Friday, June 16, 2017

The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; He leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honour to His name. Psalm 23:1-3 (NLT)

We are back on Canadian soil now, but we wanted to give you a taste of our last day in England. A beautiful sunny day, so we ventured out on a train to Brighton, a seaside resort on the south coast of England. It was very busy with lots of tourists and after about an hour of wandering the streets, we decided to jump on a bus (double decker, top level!) and head farther east to 'The Seven Sisters', a series of chalk cliffs by the English Channel. What a beautiful spot, it was so lovely to escape the hustle and bustle of Brighton. We hiked a loop trail towards the sea and had great views of the cliffs! In England we found getting around by train and bus to be reasonable in cost and very efficient. Two return tickets from Gatwick to Brighton cost us 20 pounds sterling and there were trains running about every 15 minutes.

 A seaside resort city, Brighton features an amusement park on the pier, which opened in 1899. It is advisable to wear a hat due to many circling seagulls.

 An attempt at a selfie with the pier  and the groyne. 

 The doughnut groyne is a groyne (a water current-interrupting wharf-like structure) with a big doughnut statue on it. Quite curious.

 Noting two things, the tall ride (think flying sauce moving up a very tall column) and Laurel's toned calves. (Andrew wrote this one!)

The Royal Pavilion looks like Aladdin should be flying from it on a magic carpet. It was begun in 1787 as a royal summer dwelling. 

There were creative buskers in Brighton, this one dressed as a zebra playing the piano. He was quite talented and had quite an audience. 

Due to slight misinterpretation of the map, we took the scenic route to the coastal trail.

 You can just see the glow of the cliffs in the distance. I wonder if the innumerable sheep enjoy the view?

 This is what we came to see!

 Well worth the slow bus ride and the warm walk. It was hard to leave. 

 The coastguard cottages with Laurel contemplating living in an isolated area.

The first of the seven sisters, called Haven Brow, is 253 feet high. Click on the picture to see the people on top.

 On the train, heading back to Gatwick, not pregnant, but I think I qualified as the guy with the cane?

Perhaps a more literate society, many of the ads in the train stations were for newly published novels.

A few observations as I close off this trip blog. This vacation was wonderful, rating as one of the top 3 trips I've taken with Andrew. The daily challenge of walking 8 to 14 miles and reaching your next destination (and luggage) was very satisfying and the overall accomplishment of completing the 100 miles of trail was so rewarding. It certainly wasn't easy and I know I would never attempt it by myself, but after the second day, we just knew what we had to do and did it. 
Some things that are different in Britain than in Canada - they don't have facecloths, which kind of makes sense (less laundry), the majority of places we stayed did not have an upper sheet on the bed, just a sheet over the mattress and a duvet (again less laundry, but not sure about this!). Their public transit is affordable and very efficient. They could use some refinement on their currency (the 50 pound note was too wide for my wallet) and the tuppence seems a bit redundant.  
The Cotswold Way was an experience that was well worth the time and effort it took to plan and execute. The National Trust historic sites along the path were fascinating. The Cotswold Way is one of the 15 National Trails and as such is well marked and maintained. In Britain there are many public footpaths maintained for the enjoyment of all and I wonder if we should be taking note here in Canada and developing similar trails.
Thank you to all who have been reading along - cheerio for now!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

"They arrived in Bath. Catherine was all eager delight; her eyes were here, there, and everywhere." - from 'Northanger Abbey' by Jane Austen

A day of rest and learning some of the rich history of Bath. Some of the firsts of Bath include the first department store, the discovery of Uranus a new (at the time) planet, the first buildings constructed in a crescent, and the first postage stamp.

 Hundreds of 'brollies' suspended over a laneway in Bath.

 The Royal Mail being delivered. On one occasion during the hike we were walking down a narrow woods road not expecting to see anyone and along came a red Royal Mail van. It seems they deliver everywhere.

