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.

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.

The ongoing recovery update…

Well here we are having rolled into March, this week will mark 2 months since my heart attack and although I’m definitely seeing progress it is still frustratingly slow for me. As with pretty much all recoveries from surgery, but certainly from a major surgery there are good days and bad days in the months that follow. For me the operation itself was the easy bit, which wasn’t how I thought things would be, I knew I needed it so automatically got my head adjusted and of course was slightly nervous, but was eager to get through it. If may have been nearly 3 hours and a lot more difficult than expected for the surgeons, but 3 days after a heart attack I had my new Stents installed and was looking forward to the road to recovery. (to give you some idea of the relative size of a Stent there’s a cover photo above and another below).

Stent-Dr-Murtaza

Two months on and having been at home for almost the whole time since and there has been some elements of going stir crazy, although I have returned to a very limited amount of work action, a lot of days are filled with eating, going out for walks or to the shops and trying to plan various different Hospital visits or to my mam, it’s all go 😉

With the Nursing Home now on lockdown one of my walking routes is currently out of action, but it’s very important that elderly people are exposed as little as possible to the possible threat of virus infection, so it is what it is, phone calls to check things for the moment. In the meantime have gotten some of the administrative stuff progressed a little so that takes a little off my mind, I think it wouldn’t have been possible to sort from now for a couple of months.

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Two weeks ago I had a cardio assessment in the Hospital for my Rehab Classes, all went very well and my classes have now been scheduled, so that’s good, but with the many issues that the spread of Coronavirus is now causing there is a chance that schedule may be thrown into disarray, time will tell, For now I am really hoping to get them started, I’ve gotten my walking up to around 5km a day, which is a good start, but after having a very bad week or so diet wise (well there has definitely been a valley of depression over the whole covid-19 issue, it’s one thing to be isolated because of limited physical activity, quite another to be made stay home due to an increasingly rapidly spreading virus that is more dangerous to me as someone with an underlying condition, don’t get me wrong it doesn’t scare me, but I’m sensible enough to not put myself at further risk for no reason. But this whole situation certainly has it’s effects on mental health, and that can certainly contribute to throwing a well maintained diet out the window for a short period of time, so hopefully back on track now, touch wood, and if we can get the Rehab going it will definitely help.

Was really nice to get out and about yesterday with the camera for the first time this year, just a walk in the grounds of Newbridge House and Farm with the family and a few photos of the scenery and Deer. Luckily have been able to get out for walks once or twice a day most days up till now, have avoided being out in the storms, but my estate is large enough to get out on different routes to avoid monotony and still get me to the 5km+ mark. It’s a very quiet St.Patricks Day today here in Dublin, of course no Parades going on, hundreds of thousands of people in close proximity would be stupid and a breathing ground for new infections, more and more pubs closed and most people that I’m seeing adopting the advice to avoid unnecessary contact etc……..  so was definitely nice to have a wander around some nice grounds yesterday.

The number of people there were understandably smaller than usual, but is as it should be, and aside from passing people on the path or around the park contact is very much at a minimum, none of which of course is bothering the Deer at all, they are happily munching away on grass and relaxing.

 

Sleep patterns have sadly gone right out the window alongside the poor diet over the last while, maybe it’s a little worry about everything in the back of my mind, but no issues with the Epilepsy, no fits, and continue to take medication as I always have, will just keep an eye on it and rest when I need to, being down does not help it, but keeping the brain ticking over steadies me, listening to some new music has lifted things slightly, purchasing some new items and listening to albums I’m due to review on my walks  is definitely the solution. My thoughts go out to anyone in a bad place already that now has to self isolate, if your deep in a hole just reach out to a friend or organisation and have a chat, it will help. Right now it’s looking like most countries in Europe are going to lock down for an unknown period so hang in there.folks, like any other downturn we can all get through this. How the Govt’s go about helping people who are either no longer getting a wage or are in other financial difficulties as a direct result of the Virus has yet to be seen, but hopefully common sense can be impressed upon the Banks so that stress can be lifted.

