Revisit every road and house I have lived in – Challenge No 32

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So only four days to go and here is my final push!!

I realised a while ago I was putting off one of my challenges ( that should have been relatively easy to achieve ) and that challenge was this one! I always knew that in doing this I would dredge up a cornucopia of emotions but in the spirit of many of my other challenges I also wanted to do this so I could celebrate/put to rest what came up. The act of blogging itself is very cathartic as it makes you think and then articulate what you are experiencing… Thus giving them form and a whole new dimension; I think I now understand why people keep diaries.  Bearing that all in mind, come and join me in an indulgent trip down my memory lane….

Leicester Road, Shepway, Maidstone (birth-11).  I was born in the room at the front, top right ( in the photo) on August 15th 1966.  I absolutely loved living here and my happiest childhood memories all come from here.  We Celebrated the Queens Silver Jubilee with a street party, the neighbours were lovely, hoards of children with obscure nicknames played for hours in the road or over the field behind us, we went en masse to discos in the sausage hut on Shepway Green and I spent my pocket money on mix-ups ( this one cost 50p…scandalous).  Our garden was ALL vegetables at the front with a formal rose garden at the side and filled with dahlias and chrysanthemums in the summer, we had pets galore (whippet, rabbits, polecats and ferrets). When I visited here, I won’t lie..I cried with joy and felt blessed at what an amazing childhood I had…..associated song = Bye Bye Baby…the amazing Bay City Rollers

Sycamore Crescent, Allington, Maidstone (11-15) Conversely this was the unhappiest house I ever lived in.  Whilst the house itself was lovely, full of original features and the garden was double the size it is now, due to another house being squeezed in, our home life mirrored my teenage years….full of angst, awkward and emotionally volatile. Allington was snobby and boring and I remember feeling just so terribly lonely.  I cried for a different reason when I revisited here.  Associated song = Israelites….Desmond Dekker

Cranborne Avenue, Maidstone (15-21) This was a beautiful house and I was devasted that when Mum moved out the new owners instantly ripped out the windows and original features which in my view ruined the house.  I loved life here as I joined the YMCA ( where I spent a ridiculous amount of time and luckily for me met Chris), became a local at The Mottley Hall pub, enjoyed being with Mum and Dad who had retired and partied 1980’s style, which included my rather messy 18th birthday and mum very kindly redecorating my bedroom as a result 😝..associated song = Careless Whispers…Wham

Hartnup Street, Maidstone (21-25) HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY.  Mine and Chris’ first home ❤️.  The first night we slept here together was our wedding night…..how old fashioned is that?? But it was so special. The house had dreadful decor but we just did not care…great parties ensued, we had lovely neighbours, Matt was born and at last my own garden to dabble in….It was wonderful to come back as it still looked fairly similar….although they have ruined the road by putting ugly and innapropriate apartments in.  Also happy to find The Fox pub still there and open…(I needed some sustenance by this stage)…. Associated song = Simply the Best…Tina Turner

Greenside, Maidstone (25-30) Probably the best family home you could wish for.  The garden was amazing, it had a pond ( we turned into a sandpit and back again), trees to climb on, room for a large climbing frame….how we loved and used that garden.  Kate was born whilst we were her and the house was full of love, laughter and joy.  It was also so close to Mote Park and the Mote Squash Club we we were fortunate to have more good neighbours. We even considered buying it back a few years ago ( hoping they had decorated as we certainly did not!!) The saddest day was the day we left.  Associated song = Rosie and Jim TV theme music LOL!!

