Whatever the weather

Does the weather affect YOUR mood?

Today it was mostly grey outside, with intervals of gloomy drizzle, and I spent most of the day quite overwhelmed by everything I needed to do.  I just couldn’t get myself motivated to give anything a reasonable effort.  We’re currently preparing to move house.  We’re also embarking on a major renovation project to reinstate an old Irish stone cottage, and also get a mobile home installed on site to live in whilst we work on the cottage.  I have lists everywhere, I have lists of my lists.  I have hurriedly scribbled notes, ‘don’t forgets’ and to-do lists on scraps of paper all around the place.  I have the phone numbers of various building contractors hastily scribbled on even more scraps of paper.  When my phone rings it’s like a snow globe of paper scraps as I try to work out which contractor is calling me before I answer the phone.  On days like this, all these lists and all these scraps of paper feel like they are burying me alive.

However, just the other day, the sun was out and it was a beautiful, sharp winter’s day.  After a good morning walk with the dogs, I was the epitome of a highly efficient working machine.  The housework was done.  All my lists were in order, my scraps of paper were sorted, and after the info contained upon them had been dealt with in a better manner they were consigned to the recycling bin. All was well in my world.

I have always said that I much prefer the winter to the summer.  My main argument on this being that in the winter, if you’re cold, you can layer up and get warmer.  However, if you’re too hot in the summer you have fewer options.  But what I love most about the winter are sharp, white frosts and the excitement of (too infrequent) snow falls. I’m like a child at Christmas if there’s even a hint of snow on the local weather forecast, and then spend the next 24 hours checking to see if its started yet.  All that aside, we’re about to move into what is effectively a tin box.  I am wondering if we’re mad, but I keep telling myself that Spring is only around the corner, the days will start to get longer soon, and the temperatures will start to lift.  I have a feeling this will become my new mantra this winter!

One aspect of our relocation that I’m really looking forward to is the host of hill trails to discover that will be pretty much on my doorstep.  Not quite mountains, the highest summit is 455m, but there’s an upland ridge with 4 summits identified along it on my OSI map for the area.  The nearest summit is less than 1½ kilometres (as the crow flies) from our cottage, and I can’t wait to be able to get up there and explore…all from my own front gate!

In the meantime, let’s hope the sun comes out again tomorrow, so I can have another productive day! So much to do, so little time.  Yes, the weather most definitely affects my mood.

550 miles in 2015 – February update

February wasn’t a great month of walking for me.  Niggling hip pain and atrocious weather slowed me down considerably.  Torn between walking on the sore hip, or resting it, and not really knowing what to do for the best, I walked some days, and rested on others.
Some days I found that walking on it seemed to ease it.  After 5 minutes or so, it would be warmed up, I’d feel a lot more supple, and the rest of the day would be relatively pain-free.  Other days, walking appeared to ease the pain at the time, but I’d be completely hobbling by the evening and sleepless with pain through the night. On mornings where I woke up with a sore hip, and seeing storm conditions outside, the decision to stay indoors with painkillers and a hot water bottle instead was made much easier!

As a result, I only managed to get 38.9 miles under my belt during February, when I was aiming for 46+ miles.  I’m frustrated, but being within touching distance of 39 miles is still a good chunk of mileage towards my end of year goal.  Added to January’s sub-target total of 41.6 miles, I now need a total of 469.5 miles to reach my target for 2015.  In the following 10 months of 2015 I need to average 47 miles/month to reach it.  Roll on spring, and some more settled weather!

I was always of the conviction that my hip pain was a muscle/soft tissue issue, and not a hip-joint issue.  I cannot describe how I came to this conclusion, it just didn’t ‘feel’ like a joint issue.  I know I probably should have gone to my GP, and I would be the first to suggest this to a friend complaining of the same, but I think that my ‘take each day as I find it’ attitude with this hip has worked somewhat.  I know I can barely feel a twinge now.  I can walk a few miles, and not feel increased pain in the evening, and I think it’s finally sorting itself out.  I dare say my GP may perhaps have been able to fix it more quickly, but perhaps she might also have simply said rest it and take painkillers.  The last few days have been mostly pain-free, for the first time in over 6 weeks!  Hopefully I can get back on track and hit my monthly targets now 🙂

 Woodland path

Wet, wild & windy in Portumna Forest

Walked: 25th January 2014

With a free Saturday for both of us, and a pretty awful weather forecast, we tentatively planned a lowland forest walk instead of heading up on to the hills.

Twitter IWN forecast

Portumna Forest Park, a 600 hectare Coillte managed recreation area, is somewhere I’ve previously enjoyed visiting with the dogs, for bikejoring and other dryland mushing exploits, but not a place I’ve been purely for walking.  It is less than 40 minutes drive from here, so I really should make more use of the place!

