Talking up a storm!

I’m finally getting into a northern hemisphere sleep pattern. I have had to force myself to stay awake beyond 7.30pm and slowly but surely I’m sleeping beyond 3.30am. Hooray! It’s had its benefits though, speaking to the family back home, writing for my blog followers, posting on Facebook, but no television. The rare times a television has been available in my room it’s hardly been worth watching. Reality TV rubbish I can’t watch more than 2 minutes before changing channels and I’ll bet that I can watch 5 programs in 2 minute increments and give you an accurate synopsis of all including the names of the winners of game shows.

Sometime back on the trail I saw the first chestnut tree, it’s not that there haven’t been lots of other chestnut trees, it just that the high winds had given the trees along the Tiverton canal a good shake and the chestnuts ? had fallen to the ground. You can tell how close to Christmas it is by how ready the nuts are. They are a winter nut and the only ones who can appreciate the chestnuts in September are the squirrels who gather them up and store them until they are ready to be eaten. I love chestnuts, I remember as a child roasting them on top of my great aunts old wood stove until they popped. In Spain and Italy and I’m sure other places street vendors set up pop-up stalls and roast them right there on the street, serving them in newspaper cones. I love it!

There are many interesting comments that people make when they hear what a madcap idea I have embarked upon. Amongst them many have commented on the the small villages or towns next on my itinerary. “Where are ya’ orff ta next”. I’ve heard too many respond, “there’s nothin’ ta’ see there,” when I tell them, then  they  go on to mention the larger cities. 

But what do you look for in a place when someone says “there’s nothin’ ta see there”? Can they not get excited about hearing the silence, the birds in the trees, the cows lowing in the field, the drivers who drive backwards to let the big lorries through and then strike up a roadside conversation? My time roaming the countryside between small country villages and towns has been so rich, people, landscape and accommodation? What is there in the city? People, a lot more people, too busy to stop and chat but more so preoccupied with the shops that are available, but no money to buy. Give me a country town of a handful of people and I’ll give you a happy and rich time.

I thought two days ago as I arrived in Gloucester that if weight bearing exercise is good for building bones then mine are the size of an ox and if my bones are the size of an ox then my weight is not a problem, yes/no? ??

Actually its been the best weather for hiking, sun that warms the soul and tans the skin, chilly breezes that make you pick up the pace, not so much the rain, not my favourite really but it’s not been that bad.

2 days later

He’s arrived. He got off the train and I didn’t realise it was his train and poof ? there he was in front of me with a big grin on his face. I must admit I was over the moon to see Peter too. I can still hardly believe that he’s here. 

Actually I can! He’s thrown my little routine into chaos, I don’t know how he does it. I don’t know why he felt the need to totally empty his backpack, but he did! So this morning he just put it all on the bed and told me I would have to pack it because he didn’t know how!?

He was concerned that the pack would be too heavy and I must admit I was hoping he would take a kilo of my stuff but that was not going to happen as I could see. And I can’t understand why, I may be carrying a heavier pack but I could hardly get everything into his backpack? But I did and we hit the road later than we should have.

Rule # 1. Remember you’ve a backpack on your back when you walk through the door.

It was a relatively short walk to Tewkesbury approx 21 kms, but in the first 20 minutes I had some foot surgery to perform on Peter’s foot. Two blister blockers later we were on our way again. 

Rule # 2. Training should take place in your boots before you leave home.

We followed the A38, the shorter route knowing there was a footpath. It’s not the prettiest route, we could have chosen to follow the River Severn but I like to commit to the plan I set and Peter wanted his first day to be the shortest route ‘breaking him in’ so to speak. ? Totally exhausting!

The footpaths are narrow mainly, so Peter has been walking ahead of me, single file. Whenever I call out to him he turns around, packpack to the road,  to hear what I have to say. I can see Peter making the next news headline as the oncoming vehicles drive  perilously close to his backpack.

Rule # 3. When carrying a backpack remember you ARE carrying a backpack.

Peter struggled with his hiking boots opting to change into his runners and we’ve decided to leave them behind in Aberdeen when we leave at the end of the trip. His Colombia boots with only a few hours of wear will go to someone in need and just before winter embeds itself for the season.

This is where I tell you that it’s been a silent takeover, surreptitiously, he’s done it. Just a quite hello here and there and before you know it, he’s got conversations all stitched up. In a short 10 kms, he’s got the history on the life of Matt, owner of the mobile food truck along the A38. Matt makes good cheep bacon and egg burgers. Yum! Peter got all the info on the fellow who pulled up on his massive tractor which incidentally he backed into a parking spot as though it was a Mini. He’s only a young fellow who is trimming the hedges and then there is the young woman who is moving to Leigh south of Tewksbury. She is currently decorating a new house and her husband is the reason for the move, he’s working on the local farm. Her dad incidentally who was with her, a retired fellow, used to work for Ramset Fasteners. Now there’s a name well known in Adelaide. 

Matt’s food truck was a real drawcard for passing traffic, good fresh food and fast as well as a talkfest opportunity for Peter and he still had 11 kms to go!

Tewkesbury is a gorgeous town so very steeped in the history of the War of the Roses. The Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471 was one of the deciding battles in this war and a  medieval festival is celebrated in Tewksbury in July each year, (yep, we missed that one as well). It is reputed to be the biggest medieval festival in the northern hemisphere. The program includes a re-enactment of the battle on the original battlefield which is adjacent the Abbey. Homes along the Tewksbury Road display banners of the various notables who fought in the battle and a brief detailed description is posted at their gates.

