To Dad

I’m just writing a short post today

Today I’m honouring my Dad on his 20th Anniversary!

I have him to thank for what I am doing today – loving the outdoors!

He taught me a lot of things relating to the outdoors. He was also

a man of simplicity, a trait that I picked up early in life! I belive in keeping

things simple, why complicate things?

Thank you Dad, you were the best!!

September is here..!

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The evenings are getting shorter and the darkness falls quick. But it does not stop me from getting out and about on the hills of Wicklow. Got this shot the other evening being out doing our navigation practice in the woods. Got to this open area and the mist was sitting low and could not resist taking a snap.

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The autumn is the season having the most gorgeous colours, I love the contrast between the red berries, the green leaves and the brick wall in the background in this photo.

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A couple weeks ago I was out on the hills with some people marshalling at a charity race, and being out and about you get to see things like this. We had rain clouds coming from one side and the sun was setting on the other and the heather is so gorgeous this year. I love the purplish ‘carpet’ covering the grounds. And to tell you the truth the heather is a great cushion while doing the bivvy at night. Yep, have actually slept outside up on those hills. The experience is interesting, but have to say that I cannot wait til all the midges are gone. They have been really annoying this year.

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This picture was taken while heading out on one of the bivvy nights. This is taken standing above the Miners Village in Glendalough, after walking up the zig-zags (as we call it) and the lake in the background is the Upper Lake. It was a lung buster getting up here I have to admit. I love this place, and once you get up a bit you get a different perspective of the surroundings. On the way up here we came across a few deers that were looking at us like we were some ‘out from space’ creatures.

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Well, this is not the best picture but as close as I could get in these circumstances. It is quite rewarding when you see things like this, makes it worth while getting out. We were from here navigating up to the spot where we should stay for the night. The forecast was rain in early morning, but in fact we were very lucky. There was no rainfall during the night which you can imagine felt good. But, we woke to a huge mist coming over us so we had to raise early, get our gear together and start our trek back to base.

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The mist lifted once we got a bit lower, but then the rain started to drizzle and it got real wet. But still, look at this view, isn’t is gorgeous? No matter when you’re out on these mountains/hills it is just as beautiful (in my opinion). This was Saturday morning at around 6.30 a.m. and it turned out to be a very busy day, so was up and down the hills in various locations.

As you can see our backpacks were pretty big and might seem heavy, but it was not so bad. You need to be clever when packing for a night out, and not pack things you absolutely won’t be needing. Keep it to the minimum, but be safe.

  • Sleeping bag – in the Wicklow mountains you’ll need a warm one.
  • Bivvy bag to put outside your sleeping bag.
  • Extra warm change of clothes
  • Food and snacks, water
  • Ground mat
  • Stove (if you have one) if not, there’s always someone in the group that has one.
  • Plastic bags to keep your backpack dry and your boots.
  • Storm shelter to cover your equipment, also good to get under to get changed for ‘bed’. (this should ALWAYS be in your bag).
  • All your other outdoor necessities; map, compass, head torch plus spare batteries, hat, gloves, buffs, first aid kit, waterproof trousers and jacket, etc.
  • Basically, think ahead and be prepared for the unexpected, without packing too much because you have to carry all the stuff all the way – and rain and mist comes in quickly at times.

 

Enjoy your time on the Hills!

The mountains are calling and I must go…

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This picture was taken during one of my many walks, and this particular day in late 2016, we had a little bit of frost when we were climbing up Scarr in Wicklow. We started our trek from the Oldbridge and walked up towards Carrigeenshinnagh (528m). It was a bit steep  and there were many false horizons before we finally reached the summit (641m). And, it was cold up there so we didn’t stay very long, we had a quick nibble break and continued our journey down towards Dry Hill and the forest line where we linked up with the Wicklow way and walked back to the cars.

I haven’t done much art in the past week, but planning on getting back into it soon again. I am being pulled between so many things these days, but they are all good though, and very fulfilling. But most of all I simply love getting up on the mountains, and Wicklow is a lovely place to live, having the mountains at our door step, what else do you want? Not much really.

