great outdoors

Simply Awesome Dad…

The guy on the desk at Awesome Walls in Finglas, looked rather bemused.  It’s a fabulous facility; one of the largest climbing walls I’ve seen, and despite my cold, I was looking forward to meeting my mate Stephen and tying onto a rope.  The chap’s confusion came from his polite appraisal of my 87 year old dad who was standing beside me in a day suit with a crisp shirt and tie and crombie overcoat.  I couldn’t resist playing along: “I’ve got my own gear” I said, before adding “But I’ll need to rent a harness for dad”.  A couple of minutes later, dad was safely parked on a sofa holding a mug of steaming coffee, the attendant looking relieved, while Steve and me roped up and started climbing up the walls.  Ha ha – a fitting break from the turkey excess.

I quickly realised how much my chesty cold has drained me.  I normally fly up the ‘4+’ routes, but today, everything I tried felt awkward and tough.  It clearly wasn’t the wall, it was me.  In a way, there was a kind of relief to see my lack of physical strength on the wall, it confirmed why I was feeling so rough the last few days.  You kind’ve ignore a bad cold, but my muscles were clearly telling me I’m under pressure right now.

Earlier in the day I’d taken my first session back in the gym and I thought I would die!  There was a group of 8 of us training with gym guru David Dunne at the Westpoint Gym in Blanchardstown.  We did an hour of mixed weights and aerobic circuits, and while we were all groaning for mercy at the end, I definately felt I had zero fitness, and my chest was heaving.

Some part of me did admit that I probably shouldn’t have gone sea swimming yesterday, but it’s sometimes difficult to know if you just feel lazy or really are too sick to do stuff.   Dad and the suit and crombie looked well on Malahide beach too – although he thought I was nutz, and probably I should have listened to him.

Well I’m not giving up.  I’ve spent 2 weeks nursing this cold, and I’m not locking myself away in the house again for more.  I’m back in the gym tomorrow morning and I’ve got a gym and swim treat with a friend tomorrow afternoon.  I’ll keep exercising, but won’t push too hard, and hopefully the cough will go soon and I’ll get my strength back.  It’s most annoying being on holiday and being sick!  🙁




Come “Get Off The Couch” for 2013

Get Off the Couch! from Athena Media on Vimeo.

Well it’s been an interesting few years. In 2009 I was 23 stone and dangerously ill. By 2010 I was heading to Everest Base Camp to raise money for kids in India, after losing half my own body weight. A year later I was climbing Grand Paradiso in the Alps for Chernobyl kids, and this year (2012) I took part in the first charity multi-adventure challenge in Uganda for the Irish charity Concern, climbing a volcano at altitude before cycling 200k to the Nile where the team took turns in kayaking down a grade 3 rapid.  I kept a training blog here for my African Adventure, and now I’m back in training for a whole new challenge.

Throughout these adventures I learned to love our beautiful mountains and stunning seas, and to forge an ever-growing respect for our bodies, which can do so much more than our minds believe.

In 2013 I want you to come with me.

I’m inviting those of you who secretly dream of being adventurous to leave the TV remote behind, and come out to explore the great outdoors. I know how scary that can be, but I want to share how wonderful it is to break down those walls and find the inner you, the inner explorer. So if you’re looking for a life-changing New Year resolution – come and join me – and “Get Off The Couch”.




Updates from the Uganda Challenge…
My big brother Raymond knows how to fly – a real-life pilot. He did some gliding too and once when I was a little girl, he talked to me about turbulence. He explained it was like driving a car fast along a bumpy bog road. Even though you bounce up and down, you’re not going anywhere, just bumping up and down on pockets of air. I was really glad we’d had that chat, as with my eyes closed tight, my stomach lurched again, as the plane bucked and plunged, ploughing through pockets of air somewhere between Frankfurt and Addis Ababa in Ethiopia

Several hours of snatched sleep and three movies later, my climbing buddy Vera grabbed my arm excitedly to show me the dawn through the window. Such a pity I couldn’t see it from my seat! Yawning and putting the seat back up for arrivals, I stretched out cramped legs and thanked the universe for making me a shorty.

The boys looked like their knees were wrapped around their ears. Off the plane into a cold, crisp, but sunny morning. No rain here in Ethiopia, that’s waiting for us in Uganda. Two buses later, we piled out onto the Tarmac a five minute walk away from the plane we just left….and minus one member of the team.

Subsequent inquiries suggested James, or ‘Jam’ as we call him, was on a different bus. It’s been 20 minutes now and we’re still waiting for the bus to transport Jam the five-minute walk from the plane, which has now taxied away. But it’s pleasant sitting here on the runway in the early morning sun. Can’t really go much further without him really. After all, Jam’s leading the expedition….

  • Communicorp
  • Danone
  • Irish Farmers’ Journal
  • Dublin Airport Authority
  • WeightWatchers, Ireland
  • Limerick City & County Enterprise Board
  • ‘Foot In The Door’ Media Trainer for Independent Commercial Radio, Ireland
  • Clare County Enterprise Board
  • Carlow County Enterprise Board
  • Great Outdoors
  • Adrian Hendroff ‘From High Places’
  • Chernobyl Children International
  • Concern Ireland
  • The Hope Foundation
  • LauraLynn Childrens’ Hospice
  • Travel Department
  • Helly Hansen Killarney Adventure Race
  • 98FM Dublin
  • Newstalk
  • TodayFM Radio
  • Learning Waves Skillnet
  • BCFE, Ballyfermot
  • Pat Falvey, 'The Summit Book'