I find it quite moving really knowing there was horrendous bloodshed almost outside the door, people fighting for the right to rule. I was surprised that Tewksbury Abbey did not have a greater representation of memorials for those who died in the battle although a video does mention that many sought refuge inside the abbey.

We are staying in the Abbey Hotel but don’t get too excited the building has been here 700 years, Peter said if there’s a fire we will just jump out the first floor window. I’m not sure he realises we would be jumping onto a glass conservatory at the rear of the building. 

We’ve travelled all day today from Tewkesbury to Worcester by bus and then driving all the way to Lanercost, at the start of Hadrian’s Wall. It’s been a good day on the motorway no hold ups/delays. We’ve seen the greenest green grass and where there were boundary hedges in the south there are now stone walls. As we’ve driven we have seen the gorgeous Yorkshire Dales on one side and the Lakes District National Park on the other and in the distance the North Pennines. Superb! 

As I’ve mentioned previously we’ve kept this part of the itinerary fluid and we have been fortunate to land in another beautiful spot. The autumn leaves this far north are more advanced, we have seen an amazing display of colours and I find it hard now to choose between the rich and wide range of greens or the yellow to honey coloured to russet coloured leaves. I love seeing the wind catch in the trees producing a shower of colours.

We’ve asked a few people the best place for dinner tonight and the Duke of Cumberland in Castle Carrock has come well recommended. We discovered that the pub has won the Best Country Pub in the Carlisle Living Awards. We had to try it and it was a real winner! Two ladies run the pub, Julie and Leslie, it’s cosy with a roaring fire at one end, tastefully decorated and easy listening music playing in the background. For me it was a winner, with a good range of cold beers on tap and food that was out of this world. We had  Lamb Henry with jus, mash and veg and home-made mint sauce, we were warned about the large servings so we opted to share with some extra vegetables on the side and I’m glad we did because only a man with a man size appetite could have eaten the massive portion. So now we can highly recommend the Duke of Cumberland to you.

Tomorrow we are off to explore a section of Hadrian’s Wall, the Borderlands ending up in Berwick Upon Tyne. I’m in history heaven.

We’ll see you in Scotland! 

How will history remember us?

I remember reading the Poldark novels back in the 1980s. A friend of mine at the time had all eleven books. I don’t think I even knew where Cornwall was before then but as I read each novel I was drawn into the landscape more and more. Without a doubt I loved the storyline as well, who doesn’t love a good love story? But at any given moment I could close my eyes and be transported to that wonderful place and find myself standing on the edge of a cliff and looking out to miles and miles of sea, the waves crashing against the cliffs below expelling a sonic boom, water spraying upwards and out, leaving the taste of the sea on my lips.

It’s a romance with the untrappable elements, the force of nature, the skies blue and sometimes heavy with clouds, the sting of the rain against your skin, the wind that threatens to drag you down and hurl you against the jagged rocks below. 

That is the Cornwall that I knew in my mind and when in 2011 nearly 30 years later I asked my husband for the millionth time to take me to Cornwall he had no idea that his suggestion that I go on my own would result in me doing just that. I am still in love with Cornwall and best the further most area of the peninsula. 

As I arrive in a village or town I feel as though I’m walking in a timeless period captured for all time. Houses that have been around for four or five hundred years, their ages showing, certainly, but I’m caught in a place, in a time. I’m mesmerised totally and I wonder how the people lived, survived, worked, struggled. I think about the rich and the poor, the people employed in service. The children who worked in mines, and mills, weaving, little ones aged four, five or six whose little fingers made the best lace. 

I think of the churches and abbeys in ruins and the cause of the ruin and those who rebuilt churches on the original foundation stones over 1000 years old. As I wonder through the abbeys I read the memorial stones that speak of a rich life, a life dedicated to husbands and children, of husbands who were honourable and upright and Christian, devoted. Of the men who went to war, any war who served King and country, who went to India, who served in the Royal Gloucester Hussars, who worked hard, who were sons dead at a young age hardly reaching their prime, sons of mothers and fathers. But children who died at birth or in their infancy will not have a memorial stone inside an abbey they were not permitted to be buried inside the city walls. 

This is the history of the places I visit and I want to be intimately involved for the short time I’m in each place so that when I leave I know something about the town or village I visited. 

I could tell you that there is a Gap store here, Clark’s shoes, Biggie Best or Laura Ashley but that’s not history. It doesn’t tell us how the people live or add anything to their lives. It’s not history.

I may have told you previously, I seem to strike up conversations with much older people, oh, the young ones are very good if I ask a direct question, or directions but the older people will stop and ask me where I want to go, where have I come from and within a few minutes I know where they were born, how long they have lived in that town or village and how they came to live there. They are generous of their time and kind to strangers.

I sat on a bus yesterday about half way down and watched people greet each other as they got on the bus. These people even though they lived villages apart knew each other, enquired after each other, families, health, etc. they knew the bus driver. What a wonderful world they live in and I wonder where  our community spirit has gone? Conversations did not involve anything extraneous to the individual, not their latest purchase, cars, houses, or clothes, etc, their words were kind and caring towards each other. 

This experience of community living has dominated my thoughts today as I walked along and I wonder that we should all be living in small towns and villages and in fact we do. We live in suburbs, these are our “communities” and we need to become keenly interested in our neighbours and go out of our way to know them to begin to break down the barriers that we have so carefully erected around ourselves. We have a responsibility to care about the individual and press people with our greetings of “good morning” and “good afternoon”, more so the sterner looking ones because in so doing we will begin to recreate something good and much needed in our communities.

