Running and Rambling

Running in the morning, rambling in the evening…

My run went to six and half miles. Decided to walk the last half just because my back was beginning to niggle. And because I really am a lazy sod.

I threw a hill into the run, so maybe that made it all a bit more painful. The first half was pretty much uphill all the way so yes, you can imagine what the second half was like. Though I was a bit too hot and tired to appreciate it.

Anyway, `tis done.

The evening ramble took up me up along the Louth coastline. It was a compensatory trip for Sunday`s sodden disaster. I`d toddled along to the National Botanical Gardens in glorious sunshine. I was almost drooling at the thoughts of the floral explosion my camera would be greeted with there.

Instead, the second I set foot outside my car, I was greeted by the most gawdalmighty awful deluge. It was of Noahesque proportions. I sheltered in the nearest available hothouse with sixty six thousand other people and their annoyingly loud kids. Wouldn`t mind, but it was the cactus house. Is there anything as visually boring as a cactus in a pot? And that vision isn`t improved by the sound of a whiny kid screaming for his Dad, who apparently, had the good sense to shelter in the Tropical House.

Salterstown couldn`t have been more different. Not a whiny kid in sight. Nobody, actually. It`s not a beach, more of a rocky interlude between the road and the sea. But it`s prize, from a swimmer`s point of view is a short pier. And the fact that it`s not swarming with jellyfish.

In my short swim in the Irish sea last week, I had a unnerving sensation of hitting five jellyfish heads within a few short swimming strokes. Shudder! The abnormally warm waters may well have killed them off, as a lot of dead ones had been washed up along the shore. Even so, I had doomsday visions of a Portuguese Man O`War floating my way so I bailed out early.

It was too late for a swim in Salterstown yesterday. But the peace, the skies and the sea were glorious. And yes, I`ll be back for more.

Eats, Runs, and Leaves Again

Lamb Balls and Pistachio Aioli resized

Eats: Meat Balls and Pistachio Aioli.

This recipe has been shamelessly fliched from one of my fav food writers, Domini Kemp. It actually should be lamb skewers. But my skewers were too big for the pan so I turned the meat mix into balls instead. Still equally scrummy though. And the aioli? Well, neither my presentation, nor my pic do it justice here. Believe me, it is truly, truly delish.

The recipe for both the lamb skewers and the aioli can be had here, on the Irish Times website. And Domini`s pic is so much better than mine too. So, go on, take a peek.

You`ll be back in time for my running and photography news…


Beautiful spring morning in this neck of the woods. I could hear the birds calling to me. So I jumped out of bed, and donned my marathon finisher t-shirt.

dublin-marathon-tshirt Ooohh, I just love to brag!

Oh, and capri pants and runners of course. But no thermal underlayer! Yay! So good to see sunnier days again.

Wore my Garmin 405, of course, but didn`t fret about the time. Really bothered about my feet holding up and, while the first five miles were pain free, after that I could feel the familiar old achiness setting in on my left foot. Damn. But I ploughed on. Just took it carefully, tried to relax the foot as best I could. Stop and stretched for a bit. Widened out the top of the runners at the laces. The pain wasn`t unbearable, mind. I just don`t want to compound any damage. And yet I was gonna push on for ten miles if I could help it at all.

Usual Sunday mix of cyclists, and runners on the road. And, charmingly, a trail of vintage cars on their way to some meet or other. I`m a sucker for classic cars.

By mile nine I was contemplating walking. But I suddenly thought of dropping my heel to the ground. I know this is a debatable point-landing on forefoot or heel striking. Well, heel striking hugely eased the pressure on my feet.(Yep, right one acting up by then.) And I shuffled home, quite happy with the distance. Didn`t care about the pace.

Just need to keep buildling on these longer runs to ensure I`m half marathon ready by June and marathon ready by October. I`ve given up on the orthotics. Did nothing for me, I`m afraid. But am stretching my feet and toes whenever it`s convenient and also going barefoot at home.

Happy to have done the run though. Psychologically, and in terms of the mileage, it sets me up for a good running week.


Yep, it`s the Leaves thing again. The challenge,as set out on the blog Ouch! My Back Hurts! is to take pics on a different theme each month. April`s theme is Leaves. So, I nipped into the Botanical Gardens in Dublin yesterday and snapped these.

