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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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On 11th September 2017 I set off on my first Camino, from Porto to Santiago de Compostela, via the Portuguese Coastal Route to Caminha, then inland to Valenca and the Central Way from Tui to Santiago; 240 kms along one of the most amazing journeys of my life.

Portugal was fantastic and I enjoyed the most wonderful weather and scenery along the whole route. My favourite towns were Vila do Conde, Caminha and Valenca, then the delightful Padron in Spain and of course the 2 cities: Porto and Santiago (both UNESCO World Heritage Sites).

I was very lucky to witness the swinging of the botafumeiro at the Santiago de Compostela cathedral on the night after I arrived. It was a phenomenal sight with hundreds of pilgrims gathered in the cathedral to give thanks for a safe journey and to witness this amazing event.

Apparently the botafumeiro is swung every Friday evening at mass and at other times/days if someone pays to have it swung. It’s not a given at every service. I can however recommend attending the pilgrim service even if, like me, you are not religious. It’s a beautiful building that resonates with the history of the aeons, of the prayers of the thousands if not millions of pilgrims who have humbly knelt there for religious reasons, and filled with the gratitude of pilgrims who are quite simply happy to have arrived safe and in one piece…and even some who have not….blisters being the most common ailment.

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What a superb image. Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the RAF, and in just 24 days, thanks to my incredible, amazing daughter, I’ll be flying in one of these gorgeous machines celebrating my 63rd birthday 😊😊😊 (altho I’d appreciate it if you don’t tell anyone how ‘old’ I am 😁). Talking of which, I’ve decided to switch the numbers around and make it 36!! 🀣🀣🀣 Age is but a number after all πŸ€”

raf centenary, spitfires, royal air force, the daily express

image cut out from The Daily Express newspaper. I’ll have to keep this in my diary πŸ™‚

So wow, Spitfires eh. Aren’t they just beautiful. My favourite flying machine ahead of the Red Arrows. I can’t wait now to fly over the White Cliffs of Dover, I’m going to be a tearful mess πŸ™„πŸ™„ Hope the pilot can cope!! I’m reminded of the Battle of Britain Airshow last year at Headcorn. What a joy to watch these superb little craft flypast

spitfire p fx, battle of britain aitshow headcorn, raf 100th anniversary, fly a spitfire

The Supermarine Spitfire P FX seen at the Battle of Britain Airshow at Headcorn 08/07/2017

I remember seeing this advertised at the entrance and thinking how much I would love to have a flight….and now I will be…in just 24 days whoo hoo. Although the flight my daughter has paid for is well over 10 times more than the one advertised here, and I’ll be flying from Biggin Hill not Headcorn.

spitfire flights, battle of britain headcorn, biggin hill battle of britain

The Spitfire Flight Experience at Headcorn. Although I’ll be flying from Biggin Hill which is just awesome

I was a tad disappointed with the various news coverage and programmes celebrating the 100th anniversary, since none of them mentioned the esteemed South African Statesman Jan Smuts, who was after all responsible for the founding of the RAF. So I’m mentioning it here. Hats off to one of my heroes. You are remembered. If you’re interested to read more about the founding father of the RAF, here’s the link to the relevant article

https://samilhistory.com/2018/04/01/the-royal-air-forces-100th-birthday-and-its-founder-jan-smuts/

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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

village of the year, channel 4 village of the year, villages of england, domesday book villages of england

East Grinstead, West Sussex

village of the year, channel 4 village of the year, villages of england, domesday book villages of england

Farnham, Surrey

village of the year, channel 4 village of the year, villages of england, domesday book villages of england

Kennett, Suffolk

Kennett – Domesday Book village

village of the year, channel 4 village of the year, villages of england, domesday book villages of england

Kentford, Suffolk

village of the year, channel 4 village of the year, villages of england, domesday book villages of england

Lavenham, Suffolk

Lavenham – Domesday Book village

village of the year, channel 4 village of the year, villages of england, domesday book villages of england

Lower Bourne, Surrey

village of the year, channel 4 village of the year, villages of england, domesday book villages of england

