Friday, July 02, 2010


Did you even notice that this blog had not been updated for a few days?

You'll never find me on a beach holiday. That's my idea of hell, even if the alternative includes a few hours in a car filled with a bunch of children who don't even need an excuse to start a fight and a toilet-training, accident-prone toddler.

Since the present state of my finances does not allow me to load all 6 family members onto a plane, we had no choice but to stay on our own island. Despite Niamh's sister's misgivings, who seemed convinced that we were going to be shot at any moment, we crossed the border into The North.

Now that its citizens have mostly stopped blowing each other to smithereens over minor differences in the interpretation of an otherwise identical Faith, the place is well worthy visiting. We rented a house sans Internet connection for 5 days just outside Carrickfergus, less than 10 miles outside Belfast. This served as a useful base for excursions all over the place; we went as far North as Giant's Causeway, which was spectacular, though Maia was disappointed that the Giant himself was not there, and as far South as Castlewellan Forest Park, where I was disappointed that the other giants (Redwood Trees) were not as big as I had imagined. It looks like I'll have to go all the way to California to see them properly after all (what's the date for Big Sur again?).

Of course I brought my running gear. I visited Knockagh Monument on Monday, which was only a 10+ mile round trip, and the few hundred feet elevation gain were well worth the stunning view. I brought the family up there a couple of days later, this time by car. On Tuesday I ran towards Woodburn Forest, which was only logged rather than burned, despite the name. Apparently there are 13 kilometres of forest walks in there and of course I got hopelessly lost trying to follow some trails which then disappeared and left me bushwhacking for a while. I re-visited the place the following day but stayed on the forests road to get more of a run rather than a cross-country adventure. Both of these runs were a bit over 10 miles; a long run was not on the cards. I did not want to get up at silly o'clock during my holidays and could not stay out too long with the rest of the family waiting for me to get on with the rest of the day. Having said that, I did walk at least 5 miles on both days in addition to these runs in various parts of the country. Natural, rural, tourist attractions tend to require the use of your own legs, which of course suits me just fine and the kids, after they got over their initial moaning, enjoyed it too – no need to deny it. A 15 mile run on Friday morning to Whitehead was my final excursion. This was flatter than the other ones but right along an at times very busy road.

On Tuesday evening, Niamh asked me if I had had still gone running for 10 miles had I known how much walking I would do, which of course I confirmed. She seemed surprised.

We were only here for 5 days, but we have seen so many spectacular sights that I can't pick a favourite. Giant's Causeway and the Carrick-a-Rede suspension bridge had been on my to-do list for years. Glenariff is so beautiful I cannot understand how it is not world famous. Castlewellan and Tollymore Forest parks are perfect places for a family trip. Carrickfergus Castle would have been the kids' favourite had it not been for Belfast's W5 museum, which kept us occupied for over 5 hours. Armagh's Planetarium got favourable reviews as well. We also saw Newgrange and a few other things I must have forgotten to mention.

The major downside was driving through Belfast, which we found very stressful. They manage to combine the inept Irish signposting with the aggressive British driving style. However, once we found that me navigating and Niamh driving works a lot better than the other way round, things improved even on that front. Oh, and supermarket prices are so much cheaper in the North, it pisses me off just how much we are getting ripped off by the same major chain down South. Petrol prices, on the other hand, are eye watering on the Northern side of the border, so I guess we all have valid reasons for complaints.

It was a great holiday, and we're in Dublin now, which serves as a useful stop to break the long journey into 2 parts. Now I need some rest and recovery. That's what the office is for, isn't it?
28 Jun
10.3 miles, 1:22:17, 7:59 pace, HR 148
29 Jun
11 miles, 1:32:35, 8:25 pace, HR 147
30 Jun
13 miles, 1:44:16, 8:01 pace, HR 152
1 Jul
6.2 miles, 51:38, 8:20 pace, HR 139
2 Jul
15 miles, 1:58:41, 7:54 pace, HR 147


  1. Lovely shots Thomas. My daughter is living in Dublin at the moment -in her 3 years there she has only ventured North of the border once! I'll be visiting her next year for her graduation and I really want to visit the Giants Causeway so I'll drag her along.
    This week I joined a running group - we spent an hour doing two short, but quite fast miles and lots of reps. I felt worse the next day than I did after the Brighton Marathon!

  2. Nice holiday you had and still time for a 15 mile run. Big Sur is on May 1 next year, 2 weeks after Boston...