Category: lifestyle

Why my walk for the Heart of Galway was so special

 

10 km done! (2)

The original couch potato walked not 7km but 10km!

One of my objectives for 2016 was to walk 5km in an official challenge/race.  One morning in January, I was browsing Facebook and came across The Heart of Galway Walk on 14 February a 7km walk in aid of Foroige Big Brother, Big Sister Charity.

Before I knew it Paypal was open and I had paid the 20 Euro entry.  Now I only had two hurdles in my way – raise 80 Euro in sponsorship and get fit enough to walk 7km.  I made it public by writing about it here, and there was no going back.

Thanks to friends and family the money was soon raised and the reality of walking 7km started to sink in.

At school I was the child that always had a sore tummy on sports day.  I have terrible eye hand co-ordination and combined with Asthma I always ensured that I didn’t participate in sports.  I avoided physical activity at all costs.

Fast forward 30 odd years and I was quite probably the most unfit person you knew.  Walking to the shop (a mere 5 minute walk) would have me reaching for the car keys.

My fitness journey started about 4 years ago and regular readers of my blog will have read about when I bought my first pair of trainers, and when I felt the joy of walking on sand dunes.

Slowly and steadily I have built up my fitness levels, primarily through walking.  One foot in front of another and steadily increasing the distance and the pace.

For Christmas I was lucky enough to be given a Fitbit.  As a closet techie this really delighted me.  I could count the steps, monitor the calorie burning and set myself targets.

Commitment counts

Sunday 14 February 2016 – the day of the 7km walk, I woke up with a migraine!  And this is where commitment comes into play.  If I had not committed to doing the walk, raised the funds and promised to be there, I would have taken painkillers and turned over in bed for another hour at least. But, I had committed so I got up and got ready for my first ever official walk.

Walking (or running) for a good cause is even better.  As I arrived at 56 Central I was greeted by friends and fellow walkers who encouraged me and told me that I could do it.  I stood in line for my number and T-shirt and readied myself for the off.

A quick thank you here to friends and family who were there for me.  I needed that support so very much.

The race took off with the runners in front and the walkers behind.  My first thought was that I would come last.  Then I realised I was not competing with anyone else.  I was competing with myself.  I just needed to do it.

It was a long walk – and turned out to be 10km rather than 7km.  It’s a good thing it wasn’t advertised correctly as I never believed I could do it.  I won’t lie, the last third was hard.  I pushed myself and had my walking companion pointing out that I was 60% of the way there, then 65% and then 70%.

Close to the end I met up with some fellow walkers and we got a second (or was it third or fourth) wind and strided with pride up Shop Street in Galway to the finish line.

Now I had a beautiful medal to go with my T-shirt and race number.  I did it!

Giving back

This blog post would not be complete without a mention of the very good cause that we were raising funds for.  Project Impact is a new charity initiative put together by Pat Divilly, Gill Carroll and a fabulous team.  Project Impact raises money for charity with no expenses so everything raised will go to the charity.

For this event the money goes to Foroige – Big Brother Big Sister.  This is an internationally recognised youth mentoring  charity where a Big is matched with a Little to support and inspire.  The funds raised from this even will go to sending 100 ‘couples’ to a youth adventure centre.  In this way not only will the relationships strengthen but the importance of physical activity be emphasised.

I honestly wish I hadn’t waited for middle age to embrace fitness.  It is never too late though!

Onward to the next event.

A sincere thank you to everyone who supported me.  And thank you for reading.

Kerry x

South Africa to Ireland a Big Move – My Story

There is no place like home

 

Thirteen years ago I moved from Johannesburg, South Africa to Ireland.  Not only was it a huge move from continent to continent, but it was also a move from city life to a rural life in beautiful Connemara.

It really doesn’t matter how many people you ask about the experience before it happens, it is still a massive shock to the system.

Ultimately my decision to move was motivated by the rising crime in South Africa.  There were a few experiences that really touched my life and I realised that I was living with fear.

I don’t judge the people who have stayed and neither do I judge the people who have left the beautiful country that is my birthplace.  The time came and I had to make my choice, and the fact that I had a 7-year old son was a huge part of that.

