When son, Harry (now 20), suggests an impromtu excursion, I’m never able to resist. There’s always that little voice inside me that says: Make the most of the time that we can share. I also know, from experience, that these outings bring me to wild and wonderful places.
Yesterday, it was a trip up the glaciated Comeragh Mountains here in Co. Waterford to see one of the many lakes that shimmer majestically up there. Our destination, I was informed, was Coumshingaun Lake.
The air grew purer and purer as we climbed and, as my heart pounded, I envied the sure-footed fitness and balance of the curious sheep:
Just as we seemed to be reaching some kind of summit, dark clouds came sweeping round the mountains followed by ‘relief rain’ that hopped out of the mists of boring geography classes in the early 1970s.
There was sublime compensation for the total knicker-through drenching with the magical appearance of a rainbow bridging what seemed like the whole of Co. Waterford:
As we made our way up the mountain, I couldn’t but think of the song ‘The Climb,’ sung by Joe McElderry, which Harry and I often play in the car and which both of us have long found inspirational:
We stood in awe as Coumshingaun Lake came into sight beneath us and, yes, we agreed that we would come back soon and climb higher and higher so that we would get to see its wonder from all angles.
The sun was breathing its last over Tramore Beach when I took this photograph a few nights ago. All eyes seemed to be focussed on the golden hues that were embroidering the sea as it gleamed under the watchful eye of Tramore town up on the hill.
But somehow I couldn’t keep my gaze off this little boy with his back to all that. He reminded me of all the evenings that I have sought to eke the very last drop out of days spent at the beach, especially as Summer holidays draw to a close and school looms on the horizon.
He personified the craving for freedom that has always been part of my very being. Oblivious to, or delighting in, the waves soaking his bright red, flapping coat, he played in the waves and then stood still in what seemed like a moment of lingering oneness with a place where he had found peace, happiness and hope.
I’ve known those moments; they are what sustain me through the storms of life. Memories carved in sands with the sea absorbing the layers of emotion; a treasure trove of memories in a shell box that houses those secret securities that we all need.
It’s almost two weeks now since I embarked on my quest to get back to running. As you may recall, I’ve designated my approach as Phunning ~ a combination of gentle running and taking a few photographs along the way.
I’m delighted to report that I’ve now had six outings to The Anne Valley Trail in Dunhill and that it seems to be getting shorter by the day.
Yesterday was one of those stressful days with a few fork-in-the-road kind of appointments so I tore out of the house early this morning to find the calm that phunning is now bringing with each stride.
There was a lovely soft light and I found myself doing a lot more running than walking. Among the biggest changes since that first day is that I’ve now stopped counting paces and am letting my body dictate when it wants to stop for for a breather.
I’ve also reached a point where I’m less likely to stop running just because I see people coming towards me. It’s nice, though, to stop and have a little chat with fellow travellers, like this friendly man this morning:
Dunhill Castle overlooks the Anne Valley Trail and I can’t seem to resist going up there to soak in the history, scenery and tranquility:
It’s fascinating to think that the sea used to come in as far as the Castle and this morning there was a real sense of sea as the wind was coming from that direction and I could hear the waves back the mile and a half or so:
Within the ruins of the Castle itself, the light danced on the old, thick walls:
This new exercise regime requires plenty of healthy eating:
There’s no doubt that blogging about Phunning is adding greatly to the experience and I got a great giggle from Roy’s reference to ‘Phogging’ in his latest post and Robin’s comment about ‘Phalking’ in response to my first post on this new madness.
I hope, dear Readers, that you’ll come up with some more thought-provoking words to keep me motivated over the coming weeks!
You’ll have to understand that cinder paths put a spring in my step and you’ll also have to understand a few other things too.
I used to run a lot to build stamina for tennis and have a fiercely competitive streak within myself about times and distances. There’s the little issues, though, of having broken my ankle twice and banjaxed my back in the years since I was running pretty much daily.
My main running started on a wonderful cinder track at the Lourdes Stadium in Drogheda, Co. Louth, which had been built for either the European or World Student Games back in the 1960s. It was way ahead of its time and made one glide along like a true athlete.
I’ve reached a stage in my life when I feel that if I don’t get running NOW, I never will again and that thought is horrific.
Sooooooooooo, I’ve come up with the idea of ‘Phunning’ ~ that’s gentle running+walking with absolutely no emphasis on times/distances combined with taking a few photographs along the way.
The Anne Valley Trail in Dunhill here in Co. Waterford is the perfect place for this pursuit. It’s a 2.2km (each way) linear path that brings one from Dunhill Village to the magnificent elevated ruin of Dunhill Castle.
The path is the nearest thing to cinder that one could find and it twists and turns around the Anne River.
I’m setting myself the grand goal of trying to run at least one way by Christmas and have been out twice already this week, interspersing walking and running. So far, so good in terms of the creaking bones.
I hope that by writing about it here and declaring my intentions to the world, that I will manage to keep going.
I’d love to have some company on this little adventure so maybe some of you former runners would dust down your shoes and find a trail near you and share in my de-stressing!
Once again, I would like to thank Willow for nominating me for this Five Photos/Five Stories Challenge.
Here are the rules for the Challenge: “Post a photo each day for five consecutive days and attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction or non-fiction, a poem or a short paragraph and each day nominate another blogger for the challenge.
Today was a smashing day here in Co. Waterford and I had the most delicious swim out at Garrarus Beach early this morning.
While I was soaking up the sea and sun, I was half thinking about son Harry who has hopped over to England for the weekend. Part of the hopping involved him driving me into Waterford in the wee hours so that he could catch a bus to Dublin Airport. Little did I ever think that he’d be doing the driving like that but it’s been our Summer of ‘mother/son’ driving with Bruce Springsteen keeping us company.
Back at home, the little fluffy dog (a cross between at least a sheepdog, terrier, King Charles, Alsatian….) that Harry rescued a few years ago had clearly been doing a lot more than half thinking about his beloved owner. He had worked himself up into a complete tizzy and practically scratched his neck off. I suppose I should have anticipated some drama like this as the last time Harry went away the dog almost bit his paw off.
Back to the same vet who mercifully assured me that the neck damage is curable but that the bond between the dog and Harry was quite another matter! Basically if H flees the nest, the dog will have to go with him.
As dusk turned to darkness, I was beginning to wonder about H’s promised phone call. I was here at the computer and called out to hubby if he’d heard from him. He replied as casually as anything:
Oh yeah, he rang a good while ago and said he’s grand. He got cut off so wasn’t on for long.’
The little dog has been bopping around since the phone call and I’m still wondering if fathers have anything like the same bonds with their boys as little dogs and mothers do?