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Its been a funny old week with grey overcast days, a rainy day not fit for ducks, and of course snow!! πŸ˜πŸ˜β„ and today’s gorgeous sunshine.

Despite the weird weather I have managed to get out on a few walks and extended my horizons by going off in different directions….the problem of course is that the roads are so long, I have to walk for ages to reach an intersection, and there’s no such thing as “gosh I’m tired, let me head back” because the distances are so great there is no quick way to get back – you just have to keep traipsing along.

As for the scenery, beyond the few scattered hamlets, it’s mostly wet, muddy, grey/brown farm fields with a few copses of trees dotting the landscape. But I have enjoyed stretching my legs and hearing nothing but birdsong and the baaing of sheep, encountering minimal traffic as I go…..on Friday I walked for 70 minutes before encountering a car, and that was well timed (not really) – I was 2 thirds of the way around a huge puddle of the water that covered the road from one side to the other, making my way gingerly along the verges, hanging onto barbed wire fencing and precariously positioned wooden posts, when I heard the sound of an approaching car. 😱😱😱 wtf, you’re kidding me!!!

two-thirds of the way around on the r/h side just before the tree…I heard a car

With utter dismay I turned towards the sound and prayed that is wasn’t some young buck who thought it would be fun to drive through at speed and drench the old lady πŸ‘΅πŸ» hanging on to the fence for dear life. Thankfully it was another little old lady πŸ‘΅πŸ» and she drove sedately through the puddle leaving small waves in her wake, and me dry!! I thanked her as she drove by! 😁😁😁

Another place that looked enticing was Belmont House and it played host to my visit on Tuesday. A good 2.2 miles from my current location, it took me 35 minutes to get there, which shaved 7 minutes off google’s eta. If I don’t dilly dally too much, its amazing the places I can go.

Belmont House and Gardens located in the Throwley area of Faversham on the rolling North Downs of Kent. The 18th century house was designed by Samuel Wyatt in the neo-classical style, built in 1769 by Edward Wilks – storekeeper at the nearby Faversham Powder Mill, and enjoys a stunning view over the estate and the downs. The estate is made up of house, gardens, cricket pitch, orchards, farm and woodlands…over 3,000 acres. Belmont has an extensive history and the Lords Harris served as soldiers and colonial governors. The house is distinguished for the collection of clocks created by the 5th Lord Harris. Needless to say I didn’t get to see any of these, except for the clock tower, and the house is covid-19 closed. blergh. Maybe I will return at some stage to this booking and perhaps the house will be open then.

3 o’clock and all is well…πŸ˜‰

Meanwhile, my walks have taken me as far as I can go and some days I’ve gotten back just within my allotted break time of 2 hours. Of course if I had more time…..who knows where I could go!!

I’d love to walk to Ospringe, but that’s just a tad too far for 2 hours – I still have to get back

It wouldn’t however be across the fields along the footpaths…since not only do the farmers rudely put up electrified fencing as close to the path as possible, making it difficult to access, but atm the paths are just gloopy sticky muddy horrors. I know, because I foolishly walked along not one, but 3 paths last week – on the sameday😝😝. My shoes were sluggish with sticky mud.

We experienced some icy cold weather that caused the ponds and puddles to freeze over…

Ice at least half inch thick

But oh the views!!!!

And this always makes me smile

πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒ

Today I woke to a fabulous sunrise and blue skies, that developed into a beautiful morning.

So beautiful in fact that I asked my client if I could beg an extra hour and go for a walk before the weather turned.

Country roads…
All the way to the sea…
Fields of green

And a good thing I did too, by 2pm the clouds had blown in and once again it was grey….but we had a lovely sunset

And blow me down if once again I didn’t get caught out, no, make that twice!! No cars at all for well over an hour in all directions, yet just before I reached the flooded corner a car came whizzing down the road from behind me and sent waves of water flying through the air. Well, that’s done I thought, I should be safe now….hah! Once again, as I was about halfway round along comes another car, from the opposite direction. I scurried into the field through a gap in the fence and waved them on…waited for the water to settle and hurried the rest of the way round before car number 3 came by. None did πŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺ

This puddle and I have history 🀨🀨🀨

And so endeth week 2 in Throwley. I think I have pretty much exhausted the area and shared plenty images of just about everything you could hope to see, so for the next week I shall concentrate on bringing my Pilgrim’s Way posts up to date, as well as the walks along the English coast. I will of course still do as many walks as I can.

