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Archive for the ‘walks around the UK’ Category

….and other stuff I learned before I had to…….Press Pause 《 #SouthwarktoCanterbury –
a horse, a horse…..my kingdom for a horse!! I could surely have done with a horse on Tuesday last week!!!

horses southwark to canterbury

with my patron Saint; George to guide me, I set off from The George Inn, Southwark to Canterbury and met some other horses along the way…

And there it is; after 3 days of walking, eating, enjoying, seeing and experiencing – heat, exhaustion, love, joy, excitement, support, exploration and pain, my sojourn came to an abrupt end in Faversham 😔😔😔

town of faversham

My relief at seeing this sign was enormous….I thought I was close to my destination! I wasn’t, and had yet another 45 minutes to go; 3 hills and 6 kms in the rain later…..

A hard lesson to learn, but one I’ll never forget…..= DON’T WALK IN WET SOCKS!!!
Fundamentally I knew not to walk in wet socks, one part of my brain was saying “it’s not a good idea to walk in wet socks” while the other part of my brain was arguing “oh nonsense, it’s fine, they’ll dry out while you’re walking” – well it wasn’t and they didn’t.

That time in Newington when I’d stopped at the church to rest and then shelter from the rain…well I walked across the grass in my socks and got them wet. Why?? Who knows?? But, I’ll spare you the minutiae, suffice to say that by the time I got to Faversham my feet were in a sorry state. Although the blisters only pained for 3 days and have lasted till now, they pretty much spelt disaster for the walk. On the plus side I discovered that Newington was not only a Domesday Book village, but the church contained the tomb of a Saint; Robert, a pilgrim murdered on his way to Canterbury in 1150.

St Mary's Church, Newington and the tomb of St Robert.

St Mary’s Church, Newington and the tomb of St Robert. My view from under the tree where I sat to shelter from the rain

After setting off from Rochester at 05:19, 36.67 kms later at 18:56 I quite literally staggered into the Sun Inn at Faversham; feet in agony, exhausted and drenched to the core!!! Oh did I mention that it rained the last 6 kms of my walk that day? LOL…..well yes. It did. A lot!!!  The look on people’s faces in the bar when I fell over the portal absolutely dripping water everywhere was entertaining. The lass behind the bar counter rolled up a huge wad of paper and gave it to me to dry myself off with. I was so wet that I had to unpack Pepe and toss all my clothes into the tumble dryer…thankfully the proprietor was amenable to my doing that!!

Besides the blisters, my phone crashed in Sittingbourne and just didn’t want to charge up, ergo I ended my photo journey too…..at the Sun Inn at Faversham…with no battery power I didn’t want to continue; it was most important to me to have a photo-journal of my journey. Besides that, I wanted to map my walk all the way, for the record. I tried everything – connected it to my emergency charger, to the plug in the wall….no matter what, it just did not want to charge.

Pilgrimage; Southwark to Canterbury

Pilgrimage; Southwark to Canterbury

I had booked to spend the night at The Sun Inn anyway, the fabulous 17th century inn I’d found in Faversham, which was just as well since I could hobble no further (more on that in Day 2’s episode to follow). The next morning, to spare my feet and the nasty blisters, instead of resuming my walk, I hobbled to the train station and took the train to Canterbury. I had to be back at work within a few days and could not afford to be incapacitated by blisters.

My daughter and I met up as we had arranged at The Falstaff, where we enjoyed our cream/champagne tea. Although to be fair, I don’t think either of us were up to celebrating right then…I was too exhausted and she was too ill. I had planned to stay overnight at The Falstaff Inn, a fantastic 14th century inn just outside the West Gate at Canterbury, which was just as well since I could walk no further. There too the staff were amazing. More about that later. 😉

My daughter and I celebrating my journey at The Falstaff with a Champagne Afternoon Tea in Canterbury

My daughter and I celebrating my journey at The Falstaff with a Champagne Afternoon Tea in Canterbury

The long and short of it is that I will walk the last 8.1 miles from Faversham to Canterbury at the end of July after my current assignment.
The distance on Day 3 from Rochester to Faversham was just too great. Pretty much everyone who walks the Camino and the 1000 Mile Challenge agrees; 22.92 miles is pretty much two days of walking. Of course it can be done, but at what cost?