Marston Magna, Somerset

village of the year, channel 4 village of the year, villages of england, domesday book villages of england

Midhurst, Sussex

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

village of the year, channel 4 village of the year, villages of england, domesday book villages of england

Moulton, Suffolk

village of the year, channel 4 village of the year, villages of england, domesday book villages of england

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:

village of the year, channel 4 village of the year, travel uk, villages of the united kingdom

Blackford, Somerset

Blackford – Domesday Book village

village of the year, channel 4 village of the year, travel uk, villages of the united kingdom

Braeburn, Kent

village of the year, channel 4 village of the year, travel uk, villages of the united kingdom

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.

village of the year, channel 4 village of the year, travel uk, villages of the united kingdom

Castle Cary, Somerset

Castle Cary – Domesday Book village

village of the year, channel 4 village of the year, travel uk, villages of the united kingdom

Cawsands/Kingsands, Cornwall

village of the year, channel 4 village of the year, travel uk, villages of the united kingdom

Charlton Hawthorne, Somerset

village of the year, channel 4 village of the year, travel uk, villages of the united kingdom

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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I recently wrote about the upcoming and impending pilgrimage along The Pilgrim’s Way from Winchester to Canterbury that I’m planning for summer/autumn 2018.

Well, now it’s getting real πŸ™‚ I received my Pilgrim’s Passport in the mail today!! Hoorahh! Well actually my daughter opened the envelope for me since I’m still up in the north east of Wales, and sent me photos of it. The marvels of technology….whatsapp; geniiius πŸ™‚

the pilgrims way winchester to canterbury, walking the pilgrims way, long distance walking in the uk, the pilgrims way, walk 1000 miles, baby boomersThe Pilgrim’s Way – how gorgeous is this passport

the pilgrims way winchester to canterbury, walking the pilgrims way, long distance walking in the uk, the pilgrims way, walk 1000 miles, baby boomers

OMG I can’t tell you how exciting it all is. I love the planning stages; finding places to stay, reading information about the route and receiving the passport is definitely high on the scale of excitement levels …

I’m really excited about having this passport filled with stamps along the way. I remember how fantastic it was to get my Camino passport stamped at the various places I stayed, the restaurants I ate at, and the many churches I visited….thrilling.

the pilgrims way winchester to canterbury, walking the pilgrims way, long distance walking in the uk, the pilgrims way, walk 1000 miles, baby boomers, camino de santiagomy Camino Passport and Compostela in Santiago

In fact I’m so yearning to do another long distance walk I’m seriously contemplating walking the 1st half of The Pilgrim’s Way in April and then the 2nd half before I fly to Spain for the Camino InglΓ©s. πŸ™‚

Can I do a happy dance? All on my own! Do you think anyone would find me certifiably insane LOL

I’ve visited Winchester Cathedral a number of times in the past and of course I’ve visited Canterbury Cathedral quite a lot too, but now that I have my pilgrim’s passport, I can’t wait to go visit again.

Winchester is a fascinating city. Besides that it was once a walled city and you can still see some of the medieval walls and gates, there’s King Alfred’s walk around the city, the 13th century Great Hall with a replica of the Round Table; from the mythological tales of King Arthur and the Knight’s of the Round Table, an old mill, a medieval pilgrim’s chapel above one of the gates and so much else besides…. I’m planning on staying for 2 nights and giving myself a whole day of exploring a city I truly love.

My very first visit to Winchester was in 2002 shortly after I first started living in the UK. My visit was in honour of the song: Winchester Cathedral, one of the popular songs from my teenage years, so if course it was high on my list of places to go.

Winchester Cathedral https://g.co/kgs/vmC4DU

But I digress…. It’s the excitement I’m afraid *big grin* I think you’ll be hearing /reading a lot more about Winchester and Canterbury

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31 Days of Gratitude and today I’m grateful for reading; the ability to read.

Being able to read is a huge privilege and an incredible practical ability. Although it’s something we tend to take for granted, millions of people are unable to read.

