Happy Solstice!

Newgrange Tomb, burial place of our Neolithic ancestors, has been a place of pilgrimage for thousands of years. It is especially favoured at this time of the year, the darkest time of the year, as the tomb was designed to embrace the first rays of solstice sunlight as they reach over the Boyne Valley.

I trooped up there today with other pilgrims,to witness this ancient rite. Newgrange tomb, though vast on the outside, holds a narrow passage tomb. It was in this tomb that the ancients placed the cremated remains of their dead, some five thousand years ago. The entrance was built to align with the sun at the time of solstice, the ancients having calculated that the rays would reach through the roofbox above the tomb entrance, and illuminate the inner chamber.

Perhaps they believed the sun imparted a certain magic as it progressed around the inner chamber. And, indeed, perhaps it did. The real magic for me, however, lies in the engineering skills and craftsmanship of our ancestors. And also on how heavily invested they were in a spiritual aspect to life. It is reckoned, after all that it took three generations to construct the tomb – a major investment for a subsistence economy.

Around three hundred people gathered together to bear witness to the rising sun at Newgrange today. Also known as Brú na Boinne, the Palace of the Boyne, it`s façade is sheeted in white quartz stone and so is visible for miles around. It was here the crowd assembled in the sodden gloom of a wet winter`s morning and in the hope clearer skies.

There is always a lightness about the Newgrange assembly. Laughter, and chat abounds as tourists pose for photographs in front of the entrance, and regular visitors hug each other warmly to cries of “Happy Solstice”.

A lone runner laps the mound several times in some personal ritual, while a trio of young people face east and close their eyes in solemn meditation.

Soon, merry troupes of travellers are decanted from buses, bearing bodhráns, an animal horn and flags. The buttery smear in the horizon has pushed its way upward now, as clouds transmute from warm cream to lighter pinks and purply blues. Arms reach out to form two circles and, as the bodhráns sound out, the circle grows.

Then, all eyes scan the horizon and wait for the first glimpse of the rising sun.

Our ancient ancestors farmed the rich land of the Boyne. They also hunted among its forests and fields and fished its streams and rivers. They knew all of this wealth depended on the sun. As the earth moves further from the sun, it appeared to them that the sun itself might disappear altogether over the horizon, taking with it, its gifts of heat and light.

The crowd is silent as we wait. Clouds drift over a waning moon, as the skies brighten. Then, suddenly, the first rays pierce the horizon. The frantic beating of bodhráns and the eerie sound of a horn welcome the bright light. Many embrace, others applaud, and a sense of delight and relief filters through the crowd.

This is the season of endings and beginings, of hope and renewal, of the triumph of light over darkness. Today, in Newgrange,we witnessed the end of darker days,the start of a new year, and moving forward with optimism, hope and joy.

And that`s enough magic for me.

Happy Solstice everyone!

Very Inspiring Blogger Award


“She`ll get around to it…eventually.”  Those words will be engraved on my headstone.

Well, today and for my 100th post, ~Ta-da!~ I am finally getting around to acknowledging some of my neighbours in Blogland for their inspirational posts. And to offering them A Very Inspiring Blogger award.

Knitrun4sanity very kindly offered me this award waaaay back. Should`ve got an award for Very Procrastinating Blogger but there ya go. Didn`t your mother ever tell you that life isn`t fair?

Anyway, thank you KR4S!

Now, I could drag this on like they do in the stupid lotto programmes. Or, worse still, those nutty X-factor shows, but, luckily for you, I am not that kind of hen.

Firstly, if you`re on my award list there`s certain  award requirements:

  • Display the award logo on your blog page.
  • Link back to the person who nominated you.
  • State 7 facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award.
  • Notify those bloggers of their nomination and the award’s requirements.

Well, I`ve done the first two. I`m leaving the third one to the end of this post in the hopes that you don`t get there. And I`m going straight on to the nominations.

This is the tough bit. Just cos you`re not there, doesn`t mean you`re not inspiring. Or even any less inspiring than anyone else on my blogroll. You wouldn`t be on it in the first place if you weren`t smart or cool or both. I just happened to pull these smart, cool people out of my blogroll hat.

And the Nominees Are…

Right… and, in no particular order….

http://swimsweatandgears.wordpress.com/  Zoe is a sportsperson extraordinare. A triathlete, she trains so hard, you`ll wonder how she finds hours in the day.

http://purlgurlknitsandruns.wordpress.com/ I don`t know how purlgurl does it all but somehow the child rearing, the day job, the running and the knitting and acts of generosity all come together in this beautifully presented blog. Enjoy!

http://shazruns.wordpress.com/ I just love reading Shaz`s posts. She`s a slogger who does a lovely job of balancing up her running passion with her passion for country living. I especially admire the fact that she shares all of it so wonderfully with her family.

http://backontherock.com/ Roy is a running coach and a terrific author. I downloaded and thoroughly enjoyed his book “Tess of Portelet Manor”. It`s about a girl living through the wartime occupation of Jersey and beyond. Roy is from Ireland, but lives in Jersey so expect insights into both on this blog. Plus running and writing too.

