Frequently visited places

London to Montcuq -Newcastle Upon Tyne are among my frequent visited places    

Like my bookmarks there are certain places I frequent. London I live in so it is on the top of my list of frequently visited places, as is Montcuq which I  visit on a regular basis. Newcastle Upon Tyne is another of my go to places. This month I have visited all three. Montcuq earlier in the month I noticed has been giving its self a promotion.! I noticed new trendy shops that have opened and of course the fantastic bookshop/cafe; now putting live music on.

Add Paris, New York, Tokyo, !making up my dream/fantasy of frequently visited places. 

Montcuq is promoting it’s self and I do love it when a town speaks up and puts itself on the map. The new tourist office in Montcuq are promoting aprons with the slogan, Paris, New York, Tokyo Montcuq! they  are setting themselves up there, with the big boys.! It’s cute but I couldn’t bring myself to waste 35 euros on an apron!. At least they are putting Montcuq firmly on the map of somewhere worth visiting

Do we all have frequently visited places?

A door a fern, and a wall, Simplicity is art to me.

A single flower, against a wall. Taken near the bottom of the tower in Montcuq

I have since been informed this gold plate thing is practical and serves as some kind of joint to hold the building. I just thought it looked nice!


He knows someone will spot him soon! One of the local cats of Montcuq hanging out.


Of course an empty road to who knows where. Well I do know where but I’m not telling!


View of the vines at the back of my sisters house 20 minutes from Montcuq.


OF COURSE THE TRENDY/WONDERFUL /BEAUTIFUL BOOKSHOP they play cool cool jazz in the afternoon here.


I love this mural, and came across it while mooching around the train station at Toulouse . Taken at Boulevard Pierre Sarmard.


My Apron would be London, New York, Brixton Newcastle.

I remember a shop in Brixton, which had the tag, New York, Paris, Milan, Brixton!!! ha ha, it sold street clothes, sequenced tight leggings etc for the very young, & skinny fashion conscious types. It did tickle me at the time and Brixton is now firmly on the map.

When I first moved to Brixton, it was empty and taxis would not go there! it was considered too dangerous! Yes it’s famous for riots, but as well as historically, it has a rich musical/theatrical heritage. It is rocking with street markets & vibrant mixed communities. Not forgetting the music venue The Academy where some of the top musicians and bands have played, including Bob Dylan, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, The Clash, Lou Reed to name a few. You can listen to cool jazz at The Effra Tavern for free midweek. Numerous bars, are packed, as are, cafes, and restaurants. Brixton is thriving.


Euston Bloomsbury area and a guided tour

As an employee and Unite Rep I was invited to an event at the Headquarters of the NEU  off the Euston Road. Not a regular thing I do on a sunny Saturday afternoon, but enticed by the free lunch and Guided Walking tour with award winning tour guide Rachel Kelsey I couldn’t resist. While walking up the Euston road I was met with hordes of Sunderland supporters down for the day. Euston Road is always busy it is a hub of activity 24/7.

I feel at home in North London and was Happy to participate in the conversations about workplace issues and chatted  with a woman from Middlesborough who led a workshop on disability and women in the workplace. We had a good old catch up about going to Middlesbrough Rock Garden back in the days, (around 1978-70) and she and I had seen many of the same bands, The Damned 999, Skids, Adam and the Ants etc.

There was also a snazzy duo called Florence Joelle singing some old classics while we had lunch.

The event was  well organised; not a great turn out though. It does seem Unions aren’t fashionable and there was a no show from Sharon Graham general secretary of Unite.  I did enjoy hearing Sally Alexander feminist, activist and author who organised the first women liberation meeting at Ruskin College and we watched some great footage from the 70’s of women’s protests in Trafalgar Square. For anyone born in the 90’s or later, you might be surprised that women weren’t born with rights!


