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Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

I’ve taken to getting up at 6am after my last booking where I was required to be on duty by 7am. I’m not an early morning person, but it’s been quite useful for getting my kms in.

I reset my 2021 goal to 3200kms from 2600kms at the end of September in a moment of sheer insanity.

Walking for 2021

I reached my original goal a few days ago, 7 weeks ahead of schedule.

So now I’m walking my feet off to reach my new goal by 31st December.

The benefit, besides keeping walking fit, is that occasionally I see a stunning sunrise

Ramsgate Harbour
Ramsgate beach

Not all mornings are as glorious, but when they are, it’s a real treat

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Not my copyright, but very good advice to follow as you journey through life

This was posted by a friend on Facebook, and it really spoke to me, especially #2 – so often in life decisions are made on “what will…….think” fill in the gap. It took me decades to get past worrying about what other people may or may not think. But now I’m in a good place and it’s freeing.

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You start dying slowly
when you kill your self-esteem,
when you do not let others help you.

You start dying slowly
if you become a slave of your habits,
walking every day on the same paths,
if you do not change your routine,
If you do not wear different colours
or you do not speak to those you don’t know.

You start dying slowly
if you avoid feeling passion
and its turbulent emotions,
those which make your eyes glisten
and your heart beat fast.

You start dying slowly
if you do not risk what is safe for the uncertain
if you do not go after a dream
if you do not allow yourself
at least once in your lifetime
to run away from sensible advice.

Don’t let yourself die slowly . . . ~ Pablo Neruda

Sculpture by Lene Kilda

I saw this poem on a friend’s timeline recently. It really spoke to me and I find it quite beautiful and so profound. It’s been mulling around in my mind as I grapple with the implications and the meaning…

It reminds me of many of my clients, the majority of whom are in the twilight years of their lives…basically ‘waiting for God’ as the saying goes (also the title of a TV comedy series).

Most of my clients have lived well past their 3 score and ten as suggested by the Bible, and their final years are reduced to what can be mind-numbing routine, but is often like a security blanket. They know exactly where they are, especially when they are afflicted by dementia…routine is paramount for security.

However, their self-esteem is often ‘killed’ by having a stranger (the carer) enter their home and having to resign themselves to the indignity of personal care, which often involves really ‘personal’ care, and if we’re not careful, their lives are reduced to discussions or discourse on how regular their bowels are, the colour of their urine, how much fluid they drink during the day, the number of creams that have to be massaged in on private areas, being cleaned and washed by a stranger, and their daily medications – most often a smorgasbord of different tablets keeping them alive; one to do this, one to do that, another to offset the effects of the first, another to reduce the impact of the 2nd…and ultimately becoming what I normally call a ‘mind fudge’…excuse the ‘french’. They have to psyche themselves up to swallow what sometimes amounts to 20 tablets a day (seriously) for years on end, most of which are invariably unnecessary as has been proved in the past…

For the carer, the constant sameness of every day, sometimes for weeks on end, can be like a slow dying…every day is so exactly the same that in order to preserve your sanity, you try to mix it up a little…like hoovering on a Saturday instead of Thursday LOL – yes, even something as small as that can be a help. A change of routine.

A large part of looking after my own mental health has in fact come in the form of my walking excursions, and yes those daft challenges πŸ˜‰ – you know the ones I mean LOL When I’m at a booking I try to walk as many different routes as I possibly can, taking dozens of photos as I go…I love to investigate the history of the area – like finding out if it’s a Domesday town/village, or the provenance of the name…many of which are descended from Viking and Saxon times, some from the original inhabitants of these fair isles; the Celts, names that are corrupted over the years to be spelled and sound completely different to how they started.

Often the names relate to a particular industry, or husbandry, or simply the name of the patch of grass at a road junction. For example Throwley Forstal: The name is recorded in the Doomsday Book as Trevelai, which corresponds with a Brittonic origin, where “Trev” means a settlement or farm house and “Elai” typically relates to a fast moving river or stream. And the term forstal means the land in front of a farm and farmyard. Which in this instance is very accurate since the whole area is farmland with a number of divine farmhouses that make me envious.

