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Posts Tagged ‘baby boomers travel’

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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Right then, after years and years of thinking about it, I’m now in the actual planning stages of walking the Thames Path – from sea to source.

Edit: 09/03 – I realized I should have titled this post as ‘Walking the Thames Path’, not river…I don’t have the right shoes for walking the river 😉

I mentioned in an earlier post that I was keen to walk it for my birthday; that comes up in April. So since the government have decreed (at this juncture), that from 12th April: UK domestic holidays away from home permitted….I’m off!! I’m also grateful to note that hairdressers will be opening too….I really need to chop my hair off, it’s working on my nerves, mostly because it has no style due to the fact that I HAVE been chopping it off for the last 15 months!! LOL

Anyway, back to the Thames Path. When I finally decided to do this walk, I bought the book and immediately started reading. Unfortunately the guide takes us from sea (almost) to source and not the other way around. So to that end (as mentioned in said earlier post), I have decided that I shall temporarily, purely to suit the occasion, reinvent myself as an adventurer who has stumbled across this great big river and want to find the source….a bit like Levison Wood except in reverse…and he of course explored the Nile….at 6,650kms, that’s a different kettle of fish (no pun intended). The Thames’ 346kms is just a Sunday stroll in comparison.

So, what is the River Thames!? According to Britannica: “River Thames, ancient Tamesis or Tamesa, also called (in Oxford, England) River Isis, chief river of southern England. Rising in the Cotswold Hills, its basin covers an area of approximately 5,500 square miles (14,250 square km). The traditional source at Thames Head, which is dry for much of the year, is marked by a stone in a field 356 feet (108.5 metres) above sea level and 3 miles (5 km) southwest of the town of Cirencester.

However, there is some dispute, and apparently, “some think a tributary, the River Churn, has a better claim to being the source; it rises near the village of Seven Springs (700 feet [213 metres] above sea level), just south of Cheltenham”.

Seven Springs features in the long-running argument over the true source of the River Thames. Two plaques at the site read “Hic tuus o Tamesine Pater septemgeminus fons” (Latin for “Here, O Father Thames, is your sevenfold spring”). Seven Springs is further from the mouth of the Thames than the medieval-preferred source at Thames Head near Kemble. In 2012 Coberley Parish Council posted a notice, on site, that “Seven Springs is certainly one of the sources of the River Thames and is held by many to be the ultimate source.” ref wikipedia

So, I guess I shall have to visit both…or shall I walk there? Hmmm. I think I’ll decide closer to the time depending on how footsore and weary I am after walking for 14 days – with a backpack. It’s an extra 33+kms which will add an extra 2 days to my journey, and the River Churn on google maps looks quite small, but after visiting google earth last night I determined that there are pathways pretty much along the whole length, barring a few farmers fields, some roads and a the odd house that appears to border the river….If I decide at the time to walk that extra 33kms (20.6 miles), then I’ll just go and deal with whatever confronts me when I get there – pretty much like I do on all my walks….just go! Of course that sometimes requires detours etc, but it’s the journey…

Meanwhile, I’m putting in loads of walking by following my Conqueror Challenges, and reading up on the route. There are loads of fantastic villages and towns along the route, some of which I have already visited and of course as mentioned in that article I have walked a large section of the Thames Path, the tidal section between Gravesend and Teddington Lock and further afield to Hampton Court.

I’ve kinda toyed with the idea of ‘maybe’ skipping out the tidal section since I’ve ‘been there, done that’, but it doesn’t feel right somehow…so I guess I shall just have to plan to walk the whole thing. I often read about people who do some walks, like the French Camino, in sections over the years, but I just know that’s no good for me…I likely won’t get back to finish off. There’s always something else to do. Mind you having said that, I did finally manage to complete The Pilgrim’s Way, but only because I made a spur of the moment decision to just do it….or else it would still be outstanding….which is was… outstanding that is 😁

So a little more about the River Thames:

The River Thames is England’s longest river at 346 kms (216.25 miles) – (albeit disputed coz of the tributary) the River Severn at 354km is the longest in the United Kingdom. So if they did add the River Churn’s 33kms (20.62miles), the Thames would indeed be the longest.

