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Archive for the ‘gratitude’ Category

Wow, what an amazing milestone to reach.

I’d like to extend a massive, humongous, enormous 😊😊😊 thank you to every single person who has stopped to read what I have to say. You are all very much appreciated.

When I first started blogging nearly 12 years ago, I had no idea what to write about and no idea of the journey I would go on.

It’s been fits and starts with massive gaps inbetween where I just didn’t get to write, and other times when I’m able to write every day.

I first started this blog on 21 October 2009, my sister’s birthday as it happens, although the coincidence has no relevance, it was just the date I started.

https://notjustagranny.co.uk/2009/10/21/hello-world/

I had another blog before this one, but I really can’t remember what happened to it 😅😕

Over the years I’ve developed a passion for walking, so of course those adventures have become my main theme. Travel too, and there are loads of posts about my travels over the years. I also, unbelievably, have 143 posts in draft 🤔🤔🤔 Most of which are probably quite irrelevant by now.

Some of my posts have passed under the net unnoticed and unread, but others have garnered a substantial number of views.

The all time favourite seems to have been Twickenham on a hot summer day written on 11 July 2010, and still gets views all these years later. Weird.

The most popular day was 26.12.2012, and I still have no idea why!! I’ve written 956 posts 😮😮 some verbose, others just a brief jot, and 52,000 people have visited my site…quite accidentally I’m sure 😁😁 and headed out quicker than a jack rabbit. But many have stayed, read a while and left comments (which I totally love ❤❤) and I thank you for that. I’ve also had to block quite a few nuisance callers, and once I installed akismet, it reduced the huge volume of spam comments I used to get 😱😱😱

Although I’ve learned a lot in the interim, I still haven’t quite come to grips with keywords, key phrases and ranking. Possibly because my posts are mostly so random with no real theme, order or organisation. My biggest beef is the developers that keep ‘improving’ their programmes and when they do that, I’m left back at square one trying to relearn everything. Drives me mad. I’m not a fan of the current upgrade, and a few choice words fall like pearls from my lips from time to time 😁😁😁

Since I started the blog I’ve become a granny, seen my daughter married to an amazing man, moved to the coast, travelled extensively around the UK, both for my job and my personal desires, been to a royal wedding, become a British citizen, met new friends, become an aunt to 7 kiddies, attended the 2012 London Olympics and lived through the insanity that was/is Brexit, flown in a helicopter and a Spitfire, attended the 2016 400th anniversary of the Great Fire of London and the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, amongst much else. But those are the highlights.

My passions are the same, I’m 12 years older, albeit not much wiser…and my bones creak at lot more than they did back then!

Thank you all for dropping by and visiting, I appreciate you one and all. 😊😊

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Stage 6 – Staines-Upon-Thames to Windsor 11.06.2021 – 20.46 kms – 6 hours 57 minutes – 39,770 steps – elevation 73 meters

After a really hectic week of walking and taking my grandson on outings, plus a 19 km jaunt along the Saxon Shore Way and a brief visit to Sheppey Island, on Thursday 10th June I impulsively decided to walk another 2 stages of the Thames Path! I had planned on going up to London on Saturday 12th for Trooping the Colour, but fortunately I thought to check their website, only to discover that due to the continued lockdown, they had decided to hold the ceremony in Windsor again this year. And at that moment I decided to do the next 2 stages of the Thames Path; Staines-Upon-Thames to Windsor on the 11th and Windsor to Maidenhead on the 12th. Change of plans…

Walking the Saxon Shore Way
Walking the Saxon Shore Way

I quickly rejigged my calendar and rearranged my weekend plans, then a mad scramble to book accommodation ensued and at literally just on 9pm Thursday night I secured an Airbnb booking close to The Long Walk. I hastily packed my backpack with the absolute minimum requirements and prepared some food for the next day. Hoorah! I was off on the next 2 stages of my adventure. As mentioned in Stage 5, it was taking longer and longer to reach my starting point (the end point of my previous stage) and made more sense to stay overnight on day 1 and pick up again on day 2. The idea this time was to walk Stage 6: Staines to Windsor, stay overnight, watch as much of Trooping the Colour as I could see

after which I set off at approximately 1pm for Maidenhead, planning/hoping to arrive there relatively early for the long trip home. However, due to faffing around at the Three Store in Windsor for 2 hours, I missed the earlier train! LOL

The plans of mice and (wo)men….do not always work to plan! But that’s what I love about my life…I can change my plans any time I like 🙂

I left home early to get the 09:25 train as advised previously by the station attendant, and travelled to Staines via Vauxhall. Here things went a little awry…trains were either late, cancelled altogether or didn’t stop at the station. Total chaos reigned. Eventually sometime after 12noon, I finally boarded a train bound for Weybridge, stopping at Staines and arrived at just after 1pm. I made haste towards the river, reaching the railway bridge at 13:11 (now 34 minutes behind schedule!)

Staines Railway Bridge

Staines was the end of the tidal Thames until 1812 when the downstream locks were built. Staines Railway Bridge was built in 1856 and painted with yellow stripes in 1995 to stop swans from flying into it. ref Cicerone guide book.

Following the same route as when I first reached Staines on the 24th April at the end of Stage 5, I stopped to photograph the houses by the riverside that I passed at that time

So pretty, and there’s Staines Bridge in the distance
Reminds me of Bermuda, so gorgeous and a fab view

Then a quick photoshoot (of course 😁😁) of all the interesting sculptures and the London Stone

The London Stone

The London Stone marks the end of the City of London’s river jurisdiction (1197-1857) and although it has been moved a few times in the area, it has stood in Staines-Upon-Thames since 1285. The Lord Mayor of London made an annual visit to touch the stone with a sword. (the London Stone at Staines, built in 1285 marked the customs limit of the Thames and the City of London’s jurisdiction – the Corporation acquired these rights from the Crown in 1197 in the reign of King Richard I and held them until 1857 when the Thames Conservancy was formed).

After saying hello to the bridge, I meandered along the north bank and found a shady spot opposite Church Island to have my lunch.

Perfect view, Church Island to my right and the opposite bank where I’ll soon be walking

It was so relaxing just sitting watching the river and the world go by, that I could have stayed all day.

Top pic behind me. Bottom pic looking towards Church Island

I didn’t tarry too long, time was passing and so I set off back to the bridge

Thames Path Over Bridge – sounds like the title of a book 😄

Following the instructions in the guide book I crossed over to the opposite bank and went in search of a City of London coal tax post, which the author said was opposite the London stone…it wasn’t…I used up 2.92 kms and 30 minutes searching for it before giving up and continuing my walk – but not before photographing a couple of items that could possibly have been it, but weren’t….

