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Archive for the ‘project 101’ Category

When I was planning the next stage of my Saxon Shore Way jaunt I noticed that the Isle of Sheppey was very close to the route. And so, since I’m still working on Project 101, I decided to keep this particular stage short, and visit the island while I was there.

The Isle of Sheppey

So to that end, I planned to walk from Sittingbourne to Swale then hop on the train to Queenborough Station and spend some time walking around the island and exploring.

I’m not going to write about the actual walk at this stage because I want to write up the other stages from when I started, so instead I’ll share my brief excursion to my 20th island and 66th bridge of some note.

I got a little more than I bargained for; a very hot day and a very well timed, albeit coincidental event.

I really wasn’t sure about visiting the island coz of reports I’d had from previous visitors, but an opportunity is to taken up at the time. I was pleasantly surprised.

Like most of the south east seaside towns, the spirit of the High Street has been lost and its mostly charity shops and cafés and adhoc shops with a few interesting independent shops interspersed. But I wasn’t here for the shopping…so onwards

Sheerness-on-Sea High Street

The clock tower is very pretty and I enjoyed a lot of the architecture.

The Clock Tower
A church
Some lovely houses
Loved these

A bonus windmill

After a short excursion through Sheerness-on-Sea, I headed for the beach planning on first cooling my feet in the sea (my daughter suggested I strip down to my underwear and go for a swim 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤪🤪 Don’t want to scare the locals!! Instead I just stood with my feet in the water…bliss!

Cool water blissful

And then because I’m insane and generally like punishing myself, I decided to walk along the promenade till it ran out and then walk inland to Minster-on-Sea. Why? Seriously. I do have some daft ideas. It was 25degrees and blazing hot, but I may never visit again, so….

The coastline is absolutely gorgeous, albeit mostly stones and little beach – ouch!!

I had planned on walking to that little promontory in the distance
Getting closer
But ultimately I walked much further. Was delighted to see this
That water was ever so inviting. I could quite easily have gone for a swim
Facing out to sea, in case the Vikings decide to invade the east coast again, they’ll be welcome 😀
Some pretty artwork where I turned inland

The bonus surprise came just before I left the Saxon Shore Way for the train station 🚉 to Sheppey. I was sitting on a lovely bench eating my lunch when I heard the warning signal and looked behind me. I noticed a section of the bridge being raised and then I saw the tanker making its way upstream…

The bonus

It reminded me of how Tower Bridge lifts when large vessels enter London Pool. Ever so exciting to watch these innovative feats of engineering. Lucky me.

My thoughts on the Isle of Sheppey? I loved it, and will return another day and spend more time walking, especially through the nature reserve.

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After walking Stage 6 of the Thames Path on Friday I stayed overnight in Windsor to watch the Queen’s Birthday Parade on Saturday morning.

Arriving in Windsor…time for an ice-cream 😁

Albeit a muted affair in comparison to the usual London events, it was still very exciting to see the Queen’s Horse Guards, the Blues and Royals and of course my favourite; the King’s Troop Royal Artillery.

Horse Guards
King’s Troop, Royal Horse Artillery

A massive bonus was the Red Arrows flypast – as always just thrilling and wowwed the crowds. It’s so endearing how there’s a collective scream of excitement and much cheering as they approach and clapping after the planes have flown over.

The Red Arrows – always a favourite at these events

I had decided to walk back into town via The Long Walk and find a good vantage point to watch.

It was just luck that I was on the Long Walk. When I got there I saw all the police lined up along the route and after chatting to one of them I discovered that the troops were not going through the town as I thought, but along the Long Walk…so I stayed. Major awesome.

