A Busy Week…and some Spanish lessons

If you live in Ireland, or even in Europe, you will know of the weather we have had over the last week. As I type, Storm Brian is passing over this part of the world blowing winds and delivering rain to parts of southern Ireland.

However, Storm Brian’s predecessor, Ex-Hurricane Ophelia was far more destructive. Parts of Cork and Kerry are still without power and water and trees have fallen in almost every county in Ireland. You can read more about the damage here and here. But perhaps the worst news to come from Ophelia on Monday was news of three deaths as a result of the winds. This is something you don’t hear about in Ireland. Transport throughout the country was severely affected and most companies closed before the storm hit on Monday morning.

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credit – rte.ie

Now, where do I come into it?

I work for a property claims company and have been here since 2012. Since the start of the year, we have been very quiet and I have actually moved roles away from claims notifications as for that reason. I have enjoyed my new role and have been learning as I go. However, as the calls came in on Tuesday morning notifying us of damage, my services were needed and we, as a team, have been non-stop since then. The weekend came at the right time. I have put everything, including the over-seeing off the renovation of my apartment, on the back burner since Monday. It has also been frustrating as I am still in training mode in my new role. Ophelia and Brian has put paid to that until mid-week I gather.

Today was also an early start as I restarted Spanish language lessons. It’s been so long since I took classes. I stopped because the last class I took was through Spanish, which frightened me a little. Camino Society Ireland have organised classes for its members. Once I overcome this fear and learn to use the vocabulary that I know I have, I should be driving in the right direction. Espero que si!

Bray Head with Camino Society Ireland

Hike #2
Bray town, around and over Bray head and back to the town.

Another weekend and now just 100 days (eek!) before I fly back to Spain and into Madrid. Time flies, doesn’t it? And speaking of time flying, this day 4 years ago I had completed my third day on my third stint on the Camino Frances. My 2013 Camino was easily my favourite and one I will cherish for a long time. I met so many good people and I hope, one day, to see some of them again.

This weekend was shaping up to be something special. During the week, temperatures were in the 20s and the sun was out most days. I had 2 walks planned and was eagerly looking forward to them. Today (Saturday) was in Bray with Camino Society Ireland, and Sunday with the Camino prep / training meet-up group. There were rumours of rain coming up from the South to hit Dublin today but I quietly had my fingers crossed. The last thing I wanted was to be mid-hike in the middle of a downpour. So I packed my rain gear in the hope that there would be just a few showers and that would be the end of that. I left the house in the midst of light rain but nothing that would bother me.

After an hour trip by train, myself and my brother arrived at Bray and was welcomed by quite a few fellow walkers. There were more at the first outing in Howth a month previous but I would put that down to the weather. I brought my Osprey 33 litre backpack with Helly Hansen rain jacket and Berghaus rain trousers. I had my pacerpoles with me this time as we were advised to bring poles with us. They proved to be a great help.

So 10 am came and went and we started to move out. The walk involved using the cliff walk from Bray to Greystones but rather than continuing to Greystones, we would climb up and over Bray Head and loop back to Bray. Looking from Bray, it seemed daunting, but we were assured that the climb was gradual and not as steep as it looked. Onwards we went along the promenade which was bustling with joggers, walkers and a solitary accordionist. The clouds were dark but I wasn’t dressed for rain at this stage.

10 minutes in, as we were walking along the cliff walk, we felt the first drop. One drop became two until a steady shower started. “This is down for the day”..I said to myself. I pulled on the rain jacket and continued in the hope that it was a solitary shower and it would clear sharpish. At the very least, it would be a good time to test the rain gear! A half an hour and it hadn’t relented. The zip-offs were soaked so I thought that now would be a good time to don the rain trousers. The backpack was a lost cause at this stage and soaked through. I should have brought a cover! After a little while, we stopped for a bit so I could put on the rain trousers. They were a massive help! I would recommend them to anyone interested. Most there had ponchos but I prefer rain jacket and trousers.

The climb up the hill was tough in places but nothing too challenging. It was pretty funny seeing a sign warning us of the presence of a bull and totally disregarding it. Yes, we are that crazy!! There were a few awkward obstacles to negotiate but all in all the climb is anything you would see while walking from Rabanal del Camino to Foncebadon. At times, we were walking through flowing streams but the rain started to subside while we were making the descent back to Bray. It was pretty misty also, and it was a shame that we didn’t see the one thing that we came to see…Bray Head cross. Visibility was very poor being so high. The descent was gradual but the rain made walking difficult and it was very easy to slip. After another hour, we made it back to base safely and in one piece.

Despite the conditions, it is a beautiful walk and I would love to give it another go in better weather. During the week, the Camino Society left me a message on Instagram (after I expressed concerns about the forecast)..”It will be like a new adventure”..and it most certainly was. It gave me a great chance to test my rain gear and find any faults..which there were many. I have a few months to find a more effective rain jacket as my Helly Hansen just didn’t cut it. It was also great meeting society members again and talking about future plans. Bernard and Jim can’t be praised highly enough. I can’t wait for the next outing.

Unfortunately, with the poor weather conditions, I felt it wise to cancel the Camino prep / training meet up in Howth tomorrow. I have been on the Howth cliff path while it is raining and it can be difficult to negotiate some sections.

More photos can be found on Camino Society Ireland’s facebook page.

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In Bad Weather, I think of Sunny Spain

I write while most of Ireland is being bashed by storm force winds. The hatches have been battened down and Sunday should see an improvement.

