Finn, Fatmammycat and the mountain (s).
'Alrightly!' Miss Finn said.
And so it was set.
The morning began with a not very auspicious start. Before I opened my very eyes the bigger of the cats creamed me with an almightly crack to the cheek bone. With nery a swear word or seven I arose and checked the weather. Blue skies.
I pulled on an artex cotton t-shirt, cotton underwear, cotton socks, jeans, my waterproof jacket (*important) and my new-not quite broken in -Timberlands.
But the omens were beginning to build.
First I took the canal which made me some minutes late picking my chum up and secondly I shot through some red lights scaring the byjayous out of my self-and everyone else.
But finally we were off.
Well weeee, er lost, but no matter, I'll ask some crazy lady directions.
She gaveth them to me and I seteth off once more, climbing ever higher and narrower roads. We were taking the 'scenic' route. We were soon deep in Deliverence land.
'Erm? Do you see any signposts 'Merican chum?'
'Just trees.' Finn said leaning so far forwards the tip of her nose almost bounced off the dash. A black cat ran across the front of the car.
'That looks like one of mine.' Finn said glumly, perhaps feeling she might never make it home again.
But at least it was sunny!
Finally we shot into some winchy villlage, had a pee in a hotel, checked to see if they did a lunch-they did- and off we went to the Glendalough visitors' centre. Well after one wrong turn, a reverse and THEN we went.
'Two maps my good man!' We cried cheerfully as a light afternoon sun filtered through the beauty and serenity that is glendalough.
'Here you go, there's this route, and this route, and oh yes this route, this one is three hours, this one five. There's some steps on the three hour one, a climb, but sure it's half the work when you do.'
'Right ho!' We said, folding our maps and putting them into the pockets of our denims (*important)
We left the visitors centre, walked across a lawn and promptly went in the wrong direction, ten minutes later we were lost again.
Fortunately for us, a mildly bemused woman in a jeep set us on the right track and off we set again!
Oh it was green and woodsy, we waffled as we went along, art, culture, liberal priests who compare Jesus to Hiroshima and say joy is fleeting, what larks. Then I spotted a man standing in the distance, partially hidden by the trees.
'Look Finn, some dude standing in there trees. How suspicious.'
Finn looked, squinted, glanced at me and said, 'What man?'
'That's a water fall.' Finn said.
Egad, so it was.
'Blind Finn, I'm blind as a bat.'
Finn looked thoughtful as she digested this piece of news. I was, after all, the driver. 'Don't you think you should wear glasses?'
'I do.' I said, raising my glassless face. 'When I'm working.'
We went onwards.
Then we met the steps.
I say steps, but really they weren't. They were large railway sleepers covered in chicken wire and there were millions of them.
We began to climb, passing ever upwards through the dark trees. Finn told me a story about bears, I started to wish I wasn't bringing up the rear. Then she said, 'This is like hobbit land.'
Then I was glad I wasn't leading.
One million steps later we paused for a rest. My heart yammered in my ears and I was too warm in my 'waterproof' jacket.
Still, we proceeded.
We met a girl coming down.
'Are there many more?' I asked, pink faced.
'Millions, ' said she, 'good luck.'
Finally, the green began to grow less dense and we heard the odd bird or two. I hoped they weren't vultures.
'Look FMC!' Finn cried cheerfully, 'light!, we must be near the top.'
And so it was. The light I mean. WE were no where near the top, that would come twenty more minutes of climbing.
We met two chaps. Coming down.
Anyhoo, we finally made it gasping (me) smiling (Finn) to the top of the Spinx, and there we could look over the majesty of the valley. Well Finn could, I'm not a big fan of heights. I looked at the bracken and the windswept moor. I mentioned Werewolf in London, then Finn cursed as the song would be now stuck in her head for the afternoon.
(it wasn't as it turned out, mashed potato mashed potato, mashed potato, mashed potoato, mashed potato, Oh oh oh, mashed pototato, was instead, to Falco)
Right, at this point I should point out that I DID notice it wasn't really all that sunny any more and that a gentle mist was rolling across the hills.
With a spring in our steps, partially due to there being no more steps for a while we shot off, clippity clipping across the mountain side. Right up to the point where we ran into another few millions steps.
'Fucking steps Finn, I'm soooo against them!'
But what was I to do.
We climbed again and finally reached the sumit of this mountain.
And this is where it got interesting.
While we crisscrossed the range, a gale had blown up and now the gentle mist had turned into a not so gentle slanting epidural erroding rain.
We took off going as fast as our legs could carry us down the other side of the mountain, we had to make it down over some rather peril filled rocks, across a stream, through a quarry, by the two lakes and back to the visitors centre.
It was ten minutes into this squall that I discovered that my waterproof jacket was very NOT waterproof, and that my timberlands were in fact waterproof, and once water got into them it stayed in.
To keep out spirits up we talked about how much mashed potato we were going to eat when we made it back to the hotel.
'I don't think I can get any wetter!' I said to Finn at one point as rain belted us, whipped us and called us names.
Seconds later I slipped on a rock and fell on my ass, in a stream.
We next discovered that denim, while delightfully comfy while dry, is less so when saturated and billowing about.
'I need to pee!' Finn cried over the howling wind.
I pointed to a set of ruins.
'Go behind there!'
She disappeared by them, but returned rather quickly.
'I can't, my hands are so cold I can't do my zips.'
I wanted to offer help, but as I looked down at my own swollen red claws I realised we were pretty much in the same boat. Oh what I wouldn't have given for a boat at that moment.
We pressed on.
Howl wail, snarl, scrape, howl bleeeeee.
We passed a group of cheery teachers, going up. WE worried about them briefly, then stopped.
Finally we made it to some car park or other. It had-we were ridiculously chuffed to see- indoor toilets. We entered and tried to use the hand-dryers to warm our fingers long enough so that we could operate our zips. I took off my left boot and upended it, a gallon of water drained out. There could have been fish in it for all I know.
'Okay, let's see if we can find our way back.' We dug our maps from our pockets, but as we attempted to open them it appeared Mother Nature had once again taught us a valuable lesson. Paper in saturated denim pockets does not hold up so well.
Eventually-three hours and ten minutes after our start- we made it back to the visitors centre. I managed to peel my car keys free, and shiveringly we climbed in.
We were too late for mashed potato. But Finn did see a restuarant-which I shot straight past. I did a U-turn down the road and finally we were inside, hogging two radiators, while a smiley dude, made us beef pie, chowder and warm chicken salad.
I glared out the window.
'It better not stop raining now.'
Finn glanced out. 'It won't.'
We ate, dank many cups of warm tea and coffee and left two big wet arse impressions on the chairs. In their bathroom, I peeled off my wet t-shirt and put my coat-which I'd been drying on their radiator during the meal- back on.
We set off for Dublin. And apart from a minor scare when two lorries approached us-which Finn wondered aloud if I could see or not-we made it back safe and sound. Well, I'm not sure about sound, Finn discovered as well as being blind as a bat I can't tell left from right and operate on a 'up there/down there' directional sense, and oh yes, and there was that little moment when I was worried that we were about to run out of petrol, but by that stage I was laughing a little hysterically.
The moral of this story?
I'm against them!
Oh and joy, while it might be fleeting, is a long hot shower.