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Archive for December, 2018

As 2018 draws to a close, and with less than ??? days to go I’m getting really excited now about meeting my first grandchild….it’s not as if I wasn’t excited before…..LOL

I first learned that I had a grandchild on the way in May on the 12th to be exact. To say I was over the moon would be an understatement. The scan shows him as a tiny wee round dot…

As mentioned in a previous blog post I immediately downloaded the ovia app which allowed me to keep track of the baby’s progress. I started downloading the weekly progress images and in the space of 34 weeks baby has gone from the size of a poppy seed to a spagetti melon

….the progress of the size of his feet and hands has been the most fascinating of all, from a tiny tiny little hand you could barely see, his hands are now almost full size.

peanut is on the way, ovia app, first baby, first grandchild

progress from 8 weeks to 38 weeks

Not long after that amazing news, on 28th May, they, my daughter and her fiance got married…a joyful occasion that one day Peanut will be able to enjoy…..he was there ๐Ÿ™‚

getting married

Cรฉmanthe and Simon – married ๐Ÿ™‚

On the 28th June they had their first ultrasound and I got a picture of our wee Peanut ๐Ÿ™‚ What a beautiful baby ๐Ÿ™‚

ultrasound

28.06.2018 and yes, it’s a real baby ๐Ÿ™‚ Peanut is on the way

On the 9th July I had the sheer joy and incredulity of seeing baby on the big screen for myself. My daughter surprised me with a trip the the Ultrasound department where we not only got to see the wee bambino on the screen but got to hear the heartbeat for the first time. It was sheer magic.

20180709 ultrasound

2018.07.09 My first ultrasound view of Peanut, my grandson

As soon as we got home that afternoon I set about, with help from my son-in-law to get the nursery started ๐Ÿ™‚ It has all come together beautifully and a few weeks ago they completed the set up.

nursery

Peanut’s nursery

And on the 23rd July at the next ultrasound they announced the gender…. it’s a BOY!!! Hoorah! Oh my gosh, what an adventure this is going to be….a grandson. Oh joy! I immediately started planning our first Camino LOL

On the 13th August we enjoyed the treat of another ultrasound and 3D scan – baby is now getting bigger….baby is very active with a strong heartbeat…..all the bits are there and his organs; brain, heart, liver, kidneys etc are developing and show no health problems.

ultrasound, peanut is on the way

2018.08.13 hello Peanut ๐Ÿ™‚ – look how big you’ve grown

On the 4th September, while on a day trip to Canterbury, I got to feel Peanut kicking for the first time. Wowwww….totally awesome. I think the delight shows on my face.

the falstaff inn canterbury, walking the pilgrims way, the pilgrims way from winchester to canterbury

feeling my grandchild kicking for the first time

My daughter started keeping a record of the development of her belly and although a few weeks have been missed out, it’s been so amazing to see how her belly has grown and grown as baby gets bigger and bigger…

On the 13th September, with huge delight, she wore the ‘baby on board’ badge for the first time on a trip to London ๐Ÿ™‚baby on board, first baby

And I….starting off the very next day on 13 May, with a blanket for the pram and I haven’t stopped since….there are still 4 new little outfits waiting to be sewn up….

knitting for babies, baby layette

I got straight onto the knitting….started with a blanket

Over the months I knitted….more and more little items…bootees, cardigans and matinee jackets. It’s been so much fun creating these little items and dreaming about my grandson wearing them.

knitting for babies, baby layette

an absolute delight

Oh and let’s not forget the shopping…..I have bought loads of outfits and this baby has enough clothing to see him through from birth to 24 months as well as items beyond… right up until he is 5 years old. One of the best places I’ve bought clothes from has been off instagram from a lady who sells lovedB4 baby clothes…some of the most delightful little items you can imagine, many of them brand new, and all for next to nothing.

The 1st October brought another 3D scan and ultrasound…I could get used to this ๐Ÿ™‚

ultrasound scan

01.10.2018 baby Peanut growing bigger by the day

And another 3D scan and ultrasound on the 15th October with both sets of Grandparents.

ultrasound

2018.10.15 – 27 weeks – a beautiful little boy

The 3D scan and ultrasound was followed up with tea and cake with the in-laws and to our delight my daughter and her husband announced baby’s name; James Alexander aka Jamie. โค โค โค What a fantastic name.

baby shower, gender reveal, helter skelter

Jamie

In October we went to a baby show in London..wow, so much stuff!! We bought various items and got some good bargains…..they also shopped for the pram.

25th October and another trip to London; my daughter was exhibiting in a photo exhibition. The whole family were there to support her.

photo exhibition

Jamie attends his first photo exhibition ๐Ÿ˜‰

On 10th November we had the Baby Shower….and delighted everyone with the news that it’s a BOY!! They had the event at a wonderful venue in Broadstairs and with family and friends gathered round, we had a fantastic day.

