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Quite a few months ago my future son-in-law decided to bake a cake. Now, under normal circumstances there’s nothing remarkable about that at all….except that he had never before baked a cake 🙂

The end result was – delicious, albeit somewhat lopsided and needed refinement. In that regard there has been no problem, over the last few months he has progressed in leaps and bounds and now whips up a cake in the blink of an eye…with his secret recipe fillings that are to die for. Delicious. I have no problem at all eating as much as possible when I’m home…if there’s any left LOL…his fiancé quite likes them too!!

After a conversation with my daughter about what he’d like to do with this new-found enthusiasm for baking going forward, I decided that a talent like this needs to be encouraged and nurtured, and so, as an early birthday present, I sent him for cake icing lessons.

After some research on the internet I found a lovely young lass by the name of Billie who has her business in Deal, which is just a short train ride or drive away from home, and so I booked him in for a 3 hour lesson.

The big day came and off they went, my daughter drove them there in Fiona and they made a day of it with her going along to view the proceedings and capture the moments. What fun.

The lesson progressed exceedingly well and the comment I had from Billie is that she thought he’s a natural, was very steady and patient and she couldn’t quite believe he’d never iced a cake before.

The final result…looks remarkably like a wedding cake and I wonder if there’s a future career in that direction 😉 I’m well impressed at the end result. I used to do cake-icing myself in my younger days, and iced and decorated a few wedding cakes as well as sold a great number of occasion cakes, so to see this talent in our little family is marvellous.

So, here’s my future son-in-law; Simon….a possible future Bake Off 2019 contestant!!

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getting started

bake off contestant 2019, cake icing lessons

making excellent progress

bake off contestant 2019, cake icing lessons

a future Bake Off contestant in the making

I wonder if I should enrol him? LOL

If you’re wanting to know more about Billie’s cake icing lessons, here is her website

 

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Following up on my post from a couple of days ago, these are a few more of my favourite villages in England. The Channel 4 programme, Village of the Year is absolutely fascinating. I shall have to watch them again…get some more ideas of places to go – as if I don’t already have a list longer than I could do in 2 lifetimes…but hey, I might live to be 100….LOL

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East Grinstead, West Sussex

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Farnham, Surrey

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Kennett, Suffolk

Kennett – Domesday Book village

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Kentford, Suffolk

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Lavenham, Suffolk

Lavenham – Domesday Book village

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Lower Bourne, Surrey

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Marston Magna, Somerset

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Midhurst, Sussex

Midhurst had it all….a castle, a mill, a river, and quintessentially English cottages

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Moulton, Suffolk

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Newton-Ferrers, Devon

Newton-Ferrers is probably in my Top Ten favourite village of England. It was so gorgeous and the views of the river were stunning. At night it was quiet and peaceful with skies so black and stars so bright, you can’t imagine.

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I’ve been following Channel 4’s Village of the Year. There’s been some fantastic places so far, many of which I’ve followed up with the hashtags on instagram and added to my saved folder for villages; future travels….plenty of places, not enough time.

Watching the programme has reminded me of some of the stunning villages I’ve visited in the last 10 years.

When I launched Project 101 proper, I discovered that many of the villages I’ve visited in the past are Domesday Book villages which has been really exciting.

Of the many many places I’ve been, these are some of my favourite villages:

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Blackford, Somerset

Blackford – Domesday Book village

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Braeburn, Kent

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Camelot, Somerset

Seriously amazing views from this spot….well worth the climb. Not sure how accurate the tales of this being the location of Camelot, but it’s fabulous if it was.

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Castle Cary, Somerset

Castle Cary – Domesday Book village

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Cawsands/Kingsands, Cornwall

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Charlton Hawthorne, Somerset

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Chippenham, Somerset

Chippenham – Domesday Book village

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Compton Paucefoot, Somerset

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Corton Denham, Somerset

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Cottenham, Cambridgeshire

Cottenham – Domesday Book village

These are just 10 of my favourite villages…..more to follow shortly. Unfortunately I’m unable to review many of the other places I’ve been since the hard-drive that UPS lost is still….lost!!! Grrr.