The River Thames flows from the source at Thames Head near the hamlet of Kemble in an easterly direction and after 366.4 kms (229 miles) it flows into the North Sea into the Thames Estuary near Southend-on-Sea. Now, kindly note that I am not about to walk from Southend-on-Sea as this adds on an extra 20km which would require ANOTHER 2 days….and I don’t have all the time in the world. I’ll simply add that section to when I walk the Essex coast (which as a matter of interest is 560 kms (350 miles).

The River Thames flows through 8 counties: Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Surrey, Essex, and Kent.

Besides all the smaller towns, the River Thames flows through or alongside: Lechlade (where you can find the famous Father Thames sculpture), Oxford, Reading, Henley-on-Thames (famous for the annual regatta), Maidenhead, Windsor (where the Queen sometimes lives) and Eton (famous for it’s posh totty school), Molesey (near Hampton Court). Including the smaller towns and villages…26 in all.

In Greater London the Thames passes Hampton Court Palace, Surbiton, Kingston Upon Thames, Teddington (where the tidal Thames ends at the lock), Richmond, Kew, Chiswick, Barnes, Hammersmith, Fulham, Putney, Wandsworth, Battersea (where my paternal grandfather was born) and Chelsea.

Continuing through central London: Pimlico, Lambeth, Vauxhall, it then passes the Palace of Westminster and the London Eye amongst many other landmarks of the City of Westminster, then between The City of London and Southwark till it reaches the world-famous Tower of London.

Into the lower reaches: the river passes through some of the most historic areas: Bermondsey, Wapping, Shadwell, Limehouse, Rotherhithe (from whence the Mayflower carrying pilgrims to the New World set sail), Millwall, Deptford, Royal Greenwich (where Henry VIII was born – the Palace of Placentia as were his daughters Mary & Elizabeth, while his son was born at Hampton Court Palace) and home of the Prime Meridian and Greenwich Mean Time, then Blackwall, Charlton and Silvertown and finally through the Thames Barrier – which is where the Guidebook starts the journey, and onto the the sea. The Thames Barrier is the largest moveable flood barrier in the world.

The River Thames is crossed by over 200 bridges, 27 tunnels, six public ferries, one cable car link, and one ford. There are 30 bridges from Tower Bridge to Teddington Lock – arguably the most famous of those being London Bridge (the first bridge to cross the Thames built by the Romans in 50 AD which was a wooden structure), and Tower Bridge (often misnamed as London Bridge).

There are around 180 islands altogether on the Thames, 45 of which are inhabited – some of the islands have animal, bird or food names; Monkey Island, Frog Island, Lower Horse Island, Buck Island, Swan Island, Heron Island, Raven’s Ait, Ham Island, Eel Pie Island (I briefly lived in a gypsy caravan on Eel Pie Island in Richmond in 2011), there’s even a Pharoah’s Island and Queen’s Eyot, and the famous Magna Carta Island.

The Thames has frozen over at least 23 times between 1309 and 1814, and on five occasions the ice was strong enough to hold a fair on the river, the first known ‘frost fair’ on the River Thames was in AD 695. There are a few famous paintings depicting the frost fairs on the Thames in London from the 17th century.

The River Thames is also known as the River Isis in Oxford.

Many species make the River Thames their home; birds, fish, eels, seals (Thames estuary)and even dolphins

A number of famous painters have depicted the Thames in their paintings: Turner, Monet, Canaletto and Whistler, amongst others.

The River Thames began its life in the Jurassic Period – between 170 and 140 million years ago, has changed it’s course over millenia and once flowed into the River Rhine in Germany. Courtesy of wikipedia: For most of the Early Pleistocene the Ancestral Thames was the main river with, at its maximum extent, a catchment area that extended into Wales alongside the Chiltern Hills, through southern East Anglia and finally into Doggerland (now the North Sea), where it joined the ancestral Rhine.

I’m still dithering about whether to start my journey at The Thames Barrier or from Gravesend. If I do start from Gravesend it will mean adding on an extra 2 days, whereas I could rather add on those 2 days at the end to follow the River Churn to Seven Springs. I’ve already walked from Southwark to Gravesend when following Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales route to Canterbury…..so, I need to make a decision and soon… my start date is 19th April!!