On the 5th December his first coin arrived; a commemorative coin for the 40th anniversary of The Snowman.

the snowman 40th anniversary coin

The Snowman; a commemorative coin. The little boy’s name in the story is…..James ๐Ÿ™‚

6th December brought a visit to Eastry to meet with a friend and I got to practice at being a Granny

babies

practising at being a Granny

On the 12th December we had a tour of the MLU unit at the hospital where she is due to give birth….but currently baby is in the breech position, same as Mummy was at term, so we are hoping and urging the little fella to turn head down as his Mummy would like to have her labour in the MLU (midwife led unit), but so long as he is breech, they have said no!! and she is not pleased!!

pregnancy

so pretty and colourful

And so the weeks have marched on. As Christmas neared Mummy’s belly filled out her Christmas jumper to perfection LOL

christmas jumper, pregnancy

filled that jumper to perfection

19 December and suddenly she is considered to be at ‘term’. Wow how did that happen so fast!! It is quite extraordinary to be the Mother of a daughter who is expecting her first baby. I feel so privileged and so very lucky.

knitting for babies, baby layette

week 37: the baby bump is big and beautiful

My daughter is now so heavy and cumbersome and has great difficulty with walking, sleeping and sitting, she’s suffering from heartburn and cramps….poor child, and is now very much looking forward to the birth and having her first baby in her arms. They are both excited and trepidatious, there is much still to be done.

We are now in week 38 and the ‘apparent’ due date is 5th or 7th January, depending on who we believe…but since neither of them are correct, baby will likely arrive a bit later. Mummy got more beautiful and Peanut got some little toys from Santa and more clothes LOL. I have a serious addiction to buying baby clothes; they are all sooooo cute.

week 38

with just days to go…week 38 and looking gorgeousย 

I started a tradition earlier in the year whilst on my pilgrimage from Winchester to Canterbury; postcards to Peanut. I sent a postcard from each of the towns and villages I passed through. This one is of St Augustine’s Abbey in Canterbury.

postcards, first grandchild

postcards to Jamie

Since we are now literally just days away, I have bought a door bell alarm…the buzzer is next to her bed and the ding dong is next to mine!!! When she goes into labour all she has to do is press the buzzer and I shall be ‘on duty’!! LOL We chose the tune ‘twinkle twinkle little star’ since it is so sparky and chirpy….anything else and I’m liable to chuck it out the window.

And so we, Daddy, Mummy and Granny wait with bated breath for the day he is born ๐Ÿ™‚

My grandson, Jamie aka Peanut, is on the way!

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Thursday Day 10 – 30th August 2018 : Tonbridge to Broadstairs

Well here we are, Pepe, Gemini and I, on the train heading home.

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on my way home

My leg is no better and when I lifted Pepe onto my back this morning I experienced that kind of red hot pain that leaves you breathless. So yes, time to head home to recuperate. Damaged but not defeated. I’m already scheming ways of completing this walk in the not too distant future. ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜

Ironically my sleeping bag arrived home today too. It was in the stars. One thing for certain, I am going to repack Pepe and anything that I didn’t use last week is coming OUT!!! I’m a bit of a ‘just in case’ packer, but I don’t think it served me well on this walk. Learning curve, I guess. But, on the plus side, I met a lovely Carer at the house last night and I’m certain we’ll become good friends. We have a lot in common and had so much to talk about. ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š So onwards.

Hope you’ve enjoyed my journey along The Pilgrim’s Way; from Winchester to Oxted – hopefully to complete the journey in 2019. I may even redo the section I’ve already walked LOL – or not!!! In case you missed my previous posts…..

Setting off on my pilgrimage

Revisiting the City of Winchester

Exploring Southampton

Day 1 – Winchester to Alresford

Keep your eye on this space……I’m planning (hoping) to finalise my pilgrimage in April 2019

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Wednesday 29th August 2018 – Day 9 : Oxted to Tonbridge by train

backpacking, long distance walks, walking the pilgrims way. the pilgrims way winchester to canterburyMy penultimate instagram post : Tonbridge: Homeward Bound – Sometimes sooner than expected. So, after a day of excruciating pain in my lower right leg, and totally hobbling around, I’ve had to make the executive decision to head home for recovery. I can’t afford to cause more damage since I still have to work next month.ย If I continue along The Pilgrim’s Way after my day in Tonbridge, the following 5 days of walking are all in excess of 20kms and the last is 12kms. I know for sure that I’ll do more damage if I continue regardless. I’m good at endurance but have to be sensible too. Clearly the fall I had on Sunday did more damage than I thought and I must have been favouring my hip and my right leg where I fell on Box Hill is really swollen and very painful.ย So, disappointing as it is, I’ve cancelled all my accommodation for the next week and will get back to The Pilgrim’s Way over a period of time. Unfortunately my dates going forward for the rest of 2018 are not conducive to completing the way in one go, so I’ll look at dates when I get home and plan it over 2/3 stages and probably plan shorter days.ย  The only night’s accommodation I can’t cancel is the Canterbury date, meant to be my last night, it’s really disappointing to not be arriving as a pilgrim completing the way.ย I’ll take it up anyway (not too difficult to spend a night in Canterbury ๐Ÿ˜‰) and work the rest of the route around my work dates. Urgh. But, as the Gambler said “You gotta know when to hold out, and know when to quit”. OK so I used poetic license there… But, cest la vie. Homeward bound for now, and back to the pilgrimage in the future. I may even start in Canterbury and walk backwards (not literally ๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿ™„) to where I am now ๐Ÿ˜‚ ๐Ÿ˜‚ ๐Ÿ˜‚ Other people walk from Canterbury to Winchester, so maybe I’ll mix it up a bit and do the same. One thing this trip has done is give me a whole new perspective on certain aspects of life. But that I’ll blog about that later on. Thanks to everyone for your lovely support and encouragement, and sharing my journey. I’m disappointed at having to stop, but being a pragmatic person, I’m more concerned for my health. I’ve had a wonderful time so far, albeit unpleasant at times and some really difficult days, but I’ve seen some amazing places and met many wonderful people along the way, and thats what its all about. It’s the journey, not the destination. Anyway, it’ll be something for me to look forward to ๐Ÿ˜‚ ๐Ÿ˜‚ ๐Ÿ˜‚

My coddiwomple has come to an end….for now!!

