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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; Cémanthe 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.

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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 🙂 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.

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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.

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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 🙂

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the cake 🙂

And then it was time for the gender reveal……anddddd IT’S A BOY!!! hoorah….I have a grandson on the way 🙂  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. 🙂

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

The theme of the nursery….space!!! 🙂

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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.

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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 🙂

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

 

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mapmywalk, the pilgrims way, walking the pilgrims way, long distance walks england, backpacking, women walking soloSunday 26th August 2018 Day 6 – Guildford to Tanners Hatch : 9.73 kms / 21155 steps    elevation 216

after a fairly good night’s sleep I started off fairly early after a solid breakfast. Walking along the main road, I was wishing it wasn’t Sunday so I could take the bus back to St Catherine’s village LOL

I reached Ye Olde Ship Inn fairly quickly. First stop was St Catherine’s Chapel;

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St Catherine’s Chapel, Guildford

built around 1317 as a chapel of ease for St Nicholas Church in Guildford, the building was abandoned during the reformation. A lovely little kitty visited me for a chat while I was exploring. The views from the hill were amazing.

Trotting back the first of MANY a downhill over the day, I walked along Ferry Lane passing some super houses towards the River Wey where I discovered this lovely little poem alongside the stream.

I crossed the bridge over the river and walked through a really beautiful nature reserve.

I reached a large green; Shalford Park and following the guide crossed the road and into one of the very few references to the Pilgrims Way I saw along the whole way. Not all roads are pretty.

Passing a pretty cottage that looks like it has the best location ever,

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my ideal location

I followed the sandy lane and soon entered Chantry Wood….now this is more like it. Dappled sunlight shone through the leafy trees, with a breath-taking view across the fields. I stopped for a short while for food etc and watched the world go by…everyone and their uncle cycled past! Weird.

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Chantry Wood, the Pilgrim’s Way

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fantastic views across Surrey

Just after I pulled my backpack on and started walking again, it started to rain and that’s where my troubles began…the ground is very rutted and very sandy in some areas, and walking in the rain along slippy gravel roads was no fun at all, albeit very beautiful. I had by now lost one of the feet off Gemini (my walking poles) and was walking with only one pole, so it was quite tricky to keep my balance. Beside that I couldn’t walk with a pole and carry a guide book in my hand at the same time LOL

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The Pilgrim’s Way

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The Pilgrim’s Way – many feet have passed this way…

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my ideal environment, along the Pilgrim’s Way – flat!!!

I eventually reached St Martha’s Hill about an hour and half after leaving St Catherine’s Chapel and set about climbing and climbing and climbing. Jeepers….I knew from the guide that it was a hill, but holy moly, it’s one thing seeing a hill on a map to actually climbing it with a heavy backpack in the rain. But twas sooo well worth the effort for the views.

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Sometimes called Martyr’s Hill after Thomas Becket, the hill rises 570 feet above sea level giving a view of 7 counties…on a clear day. Today was NOT a clear day, but the view was still amazing. The church; Church of St Martha on the Hill, dating from about 1100, is the church the old man that I met had mentioned the day before near Seale.

The church stands at 573 feet above sea-level and the views are extraordinary. It’s traditionally believed that the original name of the hill was Saints and Martyrs Hill, the martyr being St Thomas of Canterbury.  It is the only church in Surrey to be right on the Pilgrims’ Way.  I stepped through the door to explore and managed a few minutes visit before the morning service began. The Verger kindly signed my pilgrim’s passport and showed me around, pointing out a few of the more significant features. There’s a stained glass window featuring St Thomas Becket.

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I left the church and set off downhill as per the guide. It was raining quite solidly by now and the ground was very wet and slippery. I went down down down and down some more…hanging onto the roots of trees and anything else I could get my hands onto, I slipped and slid down a very steep and most unpleasant pathway; almost vertical. A few people passed me going up..possibly to the church. As I walked I kept referring to the guide for the landmarks, but wasn’t seeing them. I was becoming a tad concerned that I may well be going the wrong way. Suddenly and without any warning I slipped and fell….really hard, onto my bottom. It took the wind out of my sails. I decided to check my walking app and yes, I was definitely not going in the right direction….now, in pain, and slipping on the wet sand, I had to climb back up this blasted hill. It turns out I had been heading downhill towards Chilworth Manor….which was not my destination. urgh.

