Of sheep and wolves

The final day of the journey began with a massive cooked breakfast including eggs, black and white pudding, sausage, bacon and porridge and a semi-gray sky.

20150430_085653Quickly, the sky lightened up and the sun was to stay with us for the remaining way. We walked over beautiful fields and could enjoy many beautiful views.

Somewhere at around half the way, we had a lunch break, eating sandwiches and chocolate. When we continued, we passed something one could call a junk yard, but to us it looked like the scenery for a strange movie.

20150430_113313When we were at about four km from Shillelagh, we passed the Dying Cow Pub, where an old man told us that it’ll open in 20 minutes, so we continued the walk. A somehow shabby looking building was about the first we saw. It had restaurant & bar written on it.

A completely drunk lad stumbled out of one of the doors and tried to talk to us, which only worked partly. Motivated by his state, we entered the door he had come out of. Standing in an almost dark room, we saw another room behind the bar, to which we went next. As the audience of the The Snug was not the usual friendly kind, we had until then, we just had a pint and went on to check in at the Maritana B&B, which was by far the nicest and most modern we had on our way.

20150430_160525_HDRAfter a shower and with the good feeling that we have finished the whole thing, Mrs. Berna O’Brien told us there was no other place than the restaurant next to the Snug for dinner.  We thus also came to enter the third door of the building and found an acceptable restaurant where we had pizza with chips, dry roast beef and overcooked pasta. After several more beers, we called it a day.

The hike was really a great experience for all of us, but left us with two riddles: first, how are you supposed to use these without either burning of freezing yourself?

20150430_152200_HDRSecond, why?

20150430_160901_HDRStats: → 22 km, Σ 135 km, ↑ 411 m, ↓ 489 m

One kilometer more can’t hurt

After the two “short” stages on the previous days, we were facing a long stage with 24 km again with acceptable weather, although it was quite cold again. The walk started with ascending paved streets and gravel roads already in the beginning. We passed the half-way point, which says 63.5km. Thanks to our detours of the other stages, we already had over 90 🙂

20150429_110846_HDRAfter a turn in the forest, we saw a sheep herd with about 40 animals in front of us. Folling their instinct, they walked on in front of us and we were chasing them quite a bit, until one of them decided that enough was enough, and went into the forest. All of the others followed. Sheep, pah!

20150429_114339After this awesome view and quite a descend, we found the second hut on our way at about twelve kilometers. We ate our sandwiches and some seconds after our arrival, two well-known friends came visiting: hail and the Holländer! Both were over after a few minutes.

We still put on our rain covers again and went on. After some downhill, the way continued uphill into the forest. There the weather turned against us again and a heavy rain and hail mix set in. We all walked on head down, but a bit tired.

When the rain ended after an hour or so, all three of us were wasted and would rather have not walked more. But there was no alternative, was there?

According to the GPS, our destination was still 6 km away, which were really painful on the feet due to the paved roads and only bearable by another quick snack break. When we finally arrived at the Kyle Farmhouse B&B, Margaret welcomed us with Budweiser and scones, which we enjoyed in the sun.

For dinner, we had turkey, ham and salmon with vegetables and red wine. As none of us was up for party and the next pub was miles away, we went to bed before 8 pm and fell asleep while the sun was not even set yet.

Stats: → 25 km, Σ 113 km, ↑ 855 m, ↓ 798 m

Poisonous fish vs. gorse seeds

Again, we were welcomed by the day with sunshine and a strong cold wind. After crossing the bridge for the last time, we came up with a ridiculous theory of gorse seeds, that, if eaten by them, made poisonous fish immune to bites by water snakes. More research is to follow, once the corresponding funds have been secured.

Our way took us along the two lakes to a magical forest and then to a less magical forest, so we left the official path once again to go on some peaks instead. The wind was quite tough and freezing on the ridge between Cullentragh Mountain (468 m) and Mullacor (657 m) where the next Gipfelmoshen was to be performed.

20150428_114831We continued to the main peak and had a bit of chocolate against the freezing wind, when suddenly our old friend, the weather decided to turn against us again by sending a wall of rain and hail, which made it impossible to go on. After a short wait, we went on and down to the original path, which lead down to Glenmalure. Despite the conditions, I celebrated Gipfelmoshen on the Mullacor!

The knee pain during the extreme downhill walk towards the end of this day was ended by the sudden appearance of the Glenmalure Lodge to our left. We checked into our rooms, which had defunct open fire places and to bring back our life energy, we had chicken wings and chips and rhubarb cake.

20150428_161814_HDRIn the evening, we met another Ashley, whose name according to the bill was Zanetta. She brought us the one or other whiskey and steaks and told us that she would not like our hike as she hates getting wet. Many Thanks!

Stats: → 19 km, Σ 88 km, ↑ 551 m, ↓ 585 m

Visiting aunt Ashley

The morning was again sunny, albeit a bit cold. Josie told us that temperatures went down to -7 during the night. We were in a good mood knowing that this day would only be a short 15 km, which seemed like a well deserved break from the first two days.

