Along The River. My Moment in Time!

It’s a crisp frosty morning and the sky is bright blue and almost flawless. The dazzling winter sun is radiating a gentle heat in a bid to thaw the frigid frost that illuminates the trees and hedges. It’s bitterly cold, yet it’s invigorating and since I’m wearing several layers of clothing, my bones are harboured from the icy chill. There is nowhere else I’d rather be right now.

I consider myself very lucky to live beside the splendid River Moy and today I feel grateful that I have the good health and energy to walk the bordering path. Today is a good day!

I meet a young woman speed walking with her head down, looking at the ground. She’s wearing headphones so when I say hello, she can’t hear me. She’s in a little world of her own and I don’t know what’s happening in her world, but I want to stop her and show her what she’s not seeing and what she’s not hearing.

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I’d like her to pause for a moment and look around at the beauty of nature. Feel the sun on her face – really feel it – inhale the fresh cool air and listen to the chirping sounds coming from little birds hiding in the hedges. No doubt hiding from the nearby well-fed hooded crow, who is trying to drown out their sweet songs with his loud croaky squawking.

The young woman is out of sight now and I walk on some more. The angry grey crow joins his clan on the other side of the river where they all sit concertedly on a wooden fence. They look ever so pretentious in comparison to the seagulls gliding gracefully across the sky.

I’m being followed. I hear quiet rustlings in the hedge directly behind me but I don’t look – I keep walking. With the corner of my eye, I catch a glimpse of a robin hopping from the hedge to the branch of a naked tree. I stop and slowly turn to look at him. I wonder if he’s hungry or if he just wants company. He whistles and I whistle back. He cocks his head to one side and whistles again. I walk on and he flies from bush to bush, staying close but keeping a safe distance.  He cheeps cheerfully, like a small child who has just discovered something new and exciting. Is he telling me about his moment in time? Crass grey crow returns and gentle robin disappears into the bramble.

The water is scattered with uneven ripples and it flows rapidly but peacefully in the direction of the sea. I’m standing on the river bank watching folding crests race each other towards the dam. The sun glistening on the tiny peaks of the waves has me hypnotised. Teasing me, with the illusion of curly tips of ice-cream cones. 

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As I approach the dam, the water appears to flow faster and my step quickens. There’s a seat on the high bridge overlooking the dam, where I sit to rest for a while. The water is dark and mysterious. The formidable River Moy has claimed many lives over the years. It demands respect as it roars and pounds against the walls of the dam, brawny and merciless, impressive and captivating.

Everything around me is silenced by the crashing waters below and I am grateful for the sturdy barriers that protect me from the dark depths of the river. I’m oblivious to what is happening around me. This is my little world for now and I don’t need to be anywhere else at this moment in time.

My moment in time was inspired by Orla at Fancy Paper Blog! 

We should all take our moments and cherish them when we have the opportunity! 

 

 

Seaweed Bath – Home or Away!

Seaweed baths

My first experience of a seaweed bath was about ten years ago in Enniscrone. After a long walk on the fabulous sandy beach, my husband took me along to Kilcullen’s Seaweed Baths. Although Stephen had been raving about these baths for quite some time, he didn’t give away too much detail so I was a little bit unsure of what to expect. As I am a lover of the sea and all that goes with it, Stephen was quite certain that I would fall in love instantly with the seaweed baths. And he was right – I did fall in love with them!

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While the seaweed is soaking in very hot water, it is recommended to sit in the steam box for a few minutes to open the pores. Then just before getting into the bath, add some cold water to cool it down to a safer temperature.

A full hour of being immersed in hot oily sea water, with soft silky seaweed enveloping me is medicine for my soul. The fresh salty scent takes my mind to the middle of the ocean where I imagine that I’m part of the wonderful and mysterious undersea world. The faint hum of voices and traffic coming from the street outside fades further away into the distance, as I relax deeper into my cosy little water haven. I visualise my pores absorbing all the natural minerals and vitamins that the seaweed contains, nourishing tired cells, cleansing and detoxing.

