All posts by Jem

The Joys of Courier Deliveries

People like to moan about the postal service but as a parcel recipient they are an absolute joy to deal with compared to couriers. Today’s experience with DPD is a little extreme but they are no better or worse than any of the other courier companies in operation in Ireland. Bear in mind that this is for a package that I’ve provided an Eircode for but that hasn’t made it through the chain of IT systems involved in getting a package from the UK to Ireland

Steps to Receive Package from DPD

  1. Receive delivery notification email 30 minutes before delivery window starts
  2. Frantically try to contact home to see if anyone is in.
  3. They aren’t so use spiffy online system to change delivery date.
  4. Receive delivery notification 45 minutes before window starts.
  5. Notice voicemail 2 minutes after window ends. Then notice delivery notification. *Note that in rural Ireland phone calls can be a bit unreliable
  6. Check voice mail. Phone number left on mail unintelligible due to network drop out (see note on 5) but it doesn’t match caller ID.
  7. Attempt to call back on caller ID. Voicemail message name does not match driver name but leave messages there and on best guess of the unintelligible number.
  8. Try both numbers three more times over the next hour
  9. Go on website to try to get back electronically. Not possible to use spiffy system as I apparently used up my life on step 3.
  10. Register with website to see what options are there.  Parcel not in the system
  11. Download app and register that. Parcel not in that system either.
  12. Try online live chat. That doesn’t work at all
  13. Try online form. That doesn’t seem to work as there is no indication that message was sent – no confirmation email.
  14. Check Spam just in case for 13.
  15. Ring phone number. Read out tracking code 5 times before guy gets it right. Get number for depot
  16. Ring Depot – All he can do is put it out again tomorrow when there will almost certainly be nobody in and I’ll have to return to step 4 again. Leave Eircode with him just in case.

Steps to Receive Package from An Post

  1. Be at home. Package arrives. Job done.
  2. If not 1, go to post office and get package from nice lady. Job done.

Returning to Kilronan Mountain

I set off my fairly regular loop of Kilronan mountain from Keadue shortly before 9. There was an ominous looking cloud hanging over the mountain but I figured it would probably clear by the time it was up there and I had map and compass handy anyway.

DSCN3403

By now I know this route pretty well and didn’t really have to bother with the map. I headed out of the village, turned left and started heading up the hill.

DSCN3404

The route climbs sharply for the first three kilometres or so. First it’s on minor roads before switching to odd an old track. This takes you right past an old sweat house. Then you pass a cairn that was built to commemorate the  victory of a candidate in the 1918 general election.

DSCN3411

Not far after here we split away from the miners’ way proper and the trick is to follow the red way-markers although they may change colour soon since there are a whole load of new waymarker posts installed. The route takes you towards and then pass a row of wind-turbines.

DSCN3412

I had a quick stop for coffee and a banana at the end of the turbines and as it was getting quite windy, I put on my raincoat and gloves. After this welcome break, I headed on towards the abandoned mine.

DSCN3414

From here it’s on to another short road section before going back to tracks and eventually going on animal tracks across the bogs. The mist had long cleared and the views from here were quite spectacular.

DSCN3421

I was getting due another break so stopped at 10 km and had a rest against a peat hag to get out of the wind. This has this Devil’s matchstick in spore.

DSCN3418

After my break, I passed this holy well which pretty much marked the highest point of the day and the end of the rough tracks. About 400m past this, I joined a rough old mountain road and started heading down.

DSCN3420

There seems to be all sorts of interesting things in spore as I went down – there were loads of horsetails.

DSCN3424

From here on, it was a fairly simple road walk and it was getting time for lunch. I headed on until I passed the 15 km mark and had lunch on a little bridge on a fairly busy regional road. Suitable refreshed, I headed on towards Ballyfarnon

DSCN3426

From here I headed through the Kilronan castle estate and ended up back in Keadue 6 hours after I’d left it.

DSCN3430

260 km

Lost Pony

It was a pretty normal lunchtime walk on a grey overcast Wednesday. My legs were still a bit tired after the weekend’s exertions but it was good to get out. There was a bit of excitement today as I came across a pony almost as soon as I entered the forest. The dogs were very excited about this and they whined and barked the whole way round which didn’t help as they just drove it further along the path. It finally managed to get past us just before we rejoined the road.

2016-03-23 13.06.19

235 km

From Longford to Bog Bridge

I got a a good early start and was on the trail from the Harbour area of Longford by 8 am. As expected the town was quiet and there was nobody on the trail except for a few dog-walkers and a few birds.

DSCN3361

The remains of the canal are kept relatively clear for the first couple of kilometres around the town and it is quite a nice place to walk.

DSCN3362

As I head out along the back of the industrial parks on the Athlone road I leave the walkers behind and once I cross the road it gets a lot less wilder. Since there are no locks on the branch, one would think it would be quite easy to re-open it but there are two major problems -once is that the harbour is gone and there is no possibility whatsoever of re-instating it. Secondly, there are about three road crossings where the road just goes straight through where the canal once was. This makes things a bit difficult.

DSCN3363

Anyway, I pushed onwards. The plan was to get to mainline and turn left towards Abbeyshrule. Unfortunately, there is no way of turning left at the junction as there is no path so I had to up to Kilashee and backtrack about 1.5 km to get back to the junction on the opposite side.