Or perhaps Sheldwich Lees, which we visited yesterday: In ancient charters it was called ‘Schyldwic’. In 784, it was given this name by Ealhmund of Kent, to Abbot Wetrede and his convent of ‘Raculf Cestre’, or Reculver. During King Edward I’s reign (1239–1307), it passed to the family of Atte-Lese, which included the Manor of Sheldwich. This then became the Manor of Leescourt due to the name of the Atte-lese family mansion. A bit complicated if you ask me!!

So back to the poem; I try to not become a ‘slave’ of my habits, and I certainly talk to many I don’t know – give me half a chance and I’ll tell you my life story!! LOL Although the area I’m currently working in is enormous in terms of the farmlands, the hamlet consists of about 30 or so houses, so there are not many people about when I set off on my excursions, but every now and then I pass someone who also walks regularly and we exchange “hellos” and “nice day isn’t it” – usually a safe subject LOL Occasionally I meet dog walkers and I comment on how cute or lovely they (the dogs) are, but mostly I don’t see a soul except for the drivers who whizz past while I hug the hedgerows LOL

But my client always asks which route I took, and so I describe to him where I went, what I saw, how many people I may or may not have passed and he then tells me the history of certain places. It’s a win win for both of us…his dull routine is disrupted by tales of my jaunts and I get to relate what I find interesting – a break in routine. Actually on the subject of my current client (92) – he’s super intelligent and so we have some amazing conversations about religion and politics, about travel and places we’ve been. In his youth and up until about 10 years ago he and his wife were keen walkers/hikers and have been to some amazing places. So I encourage him to tell me the tales of his youth.

And in conclusion; I certainly have no chance of dying slowly because
if you do not risk what is safe for the uncertain (I do that regularly)
if you do not go after a dream (at every chance – planning walking trips here and there)
if you do not allow yourself
at least once in your lifetime
to run away from sensible advice
. (a frequent pastime!!)

Don’t let yourself die slowly….wise words indeed.

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Four years ago I read in the news about this young lad, Alex Ellis-Roswell from Canterbury What an extraordinary venture; a 9,500 mile, 3-year walk around the UK coast, including N.Ireland, from Minnis Bay to Minnis Bay, raising funds for and visiting more than 200 RNLI stations along the way, and raising more than Β£65,000 for the life-saving charity. Astounding. I had not heard of anyone walking the entire UK coast, and didn’t realise it was even a thing.

At the time I was not long back from walking the Camino Portuguese from Porto to Santiago, 174 miles, and my efforts felt quite piddling in comparison. I was totally awed at his efforts.

I’ve always loved walking, and walked a lot in my early 20s when I lived in Hillbrow, Johannesburg, but from when I had my baby and acquired a car and a husband in 1980, I didn’t do much by way of walking at all. Life went by, I had a car, and although we travelled a lot around South Africa walking was just part of a day or an outing and not the focus of the outing.

In 2001 I had the absolute joy and good fortune to spend 6 months in the Rep. of Ireland with my younger sister and her hubby. While there, my love of walking was rekindled and played a part in my decision to return to the UK full time…which I duly did in April 2002, albeit to Ireland first for 4 months till September. During my time in Ireland; 2001 and 2002, we walked everywhere, weekend jaunts across country, along the east coast in mid-winter (mostly because there wasn’t anything else to do LOL) and wonderful walks in historic Glendalough National Park in County Wicklow, and my midnight returns to home after an evening in Dublin.

When I relocated to the UK in September 2002, before starting work, I did a 6 week housesit; a penthouse in Hampstead Village with a rooftop view of London, lots of walking opportunities with Hampstead Heath nearby and the historic village of Hampstead.

When we, my daughter and I, eventually settled in Richmond in 2010 I started walking the Thames Path in various directions as well as many many walks in the City of London (eventually covering 95% of all the roads, lanes and alleyways) and City of Westminster, with occasional sojourns to other areas. I even started up a business (now defunct): 3 Days in London which involved guided tours (only a few because I really did not enjoy guiding people around the city LOL).

