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Gin has changed in recent years, here at least - there's been a massive boom. Now it's for girls who want to look more sophisticated and have it instead of vodka and coke, who think having it in a goldfish bowl will make them "classier" and pretend they can taste the difference underneath the elderflower tonic they've drowned it in.
Guinness is also a drink that people will use to pretend they're connoisseurs and maintain that it has to be topped after specifically 142 seconds for the perfect pint.
But I think Odder hits the nail on the head; drinking what you like doesn't make you a gobshite, but talking about it as if that's what makes you interesting does.
"Claret is the liquor for boys, port for men; but he who aspires to be a hero, must drink brandy."
- Samuel Johnson
Hey ho let's go!
The Hubski Pubski roly-polies are getting rather quiet of late. They are funny creatures; I always feel like I have more to say than I actually do. Or that I have nothing to say at all, which is worse.
Things have been quiet for me too. I finished the Ten Peaks barefoot thing at the end of June; we raised about €4500 for Pieta House, which I'm rather chuffed with, though we haven't done a full total announcement yet because little bits keep rolling in. And the friend who drove me around is busy so we haven't had a chance to grab one of those big novelty cheques for a photo.
I should do a trip report on that soon. For now, a mini trip report: I finally went on a two-day hike through the Nephins that I've been meaning to do for nearly two years. They're a mountain range in northwest Mayo, which you can actually see from my town, so talk about being in my backyard. And yet I never made it out there, despite often gazing across at them from Croagh Patrick and saying to myself that I'd soon explore those mysterious blue hills. Because I don't drive, my plan was to get the train to Westport, walk the Greenway north to Newport and then walk the Bangor trail, which leads through the eastern portion of the mountains to Bangor Erris, a small town in the backarse of nowhere. Then I'd have to make my way to Ballina somehow to get the train back, either walking or hitchhiking. Either way it'd be a two or three day little jaunt. And yet last year I never got around to it, until it was too late in the year to be feasible (or at least reasonably enjoyable) - so last weekend I decided rather on the spur of the moment that I'd just go ahead and do it, before my dad went to the Philippines and left me minding his store for the month.
It's important to note that Ireland is very small, so you might laugh at what we call mountains - there are only a handful in the country over 1,000 metres - or what we'd describe as "remote". There are few places here from which a cottage or a farm can't be seen. But man, that place is remote. Probably the loneliest place I have ever been.
The first day went smoothly. The Greenway is quite pleasant, though the section I walked ran along a road for most of the way, interfering slightly with the whole "countryside" groove. Lots of cyclists - dudes in lycra, families out for the day, beardy fellas with bags hanging off their bikes. I treated myself to lunch in Newport and then headed down a boreen toward the Nephins, and then onto the Bangor trail. Eventually I arrived at the beginning of a loop walk that intersects with the trail, and met a small family - after that I didn't see a human until I arrived in Bangor Erris the following day. It's just empty out there. The mountains rear up on either side and boggy green plains stretch out between them. The land isn't useful for anything but sheep grazing.
I'd brought my tent, but I knew of a little shelter that had been built out there, so here's where I spent the night, after walking about 35km.
You can make it out in this photo near the tip of the "arrow" of trees.
My backpack was a devil; I haven't worn the full pack in sometime, and wasn't used to it; I also don't think I've ever really figured out how to adjust them properly. When I woke up I felt broken, like somehow had shattered my legs and hastily glued them back together, and my original plan was to go off the trail, climb Nephin Beg and Slieve Carr, and then rejoin the trail. Well, I made it to the top of Nephin Beg after much toil (that's 627 metres, go me).
A grand old view - north to Slieve Carr looming in the cloud, south back the way I came, and east toward the sun and the lurking form of Nephin Mór, big Nephin, the lonely mountain that sits apart from the rest, that I've been meaning to hike for ages. That bad boy in the middle:
But this looming wall of rain to the west dampened my spirits, and I decided not to tackle Slieve Carr (which would have meant descending and re-ascending, and doing the same for a couple of hills afterward). Back down to the trail I went.
A good decision. My legs were exhausted and I had ages yet to walk to Bangor Erris. Which, long story short, I did; and even managed to get there in time to hitchhike to Ballina for the 18:05 train home.
Another quick snap of the wastes:
And this rack of lamb I found:
It's funny, though, how when you're out in the hills both time and distance seem to stretch unimaginably. I felt that I was a thousand miles from civilisation, and that I'd set off from home weeks earlier. Yet I was drinking a beer in my kitchen less than 48 hours later. (And sitting down.)