I’ve accumulated 38kms this week and had 2 non walking days. Not too bad.

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After a brief walk this morning, to stretch my legs and get some fresh air after being indoors yesterday due to icy roads after the snow, I updated my kms to the Conqueror Challenge app and voila, another postcard arrived into my mailbox πŸ˜πŸ˜πŸ˜πŸšΆπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸšΆπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸšΆπŸ»β€β™€οΈ I get really excited when these cards arrive…its fun to see where I’ve been travelling virtually while walking in reality.

So stage two:

Having left the alps and peaks behind, the town of Omarama marked the halfway point of my journey. Although a small rural town, mainly a service centre for locals and nearby residents, Omarama had a few surprises up its sleeve.

Disney’s 2020 movie release of Mulan was entirely shot in New Zealand with scenes filmed at the Clay Cliffs just outside of Omarama.

In 2009, NZ pilot Terry Delore set a new world record in his 87ft (26.5m) wingspan glider. Taking off from Omarama, Terry travelled 1,491mi (2,400km) up and down NZ for 15 hours reaching speeds of up to 93mph (160kph) before landing back in town. Omarama has strong gliding conditions making it a popular destination for gliding pilots. Omarama hosted the 1995 and 2007 World Gliding Championships of which Kiwis took first place in the 1995 open category and third place in 2007.

For the weary soul like myself, a Hot Tub soak the night before to rejuvenate my muscles and unwind was just what I needed. The Hot Tub was located outside in a private setting within a tussock and rock landscape. The tub was filled with fresh mountain water without any chemicals added. The business reuses the water for irrigation. A submersible firebox allowed me to adjust the water’s temperature. As I settled in, I watched the Milky Way appear and spill across the night sky with its millions of stars.

Eastward bound, I left Omarama refreshed and ready to tackle the next half of the journey. The trip was relatively easy and short when compared to previous days. The first half of the trail was off-road running parallel to the State Highway on the right. Crossing at Chain Hills to the left of the highway I began my descent alongside Lake Benmore, the largest artificial lake in NZ.
Lake Benmore was created in the 1960s as part of the Benmore Dam construction. The lake is split into two arms. The largest is fed by three rivers, Tekapo, Pukaki and Twizel plus the Ohau canal with Waitaki River flowing right through the lake, whereas the smaller arm is fed by Ahuriri River.

It is this smaller arm that I travelled along to Pumpkin Point, a grassy beach area, for a break and a splash in the lake, then onto Sailors Cutting where the off-road trail terminates and I join the highway for the rest of today’s trip. Not the most relaxing part of the journey as I braved the high-speed highway with an upward climb to Otematata Saddle. The views of Lake Aviemore and the valley beyond was a lovely compensation until I continued on the busy highway downhill all the way into Otematata.

Hmmm. The more I’m reading about this, the more I’m thinking I should add this route to the itinerary for my pending trip to Australia in a few years time. I’ve included a trip to NZ but only to visit the main attractions as well as a friend and her daughter (if she’s still living there at the time and not somewhere else in the world, as she is wont to do πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒ). The route is approx 290kms and would take about 12-14 days to complete. πŸ€”πŸ€”πŸ€”

Where I actually walked this morning
Where I ‘virtually’ walked

If you’d like to join these challenges, here is my link https://www.theconqueror.events/r/CE1474 – I don’t get any money from anyone joining, but you get a discount and I get a discount on any future challenges. However, I’ve already signed up for 15 challenges (8 completed in 2020), so I think I need to put the brakes on for this year πŸ™ƒπŸ™ƒπŸ˜†

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A tiny hamlet in the Faversham area of Kent, Thorley Forstal is literally just a scattering of pretty little houses amongst humongous fields of agriculture or animal husbandry…hence the long, long roads and vast distances I have to walk.

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.

I have yet to see a river or a stream, but perhaps I haven’t yet walked far enough…..there are however plenty of flooded roads, especially atm with all the rain πŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺ

For the word ‘Forstal’, various descriptions are found ; a small opening in a lane too small to be called a common, a green before a house, a paddock near a farmhouse.

In the case of ‘Throwley Forstal’, all 3 options could apply since there are a few small lanes, two fairly decent greens, and a farm looks out onto the green.

The houses are mostly white clapboard and so pretty. Many of the houses and barns in the area are listed and circa 15th, 16th and 17th century.

