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Camino 2017

As the year moves on, the time for me to step up and out on my dream of and goal to walk the Camino de Santiago (the Portuguese Coastal Route) is getting closer and closer, I’m reminded that no matter how old you are…….

In order to get more fit, I recently joined the #walk1000miles 2017 challenge. I’ve always loved walking and have done loads over the last year, but what I love about this challenge is that there are thousand of people around the world also walking and sharing their experiences and photos. Just brilliant.

What I loved about this quote, besides the image and the words, is that a few months ago I worked in Great Malvern where C.S. Lewis once spent some time, and where urban legend has it, he found inspiration for the lamps in The Witch and The Wardrobe after seeing the lamps there.

lamps in great malvern

lamps in Great Malvern; inspiration for C.S. Lewis

p.s. I had planned on walking the Camino last year, but money or lack thereof got in the way. This year then…..

Whew, this discussion on BBC1 Breakfast yesterday morning had me in tears.

Listening to those young children saying why they were there and who they were remembering reduced me to tears. A Killing in my Family.

Being a child, especially in today’s world, is difficult enough as it is without your parent/s being killed by your other parent or a family member. It is however not a new phenomena. It amazes me still that there wasn’t a killing in my family.

For me the programme raised some VERY unwanted memories of mine (and my sisters) childhood. We, at various stages, grew up in a very violent household. My parents divorced when I was 6 and my sister just 3. My Mother remarried some years later to what I can only call a monster when I was 9 and my sister 6. She had to marry him as she was pregnant with my 2nd sister, her third daughter, and due to these circumstances would have lost my 1st sister and I to my Father  who had threatened to claim custody. This person that she married turned out to be a psychological maniac, a heavy drinker and a sexual predator. We had to call him ‘Daddy’. I recall many many fights in our home, fights that lead to violent confrontations with multiple items being thrown, as well as physical violence. On one memorable occasion my Mother slammed a plate full of spagetti bolognaise over his head at the dinner table. Her nerves had been shredded. He kept her short of money. He bitched about everything. He criticised the food. He drank a lot. He brought home unsavoury characters. Eventually she lost her control. That was one of many scenarios that peppered our lives during that period till she left him and met someone else. I think she was suffering from postpartum depression, amongst other mental health issues brought about by an unhappy childhood, and the stress of trying to cope with a young family and a very unhappy adult life. I cry for her.

My father helped her financially to divorce her 2nd husband and she then went on to form a relationship with this new person whom she had ironically met through my father’s sister. This relationship was no better than the previous, he too was a triple-A; abusive, aggressive, alcoholic – within a very short space of time we were again living in an environment of extreme violence. Friday nights were the worst. I dreaded Fridays. I knew that Friday meant a drunk live-in father (they weren’t married at that stage) who came home from the pub reeling and reeking of alcohol and violent with pent up rage*. By this stage my Mother was pretty much an alcoholic as well and so the evening would deteriorate and the weekend would be hell in one form or another.

Glass and food and anything else that came to hand would be thrown. Much glass had to be swept up by myself at the end of the passage…which happened to be the entrance to my bedroom. I couldn’t escape into my room till I had cleaned up the glass because it would have cut my feet. Never mind what it would have done to a 9 year-old and a toddler. Besides that, my Mother would make us clean up the mess. 😦

I remember the screaming. The punches.The blood. The glass. The alcohol. The fear. The terror. I couldn’t eat honey for decades, and my sister still has difficulty with eating honey. He would, in his drunken rages, spread honey from floor to ceiling …..we had to clean it up. But some years ago, not long after I left my South African me behind and found a new UK me, did I force myself to eat honey. I refuse at this stage of my life to allow something like that to dictate what I eat.

My best-friend at the time, with whom I am now back in contact via facebook, remembers one particular instance, when late at night, when all children should be happily and safely in bed, a pounding on their door. It was me. Screaming…. “he’s going to kill my Mother”.

She recalls the incident with clarity. For me, it was one of many. We lived a good half hour’s walk away from them. I dont remember that incidence in particular. They’ve all become rather muddled.

But I do remember the fear of those years. Yes, there were ‘good’ times. Yes, we had ‘fun’. My Mother had a brilliantly wicked sense of humour and she tried her best to make life good for us. And kids just get on with it. You seem to form a shell around yourself and just get on with life. By my early teenage years I was pretty wild and finally I got packed off to live with my father in Cape Town who had been married to his 2nd wife for many years, a bit like going from the fire into the frying pan….although there wasn’t much by way of alcoholic fights with open violence, there was emotional trauma. Arguments that went on for days. Bitching that never ended. Criticism that endeavoured to bring my Mother down in my/our eyes. And no, it wasn’t limited to just that period. We got to spend Christmas holidays with him and his wife too. What a joy that was. The only best thing I can recall from those days was the love and relationship I had for my adopted brother (he died over 30 years ago). And somewhere along the line my 2nd brother was born. Oh and I loved Cape Town. 🙂 Which helped. My heart city.

