Why BT were right – it’s good to talk……

Should really start with the reference in the title, as it probably only means something to people of a certain age group and older from the UK/Ireland, in the days when Telephone Landlines were the big thing, BT ran television adverts with the phrase “it’s good to talk” and it really is true………

Well it took 20 months, and just so much stuff, the Heart Attack, a Pandemic, almost losing a parent to Covid during Lockdown with some relatives and friends also being seriously ill with Covid, the difficulties of numerous lockdowns, working from home for so long, eventually losing my mother struggling with work and general life, and then on top of that all of the mess that sorting out an estate can be when your Health Service falls apart after a Ransomware attack……. so eventually I took a step and went to the Doctors to talk about Depression and it turned out they wouldn’t have been surprised were it only the Heart Attack I’d to deal with or the Pandemic that would have brought on Depression or perhaps just accelerated or increased the levels and made it more difficult to deal with ….

So at least that’s a positive step forward to check it out, see what a professional thinks and try and move forwards from there. That was a month ago, and I have found it difficult to go and talk to other professionals, or to follow through with some of the online stuff or discussions I had planned to, but I’ve made some progress I think. Have dropped in and out of periods of depression in life as a lot of us do and to be honest have always had that old male way of dealing with it, stick the head in the sand until you bounce back, but this time just couldn’t bounce back.

On Top of that I managed to get away for a weekend, which I do believe was much needed, if a little stressful in itself, but just to be away on my own and go to a different environment for a couple of days, with a massive added bonus for me of being able to take in some music and bring along the camera, combining two of my biggest passions. I’ve talked before about how much I think music is good for the Mental Health of of an avid fan, especially being in a Live environment where there is an atmosphere. Luckily travelling alone has never been an issue for me and even in my current situation that remains the same glad I did it, spending some time out walking and chilling out in the Hotel Room around the gigs, all of which had already been booked anyway, so on a normal time I’d have been going over anyway. Added bonus was being able to catch up with some friends, talk through some stuff in person for a change and just see what we’ve been up to over the last couple of years. You can definitely see where the merit’s of the Hybrid work setup can be more beneficial to people than 100% working from home, just taking some time out and having a chat face to face with someone really can so some good and help to lift you, where you don’t get the same thing from a video call.

So my first Live Music in 20 months, took a while, was a bit nervous travelling, and had done my research before travelling, always wakes things a bit easier and when you know your route to and from a venue to a hotel, quiet route, and a venue that’s not crazily packed it eases things a little. Writing up the review and editing photos will of course be a little more challenging / slower than it should be, but all part of the process.

Keeping an open mind about it all, and part of the problems have most likely been part of the reason why I haven’t gotten further with starting programs or talking to professionals about it, trying to think back to what happened last week and in reality 4 days just disappeared without anything happening that I can remember, and that’s how it goes, you can be staring at a blank page trying to write something and nothing comes out, worse still have a final sentence or paragraph to complete something and sit there and the flow of words is now just like tumbleweed in an old western movie, or have phone calls to make and at the end of the day not know why you haven’t made them. Whatever it is somehow or somewhere in your mind loses all relevance, not necessarily to be replaced by something else taking over importance it just drifts.

But we will get there, today I have already managed to finish off this page, so that’s getting somewhere, have to take the minor victories along with the major ones. Most important thing though, especially as a man hitting middle age, don’t just ignore it, bury your head in the sand and hope it fixes itself, if it’s not, go talk to someone, it’s easy to bury your head in the sand and even more easily if you have come out of these things before, when that’s not happening, things aren’t fixing themselves go talk to someone, reach out to a friend or family member, but really don’t be afraid to go and talk to your GP or your local Mental Health Services, they can help, they will try and find the best course of action for you and look at why things are where they are.

Don’t be afraid to talk………. it’s good to talk…

Things we take for granted…..

Well ok, that could be a list much longer than my arm, but with everything that’s happened in general over the last 18 months, and that additional personal stuff, it was nice to take a couple of hours out on a sunny Sunday morning at the weekend, bring the camera with me and just enjoy some nature in the area that I live in Dublin. This is certainly one of those things that we don’t pay nearly enough attention to, I’m not saying I don’t look at things as I walk by, but these photos are all from one of my normal walking routes, but grabbing a glance as you walk, run or drive quickly past when out getting exercise is not the same as taking the time to enjoy it and be part of it.

Simply taking the time to stand or sit and watch the wildlife go about their daily tasks is an eye opener, it has an ability to give you a bit of a lift and brings a smile to your face. So it’s great for the mental health. The two Horses have been resident in that a field for quite a while now, and I usually raise a little smile as I walk past as their is usually someone there saying hello to them, people seem to bring their young children just to visit the Horses which is nice. The Swans moved their young Cygnets up and down a couple of stretches of water and decided they liked this small manmade pond to gently swim around.

Most people have suffered to some degree with their Mental Health during this extended period or Pandemic, have lost loved ones or just had the whole thing affect their health, so it’s important to just take a step back, get your mind out of it all and free yourself up from thinking about it. Taking a walk/run definitely helps to some degree, but taking time out for much more gentle times with some nature is an even better way to reset somethings. Doesn’t make problems disappear, but some days they can just wait a few hours and often you can look at a problem from a different perspective when you get back from some relaxation.