Throwley Forstal
Forge Farm – literally right out of Beatrix Potter – did you spot the puddleducks? πŸ˜„πŸ˜„

A pretty little place, there’s literally nothing more than a scattering of houses and a church. If you need supplies, it’s a 15 minute drive to Faversham.

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Really excited to receive my first postcard from my Alps to Ocean virtual challenge today.

1st postcard

I started the challenge on 30 December 2020, walked 115.6 kms so far, and am 1.8 kms ahead of target.Β  I so enjoy reading the information that comes with the postcards; learning about places I never knew existed until I started these challenges.

Oooo…..just keeping ahead.

I was 20kms ahead when I arrived at my current assignment on Monday but if course with limited time and 2 days a write off, I’m going to be hard put to keep up to speed πŸ˜‰πŸšΆπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸšΆπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸšΆπŸ»β€β™€οΈ

Alps to Ocean, New Zealand

Here I am at Lake Ohau, the third and smallest parallel glacial lake in the Mackenzie Basin that serves as a water storage for the Hydro scheme. It is connected to Lake Pukaki and Lake Tekapo (the other two parallel lakes) via an artificial canal. Lake Ohau is stunningly located between The Barrier mountain range to the west, Ben Ohau range to the east and Naumann range to the north which lies between Hopkins and Dobson rivers that feed into the lake.

This turquoise blue lake is a perfect environment for both powered and non-powered activities. Although at the height of summer the temperature reaches a mere 60Β°F (15Β°C) any swimming enthusiast wouldn’t want to miss the opportunity for a crisp splash in the lake. Luckily for me the weather was in my favour and I went for a brisk swim before starting my onward journey. However, I did hear that any sailor or windsurfer on the lake must be mindful of the northerly winds as the water gets choppy very quickly.

It might be debatable what’s considered a national dish in NZ, perhaps fish and chips or perhaps a gourmet meat pie. No matter, my choice was the traditional piping hot meat pie encased in a crispy pastry. This humble meat pie has been part of NZ’s cuisine since 1863 when the early British settlers brought it to NZ’s shores. It’s the perfect size to be eaten with one hand whilst chugging their popular Lemon & Paeroa soft drink with the other. The soft drink’s history goes way back to 1907 when it was originally manufactured in the town of Paeroa by combining lemon juice and carbonated mineral water.

After my finger-licking good pie and L&P hydration, I set off for what was to be the hardest part of the journey. The first 3.5mi (6km) was an easy section as I traversed the lower slopes of the Ohau range across several creeks before I found myself on a narrow track and a sustained climb of about 2.5mi (4km) to the highest point of the trail at 2,952ft (900m). Not that I particularly trusted that I was at the highest point for a while since all along there were several “false summits” where the trail appeared to reach the highest point to then discover that there was more upwards winding to go. During the winter months part of this upward climb proves to be even more hazardous as it becomes part of an avalanche path.

Reaching the top was quite the accomplishment but given its exposure and strong winds I spent little time admiring the view and started my descent. If I thought the climb was a challenge the steep descent with its tight steep bends was even more ghastly for the next half-mile or so.

The rest was a rolling descent crossing several streams. Clean drinking water could be collected at these streams enabling me to top up my bottles. The track joined with Quailburn Road and for the remainder of my journey I travelled beside Quail Burn River first to the west of me and once I crossed it to the east of me, almost like a constant companion, until we parted way with the river flowing into Ahuriri River and me rolling into Omarama for the night”.

Well, it sounds like I had a good time 😁😁😁 However, I’m not sure about the meat pie I ate πŸ₯§ πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ since I’m vegetarian, but 🀫🀫 we won’t tell anyone. As for the “false summits” and descent of the Oahu range…that reminds me somewhat of the many false summits and descents I made in Spain along the Camino. πŸ₯΄πŸ₯΄πŸ₯΄

So far along this challenge I’ve walked from Ramsgate to Faversham over a few days and 3.5 days in Throwley. I wonder where else my journey will take me!!

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I was researching some carvings on the portico if a church I visited a couple of days ago and came across this article. Absolutely love this story. Clever man πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒ

An Art Historian Discovered a Cheeky Self-Portrait That a Stonemason Left as an Easter Egg Inside a Famous Spanish Cathedral 800 Years Ago

https://news.artnet.com/art-world/art-historian-discovered-secret-stonemason-self-portrait-800-year-old-cathedral-spain-1920189

If you’ve walked to the Cathedral in Santiago you’ll know why this is such a fascinating find….