I press on each day greeting people as I walk, today was a classic example of the point I’m trying to make; the last person I greeted as I was heading into Gloucester had a less friendliness about her, and for a moment I debated whether to greet or not to greet and I did. The dear lady’s face was transformed by a beautiful smile, I admonished myself for even contemplating remaining silent. 

I’m in the city of Gloucester tonight. I have visited one of the most beautiful cathedrals today, it’s architecture was overwhelming. It is not richly adorned with gold or such but with the master craftsmanship and labour of man. Totally beautiful! I’ll tell you about it some other time.

Tomorrow morning when I wake up Peter will be almost here. You know he is always an interruption to my jottings but I’ll see you again very soon in another place.

So much happens in a day how can I retain it all?

Dogs are everywhere, its another way to get people holidaying at home so to speak. Dog friendly bed and breakfast guest houses we’re already well established when I first came to Cornwall in 2011. Trouble has been that many, many people, don’t pick up after their dogs. If you take the dog home you take their leavings as well. It’s a bit of an issue. Dogs are permitted everywhere except the occasional restaurant I’m not sure that I agree with taking dogs into areas where food is purchased or served but then I don’t have a dog.

I heard on the morning program the other day that the long hotter summer season this year has encouraged Brits to stay at home and holiday in their own country rather than flying to Spain where they would normally holiday. Of course the only reason why we heard it is because Thomas Cook’s profits are down. It’s a first world problem isn’t it?  Where shall we holiday this year? Majorca, Corfu or Cornwall?  Can we take the dog?

Peter and I had an experience on a Vueling flight a few years ago. As it happens your pet can fly with you in the aircraft cabin. A couple were flying somewhere, probably back to UK from Santiago de Compostela, the small dog crates are meant to fit under the seat in front of the pet owner/passenger; well I don’t know how because a human can barely get their feet under the seat in front of them. Well the crate did not fit and another  passenger who had the adjacent seat allocated to them was displaced to the rear of the aircraft. The wife was moved to seat 1a and the dog in the crate was allocated the seat next to its owner. I’m still wondering how it is that the displaced passenger got the back of the aircraft and the wife of the pet owner got the front. 

I’ve observed drivers in UK drive forward into a car parking space, back into carparks, park on either side of the street wherever there’s a spot. On the curb or off the curb. We’ve become precious in Adelaide (I have) it’s the inconvenience of waiting for a person who takes twice the time to back in as they would to drive in. At least in UK they do what they and do, and do it swiftly.

At different times of thoughts of where I’ve been, the people I’ve met date, the amazing landscape, etc come to mind. This morning I was remembering the graveyards I’ve been through in Cornwall. It’s been interesting to read the grand old ages of people who lived one to two hundred years ago. I met a Cornishman John in Wendron who took a keen interest in what I was doing and having little else to do helped me find some grave markers of the Moyle ancestors. He and others I’ve spoken with agree that in ages past people worked hard, not as people do now, but physical labour whether in mines, (a perilous occupation in itself) but even women who rose early in the day often before dawn to begin their chores, gave birth to a great number of children who either survived the first 5 years of their lives or not, performed manual tasks women today would not even consider doing and then sewing by candle or lamp light to clothe, mend or resize for her brood. And yet, they lived a long life. Of course the other side of that is women who at young ages followed their newborn to the grave.

John told me a bit about his family, his aunts and uncles who are still living independently in their mid to late 90s and of someone he knew whose relative lived to 130. We are now living in a period of time when we are eating more, labouring less and dying young. There must be some truth to the old adage that hard work never killed anybody.

There wasn’t a cemetery in Bath for a long time. The dead were buried under the Abbey floor, the entire floor of the Abbey and most of the walls are covered with memorial stones. So it is also in Malmesbury and Cirencester Abbeys.

I’m on the bus everyday now until I get to Gloucester in two days. I’ve been to council to ask for a map of lanes or A-roads with footpaths in the immediate location. The roads in the Cotswolds are far busier and too dangerous. There are lots of public footpaths that cut through properties, Ordnance Survey Maps show them, but therein lies another issue, I would need about 25 maps to be able to follow the footpaths for this trip, that means my backpack would be full of maps and no room for essentials like clothes. It takes at least two maps for one day of hiking, in Cornwall it was three. I’ve also seen many a public footpath that has been so overgrown that it was impenetrable. 

Well I’m on the bus now to Cirencester, I don’t exactly know where I am but it’s beautiful. A real mix of large estates, sweeping tree lined driveways and the very first hint of autumn leaves. Cirencester is a marvellous historic Roman town. The Corinium Museum is full of archeological finds including huge slabs of mosaics or portions thereof found  under floors in homes and/or farms. I know some of these were featured on Time Team (if your a fan of archeological digs) or Tony Robinson. A Roman amphitheater was discovered here as recently as 1965, today it’s grassed over but you can still see the outline of the rows of seating.

Cirencester is a market town, I saw a sign somewhere stating it’s the heart of the Cotswolds and it’s in Gloucestershire.

Tomorrow it’s Cheltenham and whilst I’m excited about going there as well I’m really focussed on seeing Peter again the following day in Gloucester. 

Our onward travel plans are constantly changing. I think that there will be little hiking in the days ahead, the weather forecast for  Scotland show  rain and snow ❄⛄  and averaging 2 degrees so we’ll make it up as we go along.

