Schrödinger’s photos

Wild Garlic in St. Catherine’s Park

They say you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, which is also true of photographs, it turns out. I snuck in a quick 10k during the week, before work, and as soon as I reached the top of the hill, I could sense some regret about not bringing the phone. It had been a cold night – close to zero – but now the sun was out, and there was a gentle mist creeping out from the river, across the meadows and into the woods. As I reached the end of the Avenue and headed across the Liffey, the sun was peeping out above the trees. Every step seemed to reveal a new glorious photographic opportunity. Every one an award-winner. If I had a camera.

Of course, as we all know, these picture-postcard moments rarely seem to translate into great images. Indeed, had I whipped out the phone every hundred yards to take yet another stunner, I am sure I would have been mildly disappointed when I got home. The glorious ephemeral scenes only exist now in the mind, fading by the hour.

Schrödinger’s photos, we’ll call them. Though, that poor cat seems to get a lot of abuse, never mind being locked in a box with radioactive substances and a vial of poison; certainly when it comes to comparisons like the one I am trying to make. It gets dragged out of its little box by the scruff of the neck, often totally out of context, with some degree of triumphalism, the holder saying “Look! See! It’s neither one thing nor ‘tother.”

(Note from the editor: that doesn’t work as an analogy; by interfering with the experiment, you close the infinite loop, and actually do find out if the poison has kicked in, and the cat has kicked the bucket.)

Well, anyway. All I’m trying to say was that this morning was beautiful, and I have no photos to prove it. But if I did, they would not really prove it. If you know what I mean. Whatever. I’m not really a cat person anyway…

Also, I’m looking for a new editor with a sense of humour…

Bluebells in St. Catherine’s Park
Greater Stitchworts in St. Catherine’s Park
Wild Garlic display in Leixlip Castle demesne
A heron fishing at the sluice in St. Catherine’s Park
The beech canopy in St. Catherine’s Park near the weir; always stunning in later months

On Friday, I popped over to our local Decathlon store… well, I say local. In fact, up until this month, it was the only Decathlon store in the whole country. It just happens to be about 20 minutes away by car. I wouldn’t be a fan of all their stuff (I did try their running shoes during the Covid years, and I wouldn’t rate them), but for other bits and bobs, they are decent. So I have a couple of their hydration vests, for example, and I picked up a new pair of shorts, some socks, and a cheap pair of extendable aluminium walking poles. It’s an experiment, really. Some hill runners swear by them, so I will try them out over the next month or two and see what I think. Might be a boon when the legs are suffering towards the end.

Another little item I picked up this week for the Wicklow Way adventure is a phone case. The old one was a favourite for some time, but I managed to break the catch when I was descending from Djouce, and lost it somewhere on the trail. It had pulled out before, but I had managed to fix it with superglue. So I have invested in a Quad Lock mag case with armband. That should be one less thing I have to stuff into a vest pocket (which needs to be fished out again when required), and it will free up a bit of space. Not unlike the GoPro system, there seems to be an endless amount of extra doohickeys you can buy to fix your new case to a variety of objects. There’s probably one for a hang-glider, and possibly even one for the Space Station. But I may have made that up. The only slight downside to wearing your phone on your arm when out running is that you do look like a bit of a wanker. So I promise to stop there with the flash accoutrements, and if you ever see me out and about with rainbow mirror shades, you can cheerfully kick me in the bollocks and throw me into the nearest river.

Saturday’s run was back up into the hills. I had missed them, even though it was only one weekend of flatness since I was there. I was with Jarlath and his brother David, and the location was Ticknock, so we passed by Dad’s old house once more before parking up in what has become the mountain-biking Mecca for Dubliners. I doubt he would have recognised it. For a start, all the Sitka plantations only began their life about 45 years ago. The various walking and biking trails are a relatively modern addition. I’d love to have seen what it was like in the 1940s when he was hanging out there with his siblings and friends. Not that he would have been ‘hanging out’, of course. That wouldn’t have existed then either 😉

Two things that won’t have changed are Three Rock and Fairy Castle. After a stiff climb from the car park, we arrived at the now mast-infested Three Rock area, and soon I was perched on top one of the three piles of granite that lend the area its name. It was once thought that these must be man-made, and there was speculation that human sacrifice was made here on their flat tops. Geologically, these are tors, so the result of weathering of the surrounding area to expose the flinty granite beneath. Of course, it will also be where we scatter Dad’s ashes, so I suppose there will be an element of human sacrifice. If you know what I mean. Dad would have approved.

Three Rock
A panoramic view from Three Rock. Worth clicking and zooming in. On the left, you can make out a puff of smoke from the recent addition to the Dublin skyline; the Covanta incinerator. What looks like an island to the right is actually Howth Head, and is joined to the mainland by a tombolo (all those years of geography lessons to use that!). In the middle, that raised headland is Killiney Hill, and you have to be posh to live here 😉

We continued on around the tors in a clockwise fashion and took to the woods to find a trail that would bring us out into the open once more, looking down into Glencullen Valley and beyond. A deer bobbed on ahead of use, and with a scoot of its tail, was gone. We reached the boundary of the woods and were soon climbing towards Fairy Castle cairn from the southern approach. We looped back towards Three Rock and did a figure-of-eight of sorts, and before long, we were back at the car park. It was only about 8.5k, but it was a nice hour and a quarter of quality time in the hills. The flower in the pics below is Wood Sorrel. And yes, those are deer tracks.

