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Archive for November, 2016

I have just spent the last 12 days at a job in a suburb of Preston, Lancashire and although I haven’t been able to explore the city (we’re just too far away), I have been able to explore Preston Cemetery 🙂 Although Preston Cemetery was established in and opened in 1855, the earliest year of a recorded death was 1781. I did search all over for this particular grave but was unsuccessful.

preston cemetery lancashire

Preston Cemetery

The cemetery is a 5-8 minute walk away from the house and en-route to the store where we collect the newspaper, so I’ve had plenty of opportunity to visit during my breaks…which have been a tad tricky to arrange, but I’ve deliberately made a plan to get out, even if just for a hour….or on my way to the store 😉

preston cemetery lancashire

Preston Cemetery, Lancashire. the newer section at 09:36 in the morning

I initially thought that the section I walked past was it…but one day as I explored farther afield, and wondered at the fact that most of the memorials appeared to be fairly new, I discovered the older, original section….now we’re talking.

preston cemetery lancashire

Preston Cemetery, Lancashire – the old section

Oh my gosh, it’s amazing. the Victorians really went all out on their extravagant memorials, some of which are quite simply outlandish…huge and ostentatious; urns, wreaths, broken columns, upside-down torches, obelisks, grieving women

preston cemetery lancashire

albeit a later burial; a grieving woman – Preston Cemetery, Lancashire

– many monuments in Victorian cemeteries are pagan rather than Christian, or classical (Roman) or Egyptian.

preston cemetery lancashire

Victorian funerary symbols

Victorian graves tended to be much more elaborate than modern graves. It was expected that a middle-class family would spend as much as it could afford on a monument appropriate to the deceased’s (and the family’s) social status. Monuments were usually symbolic – either religious (crosses, angels, the letters IHS, a monogram for Jesus Savior of Man in Greek), symbols of profession (whip and horseshoes for a coach driver, swords for a general, palette for a painter), or symbols of death.

preston cemetery lancashire

A wreath decorates the gates of Preston Cemetery

I’ve taken a load of photos of some of the memorials, but you can be sure there is a surfeit of extraordinary plots and memorials to be seen. Many of the memorials are unsurprisingly, but very sadly for babies and children of all ages, from the tiniest infant through to children of 10 and upwards into teens.

preston cemetery lancashire

memorials on the newer side

These early deaths are not limited to the Victorians, one memorial I saw was for two babies from the same family who died a few days apart at 3 months and 3.5 months, along with a number of other family members, different times, all young. Oh the tragedy.

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this appears to be a family plot…so many all with the same name; some mere infants

In all my years of exploring cemeteries around the UK, I have never seen so many memorials for infants 😦

Although cemeteries have an air of sadness and desolation about them, they are fascinating places to visit with so many stories of lives lived, some long, many short, others in service to King and Country. Preston Cemetery is also the location for Commonwealth War Graves……too young!!

preston cemetery lancashire

Commonwealth War Graves – WW1

These cemeteries are also places of incredible beauty.

preston cemetery lancashire

Preston Cemetery, Lancashire

I love the many graveyards and cemeteries I find on my travels around the UK, Preston has certainly been one of my favourites.

preston cemetery lancashire

life and death; autumn beauty in a Victorian cemetery

A couple of interesting, albeit gruesome articles about death, dying and cemeteries in Victorian England and London.

http://listverse.com/2015/06/21/10-odd-and-eerie-tales-of-londons-victorian-cemeteries/

https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2015/jan/22/death-city-grisly-secrets-victorian-london-dead

 

 

 

 

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The 1066 story includes the Norman Castle built in Hastings by order of William, Duke of Normandy aka William the Conqueror after the Battle of Hastings….ironically fought at a place now called Battle and not at Hastings per se. So it was vitally important that we visited the castle. After our visit to the East Cliff, it was off on a jaunt across town to see the ruins of the marvellous Hastings Castle on the West Cliff. Heading more or less straight across town, I took her along a route I had used before, a pathway and steps that took us past the blue house and so to the top of the cliff. The architecture and houses along the way are a delight.

1066 country, a visit to hastings, seaside towns of britain

a walk through Hastings from the East Cliff to the West Cliff

We meandered past some marvellous places that set the juices flowing with house-envy and stopped often to admire the view. After a relatively easy walk we reached the top of the cliff and so to the castle.

1066 country, a visit to hastings, seaside towns of britain

the view from West Cliff across Hastings towards East Cliff – thats my sister on the ground 😉

Originally a wooden tower built on top of a man-made mound or motte surrounded by an outer courtyard or bailey, Hastings castle was typical of the Norman motte and baily castle that would become a common fixture across England following the conquest. Subsequent to his victory at the Battle of Hastings, and after being crowned on Christmas Day 1066, William issued orders that Hastings Castle was to be rebuilt in stone.

1066 country, william the conqueror and hastings castle

the 1066 story and William the Conqueror. Hastings

The ruins we see today are less than half of the original structure that remained after the savage storms of the 13th century when the harbour was destroyed and large parts of the castle fell into the sea. There is enough to leave you in awe of what there once was. It was a mighty fortress that saw the Kings and Queens of Britain visit on many occasions.

1066 country, hastings castle, a visit to hastings, seaside towns of britain

scenes of Hastings Castle. Much of the original castle fell away when the cliffs collapsed

The chapel is in a far better state of repair, so to speak and you can wander and wonder amongst the ruins. I love to just stand still and imagine the scenes of yesteryear with Kings and Queens arriving for once est or another…Knights, Priests, Lords, Ladies, Hand-Maidens, Servants and Serfs…..what a melee it must have been.

1066 country, hastings castle, a visit to hastings, seaside towns of britain

scenes of the ruined chapel at Hastings Castle; The Collegiate Church at St-Mary-in-the-Castle was built in about 1075

One of the things I love most is to run my hand over the stones and flint of these ancient places and try to imagine the person who placed it there….how did they live, where were they from, were they young or old, did they have family…..how long did they live. Because lets face it, I’m pretty certain the builders of these castles probably didn’t have the same privileges our builders of today have! I’d say they probably lived very poorly and were not very well treated by their masters and without doubt the Health and Safety elves hadn’t yet made an appearance!!

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imagine the amount of work that went into this wall….

Hastings Castle is a fascinating part of British history that includes ‘The 1066 Story’. An exciting 20 minute audio-visual programme covering the Conquest and the history of the castle through the centuries can be seen on the premises. The short film is well worth watching as it gives you a better idea of how the castle looked before the cliffs gave way and it vanished never to be seen again…except perhaps in the houses that used the pebbles and stones to rebuild some of the more ‘modern’ places you see today.

There is a small underground dungeon you can visit…..nothing too fearsome – certainly not like some dungeons I have seen in the past, but interesting nevertheless to imagine the people who trod those stairs centuries ago.