Photos aside the world keeps turning slowly, dates come and go with little difference, having recently lost someone I honestly couldn’t tell you very much of what’s been going on the last 3 weeks, what I’ve been doing or to be honest what day it is. On the flipside we have gotten through a lot of work, Cleared a house, started a new project to digitise a few albums worth or old photographs, some very old, a lot from my childhood, and plenty we are not sure who is actually in them – but I guess that’s half the fun, we will go through them with relatives and try and figure them out. The older photos don’t have negatives, so a bit more work involved in cleaning up the images a bit, trying to bring them back to life a little without taking away anything from what they are. May take a bit of time, but it’s going to be interesting and hopefully a lot of fun.

Lot’s a things crop into the mind at a time like this, how short out time actually is on this rock, maybe it’s time to change things up and make some choices that will make life a bit more simple, less stressful and demanding while at the same time still being able to pay the bills, as they never stop coming in 😉

Going to try and get back to posting updates a little more often, there’s enough going on. Going to get my 2nd dose of the vaccine this coming weekend, so that’s not exactly something I’m looking forward to, but it’s another step forward. Pilot music events have begun or been announced here, so hopefully, all going well we will eventually get back to some little bit of normality in the not too distant future. Sadly however I don’t see it coming quickly enough for some of the events I have Tickets for, and will have to try and sort something out with the Tickets. Can’t see there being refunds for events in another country when it is actually going to take place. But will have to wait and see if that’s how it plays out. One in particular is going to be in my opinion lucky if they get the go ahead, even though they have done a lot to fulfil all requirements asked of them, that doesn’t really matter when it’s a liquid situation and the goalposts keep changing. If it doesn’t happen I will be there next year. One thing is for sure if things improve enough in the rest of the year 2022 is going to be one hell of a busy year music wise. so many bands will be out touring when they can. Travel, well that’s a different story – time will tell.

Things may be changing in a positive way, but……..

Well here we are in March 2021, one full year since things locked down in most places, certainly here in Ireland, and from my perspective I was just about to test the water so to speak with regards to going back to the Live Music scene. Being 100% honest, even now a year on I do not know if physically and mentally I’ll be able to do Gigs and more worryingly for me, Festivals anymore. Time will tell, but I really hope I can, it’s something I love doing.

The effort required to shoot 3 consecutive Days of any Festival is probably a lot more than people appreciate, it’s not just a case of sitting around for 10 hours and going to stand for 10 minutes of every set, that’s for sure. Take my normal situation for a Festival in the UK, lets take something in the Midlands, 2 or 3 Day Festival,

  • I would fly into either Birmingham or East Midlands on the first flight, arriving between 7-9am.
  • Make my way to the City where the venue is by Bus or Train.
  • Check into my Accommodation
  • Organise my Camera bag and Festival accreditation
  • Double check camera batteries are charged, memory cards are cleared
  • Depending on the start time for that day either lay down and rest for an hour or make my way to the venue, grabbing a sandwich on the way.
  • Check in, catch up with friends and colleagues.
  • Get ready for shooting, test the camera/s for basic lighting etc.
  • Then we begin the process, queue for the Photo Pit to open, first 3 songs to shoot, pray that there is some decent lighting for the early bands.
  • Depending on the Festival, get some shots from the back of the venue or the balcony if that’s permitted.
  • Then get back in the queue for the next band or move to the 2nd stage to try and catch the band there for coverage. REPEAT 🙂
  • Oh and try and remember to get some foot and maybe find somewhere to sit down for 30 minutes at some point.
  • Last band will either be 11:15pm or 2:15am when the shooting stops, but as I am normally reviewing as well it means I have to watch the last band of the day until they finish, so maybe 2:40am
  • Back to the accommodation, dump the photos from the memory card/s to a laptop & back up Hard Drive.
  • Edit a selection of photos picked somewhat at random and post a couple of Social Media.
  • Try and get some sleep before you get up for a shower, Breakfast and begin again for a busier day on Day 2 and REPEAT :-). You get a lot of steps in, but it’s tiring and hard work.

So we will see first of all if we do get any Festivals running this year, and whether or not I can get to one. As it stands now early March we have already had major Festivals in June postponed again to next year with Download pushed back recently, only today Bloodstock started the difficult decisions of having to announce changes to the lineup, with a number of US bands pulling out of the 2021 event due to the current situation, they are still hoping to go ahead and put the Festival on in June. Other Festivals in September are already preparing people for the possibility that they can’t proceed, as with everything in Covid times, we will wait and see 🙂

The main problem for smaller Festivals I think is that is you add in restrictions on the size of the crowd, and other stuff it makes it neither Financially viable to continue nor would it be the event they had planned it to be. From my reading of things right now, it looks like a lot of US bands will not be travelling to Europe this year, as things currently stand anyway, everything of course is fluid but for Festivals they have to make decisions a little earlier than one off shows, so as you head towards April/May you can add 3-4 months onto the events that will be effected. Another UK Festival due to take place in July is now looking like UK bands only, and there’s nothing wrong with the bands in the lineup, it’s just that some of the bands no longer there would have been a big draw for most patrons, and it does effect the vibe if it were to take place. Ryanair Flights in June are currently being cancelled so that will affect other plans.

