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When I bought the Kruger National Park challenge in March I had it in mind to honour the memory of my brother Arnold, who should have been 66 years old today; 08/08/21. He died in his mid-20s nearly 40 years ago under very sad circumstances.

Kruger National Park virtual challenge
Kruger National Park virtual challenge – starter bib

So I figured I would hold it till 1 August before starting the challenge and try to walk 66 kms by his birthday. As well as which, I was born in South Africa and one of my most enduring childhood memories was a visit to the Kruger National Park when we were teenagers…probably about 13 or 14 at the time. My Dad, his 2nd wife, me (the eldest) my brother (6 months younger than me – adopted by my Dad when he remarried), my sister 3.5 years younger than me and my much younger brother who was a baby at the time.

As we drove along the very long narrow dusty road heading towards the gates of the camp, after a long day of driving, my little brother threw up all over my older brother…I was wearing a very fancy patterned two piece pant-suit; a mini-skirt length top and bell-bottoms at the time, blue with coloured squares (I think I wrote about this some time back under a different context)…anyway, my brother had on a bright orange shirt and khaki trousers, which now had vomit all over them. A quick stop at the side of the road and we progressed with everyone affected cleaned up and my brother wearing the pants of my suit and looking both sheepish and colourful.

I can’t recall the name of the camp, but I do remember that we had a fantastic view of a massive waterhole from the dining room. We had a fantastic time and managed to see a lot of game on our drives, as well as in the compound when the animals from outside the fence decided to join the animals inside the fence!!! But of all the exciting things we saw, that episode with the clothes and the eggs we had for breakfast are my best memories.

And so I kicked off on 1 August and got my first postcard

Once again, the amount of information they provide with each postcard is amazing, and so fascinating. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I have

On the southeast coast of South Africa and bordered by Lesotho, Eswatini and Mozambique is the province of Kwazulu-Natal.  Known for its beaches, mountainous region and large savannahs with big game, this province is also home to the Zulu nation.  Kwazulu-Natal is made up of two separate provinces, KwaZulu and Natal, that merged in 1994.  KwaZulu was a semi-independent area intended as a homeland for the Zulu people whose ancestors were part of the Zulu Kingdom.

The Zulu Kingdom was a monarchy from 1816-1897 which grew to prominence under the leadership of Shaka Zulu, the illegitimate son of Senzangakhona, the Chief of the Zulu clan.  Senzangakhona had 14 sons, 4 of them ruled as kings.  Although Shaka was the oldest, due to his illegitimacy he did not have any claim as successor to his father.  When Senzangakhona died in 1816, his legitimate heir Sigujana took over but his rule was short-lived as Shaka had him assassinated and became king.  He in turn was killed 12 years later by another brother, Dingane who 12 years later was overthrown by his brother Mpande, who ruled for the next 32 years.  Mpande’s son, Cetshwayo, succeeded him in 1873 for the next five years.  

Cetshwayo was the leader during the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879.  Fought over several bloody battles between the British Empire and the Zulu Kingdom, the war lasted less than six months.  The first significant battle was at Isandlwana in January 1879 where 20,000 Zulu warriors attacked the British forces of less than 2,000 soldiers.  Defeating the British, a contingent of Zulu warriors broke off from the main force and proceeded towards Rorke’s Drift, which would become the second main battle on the same day.  Having been pre-warned of the Zulu advances, the British were prepared for the assault.  Vastly outnumbered with guns blazing, the British held their position.  After 12 hours of fighting, the Zulu warriors retreated.  Several more battles were fought over the coming months until the British moved into the royal village where they inflicted the final defeat.  By August, Cetshwayo was captured, deposed and exiled.  He was the last king of an independent Zulu nation.  Today Cetshwayo’s descendant Goodwill Zwelithini is the 8th reigning monarch of the Zulu nation.

My journey begins in the town of Hluhluwe.  Located in the north of Kwazulu-Natal between iSimangaliso Wetland Park and Hluhluwe–iMfolozi Park, this small town is known for its big game, national parks and production of 95% of South Africa’s pineapples.  It has a population of less than 4,000 residents, yet it is considered a travel hub for Kwazulu-Natal. 

Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park is a major attraction for the big 5 game: elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard.  Located southwest of Hluhluwe, the park is the oldest nature reserve in Africa consisting of 96,000 hectares.  Established in 1895 as a park, the area was originally a royal hunting ground for the Zulu Kingdom.  The reserve was setup to protect the endangered white rhinoceroses and now has the largest population in the world (approx. 1000).  The park is also the only one in Kwazulu-Natal where all five big game animals can be found.

Located northeast to Hluhluwe is the 1,270sq mi (3,280km2) iSimangaliso Wetland Park.  The park is rich in fauna and flora due to the “different ecosystems within the park, ranging from coral reefs and sandy beaches to subtropical dune forests, savannahs, and wetlands”.  A wonderful array of animals co-habitate here both on land and in the ocean such as: elephant, leopard, rhino, buffalo, hippos, whales, dolphins, leatherback and loggerhead turtles and crocodiles. The park was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999.

The park also contains the 140sq mi (350km2) estuarine Lake St Lucia.  It was named in 1575 on the day of the feast of Saint Lucy.  Nearly 2,200 plant species have been identified in the lake’s system such as the Sausage-tree, bearing sausage-like fruits 1-2ft long (30-60cm) and purplish-green flowers. It is also an ideal environment for mangrove trees, six different species have been recorded.  Other delightful flora are the Prickly Tree Hibiscus with its yellow flowers, Maputaland Cycad with its red flowers, Impala-lily with its delicate pink flowers and the Cape honeysuckle.

And so, over a period of 7 days I managed to achieve my goal of walking 66kms; 1 for each year that he would have been…had he lived.