 

All live Music events in Ireland have been cancelled or postponed for the significant future, right now they are cancelling/postponing events through the end of April and a few in May/June, well you have to understand that Tours span Europe and also span months so anything starting in April and running into May will go, and right now I would personally be surprised if the big gigs planned for June and some of the larger Festivals didn’t get pulled in the coming weeks. I missed out on HRH AOR last week and with their other Fests Hammerfest and HRH Prog IX having also now been cancelled I’d expect HRH Blues to go very soon, it’s just not possible to get artists around the Globe at the moment, nevermind insurance etc…….   was really cool to see Code Orange going ahead with their Album Release the other night in an empty venue but being Livestreamed to fans all over the globe, it will be the way of the future for the moment I think and at least bands and venues can probably recoup some costs from it, remember to go support your local favourite bands, if they can’t play and have had to cancel shows/tours they are losing money and may have t-shirts that were for a Tour that you can go pick up from their website or a CD etc…. and help them survive, same with promoters, if a show is cancelled, don’t just look for a refund, wait for the rescheduled date and if you can’t make it get a refund and buy a ticket for a show later in the year, we all have to help out in these difficult times. So my return to Photographing gigs will quite possibly be pushed back until the 2nd half of 2020, hopefully things will improve quicker than that and some local gigs get back on the calendar quicker but we will have to wait and see, the longer stuff is off the longer it will take to restart.

Most importantly, continue to follow medical advice, thoroughly wash your hands for 20 seconds, use hand sanitiser where appropriate (mostly entering shops), but get shopping delivered where possible, don’t go sit in a pub all night, don’t sit beside someonre on a bus or train when there are spare seats, or avoid using at all if possible, the reality is even looking at the UK they are hoping to keep the number of deaths under 20,000 – right now there are 56, just think that if they expect the peak in a month or two so at some point there the Death rate would be well over 1000 per week, some very difficult times ahead, no matter where you live, so stay safe, do what you are asked from a safety perspective and we can all get back to normal at some point and start doing the things we love again – I’m going to get back to writing reviews (yeah I know I say that on every update, but I’m working on them).

Love and light to all    DevilsHorns DevilsHorns

Home from the Holidays :-(

 

It’s just one of those things in life, a bitter sweet day for most, your holiday (vacation) is over on you return home, you are leaving what has hopefully been a really great experience with family or friends and returning to the reality of life, while at the same time you quite often look forward to getting back to your own home, your own bed and more familiar surroundings for the little one. It’s a little bit of a struggle both ways…..we started the week with a pretty nice view and it was just a taste of what was to come, in a beautiful Apartment with lovely hosts, would definitely stay again.

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Bunlin Studio Apartment – Golan, Millford, Co. Donegal

 

For us, it’s been a really terrific week away, we have no covered two thirds of the Wild Atlantic Way around the Donegal area and just have one section to work out way though, and we’ve already started planning that, will then look at where else we can hit on the other sections around the coastline, there are so many places to check out it’s great. This time around we took some time up around the Fanad Peninsula across to Dunfnaghy and Falcarragh, which turned out to be a great base to travel around from, small town but lovely and quiet, only 16km to the stunning Glenveagh National Park and the same in a different direction to the very interesting Ards Forrest Park which contains parkland and beach in one location.

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Ards Forrest Park – Co. Donegal

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Bloody Foreland – Co. Donegal

There are just so many stunning viewing points around the hills and mountains in the areas, you are always a short drive away from one, so just take a look around and pick a route, some of the viewing points are a little more difficult to get to than others, the road up to and down from Horn Head for example can be a little hairy, but the view’s are hard to beat, it can get a little windy up there, so just don’t take any unnecessary risks taking photos or looking around. Or indeed Fanad Head Lighthouse which is another of the Great Irish Lighthouses around our rugged coastline.

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Fanad Head Lighthouse – Co. Donegal

 

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Horn Head – Co. Donegal

There are also a number of places to see animals of all shapes and sizes, parks, farms, a mini-zoo, lots of options. On this trip we discovered Oakfield Park in Raphoe a short distance outside of Letterkenny, have to say there’s still pieces of it being developed and added to, but it’s a really beautiful spot, with a lovely Train Ride that goes all the way around the lower part of the property.

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The Longsleeper at Oakfield Park

We always take in a trip to Tropical World in Letterkenny when in the area, the little guy takes in more as we go around each time we go, so that’s pretty cool and I always love a walk around the Butterfly Garden which is much busy with Butterflies this year. Staying so near to Glenveagh it would have been a crime not to get up there and sample the beauty of the area, the shot at the top of the page is from there, and it was another well spent day, the little guy even high fived the shuttle bus driver when we got back to the Visitor Center, not something he would have done had he not been in good form after a day of great views, lots of birdies (and a scone in the cafe of course).

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Common Chaffinch – Glenveagh National Park

 

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Great Mormon at Tropical World’s Butterfly Garden.