I do think that we will get some shows happening later in the year, and that’s something to look forward to for sure. Smaller local events might be good for me to test my stamina and get back to using the camera again in a live setting, so fingers crossed. Certainly my walking schedule will help, just have to make sure I’m taking rest days the odd time. I can be either doing nothing for too long a period like happened at the end of last year, or probably doing too much as I am at the moment, almost up to 500KM done in 2021 already so a day ever now and then, or my body will get overtired. I was going to do some charity stuff this month like “50 Miles in March” but i’ve already don’t 50 miles 🙂 might just do another 5KM walk on St. Patricks Day. Am adjusting my year end Target from 2,000KM to 2,500KM so that will keep me pushing forward through the months. Right I’m now signed up for a 5KM on Patricks Day now in aid of Aware, a Mental Health Support organisation here in Ireland, and in the last couple of days I’ve passed the 500KM mark since the start of the year, so will just keep going and think when the weather is a bit nicer I might increase the distances again. To be honest I’ve been a little bit mentally exhausted the last few weeks, so just glad to be doing stuff, sometimes I need to overdo things just to reboot the head and get things back on track, but hey, but listen if that’s what it takes it’s a small price to pay as long as I’m sensible enough to get a little more rest around this time to balance things out a bit, the fickle way of things. Of course the diet always takes a bad turn at these times, the exercise helps to somewhat cancel it out along with the extra rest of course, so will move on re-align and hopefully click back into place again, so many things to do as we approach more challenges coming into middle age.

The little monster finally went back to Preschool last week, and we noticed the happy change in him almost straight away, which is awesome, much happier in himself and loving being back in his school routine. So much happier to be doing his thing, which is just great to see, makes us all smile 🙂 and lifts your spirits as we look like we may be staying in Lockdown for another 6 weeks or so. There is a definite feeling at this stage that we have been doing out bit for a long time, but I guess a little more is needed, perhaps this is all due to delays with the promised supply of Vaccine, would like to be scheduled for mine so at least I know then where I stand, but as with everyone else we are just in the dark, hopefully soon.

So what else has been going on, well, work has been busy, I haven’t been able to get back into writing reviews, been busy with everything else that’s going on in life at the moment alongside work and exercise. I really would like to get back into it though, there are a lot of good albums being released at the moment and scheduled for the coming months. As strange as this sounds, as time goes on and the fact that it has been so long since I had my last fit, I almost forget about the Epilepsy at times, yes I know I said it sounds strange, after all I take tablets every morning and night to keep it under control, it hasn’t just disappeared. Well recently we’ve had a lot of great information, lots of wonderful stories from people about when they got Epilepsy and what their stories have been, through Epilepsy Ireland (really some wonderful, heartfelt stories and certainly some that I know from personal experience are not always that easy to tell other people about, brave to do it and so very informative for people that have been recently diagnosed. When I first was (well I was kind of diagnosed) some 31 years ago I had no idea where to go to in order to get information, who I could tell or talk to, but as I became a more confident person I decided to own it and I have been very open about my condition ever since. Touch wood I will stay incident free for another year and will continue to never let it dictate my life. This weekend marks the 6th anniversary of the first time I officially shot a Music Festival, HRH AOR 3 (or HRH United as it was, which also combined Hammerfest and Sleaze, was a really great weekend in North Wales and kicked off many trips to the same venue at the Haven Holiday Camp in Hafan Y Mor, Pwllheli. The main hall there is just something they don’t make for venues anymore, lots of thought in the attendees being able to see from wherever they are, 3 tiers leading from the back to the stage large bar and an exit directly into a couple of food venues, with a cpacity of over 2,000 just a great space, and ideal for small Festivals. The black & white image at the top of this post is of Swedish Hard Rock band The Poodles from that very weekend.

We did jump this week and book our family holiday for later in the year, will be staying in Ireland, so that eliminates a number of extra complexities with foreign travel, a beautiful cottage nestled in what looks like some lovely local views in Donegal, I took the below photo of Mukish Mountain from the wonderful Glanveagh National Park, the cottage for this year is just a few minutes drive from the mountain so hopefully will be able to get some nice shots, and we do love the area, so we have no problem with staying close enough to home when the scenery is stunning and we know our way around, slightly new place to stay so good to have some change. We already have some day trips sorted out in our minds and hopefully the little guy will be a little more involved it things this time around, the fresh air is always good for him. Plenty of new explorations and interesting new things to see and learn about. Having a nice break to look forward to is always a good thing for the mental health, just as much as getting out in that beautiful air and exercising helps, having a nice trip to look forward to is definitely another thing that helps.

Mukish Mountain shot from Glanveagh National Park, Co. Donegal in 2019

The most stressful thing so far in the pandemic lockdown…

Look, it might night sound like much, or something that is even very important, but it’s certainly the most stressful thing for us all as a family during this most recent Level 5 lockdown period here in Ireland. As I’ve mentioned before our little boy, who is 5 by the way, is Autistic, he’s also very strong willed, strong and stubborn. One thing that he hates above all else so far in life is getting a hair cut, he doesn’t like people messing around his ears too much and the buzzing noise of a hair trimmer freaks him out.