I miss my brother, and although we were not blood relatives I adored him and he me. We got up to a lot of mischief as children and one of the few photos I have of him is when there were just the 5 of us; my cousin Yvonne, me, my cousin Brian, my brother Arnold and my sister Susanne. My family expanded a lot after this photo was taken, what with remarriages and another 4 sisters and 1 brother.

family and relationships
me, my brother, my sister, and cousins

The rest of the challenge will be completed during my jaunt along the Northumberland Coast Path and Hadrian’s Wall, both of which are long enough to ‘possibly’ allow me to complete this challenge before I return home. Although I have to say that the temptation to buy a 2nd Hadrian’s Wall challenge and complete the virtual walk whilst walking the actual wall is VERY strong!! LOL… I’ll decide by the 09th of September before I start my actual walk…it will all depend on how many km’s I manage to complete before then since the Kruger challenge has to be finished by 30/09/21 because the organisers changed the medal and made the route shorter. But I want the original medal, so…onwards into the breech dear friends, onwards!

Meanwhile, if you’re looking for me, I’m kicking up dust in the Kruger National Park… 🙂

Here are some of the scenes from my 7 walks

walking the kruger national park
Day 1 Sunday 01.08.2021
walking the kruger national park
Day 2 Monday 02.08.21
walking the kruger national park
Day 3 Wednesday 04.08.21
walking the kruger national park
Day 4 Thursday 05.08.21
walking the kruger national park
Day 5 Friday 06.08.21
walking the kruger national park
Day 6 Saturday 07.08.21
walking the kruger national park
Day 7 Sunday 08.08.21

Day 3 I ended up hip deep in a ditch sky-high with brambles…still not sure how I got out, there’s a long story behind the cows on day 4 and there’s one particular scene that I just love and photograph it every day when I walk that route. The houses in this area are stunning…and I get house envy when I see some of them, and I love that quote from Day 1.

The above scenes are round and about the farmlands of Faversham. They recently harvested one of the fields nearby, hence the tractor and the harvester.

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How could I resist? And before you go rolling your eyes at me and shaking your head 😁😁😁…. to be fair I resisted the allure of the Cote d’Azur and left Athens to the Olympians, but this one I had to have…it’s stunning, and only 66kms, I could do that in 3 days…but probably won’t, more likely 5 days or so…

However, I am going to do it asap….because I want that medal!!!

Flower Route Virtual Challenge

The sails actually move and there’s a dial at the back which changes the scene…one if their best imo.

Tulips, hyacinths, narcissi, or daffodils — from Haarlem all the way to the Naaldwijk; 66km (41 miles) through scenic landscapes, blooming flower fields along rivers, villages, and iconic windmills of the Netherlands. How could I resist??

Now all I have to do is decide which area I want to walk in in order to complete the challenge….I’d like it to be something related to spring, with lots of tulips! Why not “tulips in Amsterdam?” 🌷🌷🌷 I hear you asking, and truly…I’d love to hop on a plane or train (probably train) and go to the Netherlands and walk amongst the tulips for a few days while doing the challenge…but you know….covid and brexit. ugh.

Of course we have wonderful gardens in the UK with tulips galore…I saw these in London in April while walking Stage 2 of the Thames Path

🌷🌷🌷🌷 the Flower Route; Conqueror Virtual Challenge

I shall have to see how things are in spring…if EU is out of the question, then perhaps I shall have to do some research and see where I can enjoy some flowery scenes while walking in the UK. These are some options I have found meanwhile, so I’ll have to keep an eye out for their open days in 2022 and try squeeze in one or two….awesome!!!! https://ngs.org.uk/plan-a-visit/tulip-gardens/

Not that it would be cheaper to travel to these places in the UK than flying to the Netherlands…but hey, I can’t be bothered with having to get visas etc. Although of course, I may well change my mind closer to the time. Seeing the tulip fields in the Netherlands has long been a dream of mine. My daughter and I did in fact travel over one year last decade to see the tulip fields, but went about 2 weeks too early….so we missed them and I’ve just never managed to get back…

Maybe, just maybe….

So wish me luck!! Both for travelling to the EU and walking the challenge. I have a few options in mind…

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Stage 7 – Windsor to Maidenhead 12.06.2021 – 17.41 kms – 6 hours 05 minutes – 34,510 steps – elevation 40 meters

This stage was actually split into 2 really because I stayed for Trooping the Colour to see the Queen’s troops march past and of course my favourite the King’s Troops Royal Artillery…and I wasn’t disappointed. The whole affair was muted in comparison to previous years due to Covid-19 and we didn’t get to see The Queen or any of the Royal Family ride by in their carriages because the whole affair was held behind closed walls.

And so after a goodnight’s sleep I meandered down to the Long Walk and stopped to watch the procession of Troops. First The Queen’s Household Cavalry who looked absolutely splendid as always, then the Blues and Royals Cavalry who also looked absolutely splendid. The Footguards had already passed by the time I got there, and the Royal Artillery likewise. But I got to see them afterwards which is always a treat.

Trooping the Colour 2021
The Queen’s Household Cavalry
Trooping the Colour 2021
Blues and Royals Cavalry
Trooping the Colour 2021
King’s Troop Royal Artillery

We were also treated to a Red Arrows flypast which was well exciting, and I’m so glad I stayed for that…even though it was probably going to make me late for my evening train home!

Red Arrows flypast
Red Arrows flypast

Once the Red Arrows had gone I set off to find somewhere to recharge my phone coz the battery had pretty much depleted itself with all the photos and videos.

I ended up at the Three Store and before I knew what had happened I had upgraded to a new contract and obtained a new phone, a tablet and a speaker with alexa installed – how did that happen? It also took well over 2 hours to transfer all my media and phone information, so by the time I left Windsor, it was already 15:13….wayyy behind schedule now! And my backpack was a lot heavier than when I started the day due to having to stuff in all the equipment! I felt it.