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going the wrong way… downhill

Finally I got myself back up, reached the crest of the hill and tried to decipher the instructions in the guide, and after much head scratching I realised where I had gone wrong. “Walk through the churchyard and on the far side follow the sandy path which soon veers slightly to the right to go downhill”. Which is what I had done in the first place. What he doesn’t say is that the correct side is directly behind the church (going east) and not to the side (going south). While doing my research on the history of the church, I noticed this information: (The knoll is crossed east-to-west by the Pilgrims’ Way, which is otherwise on the North Downs.) Now THAT would have been useful information in the guide!!!

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leaving St Martha on the Hill church through the EAST gate, not the south LOL

I was totally unimpressed and in quite a lot of pain by now.  But I pulled up my big girl panties and made my way down what was a very sandy path, but a lot less steep and somewhat easier to navigate. the writer may want to rethink his description for this section (amongst others). I now saw the landmarks mentioned in the guide…hoorah! I was on the right track, albeit still very steep and very slippery and it was still raining. I was getting more and more wet, despite the rain poncho, and wasn’t very happy.

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although I’m on the right track, this was almost as bad as the wrong track..slippery and wet

The promised landmarks were now visible and accounted for….

I trudged on but somehow I was totally off course and ended up walking along the very busy A25 motorway, with cars rushing past. I managed to criss-cross the duel carriageway according to where it was safe to walk, and eventually I reached The Silent Pool just on 12.40. Beyond arriving at The Silent Pool I really had no idea which way I was meant to go. I had packed the guide away because it was getting soaked in the rain and besides which I couldn’t see through my misted up glasses.

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The Silent Pool…..a really beautiful place….and it’s still raining

My planned accommodation for the night was YHA Tanners Hatch on Ranmore Common which was well off the Pilgrim’s Way route. Since I had no idea where I was in relation to the YHA, was soaking wet and totally dispirited and totally so not in the mood for any further walking, I made the difficult decision to quit for the day. However, being a Sunday, none of the taxis would come out for less than £20, so since I did have to continue on to Shere…only another 2 miles they said, I continued walking. 😦

My instagram post revealed just how dispirited I was feeling : “The Dabbling Duck, Shere: Well I’ve had to concede defeat and quit for today. Its been raining since 10.15, I’m soaked to the skin, I can’t see out my glasses to read the guide book, which is a moot point since the book is so wet I cant see the words. 😢😢😢 I’ve stopped in a village called Shere which is roughly halfway, having lunch of lovely hot tomato soup and a pot of tea. I’ve organised a cab to pick me up and take me to my accommodation for tonight. The paths are treacherous and slippery or just puddles of water and I’ve already had a fall walking THE WRONG way down a virtually vertical path down St Martha’s Hill, nothing damaged except my dignity. Except I then had to climb back up again, at which point I surveyed the landscape more thoroughly and found the right way. One of those slightly obscure instructions again. By the bottom of the hill I abandoned the guide book and put my glasses in my pouch and followed my nose, finally arriving by luck at Silent Pool. From there they guided me to Shere where my walking for today must end. From here its on to my accommodation for tonight, a hot shower and bed. I believe tomorrow will be better weather. Hmm 🙄🙄🙄😜😜 So onwards.

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The Dabbling Duck; a hot bowl of red pepper soup and rustic bread. delicious

Shere…oh my gosh…what a stunning village. Despite the rain, I was enchanted by the architecture. One of those villages that you wish you could live in; Shere is your quintessential English village with picturesque ancient houses, quaint beyond words. It’s featured in Bridget Jones’s Diary amongst other films. I am definitely going to visit again. Delighted to discover that Shere is mentioned in the 1086 Domesday Book 🙂

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By now, being wet and very cold and as mentioned before (LOL), I had to sit in a tiny corner of the restaurant to avoid dripping water all over the place. I was absolutely not in the mood for walking. So I gave up and arranged for a cab to take me the final distance to the YHA. I enjoyed the soup at the Dabbling Duck and the tea warmed me up. It was a very good idea to have a meal since there was nothing at the YHA and I didn’t have any food on me besides dried pasta (which I had for breakfast the next day).

My final instagram post for the day – Tanners Hatch: Just about the time that I was starting to despair, after having walked another 4 kms in the rain (after my cab dropped me at the post code but not the location  which is seriously remote and off the grid 🙄) I popped in at a farm for directions. I could see the YHA on my Google maps but not how to get there. 😢😢 Anyways eventually I found the place after stumbling about and almost caving in to despair, and after checking in, I have a bed for the night, a dry towel, dry clothes and a cup of lovely hot herbal tea. Atm I’m sitting in the lounge of the hostel and knitting the 2nd bootee of a pair while chatting to the other occupants.

