In at the shallow end

Afternoon all. Have to say I’m quite encouraged by two things today. First, my staying power in relation to this blog has surprised me. I’m like many people ,in that I’m a demon for having the greatest of intentions when embarking on new ventures with all the enthusiasm of a child unwrapping presents on Christmas morning, only for the inevitable to happen, yes my gusto wanes to a trickle. Second, and this is most probably related to the aforementioned, I seemed to have gathered a few clicks, eyeballs, views or whatever you want to call it. yes, astonishingly enough I’m not the only person reading these words!! Yes it seems ludicrous I know but apparently a few people have logged on to read my musings, or as I affectionately call it, my stream of consciousness. Now, whether the same people bother coming back remains to be seen, but in the meantime buoyed by the presence of an audience I’ll have to up my literary game !

Delighted to say I am over the worst of the unhealthiness that blighted the last 7 days. When you’re unwell its as much about the day to day disruption it causes to your normal schedule as it is about feeling woeful. So thankfully I was able to get back into my usual fitness regime which for the last 3 years has involved a dip in the pool. In that time I have steadily worked my way up from being a bona fide doggy paddler to someone who can manage a few lengths without having a heart attack. In fact 3 years ago I couldn’t even swim a length properly, by that I mean with my head under the water and breathing bilaterly. Since then I’ve taken great satisfaction in learning the basics of swimming using only you tube as guidance. Now I swim a mile, which is about 64 laps of a 25 meter pool in about 35 minutes which gives me a huge sense of achievement. To serious swimmers, that time will probably make them giggle but to me its a massive statement of what the mind and body can do in tandem from a standing start. It also proves you can teach an ageing dog new tricks!

Swimming is an absolute joy and of all the sports I have played I notice it has the greatest of health benefits. I have an activity tracker on my wrist which monitors everything I do when awake and asleep. While in an average week I play football, walk and cycle I notice its the swimming that has the greatest impact on my heart rate in the 24- 48 hours after being in the pool. Sports of any kind will generally lower your heart rate temporarily but swimming seems to do this to a greater extent, which brings with it a whole host of ancillary benefits, from lowering blood pressure to enhanced lung capacity and function to generally improving mood. The fact that swimming is also very low¬†impact on the joints is another plus in my opinion. So if you’ve got a pool nearby, I’d highly recommend using it, just pace yourself initially and seek out lessons if you feel you need guidance. Swimming much like learning to drive is one of those life skills that never stops giving. Take the plunge, your body will thank you for it ūüôā

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Ben hur and boredom

Well, Easter is almost upon us, cue cliches about the year flying by. Might I begin by wishing you a speedy recovery if like myself you found yourself in the throes of a mucous laden noisy chest infection. It’s been a miserable few days and a blessing that I live on my own because boy can I cough.

If there was a world championship of coughing I’d be a favourite to win, based on the last few days alone. The chest infection ironically reared its extraordinarily annoying head a couple of days after the final St Patrick’s festivities had ended, ¬†a week which saw me burn candles like oul fellas consumed snuff at a wake. In short, I tempted fate, I poked the bear. I didn’t get away with it. The body gave in. Thankfully it’s nearly passed. The worst of it, that is.

One never really gets used to the sheer unpleasantness of being physically unwell. It’s as if everything stops and all plans and frames of reference go out the window temporarily. I suppose that’s the point. It’s the body’s way of forcing you to stop and take stock, grand, ¬†if it must, ¬†if it really has to.. ¬†But does it have to fill your lungs and head with so much snot, excuse the visuals here but we’re talking industrial quantities!! And the incessant coughing… ¬†My poor neighbours won’t even make eye contact with me on the stairwell.¬†

Anyway, ¬†moan over and like a baby born to the world I’m able to leave the house again after days living like Howard Hughes in a Vegas casino.

The Easter commemorative celebrations are taking place this weekend in Dublin. It’s almost 100 years since the 1916 Easter Rising, ¬†an (unpopular) uprising at the time that yielded not just martyrs in the guise of Pearse et al but which precipitated the formation of the 26 county state which we now call the Irish Republic.

I won’t pretend to be an historian but suffice to say the events preceding the Rising and in the immediate aftermath were seminal in this islands long long history. ¬†Politically and societally the Easter Rising’s significance still reverberates today, ¬†purely because the vision, ¬†courage, ¬†political nous and fundamental leadership which embodied the women and men behind the Rising is so very evidently lacking in today’s body politic. So forgive me if I look at our latter day dignitaries from behind the tilted corner of a newspaper while they sing the national anthem tomorrow, I won’t be buying their reverance.

The greatest tribute to the icons of the Rising, ¬†isn’t a parade, ¬†isn’t endless TV reenactments and books and cultural events, it’s leadership, but few people even mention it. Why? Apathy? “Sure they’re all the same, ¬†those politicians, ¬†only out for themselves”.

Qualities so readily on display in 1916 such as integrity, honesty and leadership unfortunately are severely lacking in 2016. So charismatic, ¬†so galvanising and so principled are today’s politicians that we’ve now been without a government for weeks. Yes, the electorate were so enthraled by the vision held by the main political parties that it trusts neither explicitly.

