Oz report 2

A trip to Eumundi Markets, a widely acclaimed and up-market-market but, not surprisingly, the sort that tries to empty one's pockets. I noted several of the male species obediently tagging their wives or resting on benches conveniently placed for the purpose.

Apparently the method is to "do" the whole market whilst noting potential items to buy, and then to return to actually make the purchases if nothing better (cheaper) is found. The sales persons were generally good at their job - but this guy failed even though we returned to his stall. Apparently the desirable, water resistant, large purse with many pockets was not needed after all.

The colonisers of Australia have apparently adopted the didgeridoo - two rather loud bands here were employing them. Probably the true native would be appalled at their manner of use. 

This enterprising young guy struck up on Ode of Joy just as we passed and I could not resist donating a dollar (my daughter's) to his cause, for which he thanked me politely.  That well spent dollar was the sum total of my own purchases.

After exhausting the market (or ourselves) we moved onto Noosa main beach and fought the breakers for a while - even in Oz autumn the water was gloriously warm when compared with Ireland.


Oz report

We're staying with K for 3 weeks in Brisbane. So far I have run every morning, though not yet all that far. I'm gradually exploring the neighbourhood whilst generally keeping on paved surfaces as a precaution against spiders, crocs, sharks, box jellies and the like. This mural, on the Morton Bay Rail Link cycle-way, is typical of the local, high-class and tasteful street art.

Last night it rained and it rained and I therefore anticipated a glorious tropical-rain-run this morning but was disappointed. I started off soon after 0630 but by then the rain had eased off. As usual they forecast pessimistically. But at least the residual rain was warm (by Irish standards) and the run was enjoyable.



There is a small freckle on my right leg just above the knee. Not very significant, you say, doubtless most of us have odd freckles here and there. But this one is memorable - I can remember as a child studying this freckle. Look back at your childhood and you will probably not remember being aware of your own body, indeed even as adults we largely take our bodies for granted. And so, along with my favourite picture of myself kindly colour corrected by JA, this freckle is yet another link with my childhood.

I considered posting a photo of my freckle but, on reflection, figured that whilst I would see the freckle, others would only see pimples on my hairy leg...


Courtown run

Five mile run interlude during home school conference in Gorey, Co.Wexford.

Wild garlic

Furthest point North

The sea, the sea... 

Just heard on the radio for the first time the song La mer and rather liked it, with lyrics in the original French as any poetry is totally lost in an English translation.



Thou shalt not six

To update those of my readers who may not be otherwise aware of T's progress, I have just heard that the effects of the chemo are now hitting him hard. I need not go into details except to say that it makes me cry to read his parents' latest post. I continue to ask God for his complete healing, but now also for T's strength, hope, protection and perseverance to see this thing through.

Previous post


A man of God died last week

Probably several did, but this was someone who had input into my life, although that was many years ago. At one point I regarded him as a sort of spiritual father and indeed leaned too heavily on him as I have alluded to in other posts. But looking back I can say that his input into my life ended up all positive, though I might not have thought so at the time. Indeed I would not be where I am now if it were not for his input although one can conclude the same from just about any past circumstance, butterflies and all that. I have no photograph to share but do have his signature at the end of, I think, the only note he sent me. His parting words preceding his sign-off were "pray for me as I do for you". I regret that I have not obeyed that missive as well as I might have - because of my ridiculous philosophy I had back then that he was too far above my realm to warrant my prayers having any effect. Perhaps history would have been kinder if I had. But what I do know is that God turned a past estrangement completely around and has bound two families together in a way that still blows my mind to think about it.


Thou shalt not five

The boy is now in full sway of medication with his family living close by in a hostel. To quote "the impact of the chemo medication will hit next week".  I happened to have a bookmark in Hebrews 13 and, after reading his latest post, happened to look down and my eyes alighted on verse 23: Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty and could not help a spark of hope igniting within me.

My previous post


I like this picture

Sci-Fi stories about time travel are often unsatisfactory and yet the concept is curiously attractive. But we can sort of time travel back by looking at photographs.

I like this picture - it brings back memories of posing for it whilst feeling the warmth of the dog beside me and the roughness of the bricks under my legs, and anyway it is a great photo - does that make me a narcissist?

