IN WHICH WE MAKE PLANS, BECAUSE AT THE END OF THE DAY, IT’S GOOD TO HAVE A PLAN, AND ALSO, IT’S A ROUTINE FEATURE OF LIFE ON THIS PLANET THAT EVERY PLAN YOU EVER MAKE IS SUBJECT TO TERMS AND CONDITIONS (OR THE ‘PUNCH IN THE FACE’ THEORY, ACCORDING TO MIKE TYSON…)
Let’s get to the serious stuff first. My Dad had a fall at home. Seems like it was a genuine accident, partly brought about by a bit of fatigue. He caught his foot on a chair leg and fell over. I suspect the crutch actually was a hindrance, once he knew he was heading for the floor. But alas he wouldn’t have had a chance to ditch it, and so he caught the full force of the landing on the right side of his face, leaving him with a massive shiner above and below the eye, and a busted lip. He was out cold for a few minutes too, which was a real additional trauma for my Mum, who witnessed the whole thing. And there was a lot of blood on the floor as he is on heavy-duty thinners. Ambulance straightaway, and off to hospital.
Several scans later, and nearly two weeks since the accident, the full extent of the injuries are clear but the good news is that he’s on the mend and in good form. Small fractures around the eye socket and a brief collapsed lung (which has healed already) but otherwise, not so bad. We are not allowed to visit, so it’s been phone calls every day to stay in touch. Poor man. He’s been in the wars a lot lately. He is a trooper, but even so, it’s a lot to put one’s body through.
The more fun part of the week was that we were able to celebrate S’s birthday, and we did that in style with a barge trip on the Royal Canal. And we were blessed with the weather too. We went with an old mate of ours who we are delighted to see has made a great success of her business, despite the adversity of lockdown and the various vagaries of start-ups and insurance, not least in this country. See here for more info. Highly recommended.
And to wrap up what has been an odd couple of weeks, we visited old friends down in Wexford, and as a small way of acknowledging the troublesome times we’ve been through of late, the universe conspired to give us two glorious days of sunshine. And there are few better places to be when the weather is nice. It was a weekend break of barbecues and beer, and to really over-egg the pudding, they had their hot tub up and running on the deck out back, so after a fine feast of roast chicken, potatoes and delicious salad, it was a few cold ones while we simmered in the water. I lasted ’til 2am before I dragged myself to bed. And we bookended the great hospitality with a couple of sea swims. Fair play to S: she got in in just her shiny silver swimsuit while I bottled it with my triathlon wetsuit. There is actual footage of me in the tub, but I wouldn’t subject anyone to that.
The location is Oulart, which will mean little or nothing to most of my avid readers, but there are one or two who may pick up this English phonetic version of the original Irish. An tAbhallort means ‘the orchard’ and along with their continued success at hurling on a county level, the area is known as the location of a famous battle: The Battle of Oulart Hill. As it happens, our friends house has a great view of the hill, and even though we have been going to see them for years, I had never set foot on the slopes, let alone the top. Having said that, it really is a hill, and won’t take you long to reach the top. I slipped out on Sunday afternoon, after our swim, for a quick run, and found my way to the summit through a rather gnarly stretch of ugly fire road and post-sitka spruce clearance wasteland. I gather the good news here is that the forestry agency have chosen to honour the historical location at Oulart Hill, rather than try and eke out a few quid from the stony slopes, and are now undertaking native hardwood deciduous planting. So perhaps the next generation and beyond will be able to enjoy the climb as it should be. Certainly, on this baking-hot day, the few mature trees that are left provided welcome relief from the sun. (I gather, from reading a bit more online, that there are wild crab apples growing on the hillside, so perhaps this is where the name comes from).
The top provides not just some great views of the Blackstairs Mountains, Mount Leinster, and the southern ranges of the Wicklow Mountains, but also a really nicely-thought out monument to commemorate the battle, which took place in 1798; one of the few ‘victories’ of the failed uprising. Scholars of Irish history will note the deliberate and tasteful appropriation of ancient burial mound and passage tomb design. As with all these pictures, you should be able to click on them and zoom in for a closer look.
In other news, did you know it was Global Running Day? No? Neither did I, until I came back just now from a 13k run and Garmin popped up with a friendly wave to present me with my latest badge. Fair play to Garmin: they never seem to run out of weird and wonderful things to celebrate and commemorate with a badge or three. Congratulations: you just ran a 10k. Well done, you just completed a half marathon. Good job! You just avoided stepping in that dog shit… that sort of thing. The other vagary of my Garmin set-up (which I am sure I could avoid) is that my watch is defaulted to running, so each upload to Garmin Connect automatically feeds in the data as a run. If I cycle, I have to go in manually and change the drop-down in the Activities page. Not an issue, except of course, Garmin gets terribly excited if it thinks I’ve just run a marathon in about an hour and a half, and starts telling me I have a new record, and I swear I can hear the damn software rooting about in its bag of badges for something suitably awesome for some fifty-three year old geezer from Kildare who’s just obliterated the World Record… I’d be much more impressed if a ‘You Lying Bastard’ badge appeared on the screen, to be honest.
Anyway, like I said, there’s probably an easy fix. I just need to apply myself to the problem, and as problems go, it really isn’t on any list anywhere. And if it’s not on a list…
So, there we have it. Summer seems to have arrived, finally. Though I should add a suitable health warning to that, given that we are in Ireland, and we have more changes of weather here per day than Madonna has costume changes.
And speaking of Madonna, here is a great example of Irish humour. With a combination of fine weather and Covid, I suppose it’s timely. But it made me smile.
The training continues, and whilst it was a bit disrupted over the last few weeks, it is because, at the end of the day, this is life, and life happens when we are busy making plans. I have decided to try and host a marathon on Dublin Marathon Day (end of October) for those who didn’t get a ticket, and I plan to use the Royal Canal Greenway. With a flat course and good surface underfoot for the most part, you could actually knock out a good time, so along with my general training for Gaelforce West in September, I’m going to give a marathon PB a rattle.
And finally, whilst I don’t generally post stuff from my other job, here’s a quick pic of the view from the top of our hydraulic platform from a recent course.