The Blue Badge Guided tour

Around Euston and Bloomsbury Square is a miss mash of institutions. The tour was dedicated to pioneering  women who had influenced the area.  Mary ward https://www.marywardhouse.com/history a social reformer who in particular championed the cause of women of poor means, promoting education for them. There is the Mary Ward House in Euston, which hosts conferences and the Mary Ward Centre off Russel Square near Holborn, where there are many courses available and they do discounted rates for persons on low income.

Virginia Woolf was also a famous writer and part of The Bloomsbury set; of women she said

women must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction”

How very true, at least some money and most definitely a room!.


Bloomsbury a place where writers & artists thrived.


The tour guide Rachel Kelsey is a blue badge guide and is a first class guide, check her out on Go London tours


Among many themes she talks about women & her talks include: London from suffering to salvation, including Bloomsbury Babes. Cosmopolitan London -Brixton Notting hill, Jewish London the list goes on. Well worth checking out her walks and books.


It’s ridiculous but true I bought the single by Alexis Sayle in the early 80’s “Allo John got a new motor,”  One of the lyrics, was “is there life in Peckham, is there life on Mars!! It was early 80’s and I was living in New Cross South East London, not far from the fearless Peckham. I always think of that when I think of Peckham.

Walking from East Dulwich to Peckham on a sunny Sunday afternoon, and settling for a half in Beer Revolution Peckham. There was a spectacle on the main road. Watching in marvel as a young guy on a bike gave the police the runaround; the guy did full 360 spins in the middle of the road then scooted off and reappeared again.

Peckham is a funny old place,

It’s full of life and hosting plenty of cafes and bars. Joolz does a great vlog about Peckham and well worth a

watch Joolz Blog here. 

Walking up towards Nunhead (famous for it’s cemetery) and Peckham Rye alongside the young uns heading towards a festival near Goose Green. We oldies then went the opposite way.

A big festival was also going on in Herne Hill. In the words of David Bowie, “Don’t lean on me man coz I can’t afford a ticket.  That’s just the way it is. I just keep on walking, admiring the flowers .


Black Down & The Temple of the Winds via The Sussex Border Path.

It had been years since I went out hiking with a Meet up Group but this invite, sort of appeared in my junk and I knew I had a spare day and needed to do something different, so I booked  a return ticket to Haslemere (near Guildford) and met up with 20 others and off we went.


We avoided getting too close to these prize cows ,but I had to try and get a picture, they were beautiful .


It was a tough walk, with many ascents and descents and what I feared the most, mud! I was wearing somewhat inappropriate footwear more suitable for city strolling than climbing uneven hills followed by sinking into mud!

My feet were killing me afterwards and I spent a fair time cleaning the mud off shoes; but fair doos to my  Clarkes trainers that I wore for NYC in 2017  are still going strong after 2 washes..

Muddy shoes aside it was a great day out good to meet new people, I was so busy chatting and listening to peoples stories I didn’t really bother taking many pictures. We walked at a fair pace as well so there wasn’t too much time for that.

check Toms Uk explorer group here.

If you don’t fancy joining a meet up group and are adventurous enough to strike out alone or with a friend or two, there is a tourist office right outside Haslemere Station. It’s on the Guildford line and a well known trail called The Serpent trail can be explored, over 65 miles of South Downs National Park. Some of the walks will be in the free pamphlet you can pick up from the office. Otherwise consider joining a group, they are friendly enough and Tom is a good leader so save you from having to think too much!

TO SEE a very old post I wrote some years ago, out in The Peak District with The Meet Up Group.the link is Exploring & walking in the UK

I managed a two day trip to Newcastle Upon Tyne.

Meeting up with an old friend, we went along to see a play called We are the best. I guess it was about youngsters trying to form a band and hating the system. It could have been much better. I don’t like to give anyone bad press, but we weren’t impressed. That’s not to say Live Theatre hasn’t got anything to offer. This isn’t a music/theatre review blog so I will leave it at that.




The following day we took a metro to South Shields and walked up the coast for about 10 miles to Whitburn.


Out on the Tyne

Time goes too quickly and before I knew it I was back in London getting ready for work again.  I have a couple of planned walks to go on in August but as yet, undecided about July.

