Snow in Ireland

It snows here, a lot.

It never snows in Ireland. Well, sometimes it snows, and now, but under normal conditions it does not snow in Ireland. I’ve lived here for over a decade. I’ve seen snow fall a few times, and I’ve seen it stay on the ground once.

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Sure, it probably snows more often in other parts of Ireland, further up north, or at higher altitudes, but it does not snow where I live, in Cork, on the south coast.

Except now.

It’s coming down in sheets and droves.

The schools are closed for the rest of the week. Shops are closed. Offices too – including mine. I lived in Sweden for nearly 30 years, and I never got sent home from work or school due to bad weather, but now it happened.

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Yesterday we had the lovely fluffy kind of snowfall. Big flakes that cam drifting down slowly, or danced around on the wind. Today, it’s a different kind of snowfall. Small flakes whipped around by the wind and getting in your eyes.

It’s not as pretty or as pleasant to be out in, but it’s still snowfall, and it’s still mesmerising to watch.

As a kid, I always used to go out and go for a walk the evening the first snow came. For some reason, the first snow always came in the evening. It probably didn’t, but it’s how I remember it, so let’s go with that. There’s something magical about millions of snowflakes the size of your thumb drifting down towards you from the darkness above.

2018-02-28 21.01.20I loved standing under a street light looking up. It was kind of the same last night when I walked around looking at it. Tonight it’s not the same.

What’s happening outside the window is lovely and beautiful, but it’s also wrong. It will probably cost a fortune in damages and delays and whatnot, and in a few days it will all be gone. It’s just a single freak storm.

The snow will melt, the river will flood (yes, there’s a flood warning too), and things will go back to what they were a week ago. It’s weird.

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Snow in Ireland

The Southern Hills Are Full of Cars

It’s rare that I head south out of the city when I go walking, but I did today, and it reminded me of why I usually don’t. The traffic. Once you get on to the little winding back roads it’s fine, but to get there you have to get out of the city, and that’s a lot less than fun.

Narrow roads. Lots of cars. No sidewalks, and plenty of bends in the road where you don’t see if there are cars coming in the other direction.

Not pleasant.

That said, there were some good views from up there, and once I got up to the top of the hill the road was a little wider and there was more space to step off to get out of the way for oncoming traffic.

There was a reason I decided to come this way though. My friend L, who I visited the other day, told me of a nice little place just beyond the airport and suggested I pay it a visit.

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Don’t go there, and by “go” I mean “walk” – it’s a great place, but the next time I’ll get someone to drive me.

The Workshop really is a nice little place. Tea was served in old china and they had plenty of little antique knick-knacks sitting around, giving the place a pleasant vintage atmosphere.

I felt a little bit like an outsider though. Every time a plane went by overhead I was the only one looking up and wondering what was going on and what the loud noise was. Everyone else was clearly used to it and didn’t seem to notice at all.

The food was good, but not quite substantial enough after having walked nearly 8 kilometers. Then again, I can’t imagine it’s meant to be, and if I’d used my brain I would have ordered something other than a salad. The soups and sandwiches looked really good.

Also, as I sat there, it started to rain…

So I ordered dessert and sat a little longer. After all, I’d gotten a big pot of tea and I couldn’t just leave all of it, could I? I got some writing done, ate a brownie, drank more tea, and waited out the rain.

Going homewards I took a different route, and this is when I finally found one of those pleasant little back roads I mentioned before, where walking is a pleasure of nearly complete trafficlessness.

Sure, the rain came back again, but it wasn’t too bad, and my jeans didn’t soak through completely until I was nearly home anyway.

One of the fascinating things about walking in Ireland is how the hills help you track your progress. Sometimes when I reach the top of a hill I can see to road ahead snaking down into the valley and up the hill on the other side. I see where I’m headed. The horizon is always far away, but it’s fascinating to think that that’s where I’m going.

Eventually, I get there, and I can turn around and look back and see all the way to the previous hill and wonder at how far I’ve come since I stood there.

I’m sure it’s similar in other places, but I haven’t really done all that much walking anywhere else, so here is the first place I’ve really experienced it myself.

The Southern Hills Are Full of Cars

Hailstorm and Blinding Sun

I didn’t mean to go walking today. Last night I felt like it, and I looked up what bus to take and when it left and everything, and then I checked the weather. The weather report told me to stay home – except in different words. On top of that my friend C advised me to stay home, drink coffee, and eat nice food.

So in the end I decided not to go, and I didn’t get up early to take the first bus to Dripsey as I’d planned. I stayed in bed, rolled over and went back to sleep.

