Window Cats

Updated with photos 13 May 2012!

You have to understand South Africa to understand my feelings with regard to street-front houses. Over there, space is plentiful, and it was only in the city centre of Johannesburg that I ever saw houses that weren’t separated from the street by a wide pavement and at least a small front garden. You can imagine my horror when I moved to Ireland to find houses with front doors that opened right onto the street. “Never,” I promised myself. “I will never ever live in a house like that.”

I should mention that I’m sitting here writing this in my front room, at my desk by the window. If there wasn’t glass in the way, I could spit on the pavement. I still have a kind of barrier between me and the world, consisting of happy-looking open, striped boxes on the inside windowsill. One is for needlework stuff, one for stationery, another for electric cords and plugs, one for odds and ends, and two are for cats. Continue reading


Call a spade a spade, call a chair a… shelf?

I had these old chairs I was about to throw away, and in the meantime I was in desperate need of some extra shelving space in my bedroom. When I went to stare at the darn chairs one day, inspiration struck.

That’s bolted to the wall with six very strong bolts on the chair-legs side, as I didn’t intend for much weight to go on the backrest side. I intend to put one more of these up, and may use a shelf bracket on the backrest side to support it if I think I’ll need more strength there.

You can’t really see it there, but the cat jumps onto the bed, from there onto a small shelf mounted on the cabinet you can just see the top of in the bottom left corner of the photo, then she jumps onto the green shelf, and from there onto her nest. I put a piece of white rubbery stuff that’s meant to keep rugs from slipping under the pillow so she doesn’t pull it off when jumping up there. Sometimes she leans over the side and catches the scarves for fun.

I rock

I’m delighted with myself, as in the last two weeks, I’ve made/worn two dresses which I think are really beautiful.

The one I made a few weeks ago and wore last weekend is basically a necklace I bought for €2 and a wrap I bought for €3. Tonight’s one is 6m of ribbon which I bought for €2 and a wrap I bought for I think either €3 or €5.

I so enjoy making my own dresses like this. Going shopping for a dress usually just has me uber-depressed, and I think it’s partly because I need to create what I wear.

Pictures to follow. Right now, I need to get dressed. (c:

The Best of Times

I was so horribly tired this morning, been lumping too much of my hard training together in one spot and not getting enough sleep. I didn’t expect much from today: Jonathan had a half day, so I put my bike, Daniel, in the back of the car, and took my runners. It wasn’t worth it to drive him to school, drive back to Dundalk, only to have to drive back to fetch him a short while later.

Once there, I got on the bike and set off in an arbitrary direction. Moments later, I was in rural Ireland, the odd way you can be in a town one moment and among farms the next hereabouts. So beautiful: not the majestic mountains I usually cycle around, but instead the round-headed hills inside which the faerie live.

Peace settled around us, and without me noticing I actually managed an average speed which is not great, but not as bad as I’d thought it would be. Just before turnaround point, something unpleasant: two dogs, one a Beagle by the looks of it, coming for me and bark-snapping at my feet. And lo, mere metres after shaking them off, I had to turn around and head back.

There was no other way to go. I watched them stop and sniff here and there as they sauntered back to their gate. Should I hare in fast, and risk one of them getting under the wheel, leaving both me and the dog battered and bruised? Or should I go in slow, so they could have a good chance to bite me?

I set off, half decided on fast, still picturing myself grating flesh on the rough tar road. And probably getting bitten when I’m down. Lo, they spotted me, and snarled, and ran toward me. That’s when I got angry and stopped.

“GO AWAY*, YOU BAD DOGS!” I roared. The dogs faltered. “I said GO AWAY! GO AWAY! BAD DOGS!”

And they did.

I pedalled on, pondering the dogs’ defeat, when… oh, for the gods’ sake, not another one. I watched the animal, again about Beagle-size, trot in the same direction as me but a stone’s throw away. But… it didn’t look like any dog I know. Fox? No. Then what…

“Sweet Jesus, it’s a cat!” I said aloud. And it was. The biggest darn cat I’ve ever seen. Beautiful, too. It got a fright when it saw me and bounded away, even though I’d slowed down to not startle it. Sorry, cat.

Made it back to the school, put Daniel back in the car, and set off for an hour’s run. Which the body liked doing. That felt good, even though I was knackered at the end of it.

