Further comment on London 2012

And I must also congratulate Katie Taylor who won a gold medal for Ireland in the women’s boxing. Ireland’s medal tally at the end of the games is a respectable haul of one gold, one silver and three bronzes. Now maybe it’s not much compared to Great Britain’s total of 29 golds, 17 sivers and 19 bronzes, but then Ireland’s population is less than a tenth of Britain’s.

Congratulations must go to all the volunteers who turned up to all the Olympic venues and made them so special for the thousands of spectators and for the millions of television viewers.

Congratulations also to the British Army who stepped in at very short notice to provide security for the Olympic venues when the private security firm failed to provide even a quarter of the staff needed.

Congratulations to all the medal winners, British and Irish, and of all nationalities, and congratulations to all athletes from all over the world for bringing such excitement to London.

And the closing ceremony, like the opening ceremony, proves that Britain, for all its faults and foul-ups, can put on a jolly good show when the need arises.

Now that the madness of the Summer Olympics is over, except, of course, for the Paralympics later this month, the West Briton in me can go back to sleep…

All eyes are on London

I said in a post about two months ago that the West Briton in me was dormant, possibly dead. I may have born in London and I may have spent half my life in my native city and the surrounding counties but my heart is in Ireland, the country where I grew up.

Well, during the past three weeks I’ve discovered that I can pick up BFBS from their station at Ballykinlar on 107.5FM (on a pretty weak signal). Now, considering I have no connections with Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, I shouldn’t be at all interested in the British Forces Broadcasting Service. In fact I grew up on the Nationalist/Republican side of the Community in Northern Ireland, so I should hate everything to do with the Brits.

But BFBS radio has a really friendly tone to it, even if they do play low-brow top 40 rubbish. It’s more or less what BBC Radio 1 used to be like in the 80s before John Birt and Johnny Beerling stuck their bureaucratic hand in, tried to modernize it and completely wrecked it.

And when I’m not stuck on BFBS I’ve been following the exploits of Team GB in the Olympics on BBC Radio Five Live Olympics Extra. I’ve heard of Rebecca Adlington, Andy Murray, Anthony Joshua, Sir Chris Hoy and many others winning medal after medal for Britain – 28 gold, 15 silver and 19 bronze, Great Britain’s best Olympic medal haul for more than a century.

Barefootin’

The little café at Murlough

The little café at Murlough

One good thing about being unemployed in the summer is the freedom to come and go as you please. You’re not cooped up in an office or a department store where there’s no sunlight. If it’s raining, too bad.

But the past three days have been just what a summer’s day should be, hot and sunny. And I’ve been using those days as best I know how, to slap on the sunblock and get out and enjoy the sunshine!

In fact, not only have I been taking maximum advantage of the summer, I’ve visited a new beach. Murlough Beach stretches from the Murlough Nature Reserve near Dundrum all the way down to Newcastle. The first time I visited this beach was on August 8th where I decided to cool off my feet after a walk all the way from Downpatrick. Then I jumped back on the bus home.

Yesterday, however, I went further. If there’s one thing that’s guaranteed to get my energy levels up to maximum it’s a summer’s day in the countryside and the beach. So I used that energy to walk along the beach, in and out of the surf, all the way to the Slieve Donard Hotel in Newcastle. And when I reached Newcastle I walked all the way back. Nothing unusual about that, but I was barefoot the whole time, from when I reached the beach at Murlough caravan park to Newcastle.

I got into the habit of being barefoot on the beach at Tyrella. You don’t have to worry about sand in your shoes and you can walk through rock pools and the surf with total impunity. I put my shoes back on at Newcastle and had a walk about the town, but when I got back to the beach the shoes came off again and I didn’t bother putting them back on until I reached the asphalt path back onto the main road.

Now, according to Google Maps, the distance via the A2 from the Murlough Caravan Park to Newcastle is 3.04km, but the route I took along the beach is shorter, 2.5km or so. So, 2.5km there and 2.5km back adds up to a full five kilometres, give or take a few hundred metres. And that is the longest distance I’ve ever walked barefoot in one day. And my feet are none the worse for it.

I think I’ll make a pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick in County Mayo, and I just might be one of the pilgrims crazy enough to do it barefoot…

…though I’m not promising anything.