Strange and Wonderful Sights in the US of A

Strange and Wonderful Sights in the US of A

A young man walking down Haywood Street in Asheville, NC, with a snake wrapped around his arm. He looked pleased with himself, to be shocking passers by – the man, not the snake. The snake was maybe five or six feet long and hung its head out from his hand, sniffing. I wondered what it was thinking. Mind you, the snake looked better than some of the tattoos we’ve seen on people here. Ó, mo léir. Continue reading “Strange and Wonderful Sights in the US of A”

Listen to the robin

Listen to the robin

As I write this, the robin is singing outside. The sun is slanting up over the hedge. I can hear a rook on the roof.

I heard a lot of robins in Dublin too last weekend.

It’s time. The days are lengthening. We have daffodils and snowdrops and crocuses. It’ll be Lá Fhéile Bríde in a few days.

Listen to the robin. It’s worth your while. Continue reading “Listen to the robin”

The Winter of The Blackbird

The Winter of The Blackbird

This has been the winter of the blackbird. I haven’t been out and about much for one reason or another but I seem to be seeing and hearing blackbirds wherever I go.

I haven’t seen a redwing or a fieldfare yet, maybe they’re not around, or maybe I need to get out more. Well, that’s definitely true, I do need that. Continue reading “The Winter of The Blackbird”

Four Brothers in The Ossau Valley, Day 5

Four Brothers in The Ossau Valley, Day 5

They go low, so we go high.

We drove south past Laruns into the mountains up to the Lac de Bious-Artigues at 1400m altitude. We were shocked, shocked I tell you, to find the car park by the lake full, with well-equipped and, worse – fit-looking – hikers setting forth. We were most aggrieved, having had the forests and mountains to ourselves the previous two days – well, except for the cattle and horses, but they didn’t clog up the paths, they weren’t smugly thin and they didn’t have hiking poles and expensive walking gear. Continue reading “Four Brothers in The Ossau Valley, Day 5”

Four Brothers in The Ossau Valley, Day 3

Four Brothers in The Ossau Valley, Day 3

We were hungry and empty when we ate on the unlikely named Col Deus Coïgts at 1068m. We’d climbed up from the villages of Louvie-Juzon and Castet on the valley floor at 400m and it took us four hours to get there. The woods around us as we ate, with tall beech trees reaching up imperiously, were a thing of inordinate beauty. A tree creeper climbed up a bark twenty metres away, doing his methodological thing. Continue reading “Four Brothers in The Ossau Valley, Day 3”

Four Brothers in The Ossau Valley, Day 2

Four Brothers in The Ossau Valley, Day 2

Never miss an opportunity to enter a boulanger’s shop in the morning. I recommend it. The smell of the fresh bread and pastries, the look of their stacked fine golden familiar shapes. The appetite for a holiday breakfast and the anticipation of that first bite of crunchy crust. The taste of the soft white bread, with butter and tea. It’s all right there in the ringing of the bell when you open the door and step inside to the cheerful ‘bonjour’ that awaits you. Continue reading “Four Brothers in The Ossau Valley, Day 2”

Cycling to Coomenole

Cycling to Coomenole

I cycled over the road to Coomenole. It isn’t a long cycle from Baile an Chalaidh, but there are a few climbs and my legs aren’t what they used to be, so I took my time. Thanks be to God for the granny cog on the old Bentini. I got there in about 45 minutes, with a couple of scenery breaks on the hills (ahem). Continue reading “Cycling to Coomenole”