#notthecoaltaxpost

I did eventually come across what I suspect is what he was talking about….but it wasn’t opposite the London Stone!! it was in fact, a way further upstream of the bridge on the south bank, whereas the London Stone is downstream of the bridge on the north bank. Hmmm

I was really excited to be walking along this section and looking forward to visiting the Magna Carta memorial…which I thought was on an island but wasn’t. It was actually very easy to visit once I knew how!! LOL As with all things you read in the guide books, the reality is very different to what you imagine it would be like. But that was still to come…also a lot further along than I imagined.

I would also be passing from Surrey into Berkshire on this stage, the 4th county since I started my journey at 1. Erith in Kent 2. Greater London 3. Surrey and 4. Berkshire. Of course there are a greater number of boroughs that I passed through.

Even though Staines is quite far from London, especially if you follow the course of the river, there is still a tremendous amount of history alongside the banks, and as I had discovered at Walton-Upon-Thames, the Vikings travelled the distance to plunder the abbeys. In 871 Vikings, from the word vikingr meaning raider or explorer, attacked Reading before making their way along the Thames to London at the end of the year. Setting off from Staines across the fields they sacked Chertsey Abbey, setting fire to the buildings and stealing valuables. It is said that Abbot Beocca, Presbyter Ethor and 90 monks were murdered, however, it is unclear whether the deaths all occurred in the 871 raid, or whether the number is a total from three attacks on the abbey. ref Chertsey Museum

The brick path from the bridge to the river’s edge is lovely and quite decorative. The path from here onwards is also very rural with lots of beautiful green trees and rich undergrowth and I passed through many shady copses and open fields, as well as alongside cultivated gardens that ran right down to the riverside.

The paved pathway leading to the river and the Thames Path
Onwards….Windsor, I’m on my way!!

Crossing a lovely arched bridge over a little inlet

You can now see Church Island on the right from a different angle – LOVE that house!

a minute later I plunged into a world of leafy green foliage and shade.

Blissful walking environment

This continued for a few minutes and lo and behold….the City of London Coal Tax post…at least I think it was! I did a bit of research and found this on wikipedia Coaltax posts are boundary marker posts found in southern England. They were erected in the 1860s and form an irregular loop between 12 and 18 miles from London to mark the points where taxes on coal were due to the Corporation of London. There were originally around 280 posts of which around 210 remain. So yes, I do believe this was (possibly) the coal tax post…

Coal Tax post me thinks!

The path continued with the river in close proximity through leafy green glades, past islands, across bridges, past creeks and canal boats. Tall trees abounded and provided the most glorious shade as the gravel path wound it’s way; turning this way and that way (reminded me of the nursery rhyme that my grandson loves)

the bridge before the bridge…the hum of traffic from the M25 was already quite loud

I soon reached and passed beneath Runneymede Bridge and the M25….the traffic noise was astounding and jarred on the senses. I did though enjoy the image presented by the architecture of the underpass.

I saw an information board that told me about a Bronze Age Settlement that has been discovered in 1975 during development of the M25 motorway. Fragments of pottery dating to 750BC were spotted by local archaeologists. Before the Runnymede Bridge excavations, little was known about late prehistoric South East England prior to the Iron Age. From the artefacts discovered, it is clear that the river played a fundamental role in the lives of our Bronze Age ancestors. Excavation has shown that the site includes a large number of post holes and a wattle and daub spread including a double row of in-situ pile driven timber uprights forming a river frontage. The finds recovered include part of a spearhead and socketed axe fragment, pins, ‘buttons’, rings, possible pommel, two pairs of tweezers, amber beads, spindle whorls, a loom weight and worked bone objects. This bronze assemblage was dated to the 9th-8th century BC.

now just a field of wild flowers…but haunted by the spirits of our ancestors

Absolutely fascinating! It gave me goosebumps to look out over the field of wild grasses and flowers and try to imagine the people who lived there so many centuries before. Magic

A short few paces on and I passed the first of the locks on this section; Bell Weir Lock – a pretty little island. The lock is named after its very first lock keeper, Charles Bell, who was employed by the Thames Navigation Commissioners in 1917. He earned a good wage of £4 per month, but for this he had to provide his own residence. He already owned a house close by, so he had no problems. Charles fought in the first World War but sadly, he didn’t return. His wife was believed to have taken over the job. Several years ago a rare bald eagle was sighted here. At the same time an Irish landowner had lost one and discovered it was the same bird! He travelled to Bell Weir, caught the bird and took it home to Ireland.

Bell Weir Lock

Imagine my delight when I spotted the fantastic Magna Carta mural on the wall of the Lockmaster’s house – brought back many wonderful memories of being a part of the Magna Carta flotilla from Datchet via Windsor to Runneymede meadows back in 2015! Again thanks to my very special friend Joe Lane who invited me along to join them on the Trinity Tide. A magical day and a great honour to be part of the celebrations. I was in a daze of delight the whole day!

Magna Carta

Prominent in my thoughts the whole day was how I was going to reach the Magna Carta Memorial – I could be forgiven for being confused when looking at the picture board!! It caused just a little bit (a lot) of stress…in fact I thought I had bypassed it altogether! but no….if I had but studied the board a little closer, I would have seen that the memorial was still to come and very accessible.

Across the river I spotted a really beautiful building, looked like a hotel really, and what appeared to be a weir with probably a pump house….but no matter how much searching I’ve done on google maps and the web, I am quite unable to find out what it is….intriguing and more than a little frustrating to not know what it is!.

what is this place?

As with the Stage 5, there are some stunning houses on very large properties along this section of the river. I saw one in particular that I just loved!

oh my word…how much I love this house

Near the Runnymede Boatyard I saw a number of quirky canal boats moored alongside the banks…absolutely gorgeous. Clearly they are more permanent residents if the gardens are anything to go by. They provided a stunning array of colours and designs. Apparently there is a mile of these boats along this stretch. Woww.

It looks so quaint and quirky, each boat completely different to the next
how different a lifestyle this must be…away from the noise of civilization, but close to your neighbour!

Here the path changes again and runs alongside the river across from ‘The Island’ which according to google maps is not a complete island….there were however some gorgeous houses that fronted the river…wow. That side of the river is Wraysbury. It looks really lovely.

I soon reached the Runnymede Pleasure Grounds and rather than taking a shortcut across the field to the statue of Queen Elizabeth II, I followed the path as it rounded a rather large bend in the river. One thing for sure that I’m learning about this river; The Thames, is that it is anything but straight!!

Runnymead Pleasure Grounds

It is an incredibly beautiful stretch (kind of a horse-shoe shape) and by and by I reached the QEII statue. I loved the history timelines engraved on the flagstones and endeavoured to photograph them all…hah!

Looks more like Princess Anne than Queen Elizabeth II
the dates freak me out LOL
Magna Carta – meaning: Great Charter. I love how French sounds so exotic, but translated into English…so simple (boring LOL)

I’m not entirely sure that the essence of the Magna Carta is upheld today…

leaving Runnymead Pleasure Grounds behind me

Runnymede – I was getting closer to the memorial, but still for the life of me I could not see it. I didn’t dare use my google maps function on my phone coz it chews battery life, and even though I had a spare charger, I have a fear of losing battery power….so I just carried on and hope for the best. I needn’t have worried.