I also got interviewed by LBC but not sure if they used the footage…however these 2 were pure gold!! So serious, so patriotic and very very clearly absolute Monarchists. Loved The Queen, they even sang happy birthday….😄😄😄❤

God Save The Queen 👸❤

After all the excitement, I went searching for a 3G store to have them charge my phone before I set off to Maidenhead on Stage 7….and not only did I have my phone charged (the battery on the Samsung A40 has always been pathetic, but I ended up with a new contract; Samsung Galaxy A52 and a tablet with dock and Alexa built in 😂😂😂

Did I really need this?? 🤪🤪 the tablet will make a huge difference to my life – as soon as I figure out how it works 😁😁
The lopsided house – used to be a tea-room
A quirky bull
All The Queen’s Swans

I had a brilliant visit, chatting about conspiracy theories, the Pyramids and secret societies…the staff 3 Store at Windsor are just amazing and really friendly. Meanwhile they transferred all my data to the new phone, but I left so late that I missed my connection at Maidenhead and only got home at 22:45 🙄🙄😴😴

A long but brilliant day. The mileage for these two stages will ho towards The Cabot Trail virtual challenge…looking forward to the next postcard. Meanwhile the last postcard was gorgeous

Today I’m in Deal with my grandson 💙 (who is currently fast asleep in his pram) to visit Deal and Walmer Castles, both of which are open today…hoorah.

It’s a gorgeous day in Kent, I hope it’s good wherever you are. Enjoy your day.

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Hello…and welcome. Thanks for dropping by. I ‘may’ have mentioned before that I planned to walk the Thames Path to celebrate my 66th birthday, retirement age in the UK and the start of the next phase of my life. Not that I’m planning on actually retiring, but the government does start to give me some of my NI money back 😉 and I do plan to work less and spend more time with my grandson and travelling….gradually the two will be combined.

Ever since my daughter and I lived in Richmond I’ve dreamed of walking the full length of the River Thames, or as much of it as is possible.

“There are two things scarce matched in the universe, the sun in heaven, and the Thames on the earth.” Sir Walter Raleigh.

Over the years I have certainly walked many, many stretches of the Thames between Woolwich and Hampton Court. But the last time I walked the lower reaches of the Thames Path was back in 2017 when I walked Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales route from Southwark Cathedral to Canterbury Cathedral. Although his actual route follows Jamaica Road, I felt that if Chaucer had the option, he would have walked alongside the river rather than clatter along a polluted road, so that’s what I did.

Further to my previous post – the Progress Report, as promised I will start posting what will be 5 posts detailing the start of my journey along the Thames Path. I will mostly share images, because seriously, this river is so gorgeous and holds a really special place in my heart, as well as which she has a long and illustrious history (which I will only touch on briefly for interest sake at certain points. Hopefully the images will give you a fairly good idea of what the Thames Path looks like. Ultimately I will share the follow on stages from Staines-Upon-Thames as and when I get to do them.

The Thames Path is listed as one of the official National Trails in the UK, all denoted with the instantly recognisable acorn symbol.

I was well impressed with the markings and sign posts along the way, and haven’t needed to use the guide book even once between Erith (pronounced Eeerith) and Staines-Upon-Thames. I did however study it to a certain extent before my walk just to get an idea of what to expect, and to try figure out how to traverse the river from south to north at Walton to Shepperton. I love swimming, but hadn’t planned on including that in my journey, although the water on a hot summer’s day looks inviting to soothe achy feet. I needn’t have worried…it was clearly marked and of course the ferry was there. It was also famously featured in H. G. Wells’ novel War of the Worlds. But unless you actually knew the Thames met with the River Wey at this point, you could end up walking the wrong river path.

I could go into more detail about the National Trails but that would take up too much space, so here is a link to their website should you wish to find out more about the National Trails of the UK. There are 16 National Trails in the UK from what I can see; and I’m really keen to walk more of them…..watch this space – we are spoilt for choice.

Although not the official start of The Thames Path, I decided to start at Erith and walk to the Thames Barrier near Woolwich and try to get in as much of the pathway along the Thames as possible. I also decided to walk from sea to source since lockdown restrictions forbade me from staying overnight in hotels until 17th May, and then it wouldn’t be a ‘walk in celebration of my coming of age’ – OAP status is now mine 🙂 LOL

Also it’s relatively easy for me to get to these earlier stages by train from home and make them day trips, albeit a tad pricey (train travel in the UK is not cheap) and long-winded….because it takes roughly 2.5/3 or 4 hours just to get to the relevant station each time to even start the walk! But be that as it may…I was determined to get started and not be put off by the limitations of lockdown, and since we are now allowed to travel farther afield….that is what I did.