 We went on a 2 hour walking tour this morning with this sprightly guide. She probably had 20 years on me and I could barely keep up with her. She would finish explaining something and then say, "All right, then, come on." and away she went. Add British accent there.

 See the above picture for the wall this was set into. It was formerly a small opening and there would be someone responsible for collecting human waste (night soil) from the home on the other side of the wall. A boy would go through, collect the buckets and add them to the cart.  Then it was taken to the allotments farther on. Apparently, it is still very fertile ground.

Known as the Royal Crescent, this building houses 33 apartments which currently sell for 600,000 British pounds, about a million Canadian dollars, for a one bedroom flat. Must be the exclusive address!

 Inside the Bath Abbey. The architecture in here was breathtaking. The stained glass alone was so incredibly beautiful and we had to just sit for a few moments and take it all in. Originally on this site was a Benedictine monastery established in the 7th century. The abbey was rebuilt in the 12th and 16th centuries with major restoration in the 1860s. On this site, the first King of all England, Edgar, was crowned by the archbishop of Canterbury in 973.  

 Stained glass depicting the woman washing Jesus' feet with perfume - the colours were so rich and deep - hard to take it all in.

 Lots of street musicians out on this lovely day. The Roman baths are in the opening behind the statues at a much lower level. A very romantic setting!

 "Water is best" says this temperance statue. The same inscription in Greek is on the Roman Baths building.

 Anna, this one's for you. A bookstore with the necessity of rolling ladders.

 This street with shops on either side is actually the Pulteney bridge over the Avon River. It was built in 1774 to entice shoppers to the new developments on the other side. 

This is the same bridge viewing it from the water side. Perhaps Kentville could copy this design for the new bridge over the Cornwallis river.

 Heading back to our B&B for our last night in Bath. Onward to Gatwick tomorrow.

Youngsters getting ready for a cricket game. The Bath cricket grounds were established in 1859. Seems to be a very civilized sport. Nearby were the rugby grounds for the more rowdy,
with a sizeable stadium for spectators. 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Cotswold Way - Done and Dusted

"Done and dusted" is a fairly common term heard in this part of the world and we thought this suited the end of our walk quite well. We arrived in Bath around 3:30 and to actually get to the Abbey, the official end of the Cotswold Way, we meandered up and down the hills of Bath for about 20 minutes. We have walked 100 miles (or 161 km) in 9 days, seen and experienced the quaint English countryside and encouraged each other along the way. It has been unlike any vacation I've ever been on. A very challenging walk but yet rewarding to know I could actually finish.
We left Pennsylvania at half 9 and felt that we had to take our time today, as it was our final day and we wanted to absorb as much of the landscape as possible. So we have settled into Bath for the next 2 nights and hope to take in a walking tour tomorrow, then a train to Gatwick on Tuesday.
 The first little village we came to today, Cold Ashton and this beautiful old church which has been here for over 900 years.

 One for the grandchildren! We have enjoyed poached eggs on toast for breakfast the last 3 days.

 Flower of the day ~ herb robert (Geranium robertianum). We have seen lots of this throughout our walk.

 The site of the civil war battle of Lansdown in 1643. The commanders Sir Ralph Hopton (Royalist) and Sir William Waller (Parliamentarian) were old friends and Hopton wrote Waller a letter a few days before the battle affirming that friendship.  Our path continued over this stile in the wall. 

We did meet up with the fellow travellers we met yesterday and they took our picture for us.

 Heading down another lane. You can see I gave that horse a wide berth.

 The final march toward the Abbey and the official end of the Cotswold Way.

 And here we are - done and dusted!! An elderly English gentleman exclaimed, "Well done!" which made the finish that much sweeter.

 Finished our evening off at Bath City Church. They hold their services in a beautiful old theatre.

