A chill in Achill
(and a bit of sun too!)
An overnight wild camp and mini-bicycle tour along the Wild Atlantic Way.
Adventure calls
Adventures, no matter how big or small, have a way of letting us know they are needed. Life keeps knocking, occasionally the bell gets rung, or the door just gets smashed in, if we don't listen to the signs. Since my adventure, a round trip from Milano to St Moritz to Bergamo in October last year, I have missed being on my bicycle. The feeling inherited with nothing but the open road, and unexperienced terrain ahead of me, is one of freedom, and sometimes, we, well, I at least, need a taste of that freedom. I couldn't wait any longer, so I packed my Surly bicycle and headed over to Mulranny, for the start of my mini-adventure, here on the west coast of Ireland.
“The biggest adventure you can ever take is to live the life of your dreams.”
Oprah Winfrey
Home for the night
Kill Procrastination Intentionally
Those of you from a business background may have noticed the headline above has the capital letters of K, P and I. KPI in business terms, stands for 'Key Performance Indicator', so a little play on words gives us a different KPI. Certainly, a good indicator of performance is when we do intentionally kill procrastination, and indeed, it is a killer. More on this here.

Time is the most important thing we, as human beings, have. We cannot do anything without it, then I would put health second, as what is the point of time if we cannot use it? A defined purpose would be naturally sequential to me, followed by the things that support that purpose, food, shelter, money, material goods and so on.

Over the last decade, although I may have achieved a lot in the eyes of some people, I have also battled with procrastination, for many different reasons. Recently, I have found myself sitting in my rented cottage and feeling paralysed, for no real reason, which has been one of the most frustrating parts about it. Just staring out of the window, not doing, a very different 'me' to times past, where I couldn't sit still for five minutes.

I have found procrastination creeps up on me and, similar to the feeling of depression, I felt unable to talk to anyone about it, unable to do anything about it, until I am doing something about it. It really is the strangest thing. So an adventure was needed, and even if it meant getting away for just one night, the calling had gotten too much, I had to pack up my bike and head somewhere.

That one night away has helped me reconnect with adventure and hopefully help me battle procrastination more effectively, the joy of accomplishing something is far greater than the emptiness of not trying.

One of the issues I have had since birth is not knowing what I want/should/have to do in this life. More about this is in my book (still currently writing).


One famous example of procrastination and its damaging effects comes from the life of the renowned writer and philosopher, Victor Hugo.

In 1830, Hugo was given a contract to write a book, which he planned to complete in just six months. However, he quickly fell into a pattern of procrastination, putting off his writing and distracting himself with other activities. As the deadline approached, he found himself in a desperate situation, with only a few days left to finish the book.

In a desperate attempt to meet the deadline, Hugo locked himself in his room and worked for days without sleep, fueled by coffee and tobacco. Finally, he emerged from his room with the completed manuscript, just in time to meet the deadline.

The book, titled "The Hunchback of Notre-Dame," was a massive success and is still widely read today. However, Hugo's procrastination had significant consequences. The stress and pressure of the last-minute rush took a toll on his health, and he suffered from exhaustion and illness for months afterwards.

He realized that procrastination was not a sustainable or productive way to work and began to develop more disciplined writing habits. In his later years, he became known for his rigorous work ethic and dedication to his craft.

This story illustrates how procrastination can have damaging effects on our capacity for life. When we put off important tasks, we create unnecessary stress and pressure, which can take a toll on our mental and physical health. Additionally, procrastination can prevent us from reaching our full potential and achieving our goals, as we may miss out on opportunities or fail to produce our best work.

The turning point is never until the point is turned. Charcoal gives off heat, but only when it's burned.
Tom Ramwell
circa 1997
Happier doing
Interesting Achill facts
Achill, the largest island in Ireland, is a rugged and beautiful island located off the west coast of Ireland in County Mayo, it has been inhabited since prehistoric times, with evidence of early human settlements and megalithic tombs, and has a population of just over 2,700 people and a rich and fascinating history, here are a few facts about Achill.