If you haven’t walked to the Cathedral in Santiago…..why not!!! Start planning πŸ˜‰πŸ˜„πŸ˜„

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In April of this year, just one month after we went into lockdown, my daughter introduced me to the Conqueror virtual challenges. A friend of hers was participating in them, and knowing how much I love walking, she thought they would be a fun idea for me too. Initially I was like…hmmm that’s a bit expensive, but hey I like the Hadrian’s Wall medal, so yeah, why not sign up and do just the one (please note, at the time I said “just the one” πŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺ)

I signed up, downloaded the app and for the next week I swore and spluttered as I tried to get to grips with how it all worked…and I walked. But soon enough I figured it out and in no time at all I was adding on the miles and watching my progress.

My very first walk …

The organisers are very clever… besides the fact that the app has (actually) been beautifully designed, the features keep you hooked as you progress along the route…click on the map and you can see ‘where you are on the route’ and until I figured how to turn it off, all the other virtual travellers who were either with you, or ahead or coming up behind. I found that a bit busy and switched to only me.

A little too busy for me, but wow, there were a lot of people on the same route

Besides that, you get award notifications (via the app)…Flying Start Award 5%, or Trail Blazer 20% and Halfway There Award 50%, a bit like a coach would do, keeping you motivated.

Virtual coaching

If you click through to the actual challenge they have 2 stats: Distance and Time which show you the distance you’ve covered and how long it’s taken you. You can set the length of your own challenges. I usually overstate mine and end up completing well before my expected date – then you get a message that says “well done Cindy, are you sure you’re not a pro? Or “you’re well ahead now” LOL Brilliant.

Besides that excitement, they intermittently send you virtual postcards telling you more about the route and the history of said route or the country you’re virtually walking through – and they have really put a lot of thought into it. I get a thrill each time a new postcard pops up in my email.

Conqueror virtual challenges – Hadrian’s Wall
Conqueror virtual challenges – Hadrian’s Wall

They’ve recently introduced a new feature and for every 20% of the challenge you complete, they plant a tree in conjunction with their partners Eden Projects; their reforestation programs help the environment and reduces extreme poverty by employing local villagers. The trees are planted all over the world, from Madagascar and Indonesia to Central America and Haiti. Being eco-conscious and concerned about the destruction of our planet, this was an exciting feature and keeps me heading for the 20% markers. I’ve planted about 20 trees so far β˜Ίβ˜ΊπŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘

Conqueror virtual challenges

At the time I started the Hadrian’s Wall challenge I was working in a wee village in Somerset; Nether Stowey, miles from anywhere, out in the countryside and right slap bang on the Quantocks. Give me the name of a walk to do, and I’m there…πŸšΆπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸšΆπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸšΆπŸ»β€β™€οΈ

Stepping out on Hadrian’s Wall virtual challenge

And so, during lockdown, I used most of my 1 hour allocated free time for exercise and I was out exploring and walking, the kms/miles soon added up. Using the calendar on the app I added a description of where I’d walked and added a photo for each day’s mileage and looking back its brilliant to see what I did each time I went out ‘boots on’ walking.

Suddenly hoorah!! To my excitement I completed Hadrian’s Wall challenge….I marked it as completed and waited in anticipation for my medal. Yes!!! You get a real life medal, and it is beautiful, a real solid medal on a lanyard. Clever clever organisers.

My first medal – Hadrian’s Wall

At that stage I was like okay, that was fun but I’m not going to spend anymore money on this….

Until I did 🀣🀣🀣 I ‘happened’ to look at the website and saw the Camino de Santiago challenge….my resolve dissolved. I loved the medal, and since I’m planning on actually walking the Camino in the next couple of years, I decided to sign up for ‘just one more’. So I signed up for the Camino de Santiago; at check out, they offered a 15% discount for doing 2 challenges….how could I resist!

And so my one challenge became 3 as I signed up for the English Channel challenge as well – of course the medal had NOTHING at ALL to do with my choice hahaha. Of course I had/have no plans to actually swim the English Channel, but I’ve walked along the beaches and waded in the sea often enough…so, I walked. The distance is only 34 miles and within 4 walks I was done! Whoo hoo…another challenge completed (30/09) and my medal was in the post! Some people actually swim laps in a pool while doing this challenge.

