Today was the big day in Ireland when the 5km restriction lifted to allow travel within our county.
I went to my old haunt, The Anne Valley, on the Copper Coast. It was divine and I spent a good deal of time watching the precious swans out there. The main pair have built their nest so all seems well with their world.
I had just read a little piece about magic that is on the trail:
As I was standing very still admiring one of the swans, a woman pushing a child’s buggy passed by and told me that someone wanted to give me a present. An adorable little girl had a dandelion in her outstretched hand and I was quite overwhelmed at her generosity and lovely smile. I thanked her profusely and smiled at the mother before returning to the swan. The mother called out that someone else had a present for me and a tiny tot was behind me with another dandelion.
The wild flowers or weeds to some might as well have been big bouquets they were such a surprise.
I certainly plan on keeping a close eye on the swan family which has been such a part of my life for years now:
Hopefully, I will get to meet my new found magical friends again who brought such unexpected human joy:
It was dark, dank and rainy here today but my heart was light as I got a letter this morning telling me that my two-yearly routine mammogram with BreastCheck which I only had on Monday afternoon was clear. Nothing can ever, ever be taken for granted, especially health, so that, on top of a good report from my eye specialist yesterday, had me in a heightened sense of appreciation.
I have to admit that I was kinda glad to see plenty of rain over the last day or so because I was a bit concerned about my self-raising flour exploits up at the old graveyard beside Dunhill Castle in recent times. (In case you didn’t read about them and want to they are detailed here.) I was back a few days ago and was slightly worried that there was still some evidence of the flour but the guy on YouTube had said that rain was required to clear the flour.
Anyway, I thought I’d have a walk along the Anne Valley and make my way up to the graveyard just to see if the rain had done the job.
In case you’re interested, the second grave that I read the other day had this inscription on it:
Erected by Peter Phelan in memory
of his Father John Phelan who died
Jan 6th 1792 aged 75 years also his
son Mark who died Dec 12th 1779
aged 27 years
It was interesting to find that this grave, like the first one, bore the name Phelan. I am assuming that there is probably a family connection between the two and suspect that at least some of the other sixteen graves will be Phelan graves as well. It’s not clear from the inscription if the son, Mark, was Peter or John’s son but I originally saw him as being John’s son. Twenty-seven is a very young age to die and I suspect there was great sadness for those who were left behind.
The good news is that the rain has removed the flour ~ almost every bit of it ~ but I think that from now on, I will only use it when the days are very dry and I will bring a soft brush (like Mr YouTube) to dust any excess away.
The whole scene today was very different from my last expedition on November 27th. It seemed like the rain had beaten down much of the undergrowth so it was easier to see the whole shape of the ruined church and to pick out the tombstones.
This is the entrance to the ruined church. I love the solid stonework:
I counted a total of eighteen tombstones today and I think that’s all there are:
The swan family were very much in evidence down on the Anne River. The cygnets have got very grown up and the walk was punctuated with them as they made their way through the very still waters. To me, the cygnets symbolise new life and the cycle of life, especially after time spent up in the old graveyard.
Those who are buried in the graveyard were once young people, a fact which is almost hard to take in given how much time has passed since the 1700s. But, the cycle of life continues …..
We’ve had very little pure light here in the South-East of Ireland in recent weeks. It’s been as if the ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’ has been seeking to have it all her own way.
The country woke in a state of dejection this morning trying to shake off the effects of the horrible defeat by the the flowing Argentinians in the Rugby World Cup. (I knew nothing whatsoever about Argentina before this week except the overwhelming natural brilliance of Gabriella Sabatini and Diego Maradona ~ magical duo that should have been enough to forewarn me.)
So it started as a ‘one foot in front of the other’ kind of day:
But, as the new day unfolded, there were signs that nature was striving to lighten our spirits. I simply had to follow the opening sky and it brought me to the Anne Valley in Dunhill for my morning run. As I got out of the car, I was greeted by the clatter of horses hooves on the road beneath Dunhill Castle. Instinctive thoughts of The Highwayman, The Listeners …..
The light danced on the cinder path of the Anne Valley Walk and there was a softness that made running seem like the most natural thing in the world.
Dunhill Village called at noon where the Church bells rang out and the local dogs sang along:
No possibility of resisting a call to Harney’s Shop
for a blaa (Co. Waterford bread roll) and some of their home-cooked ham:
Perfect day for a swim at Annestown Beach in the heat of the midday sun:
‘One foot in front of the other’ took on a whole new meaning on the golden sands of the Co. Waterford Coast.
The clarity and magnificence of the day lasted right up to sunset and beyond.
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!
There are times when tranquillity descends or is evoked by place or atmosphere. Well, I’m happy to say that this morning brought most unexpected calm as I tore out of the house after being practically tied to the computer yesterday looking out, from time to time, at rain, drizzle and dankness.
My main aim was to go for a swim and give my eyes a good stretch but the seas were too high so I made my way to the Anne Valley Trail in Dunhill which has really started to grow on me.
There was an autumnal haze and silence, apart from the very gentle lapping of the waters that were wonderfully relflective and silvery. Essential peace presented itself in the form of a lone swan ~ so reminiscent of The Children of Lir and W.B. Yeats’ The Wild Swans at Coole.
At midday, the silence was broken by the ringing of the church bell from nearby Dunhill. I felt drawn to the church which was empty but glowingly warm:
The bell tower stands behind the church and exudes both a long sense of history and perfect poise:
Driving back towards Tramore, via the coast, of course, the clouds began to part revealing a lazy blueness. The ocean had calmed too and what a precious swim on this October Tuesday when the sun had heated the sand, rocks and smiling sea:
I hope you are finding peace and tranquillity wherever you happen to be today!