Monday, 20 January 2014

Route Planned!

The title says it all!

I went out and treated myself to some new maps to cover the route and then, with a bright pink marker, marked the route I plan to walk. One thing for sure - I won't lose myself on the map. The route stands out Very Clearly :D

On a trip down to Kent yesterday, doing 70mph along the motorway in Kent, I looked up at the North Downs which rise up along the side of the motorway. The ridge of hills stretched out into the distance far beyond where I was going in the car. The path I will be walking is somewhere up on that ridge!

It suddenly seemed a very long way!

Also have a list of villages and towns along the route so the next job is to find places to stay, work out how far I can walk each day and book somewhere to stay each night.

On the subject of walking, the training is going well. Last week I walked 26 miles - two walks of 10 miles each made me feel that perhaps I might actually be able to pull this sponsored walk off :D
Just need to up the walking rate - 10 miles a day for a number of days would be a move in the right direction...

Watch this space :)

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Happy New Year - 2014

Happy New Year to you all!

I've had to blow the dust and cobwebs off this blog as it hasn't been used in months. Somehow I got through 2013 without Dez, and had what is commonly called an 'upward learning curve'; so upwards at times it's all I could do to hang on by the fingernails of one hand!

Last year I was visiting the places pictures on my British Rail calendar - the beautiful Art Deco one - and blogged about a very few. In the end I visited about half the places. This year I have a new Railway calendar, Art Deco again, and here are 2014's destinations:
January, Devon; February, Lincolnshire; March, York; April, Seaford; May, Shrewsbury; June, West Country; July, London and NE holiday rivers; August, Buckinghamshire; September, Penzance; October, Lowestoft; November, Wales; December, Ullswater.

That should keep me busy!

The really exciting project I've started planning for this year is a sponsored walk to help raise money for a new church boiler. The old one has given its last gasp this winter and cannot be repaired. The new one needs to be fitted this summer but the cost is around 30,000 ukp. Every little helps, as they say, so I'm doing a 210 mile walk from the cathedral at Canterbury to Winchester cathedral along the Pilgrim's way to Farnham and then St Swithin's way to Winchester. At Winchester I turn right and this is where things get interesting because there is no obvious route from the cathedral to our village church.

At the moment I'm working out a route using Ordnance Survey Explorer maps, trying to piece together as many sections on long distance footpaths as I can. The big advantage of these footpaths is that they're well signposted and usually kept open and are relatively easy to walk. That's not necessarily the case with 'ordinary' footpaths. There might even have to be a few sections walked on minor roads but once I get to the Cotswolds I'll be on familiar territory.

After planning the route, the next job is to deal with the practicalities of the walk: how to get to Canterbury, where to stay, how to get from the footpath to where I'm staying, how far to walk in a day, where to get packed lunches and drinks and how much gear I'll need to carry.

Almost certainly I will do the walk in sections, not all at once - and will start in March and go through to May. 

I feel very excited at the prospect of doing 2 long distance footpaths completely and a further 95 miles or so cross country. Some people have said they'd like to do part of the walk with me, and having some company would be wonderful. If you're around and think that's something you'd like to do, watch this blog for further information about the route.

Whoever you are, and wherever you are, I hope this year brings plenty of fun things for you and yours to do, and much happiness and contentment.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

January Expedition - Barmouth, Wales

On Wednesday 9th January three things happened: The sun shone, I had a free day, so I went to Barmouth (see my last post giving the reason for going to this seaside town).

Setting off without Mr Prue made the whole venture seem pointless, but I knew it wasn't and Mr Prue would want me to go, even if he was unable to go along. I messed around, made a packed lunch but eventually got my act together, got in the car and was off, heading north on the M40 to join the M42 to head west towards Wales.

The journey was uneventful with a coffee break at Dobies garden centre near Shrewsbury. Not a very inspiring building but their coffee shop is great - tucked away in the back corner of the shop, it was clean, well-lit and had sofas and comfy chairs with a relaxed atmosphere and good coffee. Lunch looked good too. Loath to leave, I eventually tore myself away (buying 2 cushions on the way out) and kept heading west.

Frost on the Roadside

Once across the Welsh marches the scenery changes: steep hills and mountains set in wild countryside, with the occasional farm dwarfed by the sweep of the hills behind it. One valley, still in shadow at lunchtime, had thick frost and the air was cold and crisp, scented by woodsmoke curling up from a lone chimney on the farmhouse. I took photos and left, climbing slowly up to a pass and then down the other side into full sun.

