Oct
2019

Autumn Walks

Spring is fine, summer divine, but you can’t beat Autumn Walks.

North Welwyn Hertfordshire

I hadn’t planned any Autumn walks other than Hastings. Out of the blue, I got an email invite from a member of the Finchley Walking group to join a Sunday walk around North Welwyn. It is only 35 minutes from London, so it turned out to be a very good idea.

I saw the open sky, wild mushrooms, galloping horses, and had a good walk. It slightly rained for about half an hour but overall was a fine day. 

Beautiful Mushrooms

These little creatures are popping up a lot in the British Countryside.

 

Autumn Walks don’t get much better than a meander along the river.

Boulevard al a Hammersmith, the first day of the week without rainLOOKING OUT AT THE RIVER FROM THE BALCONY OF PUB

GOOD MORNING HASTINGS.

A sight for sore eyes. It was great to be greeted by the open sky and sea. We met at Hastings at 10ish, walked up to the castle to take in the views of the sea, then over the cliffs and down to the town.

Apparently, Alister Crowley (occultist-who practiced the magic of the black arts) Lived in the blue house for a brief period

WALKING AROUND THE TOWN, INTERESTING TYPOGRAPHY

OLD BOHEMIA MEETING PLACE, (MAKE A WISH)DRAMATIC SKYLINE,

We were lucky and managed to get an early lunch while it rained for an hour at lunchtime.

 We walked in and around Hastings, through the woodland environment of Bohemia and Summerfield. We extended our walk along the seafront to St Leonard’s on Sea with its bohemian artists quarter and numerous cafes. A great place to end the walk and have a drink or two.

 

Hastings is part of East Sussex,  around 20 miles from Lewes, and 60 miles from London.

Other towns in East Sussex are Brighton, and Hove, as you get to Worthing you are venturing into West Sussex which borders on Kent.  I’m eventually getting very familiar with the South Coast of England. Being a Northerner it has taken me a long time to truly appreciate it’s diversity.

 

Also coming up- The Isle of Dogs Sunday Walk, and a circular walk to Margate.

 

 

Sep
2019

Discovering The Isle of Wight

On this visit it was like discovering the Isle of Wight for the first time

My memory of my first visit is sketchy. I recall, staying  in a converted Mill and was told that E.P Thompson; Historian and Author (The Making of The Working Classes) had some connection to it. What that connection was I’m not entirely sure.  I did feel as if I was discovering the Isle of Wight for the first time -it felt like a distant land, surrounded by sea.  Imagining living there I thought I might feel a bit cut off. Although the idea of being away from a major city like London and having all that space has its’ attractions.

Awesome Plumes Windswept…sea grass magnificent…can you spot the butterfly at back of pic or the great whale diving into  the sea!!!

 

Discovering the Isle of Wight public transport

Getting to the Isle of Wight from London is easy, take a train from Waterloo to Portsmouth. Then from Portsmouth, a ferry (Catamaran) to Ryde pier. From Ryde Pier there is an old fashioned London tube train and there is one line only.  At this time of year (off peak) only one train an hour. You can pay on the train. Once on the Island, they have a very good bus service.

 

Rosehips all over the Island

 

Good enough to eat, we picked a few en route, and they were delicious

On our first day without much of a plan we walked over 15 miles 

Exploring the Isle of Wight, is fairly easy, as the coastal path is well sign posted, and accessible. We started off at Shanklin walking along the top of the beach  and headed  uphill and down towards Sandown bay. We just kept going and hoped for the best.

Sandown, 2 miles into the walk

You are never far from the Sea on the Isle of Wight.

Bembridge, Discovering The Isle of Wight

White Light at Bembridge

Bembridge Discovering the Isle of Wight

St Helens Discovering the Isle of WightWe had lunch at the Crab and Lobster in Bembridge then carried on over towards St Helens and  Seaview where we walked aside the windswept waves, taking care not to get swept away!