So my km’s in Windsor amounted to 2.95km with 10,314 steps, and the actual walk itself was 14.46kms over 3hours 53 minutes and 24,196 steps (just to be specific). An easily manageable distance between bridges.

Setting off I made my way to the river and yes, I bought an ice-cream LOL It was already quite hot and I figured I may as well start the day off on a good footing – food wise. Anyway the ice-cream I had bought the day before was delicious, so I figured a repeat wouldn’t be a bad idea…the chocolate at least would give me energy.

From there I meandered upstream a short way and relaxed on a bench while enjoying my treat….it’s not like I wasn’t already well behind schedule… The swans gathered for a sample, but we agreed it wouldn’t suit their digestive systems, so I declined to give them any LOL

Gimme, gimme, gimme….no!

Windsor Bridge is at least an 800-year old crossing point, although the present bridge was only built in 1822, and the first arched bridge over the river. In 1736 is was possible to walk over alive for 2d, while being being carried in a coffin cost 6s 8d. Weird!!

Windsor Bridge

I eventually got myself moving, although I can tell you for sure, that I was not in the mood for walking…but needs must, so off I went – crossing Windsor bridge to Eton

Eton

I soon found the path and crossed a lovely wide open green space. Dozens of sun-worshippers dotted the grass, all very sensibly socially-distanced (technically we were still in lockdown, although you would never have guessed).

Socially-distanced – Windsor Castle in the background

The path soon reached a lovely shady stretch which was a relief since it was extremely hot that day.

Ahhhh shade!!

Just before I entered beneath the trees I stopped for one last glimpse of Windsor Castle. Windsor is derived from the Anglo-Saxon ‘Wyndesore’ meaning ‘winding shore’, which probably refers to the Thames’ twisting course. The castle began as a fortress by William the Conqueror, is The Queen’s main home and the resting place of many monarchs, including Henry VI.

I wound my way along the path, walking beneath shady trees, crossing small bridges over little inlets and creeks, passing under bridges and stopping to photograph the graffiti

Bridges
Graffiti on the underpass

and meandering alongside fields ripe with crops. The sky was a gorgeous blue with white fluffy clouds lazily puffing by and a gentle breeze worked hard to keep me cool.

Through fields of green
This little river was ever so tempting, how much I would have loved a swim

I was on the lookout for a specific spot, a riverside seat known as ‘Athens’. Athens was an Eton College bathing spot where rules required that ‘boys who are undressed must either get at once into the water or get behind screens when boats containing ladies come in sight’. Mentioned in the guide book I was keen to see this notorious spot, but if it hadn’t been for the fact that I saw a gentleman leaning over looking at it, I would have marched right past! I stopped for a wee chat and hoorah! I finally met someone who was also walking the Thames Path, albeit from a different direction. I am sure though that there were likely others, but I just hadn’t met them. After a brief swapping of notes he went on his way, I captured an image of the rather obscure looking bench and went on mine…onwards, upstream.

Athens

Before long I reached Boveney Lock, ever so pretty and stopped to read the information board. Boveney Lock is set within the ancient landscape of Dorney Common. A dispute ove an unpaid toll in 1375 is thought to be the first mention of a lock at this location. In 1780 there are suggestions of a pound lock, and in 1820 various plans for a replacement lock proposed cuts to the mouth of Clewer Mill Stream because of difficult navigation of the tight bends downstream. The present location was chosen with a timber lock built in 1838. There is an avenue of chestnut trees, planted in the 1800’s that lead to the lock known as ‘Conker Alley’. Mentioned in the Domesday Book, the Manor of Boveney was given to the nuns of Burnham Abbey in 1266.

Boveney Lock
Information boards enroute are so enjoyable to read

A short walk later and I reached the beautiful little 13th century church of St Mary Magdalene set back from the river in a field of green grasses. Built from chalk rubble, with a wood clad bell tower housing three bells, its only lighting; a candle (and sunlight). Its origins and history are something of a mystery, and in 1859 the churchyard was thick with gravestones, of which there is now no sign.

St Mary Magdalene

I stepped into the cool shady interior and stepped into another world. A calm air of simplicity enveloped me as I stepped through the door and honestly, I could have just sat there for hours…it was so beautiful and so peaceful.

I spotted the remnants of a medieval wall painting, the colours still quite rich.

Medieval Wall painting

It’s such a shame the purists managed to get their whitewash out, and literally destroyed thousands of these stunning wall paintings in hundreds of churches around the country. Fortunately modern technology has allowed for the recovery of some, but it’s costly and painstaking and not really affordable on the whole. I’ve visited quite a number of churches over the years where they have managed to recover/restore some of these works of art…a legacy we should be proud of.

Looking back

From Boveney Lock, the church is a very short walk upstream. The river was so calm and blue I was tempted to jump in for a swim LOL ….the cool green shady trees would have to suffice

Tranquility

A bit further upstream I spied a lovely building across the river but couldn’t discover what it was. Intriguing and annoying LOL A closer look at google maps tells me it might be Summer River House, but I can’t be sure.

I also spotted Oakley Court through the trees; (a riverside retreat with a golf course – tells you it’s most likely very expensive!!)…wow, it’s stunning. I shall have to go there some time by car. It’s very gothic looking with towers and gingerbread icing trimming and all. Uh yeah…I just had a look…£275 per night hahaha. In my dreams. The description on the website reads: Oakley Court is a Victorian Gothic Mansion House recently renovated and set in 35 acres overlooking the River Thames at Water Oakley in the county of Berkshire which features 118 bedrooms, 118 bedrooms just downstream from Windsor & Eton. Hah! Apparently Oakley Court was built in 1859 as a residence for an Englishman who hoped the Gothic Style would make his homesick French wife happy. General de Gaulle visited, and the building was used in the films: St Trinian’s, Half a Sixpence and The Rocky Horror Picture Show (my 2nd favourite film after Mary Poppins).

