New Years Resolutions 🙌🙌

There was a rather strange anomaly at the beginning of this month. People all over the world but most especially in Ireland, gathered together and ignored the beginning of the year until the 6th. Most people started back to work on the 2nd and a few people started back training and eating well on the 1st. Most of us, though, extended our shite eating and binge drinking for one more weekend. Obviously some people don’t buy into the whole ‘New Year, New Me’ spiel and that’s OK, but the majority of the world will try and turn over a new leaf. Resolutions are made and promises are sworn. Get fit. Eat less shit. Do more of that thing that you enjoy that gives you a brief respite from work.
The older I get the less stuff I give up for my Resolutions. Why deprive yourself of something straight away? Talk about starting the year off on a negative! Promise yourself you will exercise more or play more sport and by default you will eat better. You’ll feel the effects of the positive endorphins rushing through your body and brain and think to yourself, ‘Wow. I feel better after all of this exercise. Maybe I’ll keep it up!’ Maybe you won’t and you’ll give up on your resolutions and that’s fine. The world is going to end in about ten years anyways. Could you live with yourself if I end this life looking better than you? Didn’t think so.

This year I’ve made a few resolutions. Two weeks in and I’m still going strong…ish. I haven’t broken all of them at least!

Gym

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor weights

I’m really gonna hit the gym hard this year. I decided to go at it full throttle. Seven workouts/exercises a week. No excuses. 6:30 every morning, cardio and weights every session. NO. EXCUSES.
Laugh out fucking loud. Some people do tend to burn themselves out straight away. Do what you feel comfortable doing. If that’s five days a week, class. If that’s twice a week with a view to increasing your attendance, great. I myself have gone for at least three gym sessions a week. Football and hurling training will start soon and then I’ll be as fit and ripped as I was when I was 17. Jaysus I was a ride.

Coffee

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor coffee beans

Buying coffee out is so got-dayum expensive. Sure, save a bit by using your keep cup but you’re still paying about three euro every time you get a cup. And that’s just Spar, Centra and other garages. Obviously I’m talking about the largest size because I’m an important man with important places to be.
Seriously, though, this year I’m allowing myself three coffees out a week; 1 during the week in work and 2 on the weekend with K. 3 coffees, depending on where you go, will cost you upward of 10 euro. And that’s fine, because Mommy needs her caffeine! I’m Mommy.

Lunches/ Meals Out

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor subway mcdonalds

I was a terror when I started this new job for eating out and getting a big lunch every day from the shop. Now that I’ve settled in a bit I’ve started bringing my own lunch every day and eating a bit healthier. Chicken and rice is my main meal. I might have some hummus in the morning or afternoon. The point is, I’m not spending as much or eating enough to feed a family of five every day. The plan was to just have one meal out on the weekends and cook for our other meals. We may have failed in that regard the last few weeks but I’ll speak a bit about that in a future post.
K told me I eat like it’s gonna be my last meal 🤣 we weren’t short of food growing up I can tell you that for nothing! I must be living vicariously through my ancestors from An Gorta Mór and am just making up for their lost time!

Reading

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor book

I used to be a savage reader. I could even read the big words. I’d look them up and down, say them out loud really slowly, mocking them with how easy I made it look. Now, I find it a struggle to replicate my previous excellence in the field of literature.
I’m not going to attempt the book a week challenge. I’m going to build up to it. One or two books in January will hopefully turn into three or four in February and so on and so forth. If I can double my tally each month and my maths is correct I should have read 4’096 books! That’s some going! VERY realistic.

I think we all have our own journeys and falling into dry January or the walking/running challenges give us a sense of conformity and uniformity that humans crave. What happens when the 100 walks are finished, though? Do you give up straight away? Do you go on a mad binge the 1st of February to celebrate the end of a sober month?? I personally go mad every February to celebrate St. Brigid. I go on the lash for four weeks straight, knitting huge blankets and trying to cover big areas of land with them. I smoke joints rolled with the rushes from a Brigid’s cross and talk to God. He’s a sound guy. Other than that though, I keep it pretty tame.
The point I was trying to make before I sidetracked myself with a fantastical story about getting high with the used rushes from a religious symbol, is that moderation is the key to keeping things going.
My resolutions will break from time to time but I won’t fret. I have a good feeling about this year, guys ✌

A Guide to Hillwalking and Mountain-climbing for People who don't know what the F**k they're doing! – Cardiac Hill

Why is the red path bigger than the other paths?