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the dungeon….my sister looking a tad trepidatious climbing down the stairs

Although not as impressive as Dover Castle just up the coast and in much better nick, I do enjoy exploring the walls and nooks and crannies of Hastings Castle. I also love the views across the channel. Imagine how awe-inspiring it must have looked to the sailors of yesteryear as they approached the English coastline…..did they come in peace, were they merchantmen intent on trade, or pilgrims seeking a passage to Canterbury, or were they soldiers who quaked in fear of the unknown daunted by the size of the castle,  or were they fearless warriors intent on mischief.

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view across the English Channel towards France

My sister and I meandered, and admired, took hundreds of photos and then before they locked us in for the night we took ourselves off back down to the town.

I love Hastings…it is so quirky with loads of history and amazing houses to photograph. Definitely well deserving of a 9+ for interesting ‘things to see’.

1066 country, hastings

Hastings – 1066 country with a history that dates back over 950 turbulent years

Then a quick stop for hot jacket potatoes filled with a yummy concotion at the Hot Potato in Queens Road and then into the car and back to Rye….what a great day. I know for sure I’ll visit Hastings again some day.

Along the way we stopped along the Pett Level Road to watch the sunset. Glorious!!

sunset at pett level road

watching the sunset from Pett Level Road between Winchelsea Beach and Pett Level

For more information on Hastings Castle and the 1066 story

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My sister recently celebrated her birthday in the UK and as a special treat because we had Fiona (my daughter’s car), I drove us down to Hastings for the day; 1066 country. I love Hastings, it’s one of my favourite places to go. I remember my very first trip there a few years ago…I nearly didn’t leave again LOL

We set off right after breakfast and on the way we stopped at a field that looks over Pewis Marsh, most of which covers the ancient medieval town of Winchelsea, largely abandoned in the 15th century. The field contains the remains of the west wall of St John’s Hospital; an almshouse for the poor.

1066 country, old winchelsea, hastings

a day trip to 1066 country on 21 October – celebrating my sister’s birthday

1066 marks a very special year in the history of England and the UK, and it was in fact on the 14 October 1066 that King Harald lost his life at the ‘Battle of 1066’ in an area that is now called Battle.

Reaching Hastings after a fab drive through the country, we started off at the fantastic Hastings Pier; we walked right to the end to admire the view and marvel at the history.

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Hastings Pier. with a remarkable history the pier played a part in the war

From there we walked along the promenade to see the amazing new sculpture installed on the beach in honour of the arrival of the Vikings.

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Norman Long boat sculpture on the beach at Hastings, by Leigh Dyer to mark the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings

After that we meandered along and discovered the little train that takes you from the beach-front to the fishing village/harbour….so it was all aboard and off we went to Rock-A-Nore Station – pay on the train. It was too much fun….we felt like kids again!!

hastings, rock-a-nore train station, seaside towns of britain

a train ride to Rock-A-Nore Station, Hastings

Then it was back down to earth and a meander through town…we were planning on looking for the ‘Piece of Cheese Cottage’ and stumbled upon it quite by accident.

hastings, the piece of cheese cottage, 1066 country

The Piece of Cheese Cottage, Hastings

The architecture in Hastings is too twee and quaint for words and we had such an amazing few hours just ambling about photographing every last detail.

hastings, 1066 country

Hastings architecture

By now we were in dire need of a sit down and refreshments so stopped off at the nearest pub where we made ourselves comfortable in two old armchairs.

hastings, 1066 country

time for a bit of R&R

After that we headed over to the fishing village where we visited the Fishermens Museum …a marvellous collection of nautical artefacts and a fabulous old ship lodge comfortably together.

hastings, 1066 country, fishing harbour

the delightful fishing village in the old harbour

We ambled about admiring the collection and then climbed the stairs to reach the deck of the Enterprise RX278.

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The RX278 Enterprise – lodges comfortably now in the Fishermens Museum

The fabulous Fishermens Museum

hastings, 1066 country, fishing harbour, fishermens museum

the Fishermens Museum – located inside a church built on the Stade in 1852, which fell out of use after the Second World War.

The funicular to the top of the East Cliff enticed us and before too long we were on our way to the top. The United Kingdom’s steepest funicular railway is not only a structure of national importance but also a source of immense local pride.
The East Hill Lift provides access to Hastings Country Park which overlooks the Old Town and Rock-a-Nore.

1066 country, hastings east hill cliff railways

taking the cable car to the top of the east cliffs at Hastings

As we were about to step out the cable car the attendant said to my sister “there go the Russian ships” – my sister was like “yeah right!!” but ohmygosh….yes it was indeed the Russian Navy enroute to Syria using our waters to get there. Very provocative. I knew they were due to sail past the English coast round about that time, but didn’t expect to actually see them. We spent some time enthralled in conspiracy theories.

1066 country, hastings, seaside towns of britain, view from east cliff

the view from the East Cliff across Hastings Old Town – you can see the pier in the distance

Then it was off on a jaunt across Hastings Old Town to see the ruins of the marvellous Hastings Castle on the West Cliff.

1066 story, hastings, map of old town and the stade

a map of Hastings Old Town & The Stade

Part 2 of a day trip to Hastings – follows Sunday 27th at 19:10

 

 

 

 

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I’ve lived in Broadstairs for just over two years now. With a number of connections to this famous author, Broadstairs has much to offer the Charles Dickens fan….including myself. However, as so often happens in life, when something is on your doorstep you tend to ‘put it off till another time’.  So since I have an impending move to Ramsgate in my stars…I decided to visit the Dickens House Museum BEFORE I move elsewhere.

charles dickens, dickens house museum, david copperfield charles dickens, broadstairs

David Copperfield – Dickens House Museum, Broadstairs

Charles Dickens lived in Broadstairs at many different stages of his life and a number of his books were either written here or inspired by characters in the area. He also, by all accounts, manage to live at quite a few different addresses in the area….a bit like me LOL However, although known as Dickens House Museum, Charles didn’t actually live in the house. It was in fact once the home of a friend; Miss Mary Pearson on whom he based much of the character of Miss Betsy Trotwood, David Copperfield’s great-aunt.

Dickens House Museum, Broadstairs. david copperfield charles dickens

Dickens House Museum, Broadstairs

Stepping over the threshold into the museum is like stepping back in time to another era, you almost expect Dickens to come slowly down the stairs, book in hand.

Dickens House Museum, Broadstairs. david copperfield charles dickens

Dickens’ Sideboard

Lovingly restored, with objects and furniture from that era, the house is filled with some items wonderful pieces from a wedding dress to the tiniest pieces of jewellery.

Dickens House Museum, Broadstairs. david copperfield charles dickens

a Victorian wedding dress, Victorian sewing items, various objects d’art and a collection of photos depicting houses associated with Dickens and a scene from the front room

You can see a copy of his will, his sideboard, and a fascinating collection of photos of properties related to Dickens.