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bootees for Peanut – I’m hoping these bootees will encourage my grandchild to be adventurous

There’s a marvellous fire burning brightly in the grate and its lovely and cosy. I’m almost dry and nearly warm 😊😊 So glad I decided to use my contingency fund towards a cab and get here earlier, I would never have found this place in the dark.😖😖 So this is me, signing out till tomorrow.

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our YHA host; Dave got a lovely hot raoring fire going…just the ticket

The area around the YHA is stunning, trees everywhere you look and so many shades of green. Although it was very wet, it was so beautiful I wished I could stay a few days. I’ll definitely have to go back.

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tucked away amongst the trees; YHA Tanners Hatch

After chatting to the other hostelers over tea and the delicious warmth of the fire, I said goodnight and went to bed at about 9pm. Oh gosh I was soooo tired. Too many hills, too much rain, too cold and too hungry. Oh well….onwards LOL

For more about the history of St Martha’s Church http://www.parishofchilworth.org.uk/history/st-marthas/full-history/

In case you missed Day 5 of my walk along The Pilgrim’s Way – click here

A short video of the walk; scenes of the route

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mapmywalk, the pilgrims way, walking the pilgrims way, long distance walks england, backpacking, women walking soloThursday 23rd August 2018 Day 3 – Four Marks/Alton to Farnham : 18.8 kms / 40,128 steps elevation 125 meters –
This should have been a lot more, but for some reason map my walk stopped working well before Farnham and I didn’t notice till I stopped for pizza.

Started off early today so I could visit the Jane Austen house museum and church in Chawton. Wonderful. 3.02kms / 7,731 steps

Chawton was an absolute delight. I walked along to see the house where Jane’s brother Edward lived after he was adopted by the Knight’s and subsequently inherited. Unfortunately the house wasn’t open for visiting, but the church was amazing. So incredible to think that she, Jane Austen, walked through that very entrance all those years ago. Quite extraordinary.

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St Nicholas Church Chawton

The Jane Austen House Museum is so poignant and it was amazing to have been able to visit it. I enjoyed a quiet stroll through the house, having arrived just before a large group fortunately, so I was able to take some lovely photos. From there I walked back to the main road and took the bus to Alton. My time in Chawton had eaten up a substantial part of the morning and I had along way to go, and it was raining…..I’ll do a separate blog about the house

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Jane Austen’s House Museum, Chawton

I found a fairy house 😊😊😊 Saw this in Chawton after a visit to Jane Austen’s House.

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a fair house in Chawton

In Alton my sleeping bag and I parted company. I’d managed to sort accommodation for the 3 outstanding nights, so sent it home. Never has the expression ‘a weight off my shoulders’ meant exactly that!! It cost more to post it than what I paid for the blessed thing. 🤔🙄🙄

I stopped for lunch in Alton before visiting St Lawrence Church. It was raining when I left the AirBnb this morning, but the sun came out just after midday, so I was looking forward to a good day. I felt more energetic today than yesterday.

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lunch in Alton

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Today I ‘hit the hills’ OMG…up and down and down and up in a never ending climb. I saw some fantastic houses and stopped off in some stunning churches, but holy moly….the camino wasn’t like this..although Spain got quite hilly, it wasn’t till after I had been walking for 6 days!!! I had a chance to aclimatise! Truly this day wore me out 😦

The villages along the route are a delight!! So many quaint little houses; those picture-postcard houses you see…..just stunning.

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In Holybourne I stopped off at the Church of Holy Rood, dating back to the 10th century. Unfortunately it was closed but there was a lovely big pond or “bourne” nearby with a bench, so I stopped, took my shoes and socks off and stretched out for an hour while I chatted to my daughter back home. The joy of whatsapp 😉 It was so peaceful and relaxing with chimes hanging from the branches of the trees gently tinkling in the breeze and ducks and wild birds flitting about. Heaven. Before I left I briefly meandered through the village….stunning houses…oh my gosh.

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The church in Holybourne

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my resting spot for today

Then back to the route which was a varied as you could imagine……

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Just before Upper Froyle I saw there was a pub (off the route – a long way off the route!!); The Hen and Chicken, at the bottom of the hill and decided to stop there for lunch. I arrived ordered a coke and a plate of hot chips. The coke was delivered quite quickly and then I waited and waited and waited….no chips. Eventually I went up to the counter and asked when they were likely to arrive…only to be told by the dim-witted girl behind the counter who was too busy flirting with the men who were arriving during the 45 minutes I waited…that Oh I didn’t realise you wanted food!! FFS. How often do you have to say “and a plate of hot chips please” for it to penetrate the fog? I was so angry. Not only was I still hungry, I had wasted nigh on an hour and I still had to climb back up the blasted hill to return to the route! Gahhhh.