Oakley Court

The river wound it’s way lazily downstream and I wound my way sort of speedily upstream, although the river was likely a little bit faster I’m sure, passing through shady glades, alongside fields and islands, passing stunning houses and wondering just who can afford those mansions!!

I’m on the right path

The gravel paths are so much kinder on the feet than the metalled roads.

Without realising it I had walked right by Dorney Lake which featured in the 2012 Olympics and more recently the 2021 Oxford Cambridge Boat Race.

I passed a cycle route marker that told me I had 3 miles to Maidenhead – this was at 17:30 and I knew for sure that I was not going to make my ‘planned’ train at 18:30…oh well

Maidenhead 3kms

Looking across to Monkey Island I spotted a little gazebo through the trees and felt quite envious really…it looked so idyllic, and is apparently on the grounds of a rather grand B&B; Monkey Island Estate Luxury Hotel, and at £203p.n. not that much cheaper than the Gothic pile further downstream….but hey, it’s on an island. Monkey Island possibly means ‘monk’s island’ as it once belonged to Merton Priory on the River Wandle. In 1738 the Duke of Marlborough decorated the fishing lodge ceiling with monkeys!! A hotel since 1840, Edward VII and Queen Alexandra had tea on the lawn with 3 future sovereigns – George V, Edward VIII and George VI.

Looking across to Monkey Island

Passing through a private estate, once again I was overawed by the sumptious houses and the size of their gardens, mostly an array of resplendent colours; rose arbours, and creepers and flowers galore. Nice if you can afford it.

I could hear the hum and then roar of traffic ahead and looking at my map I realised I was soon to pass beneath the M4. Lockdown is essentially over really….we’re back to the business of polluting the air.

The next lock on the route, Bray Lock, soon hove into view and whizzed on by. I think they’re all so pretty and interesting.

Bray Lock – although it looks quiet and restful, the lock-keeper’s job is not – they are busy throughout the day.

Looking back I could see how the river split around the lock island and tumbled over the weir on the far side.

Looking back to Bray Lock

I was nearing Maidenhead now and I am definitely going to have to return to explore the opposite banks of the river…

The Thames Path

The Waterside Inn at Bray-on-Thames looked intriguing and their website tells me it’s: A unique riverside haven in a dreamy village setting, a revered restaurant with elegant quarters, just screams £££ – also very posh!! and a tad more expensive than the other two at £420 per night. Holy moley

The Waterside Inn

I could hear the traffic in the distance and all too soon I was walking beneath this beautiful red-brick railway bridge. Maidenhead Railway Bridge, completed by Brunel in 1839 carries the Paddington-Bristol railway line and appears in Turner’s 1844 painting Rain, Steam and Speed on the GWR

The Sounding Arch – Maidenhead Railway Bridge

A short walk later, passing some stunning houses

stunning houses and amazing gardens
how gorgeous is this house!!

and finally, quite exhausted from the heat and feeling the 2 days distance, I was crossing the river via Maidenhead Bridge.

Looking back across the river from whence I came
Looking downstream from Maidenhead Bridge towards the railway bridge

Hoorah! I had reached my destination for Stage 7…it was now 18:38, and with another 2 km to reach the station, I had definitely missed my 18:35 train, as well as the next 2 trains as it transpired… I was so exhausted by the time I reached Maidenhead that I simply could not walk any faster, and so I had to wait for the 19:35 train and got home at 22:45….

Enroute to the station I passed one of the 2012 Olympic Gold Post Boxes; painted to celebrate the Paralympic success of equestrian Sophie Christiansen….awesome that they still paint them gold.

Gold painted post box

This section of the river; Staines to Maidenhead is seriously gorgeous and I so enjoyed my two days of walking. Both days were super hot and I must admit I found it hard going at times, but the serenity of the shady copses, the extraordinary history and the sheer joy of just walking more than made up for it. Rural mixed with urban, land lubbers and canal boat dwellers, bridges and locks, historical sites and a castle made for a most interesting jaunt along the Thames. I am so looking forward to walking Stage 8 Maidenhead to Marlow & Stage 9 Marlow to Henley. Both easy distances, so I may jig them a wee bit and see if I can squeeze more kms out of the day and squeeze 3 into two and get as far as Reading.

Although Stage 7 wasn’t as laden with history as with the previous stages, particularly through London and Stage 6 to Windsor, it was still so interesting, and from what I have gleaned from the guide book, most of the history lies on the opposite bank from where the official path runs. It’s a bit like a switchback, the River Thames; an optical illusion where you think something is one side, but as you get closer you find it’s not.

Talking of the guidebook, all writing in italics is either from the guide book or google.

And that brings to a close the 7th stage of my Thames Path walk. I’m hoping to do another 2 stages before year end, but it’s looking tricky time wise…I’m still following the Saxon Shore Way and walking the English Coast Path from Dover to Rye in October, with my jaunt along the Northumbrian Coast and Hadrian’s Wall in September… so we shall see.

If you missed Stage 6; Staines to Windsor, click on the link to read more about it.

And if you really have the time and want to start at the beginning (a very fine place to start ) Stage 1a: Erith to the Thames Barrier

Wish you a fine day and happy walking….thanks for dropping by to read my lengthy jottings (definitely not on an envelope!) LOL

If you’d like to join me on instagram, you can find me @overthehillstilltravelling

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As part of my ongoing pledge to do better by this world and help save the planet, leaving it in as much a decent condition as is possible for future generations, I’ve taken the XR52 (extinction rebellion) pledge to not buy any new clothes for the next 52 weeks. The programme actually started on 30th April 2019, but since I’ve been working over this last 2 weeks, I’ve not bought anything anyway.