If you haven’t yet been to the Magna Carta Memorial and you happen to be walking the Thames Path, and wondering where the memorial is and how to get there…it is a lot easier than I thought.

I got really excited when I saw this sign!!

When the barons gathered here in 1215 to meet King John on Runnymede, they had to ford the river at Staines – the first bridge was built 7 years later. ref Cicerone guidebook.

Across the river I could see a small section of the Ankerwycke Abbey. But sadly not the Yew Tree…I’ll have to go back and approach from the other side of the river some other time.

the ruins of Ankerwyke Abbey

Meanwhile….I was getting closer to achieving my dream of visiting the Magna Carta Memorial….6 years is a long wait!

And finally, there it was. And so easy to get to LOL after all my stress of missing it.

Simply cross the road at the traffic lights by the National Trust buildings and a short walk across the fields and there it was

cross here 🙂
follow this path

It was ever so worth the extra 2.5 km walk there and back. I met a delightful couple who were visiting the site, and we ended up chatting for well over 30 minutes while they asked questions, and I regaled them with snippets from my many journeys around the UK on the Camino. The lady of the couple said she was really keen to take up with long distance walking but didn’t want to go on her own….and I’m like “OMG that’s my ideal scenario!” She was already a member of Ramblers, but wanted to try something a little less crowded. She happened to say that one of the things with walking in a big group, is that you have to keep to their schedule…and that is exactly why I walk on my own. If I want to go off on a tangent to explore or spend an hour in a particular spot…then I am answerable to no-one.

Back to the memorial….it was everything I imagined and more. I got very emotional standing there and thought of my friend Joe (he has no idea just how very grateful I am that he invited me along, it was certainly one of the highlights of my life in the UK).

The Magna Carta Memorial – Symbol of Freedom Under Law

I took my time to read the information boards at the gate, walked around the memorial in a clockwise direction and mounted the steps to read the engravings. Absolutely thrilling.

enroute to the Magna Carta memorial is this amazing oak tree planted in 1987 with soil from Jamestown, Virginia

From there, and on the way back to the road I first stopped to admire the sculpture in the field; the 12 chairs depicting the barons at their meeting with King John…they are terrific

a lovely ensemble of decorative chairs representing the barons

And then I visited the J F Kennedy Memorial which is beautiful and worth the fairly steep climb.

a tiny piece of America in England

On my way back to the gates I noticed a lot of yellow ribbons tied to the branches of some trees, fluttering in the wind. Intrigued I walked over for a closer look, and as with the memorial on the Albert Embankment on Stage 2 through London, my heart contracted and I was close to tears. Each ribbon depicts someone who has died from Covid-19. Oh my gosh, so so sad…and really heart-wrenching to see the hundreds of ribbons each with a name and a date. I saw a ribbon lying on the ground all spattered with mud, so picked it up and dusted it off as best I could, then tied it back onto the branch. These memorials really bring home the reality of the staggering number of people who have died since March 2020.

incredibly poignant, and a real whack to the heart

Feeling pensive, and grateful for my health, I meandered over to the National Trust tearoom, only to find them locking the door!! LOL my luck., I should have stopped there first…but then I will have missed that lovely couple I chatted to earlier. Cést la vie. I used the facilities instead and hope I could find some water somewhere…it was another hot day and I had already used up all my supplies.

Back at the river, at the boatyard, as I walked past two gentlemen sat on the riverside, I asked if they knew where I could top up my water…what a gentleman….he gave me a bottle of water 🙂 I could have kissed him…but then he might have turned into a frog! I was delighted to spot a wee bunny in a field to my left…I had to backtrack to get a photo to show my grandson, and amazed that the bunny actually stayed put and allowed me to snap away… I thought for sure it would bound off into the undergrowth at my approach. But the fence…

Boom! Suddenly I was in Old Windsor. whoo hoo!! time 16:47 and I had been walking and exploring for nearly 4 hours. I had wanted to visit the old church mentioned in the guide book, but frankly I was quite tired by then, so decided to leave it for another time.

Old Windsor

The first Windsor, what we now know as old Windsor, grew up just to the south west of this lock. It was a fortified, national centre for the Saxons. Edward the Confessor had his palace only 3oo meters from here. After the Norman Conquest, King William continued to use Kingsbury, its church and surrounding buildings as a council place and hunting centre. The name Windsor may derive from ‘windles ora’ meaning a bank with a windlass.

The path ran right alongside the river here and there were some splendid boats moored up on the opposite bank of the river.

Dark gloomy clouds hung heavy on the horizon and I hoped that I wasn’t going to be subjected to a shower (not yet anyway).

I’ve said this before….and it’s worth repeating, the Thames Path is varied!!

Check this cute little canalboat…in the background on the opposite bank is a capsized boat. Poor old thing. I saw quite a few dilapidated and abandoned boats alongside the river bank. I often wonder why they have just been left there to rot.

Up and down, around and switchback, the path is a bit like a rollercoaster, and took me through some beautiful green areas.

Suddenly I reached Old Windsor Lock…getting closer to ‘new’ Windsor!!

Walking the Thames Path
Old Windsor Lock – look at the diagram of the river LOL twisting and winding

Continuing on my way I passed what I mistakenly thought was the Albert Bridge – it was in fact Ham Lane leading to Ham Island, which on closer inspection via google maps appears to have been created by another cut-through to avoid a large bend in the river… another section to try and walk at some stage then! Apparently I was walking in an area called Saint George’s Farm – okayyy, cool!

I walked over to the middle of the bridge to capture the scene upstream and downstream – looks the same either way.

This section of the path wound it’s way through shoulder height grasses and wild flowers – a home for the bees and butterflies. Magical.

I was just about to sit down at this bench when a little black and white spaniel came bounding out of the underbrush trailing all manner of greenery and nearly gave me heart-failure LOL It bounded off along the path and joined an elderly gentleman I had seen walking ahead of me – one of very few people I encountered on the path.

I spent a few minutes at the bench relaxing, enjoying some welcome tea and sandwich and soaking up the tranquillity…birdsong the only sounds.

Albert Bridge. Here I had to cross over to the north bank once again because her Maj owns the next section all the way into town…so there! Prince Albert’s Walk m’dear!

I stopped at the top of the bridge to photograph the river, it’s so beautiful and looks so tranquil. Just around that bend, and another larger loop in the river, but not too far upstream is Windsor Castle and my bed for the night. Hoorah!

Around that bend…and the next 😉

Down and around and under the bridge I was now on the north side of the river. The bridge design is really pretty.

Albert Bridge

After crossing beneath the bridge the path meandered along past overgrown edges, a veritable plethora of plants. Over the fence a farmers field edged with a corridor of wild flowers for birds, bees and butterflies and all our wonderful wildlife that need this kind of habitat to thrive. Poppies waved their bright red heads, a stunning palette against the multi-colours of green.