I very grudgingly retraced my steps and soon reached Upper Froyle where I stopped at the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Mary. There has been a church on this site for over 1000 years, and parts of the building date from the 1300s. The interior is beautiful. I absolutely love these old churches and am quite addicted to visiting them.

Not long after that I walked past Pax Hill (Peace Hill): near Bentley was the family home of Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Scout movement, and his wife, Olave

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Paxhill –

Bentley was the next village up where I stopped at the 12th century St Mary’s Church for a bit of respite. I quickly popped into the church then sat in the yard for a rest,  after which I walked along the path to see the ancient yew trees mentioned in the guide book. Phenomenal. The life-span of Yew trees stretch back into pre-history with some of them reaching a girth of 6m or more.

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awesome Yew trees

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double-canopy ancient Yew trees propped up in the churchyard in Bentley

After that I went on a fruitless jaunt to find something mentioned in the guide book, and ended up doing a completely wasted effort and a lot more walking than I wanted!!

I passed from Hampshire into Surrey quite late in the day; the sun was beginning to sink towards the horizon

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19:26 sunset on day 3 – I was hoping to see more sunsets actually, but mostly it was cloudy

shortly after this I saw another sign: St Swithun’s Way and got really excited…totally forgetting that I walk at a pace of 4kms an hour when I’m not exhausted, and don’t have a heavy backpack on!!! Sob Sob It took over an hour before I reached Farnham

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Farnham!!!! – still a way to go

Not long after passing this sign I crossed the county boundary from Hampshire into Surrey….

walking the pilgrims way, map my walk, winchester to canterbury along the pilgrims way, long distance walks uk, solo walking for women, domesday book villages, day 3 alton to farnham

looking back ……I crossed from Hampshire into Surrey under that tree at 19:40

I passed a group of cows having dinner and was soon in the precincts of Farnham.

walking the pilgrims way, map my walk, winchester to canterbury along the pilgrims way, long distance walks uk, solo walking for women, domesday book villages, day 3 alton to farnham

….till the cows come home

I had a fantastic, albeit very tiring day – saw awesome churches, gorgeous historical houses, got 2 stamps for my passport and went on a couple of fruitless jaunts to see things mentioned in the guide, that I couldn’t find….even the locals had no freaking idea what I was talking about 😳🤔🤔🤔

And then: Farnham – Finally!! I reached Farnham!!! I couldn’t believe how long it took.  Making my way downhill I sat down, or should I say almost sank onto the floor in exhaustion, in Pizza Express at exactly 9pm. I don’t usually drink coke, but I can tell you that I desperately needed a sugar rush…. it was a hard day (who knew England had so many bloody hills!!!) I’d been walking in the gloaming since 20:11 literally right after I took the photo of the cows 😂 😂 😂 but thankfully I had my reflective night gear on so I was visible along the gravelled, very uneven, unlit, and steadily darkening roads – I didn’t see a soul for well over 2 hours before I got to Farnham and for much of the way I stumbled along in the dark 🙄🙄🙄 But I made it. I passed Farnham Castle on the way in, it looks awesome. Will have to visit tomorrow.

While having pizza I did a google map search for my accommodation and discovered that earlier when I arrived, I had unknowingly walked right past the place where I was to stay for the night 🙄🙄 and I was so tired I couldn’t bear the thought of having to walk back up what was a steep hill. After pizza, I decided to get a taxi to my AirBnb and getting to bed 🛏️ as soon as possible…but it was not to be….I called for a cab to take me back up the hill. There was a 45 minute wait and it was already 9.40 pm so I pulled on my big girl panties and started walking back uphill. But when I got to the turn off it was absolutely pitch dark and I couldn’t see a thing. So in desperation I phoned the cab company again and I think the controller could hear the despair in my voice coz she sent me a driver immediately. However, when he got there he refused to drive me coz the roads were gravel and he didn’t want to damage his car. 😩😩 ffs.

Anyway after 5 minutes of serious persuasion he let me in the cab and driving slowly we trundled up the hill and to my destination… Arrived just before 11pm. 😳 Holy moly. Ridiculous. Thankfully my hosts had been out for dinner themselves so were still up and happy to wait for me to arrive! So embarrassing.

My bed for the night.