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coddiwomple

And so it came to pass that I ended my pilgrim’s way in Hurst Green. When I woke in the morning, not only was it pouring with rain, but my leg was in agony. I could barely walk. So taking the easy way out I ordered a cab to take me to the station.

My training was in the afternoon in Tonbridge so I enjoyed a slow journey and once there I again took a cab to the Carer’s house which was conveniently also where the training was to be held. Settling into my room I had a short nap and put my legs up.

After the training I had a meal, a lovely hot shower and settled into watch some tv. Then to bed…..perchance to dream, but certainly to dream of the day when I can complete my walk along The Pilgrim’s Wayย backpacking, long distance walks, walking the pilgrims way. the pilgrims way winchester to canterbury

Did you perhaps miss the start of my journey….it starts here

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mapmywalk, the pilgrims way, walking the pilgrims way, long distance walks england, backpacking, women walking soloTuesday 28th August 2018 Day 8 – Merstham to Oxted : 20.75 kms / 45,608 stepsย  ย  elevation 309 meters

My early morning instagram post: Merstham: Morning all. I’m still alive LOL Had a really good sleep, feeling refreshed. Atm I’m relaxing in bed with a cup of tea. My hosts at this AirBnB are/were amazing, they’ve even left breakfast for me ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š These images are from when I was at Shere where I ended my journey on Sunday. We didn’t have network or WiFi at Tanners Hatch so couldn’t share. Shere is gorgeous and definitely bears a return visit on a sunny day. I had lunch at the Dabbling Duck which was lovely, albeit very busy and they initially forgot to take my order. Shere is a Domesday Book village. As you can see it was just raining. I lost about 12 kms of the route on that day. Not a lot, but enough to irk me. I’ll have to come back another day and walk that stage again and probably break it down into 2. And I definitely must have more time to explore Shere.

It amazes me how quickly my body recovers with a good nights rest and a hot shower. My leg and coccyx were however still rather tender, but I wasn’t about to let them stop my pilgrimage. While enjoying my lie-in and cuppa, after posting some photos from the day before, I consulted the guide to see what lay ahead of me for the day.ย  Apparently “the original route from Mertsham to the top of the North Downs has been changed by the arrival of two motorways and two railway lines“.ย  So my slight guilt at not following the guide yesterday was dispersed hah!!

But first…Quality Street; once the main road to Brighton, is named after JM Barries’s play Quality Street in 1902.

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the famous Quality Street in Merstham

The famous tin of sweets, launched in 1936 by Mackintosh’s of Halifax to coincide with the release of the Quality Street film, had a bow-fronted shop on the lid similar to houses in the street, which include 17th and 18th century buildings. Merstham, is also, to my delight, a Domesday Book village of 1086 asย Merstan;ย Its name was recorded in 947 asย Mearsรฆtham, which seems to beย Anglo-Saxonย Mearรพ-sวฃt-hฤmย = “Homesteadย near a trap set forย martensย orย weasels”. courtesy of wikipedia

I passed the Old Forge, a Grade II listed building, unfortunately partially blocked by a van, but nonethless quite awesome to see, as well as some other amazing houses.

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The Old Forge, Merstham

After crossing the motorway I reached St Katharine’s Church which dates from c. 1220 and replaced an earlier church built c. 1100, it is however believed that there has been a church of some form on the site since c. 675 AD. In the grounds I met 2 ladies from Germany who were walking the North Downs Way. Before progressing, I popped into the church for a visit. Quiet by accident I discovered some fabulous brasses cleverly concealed by carpets…hah! I have a nose for these things.

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The route crossed a motorway, took me through a suburb and then into thick undergrowth, beneath the motorway (not decorated like the one yesterday), through some open fields anddddd….up the first of the hills I was to encounter today! A notice urged me to please keep to the North Downs Way…my pleasure ๐Ÿ™‚

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the only selfie I took on the whole 8 days LOL and I obeyed the request ๐Ÿ™‚

my instagram post – Redhill: What was that they said about the way flattening out?? Just climbed 2 steep hills in quick succession. Urgh ๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿ™„ mind you the view is fantastic. So today I’ve packed the guide book away since the route from Merstham to Oxted follows the North Downs Way. Hoorah. Much better.

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North Downs Way

After reaching the crest of the hill, I met a lovely old gentleman and stopped for a wee chat, after which I stopped in a field for a few minutes of respite and then a lovely long lane beneath a tunnel of beautiful trees…..in the distance I could see the two ladies I had seen earlier at the church.

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going upppppp

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and uppppp

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goodbye friend ๐Ÿ™‚ looking back downhill towards Merstham

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fellow pilgrims in the ditance

I had just reached a junction in the road when I looked to my left (for oncoming traffic) and saw to my delight a signboard for…….’Chaldon 1086′, whoo hoo.

