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Posts Tagged ‘conqueror virtual challenges 2021’

Hah!!! Another postcard just popped into my mailbox ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜ I updated the app after today’s walk and brief exploration of Faversham and as I pressed ‘post’ I waited with anticipation and a few seconds later – boom, a notification popped up….you’ve received another postcard ๐Ÿ™ƒ๐Ÿ™ƒ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿšถ๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿšถ๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ

I’m not sure what I enjoy most…the walking, the postcards and accompanying information, that I’ve also passed the 60% milestone on the Alps to Ocean virtual challenge which means another tree planted, or the medals when I finish ๐Ÿ˜ƒ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

60% done and dusted

To be honest, I think I enjoy it all.

Here’s the latest postcard and the information that came with it…from where I am – virtually. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Otematata- sounds a bit like Akunamatata..

Defined as “a populated area less than a town”, Otematata is more of a holiday town nowadays when it’s small population of around 180 explodes to 5,000 during the summer season. With easy access to both Lake Benmore, downstream Lake Aviemore and nearby hiking trails (known as tramping in NZ), holiday makers swarm to the area for camping, water skiing, boating, fishing, swimming and cycling among other activities.

Otematata sprung up in 1958 as a base for construction workers of the Benmore and Aviemore Dams. Within a year the population grew to 450 and at its peak it was as high as 4,000 residents. Built by the Ministry of Works the town had all the necessary facilities and services such as schools, clubs, pub, cinema and mall. The 1,500 strong workforce of engineers, builders, electricians, concreters and truckies spent seven years building the dam. Once the dam was finished, as it often happens with these kind of projects, the town was slowly dismantled. The houses that were trucked into town were years later trucked out and moved to Twizel for the next project. Benmore Dam is the largest earth-filled dam in NZ and the largest of eight in the Waitaki hydro scheme. As the second largest hydro station in the country, Benmore generates sufficient electricity to cover nearly 300,000 NZ homes.

Leaving Otematata, I travelled north on a sealed pathway alongside the Waitaki River until I reached the massive Benmore Dam and stood atop it with a bird’s eye view of the lake to the north and the river to the south. When the lake is over capacity, the floodgates open to release the water down a spillway and to prevent erosion a lip was inserted at the end to deflect the water. The spillway can handle ten times the normal river flow thereby allowing it to cope with severe flooding.

I skirted around the shore on a narrow sealed road to Deep Stream Track on Lake Aviemore for a walk along a flooded canyon. The deep green water was quite inviting for a swim but I settled for a picnic under a shaded tree enjoying the tranquility of this location and the reflection of the hills on the water.

A little further I crossed the Aviemore Dam back onto the State Highway and was relieved to be travelling on an off-road path beside the main road all the way to Waitaki Dam. Aviemore Dam was built in 1968 and the construction was on uneven ground because the Waitangi Fault runs beneath it. Although at the time of construction the fault was considered inactive, in the 2000s the fault was upgraded to dormant and as such the dam was reinforced against earthquakes and potential landslides. Because of the fault the dam is a mixed structure being part solid rock topped with concrete on the north side and earth-fill where the fault line runs beneath on the south side.

The Waitaki Dam is steeped in NZ history. As the smallest in the Waitaki hydro scheme, it is also the oldest having been built in 1935. Being the first dam to be built on the South Island, it was also the last to use pick and shovel. These archaic tools were retained because politicians wanted to reduce the unemployment rate during the Depression Era.

The building of the Waitaki Dam inadvertently played a major role in the birth of the social welfare system. In 1928, the Waitaki Hydro Medical Association together with the Waitaki Hospital Board developed a scheme to deduct monthly fees from wages in order to provide medical and ambulance services to the workers. When two politicians, one a doctor and the other a reverend, took office in 1935, they based the social welfare scheme on the one developed by the dam project.

From here it was a 5mi (8km) journey into Kurow. I heard the Waitaki Valley, which begins in Omarama, is a young winery region with a flair for developing good pinot noir and pinot gris. I’ll be sure to sample some after a hearty meal. I’m thinking fish and chips at the nearest pub.

The fish and chips sounds yummy, I think I’ll have some of that, thank you ๐Ÿ˜„๐Ÿ˜„๐Ÿ˜„

Where I really was is in Faversham. Had a brief visit to the optometrist with my client, which gave me 15 minutes for a quick whizz around. I’m familiar with Faversham, it was my last stop before Canterbury on my Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales camino in 2017, at which time I staggered into The Sun Inn my feet blistered beyond agony and absolutely drenched from the pouring rain – a drowned rat….and more recently I plodded into town covered in mud after getting stuck crossing what looked like solid ground, but wasn’t while walking a section of the Saxon Shore Way between Whitstable and Faversham ๐Ÿคช๐Ÿคช I nearly lost my shoes in the morass.

A brief glimpse of Faversham

Onwards…..

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Its been a funny old week with grey overcast days, a rainy day not fit for ducks, and of course snow!! ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜โ„ and today’s gorgeous sunshine.

