Firstly – thank you to Nevin and family for the hospitality in Hong Kong on our quick and intense stopover there!
Faith and Paul’s wedding in Bonnieux was FUN! Great to catch up with the class of 2001 there, and for me it was great to be able to introduce Gill to some old friends, and spend good time with Nick and Carol. Would have been nice to have more time with some of the others too (Arthur, Catherine, Jane, D, Rosh, and Faith herself of course) but you can’t have everything. Many thanks to Faith and Paul for the "do" – great fun! Around the wedding we also managed to fit in a couple of days riding in the Luberon and the Gorges du Verdon and two days of storm-interrupted climbing at the super-slippy crag of Buoux.
We arrived on the auld sod to blazing sunshine and those fantastic long peri-solstice Irish summer days. Had two days in Dalkey reclimbing some classics, and Gill learned to lead! Met up with Eimear and Stew, the climbing crew, and the old science mates too. A very Irish barbecue finished that weekend off. We headed North to Dundrum, and the weather disintegrated. Record storms, rainfall and flooding swept County Down, limiting our planned Mourne forays. We managed a day walk (sodden, thundery, "atmospheric" conditions) from Newcastle up the Glen River to the Donard-Commedagh col, over Sliabh Beg, Upper and Lower Cove, through Cove cave and amphitheatre, with an indecisive skulk out down Annalong Valley to cap it off. We also forced ourselves to do a completely soaked long cross country run around Tollymore and back to Dundrum, which was retrospectively enjoyed. Still, the main reason for the trip North was obviously to go home and spend time with Mum and Dad – we had a lovely time, and they loved Gill (and vice-versa!).
Next we headed to the Loughros Peninsula in South-West Donegal via Belfast after meeting Gill’s friend Dave there. His family have a holiday cottage near Ardara, and we spent a couple of nights there with improving weather and stunning Atlantic sunsets. We squeezed in a day climbing at Malin Beg – I climbed Hydrophobia VS 4b and the classic Flying Enterprise VS 4c (nice!) and Gill led The Bosun’s Ladder S 4a. A for-one-night-only performance at Strandhill to revisit The Strand and run the route of the Warrior’s Run up Knocknarea from the Strand (with the improved [???] cross country descent straight off the front of the mountain) with Gill and a shared hangover, followed by a "Celtic Seaweed bath" which eased the auld rheumatism no-end. Great to see Tadhg, Eleanor, Mick, Orla and Catherine again!
Now, I am back in Dublin, and Gill has left for Austria to meet Sue, Di and Phil. One more week here, then back to my other home!!! Photos will follow…I promise!
Today, met Rach for a coffee and a great chat – she came up from Cork to see me. Heading out to mystic Co. Meath tonight, near the Hill of Tara, to a little pub which is the usual solstice haunt of big Neil O’Connor. That should be interesting. Not much else to report, except that Gill, if you are reading, I miss you loads already!