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31 Days of Gratitude and today I’m grateful that I live in the Northern Hemisphere.

Last night I went to sleep in Wales, this morning I woke in Narnia. Yessss, it snowed during the night. hoorah!!!! I couldn’t believe my eyes when I looked out the window this morning. Our neighbours later commented that they had seen me out in my gown and slippers running down the road to take photos at 7:30am LOL I guess that’s a first in the neighbourhood.

31 days of gratitude, winter in the uk, snow in the uk, snow in wales, not just a granny travels

Hello from Narnia 07:30

As a kid and later as an adult I remember we had snow in South Africa, but except for one year as a kid when I was about 7 or 8, and one exceptional year in 1982 when we had blizzards of snow, the most we saw of snow was on the high mountains of the Drakensburg or the peaks of the mountains in the Western Cape. They usually had snow in the hinterland or in Lesotho, but we seldom had it in the suburbs.

So when I moved to first Ireland and then the UK, I anticipated seeing snow on a regular basis. In my first year of working in the UK I remember it snowed close to Christmas. My excitement knew no bounds and whilst it hasn’t snowed every year, we have certainly had some fantastic snowfalls.

I was in transit from London to Oxford one year; 2010/2011, on an assignment and I recall with clarity that just about the whole of the UK was covered with snow….just the far south of Cornwall escaped. One year too when I was home in London we had a fantastic snowfall and my daughter and I walked all the way from St John’s Wood to Hyde Park (January 2007) to play in the snow; snowmen, snow angels, snowballs…..we had an awesome time. Another year (2010) we had and exceptionally high snowfall in London. We were living near Alexandra Park and again we traipsed, knee-deep through the snow, through the park and up the hill to the crest of the hill where we spent an hilarious few hours playing in and relishing the snow. I borrowed a sled from some kids and proceeded to make a complete ass of myself sledding….not very successfully as you will see LOL

and then as if once wasn’t enough…”I want to go again”…LOL

Too much fun. We laughed so much that day. I eventually had to give the sled back to the kids I borrowed it from, but not without regret 🙂 We did go out and buy our own sled, but as fate would have it, it never snowed like that again!!! Certainly not in our area of the hood. We eventually gave the sled away during one of our many house moves.

I was really hoping that since I’d be working up in Wales this year that I’d see snow, and this morning my wish was granted. It was thrilling beyond words to wake up to a winter wonderland.

31 days of gratitude, winter in the uk, snow in the uk, snow in wales, not just a granny travels

at tad later 8:15

It was magical. As soon as I had woken my client and got him up, dressed, fed, dishes done, beds made, laundry in, cat fed and house tidied, with his permission I donned my shoes, jacket, hat and gloves and with poles in hand I walked up to the castle.

31 days of gratitude, winter in the uk, snow in the uk, snow in wales, not just a granny travels

walking up to the castle

The views are under normal circumstances just breath-taking, but with snow in the trees, on the verges and covering the landscape as far as the eye could see…..it was magical. It felt like Narnia.

31 days of gratitude, winter in the uk, snow in the uk, snow in wales, not just a granny travels

the village

How lucky am I!!!! 🙂

Today I am grateful that I live in the Northern Hemisphere and I am grateful that I got to see the snow 🙂 I could very well be at home and not seen any at all LOL

31 Days of Gratitude – Day 7

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I thought it was apt that today’s day of gratitude should be about my job. In this capacity I get to meet people from a very wide spectrum of humanity and I get to travel the country, mostly for 2 weeks at a time and sometimes for a longer stint…currently I’m at a 31 day position in north west Wales.

I have a love/hate relationship with my job; as a Carer for the elderly. Sometimes the assignment I am allocated is amazing, and sometimes its just plain awful – you never know which it will be till you get there. One thing I have learned in this job is that there are so many very unhappy people in the world, and there are some lovely folk who are a daily pleasure to be with.

In my capacity as a Carer I get sent all over the UK and sometimes even to Ireland. Its a fantastic way to see the country and mostly I don’t mind the travel, even though occasionally it takes anything up to 8 hours to get to a place from home; door to door. Fortunately I have social media to keep me occupied and every now and then I pull out my knitting and knit a few more squares for my motor-home blanket.

I’m grateful that I am able to visit some of the most historic, quirky and amazing places in all 4 countries that make up the UK. It was during a visit to the Isle of Wight that Project 101 really took off….when one day while out walking I noticed the village sign board; Nettlestone 1086 🙂 wowwwww a Domesday Book village.