Then, when I eventually got out of bed and headed out to get a coffee and do a bit of writing, I discovered that there wasn’t any rainstorm going on, and after some less than careful decision making I decided to take the mid-day bus and go walking anyway. After all, I wore my rainproof jacket and I’d just bought a pair of rainproof trousers to wear over my regular ones just for this kind of thing.

On the bus to Dripsey the rain showed up

I’m really happy the rainproofs held up. I got a bit cold when stopping to take pictures, but I stayed dry through it all.

After a little over an hour I reached my first stop, Blair’s Inn. I’d also planned on stopping at Angler’s Rest, but once I got there I was tired enough I just wanted to get home (and then I ended up not taking the shortest route anyway, because of traffic) so this was the only real break during the walk.

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In the summer I’d have gone for a pint, but it just didn’t feel right with the cold and wet.

While I sat there, waiting for my coffee (and a bowl of soup, which was nice but a little too warm – or I was too hungry), I noticed that the rain stopped. Sunlight peeked in through the windows. The rest of the walk would be nice.

Two minutes after I stepped out of the pub it was raining again.

It was also at about this time that my feet started to ache. I bought new boots last week, and I’m trying to break them in. They’d been fine so far, and I had no issues with them yesterday. Not sure why they were acting up now. I tried untying and retying them a few times but it didn’t really help any. There wasn’t much to do but keep going and hope I got used to it.

The pain wasn’t unbearable, and my main concern was that my walking step would change in some unnatural way in order to compensate for it, rather than that my feet would take any serious damage. In the end I seem to have gotten home fine, and I took care to stretch properly so hopefully there won’t be any niggling issues from this.

Also, the sun showed up again.

Okay, so I may have gotten a little bit carried away there, but it’s a lot more fun taking pictures of bright sunny hillsides than dull grey rain.

In the end, despite the rain and wind and hail, and despite my aching feet and tired legs, I’m happy I went. It was a great day on the road, but the next time C tells me to stay home and drink coffee I’ll pay more attention to that. It’s good advice too.

Hailstorm and Blinding Sun

The Sunset North of Blarney

After work today I took a bus to Blarney and set of north to visit a friend of mine. Originally I’d planned on walking to Blarney and then get picked up there, but I changed my mind. The short route to Blarney is pretty dull and I’ve done it before, and as I checked the map I found a promising route from Blarney to L’s place.

The promise held and it was a really great walk, except for a busy passage near the end. It was a little too windy, and it got dark a little too early, so the conditions weren’t the best. I’ll definitely walk this route again though. There were some really nice views along the way.

Additionally, the mornings are getting brighter, and it’s starting to be the time of year when I can see the sun rise on my way to work – like this:

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The Sunset North of Blarney

Walking Season Has Begun

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It’s on now.

The picture above is from a roadside on the way to Blarney. Over the last few weeks I’ve begun walking longer distances again. The weather has gotten better and it doesn’t get dark so early in the evenings anymore.

Yesterday me and two friends walked to Blarney after work. We took a new route I’d found and included a suggestion for a detour my friend V made. All in all, it’s a bit over 13 kilometers (perhaps 8 miles?) and for the most part there’s very little traffic.

The walk took us almost three hours, and by the time we arrived it was dark. We did stop to take pictures, or just enjoy the view, on several occasions though.

It’s good to be out on the roads again. Fresh air, nice views, and that pleasantly numb feeling in the legs when you finally sit down after a long walk. The pint at the end (and the one in the middle if there is one) are also nice bonuses.

Above are photos from the last few days. Looking forward to when spring gets going for real and the leafs start to show up on the trees.

Walking Season Has Begun

Three Castle Head

I went on a road trip. My friends J and M are here visiting this week. Among other things we rented a car and went out to West Cork to look at “something interesting.” This time the interesting things turned out to be Three Castle Head and Gougane Barra.

The three castles is really an old wall with three towers along it. As far as castle ruins go it’s not massively impressive, but if you consider the location it’s well worth a visit. The wall runs from the edge of a small lake to a steep cliff dropping into the ocean.

These are some of the pictures I took while there:

On the way home we decided to stop by Gougane Barra. I’d never been there before, but I’ve seen plenty of pictures from the place and it’s been on my list of places to visit for quite some time.

The main point of interest is the lake, which has a little island with a tiny church on it. It’s pretty, and it probably looks amazing on a beautiful day. It looked pretty cool even in the rain but I was more impressed with the surrounding mountains. Clouds hanging low hid most of the mountain tops from view, further lending the place an air of mystery.

I tried to capture this in my pictures, but it turned out to be quite difficult – not that it stopped me from trying:

All in all, good trip. Both locations recommended.

Three Castle Head