June 2009

I was volunteering with the outdoor fox today.  Just there as another body help out as he shepherded people through caves, up mountains and sliding down rivers.

When I returned to my car it was unlocked.  I thought I locked it, but simply passed it off as shameful forgetfulness.  Then as I drove home I thought the passenger window was a bit blowy.  A quick scan in the wing mirror showed something to be amiss.  Some one had pry-ed the door frame open and unlocked the car.  I checked everything that was left in the car and everything seemed to be in its place.  Nothing was taken!  Even my Black Diamond Half Dome climbing helmet!  Obviously they don’t know a valuable when they see one.

It was an eventful last few days of school.  The madness began a couple of days before the end of term for me (the lovely Sharon still has a couple of days to work).  I sat down to do my usual hair cut.  I do it myself, as a number 3/4 shave is not that difficult and can easily be done with only a mirror.  I usually do my best and inevitably miss a couple of wee bits right at the back and either side of the top of my neck.  The hair is so fine that the trimmer never seems to be able to cut them.   I resigned myself to the fact that I needed help and called upon the lovely Sharon.  I removed the number 3 attachment and passed her the trimmer.  I asked her to carefully trim the stubborn bits.  Patiently she gently held my head and moved in.  I could not see her but I imagined her tongue sticking out and the look of concentration that I myself reserve for using scissors.


Then she gasped, stepped back, then cried; “oh no!”  Then she actually began to cry.  I thought to myself ; This can’t be good.  Then I waited to see if I felt faint, maybe she hit a blood vessel?

I demanded a second mirror immediately.  She simply kept crying and muttering ; “oh no, oh no, I didn’t mean it, I didn’t mean it”.  This really can’t be good.  I lined up the mirrors to reveal a 2 inch by 2 inch square of hair had been very neatly removed from my head.

To be honest I think the lovely Sharon was much more upset than me.  It is only hair, and it helped that I only had 2 days left till the end of term.  It seems that hair is a much more serious issue to girls than it is to boys.  There was only one solution:  a number 1 trim all over my head to attempt to distract from by bald patch.  And it seemed to work.  For the last two days of school, no one made a fuss of my bald patch, but instead made a fuss of my number 1 haircut.  On the first day of ‘the haircut’ I sat in the office doing the cover and a senior teacher walked in and instantly commanded me to go to Mr D as I was being sent straight home.  Then on the last day it did not help when the head of year 8 announced to the students that this was my last day and I would be leaving to join the marines.  Year 8s’ came to me all day asking me why I had not told them.  They even made me a leaving card and got everyone to sign it.

number one

Today was so crazy busy that it felt like Wednesday even though it was a Tuesday.  I arrived in to work as early as was possible and sat down at the computer.   I spent all morning generating reports, running macros and filling up loads of memory sticks.

When I got home this arrived, which cheered me up.  And  this cheered me up too.


Interesting shory article in today’s Tele:  here and also here.





Good news. Wasn’t the big cats then.


one of bees

Friday was a ‘marking day’ for me, but the marking is neatly piled and untouched. Instead had a Friday of mixtures, the random things of life. Moments of calm; sipping coffee in tranquil green gardens. Moments of patience; driving behind tractors for hundreds of miles. And moments of frenzy; running up a mountain with a full rucksack (time was tight to drop gear off at the remote cottage then run back down to meet the students).

Later that evening I got to relax once again as the cloud dropped on the mountain and surrounded the cottage in glistening moisture on every blade of grass and fern. We warmed ourselves around the fire as the students spent a still night lower down the in a valley.


Saturday began in a hurry. The lovely Sharon and I wolfed down bowl fulls of muesli and ran down from the mountain side to get to the van and drive round to meet the students waking up (the cottage is far from any drivable road or lane). We walked with the group as they climbed Bernagh in changeable weather. The clouds cleared in time to see how far they had come and the drop to their campsite. This group has been one of the fittest and funniest I have walked with in years. Even the lovely Sharon was impressed with the pace (she is a fast walker who usually drives groups to their maximum).

We left them to continue on the Brandy pad and sped round to the cottage to walk in from the opposite direction. When I say sped, I mean we stopped at Mauds and had a coffee. This is where I saw:


My risk assessment needs updating.

Hours later we were content that the group were well fed and watered for the summer evening. They had pushed themselves hard and we rewarded them by scaring the wits out of them with stories of wild hungry pumas. We returned to the cottage having picked up a another leader for the evening. We sipped coffee as the mountain dropped beneath us to the sea. Inside the cottage the lovely Sharon had volunteered to make dinner. Within the dark walls she worked by head torch and gas light. We had what I can only describe as a restaurant meal. Fried mange tout, baby sweetcorn and sweet onions, combined with cured bacon and poached eggs with a mustard and balsamic vinegar dressing. This is what I call roughing it.

Being only one valley over from the puma sightings we should have been security conscious. Instead we accidentally left the front door and the main room door wide open. It was a very warm evening and we simply forgot. We lived, maybe it was the mustard breath or the eggs?

Sunday was a much more gentler day. The group had to prove that they could self manage as we strategically checked them later at their checkpoints later in the morning. We had time to actually eat breakfast and relax. This was when a friend let me borrow his digital SLR for 20 minutes after he showed me the macro feature. He now has several hundred pictures of bumble bees, sorry mate.

I went to the cinema after orienteering last night.  Just thought I would squeeze in a film that someone told me about.  It intrigued me, especially the fact that it was not mainstream and yet everybody I spoke to said that they had aleardy had someone tell them to see it.

I grabbed a double espresso at Clements to wake me up then met up with some friends and got comfortable, ready to be entertained.  Entertained is not the right word for it.  I was awed , inspired and words I cannot think of.  It had beauty and humour in a spell bounding combination.  If you get a chance, go see Encounters at the End of the World.




This weekend has simply reminded me to get out and about more.  To experience mountains that are not always the Mournes.

All I will say about the trip is that it was a laugh from start to finish.  Despite the fact that the weather prior was amazing, the weather after was amazing, and the bit in between was rain rain rain and hail with a lowest daytime temperature of 3 degrees!  But we did see herds of wild deer and the occasional Irish hare hopping away.