2016-03-19 10.18.15

The water level on the main line was considerably reduced as Waterways Ireland were doing overwinter maintenance on this section. It isn’t looking terribly like it will be open by Easter. I headed towards Kilashee and took my first break on the lock gate after about 10 km.

DSCN3367

There is finally some sign of life in the trees with some of the willow trees in these parts displaying catkins. There is an interesting wreck in the weeds beside the canal right by the junction. It is amazing how they took these out of the water and just left them to rot.

DSCN3372

I pushed onwards towards Kenagh still making a good place of over 5 km per hour. It was perfect walking weather. Warm enough, dry but overcast so that it wasn’t too warm.

DSCN3374

I stopped again on the the 15 km mark as I’ve decided to try this time to stop every hour or so and sit down for 5 minutes to see if this helps later on in the walk. After this, I went straight through Kenagh harbour without stopping and continued on towards Ballymahon.

DSCN3373

With another stop in the middle of nowhere between Kenagh and Ballymahon, I got to Mullawornia which is an  incredible stretch of the canal where it contours along the side of a substantial hill and offers great views of the surrounding countryside.

DSCN3381

From here it was on towards Ballymahon where I figured on stopping for lunch. After the turn at Foyra, it was only a couple of kilometres to go.

DSCN3378

However, with the 25 km mark behind me and a break overdue, I decided to pick a nice bank to sit on and eat there. I had a good lunch of soup and a cheese roll until I was rudely interrupted by a farmer spreading lime. This put an end to my break so on I went.

DSCN3385

I had a quick pause to fill my water bladder at Ballymahon (or Ballybrannigan) harbour and went on. The overcast skies of the day started to clear and it was turning into a rather fabulous evening. My stop every 5 km strategy was working well and my legs felt like they had a lot left them so I started entertaining notions of extending the walk to marathon distance.

DSCN3388

Anyway, I pushed on towards the 30 km mark but decided to stop a little bit early after spotting a nice resting place under a tree near Fowlard’s bridge.

2016-03-19 14.52.15

I polished off the remains of my soup and had a handful of nuts and got going. Fowland’s bridge was a bit awkward as there were works going on that blocked the path under it and so I had to climb up the bank and cross a barbed wire fence and the N55 to get past. It would have been nice for them to have put up a sign at the previous bridge.

DSCN3392

It was an easy haul into Abbeyshrule with the evening really turning quite fabulous.

DSCN3395

I reckoned up and decided I need to go a few hundred metres beyond Bog bridge and return to make up the marathon distance so I ditched my rucksack and decided to finish it up. On the way out, there were some people parachuting.

DSCN3398

I made it to bog bridge with no great fuss and then headed back to Abbeyshrule to head home and eat a huge dinner.

DSCN3399

Not a bad day’s walking having added 42.3 km to my yearly total

231 km

The fine weather continues

I’ve got a few days off in a row again due to the St. Patrick’s day weekend and so have managed to do quite a few walks while the fine weather continues

It gets so much easier up in the forest after a dry week since the job of negotiating the soft bits isn’t quite so difficult.

DSCN3355

There is still not much sign of buds or willow catkins but there are a few daises appearing. Not a lot else has developed since.

DSCN3357

I’ll be breaking my run of forest walks tomorrow since I’ve got a long walk planned. It hasn’t been a bad run of walks with five walks in the last 7 days. It is getting quite rare that I actually have a day where I don’t go to Dublin and don’t go for a walk.

189 km

Drying out

I’ve managed three walks in three days which is pretty good going. At the rate I’ve been going this year, I’ll manage my hundred walks by the end of September. Anyway, we’ve had a couple of dry weeks and the difference up the forest is amazing. Quite a bit of it is drying out nicely and it is a pleasure to finish every walk with dry feet.

DSCN3345

There even seem to be a few more people around there. There was a car parked up this morning and I am pretty sure I heard a dog barking in the forest yesterday so it is nice to see the place being used.

DSCN3346

That’s really about it. Amazingly we still have holly berries on a few bushes which is really very strange at this time of year. But spring certainly seems a bit late – there is very little budding activity so far.

DSCN3350

176 km

Plodding Along

Not a lot to report over the last couple of walks – a quick early morning loop on Sunday and a lunchtime loop today. The main news is that the first of the primroses are out.

DSCN3337

Not a lot else aside form that. I managed to get around both times without getting wet.

163 km

Change for the better

It was a fine sunny morning so we all got changed and out for a walk immediately after breakfast. It was a really beautiful  spring morning which made for a change after all of the stormy wintry weather we’d had during the week. The frogs have certainly been busy – the whole path was covered in frogspawn in one spot.

DSCN3334

The gorse is also getting going into full flower after its brief couple of months of partial dormancy. It seems none the worse for wear after the last couple of weeks of cold weather.

DSCN3335

We came around to the fallen tree which is quite awkward having fallen right across the path but we can manage.

DSCN3336

Anyway, it was nice for a change to have a walk where we weren’t battling rain and wind.

Stormy Wednesday

Wednesday morning arrived along with storm Jake – our 10th named storm of the season so it was quite a nasty wet morning with flurries of snow. However, by lunchtime it had dried up quite a bit even if it was still quite windy and cold.

So we donned our boots and braved a quick look in the midst of the storm. This proved to have been somewhat unwise as in one spot we came across a fallen tree that couldn’t have been down for more than an hour. Quite spectacular really – you could smell the roots in the air.

DSCN3329

After this, we beat quite a hasty retreat and didn’t hang about since it was quite likely that another might come down after it.

154 km