Posted in An Trek Fada

Day 8 – Motorways

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Speeding along life’s continuously speedy route, we are excused if we miss a beat, or a trick, because really…. really, I was just SO busy.

And we have it all planned out. Being a grown-up is SO much easier than being a child or god forbid, a misunderstood teenager. But then as we walk along our well thought out life route, we realise as time goes along that the direction originally planned was maybe not the better option.

Why then are we so determined and stubborn to keep on bashing a path ahead on that same beaten road, when a slight detour or new path can be so much more beneficial and kind?

When this journey started I had 364km carefully mapped on Google Maps and had everything planned to the last millimetre. As fate and weather would have it, not to mention a couple of shins, it was not a route easily taken.

The stubborn side of me said you HAVE to follow the path, it is what everyone expects you to do and the route intended. But some wise people said, why walk that route when in my experience there is an easier way – and you said you would walk from Belfast to Wexford – no one expects you to do anything more than take the best route.

And in those simple words (I paraphrased) I veered off the chosen route before Dublin already, gave Skerries a miss, and again today did not realise there was a motorway in the way.

So instead of bashing a stubborn path along my planned route, we nonchalantly swayed in another direction – off the motorway, and rediscovered the beauty of Wicklow. Not WAY off the beaten path – just enough to keep the day exciting, and the route interesting.

Like life – if there is one thing that I would like to tell my younger self, is don’t stare at the path chosen for too long, because you might miss the exciting turnoff along the way…. and who knows where they might lead?

Like Ashford, which once was a very busy, congested and worn out little town on the old N11 due to the traffic on the ONLY route to Dublin. On revisiting today I found a quiet hamlet, a retreat for a weary body with people relaxed and at peace.

Sometimes bypassing a beaten path can be a good thing, and with time allow for time to heal.

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Day 7 – Tapes

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Now, you will be forgiven if you are of a certain age, and the first thought that leaps to mind with the heading this evening is audio tapes.

You know the ones. Those you could not leave in the car, because they might melt. The ones that you could delicately and surgically remove when entwined with the inner heads of your tape deck. The ones that when you did manage to break the tape inside, you would unscrew the cassette outer to delicately stick the two broken ends together, so that your favourite song that you had re-taped from your best friend’s copy that they copied from a guy’s that had the original master record……

You get the picture.

If you have no idea what I am talking about, then do some research, but many a happy hour or 20 were spent making sure you had the ultimate “tape” collection.

(Drumroll….) Ladies and gentleman, allow me to present…..

Cinesio Tape!

Pray what is that, I hear you ask? Well – today it was my life saver. I simply could not blog or even think about any walking last night as my left leg was in bits, and that same sense of imminent failure had me severely in the dumps, as well as the dreaded “What do I do now?”

In flies Siobhan this morning with a blue bag, some needles and super tape in hand. She first looked worried, but then smiled when she stuck several needles in me.

Then she looked pensive, but giggled as she pressed on my shins that sent birth pains through my body.

And then she frowned… a lot, as she meticulously cut and shaped strip after strip of Cinesio tape and expertly and scientifically administered them to my lower left leg…

And behold – A miracle and 25.2km’s later!

Audio tapes are SO 80’s…..Cinesio Tape is the new Rock & Roll!

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Posted in An Trek Fada

Day 5 – Sun vs Rain

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I always vowed that should I ever moan about the mild Irish weather and “soft” days, then I might go back to SA.

Simple really, just like most people here in Ireland get quite excited about 2 days of sunshine in a row, so too do the farmers and people from the Great Karoo when they are blessed with a bit of rain.

So having had the fortunes of living in both weather extremes, I can today categorically confirm that sun beats rain.

No brainer says you, but take into consideration that the Great Karoo is always sunny, and at the height of it could be 45 degrees in the shade with water not even there to evaporate.

I never acclimatised to that heat and weather, but did enjoy like so many playing, laughing, singing and splashing with my bare feet in the welcome reprieve that was a drop of rain.

So after 14 years of never complaining about Irish Weather, I am now finally ready to take my next step not only in this walk, but indeed in my journey of becoming proudly Irish.

“Ah Jaysus, what about that weather. Will the rain just ever go away!”

Posted in An Trek Fada

Day 4 – Made in China!

Found sneaking out with fresh new socks, and 2 pairs to spare!
Found sneaking out with fresh new socks, and 2 pairs to spare!
So not the greatest day, but along the way to keep my mind off my wet feet, the weather and all others things that are not nice, here are a couple of points I pondered:

1. The way that everywhere has gone completely pink for Giro d’Italia! What an astounding feat to get people this involved. There are actual buildings and pubs now “gay Barbie” pink, in anticipation and celebration of the teams cycling through their towns and villages. The pink refects the official colours of the Giro d’Italia branding

2. What were they thinking – as pleasant as “pedestrianising” everywhere is – why do all the town squares have to look the same. Sorry everyone, but arriving in Drogheda Main Street looked like arriving in Wexford, Cork, Waterford and the list goes on. Are there only ONE planner with ONE contract with the same Stone and paving supplier? Isn’t it bad enough that all the old buildings and uniquely Irish shop fronts were defaced during the Celtic Tiger? Could we not at least improvise with the public spaces, by making sure that they all looked a bit different?

