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!

Saturday hill walk, Maulin Co. Wicklow

Saturday’s has become my “hill walking” day and after a week in the office, it feels really good getting out and about on the hills. It is a great catalyst to get out in nature, and take in all the beauty that is out there. We are approaching a very nice time of the year, Spring is lurking out there, but at the moment the “bad” and cold weather we’ve had have sort of kept spring from arriving properly. But, I’d say in a couple of weeks the weather will be much warmer and we will be able to enjoy sitting out in the sun again.

Me myself, am a sun lover and my best moment is an early morning, bringing my newly brewed strong coffee out in our garden and just sit out there taking in the scent of everything, listening to the birds chirping away in the trees and bushes, hearing the traffic humming in the distance. I love getting out early before life around us gets busy, before the neighbours wake up and starting their day. There is also a different scent outdoors at this time of year, not sure about you, but I certainly smell it.

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Last Saturday started out pretty good, with some sunny spells and patches of blue skies as you can see in the above photo. Moments like these are rare here in Ireland, but they do exist and when this happens you simply catch the moment and just enjoy it. I certainly do and that’s where my hill walks comes in handy. It does not matter if it is a sunny, rainy or extremely windy day, I still love it and see the beauty of the surrounding nature.

Anyway we started our walk by meeting at the Crone Forest car park and from here we will have a zig-saggy track, and for the fun of it we are throwing in a few lung busters as well. This time we have a few relatively new hill walkers with us, quite a large group actually, the more the merrier. I started out my hill walking here in Ireland with http://mikeshikes.ie and now I am helping out at the walks guiding and keeping the group together etc. I have always been an outdoorsy person and it comes easy to me.

Here we are starting to get up on the heights a little bit, climbing up towards the summit. And as you can see the clouds are closing up on us, and the mist were coming in behind us. It’s funny though, every time I have been up this summit [Maulin] it has always been misty, and poor visibility of the surrounding area. This summit is not so bad because there are paths to follow, a bit rocky but it’s fairly easy to find your way down on the other side. We did not stay too long up there because it was very windy and cold up there, and once we got down a bit it got warmer and less windy. We had the wind in our backs. But I quite enjoy this route.

This coming Saturday I am heading out on another adventure, longer walks and also a night walk so that should be interesting and fun. but I will write about it in another post.

Wishing all a great weekend and be safe out there!

The wild Mountains

Recently I have been out on a challenging walk through rougher terrains of the Wicklow mountains. A few of us were out doing a walk. We walked a part which took us over very rough terrain, with wet grounds, rough bog areas and mist. I knew from the start that this would be a long day’s walk, and prepared myself by starting out eating a good breakfast. Packing my provisions I would need during the day, to refill your energy depots are extremely important while doing the hill walks. I always carry raisins/sultanas, chocolate and snack bars in my “food bag” along with some lunch which usually is wraps that I prepare before heading out.

To chose the right gear is essential, and always be prepared for the worst, anything can happen while your out there. It can be nice weather when you start walking, but it can change very quickly once you get up a bit higher. The air gets cooler and you are facing stronger winds and many times mist/fog which makes the visibility limited. And this particular morning it started out pretty good on the lower grounds, but once we started to get up a bit higher we were facing the mist and cold air. The climb up towards Art’s Cross was the toughest part, because it was quite steep and you had to take it very slow and easy while climbing up. The ground was extremely wet and mucky, so it was quite slippery.

This day we were walking some 17 km and it took us in total seven hours.

When we were out on the flat area working our way back, we came across a pack of deer, there is a lot of them around the mountains. Luckily for us, that the fog had lifted otherwise we would not be able to have such clear sight as we had here. The deer’s were gorgeous as you can see in these photos. We stopped and were quiet not to disturb them too much, they eventually ran off  and we could continue our journey over the bog.

So you can see from these photos, that the grounds we were walking were not even, you had to be really careful and look where you put your feet. My advise is to always wear a good pair of boots with good ankle support, to help you feel more comfortable. And gaiters is always good to wear to prevent muck and wet get into your shoes and it also keeps the lower part of your trousers clean. I made a few jumps over the bog where I landed with one foot, and I could hear a ‘swomp’ and my foot went down a few inches in the muck. This happened a few times on this walk, but thanks to my good choice of gear my feet were warm and dry when I got home as well as my lower legs. However there were a few times I had to make a bum slide to be able to get down from a high sloop where it was wee too high to make a jump. But that comes with the work as they say.