St Luke’s Avenue, Maidstone (30-44) I have such mixed feeling about this house as whilst it was a great family home and we made amazing friends; it was also however a problem house structurally and together with the years of concern over the dodgy neighbour and the children’s personal safety….in the end I was over ready to leave.   On balance though it suited our needs at the time and I was so pleased to find that the new owners had kept all the trees…it was like a wildlife oasis in the middle of the county town of Kent. So many milestones took place there; it was Quella’s home (and a menagerie of other pets too), we celebrated the turn of the century, my graduation, both Matt and Kate’s 18th birthdays, summer parties, the beginnings of the gatherings of the Davis clan, toasted marshmallows on the fire and awoke elated on numerous Christmas mornings, boyfriends and girlfriends a house always full…to name a few.  Plus it had a garden I simply adored.  These are the memories I now choose to focus on. Associated song = Spice up Your Life……Spice Girls

Bethersden Road, Woodchurch (44-present) We so love living in Woodchurch and being more rural ( but I will always have an affinity with Maidstone, My birthplace). This is such a happy and sociable home.  We particularly love it that when Iyla comes to stay she tells us it is her home too…no grandparents could wish for more.  We hope that Lara and future grandchildren feel the same too, and can’t wait to fill our stay here with as many joyful memories as is possible with all our friends and family….AND ‘maybe’ plant more trees (if Chris will let me…..he says a friend told him planting trees is an optimists game….so I keep on planting 😄) associated song = Dakota….Stereophonics

Well done if you have lasted this long as I think this might be my longest blog….it certainly was a tiring and emotionally draining challenge for me.  Yet I feel I have put things in order, reflected and can let go of some problems that were niggling me and rejoice in the knowledge that the journey I took today reflects the one that got me to where I am and who I am now.  

I realised these keys things….that the outdoor space has been by far the more important and memorable part of every house I have lived in and …… it’s not the size or condition of a house that matters but the home and memories you make within it…..profound huh?

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Stand on Hasting Pier with the one I love – Challenge no 18

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It seems very appropriate that today,  on Mine and Chris’ 28th wedding anniversary  I should blog about Hastings Pier, as this is where he proposed to me.

I was devastated when it burnt down as the pier is one of those significant places in my life and I could not bring myself to return.  However when I was told by a friend you could buy shares to support rebuilding the pier I purchased some as an anniversary present for Chris and this year it has reopened which I am thrilled about, and I eagerly made it one of my 50@50 challenges.

It is a much different pier, subdued in some ways but much more usable as a venue, and Hastings too has changed, museums, galleries, roads reminiscent to the Lanes in Brighton…it’s brilliant.   It was lovely to be back on the pier again and we will certainly be back again soon.  And I was especially happy this time, as I stood there with the man I love ❤️.  Sorry this can’t be longer……but I have a hot date tonight 😉

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Use my fishing rod – Challenge No 19

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When Chris and I moved to a rural village in the Weald of Kent almost 5 years ago I expressed to Chris an interest in taking up fishing and before I knew it a rod and equipment appeared as a present which was very thoughtful.  However, at that point I had thought living in the country would be quiet, idyllic and there would be plenty of days to fill…..how wrong could I have been.  Country living is fabulous….but full to the brim with things to do and so I have, as yet, not quite got around to starting fishing.  I therefore added it to my 50@50 challenge list to kick start me, and then sought out someone to teach me.

And, rather bravely I think, in stepped Dan, a great friend from the village who kindly gave up his evening to explain to me the rudiments of fishing and how to set up my rod.  And wow what a great teacher; he was patient, funny, encouraging and within five minutes we had our first strike.  Firstly we tried a rig set up with the bait on the bottom ( excuse me if my terminology is not quite right) and we swung rather than cast to get into a close position by some reeds.  On this occasion I landed a 2-3lb carp, we were up and running and we were all stunned at how quick we had caught a fish.

We were fishing at Shirkoak Fisheries which is a fabulous, family friendly establishment and tranquil and beautiful this evening.

http://www.shirkoak.co.uk

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Dan then showed me how to set up my own rod with a float and hook.  We used sweetcorn as bait and once more I was off, side casting as we did not need to be too far out (the lake is well stocked so ideal for beginners) and also because whilst a lovely evening the wind was getting up.  After a few false strikes, I began to realise the difference between a nibble, the wind moving the float and a proper bite!! I then caught a small mirror carp which Dan explained how to let out some line, play the fish, give it time to wear itself out and then reel in.  It was so exciting and when I had landed the fish it was beautiful.  In the water they can look quite dull, but once pulled from the water their scales shine iridescent in the light…quite stunning.  I wanted to be able to take the hooks out properly and I was showed how to do this causing as little damage as possible.

