My mother Morag Robertson, born in Aberdeenshire February 27th 1941, died in France, December 25/12/2022.
A picture of Brockwell Park, taken at dusk, one of my frequent short solitary walks.
My mum struggled with Alzheimers for the last few years. A difficult time for all the family.
Alzheimers was just really starting about the time this photo was taken.
If you are feeling blue, take a walk by a river, or a stroll in the park and keep going until the cobwebs clear
You come to some kind of arrangement with yourself. Life is never perfect but as difficult as it can be, there’s usually a solution.. Grief is something we all face and have to live with, Go gentle into the night. Writing my blog and going out on long walks has been something that has kept me going when I felt like life was useless. I just get up and go now.
Due to Frances regulations to deal with cremations within 7 days of death, I have cancelled my date with Mildreds on New years Day, and instead will be flying over for the creamation on 2/1/2023
View from Rochester Castle. Fun fair & Christmas Fair at the beginning of December 2022
Another visit to Cahors, Montcuq and Puy’leveque in Mid- December 2022 to visit my mum for the last time.
I was feeling very sad and spent a lot of the day wondering around Cahors, I had time in hand before my coach journey to Puy’L’evque.
Cahors has a lot of character and charm. I have got to know it a lot this year. I loved this old building, would be a perfect location for a restaurant or hotel. If my numbers come up, I will buy it and turn it into a Vegan Cafe/hotel.
Looking over the river lot, where we took our mother October 2022, her last trip out of the home. It was an unusually cold October, but my mum was laughing her head off about something and we were happy here for a short while. The picture looks empty without her. I arrived in Puy’Levque within an hour from Cahors. The village was deserted, and a lot of the shops and cafes closed down. Possibly Post Covid economy.
Looking out to the River Lot, near the home. Taken in October 2022
A cold morning in Montcuq. I didn’t do as much walking as usual, as it was freezing cold and I was only visiting for 4 days to
I stayed in a hotel in Cahors so I could get an early train into Toulouse, to catch my flight back to London. This was the river walk I did to the train station.
Don’t jump in a lake, find a beautiful river and walk with it.
Plans changed a bit for a long walk in Faversham at the end of December, instead it was a walk around town and looking in a few shops, then a lunch and train back to London. I wanted to try one of the walks in the book I have mentioned several times. Walks for all seasons, check it out on my Inspired Reads Page.
A 9 mile hike with UK Explorers in January and in February an 8 mile hike from Teynham to Faversham. A walk I did several summers ago and really enjoyed, It will be interesting to see how it goes in the bleak mid-winter
Untilnext time. Keep on Keeping on & Wish you all the best for 2023..
I’ve got so much to say about Galway, both past and present. It was the 90s when I spent a semester at Galway University as a mature student. I rented a room in Claddagh from a friend of a friend from September until December. Then returned a couple of times since.
Ifmy memory serves me well 2003 was my last visit.
The last visit was only for one night, en route to the Arran islands. Galway has a lot to offer both historically and as well as accommodating for all kinds of people and music. It is equally at home supporting indie bands, it’s an international city, small and compact.
It’s not all Arran Jumpers, although there are a lot of shops selling them. For anyone who hasn’t seen the Banshees of Inisherin, I totally recommend it. By the By, the sale of Arran jumpers has gone through the roof in Galway since the release of the film.
Galway has a lot to answer for
Saying I’m going to Galway is one of my ‘catchphrases’ it sums up a lot about what I’m feeling, I’m going to Galway when I’ve had enough of work/London, Brixton, Railton road, responsibility and I’m bored.
As a recent convert to the school of realism I understand, it is wishful thinking
Once upon a time, there were opportunities, to live a lifestyle that was a bit more nomadic and romantic. The links to get that were somewhat tenuous and I couldn’t quite grasp it. After all had I not lived like that in London for quite long enough?
A long weekend in Galway
I was scrolling through Twitter and saw that Pussy Riot (more on them later) were playing at the Roison Dobh in Galway and on a whim bought tickets and a return flight for my partner for his birthday. It had been a while since I visited and kept meaning to. I booked a bed and breakfast called Sli Na Mara 10 minutes from Claddagh and a 20-minute walk to Salthill, the coastal resort further up the road.