And another pic of the Abbey at dusk.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

"Lead me, Guide me, Walk beside me" - saying above our bed at Swan Cottage

Although the title of this blog may have a spiritual meaning, it is appropriate for this adventure because it is invaluable to have a walking partner who is good with maps and between the two of us, we see most of the signposts. This quote is on the wall of our room at Swan Cottage where we just arrived after a 13.5 mile day (~22 km). It is always a welcome site to find our B&B, this time in a village called Pennsylvania, just 10.5 km from Bath, the end (or the beginning) of the Cotswold Way. One interesting aspect of journeying in this fashion is the fellow-travellers that you meet. It is easy to start conversation since we are co-sojourners. At breakfast we met a father and son from France who were spending three days walking in the Cotswolds. The father, according to the son, was addicted to walking the Way of Saint James in France and Spain and he does this pilgrimage in sections. He has finished it twice and intends to go back. He advises to walk it alone, without prior reservations, and be open to experiences along the way. He has a network of friends that he has met in this way.  We also met (actually they passed us) a couple of English blokes who we later caught up with at a pub for lunch. They have done a lot of distance walking in England and commended the Southwest Coast Trail to us, Cornwall in particular. I wonder if we will see any of them tomorrow at the end of this walking journey........

 Necessity breeds invention. Andrew was very creative in making curtains for our door last evening.

 Come in to St. Adeline's Church ~ these old churches tend to all be open to travellers for rest and reflection. This church was built in 1859 from the stones and plans of William Tyndale's original church located nearby where he heard the call to translate the Bible in 1520.

 Andrew trying out the pulpit!

 This is a millennium folly built to provide nesting sites for barn owls and swallows. Pretty fancy, huh?

 Flower of the day ~ meadow cranesbill, a wild geranium.

 Coming down the hill from a Norman church built between 1200 and 1225 AD. As we entered the grounds of the church there was a box with leaflets, encouraging walkers to take one.  Inside there was a blessing for walkers and these words "God has given us a beautiful world. As you walk be aware of His presence surrounding you, listen to Him speaking to you..."

 This is a primary school - how fun would it be to attend here? Lovely to see these old buildings being restored and used.

A new stone drywall being built in sections. Quite a feat and I assume quite time consuming. This was a long wall!!

"If you don't like the road you're walking, start paving another one." - Dolly Parton

Andrew has volunteered to do this post and there is another one coming shortly. We had no internet last evening, so we are trying to do some catch up!!
The 7th day of our stroll took us from Dursley to Hawkesbury Upton, a meagre 14.5 miles (actually we took the shorter, original route of 12.5 miles or 20 km). We passed through towns with curious names like North Nibley and Wotton-under-Edge.  Wotton was notable because it was the place with a public toilet, a very important consideration and a scare commodity. The toilet was behind a Baptist church which had a banner notifying people of an alpha course. Today it rained in the morning and we got soaked from the waist down when walking through a wheat field, but it cleared up later and we dried out, except for our boots. We are now passing through Tyndale country and one highlight was the Tyndale monument erected near the site of his birth. Tyndale translated the Bible into the English language. We were in Dursley for the night when the British election results rolled in and now the country is in a mess, according to two men who were caretakers at the monument, because of the "hung parliament".

 In Dursley, note banner on the yew.

 Tyndale monument erected in 1863.  William Tyndale (1490-1536) graduated from Oxford in 1512 with a BA. He translated the Bible into English and was eventually burned at the stake for his "heretical" teaching in Germany. Click on panel below for details.

Plant of the day is field poppy of "In Flanders field where poppies blow" fame.

 The trail passes through a dripping wet wheat field. The public footpath heritage here is amazing. We have nothing like it in Canada where No Trespassing signs abound.

 Creative street name in North Nibley.

 A highland cow needing a hair cut.

 The organ in the 13th century Saint Mary the Virgin church, in Wotton. The plaque says, "The gift of his most sacred majesty King George, 1726".

A little doctoring on Laurel's heel. Taking the extra skin off with a jacknife and yes, that is gold duct tape you see, invaluable on this trip!