Posted in The Walk

Non je ne regrette rien!

The Flamin' Shamrock at the top of Grafton Street - I now have no more shame!
The Flamin' Shamrock at the top of Grafton Street - I now have no more shame!

Yes, I did it! 138.4km later, and I can finally silence those sceptics that did not believe I could do it – because there ( sticking out tongue childishly with a “na-na-na-na-na”), I proved you wrong. Never underestimate the power of pure passion and determination.

 

 

 

Now that said – I am very glad this is over. Said blistered foot is also delighted, and happy to report that all antibiotics have kicked in, and will live to walk another mile.

 

Yesterday was just surreal! And 24 of the lads from the hotel joined me – yes, the poor things had to hit the bus at 5.30am – an hour of waking that I know was still vey foreign until then to many. And as if that was not enough, what can we say about Martin? He left New Ross by cycle at 6.15am, and arrived in St Stephen’s Green 3 hours and 15 minutes later – not a bother! And he wasn’t even on the “right bike”.

 

All in all, this has been a great week, with all its ups and downs, its snow and sun – but the highlight has to be the end on my soap box at Grafton Street, with the lads dishing out FREE water and sandwiches. The exercise is still overwhelming me purely because everyone has become SO suspicious. Have we truly turned into a nation of non believers? Is it too much to want nothing more from you than to see you smile, give a little something – and in return just ask that you remember what hotel we are from?

 

Anyhow – the lads from that “oh so Posh” Blackrock school was there, and they were wonderful support, helping us carry water, etc, whilst collecting money for GOAL, and even playfully accepting that one looks like a Boris Johnson in the makings. And let us not forget the chant of “Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!”

 

My final and absolute personal mortification was when I re-enacted Dean Martin for some Italian Students with a very commercial rendition of “When the moon hits your eyes…..”.

 

And as if that was not enough, I completed my X factor beer crate moment for some French Students with a warbled performance of Non je ne Regrette Rien.

 

In conclusion – that is all I have to say – I simply have no regrets. I hope I have made all around me proud, and have not embarrassed anyone too much. I thank Kevin and Dave for their back up, but most importantly – I thank Big Chief, Mrs HQ and every single person I have the honour of working with for allowing me my little quirky ideas, and even better – for supporting them. In these times we are in how very blessed am I!

 

So, I think that brings this blog to an end now.

 

Although….. Did I mention that I have never walked to Cork? Maybe Enniskeen – I heard I have some more family there… Apparently the weather will be great in march 2010….

Myself and the lads at the Canal - how could you not take a leaflet from us?
Myself and the lads at the Canal - how could you not take a leaflet from us?

Posted in The Walk

The end is nigh!

I'm not allowed to walk here!
I'm not allowed to walk here!

My apologies for taking so long to tell you about my penultimate day, but I have been catching up on all our entries, and have to say that I am very moved. And today something happened when I walked into Dublin that you cannot explain, but it just happened.

 

 

I was walking past my second bus shelter, and saw a young lady sitting there staring ahead (I refer back to my good, bad and indifferent reference), but it was not in ignorance. I walked past, and whatever made me turn back, I asked “Are you ok?”. The tears welled up in her eyes, and such sorrow. I could not help but just hug her. And when I asked where she is from, she said Poland. And when I asked her what happened – she said her granny had just died.

What can you say? In the words of my “Big Chief” – at the end of the day, we are all one.

Even the Garda was out in force to welcome us!
Even the Garda was out in force to welcome us!

 

That all said – another powerful thing is that of adrenaline. Yesterday was right up there as one of the worst days of my life. I was physically ill with pain, it had seemed that interest in my mission had dwindled, and most importantly, that I might have failed those so near and dear to me.

But alas! Behold – I did a live interview with Ray D’Arcy no more, no less! Some say I should have given him a chance to speak, but God, I was so exhilarated, that no matter  how bad the infection in my right heel – pure adrenalin got me to Dublin in one piece! You see, this is not just about creating awareness; this in the end is the single biggest physical challenge I have ever tackled. I’m no athlete, Sherlock!

Although only 14.2km today – that brings my total for a six day traipse across 3 counties to 132.4km! That is more than 3 consecutive marathons in 6 days! Now Sonia O’Sullivan – just move over there, girl.

And poor Kevin has had to live with my ups and downs the past couple of days, whilst battling with the flu as well – fair play to him (although we will discuss you gear change and clutch handling later!) and thank you so very much!

 I am about to enter the final straight of this little walkabout of mine.  Allow me a couple of moments of soppy sentimentality. To all that I not only call my colleagues, but my friends – thanks for humouring me the past couple of weeks, and most importantly – for your belief. To my darling son Helmut, Dave, Ras and Frodo – I will get all the washing done the moment I return – so sorry about the delay, but at least there are now enough black socks to go around.

