Sunday 7 September 2014

The Loneliness Of......

Friends will know that neither Liz nor I have a whole lot to do with jogging, running, athletics or other sporty pursuits but today we managed to get involved a bit in a Half Marathon. We had no idea such an event was to puff, sore-legged and aching of lungs, past our front gate, till a red car pulled up and a lady hopped out to drop a letter into our post box (and set off the dogs a-barking). This note told us that the 'Ros go Run' Half Marathon and 10 km were happening today (Sunday) and subtly asked that we, the locals "ensure our pets are safe and secure during the run" which we took to mean "please don't let your doggies chase our runners!"

The note's writer also thought we might like to join 'Ros go Run' on the day as a participant (unlikely!), by cheering on the runners or by 'leaving out bottles of water'.  Naturally they had a Facebook presence and there was also a website where we could see the route and found that it passed us at nearly the 12 mile mark, almost home, and was going eastbound, so would crest the hill at Una's, just up the road, and then relax (comparatively) with the long down-slope to 'Shannon's Cross' junction. We decided we could have some fun setting up an impromptu water-station with a sign 20 yards out, our table full of cups of water, and then our wheelie bin for the spent cups a few yards further on.

I had a go at recreating the font of the logo and added 'Downhill from here'; green fence paint and red gloss on an old (unbleached organic cotton, no less!) duvet cover. We woke up and got organised on the day so that we could do all the morning jobs, walk the dogs and be through lunchtime sandwiches by the time the first runners, on their 11:30 am start were likely to pass (about 1 pm, in fact). We had lots of marshals and organisers 'bibbing' us up and throwing thumbs-up signs as they drove by and the Parish Priest even stopped to chat and to thank us for "such encouragement". Most of the 60 or so runners accepted a drink, some just up-ending the cup over their over-heated heads and many exchanged banter and joked with us as they jogged by. By the 12th mile they were well spread out so that we only had one or two in view at any one time and I could not take my hoped for 'knot of runners' picture. The loneliness of the long distance runner? Fair play to them; by the time they reached us they'd run about 11 miles more than I could manage, and were raising money for MS Ireland, the Éire Óg GAA Club and Lisacul Community Development ltd. We could hear the cheers and tannoy noise going on at the GAA Club just down the road as the runners started to pull in, their Half Marathons completed. Eventually, about 2 pm, the course closing car came through to tell us we had 'had them all now'.

At last, colour break on the beef toms
We enjoyed the event and we assume our little bit of volunteering was appreciated by the club and the locals; it certainly was by the thirsty runners. This was the first such run organised by the Ros go Run team and is described as 'inaugural' on the website. They were pleased with their 60 entry as the event clashed with a bigger run in Westport which was thought to have maybe drawn 'the Mayo lot' away, and today was also a huge day for the GAA sport 'hurling', with the All Ireland Senior Final happening in Dublin. Just in case they come this way again next year, we will keep the sign.

7.2 kg of blackberries in about an hour and a half.
In other news, John Deere Bob invited us down to pick the blackberries in his home fields. It's a job we both like and it was a lovely warm afternoon, so we wandered down and picked 7.196 kg between us in a leisurely hour and a half. In some places the berries were so close packed on the ends of branches that it looked like there was a 'super-berry' made up of a dozen or so berries and in others individual fruits were better separated but very big, approaching the size of the top of your thumb. Thanks you very much, Bob.

Onions tied into ropes in the car port
Pirate the Cat is settling well now in his 'compromise' accommodation, our Utility Room. Although not part of the indoors, it is an indoor style room with dry-lined and plastered walls, lighting and a central heating radiator. It is also warmed by the 'exhaust' from the three freezers one of which, at least, will be extracting the heat from all those blackberries. We have pegged the cat flap half-open and he is happy nipping in and out through that. He does not like the cat flap to be closed as he bonks his nose on it, failing to see the transparent flap.

One of our apples and a slice of Liz's apple cake.
Now that we know him better, we are sure he has only around 25% of normal sight and walks into things which he does not know or realise are there. He will come in through the front door and then try to walk out through it even though it has been closed - it is dark red so we think he assumes the opening is still there for him. If I move the bits of sheep wire around to manage sheep movements, he will walk into any new barriers I create - sheep wire is fairly thick gauge but a 4-6 inch square mesh so I guess does not cast much of a profile on clouded cat-eye retinas. However, the Utility Room will stay unchanged for the foreseeable future, so he will get to know where his bed and food bowl are and the access 'hole' so he will be safe and sound, as well as warm and dry.

101 uses for an old barn roof. Shoring up the pig defences.
Finally, those who predicted I might need electric fence for the pigs might have a smile at this paragraph. Although the sheep wire with its ground level strand of barbed, has worked everywhere else, down in the ditch/wallow I have not been so sure of it. The ditch started as a nice 'V' shaped 4 feet deep cut, about 6 feet wide with the East Field fence a good 2 feet from the edge of the ditch. But the piggies have enjoyed the wallow and have expanded the width of it by rootling into (and undercutting) the banks, so that it is more like an 8 feet wide 'U' shape, with the edge now creeping up on the bottom of the fence. I am in the UK soon for a short while and I did not want the pigs to decide to break out while Liz was in charge, so I have shored up the bank with some of the curved corrugated sheets which came off the hay barn (see, sometimes we 'hoarders of junk who keep old scrap because it might come in useful some day' get it right!)  so that the pigs cannot rootle any further into my banks and pop up, butter-wouldn't-melt, among the sheep!

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