See you soon.

 

Calling all Cars!

Clear skies again today, the forecast is 21 degrees, so it will be quite warm hiking. Bath is rather sleepy at nearly 9am. I’ve spied a guy washing top storey windows, with a super long shaft that has a water spray and pad at the end of it.

I’m not sure when rubbish is collected but going back to my comments yesterday regarding sustainability, there is a thorough recycling system wherever I’ve been. No large solo bins just crates and large bags designated for specific refuse.

Another couple of observations:  the F-word is used far less frequently wherever I’ve been.  When I have heard it it’s been like a kick in the face, when did we take this and other profanity on as part of our regular language? I remember my father in law saying that the use of profanity was a result of poor vocabulary. Perhaps schools should step up to the plate and parent should lead the charge in elevating the standard of speech in the home. 

The other observation is smoking. Not as many smokers but a lot more people vaping. Vape shops are everywhere. I’m the worst reformed smoker and I hate cigarette smoke and dislike vaping, is vaping less harmful than smoking? Anyone?

I’ve loved visiting Bath but I’m ready to move on and today is it. I’m hiking an arc through the Cotswolds to Gloucester. I’m itching to move on and start walking again.

Hands up all the Escape to the country fans. For those who watch this program wit ;any regularity, have you noticed that not many people do take the final step to purchase. The house hunters may be totally wowed by one or more of the properties, “their dream home” on offer, but fail to do the deal. It occurred to me as I have walked through villages and towns that it’s all very good to want to ‘escape’ to the country but it’s so very different from living in Adelaide where city to sea, city to hills is just 20 minutes and you have another satellite city. 

English villages and towns are remote, if you buy a 5acre property it’s generally next to a whole lot of other large land holdings so the chances of seeing anyone are diminished unless you go to the village which is more likely to be 2 to 4kms away and many small villages do not have supermarkets or markets or regular public transport and no public transport on Sundays. It’s deathly quite at night and if you listen to the house hunters,  they are relying on their friends or family to visit. It can be a very lonely existence. I think escaping to the country is a pipe dream for most but it makes a good program for viewers like us.

Back on the road at last. Before I left Marazion I checked the road rules to ensure I was well within the bounds of the law when it comes to when and where I walk. Each evening in preparation for the next days’ walk I check all the routes, because there is always more than one way to get to where one wants to go. Of course as I’ve said previously I prefer the country lanes. 

Today I had a choice of the A350 or B4069. I rationalised that the A roads have footpaths whereas the B roads don’t. Unfortunately today the A350 out of Chippenham lost its footpath about 2 miles out of town. I have been told that council is responsible for the paths or at least keeping the grass cut down so that there is a path of a sort, this council like many others couldn’t  care less about the path which forces people like me to walk on the road.

Now I know that I’m allowed to walk on the road and I do take all the precautions and where possible, I’ll wade through the long grass which I consider more perilous than the road. Today though, half way to Malmesbury a police patrol car pulled up alongside of me “uh-ho”. “Why are you walking on the road”, asked the officer in the passenger seat, I explained the dangers beneath the long grass, the precautions I take on the road etc etc. 

“We would rather you not walk on the road”, so I explained again what may have been unclear in my Australian accent. The officer in the drivers seat then said, “I would rather drive you where you want to go than have to come back and pick you up off the road”. Wow, that’s drastic I thought…….and kind. I was quick to say I’m truly happy to walk on but if it’s really an issue for them I would accept their offer to drive me. They drove me!

We had a lovely chat on the way and I have landed in the most beautiful town which I have now plenty of time to explore. 

The language is more rounded here in Malmesbury, a plum has been added in speech, is it a Wiltshire thing? I’ll find out soon.

 

Cheers from Malmesbury.

No Extra Guests Allowed!

Relocating today to The Thief nearer Royal Cresent. I’ve really enjoyed being so very central to the top locations of Bath but I’m glad I won’t be listening to another night of to the stray alley cats, oh sorry, screeching females and boisterous males on their way home from wherever they been at 2am in the morning.

I’ve come to realise that wherever I’ve roamed over the last couple of weeks I’ve missed the scheduled seasons festivities. The Harvest festivals through Cornwall happened on the Sunday that I moved into Devon, the Jane Austen festival ended on the day before I arrived in Bath, that sort of thing. Pity really but then again I got to have a cup of tea with a delightful group of people in St Neot I wouldn’t have missed that for anything.

I’m back at the Boston Tea Party for breakfast this morning before I vacate the green. I’ve noticed that support for sustainable products is strong, Marks and Spencer and the like support recycled plastic bags and much, much more. It’s all very green. In Cornwall solar panels on roofs were strongly represented, wind farms, solar farms and so on. I heard talk that new shops will need to have outlets for electric vehicles to recharge. It’s really very impressive.

I’ve also noticed that few women wear makeup and those who do wear a far more natural look. You can almost pick the out-of-towners.

I’ve taken my backpack and hiking shoes to a cafe near the train station where it will be stored until I can check into my alternative accommodation for tonight and I’ve decided to do one those open top bus tours this afternoon to catch anything I’ve missed but of all the places I could go for a light lunch before the tour, I’m back at a Abbey Green at the Bath Bun Tea Shoppe, sitting out under the over hanging canopy of the massive Plane tree. 