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Chaldon AD 1086 – ๐Ÿ™‚ a Domesday Book village

Another Domesday Book village. I had a quick look on mapmywalk to see how far the church/village was, and found to my dismay that it was a good long walk from The Pilgrim’s Way/NDW. But, since these villages are part of my Project 101, I decided to make the diversion (just on 1 mile away) and suck it up! LOL And boy am I glad I did. The church was FANTASTIC. I stepped through the door and found the breath-taking medieval painting; Ladder of Salvation, featuring a drunken naked pilgrim holding an empty wine bottle

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The Ladder of Salvation – a medieval painting in the church of Chaldon

– painted c. 1200, 30 years after the murder of Becket, when the church was in the care of Merton Abbey where the saint had been a pupil. On a pillar near the door there is a pilgrim mark in the shape of a T for Thomas.

thomas becket, chaldon domesday book village,long distance walks, backpacking, walking the pilgrims way, the pilgrims way winchester to canterbury, women solo walking

T – Thomas Becket – Parish Church of St Peter & St Paul, Chaldon

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As I walked around the church I thought to myself…”Oh I wonder if someone would be able to give me a lift to the top of the hill?” As I thought this 2 people entered the church. I said hello and carried on out the door. After strolling about the graveyard, I walked through the gate at just about the same time as the couple who arrived earlier. There was a blue van just in front of me…..the couple made for the van, and totally on impulse, the words popped out my mouth “any chance you could give me lift to the top of the hill?”…and what did they say?? Yes!!!! Oh my gosh. I was delighted. I hopped into the back of the van and sat on the floor amongst the detritus of a working man, grinning from ear to ear. The Universe delivered…big time LOL We had a lovely chat all the way up the hill, they were really interested in my journey. Wished me well & goodbye ๐Ÿ™‚

My instagram post: Chaldon:ย Making good progress today . After climbing that hill earlier the way has indeed flattened out. I took a small diversion to visit Chaldon, a 1086 Domesday Book village and the parish church. Walking down the road I questioned my sanity…..going down usually means going back up again. Nonetheless, what an extraordinary church. The west end of Chaldon Church, dating from 1086, is covered with the Ladder of Salvation painted about 1200, thirty years after the murder of Thomas Becket, when the church was in the care of Merton Abbey, where Becket had been a student. While walking around the church, in my mind I was thinking “I hope someone with a vehicle visits while I’m here so I can ask for a lift back up the hill.” as I was leaving a couple in a van drew up, briefly popped in at the church (turns out they’re checking the lightening conductors in the county churches), so I asked them for a lift back to my route….. ๐Ÿ˜…๐Ÿ˜…๐Ÿ˜… Nothing ventured, nothing gained, as they say. A charming couple, we chatted as we drove and they saved me the long walk back. My prayers were answered and thank you to the Universe ๐ŸŒŒ ๐Ÿ˜ Where I rejoined the route I saw the very first Pilgrim’s Way sign ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘ which I would have missed if I hadn’t made the diversion. atm I’m sitting at the Harrow Pub and just about to tuck into a huge baked potato. I’m enjoying today ๐Ÿ˜Š

They dropped off one very grateful pilgrim back at the junction and I set off once again, well pleased that I had indeed made the diversion. As I set off I looked up and noticed the sign board…..PILGRIM’S WAY Hoorah. One of the very FEW markings for the route, I would have missed this if I hadn’t decided to visit the church.

thomas becket, chaldon domesday book village,long distance walks, backpacking, walking the pilgrims way, the pilgrims way winchester to canterbury, women solo walking

one of the very few route markers for the Pilgrim’s Way that I saw the whole 8 days

If nothing else the route is varied!!! I passed the house mentioned in the guide: After Hilltop (left with a clock and a view) the way is alongside woodland and fields where I met a lady and her dog….we commiserated with each other as we tried to navigate the mud….the ‘way’ is not always conducive to an easy walk.

Not much further along, at a junction where I had to cross the road again, I spotted The Harrow pub and on impulse decided to stop for lunch. It was already 13.20 and I was HUNGRY!!! I ordered a baked potato with a peppery filling… it was delicious, albeit very spicy hot. wheww. My mouth was on fire. Oh and I had a beer ๐Ÿ™‚

Refreshed and replenished I set off once again and passed a rather odd looking folly (probably why it’s called a ‘folly’). The way now took me along a tarmac road and along some lovely shady woodland paths.

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So beautiful. I didn’t see a soul for ages until just before 3pm when I met a young woman out walking her dog. We chatted briefly and then she went on ahead while I strolled along, just enjoying the peace and quiet.

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shady paths – a good place to rest for a while

The path once again was rustic, taking me through woodland and up hill and down dale…and then in a sheltered meadow I spotted a weathered wooden bench. Time for a rest me thinks. I offloaded Pepe and took off my socks and shoes, and lay down on the bench in the sun and just chilled. Bliss. Once again I hadn’t seen anyone for ages.

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a wonderfully peaceful place to rest

After a short rest I set off and shortly encountered the first set of steps (urgh).

The route took me through some beautiful woodland, England’s counties sure are pretty

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I love these benches; they offer stunning views of the countryside

and then…..I took to instagram again…Woldingham:ย And suddenly I’m on familiar territory. After lots of ups and downs and flats and twists and turns, I can see Oxted โ˜บ๏ธโ˜บ๏ธ in the distance and to the left I can see the fields I used to walk along while training for last year’s Camino and briefly, for this years walk. Its been a hard day again, but thats mostly coz after 7 days of walking I’m now very tired, and not because it was just hell. Rest day tomorrow, albeit for End of Life training in Tonbridge. So, none too soon, I’m almost at the end of today’s stage. Show. Me. The. Bed!!! ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚

Just before heading down to the lower paths on the downs, I stopped off to rest on a bench I spotted about halfway down another flights of steps.