In order to not walk the same way twice, which always feels wrong, we decided to depart from the official plan for the beginning of the stage and seek adventure and our own path through the wilderness. This detour had some really picturesque sceneries ready for us:

Back on the Wicklow Way, we were walking past the first hut, close to Paddock Hill, where we had a short snack break. This is what we would have needed on the first day! To enrich his snack, Mr. C ate a gorse blossom, which he quickly spat out again, after Mrs. E told him that this was poisonous. Luckily, there was no (obvious) damage to him.

While running down the last hundered meters to Glendalough, we again went past our old friend, the Holländer, whom we already met at the Oaklawn B&B. We had another snack consisting of ice cream and cheesy garlic chips at the parking lot in the center.

The cheesy chips were a huge portion, first fried then covered in garlic mayonnaise then put into the microwave with plenty of cheddar on it. Yummy!

We decided to get some liquid refreshment and coffee in the local hotel, where two hundred elderly members of a choir from France were just finished with lunch. After the drinks, we went to see the famous cemetery, where imaginary aunt Ashley has her final rest, obviously.

On our way to the Riversdale House B&B, we were again showered by rain and hail, but compensation was provided in the form a friendly sign for dog owners:

20150427_150231_HDRPassing the greatest bridge of all times, we finally were at our destination for today and welcomed by Zell Conway and by the Holländer, who was sitting in the living room with his MacBook Air. After we had a shower, the weather was showing its ironic face again by letting the sun shine as if this were the only condition it knew.

We called The Wicklow Heather restaurant in Laragh to arrange for a table and pick-up. Strengthened by roast lamb with vegetables and gravey for me and Mr. C and Irish Stew for Mrs. E, we decided to go for the five km returning us to the B&B. On our way home we again stopped at the hotel for a fine selection of beer and whiskey before heading home over the nice bridge in the pitch black night.

Stats: → 20 km, Σ 69 km, ↑ 406 m, ↓ 507 m

 

NP: Boysetsfire – (Compassion) As Skull Fragments on the Wall

Wa(l)king in the tropics

Looking out of the window at seven am felt a bit unreal. Was this still the same Ireland that we were drowning in yesterday?

20150426_072102_HDR

The one point four kilometers that almost felt like a torture just the day before, were gone in a few minutes. The weather was nice with temperatures only little below ten degrees. Finally we were able to have a look at the beautiful landscape, with hills galore and a changing view after each step walked.

Each of the stone walls or hedges separating the fields was accompanied by shining yellow gorse bushes. This was finally the Ireland that we were hoping to find!

After walking along a river and seeing a waterfall for several hours, climbing several hundred meters, we reached the peak of the Djouce (725 m). It was time for the next Gipfelmoshen in freezing wind, but at least with clear sight. The gray stripe in the background actually is Muir Éireann!

20150426_122145_9We had a nice lunch break below the peak eating the remaining baguette and some garlic potatoes and corn Mr. C had bought in Dublin. The onward journey brought us another peak, White Hill (630 m), which was happily taken for another round of Gipfelmoshen.

20150426_131523 However, nice the walk was, the final part was a stretch again, walking down to the valley on a paved road, which was pretty hard on knees and feet.

Deliverance finally came in form of the blonde angel Ashley (name according to pub bill), who served us cheese cake in glasses at the Coach House in Roundwood. After the refreshment, we felt strengthened enough for the final meters to the Riverbank B&B, where Josie McCabe offered us tea and a re-vitalising shower.

We found nice food and a cakey desert in the Byrne & Woods. During our meal, we heard that someone in the associated pub was playing violin and some sort of bag pipe. Made curious by this, we went over after dinner and found a group of a dozen people with instruments that were playing Irish folk music, to which we listened for some time. The following poster was hanging behind the bar:

20150426_212724Apparently our angel was one with many skills. We were happy not to have met Kim, though. And I can tell you one thing: after walking for six hours straight, good food and some beers, one really does sleep well 😉

Stats: → 25 km, Σ 49 km, ↑ 747 m, ↓ 651 m

Drowning in the forest

When we woke right at dawn, the weather seemed to have calmed down and instead of rain, we had a gray sky. After showering, we went over to Mr. C’s place for breakfast, which was full Irish right away to get the energy for the first stage of the Wicklow Way.

After getting some bread and other stuff for the way, we walked towards the bus stop Rathfarham Road while it slowly started to rain. On the bus we put on our rain jackets and covered our backpacks, still convinced that the rain would just be a temporary thing…

The real walk started in Marlay Park right after we got off the bus at Grange Road. There was some public run going on and surprisingly many people in general were performing outdoor activities, not caring about the pouring rain. We were wondering if this is the normal attitude that people develop in a county which is mostly made of fog and wet.