In the distance I could see the red tiled roof of the farmhouse of Southlea Farm (Slough) … I’m nearing Datchet now.

On my left a thick line of shrubs covered in spider webs…a bit like a dusty cloak. I’ve always been intrigued by these webs so did a bit of research…as it turns out, it’s caterpillars that build these webs. Who knew 🤔🤔

Soon the path turned away from the river, although along this short section I couldn’t really see the river anyway the undergrowth and overgrowth was so thick…but I knew it was there. Just before the B3021, the path took a sharp left (do not go through the gate said the guidebook, but turn left) and so I walked into Datchet.

It was horrible, lots of traffic, a very narrow pathway, overgrown hedges almost pushing you to step onto the roadway.

I ended up skirting a very very narrow verge since I hadn’t been able to cross the road. The guidebook didn’t say anything about crossing over so I carried on assuming the sidewalk would continue….it didn’t. Fortunately no big trucks came past and I managed to reach safety without mishap.

looking back – not fun to walk on what turned out to be the wrong side of the road…but I got through

A brief excursion onto The Green, which was not on the official Thames Path, but it looked pretty and offered brief respite from the traffic.

From there I did cross over the road, only to have to cross back over again not much further on. The guidebook could be updated here with more information. As it is, I just navigated by my nose until I spotted a direction marker pointing me in the right direction.

check out that traffic….I had to squeeze my way across

Along a short path, across a wee bridge alongside the Dachet Golf Club and once again I was plunged into a world of green, the traffic now barely a whisper.

Across the river, now visible again, I could see her Maj’s secret hideaway LOL

Do you think Her Majesty hides away here sometimes?

Anddd another flight of stairs..this time onto Victoria Bridge, and once again I returned to the south bank of the Thames. Looking back downstream from the top of the bridge the difference in vegetation between the two sides of the river is quite remarkable. On the left: an overgrown jungle of trees, shrubbery, flowers and grasses, and to my right her Maj’s perfectly manicured lawns, the trees marching in an orderly row evenly paced as they disappear around the bend. Someone needs to tell herself that we need wildlife corridors for the birds and the bees!

Her Majesty’s Lawns vs Nature

Hoorah!!! My first glimpse of Windsor Castle! From Victoria Bridge

I followed the directions in the guide book, although it wasn’t really necessary…but

Then things took a turn for the worse…actually not really, it just felt like that at the time. By this time I was tired and footsore, desperate for a cup of tea and in no mood to be redirected around construction sites. How inconsiderate of them to go and put up fencing and stuff.. LOL grumpy granny was out her box!!

Home Park….and here I had to force my way through a jungle of overgrowth my panga swiping left and right to forge a way through….LOL sorry my mind went off on a tangent there. As you may well imagine, my vocabulary once again took a turn for the worse…if I were a witch, workmen would be dropping around me like flies! Turns out they’re repairing Black Potts Ait bridge.. or something like that.

Diversion is the spice (chilli 🌶) of life

Once past the fencing I made my way diagonally across Home Park to the river and met up with the Thames Path once again. Very pretty along this section…so much green and so tranquil.

I walked beneath the railway line just as a train rumbled past. So glad I don’t have to rush to catch a train home tonight!

still going in the right direction!

I passed Romney Lock, but from the state of it I’d say it’s not in much use anymore.

Romney Lock

A metalled road soon took over from the lovely gravel pathway and hey ho, back in the urban jungle once again.

And there just ahead of me!!!! Wheyyy heyy heyyy my next sighting of Windsor Castle!! Hoorah.

Relax Lizzie, I’m almost there, put the kettle on sweetie 🙂 So exciting to finally see the towers of the castle. But first I had to traverse this metalled road and pass some ugly industrial sites/sights!!

The path suddenly veered away to the right and thankfully I was once again surrounded by green with a small canal to my right. After looking at google maps I can see that it’s a small cut-away from the main river that splits around Romney Lock.

Walking alongside the Thames (Thameside) I could see Windsor Bridge in the distance…not long to go now!

Windsor Bridge in the distance
Stopping to look back from whence I had come…the railway bridge in the distance

Lookie lookie!!!! What can I see? Without further ado, I was there…in Windsor. Glimpses of the castle as I walked towards the bridge

Knock knock! I’m here…..journey’s end! Hoorah. Windsor Bridge: designed by Charles Hollis and opened in 1824. Freed from tolls by the action of Joseph Taylor in 1898. Closed to vehicles in 1970. How sensible.

Windsor Bridge

Just across the bridge is Eton where our bonnie Princes William and Harry attended college. I mean why not? Granny’s pad was just up the road…makes sense really.

Looking towards Eton

I passed this really gorgeous old building on my way in…

Bell and The Dragon – serving food since the 11th century

And still light enough to have a bit of an explore and and ice-cream – come on! you knew there would be an ice-cream at the end of this! Actually, I asked a chap walking by if he would please take a photo of me with my ice-cream, in front of the castle… as you know, my selfies are not that good. But I’m not quite sure he got the idea of a good photo…and much of the pavement, my feet and legs are in the pic, but not much of the top of the castle. Oh well. I did a selfie anyway…rubbish as always. I might concede defeat and get one of those gadgets that allows you to take selfies when you have short arms. Oh wait! I have one. My daughter bought it for me. I hate it! LOL

if I look like I’m grimacing, it’s because I was – come on already, just take the photo!!

Windsor Castle. As castles go, this one is superb! Talk about intimidating! But it’s also beautiful and I love it! A quick few pics and then it was time to find my Airbnb.

Windsor Castle : Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. Founded by William the Conqueror in the 11th century, it has since been the home of 39 monarchs. Today The Queen spends most of her private weekends at the Castle. In fact she was home this weekend for her Official Birthday Parade and to meet President Joe Biden and Dr Jill Biden.

I had messaged my host ahead to say that I would be there about 7pm, as it turns out I got there just on 8pm! Usually when I get to a ‘new’ place I always check in and then go out and explore…but not tonight! My fabulous host made me a much appreciated cup of tea and I had my cup-a-soup and a slice of bread. Then sat in her garden for 30 minutes or so just to unwind, after which I bade them goodnight, had a shower and fell into bed….absolutely knackered!

Another fantastic day! Gosh I do love walking. Even though my feet ache and I feel like I’ve been run over by a truck by day’s end, I love to discover new places, sights and scenes. Once again I had it all; fantastic weather, wonderful scenery – albeit very different to stage 5, pretty bridges, a few locks, and a historic and world-famous castle at the end of the day…and an ice-cream. I am just a bit put-out though…Lizzie forgot I was coming and made other arrangements. So rude!

What a wonderful day!!

May I add as a caveat to what I said about walking on my own…the only exceptions I’m prepared to make are walking with two of my younger sisters who are both seasoned long-distance walkers/cyclists/hikers and understand the dynamics.