Here are a few more picture, that will give you an idea of the area we walked. The views are always spectacular, even on a grayish day like this.

I have been resting for a few days this week and will be heading out on the hills again on Saturday, to a different part of Wicklow Mountains. This time we will walk down in the Glenmalure area which is south west from Glendalough.

I will be back with more updates next week. It is getting closer to Christmas and hope that you are all prepared to enjoy this holiday season.

Trek up to Scarr summit (641m)

The hill walk this weekend was taking us up to the summit of Scarr mountain, co Wicklow. img_4963

At this hill walk I knew it was going to be cold, especially when reaching higher grounds. So this day the warm gear was coming on. Where I live is on the lower grounds and we are only about 15 – 20 minutes by car from the mountains, and leaving our area you are gradually climbing upwards, and you can even feel your ears pop. Luckily there was no ice on the roads this morning, I was a bit worried that it might be. When I reached the higher grounds, I could see the snow covered mountain tops in the distance and I was thinking, this is absolutely gorgeous.

I met up with the group (http://www.mikeshikes.ie) in a place called Roundwood and we were a good amount getting out today. From Roundwood we then drove another 5-10 minutes to park the cars before starting our trek for the day. This was a slightly longer route, and the first half of it would contain a lot of climbing, and there were some false horizons. But as we started our journey up the hill, the air slightly changed and we started to encounter frost on the ground, and some icy patches where the water was creating streams down the hills.

The wind was slightly picking up while we were climbing, but the views that met us on the way up was absolutely stunning. You certainly feel like one with nature up there, it’s not only beautiful, if you’re not careful it can be quite dangerous. It is important to first of all take it easy, look where you put your feet, to avoid slipping and hurting yourself. Stay on the grass side of the path if possible, to avoid icy patches. At some areas with rocks it might be hard to see the think layer of ice.

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In the picture above we have just reached the summit, and you see how much frost that is covering the grounds. The mountains in the far distance are a bit higher and some of them were totally covered with snow. Lugnaquilla is one of them and it was practically completely white. At this summit, Scarr, it was very cold so we only took a quick nibble break before we started our journey down to the lower grounds.

I have been walking with this group http://www.mikeshikes.ie  for a while and the leader, Mike, lives in the same estate as us. And he is a trained mountain guide and always takes us on very good walks, real hikes if you like. Because we walk through terrains that can be both easy and tough, and we really get to experience the roughness and wildness of the landscape. The Wicklow mountains has many beautiful spots, and each of them has something special.

On this walk we encountered various views as you can see in the pictures, down below it was calmer and felt really warm actually. But when reaching higher up, it was changing fast and you were really happy to be all wrapped up. I can’t stress this enough, that to dress properly is essential when getting out on the hills. It is better to peal off a layer if you get warm or the opposite put on an extra layer if it gets colder. Always be prepared by bringing an extra layer of warm clothes in your back pack along with hot drink, water and food/snacks. It is good to carry a storm shelter and survival blankets as well, should you get caught in bad weather.

Where I come from it was a necessity to wrap up well, it’s almost like when you learn to ride a bicycle, after a while you just do it…the autopilot sort of kicks in if that makes sense. I have taken part in winter courses up in the northern areas of Sweden, and up there it is really cold. It can be around-25 to -30 degrees Celcius.

Here are a few pictures of me and my friends in the Home Guard Service (I am the one in the middle) all dressed up in the Swedish Military Uniform, we were all leaders of a cooking group in various areas of Sweden. And at this occasion we were spending a week up in Luleå, the airforce base. The purpose of this course was to learn how to prevent the food, water and other supplies from freezing in the cold. Being in the cooking group might seem like an easy task, but it is a lot of hard work involved, physically and mentally. When you are out in field in cold weather conditions, you have to use your common sense in many ways. First of all to dress properly and the army was great in that sense, they provided us with all essential clothing and equipment that we needed. But one good thing was that you were quite popular among the other units, because everybody needed to EAT and get something warm to drink.