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my delicious bed 🙂 – AirBnB delivers again

I was so relieved to finally get to my Airbnb I would have slept in a stable, but fortunately I had this gorgeous bed to fall into. Quick shower and into bed 😴😴😴😴

Goodnight all. Catch up with you tomorrow.
A short video of Day 3 along the Pilgrim’s Way

In case you missed Day 2 of my walk along The Pilgrim’s Way – click here

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After 9 days in the area my assignment ends tomorrow so this morning I took the poopster for one last ‘wander where you want to’ walk…the last till when I return in December.

We passed the church along the way so I quickly popped in for a look. Charles Dickens lived at Gads Hill Place in Higham, so its imminently possible he worshipped at this church in his day. The marshlands around the area lent itself to the opening of Great Expectations.

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St John’s Church is Victorian, but a church would have existed here in Saxon times. Higham is also listed in the 1086 Domesday Book as having a 56 households: 24 villagers, 12 smallholdings, 20 slaves. Tenant-in-chief in 1086: Bishop Odo of Bayeux.

I remember visiting this church on my Canterbury Tales walk last year from Southwark to Canterbury. I do love exploring this country 🙂

 

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My daughter sent me this quote last night. I absolutely love it…..

In future I shall ‘saunter’ on my pilgrimages to holy places.

I do wonder though what he would have to say about ‘slow strollers on the Camino’?.

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I saw this graph going around the various Camino pages on Facebook and thought I’d share it with you.

How interesting to see where people are from, and which routes they walk.

Camino statistics 2017

Camino statistics 2017

I must admit that I was surprised at how few people were from the UK.

It’s also useful to note that not all pilgrims register for a Compostela on arrival at Santiago. I met quite a few pilgrims who were walking their 3rd or 4th Camino and weren’t bothered about getting a Compostela (certificate). So I guess the numbers are higher than shown here.

As for myself, I’ll be sure to obtain a Compostela for every Camino I complete 😊😊

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After a few months of excitement and anticipation, on the 26th April, just a few days after my birthday, I finally experienced a flight in a Spitfire.

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just before the victory roll, which was absolutely amazing

My wonderful daughter had booked me on a full-on Spitfire flight for my birthday. What an extraordinary experience.

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coming back down to earth…my wonderful daughter

From the time we arrived till we left a few hours later, the on-site staff were welcoming, cheerful, helpful and informative…clearly love what they do.

Don, the pilot, was absolutely terrific and made my flight so special; from the time I climbed on board till I disembarked, totally exhilarated, he ensured that my flight was interesting and informed – talking me through the take off process, pointing out landmarks and executing that ‘freaking amazing’ Victory Roll. We saw so many amazing sights from the air; flying from Biggin Hill across Kent to Folkestone, then along the coast past Dover – a fantastic view of Dover Castle, Deal – another castle, Sandwich, Ramsgate, Broadstairs (I could see our house from the air 🙂 ), Margate and finally Whitstable, where we turned back inland.

The coastline is stunningly beautiful and I thrilled at the views. I could even see Calais in the distance!!!

We flew over Leeds Castle which looks as amazing from the air as on the ground, past Canterbury; the cathedral standing out like a beacon, and as we approached the Medway I could see Rochester Cathedral and Castle in the distance. One thing that did surprise me was how close the River Thames is to the River Medway!!! In the far distance I could distinctly see Canary Wharf and the City of London! amazing.

flight in a spitfire, biggin hill heritage hangar, ww2 spitfire, flying in a spitfire

Don the pilot and me

 

The whole flight was absolutely thrilling and if there were a 100 star rating, I would give it 100 stars. Don, the pilot, made the flight so special by pointing out landmarks….I felt safe and comfortable throughout the whole flight. I loved the victory roll and wish I had asked if we could do it again!!! LOL I was so trepidatious beforehand but oh my word….it was so much fun.

flight in a spitfire, biggin hill heritage hangar, ww2 spitfire, flying in a spitfire

safe landing

After I reluctantly landed, and came back down to earth again, we were treated to a tour of the hangars – it was absolutely thrilling to see so many of these beautiful craft at close quarters, as well as many others.

flight in a spitfire, biggin hill heritage hangar, ww2 spitfire, flying in a spitfire

hello! we’ve landed

This truly was a unique experience, something I will never forget. The in-flight videos that were provided as part of the package were a fantastic bonus and so far we’ve watched them a number of times LOL It certainly brought back all the thrill of the flight for me. I’ve made a short compilation of photos and videos. Needless to say…I did cry LOL… it was either that or scream from sheer exhilaration.

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