As for the rest – I look forward to having the “lads” join me tomorrow. Martin is racing up form New Ross to beat me to St Stephen’s Green in record time (on a bicycle), and then we are going to have a nice little picnic in the Park. Thereafter, Davy Byrne’s here we come!

I’m not running out of words – just out of repetition – I am just SO happy!

With all those chicken references – I must now be Flamin’ Hot! I smell the end of Kentucky as we know it.

A huge thank you to the Stillorgan Park Hotel for putting us up!
A huge thank you to the Stillorgan Park Hotel for putting us up!

 

Posted in The Walk

Achilles Heel

The road is long.......
The road is long.......

I simply have no choice but to continue with my analogy. Yesterday was like being in labour for five hours, but having to give birth through your heel, only to find out that you have a breach blister, and that they will have to remove it with forceps.

 

 

 

Today I think I am going to find out what this new procedure feels like!

Now – just when I was wallowing in self-pity, and relaying this to my friend Anton in New Zealand – he simply asked: So, am I expecting a bloyster or a glister? So hence why I did not update my blog yesterday – I was screaming for an epidural!

 

With all that in mind, I am sure that you will understand that this is going to be brief as well. I am happy to report that the garden County is as beautiful as ever, and that the spring is in many a lamb.

 

I am particularly grateful to Brian and all at the Glenview Hotel for taking such good care of me – genuinely brilliant – and the view!

 

But for now, all I have to do is get through this day. With no Hyana urine in sight, I can only wish for a stray Indian elephant to step on my right foot,  or a rabid leprechaun to much at my heels – and see you on the other side!

P.S. I still managed 26km though!

Is it a smile or a grimace? Your guess as good as mine!
Is it a smile or a grimace? Your guess as good as mine!

 

 

Posted in The Walk

No guts – No glory!

The pain in my right foot is still indiscribable at the Avoca River
The pain in my right foot is still indiscribable at the Avoca River

I have never had such pain – it felt like giving birth through my right heel when I touched the tarmac the first time this morning. I had to stop within a couple of steps.

The content needed for our best blister remedy from Southern Africa, as prescribed by my favourite witchdoctor – Hyena urine – is not easily accessible in Ireland. So I had to settle for a bit more antiseptic salve, another plaster, a change of bandage, a change of the infamous Mohair socks, copious amounts of Ibuprofen (as not prescribed by any doctor!) – And plough ahead.

And plough I did – the first 2 hours were the most agonising of my life – I will even admit to the odd tear. But my fellow friends, as the adage goes – where there is a will, there is a way.

I am delighted to report I have caught up with my lost kilometres, and am very happy to inform, that at the end of Day 4, I had reached Jack White’s pub – 28.2km from where I started.

The confession I have to make is the thought of an ice cold Guinness at the end of the road, was like turning a horse to stable – a gallop to say the least. Where it came from, I truly cannot say – but with a resolve that I barely could believe was in me, I upped my pace, and in the last 2 hours must have walked over 12km alone!

It was a loner’s road today as well, because I spent most of the day on the Arklow bypass, which meant I did not have as much cheer and encouragement as I have had the first couple of days. That said, once I got off it – everyone was as supportive as one could wish for, and that might have also helped me with my lightened gait.

No misconceptions though! When the pressure came off the old hoof, the blister was very eager to make it’s whereabouts known, and even as I type – the throbbing is constant.

I did not have much time for observations today – understandably – but I have to say something. It is amazing how many things you notice that would normally pass you by at high speed when you are racing to Dublin. The countryside and valleys are beautiful, the little cottages snuck just behind view are quaint, and all the memorial stones (far too many to mention) are oh so very poignant. And still everyone chases on…….

Tomorrow is another day! I wish to inform that if you have ever suffered from sleep deprivation, now is the time to listen to this cure – I guarantee it works. Just walk about 20km during the day at a brisk pace, and you will sleep dead to the world for at least 8 hours!

Before I hit the pillow though – one other little gripe that has demoralised me a bit today – but just a bit. First and foremost I am doing this walk for the hotel and my fellow colleagues. How cynical then of the press to just see this as a promotional stunt.

Did anyone out there bother to think that if this was purely for publicity, it would have been much easier for me to hire someone to do this? Can people have become that suspicious of a person believing in what they do? Is it so wrong to want to actually do something good? Or give something nice to another?  Yes I want to create awareness (or publicity – whichever sits better), but I actually feel a bit hurt that someone might be in doubt of my intentions.