Not that I’m either a follower of ‘fast fashion’ or a prolific clothes buyer, my last purchase was a light top for summer on 8th March 2019 LOL- so no fear of me being a follower of fashion…..I usually have to be dragged off to the store kicking and screaming. I simply can’t be bothered. For me clothes are merely a way of covering my body, avoiding arrest for indecent exposure and keeping warm. Buying clothes is tedious in the extreme and I can’t be bothered with looking through a rack of items that for one reason or another do not excite me much, usually don’t fit for one reason or another, whilst looking at myself naked in front of a full length mirror is not for the faint-hearted LOL

Prior to March, the last time I bought anything was in December 2018 when I took a pair of harem pants and slippers off my daughter…she had bought them but they didn’t fit comfortably, so rather than her ditching or giving them away, I bought them from her. Besides these few items, the last major purchase I made was in March 2018 when I bought an outfit for their May wedding. I’m still wearing shoes (very seldom I might add since they have heels) I bought about 15 years ago. They’re almost brand new as I only wear them about once every 3 years.

My only major purchases are trainers and hiking pants. I go through a pair of trainers every 1500miles or so and my hiking pants were bought in 2016 when I started training for the Camino in 2017.

So, am I a follower of ‘fast fashion’? I think the answer to that is obvious 😉 When I do buy any leisure clothes they are invariably from a charity shop and when I’m done with them, I return it to a charity shop.

Nothing goes in the bin except my underwear and socks, and usually only when I have worn them through. However, going forward, I’m going to see how I can recycle those items as well.

If you’re not familiar with extinction rebellion, they are a protest movement that recently brought London to a standstill and upset a few commuters and of course the government (no bad thing that). Ironically, the Government had just declared a ‘climate emergency’ but nonetheless, they were seriously pissed at the protesters. Many of the people who were ‘inconvenienced’ by the protests are likely people from 1 of 2 camps: 1. people who are trying to make changes by reducing their plastic waste and being active in reducing their carbon footprint, and supported the protests, despite being inconvenienced. 2. people who don’t give a shit so long as they can continue to buy their pretentious takeaway Starbucks latte and their Evian pure spring water, and really couldn’t care less one way or the other about the state of the planet. Now before you breathe flames, I have no doubt that a lot of people were inconvenienced going to work or business meetings or whatever it is that people get up to daily, but consider this…..

We are in a dire situation. The latest UN report is the stuff of nightmares…..100 million species are on the brink of extinction!!! This is besides the thousands, if not millions of species already extinct due to mankind’s exploitation of the planet and her resources. The Amazon forest is reduced by 50 football pitches every SECOND!!! Not year, month, week or day…but SECONDS. Read that again… Seconds!!! The Amazon, along with other forests in places like Indonesia are the planet’s lungs, and we are destroying it by the second!! Billions of trees are razed to the ground for agriculture, for feed for beef, for palm oil plantations (and don’t even get me started on that).

Extract from the report : “PARIS, 6 May – Nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history – and the rate of species extinctions is accelerating, with grave impacts on people around the world now likely, warns a landmark new report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), the summary of which was approved at the 7th session of the IPBES Plenary, meeting last week (29 April – 4 May) in Paris.” you can read the full report here. The last mass extinction was 66 million years ago. fck sakes. It’s insane. This folks, is happening on OUR watch.

It’s terrifying and if anyone is not afraid, then they have not been paying attention.

So back to ‘fast fashion’ and my XR52 pledge. For me it’s an easy one. I have a grandson now whose future is of vital importance to me. This pledge is just another cog in my determination to make a difference and reduce my impact on the planet and her ecosystems. I signed a pledge to never use plastic straws again in 2016. I’ve persuaded our chippy to change to a more sustainable container for take-aways. I persuaded a local restaurant to ditch plastic straws. I litter pick as often as possible when I’m home. It’s tiring, it’s hard and I incur a fair amount of abuse. But, and it’s a HUGE but, I have to try and make a difference for my grandson’s future.

If you’d like to learn more about extinction rebellion, you can read more here

Join me, come on board the XR52 campaign and reduce your impact on the planet.

Oh and if you were wondering about the impact that fast fashion has on the planet, then I can recommend that you watch the Stacey Dooley documentary. It’s is quite frankly just shocking and terrifying. “A sea half the size of England has dried up because of the horrific impact of fast fashion.”

If you haven’t seen it yet, you can watch it here.

The garment industry is the 2nd largest polluter in the world, whilst the UK, Europe and the US are the largest consumers of ‘fast’ fashion. These days clothing chains bring out a new ‘range’ every week. I remember when I was young/er the fashion industry had ‘seasons’. You waited a full 3 months for the next season. The clothes were invariably well made, stood the test of time and didn’t choke landfill and end up in the ocean by way of plastic micro-fibres.  Lots of people think that donating the items made today; threadbare, badly made, last a few weeks (if you’re lucky) to charity is a good idea…well it’s not. The charities are beginning to have to dump tons of old clothes because they are not fit for purpose and because they have too much. Africa is fed up with our cast-offs and some countries are beginning to reject the charitable donations made by the west in favour of encouraging home-grown, local businesses to produce cultural and traditional garments. Bravo to them.

I could go on and on about the terrible impact the ‘fashion’ industry is having on the planet, the animals that live on it, our water systems, and people’s lives, but……

Instead I’m inviting you to join me and take the XR52 challenge and NOT buy any clothing till 30th April 2020. Follow extinction rebellion on instagram

Would you be prepared to take this challenge?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’m going to have to start getting up earlier in the morning if I want to catch the sunrise 🌅 Got to the promenade at just before 8am but the sun was already above the horizon albeit behind the clouds.

The weather is amazing once again, its so mild out. And we’re still waiting to say #Peanutisontheway❣️ 👶🏻 💙 This lad is surely taking his own sweet time…. although actually it’s exactly 40 weeks tomorrow, so perhaps will arrive he is ready and not when the NHS say he should arrive.

I went to see the film ‘Wildlife’ last night. Its an incredibly weird film and the jury is out on whether or not I actually enjoyed it… I didn’t. 🤔🙄

It was such a mild evening I decided to take a short walk along the beach… What a blessing to live so near to the sea.