Sadly the colours have faded - I was in fact wearing a light blue jumper and the sky behind was largely blue. I've tried adjusting the colours but cannot get it quite right.

The location was our "top garden", the one with the swimming pool (to the right) and my workshop (on the left).

I use this picture as my avatar for various computer apps so I get to see it daily. And sometimes as I look at it and dwell on times past I remember that my father, behind the camera, was also looking and it makes me wonder - and this makes my heart lurch - how much did I disappoint him in later life? Doubtless he appreciated my company in the railway room, the things I used to invent, my success at Oxford and getting a job for the BBC, my falling in love and marrying Ali. But then more and more of my time and devotion was spent on church things and with my own family and, when my mother died, he began to spend more time at the W's and for both these reasons we got to be with each other less and less.

If I could live my life over again many things I would not change - but I like to think this I would change - to spend more time and talk more with both my parents. To be an encouragement to them particularly in their later years.


Wonder of wonders

Something out of the ordinary happened today - I was running my standard 4.25 mile course and on the uphill to Cavanagh's farm when I became aware of a cyclist keeping pace alongside me. Conversation ensued and I found that he was a barefoot runner! The very first person I have met who runs barefoot! Or should I say ran, because he admitted he gave it up a while ago for fear of finding broken glass or worse in his native area of Phoenix Park. Seeing me gave him resolve to start running barefoot again.


Thou shalt not tempt update 4

I did not hear any results of the blood tests so I suppose they did not indicate complete healing as we had hoped. I have now subscribed to the family's email feed so no longer have to rely on a friend giving me updates. Their latest update starts "T's chemotherapy medicines started dripping into his central line at Noon on Tuesday. And I'm not sure what more to write." I am hurting inside when I read this. I had thought that the "burden" I had felt to pray for complete healing, so as to avoid him having to go through chemo, was from God and therefore that it would happen. Not for any good in me but because God keeps his word. Of course it is possible to rationalise - perhaps it was my own silly emotions and no burden from God. Perhaps there is no God and the whole thing is an illusion. I've already made the point whether he is healed or not is not my business - it is God who will do it or not do it. But I still feel like I have failed in some way. Of course I suppose there have been many others praying for healing - I wonder how they feel? Most of all I wonder how the boy himself feels, who had said "it gives God more time to do the big miracle of healing!". And it must be so trying for his siblings and parents.

And this is not the only time I have been pretty convinced that God was telling me to pray in a particular way but not yet seeing what I regarded as a full answer. Maybe I have to wait longer. Those guys in in the roll-call of faith, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise in their lifetime. Tough! And not only that but I have contracted a cold which itself makes a chap feel in the mulligrubs; not only that but my business has (hopefully temporarily) ground to a halt, and I have to wear glasses and now it looks like I might have to wear a hearing aid. And because I am supposed to be one of the leaders in the church here but I feel like that is largely a joke. And, I could go on... I predict that any people who live here reading this will say the equivalent of "Everybody needs a Michael" which roughly translated means Michael will mend the broken this or that, and doubtless Michael will for I like mending things, but is that my sole purpose in life? Maybe it is.

Of course I know the words: Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.  For you have been a shelter for me and a strong tower from the enemy.  I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. And have taken, and will continue to take some comfort in them. But still...

And these words: And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?  I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man comes, shall he find faith on the earth? The Greek word translated "speedily" means just that, however God's idea of speed does not generally tally with my own and the final "shall he find faith?" suggests that many will not go on believing in the face of apparent denial, rather as seems to be happening to me. At least I can take comfort in dear old Thomas who admitted "Except I see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe."

Nevertheless I will (try to) doggedly continue to ask God to heal this boy, plain contrary to what I am told is happening to him, and in the meantime may God give strength and perseverance to him and his family throughout whatever ordeal he has to go through.


The sea, the sea

I have just finished reading the sea, the sea by Iris Murdoch and have found its portrayal of "the jumble of motivations that drive (the narrator) Arrowby - the human vanity, jealousy, and lack of compassion behind the disguises they present to the world" a disturbingly accurate caricature of what goes on in my own consciousness. I persisted through its sometimes banal and boring, but sometimes beautiful narrative because I wanted to see if Arrowby's experiences and conclusions would draw any light on my own. They didn't, of course, except to make me more curious.