My favourite travel quote

If you missed the beginning of my journey, I started Stage 1 from Erith

I continued my journey with Stage 7 on 12th June…post hopefully to follow soon 😉🚶‍♀️🚶‍♀️

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So although that sounds pretty awful in terms of the length of time, 40 years….I didn’t always have debt.

Going back to the beginning, I got married for the first time at the age of 17. Back in those dark ages in South Africa I was advised to get married ‘In Community of Propery’, which basically meant I was my husband’s ‘property’ (49 years later I still don’t know what the benefits were, if any) – if I wanted to open a bank account or sign any documents, I had to not only have his permission, but I also had to have his signature.

This irked me for many years and when I finally left him and we divorced, I then had the freedom to do whatever I pleased. I didn’t immediately dash out to get a credit card, but I did open my own bank account and manage my own money.

The years went by and I eventually met my 2nd husband, who after we married persuaded me to take out a credit card to pay for baby stuff and fluff….like eating out 3 times a week. He fancied himself a posh totty without the funds to back it up. I was at home with my baby at the time and left him (trusted) to manage our finances.

He serviced the card for a while until one day a knock at the door heralded a representative of said bank who asked to come in, and because I was still really stupid in those days, I said okay. I even made him a cup of tea. 🤪🤪🤪 He asked for my credit card and a scissors, both of which I gave him 🤔🤔🤔 like I said….I was still very stupid (or naive, take your pick,). To my horror, he cut up the credit card and told me that it was Rxxxx in arrears (R =Rands and I can’t remember how much).

I was aghast and frankly shocked. But also very afraid…of my husband who was a fairly volatile person and I was really scared about what he was going to say. He responded exactly as I expected.

Long story short, I didn’t get another credit card, went back to work in due course and ultimately we divorced after a few years.

He wasn’t a reliable man and child maintenance was adhoc and irregular, and eventually came to a stop altogether.

But I worked hard, changed companies from time to time and worked my way up from being a debtor’s clerk to Personnel and Administrative Manager for a Courier company with 5 branches and the Head Office, which is where I was based.

I bought a house (mortgage) and a car (lease agreement) and ultimately moved to the coast (East London) as Branch Manager with the same company, after my Mother died (1984), with my daughter and a few months later my younger sister who was just 13 at the time.

Child maintenance from both my ex-husband and my sister’s father was intermittent and seldom enough to support 2 children in any great way.

But my salary was decent and we lived quite happily for nearly 3 years. I opened a new credit card account with an excellent credit rating, had holidays, went out for meals, bought clothes when needed, paid school fees for both schools, had birthday treats etc and I got promoted to Regional Manager of a new Division in the company and I traded one car in for another.

Without warning, and due to no fault of mine, 6 months later the company decided to close down the new division and I was retrenched (made redundant).

Now I was stuck in a very financially poor area of the country, rent to pay, a lease on a brand new car and 2 children to support with no prospects. A chaotic time followed and a few months later I had the first of 2 nervous breakdowns. I left home. And all my debt and responsibility behind me.

Skip forward a few years. I recovered and got a new job, paid off the debt. My daughter came back to live with me. I got another new job, bought a car and a house and acquired new credit cards.

Life went on. I moved my daughter and I to Cape Town in 1997 and still working for the latest company I again improved my prospects. Over the intervening years, jobs came and went. I bought a new house, kept the car, and although we struggled sometimes, somehow I always managed to pay my debts, even if some months were a really close shave and only my powers of persuasion kept us in our house.

Fast forward to 2001 and a series of events occurred.

The company I had been working for over the previous 18 months was put into liquidation after the owners had a falling out. My daughter reached the age of consent (21 in South Africa), and my sister (the one who came to live with me after my Mother’s death), was now living in Ireland with her husband, about to turn 30 and wanted someone from the family to celebrate her milestone birthday with her. Since I had no real responsibilities, I decided to go.

Worked for the liquidators till end of contract. Left my daughter looking after the house (still had a mortgage) and sold her the car (paid off by now). Cleared my credit cards and flew to Ireland.

I loved it so much in Ireland, the freedom!!!! So at the end of my visa, I flew back to SA, sold the house, paid off the mortgage and credit cards put my belongings into storage and flew back to the UK to start a new life with my ancestral visa. No credit cards. My daughter joined me in the UK 1 year later, but managed her own affairs.

I got a job, worked hard, and after a couple of years…acquired a new credit card and life went on. I went on holidays, bought whatever I needed and serviced my debts, building up a good credit rating.

Skip forward to 2005 and a chance meeting got me involved in Multi Level Marketing. All good so far. The training recommended telling family and friends about the company and ‘ideally’ signing them up to also become distributors. I flew to South Africa full of excitement and enthusiasm about the new opportunity, but had buckets of cold water (metaphorically) dumped on my head by various members of the family. And acquired a lot of debt.

I flew back to the UK totally dejected, but struggled on trying to make a go of the ‘business’. A couple of years later my daughter saw an advert for something called ‘Millionaire Training’. In those days I still had hopes of being ‘successful’ of earning enough money to become financially independent. So I went to the training and ended up joining another Multi Level Marketing programme. Both the first and now this were excellent products and I still use the one regularly, just not as a distributor.

After a few months of minimal success it was suggested that I attend a Tony Robbins event called UPW (Unleash the Power Within) and therein lay the seeds of my downfall.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved every minute of the 4 days…it was insane. I got to walk on fire, danced and sang, went through mind-blowing processes, and had my head turned inside out by manipulation…I mean NLP.

Despite my determination to not sign up to the ‘University’ course, by the end of day 4 I found myself handing over my credit card details to the tune of $10,000.00 One word. Four letters.

And that is when money started to flow (as he promised) just not towards me, but away from.

I spent a fortune flying around the world to the different courses. Health Mastery at St Andrew’s, Scotland. Wealth Mastery in London and finally Phoenix Arizona, USA for the coupe de grace….Date With Destiny. hmmm….

At his Wealth Mastery course we learned how to use OPM. Other People’s Money. Ergo the banks. So I did.

As each card got maxed out, so I applied to another company for a new one. My credit rating was still good, and because the whole shebang happened in less than 6 months, it took a while for the banks to catch up with my spending. Despite having gone through his whole programme, I still felt like I was missing something. I still could not sell a tube of toothpaste LOL never mind make a living from the products.

And so I went to this course and that course; Christopher Howard, Roger Hamilton (about whom I shall say as little as possible so I don’t get sued for libel), Dr John Demartini (the only course that actually had any benefits), Success University and many many others…paid for this course, paid for that course, and the next and the next and the next….one after the other, and so my debt mounted. I was still working, but I had taken out loans from one bank, applied for credit cards from another 3 and suddenly I was in debt to the tune of £35k!! And I came down to earth with a bump! 6 months. That’s all it took. From June 2007 till January 2008. And now I was in serious trouble.