I could hear the crashing of the waves behind the harbour wall so walked over to see what I could ‘sea’… Which wasn’t much, but I could hear it and that sound is like music to my ears.

Afterwards my daughter (the very pregnant soon to be Mummy), her hubby and I took a slow midnight stroll along the promenade in the hope it might encourage baby to start his journey…

The evening air, albeit only 2 degrees out, was perfectly still with a 3/4 moon and a canopy of ✨ crispy clear and really mild.

This morning, although I was tempted to stay in bed, I made the effort to get out to capture the sunrise. I really want to be sure to have a photo for Peanut’s book…on the day that he is born. I hope that’s soon 😀👶🏻💙❣️

Meanwhile I’ve started reading Simon Reeve’s book Step by Step. He’s my favourite travel presenter and I’ve watched all his travel documentaries which are a real eye-opener. By page 33 I’ve concluded he was a naughty little shit 😂 😂 😂 which explains the ever present twinkle in his eye and the quirky smile.  I also discovered quite weirdly that his Dad’s name was Alan which is my middle name. His Mum’s name is Cindy 🤔🤔 and his brothers’s name is James (my grandson’s name). Totally weird.

Meanwhile I shall get back to the book I’m compiling for said grandson and hold thumbs that soon I can say with absolute certainty that Peanut is on the way 😀😀😀👶🏻💙❣️

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….or not. LOL Well the days are slowly but inexorably going by, one by one and still our wee Peanut has not put in an appearance. His ‘due dates’ of 5th and 7th have come and gone and he is still snug in his cosy (albeit noisy) little cocoon.

waiting for peanut, peanut is on the way, first pregnancy, being pregnant

40 weeks and looking gorgeous

I say noisy because his poor Mother (my daughter) has had the most awful cold and subsequent cough for well over a week now and it is causing her a tremendous amount of stress, pain and discomfort. She is almost literally ‘coughing her lungs out’. She is alternatively bunged up with thick mucus or streaming snot. Both of which are causing her a lot of pain and discomfort with the accompanying coughing…that just goes unremittingly on and on. The doctor checked her over earlier last week on another visit and said there was no infection, so just to keep warm and rest.

A couple of days ago, actually last week Thursday, I was downstairs cleaning and she was upstairs resting (or trying to) when I heard a tiny little voice come wafting down in desperation “Mummy, can you come upstairs please”. My initial heart reaction was “omg the baby is on the way!!” to “omg what the hell is wrong?” when I got upstairs and found her doubled over in pain. She thought that with the coughing and the very uncomfortable positions she had been lying in in bed may have pinched a nerve in her shoulder when coughing. I tried massaging the area, to no avail and with no relief, it got steadily worse till she was screaming with pain, coughing and unable to stand up. Suddenly her left arm started going numb right down to her fingers…and she started crying in earnest thinking she might be having a heart attack with the pain.

I tried phoning the GP but as usual they take so long to reply, you could be dead by the time they answer. So I phoned 999 – ‘ambulance please’ and within 45 minutes we were in A&E. Still screaming and in so much pain that they, the medical staff in A&E, were all convinced she was in labour….despite her saying that you don’t get labour pains in your shoulder!!! *rolls eyes*.

After a quick examination the doctor prescribed some morphine to dull the pain….it took the edge off but didn’t really make a huge difference, and transferred her to the maternity labour ward. *rolls eyes* again!! Pass the buck eh! Or in this case the very pregnant Mummy-to-be.

After quite a few examinations that involved prodding her ribs and facilitated a lot of screaming and swearing, they gave her some coedine and strapped her up to the baby monitor. Although baby wasn’t at all happy with the noise and discomfort he was experiencing from both the coughing and the screaming, his heartbeat was strong and healthy and he was moving around like no-one’s business. It’s so amazing how the sound of the monitor changes as he moves and the graph goes crazy. At least this room was a bit more cheerful than the others we’ve been in. This is not the first time we’ve visited the labour ward, and mostly the rooms are dull, and grim with crappy paintwork and all the horrible sterile equipment.

We spent a few hours there while they did various tests and checks, doctors and midwives came and went and finally after about 5 hours they discharged her and we all went home….my poor child….still in pain and feeling somewhat spaced out from the medications.

And here we are, the weekend has come and gone, Mummy is still coughing and spluttering, her ribs are still very painful, and now her whole body is aching from the strain of the coughing and still no sign of baby making an appearance any time soon, which is probably a good thing since my daughter is in no condition to take the strain of labour right now.

However, we thought for sure he was on the way last night due to what we thought might be a ‘show’ and a lot of fluid being passed. To be on the ‘safe side’ we decided to pop in at the labour ward and have them check things over…again we spent a couple of hours in the labour ward while they did a few tests and monitored baby’s heartbeat – the diagnosis is: no, baby is not yet on the way. Geez, this little scamp is taking his own sweet time. His heartbeat is strong and healthy, he is moving frequently and still breech.

And my poor child is still coughing and coughing. We have tried everything to no avail. It’s a virus and we just have to wait for it to pass……maybe Peanut is waiting for that too.

Meanwhile I went shopping again yesterday and bought some of the cutest little outfits you can imagine. I do so love the Peter Rabbit theme and even though baby really has more than enough Newborn babygrows, I could resist this one 🙂 It’s adorable. Of course if baby weighs more than 7 lbs, none of them are going to fit…. LOL

peanut is on the way, first grandchild, peter rabbit, baby layette

Peter Rabbit…one of my favourite characters

My daughter gave me the most delightful book for Christmas: FAMILY LONDON with the inscription – ‘to granny for all our adventures, love Jamie’. There are dozens of ideas and places to go with children of all ages: parks, playgrounds & secret gardens, museums & galleries, grand days out, where the wild things are, and teenage kicks…as well as places to eat…..oh and we’ll definitely be buying lots of ice-creams!!

peanut is on the way, first grandchild, family london, things to do with children in london

Jamie and Granny’s London adventures

So I’m already planning ahead and bought him some gorgeous Paddington Bear pyjamas, an adorable Paddington Bear dungaree and top ensemble

and a London jumper with a big red bus and a London t-shirt. All Aboard…first bus we shall ride will be the Number 15 from the Tower of London to Trafalgar Square.