Dickens House Museum, Broadstairs. david copperfield charles dickens

Betsy Trotwood’s Parlour, Dickens House Museum

A reconstruction of Betsy Trotwood’s Parlour as described by Dickens in chapter 15 of David Copperfield.

The reconstructed nursery is utterly charming; you can almost hear the laughter of the children.

dickens house museum, betsy trotwood, david copperfield, charles dickens

The nursery

The Dickens House Museum is located just a few yards from the Victorian Promenade that runs along the clifftop looking out over Viking Bay and Broadstairs Beach.

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a view of the bay from the cliff top

Broadstairs is a quintessential British seaside town with so much to offer, from ice-cream parlours, tea-shops, museums, Bleak House (where Dickens actually lived) a marvellous hotel, antique shops, artisan bakeries, a plethora of restaurants and some wonderful seaside town souvenir shops where you can buy buckets and spades.

broadstairs a seaside town in kent

a delightful seaside shop in Broadstairs

Come visit sometime 😉

p.s. we also have many typical High Street shops and charities

You can reach Broadstairs by train from St Pancras Station via Ashford or Victoria Station via Rochester from London.

 

 

 

 

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We had such a laugh today with my current client. We were reminiscing about washing machines (yeah, I know)… LOL She was relating something about her life and suddenly a memory popped into my head…..so I related something about mine….like how for a few years we didn’t have a washing machine. My Mother used to put the weeks’ washing into the bathtub on a Friday morning, fill it with soap-powder and hot water and leave it to soak.

When my sister and I got home in the afternoon after school, right after lunch the first thing we had to do was ‘stamp’the washing!! Shoes and socks off, into shorts and tops and into the bath! We would then, amidst gales of laughter and a good deal of splashing about, stamp the washing. That was my Mother’s answer to a washing machine. hahaha

We would move the washing about from one end to the other, stamp, stamp, stamp, up and down, trying our best to push the other over as we passed on our way from one end to the other….then rotate the loads over and over…and stamp, stamp, stamp.

Then the water would be drained and cold water run in, again and again as we went stamp, stamp, stamp until my Mother was satisfied all the soap power and dirt had been rinsed out.

Finally after about an hour or so we were able to climb out the bath dry our feet and then the worst part started….squeezing the water out the washing! OhMyGosh. If you have ever had to wring out a sheet, you’ll know how tedious a job this is. But we had great arm muscles.

We also had the cleanest feet in the neighbourhood.

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our first washing machine – we got one almost exactly the same as this…hooray for the rollers

Then it was out and onto the wash-line. I’ll always remember the sight of our sparkling white sheets, gleaming and whipping in the wind. Luckily for us, unlike here in the UK, we could depend on the weather…..summer was a breeze…no pun! The laundry dried in no time at all and then it was time to fold and pack it all away.

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sheets blowing in the wind

One of the things I remember too is that my Mother didn’t believe in ironing sheets! Most sensible in my opinion…especially as I don’t iron ANYTHING if I can possibly avoid it. She always said that if we ironed the sheets, we would be ironing the sunshine out!!! Perfect!

My client feels we were hard done by!

I saw the washing machine in the above image at the Science Museum in London in their The Secret Life of the Home Exhibition. A must visit…they have some of the most astounding items! Visit The Secret Life of the Home to see how the design of household gadgets has changed over time.

 

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On my many Camino practice walks during this year I had occasion to walk along the clifftop between Ramsgate and Broadstairs and although I see the signs pointing to the Italian castle, I usually ignore it since my walks are usually quite focused and I don’t divert from my path.

But a few weeks ago while on a leisurely stroll I decided to heed the sign and headed off into the trees. I had no idea what to expect, but to my absolute delight I discovered a hidden gem of Ramsgate; The Italianate Greenhouse.

hidden gems in ramsgate, italianate greenhouse ramsgate

Italianate Greenhouse, King George VI Memorial Park, Ramsgate – a hidden gem

Stepping out of the trees, there before me was a totally unexpected sight; an ethereal-looking greenhouse that dates from the 19th century and appears to grow out of the castellated red-brick wall behind it. Erected in the grounds of East Cliff Lodge in 1832 by Sir Moses Montefiore (1784-1885) who saw the structure in an auction catalogue and bought it, it was originally part of Bretton Hall in Yorkshire.

Constructed of cast iron curving ribs, the greenhouse is covered with fish-scale glass panes. Not very big, it houses an amazing collection of plants, of which the rather marvellous grapevine is certainly an attraction!!

hidden gems in ramsgate, italianate greenhouse ramsgate

the rather marvellous grapevine

The Greenhouse was recently the focus of attention when one of the Mexican Agave plants, after reaching 30ft bloomed for the first time. Apparently this only happens once every 100 years, so as you can imagine folks visited from far and wide to see this extraordinary event.

On the day of my visit, things were a little calmer and besides a family of 5 enjoying afternoon tea in the weakening sunshine, and a volunteer who was trimming the grass edges, I was quite alone to explore and enjoy. The garden is a delight.

hidden gems in ramsgate, italianate greenhouse ramsgate

Italianate Greenhouse and garden at Ramsgate

 

The Greenhouse is a Grade II* listed building and opens at certain times of the year, mostly in summer, for viewing and a chance to relax in the Tea Garden. For more information visit http://new.italianateglasshouse.co.uk/ The area through which you can reach the greenhouse is now known as King George VI Memorial Park.

The volunteers on site were very friendly and helpful and gave me an impromptu guided tour 😉

How to get there:

Access to the greenhouse and park is from either Montefiore Avenue or on the sea-side from Victoria Parade. It’s 50 meters away from the Montefiore Avenue entrance and a short stroll across the park from Victoria Parade.

The Tea Garden is open on fine weather summer days from approx 10.30am Tuesday to Sunday and Bank Holidays. The Greenhouse is open between 9am – 5pm weekdays from 1 April to 30 September. Enquiries: 07868722060.

 

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How exciting…..I have now added Lancashire to the list of counties I have visited in the UK.  Slowly but surely I am getting there….in the not too distant future I will have visited all the counties in England at least 😉

I started this job on Wednesday this week and after a VERY early morning start from Broadstairs

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Broadstairs 07:11 on 16th November

and three train changes I was on my way up nooooth!!  The landscape from the train is just stunning. We whizzed along past towns and cities, briefly glimpsed as the train rushed by. There’s something quite thrilling about high-speed train travel…

Preston Lancashire

My view from the train….stunning scenery and a rainbow

The further north we travelled, the more beautiful the landscape got….the autumnal colours are astounding; richer, brighter colours that made me want to stop the train so I could take photos; rich red, burnt orange, vibrant yellow and crispy brown all paint a bright palette against the evergreens. I was lucky enough to glimpse a rainbow too!!

As we drew nearer to Preston (my destination) we crossed over a river!!! Absolutely stunning. Unfortunately I was just too slow with my camera to capture it. I will have to investigate…can’t let a river go by and not explore!

Preston Station is a relic of those marvellous Victorians who created so many beautiful structures, structures that have stood the test of time and continue to amaze us still today. Welcome to Lancashire!