Today I have been out on a ‘test’ run in my new trail runners, from Salomon. And, I must say that again I am positively surprised by how well these shoes fit my feet. It started when I bought a new pair of boots, the one’s I had was really killing my feet, especially after some 26km walks and your feet feels extremely sore. I started to research to find a boot that fit my feet better. And after some searching I have finally found the type of boots that is really good for the type of activities I do in the mountains. And I must say that now I am flying up the hills (litterally) and it is such a difference on how I can move about and not having to even think of my feet, because they are comfortably supported by the new Salomon boots I have. It is extremely important to chose the type of boot that suites your feet. My feet are narrow and long so therefore my previous boots was not good at all because they were wide and a bit heavy in comparison. So my feet were abit wobbly and this caused a huge discomfort while I was out on the hills, because my feet did not have the proper support, it almost felt like walking on a line and constantly keeping the balance.

And the same was with my test run this afternoon, the shoes felt very comfortable and my feet were secured and they gave a proper cushion support from the hard surface that I ran on. I have usually bought Asics for my running but now when I am slowly venturing into do hill running as well as road running, I needed a shoe that I can use for both.

The mountains are calling and I must go ~ John Muir

 

Vintage cars and more

We have already reached the middle of August, the evenings are getting slightly shorter and the children will soon return back to school. The summer always go by way too fast in my opinion. But, I do like the Autumn very much, as I mentioned in my previous post. It’s time to get cosy indoors, well for some at least. I’ll spend more time outdoors than indoors at times, even if the weather is not so pleasant. It does not really bother me too much, as long as you use proper clothes and protection.

I am here sharing a little video I created recently showing some of my favourite artwork. And some of these originals has actually been sold to various corners of the World, which makes it worth the while.

Whenever I have a spare moment I bring out my pens and brushes just to make some doodles. And here is one of my latest snowmen which I have chosen not to colour, the details won’t be the same if I do I think.

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Sometimes what I enjoy most, is to just let my imagination paint it’s own picture on the paper. There are no rules or etiquette, just let it flow.

‘To be an artist is to believe in Life’   Henry Moore

Autumn is in the air

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Well, wether we want it or not, the autumn is slowly making it’s approach, I do smell the difference in the air and it feels more fresh (sort of). Spending as much time in the outdoors as I do, you notice the changes even if they are very small. I can sense a slight change, and to be quite honest I do like the Autumn. However, having said that, I ain’t so fond of the rain, but if it stays reasonably dry it is very nice.

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As an illustrator coming to the month of August, I usually get into my Christmas/winter mode, and all sorts of images are playing in my head. I am sharing a few ‘warm ups’ I’ve been working on in the past few days. Even though I am busy being out in the mountains and hills, I try to find time to do some art in between depending on the inspiration and mojo.

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This picture was taken at the zig-zags above the miners village in Glendalough, we were hiking up towards the Camaderry mountain to have our bivvy night (sleeping out in the mountains). I am fortunate living near the mountains and get out doing things like this regularly. We came across a few dears that were observing us curiously, probably wondering what we were doing there, at their turf.

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We come across these fella’s quite often during our walks and at times being out practicing night navigation, they stay in the distance just observing and then we can only hear them. They have a very destingtive sound.

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In the early morning on Saturday, we had to get up early because the mist was coming in around us and we had to head down towards our base. In the mountains the weather can change extremely fast from one minute to the other basically. And you have to be prepared for it, and most importantly knowing where you are. We chose to follow the path all the way down to Glendalough village, but if you don’t have a track to follow your navigation skills are important, and knowing how to use a map and compass.

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Well, we finally arrived at our base beside the old Monastery village where this round tower is located. Shortly after this picture was taken, our day should turn out to be a very busy one, helping other walkers/cyclists/mountaineers in need.

The mountains are calling and I must go!‘  – John Muir

 

 

Summer travels part 3

On Thursday morning we started our long journey from Oslo over to Stavanger. It is somewhat 485km, so we better start driving. We got off to a good start with nice motorways and fine roads. I was the designated driver for the day, so that himself could relax and have a look around at the landscape and other things that we were driving by. One thing that we noticed is, that there is a lot of tunnels in Norway. Why you may wonder, and the reason is that there are quite a lot of hills and rocky mountains. And rather than driving up and down these hills/mountains, they have built tunnels that goes through instead. The first 250 km or so went smooth, but then when we were getting closer to Kristiansand, there were roadworks (of course), and the traffic slowed down to 50-60 km/h. So, that made our travel time a little bit longer, that Google maps hadn’t taking in to consideration giving the total travel time LOL!