I arrived at Erith station by 10:15 on 17th April for Stage 1 of ‘Walking the Thames Path’, and set MapMyWalk ready to go. I’ve been using this walking app since 2016 and it suits my needs. I don’t need much more information than how many kilometres I’ve covered, how long it takes, how many steps I’ve walked and what the elevation is…..

This was the first time I’ve been to Erith and although I didn’t have much time to explore, I can say…I probably wouldn’t want to live there. Sorry to all Erithians who are reading this 😜 I may have a repeat visit at a later stage and explore more, which may change my mind. It does however have the longest pier in London – I guess that’s something! As well as which it was mentioned in the Domesday Book as Lesnes or Lessness. Erith “alias Lysnes” has a written history that goes back to 695, and traces of a pre-historic settlement have been uncovered. So that’s another place added to my Project 101 list! As long as I have feet on the ground in a place mentioned in the Domesday Book it counts…an overnight stay is desirable, but not always attainable, so feet on the ground.

The River Thames is a maritime river and has serviced the City of London and upper reaches for centuries, and the lower reaches onto the Thames Estuary have been brutalised by progress and ‘civilisation’ – it is not pretty. There are of course small pockets of prettiness and it gets better the further upstream you go, but although the path was wide, it was mostly grey, dull and uninspiring concrete.

Gravesend

What was shocking though, albeit not surprising was the amount of trash and pollution that litters the riverbed. Oh what are we doing to this planet???

plastic pollution on the river thames
plastic pollution on the River Thames

Of course the river is also littered with boats, big and small and many a varied jetty strode out into the channel.

jetties jutting out into the river thames - walking the thames path
jetties jutting out into the River Thames – walking the Thames Path

Because the tide was out, I didn’t see any large ships go by, but a few smaller vessels made their way, either up or down stream.

ships on the thames - walking the thames path
ships on the thames – walking the Thames Path

In case you’re a first time reader, just to bring you up to speed….the original plan was to walk the whole length in one go over 2-3 weeks, but Covid lockdown restrictions got in the way, so I had to ‘pivot’ and change my plans. To that end I decided to do the first 6 stages between Erith and Staines by day tripping. As it turned out I did the distance in 5 stages, which is brilliant.

And so, onto Stage 1a – Walking the Thames Path : Erith to the Thames Barrier (this post will follow tomorrow night).

Join me on instagram for more about my long-distance walking adventures

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So hey….I did it!!! Yesterday; Faversham to Sittingbourne along the Saxon Shore Way 😁😁😁 9 hours. 30.06 km. Holy moly what a long day. If I add on the distance from home to the station and back, I can add on another 2.5 kms. The last time I walked 32km on any one day was 4 years ago on the Portuguese Camino in Spain…destination: Caldas de Reis. I swore to never do such a long walk ever again 🤪🤪🤪 Hah. I’m very comfortable with 16kms, so this is a bit of a stretch, but hey, it’s done. Now I can concentrate on the next section; Sittingbourne to Rochester….

I’ll do a proper write up in due course, but for now, what I really wanted to tell you about were all the abandoned boats I saw along the way; boats of all sizes, their rotting carcasses littering the creeks.

I wondered why they were abandoned? Who abandoned them? What were their names before being dumped, and why have they been left there to rot.

They are beautiful in their various stages of decay, but how sad. I’m sure they were beautiful craft at some time, sailing proudly along the channels, brightly painted, flags fluttering in the wind, decks alive with chatter.

And now, they’re lying there, forlorn and forgotten….too sad. This post is to honour all boats that get dumped and forgotten. In order of appearance, these boats were seen in Faversham Creek, Oare Creek, The Swale, Conyer Creek and Milton Creek.

I’d love to know their provenance and how long they’ve been lying there….

Long may they rest in pieces and provide food and homes for the fishes.