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I’ll be really glad to leave the steps behind. When I did reach the lower footpath I regretted my thoughts almost immediately….the path was very narrow and lined with scratchy prickly brambles.

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not a pleasant section of the route

The sun was beginning to sink behind the ridge and I needed to get a move on. From the guide book: “The path now goes downhill to a hidden kissing gate.” Hidden?? Hidden?? It’s bloody grown over with a thick bush of brambles. I had to bend over double just to get under the brambles. Getting through the gate, bent over double with a backpack on my back was not fun at all. I ended up with scratches all along my arms. Urgh.

Now I was on familiar territory. I had walked these oaths dozens of times before when working in Oxted. It was lovely to see these paths and fields again. I crossed the road leading into Oxted and then followed a familiar route up a short hill with the idea of sitting on the bench where I used to sit on my Camino practice walks. When I got to the top I was absolutely dismayed to discover that some vandals had destroyed it completely

It was so lovely to walk along paths I had so often walked along before. The fields are so lovely and I had seen them at different times of the year

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familiar fields….it felt so good to back walking this path

Oxted:ย Whoo hoo and hoorah. I’m standing on the Greenwich Meridian Line, ergo I’m just about to cross from the western hemisphere to the eastern hemisphere ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

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crossing the Greenwich Meridian Line

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standing with one foot in the west and one foot in the east

I’m almost at my journey end, and now standing in the fields I could see in my earlier photo. I’m well ahead of time, so I’m going to walk part of Thursdays route just to save some time on that day, coz it’ll be a late start and nearly 20km day. – okay so this was not one of my brighter ideas. I followed the rutted road past Titsey Place

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walking past Titsey Estate – I’ve walked along here a number of times

and had to navigate a swamped area, passed under the M25 motorway and reached the B269. Under the best of times this is not a good road to walk along and I had in fact forgotten that this waited at the end of the route past Titsey Place. Nonetheless, there I was. It was busy. I spent the next 15 minutes dodging cars and trucks by jumping into the hedgerows lining the road. Finally, unscathed, I arrived in Limpsfield village

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Limpsfield, Surrey – a 1086 Domesday Book village

….my destination: St Peter’s Church.

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I love this little church and it holds fond memories…..it was the place where I got my very first Pilgrim’s stamp earlier in 2017 before my Camino along the Portugues Coastal Route to Santiago. I stopped off at the church to look around and stamp my passport and then walked back into Oxted. There are some stunning old houses in Detillens Lane.

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Limpsfield appears in Domesday Book of 1086 as Limenesfeld

I soon reached Oxted Station and hopped on the next train to Hurst Green where I was to stay for the night at another AirBnb venue. After a short walk I reached the house, had a lovely cup of tea, some hot soup and bread, a long conversation with the host and then a shower and into bed. Hoorah.

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my bed…..hoorah

As soon as I was in bed I headed over to instagram for my update: Hurst Green:ย After 7 days of walking, here is my pilgrim’s passport and the stamps I have managed to obtain. Its very different to the Camino where just about every establishment, restaurant, cafe and refreshments stall (even ice-cream stands) have a ‘sello’. Most of the churches I visited along The Pilgrim’s Way don’t have pilgrim passport stamps. I left a message in their visitor books saying how nice it would be to find one when visiting. Most businesses don’t have them either…I guess email has made them obsolete. However, I’m happy with what I have so far ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š a record of my journey

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My Pilgrim’s Passport – Day 1 – Day 8 ๐Ÿ™‚ Sadly not all the churches I visited had pilgrim stamps

From Merstham to Oxted along The Pilgrim’s Way. A good day. I met some lovely people along the route and enjoyed a number of interesting albeit short conversations. At the church in Limpsfield I saw in the visitors book that a lady from Greenwich passed this way on the 19th, also following the Pilgrim’s Way. ๐Ÿ™‚ How cool is that!! That’s the 2nd person whose details I’ve seen in the visitors book in a church. And at journey’s end, a lovely host, good conversation, a cup of tea , a hot shower and a comfy bed….what more could I ask for? A leg that wasn’t absolutely aching, would be a start….urgh. I think that pushing that last few km’s along the Pilgrim’s Way past Titsey Place and onto St Peter’s Church was 4 kms too many. My leg was in agony and very swollen. I applied loads of my aloe vera heat lotion and took 2 paracetamol. With my leg raised against the wall, I lay back on the bed and contemplated just how far I had come.

I felt really good at how much ground I had covered, how many obstacles I had overcome, at the number of steps I climbed at Box Hill (for the record = 275 steps!!!) felt more like 27500!!! LOL I was looking forward to the training at head office the next day in Tonbridge, and a day off from lengthy walking and most especially from the bloody guide book. Other than that, I felt good. So glad to be walking the Pilgrim’s Way…a long held dream.

Goodnight.

read about Day 7 of my pilgrimage along The Pilgrim’s Way click here
I made a short video you may enjoy

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mapmywalk, the pilgrims way, walking the pilgrims way, long distance walks england, backpacking, women walking soloMonday 27th August 2018 Day 7 – Tanners Hatch to Mertsham : 18.90 kms / 43,317 steps elevation 374 meters.