We then moved onto surface fishing where you throw quite a bit of bread onto the surface (once the Ducks had gone) and then secure a largish piece on your hook and place it near the bait on the water.  So many carp came to the surface then it was hard to concentrate on which was your piece of bread as my eyes were darting everyone…..and this is when it happened.  I actually have a fishermans tale about the ‘one that got away’…..the ‘big one’.  I struck and could tell instantly that it was large as the rod bent and I needed two hands to just hold it.  I let out some line and it swam close, left, stayed still then thrashed to the right, I began to bring it in but I think amateurishly too soon as…….snap…..it was gone.  My arms were aching and the adrenalin was genuinely flowing.  It was certainly this big!!!….please visualise my arms stretched out to their extremity 😉🎣🐟 and whilst disappointed it was gone, I had enjoyed the battle ; 1-0 to the ‘beast of Shirkoak’.

We carried on, enjoying some food, good conversation and a drink or two and I managed to land 9 fish in total in 3 hours. Thanks go to Chris our official photographer, bag carrier and occasional landing net attendant.  Near the end of the evening Dan and I even managed to have a catch on each rod simultaneously which truly was the icing on an already delicious, if somewhat fishy,  cake.

Thanks Dan for passing on your obvious love of fishing, your enthusiasm and knowledge.  I love that you know so much about the fish, what is best for them, how to handle them and a general respect for nature ( ensuring we don’t litter etc) all of which I really respect.  Please excuse the pun……but I am hooked….and already I now have a fishing date with my son lined up so no excuse to stop now.  Especially as It would seem I have been interested for quite some years ( My brother Paul, my sister Nicky and me….worrying that this is black and white!!!!)

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Make a lemon meringue pie from scratch – Challenge number 16

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It may seem a strange start to this 50@50 challenge but I would like you to meet my mum, Freda May Davis, nee Noakes ( please see photos below).  I absolutely can’t express just how much I owe to this tremendous lady.  She is so talented at cooking (her cream horns are legendary), sewing, wall papering, making children smile, gardening…I could endlessly go on.   And she has passed on much of this to me….or at least….some of it….as she also spoilt me rotten growing up.  Her attitude then was ( and mine too) “you are a long time an adult so go have a care free, fun-filled life whilst you can”.  So I did 😄.

The only problem with this was that when I started going out seriously with Chris and I wanted to impress him I realised I would have to show him I could cook (and I hadnt a clue). So I invited him around for an anniversary meal of goodness knows what for starter, followed by roast chicken and lemon meringue pie for dessert (which I knew he loved)…. How hard could that be?? 😱.  As it turned out…not that hard at all when you have a Mary Berry equivalent as your sous chef .  Everything went swimmingly, my man was suitably impressed (as he had already suspected anyone who was as good a cook as my mum was bound to have an equally good cook as a daughter…oops) and before I knew it there was a ring on my finger and wedding bells faintly tinkling in our future.  So…a happy ever after story ❤️…..

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NOT!!!  It was only after we were married that Chris discovered the real truth of my cooking ability….ZERO.  I rang my mum every night for a month asking how long to boil eggs, how do you boil potatoes, what is the best way to roast a chicken, how do you make mince go brown, what is the difference between sun flower oil and vegetable oil…..you name it, I asked it and it didn’t end there.  I had no idea how to clean, could not change a light bulb, didn’t know how to use an iron, had never touched a lawn mower…..was bemused by the large white thing in the kitchen you were supposed to put clothes in to wash…really??….and the list went on and on….Chris patiently had to teach me how to do the lot…..poor man!!