How could I possibly resist this??

Now what? I really really didn’t want to spend any more money on this, but! I follow the Conqueror Conquest Challenges on instagram and one day to my cost, I noticed their new challenge : The Ring Road – Iceland! OMG Sold to the lady in the corner LOL Dammit it. The medal is absolutely stunning. I caved, and not only that but I bought the 5 challenge pack as mentioned in an earlier post, as well as the 2020 Challenge which lists all my walks from 01.01.2020 right through to 31.12.2020 – super awesome. Of course the amazing medal had nothing to do with that either. My goal for 2020 was to walk 1600kms (1000miles) again, since I didn’t in 2019.

….and so I bought The Inca Trail – Peru (since completed), The Ring of Kerry – Ireland (since completed), The Ring Road – Iceland (for 2021), The Cabot Trail – Canada (for 2021), and the 2020 challenge. And then for good measure I added the Great Ocean Road – AUS (currently walking) and Alps to Ocean – NZ (for 2021).

Conqueror virtual challenges I’ve completed
Congratulations on starting the Inca Trail Challenge. This is a 26.2 miles / 42.1 km journey from Ollantaytambo District, Peru to Ponte da reserva de Machu Picchu, Peru.

This trail is so beautiful and full of historical value and because of that, UNESCO declared it a “World Heritage” site.

Machu Picchu β€” A New Wonder of the World

Richard L. Burger (an American archaeologist and anthropologist) thinks that Machu Picchu was built in 1450 – 1460.

The reason it was built is unknown. But most archeologists agree that the city was built to be a “royal” estate.

They think that the Inca emperor Pachacutec ordered the construction for himself, most likely after a successful military campaign. However, it is interesting that although it is considered a “royal” estate, it has not been inherited.

How is the journey so far, Cindy? Don’t forget to drink plenty of water and rest from time to time.

But at the rate I’m going trying to complete each challenge asap to get the medal, I’ve already exceeded my 1600km target and am close to completing 2020kms, my current total is 1749kms including today 9th December LOL – an awesome challenge!! Its been good to push myself to achieve that target.

Conqueror virtual challenges
Conqueror virtual challenges

And so, I’ve gone from signing up for 1 challenge to 10…..I love it. It’s a bit crazy really, but I love walking, and these challenges really keep me motivated, and the medals…..well, they really are beautiful and had a lot to do with my decisions..

In fact you can join up and either walk indoors, run, swim, cycle either indoor or outdoors, you can do rowing and skiing, you can participate even if you’re in a wheelchair, and of course outdoor walking which is my preferred method of exercise. It’s just brilliant.

As for the future…well there’s the John O’Groats to Land’s End challenge …that’s quite far at 1733kms/1083 miles, so I’ve looked at that for 2022 and maybe I’ll plan to walk that in real time and follow the virtual trail at the same time…πŸ˜‰

Now, I wonder what other challenges they’re going to design? I have no doubt that I will in all likelihood sign up for those as well. This could keep me going until I fall over…kaputski!! LOL

and unbelievably (or not) just last week I signed up for their latest challenge: to climb Mount Fuji – Japan…virtually of course 😁😁😁 The medal is absolutely stunning, why would I resist

I mean, come on seriously…why would I not!!

And that brings me up to 11 challenges!! To say I’m addicted would be an understatement….

Why not join me and sign up to complete a couple before the end of 2020 and maybe set yourself a challenge for 2021. If you sign up via my link you get a 10% discount, as do I on my next challenge. https://www.theconqueror.events/r/CE1474

See you at the top!! πŸ‡―πŸ‡΅

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I’m not really a fan of circular walks and prefer to end somewhere I didn’t start. But since I’m walking during my break, I have no choice but to return from whence I started.

Yesterday afternoon could be described as a blue sky day, and since it was my penultimate day in the city I made the most of the good weather and went for a ramble….from Temple to the Millennium Bridge, crossing to Bankside and walking to Tower Bridge, back over the Thames as the sun was setting and ultimately back to Fleet street and Temple.

I saw many of my favourite sights, and covered 7.86 kms in total.

Although I haven’t noticed much change in the volume of traffic along Embankment, the reduction in the city was very noticeable with many streets almost deserted. It was really weird walking past hundreds of shops and pubs….lights off and doors locked, and not manypeopleaboutat all. A bit like it would be after an apocalypse….