Extra image of previous two boats from a different angle.

I’ll try get my post up as soon as I’ve caught up with the Thames Path posts, the Pilgrim’s Way posts (2 years ago 😱🤪🤪) and the initial stages of the Saxon Shore Way I’ve already walked. 🤞🤞🤞 Thank you for your patience 😁😁

And yes, after walking 30 kms, I’m feeling every. single. one. of. my. years. 😂😂😂 but lots of vitamin C, Aloe Heat Lotion paracetamol and feet up…I’ll be right as rain…😉

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One of my favourite and most prolific categories in Project 101 is visiting places named in the 1066 Domesday Book; a survey undertaken by William the Conqueror after he invaded England and defeated King Harold and his forces during the Battle of Hastings in 1066.

The Norman Conquest (or the Conquest) was the 11th-century invasion and occupation of England by an army made up of Normans, Bretons, Flemish, and men from other French provinces, all led by the Duke of Normandy later styled William the Conqueror. Ref wikipedia

Usually I find that the towns and villages especially, have some way of advertising their links with 1066, either in the form of a village sign or remnants of their links are noted in a book or some historical objects.

Nettlestone, Isle of Wight

In the case of Stoke Gabriel, its a tree – a first! I initially noticed this on Google when I was researching the village prior to my visit a few months ago.

Domesday Book tree – alive before the 1066 Norman Invasion
Domesday Book tree, St Mary & St Gabriel Church, Stoke Gabriel
Domesday Book tree

Of course as soon as I could, I made haste to see this for myself. Its quite extraordinary to be in the same proximity as a living, breathing creature that was already well established before the invasion even took place nearly 1000 years ago.

How you might wonder is it that much a thing remains….so

Domesday Book tree

Why does every churchyard have a Yew tree? The answer has to be that the early Christians built their churches on the ancient Druid and Pagan sites of worship and the planting of yew trees in modern churchyards reflects the early assimilation of the old religions into the new religion.

I’m guessing that because they live in churchyards they’ve survived progress by living on sacred grounds. I found a fascinating article about yew trees that you might enjoy, and from which I noted the information above in italics : why does every churchyard have a yew tree Their contemporaries were not as lucky…and as usual were destroyed by progress….

The longbow (so called because it is 6’ in length) was the premier weapon of the middle ages and made from yew. The volume of yew wood needed for war archery from the early 13th to the late 16th century was far too great to be supplied by from trees grown in churchyards. After all of the yew stands in Britain and Ireland had been depleted, the English crown began to import yew wood from all over Europe including Austria, Poland and Russia.

Nevertheless, this marvellous creature remains to remind us of history and our mortality…whether it does or does not thrive on the bones of the dead is irrelevant, its here for us to enjoy and be amazed.

Domesday Book tree – arms spread wide
Domesday Book tree, thriving on the bones of the dead ☠☠

Some of the events this tree has lived through:

Domesday Book tree – it has seen historical events come and go

I followed the instructions, but unfortunately no-one was there to witness my endeavour

Walk ye backward round about me 7 times…

In fact the tree is even older than the church by a few centuries…

The interior of the church was no less interesting

Church of St Mary and St Gabriel, Stoke Gabriel
Beautiful carving on the pulpit
Church of St Mary and St Gabriel, Stoke Gabriel
Church of St Mary and St Gabriel, Stoke Gabriel, Devon

The church building was originally constructed in the early 13th century, of which only the Norman tower survives today. In 1268, Bishop Bronescombe of Exeter dedicated the church to St Gabriel, resulting in the name change of the parish from “Stoke” to the more distinctive “Stoke Gabriel”.

I often included the churchyard in my many daily walks around Stoke Gabriel and occassionally I forgot about adding kms to my virtual challenges and instead I just sat on one of the benches or under that glorious, ancient tree and enjoyed the peace and quiet.

And I shall once again include it in my walks when I return to SG later this month…

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Just popping in quickly to share a photo from this morning’s sunrise.

