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And they said that squeezing 16 hrs of walking in Kerry down to two and a half minutes could not be done. Pah! I grimace menacingly in their general direction.

Here is the video of the walk. Right here, right now.

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I’m just back from a trip to Germany. I started in Munich, proceeded to Stuttgart and ended up in Wiesbaden.

A couple of random things from my trip:

Munich Airport

In all the flights I have made – and I have flown hundreds of times – I have never seen anybody freak out when the plane is taking off and landing. This unblemished run ended last Saturday, when the woman seated in front of me had a full-blown panic attack. As the plane took off, the poor woman started to hyperventilate, emitting regular eeping noises as we hit any bumps or turbulence. She let out a full blown scream at one stage when the plane encountered an air-pocket in the cloud layer. She relaxed completely once we reached cruising height, but as the plane began it’s final approach, all around her were treated to a repeat performance. It must be terrible for her, as such an atavistic fear is not easily remedied.  

Vineyards on the Wuttemberg (Stuttgart)

The German train system is pretty unforgiving if you make the mistake of leaving a suitcase on board. I had only stepped out of the train at Munchen – Pasing, when it dawned on me that something was wrong. Too late. Doors had closed and my suitcase was happily on it’s way to the small village of Geltendorf, about 20 km away. Suffice it to say that my suitcase and I were eventually reunited and that I spent the rest of the day making up for that brief moment of forgetfulness.

Looking for fossils in Holzmaden

I can add fossil hunting to my list of achievements. One of the high-points of the weekend was a trip to Holzmaden, where some fantastic Jurassic Period fossils have been discovered over the last century. There is an open quarry there and members of the public can extract their very own fossils from the bedrock. We collected a nice set of ammonites and belemnites, although how they are going to get from Germany to Ireland is anyone’s guess. 

Fountain in Wiesbaden

Other highlights were a trip down the Rhine and a relaxing day in the beautiful city of Wiesbaden. The public park next to the casino in Wiesbaden is particularly attractive. I was also struck by the friendliness and helpfulness of all the people I encountered during my trip. It’s definitely worth a visit.

Marktkirche in Wiesbaden

My shame is that I don’t get sufficiently outraged by pictures such as this.

Or this.

gaza-children-3

I am ashamed that my typical reaction is that that it’s all very complicated really, that the other side have their reasons, and that the aggressors were probably forced into it.

I see democratic countries – free countries – countries that could and should be providing leadership by example, lowering themselves to the tactics of their enemies, and I shrug my shoulders. I am ashamed that over time I have become morally neutral about such things.

But I look at the Israeli bombardment of Gaza, and even though I know it’s more complicated than this, and even though I appreciate that the other side are far from blameless, and even though I recognise the anger and frustration on the other side, and that there is a strategic logic in play, I can’t help feeling that the bombardment is nevertheless utterly wrong.

When a government bombs mainly innocent civilians, when they show scant regard for the lives of small children and when they don’t give the inhabitants of Gaza the opportunity to flee the fighting, when we see phosphorous devices being used in urban areas, then lets call a spade a spade, we’re witnessing war crimes.

To all those men and women who are prepared to stand up on the side of human rights, I salute you.

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