Some of the distance and direction signs I saw between London and Faversham...and onto Canterbury

Some of the distance and direction signs I saw between London and Faversham…and onto Canterbury

So a few lessons learned, experience gained and new knowledge stored for future reference 😉
Meanwhile I’m back at work. My phone is still not working properly and will have to go in for repair. 😡😡

What have I learned after 3 days of walking and 59 miles? One of the most important lessons I learned from my walk/pilgrimage/Camino has to be: never, ever, never contemplate WALKING WITH WET SOCKS!! Other than that:

  • Plan shorter distances. I didn’t have to walk those distances; just that when planning my route, Google maps said 6 hours and 18.1 miles…..at least this much I have gained for the Camino in September; plan shorter days.
  • Pack light!! Even though my backpack (Pepe) was not at full capacity, weighing in at just over 7.5 kgs at the start last Sunday, by Day 2 I was leaving it lying about and praying someone would pick it up and walk off with it….even with all my valuables in it. Hah!! I did in fact post some of the stuff home from Higham; 1.5 kgs lighter made all the difference to the comfort of carrying my backpack.
southwark to canterbury - backpack

My backpack; Pepe, weighed in at just on 7.5 kgs when I left and 6 kgs after posting home 1.5 kgs of stuff!!

  • Eat!! I love my food, but when I’m walking I tend to forget to eat. So I planned to eat plenty of food, frequently and yet even that wasn’t really enough. I can feel my body is still depleted. I’m bumping up the protein no end and yet I still get excruciating cramps in my legs. I’m guessing those dried black ants my daughter bought as a dare will have to be eaten soon!! hahaha.
  • Drink!! Lots of water. I consumed 6 liters of water on Day 1 between Southwark and Thamesmead. It was 28 degrees c with a humidity level of 44% and terribly terribly hot. The water bladder inserted on the backpack weighed in at 1.5 kgs when filled and added to the overall weight of my backpack, but that supply it was most welcome along the way.
  • Rest!! This is imperative, especially on a very hot day. I did in fact take a lot of rest breaks, but because I had a deadline to reach Gravesend by 8pm for a dinner reservation I had made, I really pushed myself to keep going. Although I did snooze on the grass at Woolwich…and woke myself up with the sounds of snoring LOL.
  • Pack a rain poncho!!! Yes, I had packed my rain poncho, but because the weight of the bag was killing me on Day 2 I posted the poncho (weight 385 grams), along with my sandals and a few other bits and bobs, back to my daughter. hmmm.

In all, I had a great time. I will write more about my Southwark to Canterbury walk that ended at Faversham in due course. I discovered some extraordinary places, explored magical churches (one of which was being built at the time Chaucer travelled to Canterbury – I mean seriously, how awesome is that!!!), met some wonderful people along the way and saw some incredible sights. I am planning on writing up a day to day travelogue, but in the meantime –

Here are the stats:

1 Pilgrim’s Passport – duly stamped 🙂

southwark to canterbury pilgrims passport

1 Castle – Rochestersouthwark to canterbury rochester castle

1 Horse – seen in a field near Bapschild – ate my tangerine!!southwark to canterbury rochester castle

2 Cathedrals –

Southwark Cathedralpilgrimage southwark to canterbury southwark cathedral

Rochester Cathedralpilgrimage southwark to canterbury rochester cathedral

3 blisters – one on my left heel and two under the ball of my right foot. I cannot tell you how painful those two blisters were by Day 4…..which as it turned out was entirely different to how I originally planned it!!! Duh

3 Inns –pilgrimage southwark to canterbury medieval inns

The George Inn (17th century galleried coaching inn), Southwark.

The Sun Inn (17th century), Faversham.

The Falstaff (14th century), Canterbury.

5 Beds –

YHA Thamesidepilgrimage southwark to canterbury

The Old Prince of Orange, Gravesendpilgrimage southwark to canterbury

Greystones B&B, Rochesterpilgrimage southwark to canterbury

The Sun Inn, Favershampilgrimage southwark to canterbury

The Falstaff, Rochesterpilgrimage southwark to canterbury

6 liters of water – drunk on the first day….between Southwark and Thamesmead

6 kms walked in pouring rain – sans rain poncho (uhmmm yes, well)

9 Churches –pilgrimage southwark to canterbury

The first 3 churches I visited in Gravesend, none of which had pilgrim stamps.