I’m currently in South Devon, started a new booking today, but travelled here on Monday and spent 2 nights and a day in Paignton, with a visit to Torquay and Brixham and a walk along the South West Coast Path (more on that to come).

Meanwhile I went down to the seafront at 6am to watch the sunrise and I was not disappointed

You can just see the 2 cruise ships to the middle and far right

I’ll write soon about the trip….

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Today I’m on my way….heading home.

Its really nice to be able to say ‘home’, even though it’s a room in a shared house, its a base and home – for now. Although it was quite suitable in the past to stay in a b&b or guesthouse between jobs, the security of having a base is so much better.

Part of the reason I enjoyed staying at b&bs etc was because I used to travel between jobs, but now my little 💙 lives in Ramsgate and I have a powerful reason to want a base to return to so I can spend precious time with him.

So today has finally arrived after what has, once again, been a very stressful 2 weeks. I’ve had 3 very stressful assignments since the beginning of the year and my goddess I’m tired.

I was hoping to start working again next week, but as has been the case in the last year, the agency do not have much work available. So I’ve accepted a position in Devon that only starts on 31st. Although this will have a slightly negative impact on my income, it does mean I have a good break and space to breathe.

I’ve started the process for claiming my pension, albeit insufficient to even pay my rent, it will give me a wee boost to save for my walking trips. I’ve not worked in the country long enough to qualify for a decent amount, but as the blurb goes….every little bit helps.

So talking of trips, crikey – after much rejigging my dates for my planned 🤔🤔🤔 Thames Path walk in April, and trying for the last 2 days to squeeze the dates etc, I finally got a decent looking schedule worked out, sat down last night to start changing the dates for the bookings I had already made, only to find that the prices are almost double in May. So that puts paid to that little escapade. Ugh. My head.

Back to square one as they say. I was so upset last night that I just shut my computer, used a few choice words at commercialism 🤬🤬🤬 and went to bed.

So over the next few days I’m going to go back to basics, cancel all the bookings I made for April since I can’t travel then anyway, do a new search. Thank goodness for booking.com where you can reserve a place, but have the option of cancelling within a reasonable time.

However, I am determined to do this trip….

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Last week I ventured into a different part of Croydon than I’d been before.

There’s some super cool street art that I could see. Dome days I wish I had more time to explore. The top 3 images are of The Hospital of the Holy Trinity founded 1596. Wowww. K thought Croydon was a ‘new’ purpose built town, but no, it’s got history going back as far as 960AD!!

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During my research of different pilgrimage routes in the UK and elsewhere, I came across this website http://www.greenpilgrimageeurope.net/ What interested me and encouraged me to read further was the mention of Canterbury.

Canterbury has been my final destination a number of times, it’s a fascinating city with an incredible history and I love visiting and exploring and especially passing beneath the West Gate at the end of my walks; Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, the Way of St Augustine (In 597AD, St Augustine arrived on England’s Isle of Thanet upon the instructions of Pope Gregory to bring the good news of Christianity to Kent, as Queen Bertha was already a committed Christian) and The Pilgrim’s Way.

the west gate canterbury
the West Gate Canterbury

The 119-mile (192km) Pilgrim’s Way from Winchester to Canterbury has been trodden by pilgrims for more than a thousand years but the origins of the pathway date back much earlier, to 1800-1400BC. The route was probably used for trade but after the death of St Augustine of Canterbury in 604, pilgrims started coming to venerate his remains at the Great Abbey. Canterbury also became an important stop for pilgrims making the long journey to Rome; Via Francigena.

After Thomas Becket was canonised in 1173, his shrine at Canterbury Cathedral became the most important in the UK. According to Christopher John Wright, author of A Guide to the Pilgrims’ Way, Canterbury was ‘after Rome… the chief shrine in Christendom’, and drew pilgrims from far and wide. Henry II is also said to travelled this route – as part of his pilgrimage for atonement for the murder of Thomas Becket.

a choral evensong service to commemorate Becket’s martyrdom
a choral evensong service to commemorate Becket’s martyrdom 29.12.2018

Pilgrimage is one of the fastest growing movements in the world, with more than 330 million people going on pilgrimage every year.  The vision of Green Pilgrimage is that pilgrims leave a positive footprint on the earth, and that pilgrim places become models of care for the environment.

pilgrimage to canterbury
Pilgrims

Besides being the final destination for the walks I’ve mentioned above, Canterbury is often the starting point for those enroute to European Pilgrimage sites such as Santiago de Compostela in Spain and the Via Francigena to Rome.