Unfortunately during this form of lockdown it’s not possible to get a visit from his hairdresser, who is brilliant, but still struggles a lot to get any sort of shape to his hair before he completely loses the plot. It is what it is, but I hate the distress it causes him, his poor little heart rate goes through the roof (and to be honest so does mine, although he had relaxed a little over time and she can at least get a job done on it without us having to hold him still) do as you can imagine, that causes my heart rate to elevate quite rapidly and higher than a fast 10KM walk, which can’t be good for either of us. I know mammy feels the same, so a simple thing of cutting hair causes so much stress for the 3 of us, it’s crazy.

Anyway, it’s been coming, his hair was growing longer and longer, and the fringe was annoying him most getting in his eyes, but generally all too long for him and bugging him, so you can’t put it off indefinitely and with the lockdown period set to be extended Today was the day. We have managed to do it ourselves once, wasn’t great, but not too embarrassing to be out in. His preschool reopens tomorrow finally, so decided to give it another shot but that may have been a mistake.

We have a special children’s hair clippers, that’s quieter than most, so as not to affect children that don’t like noise around their heads, but still he hates it, and because he hasn’t been having regular cuts – and obviously as we don’t know what we are doing – it’s a big struggle from second number one. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m well used to using clippers, have been cutting my own hair for nearly 20 years with one, but that’s so not the same as trying to cut someone else’s hair, someone that’s wriggling, moving constantly, getting upset and just doesn’t want to do it. So starting off, I was the one calming him down while his mother tried to cut, but she has no experience at all with clippers and wasn’t comfortable doing the job, so I took over and asked for guidance, as I was cutting backwards effectively. The job just has to be done quickly, and get the main sections as complete as you can, so for this one, the fringe had to come up quite a bit. Also different than doing my own as I use a No.1 guite, effectively just the blade, and today we were using a 12, so not scalping him. Tapering I don’t do, trying to do it when the subjects head is bobbing around trying to get away from you is a million times worse, poor little guy.

It sure wasn’t looking Salon styled, no it certainly wasn’t. But needs must. in reality I was getting as stressed as he was, and that’s not good for someone with heart issues, his mother thankfully doesn’t have those issues, but just as stressed, and she was supposed to be guiding me, but that’s hard to do when you are hoping to get him not to have his ear cut off, we don’t need a Van Gough without the Art 🙂 So to de-stress it may be another session on the Treadmill tonight, we will see

So I tried to get as much of the bulk off as possible, tidy it up a little, bring the fringe back up so it wasn’t near his eyes (if only it had been straight) and the most difficult, get the bits around the ears. I’d give that bit a 6 out of 10, and the end result in how it actually looks, well more like a 3 maybe. I don’t think people have any idea, and I do know so many children that hate the idea of haircuts, and get upset when placed in the situation, but multiply that when the child has Autism and is very strong on top of it. hey it’s done for another couple of months (even if it will start looking even worse in a couple of weeks – you have to laugh. The funny thing is that he calms down quicker afterwards than I do, what’s that all about 🙂 we will try and sort out a couple of little bits when he falls asleep tonight, otherwise he’ll be in the lockdown haircuts of shame…… poor little guy, it’s as bad as the old days where mothers put bowls over kids heads and trimmed around them.

In the battle of man vs hair, this time hair and little boy definitely won….. he was back happy and laughing watching Blaze and the Monster Machines and we were both in need of either a lay down or a large drink. Until the next battle… he may be a little embarrassed about the hair, but come on, covering your head with a bear is not the long term solution 🙂

International Epilepsy Day

Having had Epilepsy for some 31 years now it would be remiss of me not to mention International Epilepsy Day there is always some interesting information on Epilepsy Ireland and they have some excellent videos and peoples stories which help young people or those that have only recently had their first episode.


My seizures have now been very well controlled with medication over the last 6 or 7 years, having said that it took me quite some time to come to terms with having Epilepsy, and as a much younger man believing you are bulletproof it was a bit silly but takes a little time to be sensible. Everyones experiences are different naturally, but from my life it hasn’t held me back from anything really.

In recent years I’ve continued to work in cutting edge technology, become a Music Photographer, Reviewer etc… survived a Heart Attack, lost weight and become more fit. So keeping busy is certainly possible 🙂

Reminds me of an old political slogan…….

As I mark the 1 year anniversary of my Heart Surgery it’s probably time to take stock again. Well yes it’s been one of the strangest and most difficult years we all could have had, but to try and recuperate for the majority of the year was a double edged sword. On the one hand with everyone working from home it was somewhat easier to adjust to, after all I’d already been home for a couple of months, but then again knowing that you are now imunocompromised in the whirlwind of a Global Pandemic is definitely a stress marker.

Moon – Nov 2020

Adding to that of course my release of Gigs and Music Photography simply wasn’t available, in the first couple of months before lockdowns began, I just wasn’t either physically able or recovered enough to even think about it, doubt I’d have lasted standing for as long as a support set even. Wasn’t supposed to be doing any exercise for a couple of weeks after I got home, and I know from my own stupidity I should have been heading that advice. Of course there haven’t been any gigs here since, and I’ve gotten the camera out a bit, shooting the moon, garden birds and a trip to the Zoo, some pics littered around this post, but it’s very little for 12 months of time at my age, feels like a lot of wasted time.