There’s no rushing in this spot; lots of people coming and going even if they don’t know where they are going. The abbey is to my right, I can hear the artist playing in the forecourt of the abbey, Abigail’s Parlour is directly ahead of me and I feel that I’m going to bring in good business for the tea house just because I chose to sit alfresco. 

Abbey Green is a significant location it would seem, not just because of the magnificent tree that would require 25 adults to encircle the trunk of the tree, there must be some other drawcard as all the walking groups come here and I think the Frankenstein After Dark tour visits this spot as well.

I’ve just completed a skyline bus tour and learned so many interesting details on the development of Bath and a few other things such as, I qualify as a senior ? and get discounts. 

Ralph Allen had a significant influence in the development of Bath, the improvement of the postal system (could use his influence in Adelaide on that), the quarrying of Bath stone, the railway and much much more. He built a home overlooking Bath which was named Prior Park, it was a testament to the beauty of Bath stone and to his incredible wealth. We learnt today that the house was half a kilometre long including the chapel and that it’s the biggest house in Britain.

William Pulteney was the other person who had significant wealth and influence in Bath. He built rows of Georgian Terraces which we heard were not for individual owners but he rented them to the Upper Crust when they came to Bath for the season. Five levels, top for the servants, fourth bedrooms, third drawing and withdrawing rooms, second entrance foyers plus, first kitchens, basement vaults.

The street of terraces is 300meters long (Allen’s house was 500metres) and Great Pulteney Street is he widest street in Bath so a carriage could easily do a u-turn. At the end of the street is another large building now the Holbourne Museum which  

was originally the centre for entertainment (as well as the Assembly Rooms) for those attending ‘the season’ in Bath. It was Bath’s equivalent of London’s Vauxhall Gardens. 

Stop Press::::::::::

In the midst of writing this blog this afternoon I had a horrifying experience!!!!!

Lying on the bed contemplating things I’d like to share with you of all I’ve seen, I saw a movement from my peripheral vision. Arrrrghhhhhh! It was dim you see and I couldn’t be certain and then I was………a massive spider. Literally the size of my entire hand. It looked and I say looked like a Huntsman but not as chunky, legs finer but definitely not a Daddy Long Legs this spider had substance. I’m not sure who was stunned more but I had to dash for the lights and then I looked around to find something to smash it with, but I didn’t want to use anything that belongs to me, therefore my choice of weapons was limited. I opted for a towel, I could flick it then throw it over the spider and do a tarantella on it.

So I did. I gave it a good hard flick. It fell to the floor. I threw the towel over it and did a tarantella. I lifted the towel, and………..it wasn’t there. I had either pulverised it or it survived the weight of a heifer doing the tarantella on it. That is some spider!  

So what should I do, I’m jumping like a hot potato. I had to get all of my belongings off the floor. Don’t worry about the fact that a spider can run up anything anywhere.? I put on my shoes, which incidentally I had hanging by the heels on the lamp shade. I unlocked the door, and flew down the stairs to the bar to get some fly spray.

When I told he barman/hotel manager about the spider, he looked at me and said “ah, that’s where it’s gone, the cleaner told me there was a spider in the hall today and we didn’t know where it went”.? I couldn’t believe what he said. I’m thinking, holy cow man, so you knew there was a spider and what? But of course me, sweet and  never having the words to say at the right time said, “it’s gone to room number 12”. 

He picked up 2 cans of spray but he wasn’t in a hurry to move, I thought it will disappear before he has time to think about where he’s going to scratch next. So I told him I’d take care of it and snatched a can of spray, after all I had to sleep in a room with a spider that could have been anywhere by now. I unloaded half a can of spray in the general direction I thought it should be, then I sprayed the perimeter of the bed and maybe the curtain, and behind the dusty old door that doubles for a bed head. And then I rested.

I couldn’t leave the room now I had to find the darn spider. If I went out it could be anywhere, not taking into account that at this stage it WAS anywhere, so I watched a bit of television to take my eyes off the curtain. Finally I pulled the curtain back cautiously and had another good look under the heater, spray in hand and a-ha, I could see a ball with folded legs in the crease between the wall and the carpet and unloaded another 1/4 of the can and can you believe it, it jolly moved…….. and there went the rest of the can of spray. It was literally coated in spray, a spider in a white coat. 

Now I’d like the bar man/manger to come up and take it out of the room. Pathetic I know but I didn’t pay for extra guests in my room!

And just to finish off my day do you know that Bath was the home of Thomas Gainsborough who spent 16 years here, during which time he developed his portrait style. 

Bath is officially in the Cotswolds but tomorrow I’m off to Malmesbury which is moving towards the heart of the region.

Can’t wait to get moving again.

Cheers 

Brace Yourself, Winter is Coming!

At 7am this morning there was hardly a soul to be seen on the streets. It was 3 degrees, I knew it was cold outside so I put on my scarf and puffy jacket but anything not covered almost froze off. 

What madness takes a person out in such cold weather at that hour whilst they are on holiday? The answer is very simple, photos, unobstructed by people. There are just so many Bathonions, students and tourists it’s difficult to get a good shot without having to constantly dodge people. 

Cold it may have been but it was certainly well worth it. Queen Square, Circus and Royal Crescent just three of my listed places to visit and other places of interest discovered along the way.

No 1 was the first Georgian property to be built on Royal Crescent however it does not face the crescent and does not form part of the wall to wall mansions on the crescent. It is however a property preserved and decorated in the original Georgian style and is open to the public so it’s on my list of historical places to explore.

