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Ready?….no, not really. Set…..all packed. Go…oh okay, if I must…

Walking The Pilgrim’s Way

I had been planning my pilgrimage from Winchester to Canterbury for nearly a year. After my Camino in 2017 I was all ready to just go and walk another, but with one thing and another (like finances and work) I couldn’t just up and go, so I decided that in 2018 I would walk the Camino Ingles. But, before I did that, I thought it would be a good idea to walk another UK pilgrimage first…it seemed like the right thing to do.the pilgrims way winchester to canterbury, the pilgrims way uk, walking the pilgrims way, walking the camino, pilgrimage to canterburym

So I set about planning for a walk along The Pilgrim’s Way for 2 weeks and then home for a few days to refresh, repack and then fly to Spain to walk the Camino Ingles, starting on the same date I had in 2017. Plans……?

With that in mind I set up my spreadsheets, bought the books and started planning. It all went really well and I had most of my accommodation booked, put money aside every month, repacked Pepe (my backpack) for the umpteenth time and started with some training.

Then life, as it does, decided differently and a number of issues arose..

  1. I investigated the possibility of taking a ferry from Southampton to Spain, but firstly it was extortionately expensive and 2nd the ferries only went to Santander, which is not what I had in mind.
  2. Investigating flights, I found that the prices had almost doubled since the previous year (Brexit??) hmmm. Not sure I want to spend that much money.
  3. In May I got the best news a mother could ever get….my daughter was pregnant and I was to be a Granny Suddenly knitting seemed way more important than getting out and practising, getting fit. LOL
  4. Summer 2018 happened. I do not like the heat. I do enjoy lovely blue skies, and pleasant summer days, but I do not enjoy extreme heat, and most especially if I have to go out in the midday sun and walk in said heat.

And so it came to pass that

A) I never did book any flights. Which was just as well considering….

B) I spent more time knitting than anything else…the needles were in my hands at any          given free moment….I have loads of beautiful cardigans, bootees and matinee jackets.

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I even took my knitting with me and made a pair of ‘adventure’ bootees for my grandchild 🙂

knitting for babies, walking the pilgrims way, walking the camino de santiago

Peanut’s ‘adventure’ bootees

C) My plans to walk during my breaks to keep up my fitness levels were scuppered by           the heat, and I was resting on my 2017 fitness laurels. Tut! Tut! Not good.

I did get to do some walking in preparation, but truthfully I really didn’t get anywhere near enough walking done as what I did preparing for my Camino in 2017.

And as August rapidly approached I suddenly found that actually I didn’t want to walk at all…..I felt like all I wanted to do was be at home with my family and knit LOL

But after a few weeks of deliberation as well as a lot of uhmming and ahhing, and some discussion with my daughter I decided to go ahead with the UK walk but postpone the EU/Camino walk till 2019…..which is what I did.

And so it was ready, set, go……

Andddd I’m on my way; finally on the 18th August 2018, after nearly a year of planning and some preparation, Pepe, Gemini and I were on the train and on the way….BSR to SOU via London.

First up, Southampton, where I had planned to spend a couple of days exploring the city, as well as spend a day in Winchester revisiting favourite places. Then starting off on 21st August for the long walk; 136 miles and counting 🚶🚶🚶 Excited. Trepidatious.

This is what I’d be doing for the 15 days bar one. Coddiwomple! What a marvellous word. Love the English language.

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coddiwomple

Wow, how much excitement!! After months of talking and walking (some) and packing and preparing, I was finally on my way Ready to coddiwomple across England; a  pilgrimage Winchester to Canterbury; along The Pilgrim’s Way.

Initially I had planned to stay for just 2 nights in Southampton, but I probably wouldn’t visit the city again in the future so decided to extend my stay by one extra night and have a whole extra day to explore. The other day would be spent in Winchester revisiting favourite places and get myself ready for the big walk.