From South Africa to Ireland

We moved across the world and landed up in Connemara in early February.  Connemara is a beautiful place, but it doesn’t really show it’s beauty in February.  It was wild, windy and very cold.  It rained almost every day.  I wasn’t prepared, and my pretty umbrella bought in South Africa turned inside out and blew away the first time I used it.

With the hindsight of 13 years I am glad I made the move.  It has been a very turbulent 13 years which has seen me live in Connemara, in Westport, Mayo and now back in Athenry on the east side of Galway.

It has seen me start my own business in the form of a craft shop called An Siopa Buί – The Yellow Shop.  Through the shop I was privileged to travel across Ireland and meet some really special people.   Circumstances change and I returned to the corporate world and spend two and a half years in Westport (considered to be the best place to live in Ireland.)  I am now living in Athenry (made famous by the song The Fields of Athenry) and am moving onto a different phase of my life.

The common thread through my life and the big move has been people.  The friends that I have made at every stage – both South Africans in Ireland, South Africans at home and of course my Irish friends.

After 10 years I took Irish Citizenship and am proud to be Irish – although I will always be South African too.

I visit South Africa as often as I can and will always have the song of Africa in my heart.  When I am homesick I think of the sound of crickets on a summer night.  The evocative smell of sunset after a hot day and the wonderful social culture of bring and braai (a BBQ where everyone brings something along).

I was honoured to take part in a TV series on RTE in 2007 called No Place Like Home.  The producers came up with a cool concept of featuring foreigners living in Ireland, and comparing where their lifestyles in Ireland with lifestyles back ‘home’.  The title really says it all.  There is no place like home, but what I have come to realise is that you can have two homes.  I will always have a little part of my soul in Africa, but now I have fallen in love with Ireland too.

The West of Ireland where I have made my home is a truly beautiful place.  One day on a drive between Westport and Connemara I stopped to take in the view.  The word awesome came to mind.

Truly awesome as you realise that this magnificent scenery is simply there for us to appreciate and admire.

Ireland has been good to me.  I have made so many friends, through my crafting, through blogging , through the ICA and through my career.  I have been welcomed into so many homes and drunk copious cups of tea as I have learnt the generosity of spirit that the Irish are known for.

My son is now grown-up and is completing a Physics Degree at University in Galway.  He has made his home here but I will always remind him of his African roots, so he too can have two homes.

 

Thank you so much for reading and if you have a question or story about moving I would love to hear it.

Kerry xx

You can be Fit without being Sporty

7km

I am going to participate in a 7km walk.

This may not seem a remarkable statement, but coming from the original couch potato it really is!

I grew up not really understanding the value of physical exercise. I suffered from asthma and breathing difficulties and although I realise now these were just excuses. I simply didn’t get exercise.

My hand eye co-ordination wasn’t good so I would regularly be in the group of the last to be picked for games and I think that this contributed to the belief that I wasn’t sporty and therefore not entitled to be fit.

There is a big difference between being sporty and being fit. I have really only discovered how good it feels to be fit in the last 5 years. I bought my first pair of trainers, and took the first steps towards a healthier future.

I have been walking for a while now, and always feel a bit envious when looking at the Facebook posts where people have completed 5km and 10km walks and runs. I promised myself that I would book my first 5km race this year.

I am going to do it – I will be fit enough!

I was sitting up at 7 in the morning last Sunday just wondering what I could do to give my life more direction, what goals I needed to set and I came across a link for a 7km (2km longer than a 5km) walk, right here in the heart of Galway.

Do it! Eeek! I did – I pressed the button and said yes. So this is how I will be spending Valentine’s day this year.

heart of galway

The walk/run (definitely walk in my case) is actually called the Heart of Galway Challenge is part of Project Impact. This initiative is presented in association with Pat Divilly and 56 Central – my favourite restaurant in Galway run by the fabulous Gill Carroll (I interviewed Gill last year).

The walk takes place along Galway’s most scenic route with lots of quirky challenges promised along the way. The money raised will be going to the Big Brother Big Sister charity – a fabulous youth mentoring programme.

I really like the idea behind this walk. 100% of the money raised will go to the charity with the specific aim of sending 100 teenagers and their mentors to an adventure centre.

I honestly wish that I had discovered the joy of fitness earlier in my life. It is never too late though, and I am committed to moving forward with my own fitness journey.

I will be honest in saying that I am a little apprehensive about the walk, but I am determined to do it. Thank you those who have already offered to sponsor me.

