvited guests: foreign plants hitch a ride on the Liffey and wash up wherever the water takes them. Bamboo is one of the more obvious invaders. Later in the year, the banks will be thronged with Himalayan Balsam. It’s rather pretty, but also takes no prisoners.

A little further on in the woods I came upon a Grey Squirrel, looking the worse for wear. Not sure what ailed the little fella’ but I suspect he wasn’t long for the world. On out through the woods and up towards the canal, and I found a generous donation of someone’s cast-offs near the towpath barrier. I’m generally a fairly tolerant bloke but when I see this sort of shit, I admit I have some fairly evil thoughts in my head. Best keep them there, I reckon.

It was a crackin’ day. I haven’t been running in the afternoon for some time, and certainly not in this heat. I was a lather of sweat, and my eyes were burning. Should have worn a cap. I clocked up 15k; in fact it took me right back to my door. All plans to finish chopping firewood were put on hold with another call out, and then it was dinner, and the only thing to do with the last of the beautiful evening sunshine was marvel at the fading contrails, from one horizon to the next.

So, when you’re in Tiger and you see the reading glasses, you just have to try a pair. It turns out they work a treat. Here I am on the left, doing my best 1916 Rising impression, and on the right, channeling my inner Stanley Tucci, faking an air of erudition, Irish Times magazine in hand. I am officially old. But at least I can read stuff now, up close, without squinting. I suspect half the reason we have so many lines on our faces as we get old is because we squint so much…

It looks like Spring has definitely arrived. The clocks go forward an hour. Mother’s Day tomorrow: don’t forget to do something lovely for your Mammy. You wouldn’t be here otherwise. 🙂


In memory of Mary Farrell: always the best Viking food display this side of the Irish Sea.

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