Have you seen the head lately?


The Cambrian sediments in Howth and Ireland’s Eye to the northeast of Dublin have been mapped and the submarine deltaic Censure Group and the overlying Nose of Howth Group, which consists of interbedded turbidites and olistostromes, have been distinguished. Large scale sedimentary disruption has accompanied detachment of quartzitic sandstone beds in the Censure Group, where the bases of detached blocks have slump features while their tops generally do not…

Hard to see, but in this panoramic taken from Howth Head, from left, there is a Stena Line ferry heading into Dublin Port, then you have the broad sweep of Dublin Bay with Bray Head, Dalkey and Dalkey Island, Dún Laoghaire Harbour, Dublin Mountains in the background, then the two long arms of the harbour proper, including the Bull Wall and the Poolbeg Chimneys.

You see the world differently when you see it through geologists’ eyes. In truth, that probably holds for a lot of things. But even if you don’t know all the right terms and phrases (which in fairness sound a little dry in the above description), there is nothing like a big old pile of ancient rock to put some manners on you. If you are out walking around Howth Head (which guards the northern approach to Dublin Bay), the general gist of that opening paragraph suggest that the ground underfoot can be a little crumbly, which it is.

During the week, with a day off from calls, S and I took off for the sea. Howth would be more famous for its harbour on the north coast, and its impressive cliff walk. But around on the southern fringes, there are a couple of little coves and bays, and our favourite little swimming spot: Red Rocks.

Red Rocks Beach

There is an old ruined stone-arched building here between the beach and the cliffs, which I gather used to be a lifeboat station. The left-hand arm of this sheltered cove is natural, but there is certainly some manmade intervention on the opposite side. It’s not a sandy beach at all; indeed, a small patch of wiry grass near the bracken is your best bet for a soft seat, and when you decide to get in for a dip, it’s perhaps no harm to wait for a quiet moment without spectators, as you will ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ as you pick your way through the cunning collection of rocks, stones, gravel and seaweed. It’s a popular enough spot, though, and there is always a steady trickle of passing walkers. So you might just have to go for it. It’s scant consolation, but the return leg is even more treacherous as your recently-horizontal head, lightly chilled in the Irish Sea, can give you a case of the staggers as you try to reach the safety of the grassy strip where you left your towel.

Sea Thrift
Two devilishly handsome people. No idea who they are but they seem to be sitting on our towels…

And here is the best pic of the day; shades of Princess Grace of Monaco, as S strikes a pose before getting in for a paddle.

Grace Kelly

I’ve added in a pic of the other princess (Grace), and all I can say is that S would definitely take her in a fight (they wouldn’t have fought at all, though; they would have yakked about fashion and had the craic all day), and that perhaps Grace should have had a few tattoos. By the way, I have no idea who took the Grace pic, but shucks; you’d think they might have straightened the damn photo… that horizon line is drunk…

(Grace Kelly was of Irish descent, clearly. Her grandfather was John Kelly and he hailed from Newport in Mayo. And if you are ever in Ireland, you should definitely put it on your list of places to visit, as it’s very pretty, and sits on the Achill Greenway. Her Dad has a fascinating story that really should be made into a film. Irish folk giving the Brits two fingers is always worth a read. Check out the basics here).

So what else is happening in the world, whilst we are swanning around Dublin, living the high life? Well, there is the small matter of the Euros, I suppose. That’s football to normal folk, and soccer to some way west across the bigger of the two ponds. My own interest, as regards the station pool, sank when first Scotland and then the Netherlands were dumped out of the tournament. Being half-English means I still have the joy of looking forward to seeing England crash out in the semis tonight, on penalties, against Ukraine. Although beating their bogey side (Germany) in the quarters does bode well, I suppose.

To celebrate, I made the above meme. Well, to be strictly accurate, I just added one more to the enormous pot of Anakin/Padmé panels that have spread like a viral infection across the internet (really? you had to use that phrase? ed.). It may be based on personal experience. I am not at liberty to say. If footie is not your thing, well, that’s tough, because it certainly is everywhere at the moment. Still, it will be over shortly and we can all return to normal.

