Oh, I’m sailin’ away my own true love, I’m sailin’ away in the morning. Is there something I can send you from across the sea, from the place that I’ll be landing?

Bob Dylan

Spanish Boots of Spanish Leather is one of my favourite Dylan songs because of the tension between deep, committed love and the thirst freedom. Between not wanting to be away from your loved one and the wish to explore new exciting worlds. In the end, he settles for Spanish boots from Spanish leather.

There is an old shop close to Madrid’s Plaza Mayor that sells those boots. There were times I was in Madrid, even if I did not need new shoes, I got a pair. – Not this year. But going away to Spain’s Northwest, exploring, travelling, has been good too.

Weight bearing became a whole new meaning on the last day with Pádraig’s new friends in Torrelavega. They put up to 13 kilos on his wrists, his legs and in a vest around his upper body. This was soon becoming a full-blown CrossFit-type session, with a constant change between a variety of high-intensity functional movements, like pulling himself up a wall-mounted ladder.

In between, they asked him whether he was ok. They also said that your pain level, between one and ten, when doing serious exercise should be seven. Otherwise, it would either hurt too much (if higher than seven) or it would not have the desired effect (if lower than seven).

On our way back from Torrelavega to Santander we decided to take a short detour and visit the site of the Altamira caves. The original caves are no longer open to visitors but the museum with the reconstructed caves are a close second best.

The staff were extremely helpful, especially when it turned out that the lift the museum had to bring wheelchair users to the last stop, down into the reconstructed caves, was too small for Pádraig. It’s hard to believe that a modern museum of this stature does not have a lift that would accommodate a wheelchair, even if that wheelchair was slightly larger than the ‘norm’.

Overall, it was a very good, truly amazing experience – to see and experience (even if that ‘experience’ was slightly fake) the art our ancestors had created some 36,000 years ago.

On the last evening of our stay in Santander, we had a tapas dinner in our ‘regular’ where we met a really nice couple from Wales who had come over to Santander on Brittany Ferries’ flagship. No issues about the crossing, they said. Super smooth. If you check out the two ships, you’ll know why – even by just looking at the pictures. I think the Irish are literally getting a rough deal.

If you ever met people from Wales, you know that I had trouble understanding even half of what they were saying. But I didn’t have to. They were just so open, kind and caring, it was heartwarming. They were complete strangers when we met them and they could have been our best friends when they left.

On Friday morning, we shared a typical Euskal pastela, a basque cake, for breakfast while enjoying a magnificent view from the living room of the apartment we rented for our three nights in San Sebastián. After that, we went for a walk into town.

This city is one of the few I know where you will find people carrying their surfboards through town under their arms or on their bikes to the beach. Imagine, you wake up in the morning and decide – it’s a good day for surfing. You catch your board, walk to the beach, and enjoy the surf.

We tried to travel light when walking into town. The old part is full of wonderful little shops and spectacular tapa bars.

Dylan’s song has a side that took on a whole different meaning for me in the last few years.

Oh, how can, how can you ask me again
It only brings me sorrow
The same thing I want from you today
I would want again tomorrow

There is really only one thing I want, a thing that is unlikely to happen, and that even Spanish boots will not compensate for.

What I can do is to take heed of the western wind and take heed of the stormy weather.

And keep exploring, remain curious, maintain a healthy sense of humour, push the boundaries, and don’t let anybody convince me that life is a tragedy.

Check out the 2nd International IronMonth Challenge 2022 on http://www.iron-month.com.

Join groups around the world – or set one up yourself wherever you live and let us know – who will complete the distances of the classic Ironman over the month of May.

If you are in Dublin (or close), join us on our first ever fun super sprint TRYathlon, suitable for all who want to try a short triathlon, supported by Triathlon Ireland and Irish Village Markets on the morning of 01 May 2022 on the grounds of Sports Ireland beside the National Aquatics Centre (NAC) – with food and fun for all the family. Sign up here.

If you were available to help out as a Cycle Marshal for the 20k ride – please get in touch.

Support the An Saol Foundation’s fundraising effort.

Tell your family and friends about the event and share it widely using #IronMonth22.

Listen to Oliver Callan, standing in for Ryan Tubridy on Friday, 15 April, giving a big plug for the #IronMonth, @15:40 – or just listen to his IronMonth clip here. All thanks to a great friend of the An Saol Foundation!