Portumna sits at the north end of Lough Derg, and is an historic crossing point over the River Shannon between counties Tipperary and Galway.

Portumna Forest Park - Map Board

Portumna Forest Park – Map Board

We had planned to do the Bonaveen Trail (the red route), a 10.5km looped walked around the western part of the forest park, but forestry operations had large sections of the loop closed off for ongoing works.  Undeterred we studied the map boards beside the visitor’s centre, and devised our own modified version of the looped route, which would join up with the Bonaveen Trail at a point outside of the forestry operations area.

A couple of wrong turns, where my usually excellent sense of direction let me down (the husband often calls me ‘Wife-Nav’), and we finally caught up with the correct coloured arrow markers.  On setting out the weather was bitterly cold, with a persistent heavy drizzle; the kind that saturates you almost without you realising it, so Dolly was slightly mortified to be wearing her ‘wet-weather coat’.  Despite being a gundog breed German Shorthaired Pointers don’t typically do well in cold/wet conditions, due to their lean build, short-haired coats and thin skins, and from past experience I know that Dolly can get pretty miserable fairly quickly in these conditions. So the coat went on!  However, in addition to being 100% waterproof and warm, the coat is very light and doesn’t hinder her exuberant progress in any way.

Dolly ready for rain

There were signs for a mini detour to Bonaveen Harbour, which was heavily flooded and, dare I say it, a little disappointing.  Although, perhaps that’s an unfair comment, and there might be more to see when the water levels have receded?  We did spot a small stone building, with a dead tree behind it, which from a certain angle had more than a passing resemblance to Monty Python‘s the Knights of NI, and had me chuckling unashamedly for a while, and annoying the husband with random shouts of ‘Ni!’ during the remainder of our walk…such a child!  Maybe they had finally found their shrubbery?

The weather was mostly kind to us, the drizzle lifted for a while, but inevitably the worst weather hit us whilst we were on the most exposed sections of the loop, along the shoreline of Lough Derg, where we had little or no shelter from the squally showers and gusty winds, and even hailstones at one point.  It was more than a little scary to see and hear small branches coming off the bare trees around us, and we didn’t hang around to admire the lough views, instead there was nothing for it but to put our heads down (Dolly included) and quicken our pace to get back into the relative shelter of the thicker forest.  We were more than slightly alarmed and surprised to see two men in a small row-boat out on the lough, I can’t even imagine how scary that must have been. for them  The waves were really throwing their little boat around, and at one point we lost sight of them altogether.  They were near an island so hopefully they safely made it there for some shelter, to sit out the storm.  I checked online when we got home, and for a few days afterwards, but there were no reports of missing fishermen in local press or RNLI alerts,  so we have to presume they made it home safely.

The trail took us back into the thicker forest, which afforded a little more shelter from the weather, but the cracking of tree boughs, and the occasional thud of falling branches nearby was still unnerving.  We were originally going to divert onto the Rinmaher Trail (green route on the map) and make a big loop of the entire forest park, but the weather really wasn’t pleasant, and so we stayed on the Bonaveen Trail and decided to head back to the car park.  I enjoyed spotting various fungi on our route.  I only wish I knew what half of them were, there were some spectacular formations.

Floods caused a minor diversion (as well as wet boots, socks & trousers!), but gave Dolly the opportunity for a spot of paddling.  I got thoroughly stuck at one point, with nowhere to go but into water up to my knees, so I just had to suck it up and get on with it.  We tried to walk around the flood, but other than retracing our steps completely, there was no easy way around.  So we just thought ‘feck it’ and headed straight through as best we could, much to Dolly’s delight!  Once past the flooded area, we had to negotiate some particularly fierce brambles to rejoin the path.  It was easier to carry Dolly over the thick brambles, which was just lovely after all her paddling.

The beautiful sight of a small herd of fallow deer crossing the path less than 100m in front of us meant that Dolly all but dragged us the last quarter of a mile back to the car park, and made me grateful that we had kept her firmly on her lead!  I think we’d still be out looking for her now if she’d been running free.

I didn’t take too many photos given the inclement weather, and my phone camera’s aversion to damp weather at the best of times.  This seems to have resulted in a remarkably sunny set of photos, taken during the brief moments of sun and/or dry spells.

There was so much more that I wanted to explore, but we were wet and cold, and an afternoon by the fire was a lot more appealing on that day.  However, at just under 6 miles, our visit to Portumna forest Park was an easy and rewarding way to slowly push my miles up and tell my head I can walk further each time.

I’m really looking forward to coming back in better weather, in the hopes of doing the longer route that we had planned.  Oh, and just one more thing to mention, despite the information given on the Irish Trails website, dogs are very welcome!