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Friday, June 26, 2009

Wild White water of Glengarriff Woods,

On the 16th of June, it was my turn again to stay three days in respite, a service provided by Rehabcare and the HSE (Health Service Executive: the Irish equivalent of the NHS) It is run by Sarah Boys and her staff.
Sarah had told me 2 weeks before that she wanted me to meet this new lady, a new service user of Rehabcare, and now of respite also.
There was lots going on beforehand and, although I had put certain stuff, apart, and had washed almost everything, I was far from packed. Not that I was concerned. It was only three days after all.

All in all, I arrived with everything I needed. And meeting Mary, was a blast from the past. We knew each other from the early 1980s, when our husbands were lying side by side in hospital.
Much time had past and we had only met a few times since the late 1980s.
Problems with nerves in her back had left Mary with walking problems lately, which was why Mary had found her way into Rehabcare and the excellent respite.
A service where we are able to do things we do not manage to do at home (going out in the service's car) or just stay in in the company of other people than family and carers and users in a similar position.

Mike has been with the service almost from the start, and he and Sarah, the manager of the house, are great together. With a constant light banter between the two; observing them is just great fun as such.
Next week was going to be Mike's last week though. I understand his 'urge to return to the UK, the land where he was born. Unlike me, Mike has a (his old) job plus apartment lined up and waiting for him, for when he returns.

Usually, 3 or 4 service users are invited to come and stay at the same time. This time though, it was only Mary and myself.
I mentioned that I'd love to get back to Glengarriff Woods, in the more decent temperatures of late spring/summer, rather than the very cold ones of March, when sitting still and operating camera was close to impossible. Also I talked of (don't get me going on where I'd love to go by car... as we don't have one ourselves) places like the lagoon at Rosscarbery, the marshes at Clonakilty, the wheelchair-friendly trail in the Gougane Beara National Park, and Lough Hyne in Skibbereen.
It soon appeared that Mary would love to join in in one of these places. And since she had no ideas or wish list herself, we decided that there would be enough room for the four of us in the car plus a manual wheelchair for Mary, just in case it would get too much.
That there was room enough for us all meant that we would be able to fit in 2 outings per person, instead of the normal one outing per person.
so on wednesday Mary and I would do our few bits of Bantry shopping in the morning, and then we would head off to Glengarriff Woods.

Waking very early as usual, I waited until about 6am before I opened the double doors to the garden outside.
Outside, I made a little round around the building, where I was greeted by these drops, which look like the plant is giving me a wink with these long 'eyelashes'!

and opposite the building, next to one of the other three hexagonal houses (which each are used for sheltered housing.
And suddenly I spotted a little movement, and then it was soon obvious that I was looking at a family of Robins; 2 adults and two gorgeous youngsters. It was going to be an interesting break.
Back in my room, with a cup of Fennel tea at my laptop, I heard something at the pond, outside my room, and there in the Tree of Life, sat Madam Black.

Black Bird, Turdus Merula. (female)

the tree of Life was put together a few years ago by some of the users of the Rehabcare centre by mixing cement and then shaping it around a rough frame. It stands in the pool.

Back outside, I spotted a late Bluebell, Hyacinthoides non-scripta, whose pictures just did not come out right, also because I could hardly reach it!
Next I know, is this one landing nearby and walking up to me!
An excellent way to start one's day.
Robin, Erithacus rubecula (juvenile)

It had been raining very heavily during the night. As a result all of us, Sarah, the manager, Mike (staff), Mary and me, had slept very fitfully, waking up many times during the night.
Still, there was little time to waste and after a brief visit downtown, we set off to Glengarriff Woods. My suggestions to phone Clare, the reserve manager, beforehand, were thrown in the wind. (Clare had said she would meet me next time at the gate, so we could look at access in the reserve together.)

mike was driving, and Sarah talked of going to this lake at the the back, and so Mike followed her directions, going left after the village and then directly right again. At first we drove more or less 'above' the woods, and when we got to the entrance of Meadow Walk, which would lead to the lake from here. I recalled that Clare had talked of a gate being too narrow probably, and now I was looking at it. It was a small pedestrian gate next to one for cars. Which was padlocked of course, to prevent fires, etc.
Sarah said that she thought all the trails from this side were all graveled surfaces, nothing like the hardcore- gravel which I had tried out on my first visit, just past the bridge.

So on we went, and the hills soon opened up, with waterfalls of little springs right, left and centre. Both Mike and Sarah wanted to be the first to tell uss of one of the falls they spotted, and soon the competitive pair were soon fighting to spot the best waterfall..

Due to the heavy rainfall of the previous night, the river was very high and Mike stopped at several spots for me to take some photos through the open door. And the river was very high indeed, and white with lots of loosened sediment too.
So here's a few pics of this river.

Flooding too, although we only had a glimpse of how bad it turned out to be later.

At the end of the road, Mike started following the signs for Barley Lake. And before we knew it, wwe were on a tiny narrow and very steep 'road', hugging the mountain, with a few cm at the edge where it went down very steeply. . Too narrow, to turn around, the steep ascent took a huge toll on the little car. With me and my wheels in the back, (and with my wheels on its own weighing some 120kg, the car was having trouble getting up at all. Wasn't very easy on me and my wheels either, we felt all the jolts and bolts double up. When we finally arrived at the top, it was a relief to see 3 other cars, parked there on the little strip of grass.
We all had been severely shaken and stirred in our seats, and I told Mike that I definitely needed a cigarette, so I could settle my nerves a little. The view was absolutely stunning, and even in this picture can you see the river from above.

Barley Lake was another 10 minutes walk through wet bogs and although Mike did go for a quick peek, it was obvious that it was hard going, with his feet sinking into the soaked grass.

Finding our way back was almost harder than getting onto the top of this mount. We did follow signs saying Glengarriff, but again we came to a dead end.
How we managed to get into Glengarriff, we don't know. all I recall is me shouting "Stop!" at a certain moment, when I spotted something unknown and blue. It turned out to be several flowers of the Sheep'sbit, Jasione montana
Sheep'sbit, Jasione montana

It took ages for us to get back onto the main Glengarriff Kenmare road and this was perhaps a great way of Mike saying goodbye to us and the area round Bantry. Or as he said himself: "Nothing against a some exploration and having a bit of an adventure." We will miss the guy.


  1. What beautiful scenery. The pictures are wonderful. Sounds like it was a good trip.

  2. Was a good trip, of course, or rather, a good drive. I only got out on top of the mount for a smoke (and I gave up 1 year ago! I am strong enough to only have 1 smoke when I really need it, then 'forget' about it again)

    Yes, the scenery here is gorgeous.

  3. You're very lucky to be able to have just one smoke when you really need it. I quit six months ago and I'm afraid that it would be a big risk for me to have one now. I must admit that I didn't have a big problem when quitting and rarely get a craving.

  4. I know how hard it is, and after that smoke I had a few hard hours/days, but I just needed it, I was in so much pain from all that shaking, and being all over the place in my wheels.
    I was not this strong before though. had "given up" so many times in the 38 years of being a smoker!


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