I’m really looking forward to discovering more about the places along the river from Hampton Court onwards to the source.

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Yesss…..I know!! I said “no more challenges” – don’t criticise me please 🤪😁😁

But I signed up for not one, but TWO of the new Conqueror challenges….how could I resist…I mean seriously, just look at that medal. Is it beautiful or what!!! 🧡🧡

Mount Kilimanjaro https://www.theconqueror.events/kilimanjaro/ can you just imagine what the postcards are going to look like! 🏔🌄🐘🐘🐘 I’ve been hoping they would produce another short-distance challenge that I could squeeze in somewhere this year, and this fits perfectly 97km.

and please don’t tell anyone 🤫🤫🤫but I’ve also signed up for the Kruger Park challenge – since I have visited the Kruger National Park a couple of times in my life, this was a MUST DO. I’m going to do this challenge in memory of my brother Arnold who died when he was in his late 20s from a ruptured ulcer. He would have been 66 in August of this year…. One of my fondest memories of him is on our 1st visit to the Kruger National Park. We were in our mid teens, when my father took us, his 2nd wife, my baby brother Kevin and my younger sister Susan to the KNP. While we were driving there my baby brother threw up all over Arnold’s trousers…..so instead of walking around in his underpants, my father made me give him my bright blue psychedelic bell-bottoms (1970’s fashion) to wear…the top fortunately was long enough for me to be wearing a very short mini-skirt 🤭🤭 It wouldn’t have been quite so bad, except that Arnold had on a burnt orange stripped shirt…paired with bright blue psychedelic patterned pants…not so cool. And that is my over-riding memory of my 1st trip to the KNP. I’m sure we saw lots of animals, but mostly my memories are of that, oh and the breakfasts…I thought I’d died and gone to heaven! The breakfasts were sumptuous.

The pink outfit in this image is pretty much what it looked like, except blue with multi-coloured patterns. If I recall correctly, it was a suit my Mother would have made for me since she was a seamstress and made most of our clothes growing up.

Kruger National Park https://www.theconqueror.events/kruger/ these postcards are going to be amazing!! Looking forward to the information that comes with them.🦓🦏🐘🦒🦛🦁🌅

Anyway, they’re the very first African themed challenges so of course I simply HAD to sign up – Mt. Kilimanjaro whoop whoop Of course my reason for signing up for this one is that my sister and her husband have in fact climbed the REAL Mount Kilimanjaro. I wonder if maybe one day I too will climb it…..??? I got my race bib!! #29 I’m getting closer and closer to #1 But! to my utter dismay, the internet was very slow in my area today and so my race bib number for the KNP is #87 too sad!! 🥺😪😪 damn

This will be my 3rd mountain challenge 1. Mt Fuji 2. Mt. Everest and now 3. Mr Kilimanjaro

Mt. Kilimanjaro

Kruger National Park

My other race bibs were St Francis Way #149 / Giza Pyramid #178 / Mt Everest #218

If you’d also like to walk these challenges, you can find the details here https://www.theconqueror.events/all-challenges/#hw_card This is not my affiliate link….I’ve already had 39 people sign up under my link which is just crazy….so I’m not using it anymore.

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My time in Salisbury is now over, but fear not I shall return – when I start travelling with my grandson, Salisbury, Old Sarum and Avebury are on my very extensive list of ‘places to go on Granny and Jamie’s Adventures’. But I couldn’t leave without sharing what is, next to the Cathedral, the best aspect of the city…..The River Avon, in Salisbury, Wiltshire, such a beautiful space.

Synonymous with Shakespeare and Stratford Upon Avon, the Avon rises east of the town of Chipping Sodbury in South Gloucestershire, just north of the village of Acton Turville.

The river itself runs from a spring in Naseby in Northamptonshire, through Leicestershire, Warwickshire, Worcestshire and finally to the River Severn in Gloucestershire, passing through Bath and Bristol, the last big city on its route and beneath the famous Clifton Suspension Bridge.