31 days of gratitude, domesday book villages, nettlestone 1086, travel the uk, working as a carer for the elderly, not just a granny travels, project 101

Nettlestone 1086; a Domesday Book Villages

Intrigued, I decided to see how many of these I had already visited over the last 16 years. Before then I had merely been counting the islands I visit with a goal of 100, but since I saw that sign I decided to find out how many Domesday Book villages, towns or cities I had visited….currently it’s 107!!

I was astounded and that got me to thinking about other places I had been, and so Project 101 was born.

I am grateful too that I have work. During uncertain times, it is in fact a bonus to have a job, especially a job that I mostly enjoy. I’ve been with the same agency now for 10 years and in that time I have travelled to just about every county in England, a good few in Scotland (I worked in a castle once!!), 1 county in Ireland and currently I’m in Wales.

31 days of gratitude, domesday book villages, nettlestone 1086, travel the uk, working as a carer for the elderly, not just a granny travels, project 101

some of the many, many places I have worked in the UK

It’s not always an easy job and sometimes I leave after 2 weeks absolutely drained; emotionally, mentally and physically. Old people can be very challenging, on all 3 levels mentioned. But I have learned some fascinating stories…when someone is prepared to talk about their lives, you hear some extraordinary tales. I often wish they would put their stories into a book. Especially when it relates to WW2. So many personal accounts of life during the war are lost and we’re left with the ‘official’ accounts.

I am grateful for my job because it allows me to satisfy my highest value; travelling. I get to meet interesting people, see fantastic places, and steep myself in the amazing history of this country. And at the same time, I can pay my bills LOL 💸💸💸💸

I’ve also learned to be extraordinarily patient, to create interesting and colourful meals and occasionally I get to enjoy an assignment that is so lovely, that I got back again and again.

31 days of gratitude, domesday book villages, nettlestone 1086, travel the uk, working as a carer for the elderly, not just a granny travels, project 101

preparing nutritious and colourful meals

I also get to meet all manner of pets, and now and then I fall in love with a real beauty.

I also get to meet all manner of pets, and now and then I fall in love with a real beauty.

a beautiful little boy

 

 

 

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So excited to be part of this fantastic challenge #walk1000miles 2017

It’s literally changed, improved and saved lives, and taken people of all ages, from toddlers to oldies, from all walks of life, in all manner of situations, out and about; in cities, towns, villages, hamlets and the countryside, to and from and in all parts of the world – whether it’s 500 or 5,000 the members have risen to the challenge and gone walking 🙂

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….one foot in front of the other…

Join us along with Country Walking for 2018 and walk 1,000 miles or maybe even 5,000 – yes, some people have walked in excess of 5,000 miles this year. Awesome 🙂

Walk 1000 miles in 2018 from Country Walking on Vimeo.

https://vimeo.com/245014566

 

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I recently came across this amazing adventure from an article shared on Facebook.

Hiking the longest trail in the world!!! Wow. What an extraordinary adventure

Here’s Mel’s website if you’d like to read more about this amazing adventure as she faces 2 Canadian winters and hikes through some of the most incredible scenery, from one side of Canada to the other.

http://www.betweensunsets.com/cross-canada-hike/

You can find her on instagram https://www.instagram.com/betweensunsets/

Now that is an adventure to inspire the inveterate explorer. 🙂

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How lucky am I that I get to walk in so many amazing places in the United Kingdom. My current location is in a tiny village in the stunning Welsh county of Mongomeryshire, right on the border of England’s beautiful Shropshire.

walk 1000 miles, walks in wales, montgomery castle wales, camino 2018 practise walks

graveyard in the church

I usually have a 2 hour break every day whilst working, so if it’s not raining I take myself out for a walk. Today I had a free hour in the morning, and since it’s a stunning day and not raining (for a change), popped out for a quick walk to the castle and back.

walk 1000 miles, walks in wales, montgomery castle wales, camino 2018 practise walks

Montgomery Castle, Montgomeryshire, Wales

The views across the Welsh countryside and into Shropshire are just beyond description from that elevation; 85 meters. The UK truly is a most beautiful country.

walk 1000 miles, walks in wales, montgomery castle wales, camino 2018 practise walks

looking toward the county of Shropshire in England from Montgomeryshire, Wales

I was quite surprised that I managed to walk that elevation with barely any heavy-breathing LOL The Camino route I’m planning for September 2018 has elevations of 360 meters on one or two days, so I shall have to get in more practice with higher altitudes before then, but for now it’s good to be out and walking with my Camino goals in mind.