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The Pilgrim’s Way passport – how gorgeous is this passport

On arriving in Southampton I made my way over to my AirBnb venue and checked in. The room was very basic and simple, but comfortable and had a t.v. Even pilgrims like a bit of luxury LOL I didn’t do much by way of exploring that night since I was quite tired and it had been a long journey, so I just took a stroll up to the nearest food store and bought myself some supper and snacks for the night.

I settled in to bed after a lovely hot shower and watched t.v. till lights out. Big explore tomorrow.

 

 

18 weeks ago today I was still reeling with the stunning, joyful and extraordinary news that my darling girl, my beloved daughter was expecting her first baby!!!

To say that the news came out of the blue like a bolt of lightening would be an understatement. I was hysterical with joy unbounded. They were over the moon, and very emotional. We cried and we rejoiced and cried some more. They’re going to be parents, and I’m going to be a Granny

the miracle of lifeThe baby was just on 4 weeks and 2 days from conception, and according to the chart, just the size of a poppy seed!!

At this stage Peanut was developing what would become his/her brain; the neural tube is forming and the spinal cord.

20180512 the miracle of life

4 weeks and 2 days 🙂

 

20180512 the miracle of life

We shared the news with some VIP people and I started knitting.

Books on pregnancy littered the house and where at first there was none, suddenly there was a lot…..of baby clothes!!! LOL All the baby clothes that I had kept from when my daughter was a baby, as well as the gorgeous little items I had bought over the years (just because I loved them), made an appearance. I’m delighted that Peanut (baby’s nickname) will be wearing some of the same clothes that Mummy wore when she was a baby.

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baby will be wearing some of Mummy’s baby clothes….

The next scan came on 29 June 2018 and yes!!!! it’s a real baby 🙂

20180629 the next scan

its a real baby 🙂 extraordinarily tiny

Since then the weeks have flown by, and on 9th July, when baby was just 14 weeks, we went for a private scan and saw this precious little soul on an ultrasound scan

and heard baby’s heartbeat for the first time. It is truly the most extraordinary experience….to hear the heartbeat of a baby from the womb. Look how tiny those little feet and hands were!! ❤

I got so excited (and impatient) I immediately set about sorting the nursery. Simon set up the crib and I unpacked whatever I had to hand 🙂 Soon we had the basics set up and I started the long process of washing all the baby clothes we had bought, the South African baby clothes and the clothes they had been gifted from friends and colleagues.

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Mummy & Daddy and the first stages of the nursery

Over these 18 weeks, all baby’s internal organs have developed (healthy and normal), fully formed arms and legs, fingers and toes. Baby has developed ear buds and eyes, can yawn & swallow and has started giving Mummy a few ooofffs in the belly…as this still tiny little creature, weighing just over 500grams, bounces around and flexes legs and arms….a right little gymnast, Peanut is very active LOL

Just 10 days ago I had the most stunning experience of feeling baby kicking…albeit not yet very strong, it was very distinct. I was singing “you are my sunshine” to Peanut at the time and perhaps it was an objection to, or an appreciation of my singing talents!! LOL Not sure yet which.

Baby is now 23 weeks and 5 days from conception and the changes have been phenomenal.

Not only is Peanut now a fully formed little human being, but over the last 18 weeks has been a bit of a shape-shifter; changing from (the size of) a poppy seed to a sweetpea, a raspberry, a blackberry, a hamster, a peach, a lemon, a clownfish, a custard slice, a beet and an avocado pear!!! LOL Peanut is now the size of a juicy bunch of grapes, or a grapefruit…depending on which app you’re reading 🙂

Baby has now formed the air sacs in h/h lungs that will soon be used to breathe!!

With only 16 weeks to go till birth, there are now less weeks till B-Day than there are weeks since I heard the news OMG ❤ ❤ ❤ Truly, if I say I am excited…..that would be the understatement of 2018!!!!

As mentioned in one of my previous blogs, once I returned to earth off cloud 9, I downloaded the Ovia app (a pregnancy app) and started monitoring baby’s progress.