The River Avon is an exceptionally meandery river with lots of small tributaries and channels breaking away, leaving hundreds of little islands in its wake enroute to the sea…I tried to follow it on Google maps but gave up 😄😄😄

Running a somewhat circular path, the river drains east and then south through Wiltshire. Its first main settlement is the village of Luckington, two miles (3 km) inside the Wiltshire border, and then on to Sherston.

At Malmesbury it joins up with its first major tributary, the Tetbury Avon, which rises just north of Tetbury in Gloucestershire.
This tributary is known locally as the Ingleburn, which in Old English means ‘English river’. Here, the two rivers almost meet but their path is blocked by a rocky outcrop of the Cotswolds, almost creating an island for the ancient hilltop town of Malmesbury to sit on. Upstream of this confluence the river is sometimes referred to as the ‘River Avon (Sherston Branch)’ to distinguish it from the Tetbury Branch.
Information ref wikipedia with thanks.

In Salisbury the river twists and winds within sight of the cathedral as it rushes past ancient inns, Norman churches, alongside meadows green and watery alive with wildflowers, butterflies, bees and swans, it splits into a multitude of channels and smaller tributaries around the city, with 2 distinct channels in the city rushing furiously through the millrace at the Maltings then flows fast beneath a 15th century bridge; Crane Bridge

The Maltings
Crane Bridge

Pretty much wherever you are, you are within a short walk of the river.

The chalk soils around the River Avon filter and purify the water, making the river a special place for wildlife. The Avon and its tributaries make up one of the largest chalk river systems in England, and is a source of clean drinking water.

Although I’ve been to Salisbury a few times, its always been a short visit and mostly spent in the cathedral or at Old Sarum (which is a fantastic place btw – a must visit), but I’ve never had the time to just meander and explore. Its been fantastic. I shall of course return someday in the future….

Meanwhile, here’s a short video showing scenes of the River Avon in Salisbury

I did a lot of walking during my breaks, through Churchill Park, Queen Elizabeth Park, and along the many and varied riverside walks in the city…I went as far afield as the area called Broken Bridges and had a walk along the River Nadder, blissful tranquility, a space of enchantment

Crossing the bridge towards Broken Bridges
River Nadder, so clear you can see the bottom

And that’s it ….goodbye Salisbury, hope your cathedral is open next time I visit, I’d like to see the Magna Carta again 😊😊

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Lockdown and the government tiers certainly doesn’t allow for much by way of exploring, except in your local vicinity. If you’re lucky enough to live in a countryside area, close to the sea, or near a river, even if its familiar its usually different and can still be enjoyed every day.

Hands and Molecules – a familiar and favourite sculpture on the clifftop – makes a good frame for the moon
I adore this house. Located near the King George VI Memorial Park on the Dumpton Gap side, I used to have house envy till I realised how close to the cliff edge it is 🤪🤪

I live (sort of*) near the sea and even though it’s the same, every day along the coast is different. I’ve found myself with time on my hands due to losing a 6 week assignment so made the most of the opportunity to spend time with my grandson and to catch up on my walking targets for 2020.

Sunrise 23.11.20 @ 7.15am
Sunrise 23.11.20 @ 7.26am
Ramsgate Harbour
Into the light….
Sunrise 25.11.20 @ 9.26am
Sunset 24.11.20
Sunset 23.11.20
My favourite sunset to date…23.11.20 across Pegwell Bay
Sunset from the cliffs above Pegwell Bay near Cliffsend
One of my favourite village signboards – Cliffsend has seen Viking raiders, St Augustine’s arrival and WW2 action

I’ve seen some amazing sunrises and sunsets and had much fun with the kid. He’s developing into a very determined little boy and like most kids his age, he has a strong will. He’s also growing rapidly and requires his Granny to carry him when he gets tired….but Granny is not a bodybuilder and has her limits 😁😁

My favourite swing…he loves it too
Finding a fairy’s front door 🧚‍♂️🧚‍♀️
He’s going to be a displacement officer when he grows up 😉😁 loves to move stuff
Empathy for a dead shark
Just a hop, skip and jump on the beach at Margate

I’ve mostly walked locally and managed a walk to Broadstairs and to the Sandwich side of the Pegwell Bay nature reserve.