So what would I say after 12 months – A Lot Done, More To Do….. once used by Bertie Ahern as a campaign slogan, but sums things up pretty well as to where I stand a year on. I have worked hard for a number of months during that time, losing weight, becoming more physically fit and altering my diet. But that is I guess only part of the story, along with the good feelings from achieving minor goals and targets, the darkness can still seep in, I would be surprised if any of us have been able to completely avoid the shadow of Depression in one for or another over the last year. For me the ups and downs have maybe been less frequent than in a normal year, but also perhaps more severe.

While initially in the first recovery stage things started to close down, so my physical Cardio Rehab was delayed for a couple of months, me rather stupidly starting exercising sooner than I should and pushing too hard too quickly., and dealing with trying to organise care for a relative things got on top of me pretty early into last year, and it’s happened a few times since, doesn’t coordinate directly with lockdowns, that’s for sure, but times of stress, going through a near death of a family member from Covid and all that entailed it makes me ponder the future alongside the present. Whether working in the position I do, or the type of work will be possible long term, I remember talking in the hospital to a couple of more experienced men on the very subject, once was back in suffering from angina (but who had been in and out of the hospital so much in the last 20 years that all the staff in a busy hospital knew him and came up to visit) and the other to have something replaced in a complex operation as overtime things had changed and both had to take early retirement and also scale back the amount/type of work they did. It’s a difficult one to think about, there’s obviously monetary issues involved, that goes without saying, but long term the viability of pushing a body that’s not as strong as it once was may mean that I need to make a decision before it makes the decision for me. Another attack could take any voluntary thoughts on it null and void.

Starling with a nut in the back Garden Dec 2020

But hey, like I say ups and downs and achieving goals has been a big lift. That family member somehow coming through the Covid virus, along with another elderly relative and a couple of friends that were seriously ill, and in reality 8 months on are still recovering. Watching my little boy, who is growing and developing all the time, but still has to work hard and we still have a long way to go, can be frustrating and very noisy, but we will all get there. If the vaccine does get out there quickly enough and spread out there widely enough maybe the 2nd half of 2021 will see some Gigs return to the calendar, when they do restart get out there and get to see your favourite bands, the shows will be amazing with the pent up energy from bands and patrons alike even if there are restrictions involved the atmosphere should be off the charts. There’s of course the slimmer possibility that we get Festivals back of travel for Gigs, at this stage I’d settle for some local stuff to get started.

For now 2021 is still 2020, the problems remain, the virus continues to cause pain and suffering, the hospitals are at full capacity, but we will see how the vaccine’s change things, if indeed they can. For me each week this month I cut out something else that brings me closer to what I should be eating again…..almost back there now, and back to getting proper exercise (do believe the hype, a good walk in fresh air – even if it’s cold is brilliant for your Mental Health), just gotta make sure the blips don’t last longer than a day and become less and less frequent. No hospital appointments until October 2021 and hopefully will be reducing the medications by 1 or two in the coming weeks…….. have managed to avoid Covid up until now, so touch wood can continue to do so until I can get vaccinated, how long that protection lasts time will tell, but one thing is for sure this Virus will be with us just like Flu or the common cold, with much more serious side affects, so people, don’t just decide everything is fixed, be diligent and stay home if you are asked to, stay safe.

Me out Walking, great exercise – Nov 2020

So what’s in the plan for 2021…. your guess is as good as mine

Apart from personal hopes and aspirations for this new year it would appear that everyone is staking their house on the recently available Covid Vaccines getting us out of this horror scenario, and they well might do just that. But something in me just makes me scratch my head. Look let’s all hope that we are on the road back to some form of normality, it’s what we need. What I have found bizarre over the course of the last month or so is how Governments have decided to give the information out to their nations subjects.

Lets take the countries close to me here in Ireland. The UK was the first country to start the rollout of the Vaccine, and that’s great, doesn’t require the amount of bluster that has been made of that, but the more worrying thing for me was that once they started telling people they made them thing they’d have it in a couple of days, and that it’s all sorted. Now, sure lifting peoples spirits and helping with mental health is great, it’s important, but there like here in Ireland it looks like that was the trigger to people no longer taking the precautions seriously, it coincides so closely with onslaught of the new strain it’s a massive problem. The numbers for new cases and deaths have now approached 10 times the daily totals back in March at the 1st lockdown, with the problem being the amount of people that are going to get sick before the vaccination rollout catches up with the numbers….. capacity can’t be there for healthcare and a massive vaccination program alongside taking care of the increasing hospitalisations, it’s the same staff doing both. Hospitals in this region are either at or close to capacity should their be any spikes from here we are all in trouble, so lets just hope it comes back under control.

I’m sure that after a bit of time they will get on top of the problems, but it does take time, so people, please continue to follow the restrictions, keep safe and keep others safe.

For me my mother will be vaccinated soon, which will be another weight off my head, but there have been more cases and deaths in nursing homes….. let’s hope that’s the last of the Covid related deaths, touch wood. We face into a new week with the uncertain and unknown of starting virtual learning with a 5 year old autistic child, the main uncertainty of course being how he will take to it, if at all. We”ve already put together some ideas if hw won’t interact with it, but we are hoping his abilities with a tablet with help immensely. But aside from that we would love to be able to take him to visit his grandmother, it would certainly be great for her.