  1. In the 1950s and 1960s, the island was the site of a controversial tuberculosis treatment program, in which patients were exposed to the island's clean air and healthy lifestyle in an effort to cure their illness.
  2. Achill Island is connected to the mainland by a bridge, which was opened in 1887.
  3. The Deserted Village, located on the slopes of Slievemore Mountain, is a group of abandoned stone cottages that were once home to a community of farmers and fishermen. It is thought that the village was abandoned in the mid-19th century.
  4. Achill Island is home to several unique species of plants and animals, including the Irish hare, the pygmy shrew, and the common lizard.
  5. In 1894, the artist Paul Henry visited Achill Island and was so captivated by its rugged landscapes and unique light that he ended up staying for several years. His paintings of Achill Island are now highly prized by art collectors.
  6. Achill Island is also home to some unusual geological formations, including a giant boulder called the Dookinella Boulder, which was deposited on the island during the last Ice Age.

Achill is indeed a beautiful place to visit and has a myriad of places to discover, it's perhaps best accessed on foot or bicycle via The Great Western Greenway.
In the summertime, it gets very busy, as any popular seaside location does, but as I heard someone say in the Lake District in England, "One sunny day in the countryside is worth ten in the city", I couldn't agree more!
Long exposure on a misty mountain morning
Say hi to my three-legged friend
Screenshot of camera settings.
One of the heaviest items that I take on tour with me, second to my bicycle is my camera tripod. This three-legged friend enables me to take long-exposure photos that give the smooth water effect, personally, I'm not always a fan of how it affects the clouds and so sometimes, contrary to the traditionalists, I like to play with the images to achieve a look that may have smoothed out water featuring more statically caught skies. It's just personal preference really.

The image below was taken at 9.25 pm, way after sunset, I used an exposure of 2mins as shown in the screenshot here. I then edited the shot, bringing up the shadows, increasing the exposure a bit and adding some definition to the foreground. Some dust removal was used too. By the way, I shot this as a JPG, for images I intend to work on a lot, or for images that I am taking to sell, I generally shoot on RAW, it captures all the information in a shot and when you make changes to an image, it doesn't chip away at the quality of it. Imagine being able to chip away at a stone sculpture and if you're not happy with the changes, you can just revert back to the original block. That's the difference between JPG and RAW files.

I probably could have taken more time to set up some of these shots and more time editing and so on, the last panoramic stitch is slightly wonky, as the keen-eyed will see, but I'm going to leave it that way and go against my perfectionism. I once read that if something is 80% good enough, it's good enough, just get on with it, unless that 'something' can impact on safety then, yes, I believe I'd better get on with it instead of trying to perfect 'it'.

The Pareto principle states that for many outcomes, roughly 80% of consequences come from 20% of causes (the "vital few"). Other names for this principle are the 80/20 rule, the law of the vital few, or the principle of factor sparsity. I guess that the consequence of getting off my arse and going on a mini-adventure gives me much more back than the little effort it took. My 20 became and 80 let's say.

Long exposure post-sunset shot from the campsite
If you haven't heard of Komoot, it is a super app that allows you to plan your adventures, including terrain elevation, distances and time, even accessing weather forecasts en route. I use it to give me a rough idea of how long routes may take me, although, with camera stops and general faffing, I always end up taking much longer than suggested.

I have a knack for not recording my tours too, or recording a bit and then somehow deleting them. I'm sure I will get used to it, in the meantime, here are some screenshots of the planned (and completed tour).
Komoot Map
We're here to put a dent in the universe. Otherwise, why else even be here?
Here's a visual of the route, I started at Nevin's pub in between Newport and Mulranny, picking up the Greenway was easy, and it's well signposted. I was pretty loaded up as I wanted to test out how my bike felt with a full load, I was super happy with it and love the laid-back, relaxed angle of the 'Jones 'H' bars', the lower top tube on my bicycle also allows for easier mounting and dismounting, essential stuff for tired legs, but actually quite practical too.
Komoot Elevation and Info
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one pedal stroke.
As you can see the elevation is minimal, making this a good route for those starting out, the roads are well signposted and felt very safe at all times. One thing to note is the fact that I got pretty sunburnt on the return leg, I was cycling into a very strong headwind and didn't feel how strong the sun was, I ended up with two bands of tan across the front of my hands from where I was holding the handlebars!
It's all a cycle
It wasn't the first time I'd packed up my pannier bags, I had packed them before and then not gone anywhere, 'I've left it too late' I'd say to myself or come up with some other excuse. I used to be so active all of the time, maybe the 75hr+ weeks I did from when I first moved to Ireland are now taking their toll on me, maybe all the work I've always done is catching up on me, maybe it's overindulgence on wine, too much Netflix or the tail-end of a Covid-amongst-other-things-related depression, maybe it's just laziness. Or maybe I needed time to reflect. Whatever it is or was or will be, I take solace in the fact that; 'This too shall pass'.

