One of my Saturday pleasures is perusing through The Irish Times. No, not the online edition, the old-fashioned paper version. A pot of strong coffee, something to nibble on and the IT are my idea of heaven.

I`ll wade swiftly through the national and world news sections. On then to soak up the best of the Weekend Review section-I particularly like Michael Viney`s column there. I`ll leave the Sports section to the Teen boys and then, saving the best pleasures til last, I`ll leaf through the magazine section.

My favourite section there-and in all of the newspaper-is Domini Kemp`s food column.

I just love her recipes. They`re generally fusion of tastes, but with strong middle eastern and mediterranean influences. She often plays with vegetarian options too.

She did all of those things last week with her recipe for Falafel.

I`d eaten this dish before in a middle-eastern restaurant and thoroughly enjoyed it. But I`d no idea the main ingredient was chickpeas. Or that it was so easy to make.What`s nice about this Domini Kemp`s recipe is that she has offered gluten free flour in it so that coeliacs can enjoy this falafel too. I made mine with ordinary plain flour though,


  •  500g dried chickpeas
  • 100g flat leaf parsley
  • 100g coriander
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • Few glugs olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Few tbsp spelt or gluten-free flour
  • Sunflower oil


Soak the chickpeas overnight in salted water. Drain, rinse and then blend in a food processor until they resemble fine ground sawdust. Put them in a bowl and then process the herbs with the olive oil and garlic (which you need to crush first). When it resembles green sludge, mix with the chickpeas. The chickpeas should take on a nice green colour. Season well and add enough spelt flour so that when you make a ball between your fingers, it will just stay together, not as well as small meatballs will, but they should be strong enough to be shaped and then put on a plate, carefully.

Heat up the sunflower oil and cook off a batch of balls at a time, carefully turning them over when they are crisp and golden brown on one side. They don’t take too long to cook. Basically, once they are golden brown on all sides, they are done. Drain on kitchen paper, season with more salt and keep them warm in a low oven while you finish the others off. They are lovely cold, and can be re-heated, but taste best when they are eaten soon after frying.

Since the Teens refuse point blank to eat anything that`s both ball shaped and vegetarian, I ended up having this delicious treat all for myself. It`s perfect running recovery food, with all those protein-dense chickpeas. I also ate them cold, and enjoyed them. Then I froze the remainder and ate some more during the week.

I really should do a DNA test and see if I`ve any Middle Eastern leanings as I seriously love that kind of food.

At the very least though, I should have gone the whole hog and made tzatziki. After all it`s just a blend of yoghurt, mint, cucumber,garlic and seasoning. But I dunked in Gardini`s Caesar Salad Dressing instead. Tzatziki will wait till next time. And there will definitely be a next time, as this is perfect running recovery food.

Week seven of Hal Higdon`s Marathon plan done! I did pretty well this week too. Actually began to feel like a runner again on Wednesday`s seven mile run. This weekend is a tad running heavy with a seven mile run today and a gasp! fourteen mile run tomorrow.

So with  seven miles to run and a whole newspaper to read, and tzatziki to make, I`d  better get moving!




Evening Run Skerries Harbour

Evening Sky over Skerries Harbour

Evening Sky over Skerries Harbour

I am sticking to a plan. Hal`s plan. This may see me to the Dublin city marathon in October. It may not. All hinges on injury recovery. And my predisposition to laziness.

If I`m not recovered on time, well then, there`s other races, other days. Meanwhile, I`m going to keep moving and have fun while I`m doing it. Fun actually improves my work ethic. At least that`s my excuse.

Martello Tower Loughshinney

Martello Tower Loughshinney

So, in that spirit, I made a bit of a photorun out of yesterday`s jog. Dropped into Loughshinny, North of Dublin first. Definitely a place worth returning to as it has a really nifty little beach and harbour. Unfortunately, it was exceptionally dull when I got there-lots of grey cloud and grey sand and grey sea so my pic haul there was poor. But it`s definitely worth a return trip.

Lucky Dog

Spot the Dog

By the time I`d made it to Skerries, however, the sun was peeking through. Sadly, our heatwave is gone. Yesterday evening was actually chilly. So chilly I was cursing myself for not bringing my fleece running jacket. Yes, that`s how cold it was. Damn.