Me, well I had a really bad December, no beating around the bush, no pretending I didn’t, I fell back into bad habits, the exercise regime almost ground to a halt for a few weeks and Chrismas saw a lot more overindulgence than it should or than it will next year. It’s one thing to have a treat or to loosen up a bit over the holiday period, but it’s another to be stupid about things. pulling a muscle somewhere certainly wasn’t helping, made it easier to just not get out and that then increases the Devil on your shoulder. But we live and learn (hopefully) have managed to get things back under control diet wise and back out walking again, just have to build up again bit by bit, so should be back to normal this coming week weather permitting, and if not it’s time to make use of the treadmill. and I will make use of it. I’m trying to get back into reviewing some music again, so headphones on, music or audio book and an hour on the treadmill should do it, will help focus the mind too. If it turns out to be too much to take on right now I’ll have to stop away again, time will tell.

There are definitely somethings in life I’m going to have to sit down and thing more about for the long term and the good of my health, or what’s left of it ;-). things that at the age of 50 I didn’t think I would have to, or should have to. But whether stress of perceived, or brought on by myself or it’s just actually brought on by what I do, maybe it’s time for something with a little less strain, I already know there are certain things I can’t do, so perhaps it’s time to put a little more focus on what I want to do in parallel with what I should be aiming for. That’s a very difficult thing to contemplate, but though calls could also make things a lot easier. With some more health issues in the family and the loss of another friend over Christmas it all gets put back into perspective again.

We’re already pretty sure that our trip to Kerry in March is out of the question, I’ve ruled out Festivals until at least July, so will be another quet 6 months. We are trying to tie down some days for Donegal around then, because hopefully we’ll at least be able to get around this country more easily. Weather should be good then too, so will get the camera setup sorted for that. (The pic is from our Donegal 2019 Trip)

Speaking of music, the vaccine programs have gotten people pretty excited about the restarting of live shows, and I really can’t wait to go to a Gig, but realistically, summer time at the earliest. There are so many things that need to be falling in place before it can happen, I’m positive, but not thinking too short term about it, when it happens so many of us will be back in a happy place, it will be amazing. But one step at a time, one bridge at a time to cross.

So to everyone, stay safe

The bizarre to the ridiculous, 2020 just fades out in a damp fizzle….

There have definitely been some worrying trends of late, here in Dublin, like many other places around Europes ( and indeed the World ) we are in the midst of another Lockdown related to Covid-19. For me that’s not a hugely different place to Level 3 restrictions here ( essebtual retail only open, stay within 5 km of home and no mixing, no pubs restaurants etc open ), with of course the exception of the 5km travel restriction. But will continue to work from home, my son is still in preschool, but that may change and my wife continues to work, but that’s well within the 5km cordon.

We have rolled rapidly through December and finally the end of a very grim year and a scary one for me personally, so going to bed at 9pm last night and just letting it just slide by seemed like the only logical thing to do. I started 2020 with a real bang, but honestly a heart attack wasn’t what I had planned for the year, and almost 12 months later I’m still not 100%. I had thought I was back to normal, but the last few days have brought some discomfort again. Think I’m just overtired and overdid things over Christmas. Back to my usual diet now, so hoping everything settles down over the weekend. Touch wood.

Hope everyone’s had as a good a Christmas as possible, and lets just hope 2021 can be a better year for us all.

We had a nice family trip to Dublin Zoo the other day, thankfully we managed to get it in before the lockdown kicked in. They had done a lot of work to get a route that reduced the chances of big build ups of people and could cause distancing problems. Most of the animals were out and about and it was nice to get out there . Here are some photos from the visit. Was a very bright winters morning.

No Resolutions this year, it’s pretty pointless at the moment lets be honest, but I do intend to continue with exercise, from very meagre beginnings in 2020 where after the operation walking 1 or 2KM was a big struggle ( I started exercising too quickly after the Op ) and caused definite pains in my chest, to eventually walking well over 1,400 KM in the year. So might set some little targets for this year and see where we get. I always walked quite a bit as I don’t drive, and haven’t cycled since I got Epilepsy ( that’s an insurance thing ). But reality is I used to walk around the City to different venues for Gigs but quite often was stopping off at a fast food place along the way, or a pub when I was still drinking.

I have a lot of issues with the way information is being disseminated from the leaders of many Govt’s, Almost telling all that the vaccine will have everyone immunised in a couple of months and ignoring the face that physically they just don’t have the capacity to do it that quickly. I have no doubt it will get there, but realism is much better than just being hopefull. Lets hope a lot will have changed by the time we hit the Summer. Still hoping that come September I will be able to make a planned trip from last year, so will keep that in the back of my mind as something to look forward to. August/September/October there is lots planned Gig/Festival wise, but what happens is anyone’s guess.

Somethings will change in the next few weeks, can remove one of the tablets from my daily intake once I hit the 1 year anniversary of the Operation, will be nice. Also it’s been great that throughout all of the ups and downs I remain another year Fit Free, the Epilepsy never reared it’s head no matter how tired I became, or whatever the effects on my body illness has made me. Another bonus was being able to visit my mother last weekend, may be the last time again for a little while but we will see if the last set of changes stay in effect and I can see her next week again. She’s done amazingly well to beat Covid, pass the 90 mark and still push on.