Looking across the saltmarsh mudflats to Ramsgate
The saltmarsh mudflats, a fascinating environment

The mudflats are home to an incredible number of birdlife that visit here during the changing seasons

The reserve has an amazing history and played an important role in WW2.

On my way back from the nature reserve I walked along the beach beneath the cliffs; devastated to see the volume of plastic trash lining the high tide level and he number of dogshit bags piled up. It’ll take a team of 20-30 people to clear that up…it stretched from where I’m standing right along the cliffs; heartbreaking.

We’ve had a couple of family outings and made a special trip for the boobee to see the Christmas lights in Margate

Snowman!! Penguin!! Santa!! His vocabulary is expanding daily 🥰🥰

Ramsgate Harbour offers so many photographic opportunities, you could spend all day there

I’ve managed to increase my kms by 74 this week and passed my original target of 1600kms. I do however still have 375km to walk to reach my 2020 target of 2020kms. Looking forward to seeing if I’ve exceeded my October total 🚶🏻‍♀️🚶🏻‍♀️🚶🏻‍♀️🚶🏻‍♀️🚶🏻‍♀️

I’m determined to reach my target

So yeah, I may be walking familiar routes, but every day it looks different.

* I sort of live in Ramsgate but because work all over the country I don’t actually have a home and liveineither a guest house or b&b between assignments. One day…I hope to have a home of my own.

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I’ve been chatting to my sister V in SA (1 of 4 who still live there) about coke of all things. She was relating an episode from yesterday when she and our youngest sister D were showing D’s kids how to make a coke float – for the uninitiated, that’s coke and vanilla icecream. It fizzes up and makes a delicious, albeit very unhealthy drink, and a glorious mess if you don’t drink it quickly enough 🤣🤣🤣

I went on to say that much as I loathe coke and the company behind it, it’s the only drink that will suffice on a hot summer’s day of walking. It slakes my thirst and gives me an energy boost when I need it most. It’s also very good with pizza and due to its chemical composition, it dissolves heavy food….the only other time I drink it.

From there the conversation went onto our planned Camino in 2022. We’re going to walk the Portuguese Coastal Route from Porto to Caminha and then inland to Valenca and from Tui to Santiago de Compostela.

It will be my 2nd walk along this route and her first, also her first time walking the Camino since she’s cycled the French Route some years ago with our father who was also a keen cyclist.

I’m not into cycling and prefer walking, so to her credit, she’s up for walking the route. Our conversation brought back memories of my pilgrimage and that I drank a lot of beer during my walk 🤪🤪 My last reply to her went like this:

“No my tummy either but it seems to do the trick with thirst and heavy food (coke).
My choice of tipple on the Camino was beer 🍺🚶🏻‍♀️🚶🏻‍♀️of all things…I usually had my 1st one at between 10am and 11am depending on whether there was a place open to serve 🤭🤭 Mind you, now that I think about it, that’s probably why I enjoyed the Camino so much 🤣🤣”

Since I seldom drink, this was a departure from the norm for me, but as they say…..”when in Rome….” and all that, it made perfect sense to keep the Portuguese locals and other walkers company. Anyway that’s my reason 😁😁🍺🚶🏻‍♀️

11:14:58 😉🍺

My memories of the Camino are many and varied. I had such a fantastic time….it was a huge challenge and I cried a lot from pain, but I also laughed a lot and met some super people along The Way. Portugal is such a beautiful country and the route follows the coast which meant I had the Atlantic ocean to my left every single day till Caminha.

So many memories of an amazing experience

More about my Camino https://notjustagranny.co.uk/2017/09/11/day-5-porto-to-vila-do-conde/

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When there’s something you’ve wanted to do for a very long time, and suddenly you make the decision to do it and it’s nerve-wracking…..which is weird really but there it is – I’ve finally put a date to my Camino.