St Mary the Virgin, Chalk – closed

St John’s Church, Higham – open 🙂

St Mary the Virgin, Newington – open 🙂

St Margaret’s Church, Rainham – open 🙂

Holy Trinity, Sittingbourne – open 🙂

and the last one I forget…..both the name and whether it was open or closed LOL

9 meals – in no particular order……pilgrimage southwark to canterbury

YHA, Thameside London – breakfast. always a brilliant spread

The George Inn, Southwark (supper) – fantastic people; my favourite London pub

Costa Coffee, Greenwich (breakfast) – lovely young man; so interested in my journey

The Three Daws, Gravesend (supper) – Josie was amazing; made my night special

The Copperfield, Shorne (breakfast) – imminently forgettable….but nice staff

Crepe & Co, Rochester (supper) – delicious crepes…I had 2 🙂

Manor Farm Restaurant, Rainham (lunch) – Emma was a charming host

The Sun Inn, Faversham (breakfast & supper) – Leigh was very interested in my journey

The Falstaff, Canterbury (Afternoon Tea) – fantastic spread, thoroughly enjoyed

The Falstaff, Canterbury (breakfast) – good meal, lovely staff.

Lunches were mostly buy & go snacks and fruit, with cups of tea or coffee and cake along the way.

22 Places visited: Southwark, City of London, Bermondsey, Rotherhithe, Royal Greenwich, Royal Arsenal Woolwich, Thamesmead, Erith, Gravesend, Chalk Village, Higham, Strood, Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham, Rainham, Newington, Sittingbourne, Bapschild, Teynham, Ospringe, Faversham…and ultimately Canterbury.

94 kilometers / 59 miles – which brings my miles walked for 2017 to the grand total of 720 miles…..plus all the walking I did that I didn’t record.

160,000 steps plus!

One of the more amusing signs I saw came just as I was leaving Greenwich. I rounded a corner and there before my eyes……okayyyy, I got it!! Thank you!!southwark to canterbury

And that summarises my #SouthwarktoCanterbury pilgrimage that ended at Faversham! Fear not, for I shall complete the walk in just over a week’s time and in fact I’m planning on tagging on a 2nd walk next weekend too…why not? St Augustine’s pilgrimage from Ramsgate to Canterbury. And this time I’ll be sure to keep my socks dry. 😉

Now about that phone…..

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So a few months ago, after a random meeting with a walker on the Isle of Wight in January who was using what turned out to be Nordic Walking Poles, and after reading various articles about the merits of having walking poles for a long journey as well as the various yays and nays of the merits and benefits and nuisance value of carrying walking poles about for anything up to 790 miles (thankfully I’m only walking 165 miles), on the various Camino forums, I finally decided I best get myself a pair…which I duly did in April.

nordic walking poles

propping up the corner in my bedroom….

Since then they have not only decorated my bedroom but have been carted around the UK from job to job, between Oxted and Ireland, Broadstairs and Ironbridge while I procrastinate (what’s new?) about getting them set up and actually putting them to use and learning ‘how to’.

 

Well I FINALLY set them up yesterday and used them for the first time!

 

 

 

 

Hoorah!!! So the prognosis is this…..I dislike them intensely, but they work. So I guess I’ll have to suck it up and use them LOL.

Initially I just strapped them to my wrist, unextended, the idea being to get used to having them in my hand. Horrible. They made my hands all sweaty and the wrist band around my wrist felt horrendous. Under normal circumstance I can’t bear ANYTHING around my wrists….which is why I don’t wear a watch or bracelets or anything such like…I don’t even wear shirts with button down sleeves…it’s that bad. Grim.

nordic walking poles

perhaps I should have left them on this bench LOL

But I persevered. When I arrived at Titsey Hill on impulse I decided I would just get them set up and at least try them out on the first stretch of the very demanding slope. A slope that usually has me stopping halfway; breathless and heart pounding. But……to my surprise I breezed up the slope barely even hesitating. Now unless I suddenly got super fit overnight, it can only be the benefit of the poles. They sure made a difference.

nordic walking poles

taking a rest on Titsey Hill

I then set off jauntily along the path, between the trees with the poles flying akimbo…. especially the left-hand pole that seems to go off piste all on it’s own from time time. Mmmm not sure about that, but I think with practice I may actually get used to using them.