As well I’m struggling to decided whether to lead a walk or not this year. I haven’t done one since before lockdown. If I do it will be Seaford to Eastbourne probably and in September. I have until the 15th July to decide.

Until next time keep on keeping on. Feel free to comment, like or share.





spring to summer

spring into  summer


 It was the hottest day of the year so far when my walking partner and I opted for a cheap day out and visited Walthamstow Wetlands Nature Resort. The April frost finally gone, we glimpsed the potential of summer arriving. As Spring merges into summer, going out walking further afield becomes more attractive.

Spring merges into the light

May and June are special months. the weather is nicer and the dark nights have gone. The trees have blossomed and the flowers have bloomed.  AS we head out we can feel lighthearted. The Dark nights have faded away.

There are a few very special birthdays in May and June the month of Gemini, which in the Zodiac, symbolises  the twins. In Astrology this represents the personality that has both duality and flexibility!  Gemini is an air sign, as is libra my sign. We share the traits of living in a world of ideas. Idealists and dreamers, think John Lennon (libra)& Paul McCartney.(Gemini)

That’s my mystic meg interpretation out of the way!!

This machine picks up a twig every now & then I’m sure these waters were muddy and filthy some years ago. The fact that it only managed a wee twig is a good sign. 


A stones throw away from the city, peace and quite can be found.


Blue sky all day today. Spring is most certainly here.



Beam of light along the way in Walthamstow.


The peace and quiet was short lived.

WALKING BACK FROM BLACK PRINCE ROAD TO WALTHAMSTOW we came across this mural near James overground station.


There was a large ethnic community selling all sorts and the market went on for miles it reminded me a bit of the market at East Street off the Old Kent Road South London. We walked about half way up the mile, but we had done our walk and trudging slowly in a crowd wasn’t really something I wanted to do.


Getting back to Brixton overground then underground ,the crowding was intense.

One thing i have to say is about any walk in a beautiful, or tranquil place is that getting back from that to my usual place of abode can feel very jarring! It is my aim to find a place to live/stay often that is nearer nature. I have come across a few places in my time but not sure at this stage of life I could afford to live in those places. The search is on.

A man a map out in the south Downs starting at Lewes.

It’s always nice to let someone else lead as it gives me more time to admire the scenery and take pictures. This is a place I could live, near a river close to the South Downs and not far from the sea,The walk we did started at Lewes.

We had been fortunate to pick up a special offer from national rail and got a return ticket for £5.50


We didn’t have any instructions this time, but my partner had decided he was going to lead the way and even take a map! What got into him I don’t know, maybe the spring air!.  I’m glad he appreciates the thought that goes into planning a day out and leading a walk. The day went well I have to say and  we did a kind of circular walk via Rodmell and Kingston.

My partner estimated the walk would be about 7-8 miles which was a bit of an under estimation. We somehow got a glimpse of the sea up in the downs as we had gone a little too far the wrong way. Getting lost, is all part of learning. Still was nice to see the sea in the distance. Next walk will be to the sea from either Berwick in Sussex, or Lewes.

I had my man with the map and we went for it over 14 miles walking that day. I can see why people might want to just call it a weekend, as those downs are massive. After a long hike all day, a meal at the end of it, a nice place to stay would be welcome.

It’s always disappointing to have to go back to London after a lovely day like that. Although Lewes is only 1 hour 20 minutes out of London. It probably took as long getting back overground from Walthamstow the previous week.



We got some very hot sun at the very beginning of the walk then the clouds appeared. Luckily there was a sprinkle of rain lasting a few minutes so all was well.

An abandoned old wreck. I have an affinity with old wrecks! (being one myself!)


further along the river away from Lewes we follow the river.

What have we got here? The poor old sheep were stranded. They just stood there not even bleating. Fortunately a local with a dog had spotted them before us and called for help. It took about an hour for the help to arrive. Their little hooves were sinking in the mud., they lifted them occasionally to reposition.