Thank you for reading.

Kerry x

Why I love Christmas

Why I love ChristmasChristmas is my favourite time of the year.  I start to get excited, sometimes even before Halloween.  Today I took a little time to reflect on why I love Christmas.

Tradition

Every Christmas my son and I build a gingerbread house.  We tend to do this on Christmas eve, and I have some really wonderful memories about houses falling down, crazy icing decorations and much laughter.  How the house comes together isn’t important, what is important is the special time I share with my son.

We also have a lovely tradition based on the french idea of 13 desserts.  Our interpretation is a plate with 13 different goodies – fruits, nuts, and sweets.  We replenish this each day both for visitors and for ourselves.  The ‘plate’ as it is called in our house is a key tradition also laced with memories, especially when the dog helped himself!

Family and friends and food

Christmas is also about taking time out.  Each family has it’s own way of celebrating this holiday.  For me it is about family and friends.  A simple Christmas dinner with family is always followed in my home with a fabulous tea party spent with friends.  There is so much delicious Christmas food to be eaten, that it simply cannot be eaten in one day.

I love Christmas food.  The sweet yummy stuff for sure ( I have secretly been eating mince pies since they came into the shops).  I also love the more savoury treats from a great roast turkey with fruity stuffing to blue cheese and crackers.

Sharing food with family and friends is just the perfect combination.

Giving Gifts

Gift giving has become synonamous with Christmas.  I love buying presents and really enjoy this part of Christmas.  I don’t spend a huge amount of money, but really enjoy seeking out special treats for special people.  Sitting on my bed on Christmas eve wrapping presents that might be silly but are thoughtful is a big part of Christmas for me.

This year I will be having an African Christmas and spending time with friends and family in South Africa.  Hope my Mom will be ok with the Christmas tea party!

Thanks for reading

Kerry x

 

Looking back – my life age 5 years and 20 days

Age 5 and 20 days

A few days I unpacked a box and found a pile of old school reports.  I laughed when I read this one dated from when I was 5 and 20 days.  I really haven’t changed much.  It has me wondering how much of our personalities are formed so very young.  I have also been contemplating how we lose confidence as we get older.

I have typed the whole thing out, for the amusement of my readers (especially those who have known me for many years).  I know I still look for validation and still stress out when I lose things.  I still don’t like cocoa.

For many years I believed that physical activity and sport were something I could not do.  I am glad I am walking now and keeping myself as fit as possible.  I still, of course love making things and painting!

My challenge to you is to dig out your old school reports and take time to reflect. (I also had to dig out my nursery graduation photo too.)

Half Yearly Report:

Name:  Kerry Manning

Height: 44 and 5/8”

Weight: 47lbs

Feeding:  Her appetite s good, she enjoys all fruit.  She has milk and cocoa but does not particularly enjoy the latter.

Cloakroom:  She is fairly independent and quick during this routine.

Emotional development:  Kerry is a happy and cheerful little girl.  She does however get very upset if anything goes wrong or if she loses an article of clothing.  She is still a little shy and tense when faced with unfamiliar situations.

Social Development:

  1. Relationship with adults: She is friendly and co-operative, who likes to win praise and to gain the attention of staff.
  2. Relationship with children: Kerry enjoys the company of other children. She is less reliant on Frances now and more independent in forming her own social contacts.

Language:  She has a slight lisp.  She is inclined to speak very quickly which makes her speech rather indistinct.   Her vocabulary and she conversed freely.

Play Interest:

  1. Indoor: Kerry enjoys completing the puzzles.  She is interested in all the manipulation sense training toys.  She likes to draw and colour in.
  2. Outdoor: She plays imaginatively in the Wendy House with a group of children.  She enjoys all forms of sand and water play.  Kerry is fairly agile and she uses the physical equipment with increasing confidence.

Organised activities: She loves making things and is very proud of the results she achieves.  She frequently paints and a certain amount of form and detail is evident.

Rings:

  1. Songs: She enjoys singing and is more willing to take an active part.
  2. Music: When she concentrates, Kerry’s sense of rhythm is fairly good. She participates with enthusiasm.
  3. Stories: Kerry is an attentive listener she has a good memory for detail.
  4. PT: She joins in happily and her muscle co-ordination is fairly.