In 2011 I had the bright idea of following Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales route from Southwark Cathedral to Canterbury Cathedral and in 2014 we moved to Broadstairs, where my coastal path jaunts began. Along the many ‘ways’ during the years from when I first arrived in the UK, the Camino de Santiago seeped into my consciousness from varying angles; my Dad and a couple of siblings cycled the French route (at different times), I met a lady who had walked the French route and loved it (she gave me my 1st scallop shell), I saw the film with Martin Sheen and books on the Camino started to make themselves known. And so my ‘dream’ of walking the Camino germinated. Initially I thought I’d walk it in 2016, having decided on the Portuguese coastal route as my preferred ‘way’, and to that end I started practising by taking lengthy walks along the coast to Margate or Ramsgate and further afield to Sandwich. Finally in 2017 I felt ready and walked the Portuguese Coastal Route to Santiago in September of that year.

Since then I’ve completed a number of long distance walks and my reading matter has turned to books about people who have done amazing walks. Shortly after reading ‘The Salt Path’ by Raynor Winn, I was inspired to set myself the challenge of walking the entire English Coast Path; coincidentally whilst I was walking between Sandwich and Walmer one day last year. And so the idea was born, and now that I have a specific target, I’ve started walking sections with purpose (I will write up about those stages in due course).

During the preceding years I’ve been inspired by epic adventures embarked upon by people like Steven Fabes who cycled 6 continents and covered 80,000 km on his bike. And Ben Fogle’s many adventures with ‘New Lives in the Wild’ TV shows, Steve Backsall’s many epic adventures (not that I envy any of his adventures thank you!!), Michael Palin’s many wonderful travels around the world, Michael Portillo’s ‘Great British Railway Journeys’, and Julia Bradbury’s many amazing walking adventures in the UK.

Way back in my South African past, a boyfriend at the time gave me the book ‘Full Tilt: From Dublin to Delhi’ by Dervla Murphy, which I devoured at the time, never imagining that I would one day actually live in Dublin! I loved her story and I think it probably ignited a small flame that was later nourished to become a passion; travel.

During lockdown in 2020, for 7 weeks between March and April, I was lucky enough to be working and living in a tiny village in Somerset; Nether Stowey, where I was able to indulge my walking escapades despite lockdown because there was hardly anyone around and I seldom encountered a soul during my 2 hourly breaks from working.

My daughter introduced me to the ‘addictive’ Conqueror Challenges in April of 2020 and working towards those goals has kept me motivated.

that’s me! The Conqueror – conquering the world, walk by walk LOL

I also started looking to find more people who were walking the UK coast and somewhere along the line, via Facebook I found and started following Chris Walks the UK. At the time he was safely ensconced on a remote and unoccupied Scottish island where he stayed for much of lockdown. Following his journey both then and now, I’m totally inspired by his fortitude and strength. Having started the journey in the midst of depression 5 years ago (apparently Sunday was his 5th anniversary, so I’ve added the link to reflect that), a former Veteran of the Armed Forces, he was then and still is raising funds for SSAFA and has met the 2 loves of his life along the way; 1st Jet, a beautiful greyhound, and then Kate a beautiful young woman who popped over one day to say hello and never left. I love their daily posts and am in so much admiration for how they cope with obstacles.

Slowly, during my travels, I stumbled across other walks; the Two Saints Way, St Cuthbert’s Way and St Oswald’s Way, Great Glen Way, The West Highland Way, Hadrian’s Wall, and as I came to learn about more and more walks, I started buying the Cicerone Guide Books. Now, with a whole long list of walks I now want to do, I joined the UK Long Distance Hiking page on facebook, to get ideas and advice, occasionally discover new routes to walk (oh my lord! Like I need any more!), and while scrolling through the posts a couple of days ago I stumbled across Tracey Elizabeth Hannam, an amazing woman with an interesting story who is currently walking the UK coast. I saw one of her posts; a poem that she wrote and it resonated so strongly that I asked her if I could share it here…..and she has agreed.