 

:Honestly these have been just a few of the many memories we created this week in the North West of Ireland, weather wise, bit of a mixed bag, but only really had to change our plans one day when we couldn’t bring the wee man out in howling wind and rain, but we were very lucky to have a few days of sun early in the season, lots more to come when I get a bit of time to go through the photos. On the downward side didn’t manage to get very much done this week, hoped to get some writing finished off, all that despite waking each morning between 5:30 and 6:15 – hard to force yourself when you are getting overtired, maybe that’s what this wise old owl would say 😉

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Snowy Owl at Tropical World in Letterkenny

It always comes down to time….

Doesn’t seem to matter what you are trying to do, work, home, hobbies it really does all come down to a matter of what time you have available to you and how you manage to split it up. As I type this I’m actually on a Family holiday, and for some bizarre reason I woke up on the dot of 5:00am and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I’m watching a glorious sunny morning develop, working on some Photos from the HRH Blues 4 Festival a couple of weeks back (almost there) and posting a quick update here. Going to head out to the back garden of our base here in Donegal shortly and see if there are any Birdies up and about, have seen some Robbin’s and Coal Tits already through the windows so hopefully there will be.

 

Writing hasn’t been working at all the last week or so, but I think the fog may be clearing from my mind now, with some luck when the little guy has gone to bed this evening I’ll be able to get stuck into finish off the reviews tonight, and get somewhat back on track. Not going to touch any of the photos I take this week until we get home at the weekend, so I guess I’m already borrowing time from next week, it’s what a lot of us end up doing these days to try and fit things in. Too hard to catch up with things though and eventually something gives and in reality that will pretty much always be your hobbies, it’s easy enough for me to take a camera out in the garden and try to catch the birds flying around or feeding, but it’s another 30 minutes or an hour our of a day, then editing the photos is another hour, I think I just need to start organising time better.

 

Today, it’s all about getting out and enjoying the break, off to Glenveagh National Park, in Donegal, a beautiful spot no matter what the weather, but if it holds up as it is now it should be a terrific trip, wish us well, the little guy wasn’t crazy about the beach yesterday, a little too brights with the strong sun, but he had fun travelling around as he always does, we paid a visit to the beautiful Fanad Lighthouse yesterday,  Would love to head back there sometime, it’s a lovely spot. Once again we are taking in a piece of the stunning Wild Atlantic Way, do visit if you ever get a chance and plan a trip following part of the Irish Coastline.

 

Right, out into the sun (although it’s cold right now I’m sure) and we shall see what we manage to see out there………..enjoy your day where you are ………

After the snow….

Don’t know what it’s been like in your part of the world, but here in Ireland we’ve been hit by what is for us a very unusual weather event, we tend to get very small amounts of snowfall during the winter months, and even at that it grinds the country to a halt 😉   But from last Wednesday we got hit by a much bigger event, snow for a few days that was very heavy at times and blizzard like, the meeting of a storm and a blizzard decided to dump as much as it could on our little green island, and the havoc caused was crazy, from the near Black Friday frantic scenes as people scrambled to buy sliced pans of bread, literally stripping delivery cages bare before they even made it to the shelves, yes for bread and milk, it wasn’t like the conditions were due to last weeks, a day or two.

But with snow drifts up to 10 feet high it certainly was causing problems, no public transport of any kind, flights in and out of the country completely wiped out, and people told to stay in their homes and not venture out. Well this is Monday night and the reality is most of it is all gone, a thaw for a day and a half and that’s it panic over, the sliced pans are no longer on Ebay for €1,000 😉

The birds weren’t too bothered, they still came to the garden to get their treats from the feeders or try their luck with the frozen ground. It’s all back to normalish now, a couple of days stuck in the house and people were going stir crazy, the supermarkets are still bare shelved, their distribution centers trying frantically to restock. In fairness the snowfall was more than double the previous records, so for her, a place that doesn’t have a reason to invest heavily in infrastructure or equipment for such an event if it only happens every 30 or 50 years, it wouldn’t be that prudent, but maybe when they add up the total cost it might be worth doing more.

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Poor Blackbird scavenging around the garden in the snow.

 

But hey we are rolling into Spring now and it’s time to look forward to better weather, more trips, gigs and Festivals, it’s really lifting the spirits, which have honestly been a little low of late. We start this week with the HRH AOR Festival in Pwllheli, North Wales which I will be shooting at for the 4th year running, this year for my good friends at Rockposer.com and will look forward to photographing and seeing some terrific bands and of course catching up with some wonderful friends along the way. This years bill includes headliners Joe Lynn Turner (Rainbow, Yngwie Malmsteen), Night Ranger and Skid Row. This is always a great weekend, and handy to be an indoor Festival at this time of year with lots of facilities on-site.