Even though it’s a hostel, with all the accompanying irritations like snoring, switching lights on in the middle of the night, early risers repacking their bags, I do enjoy sleeping at the YHA. Tanners Hatch YHA was a delight.

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see that bed….bottom left…that was my bed ๐Ÿ™‚ perfect – (pic captured off their website)

By morning I was even more determined to book another stay. In the light of morning, sans rain, I had a chance to explore a little more fully….the setting is beautiful, and quite enchanting.

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A couple staying at the YHA offered me a lift to my starting point for today; Box Hill & Westhumble Station. I gratefully accepted as were seriously wayyyy off the Pilgrim’s route. I made myself a quick breakfast of plain pasta and a cup of herbal tea. I was rather hungry by then. Fortunately my trainers had dried out in front of the fire and my clothes too were dry.

A longggg walk later, we finally reached the car park. Note to self….if I do book to stay again, it’s a long walk to the location….don’t take too much stuff. LOL

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Box Hill & Westhumble Station, the starting point for the section to Merstham

By 09:32 I was on my way. I passed the Stepping Stones pub and made a mental note to eat there (next trip??) LOL I loved the house across from the pub.

Within 10 minutes I crossed beneath the motorway….I stopped to admire the beautiful mural before continuing.

Page 78 of the guide: “Walk south along the road with the traffic to the right. At the bus stop go left into a wide entrance. Keep forward past a car park”. Car park?? Uhmmm nope. This I did, except if you go forward you end up on private property. What the guide could have said was ” At the 2nd bus stop go left ….”. This was one of many inconsistent/obscure instructions in the guide book. There were a few more still to come.

My instagram post later that morning: “Box Hill viewpoint: I’m beginning to hate this guide book ๐Ÿ˜ž๐Ÿ˜ž๐Ÿ˜“ After saying goodbye to the ever so delightful Tanners Hatch YHA, I started off from the Westhumble and Box Hill Station. Not long and the guide doesn’t give sufficient information and once again a local had to direct me. Safely traversed the Stepping Stones across the River Mole and started up Box Hill. Now if you’ve never climbed Box Hill..seriously give it a miss, its a bastard and very HIGH with HUNDREDS of very steep steps. The guide says at the start of the 3rd set of steps go right into the trees which I did, and the field is on the right, but it wasn’t it was on the left, so I climbed back up to the steps, carried on climbing, but no further turning to the right and now I’m at the top of the bloody hill, and if I’ve come too far up (no other paths to be seen), then that means I have to go back DOWN these horrible steps and go back along the path I took originally.. I’ve already fallen coming up the slippery slope. No damage but I’m fed up now with the guide. Either way I guess I’ll have to just crack on“.

Box Hill Stepping Stones. Of all the route I had seen or read about along the Pilgrim’s Way, this was what I was most afraid of. The Stepping Stones. My sense of balance is not good and I was wary of crossing them, but I took it slowly, delighted to reach the opposite bank without falling in. ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜

Ahead of me was Box Hill. Little did I know that this was going to be the biggest challenge of the whole walk, and also the beginning of the end….

As per the guide: “At the start of the 3rd flight of steps go right, on a narrow path into the trees. The way, which bears slightly left, can in season be sometimes indistinct“. hmmmm

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Box Hill steps….this was not fun!!

stepping stones box hill, the national trust, box hill, walking the pilgrims way, the pilgrims way winchester to canterbury, long distance walks england, women walking solo

what do you mean I have to go up there?

At what appeared to be the 3rd flight of stairs (the guide doesn’t say how many steps are in the 2nd flight) I turned off and followed the path. “Later it climbs a little and soon is near a field (right)“. Again…hmmmm??? Nope, the field was to my left?? I checked mapmywalk and saw that I was headed very close to the river, closer than indicated on the map in the guide. So I walked back up the way I had come and started climbing the next flight of steps….and climbed and climbed and climbed. All the way I kept looking for this narrow path the guide talks about…and I couldn’t find anything. Further along in the guide he mentions “The path, running ahead and with pylons to the right, is on the line of the PW….” Well, no matter which way I looked at it, I could not find a path that would put the pylons on my right! Unless it was this one? Which was a National Trust nature trail?

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was this the way? it didn’t look like it. it did however look a lot like the path I fell down yesterday

So instead I just kept climbing and after about the 1000th step, steps that are in places so high that I had to lift my legs up individually under the knee with my hands …..and then.. I fell UP a step. A very hard fall that smashed my right shin, left me flat on my face and unable to get up – I just did not have the energy to lift myself up with the backpack on. Fortunately I didn’t fall BACKWARDS, and there was someone on hand to help me up. Seriously, I was exhausted by that stage. I simply couldn’t bear the thought of climbing anymore steps, but I had no choice….all I could do was just to continue going UP and up and up. There were some lovely trees to see….as a bonus LOL

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one of the benefits walking through the countryside…lots of beautiful old trees

More steps….

box hill, national trust, walking the pilgrims way, the pilgrims way winchester to canterbury, long distance walks england, women walking solo

more steps…..the gravel between was treacherously slippery

Finally after what felt like hours of climbing more steps that I ever want to see in front of me ever again. I reached the Box Hill viewpoint.

long distance walks england, walking the pilgrims way, the pilgrims way winchester to canterbury, women walking solo

what a view ๐Ÿ™‚

Referring back to my instagram post:ย “Box Hill viewpoint: I’m beginning to hate this guide book.