Preston Lancashire

Welcome to Lancashire

I hopped into a taxi and hoped it would head towards the river, but no, to my intense disappointment we are miles away from the centre of Preston 😦 in a suburb called Ribbleton; a seemingly purpose-built town that’s been absorbed into the fabric of the city and now features as a suburb; Ribbleton was a civil parish from 1866 until 1 April 1934 at which time it was absorbed into the County Borough. According to wikipedia, Ribbleton has a library, a number of shops, a pub, post offices and schools. Whoaaaa….I’m definitely going to be exploring that then #not!!! LOL Oh well.

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Preston station, Lancashire

My assignment is a double-up with a second Carer and since the notes from the agency said that the Carer can leave the house for their breaks, I thought (mistakenly) that I would be able to hop on a bus and go explore the city centre…but no, the outgoing carer said we can’t leave for more than an hour!! ffs. It really annoys me when I get fed misinformation.

I do believe that the house is near to the Preston Cemetery, so at least I can get to check that out. The cemetery opened July 2nd, in 1855 and according to their website there are 60,108 people interred there with 14,458 gravestones and 3816 different surnames. The earliest year of death is 1781, with the first interment being one: Elizabeth Frances Christian. I did a bit of research on surnames just for fun and although I found a few ‘Eves’ I didn’t find any ‘Eve’ surnames, so I’m guessing we didn’t head this way then…..

I had occasion to step out yesterday to buy the paper for M’Lady and walked past the cemetery….the trees look amazing

Preston Lancashire

Autumn colours in the cemetery

So if I am to explore Preston and see the city it will have to be within the two hours before I leave the city. What a shame. Meanwhile with a bit of research I have discovered the following:

Preston is the birthplace of Teetotalism and the Temperance Founder one Edward Grubb; The Last Survivor of that Heroic Band of Preston Pioneer Advocates by Whose Devoted and Self-Sacrificing Labours the TEETOTAL REFORM was extended from a Local to a National and World-Wide Movement. You can read a little more about Edward Grubb here.

Preston obtained city status in 2002, becoming England’s 50th city in the 50th year of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign.  Located on the north band of the River Ribble that runs through North Yorkshire and Lancashire, the Angles established Preston; its name is derived from the Old English meaning “priest’s settlement”.  In the 1086 Domesday Book it is recorded as “Prestune”. Needless to say the Romans have been here….and during that period Roman roads passed close to what is now the centre of Preston. The Romans built some amazing roads during their tenure, one of which ran from Luguvalium (Carlisle) to Mamucium (Manchester) and crossed the River Ribble at Walton-le-Dale, 3⁄4 mile (1 km) southeast of the centre of the city.

So, in summary, I’m dying to get out and explore!!! But when?  Urgh. The joys of my job.

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On the eve of my impending journey to my next assignment, this time in Lancashire I decided to write and update on My Camino and the journey so far. You may recall I wrote a post a short while ago about ‘doing’ the Camino my way. Well ‘doing’ it correctly is clearly advisable, so in order to gain some insights I joined two Camino groups on Facebook (I have since joined another). I have gleaned so much by way of interesting and useful hints and tips as well as safety advice that I am beginning to feel a little more ‘prepared’ than I was when I first started to lay my plans. Of course one of the most important aspects of walking the Camino is being at least relatively fit…a fact attested to by many of the walkers in the group. Feet appear to be the worst hit!

camino 2016; the journey so far

My Camino; the journey so far

One evening in May this year, my daughter and I took a walk from Broadstairs to Joss Bay; something we do quite frequently…go for long walks, that is. When we got back home, I suddenly realised that this is what I could do as part of my training.

We often walk to Ramsgate and since I walk a lot anyway this seemed an ideal way to up my distances and improve my fitness…..in order to keep track of my progress, I downloaded a fantastic little app called MapMyWalk that tells me how far I’ve walked each day, how long it’s taken me and what my pace is per km…I immediately started using it…..this is my journey so far! The app gives you a lot more info but those are the 3 items I’m most interested in.

Since starting these walks, I’ve learned quite a lot about myself.

1. I am far more durable than I though. A bit like the Energizer bunny I just…

my camino; the journey so far

…keep going

2. I’m way more resilient than I thought. 319.11 km’s walked so far

3. I can endure walking in the rain!!! LOL

my camino; the journey so far

not too much singing going on…but I did walk in the rain LOL

 

4. I can walk wayyyy further than I have since I was in my 20’s. Sandwich 28.54 kms

and

5. I’ve confirmed that I really do enjoy my own company.

my camino; the journey so far

not a soul in sight…

Just walking, not responsible for anyone except yourself, gives you a sense of freedom. I’ve always enjoyed my own company and seldom get lonely. But walking on your own for 185 miles through a foreign country is a far cry from holing up at home with a good book, or spending a week away on my own, so we shall see. I do believe however that the route/s always has people walking or residents of the hamlets and towns along the way…so if I need company, I’m sure I’ll find it.

I haven’t had any of the lightning-bolt epiphanies that people say they experience when walk long distances on their own, but I have learned that in my 60’s I am still very much happy to walk and walk and walk, and talk to myself. I call it ‘doing a Forrest Gump!! I have some very interesting conversations. I also tend to rant a lot, which wouldn’t surprise my daughter in the least! LOL

I can’t share any spiritual or emotional insights so far, but that may well still happen when I do walk the actual Camino…..in the meantime this is my physical journey. The one day that impressed me the most was the day I walked to Sandwich!

Day 1 : 19/05/2016 Broadstairs to Joss Bay – I’m not sure how far I walked this day as it was pre mapmywalk, but its been really interesting since then to see my stats.

my camino so far

Day 1. 19.05.2016 the day it all started

Although I haven’t walked on consecutive days, I have walked whenever opportunity arose

Day 2 : 22/05/16 : Broadstairs to Royal Esplanade Ramsgate and back : Walked 12.38 km  -2 hours 59 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 2. 22.05.2016 Ramsgate Royal Esplanade

By day three I was really keen to stretch myself a little bit so undertook a marathon:

Day 3 : 23/05/16 Broadstairs to Margate and back : Walked 17.94 km – 4 hours 5 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 3. 23.05.2016 Margate

As you can imagine after that walk!!!! I needed to rest for a day LOL  Then it was off to London for work and a new environment in which to stretch my legs 🙂

Day 4 : 26/05/16 Thames Ditton to Kingston and back : Walked 7.37 km – 1 hour 32 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 4. 26.05.2016 Kingston

Day 5 : 27/05/16 Thames Ditton to East Moseley and back : Walked 6.73 km – 1 hour 19 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 5. 27.05.2016 East Moseley

Day 6 : 28/05/16 Thames Ditton; circular walk : Walked 2.24 km – 25 minutes

Day 6 : 28/05/16 Thames Ditton to Canbury Gardens, Kingston Upon Thames : Walked 7.64 km – 1 hour 33 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 6. 28.05.2016 Canbury Gardens

Working so near to Hampton Court Palace was tantalising so I asked for an extended break

Day 7 : 29/05/16 Thames Ditton to Kingston then to Hampton Court Palace and back : Walked 11.59 km – 2 hours 42 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 7. 29.05.2016 Hampton Court Palace

On the 31st May my gear arrived!!! 🙂 I was so excited to be unpacking just some of the items I would need so I could start trying them out. However, with testing various items in the meanwhile, I have in fact discovered that there is much I actually wouldn’t need

my camino; the journey so far

Clearly I am a fan of Mountain Warehouse 🙂

While working, my breaks are usually two hours and I found I could easily fit in a walk to Kingston and back. Although it was very hot over that period, which I found most unpleasant, I really enjoyed the walks; such a lovely part of the river.