Seaview Discovering the Isle of Wight

The coastal path is very well sign posted, but we had to go inland a lot, it was pleasant enough in the woods mainly. Eventually ending up at Ryde at about 7pm. It was a long day, but worth it. We hadn’t made plans for the following day but wanted to avoid the Goth Party at the Hotel later on.!  After that long walk, I might have fancied a spa, or swim followed by a massage and early night, but there was no chance of that!

Ryde Discovering the Isle of Wight

Birds sweeping in at dusk Ryde

Eating out in Shanklin

On the first evening we ate out at The Black Cat a Thai restaurant. The Guy serving us was from London and it was his families business. He was a journalist and had lived in Brixton. This made for some easy conversation; he made us feel so welcome. We had a similar experience the following evening after our 15 mile walk.  We were pretty tired, and ate out inPendletons.www.pendletons.org where again the waiting staff were so friendly and welcoming.

Fantastic Friendly service is something unusual these days

On our third night we ate in an Indian restaurant and then went over the road to a makeshift bar. There the landlady kept us amused telling us of her outsider status; she had worked in healthcare but somehow ended up taking over the business from her daughter. We got a 2 for 1 drink and chatted with her.  We told her the name of the hotel we were staying in , The Nightingale which ‘everyone in the village’ has heard of!. She seemed to think there were orgies going on in there due to it’s Gothic Status.

 

 The Nightingale

Originally it was a private house (a mansion, of which there are a lot on the island) known as Blenhim in the late 1800.s and named the Nightingale as an ode to Keats the poet.  

The murals outside were mainly of dead rockstars! all of whom I have loved, in my time.

It was a bit of an eyesore to see a mainly black painted hotel with: Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Curt Cobain and Amy Winehouse images painted on it. However, the heated outdoor swimming pool was welcome, and the room was small but nice.The hotel did advertise as having a vegetarian restaurant. I had been looking forward to sampling the food on arrival, but we were told it was closed for the season.

Although we were welcomed and invited to the Gothic party on the Saturday, at £40 a head! (that was just to reserve a seat.)When I booked the hotel, I had asked if there were events on and had been told no. So I wasn’t impressed, but what can you do. Perhaps a complimentary bottle of champagne or Prosecco  might have helped! (I think my goth days lasted about 3 months, sometime around 1981! I just wasn’t in to that.)

https://www.nightingale-hotel.co.uk  

Instead, we stayed out in town sampling the local beers till as late as possible, there was a bit of live music on in town. We returned later for a couple of dances in their private bar later. Who knows what was going on behind closed doors in the early hours. I was past caring at that point

Walking from the Needles to Freshwater Bay
Freshwater Discovering the isle of wight

Looking from the Needles Battery to Alum Bay Isle of Wight, beautiful colours in the cliff side.

The following day we jumped on a coastal route bus

You can jump on and off the coastal bus for a 24 hour ticket for a tenner. I was a bit disappointed with the Needles, we jumped off there and were faced with a tourist trap. So walked a bit further until we came across the Needles.

We visited the National Trust Exhibition at the Needles, 

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/the-needles-old-battery-and-new-battery/features/the-needles

Followed by a walk up to Tennyson Monument and down to Freshwater where we sat at the seafront with an ice cream watching the sea

Freshwater Discovering Todland in the Isle of Wight

Somewhere in Totland! Possibly Freshwater!

 

 I liked the look of Ventnor and would visit again

We picked the bus back up to Ventnor and considered walking back to Shanklin and decided against it as time was running out; as the days draw in. It was just as well really, as the following day, we walked from Shanklin to Ventnor and 4 miles of the walk was in woods. I wouldn’t want to get stuck in there late at night.

Ventnor seems to me to be an interesting little town. However the train does not go there. As we were heading up and out of the town, back to Shanklin.  I looked back and noted a plaque to `karl marx, turns out he lived there for a period of his life.

Our last walk was from Shanklin to Ventnor

 

en route to Ventnor Discovering The Isle of Wight

Window to garden with flower “A thing of beauty is a joy forever!’ KEATS.