For us it was long days, and it started with early morning getting the kitchen up and cooking. Our kitchen was made out of a big trailer, where we had wood burners and from the burner we connected the pots, and did pressure cooking. When you cook for many people that is really the most effective. And once the breakfast was finished, we started to prepare for lunch and so it went all through the day until it was time to retire into our tent. Yep, we slept in large military tents and kept watch one hour per person. And the wood burner in the middle of the tent, should be glowing red, then the temperature was nice and cosy. You could sort of see if it was warm enough, because the people sleeping pulled their feet closer up towards their stomach away from the heat.

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I am ending with this picture, another one from Wicklow close to Sally Gap.  Wishing all a great week ahead, stay warm and safe!

Rambles by an enthusiastic cyclist

IMG_1430You may think that cycling is not a yearround sport, but in fact it is. In the club I am a member, we get out all year, well during the winter we get out and about as often as the weather allows us to. We are not that crazy that we would get out cycling on a Sunday morning if the rain is poring down, everything in moderation as the wise guys use to say. And this morning it was absolutely beautiful. Yes, the wind was blowing but it was not as bad as it had been earlier in the week. We had a really bad week weather wise, we had rain falling and it was not falling straight down no no, it was falling on the side and to make it even more interesting, we had very heavy winds as well. So judge of my excitement wanting to get out and about was just equal to zero. All I wanted to do once I had finished work was to go home, put my feet up in front of the fire place. That is the best feeling ever, when the weather is rough outside.

But this morning we actually had lovely sunshine and the temperature was down to +4 degrees Celcius or so, not too bad and if you wrap up well you’ll be ok. It is important before getting out, to think “layers” and preferably to use sports gear that is breathable and transporting the heat from the body out through the layers. But the clothes you’re wearing should not be too heavy, because when you’re working your way along on the bike, you will get warm and at some stage today I felt like a steam cooker, could almost imagine the steam poring out through my jacket. But, I was not cold and I could not feel the cold from the wind getting through my layers and onto my bare skin. We had the sun in our face going out on our spin, and the sunglasses were getting steamy as you were getting warm from the exercise. So, go figure.

DSC00724I do live in the most beautiful spot in Ireland, well in my opinion. Co Wicklow has so much beauty with the mountains, the hills  and also the sea. And something that we do have a lot of are hills, and depending on the route we decide to take, there are always some hills that we need to climb. Today we were taking the coast road and stayed most of the spin on the lower roads due to the wind, and here I was thinking, yep that works for me. But then when we turned towards Glenealy I was thinking o-oh I know this route and there are some hills we need to get by on the way back to our end spot. And since we usually stick to the more quiet roads with less traffic, there are some really narrow and hilly roads.

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This picture here on the left, is taken down by the rail road going from Wicklow town and into Dublin city. My husband and I often get down to the beach in Kilcoole and go for a walk. But you will see the hills and mountains in the background in this photo.

Not every spin we do is as hard as it felt today, but the fact that it was my first spin in 4 weeks, so my legs were like spagetti by the time we finished after 50km up and down the roads/hills. But that doesn’t stop me from keep doing it, because it gives you so much boost of energy and you get the opportunity to be out in the fresh air too. I will rest for a day or two and then I will be fit for fight again. And, I am so grateful that I have the physique and health to keep doing this, and to see all those beautiful views along the way comes like a huge bonus. And hopefully we will keep having those clear fresh days, with no frost or ice.

Have a great week everyone and live life to the fullest!

~ Eva’s Chronicles ~

“How does a nature lover survive a day in the city?”

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I love the Autumn season when the leaves changes colour, and the air change from being humid during the summer to be more crisp and fresh. You start to feel the atmoshpere changing in September, the scent of the nature gets different. Don’t get me wrong I do enjoy the summers, however they tend to be quite wet over here in Ireland. But overall it is not so bad, we do get our nice warm sunny days in between. During my years living here in Ireland I have learnt to take advantage of every nice day we have, and since I am an outdoor person I do spend a lot of time outside either in the garden, going for a spin on my bike or a hike in the mountains.