Very weird. This is the city of Sundays when everyone is at home and you could meander the streets and lanes and rarely see a soul.

Of course I took lots of photos…I hope you enjoy them

Has the chewing gum man been here?

If you cross Millennium Bridge look down and you’ll see a number of tiny little works of art. These are mostly the work of the ‘chewing gum man’. He creates art out of gum tossed on the streets by neanderthals. Although that’s actually insulting Neanderthals. Ben Wilson (click here for a profile) is famous in London for creating miniature artworks from gum stuck on the streets. His artwork is not limited to Millennium Bridge and if you keep your eyes peeled you’ll find these creative pieces in other corners of the city. I met him once at one of his exhibitions, a very interesting man. Here’s a more recent article about Ben Wilson you may enjoy reading https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/studiomoe/ben-wilson-the-chewing-gum-man-the-millennium-bridge-gum

One of my favourite views downstream of the Thames
When you cross Millennium Bridge from north to south, be sure to stop on the south side and look back…brilliant view of St Paul’s Cathedral
Just off the corner of a side street on Bankside you’ll find The Ferrymans Seat – harking back to when you had to pay the ferryman to row you across the river
The Globe Theatre- albeit not the original, Globe theatre is linked to William Shakespeare and pre-covid this is where you would come to experience what theatres were like in the 16th century. Not far from here and behind the first row of buildings you’ll find the remains of the Rose Theatre, where Shakespeare did perform his plays.
In the foreground is the arch of Southwark Bridge. At this point you can see four bridges crossing the Thames: Southwark, Cannon Street, London Bridge and in the distance, Tower Bridge – often mistakenly called ‘London Bridge’.
Beneath the arch of Southwark Bridge are scenes of Frost Fairs on the river from the days when it froze over in winter – specifically Frost Fairs were held in 1683-34, 1716, 1739-40, and 1814. The river is noe narrower and deeper and flows faster; and no longer freezes over.
A mural depicting William Shakespeare on the wall near The Clink Prison. I wonder what he would make of London today.
A fragment the Great Hall and Rose Window of Winchester Palace in Southwark. Once the palace of the Bishops of Winchester. The prostitutes who plied their trade in this area under the auspices of the Bishops were known as the ‘Winchester Geese’
A short walk from here is a piece of ground where they were apparently buried.
Southwark Cathedral circa 1905 – a place of Christian worship for more than 1,000 years it was originally an Augustinian priory built between 1106 and 1897. In 2017 I walked from the cathedral to Canterbury Cathedral following Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales
Minerva and The Shard. This delightful sculpture can be found on the river side of the cathedral.
The Navigators; one of my favourite sculptures in London located in Hays Galleria
HMS Belfast moored on the Thames since 1971 on Southwark side of the river; the most significant surviving WWII Royal Navy warship. Since her launch over 82 years ago, she fired some of the first shots at the D-Day landings, served in the Arctic Convoys, and in the Korean War.
The magnificent White Tower glows in the light of the setting sun
Toad Hall aka the London Mayor’s Office – many years ago a play; Wind in the Willows, was staged in the open air theater next to the building. It was nicknamed Toad Hall and the name has stuck ever since, and occasionally we have (had) a real larger than life toad working there…
#notLondonBridge – Tower Bridge stands guard over The Pool of London – a bastion between the the lower reaches of the Thames and the City of London
Looking upstream. One of the many many barges that traverse the waterways on a daily basis; one of hundreds of various craft that ply the river ….
The Tower of London viewed from Tower Hill
The Tower of London- 6 years ago the moat was covered with ceramic poppies to commemorate the start of the First World War. I was one of the many lucky people who got to plant a few.
Remnants of the original Roman City walls located at the end of the pedestrian underpass from Tower Hill station
All Hallows by the Tower Church – oldest church in London. In the crypt you can see the crows nest from Shackleton’s ship, Endurance. Samuel Pepys stood in the platform of the tower and watched London burning in 1666
A poignant memorial located in front of the church
The Monument commemorates the area where the Great Fire of London started in 1666. Nearby is a small plaque on a building showing the original location of the bakers shop where the fire was meant to have started. If you ever decide to climb to the viewing platform…there are a lot of steps!! But you get a certificate for your efforts
Another of my favourite sculptures – The Cordwainer. Located in the ‘Ward of Cordwainer’, which in medieval times was the centre of shoe-making in the City of London. Only the finest leather from Cordoba in Spain was used, which gave rise to the name of the craftsmen and the Ward
The Royal Exchange – London’s first purpose built trading centre. The Royal Exchange in London was founded in the 16th century by the merchant Sir Thomas Gresham
A peek at St Paul’s Cathedral
My absolute favourite building in London – St Paul’s Cathedral still stands proud amongst all the new. Designed and built by Sir Christopher Wren after the Great Fire of London razed the original to the ground. A tiny grave in the crypt of the cathedral is the resting place of this famous man. His epitaph: si monumentum requiris, circumspice”—if you are searching for his monument, look around. In all Wren designed 53 of London’s churches as well as other secular buildings. St Paul’s Cathedral featured in the famous film Mary Poppins.
St Brides Church aka the ‘wedding cake’ church. Urban legend has it that a baker was looking out the window of his shop one day looking for inspiration for a wedding cake he was creating…hence the popular design of the layered wedding cake. It’s named for the saint St Bride and is also known as the Journalists Church due to its proximity to Fleet Street, once home to the newspaper trade.
Back whence I started. The spot where I’m standing is actually in the City of Westminster and the City of London Griffin marks the boundary between the two cities. When I step past the sculpture I’m then in the City of London.

