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Living small

I’ve always loved the idea of living in a very small, but super organised space.  I love this video of a brilliantly organised apartment in Hong Kong


and, via Gismodo, here is another.


My only problem is I’d need two of those – one for me, one for my bike collection.


Shit cyclists say

Mountain bikers:

….and roadies

Snow and sunshine

The weekend before Christmas I went for a quick, cold but sunny ride up the Ballyhoura trails, to be greeted with a (very light) snow cover surviving in sheltered spots. It was lovely and crisp riding, although having the slippy stuff on the timber sections wasn’t ideal, it led to a few slightly hair raising moments.

View out over the southern plains of Limerick.

My bike, taking a rest.

Slippy stuff


In the deep dark woods.

Going down...

A few east from Ballhoura - I don't even know the name of this mountain...!

On the way out, I got these nice snaps of the mountains to the east of Ballyhoura.

Derroura – Halloween Horror (weather)

On Sunday 30th October I went for a daytrip to the Derroura trail in Galway.  The national weather forecast was good, apart from ‘persistent rain in western coastal areas’.  I should have listed to that bit – after driving in beautiful sunshine from Dublin through the midlands, as soon as I hit Galway the rain was not just persistent but torrential for most of the afternoon!  Sadly, this meant that the promised beautiful views of Lough Corrib and the Maum Mountains were hidden behind a shroud of mist.  But it is still a great ride, very rocky over mostly well drained trails with over 1km of very slippy timber tracks.

The trail starts out at a small carpark on the north side of Lough Bofin, a narrow little lake between two ridges in typical west Galway countryside.  Lough Corrib is on the northern side of the main ridge.

As the trail rose, everything around disappeared into the mist, I could have been anywhere, but the trail was still very easy to follow.

With local weather conditions in mind, its well built and drained with lots of little bridges and culverts, with the surface alternating between stony hardcore and rock slabs.

Near the top, where there should be wonderful views over Lough Corrib, the trail is hewn out of the hillside in a surprisingly crude way.

The local sheep looked on with the usual ovine amusement. I photographed them from a distance, thinking they’d run off, but they actually just stood there as I rode past, no doubt wondering why anyone would voluntarily come out in this weather. Or maybe they were admiring my new bike.

There were just a handful of riders out that day. This girl was out with her father (who had zoomed on ahead). She seemed surprised at my complaints about the weather. ‘Sure its always like this up here!’ she said.

On the descent, there were long sections of timber trail, treacherously wet and slippy, but still quite rideable and fun.

Its a really nice trail, definitely worth coming back to if it ever stops raining. The final section is particularly good, a long looping and undulating descent through woodland and across stretches of rock strewn bogland. I enjoyed it so much I looped around and did it five times! The final section is ideal for someone who wants an easier ‘beginners’ route to ride- its not signposted or indicated on the maps, but you just have to follow the initial forest road from the carpark, but instead of following the first trail marker on the right, look left, and there is another marker pointing to the final stretch.


I took this Friday off work, it was a lovely morning so a good time to do a walking trail in the Wicklow Mountains I hadn’t done in years – from Crone carpark up to Djouce, crossing the Dargle River just above Powerscourt Waterfall. It follows the ridge overlooking the Powerscourt Waterfall, crosses the Dargle Valley,then up a ridge across the eastern slopes of the mountain, one of the highest points in Leinster.


Powerscourt Waterfall, with Djouce rising in the background

The path across the valley of the Dargle above the waterfall, Djouce in the background.

The footbridge over the Dargle was washed away - I assume it happened during the very heavy rain last Monday - judging by how the grass was damped down there must have been a huge flash flood rushing down, the waterfall must have been spectacular that day.

The view over Dublin Bay from near the top of Djouce

Howth and Irelands Eye island in the distance.

A view down the path to the summit, Sugarloaf mountain to the left.

A view south over the incongruously (ironically?) named White Hill - the mountain biking trail at Ballinastoe is in the forest to the left. This ridge is the starting point for one of the maddest mountain bike races in Ireland, where a mass start features at the beginning - this year it was renamed the Red Bull Fox Hunt.

All sorts of links about urban planning (and a few other random links)

Cars and cities – sprawl is not the result of free market outcomes, it is part of a deliberate policy of favoring the car over other forms of transport.  And here is some research that indicates a positive correlation between urban density and productivity – here is the original paper Bike oriented businesses in America (NYTimes)  – the first of course is a brew pub.  Oh, and bikes are a cheap transport solution for everyone – an interesting article on the politics and economics of the boom in urban cycling in the US.

Some great public housing in the Bronx.

House prices and the choking off of the first tech boom in San Francisco.  The argument is that rocketing prices in the SF area made it impossible for tech workers to move there, resulting in labour market problems.  It would be interesting to compare this to the situation in Ireland – I’ve heard plenty of stories of very qualified worker who wouldn’t move to Dublin in the boom years because of housing costs.  The corollary of this of course is that the collapse in prices could aid start-ups and encourage more companies to come to Ireland.  Except of course that it is official policy via Nama to try to keep property prices high.  More proof if needed of the idiocy of an economic policy that sees rising house prices as a ‘good’ thing.

Very interesting article on recent research on accidents and urban quality in the US.  it seems the old fashioned grid system was best after all, and cul-de sacs are worst.  Also, an explanation of why slower speeds on highways can result in greater efficiency.

Possibly the most painful own goal ever.  And on a sporting note, this is how to do a proper pair of hakas.

Skalatitude – nice travel blog, I love the videoblog from the India Himalaya.  I can almost feel the headache from that altitude….

Foxhunting in Wicklow, downhill mountain bike style, all a bit muddy, but good fun.

Autumn colours on the Military Road, Wicklow

Sunday was a gorgeous autumn day – warm and sunny, although with a stiff westerly breeze.  I went for a road ride up the Wicklow mountains on the Military Road (R115) – unfortunately, it was cut a little short due to a puncture and pump malfunction, but it was still a nice ride – the colours are glorious on the high bog and heath this time of year.

Looking south towards the Sugarloaf Mountain

Sugarloaf Mountain

In the distance, the road climbing towards the ridge at Lough Bray and Powerscourt Mountain

View north towards Dublin

Dublin Bay and a little wind turbine