These will all be kept aside for when Granny and Jamie go to London on an adventure.

I can’t wait for this wee lad to arrive now. 🙂

 

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Today I set off much earlier that the 2 previous days and had the joy and privilege of watching the sun rise. Sunrise was at 07:59 and I reached the promenade at 08:03. It is such a pleasure to be taking winter walks along this section of the Kentish coast, the views truly are just stunning and I enjoy it anew each and every time. When the time comes it is going to be very hard to leave this area….

walk 1000 miles, walks along the english coast, coastal walks of england, the isle of thanet, long distance walks uk

Viking Bay…….what a glorious view

Still very overcast and cloudy the colours of the sun against the cloudscape were breathtaking. The sea was almost, but not quite like pond today, the colour of mercury and because I was a lot earlier the tide was right in and I had to walk most of the way along the clifftops. I got as far as the Ramsgate Tunnels and then turned back for home. This section of the east coast is so beautiful and I feel so lucky to live here.

walk 1000 miles, walks along the english coast, walks in england, english channel , sunrise

a beautiful sunrise on the Isle of Thanet

walk 1000 miles, walks along the english coast, walks in england, english channel , sunrise

stunning light on the sea

walk 1000 miles, walks along the english coast, walks in england, english channel , sunrise

Ramsgate, Isle of Thanet

As usual most of the people out at this time of day were walking their dogs and I got to say hello to any number of happy little fellows, one of which was a gorgeous Labrador puppy…I got lots of wet nose kisses and muddy paw hugs from him. So cute I wanted to take him home with me LOL

I spent the rest of the day helping my daughter to sort out her laundry cupboard and part of her office. She’s so heavily pregnant now that any sort of exertion is just too much for her. Besides which she’s picked up a nasty cold that is making her so tired with the coughing and stuffy nose. She was at an event a few days ago and one of the women there had a heavy cold and had the audacity to say “Oh I get colds but I don’t pass them on”… Fuck. I do wish people would be more considerate and stay at home when they are ill. All they do is pass on their nasty germs to those who are more vulnerable and less able to cope with a cold. My daughter is banning anyone from visiting the baby if they have even so much as a sniffle.

Day 3/365 – Broadstairs to Ramsgate : 8.33 kms, 12823 steps

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Broadstairs to Ramsgate Steps

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Wow, I can hardly believe that it’s already 2019!! How did 2018 fly by so fast? But if I consider how much happened during the year, and because I was almost wishing the year away so that we could get closer to the date when my first grandchild (a wee boy) is due, I guess what with the jobs away, my many excursions and shopping expeditions (for some who normally loathes shopping…it was no hardship to shop for baby clothes LOL), the days just flew.

So here we are in 2019. We, my heavily pregnant daughter, excited expectant son-in-law and I, very excited and impatient Granny, saw in the new year watching the London fireworks on BBC1, had a glass of wine to toast the new year, sang a few lines of Auld Lang Syne and by 1am we were in bed. Finally I can say my grandson is due to arrive this year 🙂 🙂 Hoorah.

happy new year, london fireworks new year

Never have I been more excited about a new year’s arrival…

Starting off afresh, for 2019, I’m keen to get back to my walking since I didn’t do much after the mishap I had during my Pilgrim’s Way pilgrimage in August (in fact my walking pretty much came to an abrupt end after that), and I want to be able to make the most of my time at home. So on New Year’s Day, but not too early mind considering the hour of bedtime….I set off on the first of my 2019 #walk1000miles excursions. There were a few people about, mostly dog walkers, but on the whole the streets and beach were empty.

walk 1000 miles, viking bay broadstairs, walks in england, new years day swim

Viking Bay looking stunning on New Year’s Day 2019

The scenery along this section of the Kent coast is so beautiful and I never tire of walking the same route, which is a good thing, since that is pretty much my only route except when I walk to Margate. I hope to get back to that one of these fine days, but I’m waiting till baby arrives before I venture too far.

Walking to the end of the Ramsgate Harbour arm and back I managed a decent 9.37 kms.

On my way back, as I rounded the corner at Louisa Bay I noticed a huge crowd on the beach at Viking Bay. Puzzled as to what could have attracted so many people, I increased my pace to see what was going on.

walk 1000 miles, new years day swim broadstairs, viking bay, kentish coast

In the distance the crowds…what is going on?

At about the same time I got a whats app message from my daughter to say that they were on the beach to watch the New Year’s Day swimathon!!! Oh my gosh! I had completely forgotten about that. In fact, I had been trying to coerce my son-in-law to join me and take a dip, but he was steadfast in his refusal LOL

So I hurried up even more and with 6 minutes to spare I hit the beach only to hear the countdown, 2 minutes early according to my phone, and before I could get close enough they were running down the beach and into the water.

walk 1000 miles, viking bay broadstairs, walks in england, new years day swim

New Year’s Day swim in Broadstairs

A perfect day for this insane excursion, the water in Viking Bay was like a pond and the air wasn’t freezing or wet like the year before when it rained. I was astounded at the crowds…not only lining the beach, but the pier was packed as well at the Promenade.

walk 1000 miles, viking bay broadstairs, walks in england, new years day swim

The crowds and swimmers in Broadstairs

First time in the 4 years we’ve lived here that there has been such a turn out for the New Year’s Day swim.

