Enniskerry and Knocksink Woods

I meant to write a post last week about how my housemate, Aoife and I had gone for a lovely walk up in the Wicklow Mountains, but I completely forgot.
Either that, or I couldn’t be bothered. I can’t remember which anymore. It seems like the less anxious and stressed I’ve been, the less likely I am to write things down in the blog. But, also, I guess, whilst I’ve been quite relaxed and happy in Dublin, I’m also not doing a whole heap, because I still don’t really know anyone (and I expect it will stay that way), so there’s not a lot to report. No amusing conversations, no strange character studies, no exciting cultural experiences (I was going to go to a Good Friday mass today, as a ‘cultural experience’, but then I realised that I couldn’t think of a more hideous way to spend a free day so I decided against it). I could write down what I’ve been thinking about all day, but it would mainly consist of, ‘What will I have for lunch? Mmm… I have tomatoes in the fridge, I could make soup… Oh, and after lunch I need to start on that script about Icarus again. Hey, did Icarus have a mother? I should look that up. Wikipedia.. oh, look at that, Icarus had a half-brother. You know what movie I will NOT be seeing? Wrath of the Titans. I wonder if Sam Worthington’s American accent is any better…’ etc. My brain is like the dogs in ‘Up’. It gets easily distracted. It essentially goes running after every shiny thing that pops up and forgets all the serious stuff it needs to remember. Which reminds me, I need to change my UK visa appointment. Again.
Oh, and yes, none of this has anything to do with the title of the blog post. Yet again.
So, I started by saying that my housemate Aoife took me to Wicklow last weekend and we had a lovely walk around with her dog, Kodo, saw the Guinness lake again, went to a place called Powerscourt, which is a manor house where the rich Protestant landowners lived back in the day and then had dinner at Johnnie Fox’s pub, which is a hilariously wonderful traditional/tourist pub in the middle of nowhere (Glencullen). I had the Whiskey cake for dessert, which has so much whiskey in it that the menu says you have to be over 18 to order it. I think, in all honesty, most of the whiskey would have been burnt off in the cooking, but, still, I ordered it. It was deliciously whiskey-like. Dad asked me (via Skype) before I left, ‘I always think of the Wicklow Mountains as being very romantic. Are they?’ To which I reply, yes, yes, they are very romantic. This is, after all, where Gerard Butler met Hilary Swank in P.S. I Love You, and that was, as far as I am aware, a documentary on the state of the contemporary Irish countryside. Gorgeous Irishmen/Scotsmen bumping into Americans on every falling down rocky bridge and falling in love to the sounds of fiddle-dee-dee music.
Seriously though, its really pretty. Kind of like the Blue Mountains, except not so dramatic. Maybe more like the Southern Highlands. All rolling hills and greenery and windy roads and cute teashops.
Anyway, fast forward to this week and the start of the Easter 4 days off. I’m all alone as Aoife is now in Boston, and by yesterday evening I was at quite the loss as to what to do with all my free time. Fishamble practically had to push me out of the office yesterday afternoon at 2pm. They had set me an organising job, and the strange thing about me is that whilst I generally live in great mess, when someone gives me something to do with organising I get a bit anal with the whole thing. I think I am actually, at heart, horrendously obsessive compulsive about these sorts of things, so, when it was 2pm and I wasn’t finished with the folders and shredding and the checking of spreadsheets for reference numbers, I was exceedingly distressed. It pretty much ruined the rest of the day. I went home with this great feeling of frustration which translated into not being able to write anything, not wanting to watch anything on TV that I actually enjoyed, and refusing to switch off the TV and figure out something else to do instead. I doused myself in red wine, and, luckily, by 1am the frustration had worn off enough to allow me to sleep. This is why I decide not to care about keeping things clean or neat or tidy, because if I started to care, I would care so much that I wouldn’t be able to do anything else. Its a protective measure for my sanity. Not laziness.
But, the point is, I had to prepare in advance for today. I was worried that the feeling of frustrating nothing-ness would only get worse with a full day off with no-one around, and not much happening around town, it being Good Friday and all (except Mass, which I had already ruled out). So, I decided to head back into Wicklow and try to do some more walking.
It was easier said than done. As I had no car, I was faced with a choice of being dropped off by the cheap public bus at an irritatingly close, and yet a bit too far to walk distance from most of the lovely parts of the Wicklow National Park; or forking out a large wad of cash to take a tourist bus up to the car park. Of course, I chose the cheap non-tourist version. It ended up being a good choice, because I was able to explore new places, such as Enniskerry, which I had only seen from a car window before, as well as Knocksink Woods.
Before we continue, I would like to take a moment for you to acknowledge what an awesome name ‘Knocksink Woods’ is.
Yep, its awesome.
I mean, where does that come from? It must be an anglicised version of an Irish name. And it is FREAKIN’ COOL.
Moving right along…
The Knocksink Woods follow the Glencullen River (another beautifully evocative name). There’s an education centre next to a car park, and some delightful flat walks down around the river. I met many happy families out walking with their lovely children and lovely, big fluffy dogs. Then, I crossed a bridge and all the happy children and parents and dogs disappeared, and the terrain suddenly got extremely steep, the path got all windy and thin, barely wide enough for one foot, let alone two feet, and the trees all changed to tall pine so that it suddenly looked like this:

Seriously. And all the sun went away too. It was freaky. Found at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/josse-gr/1464673822/

When I had still been around the happy families, I happily started following this path that was marked out by white dots on the trees, thinking (happily), ‘Oh, how nice, someone marked out the way for me!’ But, then, after 10 minutes of walking by myself in the formerly mentioned terrifying scary pine woods, the white dots started to look like they were dripping down the tree trunks and my brain began to concoct some sort of narrative in which a mass-murderer lured tourists into his pine forest lair with the cunning device of white dots on tree trunks. It didn’t help that I saw a few constructed rocks circles, and even a rock altar that had a seemingly full, large black garbage bag in front of it, which my (evil) brain decided was just large enough for a dismembered corpse to be inside. See, this is why I don’t watch horror movies, because my brain does not need the encouragement. I felt I was in my own version of this:

found at: http://www.phillyburbs.com/entertainment/movies/lou_gaul/blair-witch-project-stars-driving-monster-mania-con/article_05b10e24-7582-5cbf-82dc-abee47e5069f.html?mode=image

Well, I presume that I was in a version of that, but as I, of course, haven’t seen it, I have no idea what its about. Some kids go into the forest and make a movie on hand-held cameras and became millionaires and overnight sensations. That’s the story, right?
Luckily, though, I had my iPod with me. I haven’t charged my iPod in about a month (not entirely sure how I got through those 4 weeks now that I think about it), but had decided to bring it with me on my woods walk. Nothing I had listened to particularly helped the creepy mood of the woods. Either it was sad and wistful, adding to the creepy mood or it was ridiculously happy and therefore sounded even creepier because it was contrasting so ridiculously to my surroundings. I tried Laura Marling. I tried Ladysmith Black Mambazo (‘But you love Ladysmith Black Mambazo!’) I tried musical theatre. I tried Irish folk.
On a whim, I tried a different tack. Deciding that the main problem was that I was walking around the woods alone, I thought it might help if it sounded like I was walking around with a bunch of chatty friends. So, I put on the latest 5 episodes of the podcast, ‘Stuff ‘n’ Things’. Its done by a mate of mine, Dave Burton, and a mate of his, Carley Commens, and it’s just genius. Its about the arts scene in Brisbane, and Australia, but the incredibly interesting things they talk about are much broader than that. They get on a variety of very interesting guests to talk about their arts projects, lives, things they enjoy, internet sites they like to look at… The amount of useful links I have gotten from the show are too numerous to mention. Seriously, this podcast has improved my life. If you are at all interested in arts, theatre, TV, Dr. Who, zombies, BBC bonnet dramas, funny things, the internet, contemporary performance, music then you should listen to it. Here is the website: http://stuffandthings.com.au/tag/australia/ Go. Download. Laugh. Learn. You will.
Suddenly, my mood in the creepy Knocksink Woods changed dramatically. I was still kind of worried about dying, but this time it was because I thought my-very-loud-and-completely-unstoppable-holding-my-belly-doubled-over-laughter would cause me to slip off the steep cliff edges and plunge to my death on the sharp rocks below. In the end, I was laughing so hard that I think I must have scared some of the other walkers around the place. Can you imagine being in the woods above and just hearing the disembodied maniacal laugh of a crazed woman echoing around you? Glad I wasn’t those other people who had no idea what was going on – I would have totally freaked. I would have thought I was in ‘Jane Eyre’ or something (yes, I know ‘Jane Eyre’ isn’t a horror book, but its about as close to horror as I get). When I got back to near the car park and the happy families started popping up again, I was grinning madly, and I certainly was thrown a few disconcerted glances. There’s a limit to how happy you’re allowed to look on your own in the woods before people start worrying about your sanity, I guess. And therein endeth the Good Friday lesson.
Go in Peace, my friends.

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