From Coastland to Moorland

Today’s 10.25 m walk began along the coastline, then took us through a dense wood and, because the fog cleared, up into the moorlands. Our weather continued sunny and hot times.

I’m truly amazed with how this coastline reminds me of the coastline of Cape Breton Island, of Nova Scotia. It’s as if the continents separated and pulled apart. Oh…wait a minute…

Some of our coastline scenery…

After a short break, we turned I land from the Wales Coast Path and entered an extremely lush and dense wood. At one point there sounded to be a huge machine at work, but we couldn’t see anything through the ferns, shrubs and trees. We wandered on for a ways with our leader doing a commendable job of navigating. Some way markers were easy to see and others were once our leader beat back the vines and shrubs covering them up…

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After this our trail markers seemed to disappear. After a wrong turn we ended up at a farmer’s house and they told us how to find our way again. This involved climbing a fairly long stretch along a bridle path. I was beginning to feel tired and just then, our leader announced lunch time. Here’s my lunch scenery from today…

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My old iPad is really being stretched to do what I’m asking of it. I wrote the rest of this post last night, but it stopped functioning and that part doesn’t’t seem to have been saved. It’s time to start getting ready for today’s adventure, so just to recap quickly…after lunch the clouds cleared so Mike decided we could venture up onto the moor. A bit of a hot climb up to this land of gorse, heather and sheep with their lambs….

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Following this we headed to a large rock outcrop, that, of course, has ages of history behind it regardng inhabitation, defense and so forth. By then the clouds were moving back in on the moor so Mike wants to get us down and down we went, by a steep and rocky route.

After that, it was just a walk back to town and our pick up and drive back to The Cliff House.

Blister count as of today: 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First Day of Walking (and I have enough energy to write about it!)

Thank you mountains of Montana. Thank you Chris, my once-in-a-while trainer, thank you Marcel, my post knee-op PT…with all that training today’s walking went smoothly. I guess it wasn’t an especially hard walk, with 10.25 miles and 400 m of elevation gain, but still, I had energy after we finished, so that makes it a good day.  Now, close to 10p, I’m definitely fading, but I’ll write a brief synopsis.

At our start, I thought we were having a ride to town to pick up our lunches, so I was ready, but had my coat in my hands, wondering where our van was. Turned out I had misheard the plans…we were walking to town…duh…this is a walking vacation. So I quickly tied that around my waist while someone held my poles and we were off.

We walked along Cardigan Bay in a light mist…

image…but no rain, heading to Cardigan (just over 3m). Once there, we had a 1/2hr break in order to buy whatever we wanted from the shops for lunch. I chose a Red Leicester, spring onion and other things sandwich, which, later (much later), by the time I thought of taking a photo of it I’d already gobbled up half of it. It was delicious.

imageFollowing our shopping we walked along the High Street in town to the far end and across a very old bridge which is known as the “new” bridge.

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This is the River Teifi (“tahvah”). It used to be a major river for bringing supplies in from sea. Things were sorted and stored in these warehouses of old…

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Following this we entred a nature preserve that seemed to feature otters, (didn’t see those), water buffalo (saw four later on) and badgers, which later on we saw lots of signs of and one rather large specimen…

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…made from willow branches.

We continued on, following the River Teifi quite far upstream which required climbing a lot of steep steps and within a few steps, going down a lot of steep steps…several times over.

I found it very interesting how our path, and presumably many in the UK gives walkers the right to pass very closely among houses. In one case today, our path passed between a house and it’s back yard. It was pretty, but it seemed invasive enough without stopping to photograph their garden.

Onward and we finally reached our lunch spot at 2p, when we all devoured our chosen sandwiches and fruit. We were all entertained by a large group of children rafting and canoeing in place and mainly trying to splash each other with their paddles…lots of shrieking and fun! From there we had a climb back up from the river’s edge and onward to a castle remains for some and a church for others. I chose the church which happened to be locked shut, but the cemetery held our interest. The erect stones were remarkable as was one marker for a man who had made a name for himself as a top geological surveyor for Canada.

There was an “Ogham” stone, which we read was a truly ancient stone grave marker with the language being comprised of only lines.

Following this we eventually re-entered the nature sanctuary and walked on an impressively long raised boardwalk, eventually returning to Cardigan. We had a short tour of the old buildings in town and then were transported back to our accommodations by van and after 10 miles or so on foot, a van was a lovely way to travel.

Our evening routine is to rest and clean up and meet to review the day and look ahead to the next day’s plan and then eat. I chose a delicious starter prawn cocktail, roast beef with Yorkshire Pudding and roasted potatoes, followed by a dense chocolate torte. Needless to say, after a day on the trail and that delicious meal, I’m finished for the day.