It’s been a dream of mine to do ‘The Camino’ for a very long time. I’m not sure when exactly I first became aware of The Camino, that, is lost in the mists of time. But some years ago my father planned to do The Camino on his bike and suddenly I was like….Oh okay….then during some visit or other to the UK he and I discussed the possibility of doing it together but due to the fact that he wanted to cycle the route but I wanted to walk…unfortunately we never did get that off the ground.

me and dad 2011 (1)

My Dad and I in 2011, the last photo ever taken of us together

Although he did do it again last year with one of my younger sisters, albeit not very successfully apparently as by then he was in the early stages of dementia and not only lost his passport but was terribly slow and struggled along.  But since he was in his mid-80’s by then, he could be forgiven for struggling. And of course he has since passed away (not connected to the Camino).

Doing the Camino was one of the ‘things’ on my ‘list of things to do’ once I got my British Passport 🙂 and like the sorting out of my possessions in South Africa the time has now come. And so project #Camino2016 has begun!

I immediately started doing some research on routes and best time of the year to travel etc etc. What I discovered is that there are numerous routes besides ‘The Way’!!! I finally decided on the Portuguese Coastal Route starting from Porto. Besides the fact that it is relatively flat in comparison to The Frances route which is 790kms and traverses mountain ranges, I have always wanted to go to Portugal so this was a great way to combine the two. I would love to go to Lisbon of course, but since it’s a lot further and I don’t have unlimited time, I settled on Porto as my launching point. However, on the plus side Porto looks amazing, so I’m really excited about starting there.

I’m planning on spending 3 days in Porto to explore then on the fourth day I shall head over to the Cathedral and start my 285km Camino journey from there.

I joined a group on Facebook; exclusively for women, the group allows women who have already walked the Camino, no matter which route, to offer advice and encouragement to those planning their journey. It allows us to ask for help or information and allows women who are already walking to post photos and tips and hints on what to wear, where to stay, what to expect en-route, what to look out for (like insane gropers), where to eat and also just some of the most stunning and amazing photos. It’s certainly made me impatient to start!!! LOL I’ve also starting studying photos on Instagram. Ohmygosh! Some of the places are just stunning.

Next was suitable gear…..I had bought my jacket while I was in South Africa as well as pants with zips and lots of lovely pockets (I love pants with pockets). I also bought a thermal top and leggings, socks, shoes, gloves and other bits and bobs. So thrilling to start getting my gear together.camino 2016.05.24 camino(4) Once I got back to the UK, I started doing more research on what to take and what to leave…keeping in mind the recommended weight of 10% of body weight…..I’m trying really hard to NOT lose any weight so I can take more with me!!! Hahaha.

I got online and ordered a whole lot of goodies from Mountain Warehouse, a parcel I received with much excitement and couldn’t wait to get it all on and start wearing it in.  I’ve also bought stuff that I will clearly not get to use (go figure) and some that after trying it out I have found to be unsuitable.2016.05.31 (1) So it goes I guess. But slowly I’m whittling it down to what I will or won’t take. Veterans of the Camino recommend weighing EVERYTHING and note it down…apparently after carrying the backpack for a couple of days for up to 8 hours a day, the pack gets heavier and heavier. Hmmm.camino (2)

I also got online and started to plan my route. As I say the Portuguese coastal route appeals to me the most…there’s also an inland route, but the thought of walking alongside the seas (well ocean actually) for 5 days appeals greatly. So I zoomed in on the maps and listed the towns along the way; potential places to stay and noted the distance between each. I don’t want to walk my feet off, so I’m limiting my distance to 28kms on any one day.

I also noted places that have lots of historical buildings and churches and things to see.  I can’t go to Portugal for 2 weeks and NOT explore….that would be sacrilege. And so after many, many hours online I have identified the best places to explore where I’ll stay for two nights, and which towns I can just sleep over and leave the next day.

Working out the various stages has been fun too…I worked out the distances with great care since as I say I didn’t want to walk more than 28kms on any one day…some places just don’t play fair…33kms!! So it’s been a real challenge to plan each stage. I’ve also learned so much I never knew about Portugal…I may just end up not coming back to the UK LOL. Portugal sounds absolutely fantastic. The towns have so much history and having looked at photos of some church interiors, I can tell already that I’m going to be taking a LOT of photos.

