Sandmill Strollers – how are we surviving?

Well, it is February 2021 and, since the beginning of the year, all of us have been keeping within 5km of our homes when going outdoors for exercise. Speaking for myself, I love to be outdoors every day and to feel the weather around me and to have the sky overhead. However, I now feel more comfortable walking on my own so that I can more easily keep a “social distance” from others on the footpaths as I dart onto the road, into muddy grass verges, cross the road, avoid eye contact and generally avoid close contact with people. How sad is this?

On a positive side, the River Dodder is my preferred destination (as it is for many other Strollers) and there is always something to notice and appreciate. The heavy rain at the beginning of the month resulted in the river being in flood with the stepping stones at Rathfarnham becoming impassable while the Rhinoceros at the Dropping Well was totally submerged under the fast-flowing torrent. As the waters receded, the ducks took refuge wherever they could find a dry patch and the line of water-borne flotsam along the river banks testifies to the high water levels. I look forward to the day when we can meet and chat and walk and stroll and enjoy a coffee and smile together! Margaret Wynne

Graupel. That’s the name of the stuff, something between snow and hail, that sticks in tree trunks and underneath bushes and was falling in little flurries for a lot of today (9 Feb). It’s rounder than snowflakes but doesn’t hurt as much as hail. That I’ve lived so long to learn a new word, a new kind of weather!

I heard about it for the first time on this morning’s radio – so it must be true – and it stood me in good stead for my walk around the east side of Marlay Park, which is just inside my 5km range (I have the app!) To be honest, the cold was pretty brutal but the trees provided decent shelter from the wind so my walk consisted of brisk dashes from one section of woodland to the next, with an occasional glance up to the forbidden fruit of the mountains, lovely as ever. And the newish café in the courtyard is open for takeaway coffee and cakes. All this is to say that we should never forget or become bored with Marlay. It’s a very familiar haunt, true, but has many delights – especially on a cold day, with graupel. Sandra Cooke

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