Here is the link to her facebook page and the poem that caught at my soul

.. Thoughts..a poem

What am I thinking is my life shrinking I need to get out,
Where am I going am I happy knowing as I start to shout,
I’m feeling quite trapped being part of the rat race as they call it..
I’m trying to fit in but I can’t begin as I simply deplore it,
As I try to escape, suffocated in this place I know I must go,
To the sand and the sea I feel it beckoning me and now that I know,
I must be out in the wild like a inquisitive child seeing new things each day,,
Sleep on the earth in a tent, many happy days spent loving the way,
How my new life has changed simply been rearranged by thoughts in my head,
Of times I couldn’t breathe, there was a hidden need to be out here instead,
My eyes now open to see this new happy me away from the grind,
Of a regimented past life, sometimes trouble and strife but now cleared from my mind,
Medicine not in a pill but walking up a hill is healing my soul,
Prescribed by Dr. me as I began to see I needed a new goal,
And I’ll never look back to that old beaten track that stopped me from growing,
I’ll look right ahead never to dread this new me I’m knowing,
Leading the way not afraid to say to others too,
Don’t settle for less cause you are the best ..refresh and renewβ€¦πŸ’œβ€

Copyright: Tracey Hannam .. 31/7/21

Tracey Hannam – Long Distance Hiker, so inspiring

During my research into other long distance UK coastal walkers I came across this fantastic website https://www.britishwalks.org/walks/Named/CoastWalk/Links.php an amazing resource listing the many people who have already walked the coast or are currently walking.

There is something quite extraordinary about a person who decides, for such a variety of reasons, to up sticks and walk for thousands of kms/miles, sometimes for years on end. Carrying the bare minimum, yet loaded with a lot of stuff to carry, they put one foot in front of the other, enduring pain and discomfort, all the weather types you can imagine, blisters, scrapes and falls, a lack of home comforts, facing some of the hardest days anyone could imagine – and yet, they just keep on going, loving that life despite the hardships, and rejoicing in the beauty of new places.

I find it so inspiring and totally awesome.

For me it’s the sheer freedom of the path, of the unknown, of starting at one place and ending at another that leads me on….

English Coast Path

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This is a very short post (hoorah I hear you shout 😁😁πŸ€ͺ) but I just saw this on Facebook and I found it SO powerful that I simply have to share it.

The words are absolutely spot on and I wonder why it is that we feel the need to control time.

I follow the Regenerative Conciousness Community on Facebook and they often post some really thought-provoking and powerful messages.

And as I think about the words above and feel them, I get quite panicky at how restrictive our need to control time actually is. I understand the fundamental need to do so, but it is quite restrictive.

When I was involved in the personal development environment 14 years ago, I remember working through a process during which we identified our highest value/s. Mine was freedom. So I guess that’s why those words have induced a feeling of panic.

And now I’m going to shut up πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ this is turning into one of those posts where I go off on a tangent.

I wonder what your thoughts are on the above quote?

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From the Kent Battle of Britain page on Facebook:

Eighty-one years ago today the Battle of Britain officially started, 10th July 1940.

Please spare a thought for all those who participated, from all Nations. Many would be killed during the Battle, some would die months later from wounds and burns sustained during those critical months, some would be killed later in the war. Others would carry their mental and physical scars for the rest of their lives.

We believe that only one Allied Battle of Britain airmen is alive today, Paddy Hemingway. Paddy celebrates his 102nd Birthday next week. We are not aware of any Luftwaffe airmen that survive from the Battle.

2938 Allied Airmen were entitled to wear the ‘clasp’ as a Battle of Britain airmen. 544 were killed or died from wounds sustained in the Battle. 795 further airmen would be killed by the end of the war.

All they ask is to be remembered….

Please ‘like’ and ‘share’ this, and the Kent Battle of Britain Museum page, and help us commemorate our Heroes ‘The Few’. Thank you

One of my absolute favourite memorials in London is the Battle of Britain memorial on Embankment in Westminster, opposite the London Eye.

Battle of Britain Memorial in London

Perched above the White Cliffs of Dover you will find the memorial to The Few at Capel-le-Ferne.

‘Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few’. Winston Churchill. 20 August 1940.

Referring to the ongoing efforts of the Royal Air Force and Polish fighter crews No. 303 Squadron RAF who were at the time fighting the Battle of Britain, the pivotal air battle with the German Luftwaffe, with Britain expecting an invasion. Pilots who fought in the battle have been known as The Few ever since; at times being specially commemorated on 15 September, “Battle of Britain Day”.

The Sculpture
His view across The English Channel to France πŸ‡«πŸ‡·

Still one of my favourite places to have visited in my travels around England.