At the midway point of my journey, I’ll leave Portugal from Valenca, cross into Spain and walk the final stages from Tui to Santiago de Camino…oh my word, when I write that it gives me a thrill…of anticipation and a healthy dose of fear. I love walking and that will be a real pleasure, I love being on my own so that’s something I’m looking forward to and exploring is right up my alley….it’s looking to be a really amazing journey. The section from Tui to Santiago is the most important stage, I’ll do this over 5 days via Vigo and at just over 100kms it will qualify me for my Compostela….the certificate you receive from the Cathedral in Santiago for completing the route as a pilgrim. In order to ‘prove’ you’ve done the required 100km’s you get stamps in your Pilgrims Passport along the way from all sorts of places, churches, alburgues, restaurants and other such places…not always easy to identify but apparently once you say you’re a ‘pilgrim’ the locals are mostly very happy to help.  I am planning on learning some Portuguese and Spanish so that I can communicate.

My sister is loaning me her Spanish phrase book so I guess it’s time to start learning a new language.

Bring on the Camino!!!!camino 2016.05.24 camino(3)

 

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I love London, of that there is no doubt….I can seriously just spend each day, the whole day, just wandering around looking at everything, taking photos and sharing them on social media and just enjoying the buzz of the city.

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one of my favourite views

The reason I went to London was for a Press Preview at Kensington Palace to preview the Fashion Rules exhibition…..’Fashion Rules Restyled’ for 3daysinlondon.info. I’ve seen the exhibition in it’s previous life and loved the dresses and the story behind each one. When I first heard of Fashion Rules, I thought it meant…yeah baby, fashion rules yeah…it rocks!!! But no, it was about the rules governing the design and the making of dresses worn by The Queen and other members of the Royal Family; Princess Margaret in her day and Princess Diana.20160209_112401 - london20160209_112348 - london20160209_112333 - london The focus of the exhibition has been these 3 ladies and some of their significant dresses; dresses that were seen at major functions, for state occasions, glittering balls, overseas visits and so on. Every dress had to be carefully considered, made to measure and to suit the event, as well as keeping up with ‘fashion’ trends.

I really enjoyed the new format, in the previous exhibition each cabinet focussed on one of the 3 women and the dresses they wore and the rules that governed the making of it. In the new format, the dresses have been grouped into particular compositions and focus rather on the reason behind the making of the dress rather than the women who wore them.

The dresses are gorgeous. Diana’s dresses in particular were stunning especially once she gained more confidence and maturity…she really had a most amazing eye for style.

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Diana, effortlessly cool and stylish…forever beautiful

The Queen’s dresses are outstanding, although she went through a very mumsy style at one stage, when she was a younger woman…omg, she was beautiful, and could easily have graced the covers of Vogue just for her looks….never mind her status.

After the preview I had a hot drink (chocolate) and a slice of carrot cake, very kindly provided by HRP. I was well impressed that the HRP are using wooden forks and not plastic….not a comfortable feel in the mouth, it’s quite rough, but a worthy sacrifice to avoid adding more plastic to the environment. I popped past the Round Pond at the front of the palace and then headed over to More London Riverside to watch the Flipping Marvellous Pancake Races. Oh my gosh, what fun – crazy people. There was a huge group of school kids roped in to watch and cheer loudly and did they cheer loudly LOL. You could hear them well before reaching the races.

By then; 13:00 the day was beautiful, the grey overcast skies from the morning had been dispelled and we were treated to that colour blue only found in the northern hemisphere…perfect for photos 😉

Once I had my fill of the pancake races I walked along the embankment to London Bridge, popped past the Glaziers Hall and then onto the Guildhall Library to see the latest exhibition; The Worshipful Company of Glaziers. I love these little exhibitions, they are so interesting and give a glimpse into a world we don’t normally have access to. The history of the ancient livery companies is fascinating and some of them have roots that go back centuries, never mind decades.

I was in luck…there was a talk about the history of London’s cemeteries of London at the library – I managed to get a seat. So very interesting. It’s astounding how long it took for the powers that be to realise they really couldn’t have dead and rotting corpses stacked in piles beneath the church floors. Urgh, the smell must have been awful.