3 lost sheep. Further along we met the farmer who said he had lost 10 and asked us if we had we seen anymore.


How she got in we weren’t sure but she wasn’t going anyway until the farmer gets there. We had a quick chat with him, and it was great to see him rescue this one as she went running back to her gang. Dunno where the other 6 went!

Bales of Hay always look serene to me.


This was a fantastic walk and I’m well pleased we are eventually making use of the maps purchased years ago. Also nowadays if you buy a map you can also get the digital version on your phone.Don’t forget to download it before you go out!

Dusty road Up high on the South Downs

Amazing contrast of colour in this picture.  The sandy white chalky pathway merged with the wild plants and BIG BLACK CLOUDS. A bit further down we could see the sea and knew we had missed a turning.



Windmill near Kingston near Lewes.

Walking away from the Black Clouds towards Lewes .


Farewell merry month of May  A blog from last year in the month of May.


As June arrives I  have more reason to be happy , as I finally reduce my hours at work with more free time to explore.




Until then keep on keeping on










Grayson Perry’s house

Along the stour Estuary to Grayson Perry’s house



Sorry to disappoint but on this occasion I bypassed the house designed by Grayson Perry. I called this walk Grayson Perry’s house, as the house he designed  is really the icing on the cake, and should have been the interesting surprise at the end of the walk.

The walk does have other treats inbetween, and is varied in it’s landscape and countryside.

It was a nice enough day weather wise ,a bit on the cold side but blue skies everywhere. WE stopped for a break in Manningtree and it being a Saturday there was a market on selling vintage stuff and there were plenty of cafes for lunch.



Following the vague instructions was challenging. Towards the end of the walk I had put the instructions away as I thought I knew that bit.

The print out route I was reading didn’t follow the walk I remembered ; part of it meanders along an estuary, looking out towards Harwich. Having remembered  the beach huts I then turned off from the nature resort and went down the stairs to follow the route near the water. This was the last lap and I took a wrong turning.

I went up hill and turned left and realised it headed towards the station. This bypassed but overlooked Perry Grayson’s house; if we had walked further along the coastal bit, then up hill a bit later it would have led to the house. You can see Grayson Perrys house in this old blog

Places to visit in April

The house that Grayson Perry built, worth a visit. You can also put your name down to spend a weekend there (at a price)




Another inconvenient thing about the walk is that it ends at Wrabness which is a small branch line in the middle of nowhere and with an infrequent train service.

Anyhow I was planning on taking a group out walking this route but changed my mind. It was just one of those things. Reading the instructions was far from clear and I had anticipated this happening. Although I was confident that I had grasped what the instructions should have said and made the amendments. I came to the conclusion that the walk and travel time was too long and as I had for some reason scheduled this for a Sunday where trains are even more infrequent.

A lovely spontaneous walk from Kingston Upon Thames VIA TEDDINGTON LOCK


I’m not sure why I haven’t spent more time this far up the river.  It sure was a lovely day. I didn’t take many photos on this walk.


A couple of weeks later I was lucky enough to be given a couple of complimentary tickets to a gig by the Julie July Band who were playing in the arts centre at Teddington. The Julie July Band started as a Sandy Denny cover bands but now write their own material and are a bunch of great musicians. https://www.juliejuly.co.uk/band  I saw how close Teddington  lock was to the hight street and can’t wait to start exploring the area further up river.

Music is always close to my heart and apart from going out on long walks and trying to read other peoples instructions, I want to go to see more live music but I think this year I’m going to go for more classical music.

I am missing out on some amazing classical concert events in Hastings for example . They host events on a monthly basis. It would be good to combine a nice walk and end the day with a concert and a meal! Civilised personified!


I never forget one perfect day in Galway when I went to see a Romanian orchestra live, it was exquisite and the walk home along the seafront was divine. There aren’t many days like that anymore!