Storm Desmond is it’s name.

This is the fourth storm in as many weeks we have been hit by and we have been accustomed to heavy winds, incessant rain and general foul weather. Before Desmond, we were greeted with Abigail, Barney, and Clodagh. To be fair, the west coast has been getting the brunt of the bad weather. I think of the homeless people also, who will struggle to find shelter. We, in Dublin, are hidden away relatively, like a child underneath a table when an aunt calls. We still have rain and wind however.

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Storm Desmond

I can’t help but think of my times of Spain in times like these. Maybe it will change my mood? Maybe I won’t have to think of this weather too much then. I’ve been lucky not to walk in rain too much while on the Camino. My only experience  of rain was walking from Najera to Santo Domingo back in May 2013. It poured from the moment I left Najera..and it was windy, so double trouble. I had a decent enough poncho back then, but I still ended in Santo Domingo wet, and looking forward to get changed. The days in the sun have been so enjoyable though. Walking though the meseta in heat can be a real challenge for some, but I love it. I may experience a little more rain when I walk on the Camino Ingles through Galicia? Who knows!

I write this post hoping that my many memories in Spain will change how I’m feeling tonight..and in a way it has…so yeah! well done me!

Anyway…as the wind blows, it’s just a matter of time before the next storm approaches. Her name is Eva. I like the sound of that. I hope it’s calmer than Desmond.

Something to keep an eye on in Iceland…

Iceland raises Bardarbunga volcano alert to orange

At the time of writing, I have 15 days or so before I head back to Spain and the natural feeling one has is “Ah sure, it will fly in, nothing will go wrong..you’ll be on the trail before you know it!” But I’m keeping my eye on this piece of news that cropped up on the radar on Monday. If you cast your mind back to 2010, the Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupted causing a massive ashcloud to hover over Europe for over 2 weeks. This caused the groundings of many flights and caused delays to thousands of tourists not only in Europe but in the US. I have all my fingers crossed that something like this doesn’t happen again, but hey! if it does, I just have to go with it.

We’ll hear lots more about the Bardarbunga volcano in the near future. One thing is it flows off the tongue a little easier than it’s predecessor! 🙂

Sun? Rain? Snow?

Sun? Rain? Snow?,,

The Irish are the best for talking about the weather. Whether it is the one or two lines to start a conversation or the many trending topics you come across on Twitter.

You see, the weather here is out of the ordinary over the last few weeks. Up to Monday (22nd July) we had good spells of sun, with temps close to 30c most days. Then on Wednesday, most of Ireland was hit by numerous thunderstorms..no harm in a bit of lightning really! And today, the east of the country was hit with flash flooding and more claps of thunder. I got caught in it myself while walking from work. I had a decent rain jacket with me, one I brought on the Camino, but it was pretty useless. I arrived home drenched, with a water-damaged iPhone after trying to make one or two calls.

So I wonder what we are going to be surprised with tomorrow?

The sun has shown up…

…and is a little late to the party!

We are in the middle of a heat wave here in Ireland. Eventually! Yesterday we had temperatures reaching 30c and while this does not sound high for those in Europe or western American states, it’s a little too warm here.
We haven’t got the best record for good summers. Technically our summer months last from May to August but so far we have experienced a mixture of sleet, rain, wind and storms. So when you get a few days of clear skies and sun, you got to take advantage of it.
When I was in Spain, the weather was good and bad; one day rain and wind, the next day sun, so it was fairly unpredictable. While I type temperatures in parts of the country are over 30 at the very least. It reminds me of last year walking into Sarria and looking at an electric sign post and saw 34c. It was pretty uncomfortable for someone who gets what is called ‘a farmer’s tan’…red and white!
It is forecasted to be the same for the next few days. Hope it stays this way anyway. It definitely changes the mood of some people.

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It’s the little things..

I have three days left before I leave for Spain..Tres dias!! How time flies. I remember getting home last year and deciding I wanted to go back while treating what was left of my feet. I promised to do things this differently, but hey! I’m not one for changing..or maybe it is, I try but fail to change.. Anyway, where was I? Yes..It’s fair to say that I am prettty unorganised this time round. Hopefully I will have everything sorted shortly but as I type, everything I plan on bringing is laying on the floor in a heap waiting to be put in a tiny pack. That’s not a big deal I hear you all shouting..but you haven’t seen the mess.

I did have a small shin splints problem on Monday morning. After a short 2km walk to work, my shin on my left leg started to ache and I thought that this can’t be for real! A few quick exercises and they went away. So I am kind of concerned it doesn’t flare up again while on the trail. Time will tell.

I have also been following the weather on a daily basis. I found a great site http://www.aemet.es and it gives 7 day forecasts for each region. Impressed by it, but there is not much sun predicted. Mostly overcast with a chance of rain. Overcast I am fine with, but I have yet to experience rain on the Camino. I have prepared for it, so it may as well happen.

I would hope that I live for the moment on this trip, the “here and now”, and not worry about the next day or how full an albergue is going to be. Last time, I got caught up in things well out of my control and didn’t think about what I was doing at the time. I am also a competitive walker at home, I compete with myself! If I watch someone overtake me, it doesn’t go down well. I just need to pick up the speed and this can only lead to damage on the feet. I did it last time, I’m not going to do it again.

I don’t think this will be my final post before I go.

If it is, I can be found at my backpack trying to fit everything in!