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

As for the scenery, beyond the few scattered hamlets, it’s mostly wet, muddy, grey/brown farm fields with a few copses of trees dotting the landscape. But I have enjoyed stretching my legs and hearing nothing but birdsong and the baaing of sheep, encountering minimal traffic as I go…..on Friday I walked for 70 minutes before encountering a car, and that was well timed (not really) – I was 2 thirds of the way around a huge puddle of the water that covered the road from one side to the other, making my way gingerly along the verges, hanging onto barbed wire fencing and precariously positioned wooden posts, when I heard the sound of an approaching car. ๐Ÿ˜ฑ๐Ÿ˜ฑ๐Ÿ˜ฑ wtf, you’re kidding me!!!

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

With utter dismay I turned towards the sound and prayed that is wasn’t some young buck who thought it would be fun to drive through at speed and drench the old lady ๐Ÿ‘ต๐Ÿป hanging on to the fence for dear life. Thankfully it was another little old lady ๐Ÿ‘ต๐Ÿป and she drove sedately through the puddle leaving small waves in her wake, and me dry!! I thanked her as she drove by! ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜

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

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

3 o’clock and all is well…๐Ÿ˜‰

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

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

It wouldn’t however be across the fields along the footpaths…since not only do the farmers rudely put up electrified fencing as close to the path as possible, making it difficult to access, but atm the paths are just gloopy sticky muddy horrors. I know, because I foolishly walked along not one, but 3 paths last week – on the sameday๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜. My shoes were sluggish with sticky mud.

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

Ice at least half inch thick

But oh the views!!!!

And this always makes me smile

๐Ÿ˜ƒ๐Ÿ˜ƒ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

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

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

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

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

And blow me down if once again I didn’t get caught out, no, make that twice!! No cars at all for well over an hour in all directions, yet just before I reached the flooded corner a car came whizzing down the road from behind me and sent waves of water flying through the air. Well, that’s done I thought, I should be safe now….hah! Once again, as I was about halfway round along comes another car, from the opposite direction. I scurried into the field through a gap in the fence and waved them on…waited for the water to settle and hurried the rest of the way round before car number 3 came by. None did ๐Ÿคช๐Ÿคช

This puddle and I have history ๐Ÿคจ๐Ÿคจ๐Ÿคจ

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

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

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After a brief walk this morning, to stretch my legs and get some fresh air after being indoors yesterday due to icy roads after the snow, I updated my kms to the Conqueror Challenge app and voila, another postcard arrived into my mailbox ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿšถ๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿšถ๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿšถ๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ I get really excited when these cards arrive…its fun to see where I’ve been travelling virtually while walking in reality.

So stage two:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hmmm. The more I’m reading about this, the more I’m thinking I should add this route to the itinerary for my pending trip to Australia in a few years time. I’ve included a trip to NZ but only to visit the main attractions as well as a friend and her daughter (if she’s still living there at the time and not somewhere else in the world, as she is wont to do ๐Ÿ˜ƒ๐Ÿ˜ƒ). The route is approx 290kms and would take about 12-14 days to complete. ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿค”๐Ÿค”

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

If you’d like to join these challenges, here is my link https://www.theconqueror.events/r/CE1474 – I don’t get any money from anyone joining, but you get a discount and I get a discount on any future challenges. However, I’ve already signed up for 15 challenges (8 completed in 2020), so I think I need to put the brakes on for this year ๐Ÿ™ƒ๐Ÿ™ƒ๐Ÿ˜†

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

1st postcard

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

Oooo…..just keeping ahead.

I was 20kms ahead when I arrived at my current assignment on Monday but if course with limited time and 2 days a write off, I’m going to be hard put to keep up to speed ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿšถ๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿšถ๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿšถ๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ

Alps to Ocean, New Zealand

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well, it sounds like I had a good time ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜ However, I’m not sure about the meat pie I ate ๐Ÿฅง ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚ since I’m vegetarian, but ๐Ÿคซ๐Ÿคซ we won’t tell anyone. As for the “false summits” and descent of the Oahu range…that reminds me somewhat of the many false summits and descents I made in Spain along the Camino. ๐Ÿฅด๐Ÿฅด๐Ÿฅด

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

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Following on from my recent walk from Margate to Whitstable via Reculver, researching the Roman fort uncovered the information that Reculver too had been mentioned in the 1086 Domesday Book. ๐Ÿ˜ƒ๐Ÿ˜ƒ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘ Roculf: Archbishop of Canterbury. Church, mill, 5 salthouses, fishery.

To say I was delighted would be an understatement. Updating my Project 101 page brought the tally to the grand total of 150!! Hoorah. https://notjustagranny.co.uk/project-101/project-101-domesday-book-towns-villages/

By no means a huge number, and considering that 13,418 (settlements) : cities, towns, villages and hamlets are mentioned….150 is not that many, but it’s way more than most have visited.

It’s still astounding to discover that many English people who have grown up in the country, have no idea of its existence.

1086 is only one of the most significant dates in English history following on from the 1066 Battle of Hastings, and yet…..

My original intention was to visit 101, but it seems that my travels and my job will take me to many more than I anticipated.