I’ve noticed that city-dwellers are more closed and suspicious than country folk, the open greetings on the street even at that hour are just not there, even I am guarded. Streets are patrolled by police or guards but there is no interest there either. I am aware that Bath has been a city of homelessness, historically these homeless people were the beggars on the streets, where do they go? Are there homeless shelters, they are hidden if they exist.

It’s now closer to 10am and a vast contrast from the barren street of the early morning, it’s 2 degrees warmer and streets are already bustling with pedestrians with somewhere to go and delivery/service vehicles doing what they do. I’m sitting in the Boston Tea Party cafe having breakfast but it’s only one of few cafes that open early enough for people like me. This location is central to everything so you can image it’s very popular.

I found a small table for two this morning and offered to share it with another woman who had nowhere to sit, she was very appreciative but no conversation was forthcoming not even an introduction but a brief thanks and farewell. A couple have occupied the table next to me speaking a language unfamiliar to me and I just had to ask them where they are from. “Poland”. They have lived in Bath for 13 years, he speaks English with a hint of an English accent but she sounds as if she’s fresh off the boat/plane/train, whatever. A lovely couple, he has a friend here who invited him to come way back and so he did. They say Bath is an expensive place to live so they have moved out of town, he owns his own landscaping business. Nice couple.

Ok it’s time to move on so I’ll pick up this conversation with you on a seat out in the bracing cold. Stay tuned.

I’ve just put my camera down and paused my audio tour of the Roman baths. I can’t even begin to describe the feeling of walking on ground that is steeped in history. The baths have been here for 2000 years and only rediscovered in the early 18th century. I suppose they have been digging it up ever since. The large slabs of stone uneven have been worn down by time and the shimmering water in the pool with that green tinge borrowed from the algae is mesmerising, I’m still hard pressed to understand whether this is flowing still from the original water source or whether it is has been engineered for the benefit of the tourists. 

I cannot resist running my hand over the ancient stone, the love of history mingles with the blood flowing through my veins. I wish you could all be here to see this, it’s pretty special.

It is not unusual that there was such worshipping of gods here in the temple that made up part of the Baths’ complex, it would have just been a flow on of the idol worship within the homes steeped in the life of the Romans. Venus, Juno, Diana, Jupiter, Mars, Apollo, Vulcan, Vesta and more depending on the need of the individual at the time. The Romans did not dare set foot out for the day before going to the gods for help and guidance.

I imagine though that when my Duke built his tunnel to move from the residence to the Baths he was not into temple worship nor were any of the others of the Upper crust who could afford to frequent the Baths, they came for the therapy of the Baths and to see and be seen as was the popular mode of the times. 

I should have come at 9am when the Baths opened, I was walking right past but opted for warmth and breakfast first. This place is crawling with people now, not surprisingly many Americans and Asians as well as other ethnic groups.

I don’t like crowds and I don’t like being corralled and driven through corridors like lemmings. I’ve left the Baths and I’m sitting on a bench outside the pump room with the abbey to my left, listening to a solo artist playing acoustic guitar and the most sublime music. It’s classical and very nostalgic, Italian in fact. If I had any thought of rushing around to see all the sights this talented artist has caused me to slow down the pace, allow myself to amble, enjoy the beautiful architecture, the sun and block out the tourist groups.

I’ve decided to do a tour of the Abbey tower later today and whilst waiting to purchase my ticket I  heard the most amazing soprano voice out in the forecourt of the Abbey. Ticket in hand I made a bee-line towards that voice. Bravo! Puccini, Verdi, Barber (Agnes Dei), songs from Les Miserable……..What a boon! Miranda Gilmour is a professional opera singer and busker in Bath. Charley told me yesterday Bath boasts some of the very best buskers, I certainly believe that!

Enjoy the blue skies and sun wherever you are, the same blue skies and sun is favouring Bath today. 

Catch you later.

Bath time, it’s official!

It was a cold and chilly night in Faulkland last night, just 4 degrees and it was still just 4 degrees when I left this morning to head for Bath. Another day of country lanes and close to an hour  on the main road leading into this beautiful city. 

I’m in Abbey Green and so aptly named, it’s right behind Bath Abbey and the Roman  Baths. It’s a quaint little square where once I’m sure there had been a green but now a huge Plane Tree fills the space and a slabs of slate make up the pedestrian  surrounding it.

My apartment occupies half a floor in a Georgian building.  My host gave me a very detailed history of the building and it’s location to the Baths and other significant structures. This very building was built for a Duke who came to Bath to take the waters as they say and soak in the Roman Baths however, he didn’t wish to be seen entering the Baths so he had a tunnel built beneath the building connecting it to the Baths. How about that!  

As well as it being the residence of the Duke it subsequently became the residence of the Abbot from the Abbey and now I’m here, makes me feels special.

I’m dying to get out there and explore but some fundamental housekeeping is necessary ie purchasing some pants at Marks and Spencer just around the corner, it will be good to wear something other than hiking pants and doing the laundry. I’ve discovered that one can travel quite a long distance over quite a few days before washing clothes becomes essential. It’s now essential! My socks I think could almost walk on their own, however I have it on very good authority that my Icebreakers can be worn for 38 days before washing becomes essential. 

Charley my host must be very keen on coffee, I’m sure that he has told me where every coffee shop is located and rated them as well. I know where every pizza bar, Tapas bar, Thai and Moroccan restaurants and Gastropubs are located. He’s an American who has lived here with his wife and daughter for 25years, I think I know everything there is to know about Charley and his family and their medical status.