However, after 5 months of living with them, I was weirdly glad to eventually go home to my Mother at the end of the school year. I was 14 at the time.

The violence escalated and escalated.

Eventually my youngest sister came along. Nothing changed at home. My Mother was rushed to hospital a few days after this birth. Apparently she was haemorrhaging? That’s what we were told. She soon came home and life returned to ‘normal’. They eventually got married some years later to fulfil a wager she had with her sister. I think by then my Mother’s spirit was broken and she just did whatever seemed right at the time to survive. It didn’t in any way or form change things. The violence still continued. Right up until a few days before she died in 1984.

The reason I had been sent packing to my father in Cape Town was that I had become quite promiscuous. By the age of 14 I had already had a number of boyfriends and although I hadn’t yet had sexual relations, it came pretty close and at the time I was ‘involved’ against my Mother’s wishes with a man a good 10 years older than me. So off I went, banished to Cape Town. I returned to my Mother’s home just before Christmas 1970. On New Year’s day 1971 I was introduced to a man who was 6 years older than me and a good friend of my Mother’s sister…the one she had the wager with. They all liked him and thought he would make good marriage material. And so I went into a relationship at the age of 14 with the man who was to become my 1st husband. By the age of 15 I was no longer a virgin. Apparently, according to him he would have a heart-attack if I didn’t have sex with him because I was very ‘sexy’ and ‘turned him on’ and it was cruel to deny him. And so it went. By then I had been sexually molested by an uncle, both my step-fathers and a family friend, so it didn’t seem unusual. I hated it though. From 6-15, and even then it didn’t stop.

During this period, the violence at home continued. The guy I had been introduced to, who was now my boyfriend, moved into our home after about 10 months because my Mother (again kept short of money and by now just a shadow of herself) needed the money. And so we had a boarder that had sex with her  eldest daughter and was accused of being the father of her 4th child who was a baby at the time, by the father of said child. And the violence continued. Madness.

I remember one time coming home from school to find my Mother in a pool of blood on the lounge floor. She had slashed her wrists. I cleaned up the blood, helped her to bed and life went on.

Eventually I got married at 17 (another story) and left home. We lived in a caravan near to my Mother and her husband, who lived in the same caravan park. Although we lived at least three rows away, we could still hear the screaming and the fights at the weekend. Fights that led to severe physical violence. My Mother by that stage gave as good at what she got and I remember one time when I ran over to check that my sisters were okay (the fight was that loud) I was confronted with a man who had blood running profusely from his mouth. My Mother had slammed a glass of whisky into his face. It ended in 1984 when my Mother died. A victim of domestic violence, although not actually physically killed by her husband.

In all honesty, when I look back at those times, I am amazed, bemused, surprised, incredulous that there wasn’t ‘a killing in our family’.  Oh how we would have benefited from counselling.

So watching that programme this morning really churned things up. I manage to keep a lid on it all most of the time and have done for decades, but when I saw those little kids speaking about how they are there to remember their Mothers or Fathers lost to violence in their home, it just slams me in the heart. I’m so glad to see that there is an organisation there to help them and counsel them, and hopefully help them to heal.

My Mother died when she was 52. By then she had lost her spirit. I remember her saying so many times over those later years; “when C (her 4th and youngest daughter) is 13, I’m going to leave him” (her 3rd husband). She did. She died. She had a series of massive strokes just before my sister turned 13 and died just 4 days after my sister turned 13. I was 29. My other 2 sisters were 25 and 19 respectively. Those days are a blur. What I do remember the most besides not being able to cry, was having to organise the funeral because her husband was so drunk he couldn’t function, and one of my Aunts after the funeral giving me a R10.00 note in a card….to help support my sisters. Fuck you bitch. You stood by and did NOTHING for years and years. And you gave me R10!!!! and fucked off without a look back afterwards. I threw the money in the rubbish. If there is one thing that still enrages me, it’s that!

What today I find extraordinary is that so many people knew what was happening in our home; our Doctors, the Police, neighbours, friends and family members. And no-one did anything substantial enough to stop it. I know my father threatened many times to ‘take us away’ his 2 daughters from our Mother, but we loved her dearly and would not have gone willingly, despite what was going on at home.