walk 1000 miles, viking bay broadstairs, walks in england, new years day swim

Hardy souls? Or in need of therapy? New Year’s Day swimmers in Broadstairs

After most people had clambered out and we had taken as many photos as we could, as we were leaving we spotted Santa so stopped so that Peanut could meet him for the first time hahaha and for a photo with Mummy.

walk 1000 miles, broadstairs, new years day swim, meeting santa

Comparing girths…Peanut meets Santa for the first time LOL

After which we retired to The Old Curiosity Shop for tea and cake, and then home.

the old curiosity shop broadstairs, walk 1000 miles, viking bay broadstairs, walks in england, new years day swim

The Old Curiosity Shop, Broadstairs – where the service is as good as the cake 🙂

A most satisfactory first day of 2019 and one day closer to Peanut’s arrival. 🙂 Hoorah

*footnote* – Apparently, and according to my daughter, we’ll ALL participate next year….thankfully that is still 364 days away LOL

Day 1/365 – 18, 209 steps : Broadstairs to Ramsgate

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Map my Walk

 

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Hoorah. Good for Greenpeace!!!! Now you can email the CEO of your local supermarket directly via Greenpeace.

The letter starts as “I am a regular customer and I’m writing to express my concern that ???? is not doing enough to help curb ocean plastic pollution by reducing the amount of plastic packaging in your stores“.

Click on this following link for the full letter and the process for emailing. I’ve sent an email to CoOp, Tesco, Sainsburys, Waitrose as those are the stores I buy from most regularly. I was disappointed to not see Iceland on the list, but I’ll send a letter directly…along with all the useless unnecessary plastic packaging I’ve collected.

https://act.greenpeace.org/page/29634/action/1?locale=en-GB

It’s time we got tough with the supermarkets. Phasing plastic packaging out by whatever date they suck out of the air, is bullshit. They have to stop using it NOW. There is no time to lose. Our oceans are in a mess and animals are dying by the million. Whales, dolphins, turtles, sharks, fish, birds…all are suffering horrendous deaths because of the plastic pollution that is blighting the oceans.plastic pollution, ban single use plastic, email the ceo, greenpeace

I’m thrilled that Greenpeace have started this initiative and I sincerely hope millions of people email the CEO’s of these companies.

BAN SINGLE USE PLASTIC. SAVE OUR OCEANS. SAVE OUT PLANET. SAVE OUR ANIMALS

 

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reasons to ban plastic via @Balloonsblow on instagram

Plastic pollution in one beach area of the UK; Stanbury Mouth

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shared with permission

further information we need to know, and reasons to send that letter to the CEO of our supermarkets, urging them to stop using unnecessary single-use plastic wrapping

 

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I posted a few images on instagram of plastic pollution being caused by the supermarkets like Iceland foods, Sainsbury, Tesco, Co-Op, Morrisons, Waitrose etc a couple of days ago. Why are they STILL wrapping fruit and vegetables in plastic? Haven’t they read the UN Report? Which planet are they on?

About 13 million tonnes of plastic leak into our oceans every year, harming biodiversity, economies and, potentially, our own health.

I also mentioned how I’m making an effort to avoid palm oil. Someone asked in the comments section “what the deal is with palm oil?” Firstly, I’m astounded that there are still people in the western world who are so ignorant of the effects of palm oil plantations on the biodiversity of the countries where its been/being grown. So I compiled some information for her from all the links that I investigated via google. This is not my ‘opinion’, these are not my words, this information is compiled from the various websites that try to educate people on the destruction caused by palm oil…

read on:

Conflict Palm Oil production is now one of the world’s leading causes of rainforest destruction.

Palm oil is the most widely used vegetable oil in the world, having even surpassed soya in terms of usage. Surging global demand for palm oil has fueled massive forest destruction throughout Indonesia and Malaysia, countries that together account for 85% of the world’s palm oil production. Palm oil is ubiquitous!

Every day 25 orangutans are killed thanks largely to palm oil. The main threat to the survival of orangutan populations in the wild is the massive expansion of palm oil plantations in Borneo and Sumatra. … Increasingly, palm oil is used as a biofuel. Oil palms only grow in the tropics and need much water.
In Indonesia alone, an area the size of a football pitch is lost every 25 secs.

Over 50,000 orangutans on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra have died because of palm oil deforestation.

Orangutans whose habitats have been destroyed often enter villages and oil plantations in search of food where they are captured or killed by farmers who treat them as pests.

Palm oil is the leading cause of orangutan extinction. It’s in 50% of all household and food products sold in the West. It’s an ingredient in shampoo, toothpaste, detergent, frozen microwave dinners, cookies, peanut butter, lotion, makeup and much more!

Palm oil is a type of vegetable oil made from the fruit of the African oil palm tree, which originates in West Africa. However, it can be grown successfully in any humid tropical climate and has taken a strong foothold in Indonesia.

Not only is Palm Oil bad for the environment, and a major cause of climate change, but it is also the leading cause of orangutan extinction.

From ice-cream to shampoo, palm oil is present in a multitude of consumer products.

25 orangutans are lost every day

https://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/news/180215-borneo-orangutan-150000-lost-palm-oil-logging-vin-spd

Just check the ingredients label of the food you buy….but bear in mind that often it’s listed under vegetable oils. Just another dishonest way for manufacturers to use it without listing.

Petition your MP, sign as many petitions as you possibly can, stop buying fruit and vegetables wrapped in plastic; look for the unwrapped items. Check the ingredients list of your purchases…look out for palm oil and buy a different brand.

If we as consumers challenge the corporations, they will HAVE to make changes. It’s not about convenience anymore…..it’s about actually saving this planet from total destruction. No matter what you do today, every bit of plastic you and I have bought, used and trashed in our lifetimes, will still be here in 400 years plus. BUT we can make a difference by reducing the amount we use.

The plastic takeout container from your dinner last week is going to be around a lot longer, up to 1,000 years longer, than the rest of your trash.

 

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