Road Leading to Pass

Standard View of Barmouth

Barmouth lies on the coast on the great insweep of Cardigan Bay (go to Google Maps and type in Cardigan Bay Wales).

To the Right of the Standard View of Barmouth

The river which reaches the sea at this point is not the Bar, but the Mawddach.
Mawddach Estuary from Just Outside Barmouth

The town isn't large but has an enormous car park for its size as there is a huge sandy beach, a popular tourist destination in summer - but virtually empty in January!

 Part of Car Park Viewed from the Cliff - with My Little Blue Car (centre)

The ticket machine gave instructions in Welsh and English. All road signs in Wales are in both languages too, and walking around the town I heard Welsh being spoken by most locals.

It was fortunate that I'd taken a packed lunch and flask of coffee as it was either early closing in Barmouth or it was closed for the winter! A couple of pubs were open and that was about it.

After lunch, I walked up the cliff path, over the top and down the other side, arriving near the church.

Barmouth and Sea from Cliff Path
Barmouth Church Nestling Against the Cliff

Last time I was in Wales, Mr Prue and I had stopped briefly in Barmouth, before going on to Harlech with its famous castle, so hadn't been into the church. It was unlocked and I had it to myself; quiet, peaceful with sunlight filtering through the arched windows. I thought of Mr Prue and cried, then wrote in the visitors' book and asked for a prayer for my husband.

The sun was on its downward arc towards the horizon so I left the little town to be swallowed up by its lengthening shadows. But I didn't go straight home. Another port of call was Lake Vrynwy some miles back along the main road and then a detour up into the hills. Last time Mr Prue and I had been this way, it was too late to go and see the lake. Today it was too late really, the light was fading fast but I carried on!

I got to Lake Vrynwy at dusk; there was still light in a greeny blue sky. The surface of the water looked like molten silver, and the lake was bordered by mysteriously dark mountains. The lake stretched away and was much bigger than I had imagined. Within a short time it was fully dark although the surface of the water still held a bright sheen. With reluctance I turned the car for home, noting the lines of lit windows in the hotel on the hillside. Next time I go further afield I need to take an overnight bag.

I arrived home, tired but pleased I'd made the effort to go on this 'expedition', sad that Mr Prue wasn't there with me, and determined to go on another one.

February's picture the calendar is of Salisbury, so that's where I'm heading next. This time I'm going to take company. I have four seats in the car, two people who are definitely coming - there are two seats left.
Any takers? :)

Monday, 7 January 2013

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to you all. I hope 2013 will be a year of happiness and health, success and fun for you all (and me too! :)).

Christmas and New Year were difficult without Mr Prue; that's not to say I didn't enjoy some of it, but there were times which I'd like to press the delete key on.

However, life goes on, and I want to share my idea for 2013 with you.

Mr Prue and I used to go on 'expeditions' - day trips in the UK to somewhere we'd never been before, a little bit further away than we would normally travel. This was always interesting, and at the beginning of 2012 I had an idea from a calendar someone gave us.

The picture for each month on the calendar was a travel poster from the 1920's and 1930's - the Art Deco sort which I love. Each month showed a different holiday destination in the UK, so I suggested we went to whichever place it showed - one trip every month. Mr Prue thought that was a good idea but sadly he became too unwell for us to put our plan into action.

I bought another calendar with similar pictures for this year, again of travel posters from the 20's and 30's click here for similar pictures... so as I stood looking at an advert for Barmouth,done in bold colours, I thought, why not go there this month?

Times change and it's not so easy to get from one place to another by train, and it's a lot more costly than it was eighty or ninety years ago! Going by train would be fun though, so I checked up on prices. Even with cheap fares, it still costs the same as it does to go by car - and I like driving, and a car gives a bit more freedom - after all, Barmouth could have changed considerably, and being there all day in winter might not be so good. So car it is. Just in case Barmouth seems worth an extra day's exploration, I'll take an overnight bag.

So, watch this space for details of balmy Barmouth on the mid-Welsh coast.

What sort of places do you like visiting for the day?

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Symptoms Gone!

After my last post, I forgot about this blog until I received a couple of emails. Thanks to those of you who expressed concern, which touched me greatly.