Oh, boys. Cardiac Hill/The Cardiac Steps are aptly named. 20 to 25 minutes of steps and uphill climbing and clamboring. Your legs are on fire straight away, your heart beating out of your chest. You look at your girlfriend/boyfriend/partner ahead of you and wonder would they notice if you quietly slipped back to the car? An elderly couple pass you out, smugly looking back as they haul themselves onto a fresh rock. “Tough ‘aul climb, in’t it?” The Kerry drawl stabs you in your chest, driving you to complete the climb out of sheer, Cork spite. That’s right. It’s another edition of my special guide to hill-walking and mountain-climbing! What qualifies me to write a guide to such activities in different locations around Ireland, you ask. Nothing. Nada. Níl.

Sugarloaf was a walk in the park, literally, compared to the steep and unforgiving climb on the other side of Torc waterfall. You can read about my first climb here.
This post is a much more honest version of the climb!

Preparations

This time around I realised that a drink-free night before a tough climb for a newbie like me would be paramount in my preparations. We had a much smoother process this time around. I was slowly becoming an expert at packing for an hour long walk/climb.

  • Instead of heading out to ring in the New Year, we had an earlyish night in the beautiful city of Cork, soaking up the last bit of civilisation before braving the wilds of Kerry…
  • Myself and K are back in the gym and giving it socks to get fit again. She’s already incredibly fit but I need a bit more work! General exercise will make these walks seem like another challenge, but less of one. Just another notch on the bedpost of hill walks and mountain climbs.
  • Pack a lunch to have after the hike. We packed crackers, bananas, cream cheese, an Aldi wrap and some chocolate. Fill those water bottles!
  • I was better prepared this time and brought a small bag with me for our bottles of water, extra layer, hats, gloves and room for our jackets and hoodies if we got too hot on the climb up.
  • Drive all the way to Torc, park the car, brace yourself for the climb and realise that both pairs of hiking boots are sitting neatly by your back door. Success!

Thoughts Throughout

Only two options when you’re this high up: keep going, or try get back down the way you came!

I felt more confident in the lead up to this climb. Having been in the gym and getting a bit fitter each week I felt good. Read on and see how that hope was dashed, restored and dashed once again at the top.

  • Beginning: OK, not too bad. These are actually fine. Cardiac? Ha Ha. How I laugh at thee! Oh, what was that? These aren’t the steps at all and it’s just a rocky, muddy path that leads us to the steps?? Cool, cool, cool, cool…
  • 20 steps in: What have I done to you, Oh Lord?? Why have you forsaken your son, Father?!
  • Halfway: I am 90% sweat and 10% fiery muscle. There is nothing left in this world but steps. Steps are the Gods, the past, the future and most definitely the present. I give thanks to the steps, for they have given me stability in uncertain times. All hail the steps!
  • Three Quarters: Aha! Level ground! Fuck you steps, you motherfuckers! A few stray rocks are no match for me…..More steps! A steep incline?!! Noooooooooo!!!!!!
  • Top: I am Man. I own mountain now.

Afterthoughts

So…I’m still fairly dramatic! Did I question my faith and transfer my allegiance to the steps? Perhaps! Did I think it would help me on my quest up Cardiac Hill? Of course! Would I abandon my religion for a boost up the rocks? Definitely!
The initial ascent and climb up the steps is tough but it is manageable with a few breaks. A lot of breaks. Not long breaks. Just little ones where you catch your breath, put your hands on your hips, look around and simultaneously admire the view and your surroundings and curse them.
I had a great sense of achievement after this particular climb because it was physically challenging. My legs were on fire, my heart was racing but we got up there! I was admittedly in much worse condition than K but sure look, we’re a team 😀
It was a nice walk down. We stopped off in a grassy area just off the path. Tall oaks and various other types of trees dwarfed us under their leaves and trunks. I stood under them and duly obliged for another ‘candid’ photograph.
We finally looped down to Torc waterfall, joining other groups and families as they looked on at the cascading blue and white foamy water splash over the rocks.Everyone was happy, bar that one screaming child. His sister was smiling, though, so I assume she hit him or took his toy. Anyways, everyone was happy except that one child. It couldn’t be more Irish and perfect if I had envisioned it. One cranky fucker at odds with everyone else!

I don’t have any immediate plans for another walking/hiking/climbing adventure. My manager (who has never climbed the steps but claims “It’s not really climbing”) was talking about the MacGillycuddy Reeks and Carrauntoohil. They might be a bit above my paygrade just yet but we’ll find something in the next few weeks. I secretly love being dramatic if you couldn’t tell!