So, this challenge is basically to say sorry to Chris.  Only now after almost 32 years of being a couple do I finally feel ready to attempt to make lemon meringue pie for him once again, but this time unassisted. I used this recipe

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/3482/ultimate-lemon-meringue-pie

And my goodness what a faff!!  Making and rolling pastry out…easy ( even without a fancy food processor)……transferring it to the dish….impossible, unless it is meant to be in 1000 pieces. On the third time I had devised a cunning plan which meant it almost made it!!  I will let you look at the photos to see how I progressed…but I am pleased to say I did manage to get ‘something’ into the oven.

So Chris’ comments were…’it’s the lemonyest meringue I have had since the last one you made me….quite a zing.  Great pastry”

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In reality I am a passable cook and quite a good cake baker, but I don’t think I will be applying any time soon to the Great British Bake Off, and nor will I be making another lemon meringue pie again…….sorry!!!!  I am sure there is a moral to this story; I am just too busy ringing my mum to ask her to come and do the dishes and eating pie to work it out at this moment 😄

Complete a bike ride – Challenge No 2

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Two weeks today and my 50th birthday will be upon me!!  Spurred on by this I am attempting to complete as many of my challenges as I possibly can.  So today, as the weather was perfect for it, Chris dusted off the old girl ( not me), gave her a once over ( again, absolutely not me 😉) and declared her fit for an outing…my trusty bicycle!!

I know how you all like an anecdote…so here is a treat of a one.  I have very little cycling experience, but keen on all sport as a child and wanting to be like the rest of the ‘in crowd’ I begged my mum and dad for a chopper ( the must have of bikes in the 70s) when I had well and truly outgrown my old bike.  Those bikes were so beautiful, and I knew how cool I would look in my Starsky and Hutch trouser suit and bomber jacket riding one of them…any colour would do.  Well Dad said getting me a bike was not a problem and I can remember as clear as anything the anticipation as he came into our back yard pushing….wait for it…..an old, rusty, police mans bike.  He promptly gathered some things and took me over the local field, tied a rabbit skin the the back of the bike and shouted go!!!  He then let go of Prince ( my beloved pet whippet) who chased after me/the rabbit trail.   Unsurprisingly (and disappointingly for my Dad) it did not take long for Prince to catch me, nor did it take long for me to fall off ( I was 10…. Short …and a girl on a mans bike…..OUCH, OUCH AND A BIT MORE OUCH)….I am not saying this incident scarred me but I don’t recall ever having a bike again until my 40th birthday LOL, when Chris thought I needed to get back into the saddle.

In the intervening 10 years I think I have used that bike maybe 5 times.  But now I intend to use it much more.  My new optimism is based on the fact I have come to the decision that I only intend to cycle on flat surfaces….which I actually really enjoy, AND not on the road as it  scares me silly.

Hence my addition of this Challenge to give me the impetus needed to start again and our trip to Hastings today where you can cycle to Bexhill along National Cycle Route 2 without having to venture on to the roads once.  There and back took us 1 hour, it was just over 9 miles, beautiful scenery and apparently we burned off 644 calories (unfortunately chips and an ice cream might have nullified any potential loss on the slimming world scales tonight 😱)  It would be perfect for beginners and I really loved it (apart from the slight climb into Bexhill); especially enjoyable was the free-wheeling downhill and squealing part.  

An added and unexpected bonus was that it is Hastings Old Town Carnival week this week.

http://oldtowncarnivalweek.co.uk

Thanks Chris for looking after me and my bicycle.  Will I go again before I am 60…..YES….as soon as we find some more flat, off road routes.

SO, if you know of any beginners’ routes that might be suitable please comment and let me know.

PS…I feel it would be wrong not to mention that I could barely get in and out of the car on our return home…..and after typing this I can now just about uncurl my old bones into a standing position….but do I still want to do it again???…….longer pause than before……Yes.

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Watch a sunrise and /or sunset and sleep under the stars – Challenges No 25 and 12

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So it may be a bit late in the day but I decided to actually look up the definition of the word challenge and amongst other things it is this, according to my pocket Oxford Dictionary ( a 21st birthday present which I cherish and still regularly use)  :-

“a call to take part in [something] demanding or difficult and stimulating” 

And these 50@50 challenges easily fall into that remit!! Because….I have NEVER slept out under the stars…usually a nice comfy bed in a hotel for me, I most certainly have NEVER been for a wee outside and, as most of you know, I HATE getting up early so have seldom seen the sun rise.  Yet this is at total odds with the nature loving me who wants to see and experience as much as I can.