Day 8 : 31/05/16 Thames Ditton to Kingston Upon Thames, Canbury Gardens and back : Walked 8.19 km – 1 hour 43 minutes

Day 9 : 01/06/16 Thames Ditton to Kingston Upon Thames, Canbury Gardens and back : Walked 7.81 km – 1 hour 45 minutes

Day 10 : 02/06/16 Thames Ditton; circular walk : Walked 3.93 km – 48 minutes

Day 11 : 03/06/16 Thames Ditton to Kingston Upon Thames and back : Walked 8.38 km – 1 hour 44 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Scenes from my Thames Ditton to Kingston walks

Day 12 : 04/06/16 Thames Ditton circular walk : Walked 3.43 km – 46 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 12. 04.06.2016 Thames Ditton circular walk – stopping to smell the roses

I was keen to make a 2nd attempt at a walk along the Thames riverbank to Hampton Court Palace, so one day I took myself off. I love the palace so it was a treat to visit, albeit briefly.

Day 13 : 05/06/16 Thames Ditton to Kingston Upon Thames then to Hampton Court Palace and back : Walked 10.90 km – 2 hours 53 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 13. 05.06.2016 Hampton Court – it was very hot this day..I rested in some shade

Day 14 : 06/06/16 Thames Ditton to Kingston Upon Thames, Canbury Gardens and back : Walked 8.72 km – 1 hour 56 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Friends – I’m sure I will make new friends on the Camino in time

Once I got home to Broadstairs after that assignment, I got right back into walking to Ramsgate and back, which I find is a good stretch without being too exerting.

Day 15 : 08/06/16 Broadstairs to Ramsgate and back : Walked 7.43 km – 1 hour 24 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 15. 08.06.2016 Ramsgate

I was keen to see if I could manage another walk to Margate and to my surprise found it much easier the 2nd time….I even walked right around the bay….When I left home it was overcast and gloomy, by the time I reached Margate it was a most glorious day…I do love living at the seaside.

my camino; the journey so far

Day 16. 09.06.2016 the other side of Margate Bay

Day 16 : 09/06/16 Broadstairs to St Peters Village to Margate and back : Walked 23.59 km – 6 hours 23 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 16. 09.06.2016 via St Peters to Margate

Day 17 : 10/06/16 Broadstairs to Ramsgate and back : Walked 9.42 km – 2 hours 33 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 17. 10.06.2016 Ramsgate

All too soon I was off to my next assignment at Bexhill on Sea, and having worked in the area before, I knew it would offer great walking opportunities…and so it did. The East Sussex Coast is beautiful; very flat with pebble beaches, great for walking although I didn’t do much walking on the beach – it’s really hard to walk on pebbles.

my camino; the journey so far

Bexhill on Sea

Day 18 : 12/06/16 Bexhill on Sea to Cooden Beach and back : Walked 5.71 km – 1 hour 36 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 18. 12.06.2016 Bexhill on Sea

Day 19 : 13/06/16 Bexhill on Sea to Hastings Road and back : Walked 7.03 km – 1 hour 42 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 19. 13.06.2016 Bexhill on Sea

Day 20 : 15/06/16 Bexhill on Sea to Hastings Road and back : Walked 7.70 km – 1 hour 42 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 20. Bexhill on Sea

Day 21 : 16/06/16 Bexhill on Sea to Hastings Road and back : Walked 7.47 km – 1 hour 53 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 21. 16.06.2016 Bexhill on Sea

Day 22 : 17/06/16 Bexhill on Sea circular walk : Walked 4.90 km – 1 hour 14 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 22. 17.06.2016 Bexhill on Seas

After quite a few decent walks I was dead keen to try a walk to Hastings and back. If I came unstuck I could always take the train back LOL. And so the next day, having arranged some extra time for my break, I set off for Hastings. What a marvellous walk. Truly beautiful and I so enjoyed the time alone with the sea breezes gently blowing off the sea. I felt that this is what it would be like on the route from Porto to Caminha which is where I would head inland to Valenca and then crossing the Minho river into Spain near Tui.

Day 23 : 18/06/16 Bexhill on Sea to Hastings and back : Walked 17.36 km – 3 hours 30 minutes ( I really enjoyed this walk).

my camino; the journey so far

Day 23. 18.06.2016 Bexhill on Sea to Hastings

Although I didn’t make it all the way into Hastings itself, I did get as far as the Pier which was superb…it stretched quite far out into the sea and offers fantastic views looking back.

my camino; the journey so far

Day 23. 18.06.2016 From Bexhill on Sea to Hastings Pier

Day 24 : 20/06/16 Bexhill on Sea to Hastings Road and back : Walked 6.65 km – 1 hour 37 minutes

Day 25 : 21/06/16 Bexhill on Sea circular walk : Walked 4.58 km – 1 hour 33 minutes

Day 26 : 22/06/16 Bexhill on Sea to Hastings Road and back : Walked 8.35 km – 1 hour 42 minutes

Day 27 : 23/06/16 Bexhill on Sea to Hastings Road and back : Walked 8.84 km – 1 hour 52 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Days 24-27. Bexhill on Sea

Even though most days I walked much the same route, with a few slight variations, I made the most of my breaks to keep my fitness levels up. I had all sorts of weather to contend with; blazing heat with the sun baking down, windy blasts from across the channel and rain…..rain that soaked me to the skin, at which time I discovered that in fact my shoes were not waterproof hahaha. One day I got so wet my shoes squelched.

After two weeks it was back home; once again to enjoy my lovely long walks along the Kent coast.

Day 28 : 25/06/16 Broadstairs to Ramsgate and back : Walked 8.90 km – 2 hours 16 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 28. 25.06.2016 Ramsgate – I stopped frequently on this walk to take a photos

Day 29 : 27/06/16 Broadstairs to Dumpton Gap and back : Walked 4.36 km – 1 hour 6 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 29. 27.06.2016 Dumpton Gap

By this stage I had spent a considerable amount of time planning my Camino and having decided to walk along the Portuguese Coastal Route, using google maps I calculated the various distances starting from Porto through to Santiago. On the whole the routes were averaging about 14-18 kms, which after all my practice walks I knew I could easily manage, but on some days I would need to walk up to almost 30 kms, so I was keen to see if I could walk that far and thus planned a walk along the Kent coast from Broadstairs to Sandwich….. 🙂 Would I make it?