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Because the heat of the water and the steam releases the natural oils in the seaweed, it leaves my skin feeling so soft and smooth after the bath. Ideally, I should pull the cold shower chain before stepping out as this closes the pores but, I just can’t! I can manage a dip in the cold sea even though it takes me about twenty minutes to inch my way in (on a good day) and yes, it’s always worth the initial discomfort but for me a cold shower is pure torture. Stephen has no problem pulling the cold shower chain – he loves it! I’m shivering just thinking about it. Anyway, I’m sure I benefit just as well without it because for the rest of the day, I feel refreshed, relaxed and free from any muscular tension. And a seaweed bath is usually followed by a good nights sleep!

Kilcullen’s seaweed baths first opened in 1912 and it still maintains the original massive porcelain baths with their solid brass taps. It is these Edwardian fittings and authentic surroundings that give Kilcullen’s Bath House it’s unique and welcoming atmosphere. It is worth noting that not all bath houses have their water pumped fresh from the sea, like Kilcullen’s. As soon as you step into your bath, you feel deserving of this much desired hour of peace and tranquility!

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Ignore the grey sky….you don’t need sunshine inside the doors of Kilcullen’s.

Bathing in seaweed was a common practice in Ireland centuries ago and it has become quite fashionable again in recent years. With an hour or so of uninterrupted relaxation being the main focus of many seaweed bathers, lots of people use them to help treat many health conditions such as arthritis, rheumatism, fungal infections, skins conditions such as acne, dermatitis and eczema. And also just general aches and pains.

Seaweed is rich in iodine and other minerals such as zinc, calcium and potassium – all of which are easily absorbed by the body. We Irish people don’t get enough iodine from our diet and have low levels of it in our bodies compared to our fellow Europeans. Iodine is an essential element that is required by humans and all living matter. It is rare in much of our soil but is abundant in the sea.

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The original bath-house in Enniscrone, whch was built around 1750.
The original bath-house in Enniscrone, which was built around 1750.

Last summer while visiting Westport, I called into a charming little holistic gift shop called Amber. I got chatting to the lady in charge and the conversation turned to my young daughters eczema. She recommended a seaweed bath and she gave me a little bag of powdered seaweed to try. When we got back home I left it somewhere ‘safe’ and completely forgot about it. A couple of months ago we were decluttering and I came across the little bag of dark green powder. And so Lucy had her first ever seaweed bath. Because of the dark colour and the strong weedy smell, she wasn’t too keen to get in. So I got in with her and we pretended to be mermaids. She was Ariel and of course I had to be Ursula, the evil seawitch. We had great fun and ever since then Lucy has a seaweed bath four or five times a week. It hasn’t cured her eczema, as her diet plays an important role in maintaining the condition of her skin, but it does nourish and help moisturise it and usually (but not always) she sleeps so much better afterwards.

My hunt for powdered seaweed was not as easy as I thought it would be! Some health shops and chemists had never heard of it and others simply couldn’t get it. I eventually resorted to the internet and managed to get a 200g tub of Green Angel for €25 inc postage. Quite expensive when you need to use it three or four times a week. But as they say, it pays to shop around and when I was back in Bailieborough I checked the local chemist, Jamesons and they ordered me a 365g tub of Cara Bay for less than €5.79. Happy Days! It smells amazing – if you like the smell of the sea that is!

I have also used the dried seaweed at home. It comes in a netted bag and it softens by first putting it into a bowl/bucket of very hot water before adding it to the bath. It costs about €10 and it can be re-used once – but personally I don’t feel it has the same effect the second time round. But it is lovely combined with some seasalt or epsom salts for occasional use. But for us, the powdered version is better value.

