Walking in sunshine

Today has been a beautiful day after so many days of rain and nasty coughs. Moreover I’ve done no significant exercise for about a month, and I’ve eaten my fair share (and then some) of Christmas treats, and Mr T is off today so out we went to do this walk.

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The book was published in 1986 and much has changed in 27 years but it’s so delightfully illustrated i really wanted to use it. However past experience warned me that I needed a map in addition.

It was a glorious walk but muddy in the extreme: wonderful views of the marsh and some challenging terrain.

This was taken from the top near Lympne Castle.

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And this is looking back up.

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But inbetween this happened.
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Just as we met the only other intrepid walkers of that day who were warning us of treacherous mud further down. They saw me fall flat. John waited till we were almost at the canal before he toppled. Neatly and discreetly. (I laughed anyway.)
Not the most attractive of photos I realise, and I did intend to go to Sainsburys afterwards…
But despite the humiliation and the bruises it was worth it just to be out there. Milky coffee from a flask and Christmas cake at the top. More turkey and ham pie at home. What’s not to like? Aren’t we lucky?
I might need a new map.
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Scottish Holiday take two

Yay! I did it! I bagged my first Munro. Admittedly it was one with a nice clear path up and down and only a bit of nasty scrambling in places.

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How about this for an itinerary? Up before 5 in Gatwick Travelodge, having had our curry the night before, (if it ain’t broke don’t fix it). Then the tasty BA omelette at 7.45am. Still good. Arrive, pick up car and be climbing the long steep path up Ben Lomond by 11. At Glasgow we saw some hardcore,
somewhat wild looking and hairy climbers with stacks of gear at the airport which (I think)made John feel wistful for what might have been.

Instead there he is plodding up what is really a very long stumbly hill with his wife, who at the top, sensibly refused the adventure of coming down a different route. Because it was another time when you couldn’t see the path more than three steps ahead and the guidebook said the path was for the sure footed.

Great. Not me then.

Yet.

Fantastic view from half way back down.

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No need to conquer the mountain

Scotland was lovely, despite the weather, and although I walked solidly for four hours on our only bright day – half a day really – I put on 3lbs in three days! How does that happen? I know: it was the booze and the chocolate. I took in a lot of chocolate. And a lot of chips. The menus in the village where we stayed were a tad dull. Cod and chips. Scampi and chips. Washed down with McEwan’s, not me, him. I sipped delicately on a small bottle of Sol.  Then had a Drambuie at the end of the meal. It was cold and wet.

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John found a new whisky he liked. Pronounced Boonahaben.

The walking was fine. Steep in places, but so beautiful and I did want to bag a Munro. But I am scared when it comes to mist and cloud, especially when you’re near the top and the path has disappeared into a  peaty mess. The peak plays a game of Now you see me:

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Now you don’t.

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But that pretty cloud is hovering low over the mountain and can descend at any point, throwing a poor lowlander like me into real or imagined peril. Neither of us can reliably map read.  A course in orienteering beckons.

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Anyhow we got within 100m of the top and again the weather changed and again I decided to come down. I was disappointed but I felt some consolation when I saw younger and fitter looking couples turn back. I wanted to complete the walk, but hey, it was still a challenge and lovely in the seeing and the doing. I have no need to conquer the mountain.

Home now and basking in tropical temperatures. A swim at 7.30 this morning was glorious. We swam out to that buoy, then drank coffee from a flask. Modest pleasures. An ongoing theme.

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Mountains are not friendly

Today I am in Scotland in the village where John spent four happy weeks whilst I walked the Camino. We left home where temperatures were comfortably warm 23/24*C and drove to Gatwick airport Travelodge. There we had a surprisingly good curry served by smiling staff – not all Eastern European – who cheerfully processed the orders of crowds of excited holiday makers, bringing tray after tray of lamb shanks and cod and chips. No doubt the Peroni helped but we had a cheerful and hygienic experience. It was also ‘tasty food’. My culinary experiences now are measured by Helen’s criteria. “Let there be tasty food” and there was. So far so good. And the room was clean and the bed was big. Yes yes. And despite the ravening hordes the night was quiet. All good.