Train prices 

As always trying to get out and about on a budget can be challenging. The walking groups usually go out on the earlier train I noticed one of the walks I wanted to do. The walk is a circular walk from Hassock to lewes, cost £33 on the 9.35 train but £2 on the later!! so instead of that I will be attempting some kind of walk in the Lewes area next weekend. The rest of this year will be dedicated to learning new walks on a budget.

Until next time keep on keeping on, In the meantime, enjoy Jah Wobble’s Ukrainian National Anthem, dub style.


March Winds blow

“The March wind does blow -the door it closes!” 

March winds blow and create a storm or a change. Many songs and poems have been written about the element & the power of the wind, & it being a catalyst for change. The March winds -A time when nature whips up a fury and blows the air about

I’m in France, Margate & staines this month, in-between my life in Camberwell & Brixton /London. Here I am reflected in window, trying to decipher the French notice explaining why ‘my bookshop’ was closed. 

March so far has been a strange and difficult month

The war on Ukraine for a start. I don’t know what to say other than Putin needs to take the stand for War Crimes. End of.

One of the things keeping me going and writing a blog is looking back at some of the walks I have done and posts I have written. It is a bit like an on line diary. Although I don’t have thousands of followers I find it therapeutic and gives me something to focus on other than my work.

This month I have been to France from Toulouse to Cahors and Montcuq

The weather was fabulous for the end of February, to early March.

A bright blue winters day Feb 26th 2022 Toulouse Matabiau Train Station


In an hour and a half from Toulouse I’m in Cahors.

I managed to get a train ticket usually around £20 for £1 as I bought in advance on Trainline Wonderful and inspiring to be able to travel so cheaply. The sun being out made the long wait for my 3pm train enjoyable. A nice journey as well. At Mountaban I glanced out of the window and saw a couple of Camels grazing ! Were they there for some circus act? No idea. it’s nice to see something different anyway!

A door with the shadows of tree in winter sun, Toulouse.


The weather kept up for the whole 4 day visit. on the way back when for the first time in all my visits I actually managed to find myself on the Point Valentre.

I hadn’t realised there was a cute little underpass 10 mins walk from the station on the same side, to the bridge. I only ever saw the bridge driving past and it was to the right in the distance, while being driven down to Montcuq.

Walking across the bridge Post Valentra at dusk on the 1st March 2022.


Looking left from Post Valentre


It was my mum’s 81st birthday. Although I have come to terms with her Alzheimers it’s a happy /sad visit. There was a lot to take in. Visiting & seeing  all of the old people in the home is an eye opener. Those with Alzheimer’s and dementia need 24/7 care. I was sad to see one of the residents I had taken a shining to, look pale and sick since my last visit. All they need is extra love and care at this point in their lives.

Puy-l’ E´veque, Les Lavendes Home for the elderly & those with Alzheimers


We could  sit outside enjoying the February sun and that was nice. Afterwards I could get some steps in and have a think about life in general.

My 4 mile round walk just outside of the village Montcuq. Not a soul around. Good to walk & think


A group walk from Staines to Windsor

Sods law that I had come down with some sort of virus; flu/cold, I had been looking forward to this for some time. so I dragged myself along to this walk, and figured if I have worked all week then can manage a walk, but kept my distance at the back .

On the sunniest day of the year so far. The walking group gathered about 10 miles along the River Thames starting at Staines and ending in Windsor.


The hottest day of year. It was a very pleasant walk along the Thames alongside were attractive river houses many with boats. We had lunch at a National Trust Cafe the Magna Carta .

The magna carta

We arrived at Runnymede visiting the Magna Carta monument and the JF Kennedy memorial. I read the blurb and realised this was a significant humanitarian document .In relation to the current invasion of Ukraine in 2022, we seem to be losing the fight for human rights/ & freedom to dictators and criminals. It’s a scary place to be.

Watch the British Library explanation of the charter or at least how it came about. Not how it worked thereafter!


I decided to go down on a day return and visit the coffee hut and Turner Gallery then walk back to Westgate to take the train back into London. It wasn’t especially cold and the sun was out at least.