Then it came time to go downhill…..and once again the poles came to the party and I whizzed down with my knees hardly noticing the difference. The end result is that….I still dislike them…intensely, they interfere with my photo taking, and getting my water bottle out the pouch and open is a challenge, but my joints took way less impact than usual and I felt more confident going downhill with my backpack on.

 

So today I decided to go without them and see if I could identify if there was any difference! Was there ever!!! Firstly I felt so free not having them strapped around my wrists and the annoyance of the left-hand pole just doing it’s own thing was a thing of yesterday….but and this is a huge BUT….boy did I ever notice the difference going up that slope again. Yesterday I nearly breezed up (not quite, but nearly) and found the going so much easier…but today it was back to heart pounding, breathless and stopping halfway to recover. Going downhill I very much noticed the difference with my left knee in particular tweaking and twinging in protest. Hmmm…..

nordic walking poles

going downhill on Titsey Hill…

So I’m guessing that despite my dislike for them the poles must go….with me on the Camino!!!

As for the backpack…wow, is this thing ever so heavy!!! I’m not sure how it is that 6.35 kgs can weigh 635kgs by the end of 2 hours, but it does. I’m really glad I decided to pack it and start practising now because I can see this is going to take some getting used to.

nordic walking poles and osprey backpack

my nordic walking poles and osprey backpack looking fairly benign….

One of the articles I read that I found to be of interest was on this website http://caminoways.com/walking-poles

With my walk from Southwark to Canterbury coming up soon I will have to make a decision on whether or not to take them….at least they fold up nicely into my backpack, so if I do take them and they annoy me I can just fold them up shove them back in.

Time will tell.

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While I was working in Oxted, on most days, I made the most of my breaks to explore the area and add to my miles for the #walk1000miles challenge, as well as improve my fitness for the Camino. On one said walk my feet took me to one of the largest surviving historic estates in Surrey; Titsey Place in Oxted dates back to the 16th century.

Titsey Estate Surrey

the beautiful grounds of the Titsey Estate

An impressive manor house set in beautiful gardens on a large estate in the stunning countryside of the North Downs. Sadly the house was still closed for winter but I’m hoping to visit when I next visit Oxted.

titsey house and estate surrey

Titsey House, Surrey

My walk took me along the lanes and by-ways of Oxted and I enjoyed being able to explore further afield. I’m participating in the walk 1000 miles 2017 challenge and this walk from Oxted to the Titsey Estate and along part of the Pilgrim’s Way took 1 hour 49 minutes; 4.57 miles / 11,735 steps.

titsey place surrey

the highways and byways of Surrey

I so enjoyed the quiet of the Downs pathway, just me and the birds in the trees and a few cows. I could see and hear the traffic on the M25, and although it didn’t really spoil the walk, it’s interesting how difficult it is to walk anywhere these days without traffic encroaching. We’re meant to walk for health, but if you consider the amount of traffic we’re constantly walking nearby to….well!!! LOL anyway, moving on from that thorny issue, I love walking and thoroughly enjoyed the views and the house looked awesome….roll on March end.

titsey place oxted surrey

views of the Titsey Place Estate near Oxted in Surrey

Titsey House and Gardens are held in Charitable Trust and for part of the year are open to the public offering and there are guided tours of the house.

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The weather had been pretty grim my first week in Oxted, with some snow flurries on the following Sunday, not enough to impress but just enough to get excited about….it soon melted and didn’t return. However, not to be deterred by the weather, on Tuesday, the afternoon after my arrival, I set off to explore and my meandering took me through the town of Oxted and along the streets and roads and on to a delightful medieval village called Limpsfield. What a treat!! The High Street is lined with houses dating from as far back as the 15th and 16th centuries.

limpsfield surrey, domesday book village, limpsfield, english architecture

some of the quintessentially English houses lining the streets of Limpsfield; a Domesday village

