How the Beast from the East changed us all for a few days as we just slowed down and actually met our neighbours again.
So Ireland got coated in snow now that's something that doesn't happen too often and when it does we rightly tend to panic.
The top 3 items we panicked over were Bread, wine and home heating products.
To be honest, I never saw the bread shortage coming, who knew it would be the commodity of choice.
It went so far that someone was selling half a loaf of bread on Donedeal :-) (as a joke I am hoping).
Anyway, the results of the snowfall in West Cork completely transformed the landscape and converted our lush greens to a beautifully clean snowy white heaven.
Below is an aerial photograph of Clonakilty completely covered in the white stuff making it almost unrecognisable.
This not only as I said above transformed our views but also our outlook on life for a few days.
Neighbours slowly shuffled outside to play with their children and chat to the now growing outdoor community.
Neighbour met neighbour and not just the occasional passing wave or nod that we are all accustomed to but an actual conversation was had as the community bonded.
The cold created some warmth in a different way and we all just melted into the snow in both a physical and emotional response to worldly pressures and daily chores being lifted clean from our shoulders by the cleansing effect of this white gold.
The resounding sound in my ears all day was that of laughter from both young and old as the country slowed down to a stop then so did our hectic lives and we reimmersed ourselves in our towns and smiled, laughed and threw the odd snowball at each other.
Watching adults lose 20 or 30 years off their age and reliving their youth's while sliding down hills and starting snowball fights with their children was not only beautiful to watch but so refreshing.
After all, we are only all big children with hopes and dreams that get pushed aside due to daily workloads and societies modern-day pressures.
In ways it was sad to see the snow melt as so did a part of the spirit, in towns like Clonakilty there are always little events that help draw out this spirit and community feel that adds a little glow to our lives.
Anyway, I am again going off point :-) nothing new there then.
The above photograph of Clonakilty town was carefully shot with my drone and consists of 7 individual photo's stitched together just like the shot below of Clonakilty Bay and the back of Inchydoney.
The light was constantly changing and the bright blue skies in some of these shots seem so completely otherworldly.
The sheer white of the snow and direct light of the sun made the sand a very dark brown near black at times. This all adds to the surreal look of the landscape.
Below is a shot of the entrance to Clonakilty bay with South Ring on the Left and Inchydoney beach on the right.
This is one of my favourite photographs from the day and something that will always bring a smile to my face and bring all those moments and memories from those days back to me.
My next stop was further down Ring road in fact just next to the third Ring pier and looking over at the back of the eastern beach at Inchydoney.
I planned to get an aerial shot of Inchydoney from the eastern side from here. With two batteries already gone at this stage waiting for the right light in the last two locations, I was very conscious of the remaining power in the third and final battery.
So after taking a few more shots of Ring, I went over to Inchydoney and as I did the wind picked up again, I know this because I could feel my kidneys hit the ground as the wind seemed to slice clean through me. It was a cold few days but on that day when the wind picked up it was incredibly cold.
This reminds me of an Irish saying about the weather "it was a lazy wind" I must say I love the explanation I recently heard to this "A lazy wind is a wind that would rather cut through you than go around you" :-) Even on bitterly cold days the Irish spirit can't be repressed.
So the other reason I will remember that wind is I was looking at my remaining battery capacity of 45% which suddenly plummeted to 33% in seconds and as I positioned the drone to get a shot I heard this audible warning "landing now". I can honestly say that's one of the worst things you can hear while flying a drone 180m out at sea.
Battery level now at 12%. Ok 12% 180 meters and losing altitude rapidly, wind speed going up and pushing the drone away from me I had no choice but to fly it further away from me and aim for a stretch of the headland.
My only other option was to land it across the channel in Inchydoney. The difficulty with landing it on the beach was could I actually drive all the way down to Inchydoney (Normally 12 to 15 mins trip by car) due to the snow.
So I turned it for the headland and landed with seconds to spare or at least I thought I did anyway. The last thing I saw was a field then Pitch black. Was I over the field or did I just miss it and hit the water... all I knew at the time was it was incredibly close.
So it's exactly at this point the 20 mins of running and climbing along the zig-zagging shoreline starts.
The blind panic set in as the drone went offline and the last image on the screen was pitch black. Did she find a watery grave? or did I just manage to get it the 180 meters or so to land?
So after several near heart attacks and few brief pauses for breath, I finally got to the rough location of the landing and after walking around in circles for what seemed like hours (only minutes) I eventually found an x shape in the ground. Yes, you guessed it the drone sank through the snow hence the black screen but it was a perfect landing and absolutely no damage done.
I was about 8 to 10 meters from the water and I think that has to be one of the closest calls I have ever had with a drone.
Thankfully it all seemed to be ok and has worked since. Mental note a white drone and snow don't mix well or should I say they mix too well.
As I slowly just started the return trip to the car I spotted the best view of the day and I blessed myself repeatedly in my best French for not bringing my camera with me.
If I could still feel my hands at this stage there was a fair chance I would have actually slapped myself, instead, I just sat on a snowbank and look at it for two minutes. Letting the whole scene soak in and trying to absorb some of that tranquillity.
Never before have I ever seen Inchydoney look like this.
It was like some little strip of paradise with gorgeous paradoxical blue skies, golden sandy beaches and snow.... yes snow on Inchydoney and clear blue skies with the sun shining who would believe it.
So again I started my walk back, I just dropped my head and concentrated on not slipping.
I trudged back through the snow-covered terrain up and down the side of the bay and slip-sliding over the snow-covered rocks. It was a bit like playing Russian roulette with your ankles with every single surprising step.
It haunted me all the way back to the car so when I got there I just had to grab my camera and quickly go all the way back before the light changed.
The resulting images below show why I was so eager to get back there. The sand was bone dry and so light that it looked like a scene from another planet.
If you ever feel you should take the shot then listen to your gut, it might have been a bit mad in sub-zero temps to be climbing up and down snow-covered banks and never mind those ninja rocks just waiting to attack you covered in a veil of snow so you couldn't see them.
For me, it will always be worth it. Those memories might fade slightly but these photographs are there to constantly refresh them.
A photograph is more than just a photograph if it evokes feelings and emotions in you then its a sliver of time in a frame and not just a sequence of dots.
These photographs will always remind me of friendly chats, hot coffee, laughter, timeless days, community and that idiot that left the camera in the car.
So Beast from the East your welcome back again my friend but maybe not until next year.
Thank you for giving us back our days, time with our children and most importantly reminding us that life is there to be lived.
Don't let your job define you, having the latest car etc...is nice but just remember all these items come at a cost.
The most valuable commodity in the world is time. It's up to us to use it wisely and make the most of it.
For some more Aerial videos I have taken around West Cork click Here
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