Head Rambles in the Rain


Only a fool would have ventured out in Sunday morning’s conditions.

I was that fool.

Mind you,  it was warm. At least by Irish standards. The mid morning temperature was a very pleasant 12 degrees. That’s 53.6 degrees if you’re in Fahrenheitland.

We’re still in t-shirt weather then.

But the rain, that `tis-a-soft-day-thank-God`incessant Irish drizzle demanded a beanie(orange) and a long-sleeved running top(green). So, if you saw someone on Sunday who looked like she lost her way after the St. Patrick’s Day parade, that someone would have been me.

I did not see you, though.

I know this for a fact, because, for three whole miles I saw nobody. There wasn’t one other fool out braving the soft day. Nope. They were all as snug as bugs curled up on their sofas watching reruns of X-factor or chowing down on a big brunch.

The thought of them made me feel even more miserable.

It wasn’t until I reached the riverside that I finally encountered a humanoid. In fact, a whole family of them. These were no ordinary humanoids, however. The dad sported binoculars and was urging his young sons to look downriver. Evidently, he had spotted some exotic avian species.

And, to give them their due, the two young lads seemed only too happy to go along with their Dad’s directions.  So intent were they on their observations that they failed to spot my approach. They were entirely oblivious to the rain too, of course. Why, it seemed as though, for the males in the group at least, that this was, indeed, the most welcome of weathers. Maybe the drizzle attracted some rare bird to the place? Some Siberian sub-species who had the bad luck to be tossed up on these shores? Or a far-fetched feathered rarity from the outer reaches of Inner Mongolia, perhaps?

Only the mother looked miserable.  She was fussing over her daughter who lay in a buggy. Swathed as the buggy was, in a big plastic raincover, there was no danger of the little girl getting wet. But the mother reached in beneath the cover and took a blanket off, before readjusting it once more. And still she didn’t seem happy.

I could read her mind:

It’s not cold enough for multi layers and too damned wet to feel comfortable. And, anyway, why am I out here in such misery? And why, oh why, Lord, did I marry an ornithologist?

So, I wasn’t alone in my misery.

By now, the steady drizzle had developed into a full bodied monsoon.  Rain streamed down my face and my sodden leggings stuck like cling film to my thighs. My camera was stashed in my waist pack though I cursed my stupidity for not taking along a plastic bag to keep the water out of it.

Trotting on and whinging to myself, the sight of something truly hideous jolted me out of my misery: I had stepped over a dead rat.

Sure, the stepping over was the lucky part. I could’ve landed on the damn thing.

There he lay, all curled up claws and sharp snout…ugh!

Now I should’ve been brave and kicked the damn thing into the ditch.  For a few yards after I thought of the ornithologist’s family. What if the young boys were horrified at the sight? What if that suffering mother inadvertently drove the buggy over that ugly creature and then stepped on it herself? Would it mark the end of her riverbank ramblings? Or the end of her marriage, maybe?

A few yards further on, I consoled myself with the thoughts that children thrive on gore. The boys would get great news mileage out of that rat. They would spin yarns on the strength of that sighting to keep their classmates enthralled all Monday morning.

And, no doubt, the Ornithologist, once he took his sights off the river, would also want to be the hero of the day. He would be exactly the type that would shield his womenfolk from all sights of the rodent. He would stoop down, catch him by the tail and fling him aside. Thus,sparing their nerves and regaining his wife’s admiration in one fell swoop.

Of course, the only jangled nerves were truly mine. And the source of all my woes was neither the rat, nor the rain: it was all in my mind.

Or, as some anonymous expert stated a very long time ago “‘Tis all in the head.”

Much of running is.

But I was happier blaming the rain, of course. And as drizzle turned to rain and rain turned to deluge, I realised it was all hopeless. The bargained myself into pushing on for another mile, only by promising myself a prompt about turn as soon as I hit the four mile mark.

This cut short my planned long slow run by two miles. But, to be fair, it had already morphed into a medium fast wet run at that point anyway. Or so I convinced myself.

And in that eight mile stretch, there wasn’t another runner to be seen, nor another ornithologist, or even another drowned rat. Apart from myself.

And, wouldn’t you know it? The sun shone all afternoon.

Note to self: Check the rainfall radar on met.ie. Or better still, remember you’re living in Ireland. Where it rains. A lot. Get over it.


Juneathon Day 5: Acrostic on my Bike

The View from my Bike

The View from my Bike


Biking through the Irish countryside

Is sheer joy

Knarled tree trunks spread their shimmering canopies along the roadside

In ditches and hedges birdsong thrills while a

Never ending patchwork of fields rolls towards sunset skies

Gracing my soul with gratitude and peace

Juneathon Day Five: Ten miles biking

Juneathon Total:23.5 miles

Juneathon Poetry Challenge: C`mon Phil, Sharon and Paige, show me your acrostics!



Photowalk Dalkey

It`s been too long since my last photowalk here in Ireland. So yesterday I set off for Dalkey.

Ten miles south of Dublin City Centre, the best way to get to this pretty seaside village is on the DART. That’s Dublin Area Rapid Transit, Dublin`s light rail system. South of the city, the railway line is threaded along the very scenic curve of Dublin Bay, a wonderful prelude for the delights of Dalkey village.

