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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 steps    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 😊😊 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.  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“.  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 as Merstan; Its name was recorded in 947 as Mearsætham, which seems to be Anglo-Saxon Mearþ-sǣt-hām = “Homestead near a trap set for martens or 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 🙂

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the only selfie I took on the whole 8 days LOL and I obeyed the request 🙂

my instagram post – Redhill: What was that they said about the way flattening out?? Just climbed 2 steep hills in quick succession. Urgh 🙄🙄 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 🙂 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 – 🙂 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.

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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 🙂

My instagram post: Chaldon: 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….. 😅😅😅 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 🌌 😍 Where I rejoined the route I saw the very first Pilgrim’s Way sign 👏👏👏 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 😊

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.

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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 🙂

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: And suddenly I’m on familiar territory. After lots of ups and downs and flats and twists and turns, I can see Oxted ☺️☺️ 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!!! 😂😂😂

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: 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 😁😁😁👏👏

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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: 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 😊😊😊 a record of my journey

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My Pilgrim’s Passport – Day 1 – Day 8 🙂 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. 🙂 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 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.

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

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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Lest We Forgetsilent soldiers, silent silhouettes, world war one, blood swept lands and seas of red, centenary, lest we forget,

As part of the many events to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the First World War, a number of Silent Silhouettes were installed in different parts of the country.

I first saw these ghostly figures in London at St Pancras station one day as I was in transit from work to home.

silent soldiers, silent silhouettes, world war one centenary, lest we forget,

Silent Silhouettes

I saw a few more as I was walking The Pilgrim’s Way in August.

Puttenham –

silent soldiers, silent silhouettes, world war one centenary, lest we forget,

Silent Silhouette – Puttenham

Chaldon

silent soldiers, silent silhouettes, world war one centenary, lest we forget,

Silent Silhouette – Chaldon

Limpsfield

silent soldiers, silent silhouettes, world war one centenary, lest we forget,

Silent Silhouettes – Limpsfield

A poignant and fitting reminder of the huge sacrifice that was made by ordinary people; people who believed in freedom and King and country….and who can forget the extraordinary Poppy installation at the Tower of London in 2014, as people from around the country came together to plant over 803,000 ceramic poppies in a breath-taking vista; Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red

silent soldiers, silent silhouettes, world war one, blood swept lands and seas of red, centenary, lest we forget,

Planting the final Poppy at the Tower of London 11.11.2014

Currently on at the Tower of London is the amazing ‘Deepening Shadows’ ritual; an evolving installation with the Tower moat gradually illuminated by individual flames. A powerful symbol of remembrance.

I’m planning on attending the Remembrance Sunday service on Whitehall at the Cenotaph this Sunday 11.11.2018 as we mark 100 years since Armistice Day in 1918…a day that officially, albeit not actually, brought The Great War to an end…the war to end all wars…..

except it didn’t and hasn’t.

 

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Buying vegan foods and trying to avoid dairy products and palm oil as well as plastic packaging presents something of a challenge, and requires some inventiveness for preparing meals. I’m learning a whole new way of shopping and cooking.

These days shopping takes a bit longer than in the past….I spend a fair amount of time reading food labels. If it contains palm oil I have to look for an alternative…not always available. I recently had to bypass my favourite soups while shopping; Heinz cream of Tomato, cream of Mushroom and peas and lentils (contains dairy). Instead I bought mostly tins of plain ingredients and dried products and will make them myself, sans the ‘cream‘ of course. I made my first dhal for supper with basmati rice recently… Apparently it smelt delicious 😋 😋

Despite it being the first time I had made dhal, it was actually really yummy. I had a look at a few recipes online and in my usual style, tossed in this, that and the next thing… pretty much whatever I could find in the cupboard in terms of spices…I also roasted some sweet potato wedges in olive oil and herbs which made a really interesting contrast to the dhal. My 2nd attempt wasn’t quite as successful and I burned the lentils coz I didn’t have sufficient water in the pot LOL I ate it anyway….waste not, want not and all that!!!

It’s been an interesting exercise to see how much of what I wanted/needed I could buy without buying anything in plastic. I think I was about 70% successful. It’s incredible difficult. Even if you buy something in a cardboard box, when you open it, the contents are usually packaged in plastic. urgh. So annoying.