This type of organisation is invaluable for children whose lives have been turned upside-down by violence and death in the home. I hope you will consider supporting them. Winston’s Wish.

http://www.winstonswish.org.uk/supporting-winstons-wish/

 

* he had a rather troubled childhood and I remember my Mother telling me (us) one time that his mother self-immolated in front of him when he was a child. I have no idea of this was true, but that is what I was told.

If you know of any children affected by violence in the home, please do something about it. You may just save a life.

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 🙂

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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!

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Limpsfield, Surrey

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

You can imagine my absolute delight on discovering that my last assignment which took me to a town called Oxted in Surrey, is one of the Domesday towns of 1086!! Now that I’ve starting compiling my list, the towns are adding up fast and furious 🙂

Of course when I got the booking I wasn’t aware of this, but after a few days with my clients, the gentleman of whom is a history buff, we got to talking and he loaned me a book about the town….voila….Domesday town!! In the Domesday Book the then village is spelled ‘Acstede’ – meaning ‘the place of the oaks’.

oxted surrey, domesday villages of england, oxted domesday village, english history

Oxted; the place of the oaks – a 1086 Domesday Book village

Oxted – the place of the oaks. I delight in finding out the meanings of the names behind some of these older villages. Although first mentioned in the Domeday book of 1086, Oxted area was inhabited from as early as the late Iron Age. Located exactly on the Greenwich Meridian at O* longitude and on 51* 15′ latitude. The so-called Pilgrim’s way from Winchester to Canterbury passes the north of Oxted. As soon as I discovered this little snippet I set out to find the plaque. No-one seemed to know anything about it (?) but eventually I located it, set in the pharmacy wall on the exterior, the lass who directed me to the person who knew where it was, said she’d walked past it every days for months and didn’t know it was there! Such is life when it comes to history!

oxted surrey, domesday villages of england, oxted domesday village, english history, greenwich meridian

Besides being a Domesday Book village, Oxted lies on the Greenwich Meridian

On one of my walks I discovered a 2nd plaque that marked the point where the North Downs Way crossed the Meridian Line. 🙂 Awesome!!

St Mary’s Church in Oxted stands on a mound believed to have been a pre-Christian place of worship. The church has undergone much restoration and the walls were raised. There are remains within the church from Saxon times and changes and improvements range from 12th century through to 19th century. Sadly the door (unusually) was locked whenever I went past so I didn’t get to go in. Perhaps next time.

st marys church oxted, domesday villages of england, pre-christian places of worship, saxon graves oxted

St Mary’s Church, Oxted.

On one of my walks past the church I stopped in at the old graveyard and to may amazement discovered a herd of goats!!! A notice on the fence said that they graze them here to keep the grass and weeds under control rather than mowing…makes perfect sense to me. 🙂  Further exploration revealed two Anglo-Saxon graves next to the porch of St Mary’s Church.

anglo-saxon graves, st mary's church oxted, domesday villages of england,

2 Anglo-Saxon graves at St Mary’s Church, Oxted

The period before the Battle of Hastings in 1066 laid the foundations of a new age and with the coming of the Normans a small settlement began to grow up on the site of the Old Oxted. The medieval period is when Oxted began to establish itself as an integrated community. During the 15 C and 16 C some of the most picturesque buildings were constructed. Many of these buildings are still standing albeit occupied with vastly different businesses. Many of the survivors date to 15th, 16th and 17th centuries. An architectural treasure trove.

I spent a number of days meandering about the town exploring during my time in the area and spent one of my breaks exploring the Old town of Oxted.  Now that was an architectural marvel.

old oxted surrey, domesday villages of england, english villages

Old Oxted – High Street

The Old Bell Pub at the top of the High Street was a wonderful discovery ; with one section built in the 14th century, the middle section in the 16th/17th century and the latter part in the 18th century. It’s now a listed building and no further alterations can be made…quite right!! I stepped inside for a brief look and to photograph the 14th century beamed ceiling.

old oxted surrey, domesday villages of england, english villages, pubs of england

The Old Bell Pub, Old Oxted, Surrey – an architectural marvel

On Tuesday, the afternoon after my arrival, I set off to explore and my meandering took me through the old town 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.

Other days were taken up with walking to Titsey Farm and along the North Downs Pilgrims Way. The views are spectacular and the only thing that spoils it all is the M25 motorway that runs between the town and the North Downs.

