SUMMER IS SORT-OF COMING
According to Old Moore it isn’t going to be a hazy and warm summer like in the early naughties. He predicts it will be more of a case of warm rain than warm days. Sigh. However that’s no excuse to not have your summer activities planned.
This bad weather is not anything a wetsuit can’t solve. Sitting in a beer garden in a wetsuit can only be a very attractive type of “carrying on with it”. And everyone looks good in a wetsuit, surely? Here are some suggestions to help you pretend you live in a warm Australia-like country this summer.
LEARN TO SURF
In Brittas Bay in Wicklow, on the east coast of Ireland, there is a surf school that will teach you how to stand on a board and surf the waves like a sort-of pro. Well the first few times you will look like a monkey doing a pee in a tree, but never mind, you’ll get there. The beach is a long and sandy one, with lovely big dunes. You can feel free to hide in these dunes should your surfing lesson not be going well and you want to hide your inability to balance on moving fibreglass.
First time surfers are taught the easiest methods of standing up on a surfboard, basic surfing techniques, safe board handling in the water, and general water safety awareness. And not only do this crew supply you with boards, they also give you a thick-as-a-plank Billabong wetsuit to keep you nice and toasty. If you are somewhat into the idea of chasing frostbite, from November until March this company also throws in booties, hoods and gloves. And there is nothing like catching that first wave. It is better than catching a cold, catching headlice, or catching a ball in the face. And you’ll get big kudos on facebook with pics of you face-planting into a wave as you are learning.
What to bring: Bathers/swimming costume to wear underneath your wetsuit. Towel. Shot of Poitín for full-body rub-down afterwards.
More details are here.
If you don’t fancy surfing, then why not try Stand-Up Paddleboarding (SUP). SUP is a new and exciting way to fall off a board and into the water. SUP has origins in West Africa and in Polynesia and now people are paddling on rivers, lakes, and oceans all over the world. It is accessible to a wide range of people and a great way to get fit, explore the seas and surf the ocean.
It is a given that you will sweat while doing this, so it is great for toning those buns of dough into buns of steel. And it is good for you who are a bit uncoordinated. This is because SUP uses a large, stable, surf-type board with plenty of width and volume. This means that it is easier to balance than on a traditional board and the rate of faceplanting into the water is less. Starting in a standing position, a long single-ended paddle can be used to propel the board forwards. Stand up paddleboarding is currently one of the fastest growing watersports in the world. And the good news is that Wicklow and the East Coast of Ireland is one of the best locations in Ireland to do this. It really is a stunning area and to see it while SUPing can only be a good thing. There are classes daily in Brittas Bay but also Thursday evenings 6.30pm at Killiney beach in Dublin. Click here to learn more.
If being on the surface of the water is not enough for you, then how about a nice little look beneath the waves? If you think you will be cold, you are very right, unless you have a super-awesome wetsuit.
Want to learn? There are places all over the country that will teach you how to speak with the fish (the fish won’t answer you back, just so you know). But a good place to start is this place based in Co. Cork.
They operate along the South and West Cork coast of Ireland, teaching innocents on how to plunge below the waves. They also take qualified divers to the depths to see the wrecks of Cork Harbour. And once you learn to dive you can do a little diving holiday on their boat.
They provide B&B and lunch on board; guests go ashore each evening for dinner and a bit of fun in the many traditional pubs. But you can also do scuba from their day boats, and return to dry land afterwards, if you are a human who can’t ever find your sea legs. However if you have a friend who wants to scuba but you don’t, then you can snorkel the bejpaers out of some lovely sites on the south coast. The company supplies punters with a warm semi-dry suit and snorkel equipment. The instructor will be with you all the time, and teach you to put on your fins. They will then roll you off the boat into crystal clear water to enjoy your snorkel. Afterwards there will be biscuits and tea, and you couldn’t call yourself Irish without them after a cold swim. Or you could just stay out of the water and just take a nice gentle ride in a boat along the coast. You don’t have to get wet or avoid the stares of a conger eel. Phew.
The Prop of UC-42 with the Memorial Plaque.
For more information, see here.
Do you think kites are for little kids to squeal at in parks, while their dads totally stress out that it will plunge from the sky and take out a beloved pet’s eyeball? Well think again. You could learn the sport of kitesurfing and renew you love of kites again. And if you get good enough, and catch the right type of wind, it could pull you to Spain and you would save vastly on airfares. A good place to start is at Keel Lake, on Achill Island with this company. They can teach you how not to smash your kite into the ground or into your own kneecap.