A Guide to Hillwalking and Mountain-climbing for People who don't know what the F**k they're doing!

There used to be a time when I would scoff at the idea of doing anything productive on New Year’s Day. It was a day for the hangover and an evening for the bed. Sure look, you might be cheeky and go for one or five pints in the evening but that’d be it. The 2nd of January was always the day of reconciliation and getting back on the right track. Perhaps, depending on the day that the New Year fell, you might only start thinking about getting your act together on the following Monday.
This year, though, I joined a lot of others and made sure that January 1st was going to be a new start for me and not just the calendar year. Yes, I went out for New Years with my girlfriend, Katie, and we had an absolute blast. We weren’t out too late and were home at a semi-reasonable hour. We had plans for the New Year and we were going to stick to them.

Image result for micheal o muircheartaigh
“A mother from Wicklow and a father from Rio. Neither a hurling stronghold!”

I wrote a little bit already about climbing the Sugarloaf. I’m talking about the one in Wicklow, not the one in Brazil. Neither a hurling stronghold. I think that the world needs something like a guide for people like me when it comes to outdoor hiking (as opposed to indoor hiking) and I’m willing to give it to them. So folks, count yourselves lucky as this is the very first edition of ‘A Guide to Hillwalking and Mountain-climbing for People who don’t know what the F**k they’re doing!” This week I give you my preparation and thoughts and feelings as I traversed the mighty cliff!

Preparations

First of all, I did not for a second think that drinking a fair amount of alcohol the night before was a good preparation for my first proper hike in years and my first of 2020. However, it worked, so here is a provisional list of stuff you need and things you need to do before your first climb.

  • Have a bit of a night out beforehand, as a treat. Nothing too mental, mind. Have a few pre-drinks, a nice meal out and maybe four or five double whiskeys and you should have just enough of a headache the next day for the fresh air to feel good in your battered body and mind.
  • Now, you should have your clothes ready, or at least have an idea of what you’re going to need. Most important are your shoes. I had no idea of the exact terrain we would be facing but I assumed a bit of mud and a few rocks. So, naturally, I went for old runners with half the sole worn off for maximum mediocre grip. Sorted!
  • You’ll also want to misjudge the weather and completely disregards weather apps by wearing at least two layers of coats and jackets, a hat but no gloves and light pants. Your legs and hands will be cold but your body and head will be burning up!

Thoughts Throughout

I journeyed through a thousand human emotions during this relatively short walk. I saw the face of God on top of that summit, and it was glorious. Alternatively, I stared into the sun for too long and almost collapsed. You decide.

  • Beginning: This actually isn’t that bad. It looks like it gets fairly steep at the top but Katie said it’s fine and I trust her. I’ll be fine. Grand.
  • First Slope: Oh God, I taste whiskey and duck empanadas at the back of my throat. Why did I get the last double when we were leaving? I hate myself. It’s so muddy!
  • Final Climb: I tweaked the muscle at the back of my knee there a minute ago. Ah fuck. I don’t want to tell Katie, though. I’ll be fine. The Gods blessed me with a spare knee, right? Oh, I’m light headed.
  • Summit: This is genuinely lovely. First achievement of 2020. This is my year. This is my decade. I am just in the happiest place right now. The climb wasn’t even that bad.
  • Descent: I am going to absolutely brain myself on one of these rocks. What fucking shoes am I wearing??!! OK, just slow down your breathing behind this random lady and her baby, you don’t want them to think you’re some ragged animal hunting them.
  • Bottom: Sweet Hallelujah, sweet level ground how I did miss you!

Afterthoughts

You know, I’ve recently found out that I can be a tad dramatic. Just a small bit. Just a smidge of overreaction. I didn’t voice any of this on the hike and a lot of this is exaggerated. I did have a little moment of, ‘Oh God, this isn’t that bad but I am still incredibly unfit.’ Maybe the excess of drinking, smoking and takeaway isn’t beneficial, even if it feels so good! That’s another topic for another post.
The Sugarloaf is easy. I was short of breath after reaching the top and the final climb over some rocks is a bit tough for my first climb in years but it is worth it for the views and the intrinsic sense of worth upon completion.
This weekend Katie and I are going to tackle the Cardiac steps and lads, I’m a bit nervous. The word ‘CARDIAC’ is in the name. She has assured me that they’re actually not that bad. While I trust her, she warned me that the Sugarloaf was fine and I almost died there….although I am a little overdramatic!