I Like Birds

[As a brief warning, most of the following is uncannily like a blog I wrote in Dec o7 about being excited to be back in the hills. Except this one isn’t nearly as funny, though it does have the same photos with extra icy bits and a nice bit about birds at the end. My memory appears to be deserting me, not realising I’m writing (and indeed publishing) the same blogs without noticing I’ve perhaps been here before… Ah it’s yourself… Are those my feet…]

I used to spend almost every other weekend up in the mournes. Originally it was just weekends away in the caravan with the family to Castlewellan (where the obsession with ducks began i suppose…). To the wee campsite just down from the lake, with full view of Donard while we ate our fry in the caravan on a Saturday morning while listening to Alistair Cook’s letter from America. Good times.

From there I ended up actually walking in the hills with the BB on various weekends at the BB hut and Duke of Edinburgh award expeditions. This was when i started getting really nerdy about it and buying all the gear and learning all the mountain names and that type of carry on.

And then I hit uni and got a job at weekends and left the BB and ended up spending my time plying guitar in various bands and playing footy and generally lounging around like a waster – why, what did you do at uni?

And so I went a good 5 years without making it to the mournes, except for the very occasional new year’s day foray up Donard with Da in the snow and the ice.

img_2311.jpgBut I’ve finally made it back. Once with a few guys from church in December and again on Saturday. The unseasonably pleasant weather – ie it’s not pissing it down, gave us the chance to get back again.

On a cold foggy Saturday morning getting out of your scratcher is perhaps the last thing you want to do, but somehow when you do it always seems worthwhile in the end.

What really got me out of bed was the promise of a fry in Tesco in Banbridge along the way.That and the promise of the endorphins of course.

The walk up was uneventful, well for me and Jonny it was, for Sparky it was a somewhat different story, which it appears from the John Wayne type gait, that he is still recovering from. He’ll get over it I’m sure.img_2314.jpg

We feasted on hard bread and packet ham on the top, surrounded by ice crystals but with a clear blue sky over us. We had the company of a dog called Jarvis (not sure if it was after Mr Cocker, but I can hope) who was keen to hoover up any crumbs we had left. Made me wish Lily (the brother’s dog) was old enough to drag up the hills. Though I think she may explode with sheer excitement even at the idea.

Instead of following the wall off the hill I figured we might try some fancy navigation and compass bearings carry on. Till the fog cleared and we realised it was easier to just keep walking till we reached the top of the hill and then just walk toward the sea and we’d end up in the forest where we wanted to be.

img_2324.jpgOn the way down the wind eased, the sun shone on our backs and it was, well, undeniably pleasant. So we simply lay down on the heather and dozed watching two footy games going on below us in Donard park. Not that you could make it out much, just a general swarming of players to and from one side of the field to the other, with the occasional flash of white as the ball got kicked up in the air. At least as entertaining as watching a footy match normally. A thoroughly pleasant moment. I’ve been reading more Jack Kerouac as he tells of his rather Zen moments up a mountain, and I suppose I was in the mood for some ‘thoroughly pleasant moments’. Though without the Buddhism and the alcoholism though…

But my moment of the day goes to the drive back, through silent valley and up towards Spelga and down (past the magic road where your car rolls up hill… honestly it’s magic…).

img_2331.jpg

Left of the road towards Hilltown were simply clouds of starlings doing their crazy swarming thing (like the smoke beast thing in LOST) before nesting for the night. I have absolutely no idea why they do this but am infinitely glad that they do. We parked the car at the side of the road and simply watched them for 15 minutes. And thinking what a mess they’d make of the car if they flew overhead and decided to have some target practice.

Check out an example from youtube…

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