I remember seeing a film, in my late teens, back in South Africa called The Battle of Britain. It had a profound effect on me and I sobbed for days after, and never imagined that one day, not only would I be living in Britain, but that I would fall in love with London and see all these amazing places. I certainly NEVER imagined for even 1 second that I would one day become a British citizen.

Here’s to The Few, from all corners of the world, long may they be remembered…

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I uploaded my kms to the Conqueror app after completing Stage 3 and boom…all 3 postcards popped up in my mailbox in one go. I should have uploaded them as I went, but I guess it doesn’t really matter…

A mix of Scottish and French….

Virtual walk along the Cabot Trail in Canada

I made it to Ingonish on the north-east coast of Cape Breton. Made up of 5 small communities, their economy centres around tourism and fishing.

Golf seems to prevail and the nearby Highland Links Golf Course regularly ranks in the Top 10 golf courses in Canada. The Scottish influence is evident in holes named Heich O’ Fash, meaning Heap of Trouble and Killiecrankie, which is a long narrow pass in the Scottish Highlands and played a significant role in the Battle of Killiecrankie during the 1689 Jacobite Rebellion. Many of the fairways resemble the Scottish topography but the original designer, Stanley Thompson, just called it his “mountain and oceans course” and established himself as the finest golf course architect in Canada.

Next to the golf course is Keltic Lodge which was originally built in 1910 as a summer retreat for the Corson family who owned the land at the time. When the Cape Breton Highlands National Park was developed the Nova Scotia government saw the value of the headland where the lodge was situated and purchased the land from the Corson’s. By 1951 the new Keltic Lodge was constructed providing accommodation services to the area.

Just beyond the Keltic Lodge is the Middle Head Peninsula hiking trail. It is a 3.8km trail that follows a narrow peninsula with ocean bays on either side, finishing on headland cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean with views of Cape Smokey Provincial Park to the right and Ingonish Island to the left.

For any ocean enthusiast there is a unique opportunity to swim in both freshwater and saltwater in the same area. At Ingonish Beach the saltwater is off a white sandy beach on one side and the other is the freshwater swimming hole created by waves piling up rocks creating a barrier which then cornered off a cove from the ocean and over time filled with freshwater.

Alternatively, if you don’t feel like a swim a boat cruise during the summer months provides for excellent opportunities to see various types of whales, dolphins, seals and puffins.

The wild swimming sounds glorious!! I’d do both if I had the opportunity; wild swimming and the boat cruise.

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This section sounds amazing, all those wonderful artisan items to see. How cute are these puffins 😊😊 My virtual journey is almost as exciting as my real time walk along the Thames Path. Whilst I didn’t see any puffins on my walk, I did see a few herons and lots of our delightful British spring visitors.

Virtual walk along the Cabot Trail in Canada

I am making my way along St Ann’s Bay on the east coast of the trail and it should probably be called “Artisan Coast” because from the tiny rural community of St Ann all the way up to Wreck Cove it is one long list of artisan shops, galleries and studios offering items made of clay, glass, leather, pewter, iron, paint, fibre and canvas.

St Ann is one of the oldest settlements in North America. It acquired its Gaelic roots when the Scottish Reverend Norman McLeod on his way to Ohio was forced ashore during a storm. He setup his ministry and was soon followed by boatloads of Scots from the motherland becoming the first Scots in St Ann. He eventually immigrated to New Zealand with many of his followers and his property in St Ann is today occupied by the Gaelic College of Celtic Arts and Crafts.

Whilst I visited the Gaelic College, I came across another book called Letters to Mac-Talla from John Munro, A Cape Breton Gael in New Zealand 1894-1902, and it is a humorous compilation of 32 letters written home to Nova Scotia. Having lived for 40 years in Nova Scotia, together with 900 fellow Highlanders, John sailed to New Zealand where he spent the next 40 years. In his letters he wrote about St Ann’s history, the Mi’kmaq (local indigenous people), first contact with Europeans, the French Occupation, the local flora and fauna along with his experience in New Zealand, the Maori and his fellow Scots.

The nearby Great Hall of Clan Museum took me on a journey of the early settlers from the Highlands of Scotland to their evolution into a Cape Breton way of life and Rev. Norman McLeod’s journey from Scotland to St Ann to Waipu, New Zealand.