Travel Day

Today was a travel day – getting myself from London to Carmarthen by train and then to Cardigan in western Wales by taxi. All worked out as planned and I arrived here, at The Cliff Hotel with time to unpack, make and drink multiple cups of tea and soon to make myself presentable, hopefully, for our group introductory meeting followed by dinner together.

My 6.5 mile taxi trip during London’s morning rush hour took 50 minutes, at an average rate of 7.5 mph. At that rate, why would anyone own a car in London? A walker passed my taxi three times!

The taxi driver delivered me safely to Paddington Station and even hefted my suitcase out onto the sidewalk for me. PS was easy to figure out and I had an hour to spare, so I watched the traffic go by. My Great Westen Railway train left on time, heading for Cardiff.

I’d booked a First Class ticket for this travel and much to my delight, the trolley service was brought around right after we started up. Tea and fruitcake…so appropriate! And, delish.

imageAfter 45 minutes we were free of the city and vast scenes all made up of shades of green were the norm outside my window…hedgerows, trees, crops…and cows and sheep. Really, we drink up this kind of scenery after a few days in any city, don’t you think?

On to Cardiff where I had a tight train transfer, but as the train I was to board was pulling in to the same platform where I’d gotten off, there was plenty of time.

The train to Carmarthen had only three cars and made plenty of stops. It must be a local train for people shopping in Cardiff. I’d squished my stuff into a single seat, but when a double seat opened up I moved there. Turned out I was now sitting beside a chatty couple on holiday from other parts of Wales. Our car was quiet and it felt like everyone could hear our conversation so when the gentleman asked me where I was going and wasn’t to be contented with a vague answer, he said, in a loud voice: “Oh, it’s to be a dirty weekend is it, then?” Made us all laugh! As he carried on talking I had to have his wife translate for me, but when he learned that I’m from Canada, which launched him into a comparison of Canada with the US I gave up altogether and just last laughed along with his wife, who concluded that she really couldn’t take him anywhere 🙂

Robin’s taxi was not at the train station as promised, but just as I was beginning to become concerned, he arrived. Turned out he was driving on narrow country roads for the 45 minute trip and had gotten behind two lorries, as he said. All turned out well and Paul, my driver, was a great tour guide en route to my accommodations, even taking me through town to help me get my bearing. Cardigan has a population of 4,000, with most being elderly, he said. It attracts a lot of tourists in the season and I could see why…the town looked interesting to explore and it’s located on a huge estuary. Must be good for birding. Guess I’ll begin to find out tomorrow when we begin our walking. I did catch sight of one bird today that I think was a grey heron.

Time to get ready to meet the troops and check out the food at this place.

Signs in Welsh began to show up in Newport…

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One More Day of Exploring in London

Yesterday brought my last day in London before beginning all the travel this trip entails. I was ready for a relaxing morning, so that’s what we chose. This involved some reading, some knitting and the drinking of tea.

My daughter had an appointment that would take her afternoon, so I went along with her to her meeting place. We had time for lunch so we picked up the usual sandwich, crisps and water and took ourselves to Bloomsbury Park where we dined among many begging pigeons. A male and female common blackbird moseyed by, but they were focused on finding bugs in the grass versus waiting for crumbs to fall. (Hard to see here in this unedited photo, but the male has the yellow bill near the center.)

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Once we separated I decided to walk to Russell Park as last year when I was in London, a charity had set up a used book sale booth in the park. I was hoping they’d be there again. I was thoroughly disappointed to find that they weren’t, but, really, what were the odds? I did find a bookshop along my route, so that stop took care of the problem of having read everything I’d brought along, at least in paper form.

I was headed for an afternoon at the National Gallery, which was less than a two-mile walk. Once there, sweaty and not having much of a background in art, I decided my best bet was to join in a hour-long tour. The tour leader focused on six paintings during the hour and it was an opportunity to learn a lot about those particular paintings. I was tired, though, so not much stuck with me. One painting for which I do remember the name was “The Hay Wain,” by a British artist. Sorry…names and dates didn’t stick.

The London Symphny Orchestra was rehearsing in Trafalgar Square behind a series of dividers, so I decided to sit in front of the Gallery and have a listen, which was a treat. Unbeknownst to me, while I was nibbling on a cookie, a pigeon cuddled up next to me, which I only saw after I’d eaten everything and happened to turn around. It completely reminded me of Indy, our bichon, who’s taken to looking for handouts at home (and, yes, it works!). The pigeon was injured…looked like it had a broken wing and leg. Someone noticed it and gave it a bunch of peanuts and before I left I dug out my remaining cookie and shared it, so it was well fed at the moment, but will likely become food, itself, before long.