3. What does your mouth do when you walking long distance? I have realised, after swallowing yet another flying protein supply of some insect or another (especially yesterday assisted by full frontal wind assault) that indeed I walk with my mouth open. Yip, not pretty I’m sure, but that would explain so much? I would say over the past couple of days I got my water intake involuntarily as well through simply walking, breathing and taking in the fresh supply!

4. Last but not least – the power of the “Pound Shop”! So with my feet and MBT’s absolutely drenched, I had also run out of “fresh” socks – so in the small village of Castlebellingham (look it up, it exists, and is very quaint with brillinat coffee shop), we found O’Brien’s Discount Shop, where lo and behold, the finest 3 pairs for ‚ā¨2 Chinese Cottom Poly blend socks waited for me ready and able! NEVER did I think that something so wrong could make me feel so right! Thank you Padraig (who was behind the counter) for stocking them (pun – get it? get it?) whahahaha!

OK, I am offically in body shock! Time for bed and hopefully all will be bright and breezy tomorrow!

Posted in An Trek Fada

Day 3 – Freedom

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When I set out on this journey, and decided on the dates – I never took into consideration the dates, and as it happened I crossed the border today from Northern Ireland to the Republic on another Iconic South African Election Day. My first time legally crossing the border and not having to worry that I “Was not allowed there”

I was in bits – I had a battle to get going, as both my spirit and body was battling to get started, and the weather forecast in advance did not help. Rest assured, I don’t mind a bit of rain, but add harsh winds to that, and it’s another picture altogether.

But as I approached the border from the North, miserable, I started to reflect on what a wonderful life I have had, and what astounding bits of history I have already been part of.

I remembered what and who shaped me, and I could not help but think of my late Nanny, Annie Grootboom, and the wonderful gentleman that was Arrie Jooste that were my caretaker parents – so much more to me than history will bestow on them.

I recalled how Annie, who could not read or write, but could always draw a cross to make her “mark” went to vote in 1994. She was quite old, and as a pen did not rest naturally in her hand, I recall how I helped her practice to make her cross within the box, and how important it was that she did not spoil it. I did not care who she voted for – simply that she could, and that I could serve my small part in it.

I remember the emotions that washed over me when I finally felt so very connected with my country of birth, and how I would NEVER take the right of equality as anything but with the highest responsibility.

To respect the freedoms that are bestowed on us takes courage and involvement. A responsibility to vote and make your voice heard. It’s a right that so many had to wait for such a long time.

So today when I felt sorry for myself, miserable and wanted to give up, I thought of all those days my Annie would walk miles to come and look after me, no matter what the weather. In the Karoo that could be -10 in crisp early mornings of winter, or 40 degrees in the scorching summer February sun.

The times that she would leave her own family behind and come to serve us and treated me as if I was the most special person in the world. Oh, and she spoilt me rotten – something like an Irish Mammy if I think about it now.

I remember all those who also got caught by the wrongs, the rights and the indifferences of our past, and celebrate the possibilities of the future, no matter how dark it might seem at times.

Tonight I am proudly Saffa-Irish. I am blessed by the lessons of my past, the possibilities of my future, but most importantly the Freedom of my present.

Below are two links of two songs that inspired me for the day. Say no more.

Posted in An Trek Fada

Day 2 – Ja well, but why?

My favourite pose in Shankill Road, with my South African Beanie one... In reconciliation with one self all is possible
My favourite pose in Shankill Road, with my South African Beanie one… In reconciliation with one self all is possible

The flesh was willing, but the get up and go did not want to play with at the start.

The body was surprisingly fit after yesterday, but what started off as a sunny day – yes I even have a bit of sunburn – ended up being a day with gusts and showers.

So I am inspired by a comment by Gisela to write the reason tonight why I am doing this walk, and particularly in this outfit.

I am truly astounded every day how conscious young kids are already about their dietary habits, or lack of – and what they look like.

I respect and appreciate the Jamie Oliver’s of this world and all attempts to make kids eat more healthy, but even the healthiest eating child can have self image issues – and hence lead to eating disorders.

What you never hear about is that genetics also dictates what you will look like and how you will be built – and that we can do absolutely nothing about. So where are they explaining THAT to kids?

Where do they teach them coping mechanisms to deal with not being little Brad Pitts and Claudia Schiffers? Do they teach them other skills, or park it with a “ah you’ll be grand”

So I learnt when I was not going to be the next Ms South Africa to develop a keen sense of humour, or something akin to what is referred to as a personality.

I also learnt that when you are not “normal”, best to learn to laugh at yourself, before others do! Simple really!

So this walk is to raise funds for BodyWhys first and foremost, to help them help those who are not blessed with the confidence to deal with whatever causes their attitude with food.

But it is also for me. To remind myself that just before I take myself too seriously, and become too corporate – that at the core of who and what I am is having a bit of a laugh… even at my own expense.