Today’s long run was back on the canal beat with Gary. A classic 20k out and back from Gary’s house to Ferran’s Lock, past Kilcock. Gary, to his great credit, had just completed the Connemara Ultra (all 39 miles of it) last weekend in a very creditable time of just under seven hours, so he could have easily excused himself from such exertions. But no, ever the trooper, we set off shortly after eight this morning into a day that was promising rain. All we could hope for was that it would hold off until we had done our penance. And indeed it did. Despite the sluggish start where I think both of us would have happily turned for home after a few miles, we soldiered on until we hit the 10k mark at the lock gates. That said, in the past, we would have added on the extra half a kilometre to get the half-marathon distance on the watch. But not today. Once the watch beeped, we stopped running and sat on the lock gates for a minute to regroup.

The locks at Ferran’s Lock
The jocks at Ferran’s Lock

On the way back, something odd happened. The pace seemed to pick up. And indeed, with a couple of miles to go, we were doing better than four-hour marathon pace. I pushed on for the last few kilometres, and as I look at the Garmin stats back at the office, I am not surprised to see that we did the first 10k in about 61 minutes, and the second half in about 58. In hindsight, perhaps not the run Gary needed. But I know for my own jollification, it was pleasing to see that perhaps some of the training is starting to show some results.

And after a shower back home, I noticed that the weight had dropped under the 80kg mark for the first time in a long while. Not by much, but as with any marathon time that begins with a 3, any weight reading that starts with a 7 for me is a good thing. Not that I’m bothered too much about weight, per se; it’s more that it’s a marker for how well the training is going.

And now for a few random pics. The first one was the result of a quick text chat with Gary who’s in the market for new runners. I was trying to steer him over to the Saucony dark side, but it’s not working. I even sent him the pic below, claiming that these were the comfiest runners I had ever owned and couldn’t bear to throw out, so they have become my painting shoes. Not that you’d guess from the photo…

The next random image from last week is our pond. Avid readers will recall that I totally overhauled this feature last year, and it’s starting to settle in to its surroundings. There are even a few frogs!

Saoirse and Tamsyn returned from a trip to Galway last week with a fascinating bit of beachcombing booty. I couldn’t identify it, so I put it out to the wonders of Twitter, and before long, I had my answer. Now, I am not going to spoil your fun here, dear readers. You need to do your own homework! No cogging! Post your answers in the reply section. There may be prizes.

And I am proud to announce the graphic has been prepared for the Wicklow Way challenge in June. The whole gig is a homage to my Dad, so it’s only right that it features the great man himself. It also includes one of his favourite phrases – Tickety Boo – the origins of which I know at least one of my readers will be able to explain. So again, let’s see who nibbles! And it also shows the date I hope to set off: the 16th of June. This just happens to be Bloomsday, and a day my Dad did dress up for a few times in his later years, to mark the celebrations. If you’re not a Joyce fan, this day will pass you by. But again, Dad was a secret intellectual, as evidenced by his vast book collection and wide knowledge on a range of subjects. And his penchant for writing out dates in Roman numerals.

It’s not like it’ll be on the telly, or anything. But it might feature on a T-shirt or two, and will certainly make it in to the short film.

And of course, let us have some dogs.

If you fall asleep in our house with a dog nearby, some fucker will take your photo… guaranteed!
When your greyhound thinks it’s a cat…
Lucky snap. A quick ‘no-look’ selfie pic of the hounds at the Wonderful Barn

And for your final quiz, you have to count the hounds! A friend called over today with some of her own greyhounds, one that is hers, and the others that she is minding. They are all here in the picture. Can you spot them all?

16 thoughts on “Schrödinger’s photos

  1. Are you telling me you want hick giblet soup, nutty gizzards, a stuffed roast heart, liverslices fried with crustcrumbs, fried hencods’ roes and grilled mutton kidneys for breakfast in the mountains? It’s a tall ask but unfortunately there is a Joycean scholar in me that wouldn’t deny such a request!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Alas, whilst I sport the beard of my father, and regularly torture my victims with the same appalling sense of humour that he gifted me during his lifetime, I cannot profess to a love of Joyce as of yet, so you can put the gizzards back in the freezer. Now Flann O’Brien… that’s a different matter!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Myles of the horses, really? It was said of him that he’d froth at the mouth if he heard anyone more talking about Joyce. There was a man who put his career in the civil service to good use by devoting his time to writing! 😜

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Some hold “tickety-boo” dates back to Crown Rule days and is a British-ization of a Hindi phrase. Others (myself included), think it’s probably a British version of the American, “That’s the ticket!” The latter, btw, has political origins; “ticket” is used in the sense of “that’s the line-up of candidates to vote for”.
    And sometimes, just sometimes, immersing yourself in an amazing place-time and not distancing yourself from it by trying to capture it in a camera so you can share it with others is just the ticket. Sometimes you just have to have BEEN there.
    I get 6 as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cheers. I would hold with the British army theory, mainly because there’s so many other imported examples from the same era. But who knows? Yes, I agree with the ‘just enjoy being there’ philosophy. As regards hounds, yep, there are six in total. But nobody has had a crack at the beach find yet, and we have history here, do we not? 🙂


      1. Excellent stuff; better than my attempt. A gull was as close as we got, so I don’t know the species, alas. But you are top of the class! Happy Bealtaine!!!



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