I hope you’ve enjoyed your trip around London and some snippets of history.

By the time my walk ended, the sun was setting below the horizon. Across the river is the OXO Tower and the Sea Containers building. Not sure what the two new towers are, but I wish they weren’t there…downstream you can see The Shard, its highest point lit up in blue.
Looking upstream towards the London Eye from the same location at the same time. You can see a sliver of the moon just to the right of the tall building on the left
My walk 7.86kms via mapmywalk

And finally,  London by night. Taken at 10pm last night.

The Sea Containers building lit up with a rainbow
The Colours of London – still my favourite city in the whole world

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Fantastic discovery today. I set off during my break, determined to find the river path. Instead I found Lewes Priory….or should I say, the ruins.

Lewes Priory

Like 99% of all the abbeys, monasteries, and priories in the country, Lewes Priory also fell foul of Henry VIII’s foul temper!!

Seriously, if I could go back in time, I’d go back to the mid-16th century and give him another whack on the head, maybe knock some sense into the man.

Imagine if he hadn’t destroyed all these amazing buildings, what magnificence we would see today.

But sadly we have to be satisfied with exploring the ruins and trying to imagine what they must have been like. But at least there are some remains to be seen. So little respect was shown for the historical value of the priory that the modern railway was run right over the chapter house. Listed as a Grade 1 building, it seems we have a little more regard for important places these days (although HS2 puts the lie to that 🀨🀨)

In the 11th century, monks traveled from Cluny in France to establish the first Cluniac priory in England. The Priory survived for 450 years until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1537.

A number of interpretive boards give you an idea of what the Priory would have looked like and show snippets of how the monks lived and worked. A herb garden has been recreated, replicating the gardens worked by the monks.

Its fascinating to see how thick the walls were built.

The Helmet Sculpture by Enzo Plazzotta, erected in 1964 to commemorate the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Lewes in 1264, is absolutely stunning.

The Helmet Sculpture

The Battle of Lewes

For a more detailed history of the Priory here’s the link to the main page https://www.lewespriory.org.uk/history-overview

And in case you were wondering….. Cluny is a commune in the eastern French department of SaΓ΄ne-et-Loire, in the region of Bourgogne-Franche-ComtΓ©. It is 20 km northwest of MΓ’con. The town grew up around the Benedictine Abbey of Cluny, founded by Duke William I of Aquitaine in 910. Ref wikipedia

Lewes Priory is a must visit if you’re in the area or perhaps walking the South Downs Way ….take a small diversion and visit the town, there’s so much to see.

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As mentioned in a previous post, on Monday I took myself on a walk to complete the ‘twittens’ of Lewes, after which I followed the High Street across the River Ouse to explore the other side of town.

To my absolute delight I found a wee church dedicated to St Thomas a’ Becket. Having just completed The Pilgrim’s Way a few weeks ago, this was wonderful little surprise.

St Thomas a Becket Church, Lewes

Of course I had to do some research and this is what I found ❀❀ Thomas a Becket actually visited Lewes at some stage!!! Oh my gosh just WOW!