General:  Kerry has made a good adjustment to Nursery School.  She needs encouragement to attempt unfamiliar things and is inclined to say ‘I can’t’ before trying.

I really haven’t changed that much to be honest.  I have learnt a few lessons from this old school report and writing this blog post.

Thanks for reading, and those who know me well, I would love your feedback.

Kerry x

 

Halloween – what does it really mean?

graveyard

I didn’t grow up with Halloween.  It was only something that started to impact in my life when my son was born.  When he started to go to nursery he came home with Halloween costume requests and that started me thinking about this day that was celebrated with dressing up, scary movies and trick or treating.

When I moved to Ireland nearly 13 years ago I really started to become curious and did a little studying about the history of Halloween.  Today it is really about the candy and costumes.  In the past I have bought sweets and chocolates and then found myself eating too much of it myself. The question is – how did it start?

I am told that Halloween evolved from the ancient Celtic festival known of Samhain (pronounced “sah-win”).   This is also November in the Irish language, and the month my son was born.
The festival of Samhain celebrates the end of the harvest Gaelic culture.  It was believed that on 31 October the boundry between the worlds of the living and the dead overlapped.  This meant that the dead would come back to life and haunt us.

I love this photo taken in the Spiddal graveyard.  As a photographer I really love the winter light.  It creates a starkness to the bare branches and adds a spooky feel to the mudane.

These days I mark the day by going to a quiet place, perhaps a little dark.  Not a  bad place, but simply a contemplative place where I can remember those who have passed from this life into the next.   I choose to believe that I will be guided rather than haunted.

I might have to indulge in a little chocolate just because.

Kerry

 

The happiness and horrors of house hunting

My new front door (2)

Our home is so important to our happiness.  When I started house hunting six weeks ago I was honestly dreading it.  I put on my brave face and logged onto Daft.ie.

Where would I find a house that was going to be my home?

There were moments when I laughed and moments when I was ready to cry, but some stories just have to be shared …..

There was the house which was a converted B&B.  On arriving I wasn’t sure as I would be sharing a home that had been divided.  I am a free spirit and I like my privacy, but considering the lack of housing in Galway I had to keep an open mind (I just didn’t realise how open it needed to be).

He showed me around the house which wasn’t too bad.  Two bedrooms, both en suite, a little sitting room and a tiny kitchen.  I was clean and I was thinking that perhaps I could make it work.  Then I saw that the dividing door between the two houses was glass!  I had a vision of myself nipping into the kitchen wrapped in my bath towel to make a cuppa, as I often do this!  I commented on the glass door and the gentleman honestly seemed shocked that it would be a problem.  I was still pondering where I would do my arty crafty stuff.  There was one door next to the kitchen that hadn’t been revealed.  I asked about it and he promptly replied that it was his bathroom, in my potential house!  I must have looked terribly shocked.  ‘I am very discreet’ he said. ‘I won’t use the bathroom until you have gone to work.’  I didn’t really know what to say.  He was asking premium money to rent a house in which he would be doing his bathroom business.

Being I positive person, I ventured back onto Daft.  Ooh look a new property!  Five minutes from work and it looked gorgeous and more to the point was within my budget.  I was buzzing this was going to be it.  It was small but really well fitted out.  A gorgeous curved red sofa and some sparkling mosaic in the bathroom.  I showed it to a friend and she recognised the development straight away.

Off  I went at lunch time.  I arrived and was greeted by a staircase with a carpet that was unravelling.  The smell of mould and damp greeted my nostrils.  I was told that the house was available as it stood (in other words no upgrades).  A broken single bed occupied the main bedroom, black mould on the bathroom walls and no red sofa. The sofa that was in place had seen plenty of action, that I really didn’t want to think about. There was also no mosaic in the bathroom.  When I questioned the landlady she was quite indignant. ‘ I need to know if I should add you to the list before 5pm,’ she said. This was not the same apartment in the photos!  With a heavy heard and a small bit of frustration I returned to looking.

Happily I do have a new home to move into.  It came through a thoughtful colleague from my previous job.  He has heard me bemoaning the house hunting task.  ‘Call this lady, and use my name’ he said.  I am delighted with my new house in the little town of Athenry in County Galway.  I move in next week.

Thanks for listening to me rant about house hunting.

Kerry xx

 

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