Day 30 : 28/06/16 Broadstairs to Sandwich (train back home) – you didn’t expect me to walk home?? after I’d already : Walked 28.54 km – 7 hours 2 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 30. 28.06.2016 Sandwich

The walk to Sandwich was amazing. I discovered a path that led right along the top of the cliffs and so, after passing through Ramsgate, I walked via a twisting route to Cliffsend and then onto Pegwell Bay National Nature Reserve and finally to Sandwich, by which time I was exhausted and famished. But the views were just stunning and well worth the pain.

my camino; the journey so far

Day 30. 28.06.2016 views across Pegwell Bay

As part of the Camino test, I wanted to be sure that I could indeed walk two long days on the trot (no pun intended!!) ….so next day, with aching feet and legs and a back that wasn’t happy with the backpack, I set off once again to Sandwich….I nearly made it 🙂

my camino; the journey so far

Day 31. 29.06.2016 taking a lunch break in Pegwell Bay Nature Reserve

I did stop at the very edge of the nature reserve and then walked back….so…..

Day 31 : 29/06/16 Broadstairs to Pegwell Country Bay and back                                           Walked 21.84 km – 5 hours 33 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 31. 29.06.2016 Pegwell Bay Nature Reserve

Although I didn’t get as far as the town, I did have to walk back again as there were no trains nearby! hahahaha. But it was a fantastic day, well spent.

Day 32 : 30/06/16 Broadstairs to Botany Bay and back : Walked 7.90 km – 2 hours

my camino; the journey so far

Day 32. 30.06.2016 The Stacks

with a 2nd walk in the evening from Broadstairs to Dumpton Gap and back, I walked another 3.54 km – 56 minutes

And then life got in the way……I had recently been to South Africa to sort out my belongings and ship them over to the UK. All went well and I got everything packed up and shipped over…..and then came the surprise…..UK Customs and Excise….even though the shipment was of no great value, my posessions were in excess of 15 to 45 years and older, and for my own personal use….I still had to pay Customs Duty on the goods. Urgh!! and so endeth my Camino 2016, which will now have to be Camino 2017 LOL or not!!

The shock of this news kind of threw me off stride (no pun intended). The cost of the duty pretty much absorbed my travel money and I didn’t want to dip into my savings. Besides that I had just started my next assignment, and due to the nature of the position I was unable to leave the house for any length of time unless there was another person there.  So except for one day (see below) that took care of that; no more  Camino 2016 practice walks.

Day 33 : 24/07/16 : Oveny Green to Chevening and back : Walked 7.75 km – 2 hours 4 minutes

my camino; the journey so far

Day 33. 24.07.2016 Chevening Church

I so enjoyed being able to stretch my legs again after 3 weeks and thoroughly enjoyed the excursion. I got a little unwell while I was at this assignment and for no discernible reason I still find myself quite without any energy.

Since then I have barely walked any distances at all, except if you count my 3 day visit to London 2-4th September for the Fire! Fire! London’s Burning 350th anniversary events when, as usual, I walked my feet off (but forgot to switch on the app – duh!!).

the great fire of london 1666

the City of London in wood…due to be burned on 4th September for Great Fire 350 event

It’s now mid November and I still find myself very low on energy, so my longs walks have ceased for now.

My plans for Camino 2017 are going ahead. For that walk I have decided to walk the English Way from Ferrol to Santiago. I haven’t yet decided on the precise dates, but suffice to say, I must get myself walking again.

my camino; the journey so far

…follow that shell. I saw these Pilgrim Shells in Brussels recently and loved how they lead you to different pilgrim’s churches in the city

We went to Canterbury in August where we visited the East Bridge hospital dating from 1190. It’s an intriguing place, very old with notable Gothic archways and a 13th-century mural. Once a place for pilgrims to stay; a hospitallier….the word hospital derives from this, no ill people were treated there, it was more a place to stay…like a hostel.

my camino; the journey so far

Eastbridge Hospital on the right; Religious hospital dating from 1190 with notable Gothic archways and a 13th-century mural.

Canterbury is one of the most notable pilgrim destinations and you may recall the Geoffrey Chaucer famously travelled there; his Canterbury Tales.

So not only am I planning on walking the Camino, I am also following in the footsteps of Chaucer…albeit a lot slower than he did!! LOL

This is my Canterbury Tale so far : My Canterbury Tales

The history of the Camino de Santiago goes back at the beginning of the 9th century (year 814).

I recently stumbled upon this site about getting walking fit for the Camino 

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Since moving to Broadstairs, and as part of my ongoing venture; in the footsteps of Geoffrey Chaucer and my Canterbury tales, I have wanted to visit Gravesend. Last week I had the opportunity.
From what I have seen of Chaucer’s apparent route, although he did stop at Dartford, he didn’t stop at Gravesend, but it was close enough for me…..

Although recorded as Graveham in the Domesday Book of 1086, its earliest known historical record, its name probably derives from “graaf-ham”: the home of the reeve or bailiff of the lord of the manor.
A variation, Graveshend, can be seen in a court record of 1422, attributed to where the graves ended after the Black Death.

where the gravesend

…..where the graves end. Cemeteries I have visited around the UK

An ancient town in n-w Kent, Gravesend has a strategic position on the Thames and as such has played an important role in the maritime history of the country and London.
Besides the more modern aspects of its history, stone-age implements have been found in the area, there is evidence of an Iron Age settlement, and extensive Roman remains have been found. Gravesend lies just north of the old Roman road, now called Watling Street that connected London with the Kent coast. The Domesday Book recorded fisheries, hythes and mills in the area.
I usually do some research before visiting a new place, to see what’s of interest in the area. Sometimes I might actually try to determine the location of such places, but mostly I just head in and around and stumble upon the treasures quite by accident. However there was once place I definitely wanted to see: Milton Chantry, one of the oldest remaining buildings in Gravesend. On my meanderings I inadvertently managed to visit quite a few famous sites.
I left the station and headed along Stone Street and into Princes Street towards the river front and on the way I happened upon the Parish Church of St George and the statue of Pocahontas.

where the graves end gravesend

Princess Pocahontas died at Gravesend in 1617

Princess Pocahontas – In 1616, after being presented to English society at the Court of St James as an example of the “civilized savage”, she became something of a celebrity, was elegantly fêted, and attended a masque at Whitehall Palace. In 1617, she and her husband John Rolfe and son Thomas set sail from London headed for Virginia USA. She became ill on the way and died at Gravesend of unknown causes. Buried in the Parish church of St George in Gravesend, the original location of her grave was under the church’s chancel. Since that church burnt down in 1727 the exact location of her grave is now unknown. As part of my exploration this was my first ‘port of call’ 😉
This statue was presented to the British people in 1958 by the Governor of Virginia as a gift; a gesture prompted by Queen Elizabeth’s visit to the USA in 1957.