St Thomas a Becket at Cliffe is a parish church in Lewes, encompassing the parish of All Saints. Becket was apparently a benefactor and frequent visitor to the nearby Collegiate Church of St Michael the Archangel, just a short walk away, which I visited just a few days ago. Totally weird to think that Thomas a Becket actually walked through the streets of Lewes. I never really associate him with more than Canterbury Cathedral, but of course he must have travelled to any number of cities and towns in England.

Collegiate Church of St Michael the Archangel, Lewes

Cliffe church, originally a chapel of ease of the college of Malling, was built, either…. so it is said, by the direct order of Archbishop Thomas Becket, to whose martyrdom it is dedicated. But it is also suggested that its building was financed by one of Becket’s murderers as a penance for committing an act of sacrilege, or by someone who witnessed the dastardly act but did nothing to prevent it.

St Michael the Archangel

So 3 options exist…I wonder which it is. If you’re interested in learning a wee bit more about the church, here’s a link https://st-thomas-lewes.org.uk/history/

Super awesome to discover Thomas Becket’s connection with Lewes, and completely unexpected.

Now, I really must get on with updating my pilgrimage, completing the 2nd half of the Pilgrim’s Way from Oxted to Canterbury.

It has however been so exciting to explore Lewes and discover her secrets, and I still have a castle and a priory to visit, as well as the north side of town. Oh and let’s not forget the walks I’d still like to do.

Meanwhile, if you’re interested, here’s a link to Day One : Oxted to Otford of The Pilgrim’s Way to Canterbury

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I recently arrived in Lewes for my next assignment (the benefit of working as a Carer is that although I’m away from home a lot, I get to visit some amazing places.

The day after I arrived I set out to explore and noticed that some of the lanes were named ‘twitten’ like Church Twitten for example. So i visited wikipedia and did some research – A distinctive feature of the centre of Lewes is the network of alleyways or ‘twittens’ which run north–south on either side of the High Street and date back to Anglo-Saxon times. According to the Dictionary of the Sussex dialect and collection of provincialisms in use in the county of Sussex published in Lewes in 1875 “Twitten is a narrow path between two walls or hedges, especially on hills. For example, small passageways leading between two buildings to courtyards, streets, or open areas behind”. Some twittens (e.g. Broomans Lane, Church Twitten, Green Lane, Paine’s Twitten) remain flint-wall-lined pedestrian thoroughfares, others (e.g. Watergate Lane, St Andrew’s Lane and renamed Station Street (formerly St Mary’s Lane) are now narrow usually one-way roads. The most notable of all Lewes’ twittens is Keere Street. A weekly Sunday morning run up and down all the twittens on the south side of the High Street – the so-called Twitten Run – has operated in the town since November 2015.

Hmmmm….tell me more. I love a good challenge and of course I’m currently following the Inca Trail virtual challenge so I did some planning and on Sunday during my break I decided to walk all the ‘twittens’ – I managed to walk along most of them and on Monday I walked the rest.

Along the way I discovered amazing places and hidden gardens. The twittens all run downhill, so there was a lot of downhill and up hill walking to be done LOL

First I walked along Rotten Row past the old Toll House from when the town was gated and near to where the Westgate was originally located – it’s no longer in existence unfortunately. I walked right to the end past the Lewes cemetery and left into Bell Lane and then left into Southover High Street where I passed the Anne of Cleves house, sadly closed atm due to Covid-19. There a number of wonderful old houses/buildings dating from the 14th and 15th centuries.

Still following Southover High Street I walked passed Southover Gardens and up to Bull Lane (off Southover Road).

From there I walked up Paines Twitten to the High Street then right and down St Swithun’s Terrace. Left again into Bull Lane and left into Green Lane up to Stewards Inn Lane where I turned right and then right again into St Martin’s Lane. Downhill all the way to Southover Road and then left into Watergate Lane uphill to the High Street. A lengthy walk later I turned downhill into Walwer’s Land and left into Friars Walk and after a quick visit to the church; All Saints,

I turned left into Church Twitten and uphill once again to the High Street. Last turn right into Broomans Lane back to Friars Walk and then back to the High Street and home…5.55 kms.

The following day I walked a total of 4kms to finish walking all the lanes and twittens.

Lewes is seriously cool and I wish I had planned to stay overnight for recreational purposes πŸ˜ƒ Maybe next time.

Meanwhile I have plenty more exploring to do, there are some fantastic dedicated walks and circular walks in the area. And so much history to discover….

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