Buying fresh fruit and vegetables is the aspect that confounds me the most….why on earth do the supermarkets still have to pack bananas, apples, oranges, broccoli, cucumber, cabbages, potatoes, peppers etc etc in plastic bags, trays or wrap. It’s COMPLETELY unnecessary and just adds more and more to the plastic pollution blighting our landfills and oceans. Apparently a number of brands have signed up to a pact to reduce plastic…..by 2025!!!! Why so far in the future? With 8 Million Tonnes Of Plastic Dumped in the Sea every Year, that means an extra 56 million tons in the next 7 years!!!. There are so many alternatives available already that I’m pretty certain they could reduce their unnecessary plastic packaging immediately.

I was delighted to learn about The Clean Kilo, the UK’s largest zero-waste supermarket; A Gap in the Market.

I recently tried a different type of milk; Oatly and it’s delicious, even in my early morning tea. I’m trying to avoid soya products due to the destruction of the Brazilian rainforests, as well as palm oil due to the destruction of Indonesia’s rainforests and the orangutans that live there. These forests are being torn down for palm oil, pulp and paper plantations threatening endangered species such as orangutans with extinction. It’s horrendous. “Without proper safeguards, the soybean industry is causing widespread deforestation and displacement of small farmers and indigenous peoples around the globe”. The EU’s hunger for soy is causing destruction in Brazil.

I’m afraid I was largely ignorant of the ecological impact of my lifestyle. It was only after coming to the UK, and particularly more recently, that I’ve become aware. I do agree that the number of people, consumerism and materialism have played a massive role in the destruction of the planet. Sadly, I don’t see that ending any time soon. But, lobbying to make changes, signing petitions and raising awareness by talking about it, as well as taking daily action will make a difference. I’m always reminded of the starfish on the beach. I believe that, although our actions are tiny, they do make a difference and they set an example that other people will follow. There are a number of brilliant initiatives taking place around the world that will collectively have an impact. Even grassroots initiatives like the people in Kenya who are collecting discarded flip-flops and creating beautiful artworks.  I feel for the 3rd world countries who don’t have the same infrastructures we in the western world take for granted. I just fear that the large corporations are not making enough of an effort. I’m going to start writing to every large company in the UK and urge them to take stringent actions now, rather than phase it out by…. Whatever arbitrary date they come up with.

We really do have to take urgent action NOW. On a more personal note…..my first grandchild is on the way and I want to make sure I don’t leave a planet decimated because of my lifestyle. And a major plus is that I’m saving a lot of money, my shopping bill has reduced quite a lot coz I’m not buying as many products as I did before.

In case you missed my previous post on plastic pollution

 

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The big UK supermarkets have allowed a gap in the market for innovative, eco-conscious companies to step up and BE THE CHANGE.

The Clean Kilo has opened it’s doors……

The Clean Kilo strives to be as close to zero waste as possible – and getting closer all the time.

The store is the brainchild of Tom Pell. He and his partner Jeanette long felt that they “needed to do something about the amount of plastic which ends up in the environment.” While thinking about ways to reduce the amount of plastic used in our daily lives, they came to think of the obscene use of unnecessary plastic for food packaging and the idea for The Clean Kilo was born.

I hope that more of these independent stores open up around the country.

https://www.goodnet.org/articles/uks-largest-zero-waste-supermarket-has-opened-its-doors

I say bravo to these people, and wish the very best of success. Yes, some of the named brands have signed up to the UK Plastic Pact….but their target date is 2025!!! By that’s 7 years away and by that stage 89 tons more of destructive plastic will end up in the oceans. They need to stop wrapping fruit and vegetables in plastic NOW!!!

Companies like Tesco, Sainsburys, Iceland, CoOp, Aldi, Lidls, Morrisons, Waitrose are all going to lose customers because of their stubborn refusal to stop wrapping fruit and vegetables in unnecessary plastic. They’ll post a year-end loss and sob into their plastic bags. #bansingleuseplastic

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I was in London last week and decided to make a visit to the Imperial War Museum to see the Weeping Window…..a cascade of several thousand ceramic poppies created in 2014 for the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red installation at the Tower of London.

Once the installation was uninstalled most of the poppies were sold off to the public and some went on tour around the country to various landmarks.

14-18 NOW is bringing the two sculptures Wave and Weeping Window to audiences across the UK as part of the Poppies Tour. The sculptures are free to view.