Where are the leaders of today? There are none. It took an unpopular revolution in 1916 to precipitate change so that we may extricate ourselves from 800 years of British rule, I think it will take another revolution to extricate ourselves from apathy and find new leaders among us.

Apologies for getting all political momentarily, but it needed to be said.

I also have to draw your attention to that Good Friday staple… Ben Hur.. the 1959 classic that sadly beat my all time favourite film Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot, to best movie at that year’s Oscars. What a movie and what a performance by Charlton Heston and what a grand almost regal name he had, such a shame he went and sullied his bib with that unfortunate NRA business, I digress, an incredible cinematic achievement, certainly, and ideal for soaking up a few hours on a tediously dull Good Friday yesterday … ¬†But nearly 4 hours long… Mother of divine.. ¬†The film should come with a health warning at least and at best with a free pair of those stockings they get old people to wear on long haul flights to stop them suffering lower limb embolisms. Ben hur is that long and unrelenting it makes Titanic look like an episode of Tom and Jerry. They don’t make films like that anymore though do they? Do yourself a favour, while you’re munching on your Easter eggs tomorrow check out Some like it Hot, not a Roman in sight but an equally brilliant film. Just occurred to me, can you just imagine Marilyn Monroe in a toga? Happy Easter.

 

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Just call me Adam!

So after a few days in the grip of all things Saint Patrick and the hedonism that ensues, I felt it was high time to get back on the health train. I think my mind was persuaded to do the right thing when I found myself in a local unnamed fast food emporium twice in the one day!! As a wise skinny man once said, nothing good can come from eating a portion of cheesy chips with a side portion of garlic sauce… nothing !! Perish the thought at just how many calories are in that one portion … of course you forget this completely when faced with their garlicly cheesy transfatty mouthwatering goodness!!

Every time, I say never again and yet every time I like Adam in the garden with the sneaky snake and that bloody apple! I’m weak, I know. But not yesterday. No I resolved to shake off the shackles of excess like Paddy shook of the snakes (unintended snake theme) and seeing as it was such a gorgeous spring day I decided to go for a walk with a mate of mine who’s name is as it happens Patrick / Paddy (such symmetry) ! We both had the same incentive, exercise.

So I drove to the Phoenix Park which is always a mecca on days like yesterday. I parked the car on Conyngham Road and we elected to walk the entire length of the park, with the plan being to exit the Castleknock entrance and obviously walk back to the car. An hour and a half tops we said. We’ll take it handy we said. No speed walking says I. Agreed says Paddy. Two hours and thirty five minutes later we eventually stagger back to the car like we’d just finished the marathon des sables… feet aching, starving, thirsty and delirious with fatigue. we must have taken a wrong turn or grossly underestimated how long the walk would take us. In hindsight, it was such a gorgeous afternoon I think like many we just got lost in the day. On the upside my fitness tracker reported smugly that we’d walked 15 km and burned nearly a 1000 calories….. ¬†thats 1.5 portions of cheesy garlic chips apparently … ¬†ūüėČ

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Aftermath

Well a belated Happy St Patrick’s day to one and all. In years gone by I have to say I dreaded the sheer carnage that tended to unfold on the streets of Dublin from as early as midday on the feast of our patron saint, but I was somewhat surprised at the relative lack of chaos last night, helped in no little way by an impressive police presence literally everywhere, which is comforting / reassuring to see. Now if the police had such a visible presence all the time that would be excellent for all concerned.

What ensued was a massive party that seemed to engulf the entire city. Every possible establishment be it a eatery or pub / club seemed to be overflowing with green clad revellers and enjoying the hospitality and atmosphere. Top marks to the off licenses who chose not to sell alcohol before three in the afternoon which certainly contributed to the fun vibe without things getting messy too early and most certainly made the policing situation alot easier. that being said I’d say come 3 am there were a few people worse for wear and a serious lack of productivity around the workplace today. Good news is… its Friday !! ūüôā

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Beginnings

Looks like everyone and their granny has a blog these days so I figured, what the heck, I’m pretty ofay with a keyboard and mouse, sure whats the harm in joining the great unwashed in doing the same and putting committing my thoughts and musings for eternity to the internet? Now, whether I have the impetus to keep it going beyond the first post is a different story entirely. I seem to have a history of having the greatest of intentions when embarking on a new venture only for said intentions to wane quicker that a spent firework falling to earth. I’d like to break that dreadfully bad habit this time. Steely resolve is needed me thinks. Impetus to write down my thoughts is one thing but whether my stream of consciousness is in any way interesting to anyone other than myself, well that is another thing entirely and perhaps impetus and interest will will have a mutually beneficial relationship and we’ll be picking up bloggers awards in no time, I jest. The sapling below isn’t an indication that this will be a gardening blog I’m afraid. The photo is intended to be a little more subtle than that, a metaphor for birth, rebirth, new beginnings etc very profound. I can’t guarantee such profundity on an ongoing basis but we’ll see, yes we’ll see if we get to blog post number 2 first.

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