Delighted to have discovered this, I continued on my way towards the river. Just past The Rum Puncheon pub I followed a narrow lane that opened up to the river! Just across from me was a huge tanker offloading at Tilbury. Wow.

where the graves end gravesend

view across the River Thames from Gravesend to Tilbury

I stopped to find out more about the Gravesend Ferries and then continued on my way towards the Town Pier; the oldest surviving cast iron pier in the world and a Grade II* listed building. Between 1835 and 1842 over 3 million passengers were served. Around 1900, the pier fell into disuse and in 2000 the site was restored with funding from various organisations. It’s a beautiful structure and quite photogenic.

where the graves end, gravesend

Gravesend – Town Pier

Located right next door on Town Pier Square is the oldest pub in Gravesend; The Three Daws, an historic riverside inn dating back to the early 1500’s it is steeped with tales of hauntings, smugglers and Press Gangs. Converted from 5 traditional styled wood fronted cottages, the general structure is older than its history as a Thames tavern. Opened in 1565 during Elizabeth I’s reign, it was originally named as ‘Three Cornish Chough’s and renamed The Three Daws in 1745, large sailing merchant ships used to anchor off on returning from long overseas voyages or while awaiting supplies and a fair wind.
Located at the foot of the old High Street and the river edge, this pub has for centuries been the haunt of smugglers and raided by the old naval press gangs.

where the graves end, gravesend

The Three Daws, Gravesend

One of the oldest taverns in the country, it’s older than Shakespeare’s house, older than many well-known ancient buildings, The Three Daws is almost 450 years old.
Obviously I had to step in and inspect this ancient site. Unfortunately I didn’t see any ghosts 😉

From there I continued along the walkway along the riverside where I came to the Elizabeth Gardens; a small green space overlooking the river, it’s main feature a memorial commemorating those around the world who served alongside Britain in all conflicts 1914-2014. This memorial is topped by a beautiful statue of Squadron Leader Mahinder Singh Pujji DFC.

where the graves end, gravesend

Elizabeth Garden – Mahinder Singh Pujji DFC

Continuing on my way I walked along Royal Pier Road where I found what looked like a church. It is the St Andrews Art Centre and Gallery alongside The Mission House, a rather fine Georgian building.

where the gravesend, gravesend

scenes of Gravesend’s history

I was ambling along having just photographed a row of ships anchors when I happened to look over the wall and saw the remains of the Gravesend Blockhouse; a Tudor Fort: built in 1543 by command of Henry VIII on the river front. Just wow. I didn’t know about that!

Just along the road, overlooking the river is the rather fine looking The Clarendon Royal Hotel. The main building dates from 1665, originally built as a residence when the Duke of York, later James II was appointed to the post of the Lord High Admiral.

where the gravesend, gravesend

Royal Clarendon Hotel, Gravesend

I continued on my way and came upon the Royal Terrace Pier. Built in 1844, the prefix ‘Royal’ was added in honour of Princess Alexandra of Denmark who landed at Gravesend on her way to marry Edward, Prince of Wales, who later became King Edward VIII. Now part of the Port of London Authority’s main operations, public access is limited but I did get to see the rather marvellous sculpture of Poseidon; sculptor Sean Price, that stands out front.

where the graves end, gravesend

Port of London Authority and Custom House Gravesend

I then headed up Royal Pier Road towards The Terrace and turning left, on my way I passed the Old Customs House and right next door saw what I thought was a park…..I had in fact stumbled quite by accident, upon the New Tavern Fort and Milton Chantry.

where the graves end, gravesend

Bandstand in New Tavern Fort

Milton Chantry, built c1320. Re-founded as a chapel in 1320/21 on what was the site of a former leper hospital founded in 1189. I had heard about this being the oldest building in Gravesend and had added it to my list of things to see in Gravesend but when I asked where it was, I just got a shake of the head…..then as I neared the New Tavern Fort voila, there it was.

Milton Chantry, Gravesend

Milton Chantry, Gravesend

Built circa 1320 it is now mainly encased in a 19th century exterior, but still has its 14th century timber roof. Unfortunately it was all closed up so I couldn’t go in. http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/milton-chantry/
New Tavern Fort: wow, right up my alley so to speak.

New Tavern Fort, Gravesend

New Tavern Fort, Gravesend

This fantastic site, part of a military presence established in the town in 1862, sported any number of awesome and fearsome looking guns pointing out over the river. Gravesend is/was located in a very strategic position on the River Thames and as such has come under attack any number of times. I had a most enjoyable time clambering about and viewing the different guns, from different ages.

New Tavern Fort, Gravesend

New Tavern Fort, Gravesend

Afterwards and in the waning light, despite the freezing cold I strolled along the promenade enjoying the scenes of the river, the sunset colours on the horizon and watching an old man feeding the seagulls that shrieked, fought and squawked over the food he was offering.

where the graves end, gravesend

Promenade, Gravesend

Making my way back to the town centre I visited the famous clock tower; Gravesend Clock Tower – okay this was easy to find, but to my dismay it was covered with scaffolding…..which is of course a good thing since that means it is being preserved, but obviously I couldn’t get a decent photo of it, so I’ve borrowed one off Wikipedia. The clock tower, dedicated to Queen Victoria to commemorate the 50th year of her reign, was erected by public subscription and the foundation stone laid on 6 September 1887.
From there I made my way back along Milton Road to King Street and then to the High Street to see the Heritage Quarter.

where the graves end, gravesend

Clock Tower at Gravesend and various scenes around town

Gravesend has one of the oldest surviving markets in the country; the earliest charter granted by Henry III, dates from 1268. Gravesend was sacked and burned by the Castilian fleet in 1380, and in 1401 a Royal Charter was granted that allowed the men of the town to operate boats between the town and London; the Long Ferry became the preferred form of passage….travel by road between London and Gravesend was perilous due to highwaymen.

Gravesend Heritage Quarter

Gravesend Heritage Quarter

In 1840 there were 17 coaches per day setting down and picking up passengers travelling between London, Canterbury, Dover and Faversham.

As I was walking down the High Street and photographing the buildings, I saw to my utter amazement the quite surrealistic sight of a huge tanker sailing past!!! As you can well imagine I ran down to the riverside to see this amazing sight.

Gravesend Heritage Quarter

a tanker sails by at the end of High Street..quite surrealistic

Of course it was well on its way by the time I got there, so instead I ambled along the pier to take a more close up pic of the gorgeous red boat moored alongside and then since I was there I popped into The Three Daws again…just in case I might see a ghost….