Right, I feel better now that I have that off my chest – albeit a manly one! YES, today someone said they saw a MAN dressed as a chicken along the road – you would not want to be sensitive doing this!

So I leave you with this question – why did the chicken cross the road?

End of day 4! P.S. Thanks for the pint, Jack White's!!! And the ncie lunch!
End of day 4! P.S. Thanks for the pint, Jack White's!!! And the nice lunch!
Posted in The Walk

Ouch!

That something so small can hurt so much!
That something so small can hurt so much!

I had it all planned – I was going to extol the virtues of all things African today. I felt great this morning, minor stiffness, and once again – thanks to Sarah for treating my muscles like gods every day I get back. In actual fact I felt so great that I could have almost skipped the route today. Yes, I was wearing my trusted MBT’s (for those not in the – Massai Barefoot Technology), and my specially imported Karoo Mohair Socks. What could possibly go wrong?

Disaster struck completely on 18.9km! I had to stop for the day, as I have a blister at the bottom right heel and the pain was a bit more than I could handle.

That said – it was a great day till then. The response to everything has gained momentum, and I cannot thank everyone enough for their encouragement. Also thanks Ray D’Arcy – you are a gentleman. Most importantly – thanks for correcting them on my “chicken” status!

One particular highlight was a lady that stopped at one of the Gorey turn offs – I ask you with tears in my eyes – did I honestly look like someone who knew what the directions to Bally-ma-anywhere was? I was dumbstruck by the fact that she thought I might be knowledgeable on directions – like an overdressed Garmin!

Another highlight was that my back up vehicle got a flat tyre – and poor Kevin had to struggle on his own, as I am petrified of my legs cramping up! Fair play to all – Kevin got it fixed, and even though I was unaccompanied – everyone managed to avoid me. Once again I wish to advise when walking that it is paramount to always wear HIGH VISIBILITY CLOTHING!

Martynas raced from the hotel with another pair of the infamous Mohair socks, but alas, it was a little too late and the damage was done. I had to return to the hotel, deflated, with a blistered ego and sore heel –  3 kilometers short of my daily goal.  Then the miracle happened!

For those who have not seen the movie Cool Runnings, this will mean nothing, but for those who have – when I returned to the hotel, imagine my surprise when all the staff stood in the lobby, and clapped all round to welcome me back. Immediate thoughts of the final scene in Cool Runnings leapt to mind.

With one slight difference – tomorrow I am doing it all again! So, till the next time, I’ll kiss the egg, and just say: “Ja man – Cool Runningggggggggsssssssssss!”

Posted in The Walk

MISCONCEPTIONS meets THE FOUR SEASONS

Jane Fonda - stretching those new muscles!
Jane Fonda - stretching those new muscles!

Ahem, before I update on my second day, I wish to clarify a possible misconception that has arose. This blog, and the fundraising that I am doing is purely in my private capacity. My primary goal is to create awareness around The Brandon House Hotel & Spa, and our €10000 Feel Good Giveaway.

 

Now that I have that off my chest – Day 2.

 

 

 

I recall one of my first touristy gifts I ever bought was one of those t-shirts that showed 4 sheep in the 4 seasons of Ireland, and it was raining in every sketch. Today I felt like that sheep, except there was only one day but 4 seasons in the whole. I am proud to announce that today I braved snow outside Clonroche (and thank you Jim for walking a couple of miles with me – it meant the world), I saw hail in Enniscorthy, and at times I was covered in rain. Yet, most of the time I can say that all seasons were followed by a spot of sunshine and a ray of warmth.

I took a while this morning to warm up, and I have to confess that at one stage I thought I would be barely be able for 5 km, but once the new found muscles warmed up, it was business as usual, and once again thank you to all those who have encouraged me along the way.

Then came the 18th kilometer, the sign for Ferns in my sights – but when asked have I got any specific pain – I realised that at this stage all those new found muscles had decided to have a bit if a revenge party – together! I preferred it when they were oblivious to each other, and one was operating from the derriere, whilst the other was doing its thing from behind the knee. But alas – they decided to all groan together, and it was a little cold, so in answer to which one – they had mutated into one muscular ache that was as dull as a migraine, but as supple as an octogenarian trapeze artist.

And the final score? 22.8Kilometers. One thing is for sure though – me thinks I should start a little earlier – so it’s off to bed for me now, and I will post again at the end of day 3 tomorrow, and please encourage me wherever you see me – it truly makes the road a little shorter!

P.S. If you notice a slight change to the attire – the following was added: 1 X Red Raincoat (lost property) and 1X cheap and cheerful set of pajamas (one half on the outside and one half on the inside) to keep me warm.

End of day 2!!!!
End of day 2!!!!

 

Posted in The Walk

SNOW!