Perhaps I should suggest they fund the costs of returning to those places….dream on LOL

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Three years ago when we first moved to Broadstairs I had just a tiny inkling of the history of the area known as the Isle of Thanet.

The Isle of Thanet and the Wantsum Channel.

The Isle of Thanet and the Wantsum Channel.

Formed when sea-levels rose after the last glacial period (around 5000BC), with links to the Stone Age and Bronze Age, at the time of the Romans the Isle of Thanet was an actual island, separated from Kent by the Wantsum channel. This channel allowed ships to sail from the English Channel past Ebbsfleet and gain access to the river Great Stour as far as Canterbury. The Wantsum channel eventually silted up abut 200 years ago which prevented ships from entering it’s waters and eventually it was lost with the last ship sailing through the Channel in 1672; now long covered over and given over to motorways, housing estates, farmlands and wetlands.

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I found this illustration at the Brading Roman fort on the Isle of Wight

However, the history of this fair isle has not been lost and recently links were found to Caesar’s invasion of Britain on a site not far from Ramsgate.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/julius-caesar-invasion-britain-uk-site-evidence-first-discovered-kent-a8081056.html

  • excavated a Roman fort covering up to 49 acres (20 ha) at Ebbsfleet, and dated it to around 55–50 BC

Besides Julius Caesar, and the Vikings, another historical figure; St Augustine, landed not far from this very site in AD597 and went on to establish Christianity and an Abbey at Canterbury.

There are a number of very historical towns on the Isle of Thanet, many of which can easily be visited from London. Three of the most notable are;

  1. Ramsgate – has the distinction of being the only Royal Harbour in the United Kingdom; decreed by George VI in 1821, Queen Victoria was a frequent visitor and first came to Ramsgate on 15 August 1823 at the age of four with her mother, the Duchess of Kent, the harbour was a chief embarkation point for the Dunkirk evacuation in 1940 aka ‘Operation Dynamo’, and the town is home to the Shrine of St Augustine.

    isle of thanet, wantsum channel, ramsgate, broadstairs, margate

    Ramsgate

  2. Broadstairs – aka the ‘jewel in Thanet’s crown, Broadstairs was orginally known as Bradstow(e), a chapel was built here in 1601 on an earlier religious site, here on 21 June 1815 the captured French Eagle Standard was delivered with the news of Wellington’s victory over Napoleon, Charles Dickens was a regular visitor and stayed at what is now known as ‘Bleak House, and beneath the town is a network of smuggler’s tunnels.

    isle of thanet, wantsum channel, ramsgate, broadstairs, margate

    Viking Bay, Broadstairs

  3. Margate – one of the first English seaside resorts, was a “limb” of Dover in the ancient confederation of the Cinque ports, and their accompanying bays –  Viking Bay, Stone Bay, Louisa Bay, Minnis Bay, Palm Bay, Botany Bay, Joss Bay, and Pegwell Bay, is home to oldest building in old ‘Meergate’, the old Tudor House, built in 1525, and the Shell Grotto; an ornate subterranean passageway covered in mosaics created entirely of 4.6 million seashells.

    isle of thanet, wantsum channel, ramsgate, broadstairs, margate, V

    Mrs Booth; The Shell Lady of Margate

Villages on the Isle of Thanet are:

  1. Minster – once the “ancient capital of Thanet”, originally started as a monastic settlement in 670 AD, the first abbey in the village was founded by St. Domneva in the late 7th century.
  2. Cliffs End – on the cliff top above Pegwell Bay is a replica of the Viking longship Hugin, it is believed that St Augutine landed nearby at Ebbsfleet in AD597 (a cross in a field on the Way of St Augustine route marks the spot of his landing, on a clear day you can see the northern tip of the French Coast from the clifftop.
  3. St Nicholas-at- Wade – home to the 13th-century parish church of St Nicholas, after which the village and parish are named, the first rector is recorded as Adam de Brancestre in 1294.
  4. Sarre –  located at the point where the old ‘Island Road’ from Margate to Canterbury crossed the Wantsum channel, the late Roman or early Anglo-Saxon Sarre Brooch was found near the village, is home to the now defunct Sarre Windmill built in 1820.
  5. Birchington-on-Sea – first recorded in 1240 as Birchenton, its parish church, All Saints’, dates to the 13th century, the 19th-century Pre-Raphaelite artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti is buried in the churchyard of All Saints, Minnis Bay was once the site of an Iron Age settlement and the village coastline was frequented by 19th century smugglers, and the famous Quex Park and Manor are nearby.

There are of course today a great number of new settlements and villages on the Isle of Thanet, but those listed above are the most notable.

tudor house margate, isle of thanet, wantsum channel, ramsgate, broadstairs, margate

Tudor House, Margate

You can enjoy many wonderful walks along the cliff tops or vast open beaches along the coastline of the Isle of Thanet, and a walk from Pegwell Bay to Margate Harbour will take you past Ramsgate Harbour, Dumpton Bay, Louisa Bay, Viking Bay, Stone Bay, Joss Bay, Kingsgate Bay, Botany Bay, Palm Bay and Walpole Bay.

Landmarks and places to see/visit along the way are St Augustine’s Cross near Cliffsend and the Hugin Viking Ship, St Augustine’s Church & The Grange (Augustine Pugin’s house), Ramsgate Royal Harbour, Ramsgate Tunnels, Bleak House and the Dickens Museum, North Foreland Lighthouse, Fort Kings Bay, Kings Bay sea-arch, the White cliffs, chalk stacks at Botany Bay, Turner Contemporary and the Antony Gormley sculpture, the Shell Grotto and the Tudor House.

Kings Bay sea-arch

Kings Bay sea-arch

You will find a number of places to eat or for afternoon tea along the way; my favourite in Ramsgate is Riley’s Cafe, there are a few independent clifftop or beach side cafes that mostly open in summer, and there are the more historic Bleak House and the Old Curiosity Shop in Broadstairs, the Captain Digby Pub in Kingsgate, and the Old Kent Market in Margate.

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Old Kent Market, Margate

as well as a number of smaller restaurants and cafes.

In summer dozens of colourful gaily painted and decorated beach huts line the esplanade along the beaches in Ramsgate, Viking Bay and Stone Bay

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Beach huts in Broadstairs

The Isle of Thanet is a treasure trove of history, interesting places to visit, and a large variety of restaurants to eat at.

Discover some of the many amazing walks on the Isle of Thanet

#100 – walks around the UK

The Way of St Augustine – Day 1

The Way of St Augustine – Day 2

The Way of St Augustine Ramsgate to Canterbury – history

 

 

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A few nights ago ITV aired “Britain’s Favourite Walks: Top 100”, as voted for by more than 8,000 walking enthusiasts. If seeing these walks didn’t convince you that the UK is a most stunning country with every kind of landscape and terrain you could wish for or imagine…then you weren’t watching 😉

I had initially tuned in to BBC1 to watch Winterwatch so only changed channels part of the way through; wow, what fantastic walks and the scenery is astounding and breath-taking. Watching snippets of all these fantastic places made me want to set off immediately with Pepe and Gemini and just walk….never mind walk 1000 miles, I could quite easily just walk forever.