 

We really didn’t have a clue about the island, so it was a real treat to find this walk. Mainly in the woods alongside the coast. It felt so refreshing with hardly a soul about. What with a cold coming on and a hangover, we were feeling somewhat fragile at this point.  We arrived at Ventnor and had lunch on the seafront. It was a bit late to get to the Botanical Garden, & we felt like we were done with  walking.  We were travelling back to London the following day.The only thing left to do was have a rest before going out for out our final meal in town.

Ventnor Discovering The Isle of Wight

Seafront at Ventnor

 

Photo Gallery for more photos go to my photo gallery.
Aug
2019

The many benefits of walking

Recently I have walked on average about 30 miles a week

There are many benefits of walking; I walk to work and back daily, which is under 4 mile. On top of that, I  add on a little lunchtime walk. With the occasional meeting to attend, this gives me the chance to get out of the office and walk down the hill and back. My frequent short (4-8 miles) weekend walks, can vary.

There are many benefits of getting out walking with a group;

Meeting up with other people and seeing new places, can be a real boost. Switching off from my own internal dialogue and having the opportunity to chat with a group, can be very relaxing. Sometimes, I do enjoy a bit of solitude and walk to unravel. As well I walk to discover new routes and short cuts. Taking the back road to avoid traffic, and look at architecture, landmarks, statues, and gardens.

 

The Benefits of walking

The benefits of what I call off the cuff walks are when I don’t know exactly where I’m going but I have a vague plan. These are my favorite walks. Walking in London you never know what you will come across.

ONE OF MY WALKS, ALONG CHELSEA EMBANKMENT, TAKEN OVER BY CYCLISTS.

Last Sunday was unexpected, as I turned off the Kings Road Chelsea, to walk along the embankment. I came across a bike race, hundreds if not thousands of cyclists, zoomed along the embankment, which was traffic-free, the sound of them all was great. They were wearing various bibs, stating which charity they were raising money for.

CYCLISTS, ALONG CHELSEA EMBANKMENT

The sound of the bikes racing along made a real nice change from cars, lorries, and coaches. Wardens helped pedestrians make a run for it over the road.

I walk therefore I am!

I am currently reading a book called A History of Walking, by Rebecca Solmut. My favorite chapter so far is –The Solitary stroller and the city. Will Self, quotes it as ‘Magisterial’. I love this snippet that says it all, taken from a radio interview with Patti Smith (Rock Poet/Singer)  when asked about what she did to prepare for her performances onstage -she came back with.

I would roam the streets for a few hours”

Rebecca Solmut goes on to say, how this summoned up her own outlaw romanticism and the way walking might toughen and sharpen the senses. Magnificent.!  

 

Moody and magnificent TEYNHAM CIRCULAR – KENT

Walking along the Swale, Kent.

 

A mostly flat walk following Saxon Shore Way along the sea wall of The Swale, with views to the Isle of Sheppey. This wild and wonderful 5-mile stretch is rich in birdlife and, in the Oare Marshes Nature Reserve, rare Konik horses have been seen grazing. We walked back to Teynham station via Oare Creek and village and then an inland route through orchards.

 
Teynham is a large village and civil parish in the borough of Swale, Kent, England.
The parish lies between the towns of Sittingbourne and Faversham, immediately north of the A2 road, and includes the hamlet of Conyer on an inlet of the Swale. The channel separates mainland Kent from the Isle of Sheppey.

 

Wild, n dry Thistle, Oare, Kent.

 

https://www.visit-swale.co.uk/

 

MAKE HAY WHILE THE SUN SHINES

 

We walked about five miles looking out along the SWALE looking out, towards the Isle of Sheppy.  The sky was hazy, but the breeze was much appreciated. After we left the waterside, we headed back inland towards Oare, which is based on the edge of Luddenham marshes.

 

walking through the apple orchids, some beautiful looking apples.

 

My Best walks see some old favourite walks.

 

Good reads page, see some of my inspirational books.

 

Until next time; keep on keeping on.

Jul
2019

Travelling on Trains

Travelling on trains can be extremely frustrating.