Oxted reminds me a lot of another town I visited some years ago…Weobley in Herefordshire. ‘The term “black and white” derives from presence of many timbered and half-timbered houses in the area, some dating from medieval times. The buildings’ black oak beams are exposed on the outside, with white painted walls between. The numbers of houses surviving in this style in the villages creates a very distinctive impression and differs from building styles outside this area.’

oxted surrey, black and white towns, domesday book villages and towns, villages of england, domesday book towns

I loved this sign. Oxted, Surrey. – the place of the oaks. If you look at the windows you can see some other buildings reflected.

I’m looking forward to my next spell In Oxted at the end of March. And since UPS (the slackers) lost my hard-drive with all my photos from the last 10 years on it, I shall have to visit Weobley again too. Maybe I should sue UPS for their tardiness.

p.s. I’ll be posting the article on Limpsfield shortly 😉 come back then.

Limpsfield; a Domesday village

 

 

Quotes I like…

A couple of months ago I sent back 23 letters from charities asking for money…that’s 23 charities I’ve donated to in the past, some of which I made monthly contributions to for over 5 years!! Every time I get home after a job I’m confronted with piles of begging letters… I mark them ‘return to sender’ every time and put them back into the Royal Mail system and STILL they keep sending letters asking for money.

If I donated monthly (which is what they ask for) to all of them I’d be working to support the charities alone and little left for anything else. I stopped all monthly contributions in 2015 when I realised I was working 1.5 weeks every year just to keep up with my monthly contributions. Now I’m getting tough…it’s ridiculous that I have to phone them to be taken off their lists.

Besides the fact that they pay their executives 2-3 times more than I earn in a year, they send reams of stationery and pens and shit that I really don’t want or need……total waste of the money already contributed. Ever since 92 year-old Olive Cooke’s tragic suicide in Bristol in 2015 I’m getting a bit less sympathetic with these charities. I know they need the money, and they are all worthy causes, but where do you draw the line? And don’t even get me started on the phone calls…..I’m so fed up with their aggressive manner on the phone…you end up feeling quite bullied, much like Olive was. You can’t just say no, because they talk right over you. I had an experience once with Greenpeace. I was already a supporter making monthly contributions and by the end of the call I was signed up to a 2nd monthly contribution by Greenpeace Australia, a contribution that during the call I understood was to be a small increase in my existing standing order.  But no! Suddenly I had these extra £6 p.m. donations going through. Fortunately I reconcile my bank statements on a monthly basis to the last penny/cent and stopped the standing orders immediately. And because the chugger had been so duplicitous, I stopped the original donation at the same time. So they lost out by being dishonest.

I am more than happy to make contributions as and when it pleases me and when it’s something close to my heart, but this bombardment by mail is ridiculous.  If you happen to make even just 1 donation to a given charity and have to provide email and address details, you end up on theirs and lists for other organisations you’ve not donated to at all.

I’ve started limiting my donations to requests from friends on Facebook who support an individual charity…people that I actually know and have met; and mostly now to the smaller more independent charities that focus on one particular issue. But even on facebook you get these ridiculous adverts asking for donations. Personally I think the charities need to readdress their internal expenditure, and assess the extortionate salaries that are paid to their executives, their superfluous spending and the rental for their offices, which are often these amazingly modern spaces that must cost a fortune.

I realise that the charities like Breast Cancer and Alzheimer’s and The British Heart Foundation rely on donations for research, however, that’s why we pay taxes…the Government should be allocating money towards this research in sufficient enough funds to manage this. It would benefit the system in the long run when cures are discovered or changes can be made and that would lift the burden from the NHS for health care. But of course that would mean relying on the Government to spend their money wisely…and we all know how that pans out!!!

It’s a really tricky situation added to by the ‘guilt’ you feel when you don’t donate. However, I’ve just had to harden my heart, donate to those that I relate to – which are still quite a few, and I mostly now use the text facility on my phone with which I can donate as I go when something catches my eye or tugs at my heart-strings.

I just don’t want to be hounded on a monthly basis or even bi-monthly with letters and envelopes filled with pens, or address stickers or such-like. Besides the cost involved to the charity for all this ‘stuff’, it mostly ends up, unopened in the trash…and that is not very ecologically friendly at all.

So much as I would like to support them all, it’s not financially possible and I do wish they’d review all the stuff they send out.