As for my 2017 goal of walking 1000 miles, I reached that in Santiago in September; boots on miles from 01.01.2017 till 24.09.2017. Since then I have walked a further 73.15 miles (117.03 kms) in places like Barcelona, Broadstairs, Caterham, Montgomery, Caenarfon, Porthmadog, and along the Miner’s Track up Mt Snowdon from Pen-y-Pass

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walking up Mt. Snowdon from Pen Y Pass

mount snowdon caenarfon, pen y pass snowdownia, walk 1000 miles, walks in wales, montgomery castle wales, camino 2018 practise walks

a walk up Mt. Snowdon

and briefly along Offa’s Dyke on the Welsh/English border.

offas dyke, walk 1000 miles, walks in wales, montgomery castle wales, camino 2018 practise walks

along Offa’s Dyke

Participating in the #walk1000miles 2017 challenge and practising for my #Camino2017 along with Project 101,  has taken me to some fascinating places in the UK and Europe.

Long may it last…..

I’ve joined the #walk1000miles with Country Walking Magazine challenge for 2018, and along with planning my 2nd Camino for September 2018, I’m aiming for 2018 miles next year.

inspirational quotes

Take a walk, not a pill….

 

 

 

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I have the very good fortune to work in many different places in the UK. Currently I’m based in Wales, very near the border of the English county of Shropshire.

Having decided to walk, and in the midst of planning my 2nd Camino, I kicked off my #Camino2018 training with a practice walk from Montgomeryshire to Shropshire; a walk from Wales to England.

a walk from wales to england, walk 1000 miles, camino practice walks, camino ingles, nordic walking poles, offas dyke, walks in the uk

Welcome to Shropshire. Welcome to Wales.

Thursday was the first day we had sunshine since I arrived the previous Sunday, and so a walk was in order.

a walk from wales to england, walk 1000 miles, camino practice walks, camino ingles, nordic walking poles, offas dyke, walks in the uk

beautiful trees on a beautiful day

It was terrific to finally be out walking again. The last couple of months have seen me mostly in front of my computer writing blogs about my 1st Camino. I do wish I could hasten the process, but with my need to describe almost every detail of the walk (LOL) and with all the research about the places I walked through or stayed in, it sometimes take 3 or 4 days to write one article. That’s beside editing the photos!!!

This was the first time I’ve walked with Gemini, my Nordic walking poles, and my absolute #1 Camino item, since I got back from Spain in September. They’ve been on sabbatical, and quite rightly too, considering how hard they worked to keep me upright on The Way to Santiago.

Heading downhill along the Forden Road I branched off along New Road but ended up going the in the wrong direction…no arrows to point the way LOL. I soon realised my mistake and returned the way I had come and followed the opposite side of New Road to the Chirbury Road along which I walked till I reached Shropshire 🙂

To my delight, not long after crossing over into England, I stumbled across Offa’s Dyke. Hoorah. I would love to walk along this route sometime, so after climbing over the stile, I took a quick bimble along the dyke, closely observed by a flock of daffy sheep that ran as I approached and followed when I turned and walked the opposite direction. Silly creatures.

a walk from wales to england, walk 1000 miles, camino practice walks, camino ingles, nordic walking poles, offas dyke, walks in the uk

Offa’s Dyke

The sun was setting behind the hill and I could just see the outline of Montgomery Castle peeping out from behind the trees. It’s a rather remarkable building and must have been quite imposing in it’s heyday.

a walk from wales to england, walk 1000 miles, camino practice walks, camino ingles, nordic walking poles, offas dyke, walks in the uk

Montgomery Castle on the crest of the hill

Unfortunately I only have a 2 hour break each day, so had to hasten back before too long. But oh my, how lovely it was to be out striding along the asphalt with Gemini in my hands again. Although I must say that my left hand, between the thumb and forefinger was quite sore when I got back…it will take some getting used to, this walking with poles again….need to get back into my stride again….pun intended. 😉 Sorry.

a walk from wales to england, walk 1000 miles, camino practice walks, camino ingles, nordic walking poles, offas dyke, walks in the uk

Montgomery circa 1227

With just over 10 months till I cross the English Channel from Plymouth in England to Santander in Spain, I will have to get some serious walking in. Fortunately I have the Country Walking #walk1000miles challenge to spur me on again, as well as the knowledge that the Camino Inglés crosses some serious elevations – ergo I have to practice and practice a lot.

Walked 5.84 kms / 3.65 miles. 8809 steps. Elevation 87 meters….that is not enough!! I believe there will be some mountains to climb out of Ferrol; 360 meter ascents….so I gotta find a mountain to climb…Oh wait I did……

 

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Before leaving for Porto and my first Camino, I had read many an account of Camino families and how many of the pilgrims walking the various Caminos met and made friends with people they met along The Way. During my walk from Porto to Santiago I met so many lovely people, especially in Portugal, Some were just a fleeting connection, and some I connected with in a more meaningful way. With some I managed to capture a selfie, whilst others I connected with were just a fleeting conversation and they were gone, no time for a photo.