The subject matter reminds me of Till we have faces which centres around the narrator Orual's possessive and jealous love for her sister. Only in this case Lewis is able to present to the reader at least a suggestion of the resolution to the problem echoed in the title of the book.

I cringe when I consider what face I present to God, who made me, or to my fellow man.



Castletown House

I was let out today so I cycled to Castletown House. Yesterday the weather was balmy; today it was overcast and the wind was cold and the only time I felt remotely warm was on the way back, whilst eating a CDM and drinking Club Orange, courtesy of Swans on the Green (a shop), and on a bench in the said green, when the sun deigned to shine somewhat feebly between incessant clouds.

Swans on the Green

Time for a smackeral - spot the CDM!

The route

I doubt if William Conolly was ever caught eating a Creme Egg on a bench outside his palatial residence.

Castletown House grounds were humming with walkers, dogs, joggers and, surprising, bicycles.  I found a back way in, close to Western aerodrome. Which latter was of course where it all started, "it" being my youngest's passion for flying.

Stats: 59.0 miles, average speed moving 12.6 mph, maximum speed 33 mph.

Detail by Western aerodrome and Castletown House


A brief visit to the Wicklow Gap

A busy weekend - removing carpet in hall stairs and landings and repairing floorboards ready for a new carpet to be laid later this week - but a gorgeous day so after doing my bit I got away for a couple of hours, enough to make the Wicklow Gap and back again. With a cold hot cross bun.

The outward journey took just over an hour, then 5 minutes of bliss atop a large rock enjoying the scenery and enjoying my bun sluiced down with water, and then hastening back again (we have company for dinner).

Total distance 21 miles, maximum speed 40 mph (the downhill behind Knockalt), average speed moving 12.3 mph, maximum elevation 480m.

The outward journey follows part of St Kevin's Way - but I only saw one walker and he wasn't on the official Way. Whilst I condone the increasing number of way-marked paths here in Ireland (I can't think of any when we first moved down from the North 35 years ago) it is still a long way behind the UK. When last in Devon I was reminded of just how many public footpaths there are. This site notes that Devon County Council is responsible for maintaining 3.200 miles of public rights of way, and there are similar sites for other UK counties, like here for my county of birth. Here even the way-marked paths often cross private property with permission but without right of way.

At least there is growing pressure here in Ireland for change.


Thou shalt not tempt update 3

It's been a while since I last posted. The reason being that I hadn't heard any more news until today, and today's is not yet the "wow" I had been hoping for. There are apparently no indications of healing as yet and thus the family is preparing for the medical profession's solution. But they are still hopeful in saying "We're praying for a smooth journey through it but we're still praying for the spontaneous miracle!" And I am too. He will have his bone marrow tested on Friday and I guess the results will be the acid test of whether or not there has been healing so - watch this space.

Is this faith? Even if like "These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar"?  I am not sure that I am up for that kind.

My hope is that by my sharing all this publicly, anonymously though it must be, my reader will be, like I was, roused to stand with this boy and his family. A sort of crowdfunding.

Prayer meetings

Does anyone else out there have my problem with prayer meetings?

We evangelicals venerate prayer meetings.  They are, perhaps, the evangelical's equivalent of penance. Like medicine, the nastier it tastes very obviously the better it must be for you.

Here in the community in which I live, after our evening meal sometimes one or another will share the needs of a friend, relative or local neighbour and, being convicted, folk will spontaneously pray out loud for the situation.  To me that is good and wholesome and different from the sort of organised prayer meetings I am talking about.

After most everyone else has prayed out loud at least once one feels a certain pressure to follow suit. And this makes me up-tight and even less likely to think of anything to say. As if prayer should consist of trying to drum something to say!

"And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. "And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him." Mat 6:5-8

...and then follows what we call "the Lord's prayer". Which, apart from its familiarity, is about as far from any "normal" prayer I hear said here as you can get.

The account in the gospel of Luke tells us this was in response to the disciples asking the Lord how they should pray. Of course as Jews they knew about prayer so they were asking something deeper, perhaps after seeing the results of Jesus' praying. Like "teach us how to pray, the sort of prayer that has effect". Which are my sentiments also.