I enjoyed the link with the recent New Zealand virtual challenge I completed…we definitely need a virtual challenge based in Scotland ….

What these places we ‘visit ‘ while processing along these virtual challenges, is that we ‘Europeans’ are all immigrants.

I also find them so enticing…I’d love to visit in real time too πŸ˜„πŸ˜„

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I decided to follow the virtual Cabot Trail while walking the Thames Path. I was hoping to complete the whole 299kms, both the Thames Path and the Cabot Trail together as the distances were almost the same, but as mentioned before, lockdown rules decreed otherwise. I decided to activate the Conqueror challenge anyway and then link it to other walks I do as I go…for variety. After uploading my 1st day’s walking I received my first postcard; way less mileage than I walked in real life, but I’m on my way:

Virtual walk along the Cabot Trail in Canada

I finally made it to Cape Breton Island, Canada. Having crossed Canso Causeway from Nova Scotia I made my way to the township of Baddeck. Here I’ll commence my Cabot Trail journey, a 298km (185mi) loop around the northernmost part of the island.

The Cabot Trail was constructed in 1932 passing through and along Cape Breton Highlands. It was named after John Cabot who is thought to have landed here in 1497 but historians think he most likely landed in Newfoundland instead.

Baddeck is the start and end of the Cabot Trail. It is a bustling resort community established in the mid-1800s as French and British Settlements. Today it is awash with festivals and events celebrating Aviation Day, Celtic Music Festival, relay races, Regattas and Ceildihs (Scottish/Irish folk music, singing, dancing and storytelling). Baddeck is also a haven for golf enthusiasts, horseback riding and boat chartering.

Baddeck sits on the northern shores of Bras d’Or Lake which is connected to the Atlantic Ocean making this large body of water both fresh and salt water. The lake is 100km (62mi) long and 50km (31mi) wide with six rivers emptying into it. Popular with summertime boating, there’s a long standing tradition of sailboat racing. Various yacht clubs host annual regattas and race weeks.

I’m told that Baddeck became a tourist destination after Charles Dudley Warner wrote a travel journal about his visit to the area in his 1874 publication of Baddeck, And That Sort of Thing. Although, I hear that many locals at the time weren’t impressed with his description of the people as backward and simple. I may drop into the local library and have a scan of the book.

How much I would love to be able to do all these virtual walks for real…we do get to travel (virtually) to some amazing places.

If you missed the first leg of my walk along the Thames Path, fear not…click here for Stage 1a and you can catch up with my journey.

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Yes!!! I did it again! Signed up for the next Conqueror Challenge! πŸ€­πŸ€­πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ

This one is set in Germany; The Romantic Road – awesome. The medal is of course, beautiful as always. πŸ’™πŸ’š

conqueror challenges
Romantic Road, Germany – Conqueror Challenges

I just couldn’t get online quick enough to bag the number 1 vest, so I guess #42 will have to suffice. Damn!! πŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺ I’m always ready, finger poised above the keyboard, card at the ready….but for some peculiar reason, I just couldn’t get the link to activate….but finally I got there.

ο»Ώthe conqueror challenges
ο»ΏThe Conqueror Challenges – Romantic Road, Germany 431 km

So here it is. Looking at the challenge map on the app, I can see that a number of people have already started the challenge. Wow. Impressive! I’ve got another 5 waiting in line before I can start this one, so probably only in 2022. But if I do enough walking I ‘may’ just be able to start this one in 2021….we’ll see.

I’m currently walking The Ring Road, Iceland alongside my Conquer 2021 challenge for my daily perambulations, and updating The Cabot Trail with my specified walks….like walking the Thames Path, and coming soon; continuing along the Saxon Shore Way. πŸšΆπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸšΆπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸšΆπŸ»β€β™€οΈ Got my latest postcard on The Ring Road yesterday

conqueror virtual challenges
Ring Road, Iceland – Conqueror Virtual Challenge

I’ve got an extra 2 days at home in June before I return to this booking, so I’ll make the most of them and get some mileage in.

Anyway, in other news (and no surprise really) this is the 18th challenge I’ve signed up for!! Addicted? nahhhh

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