I saw that the North Downs Way, which is so well marked, was in my vicinity. So I packed the guide book in my backpack,ย  and carried on walking….I figured that since most of the Pilgrim’s Way is largely a ‘made up’ route and much of it follows the North Downs Way which is well marked, whereas the Pilgrim’s Way isn’t marked at all….

After walking for a while I reached Salomon’s Memorial where I stopped to take a few photos and then carried on walking along some seriously tricky terrain I came out of the trees to a welcome sight before me…a restaurant!! Hoorah. It was 11:46 and the restaurant; Smith & Western opened at 12noon….I figured it would be a good idea to wait and have some proper food….I hadn’t had a proper solid meal for a couple of days. Good move. I had the MOST delicious veggie fajita, a pot of tea and a lovely cold coke. I don’t usually drink coke, but I was in dire need of sugar. After relishing my meal and resting my feet, after an hour I set off once again. Although to be honest, I have no idea how I actually ended up at this place….but boy am I glad I did.

Diving into the gloom of the trees, with the guide still packed away (?) I discovered that the terrain was really difficult with lots of tree roots, and steps…..more steps!!! Jeezuz. I was sick to death of climbing steps whether up or down. In all I was not a happy bunny. This day was turning out to be a nightmare.

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This last section was a true test of endurance. I’m still not sure how I managed….but I did. Trudging on I followed the markers crossing Reigate Hill

and passed the ‘Flying Fortress’ B17 WW2 memorial,

the north downs way, reigate hill, national trust, walking the pilgrims way, the pilgrims way winchester to canterbury, long distance walks england, women walking solo

This clearing in the trees was created at 5.42pm on 19 March 1945 when a B17 (G) aircraft, a ‘Flying Fortress’ creashed into the side of Reigate Hill, killing all 9 crew members on board

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the two wooden sculptures reflect the wing tips of the B17 that crashed

then Reigate Fort, which I briefly explored,

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crossed the Reigate Hill Footbridge and finally Gatton Park where Iย  stopped at the refreshment booth for an ice-cream and a drink, had a rest, a quick pit stop to the loo and after taking a photo of the views and the sundial I picked up what was now the Pilgrim’s Way again and set off towards Merstham and my bed for the night.

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what a fantastic view

Its been a day of sheer unadulterated endurance. But I’m nearly at my destination. Hoorah

Gatton Park is really beautiful and I so enjoyed walking along what was now fairly flat terrain.

gatton park, the north downs way, reigate hill, national trust, walking the pilgrims way, the pilgrims way winchester to canterbury, long distance walks england, women walking solo

hoorah….no steps

On the way down the hill I passed theย Millennium Stones; these awesome stones, built to resemble a megolithic stone circle, were created by Richard Kindersley during 1998 to 1999 to mark the double millennium from AD1 to AD2000. The first stone in the series is inscribed with the words from St Johnโ€™s Gospel, โ€œin the beginning the word was โ€ฆโ€. The subsequent nine stones are carved with quotations contemporary with each 200 year segment, ending with the words of T S Eliot.

reigate fort, the north downs way, reigate hill, national trust, walking the pilgrims way, the pilgrims way winchester to canterbury, long distance walks england, women walking solo

Millenium Stones

After examining the circle and reading some of the inscriptions, I left the stones behind me and after crossing one last green field, I soon reached a more suburban area….nearly there ๐Ÿ™‚

merstham, the north downs way, reigate hill, national trust, walking the pilgrims way, the pilgrims way winchester to canterbury, long distance walks england, women walking solo

at the end of this field was my destination…Merstham

Finally I was in Merstham. It was exactly 7pm and I was so ready for bed.

Thankfully the AirBnb wasn’t too far from where the path ended so in no time at all I found the venue and was greeted by two of the loveliest hosts I have ever met. They were so welcoming, made me a lovely mug of tea and provided some hot food. We had a lovely conversation and then with my eyes barely held open, I made my way upstairs, had a hot hot shower and hopped into bed. Bliss

merstham, the north downs way, reigate hill, national trust, walking the pilgrims way, the pilgrims way winchester to canterbury, long distance walks england, women walking solo

my wonderful bed at the Merstham AirBnb

My instagram post: Merstham: Well. All I can say is that today’s lesson was about not giving up despite the pain, the exhaustion, the frustration and climbing more steep steps than I ever expected or wanted or ever plan to do again ๐Ÿ˜‚ ๐Ÿ˜‚ ๐Ÿ˜‚ Frankly I even amazed myself today at my capacity for endurance. But I can say for sure that I did not enjoy today’s walk. I am shattered, and walked so slowly that I’m surprised ๐Ÿคจ ๐Ÿคจ that I actually got to Merstham at the time I did. My right hip was exceptionally painful today after yesterday’s fall and falling on the steps at Box Hill today didn’t help matters much. Getting to the top of the hills; Box Hill and Reigate, was excruciating but oh my gosh, the views… Stunning. I dosed myself up on 2000 mg of paracetamol over the day and just kept putting one foot in front of the other. However, arrive I did. My Airbnb hosts are absolutely lovely and we had a wonderful chat over a hot cuppa, I’ve wallowed in a scalding hot shower and now I’m horizontal on that fantastic bed. The route was meant to be 15.6 kms, I walked 18.9 kms which included about retracing my steps 3 times. I left Westhumble Station at 9.15 am and arrived at Merstham at 7pm with an hour for lunch and 3 short breaks. The guide book suggests it should take 3.5 hoursย  ๐Ÿ˜‚ ๐Ÿ˜‚ ๐Ÿ˜‚ ๐Ÿ˜‚ ๐Ÿ˜‚ on another planet maybe ๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿ™„