The last few weeks have been very difficult, I’m sure that led to losing control of the diet, so next year will be very careful with that, I know the saying “ah sure it’s Christmas, it won’t kill you”, well maybe it will, no point in working hard through the year and then letting it slip so badly when a bit of depression and a festive season hit. It’s not like I don’t understand the consequences of not following the plan. I do think that the way things have been going in and out of Lockdowns has not helped with anyone’s Mental Health, at some points it certainly looks like there is no end in sight, and that’s where you get dragged into a bit of a mental battle with yourself. Just got to try and dust yourself down and move on with things, and if you can’t perhaps it’s time to talk to a friend or a professional that can help, we all need a helping hand sometimes so never be afraid or ashamed to take it.

Still ticking along…. as the World slowly rolls too

Strange, I never got around to posting this one back in June, have been a bit remiss with updates in recent months, but he in reality there hasn’t been all that much going on, in and out of lockdown……..  so here’s  what I was thinking then and I’ll follow up with a new update…..


Well here we are in June 2020, and it’s a very strange, different and often quite confusing World to the one I stepped away from temporarily on the 10th of Jan……

The weirdest thing is probably that as time has gone on and different countries have eased restrictions to varying degrees the confusion has actually grown, the types of activities you can take part in mean that when travel does start to open up more next week it’s going to be confusing as hell for people travelling, expecting that they can do the same things as they can in their home country, there certainly won’t be any foreign travel for me this year, but just take it at a very basic level, if I travel to any other country, will I be expected to self quarantine for a period of time either when I get there or when I return home, well I don’t really know, most countries have been desperate to create these Travel Bridges, to allow economies to get going again, especially in countries dependent on Tourism as a main industry. The quarantine question has changed massively, initially the plan was people would have to self isolate for 2 weeks when arriving in a different country, have their stay there and then come back and do the same on the return end, so reality is a one week holiday would take 5 weeks. This currently isn’t the case  anymore,  But should things reverse like they have in parts of China, Germany and now perhaps South Korea it very quickly becomes unworkable. Then of course there is the problem of what will you be able to do when you arrive in another country, what is open, are masks compulsory, what is public transport like now can I get from A to B without too many problems. It really is a bit of a lottery and to me would be a pointless exercise right now.

 

As you may get from this Site Live Music is a massive part of my life, listening, being a part of, photographing, I miss it massively, was reminded by some people on a Festival Forum yesterday just how long it’s been since I actually attended a Gig, 185 Days, damn there have been times when I haven’t gone more than a day or two without going to something, or have gone to more than one in a day. Right now what the future holds is anyone’s guess, all we know is that for the foreseeable future there certainly won’t be any live shows in any kind of way that we will recognise, Venues/Promoters can’t make it financially viable with 20-30% capacity at a show, travel restrictions for artists & bands will more than likely make planning any Tour a nightmare, and there’s no saying that people will have any appetite to return to small sweaty venues until some form of vaccine or treatment is available. In an industry that generally works a year in advance from a planning perspective the damage, and continuing damage could be catastrophic. Hopefully Governments will finally step up and start to provide packages that will help save live venues and help to safeguard the industry as a whole. For me I’ll continue to support Artists/Promoters/Venues as much as possible, and even though I have purchased Tickets for gigs late in 2020 and moving into early 2021 I honestly doubt we will be getting back into venues this side of Christmas, that’s for sure. What does this mean, well assuming they can kick off 2021, and the situation has improved for us all, well then we can look forward to an absolutely bumper year for gigs next year, everyone will be on the Road then, trying to earn some money, and hopefully just to get out and do what they and we all love. With a bunch of postponements  already announced I have a calendar next year that’s been filled rapidly. It’s bizarre and crazy, but yeah, gigs in the list for next November.

 

As the days go on the ups and downs perhaps become more severe, having been at home now for 6 months, pandemic, lockdown, recovery thrown in it gets a bit more difficult and depressing, It’s great to have home life and all that goes with it, but really missing gigs and friends. Nothing more to do but hope for a vaccine, remedy or working treatment. Hoping people will just do as they are asked I think is a lost cause. The people that have been following the rules to date will continue to do so, but sadly there’s always going to be a core of people that either don’t believe the problem is real or continue to believe that it just won’t affect them so the cases will go back up at some point.

Lets hope for a break in this and a change for the better.

The difficulties of recovery during a lockdown………

Well here I am again, pondering the current state of affairs and how I am coping with it all, and as with most people at the moment no matter where you are on this Globe, there are good days and bad days, positives and disappointments. A main issue for me has certainly been missing out on the professional help through this now lengthy recovery, so not being able to get out there for hospital appointments, which alongside my Cardio Rehab had to be cancelled was difficult to handle to be honest. So missing out on tailored exercise and advice, dietician, psychologist etc…….. with unfortunately no sign of anything being rescheduled in the near future, fingers crossed  all measures continue to work and it can be sorted out soon.