We waited about 20 minutes for the bus to Galway and paid 10 euros each. I used my newly acquired post office Travel card which is used in exactly the same way as a debit card; the only difference being is that you don’t get charged fees. You put money on it via your bank account, straight onto the app, and it changes the currency for you. It’s really handy. Returning to the airport, it was lucky we booked our tickets online, as it was packed!
Galway city November 2022
it was busy when we arrived around 3pm and we dived into a cafe in Eyre square for a late lunch. Then we had a brief look around the Christmas Market and walked through the town to Claddagh. It was exciting to see the river gushing furiously through the town centre. I can’t believe how fast and high the water is. It is invigorating, pure energy.
The name of the river running through the town is the river Corrib. It constantly flows fast, under and through 3 bridges from the Spanish Arch at Claddagh under the Wolfetone bridge, then O’Brien’s Bridge off Dominick st, and Salmon Weir Bridge. It flows down to the sea and the walk along the causeway is unprotected by any walls, be careful as a slip after a couple of drinks, could see you being swept away!
THE RIVER CORRIB- FAST AND FURIOUS
Our walk to the bed and breakfast was only 10 minutes or so and I wanted to see where I stayed in the ’90s and was pleased to see No 6 ST Nicholas Road, in Claddagh, was still the most unique house. It is easy to miss as the entrance as it is covered in green foliage making it barely visible. A lovely rosehip tree hangs over the gate.
We then headed off for a lovely short walk to the bed and breakfast. The sun was starting to set, as we walked by the sea. the silhouette of the hills in the background created a picturesque backdrop.
Sunset, Galway Bay
Sli Na Mara the way of the sea.
It is a family-owned business and they do a lovely bed and breakfast. The hosts were really friendly and made us feel welcome.https://slinamara.ie/index.html
On Saturday we spent most of the day walking around the city. In terms of size, I would say it’s about the size of Durham, maybe Edinburgh. We visited the Galway museum and found a couple of cafes. One that did fantastic pastries coffee and teas called the Ean on Druid lane, next to the famous Druid Theatre. https://www.eangalway.com/
In the Lighthouse, for lunch, we had a simply delicious soup with soda bread ( I LOVE SODA BREAD) and vegan dessert.
Equality emerging, sculpture near Galway University
The old traditional part of the University
I studied Irish/English Studies at North London University
It started as French/Irish, after a year of French Language, I realised I would never be proficient enough, and there weren’t enough hours in a day to read the French dictionary! You have to choose what works best and that’s partly what it’s all about.
I ditched the French language
studying as a mature student, you get to decide what you want to do, and sometimes you don’t really know until you start doing it. It was an education nonetheless, and I still loved French existentialism, JP Sartre, etc, and Irish politics and History were complex and fascinating, and most of it I have forgotten. North London University was at the forefront of the Irish Peace Talks and hosted some of the talks.
My interests were mainly music/politics and literature in no particular order. I managed to get a degree and I’m happy to say I did it. They can’t take that away from me. I was a drifter and had no thoughts other than wanting to get a band together. The degree taught me a lot, mainly how to question the world, how to articulate in writing, and consider different points of view. I am proudly humanitarian.
Meanwhile back in Galway on Saturday Night
On Saturday evening we had a meal at Barnacles in Salthill and a drink at the famous Oconnor’s bar where Ed Sheeran shot part of his video for the song Galway girl. We heard the original version on the bus to Connemara which is pretty good. Ed Sheeran seems a bit watered down and I’ve yet to watch the video.
The pub doesn’t open until 7.30 pm and you have to wait to be seated, we were sat in front of an old fashioned fire with clothes hanging over it!
Galway tour company
We booked our tour online for a Sunday trip. The earlier you book the better, as it went up by 5 euros in the time it took me to get that together with one thing and another going on. Transferring money between accounts and stuff!!
We would spend most of the time on the bus but did get off frequently for photo shoots. the driver was hilarious and had lots of stories to tell, mainly funny but I couldn’t help but feel sad when we got deep into Connemara. a landscape both bleak and beautiful and it was difficult not to feel sad when thinking about the famine.