I guess some of us over-think things, I once heard Sadhguru say that one of the reasons humans numb their senses [and their brains], is due to the fact that their brain/the mind, is SO powerful it is downright scary. It's quite the point to make and in today's overload of information and bombardment of choice, coupled with the raised awareness that we're all somehow being conned by the powers that be, there is a compounded sense of helplessness that can be hard to shake.

At least this time I packed my bags and set off, even this short overnight adventure gave me hope for the future, it gave me space to experience something new, to see a new part of this wonderful land, or to see familiar parts with a fresh perspective. On the drive over to Mulranny even, I saw what looked like a polecat, with its familiar dark brown shades and bushy tail. A great sighting indeed, as it sped off into its world of burrows and hedges and survival.

Setting off on the trail, I quickly got into a rhythm and enjoyed the fresh air, feeling immense gratitude for being able to get out like this, I enjoyed the sea views, enjoyed the warmth on my face and was reminded of the feeling I had when I hired a decrepit old shopper bike and cycled about 50km in 30degree heat in Colico, north of Lake Como a few years back.

It was a feeling of freedom, adventure and embracing the unknown. It is this feeling that I aim to embrace in every situation, in every waking moment. In a way, it is what meditation practice is all about, it is about seeing with the beginner's mind, experiencing joy in every moment and being present in each moment.

I enjoyed each new twist in the path, each new turn, the beautifully yummy yellow blooms of the glorious Gorse bushes, their sweet coconut-scented flowers washed over me as I rode past them, what joy indeed. The flowering wild primroses, each one a song, silently singing to me as I glided past on my bike. The purple heather connected the bees, buzzing about their business, to the honey I use on my grazing boards. What a privilege to experience and see.

Cycling on, I checked Komoot and saw I still had about an hour and a half to get to camp, making it just past sunset when I'd arrive. I'd left it a bit late as usual, maybe this stems from being born early and having to spend the first two to three weeks of my life in an incubator, that was after a full blood transfusion (I was born with the wrong blood!), maybe this is why I leave things until the last minute or tend to push things to the very edge at times. Maybe it was something else that is revealed in my book, but be that as it may, I still had a bit to go and settled back into the experience, wondering what kind of wild campsite lay ahead of me.

Every now and then I would stop and breathe in the surroundings, views I had seen in general before, but not from the standpoint of the Greenway. The large lake in front of me shimmered glints of evening sunlight as the mountains behind glowed in the way that only golden hour can induce.

Beyond was the wild Atlantic ocean, and with pretty good surf conditions all around, I knew I'd see some waves on this little adventure. Once you've surfed a couple of years and get to read waves, even at the amateur level I can, when you see them rolling in and shaping up, you can't help but mind-surf them. The paddle up to the line-up, going for the wave, the drop, the turns, and the joy of the feeling this gives, it's incredible that even an empty wave can be so much fun.

Perhaps mountain biking can offer a similar vibe, evaluating the corners, hitting the jumps, the drop-offs and so on. Life itself is an empty wave or a big mountain, it's a rubbish dump or a war zone, it's anything we make it and everything we choose to make it. One certainty is that we only have this now moment and each moment of now, makes up a life at the end of it all. The choice is what we do to each moment and how we connect them all up, these moments, the connections we make, the cycles and patterns we recognise, the sound of life knocking at the door...

I'm still figuring it out as I go, and remain ever-grateful for this life, for making it so far already and for still being open to evolving and learning. Praise life that I see every moment as a micro-adventure, from making a cup of tea to building an off-grid home to finishing and selling my book, it's all cyclic, we can't take anything with us but spiritual DNA and we can't leave anything but our impact and legacy, so may I thank you all for being a part of this life, because just like the bee needs pollen to make honey, just like the clouds need the oceans to make rain, just like the air fills all of our lungs, we are all connected.

Three image stitch before the hill climb to the campsite