I had some wonderful encounters and conversations, especially in Portugal. Mostly because I was still full of joie de vie and not yet exhausted whilst walking the fabulous coastal route from Porto to Caminha. I still had the energy for meaningful conversations, a Bom Caminho and besides that, the Portuguese community were amazing. So friendly.

But, I did mange to capture some photos, and thought to make note of the names too LOL

People I met along The Way; Camino 2017.

Day 4 Porto to Foz do Duoro 09/09/2017

Jasmine – USA : I met Jasmine as I was walking along the River Duoro towards Foz do Duoro. Jasmine had just finished her Camino and was visiting Porto for a few days. I was over the moon with excitement at having met my first bona vide pilgrim 🙂

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Jasmine USA met in Porto enroute to Foz do Duoro

Day 5 Porto to Vila do Conde 11/09/2017

Roger and Amanda – South Africa : we met on the bus just before Matasinhos and bumped into each other the whole day at one place or another. As we were nearing the bus station I saw a backpack coming down the stairs with a South African flag attached 🙂 I could barely believe my eyes and immediately struck up a conversation.

porto portugal, porto to santiago, camino de santiago, walking the camino, project 101

Roger and Amanda – South Africa

Mel – UK : we met when we both stopped to photograph a small chapel just beyond Matasinhos (behind us). I met Mel again in Vila do Conde when we stayed at the same B&B, briefly in Valenca and again briefly in the Cathedral in Santiago.

porto portugal, porto to santiago, camino de santiago, walking the camino, project 101

Mel – UK

Laura – Austria : I came up behind Laura just as we were approaching Vila do Conde. She was hobbling with leg pain. I walked with her over the bridge. Turned out we were staying in the same B&B and were room-mates 🙂 She, Mel & I had supper together.

porto portugal, porto to santiago, camino de santiago, walking the camino, project 101

Laura – Austria

Day 6 Vila do Conde – rest day 12/09/2017

I met this lovely young girl from Germany who was also walking the Camino on her own. Just 19 years old and an absolute delight. I’m just sorry I can’t find her name.

porto portugal, porto to santiago, camino de santiago, walking the camino, project 101

at the main church in Vila do Conde

Day 7 Vila do Conde to Esposende 13/09/2017

Inge – Denmark – I met Inge in Vila do Conde. We were roommates on my 2nd night at the B&B. I saw her briefly in the morning as we were leaving and again somewhere along the way. We connect on the facebook page.  Unfortunately I didn’t do a photo

Helga – Germany : we connected somewhere along the way and she was in the same room as me at the albergue in Viana do Castelo

Jakob and Agata – Poland : we met just outside of Vila do Conde and chatted all the way to Povoa de Varzim. I was really sorry to lose touch with them, they were so sweet. (if anyone reading this blog happens to know them, please let them know I would love to be in touch)

porto portugal, porto to santiago, camino de santiago, walking the camino, project 101

Agata & Jakob – Poland

Jose & Teresa’s – Povoa de Varzim (coffee stand) – again I didn’t take a photo. But she was lovely and I can recommend you stop there for coffee. She signed my Pilgrim’s Passport 🙂

camino de santiago portuguese coastal route port to santiago

practising my Portuguese and asked for coffee at Jóse and Teresa’s shack in Povoa de Varzim.

Guiseppe – Mr Barcelona : we had a very funny conversation, mostly in sign language. Between my minimal Spanish and his non-existant English we manage to establish that he was from Barcelona, so I told him I was going to visit there later that month. 🙂 Other than that I saw him again a few times but never took a photo.

My group of 5; Mo, Ed, Joan & 2 other ladies whose names I never quite caught. We met just outside Povoa de Varzim, again in Vila do Conde on my rest day, again in Valenca where we stayed at the same hotel, and then this photo was taken on the day (17/09) we stopped at O Chiriringo enroute to O Porrino. So these are the folks I saw the most of. Joan and I walked together a lot and had some fun conversations.

Orbitur camp site

my group of 5 – Ed, Joan & Mo and the 2 outside ladies all from AUS

Day 8 Esposende to Viana do Castelo 14/09/2017

Mr Cyprus – met at Orbitur camp site enroute to Esposende. I never did get his name, but he said he was from Cyprus. We had a brief but interesting conversation while resting at the camp. We met again briefly the next morning at the hostel in Esposende where I stayed the night before. Sadly no photo.

