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Archive for the ‘memories of days gone by’ Category

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.

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Tower of London poppies

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

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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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Leaving on a jet plane and I don’t know when I’ll be back again……as it turns out…I never did return – not permanently anyway.

relocating to the uk, travel over 40, arriving in the uk, solo travel for women

taken on the day I landed after my Spitfire flight on 26 April this year – seems apt for my journey

Today marks the 17th anniversary of my arrival in the Northern Hemisphere and the UK then Ireland for the first time.

All three happened on the same day in the space of a few hours.

I left South Africa on the 8th October 2001 bouncing with excitement and joy. At age 46, although I had travelled extensively throughout RSA and lived in any number of places, I had never left the borders of South Africa except for a brief weekend sojourn to Swaziland in my misspent youth.

I flew from South Africa on the evening of the 8th October landing in Zurich on the 9th. After an hour or so at Zurich airport where I had my first European pastry and hot chocolate and searched for the ‘red’ post box which turned out to be green LOL (a learning curve for sure), from there it was an emotional flight across Europe and the skies in which WW2 was fought. I am fascinated by the history of the 2nd WW and it gave me both the chills and a thrill that I was flying through the same airspace that our pilots flew all those decades ago…as a result I spent nearly the whole flight just crying….I couldn’t believe I was actually in the same airspace.

Soon, as we came in to land at London Airport I had my first view of the city I was to come to love so much; suddenly I was on UK soil. I could hardly believe it.

relocating to the uk, solo travel,

Lovely London – my soul city

A short nerve-wracking bus-ride later I took my first ever tube ride – first on the Jubilee line and then the Piccadilly line to Heathrow. I remember how terrified I was of getting lost, of not finding my way to the airport, and a total wreck with all the stories I had heard of how big Heathrow airport was….wasn’t. It was easy to navigate.

I remember as if it happened yesterday; as we exited the underground near Hounslow I looked out the window and fell in love…..with the chimney pots on the houses around the green. I am a huge fan of the film Mary Poppins and it looked to me just like a scene from the film….the trees and the green surrounded by 3-storey brick houses, their roofs adorned with chimney pots.

“I could live here!” I thought…..

And now I am….I first spent 6 months in Ireland with my darling sister and her husband (her 30th birthday was the reason for my visit),

and then after my visa expired 6 months later I came over to the UK to collate the paperwork I would need in order to apply for and obtain my ancestral visa (my grandfather had the good sense to be born in London (Battersea). After securing letters from agencies to say they could employ me, I flew back to South Africa in March 2002 and by 22nd April 2002 I was back in Ireland; ancestral visa in hand. After a few months of gallivanting in Ireland, I once again flew back to the UK and started working and living first as a resident and then a citizen of the country.

I have never looked back, never had even one second of home-sickness and never longed for the country or yearned to ‘go back’ with all that that signifies. If I have missed anything it would be certain foods like OUMA rusks, or peppermint crisp chocloate LOL

I have grown to love the UK so much, albeit not the politics (or some of the parties), and I have had so many amazing adventures, learned so much, written a couple of books and immersed myself into the very fabric of this country. The history is phenomenal and it’s like peeling back an onion…one layer reveals another.

I used my ancestral visa/SA passport to good effect and and travelled to a number of European countries and a few states in the USA over the next 15 years (and back to Ireland 9 times).

visit ireland, trinity college dublin

Sphere Within Sphere is a bronze sculpture by Italian sculptor Arnaldo Pomodoro, located at Trinity College, Dublin

I also travelled far and wide throughout the UK and have probably visited more places than many British-born people….certainly I’m sure more Domesday Book places.

I then applied for and obtained my British Citizenship.

relocating to the uk, travel over 40, arriving in the uk, solo travel for women

it’s my 17th anniversary!!! this is from the day I got my new passport as a UK citizen 2 years ago

My daughter followed me in 2003 and she too is now a British citizen and married to an amazing man with a baby on the way…..the first baby in our family to be born in the UK since my Grandfather was born in Battersea in 1890. Our little Peanut aka my first grandchild. I’m so in love with this baby already…my heart swells when I see this. 🙂

peanut is on the way, first grandchild, 3d scan of baby in the womb, granny in waiting

my beautiful grandchild. a 3D scan taken yesterday…

It seems perfectly apt, albeit coincidentally, that we got this scan photo on the same date 08/10, as what I left SA 17 years ago. Never did I think on that day back in 2001 that I would be a granny-in-waiting at this time 17 years later.

The UK has always felt like ‘home’ to me and I have felt more at ‘home’ here than I ever did anywhere in RSA….except possibly Cape Town which I’ve always said was my heart city. Well London is my soul city, and my heart has followed me to the UK.

I’ve had an extraordinary journey since arriving here in 2001 and although it hasn’t always been easy, that’s mostly been due to my own bad decisions on various life aspects. But I have never regretted my decision to return and to stay…..

So today is my 17th anniversary and I am still ‘home’.

And Ireland is still my 2nd favourite country in the world.

If you are interested here is a link to some of the place I have visited since my arrival. My goal is to still travel even more extensively and visit as many places as I possibly can – Project 101

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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 🤔

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 🙂

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 🙄🙄 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

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East Grinstead, West Sussex

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Farnham, Surrey

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Kennett, Suffolk

Kennett – Domesday Book village

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Kentford, Suffolk

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Lavenham, Suffolk

Lavenham – Domesday Book village

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Lower Bourne, Surrey

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Marston Magna, Somerset

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Midhurst, Sussex

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

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:

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Blackford, Somerset

Blackford – Domesday Book village

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Braeburn, Kent

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Camelot, Somerset

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

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Castle Cary, Somerset

Castle Cary – Domesday Book village

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Cawsands/Kingsands, Cornwall

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Charlton Hawthorne, Somerset

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Chippenham, Somerset

Chippenham – Domesday Book village

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Compton Paucefoot, Somerset

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Corton Denham, Somerset

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Cottenham, Cambridgeshire

Cottenham – Domesday Book village

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

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

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