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my trusty companions; Pepe (backpack) and Gemini (Nordic walking poles) – 10.166 km to Santiago

To my delight, after gasping with envy and drooling my way through the last 50 or so walks, after the programme ended I clicked through to one of the links provided on twitter and was astonished and delighted to note that #100 featured The Stacks near Margate….after closer investigation, I found that not only is this a walk I’ve done dozens of times, but the day before the show aired I had in fact walked from Broadstairs to Ramsgate and onto Cliffs End a couple of days before and I had walked from Broadstairs to Margate just the day before 🙂 http://theoutdoorguide.co.uk/britains-favourite-walks/ramsgate-to-margate-kent/

My first question is how did I miss them filming this? And why didn’t they just ask me? LOL I could have told them all about this walk…one of my favourites!!

I frequently use both those routes for my Camino practice walks, they’re manageable distances and the scenery is absolutely stunning; it never gets boring.

Starting off from Broadstairs Harbour, I either turn right and walk to Ramsgate and Cliffsend or left and walk to Margate.

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a winter’s sunrise – Viking Bay, Isle of Thanet

On a good day and if the tide is out, there is nothing better than striding along the beach from Viking Bay, past Louisa Bay, Dumpton Gap and onto Ramgate Royal Harbour. If the tide is in then I walk along the concrete promenade from Viking Bay to Dumpton Gap, then up to the cliff tops and walk through King George VI Memorial Park then down the steps leading to the promenade, past the Ramsgate Tunnels and onto Ramsgate Harbour.

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Dumpton Gap – clifftop walk when the tide is in

Sometimes I walk further onto Cliffsend where you can see the Hugin Viking Ship and from there it’s a short walk down to Pegwell Bay.

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Ramsgate to Cliffsend and Pegwell Bay

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The Hugin Viking Ship, Cliffsend

If I’m planning a walk to Cliffsend and Pegwell Bay, then I usually stop off at Rileys in Ramsgate first for a hot chocolate with lashings of cream and marshmallows for sustenance.

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Hot Chocolate with cream and marshmallows at Riley’s

If I decide to walk to Margate there are two options:

a) if the tide is out, from Viking Bay I walk along the beach to the far end of Stone Bay, up the steps to Stone Road, turn right and walk along the North Foreland Road to North Foreland Lighthouse, past the fields of crops to Joss Bay where I again descend to the beach and round the cliffs to Kingsgate Bay (you can walk along the beach but this particular area is very rocky and I don’t enjoy walking across this section). On the top of the cliffs at Kingsgate Bay is the Captain Digby Pub where I always stop for a pot of tea on the terrace. From there I head back down to the beach and walk through or around the Kingsbay Sea Arch and past the Stacks to Botany Bay, Palm Bay, Walpole Bay, and so to Margate Bay. Always be aware of the tidal times….the tides come in very fast along these stretches.

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Broadstairs to Margate

b) if the tide is in I walk along the promenade from Viking Bay to Stone Bay, up the steps to the cliff tops turn right and walk along the North Foreland Road to North Foreland Lighthouse, past the fields of crops to Joss Bay and instead of descending to the beach I follow the pedestrian path next to the golf course, then cross over the road where it ends and follow the road past the Kingsgate Castle complex and along the cliff top to the Captain Digby Pub, then follow the path across the cliff top alongside the golf course, past the folly ‘Fort Kings Bay’ to Botany Bay, and staying on the cliff tops I follow the pedestrian path past Botany Bay, Palm Bay, Walpole Bay, and so to Margate Bay. The views are fantastic and on a clear day up until Joss Bay you can right across the English Channel to Belgium, and once you round the corner and head north you can see across estuary of the River Thames to Essex. Once your’e in Margate you can see as far as Reculver, and if you time it right, you can see some of the most magnificent sunsets.

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Sunset at Margate

If you happen to walk along the beach as you near Margate, there is the Antony Gormley sculpture ‘Another Time’ which is located on the chalk bed of the shoreline in front of the Turner Contemporary. The sculpture invites the observer to “reflect upon the fundamental experience of being human, of inhabiting a human body… To bear witness to what it is like to be alive and alone in space and time”

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the Antony Gormley sculpture ‘Another Time’ which is located on the chalk bed of the shoreline in front of the Turner Contemporary. The sculpture invites the observer to “reflect upon the fundamental experience of being human, of inhabiting a human body… To bear witness to what it is like to be alive and alone in space and time”

Those are two of my favourite walks on the Isle of Thanet.