Buying a train ticket in advance has its advantages, but also limitations. ‘Going for a walk,’ just ain’t that easy!  Public Transport at the best of times can be tricky. I was looking forward to, the Hassocks to Lewes 10 mile linear walk in Sussex. If anyone left on the planet thinks that travelling on trains, is fun, they must be under 10 years of age

 Travelling on trains, for pleasure! is a thing of the past. It’s ok, if you get super off peak, tickets and travel mid week. For future reference folks, don’t bother buying advanced tickets, just pay the extra few quid for the super off-peak ticket. My last train journey to Chichester was also complicated, due to the return train being (the only one I was ‘permitted on’) was cancelled. If you get a  super off-peak, you have a lot more flexibility and can travel on any route.I purchased one advanced train ticket and one super off-peak saver for the return journey. However, due to a back injury, I wasn’t able to make the journey, I got £2.75 back from my £24 purchase. Small mercies indeed! ( I will spare you the complex details )

Bob and Brad, my new online buddies, it’s time to look after my back.

OSTEOPATH BACK STRAIN, and being immobile

 In the last month, I have forgone the jogs, and long walks, due to painting a bedroom, among other distractions.  Additionally, I have started a new job which I hadn’t really taken into consideration as being a stress factor.

The osteopath talked me through my recent activities, then pushed me about a bit, until a couple of bones cracked in my spine. He also did a bit of acupuncture on my back. It did help a bit but I am a great believer in time healing, and not paying excessive amounts of money for advice.! I found these guys online who have inspired me to do back exercises daily.

Tai chi as mediation and exercise?

It has taken 3 weeks to be able to do a very easy yoga routine. A new approach to looking after my health is on the cards. Tai chi is something I may try again.

I learned the art of Tai Chi at the City Lit Adult Education Centre based in Covent Garden around 1985. Around this time I was living in a squat in Brixton. It was a few years after the 1981 riots, at the time my only real ambition was to play bass in a band, and to read books! Tai chi was regarded by some people around me as bizarre!

Then again a lot of what I got into certain people found strange. !

I found a teacher called Beverly from New Zealand. At a guess, she was probably in her 70’s. Her aura was calm personified! Thinking back I recall, she said my aura was pink or I need to be more green or something like that. My interest in this art form came about after having an ectopic pregnancy. I was rushed off to hospital in an emergency and it scared me. I needed to heal it helped and it worked.

 

CHICHESTER HARBOUR CIRCULAR – W.SUSSEX

 

This is the first proper long walk I have been on since I led the Seven Sisters walk at the beginning of June.

It is a flat, moderate-paced walk around Chichester Harbour with views of the estuary, passing through open countryside, a marina and with a ferry crossing (£2.50) at Ichenor before heading back to Bosham.

 

got ya

 

Walking with a group, you do not always get a chance to take photographs, usually, most groups walk at a fair pace. The photos look somewhat hazy but I still think they are great. If I had more time it would have been better to have taken a video. Next time.

 

A large and conspicuous waterbird.

The cormorant has an almost primitive appearance with its long neck making it appear reptilian. It is often seen standing with its wings held out to dry. Regarded by some as black, sinister and greedy, cormorants are supreme fishers which can bring them into conflict with anglers and they have been persecuted in the past. They love to fish! 

Read more 

https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/cormorant/#sP21tDJA2XhIxSPo.99

All said and done it was a good walk. Getting back, however, was an ordeal. I won’t bore you with the details, but it took three hours, and several train journeys.

 

Highlights of the day

The highlights were; the short ferry crossing, seeing the wild birds and duck island. Also, there were lots of pubs and oh a delicious vegan caramel ice cream in a cone at Bosham! (pronounced Bosam apparently!)

 

Jun
2019

walking in all sorts of weather, and map reading

On a recent practice walk, I started off at Eastbourne a 12-mile walk to Seaford.

During the course of the day I endured: hail, sunshine, wind, (against me) rain, some more sun then back to hail. Like a full wash, I was put through the whole cycle. One thing I did not have to deal with on the Jurassic coast weekend was the weather, it was perfect. After all my cliff walking and jogs around the park, I felt more than prepared to lead the Seven Sisters Walk in June.

Darkness looms over the Seven Sisters.