 

The evil of #45

I get your perception of what he is doing; successfully alienating main stream media in the minds of the masses so that he becomes the ‘truth’ and they’re the enemy. However, what he’s doing is laying the groundwork for future manipulation of the system, to remove liberties (already happening), to undermine democracy ( already happening), to make people think he’s the ‘hero’ making America ‘great again’. But, he’s not. He’s creating fear, racism is raising its ugly head, insinuating itself into the minds of the populas and becoming Methusela, he’s subverting the system to benefit himself, his cronies, and the future of his family.

Yes he’s doing a brilliant job….. of SCREAMING AT EVERYONE ON TWITTER spouting his hate and lies and anger. He’s a very dangerous individual and although I refuse to follow him or accept his hateful rhetoric, I am keeping a very close eye on his methods….because behind the mask lies madness….of a most evil mind. He’s nasty, a bully, sociopathic, a blatant liar, bigoted, misogynistic, racist, cheat, and deceptive beyond anything we’ve seen except in societies like North Korea, Russia, and many of the despotic African countries. A despotic demagogue.

He’s using social media as a tool to manipulate the celebrity brain-dead? The unable to think for themselves masses, who seldom if ever bother to read an intelligent article, publication or book. With all the personal development & marketing courses I did in 2007/2008, one thing they taught us, that shocked me at the time, was that when marketing/selling to the American market, we should market to the mental level of a 9 year old. And my apologies to any Americans reading  this comment, but most of the trainers were Americans. So not my perception.

#45 is evil. Period.

Read on: 

Shared via:  http://www.bluedotdaily.com/robert-reich-show-this-to-anyone-who-voted-for-trump-immediately/

“While a lot of Trump voters won’t listen to any criticism of the man (much like Trump himself), there are lots of them that have expressed regret over their support for him.  Whichever of those two categories your Trump-voting friends or family fall into, here is something that they need to read, immediately.  There’s always hope we can change the mind of the latter and keep working on the former.

There are lots of reasons to follow Clinton Secretary of Labor Robert Reich on Facebook. His sharing of this post from a comment by Rosa Figueroa, and others similar to it, is just one of those reasons.

Next time you get into a little squabble with a Trump voter, bring this into the conversation:

You might want to send this to anyone in your family, or anyone you know, who voted for Trump. (Thanks to Rosa Figueroa who posted this in response to one of my posts yesterday.)

1. He called Hillary Clinton a crook.
You bought it.
Then he paid $25 million to settle a fraud lawsuit.

2. He said he’d release his tax returns, eventually.
You bought it.
He hasn’t, and says he never will.

3. He said he’d divest himself from his financial empire, to avoid any conflicts of interest.
You bought it.
He is still heavily involved in his businesses, manipulates the stock market on a daily basis, and has more conflicts of interest than can even be counted.

4. He said Clinton was in the pockets of Goldman Sachs, and would do whatever they said.
You bought it.
He then proceeded to put half a dozen Goldman Sachs executives in positions of power in his administration.

5. He said he’d surround himself with all the best and smartest people.
You bought it.
He nominated theocratic loon Mike Pence for Vice President. A white supremacist named Steve Bannon is his most trusted confidant. Dr. Ben Carson, the world’s greatest idiot savant brain surgeon, is in charge of HUD. Russian quisling Rex Tillerson is Secretary of State.

6. He said he’d be his own man, beholden to no one.
You bought it.
He then appointed Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, whose only “qualifications” were the massive amounts of cash she donated to his campaign.

7. He said he would “drain the swamp” of Washington insiders.
You bought it.
He then admitted that was just a corny slogan he said to fire up the rubes during the rallies, and that he didn’t mean it.

8. He said he knew more about strategy and terrorism than the Generals did.
You bought it.
He promptly gave the green light to a disastrous raid in Yemen- even though all his Generals said it would be a terrible idea. This raid resulted in the deaths of a Navy SEAL, an 8-year old American girl, and numerous civilians. The actual target of the raid escaped, and no useful intel was gained.

9. He said Hillary Clinton couldn’t be counted on in times of crisis.
You bought it.
He didn’t even bother overseeing that raid in Yemen; and instead spent the time hate-tweeting the New York Times, and sleeping.

10. He called CNN, the Washington Post and the New York Times “fake news” and said they were his enemy.
You bought it.
He now gets all his information from Breitbart, Gateway Pundit, and InfoWars.

11. He called Barack Obama “the vacationer-in-Chief” and accused him of playing more rounds of golf than Tiger Woods. He promised to never be the kind of president who took cushy vacations on the taxpayer’s dime, not when there was so much important work to be done.
You bought it.
He took his first vacation after 11 days in office.
On the taxpayer’s dime.
And went golfing.

And that’s just the first month.”