I love what they say about the 7 stages of pilgrimage

Number 7 definitely resonates with me; although I’m not a religious or even pious person and believe in evolution rather than creation, I relish the challenges I face and find that yes, in ways that I sometimes don’t even notice immediately, I am always a different person at the end of each walk.

For me it’s the journey as well as the destination, and my stages of pilgrimage are:

1. Discovering a new pilgrimage that venerates a Saint I usually have never heard of and then learning more about them.

2. Researching and planning the route; usually gives me a series of headaches LOL but it is definitely enlightening.

3. Since I usually travel solo, my interactions are invariably brief and with strangers, yet each brings their own little story and memories of so many of these interactions linger for years, and I still think of certain people I met.

4. Understanding the story is usually where I am totally honest; I walk these routes because I love walking, adventure and discovering new places. If I’m not walking for a religious reason, does that make me less of a pilgrim?

5. For me this was about finding my ‘Camino’ eyes. A weird term until you realise it’s about suddenly realising you ‘see’ the signs along the way without having to search for them. This I have found on all my walks.

6. I definitely resonate with this; there is nothing I enjoy more than just looking around me and taking it all in – hence the number of photographs I take, and why my kms are way more than the stated distance – I have to explore.

7. I’m not so sure about the ‘should‘ recognise, but I definitely do recognise the differences. Sometimes they are emotional, or mental, but without doubt they include physical. With each walk that I do, along with the challenges they bring, I find I am more courageous and less fearful of what difficulties I may find along ‘the way’. I have overcome, and will continue to overcome the challenges.

There are so many different pilgrimages around the UK and Rep. of Ireland as well as Europe, and farther afield in Japan that I would love to do. I have added them to my vision board….and sent a telegram to the Universe.

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Hahaha, yes, after my blithe words yesterday about being pragmatic about plans changing…guess what??

Yeah…..that….can I bite my tongue?? 🤪🤪🤪

So after hours working out the route, checking the days/dates over and over to make sure they were correct and I didn’t miss any, calculating the distances to make sure the days are not too long, researching accommodation, then booking the dates, and double checking the dates, I got an email this morning confirming my booking but….

“Good afternoon,

Though most restrictions are lifted from 12th April, unfortunately for public who intend to stay in hotel for leisure are allowed only from 17th May. Till this time only key workers are permitted to stay overnight in hotels. Kind regards”

Don’t you just love a big old ‘but’? Although ‘butt’ would be more appropriate now, coz I’m kicking mine…😝😝

I understood from the government website that from 12 April Members of the same household can take a holiday in the UK in self-contained accommodation.

Couldn’t the government have been a little more specific and added “you may not stay in hotels “. For people like me 😁😁😁

Apparently hotels do not fall under that category 🤨🤨🤨 Who knew?? 🤣🤣🤣 I think I misinterpreted that little clause because I am fed up now with not being able to travel, and want to do my walk.

I know there are still Covid related issues, but seriously, the hotels and places like that are taking so many precautions and they are sterilising their premises and following guidelines for masks etc, that I think its quite ridiculous that we can’t yet travel locally. I get all the overseas restrictions and precautions etc, but the virus is invariably spread by close contact in enclosed environments, big crowds, or feckless people not taking precautions, and you’re seldom in close contact in a hotel. Especially the bigger chains.

So yeah, that’s my little whinge 😏😏😏

I have a headache 🤕🤕🥵 Ugh. I had other plans for today. Or maybe I shouldn’t use the word ‘plans’ for the foreseeable future.

Note to self…

I’m now in the process of reworking all my dates, because I have my actual work dates to reschedule as well.

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