I’ve also walked to Sandwich during my Camino 2017 training

my camino; the journey so far

28.06.2016 Broadstairs to Sandwich

and completed the Way of St Augustine in July 2017

The Isle of Thanet and the Wantsum Channel.

The Isle of Thanet and the Wantsum Channel.

I travel quite comprehensively around the UK and make the most of my travels to walk in new areas…..follow me on instagram for images from around the UK.

For more about Britain’s favourite walks http://theoutdoorguide.co.uk/britains-favourite-walks/ramsgate-to-margate-kent/

and as they say on their website: Remember to prepare properly before heading out on any type of walk or outdoor activity. Tell people where you are going and what time you are expected back. As Wainwright says “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing”.

 

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One of the hardest aspects of my job is when the client has a pet that I get to love while looking after them.

I don’t often get to look after pets, and I very seldom form an attachment to them for obvious reasons.

But this wee cat, Charlie, has stolen my heart. He’s such a sassy little boy, and despite the fact that he bites and scratches, I love him to bits….he’s so cheeky and such a clever little fella. I don’t mind the biting and scratching because he’s still a toddler, although I do discourage him. “no Charlie!! Gently now!”

I absolutely love it in the morning when I go down to the kitchen to make my tea. As my slippers hit the linoleum floor I can hear him drop from his bed onto the floor in the room above, hear his feet padding hastily across the room, and down the stairs… Chirruping away “good morning good morning”. Of course what he’s really saying is “yayyyyyyyy food!!”

I pick him up for a cuddle and a love. He lies draped across my shoulder and with my head against his body so I can listen to the rumble of him purring, we stand quietly for a few minutes, then I get bitten and it’s time for ‘food please’.

Those are such precious moments in my day.

But as always, good things come to an end. I finished my assignment today, and as much as I’d love to take him home with me, it’s time to say goodbye. He curled himself up in suitcase last night and oh, how wonderful it would be to take him home with me.

I may never see him again, although I did tell my client he has to bequeath Charlie to me. 🙂

My heart aches with the probability that I won’t see him again. But, all being well, I’m scheduled to return in July.. So hopefully I’ll see him again.

In the meantime I’ll have to content myself with Elsie, my daughter’s cat who hisses and growls at me when I return home… “who tf are you?” LOL I do love her though, even if she is so rude.

Ahhh Elsie, such a short memory

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As mentioned in an earlier post I’ve been planning my summer pilgrimage from Winchester to Canterbury, prior to flying to Spain for the Camino Inglés. One of the best aspects of planning a pilgrimage is the research. I’ve uncovered so many wonderful places to see and visit; castles, Roman villas, ancient churches, Domesday villages. I’ll be walking along two ancient routes; St Swithun’s Way and the North Downs Way that combine to make The Pilgrim’s Way.

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I’m sure to see a few of these along the Pilgrim’s Way

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The chalk landscape along the Pilgrim’s Way in Surrey – North Downs

The Pilgrim’s Way, an ancient trackway, is an historical route followed by medieval and modern pilgrims from Winchester in Hampshire to the shrine of St Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral in Kent.

From medieval cathedral to medieval cathedral, winding its way through the English counties of Hampshire, Surrey and Kent, the track takes the pilgrim along both Roman and modern roads, through ancient towns and cities, taking in historical castles and ancient churches, Roman villas, past numerous ‘tumulus’, through fields and forests, over chalk hills that offer picturesque vistas of the English countryside, alongside and over flowing rivers.

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along the Pilgrim’s Way

With an archaeological age of between 600-450 BC dated by finds along the route, the course has been dictated by natural geological contours and causeways, and is now a culmination of various routes followed over the aeons from as far back as the Stone Age. Although I doubt the stone age dudes were on a pilgrimage!