Quintessentially English houses built of local quarried stone lined both sides, looking absolutely charming. I discovered the little church; St Peter’s, constructed in the late 12th century and a Grade I listed building.  As I was entering the church I noticed that it was in fact a Pilgrim church!!! Thrilling. In alignment with my Camino this year I am hoping to gather some stamps before I set off on my walk. There was a stamp hanging on a board at the door, so I’m planning on ordering my Camino passport as soon as possible and when I return to the assignment at the end of March I’m hoping to be able to add that as the start of many I plan to collect on my journey. The church is also famous because the English composer Frederick Delius and orchestral conductor Sir Thomas Beecham are both buried in the village churchyard. Although I looked very carefully I never did find Delius’s grave.

limpsfield surrey, domesday villages of england, english villages, st peters church limpsfield

St Peter’s Church, Limpsfield – a pilgrim’s church

Situated at the foot of the North Downs, Limpsfield would have been on the ancient Pilgrim’s Way that stretches along the base of the downs between Winchester and Canterbury. To my delight on researching the history I discovered that Limpsfield too was a Domesday village: and appears in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Limenesfeld and held by the Abbot of Battle Abbey, Sussex.

Limpsfield’s High Street is named as a conservation area with 89 listed buildings along the street and in the immediate locality; one of which, Old Court Cottage in Titsey Road, (formerly the manorial court of the Abbot of Battle), is Grade I listed building and dates from c1190-1200 (including aisle posts and arcade plates) with alterations in the late 14th century, and a 16th-century crosswing. (ref wikipedia). Unfortunately I didn’t get to see this building, but the Post Office/village store was just charming so I stepped over the threshold and bought some stamps and a chocolate 🙂

limpsfield surrey, high street limpsfield, domesday book village, domesday book villages of england

Limpsfield High Street

I spent some time photographing all the buildings and meandering about the church and churchyard. I love these old ancient places and often wish I could just knock on the doors of the houses to see inside 😉

At the entrance to the village is a delightful name board – I love finding these!

limpsfield surrey, domesday book villages of england, limpsfield domesday village, villages of england

Limpsfield, Surrey

Limenesfelde 1086 (db). ‘Open land at Limen’. OE feld added to a Celtic place name or river-name

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After a lovely hot shower when I got back to the B&B the night before, I jumped into bed and snuggled down for the night…weary to my bones but every so happy with what I had seen. Thankfully my night was undisturbed so when the alarm went off at 7:30 again I felt refreshed and ready to go go go. This was also my final morning on the island and I was due to catch the 13:47 ferry to Portsmouth and then train to London.

Sadly the B&B forgot to put out my breakfast tray so I had to raid the dining room and left with 2 yogurt pots and a box of cereal in my backpack. Oh the food I eat when exploring.

exploring the isle of wight, visit the isle of wight

fantastic views from the top deck of the bus

I hopped onto the 08:50 bus to Osborne and arrived with 45 minutes to spare before the gates of Osborne House opened. Rather than hang around kicking my heels I had noticed on the way in that East Cowes marina was just a stones-throw (okay no not really…it was a tad further), so I set off at a quick pace to explore – despite that it was all downhill, I’m so glad I made the effort.

exploring the isle of wight, visit the isle of wight

East Cowes Marina

The weather was stunning in comparison to the day before and the marina looked beautiful. I explored for a bit then headed back to Osborne House…..urgh those hills going back up!!!

osborne house, exploring the isle of wight, visit the isle of wight

aerial view of Osborne and the house

Osborne House was wonderful. The interior is sumptuous and the views from the patio and many of the windows are stunning. Osborne House was the much loved seaside retreat for Prince Albert and Queen Victoria, built between 1845 and 1851, and apparently they spent many a happy day there with their children. It was also the place Victoria returned to after the death of her beloved Albert in 1861. She was to spend the next 7 years there, holed up, mourning the loss of her husband, friend and confidant, dressed in black and refusing to budge, even though desperately needed as Head of State. She even refused to ‘Open Parliament’, which put the Government in a quandry!  Queen Victoria used Osborne for over 50 years, entertaining foreign royalty and visiting ministers.

osborne house, exploring the isle of wight, visit the isle of wight

Osborne House, Isle of Wight – seaside home for Victoria and Albert

Taken on a guided tour of the lower floor and some of the rooms, we were left gasping by the sheer splendour and magnificence of the furnishings and decorations. Albert had pretty much the final say on how it should look and I can say the man had amazing taste; he has left an amazing legacy for the country.