Margate from the sublime to the in your face graffiti it is grand, ugly, brash and bright.

what’s going on in Margate.?  Looks like some old boarding has been pulled down to expose these, or are they there for a new film? Answers on a post card.

Karl Marx Woz here!!!!

A sight for sore eyes, big skies, no skyscrapers… space.


I noticed they had a new Anthony Gormley statue in the sea which can be viewed from inside the Gallery.



Everybody wants to be black until it’s time to be black!  The exhibiton explores alienation and migration. turnercontemporary.org


I trekked the Jurassic coast for War Child in 2019

It was to raise funds, & then I imagined the treacherous journey from war to safety. The only thing anyone can do is empathise, raising funds, and awareness are two things that can be done.Fleeing for safety is the only objective which is a horror in itself. Then, as is often the case running from war to an insecure /uncertain future with other possible dangers in stores.

The other side!

To arrive in a foreign country often faced with other dangers, :racist abuse, poverty, traffickers, loneliness,  & isolation are among a few possibilities people may have to face.  I cannot bear the thought of traffickers  coming In as they do looking to pick up strays for a life worse than any life imagined.


Hare Khrisna drumming & free vegetarian food, for any hungry people.

A packed Trafalgar Square welcomes speakers from London to declare their compassion and to declare they stand with Ukraine.

IMAGINE PEACE. If you’d like to make a donation to UNCERF, you can do so on their website. You can also buy a Yoko Ono print with all proceeds donated to UNCERF, I dug deep and found after a 3 month stretch alcohol free, I could manage to donate.


Well that’s it from me for now.

Next Month in April  my sometimes walking partner The Mole will be assisting me leading a walk in Essex. The walk is along The Stour Estuary to Grayson Perry’s House. Manningtree to Wrabness.



Walking in spring





The days are slowly getting longer, and we can finally start looking forward to walking in spring


Walking in Spring has to be one of the best seasons. Although it is still cold it’s lighter for longer; so possible to go further afield. As it’s not quite spring yet, I decided to go on a walk not too far away, with the South Bank Ramblers Group. This started at Eynsford Kent and is part of The Darrent Valley. It’s about an hour from Herne Hill train station, changing at Bromley South. If trains aren’t running properly and the weather is bad, it can be a drag hanging about stations in the cold.

It was the day after Storm Eunice and many people were a bit reluctant to go out.A couple of people I knew had previously wanted to go but dropped out. We made up a small group who had taken a leap of faith into the great outdoors.

Within five minutes of leaving the station, we come across a wee bridge over the Darrent river at Eynsford Kent.



walking in the Darrent Valley



The walk route meanders off away from the river past along the Darrent Valley. a short walk along a single path under the magnificent bridge we pass the Fort museum then We pass Lullingstone CastleL & WORLD GARDEN https://www.lullingstonecastle.co.uk  this opens in April 2022



We then follow the river again, along to the visitors centre, where the electric was down.  In there we could not do anything other than use their loos in the dark. After this we walked up hill through chestnut and beech woodland  to get views of the valley from the chalk ridge.


It was a grand walk apart from the few rain showers and the mud. I skidded down a hill flat on my back! luckily not on my face and no serious damage done, except covered in mud.

Sorry there are no live pictures of ‘the fall’!! It’s a good job I have damn quick reflexes and I was wearing waterproofs on top of the walking trousers. Theres’ nothing worse than having to get back on the train looking like I have been dragged through a hedge backwards, while all the day trippers are dressed in their glad rags.

It was fantastic to come across this quickly little cafe in an alleyway situated just a few minutes from the bottom of Muddy Slide Hill!. I made a dash for it and was grateful they had some of those blue plastic bags you can put on your feet to prevent the cafe turning into a mud slide. It wasn’t a great day to say the least but I still enjoyed it despite the damp weather. The cafe has a museum attached to it and is a place of interest. We were only a 10 minute walk from Shoerham at this stage. We didn’t bother walking on to Otford. Another day another time


South Downs Dark Skies Festival

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