It’s been absolutely amazing to watch how many changes there are each week; body, feet and hands. I’ve read how baby has developed during each & every stage in the last 18 weeks, its truly a miracle of life. Baby didn’t have legs and feet or arms and hands till 8 weeks, but since then they’ve gone from the tiniest little hands and feet you could imagine to now – almost full size……

I wish they would share the type of information that I’ve read on the various pregnancy app in schools alongside of the basic bland practical biological information. Each week has revealed a new level of amazing information.

I remember my Mother always used to say that loved her daughters dearly, and yet the love she felt for her grandchildren was on a different level altogether….I now understand what she meant

20180512 peanut is on the way

I love my Granny – and Granny loves you little Peanut. Can’t wait to meet you ❤

What a joyous occasion. Today my daughter and son-in-law surprised me with a visit for an ultrasound of baby Peanut and as a treat the nurse let us listen to baby’s heartbeat. oh my gosh, I can tell you the tears flowed…..all 3 of us were sobbing.

first baby, second trimester, ultrasound, listening to babys heartbeat, granny in waiting, first grandchild, ovia app, knitting for babies

Ultrasound ❤

Listening to the heartbeat of a baby from the womb is a miraculous experience.

first baby, second trimester, ultrasound, listening to babys heartbeat, granny in waiting, first grandchild, ovia app, knitting for babies

It was awesome seeing baby’s little body appearing on the screen, just the size of either a lemon or a beet apparently, or perhaps a delicious custard pastry, if you prefer LOL according to the Ovia pregnancy app.

My daughter suggested the pregnancy apps which you can download (for free) and they are absolutely phenomenal. They contain so much information in small bite size (no pun intended) articles, from the size of the baby, to the Mother’s body changes, advice on nutrition and all the changes that are happening to the baby. I’ve loved reading up on baby’s progress. They even show you how big (or incredibly tiny) baby’s hands and feet are each week.

I’ve found it so fascinating reading up on all the changes and progress of the pregnancy and the images on some of the apps of what the baby looks like at each stage are just incredible.

So we’re at 14 weeks now and incredibly it’s already 10 weeks since I first learned that after a very long wait, I am to be a Granny 🙂 Bring it on!!! I can’t wait. Of course besides reading the apps, and now the sheer joy of having listened to baby’s heartbeat and seeing that tiny little body on the screen, we’ve been shopping like nobody’s business (keeping the economy afloat)

and of course I have been knitting like mad.

This is such an exciting and amazing and awesome time. We are all so over the moon and holding our breaths …….keep this baby safe. We can hardly wait to meet this little baby. Peanut is on the way  and I’m going to be a Granny 🙂

About Peanut

Our little Peanut nearly has the muscle control to make a fist by now, but look how tiny the hands are!!!! 👶🏻❣️❣️❣️❣️❣️ It’s simply breathtaking to realise that a human being can be so incredibly tiny. Oh my gosh. It’s extraordinary, the miracle of nature

I had such a wonderful afternoon. Met up with a young woman who I connected with on instagram via her Camino posts and mine, about 2 years ago.

Since then we’ve enjoyed each others posts, both Camino and other life stories. She’s been to Broadstairs a few times but I’m usually away so we never managed to meet up. But finally, my dates at home were conducive for her to visit the area and so we planned to meet today.

It was so gratifying to be able to talk to someone who has also walked the Camino, someone who understands the impact it has on your life, and ‘gets’ more than just the basics.

Although her journey was 6 weeks and mine only 11 days, we found so much in common with our experiences; mentally, emotionally and physical. We spoke solidly for over 3 hours.

We agreed that on the whole, unless you’re sharing Camino experiences with someone who has actually walked a Camino, most people’s eyes glaze over after 10 minutes or so. Which is not a criticism, but rather an acknowledgement that they don’t ‘get’ what you’re talking about.