Anyway, it's made me quite apprehensive about the Dodentocht next weekend - I'm flying over to Belgium for a 100km, 24hr walk, and I'm now terrified because really I haven't done any training worth talking about. So in two Pubskis time maybe I'll be talking about my abject failure and a holy oath never to return to Belgium.
I'm minding my dad's store while he's away, like I did last year. It doesn't have "opening hours" as such; he sells rolls of pipe and fittings and stuff for plumbing contractors, so they call you when they're looking for pieces. Unfortunately the store is 15 minutes walk from where I live and I don't drive, so I've had to cadge a few lifts here and there - it's not too bad, except when you get in the door of the house and someone else calls you looking for something.
One other thing. So, my current life is rather unconducive to interactions with female members of the opposite sex. Me and my sister stacked it up once: I work part-time in a pub in a small town, I don't drive, I live with my mother, and I lack any kind of ambition or direction in life. But the nail in the coffin is that I have bunk beds in my room. Yeah, bunk beds. I mean, that's just not very sexy. So far it hasn't been a problem, because no-one has visited my room. Sigh.
Last week I decided to dismantle the top bunk and store it in the attic, and spent the entire time wondering why I hadn't done it ages ago - no-one shares the room with me. It was an enormous improvement to the room - it feels much spacier and now I can actually sit on my bed. Then this morning I broke the bed trying to get out of it - one of the side timbers turned out to have a series of cracks in it that finally gave way. So I had to dismantle that and get the top bunk back down from the attic and reassemble it. Funny how things work out.
Ack, there are people who are obnoxious about coffee, and people who are obnoxious about the obnoxious coffee people, and it turns out it's not the coffee, it's just the obnoxiousness, part of the great circle of shite. And then everyone else is sitting over here drinking coffee, or not.
There are actually some rather swarthy people in the west of Ireland who tan surprisingly well - supposedly from Spanish genes inherited back in the day when the western ports conducted a thriving trade. I don't know where I got mine, but it's the constant envy of my sisters, who resemble ghosts most of the year and lobsters if they go out under the sun.
Yeah, the climate here is typically very mild, and we don't cope well with extremes. Two inches of snow is enough to grind the country to a halt, and anything above the high teens makes us melt into sticky puddles.
Still, I'm not one to complain! It's not often we get it.
I'll have to be more active on Instagram! I've never been great with social media, but I've also tended to focus on FB at the expense of Instagram and Twitter.
I'm looking forward to all of them in some way, though particularly Carrauntoohil because it's the tallest mountain in Ireland. Many would scoff at calling it a mountain at just over 1000m, but hey, that's what we have! And with almost all of our mountains being on our near the coast, most of them are climbed from near sea level, so the views can be very dramatic.
I'm very much looking forward to climbing Sawel Mountain in the north, it's a quick climb but it's in the middle of nowhere. But the Irish name carries a certain significance that I find hilarious. My friend/base camp/driver is named Méidhbhín, a diminutive of Méabh, who was a central character in one of our legends - the Táin Bó Cuailgne, or The Cattle Raid of Cooley. You might've heard of the hero Cú Chulainn; this is one of the stories in which he features. Anyway, the name "Sawel" comes from Samhail Phite Méabha, meaning "the likeness of Méabh's vulva". There's apparently a gorge up there that was involved in the tale somehow, and it looks like a...
Much appreciated, Eng! Yeah, people are starting to wake up to how prevalent and debilitating mental health problems are. It's not long since depression and suidice in Ireland were in the category of "things that don't happen, and if they do we don't talk about them". Someone dying by suicide was a dark stain on a family, and talking about problems like that would probably end in your ostracisation. I feel like things are starting to get better, though, and people are becoming more open about things like this.
It's HOT. 23 Celsius outside, which is enough to make most Irish people melt. I'm going to go for a walk to get some vitamin D - it's a shame how much of life is spent indoors. I'm developing a wicked farmer tan lately, though. Brown just above the elbows, milky white at the shoulders.
Getting ready for this Ten Peaks thing in a couple of weeks. I think my feet are about ready, but I'm more worried about my legs than anything else. I was instructed to update the poster with a picture of my face and a little blurb, which I found a bit embarrassing. Have a gander:
I love that way of thinking of it! I have bigger hills to climb than this one, takes the sting out of it.