The gas-man came in the middle of the night, checked for gas leaks and put a big sign on the boiler saying 'DO NOT USE'. Next day I phoned British Gas at 8am and three hours later a man arrived to check and service the boiler, and he gave me an audible carbon monoxide alarm.

Within a few days all the symptoms I'd had were gone.

The thought that I'd been breathing in an odourless, poisonous gas made me feel quite creepy. How fortunate that I often open all the windows in the house to let some fresh air in.

Up until this incident, I'd been feeling so dreary after Mr Prue's passing away that I wished I'd gone with him, and even had a few thoughts about how I might end my life. Being affected by a gas which has been known to kill people gave me a huge shock, and I've stopped thinking those horrible dark thoughts.

It's an ill wind, as they say.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Life Goes On

Hmmm. It's 1.15am and I have all the windows open. I'm waiting for the emergency gas engineer to arrive - it could be anytime in the next 2 hours.

For some reason, just before going to bed I looked up and saw a grey splodge on the carbon monoxide detector over the gas boiler. So I phoned the emergency number to ask what to do. It's an emergency and someone has to come out.

Carbon monoxide is nasty because it doesn't have a smell and it can kill. According to a list of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, I've had some of them over the past two or three weeks. They go away when I go outside or am away from home, and come back when I'm in the house.

I put it down to stress because of Dez's death - it's only six weeks since he went - but perhaps it has another cause. The boiler should have been serviced by now but because Dez was in hospital, I forgot to arrange it until recently so it's going to be done in September.

So here I am with all the windows open, waiting.

Friday, 10 August 2012

A Good Send-Off


This is also on my writing blog.
The service of thanksgiving for the celebration of the life of Mr Prue yesterday went well. So many people came from all over the country, some of whom I hadn’t seen for well over 10 years. It was good to see them all catching up with each other at the afternoon tea after the service, exchanging contact details.

The service itself was wonderful. It was just right, with music Dez loved, two tributes by the ex-head of the research institute where Dez and I worked for so long, and also the chairman of the geology group we both belonged to.

Here’s the order of service.

Requiem by Tomas Luis de Victoria sung by the Armonico Consort

Entrance music: Hanaq Pachap Kusikuynin sung by Ex Cathedra

Welcome and Opening Prayer

Poem: Not how did he die, but how did he live? Anon

Tribute (about Dez’s scientific career)

Reading: Proverbs ch 4, vs 5 – 13 (we heard this on a visit to Ely cathedral a few years ago. We’d been on a tour of the cathedral, the last of the day. As it finished the evening service was starting and Dez suggested we stayed for it. Rather odd as he didn’t believe in God and so never went to church. The reading was Proverbs ch 3 and 4. It impressed me so much that I asked one of the clergymen after what it was, and he wrote it down. I’d looked it up in the bible when I got home and left the piece of paper in the page, then forgot all about it. When a friend phoned the other day to suggest a reading, the bible opened at Proverbs. I remembered and thought, “Yes! That’s just right” because it's about wisdom and understanding.

Hymn: For the beauty of the earth

Tribute: (about Dez’s invovlement with the geology group)


Music: Blowin’ in the Wind by Bob Dylan (Dez loved Bob Dylan’s music. I didn’t share this love – one of the very few because mostly we liked the same music. It seemed right to have Dylan in somewhere, although I had to grit my teeth through it!).

Reading: Song of Songs ch 8, vs 6 – 7 (NIV)


Hymn: He who would valiant be ‘gainst all disaster

Commendation, Committal and Blessing

Poem: If I should go before the rest of youby Joyce Grenfell

Exit: Trumpet Tune and Ayre by Henry Purcell

A friend did the flowers; ivory roses with frothy gypsophilla, stripey grass leaves and larger dark green leaves. It was a glorious tribute. And I cut some wild carrot flowers and tied them with raffia, because Dez worked on fungal diseases of carrots.

It was a sunny day, people stood around afterwards chatting in the sunlight. It was more like a party which was lovely. Afternoon tea lasted nearly 3 hours! This was held at the conference centre where Dez worked. They put display boards on tables and I’d put up lots of photos of Dez. There must have been well over a hundred people there and I think I managed to speak to every one of them.

It was a fitting end to a life well-lived and enjoyed, and it was wonderful to see people talking and laughing. The afternoon was as good as it could be, and as more than one person said, “Dez would really have enjoyed it,” which made me smile because I think he would have.