6.00pm

I’ve been out walking around taking in the beautiful Roman architecture. Simply beautiful! Charley told me that Bath was built on boggy ground, that there are corridors of vaults that run under the entire city and that all the buildings were actually built one level below the current street level. It’s true, I’ve been photographing what immediately could be construed to be basement levels but I can see that  the buildings go much deeper than the ‘lower ground’ window. Over the years the ground has been built up. It’s fantastic!

9.00pm’ish

The Abbey bells have just stopped ringing after a solid hour or more, it must be the bell ringers practice night. It’s almost 9pm ?Nope, they’ve started again. It will be the lullaby that sends me off to sleep, not!  Actually the bell ringers are quite off key tonight. 

?zzzzz!

2.30am

Waking up in the early hours  has become part of my routine, it’s not been a problem, I use the time to call home and check on everyone, tonight though I am discovering there is a price to pay for being so close to the city’s hotspots. Young people  have been wearing a path through the green for the last hour talking at the top of their voices,   I just wish I could go back in time to the early period  of this building, the late 1600s, when I could just open a window and throw the night soil out over them. ???

Good night all.

 

 

A lesson in counting!

As a woman you just can’t sit in a pub by yourself. Well actually you can, and I do, but the eyes keep watching. It becomes a comedy act, the eyes watch, watching, watching, the question on their mind, ”is someone going to come and join her”?  Uh, no she ordering a drink, she’s drinking by…her…self. You can just see it playing out in front of you, You see, they don’t know you are secretly watching them watching you. “Will she order food, we’ll wait, someone will come and join her because she can’t be  drinking by…her…self”.

I have established for myself a  five-minute policy, if I don’t get service in five  minutes, then I’m out. I’ve seen too many closed, for sale pubs along the way which tells me that only the good ones survive. I aim to help them – if they don’t serve me in 5 minutes then they are one drink or one meal closer to joining all the other dead businesses.

All the while I’m counting. 183, 184, 185……this is dead boring. I’m on my feet, menu in hand, at the bar. “Shall I order my meal here”, I say ever so sweetly. “Uh, uh”, they are all a flutter, “I’ll come to your table”, “well I’m here now so why don’t I order here?” Now I have three people serving me and they are about to bring out the royal throne because they can’t do enough for me.

Tonight though I’m out later than I would normally and I really would like to be home before dark. It’s not far and I have Google maps and I’m very good at retracing my steps. But all the same it’s still raining, it just hasn’t let up at all today and I really want to home before dark.

I’m having Cod, chips and peas. Not bad, it’s certainly hot I just can’t work out how the food was cooked quicker than it took to order. Carlsberg beer again there was no new offering.

All the waiters, barmaids, call me “my lovely” it must be a very English thing. There’s something about looking up to a sweet waitress who calls you “my lovely” and looks old enough to be your grand daughter and she has silver piercings through her lips, nose and any other flap that protrudes from that beautiful plaited head.

English menus are so similar to Aussie menus. Six varieties of burgers, cod and chips but the usual pasta dishes have been replaced with Chilli con carne and some sort of pie.

There were just three of us a few minutes ago and now the place is full, just as well I have a 5 minute rule otherwise I’d be done for.

The Russians at the table over by the wall are definitely outnumbered here. In fact there have been quite a number of Russians wherever I have been.

Well “my lovelies”, I’m going to drink the rest of my beer, pay my bill and take myself home to bed ready to greet another day.

Bottoms up everyone!

When What you see is not what you get.

I have been using Airbnb to, where possible, source cheaper accommodation. It’s imperative to have your wits about you when looking at pretty pictures. I specifically targeted locations and then selected the accommodation but in some cases I’ve had to do the reverse due to the lack of beds available in the places I have wanted to stop. So accommodation has been quite diverse.

In Penzance I had a room in a residence above a shop just off the high street. Kitchen/dinette on the first, bathroom on the second, bedrooms on the third floor. In Marazion I had a room in, I’ll loosely call it a hotel, but more like a guest house. I had a squeezey shower in a nook in the room but the water was hot and it was great to wash off the salt from the coastal walk. The toilet was down the hall but it was exclusively for my use. Mike, the host cooked a mean bacon and eggs.

The accommodation in Helston was similar to others I stayed in; kitchen on ground floor with living/dining then bedrooms upstairs, sometimes a loft bedroom on the next level or a bathroom. Truro as I previously mentioned was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. My sister-in-law Nola said the house looked like it had been ransacked. It was pure filth and last night was a close second or was it a first? Well, it was a first experience for me; the host didn’t recall that I was expected, the house was a hovel and apart from the loud music that went on at about my bedtime, she ‘entertained’ a ‘friend’ later at night in the bath. She stuck her head in my room and asked if I needed to use the loo first though, ? I’m not saying anymore.  I think I’m permanently scarred!!!

In amongst those though, I’ve had some amazing stays. The Shepherd’s Hut was so novel in Nanstallon, ‘The Bothy’, a stone outdoor self-contained room converted for guest accommodation in Cardinham on the edge of the Bodmin Moor and an amazing stay in Tiverton in a gorgeous cottage that oozed character and warmth. 

I’ve got some good ones ahead too but it’s been a lesson that just because something is available and not necessarily the cheapest doesn’t mean you will get what the photos present. I did get a full refund from Airbnb for the Truro house from hell you’ll be pleased to know, but it has made me review all my selections for the days ahead.