When I read up on BodyWhys’s function in today’s society I realised that is exactly what they deal with. And I wonder how much time and hurt in my own life could have been avoided had I that type of support in my early teens, when it could have made such a difference.

Posted in An Trek Fada

Day 1 – Belfast #1

Terrence & Myrtle holding my hand for the first leg send off!
Terrence & Myrtle holding my hand for the first leg send off!
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There has been curiosity as to why I actually started in Belfast, when Dublin would have equally gotten the message across.

Well, it’s a very personal reason (and I apologise to other Irish cities in advance) – Belfast is my favourite city in Ireland (ouch – stop that stoning please!!)

The other reason is that now that I am officially Irish, I can cross the border “legally”.

What I have loved about Belfast since the very first visit is the tangible history embedded in every nook and cranny. This is not an old history, and the undercurrents of the political strifes are still very evident, but at least it is real.

The Titanic Centre is amazing, the walk up Shankill, and then through the storm gates down to Falls Road is like walking in time with history, rather than reading it in a book.

The Europa Hotel, the Crowne Bar, the Linen Library, and the list goes on. Most importantly the Taxi Tours are a must – but you have to do both a Protestant and Catholic one to get full perspective. The respect within the taxi tourism community is something I think many can learn from. Civility, some safety words but most importantly a mutual respect for each other’s turf.

Not an agreement, just a respect and understanding that everyone is different, but deserve their space.

So when we parked in front of the Titanic Centre today – may I add ON THE TAXI RANK as a man kept on reminding us (where is their sense of charity…. sinking! whahahahaha) – we had a car park behind us and in a thick Natal accent ask us if “This is parking”

What a co-incidence! Terrence and Myrtle are on holidays in Ireland in their winter woolies and fleeces! There they randomly park at the titanic centre – lo and behold only to meet more Saffas! And one that proceeded to strip for them! They of course now think I have been touched by Irish madness, but it was such a great send off. Unexpected but somehow as it should have been!

So with the Belfast Marathon just at an end, people’s initial reaction was not of surprise, as there were many lycra wearing folks around, albeit that they might have looked a little more sporty, if not less drenched. But yes, I did get a couple of lads commenting on “Look what this guy is wearing!” Really – lad – my job for BodyWhys is FAR from done!

I had a young boy on in Lisburn Road ask me if I was cold and needed an umbrella (Bless), and I made a few oldies giggle outside a home where they were watching the passing parade (under a canopy).

When I hit the A1 however, many tooted encouragingly, and although the last 4 kilometres were really hard going (a lot to be said for long slow rising slopes), a day done and dusted.

Now to wait and see what the joints think tomorrow (and not the ones I can smoke and fly with either )

Anyhow – one down and 12 to go… who’s scared?

Posted in An Trek Fada

– 14hours – The Casey Cup

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Stuart Ryan with the winning trophy just before he heads off to Canada…. Cutie ūüėČ

Today I spent a few hours at the Wexford Wanderer’s Rugby Club for the 11th annual Casey Cup. For those not in the know, the Casey Cup is an annual May Bank Holiday event in conjunction with Greystones RFC to commemorate the untimely passing of a very young Casey Ryan.

The Casey Cup will have it’s own memories for me, but what struck me, as did the earlier post of the message in a bottle of George O’Hanlon, was indeed how many young people we loose before their time.

So I have been overwhelmed with word like “bravery”, “inspiration” and the list goes on for this challenge I have taken on …. of course including “mad” and “certifiable”. But before I set off on this journey, I am reminded that a couple of day’s trek does not make up for the unconditional and repetitive giving¬†of others.

To loose a child like Pat & Helen Ryan did, a brother, friend, grandson, would debilitate many for life. But people like the Ryan’s continue to give selflessly in spite of their grief and longing.

It’s through the community of people coming together even after all these years in support that you realise what an incredible place Wexford, and indeed Mankind¬†is, and with what care people respect and support each other. In those places in the world where this is not a given, we should be reminded how very grateful we are for all we have – the freedoms, the choices, the friends and a sense of community.

Before I embark on my trip to Belfast to start the walk back home (and I mean home in it’s truest form), I am again humbled by the support, but most importantly¬†– I ask that we remember those quiet and unsung heroes like the Ryans that simply keep on giving¬†in their own generous of spirit and quiet way.

So on that note – best I get a bit of rest now – An Trek Fada is still only a couple of words needing to be turned into action – LIKE DONATIONS!

Please donate at the top for BodyWhys Ireland.

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-2 Days – Wet! Wet! Wet!

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It’s official on 4 apps…. 70-80% chance of rain on Monday! Well, as a wise man once said, there is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes.

Enter the full on Transparent Mac. Belt, pockets… The works. It is now taken out and aired in advance.

I would be lying if I said I was not disappointed, as dry weather would obviously make the first day that little easier, but hey! It’s all for a good cause.

That said, keep those donations coming in… It’s now a case of wet and lost dignity for a great unsung charity that is BodyWhys Ireland, but that affects almost everyone at some level!

See the DONATE HERE! At the top of the page and Just do It!

You know I will!

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