osborne house isle of wight, visit isle of wight

beautifully decorated and long passageways

Not ostentatious, but finely set out, the rooms are stunning with faux-marble columns, exquisitely woven carpets, fabulous paintings on the walls, much of it original furniture and works of art (some are replicas as the current Queen has the originals).

osborne house isle of wight, visit isle of wight

exquisitely furnished with lush carpets, decorative ceilings, fabulous chandeliers

Their initials V & A interwoven can be seen in ceiling decorations, woven into the corners of carpets and added wherever possible.

victoria and albert osborne house isle of wight, visit the isle of wight

V & A – everywhere you looked there initials were interwoven and part of the decor; carpets, floors, ceilings, cornices

I found it to be quite poignant viewing the rooms and imagined the family living there – how much they must have loved it.

osborne house isle of wight, visit isle of wight

beautiful passageways with exquisite sculptures, finely furnished rooms

Many, many family portraits filled the walls in most of the family rooms. Poignant images of beloved children, from toddlers into adulthood with children of their own; all long gone, some of whom met tragic ends.

osborne house victoria and albert, visit the isle of wight

Victoria and Albert who between them created a dynasty that spread across the world – family portraits

The one room that left me gasping was the fabulous Durbar Room. Added to entertain large numbers of people it was built and completed between 1891 and 1892 almost 30 years after Prince Albert’s death…I’m quite sure he would have approved. This room is stunning! Designed by Lockwood Kipling (father of the author Rudyard Kipling) and master carver Bhai Ram Singh. Detailed with intricate Indian-style plaster work, it is richly decorated in the architectural styles of northern India and reflected Queen Victoria’s then status as Empress of India, the large reception room is breath-taking. Although it looks like everything is carved from ivory, the plaster-work was executed by the Indian plasterer Bhai Ram Singh -there is not one piece of ivory in the room.

osborne house isle of wight, victoria and albert osborne house, visit the isle of wight

The Durbar Room, Osborne House

The Durbar Wing also provided accommodation for Princess Beatrice, Queen Victoria’s youngest married daughter, and her family on the 1st floor.

In the display cabinets in the room are some of the stunning gifts received by Victoria when she was Empress of India.

queen victoria empress of india, osborne house isle of wight, visit the isle of wight

gifts for the Empress of India, Osborne House, Isle of Wight

With reference to my visit to The Needles yesterday and the Marconi Monument, in 1898 messages were received from Marconi at Queen Victoria’s Osborne House on a telephone presented by Alexander Bell.

Queen Victoria died at Osborne House in 1901.

queen victoria, osborne house, isle of wight

Queen Victoria – Osborne House, Isle of Wight

Her successor, her eldest son, Edward VII (1841–1910), didn’t need it and as no other member of the royal family wanted to take on the upkeep, the king gave the Osborne estate to the nation on his  Coronation Day in 1902.  Osborne House is now managed by English Heritage.

After the tour which sadly only took in part of the house due to much needed repairs being done on the central staircase, I headed outdoors to enjoy the sunshine and views. The grounds are a delight and much as I wanted to go down to the beach are and visit the Swiss Cottage, my time was almost up, so I contented myself with a quick whizz around the perimeter of the house and at 12noon I recorded the chimes of the clock and then set off back to the bus-stop. In all a fantastic trip.

visit osborne house isle of wight, visit isle of wight

Exterior views of Osborne House and across the grounds to the Solent

My next stop was Ryde, then the B&B where I collected my suitcase and set off for the ferry with plenty of time to spare. I even managed to watch one of the Hovercraft come in to land….again!!! LOL They are fascinating to watch.

And so it was time to say goodbye to the Isle of Wight. I shall definitely return, although I know not when. But there is still much to see and after chatting to the gentleman that I accosted one day on one of my walks in Bembridge, I am inspired to do what he did and walk around the while perimeter of the island. (btw I didn’t harm the guy, I just stopped him to ask about the walking poles he was using!! 😉 )

visit the isle of wight

Goodbye to the Isle of Wight

One of my ambitions is to visit 100 of the Domesday towns and villages in England. There are 84 such places on the Isle of Wight, some of which have morphed into larger towns and others that are still around but looking nothing at all like they may have in 1085/86. I managed to visit 6 of these places: Binstead, Brading, Nettleston, Sandown, Shanklin and a walk through the lower end of Puckpool.