I’ve wanted to walk to Reculver from Broadstairs ever since we first visited the place some years ago, but never seemed to find the time, it also did not seem doable. But now with my crazy decision to walk the entire English coast over the next 5 years, it became doable ….๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜ and in comparison to the distances I’ve since covered on my various walks, it was easy peasy

When I set off from Margate last week I could see the ruins of the church farrrrr away in the mists of time and remember thinking ” oh gosh, it’s so far, will I be able to do it ?” But it was easier than expected, and voila

St. Mary’s Church, Reculver

St Mary’s Church, Reculver, was founded in the 7th century as either a minster or a monastery on the site of a Roman fort at Reculver, which was then at the north-eastern extremity of Kent in south-eastern England. In 669, the site of the fort was given for this purpose by King Ecgberht of Kent to a priest named Bassa, beginning a connection with Kentish kings that led to King Eadberht II of Kent being buried there in the 760s, and the church becoming very wealthy by the beginning of the 9th century. Ref wikipedia

Will this too be eaten by the ever encroaching sea
A Roman fort, now long gone
The remains of the Roman wall, and where the fort once stood

It’s a fascinating place and I’m certainly going to follow up on more of the history and I feel another visit is warranted. I noticed on my way to Reculver that there is a walk along the River Wantsum; which once cut off the Isle of Thanet from the mainland.

The River Wantsum

I ๐Ÿ”ฎ another walk in the future ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜„๐Ÿ˜„ except it will not be in winter!! And I’m not walking across any mudflats….more of that later ๐Ÿคช๐Ÿคช

Can you see my folly?

More about Project 101 https://notjustagranny.co.uk/project-101/

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I’ve started reading the book my daughter gave me for Christmas; ‘Walking Home – Clare Balding.’

In the very early pages Clare talks about how she was taught to ‘walk mindfully’; to feel her feet hitting the ground, to hear the birds or background sounds, to feel the wind on her face. So today on my daily perambulation, instead of rehashing the same self-talk that goes over and over around my head (mostly coz its unresolved), today I practised mindful walking….

I felt how my feet scrunched on the beach, I observed how my poles felt as they supported me over the rocks or sank in the sand, I really listened to the seagulls, felt how the wind ruffled my hair and sneaked down my collar (I forgot my scarf at the b&b๐Ÿคจ๐Ÿคจ), and in particular I listened to the songs of the sea…it changed my whole mindset. I felt uplifted,  invigorated and tingled from the cold icy air, and barely noticed that I was soaked from the softly falling rain. What a difference.

My issues are still unresolved, but I can breathe…and I got in 10.26 kms by the time of the real downpour, which spoilt my plan to sit on the bench in Broadstairs to eat my croissants… instead I ran for the bus (the driver kindly waited for me ๐Ÿ˜ƒ๐Ÿ˜ƒ) and took the quick way back.

It was dark when I left the b&b, the streets were quite deserted and I only saw 4 people enroute. I got to the harbour just before 7am.

Town centre at 06:55
Still and quiet at 7am

It had started raining but I barely noticed it until looking at the lights shining on the rain.

Oh…its raining ๐Ÿ˜„

By then I was quite wet, so I sat under the shelter at the Royal Victoria Pavilion and watched the sky lighten…

A blue sky
My view from under the pavilion

Debating a return to the b&b to dry out, instead, as soon as the rain eased off, I meandered down to the waters edge and collected some more sea glass – found some lovely pieces.

Sea glass and pottery pieces

Then turning my head north for Broadstairs watching the sunrise while I listened to the seagulls and the incoming tide I walked…..as I walked the colours of the sky changed and depending on which way I was facing, was either that early morning cold blue or the golden colours of the sun cracking through the clouds…

Passing through Broadstairs I phoned ahead to order my almond croissants from The Old Bakehouse and stopped to photograph the boats in the little harbour – I never tire of seeing them

Pretty wee boats in the harbour

A few dog walkers and early morning strollers passed me by and suddenly, or so it seemed, I reached my turning point at Stone Bay.

A good place as any to turn around

How far I’ve come….

Looking back across Stone Bay

One last photo of Viking Bay

Viking Bay, Broadstairs

Having phoned ahead earlier, The Old Bakehouse kept 2 almond croissants aside for me ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿฅ๐Ÿฅ. As I left, the rain I’d seen crossing the channel reached our shores and the heavens opened…๐ŸŒง๐ŸŒง๐ŸŒง

There comes the rain…

I drank my coffee, then made my way quickly up the High Street towards the bus stop. Suddenly down the road…the bus approached. I ran – fast!! The driver (bless his heart) waited for me. ๐Ÿ˜ƒ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

Then it was back to the b&b for tea.

Brilliant walk: 10.26kms. And thus ends my holiday/Christmas/New Year break. Back to work tomorrow and limited time to walk for the next 2 weeks. ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿค”๐Ÿค” I’m hoping the area I’ll be working in has some interesting walks. Meanwhile, I’ve reached 20% of the Alps to Ocean NZ virtual challenge and got my 3rd postcard of the route.

I’ve started uploading the Mt. Fuji postcards and information and will post those asap and then I’ll get the Alps to Ocean postcards uploaded and share those too. The organisers have done an outstanding job of creating the postcards and the relevant information. It’s totally impressive

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