Both the best and most challenging of days. Once again I had to dig deep to carry on, tried to ignore the pain of the 2 falls, enjoyed the views, appreciated good food and climbed more stairs that I ever want to EVER again LOL. But now I’m in a deliciously comfy bed, clean and refreshed….Goodnight…..

p.s. that bottle of water on the bed-stand….remained unopened.

In case you missed Day 6 of my pilgrimage from Winchester click here

Today video of scenes from Day 7

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Gosh, I can hardly believe it’s already a month gone since my daughter and her husband had their baby shower and gender reveal party. Finally after what seemed like months, but in reality was only weeks, of waiting, we had the gender reveal.

My daughter and her husband hosted a Baby Shower on Saturday 10th November for close family and friends.

baby shower, gender reveal, helter skelter nursery broadstairs

The happy parents; Cรฉmanthe and Simon

They chose the delightful Helter Skelter Play Nursery in Broadstairs. It had a fantastic play area for the children ( and adults as it turned out), with slides, climbing ropes, plastic ball pool and many other wonderful play areas. Colourful is the name of the game at Helter Skelter…the walls are decorated in bright colourful paintings and children’s drawing adorn the walls.

baby shower, gender reveal, helter skelter nursery broadstairs

Helter Skelter Nursery, Broadstairs

We had a wonderful day with lots of laughter, a gathering of special people to share a special day of fun and good food.

baby shower, gender reveal, helter skelter nursery broadstairs

guests; family and friends

When the guests arrived they had to cast their vote on whether they thought it was a girl or a boy….interestingly it was a tie: 15 for a girl and 15 for a boy ๐Ÿ™‚ In the corner the gifts piled up; colourful and interesting bags and packages.baby shower, gender reveal, helter skelter nursery

Tea and cake was served, introductions made and soon there was a happy buzz of chatter and conversation…some of the adults had just about as much fun on the slides as the kids.

A fantastic spread of snacks, the food provided by the lovely ladies at Helter Skelter was scrumptious, colourful, varied and mindful of various diets and allergies. We all ate ourselves to satisfaction and no-one went hungry.

baby shower, gender reveal, helter skelter nursery broadstairs

an amazing spread

We had a face-painter which everyone loved, especially the grownups LOL

baby shower, gender reveal, helter skelter nursery broadstairs

face painting

Teams were selected and given colour markers and plain white baby grows to decorate – a splendid array of colourful pictures onto baby grows.

baby shower, gender reveal, helter skelter

baby grow decorating

The cake, a family affair, was baked by Daddy, iced by Granny, decorated by Mummy. The cake was cut by Emily and Matt…baby’s cousins ๐Ÿ™‚

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the cake ๐Ÿ™‚

And then it was time for the gender reveal……anddddd IT’S A BOY!!! hoorah….I have a grandson on the way ๐Ÿ™‚ ย Hoorah!! In just a few weeks, approx 3-4 (from today), I shall be the Granny to a wee baby boy!!

How absolutely marvellous is that. I am so excited to meet this baby boy, my Grandson. Daddy looks pleased and Mummy looks gleeful. ๐Ÿ™‚

The guests were asked to guess the baby’s name and nursery theme to win a prize.

The theme of the nursery….space!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

baby shower, gender reveal, helter skelter

the theme of space was inspired by this baby grow

The name reveal : James Alexander McKenzie-Hoult – forthwith to be known as Jamie……what a fantastic name for a boy, so strong. Of course I shall still call him Peanut….at least until he’s 21 LOL

The expectant parents received some absolutely wonderful gifts with a gorgeous array of wooden toys, cute books, much needed toiletries and nappies, some treats for Mum and some beautiful baby clothes.

baby shower, gender reveal, helter skelter

some of the gorgeous gifts they received

We had a videographer, also a Jamie, there to capture the day for posterity and everyone agreed that it was a fantastic day and how delighted they were to share it with the happy Mum and Dad to be….and little Peanut, who will now be known as Jamie ๐Ÿ™‚

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Jamie ….. he already has my heart in the palm of his hand

 

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Damage Done

This is a really shocking state of affairs and completely unacceptable. What is this Tory Government doing to our country

policecommander

Another week.

Another round of depressing headlines about Chief Constables stating that their Forces no longer have the resources they need to do all that is being asked and expected of them.

Another round of deeply disturbing headlines about police officers being attacked in the street. The accompanying film footage is too much for me to watch.

I have never known times remotely like these โ€“ and it set me thinking about all that has disappeared from policing in the last eight years.ย 

The list is staggering:

I. The loss of 44,000 police officers and staff in England & Wales.

Say that number out loud a couple of times and let it sink in.

II. The loss of neighbourhood policing.

  • London has more 600 local council wards. In 2010, each of those had its own dedicated Safer Neighbourhoods Team.
  • That meant a minimum of 1 Sergeant, 2 PCs andโ€ฆ

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