The Domesday Book was commissioned in December 1085 by William the Conqueror, who invaded England in 1066. The first draft was completed in August 1086 and contained records for 13,418 settlements in the English counties south of the rivers Ribble and Tees (the border with Scotland at the time).

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I have had a most amazing 2.5 weeks (so far) on the Isle of Wight….so much so that I haven’t kept up with my intention to blog more often LOL.  The great outdoors has just been too tempting to ignore and just about ALL my free time has been taken up with walking here and there and as far as possible. It’s alright on the Isle of Wight!!

Based in Seaview on the east coast, this location has provided the starting point for my many excursions, whether walking to the west or along the east coast, the views of the sea are astounding, the beaches an endless source of delight.

visit the isle of wight, its alright on the isle of wight

Seaview, Isle of Wight

I’ve also managed to enjoy the wonderful sight of the sunrise on most mornings….even those when I hadn’t intended slipping out, but on opening the curtains, unable to resist.

visit the isle of wight, its alright on the isle of wight

sunrise, sunset – Isle of Wight

So although the job itself has been a real challenge, I have had a brilliant time exploring.

The Isle of Wight to my surprise is incorporated in the county of Hampshire, it lies just off the English coast across from the famous harbour of Portsmouth; the port of Kings and home to Nelson’s flagship, Victory and the more recently discovered warship, The Mary Rose. The Mary Rose; a carrack-type warship of the English Tudor navy of King Henry VIII, sank in 1545, was rediscovered in 1971 and raised in 1982. You can see the conserved remains of this ship at the museum in Portsmouth.

The strip of water between the mainland the island is known as The Solent and I have had the pleasure of watching many a cargo ship, ferry and yacht go sailing through between two of the four ‘The Solent Forts’ – a group of four man-made island forts originally built to protect the Solent and Portsmouth from attack by enemy forces in the 19th century; the first of which was built in 1865. On foggy days and nights you can hear the mournful wail of the foghorns across the water. A melancholy sound.

I stayed the first night on the Isle of Wight Sunday 2 weeks ago and spent the evening and next morning exploring the seafront at Ryde, at which stage I discovered the Appley Tower….during my many excursions I was to pass the folly a number of times 🙂 In the last two weeks I have visited:

Ryde

visit the isle of wight, its alright on the isle of wight

Ryde, Isle of Wight

Sandown

visit the isle of wight, its alright on the isle of wight

Sandown, Isle of Wight

Nettlestone

visit the isle of wight, its alright on the isle of wight

Nettlestone 1086, a Domesday Village, Isle of Wight

Bembridge

visit the isle of wight, its alright on the isle of wight

Bembridge and Bembridge Harbour, Isle of Wight

St Helens

visit the isle of wight, its alright on the isle of wight

St Helens, Isle of Wight

Bembridge Windmill

visit the isle of wight, its alright on the isle of wight

Bembridge Windmill, built in 1700, the sole surviving windmill on the Isle of Wight

Binstead and Quarr Abbey

visit the isle of wight, its alright on the isle of wight

Quarr Abbey and Binstead, Isle of Wight

Horestone Point & Nodes Point

visit the isle of wight, its alright on the isle of wight

Horestone Point & Nodes Point

and walked in excess of 125kms on my various excursions.

I am still to explore the town of Ryde more fully, take a ride on the Hovercraft to the mainland (just because),

visit the isle of wight, its alright on the isle of wight

Isle of Wight Hovercraft is the last remaining commercial hovercraft service in the world.

a full day of exploring coming up on Friday and a visit to Osborne House on Saturday.

The Isle of Wight has been a fantastic discovery on my quest to explore the four corners of the United Kingdom and adds to my list of 100 Islands to visit.