 

Here in Ireland our current restrictions to try and contain the spread of the Covid-19 virus are due to end in the next couple of days, and all going to plan we will move into the next phase. That will be followed, assuming all goes well, by 5 x 3 week long phases reducing restrictions each time until the end of August, yep seems like a long time, but hopefully at that stage if all is ok we will be in a much better position. As we already knew live music will be still off the menu until at the very earliest late Sept/Oct, but we really can’t put a proper timescale on it at the moment. More Festivals either postponed or cancelled recently including Bloodstock (postponed to 2021 with an extra day – nice one Bloodstock), Summer Indoors 2020 (postponed to 2021, and Uprising which won’t happen for 2020 now, but will return bigger in 2021. There are still many events that have not yet, but will be cancelled, with bands, promoters etc waiting on the right time for an announcement, holding out hope that things will get back to normal sooner than expected or simply waiting until they have rescheduled the event until they announce the cancellation of the original version. On the positive side, more Tours/shows have been rescheduled for later in the year or for the same time next year.

 

Up until now, and even with that it had only become knowledge to me over the last couple of weeks, I have only known a couple of people that had actually tested positive for coronavirus, and they had all been lucky enough to have contracted a mild dose of it and are already recovered. But sadly that all changed when it really hit close to home and the difficulties other families have run into hit me square in the face. When an elderly member of your family falls ill with this virus alongside the natural worries about them you realise that the other problems associated with the lockdown are affecting you, that you can’t go and visit them, no matter how ill they may become you can only hope they are coherent enough for a video call, or to hear you on the telephone. Once someone tests positive and they will be isolated from the rest of the people in their facility, they may be confused, needing to be reminded about the virus each day should they be suffering from dementia, more than likely they are already suffering from underlying medical issues which will make it more difficult to overcome the effects of the virus, and as the Hospitals do not necessarily have the capacity to take in these patients an increased pressure and burden falls on the care facility they reside in. The message to #stayhome #staysafe is so important, accidentally passing the virus onto an elderly person in the community will have very similar effects, and yet everyday we still see many cases of people not following social distancing guidelines. This will only lead to one thing in the end more infections and a longer time period where we have to isolate/distance/miss out on the normal things in life we had up to this point taken for granted, won’t be taking anything for granted in future.

 

Of course we have in many ways been very lucky on this island that the hospitals were not over run, the very hard working staff and a larger community effort than we have probably seen in decades has helped without a doubt, the actions of Govt to help out employers and employees may be very costly, but in the end will save us so much as a nation. Since I started to write this I had a bit of a mental blockage and it’s ended up taking forever to finish, but hey ho, so many friends have been struggling aswell, mentally, deep dips and no massive highs to balance them out. More shows have bitten the dist this week, Iron Maiden in Belfast cancelled and Rammstien in the same City hopefully rescheduled, along with a few smaller shows. It’s a real shame the Maiden lineup was unreal, with Tempt, Airbourne, Alter Bridge and Maiden headlining, one hell of a lineup. but that’s it in a nutshell, try not to let the disappointments get to you too much, what the future holds, especially for music, how we will be able to socially distance and maintain any sort of a vibe, hold onto an atmosphere, and what it will look and feel like, it’s a mystery. Have been reading a number of articles from various people in the industry and what I’ve garnered most is exactly that fact nobody knows what is going to happen yet.

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For me, well, I’m back working a full week, from home, trying to push myself a bit harder physically and lee[ the sanity there is some semblance of tact. None of that is easy, strangely enough, the things I thought would be easiest to control haven’t worked out that way, the diet has been a lot more back on track as my mam recovers slowly, Working hard on my walking, and also stepped things up a bit. Last week managed to hit 8.5km without keeling over, so then got inspired this week by a good friend that is walking 10km+ every day in May to raise some much needed funds for a very good cause, so this week I managed to his 10km for the first time Monday, maintained it on Tuesday and still hit my 10,000 steps today, but not quite the 10km, still it’s a bit increase in workload, so ensuring I’m not pushing too hard, if I need to I’ll back off again for a day and then try and hit back to the higher level again, it’s certainly been difficult at times, trying not to get frustrated with people wandering around the streets ignoring guidelines, or groups of kids that just don’t know or care, but I’ll stick to my back roads, keep doing my loops and looks some weight at the same time, only shed 10 to 11 kg’s so far, but that’s definitely a good start 😉

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So lets keep doing what we need to do, try and keep our minds from going off the reservation, if you are in the situation where you are not or cannot work, get out and get your exercise in the fresh air, it’s a life saver. Sleep certainly hasn’t been good for most people and I’m no different, staying up later and getting up early for work, broken sleep, it’s tiring, but thankfully to date no sign of anything being triggered with my epilepsy, also glad I’ve not really noticed any side affects yet from my heart medications. Video calls with friends, colleagues, family has been something that has become a new social life for many, be it quiz\es or dinner parties or social drinks, it’s just another thing to help people get through it. Have been looking back through old sets of photos checking out Landscapes from visits to the West Coast, I’ve said it many times, but the Wild Atlantic Way on the West Coast of Ireland is simply stunning, and when things eventually get back to some form of normal get yourself out there to see some of the beautiful scenery around your own country, we so often take it all for granted.

#staysafe #stayhome and look after yourselves.