Sadly the tour is just about over but click here to see the various places they were installed between 2014 and now
https://www.wherearethepoppiesnow.org.uk/poppy-tour/

Seeing the poppies once again was so poignant and brought back memories of the day I helped to plant some of them at the Tower of London’s moat back in 2014, as well as the finale on November 11th when, during a very moving ceremony, they planted the final poppy after roll-call.

tower of london, Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, tower poppies, poppies tour, 100th anniversary armistice, world war one

Tower of London poppies

tower of london, Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, tower poppies, poppies tour, 100th anniversary armistice, world war one

Tower of London poppies (taken when I still did 3 days in London)

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Redworld war one armistice, tower poppies, blood swept lands and seas of red, poppies tour, 100th anniversary of armistice, imperial war museum weeping window, tower of london poppies

world war one armistice, tower poppies, blood swept lands and seas of red, poppies tour, 100th anniversary of armistice, imperial war museum weeping window, tower of london poppies

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red at the Tower of London 11.11.2014

The Weeping Window installation will be at the Imperial War Museum until the 18th November 2018

https://www.1418now.org.uk/commissions/poppies-weeping-window-iwm-london/

Nearest tube station: Lambeth North on the Bakerloo line

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I posted a few images on instagram of plastic pollution being caused by the supermarkets like Iceland foods, Sainsbury, Tesco, Co-Op, Morrisons, Waitrose etc a couple of days ago. Why are they STILL wrapping fruit and vegetables in plastic? Haven’t they read the UN Report? Which planet are they on?

About 13 million tonnes of plastic leak into our oceans every year, harming biodiversity, economies and, potentially, our own health.

I also mentioned how I’m making an effort to avoid palm oil. Someone asked in the comments section “what the deal is with palm oil?” Firstly, I’m astounded that there are still people in the western world who are so ignorant of the effects of palm oil plantations on the biodiversity of the countries where its been/being grown. So I compiled some information for her from all the links that I investigated via google. This is not my ‘opinion’, these are not my words, this information is compiled from the various websites that try to educate people on the destruction caused by palm oil…

read on:

Conflict Palm Oil production is now one of the world’s leading causes of rainforest destruction.

Palm oil is the most widely used vegetable oil in the world, having even surpassed soya in terms of usage. Surging global demand for palm oil has fueled massive forest destruction throughout Indonesia and Malaysia, countries that together account for 85% of the world’s palm oil production. Palm oil is ubiquitous!

Every day 25 orangutans are killed thanks largely to palm oil. The main threat to the survival of orangutan populations in the wild is the massive expansion of palm oil plantations in Borneo and Sumatra. … Increasingly, palm oil is used as a biofuel. Oil palms only grow in the tropics and need much water.
In Indonesia alone, an area the size of a football pitch is lost every 25 secs.

Over 50,000 orangutans on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra have died because of palm oil deforestation.

Orangutans whose habitats have been destroyed often enter villages and oil plantations in search of food where they are captured or killed by farmers who treat them as pests.

Palm oil is the leading cause of orangutan extinction. It’s in 50% of all household and food products sold in the West. It’s an ingredient in shampoo, toothpaste, detergent, frozen microwave dinners, cookies, peanut butter, lotion, makeup and much more!

Palm oil is a type of vegetable oil made from the fruit of the African oil palm tree, which originates in West Africa. However, it can be grown successfully in any humid tropical climate and has taken a strong foothold in Indonesia.

Not only is Palm Oil bad for the environment, and a major cause of climate change, but it is also the leading cause of orangutan extinction.

From ice-cream to shampoo, palm oil is present in a multitude of consumer products.

25 orangutans are lost every day

https://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/news/180215-borneo-orangutan-150000-lost-palm-oil-logging-vin-spd

Just check the ingredients label of the food you buy….but bear in mind that often it’s listed under vegetable oils. Just another dishonest way for manufacturers to use it without listing.

Petition your MP, sign as many petitions as you possibly can, stop buying fruit and vegetables wrapped in plastic; look for the unwrapped items. Check the ingredients list of your purchases…look out for palm oil and buy a different brand.

If we as consumers challenge the corporations, they will HAVE to make changes. It’s not about convenience anymore…..it’s about actually saving this planet from total destruction. No matter what you do today, every bit of plastic you and I have bought, used and trashed in our lifetimes, will still be here in 400 years plus. BUT we can make a difference by reducing the amount we use.

The plastic takeout container from your dinner last week is going to be around a lot longer, up to 1,000 years longer, than the rest of your trash.

 

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