Bromeliad Hothouse Botanical Gardens April 2013 Fronds Hothouse Gerania Canopy Hothouse In the hothouse

The challenge really opened my eyes to leaves. I never knew, for instance, that the humble perlagonium held such beautiful shades of green within it. Or that palm fronds were so huge.All of these pics were taken indoors, of course. The palm house, in fact, had quite a good deal of Asian folk wandering about in it yesterday. Feeling homesick, I am sure, surrounded,as they were by such familiar foliage, and basking for a short while, in the muggy heat.

Yes, Spring is a-springing, as best she can. Wandering around the gardens, after my little session in the glasshouses, I could see buds only dying to unfurl their precious green cargo. Any day now, and all those naked branches will be doing the decent thing and getting their clothes on.

Bring it on!

Eats Runs and Leaves

Roasted Parsnips and Sweet Potato

Eat. Chomp. Gone. Move. I have a very functional approach to food. I am sure it`s a lot got to do with being one hundred percent Irish on all sides, dating back to Adam. I suspect I may have lurking fear of Famine gene then. And one of my grandparents was born in 1859, after all, and probably had the fear of the 1847 Famine haunting him all his life. So, yes, give me a plate of spuds or a loaf of bread and I`m happy. Or, at least, I used to be.

But running and Yotam Ottolenghi are changing all that.

In the last couple of years, since I`ve started running, I`ve a bigger appetite of course. Food has become more important, and good nutrition more important still.

Cue Ottolenghi. I bought his book “Plenty” as a present to myself last Christmas. I`d tried a couple of his recipes from the Guardian website.I simply loved the colour and variety of everything. And, as it turned out, I very often just adored the taste. I would die happy eating his Very Full Tart for instance.

And of course, it became another excuse to scour my favourite city. As now, I would have to traverse the thresholds of whatever Asian and Middle Easter shops there are in Dublin on the prowl  for key ingredients. Sure, I can get most of the stuff locally, but the nearest supermarket pats itself on the back if it orders in anchovies annually. I live in rural Ireland, after all where variety and exotica are confined by the six types of potatoes in stock.

Yesterday I cooked his Parsnip and Sweet Potato in Caper Vinegarette. You`ll see the results in the picture above. Look closely and you`ll see I`ve substituted carrot for parsnip. And the red onion is burnt. But the famine memory gene overcame these little glitches and daughter and I declared it delicious. The boys have yet to be persuaded to try such delights. Time and starvation should bring results there.

And today, I have this prepared for lunch…

Ottolenghi Aubergine tricolore

Ottolenghi`s Aubergine Tricolore. Only it has more colours than three. And doesn`t have one of the colours requested in the recipe,as I substituted red pepper for yellow.

And that`s it for eats…

…As for running…

Well, I`m having a good week. I`ve found three new routes, an eight miler, a trail run and flat two mile course which is perfect snappier runs. I need to do more snappier runs. I have the Samsung Night Run at the end of this month. I am not afraid of the distance. A piddly six miles after all. But I worry that my snap might be gone. I`m off for a five mile run after this and a quest to find my it.

Meanwhile, I`ve also been snapping on my photo runs. Leaves, to be precise. Ouch! My Back Hurts has a nifty little idea on his website. He sets up a photo challenge every month. The theme of this month`s one is Leaves. I am waiting in anticipation of leaves emerging from sticky buds just as soon as our spring here in Ireland, decides to spring. She`s been slow off the mark this year. But I`ve leafed through my albums for inspiration (where, naturally, one would be inspired…) and I came up with these

Beech Leaves Botanical Gardens Beech Leaves Botanical Gardens Dublin Oct 2012

Leaves Botanical Gardens

I have no idea what type of leaves these are as I was too dense to take a picture of the identifying label on the flower bed. Or maybe I was just too intrigued by the effect of the raindrops on the leaves. Anyway, they`re also from a Botanical Garden foray, this time in June of last year.

I think more photoruns are required to observe more leaves. Or maybe I`ll be satisfied pics of with potted herbs for my Ottolenghi recipes. Either way, it`s all about observing more closely and living well. And that`s all good.