Have I told you I have a wonderful husband? He’s the guy that gets the early in the morning or late at night phone calls, when I’m distressed.  He is a soothing balm for my soul and when I have finished rambling and he’s wide awake, I am calm and ready to put my head on the pillow.

After last night I was dressed and out the door by 7.00am. I had to walk off the nights’ events and I did all the way to Taunton and in record time. Rain and cold was forecast for the day, it started just as I hit the Taunton city limits and it hasn’t stopped raining yet. 

It’s my first stay in a bungalow (single story dwelling) tonight. Judith is my host. The house feels like my in-laws old home at South Plympton. Double brick, tiled roof, it’s an entire suburb of bungalows. Very pretty indeed, feels like Netherby, but this house is modest and comfortable.

Tomorrow I’ll be travelling through Midsomer Norton; for any of you Midsomer Murder fans, Midsomer Norton is often mentioned, as is Corston which is not far from Midsomer. I’ll just be passing through though on my way to Faulkland which is officially in Bath but close to a four hour walk for me.

So until then, I’ll see you in the beautiful city of Bath.

 

Wha’ll ya ‘Ave?

Thursday 6.00pm

Did you hear the one about the women who walked into the pub and all the men looked up.?

My host Rory suggested a great little pub Courtenay’s Bar, he said he had been the previous night with his son and a few guys were jamming, playing folk music. Courtenay’s Bar is only the size of our kitchen/dining/lounge area so that will give you some idea. I thought, “a bit of live music, I’m in”! But alas, no music tonight, I sensed it before I stepped in the door, 8 men, 7 at the bar, they looked at me and almost rolled their eyes.

Funny though I asked for “a beer please, cold” and within a breath the fellows were suggesting what I should drink. The woman behind the bar, Marilyn, who has seen many a day, was more thrown than the men after all was said and done, and the men began inviting me to taste their beer to help me make a selection. ???

Now if that offer happened in the good old days there would surely have been a connotation attached to it. Maybe even so today! I declined respectfully.

This is the only bar I’ve been in that hasn’t sold cold beer on tap. Marilyn I’ve discovered is finishing early and going to her book club meeting. I overheard her say the book being reviewed is The Bookclub (I saw the movie on the plane) and as it happens the men here are well informed in popular books as well as how to cook various vegetables. I wouldn’t have missed this for the world.

I’ve had a cruisey day today, the weather has finally rolled in. I made a decision early to train and bus it and a good decision indeed. On the bus to Liskeard to catch a train, the danger of walking along the lanes became obvious, fog and wet roads, drivers in a hurry to get somewhere they had to be, yes a good decision indeed.

Tiverton is the home of Tiverton silk lace. Princess Diana’s wedding veil, was made from Tiverton lace and it’s also the home of Honiton’s lace. The most superior silk came from Italy and I did not know that the silk cocoons. During the war the silk was used to make parachutes and other things instead.

It has been for many decades also the home of Heathcote textiles. Heathcote made the netting for the tutus for the Royal Ballet amongst other things. The owners still look after the workers as in the times of old and still provide housing for their workers. They also put on a festival for the workers every year. 

Going back to Courtenay’s Bar, you hear a lot of things when you’re on your own and when people think you’re occupied doing other things they are quite loose lipped and I’m sure some try to shock with language watching for a reaction, but I don’t flinch I just keep my head down and fingers tapping the keyboard hearing every word. Naughty aren’t I? 

Friday 7.30am

My hosts last night were Rory and Jenny I had a fabulous time with them. Rory has been in wine retailing for 23 years, he sold his business 2 years ago and having a ‘gap period’ as Jenny says. Jenny is an incredible creative and the whole family are into good wholesome fun. They are all into dressing up for the rugby, themed Christmas’, Hogmanay and so on. Jenny sews, she bakes, she reads and decorates! 

On Jenny’s recommendation I visited St Peter church this morning to see a memorial stone that read as follows:

Peter Newte an unworthy Son of the right worthy Richard Newte , dyed June the 15th 1720.

Well there you go, perhaps had I not seen it for myself I wouldn’t have believed that a father could memorialise his son like that. The stone is set in the wall of the church. Shame on the church as well.

Dodgey weather again today, the effects of Hurricane Helena are being felt, this region is totally windswept. I was determined to hike the Great Western Canal and it was well worth it. Plans in 1796 were to join the Bristol Channel and the English Channel by a canal bypassing Lands End. Additionally the canal would be used for the supply of limestone and coal to lime kilns. Of course the railway interrupted the plans, but today I noticed that the long/barges and recreational boats still use the canal and the last of the horse drawn barge boats still operate as a tourist attraction. See Facebook for photos.

I’m in Wellington tonight. A couple of interesting facts about Wellington. Wellington gave its name to Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington and the Capital City of Wellington in New Zealand is named after Arthur Wellesley.

Wellington is also the home of Fox, Fowler & Company which was the last commercial bank permitted to print their own sterling banknotes in England and Wales.

Has anyone heard of Tim Martin? I’ve heard Tim speaking in an interview and his accent is as Aussie as they come. Tim established a number of  pubs in UK called Wetherspoons, good family oriented places where good food is served and  the adults can have a drink.  I had the best chicken burger ever at Wetherspoons in Helston and I’ll probably eat there again before I leave the UK.

Well it’s Taunton tomorrow and just a couple more days before I get to Bath when it is expected to be sunshine for the 3 days that I’m there.

See you all in cyberspace all the way from the UK.

A new Italian adventure in 2017