Besides the lack of opportunity to learn how to read, physical disabilities can affect our ability eg dyslexia.Β “Britain has up toΒ eight million adultsΒ who are functionally illiterate. The World Literacy Foundation said one in five of the UK population are so poor at reading and writing they struggle to read a medicine label or use a chequebook”.

Can you imagine that? Reading is such a fundamental function that we use every day. We grow up learning to read and it opens up opportunities we tend to take for granted without a second thought. What if we never had the privilege or ability to learn to read.

Could we apply for a job? Would we be able to write a job application? Would we be able to function in a work place where reading is fundamental to the job?

I was lucky enough to learn to read and write from a very young age. I’ve always loved books; a real bookworm growing up I spent every spare minute with my nose buried in a book….transported to different worlds. A voracious reader I went through school books like water through a sieve. My teachers had a hard time keeping me supplied and I went through the curriculum selection in no time at all.

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Going to The Chapel, and we’re…… having hot chocolate with oodles of cream. πŸ™‚ The Chapel is a quirky bar/coffee/book shop. It’s actually a bar with hundreds of books that line the walls, from floor to ceiling in some places, where you can relax with a drink and read a book…you can also buy the books which is super cool.

Fundamental to reading is a good cup of tea and a packet of biscuits….my ideal day.

As a child my absolute favourite books were the Secret Seven or Famous Five books by Enid Blyton. Anne of Green Gables was a huge favourite and so many others. My Mother used to buy me comics every week when I was about 5 years old…I waited with anticipation for the latest to fall through the letter box. I loved all the fairy stories and the Brothers Grimm stories were read again and again. I remember in my teens and 20’s literally reading through the night and finishing a book a night. I used to read at least 2 – 3 books a week; spy thrillers, WW2 stories, conspiracy theory stories, love stories, historical novels, the list of my likes went on and on.

These are some of my latest reads as well as my fantastic collection of books about London. I adore London and love to read about her secrets and history.

 

book review

These days I don’t read hardcover books so much since most of my time is now spent writing, but I still read a lot via the internet – articles on travel – namely walks around the UK and the various Caminos in Spain. I read a lot about health and finance, as well as the occasional gossip column LOL Ergo, most of my day is spent in reading or writing.

Besides loving books, I love the English language; it’s such a rich repository of wonderful words that we’re able to play around with creating pictures using descriptive words to create an image or a story.

Alongside of reading comes writing. To be able to write is as much a privilege as reading. I can’t imagine not being able to read and write; it’s fundamental to my day to day life. My whole working life has involved reading and writing and even today in my current career reading and writing is a necessary ability.Β I’ve written poems, a short story and 3 London books, one of which is a travel guide.

I had a blind friend once who lost his sight when he was a young boy. He had to learn braille and over the years he managed to obtain a computer on which he could write using braille. He worked in the office of the Courier company I was working for and held down a most fundamental role in the company. But it was always a challenge for him.

If I was unable to read and write I wouldn’t have been able to take up most of the opportunities I’ve had in the past and certainly currently. My blog is a vip part of my day and besides sharing my stories, I’m able to follow the stories of those that I identify with. I’ve been able to follow walkers on the Camino, learn about health benefits and latest research. I’m able to follow articles on finance and learn about trends like Bitcoin and Litecoin…which I might add are bloody exciting.

I taught my daughter to read at a very early age and one of my most endearing and enduring memories of her childhood are the nights when I would read her bedtime stories. One of our favourite books (I still have the relevant book) was The Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton. An absolute favourite I would read two or three chapters, following the faerie characters on their many adventures. I would also invariably fall asleep…something that happens a lot these days too when I read a book LOL 2 -3 pages and I’m asleep.Β  Another favourite book was The Neverending Story….still a favourite and I hope to read these two books to my grandchildren one day.

One of the hardest of my possessions to give up when I packed up in South Africa was my books. I had to leave hundreds behind. But sadly I don’t have the space for them. I did keep many of the favourites though. One book I have is The Water Babies. An old book that belonged to my father as a boy….it’s a treasured item.

So today I am grateful for reading and alongside of that I’m grateful I can write. There are millions who cannot and I can’t imagine how debilitating and hindering that must be.

31 Days of Gratitude – Day 11Β 

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