Her experience of the Camino was vastly different to mine; she was 21 when she walked 6 years ago, and I was 62 when I walked last year. Her distance was 790 kms whereas mine was 240kms. Yet, despite the differences there was so much we could share about packing, what we actually needed by way of clothes vs what we thought we’d need, about injury and how we dealt with them, and how we related to other walkers.

After listening to her experiences it confirmed for me what I suspected….the French route is completely different to the Portuguese route. Not just in geography, but in the set up and the way in which pilgrims connect. There seems to be more opportunity to form deeper relationships.

It was a relief to be able to talk to someone who understood what I meant by the ‘essence’ of the Camino.

As I travelled home after finishing my latest assignment I had no idea that within a few hours I was to receive news that would change my life exponentially and forever. News that I been ‘praying’ for, hoping for, but beginning to reconcile myself to possibly not ever getting.

My daughter and her fiancé were busy planning their wedding, now just 2.5 weeks away and it was all systems go. She had the best fun planning this wedding, buying this and that, ordering little surprises for her bridesmaids, flower girls and her Mother (me 😉 ).

So when I got home, tired but excited to be in the final planning stages of the wedding, I had no idea what news was waiting for me. Greeting me at the door as if nothing was different from all the dozens of times I had arrived home after being away, we hugged, chatted briefly and made a cup of tea 🙂

Relaxing in the lounge she said, with a very straight face, that she had a little gift for me! Oh, that girl. Always full of gifts and surprises for people. I had no idea what to expect and set about opening the gift-wrapped box, thinking it was probably something to do with the wedding………little did I know.

Holding her phone up to record my reaction, and with firm instructions to not shake the box, to hold it still and open it at a certain angle, I complied. I’m used to her doing this type of thing, so my expectations were that it had something to do with the wedding, possibly something made of glass, which is why when I saw what was in the box, it took a good few seconds for my brain to register what I was seeing!!! Talk about a brain spin. Mine did a complete 360 degree loop!

OH. MY. God!!! There nestled in the box was this…..

first grandchild, we're expecting a baby, i'm going to be a granny

the best news ever!!!!

Staring at the words on the baby grow as if I had never seen English words before, it took me all of about 30 seconds to comprehend what I was seeing….my head whipped up at an alarming rate and the incredulity on my face was something to behold. You’re pregnant??? A tearful nod from the Mother-to-be and I was out of my chair in a flash, absolutely hysterical with unadulterated joy. I never knew sounds like that could come out of my body!!

At just on 3pm on the 12th May 2018 I got the best news ever!!! I was gong to be a Granny!! Oh how much I had hoped that my daughter would one day have a baby, for her to experience the exquisite joy of being a Mother, of holding that tiny little mite in her arms and know that she was the lifelong guardian of that precious bundle. For years I had hoped that she would have this experience and now finally it was true; she was to be a Mother and I was to be a Granny.

first grandchild, we're expecting a baby, i'm going to be a granny

I’m going to be a Granny

The tears flowed and the questions flew…when was it due? How are you feeling? What now? OMG is this really true and many many more. Once we had all settled down and the enormity of the news settled like a mantle over my shoulders, I realised that my life had changed exponentially and would never be the same again.

first grandchild, we're expecting a baby, i'm going to be a granny

this is what was nestled inside the Daddy’s box 🙂

They had their first scan done just the day before 🙂

first grandchild, we're expecting a baby, i'm going to be a granny

Due in January and just the size of a poppy seed 🙂

Isn’t that just the most miraculous image in the world!!! And so the adventure begins!

 

 

A few days ago I looked at my calendar and suddenly realised that this ‘big’ pilgrimage of mine that I have been talking about for months was only 3.5 months away!!! Shock and horror. Where has the time gone and how did this suddenly creep up on me. Although I have joined the #walk1000miles challenge for 2018 again, I have been quite lazydasical about getting out and walking….always at the back on my mind is the thought of ‘hey, I walked 240 kms across Portugal and Spain last year on my Camino’ ergo I should be fit!! Uhm, no!! Not really. In reality I’ve really slacked off and once I reached the magic number of 1000 miles in 2017, my brain said “okay, enough already, time for a break”.