In my desperation to ‘find the right’ product, I joined 8 different Multi Level Marketing companies; all with different products, none of which I could actually ‘sell’. One theme that ran through all of them was ‘fake it till you make it’. In other words lie. So I tried. To fake it. But I couldn’t. It didn’t sit right with me and I struggled…still throwing my income at books and online courses (all free course now, I’d run out of money), and listened to The Secret nearly 100 times until I felt I would go mad.

Finally in 2011 whilst struggling to pay my debts that simply grew and grew due to the interest being charged on my credit cards, I gave up all pretence at trying to ‘build a business’ put my head down and took on as much work as I could.

Around me, most of the ‘friends’ I had made at all the courses, were in debt, a couple of whom were in much deeper than myself, and some of them declared bankruptcy. I put the word ‘friends’ into commas because ultimately the friendships wore down and ended over the next few of years.

Meanwhile I had reached a dead end. I could no longer cope with my debt which had now reached the not so very comfortable amount of £50k…..the interest piled upon interest, upon the original debt and I was drowning. So I took financial advice. I approached a Debt Advisor who suggested that firstly I apply to get a refund on all the PPI I had paid the banks….largely successful it reduced some of the debt. One of the companies put me through hoops before finally conceding that they did indeed have to refund me.

I was informed that I could either declare bankruptcy, and various other options that I never took, or I could set up a payment plan through a debt advisory company. I chose the latter. I could not in all honestly walk away from my debt. And so, for the last 10 years, I have diligently paid off my debt in monthly increments, increasing the amount each year and paying more as I earned more.

I still had my holidays, but if I wanted to plan a trip, I took on more work and paid for them upfront. I budgeted my income very carefully; I definitely didn’t attend any further courses (?), I seldom went out for dinner or to the cinema and fortunately I loathe shopping for clothes anyway, so managed to save a little on the side each month by being exceptionally careful with my money. And my trips were always on the ‘cheap’…cheapest travel, cheapest accommodation (sometimes in really shitty places), hardly ate anything while there and didn’t spend money on keepsakes or trinkets. My only luxury has been books. I saved all the money I earned from night calls, or working over bank holidays, and some years I worked over Christmas and New Year….double pay = more money to save. My biggest luxury this last year has been my virtual challenges, but they have also been a way to keep my sanity by pushing me to get out and walk.

When I stopped taking on long-term assignments I lived in shared accommodation, and for 18 months I had no dedicated home at all….but stayed in B&B’s between bookings. And slowly but surely I whittled my debt down over the years. A few years ago I offered decent settlement amounts to a couple of the banks, which were accepted, and subsequently increased the payment amounts to the others. By the beginning of 2021 I had finally reduced my debt to below £5k and today, I made the full and final payment on the very last amount still outstanding. £521.88 to be precise.

As of today, I am finally debt free. I don’t owe anyone a single penny. It is a huge weight off my shoulders.

I know this post has been different to my usual posts, but I felt it was necessary to say…for me. I feel an overwhelming sense of achievement at having finally settled my debts after 10 years, and really really proud that I didn’t take the easy way out and declare bankruptcy back in 2011.

I guess my experience could act as a cautionary tale too. Don’t live on credit. Especially don’t pay for personal development courses with a credit card, and don’t ever subscribe to the fallacy of OPM. It may well be ‘other people’s money’ to begin with, but ultimately, you will have to pay it back. I believed everything they said in those courses, and whilst I may have learned a lot, none of it paid the bills.

I have managed to live without a credit card for the last 10 years…and I will continue to live my life without a credit card. It can be done.

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I’ll say it right up front…I live in a stunning part of the world. The town itself is a bit of a rats ass and some days I despair at the human race, but the seashore….now that’s another story.

I set off quite early this morning to join my family for tea and buns and spend a few minutes with my BooBee before he went to school. I’m not sure it was such a good idea coz then he didn’t want to go 😄😄😄

The other reason for such an early visit is that my daughter, who is a photographer and videographer had arranged for me to be ‘interviewed’. She’s working on a project to record the grandparents life stories for posterity and so that future generations can know who we were.

It’s such a good idea. My Mum died when she was 52, I was just on 29 years old at the time, the oldest of her 4 daughters, the youngest just 13. Although we spoke a lot and she told us stories about her life, now that I’m older I have so many questions, that will never be answered.

My daughter is keen for us to leave a record of our lives, and so today we started what will be the first of I guess 6 interviews…1 for each decade.

The questions she asked were simple, but good and some of them really generated a lot of emotion… occasionally surprising even me. It took just on 2 hours and then I walked to Broadstairs to get my vaccine card laminated and some photos printed.

It was a sublime day…blues skies, fluffy white clouds, sunny but with a stiff breeze and warm. I was overdressed for a long walk.

Ramsgate beach looking towards Broadstairs
Looking back from Dumpton Gap

The tide was still high when I left at just on 1pm, but receding. This meant I had to take the high road and walk across the clifftop to Broadstairs, but coming back I pushed the boundaries a little and walked along the beach to see how far I could get – I’m delighted to say that I managed to walk just about all the way back from Broadstairs to Ramsgate with just one tiny diversion to avoid some still high waves.

A new bench has been added on the cliffs near Dumpton Gap – a sad little memorial
Broadstairs Beach
Raided by the Vikings
Viking Bay
Milky white from the chalk
Which country am I in??
The tide was receding, so I pushed through from Dumpton Gap
Looking back from the promenade at Ramsgate
A fishing boat returns to harbour trailing a swarm of seagulls

The walk was so beautiful and for all the world I could have been in the Caribbean. It took me just over 2 hours there and back and approximately 12kms.

I had a brief stop off at home for a cup of tea, and then I went to fetch my BooBee from the childminder and take him to the park. He rode the whole say up high on my shoulders, sat ever so still and chattered away about the day’s events.

Daddy met us at the park and took him home after some running about. I picked a few dandelions that had gone to seed and I showed him how to blow them so the ‘fairies’ could fly away. 🥰🥰🥰 what a joy.

Now I’m preparing for tomorrow’s walk from Faversham to Sittingbourne along the Saxon Shore Way. I can’t pin the distance down and the sites I read had different distances….9 miles or 17 miles…take your pick??? so I’m just going to go and see how far I get. I’ve checked for railway stations in case I need to cut my walk short, and I’m hoping the tide isn’t too high along The Swale, or if the tide is high, that the pathway isn’t affected. If it is, I could have a repeat of my last walk along The Swale, albeit a different reason.

I was clean when I left home 😂😂😂

The weather forecast is good…hoorah.

I guess I’ll find out tomorrow 🤪🤪

Oh, and I also started writing up another stage of my Thames Path walk…I’m getting there.

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I had to go for my 2nd covid-19 inoculation today, so to give the parentals a break, and especially Mummy who is beyond tired but needs to work on her business, I asked if I could take the Jam with me to Deal….so straight after his gymnastics class, Mummy rushed us to the station. We cut it awfully close to the time and had to run like crazy through the station, down in the lift, raced along the tunnel where Granny yelled at someone at the top of the stairs to tell them to hold the train….up in the lift, onto the platform and onto the train…..10:25:10 – the train was due to leave at 10:25 and they held it for us LOL Thankfully I had bought the ticket in the morning or we would never had made it.