Gravesend and the River Thames

Gravesend and the River Thames

Talking of ghosts, as well as the link to Princess Pocahontas, Gravesend can boast links to a number of famous and well-known persons in its turbulent history. Although I didn’t get to visit any other sites with links to famous people, there are a number of names you would probably recognise:
Samuel Pepys – records having stopped off at Gravesend in 1650 en-route to the Royal Dockyards at Chatham.
Charles Dickens – found inspiration for the Pickwick Papers here, and lived at Cobham. In David Copperfield Mr. Peggotty, Ham and the Micawbers say their goodbyes and sail away from Gravesend to begin a new life in Australia.
Sir Edwin Arnold (1832–1904), English poet and journalist, whose most prominent work as a poet was The Light of Asia (1879)
Major-General Charles Gordon (1833–1885), lived in the town during the construction of the Thames forts…although I did get to visit the forts I don’t know where he lived.
I was delighted to discover that Gravesend is twinned with four foreign towns:
flag_of_france-svg Cambrai, France
flag_of_the_united_states-svg Chesterfield, Virginia, United States
125px-flag_of_germany-svgNeumünster, Germany
flag_of_australia_converted-svgBrunswick, Victoria, Australia

Finally I conceded that it was now too dark to explore any further and certainly too dark for photos so I made my way to the station. But first a drink to warm me up. I popped in at Costa for a hot chocolate to go. The contrast between outdoors and indoors was so marked that my glasses misted up LOL

Gravesend and the River Thames

Gravesend

And so goodbye to Gravesend. I’ll probably visit again in the summer. I love the Thames and there are areas further downstream that I’d like to explore.

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I have just been watching the Remembrance Sunday commemorations on BBC1, a highly emotional experience, especially as I watch our Queen and her Consort, who is now ageing quite fast. I find the march-past of the veterans to be of special poignancy, knowing that they have fought for the freedom of the country.

remembrance sunday, remember, armistice day, war memorials in london

Remember

I’ve said this before, one of the things I really, truly love about this country are the traditions. I love that they commemorate significant events in the history of the country and the world. I have attended as many as I possibly can over the last 15 years and have attended Remembrance Sunday at the Cenotaph at least 3 times (my memory fails me as to whether I’ve been more often). Like Trooping the Colour it is one of the events on the annual calendar that I feel compelled to attend…from a sense of gratitude, thanksgiving, of obligation, of community, of being a citizen of the country.

Remembrance Sunday is a time for families who have lost loved ones in conflicts to come together to honour and remember them, for the veterans to receive thanks and pay tribute to those that knew who died in those conflicts. A time of national remembrance.

My daughter and I agree to disagree on whether there is any point in remembering these past events. Her thoughts are that war is pointless, that people go into the army through choice (especially these days) and that remembering these wars just keeps perpetuating the aspect of wars.

My thoughts are that these people have died in service to their country, they’ve fought to keep our country safe. They’ve left loved ones behind and died in foreign lands in order that I may live in a country that is relatively free.

But, I have to agree with her on the pointless act of war.

Crimean War 1853-1856  : number of dead 213,147 – 293,447. The immediate chain of events leading to France and Britain declaring war on Russia on 27 and 28 March 1854 came from the ambition of the French emperor Napoleon III to restore the grandeur of France….ego.

WW1 1914-1918 : 17 million dead 20 million wounded. The explosive that was World War One had been long in the stockpiling; the spark was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914. Ferdinand’s death at the hands of the Black Hand, a Serbian nationalist secret society, set in train a mindlessly mechanical series of events that culminated in the world’s first global war….ego

WW2 1939-1945 : over 60 million killed or 61 million on the Allied side and 11 million on the Axis side. The Treaty of Versailles may have set the scene, but WW2’s main progenitor was one man: Adolf Hitler. Most historians of the causes of World War 2 agree that its seeds were sown at the end of World War 1…ego.

Since the apparent end of WW2 we have had:

1945 and ongoing : Korean conflict
1945-1946 War in Vietnam
1945-1946 Iran crisis
1946-1945 Indochina wars
1946-1949 Greek civil war
another 12 wars/conflicts around the world and then
1948-1949 Arab – Israeli war
another 12 wars/conflicts around the world and then
1950-1953 Korean war
9 wars/conflicts around the world and then
1955-1975 Vietnam war
26 wars/conflicts around the world and then
1961-1975 Angolan War of Independence
14 wars/conflicts around the world and then
1964-1975 Rhodesian Bush War
1964-1992 FULRO insurgency against Vietnam
1964-2016 Colombian conflict
1964-1974 Mozambican War of Independence
10 wars/conflicts around the word and then
1966-1989 South African Border War
9 wars/conflicts around the world and then
1968-1998 The Troubles
17 wars/conflicts around the world and the
1973 Yom Kippur War
35 wars/conflicts around the world and then
1979-1989 Soviet war in Afghanistan
3 wars and conflicts around the world
1980-1988 Iran – Iraq war
6 wars/conflicts around the world and
1982 Falklands war
27 wars/conflicts around the world
And all of these are just between 1945 – 1989 some are still ongoing.
1990-2002 : 65 wars and conflicts, some ongoing
2003-2010 : 39 wars, conflicts and insurgencies

My source for these wars was wikipedia. But if you really want to see the reality of our world at war since 1900, why not scare the shit out yourselves and have a look at this:

All wars in the 20th century I haven’t counted then all, it’s too depressing. According to the site I’ve hyperlinked it is impossible to be sure but at best guess:

Total deaths: 79,284,507 I’d say that’s probably an under-estimated figure.

Number of wars per country is an eye-opener, but what’s really sad is UK 30 & US 24. The only country with a figure higher than that is China with 34. It’s worth having a look…please also do read his comments on the criteria for the figures compiled.

Today, as for centuries past, our main wars are fought because of ego, religion and money…..oil and wealth; vested interests. Countries still go to war to claim land, to kill those they do not agree with and to protect their vested interests. Ego and money is what drives the world.

 

People have been marching for peace for decades and yet we are no nearer to not having wars than we were nearly 100 years ago. There have been countless wars around the world since the end of the First World War nearly 100 years ago: the war to end all wars.

remembrance sunday, armistice day

Harry Patch – veteran of World War 1

Well it didn’t end all wars, we are and have been fighting wars constantly and continuously ever since. We may not be publicly involved in all of these wars, but you can be absolutely sure that we have ‘boots on the ground’ in one way or another; vested interests. So 100 years on, is there any point?

Why do we have Remembrance Sunday when the UK is classified as the 2nd largest arms dealer in the world? http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/britain-is-now-the-second-biggest-arms-dealer-in-the-world-a7225351.html  with most of the weapons now fuelling deadly conflicts in the Middle East, conflicts that come back to bite us where it hurts.

It seems a moot point really.

There are fewer peace marches or walks, or anti-war protests than there have been wars.

Are we really marching for peace? or do we march for war. Let’s face it, people make money from wars. There will never be peace on earth. There hasn’t been since time immemorial and there will continue to be wars until the planet implodes or explodes.

Why do we remember?

 

 

 

 

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