 

I had been jogging around the park, since December 2018 there are a couple of small hills in Brockwell Park, so running up and down has kept my ankles strong, as well as my legs. They can handle hills and cliffs. I am aware that not keeping fit, will mean each time I do a strenuous walk, such as The Seven Sisters, or Eastbourne to Seaford, I really feel the pain. If I do enough exercise on a regular basis, I can almost take it in my stride. 

 

Majestic sun and sky, ending the day here, before heading back to London

 

Another year leading the walk for The South Bank Walking Group

 I thought this would be a doddle!  I checked the weather report which said high winds but I didn’t give it too much thought. 

Walking into a Storm called Miguel, just along the Seafront at Seaford.

 

As the train was pulling in at Seaford, I saw the sea was looking wild. There were 13 people waiting outside the train station for me. One of them was keen to advise me, that the wind was blowing in a southwesterly direction. She further warned me, if we walked over the Seven Sisters from East Dean we would have the wind against us. There were predictions of gusts up to 50 miles an hour. They weren’t wrong. I took heed and suggested we walk from Seaford to East Dean instead but this was also problematic.

 

Walking up to the Seaford reserve with the wind blowing us sideways

 Many of the group were forced to sit down. I made an executive decision to go inland away from the cliffs. With the help of some very experienced ordnance survey map readers, we headed in and through Friston Forest to walk towards East Dean.

The sunshine came out and everything calmed down. No more howling winds, only a bit of a rustle through the trees. The walk turned out well. We were in a lovely part of the South Coast and we started to enjoy the rest of the walk. https://www.sevensisters.org.uk/things-to-do-at-seven-sisters/visitor-centre/

At Cuckmere Haven, the other side of The Seven Sisters there is a fabulous cafe and a tourist centre, with toilets, and places to sit. I found a little spot where I could eat my packed lunch and feel the sun on my face.

Afterwards, I spent some time browsing in the tourist centre and was very tempted to buy a collection of their handmade cards, alongside other interesting items. I didn’t really want to carry them around in a rucksack and get them squashed, so I resisted purchasing anything. Another time.

Now that I have experienced the other side of the Seven Sisters, I shall explore a little more and find some new walks.

Escaping from the cliff edges, going in Land to The Sussex Downs

 

DARTMOOR MAP READING SESSION

Two Blondes Walking have a website, like me, they write about walking. They also run courses in map reading, among other things, The major point I learnt that day, was that Stanfords’ the Map Shop has moved from Long Acre, Covent Garden, and has now relocated to Mercer St WC2. I hadn’t checked this out before leaving. It was upsetting to arrive, faced with a scribbled note on a closed boarded up door saying it has closed down.

http://www.stanfords.co.uk

Still, the show must go on. I found Stanfords’ new venue and met one of the two blondes. As well we had help from The Ordnance Survey Group, they were really helpful. Using a compass and a map, we practised how to find our way back if we got lost in Dartmoor surrounded by fog!  I understand the concept, but my map reading is something that will take practice.https://www.twoblondeswalking.com

Live Theatre- The Cheviot The Stag and The Black Black Oil

Live theatre tucked in a side street off the Quayside; is a small independent theatre. This was my second visit and I hope not my last.  I hooked up with an old friend to see this Scottish theatre group. The play was about the Scottish Clearances, as well as each actor playing multiple roles, they were also multi-talented musicians, and the Fantastic Live Music made this a great fun production.

The Magnificent Bridges overlooking the River Tyne at night.

 

Out in the ‘toon’ at night!

https://www.live.org.uk/whats-on/cheviot-stag-black-black-oil

I decided to go on a day trip to Edinburgh from Newcastle

After an early start waking at 4.45am!  My energy levels were a bit low. However, I still managed to walk 10 miles that day.

I had no real destination as such but I was looking for a vegan cafe called Holy Cow, which was situated off Queen Street in a basement.  Eventually, I found it and got the chance to sit down somewhere relaxing. As I arrived from Waverly Station, there were numerous tourist places where I had picked up a map up of the town centre and wanted to get my bearings. I realised I wasn’t too far from the Scottish National Portrait Gallery,

national galleries.org

 

 

Until next time keep on keeping on.