And we were on our way to Deal. He was ever so excited and talked non-stop about the beach and the castle.

Snacking on the train
Snacking on the train

When we got there I went for my jab first and he came in with me and watched them stick the needle in while I gritted my teeth and tried not to flinch LOL…..actually it was pretty painless, just a small pinch. But he got a sticker afterwards and when we got home later, the first thing he did was tell Mummy and Daddy all about ‘Anny having an injection, and that he got a sticker. His memory of events is amazing.

After the jab we walked to the seafront and stopped off on the beach. I think he was surprised that it was all stones. I think he was expecting sand like we have at home. But he loves stones and proceeded to collect as many as he could. My fault of course because I’m always picking stuff up on the beach and taking it home…like sea-glass and bits of wood for our future projects.

granny and jamies adventure to Deal
half of Deal beach in the bottom of the pram

Once the bottom of the pram was suitably filled with stones, we walked to the castle, but unfortunately it was still closed. We were both disappointed. I guess we have to wait till May?

We stopped off for lunch which he enjoyed, and of course we had some seagulls hovering around, so he shouted “go away that one seagull”….and eventually it did….flew off and we never saw it again. 🙂

From there we took a stroll along the ECP towards Walmer. He ran along with wild abandon, and then got tired and insisted he wanted to ride on my shoulders. So there I was, pushing the pram with one hand and hanging onto his leg with the other. It was terribly windy and walking into the wind wasn’t much fun.

But then I spied a wooden boat on the beach so we went to have a look and that kept him occupied for a while. Of course he unpacked all the stones, which I then had to pack back again.

Afterwards I took some photos then we strolled some more but the wind was so fierce it was knocking him off his feet and I couldn’t keep up with him running helter skelter, the pram going off with the wind, and his bag taking wings and flying off. So I made an executive decision, popped him back in his pram and we headed back towards the pier.

He got really excited when he saw the sculpture of the fisherman and the ‘big fish’ Anny!!! so we stopped to have a look at that. He spotted some people sitting on a bench with Costa cups in their hands and immediately ran over to a free bench and said “hot chocolate Anny” – hahahaha branding works!! How could I refuse.

But first we had a run along the pier, but not on the level like normal people, oh no, he wanted to run along the benches that line the pier; so there I was, holding his hand with one hand and running while pushing the pram with the other, which he thought was hilarious. Oh boy, the wind was so strong I could barely cope, so once again…into the pram and we strolled into the town centre for the hot chocolate. He was pretty much ready to go home by then and kept saying “Mamie home….Mummy Daddy home” – which is his signal to go home.

So we did. Took the earlier train and thanks very much Jamie, he delivered a massive poop!! As we got to the station he said “Mamie poop!” Nice one!!! He hadn’t pooped for the last 2 days, and voila….he saved it for me! So there we were, on the train, changing his nappy. Thankfully he lay still or we could have had a disaster LOL And just as well the carriage was empty on our side….I’m not sure the other passengers would have coped hahahaha.

All too soon we were back in Ramsgate and on our way home. When we got there, Daddy had just got back from his driving lesson, and the Jam wanted to go to the park, so off we went.

He loves the park with all that lovely space to run around….swings, and the slide, the climbing frame, the climbing wall and the obstacle course. I taught him how to slide forwards…and smooossh face-plant LOL I refrained from walking along the chains this time LOL so he did the balancing and jumping and then home for bath and dinner. Thankfully Daddy carried him this time.

face-plant!!! LOL have to give him credit for picking up and carrying on…

I just got a whatsapp photo of him fast asleep….tired out after his big adventure.

Sunday I’m taking him to London to Spitalfields to see the bronze elephant sculptures; Herd of Hope – a family of 21 life-sized bronze elephants embarking on the journey of a lifetime as they migrate across London. Leading the herd is our matriarch, symbolic of the mother and family each of the infant elephants, in the care of the Sheldrick Trust, lost when they became orphaned. She represents our Keepers, our team and you, our wider family who help to give these elephants a second chance at life. Read more about the Sheldrick Trust and the Herd of Hope

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I love travelling and I mostly enjoy my job; especially if the client is nice and we get along well together for the period of mu booking. I’m very lucky that my job as a Carer takes me all over the UK, although mostly in England now that I have my beloved grandson to spend time with. But I always enjoy coming home and it is a joy to be have my time to myself and to take my BooBee on outings; either to the park or the beach, or on a train trip.

Today was one such day…it was bliss to be able to just get up when it suited me and so I made the most of it and stayed in bed till 11am, drinking tea and faffing around on social media, and of course keeping a beady eye on my dogecoins!! When to buy? Or sell? That is the eternal question LOL Sometimes I get it right, others not so much!!

When I eventually roused myself from my cosy nest, I logged straight onto my computer to continue writing about my recent Thames Path walk….well I didn’t quite get that far LOL Instead I spent the rest of the day updating my budget spreadsheets, planning my future walks along the SSW, the ECP, further stages of WTP….and calculating the relevant costing. Oh and planning a trip to Malta for a week in November (depending on and further lockdown and covid-19 issues).

At about 5pm I walked over to the family for tea and hot-cross buns and then the 4 of us walked over to the park as requested by the BooBee. He decided he wanted to ride on my shoulders, and so for a short way we jogged along. It’s a good thing I can still carry him on my shoulders and it’s good fun…he loves it.

travels with Granny
Riding on ‘Anny’s shoulders – isn’t his hair glorious!!

He had loads of fun at the park. First we stopped to look at the cherry blossom tree which was abundantly covered in blossoms, much of which was already carpeting the ground.

Anny & Mamie inspecting the cherry blossom tree
Anny & Mamie inspecting the cherry blossom tree
my joy
inspecting the blossoms
inspecting the blossoms

He is still so tiny. I often forget that he’s only just gone two, because he is so intelligent with extraordinary levels of comprehension and understanding, that he always seems so much older to me.

Then we meandered over to the climbing frames where ‘Anny (me) reverted to her childhood and decided to walk along the chains….and that ended as well as what you would expect LOL

Anny really should know better LOL

Then we went over to the swings where he made friends with another little boy, climbed the rock-wall, had a few slides…I showed him how to go down on his tummy. He really is up for anything, and is so trusting that we won’t let him come to harm. He got all sad when the little boy left and lay down on the ground to indicate his dismay…

at the park
so sad his little friend left 😦

Time for a quick family selfie

the joy of family
the joy of family

A storm was brewing on the horizon with big black clouds building, so before it started to rain we left for home….and decided to order in so Mummy didn’t have to cook. There was a marvellous thunderstorm with the accompanying thunder and lightening and so I played him some AC DC ‘Thunderstruck’….seemed like a good idea LOL and I gave him a headbanging demonstration. Not my finest hour….he looked on in amazement…poor kid; growing up with a loon for a Granny. He did however enjoy the AC DC – clever kid!!