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I can’t tell you how delighted I was to get the call from my agency asking if I was interested in taking on a job on the Isle of Wight!!! Was I ever!! Yes, for sure. It’s on my list of plans for 2017; 2 islands to visit this year, so definitely. As well as which it’s one of the places I’ve always wanted to visit but never seemed to get this far….I’ve been to Portsmouth a number of times but never got to the ferry. So here I am, in Ryde!  On the Isle of Wight.

visit the isle of wight

the Isle of Wight

Just a 10 minute journey by ferry, catamaran or hovercraft from Portsmouth Harbour or Portsmouth Southsea and you’re here. Easy peasy 😉 I imagine the scenery crossing The Solent during the day would be marvellous.

After arrival at Ryde Pier Head, I set off at a brisk pace along the pier…keen to experience what is an early 19th century pier (built before Victoria came to the throne) and the world’s oldest seaside pleasure pier; opened 26 July 1814. Within 6 minutes I was in the town of Ryde……I’ve got a ticket to Ryde 😉 Surprised to find quite such a large town, to my relief the B&B where I was to stay was a short walk from the esplanade.

visit the isle of wight, ryde pier head

Ryde Pier

Welcomed at the Kasbah by Josh, I was shown up to my room. Hallelujah I had a beautiful double bed room off the main road. Very comfortable and cosy, the room was beautifully decorated with a small ensuite, a t.v. and a kettle with accessories. A cup of tea was immediately brewed 🙂

visit the isle of wight, kasbah b&b

The Kasbah B&B in Ryde, Isle of Wight

I rested awhile having my tea and then, since it was still relatively early…just on 19:40 in fact, I decided to have a bit of an explore….despite that it was already pitch dark. I ain’t afraid of no ghosts!! LOL I meandered along to the esplanade and never one to be having a short walk….I ended up walking the length of the esplanade all the way to Appley Tower – 4.66 kms with 7250 steps there and back.

visit the isle of wight, ryde esplanade

Ryde Esplanade and scenes at night

Hah! It was quite chilly, but not unpleasant, a few dog-walkers, evening strollers and joggers about and at no time did I feel unsafe. I passed the train station, the hover-craft platform, the tiny harbour and a row of shops and lovely old houses. All along the way I could see and hear the sea slapping up again the rocks…I love the sounds of the sea.

visit the isle of wight, appley tower

Appley Tower – built in 1875 by Sir William Hutt

The Appley Tower, a coastal folly built in 1875 by one, Sir William Hutt, is also referred to as the Watch Tower. It’s awesome. Thanks mate…we love your folly.

By now there was not a soul in sight, I was on my own. On my way back I passed by the pond in Appley Park and a swimming pool that looked so inviting. Wish I had my swim costume. Oh well, if I ever come back this way…

visit the isle of wight, appley park

Appley Park pond and the swimming pool

Then it was back to the B&B for the night….work due to start on Monday.

I had a brilliant sleep, very comfortable bed and before the sun was even up I was out and onto the esplanade. A beautiful day for walking, again I saw a few people about, but by golly nothing at all like London where you can barely move for people.

I had a marvellous 45 minute walk all the way to the edge of Seaview where I caught the last of the sunrise. I had left it a tad late after all to get going. Then a brisk walk back to the B&B for breakfast.

visit the isle of wight, sunrise in ryde

sunrise in Ryde, Isle of Wight

On the way I stopped off at the hovercraft station to watch one of them come in to land. wow, fascinating and loud! I’m so going to take an opportunity one day while I’m here to cross The Solent to Portsmouth Southsea. The Isle of Wight Hovercraft is the last remaining commercial hovercraft service in the world.

visit the isle of wight, hover craft

Isle of Wight Hover Craft

I was well impressed with my ‘mileage’, and so enjoyed all the sights and sounds. Total 6.2kms and 9905 steps. At this rate I’m definitely achieving the desired 10,000 steps per day for good health 😉 and of course getting myself fitter for the Camino!

From what I’ve seen of Ryde so far; the esplanade and parks, it’s a really pretty place with fantastic views across The Solent towards Portsmouth in England – in fact I can see The Spinnaker in Portsmouth from the seafront and also from Seaview.

The Spinnaker in Portsmouth - across The Solent from Ryde, Isle of Wight

The Spinnaker in Portsmouth – across The Solent from Ryde, Isle of Wight

Watching all the shipping traffic is fascinating…..lends an exotic air to the place…ships from the far-flung corners of the earth….I think I quite like Ryde 🙂

 

 

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