Connemara and beyond
We stopped first at Cong and I don’t know why I hadn’t heard of it. The location is famous for where the shooting of The quiet man was filmed starring, John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. Equally as famous is the famous castle now a hotel hidden in woodland.
JOHN WAYNE & MAUREEN OHARA
A stunning piece of black wood sculpture in the village of Cong. Contrasting against the vivid autumn colours and fresh with lashings of rain.
Ashford Castle is Famous for its elite clientele
Ashford castle you aren’t allowed to take photos but the driver told us how to see it from the back of the lake. Bronson held his wedding reception there when he married his second wife. Cong is bordering on county Mayo and Galway. lake Lough Corrib is the second-largest lake in Ireland. The castle was built in the 13th century by Anglo-Normans and is a former home of The Guinness family.
There are so many stories associated with the abbey it is a massive tourist attraction as well as a functional boarding school and a place where Benedict nuns live. The nuns fled Belgium during WW1 and bought this place around 1920.
The ’90s in Galway
in the ’90s when I was staying in Claddagh, my ‘landlady’/host, drove us to Kylemore Abby and I seem to recall we stopped at Letterkenny bUt checking on the map, recently , I see Letterkenny is in County Donegal, so I can’t see that being right.! I have been to Donegal but that was around 1978-1980 a very long time ago, and a different story all together.
Bearing in mind, we did not really have the internet or mobile phones then, and all my coursework was saved onto floppy disc! I don’t have much in the way of physical memories of the time. I have a cassette recording of a Galway radio station and a yoga cassette from a Galway yoga teacher, that my friends is about it.
Back in the 90s, we stopped at a friend of Helen’s, my host at the time Her family lived in a lovely old house by a lake where cows roamed freely, and there was a rowing boat, sitting near the edge of the lake. I wanted to get in it and drift away!! It was so peaceful and beautiful. It looked like a Constable painting. One memory, I know to be true is that we visited Kylemore Abbey and I do have an actual 35 mm photograph of that.
looking out from the Abbey towards The Connemara mountains.
It rained frequently through the day, but the landscape and air were marvellous.
History of Kylemore Abbey
It was originally built in the late 1800s as a 70-room private home for MP liberal politician and an mp for county Galway from 1871 to 1885, Mitchell Henry a former doctor from England an MP and a wealthy businessman. He was especially interested in the cause for better health provision for the poor. He provided employment for many of the local Irish. It was then taken over by the Duke and Duchess of Manchester who were famously decadent and gave the place a lavish makeover.
A beautiful bathroom inside The Abbey, for display only.
Gothic Church built in memory of Mitchell Henry’s wife.
The victorian wall garden
Seeing Pussy Riot and a night out in Galway
Coming back down into Galway after a day in Connemara was somewhat weird. Having to hang about a lot, I wouldn’t have done the day out and the night out if I was at home, but having purchased tickets to this, it would be rude not to go.
First we sampled a few drinks in various bars but this bar is my favourite.
Full of real life characters, pictures, photographs and nooks and crannies, welcoming conversation and intimacy. Outside on the left corner is a plaque, dedicated to Richard Martin M.P. 1754-1834 TOWNHOUSE OF POLITICIAN, LANDLORD,AND THEATRE FOUNDER. NICKNAMED ‘HUMANITY DICK’ FOR HIS INFLUENTIAL EFFORTS TO PREENT CRUELTY TO ANIMALS. My kind of man, my kind of people. https://www.tighneachtain.com
I was intrigued to know what a Pussy Riot performance would be like. I could have seen them in London, but Galway it was. the gig was a performance artist experience and the music /politics was profoundly moving. All the donations from the gig tickets and merchandise went to Ukraine Children’s Hospital.
I’m currently reading the book riot days. by Maria Alyokhina ( A Pussy Riot Activist) and will review it on Good reads once finished.
The review below is written by Guardian Columnist Zoe Williams written from the same tour in November 2022.
I walked a lot in October 2022 mainly short walks (between 4 to 9 miles) The 1st week in October was in and around Montcuq and the Lot valley. It’s difficult to feel too optimistic, about life at present, but go forward we must. October is a lovely month in many ways and I’ve been out and about a lot this month.