HRHAOR6-Poster

 

Busy month of gigs ahead, still have Sepultura, Steven Wilson, Cannibal Corpse, Gary Numan, Maverick and Danny Vaughn & Dan Reed to come this month, and HRH Blues in April.the year is pretty full with some great and very varied stuff, going to try and get to shoot more shows.

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Eclipse – HRH AOR 2015

Another plan this year is to try and get out and get some decent photographs of Butterflies, but natural homegrown ones and some more tropical ones at Butterfly Gardens around the country, will try my very best to get this done. And then onto our holiday in Donegal, more Wild Atlantic Way sights, a different part of Donegal, so we will get to see the beautiful Fanad Lighthouse  and area this time around.

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Black Swallowtal with blue wings.

So bring it all on, lets hope it’s a great few months for us all and brigher weather brings brighter moods, with a lot of friends struggling through various illnesses at the moment, thoughts and prayers are with them all for speedy and full recoveries, and we all need to live life to the fullest while we have it, have fun out there.

Still dizzy, but we march onwards.

So time for a little update, and have to be honest I’ve be struggling a little, the dizzy spells have not disappeared, thankfully they are definitely fewer, which I’m thankful for. And while typing this I should be on my way in to see one of my favourite bands, the always wonderful Pat McManus Band, but will have to wait until the HRH Blues Festival to catch him again, it just would not be a smart play to go in and risk getting worse. But the guys really are wonderful live, Pat is without any doubt one of the most talented guitarists around today, such a passionate player and loves what he does.

PMB - Ramblin' Man Fair - 2016
PMB – Ramblin’ Man Fair – 2016

 

Having said that I’ve already been to 20% of the number of shows I managed to get to in the whole of 2017, and there a a couple of gigs on the cards for this week, so hopefully things will go to plan. WOW!!!! we are almost at the end of February then and rolling into the Festival Season, with HRH AOR VI first up, that’s going to be great. Particularly looking forward to seeing the brilliant Night Ranger again, absolutely blew me away last time at the same Festival back in 2015.

 

Lots of stuff going on the next few months, gigs, Festivals (shooting and reviewing a couple of those – yeah I know I said I wouldn’t do that much work anymore, but it’s not always easy to get Festival Reviewers, may be a bit lucky this year and have a friend taking some of the load). Then we have a family holiday, staying in the homeland, but can’t wait for that, and will finally get to pay a visit to the stunning Fanad Lighthouse in Co. Donegal. So I automatically think back to last year and getting to see another of the Great Lighthouses of Ireland at Loop Head, Co. Clare, will naturally bring the camera along again and see what we can get.

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Loop Head. Co. Clare

For the rest of the weekend, will continue to work on some shots of our feathered friends in the back garden if the weather stands up, have some Album Reviews to work on and grab some rest in between. But we have to keep going, march onwards (to a tune or two of course) and keep trying to learn a few things as we go along. After I think I’ve improved enough with static birds it’s time to get to work on Birds in flight again, and that will probably require a replacement tripod, the endless spend of money continues 😉

 

Bloody dizzy spells, but doesn’t affect the Birds ;-)

Went into the garden earlier to get some air and try and clear my head a bit, but still having dizzy spells, since Tuesday so will have to take a trip to the Doctors if they don’t disappear, so didn’t do much for the head, but there were a lot of Birds buzzing around the place, and quite happy today with some of my photos. Right food and see if I’m ok to go out later. If you’d like to see some of the photos just click on the link below or either of the Photos and they will take you to the page 😉
Blue Tits and Robin’s are the order of the day today –

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Robin – 11-02-2018

Lots of activity around today, which is really great to see, and a number of Robins just hanging around today, well until the Rescue Helicopter went flying overhead and everything scattered with the noise, the Thrush’s have yet to make an appearance today, nor the Collared Dove, but I’m sure they are around. Need to get a replacement Tripod quickly as handheld with the 70-200mm lens and the Extender weighs you down pretty quickly, but still pretty happy with the results, and know I can get a little clearer and better next time out.

Looking forward to our Family holiday back to Donegal in a few months, will get to check out the stunning Fanad Lighthouse and I’m sure there will be a lot of wildlife around both the bay where we are staying and the cliffs around the lighthouse itself. Assuming we are lucky with the weather of course. That aside, we are planning trips back to the Botanical Gardens and Dublin Zoo in the very near future, so lots coming up.

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Blue Tit – 11-02-2018