That "your Father knows" gives insight that the purpose of prayer is not telling God stuff as if He didn't know. Or, when folk wax eloquent in a prayer meeting, are they doing so to inform the others present rather than to inform God? In which case can it really be called prayer?


Spring is my favourite colour

Saturday bike ride to Rathdrum and back, the purpose being to suss out a possible route for a kid's camp later in the year. About 50 miles round trip and I got cramp several times. Argh! I must be out of condition.

Looking west from Wicklow Gap - it's mist not the sea!

The beautiful Avonmore River

Spring time Ballygannon tree tops

My Sunday run (just 5 miles) somewhat affected by yesterday's bike ride. So many flowers are yellow at this time of the year!


My favourite


My lake

Dunno what these are but they're cute

Specially when out of focus





Google tells me it was Holi Festival a few days back. It looks like fun though what all those chemicals do to one's body when inhaled or ingested I dread to think. But, given my love of colour, perhaps I ought to be Hindu?


The lake (again)

Combining yesterday and today I ran (barefoot of course) 17.7 miles which sounds impressive but it doesn't count so much when summed over two days. I may have said before how much I love our lake but, because I do and there were some cool light effects with a storm around, I have to inflict some more photos on you. Sorry, but that's just the way it goes. It is, after all, my blog.


The bell

I've started reading The bell by Iris Murdoch. I admit I haven't yet got very far but already I am impressed by the telling detail of her description of unbelieving Dora returning, after a period of separation, to her alienated husband Paul who is now part of an Anglican lay community. His life is conditioned by the community. Hers by her shallowness of character and previous dispensing with religion. And yet of the two she is the more likely to give time to stand and stare...

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
William Henry Davies

I do allow myself a little time to stand and stare, well at least to run barefoot and stare. I try to get out four times a week although two of those are early morning when I am only half awake. These are good times for private prayer, and for dusting cobwebs from the mind and I like to think they also keep me fitter than I would otherwise be given my office job. The other great escape is my bed: how I love that feeling of laying my head on my pillow, relaxing every muscle and at last surrendering myself to sleep. Oh, and breakfast. Because I generally retire at a sensible time I also start the day earlier than most others here. This means I can take my breakfast in solitude, a practise that I firmly recommend.

But at other times I too, like Paul, am conditioned and imprisoned by my supposed beliefs. I say "supposed" because so much I find myself wrestling on the horns of the dilemma: is what we say we believe true or are we Christians fools?

I'm rather of the opinion that the truth is somewhere else. I am reminded of

But amidst all these rejoicings Aslan himself quietly slipped away. And when the Kings and Queens noticed that he wasn't there they said nothing about it. For Mr Beaver had warned them, "He'll be coming and going," he had said. "One day you'll see him and another you won't. He doesn't like being tied down and of course he has other countries to attend to. It's quite all right. He'll often drop in. Only you mustn't press him. He's wild,' you know. Not like a tame lion."  Lewis

When I was younger I had a problem with Lewis' theology as expressed here. We evangelicals are taught that God is omnipresent. But I find it to be true in my life that it at least seems like He comes and goes. And my fervour or lack of it doesn't appear to make any difference, again contrary to what we are taught. I don't want to exchange standing and staring at the beauty of this year's daffodils (my fav flower) for busyness and religious activity.

Then I wonder how I can have the gall to even contemplate such agnosticism when at the same time we are warned that over a million children might starve to death in Africa this year, and hear of atrocities in Syria, inhumanity in N. Korea, and so the list goes on. Not that either my being busy or standing and staring has yet, I regret, made any difference to the third world.


Cold, wet and dismal

Now king David was old and stricken in years; and they covered him with clothes, but he gat no heat. No, I'm not that far gone yet but sometimes in the winter I can kind of identify with "he gat no heat". Today it was cold and drizzling and misty and dismal and I ran my usual course plus a bit along the lake-side, 6.6 miles in all, followed by a long hot bath and then a book, an arm-chair, a large mug of hot tea and Cherry Bakewell for recovery.

Blessington lake in the mist