Walking down the river Thames – Day 6

…in which I struggle a little.

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Walking down the river Thames – Day 6

This Thing With The Flowers

Yesterday was International Women’s Day. This sort of related to that, but not entirely.

Over the last few years I’ve become aware that in some cultures it’s a big thing to give flowers to women on International Women’s Day. I first came across this two years ago, and then I wrote this post. It contains some examples of different views on the giving of flowers on International Women’s Day.

For me personally, it seems really wrong to “celebrate” the day by giving flowers to women. It feels contrary to what the day is about. However, I really like the idea of giving people a little something to show them I appreciate them. I think that’s a nice thing to do.

I can still do that, right?

This year, I’ve spent most of the day after IWD drawing little flowers, taking pictures of them, and sending the pictures to people around me that I want to show some appreciation for.

I drew you a flower, because you’re good people, and I felt like it.

In the end, I’d made twenty five flowers that I’ve sent out to friends of mine. You can see them here, although I did blur out the names – just in case.

These are in chronological order, and as you can clearly see, my drawing skills improved with practice. Don’t worry if you can’t draw though. It’s not about how it looks; it’s about doing it yourself.

Give it a try. Send someone a flower.

For the Ladies?

Originally, I drew flowers only for women I know, but then it occurred to me that I have male friends who’s company and existence I appreciate. I should try and do something for them as well.

At first, the thought of drawing flowers to send to guys seemed a bit weird to me. Who am I familiar enough with that it won’t be awkward? I mean… It’s not like… You know… Whatever…

Equality, right? I can send pictures of flowers to my male friends if I want to.

Seven of the flowers above were sent to men I know. It would have been cool if the split was fifty-fifty, but it didn’t happen, and now I’m tired. It was tricky coming up with male friends I was comfortable sending the pictures to, and I didn’t want to just force it to meet some quota. Then again as I’m writing this, names keep popping up.

How to draw a flower?

It’s easy:

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The tricky part is actually sending the flower to someone when you don’t quite know how they will react to it. So far, the reactions I’ve had have been positive, and in all honesty I expected most of them to be, but I was still a bit nervous in some cases.

Then again, comparing the first flower I drew this morning with the last few it’s kind of obvious that improvement comes with practice. That said, I did draw the most “important” one first.

This Thing With The Flowers

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.

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.

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:


The Sunset North of Blarney