This is beyond my amusement – I do declare there is snow! I’m supposed to have the gods smile on me, and smell the daffodils – not SNOW!

Oh well – what doesn’t kill us….. and all those cliches!

Posted in The Walk

New Muscles!

23km Later - this is the end of Day 1
23km Later - this is the end of Day 1

It is official – I have set new records is muscle discovery, and for anyone who doubts it – they just have to see my knew “blikners” swagger, which is a very difficult thing for a woman to achieve without foregoing immense pain.

 

 

That said – it was a great day yesterday. The gods must be smiling on me, because the moment we left the building, the drizzle disappeared, and it was even bright and sunny on occasion.

The interesting part of this exercise is to see people’s reactions. I have now categorised them into the “Good”, the “Bad” and the “Indifferent”. The Good are truly delighted with it, and at worse give me the thumbs up, but mostly they hoot and cheer and encourage. The Indifferent just stare straight ahead, as if this is the most normal occurrence on Irish roads, and even their kids seem to have that blasé attitude. But my favourite has to be the Bad, for they are so fearful that they might be contaminated by whatever I have, that they almost crash into ditches as they turn their faces away as not to make eye contact.

Dem humans are funny people!

Needles to say, it’s the good that kept me going! It truly uplifts the spirit, the legs and the “why-am-I-doing-this-again”?  thoughts that cross my mind sporadically after the 15th kilometer! So for all those yesterday that at least cracked a smile, and shouted encouragement – I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Then there is the generosity of some that even stopped and donated to my fundraising efforts – even though it is part of a competition – to them I say thank you as well.

But now I have to face Day 2. I stopped about 2 km outside Clonroche yesterday at the Beechdale Garden Centre, which means I walked exactly 23km in total.

Today the plan is to go through Enniscorthy, and possibly get as far as Ferns. Here’s hoping that the body will stop rebelling the moment my new muscles warm up!

Along the way we even passed Wales!
Along the way we even passed Wales!
Posted in The Walk

Fear of failure!

Afternoon Tea
Afternoon Tea

It’s 3.20am and I am awake – gripped with a sense of uncertainty that I have not experienced for a long time. In actual fact, I think the last time I was this scared was just before I had to sing in an amateur production in my hometown in South Africa in French, ala Edith Piaf – I speak no French!

 

 

 

When I woke up about six months ago with this “epiphany” that I could create awareness by walking to Dublin, it was just a small seed, and when mentioning it to one or two people they thought I might have lost the plot slightly. But as the talk of global gloom got more prevalent, and here in my new adoptive home all seemed equally forlorn, I just felt that I had to do something to brighten the day a bit. If no one else’s – then at least my own.

From there the seed grew, and once “Big Chief” and “Mrs. HQ” gave me the go ahead, it was with great fun that we all systematically got involved to turn this into a reality – a reality that is about to hit me step by step, mile by mile all the way to Dublin. (my apologies to Liza Minelli fans everywhere – Mein Herr!)

I decided to do this blog purely on a personal level. Although the most important reason for this walk is creating awareness around New Ross and the Brandon House Hotel & Solas Croi Spa, it is also an opportunity for me to do a little social experimentation.

When I moved to Ireland about 8 years ago, it was a little by default, and was meant to be a short sojourn in this beautiful country. Eight years later people ask me why I stayed, and don’t I miss South Africa – I can honestly say this is now my home. Of course I miss my family and friends, but there is something here that kept me rooted on Irish soil. I do have to confess though – over the past 8 years I have seen a country change, and having been privy to “quick change” before, it was also interesting how self absorbed people seemed to get. Not so much that no one cared, but more a case of no one had time to care – too busy to chase the dream and keep the home fires burning, keep up with the Jones’s and to jet to foreign climes.

So I wondered – will people still open their homes to strangers. Does this warm Irish welcome still exist, or have we all become so weary and skeptical, that we cannot trust anymore?

So in that lies my quest – I am looking for a place to stay along the way. Because of the nature of my walk, and the size of my bulk – there are one or two prerequisites! The bed has to be comfortable and I need a bit of quiet to sleep solid for at least 8 hours. Oh yes – and the hosts have a duty of care to make sure I do not have more than 2 pints of Guinness a day – as per the strict instructions of Emmet and Martin – my “fitness” gurus. God bless them – they tried!

At the end of my first phase today, or even along the way if I have time – I will keep this blog to report on my experiences, and to hopefully in my private capacity get some sponsorship along the way for the two charities that lie near my heart –  Aware Ireland (suicide awareness), and Compassionate Friends (a new Ross based charity that helps bereaved parents)

Now that I have cast this writ to cyber stone – let the journey begin! Roll on 10am – I’m ready!