The canal is lovely at the moment. The spell of warm weather has brought so many flowers into bloom it’s actually hard to run the short stretch between the two Leixlip stations of Confey and Louisa because every ten yards yields yet another beauty that demands to be photographed. The park is not far behind for wonders.

Below, clockwise from top left: Field Scabious, Common Spotted-orchid, Ringlet Butterfly, Field Scabious in silhouette, and Pyramidal Orchid from the park.

Corn field between the park and the canal

So, the mojo I mentioned at the outset. Well, I am not sure if it’s just life getting in the way, as it does, or the heat, or the extra gym work I am trying to add in each week, but I haven’t been feeling the love for running in June. Having said that, the overall totals are okay. Whilst February was a peak at about 275k (when I was doing a two-week run streak challenge), followed by the disastrous March when I had the dog bite injury, things improved with about 150k in April, 140k in May, and 130k in June. So last month hasn’t been a washout by any means. But as I plan to ramp up things considerably this July, in readiness for another tilt at a marathon in October, I would have hoped to have been a little further down the road (in every sense). But let’s not fret just yet. It’s early days, and when my mojo does wander off as it does at times, I can usually tempt it back with promises of glory and new PBs. And perhaps a new pair of shoes. I’ll think of something.

And so, we all wait in anticipation as the latest Covid variant hangs about like a bad smell. Many Irish folk have had one or both jabs. We have administered over 4 million doses so far, which equates to just over 40% of the population vaccinated. Infections are increasing though, due to the Delta Variant. And hence this caught my eye on Twitter this week:

Though it is worth noting, for the record, that this coincided with England winning their match against Germany. And of course, by the time you read this, you will probably know the score of their last game too, against Ukraine.

Anyway, I’ll wrap up this rambling post with a brief story about a feather. I went for a walk during the week with Tamsyn and the doggos. We went our usual route into the park and along by the river, through the woods. Something caught my eye on the ground. I picked it up. It was a tiny feather from a Jay’s wing. I was delighted with myself and I carefully placed it into my phone wallet and closed it over.

This wasn’t a bad plan, but of course, a little later on in the walk, I took the phone out once more to take some photos, and it was only on the way home I realised the error of my ways. The feather was gone.

I returned home and was rather put out by the whole thing. A little moment of serendipitous joy literally tossed away. Ho hum. So I planned to return that evening and have a look for it, which seemed on the face of it a totally pointless experience. Needles in haystacks would probably be easier to find than tiny feathers in a park. And yet…

As it happened, I couldn’t retrace my steps ’til the next morning. I cycled down first thing in the morning and realised my task would be a lot easier once I worked out which two photos on my phone were the ‘before’ and ‘after’ images. So made my way to the location of the second picture where the feather would have fallen out, and took out the phone. I lined up the shot and worked out where I would have been standing. Then I looked down at my feet. I was practically standing on the feather.

So, here it is. All 60mm of it. I’ve added a picture of a Jay I took many years ago in our old house. You can clearly see where the feather comes from.

The feather now sits safely in my office. Let that be a lesson to me!

And we’ll sign off with a picture of Odi, because, well, because he’s Odi. And he cares not for football. Or feathers. Or any of that nonsense. He likes to run, pee, sniff and eat. But mostly he likes to sleep. What a life.

P.S. Of Howth Head: “The main structure is an easterly facing, steep plunging syncline which locally is associated with a poorly preserved cleavage.”

Just wanted to add that in from here, to show that geologists do sometimes have a sense of humour. Even if it’s subconscious puerile humour.

6 thoughts on “Have you seen the head lately?

  1. I liked the rocks beneath your feet are crumbly much more than the opening quote…. Seems like a mouthful and a waste of words! I can’t believe you went back for the feather!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. as always an eclectic mix of prose and pictures, both nature and human looking serene:)
    Not gonna jinx the footie so wont comment on that, but the distraction of the pre game, actual game and party afterwards plus the heat has seen me somewhat lacking in mojo too

    Liked by 1 person

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