Seaweed Brick
Seaweed Brick

So, if it’s not practical for you to visit a bath house such as Kilcullen’s, get yourself a seaweed brick (Jamesons can get this for you too) or a tub of Cara Bay and add it to your list of ‘Things to do for Me’. ♥

How to get the most out of your Home Seaweed Bath

  1. Make it clear to everyone in the home that the bathroom is yours tonight and you are not available for anything after 9pm. (or whatever time suits you)
  2. Put nice fresh clean sheets on your bed to help with a good nights sleep.
  3. Choose your favourite fluffiest towel and have it ready and waiting for when you’re done.
  4. More than half fill the bath with water until the temperature is comfortable. Make sure it’s not too hot.
  5. Then add your seaweed or if you’re using the powdered version, add two tablespoons to the bath.
  6. You can relax in silence or you can use your phone or any other battery powered device, to play some nice chilled out music. Here is a really nice one you can find on Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QkZio6yLAmU I like to play sounds of nature like crashing waves or flowing water! Whatever suits your mood.
  7. Lie in your bath with a rolled up towel supporting your head and neck.
  8. When you’re comfortable, close your eyes and focus on your breath.
  9. Take three deep breaths and as you inhale the fresh salty scent of the seaweed, imagine it’s pure natural goodness filling up every cell in your being. As you exhale, release any tension that you feel in any part of your body.
  10. Be aware of your breath slowing down and as it does, allow yourself to become more relaxed. Imagine that you’re bathing deep in the middle of the ocean. Warm and safe in your own little kingdom.
  11. Allow your mind to drift. Think of a happy time in your life and hold on to those feelings of happiness…..now take your happy thoughts to that warm safe place you have just created deep down in the ocean.
  12. When you feel ready to emerge from your little spa, make sure you get up slowly. Pat your skin dry with your fluffy towel and wrap up in your bathrobe.
  13. Sit for a while rather than going straight to bed after your bath. Drink a glass of water – not alcohol – to help with the elimination of toxins. (This is even more important if you added salts to your bath.)
  14. If at all possible, avoid stimulating your brain by spending time on your phone or other electronic devices. Remember…. this is ‘ME TIME’ for you!
  15. Enjoy a good nights sleep! And do let me know how you get on 🙂

Tip: If you don’t have a bath, you can have a seaweed footbath instead.

The Mother of all Meditations.

How many times have you tried meditation? Are you getting better at it? Or do you feel like you will never get the hang of it? Are you easily distracted while meditating?

Maybe your mind constantly wanders into yesterday or tomorrow no matter how many times the voice tells you to, ‘Bring your mind gently back if you feel it wandering.’

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I think most of us have concluded that meditation is a deeply relaxing exercise that promotes a healthy mind. It calms down our churning thoughts, giving our brain a chance to rest.

But meditation doesn’t come easy to everyone, especially beginners. Well, listen up all you beginners and over-active thinkers…….. I have discovered the mother of all meditations! Sound Meditation Baths. No, it has nothing to do with having a bubbly bath with soft music playing in the background – much better than that. Oh yes!

Continue reading “The Mother of all Meditations.”

Yoga and Me. 12 Weeks Later.

When I say I’ve been practicing yoga for twelve weeks now, what I really mean is that it’s twelve weeks since I first started learning how to do yoga. (Read about that here) I remember writing about how great I hope be at twisting, bending and by Christmas I’ll be kissing my toes!  Continue reading “Yoga and Me. 12 Weeks Later.”

Yes. I’m as Stiff as a Poker!

wpid-2015-10-29_09.46.46.jpgAt last my first class of Ashtanga Yoga had arrived. I had been looking forward to this night for weeks and with my new yoga mat tucked under my arm, I made my way down to our local leisure centre with my daughter Gemma.

I bounced in the door at 7pm with an enthusiastic grin on my face. The class had already started so I didn’t get a chance to introduce myself to the group. They all looked comfortable and relaxed stretched out in Savasana pose (also known as Corpse pose) and I couldn’t wait to join in.

Gemma grabbed a spot in the far corner of the room with her sister Charlene while I stayed near the door. I spread out my yoga mat and took off my shoes and lay down like a corpse. Yes, this was lovely. Nice and relaxing.

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Yoga is so easy.

Continue reading “Yes. I’m as Stiff as a Poker!”