It was a really, really good time, especially because I’d anticipated exhaustion and struggle. Back home, I let the rabbit out to wander the garden while I cleaned Daniel very thoroughly. This is probably the most peaceful day I’ve had in weeks.



*Believe it or not, I actually did shout ‘go away’. I’d used ‘fuck off’ earlier, when the dogs first went for me, as in: “FUCK OFF OR I’LL KICK YOUR TEETH IN!!!” It seemed in this instance, profanity was not the most effective tool.

Ooooh, I seeeee….

This is a very self-focused, selfish, navel-gazing kind of post, my apologies for that and my thanks to good friends who are patient with me.  I’m not sure I tell you often enough how much I appreciate you all.

I’ve recently become frustrated and disappointed with my training.  I go to gym every day, and on Sundays I do a long cycle.  Still it felt to me as if I got nowhere.  My body simply won’t do the things I want it to do.

Trying to work through this, I got to the point where I asked myself what it is I am trying to achieve.  Why am I aiming to do triathlons?

Continue reading

Delightful little jaunt

At last I am able to go out cycling again, after hurting a tendon in early December. Yesterday, I headed out into the Cooleys, and boy, was I overwhelmed with gratitude for the wonderful privilege I have of living where I do.


This hill is one of my favourite sights. I can see it from my bedroom window, and usually it’s the most wonderful contrast of dark green against the lighter greens and browns of the mountains behind it. Winter’s brush, however, has added a silvery touch to my hill that made it look contemplative and wise.

I must have posted photos of this path loads of times before, but I just can’t help it, I take a photo everytime I come by here with the camera.

What struck me yesterday was that while the sum of the things to see around me was beautiful,


every little separate component was beautiful to me, too.


I love – love – looking at damp soil rich with bits of leaves and bark.

I love looking at moss softening the lines of rocks and trees. I just so love everything around me.

How can anyone not love this place? I’m so often asked if I don’t miss South Africa’s sunshine – how can I, if I have this instead?

I stopped for lunch at Ravensdale Park. There’s a small car park there, surrounded by trees, and a few wooden tables with benches. And now I did the first thing that is probably not very serious-cyclist-like: I pulled out my lunch box and, yes, my flask of nice warm tea.

I felt a tiny bit silly when two other cyclists, also on hybrids like Ronan, whirred into the car park. They looked very cycle-ish, and did serious cycley stuff once they’d stopped like drinking water from their water bottles (not tea from a flask) and talking seriously with each other, probably about serious cycling stuff.

Then… well then things got worse. Whirrrrrrrrr-thwack! I heard behind me. A woman on a mountain bike had cycled past, flew onto the tarred surface over the last dip and skidded to a halt. Whirrrrrrrrrr-thwack! another mountain biker, a guy this time, followed and pulled up beside her. They were clad in proper mountain biking gear: mountain bike shorts over winter tights, mountain bike tops, enough logos to cover a sports car between them. They pulled off their full face helmets and started excitedly discussing the route they just did while more of them whirred and thwacked past me until there were eight of them gathered in the little parking lot.

There was enough coolness beside me to power an air conditioning system for the entire Burj Khalifa (Dubai Tower). And I was about to do something really, really terrible. You see, I usually take my netbook along to spend an hour or two writing when I stop for lunch on a cycling trip. This time, I hadn’t felt like it, so I’d grabbed the other project I’m working on at the moment. Yes, I was clad in sort of semi-cool cycling tights. Yes, I wore cycling cleats, which I suppose are also cool, though I’m more concerned about the fact that they’re really practical. But what I was about to indulge in, in sight of these ultra-cool cyclists, would cancel out any coolness I myself might have scraped together. It was worse than the lunchbox. It was worse than the flask of tea. It was…

Yes, I sat in Ravensdale Forest Park and worked on my crochet project. To crown it all, I thought of how ridiculous that was and kept laughing my head off while stitching, so I don’t suppose that made it any better. But most probably the cool mountain bikers didn’t even notice me.

Once my fingers got too cold to keep stitching, I packed everything away and headed home. It felt so good to cycle like this again that I was sorely tempted to go farther than the 30km I had determined I would do. However, that is precisely how I got hurt in the first place, so I disciplined myself to not overdo it.


Distance: 31.42km
Average: 19.0km/h
Max: 37.0km/h
Pedalling time: 1h38.41