Disembarking at Dalkey, I am just a short trot from the Main Street. It’s noon time Saturday and the place is barely awake. Perhaps the absence of people ensures that I notice the shop fronts and housefronts more readily: everything is so well maintained, neat and tidy, from luscious little gardens, to the litter free streets.

Goat`s Castle, Dalkey

Goat`s Castle, Dalkey

I ramble on past one of Dalkey`s seven castles. This one is on the main street. It bills itself a heritage centre “where living history meets 21st century technology” but I am in full on ramble mode, so I keep moving.

Archbold`s Castle Dalkey

Archbold`s Castle Dalkey

On past Archbold`s Castle then. Can you see the machiolation about the front door? It;`s the extra piece of masonry that juts out above the entrance. That’s for dumping down stones, debris, oil or other rubbish on those attempting entry to the castle. I ponder what I’d dump on some unwelcome guests to the Chook House and move on with what can only be describes as an evil smirk.

Bullock Castle

Bullock Castle

Out past Bullock Castle then, to Bullock Harbour. There I catch a glimpse of Poolbeg lighthouse and the twin chimneys of Ringsend way off in the distance. God bless your eyesight if you can spot them in this pic!

Ringsend from Dalkey

The excited screech of herring gulls draws my attention and soon, like a scene from Hitchcock`s Birds they are all about the place fighting over some fishy offerings amid the rocks.

Gulls, Bullock Harbour

Gulls, Bullock Harbour

And rocks abound in Dalkey. The whole place hewn out of steep granite hillsides. There was a granite quarry there in the early 19th century which supplied granite for the building of Dun Laoghaire harbour and also the South Bull Wall.

Rocks Bullock Harbour

Rocks Bullock Harbour

Dalkey`s harbours too, were important in their own right back from the 14th to the 17th century. The Liffey had become silted up so Dublin Port became inaccessible, whereas Dalkey Sound had deeper waters.

Fishing Boats, Coliemore Harbour

Fishing Boats, Coliemore Harbour

A quick trot around then to Coliemore Harbour. Coliemore Harbour bills itself as one of the smallest harbours in Ireland. It too was built from Dalkey granite and is the point of departure for boats heading out to Dalkey Island.

Coliemore Harbour

Coliemore Harbour

From here, I got a better view of the Island. It is home to the remains of St Begnet`s church and it also has a Martello tower at one end. Fifty such towers were built by the British in the early 19th century to provide defence against an anticipated invasion by Napoleon Bonaparte. Luckily for us, it seems Napoleon was ignorant to the delights of Dalkey however.

But many were not.

Enjoying seaviews

Enjoying seaviews

All along the coastline, there are rows of Regency and Victorian houses, another legacy from British times. And, if the area, with its warm microclimate, abundance of the spiky Cordylion and steep hillsides reminded me of the French Riviera, the street names certainly evoke the Mediterranean with street names such as Sorrento, Vico and Nerano.

Railway Line from Dalkey to Killiney

Further on out towards Killiney beach, I am heartened my the sight, and distinctive licquorishy smell, of furze. (Or gorse, depending on where you’re from.) The railway line had been cut into the steep hillside there in a singular feat of engineering carried out by Brunell in 1855.

Seismic testing

While down on White Rock beach there`s every chance I’ll catch a glimpse of a dolphin leaping. The views across to Bray Head are reward enough for my rambling but suddenly, and quite literally out of the blue, a single dolphin leaps into view. He leaps several times but all too fast for my camera.

What a thrill it is though, to spot these creatures in Irish waters.

I am ready, then, to ramble back along Ireland`s “Bay of Naples” …

View form the Vico Road

View form the Vico Road

… back along the Vico Road and past the quiet rows of Victorian terraces to the village itself.

The Gutter Bookshop

The Gutter Bookshop

Heading back towards the DART station, I cannot resist the tug of a newly opened bookshop. It’s a little beauty with blue washed walls, white bookshelves, bunting and an atmosphere conducive to some very productive browsing.

But my train is on it’s way, and time is short.

Besides, I haven’t seen all there is to see in Dalkey. There’s a castle to explore, a 13th century graveyard to visit, and Dalkey Head to be climbed.

And, if one can believe everything on facebook, the Dalkey Book Festival is set to run in June this year! A perfect time for a return trip.

So yes, I’ll be back!

Further information

Obstacle Course

You know the book “We`re Going on a Bear Hunt”? The one where the characters “Can`t go over it, can`t go under it, must go through it”. Yes, that one. Well, that was what yesterday`s run was all about.

And it was daylight! Yay! With a couple of days off work I am relishing the change. Birdsong, endless sweeping vistas and who knows, maybe other signs of Spring lay in store for me?

A mile down the road and I meet my first obstacle. Roadworks. The road was closed off and as there were all kinds of yellow machinery, smoke and tar about the place, I figured they mightn`t appreciate my presence so I headed for the fields.


It turned out to be a good choice. Lots of birdsong, green shoots, and well, I wasn`t really sure what to call that florid looking fungus poking out from the branch…


But that`s what being outdoors means:lots of surprises.

After recent storms there was plenty of muck, water and fallen trees about the place.

So, just like the bearhunt book, I ended up doing a lot of climbing over, or around or through things.
Branch Down



That meant a lot of stopping, some slithering and lots of backtracking. But it was all good fun.

4.58 miles of good fun actually. Yep, Garmin is in working order again. And hey, I might even have found my mojo too!