So here I am in the sunny south-east. During brief visits in years gone by I’ve always considered Waterford as a bit of a grim, grey place. With Waterford Crystal the only reason to visit, why would anyone bother now that production has ceased leaving only the Visitors’ Centre?

How wrong I was. I’m loving it after only a few short days. I’m holed up in the old part of the city at the east end of the quays. I can almost reach out and touch the old city walls. I am two doors away from The Munster, an historical old bar with tons of character. Though my first few pints have been in a basic, friendly place on the quays (Jordan’s) that shows the footy. The town is much more like the Ireland I know and love. You try in vain to buy a coffee before 8am and after 6pm the town centre is virtually deserted. But in between times it is a bustling little place with modernity (John Roberts Square) muscling in alongside the older town. There is a definite lack of the big-name retailers with a pleasant emphasis on the smaller shop which enables the town to retain its character. Plenty of nice-looking restaurants await exploring in due course.

Up a bit of a hill just above the town there is a gem of a village green, Ballybricken, which served as a market place in former times. On one side I spot Alfie Hale’s Bar. Alfie Hale was a former soccer professional and often featured in those collections of footballer cards that you got way back then. I will no doubt be checking this place out in due course and also the sports shop of the same name downtown.

My first runs have been along the quay and over The Bridge. There is no mistaking The Bridge, unlike in Dublin where you might be referring to any one of 20-plus. With all traffic from east and north-east to south being funnelled through here it is a very busy affair as well. Once across to the Ferrybank side of the River Suir I turn right to face the heavy goods traffic either barrelling or crawling down towards The Bridge, depending on the time of day. Fortunately it is then possible to hang a right and get off down a comparatively quiet road towards the quaintly named district of Christendom. A 4-miler and a 5-miler so far with a longer one planned for tomorrow (Sunday).

And then next week the final in-house training and preparation prior to me stepping into my gym on Friday, my first day as owner.

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