Achill is the largest island off Ireland’s west coast and a paradise for kite surfers. Swept by the winds throughout the year, this is the first land mass in Europe to receive the wind from the Atlantic, and it blows. It is like hugging a hairdryer the size of the Empire State Building.
Lessons are broken down into sessions, a full course is four sessions. By the end of your tuition, you will know kite flying, how to read the wind, how to use your kite to drag your body, and other safety stuff on how to not maim yourself or any dolphins that might be in the water. Note to Fungi: you are safe.
After the full course you will be considered an independent rider, though this does not mean that you will necessarily be riding off into the sunset. What it does mean is that you have taken a foundation course, learnt all the essential skills needed including safety management and are now considered independent enough to practice and eventually become a fully-fledged rider. So don’t plan any escapes from Cuba with your kite just yet.
With good instruction, most people enjoy an incredibly fast learning curve. Without instruction, trying to learn kiteboarding can be frustrating and is very dangerous. So take these dudes’ advice, and get lessons first. You need a basic level of fitness to do it. So if you can’t even make it on a travelator at Dublin airport without sweating then this isn’t the sport for you. And you should be able to swim and be confident in deep water. That is, please don’t drown. Lessons run from the weekend of St Patricks and closes early November. The company provides all the necessary equipment, so you don’t need to buy anything until you know you won’t be a giant gumby and not get yourself blown away to Galway.
More information is here, and information on pricing.
If you are feeling really crazy, then how about seeing Ireland from above? That is assuming you don’t have a mental fear of flying and that you won’t panic and pee in your skydiving jumpsuit. The good news is that there are now two ways to learn to skydive. One is jumping out of a plane on your Pat Malone with lots of training (AFF – Accelerated Free Fall). The other is having the ripcord pulled for you before as you jump out of the plane. That way you can ease yourself into a terrifyingly great experience (this new gentle way is called Static Line.)
AFF was developed in the States in 1981. It has become a very popular way to learn how to skydive. The aim of the course is to teach you the basics of human body flight on the ground and then you can develop these skills in a safeguarded environment. For your first few jumps, two instructors will accompany you to 13,000ft. When you leave the aircraft, both instructors will be holding on to you and will give you air signals based on their assessment of your body position. Make sure you don’t kick them in the face in panic. Don’t make them cry, it could work out really badly for you. Or you could try it the other way. On your first static line jump you will exit the aircraft at 3,200 feet. The main parachute is deployed automatically by the ‘static line’, attached to the aircraft, as you jump. You always wear two parachutes, the main and the reserve which is for use in the unlikely event that the main parachute does not function correctly. Your main parachute is automatically opened seconds later. You will have a bit of time up your sleeve then to take in the bird’s-eye view from 3,000 feet. Once you are on the ground, you can check your duds.
If all is good then you can be one of the few people who have plunged themselves out of a plane. And while you are up there check if the weather looks like it will change for the good. Be sure to tell us as soon as you see that thing called…eerr..what’s it called again, that yellow thing that used to be in the sky? No…I forget.
Interested? Then click here.
Do you want to silently soar like a bird in the sky? (But don’t poop on me please). Well here is your chance. Gliding is a sport that you can try for a day or learn how to do as a weekend sport. It is an eerie experience gliding in the air with no motor. And somewhat unnerving knowing there is no engine to power you should there be an Airbus A380 heading straight for you. It’s a lot like pregnancy. Once you are committed and have made the decision, there’s no going back and there could be a lot of sweating ahead. But it is a unique flying experience which allows you to soar silently above the earth. And this company will bring you to a place where you can see spectacular views of Kildare with the Blessington lakes, nearby hills, Punchestown racecourse and patchwork of stud farms and fields below. A normal light aircraft will pull the glider up in the air with a tow-rope, then the glider, once at the right height, will then drop the tow rope, and you will be soaring.
And if you miss the runway on the way back, you will need to help your pilot find a nice strip of the M50 that isn’t too busy. You’ll be fine. And the good news is that the passenger gets to sit at the front, so if you are needing to find a haystack to break your landing, you’ll be able to help by peering sweatily out of the front windscreen! You can buy a voucher for one trial lesson for €99. If this appeals to you then click here. Do not be in any doubt. Facebook photos of gliding means big kudos. You will look like you are the boss of the clouds.
Do you partake in a great weekend activity? Email us firstname.lastname@example.org
Up, up, and away! Oh look, I can see Bono from here!
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