We were driving quite a long time before we came onto better roads again. But, the speed limit was pendling between 50 to 80 km/h due to very bendy roads and at some places narrow. And the tunnels!!! Gosh, I completely lost counting of them all. Beside me himself were doing a lot of oh’s and ah’s and snapping like mad with his camera. The truth is that driving through Norway has that effect on you. Because no matter where you go, there’s always something spectacular showing up. You can drive through a tunnel, and when you come out on the other side you are greeted by a view that simply take your breath away. I have said it many times, and will say it again – Norway is one of my favourite countries, the landscape is fabulous! With all the hills, mountains and the fjords!! Absolutely AWESOME!

Anyway, when we had been driving for a good while and still had some two hours left til our destination Stavanger. This view came into play, we simply had to stop to take some snap, I did not care about the driving time. At this stage we had been on the roads for some 7 hours. But close to 9PM we finally arrived to our destination and the hotel we would be staying at for some nights.

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Stavanger is the capital of oil and is located on the south west coast of Norway. It is a typical harbour town, with beautiful buildings as you see in this photo. And, most of the houses were made in wood and the design was very interesting. I can say that I fell in love with this town, and it is here all the seriously gorgeous fjords starts. On our second day we went out on a boat trip up to Lysefjorden which was an hour away by boat. Lysefjorden is 42 km long but we would only travel 15 km in.

Norway is a big Viking country, many viking kings were from here and lived here. And you can get the idea when looking at the pictures above, there is a lot of water and those high cliffs are just amazing. All along the fjord the cliff raised some 1000m, it was absolutely fantastic. The landscape is very dramatic, and if you look into the horizon, there are layers upon layers of mountains, and they sort of differ in colour. From being darker in the foreground, and becoming more shady/smokey as further you see. The boat took us all into the cliff walls, and they played (at a few places) beautiful music by Edvard Grieg, he has written some beautiful classical music. And the music made the places even more dramatic, and there was an echo going around the high walls.

We made an interesting visit to some friends that were standing at the shore waiting for us, there were a few goats being at the green hills that were close to the water. We drove all the way in to say hello, and the crew threw some carrots to them which they happily accepted. The boat took us some 15 km in the fjord itself until we reached a waterfall that were cascading water out from the cliffs and the sound was defening but so beautiful. The boat drove us all the way into it, and it was just aaaaaa….so beautiful! We eventually arrived back into the harbour again to continue our sightseeing through the town.

One thing though, in Norway everything is ferosiously expensive, but it was worth it.  In my next post I will write about our journey back to the east coast again, it was the journey of our lives, so stay tuned…!

~A happy traveller~

 

Summer travels part II

So…we have arrived in Fredrikstad and this is a town where neither himself or I have been before. It’s a nice town by the sea, we have sort of based this trip on sea cities/towns. That is the whole idea with this journey. And to get the most out of these places July is really the best time to go. Everything will be open and the quays and streets will be buzzing of life. 


We were so lucky with the weather too, we only had one day that was a bit cloudy but the rest has been sunny and hot. Yes we do get hot summers in Scandinavia, well for us 20-25C is quite hot. But it is really a good place to be when the weather is good in the summer, to sit outside a restaurant and just watch the life go by, having a nice meal or just some cool drinks. 


On Wednesday morning we went for a walk along the quay and ended up at an older part of the town called Gamlebyen, it has old wooden buildings and houses, cobble stones on the streets, interesting restaurants and beer gardens. And the sun was beaming with its heat, but it was so nice just walking around here. 


The Norwegians are very nice and laid back people. In this town they had ferries taking you around the area and you could just hop on and off where you needed to go, and the service is free. Now that is great. 


It was like a bus but on the water. We used these several times during our two days in this town. 


On our last day visiting we came across a museum with model trains where they had built up huge villages and trains and buses where driving around, everything was controlled by a computer program, it was really cool. 

But every good thing has its end, it was time to drive north up to the capital of Norway, Oslo. I have visited this city before so here I knew my way around the streets. We had a little longer stay here to enjoy the city and have a good look at it. 


We arrived to a tremendous heat, the city was litterly boiling, but we got to a restaurant off Karl Johan’s Gate (the famous pedestrian street) to have a bite to eat and chill. Norway is a very expensive country, my goodness, but still love every time I visit. 


On Friday we visited the old fort in the middle of the city centre. We had a little wander around here to bask in some of its history, before we headed down to Akers Brygge that is located just beside the fort. 