Next our British Airways flight to Glasgow: we unwittingly chose row 4. Excellent choice. Two wide seats and something for Flat Stanley inbetween. More decent food: a hot breakfast, a well seasoned omelette, bacon, sausage, tomato and mushrooms served in funny foil tray but all piping hot. Ours is not to reason how. Ours is just to get it down.

Because a Munro beckons. We are going to climb Beinn Ime and The Cobbler. Happy sunny climbs he performed with no difficulty in May. However today it’s 10* cooler up here than home. I’ve not been silly: I’ve come prepared with kwik drying trousers and all my Camino kit except Vaseline. And my MERINO BASE LAYER! I got one as soon as I came home having suffered from severe base layer envy in Spain. Got my poles and I am fit! So I set off with a will. But very soon the rain set in. Then the wind, almost gale force and able to gust me off my feet and into a peat bog. Not nice but the path was clear and we pressed on, determined not to let the elements prevail. My thoughts: this feels familiar, damp legs and reaching for my buff to wipe my nose. Head down pressing my glasses back onto my face, wondering if I might be better off without them, all damp and smeary. No I’m not.

Almost at the top and all hell breaks loose. “Have I developed tinnitus?” No it’s driving rain and sleet against my hood which is flapping like one of Scott’s tents. It then occurred to me that if we were separated by the dense cloud cover John is carrying the rucksack and has my lovely purple pilgrim jacket, my phone, the map ( much good it would do me) and all the provisions ( lots of chocolate). I then thought, Which part of this is fun?” None of it. And decided to turn back.

No Munro for me today, but a long slithery scramble back down the mountain John whooping away in front of me gleeful at the descent. Note to self, did I pack ibuprofen? Another note to self: so glad I didn’t get my facial thread veins done. It’s not yet winter but I feel like Greasy Joan red-faced and in need of a pot to keel – indoors.

Made it to the car, in that confused freezing cold and sweaty state that comes from exercise in inclement weather, we drove to our modest hotel where we drained the tank of every ml of hot water and made them put the heating on. Bed by 7.30 pm.

Just looked at the Folkestone forecast for the week. Wish I hadn’t.

More lovely things


So enjoying this summer. It’s a real one just like they used to be. Image

I am loving:

Walking with old friends in the rolling Dorset countryside.

Many swims. This one began on the sand in Bournemouth. Classy.

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Having picnics.

Eating sweets.

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Feeling grateful for being alive, for the time allotted me.

Helen has a friend who practises a form of gratitude journalling.She calls it ‘Today I celebrate’ and focusses her attention on the small things which make her life worthwhile. It may be the coffee which smells so good or a call from a friend. For another person it might be light on the water or birdsong or the fact that the kids slept in till 7am.

Practising an attitude of gratitude is useful.  Recording it is more so. Research has it that that mild to moderate depression can be alleviated by noticing and giving your attention to positive things.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gratitude_journal

At one point I did something called Happy Rambles, a cheesy name for a daily online  gratitude prompt. It saw me through the dark depths of last winter.  If you practise gratitude journalling and reread your entire record from time to time, it provides a map for the people, events and small mercies which nourish you, so, I suppose, continuing the map metaphor, you can return to and revisit those sources of nourishment. Worth a thought.

I’ve done well with my non-vow to swim. It’s been delightful and liberating. And I’ve noticed a number of lumpy middle aged women just like me doing the same, perhaps they were there all the time, perhaps I’ve started a trend 🙂

Today it’s pouring hard as it hasn’t done since Noah, so I am topping up my blog. This nourishes me too in some way I can’t describe. And making cake, lemon polenta, very nourishing. And Thompsons junior are coming for the weekend – toad in the hole for tea: William’s toddler chuckle.