October 2022 has been a mixed bunch so far
Despite the Government Shenanigans and the invasion of Ukraine, causing chaos and misery; my working life seems more settled. October 2022 is a new season and a new beginning of sorts and I feel that tentatively it’s maybe time to start looking forwards again.
The Hill Walking retreat in Scotland is now a possibility in 2023
It was cancelled in Lockdown, 2021 and this year I just could not get that together. This October was in France for the 3rd time of the year, visiting my mum at a home, from the end of September to the beginning of October.
Here are a few of my photos taken from my walkabouts in October 2022.
An old car wreck, being swamped in Ivy in the area of Trejoules France.
A wee deceased baby bird on a windowsill in Montcuq town
last year I came across a dead magpie in Camberwell, it was the first time ever I saw the beauty of the bird’s feathers. Mostly we think of the Mighty Black and white Magpie.
It wasn’t until I picked up a couple of feathers, that my eyes opened and saw how vivid the peacock-like colours were in the full sunlight. Up close the feathers gleamed, with bright petrol blue, and shiny forest greens.
Some years ago I found a dead bird in Railton Road, Brixton /Herne Hill, London, it had been killed by a cat.
Not sure what type of bird it was, as there were only clumps of feathers left in heaps scattered over the pavement and across the road. When picking up a few feathers I felt they were still warm, the colours were gorgeous. I took a photograph and posted it on Twitter to see if anyone could identify them. The feathers were like leopard skin markings but darker.
A few suggestions were tweeted back to me with suggestions such as a falcon.
It was too small for that and a wild guess tells me, that Brixton is certainly not a haven for wild birds. I think it was just a sparrow or something similar but the colours were vivid and not something you would notice until looked at it closely.
From dead birds to sleeping cats.!
Purrfect pussy cat, Having a mid-afternoon snooze around the back of Montcuq, lying on top of the free bookcase.
A disbanded old farmhouse was found while roaming about.
MAD DOGS & DEAD SUNFLOWERS
Out of my depth, Lendou-en Quercy France
I decided to take my wicked stepsister’s advice and do a walk alone of which instructions were few,
The vague direction was to turn left around the back of the house via the woods or go up the hill further! (JUST TO SAY, THIS WAS THE FIRST TIME I HAD EXPLORED THIS AREA) I went up the hill further, expecting at some point to come down the hill prompt, but the road went around and around. An Italian car passed me coming and going, I felt conspicuous! and I felt a bit panicky.
lost and aware, it will soon get dark, and the only option was to keep going.
Going downhill then following the road bearing left, in the far distance there was a sight of a road. Feeling a slight sense of relief that this might help, I spotted a dog! it equally spotted me, It awoke from its slumber and stood up to stare at me.
The dog got up slowly and walked towards me!
(A lot of the french farmhouses have open lawns without gates or fences and it’s something I watch out for when wandering) from what I could see it was a sort of big fat dog of no real description same colours as a Doberman (which I’m not a fan of) but not as big.
I was scared. and couldn’t go forward in case it attacked me.
so I walked backwards and phoned my stepsister to come and get me. He may have been harmless but I wasn’t taking any chances.
She managed to locate me, with only the name of a house to go by and pulled up some 10 minutes later. standing still and quiet as a mouse, by another house the dog seemed to have gone until I saw him sitting looking at me behind a tree!!
The sky grew dark looming ominously over a field of dead sunflowers
Back to civilisation, of towns, bridges and rivers.
Magnificent side view at Pont Valentre Lot valley
Pont Valentre Or the Devil’s Bridge as known by some.
Before taking the train from Cahors to Toulouse I had time in hand and wondered around Cahors
life is what happens when you are busy making other plans? well, it seems I’m forever intending to do things that never happen, and one is staying a night in Cahors. Although I have visited the town centre briefly on various occasions, with my mum and step-dad, this was the 1st time I actually roamed about and saw a couple of markets and just generally mozied about a bit
THE OAK TRAIL – THEYDON BOIS CIRCULAR – ESSEX
Friday, 21st October 2022
From the village through a muddy path out into open space.