When you travel to places you tend to find restaurants that you just like, and go back to several times. On Karl Johan’s Gate there is a cafe called Café Cathedral, and really enjoyed it there. Good food and staff. 


At our last day we went on a guided cruise along the Oslo fjord to take a good look at Oslo from the sea side and the surrounding islands and coast. 


During this cruise we saw some really nice things and areas. There was one light house that looks like a church, but it is actually a light house and it is still in operation. And also some small huts by the sea front and got to know that these are actually bath houses that belongs to the surrounding summer houses. Each owner has their own bath hut. It’s really cool. 

In the morning we will make a longer journey over to Stavanger which is more on the south west coast of Norway. 

Summer travels part I

Himself and I decided to make a little bit different journey for our holiday this year, instead of going to Greece as we usually do, we decided to go to Sweden and from there rent a car and drive up along the west coast in to Norway. 


On Friday 14th of July we drove to our first destination Alingsås where my son and his family lives. It was so nice to see them again and to see Jack and Stella (the two grandchildren). They are now 3 and 11 months. 

On Saturday we went to a park where they also have a pet farm. The kids loved it and it was nice to spend some quality time with them. 


We had a lovely day there and in the evening himself and I took the train in to Gothenburg city to walk around a little. Gothenburg is a beautiful city at the west coast. 

On Sunday it was time to leave and start our journey up further north along the coast. And we drove by the island where I grew up to stop by my dads grave. It felt good. 


We arrived at our destination in Lysekil in the afternoon where we would stay for a couple nights before heading up to Norway. It is not really a long drive going up to Oslo from there but we will break up our journey in several bits, to make the most of it. 


Lysekil is a nice town by the sea, it was very windy during our stay, but the sun was shining so it wasn’t too bad. I have spent lots of time here previously so knew a lot of places here. But on Tuesday morning we headed north to the Norwegian town Fredrikstad…and will tell you more about that in my next post so stay tuned. 

Lugnaquilla part 3

This day it was a sunny and very hot day, and to trek up Lugnaquilla was on my agenda for this day. And how do you prepare yourself for a day on the hills, and a very hot day? 

You have to think it through carefully, what to pack in your backpack, in terms of gear, food etc. The hills can be super enjoyable, but if you’re not prepared it can turn out to be a nightmare. 


We were going to climb up from the south side starting at Fenton’s pub in Seskin. And to take this route it is gradually getting steeper, once getting over Camara Hill, then the real climb starts. On this day we took frequent breaks and water/nibble breaks. We were quite a large group and people with various hiking experiences and we had to keep the speed at a moderate pace. 


When we finally reached the summit of 925 m we were not alone on a day like this. The sheep were calmly eating away at the side of our path and did not give us much attention. I think they are quite use to mad hikers climbing up and down these hills. 

It is always a good feeling arriving at the summit and Lugnaquilla ain’t no different. As it is located at the south part of the Wicklow mountains and standing at the top and looking around, you see all the other peaks and hills all around. It is a gorgeous view. 


This day we were doin the ‘horse shoe loop’ from the summit of Lug we continued our path towards Cannow, then across towards Table Mountain, where we turned left down to the forest track which would take us back down to the Fenton’s Pub where our cars were parked. 


Every we’re in good spirits, a bit tired but the mission was accomplished. We saw a few deers on our walk down the hills. That is always a fantastic sight. 

I enjoy taking people around on the hills, as a guide you need to be observant of the participants so that they are doing ok. At this walk there were three walkers that decided to turn around at the beginning of our walk, where I had to advice them not to take on this walk as it is a tough one and it was really hot. 

The distance ended up at 20,5 km and it took us about seven hours in total including frequent stops. But this is what I do and on the hills is where I spend most of my free time these days. 

And my advice before you head out for a day on the hills, be prepared, check the weather forecast before hand, inform people around you where you’re going and when you’ll be expected back, bring enough energy producing food, water, and extra food/snacks in case you’d be delayed.  Map & compass, fully charged phone. Wear a good pair of boots that are sturdy enough and comfortable, extra warm clothes (be aware that he temperature drops 1 degree for every 100m your ascending up the mountains) the weather can change very quickly. Waterproof jacket and over trousers should be one of you essential things to pack. 

The hills should be enjoyable, but heading out not being prepared can cause unnecessary problems. If you do find yourself in trouble don’t hesitate to call 999/112 and request Mountain Rescue. 

Enjoy the hills!