After the talk I walked past St Paul’s Cathedral and took the #15 bus to Trafalgar Square from whence I walked to St James’s Park on my way to The Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace to see their latest exhibition; ‘Masters of the Everyday – Dutch artists in the age of Vermeer’. My gosh those chaps could paint. Sometimes you think you’re looking at a photograph the detail is so fine. Exhibition ends 14 February 2016.

St James’s Park is looking splendid in the spring sunshine with hosts of golden daffodils. My favourite place for daffodils each spring is without doubt Kew Gardens, but since I haven’t been able to get there this year, what a treat it was to see swathes of daffodils as far as the eye could see. It was such a lovely afternoon and the sun was sinking towards the horizon and the rays of sun lit up the pretty little flowers making them shine like a blanket of gold.20160209_155608 - london
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After viewing the exhibition I walked to Victoria Station and past one of my favourite churches; Westminster Cathedral. This is such a gorgeous building and the mosaics decorating the interior are breath-taking.

On my way to the station I picked up an Evening Standard; the headlines took my breath away: Fireball horror at the palace. Seems some chap had set fire to himself at 3am in the morning near to the Orangery at the palace. How terribly sad, what an awful way to die. I always feel so sad when I hear about things like that, to think how mentally tormented they must have been at that time, to end their life especially in such a horrific way. May he now RIP, poor man.

So there it is, my day trip to London. What a terrific city. If you ever hear of a job that requires someone to walk about all day taking photos and sharing them on social media etc, please let me know 😉

Cheers folks, hope you enjoy the video

and the sneak peek at the Fashion Rules exhibition and the daffodils. The Pancake race was noisy, crazy and fun. Here’s to 2017 when I’m planning on watching the races at Borough Market. Within the next 4 years I will have attended all the pancake race venues in London.

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one of my favourite views

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Travel; what is it about that word that conjures up a whole vista of possibilities?   Could you imagine what your life would be like without travel?  Is it possible to not travel?   Whatever you do and whatever your reason,  travelling is a part of most people’s lives.

For centuries now people have been travelling, not just locally, but right around the world.   The reasons over the centuries have been different and yet remain the same, just in a different context.   Our forefathers travelled.  Ancient civilizations travelled.   New world’s were discovered, different civilizations and different cultures.   Their reasons for travel were vastly different and yet remain the same; to explore and conquer.   We all travel in one way or another.

There are different reasons why people travel:

1) Many people travel because they want to see their families and friends, whether they live near or far. Invitations from families and friends, for weddings, birthdays, or any other form of celebration are a good reason to pack your bags and travel.

2) Some people may travel seeking love, because they want to find their soul mates, believing that there is only one person for them and if they haven’t had much luck in their area, perhaps they will be luckier elsewhere.   With millions of people around the world, there is a possibility they could find love in some other place.

3) People travel to seek employment, perhaps having been unlucky nearer to home, possibly because they want to have a different experience e.g. volunteering.   Admittedly work may be hard to come by in your hometown or country and so some people decide to work abroad because they are looking for greener pastures.  They could earn more money abroad or perhaps their expertise is not favourable where they currently reside.

4) People travel because they want to learn about other cultures, to experience the differences between their’s and other cultures.  They travel and learn because for them learning while travelling is fun.   One very popular reason for travelling to another country is to enjoy and learn about the food.

5) People travel because they enjoy writing.   They want to share relevant information about the places they visit, write articles for their readers or find information for a novel perhaps.  There is a whole industry based just on travel writing.

6) People travel because they want to explore the landscape of different countries, take photographs as souvenirs or for commercial purposes.

7)  Many businessmen travel to promote or extend a current business, or start up a new business in other countries for expansion to increase their profit margins.    Business is nothing without profit.

8) And today, more and more people are travelling for pleasure, on vacation to exotic places.  Baby Boomers are currently the driving force behind the travel industry.   Born between 1946 and 1964, many of these people are now retired or coming up to retirement.  They’ve worked hard all their lives, invested sensibly and now they want to make the most of their later years, enjoy different experiences, see different countries and perhaps even relocate to warmer climes.

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