The names of the towns, villages and cities roll off the tongue like a lesson in history; Winchester, Abbots Worthy, Martyr Worthy, Itchen Abbas, Bishops Sutton, Four Marks, Holybourne, Upper Froyle, Lower Froyle, Farnham, Seale, Puttenham, Guildford, Shere, Oxted, Limpsfield, Otford, Kemsing, Trottisford, Detling, Thurnham, Lenham, Boughton Lees, Old Wives Lees, Chilham and then hoorah…Canterbury.

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Limpsfield – Domesday Book village

The chalk landscape along the Pilgrim's Way in Surrey - North Downs

Tatsfield – Domesday Book village

Along the way I’ll pass places like Avington Park, Jane Austen’s house, Farnham Castle, Guildford Castle, the Silent Pool, Kit’s Coty House, the White Horse Stones and the Black Prince’s Well before reaching the historical walled city of Canterbury and thus to my ultimate destination; Canterbury Cathedral.

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The Silent Pool

It’s been really tricky trying to work out the most conducive distance between towns. I really don’t want to walk more than 20kms a day. Besides the distances, I have to consider whether or not I’ll find suitable accommodation. I’m seriously considering taking my sleeping bag along just in case there are some days I am without something suitable….I can always sleep on a church porch! Although there are a lot of venues listed on the Pilgrim’s Way UK website, many of them are in the region of £100+p.n. which frankly is ludicrous and I’m certainly not prepared to pay that much. Unlike the European Camino routes that have hostels or albergues in virtually every hamlet, village or town, the accommodation along the Pilgrim’s Way is sketchy to say the least. I’m sure there are loads of places to stay, but as mentioned earlier, the prices are exorbitant.

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I’ve ordered the guide book; ‘The Pilgrim’s Way To Canterbury from Winchester and London’ by Leigh Hatts, recommended on their site. I’m hoping it will be at home waiting for me when I return this weekend 🙂 Can’t wait to start digging into it. (*update! It’s arrived!! Happy dance.)

I’ve spent hours on their site reviewing the map, calculating distances, checking ‘places to see along the way’, reviewing the churches…I’m only looking at the churches that actually provide a pilgrim’s passport stamp. If I have time and happen across any others that look interesting, of course I’ll pop in, but I won’t be going out of my way.

 

When reviewing the map on their website I noticed I’ll be walking sections of the Pilgrim’s Way that I’ve walked in the past, so it will be quite exciting to walk those again.

I’m trying to decide what I should pack in Pepe (my rucksack). I’ll be leaving for Spain 2 days after I reach Canterbury, so won’t have much time to repack….I’m going to keep it as light as possible and of course I won’t be taking my flip flops LOL According to the weather website, the best months to travel in England are May, June, September and October. These months generally have the most pleasant temperatures and less rain. July and August are the warmest months, but are also the wettest…. which is not what I want to read!!!! Does this mean I’ll need my rain poncho? I hope my shoes can handle the mud LOL

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my walking poles will definitely be helping me along the Pilgrim’s Way

Thankfully I don’t have to buy the rucksack, shoes, walking poles and all the paraphernalia that I had to buy in 2016/17 for my Portuguese Camino. So hopefully it will be a lot less costly than that trip. However, I’ve been investigating the prices and boy, it’s not cheap to fly to Spain anymore. No surprise there I guess.

There’s quite a lot to be considered when planning these walks. I’m not one of those people that can just sling on a rucksack, head out and start walking….I like to plan things. If I decide to do something impulsive along the way, then that’s fine. But I like to know where I’m going and how I’m going to get there. So atm I’m researching, listing, checking venues, and deciding on dates et al.  Anyway, I just enjoy creating spreadsheets, and to the truth of that, my daughter would testify. LOL

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The Pilgrim’s Way Lenham – Domesday Book village

Onwards…….along The Pilgrim’s Way

 

 

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