Back on my feet and time to walk back to meet my daughter. As I got underway I realized that I was near Piccadilly Circus and therefore the Regent Hotel, an old hotel that my dad had stayed in during the war and where I had stayed as well, in the mid-seventies. I decided that would be a perfect place for a cup of tea before chugging along again. I arrived at PC, but couldn’t see the hotel, so I asked a merchant and she said that the hotel had closed 10 years ago. The building is still there, but the hotel is gone and the interior is completely changed – to retail shops and offices. The former staff lodging (when the Regent employed over 1,000 people), is now, I later read, a hostel. This all came as quite a shock to me, since we have history in this place, and I stood there for a while, trying absorb the change that time inevitably brings. I’d stopped in at the registration desk 11 years ago and chatted with a clerk about my dad having stayed there. He said the hotel had many people coming in with comments like this and asked me to add my name to a list of these folks because the hotel had plans to write some history to share. Not any more, I guess.

The former Regent Palace Hotel (the largest hotel in Europe when it opened):

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I decided to move along and after a few stops and starts on streets that weren’t on my maps,

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arrived back at Bloomsbury Park for our meet up again, after which we took a much-appreciated bus back to our starting place and immediately dined on naked burgers, salad and fries…much needed calories after this day of walking in the sun.

I’ve been trying to load photos while onboard the train to west Wales – with some luck, but that seems to have run out. Will try again once settled in.

A Day in London

I had the day to spend in London yesterday and top on my to-see list was the Imperial War Museum. This involved a bus and some walking and with many signs pointing the way, the challenge was minimal. What a stellar building…

imageI was immediately captivated by the scene right inside the entrance – of a Spitfire hanging from the ceiling, as well as a buzz bomb. One of my dad’s duties as a Spitfire pilot in WWII was to hunt down and destroy incoming buzz bombs, so I spent considerable time reading the signage.

I was amazed by how tiny the cockpit of the Spitfire looked…how could a 6’1″ man, decked out in helmet and gear, fold himself into that space, especially within the two or three minutes they had to do that and get off the ground? Do it they did, however, and although dad hardly ever spoke about his war years, he did tell us about the strategy he used of getting a wing of his plane under a wing of the buzz bomb and then tilting the bomb up past 90 degrees so the internal gyroscope would fail and the bomb would go down into the English Channel. While I was reading the signage a grandpa and his grandson came by and the grandfather explained how the bombs would be shot down. I said I could add a bit to the history lesson and explained the tipping strategy. An impressive story and at the end, the grandpa said: ” Your father was a hero!”, which was a very kind thing to say.

I toured the WWI and WWII exhibits and then jumped a couple of floors to tour the Holocaust exhibit, which left me, as it would most everyone, drained.

From there I headed over to the second stop of the day, the Tate Modern Museum. It was late in the afternoon by now and I was tired, so I Just had a quick look around.

As I was walking back to meet my daughter for dinner I stopped in at this church, rebuilt in 1959, for a little respite. A good day of city exploring.

 

 

Good flights and a good first meal

Alaska Air to Seattle and then Virgin Atlantic to London were easy, comfortable flights, the only issue being my long…very long….layover in Seattle. I don’t think I’d choose that option again. Nice flights, though and all goals, including getting here, were accomplished safely.

A note of interest…directly after my father passed away my mum gave me his pilot log books of his war years. She said that she wanted our girls to have them when that time came.  I’ve been their caretaker for many years.

I brought them along on this trip as I have plans in place to visit Tangmere, a former airfield where dad was stationed and which is now a museum. Volunteers there have offered to sit down with me and the logs and interpret his entries, to give me a better understanding of his missions.

En route, I told a flight attendant that these logs were with me and offered to loan them to her if she would be able to take them to the pilots of our flight. She readily agreed. The logs came back several hours later along with a flight map of our route on which the captain had written: “It was an honour to have flown the log books of (dad’s name). Thank you for sharing them with us.” The other pilots added their names with their words of thanks. They had also written in the number of the airfield of dad’s hometown, meaning that they must have gone through the books fairly thoughly to find this among the pages. The captain’s wording made me realize that books like these represent service to one’s country and hold honour, even after those who served are gone.

Our daughter met me at Heathrow and kindly slugged my suitcase on the Tube while I wrestled with my carry-ons. There has to be a lighter way to pack the essentials. I decided to resist a nap and treat the day as if I’d woken up there and was on that timetable, which meant a nice dinner was on the menu…image

We also had daylight hours left for a brief walk, along which many plants are already in blossom.

imageUnfortunately, I don’t recognize this plant, except that it must belong in the “beautiful” family of plants.

My aged iPad is barely up to the task I’m asking of it in writing this blog and including photos. So, please forgive any and all techno glitches. They’re likely operator driven and device recorded, without many opportunities to make corrections.

News about today, tomorrow.

Last Minute Stuff

Where does it all come from? All the “handy” little things that accumulate and demand decisions about whether they should be packed to come along or managed without. As my suitcase gets heavier and heavier, more and more are going into the latter category. I’ve never mastered packing lightly…all suggestions welcome! 32lbs and counting…