Beached Boats

Beached Boats

But the sun was being brave and there were actually a lot of runners and walkers doing their thing along the harbour. Skerries has the advantage of having a very long promenade all along it`s coastline. It has a delightful harbour, terrific harbour and wonderful views of Shennick, Colt and St.Patrick`s island off coast.

Further out is Rockabill Island, with it lighthouse and, I`m told, the largest roseate tern population in Europe. There are boat trips out to Rockabill and to nearby Lambay island. Might be worth a look see some day when I get a lot better at using my new camera.

Skerries Harbour

Skerries Harbour

Pics taken, views enjoyed, I contented myself with a three mile mediocre trot along the coast. My quads were still wincing from a sixteen mile cycle I`d undertaken on Tuesday. Happy days, as it gave me the perfect excuse for a very slow lazy run. No, Hal won`t be happy but I have every intention of making up for that again.

And you know what they say about the road to hell…

On Your Bike

I`ve been cycling almost since I started walking. There were no stablizers in those days. And no child sized bikes either. No siree, we were expected to start on Mother`s high nellie

BikeThe fact that our legs were too short to allow us sit on the saddle and reach the pedals, was irrelevant. The need to run an errand for Mother meant we would learn to swiftest way possible to complete it. Calling into Aunty or Gran on a message, meant cycling would have to be mastered or else we would be condemned to shank`s mare as a mean of transport.

And so, being the clumsiest of my siblings, I gathered a myriad of injuries in my determination to ride the high nellie. One such, left my chin bruised for days. I have no memory of the fall. Nor of mother`s reaction. Though I can clearly recall the pain of my bruised jaw. My mother wasn`t the fretting sort and I was none the worse for that. I was still let off down the road on that bike again until, eventually, I mastered the delicate art of balancing a bag of groceries on one handle bar, while pedalling furiously off-saddle.

I actually got to enjoy cycling. Which is just as well, as it was our chief mode of transport to school. No ownership was declared over the motley selection of bikes at our house. In any case, they were all either second hand or borrowed for long term use from some cousin or aunt who no longer needed them. There was an understanding that they bikes might be passed on to another member of the extended tribe or revert to their original owners so they were called Aunt`s bike, or Cousin Tom`s bike but never our bikes.

So, when I first started working, I was thrilled to actually purchase a bike of my own. What a joy it was to travel the roads once again. And this time on a proper bike. With gears-gears! And brakes that actually worked.Cycling became an even greater delight when I took the chance to explore further and further afield, sometimes taking off for a few days to travel more distant parts of this island.

Cycling kept me fit before running ever came along. And the thing is,the fitness element was secondary to the sheer joy of whizzing along on two wheels.

This has been my bike for the past six years.

Ready for Action

Ready for Action

I have to admit to having an on-again, off-again affair with it. I`d go through weeks of cycling every day. Then, just as suddenly, inclement weather or sheer busyness would force me off road again and back to my lazy ways.

The bike`s perfect. In a functional road bike sort of way. I won`t be taking it to a triathlon any time soon. And I do regret not pushing the bike shop to find me a lighter racer type bike with down turned handles.

But, for the purposes of cross training, the bike`s exactly what I need. And for the singular joy I get of discovering hidden roads and boreens in our lush countryside, it fits the bill. Hey, I might actually really enjoy all this cross-training mallarkey.

I summoned Teen Two to spruce the bike up today. And, for a wad of cash, he did the needful. Lovingly washed and polished, wheels pumped and WD-40 applied, it`s now roadworthy once more. The addition of a lock and basket will even make it work worthy, should I ever be tempted to bike there.

Half-marathon looms in July. I am in week three of Hal Higdon`s Half Marathon plan. Bless that guy, but he tells me exactly what I need to do, how far and in what way I need to run. And he also includes cross training.

Tomorrow is Sunday. Hal says a long slow run day and seven miles of a run is called for. I am looking forward to that.

And I will also give my bike it`s first airing of the year. We are having the slowest ever crawl towards a summer that may never even happen. Yet, May never fails to delight. Teethering on two wheels, and whizzing past lush hedges, I will be well placed to appreciate it all. Blossoms, birds and brooding skies will abound so perhaps I should take my camera along too.

Now, wouldn`t that be a bit of fun?