Then we had winter. Enough said on THAT subject. Urgh. Mind you I was lucky enough to experience snowfall in Montgomery, Wales that turned the world magical.

snow in wales, snowing in the uk, winter wonderland,

the WW2 Monument in Montgomery

However……with the prospect of 136 miles from Winchester to Canterbury ahead of me, the realisation that I best kick my ass into gear has hit home.

pilgrimage winchester to canterbury, the pilgrims way winchester to canterbury, pilgrims chapel winchester, pilgrims chapel canterbury, following the pilgrims way

Pilgrims’s Chapels Winchester and Canterbury

And so I have started training in earnest once again and boy has my fitness level dropped since September 2017. Blimey. So, although I have managed just over 373 kms/ 233 miles since 01.01.2018, I figured I best get my act together and do some serious walking again.

the pilgrims way north downs, follow the pilgrims way, pilgrims way winchester to canterbury

3 in 1 : North Downs Way, Vanguard Way, Greenwich Meridian Way,

I’ve been working in Oxted since 01.05 and I’ve managed a few walks up to and through the Titsey estate, some of which takes me along the Pilgrim’s Way on the North Downs, albeit just a little way.

the pilgrims way north downs, follow the pilgrims way, pilgrims way winchester to canterbury

The Pilgrim’s Way, North Downs, Oxted

The brilliant aspect of the walks in this area is that there’s a substantial amount of uphill walking which is giving me an excellent cardiovascular workout. The first day I did that I thought my heart was going to pop right out of my chest!!

the pilgrims way north downs, follow the pilgrims way, pilgrims way winchester to canterbury

a good cardiovascular workout

This was a tad disappointing since last year, when I was working here, I used to follow that route almost daily and after a few weeks was climbing to the top of the ridge, hardly out of breath. Clearly my fitness levels have indeed dropped.

the pilgrims way north downs, follow the pilgrims way, pilgrims way winchester to canterbury

walking along the North Downs

Walking in this area is always a pleasure and the views from whichever level you choose to walk are spectacular, at any time of the year.

the pilgrims way north downs, follow the pilgrims way, pilgrims way winchester to canterbury, titsey place

View from the ridge; Titsey House in the distance

And now on the cusp of summer is no exception. The trees are sprouting leaves by the million; some of which are that fantastic luminescent green that seems otherworldly.

the pilgrims way north downs, follow the pilgrims way, pilgrims way winchester to canterbury

summer greens

The rapeseed fields are ablaze with tiny bright yellow blooms that spread like butter across the landscape, so bright you could surely see them from space!

rapeseed fields, the pilgrims way north downs, follow the pilgrims way, pilgrims way winchester to canterbury

Bright yellow rapeseed fields

I’ve seen a few walkers, quite a few dogs and a number of rabbits. The weather has been spectacular albeit very hot for long distance walking. We had loads of rain over the previous weeks and the ground in many areas has been sodden, like a quagmire and traversing these areas has been a bit of a challenge!! I took a walk through a small copse of trees hoping to see bluebells like last year’s crop…but sadly most of them have already faded.

bluebells, the pilgrims way north downs, follow the pilgrims way, pilgrims way winchester to canterbury

just a smattering of bluebells left

I’m mindful of the fact that we may well have a lot of rain in August and September, in which case I’ll have to be walking through said quagmires which is decidedly unpleasant…..I may just have to get the wellies out! LOL But I’m hoping for days like this..

titsey place, the pilgrims way north downs, follow the pilgrims way, pilgrims way winchester to canterbury

across the fields at Titsey Place

And so the training has begun in earnest. I’m planning on walking from Broadstairs to Folkestone in the coming weeks and that should give me a good workout as I’ll be walking with Pepe (my backpack) fully loaded. As always Gemini (my walking poles) are in hand to support me on my walks. I really love those poles now and feel quite naked when I walk without them.

Titsey Place and Gardens

Titsey Place and Gardens

 

 

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