A lonely tree, throwing shapes onto the horizon
The name Theydon Bois sounds curious and somewhat out of place as an underground station. It sounds a bit French to me. Reading about its origins on Wikipedia it seems it is more old English 12th century. Although the last bit Bois was spelt that way because someone in the Parish could speak french.! The past is usually strange and I can’t quite get my head around that.
CARPET OF FALLEN LEAVES.
The walk was ok once in the forest and the village Theydon Bois is a typical English village with a green and a big pub the Bull taking centre stage. I joined up with the South Bank ramblers on a moody on-off rainy day, unsure whether to bother. It was worth it.
Light slips through the forest and shines on the bark.
A circular walk from Theydon Bois, through fields, crossing the M25 and into Epping Forest, where the route passes the remains of ancient Iron Age hill fort Ambresbury Bank and a deer sanctuary.
Much of the walk is along paths and gently undulating, although there are a few steeper climbs.
Autumn mushrooms, growing in Epping Forest
Moping about never done anyone no good!
I dare say many will argue with that. After returning from France I made my way over to Euston to catch the exhibition IN THE AIR. It was the last day, and I was glad I made the effort. Previous to that I had visited on. a Monday and the space was closed. Instead, I ventured off to try the Quakers House Cafe!. It was a great little space and a marvellous old building. Well worth a visit. The Wellcome Collection always put on thoughtful, contemporary exhibits.https://wellcomecollection.org/exhibitions/YjiSFxEAACIAcqpb
Air moves freely around the world, regardless of Land borders, and can circle the globe in as little as two weeks.
On a massive cinematic screen, a group of us watched a plane flying over the fields in Gaza, the film showed a low-flowing plane, flying over the field, spraying the crops with herbicides. There is a direct link that herbicides, cause cancer. Just another weapon to kill. The exhibition showed many other examples of the use of chemicals. As well as the illegal use of white phosphorus bombings.
It is heavy shit.
In everyday life, it’s happening, including in Ukraine now. We have it easy but that doesn’t mean we are living in some kind of exclusive Utopia and it can’t happen to us. It’s our problem as well.
Two walks in Sussex to celebrate the end of summer.
What better way to end the summer than with two walks in Sussex. Both magnificent.
Firstly another Lewes circular walk via Southease which turned into a 16-mile walk. Followed by a 14-mile hike from Seaford to Eastbourne, one of the most spectacular Sussex walks. I led this walk and around 13 turned up. A couple weren’t quite fit enough for the hikes and dropped out when there was a chance. Admittedly I had to speed up my walk, to keep in front, as an elder Japanese woman, who joined my group marched fiercely across the downs. I had to show her who was boss and walk much faster than my usual pace.!!
Simplicity, walking up in The Downs.
Big skies, soft downs
More sky, More space, More nature more sanity, please.
Wildflowers along the River Ouse, Lewes. Did you know that Ouse is the Celtic name for a large natural stream of water?
Sussex is probably my most go-to place. In terms of the ease of getting there from London. It has to be the best place for clearing the head & doing some amazing walks with the added bonus of fantastic landscapes. It is a painter’s or even a poet’s dream. The first walk was partly using a guide. walks for each Season by Julia Smith.
We kind of diverted from the long walk, which had more hills in it, but still managed to walk 16 miles, from Lewes, via Glynde to Southease, and back to Lewes along the river.
The second walk is my old tried and tested Seaford to Eastbourne
They followed me without fear!!!
There we go, see those sisters over yonder?
Down from Seaford Head to the Valley below.
Purple water Heather. looked spectacular & not seen this plant before.
looking back to Seaford from the foot of The Seven Sisters
As we start a clip up the cliff tops, we come across ponies, something I haven’t come across before on the South Downs.
Had a tea break and loo break at Birling Gap Cafe. will we make the next part of the journey, looking back at how far we have come.
Beachy Head here we come, as I try to walk quickly uphill, to limit my experience of pain!
Beachy Head- hold on tight now.
we are up and away from the trouble & strife, the air is clean and the sea is calm.
Eastbourne Here we come.
Eastbourne Knows how to put on a good sunset.