Now I’m home, preparing for a trip to Deal tomorrow for my 2nd vaccine jab and I’m taking the BooBee with me to make it an outing for the day, then he and I can take a stroll along the English Coast Path and he can make that the start of his #travelswithGranny although we have had quite a few adventures already…

walking the English Coast Path at Deal
walking the English Coast Path at Deal

as a footnote, in case you are unaware: SSW = Saxon Shore Way. ECP = English Coast Path and of course WTP = Walking the Thames Path….but you may have guessed that.

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My client has a lady by the name of ‘Alexa’ living in her house 😄😄

Although I don’t entirely trust the girl, and I’m sure she listens in on our conversations, I’ve been asking her to play some of my favourite tunes; listened to Mozart while preparing supper last night. 🎼🎼🎼

I’ve also asked her to play some of my Mother’s favourite pieces of music/songs; Moon River, Talk to the Trees, What a Wonderful World, and of course the Elizabethan Serenade which apparently was so named in honour of the new Queen; Elizabeth II. I absolutely adore the paintings that accompany this version, the original

https://youtu.be/u4XgbIhlOvk

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What a joy it was to meet up with my precious grandson and his Daddy at the park late afternoon after I got home. His smile when he sees me is a delight and fills me with joy. After the swings and the slide we walked home and I joined them for an early supper.

This morning I took ‘Mamie’ (he refers to himself as Mamie ☺) to the beach.

First we picked up stones, then had a bit of a lie down, then built a moat (no Anny, not a castle 😁😁), then we strolled around the harbour, had a look at the war memorial, visited the lighthouse and sat on ALL the benches 😃😃 watched a sailboat go out to sea, stopped to look at the Coast Guard boat, Vigilant, then we inspected the Pilot boats, stopped to look at an interesting car and back on the bus where Mamie sat on the big boy seat ☺☺. Fun times

I came back this evening to babysit while Mummy drove Daddy to work. We played hide and seek (he loves being frightened 🤪🤪) built a puzzle, made dinosaurs and elephants, stars and a heart out of play dough. Then things got a bit crazy when Granny turned the play dough into a meteor…

Hysterical laughter followed as the ‘meteor’ flew around the lounge.☄☄

Then it was dinner time and he laid the cutlery on the table (very impressive for a 2 year old) had a yummy dinner and went for a walk with Mummy.

Afterwards its was into a nice warm bath with a big bathbomb and then we had the ‘fun’ of watching the Night Garden on ceebeebies. OMG it actually nearly put me to sleep. But he loves it, and it brings him down from hyper to calm.

He truly is the joy of my life and I am so grateful for his health and vitality. I’m now babysitting again while Mummy fetches Daddy from work.

Wonderful day 💙🥰 I love that he calls me Anny. Granny is still too big a word, but truthfully, I wouldn’t mind at all if he always calls me Anny…it sounds so adorable ☺☺

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I arrived home last night, after a 4.5 hour journey, from a week’s booking in Salisbury. As much as what I really enjoyed exploring the city, and learning more of the history and her green spaces, it was wonderful to be back home.

You cannot underestimate the sheer joy of coming ‘home’ to your own place. It may not be much, but it’s got my stuff in it, and I’m home.

My own duvet…magic

After I’d dropped my bags off, I grabbed my walking poles and immediately set off for a sunset walk to the harbour

Absolutely stunning
A Royal harbour
Can you see the moon?
The sun setting in front of me

and then along the lower promenade

The snow moon rising behind me

before climbing up to the clifftop and a walk to Pegwell Bay.

View of Pegwell Bay from the bottom of the cliffs
From halfway up the path to the top of the cliffs

It was quite dark already by the time I reached the hotel, so I stopped there for a few photos and then walked back along the clifftop.

View from Pegwell Bay hotel
A bit of fun with the moon and the hands and molecules sculpture
One lone boat still has its Christmas lights on

A magical walk with no pressure to get back within 2 hours, and 9.9 kms added to my 2021 Conqueror virtual challenge.

I’m going to start the Ring Road Iceland virtual challenge on Monday 1st March. I’m so looking forward to the postcards, should be amazing. My daughter and I had a fantastic 4 day trip to Iceland in 2014, so I’m really keen to see the information that comes with the postcards.

The Sun Voyager (Icelandic: Sólfar); a sculpture by Jón Gunnar Árnason

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It all started sooo well….

I decided it would be a good idea to make pancakes with the Boobee for Shrove Tuesday. I had an image in my mind, you know…like a gentle, calm Granny and grandson bonding…like you see in the movies – except I didn’t bank on the 2 year old having his own ideas about baking.

The picture of innocent excitement 🤔🤔

It started so well… ☺❤💙 I collected all the equipment, and gathered up the ingredients….the 2 year old getting quite excited about the prospect of ‘pancakes’ although he had absolutely noooo idea what they are, he just loved the sound of it all. 😁😁

Behind the scenes his parents were snickering, their hands covering their mouths as they tried to contain their amusement…they knew what was coming. 🙄🙄🙄

We settled down at the table and I measured out the flour, explaining what I was doing, but before I could blink my eyes…it descended very quickly into chaos, with handsful of flour on the and table flying everywhere!!! I desperately tried to keep control of the situation, to no avail.

So far so good, I just added extra flour…
Spoons whirling, we mixed away

Suddenly, and with no warning, he 8swooped in with his hand and lifted a gloop of batter and started painting the table 😱😱🤣🤣🤣🤣

hands in quick as a flash
At this point, I gave up and watched…
and the mess is total

I was laughing so much…intially with shock and then with bemusement. It was just hilarious. The carpet will have to be washed…I eventually recovered what was left of the first batch and hurriedly decamped to the kitchen. Meanwhile the parents cleaned up the chaos and popped him in the bath – I needed a bath!! 😁😁

With the chaos reigned in (safely in the bath 🥴🥴) I prepared a 2nd batter mix and started making the first batch of a very unique blend of pancakes…a la Boobee!! 🤭🤭🤭 They were perfect…😊

Mummy had cut up some banana and strawberries, melted white chocolate and made up some sugar and cinnamon, as well as some yummy dairy free ice-cream.

I think he enjoyed the pancakes 💙💙

He loved the pancakes and made short work of them with nutella, strawberries and bananas, and ice-cream. Of course he was quite hyper afterwards, what with all the sugar in the chocolate…good luck to the parents, I can go home 🤪🤪🤪

You just never know what you’re going to get with a 2 year-old, but I can say for sure, I haven’t laughed like that in a long time.

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Roadtirement

"Traveling and Retired"

Fergy's Rambles.

Travelling while I still could (pre-virus obviously).

Webb Blogs/ Ocd and Me

Life With OCD, Anxiety, Panic Attacks, And Recovering from Addiction.

Running over the Rainbow

Running towards Self-acceptance, Health and Happiness