Day 9 15/09/2017 Viana do Castelo to Caminha

Lina – Russian (lives in New York) – met at Viana do Costelo at the hostel and again in Caminha by coincidence at the restaurant. I invited her to share my room at the hotel as she was staying in a really grim hostel.

Orbitur camp site

Lina – Russian living in New York

Amelie – Barcelona met at the beach side cafe in Carreco. We walked together for a few kilometers and stopped to look at some ancient rock markings. She walked much faster than me so we lost contact. 

Day 12 18/09/2017 Proprietor at Albergue O Recuncho do Peregrino near Arcade

Miguel, our lovely host

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Miguel at the best albergue ever….

Day 13 Arcade to O Porrino 19/09/2017

Maria, Antonio and Guiseppe – Spain. I first met these 4 pilgrims at breakfast at the Albergue O Recuncho do Peregrino. We crossed paths again between Arcade and Pontevedra and again in Santiago

porto portugal, porto to santiago, camino de santiago, walking the camino, project 101

pilgrims at the Albergue – on the left: Maria, Antonio, Guiseppe. Chap on the right I didn’t get his name – all from Spain

Gregory – UK : I met Gregory on the diversion from Concella de Vilaboa along the rio Tomeza to Caldas de Reis. We had a fascinating conversation about Pope Gregory and St Augustine. We crossed paths again later in the afternoon, but not again after that.

Day 14 20/09/2017 Caldas de Reis to Padrón

Susana – Portugal : enroute to Padrón – my Camino angel. On this day my right ankle was in a bad way and I limped into this shelter on the route intending to rest. Susana introduced herself as a massage therapist and offered to massage my legs. She strapped up my ankle after which I was more able to walk comfortably. A true angel. We met again in Santiago. 🙂

porto portugal, porto to santiago, camino de santiago, walking the camino, project 101

My Camino Angel; Susana – Portugal

Day 16 22/09/2017 Santiago.

Leah & Michelle – Germany : I met these delightful young women in the Plaza del Obradoiro in front of the Cathedral in Santiago at 8:30 in the morning. We had a wonderful conversation before they left on their way to Finisterre. They were so full of energy and vibrant with joy. I hugged them long and hard.

porto portugal, porto to santiago, camino de santiago, walking the camino, project 101

Leah and Michelle – Germany

Susana 🙂 I had been to the 12noon service at the Cathedral and afterwards was just meandering around looking at everything and taking photos of all the details in the church when suddenly there before my eyes was Susana. I hugged her so tight. I was delighted. I had so wanted to see her again and there she was.

porto portugal, porto to santiago, camino de santiago, walking the camino, project 101

Susana and me outside the Cathedral in Santiago

We spent some time meandering about the square and then met up with the Spanish ladies for dinner at a tapas bar. Unfortunately I was exhausted and very emotional, and not speaking the language was unable to really participate in the conversation. But it was wonderful to see them again.

porto portugal, porto to santiago, camino de santiago, walking the camino, project 101

Susana and the wonderful group of Spanish ladies who helped me enroute on the day I met Susana

Day 16 23/09/2017 Santiago

Sabrina – Germany : Santiago cathedral. I met Sabrina at the evening service in the cathedral. We sat together on the edge of a very hard pillar for the duration of the service chatting about all things Camino. She had just finished walking the Camino del Norte and was so excited at the prospect of seeing the botafumeiro being swung. 

And our patience was rewarded. Sadly I didn’t get her photo either, she was lovely.

Day 17 24/09/2017 Santiago

On my last day in Santiago de Compostela I was up really early in the morning and in the Plaza del Obradoiro by 06:45. I wanted to see the square before it was overcrowded with pilgrims and people. Initially there was not a soul about, but by 7am people were starting to cross the square in various directions; locals on their way to work. Suddenly to my amazement and delight who did I see crossing to the centre of the square???

Maria, Antonio and Guiseppe. 🙂 They were on their way to Finisterre…I wished I was going with them. We chatted for a while and then after a big group hug we waved goodbye….

porto portugal, porto to santiago, camino de santiago, Plaza del Obradoiro, walking the camino, project 101, unesco world heritage site

my pilgrim group from Arcade – met on my last morning in Santiago. they were enroute to Finisterre – Maria, Guiseppe, Antonio

Buen Camino peregrinos, I miss you all. Each person in their own different way made an impact on my Camino and will forever be in my heart.

My only regret for the whole Camino was not learning the languages of the two host countries. I do feel that if I had had more Portuguese and Spanish I would have enjoyed a richer experience. I am now rectifying this and learning Spanish in anticipation of my Camino Ingles in 2018. I have been fortunate enough to connect via Facebook and wordpress with Maria who posts a weekly blog; Spanish for the Camino.

 

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