We arrive around 5.30 pm, since we didn’t start until 11.30 am, and had 2 breaks we did pretty well. A group of us went for a meal and a drink afterwards and eventually took the train back to London getting back at about 10 pm.
Invest in a Network Rail Card it’s so worth it, you only need to do two trips and you have covered the costs. https://www.network-railcard.co.uk/
Walking from Faversham to Whistable is an easy flat walk
This is the 3rd time walking from Faversham to Whistable. On this walk, my partner in crime spotted a pathway that led to a quicker route. The walk is very flat so can be a bit boring, but with the shortcut, it was just perfect. Still, it clocked up over 12 miles or more. The first stop on this walk from Faversham to Whistable was the Apothecary store in Faversham town. https://www.apothecashop.co.uk
I was after some CBD /Hemp tea, which is not an illegal substance that makes you high. Previously I had purchased a pack from The Apothecary store. I had a great chat with the saleswoman who told me of her up-and-coming venture to India. It was great to just chat and swap stories. She gave me the details so I could do mail order at a later date. When chatting I mentioned I would like to stay over a night at some point and she recommended the Sun Inn for accommodation.https://www.sunfaversham.co.uk
It was nice to just pass the time of day relaxing with a cup of tea in the marketplace before heading off for the walk. Another very hot day, so, it was essential to take it easy. As I sat sipping tea, I watched a group of tourists being led into a town hall-type building on some historic tour. While walking through the town we passed the shop where the brewery tours are booked. This prompted me to consider another day out in Faversham.
The last visit to Faversham was around December last year and it was still sort of partially in lockdown or post-lockdown. I forget now as it was all so confusing. The gist is I aim to go back there for a day and spend a night there when everything is open. There is a great market there and hundreds of years of history. I think a day there would be easy.
After a visit to the Apothecary store and a cup of tea, we headed through the town centre past all of the old townhouses and other historic buildings. In less than 10 minutes we were Up the creek.!
The walk is flat and open, THE CREEK is a nature resort and there aren’t many people or dogs, but a few cyclists use part of this route.
After the creek there is a chance to turn right and take the cyclist route carry on and turn left going the long way round.
On this hot day, we trudged past the open fields and wild flours and then we found an even shorter cut through the wheat field, where a footpath had been created then turn left onto the sea wall.
I love open spaces and wild flowers
It doesn’t take long before we are at the sea wall that runs towards Sea Salter.
From Seasalter the path leads to Whistable.
We head away from the beach huts and posh houses owned by millionaires and head over a railway bridge into the back of Whistable and find a lovely cafe to get a cool drink.
Open sea space and a gate to the beach.
An unusual gate where you pull the metal poles apart. For the full video go to my You Tube channel. JUST GOOGLE icantexplainmyfeet/youtube.
I eventually had my swim nearer Herne Bay. The water was warmish and the water isn’t deep so no need to be scared. My new sea shoes worked a treat. The beach wasn’t as pebbly as Newhaven but still pebbly.
I have always loved swimming but for some reason got out of the habit and I think since I stopped visiting Cornwall so often, I lost the love of the sea. I’m not sure when I will get another chance but did manage to go swimming at the woman’s pond in Hampstead a week later.
You have to book in advance but it’s less than a fiver so well worth it. I met a friend at Kentish Town and we took a bus that drops you off at the bottom of the lane that takes you straight to the pond. Another soaring hot day.
Swimming is back on the agenda. As is Hill Walking next year. Plans are back on the menu generally. After the dreaded pandemic, it’s taken some time to feel that normality is back.!
There was a procession in Whistable through the main street. Whistable is tiny and crammed but does have some lovely independent shops. I would prefer to go there alone mid week to have a real wander about and browse. The famous fish and chip shop has gone but has been replaced with another eating place.
The harbour was thriving with lots of stall and a live brass band playing We headed onwards for a cool beer and cheap food at the Peter Cushings’ pub. It is an old cinema named after the famous actor;the interior is amazing, it was an old cinema. The ceilings are high,dangling down are massive Art Decor lampshades as well as posters and other memorabilia.
It is owned by Wetherspoons . Peter Cushings’ lived in one of the houses along the seafront Another WordPress writer explores more in the below link.