http://greenlegs7.wordpress.com/author/hedwigia/ Hedwigia is a floral encyclopedia. And a running one at that. She`s also a huge inspiration to her pupils. Me included!

http://moveeatcreate.com/about/  does exactly what she says on the tin. It`s hard to keep all that moving, cooking and creating going but somehow, she manages it all.

http://moorhenscampers.wordpress.com/author/mercyjm/  I could nominate her for her inspiring blog banner alone. But you`ll see lots of other stuff on there too like how she combines a love of nature, cycling and running with her working day.

http://unsportywomencanrun.wordpress.com/ This blog is inspiring for its title alone. I also love that she gives me an insight into what life is like in Tasmania and into all the work she and her husband do in training for their races.

And, lest you think I`m only all over the runners on wordpress, well, these bloggers will open your eyes to other passions in life

Tarte Tatin

Tarte Tatin

http://frenchgirlcuisine.com/ inspired me to try a myriad of new tastes on this very inspiring blog of hers. Love the presentation of the blog too. And the food, of course. The above is my take on her tarte tatin. I never expected goats cheese, sundried tomatoes and puff pastry to taste so good.

http://araneus1.wordpress.com/tag/shag-pile-carpet/  If you do nothing else in Blogland today, follow that link. It will take you into the killer humour of our man Down Under, Araneus. Lots and lots of other good stuff in there too.Mostly involving dogs, humour, photography, social commentary, fiction and usually all at once.

http://thesilvervoice.wordpress.com/ I love that this Irish lady has a lot to say about our history and it`s impact on us. If you`re interested in researching your Irish roots, this blog has a lot to offer on that theme too.

http://ayearinredwood.com/ Scroll down a little. Stop! See the ice cream in the china cup? Yep, that`s why I like this blog. Great pics,nice recipes, and a sense of what it`s like to live on a farm in Tipperary.

http://craftysorcha.wordpress.com/ An Irish girl living in France, well, what could be more inspiring than that? As an added bonus, she also happens to make beautiful things.

More great pics and wonderful insights into Irish history on http://edmooneyphoto.wordpress.com/

And, for a great mix on everything under the sun, and a pretty perfect blog  there`s http://campariandsofa.com/

Right, off with you then, let me on with the painful part of this award ceremony~

Seven Facts About Me

  • I can foot turf
  • It`s proven to be a more useful skill to me than trigonometry. Oh, go on, you must remember sine, cos and tan, no?
  • I came second last in a school race when I was ten. And decided then and there I`d never run again.
  • I keep learning the hard way to “Never say never”
  • I can play the piano badly. And do so regularly, to the dismay of the Teen Chooks.
  • I love my job.
  • I have running conversations with other drivers on the road. No, not that they can hear me but the Teen Chooks can. And it drives them nuts.

Now, I`m off to tell my nominees the good/bad news about their nomination. Should also install a Very Inspiring Blogger widget. I will, eventually, I`m sure…

When I Have Time

The day job is squeezing the life out of me. Major project going down, so the whole team are pulling out all the stops for deadline day. Cue early morning starts, late night finishes, and work all through the weekend. Why, I barely have time to squeeze the odd run in.

Luckily, I`ve prioritized running over housework and sleep, so yeah, the training gets done.

I am longing to get my life back, though and, when I am pounding the roads these days, I let my mind meander on what I will do, when I have the time. They fall into two categories: the must-dos and the would-like-to-dos. You`ll have no trouble spotting which is which.

When I have time I will…

…Go on an art gallery crawl in Some City or Anyville, just to soak up the sights and colours and observe my fellow spectators.
…try to figure out how to turn on the TV and then watch whatever I want for a whole twelve hours.( Kids, I hope you`re reading this.)

…download Spotify, because Teen Son says it`s the way to go and my CD collection embarrasses him

…find a partner for all my sports`socks.

…find the black hole in our home where all the odd socks have congregated

…finally assemble my Ikea bookshelves

…mow the lawn

…file my tax returns

…clean the oven
…review my health insurance

…call on my neighbours to let them know I am still in the land of the living

…send my nephew a belated birthday card for his February birthday, enclosing a voucher to ease his grief

…figure out how to set the Virtual Partner on my Garmin so I can finally outrun him

…read all the books that I have stockpiled at my bedside, and on my kindle ap

…book a pedicure and a manicure

…book a mammogram

…catch up on all the films I missed this season

…go to anything in any theatre

…unpack that fancy new digital camera I got and figure out how to use it

…book dinner with some of my gal pals and enjoy a long catch up chat

…break open my art materials and start painting again

…watch a war movie with my sons

…watch a chick flick with my girl

…catch up on all the posts on my WordPress reader and send each one a sincere comment

…unleash two new Ottolenghi recipes and one new dessert recipe on my children

…get back into swimming again

…go watch a marathon

As long as I can, I will always run. It is too fundamental to my well-being to let that go.

Now, what do you dream of doing when you have time?