Walking uphill towards the moor of the Wicklow Mountains, we were overtaken by several joggers (yeah, really), a fact that confirmed our theory of the Irish people. As we were quickly completely soaken, we kept walking without looking around too much. In better conditions, the landscape must have been superb. For us, it rather looked like this:

20150425_111242While planning the trip, I added several peaks to the original route for enriched fun and also to perform plenty of Gipfelmoshen on the way. Now we were much less in favor of the detours. Our way thus took us down again without the summit of Two Rock Mountain. In the valley, we were greeted by the first sheep fields in the distance and some blooming gorse bushes, which both were to escort us throughout the whole journey.

After being warned of MI5 operations, we had a quick lunch while standing in the forest, constantly being wetted from atop. Our question for a hut or something else to cover was answered with a desperate “there’s nothing but more rain” by to a couple coming our way.

As moaning does never help, we decided to go at least for Prince William’s Seat (555 m), where I finally performed the first Gipfelmoshen on the tour (yay!), while the now freezing wind had meanwhile turned the rain into snow, which was harshly blown into our faces.

20150425_134240_3After some more wet kilometers, finally, there was a sign letting us know that it was “only” another one point four kilometers to the Oaklawn B&B were we were staying. These last steps were actually the most painful of the whole day.

John and Kay O’Connor were wonderful hosts and immediately offered to dry our stuff in the machine and make us some tea after we had a hot shower. To show us who ruled the game, the weather decided to bring us bright sunshine while we were still standing at the door. The palm tree in the garden really looked a bit miraculous at that moment.

20150425_173934_HDRAfter a bit of rest, John drove us to the Nancy Murphy’s Pub in Enniskerry, where we enjoyed our first pints of Smithwick’s and Mr. C and I had burgers, while Mrs. E went with bangers and mash next to the fireplace. At around ten pm, we fell asleep without regretting any of the 24 km of rain 🙂

Stats: → 24 km, ↑ 831 m, ↓ 769 m

 

NP: Flunk – Personal Stereo

The wicked Wicklow Way

Thanks to Captain Hans Mallaney, Mr. C and I safely arrived. It was raining quite heavily and the six °C at Dublin Airport were a rough change to the 22 at which we left Düsseldorf.

After a rainy ride on the 474, we found our plan for a nice arrival beer swimming away at 11 pm at the sight of a closed and dark Heuston Station. We decided to take a taxi to the hotel instead of wasting more time searching for a pub. The taxi driver’s sudden question “do you know where we are?” came a bit as a surprise, but the situation fortunately could be cleared up by the lady from within the device, which safely guided us to Ardagh House around midnight.

After checking in Mr. C, we decided to finally try and get our well-deserved beer. Our way led us to The 108, where Mr. C complained a lot that to him everything tastes like vinegar in Ireland. My IPA, his red ale and the crisps (which admittedly were salt and vinegar).

At around 2:30 am, I finally headed to Abrae Guest House, where Mrs. E was already fast asleep. We set the alarm to 6:30 am, which definitely felt wrong given the time. Especially considering the 24 km ahead of us the next day and a forecast that had not much more than more rain for us.

 

NP: Röyksopp & Robin – Monument

A journey’s end…

My summer has been a real blast travel-wise. I’ve been on a lot of almost magical vacations and successfully completed a heap of business trips, which both took me to quite some places in Europe.

The journey went about like this: Munich, Ireland, Munich, Memmingen, Vienna, Gif sur Yvette, Leipzig, Dresden, Stockholm, Paris, Manchester, Alkmar, Seewis, Munich again, Dinkelsbühl, Stockholm again, Madonna di Campiglio, Frankfurt, Lausanne, Leukerbad, Böblingen, Barcelona, Brussels, Freiburg, Schruns, Tieringen.

It feels like inbetween I was home only to do the laundry and to sleep. It is really amazing, what one can do and see in one year. All in all, I was sleeping for 101 nights in a foreign bed. Considering that many of the trips were only one or two days, this is totally too much.

 

NP: Stereo Total – Pixelize me

Nerd celebrity

The other day, at that small workshop on Creating, Documenting & Sharing Network Models in Edinburgh, I had the pleasure to listen to a very nice, spontaneous, and entertaining lecture by Steve Furber (a principal designer of the ARM processor, which powers all modern smart-phones). He talked about the history of hardware design in general and explained the role of the different tools for synthesizing circuits from high-level functional descriptions.

A very much recommended book that also circles around the history of hardware is The Soul of a New Machine by Tracy Kidder. And I got reminded of the almost ancient TV show Triumph of the Nerds. Both are definitely worth checking out!

Lapin rôti

I just come back from a very nice dinner with three colleagues at La Garrigue in Edinburgh [Update 2015-08-11: their place in the New Town seems closed now]. For starters, I had “Le petit pot d’escargots et gésiers de canard confit, sauce tomate et croutons à l’ail”. My main course was “Le lapin rôti avec pipperade Basquaise et petits pois à la Française”. And as if this would not have been enough, I finished off with “La tarte au chocolat, rayon de miel”. Delicious!