I am fortunate to live in the county of Wicklow, where we have the mountains just at our doorstep. I absolute love it there, and it also reminds me of the northern parts of Sweden. With it’s wild nature, and beautiful earth colours mixed with green. I would say that even on a rainy day the nature looks beautiful, the colours get somewhat deeper. I know that many would agree with me that Wicklow is a beautiful place.

As it happens I do have my job in the city of Dublin, which means I have to do a commute in and out of the city every day for about an hour. And how does a nature lover survive a day in the city having to be tied to a desk all day? Well for starters, I take every opportunity I can to go for a walk. In the mornings I get off at an earlier tram stop and walk the remaining distance into the office. I try to take different routes to get a little bit of variety depending on how much time I have. If I am very early I walk a longer route and if I arrive closer to eight, I take a shorter route, but I still walk. After a while it becomes a habit and something that I need to do, to manage the hours that I need to stay in the office.

The next walk I get is during my lunch, if the weather allows that is. And so far ‘knock on wood’ the weather has been lovely and dry. Some days when it’s raining and the weather is really miserable out there, I nearly climb the walls from sitting indoors.

I try to stick to different routes during my ‘city’ walks, and we have the beautiful Stephen’s Green Park close to where my office is located. And some days I simply walk over there and bring my camera, and this time of year when the leaves are changing colour and falling to the ground, the trees looks so beautiful. The whole nature is beautiful. One funny thing though, that I often come across every time I am there, there is a guy that I think works at the park maintenance area. Whenever I am walking in the park, doesn’t matter what time, he always comes running. He seems to be a serious runner. It’s funny how some people have their daily habits, just like me. He probably think the same as I do, that if I don’t get out do my running, I will go crazy!! Who knows what other’s are thinking while they are out walking or running.

The lunch walks is when I am sort of emptying my head from the drama and stress that I encounter at the office. This is my ‘me’ time – and also the reason I am able to survive my days in the city. I see many people while out walking that would benefit from taking a moment to stop and ‘smell the roses’, as the saying goes. Why running around like a headless chicken and litterally holding their phone under their nose?

These things often makes me laugh to myself though, I found it a little amusing. I did a test once with a lady, she was walking on the foot path, walking towards me. But she was so busy working away with her phone so she didn’t see me coming. I was thinking, here is my chance. So, I simply walked towards her and a few metres in front of her I stopped. I was so curious to know how she would react. Before she was about to walk into me, she looked up and managed to avoid the ‘collission’, and said with a surprised look on her face: ‘Oh, sorry sorry !’.  And then she just continued walking.

So you can imagine at by the time I finally leave the city, I feel so relieved. Thinking to myself: ‘Countryside here I come!’ And when I have parked the car outside the house, I draw a relived sigh and say to myself – ‘I survived another day in the city!’

Eva’s Chronicles

Decided to go fishing…!!

Well, not really gone fishing, but have been working on a new picture of a few fishing boats. It has been a fun week here in the Studio, have been doing a little bit of everything.

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In the beginning of the week, I sketched these funny illustrations of a few animals.

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Mouse and Mushrooms

Night Owls

Night Owls

Squirrel

Squirrel

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I have been making a little progress with my large boat painting, I have added colour to the little shed on the hill and also some more colours on the first boat. There is a lot to do on this one, so I am moving slow on it.  And in the meantime I am working on some smaller pieces. Here below is a new christmas illustration I completed yesterday, the Advents Calendar.

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And here it is finished. This illustration is available as prints and cards, and you can buy them here!

Yesterday I sketched up a new boat painting, and as reference I have used a picture I took while in Gothenburg earlier this year.

IMG_1815IMG_1834Here is the start, and again this picture had some reflections in it  and that is what I had to start to get right when applying the layer for the water. The only change I made from the original photo was to add clouds to the sky and also adding this little moored boat in the foreground.

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And here is the finished image – if you would like to buy framed prints or just prints of it – you can visit my shoes at the following links:  Redbubble  and FineArtAmerica

IMG_1836This is the colours I’ve been using for the boats above, and as you can see I have only used a few different pigments and then mixed the colour I wanted. I love working with wet paint and I use both wet on wet and wet on dry techniques. I use wet on wet for the sky and the water and wet on dry on the rest of the picture.

Tomorrow I will start a new project but I will post about that next week. So until then, have a great week all!!