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Looking forward to the most wonderful day of the year

Francis Farragher

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Benjamin Franklin: More use of daylight and less candles to be burned (1784).

Country Living with Francis Farragher

We’re always reminded in mid-January about the most depressing day of the year – this year it was identified as the 15th day of our first month, and duly picked up the title of Blue Monday.

Some bright spark has invented a mathematical equation to work out this exact January date every year, taking into account such factors as weather; your level of personal indebtedness; the time that has elapsed since Christmas; failed New Year’s resolutions and low motivational levels.

Somehow or another, there seems to have been a lot of those type of days knocking around through late-Winter and early-Spring with the dreariness factor being ably aided and abetted by spells of inclement weather.

Now, a time to let bygones be bygones and to look forward to what is in my humble opinion the most joyous day of the year, namely the last Sunday in March when we can all start to reclaim our lost evening light.

With the ever-rising path of the sun in the northern hemisphere sky, coupled with the time change at 1am on Sunday morning next (forward by one hour), our window of evening light takes a dramatic turn for the better.

On Sunday evening next, our sunset here in Galway will be almost 8pm giving a lighting-up of time of nearly 8.30pm and if we are blessed with a blue sky, the shreds of daylight could survive until nearly nine-o-clock.

And while we all rather dolefully observe how quickly time is passing when we remark that so-and-so is now nearly 10-years dead, there did seem to be a particular drudgery this year through January, February and the early days of March.

When our clocks go forward by one hour this Sunday morning, here in Ireland and across the UK we will actually be deviating from Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) by one hour as we slip into DST (Daylight Saving Time) or IST (Irish Standard Time) or BST (British Summer Time).

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

 

Country Living

Seeking out little solaces from gloom of November

Francis Farragher

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Advent is on the way in what has turned out to be a full year of penance!

Country Living with Francis Farragher

NOVEMBER is probably one of those months that’s akin to Patrick Kavanagh’s famous line on dandelions ‘growing on headlands, showing their unloved hearts to everyone’.  I’ve yet to meet someone who told me that November was their favourite month of the year, but like the dandelions, it won’t go away and despite the efforts of rugby people to give in an autumn status in terms of titling their international games, for me it will always be that time of darkest Winter.

Mind you, it’s not so bad once you accept your lot with the month. The sunrises, whenever we’re lucky enough to see them under clearer skies, have now slunk back to after 8 o’clock, while each evening the sun’s indecent haste to retreat often ushers in darkness shortly after 4pm.

Our current predicament hasn’t been helped by what’s going around us and by the greyness of the weather, so overall it is a bit of a battle to ease the gloom of November. However, in the midst of all those dark clouds, for those of us who are fortunate enough to have shelter from the elements and who can sit in front of a glowing turf fire, the month does have its little consolations.

Gone are the long evenings when the ‘to do list’ of outdoor chores stretched all the way up to double digits; and now at least there’s the consolation of not feeling one ounce of guilt at getting comfy on an armchair, opening a bottle of Peroni, and listening to the Atlantic tempests belting against the windows.

For those of us lucky (or unlucky) enough to have an interest in sport, there are some real television treats like the hurling and football championships (admittedly not much of a consolation last weekend if you’re of maroon extraction); the Masters’ golf from Augusta; and the rather less-attractive sight of our Irish soccer team getting a mauling from the ‘Auld Enemy’ at Wembley.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app

The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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Country Living

Picking out 10 ‘kinda good things’ from our misfortunes

Francis Farragher

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I’VE tried and it’s not been easy – to come up with ten ‘good things’ (the term is used very loosely) – about our current coronavirus predicament.  We are being avalanched with a barrage of rules, regulations, lectures and dire predictions for our future welfare, but in the midst of all the debris, here is my Top 10, of ‘kinda good things’ that I’ve managed to scratch out of Pandemic 2020.

  1. Time seems to have slowed down: Maybe it’s the combination of the long evenings; the gates being padlocked on the local watering holes; the swimming pools and gyms being closed, but now there seems to be a three-hour period between 7pm and 10pm, when the night goes on forever. (Oops, careful, a possible slip into negativity). Okay, so November has arrived and the year is nearly out, but now during every long night, I believe that time has slowed down.
  2. I have also slowed down: There is of course the physical aspect of all this brought about by too many birthdays, dodgy knees and an occasionally creaking back, but it just seems pointless to be rushing around anymore. We have no holidays to look forward to; no meals to enjoy out; no couple of pints in the local; not even a mass on Saturday evening; and no weekends away. So, time to take it steady, ease off on the car accelerator too, and get more miles to the gallon out of the ‘old diesel’.
  3. Not riches, but less overdraft problems: I’m not sure what it says about our overall economic future – that’s a matter for greater minds than mine – but I do notice on a month by month basis, there’s less fret in case the overdraft limit is breached. The reasons are quite obvious – fewer and fewer places to spend my filthy lucre. It’s as close I’ve come to saving in this lifetime but I fear that the trend will only be for the duration of the pandemic.
  4. An effort being made to read a bit more: Admittedly so far, it’s been confined to books like ‘Getting Things Done’, ‘The 12 Rules of Life’, ‘Mindfulness’, a faith adventure with Ellen Coyne, and a good stab at a selection of newspapers, but at long last the time seems to be there to sit down and do a little word exploration while at the same trying to break the bedtime habit of scanning through the mobile for all the latest news. Print is best! (I might even get a bonus for that).

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app

The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Country Living

Time to shout stop when we’re told clothes are ‘not essential’

Francis Farragher

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Back to the days of the Flintstones . . . according to one of our Minister of State, shoes, clothes and socks are not essential items.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

There mightn’t be many . . . but there are a few consolations of growing older such as not being worried as much of what people think of you. Another is in the area of a few simple eureka moments when you realise that if you drink too much you tend to feel unwell; if you eat too much you feel bloated; and if you can exercise a bit more than you generally feel better.

Many moons ago when a persistent back problem called a halt to footballing ambitions, I learned how to swim, very gingerly for the first couple of years, but then gradually got comfortable with it, and realised that this was really one of those exercises that was good for body, mind and spirit.

Of late, I even got into the habit of doing a 7am session in the swimming pool in Tuam, and after getting over the initial shock of an earlier rise from the scratcher, the overall impact of the strategy was quite positive: suppler knees and hips; looser muscles; and a clearer mind for the day’s work ahead.

On the Tuesday morning of October 20 last – the eve of the Level 5 COVID restrictions – as I left the water, I had a conversation with a man of French origin, obviously working local, who I had never spoken to before in my life.

Like myself, even though of a younger vintage, he had a dodgy knee and lower back, that benefited greatly from a daily swim, but we were like kindred spirits in the closing down of a facility, ran by a company called Coral Leisure, who had bent over backwards to run the tightest of hygiene and best practice regimes since the start of the COVID crisis.

All sessions had to start on the hour and finish on the button 40 minutes later; all the normal hygiene rules had to be adhered to; the same changing cubicle had to be used in and out; while afterwards the place was scrubbed out and disinfected thoroughly. There had been no case of COVID there.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app

The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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