So, when Debbie suggested that as part of her ‘ connecting to nature’ challenge to me we were going to sleep out over night up on Stanton Moor in Derbyshire, in a bivvie (whatever that is…although I do know now!!), and that we would then get up to hear the dawn chorus (4.38 am) followed by watching the sunrise (5.18am) and morning meditation my heart leapt whilst my stomach churned…..was I up for it??

ABSOLUTELY.  We headed out after our lovely willow weaving day, where my fellow weavers had done their best with their oohs and aaahhhs about sleeping on the Moor ( a spiritual place full of unusual people, noises and rituals….. thanks ladies!!) to make me a tad nervous. If Debbie had not known what she had taken on before, she certainly did when it came to packing and she had to give me a step by step guide of what things were ( I might add I was very concerned when the matting looked remarkably coffin shaped) and how to pack them.  That done we headed out to the Moor, past the sign forbidding camping and fires

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( she made me break the law too 😱) and headed past the Nine Ladies Stone Circle.

http://www.peakdistrictinformation.com/visits/stanton.php

It was about 9.45 and at half light, one night after a full moon, when we began to hear strange, guttural sounds coming from the direction of the stone circle, accompanied by our own nervous semi-giggle/WTF utterances.  It was then we saw two half naked men in the centre of the circle sparring…relief together with confusion washed over us (and thoughts of primitive sacrifices, gladiatorial fights, a scene from Women in Love, and maybe that this was their own challenge crossed my mind)….the scene was similar to this photo below which I found on the Internet

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So I now have to apologise to the weavers as they were right…it was a place to behold strange sights.  We walked on and tried not to disturb them and headed for our camp.  I cannot thank Debbie enough for what followed. She had previously found a great site (the entrance to which was marked by the carnage of a bird kill the previous night…not prearranged by Debbie I hasten to add), under a circle of birch trees and which already had a stone firepit made.  She had put walking sticks at the moor entrance which had still been there and collected firewood which she had stashed off the ground in the nook of some branches to dry….it was perfect.  We set up our bivvies ( which are waterproof covers for your sleeping bags thus negating the need for a tent), laughed, reflected, lit a fire, shared a cider, laughed some more and went to bed hoping the forecasted bad weather would stay away……..and with me still refusing to have a tinkle in the dark undergrowth.

As I lay down and looked up the leaves on the trees were swirling rhythmically, an ethereal mist formed over the top of the braken and swept coolly over my exposed face….not scary but magical. I will skip over my fidgeting and snoring as I am sure that only enhanced Debbie’s experience to no end, along with me asking loudly “are you awake?” as I wanted her to see the full moon as it cast its glow on us through the trees.  That was some time after 1am and it was then that Debbie’s keen ears heard voices…and approaching people walking through the moor and undergrowth…at that time of night and with the stillness we had no idea how close they were to us but the sounds finally subsided so we guessed they had moved away.  The mist had also gone and the movement in the trees reminded me now of my childhood kaleidoscope, constantly changing and lulling me off to a comfortable, deep sleep.

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Debbie awoke me and the birds started to joyously sing…note to self…learn bird songs!!! A curious robin came to investigate, a peacock called ( reminding me of home) and it was then time to temporarily abandon our camp and go and see the sunrise from the top of the moor.  When you witness this it is easy to understand why so many cultures worship and hold the sun in such high regard, why poets and lyricists write about it and how dependent our lives are upon this simple act….I felt humble as I basked in the increasing and dazzling warmth……yet inspired too.

We found a rock with a ledge and Debbie, an experienced yoga instructor, led us in a meditation which I choose to keep private.  We walked around the moor, past Rapunzels castle and other significant features, witnessed the skyline coming to life, enjoyed seeing both the moon and the sun up together and then ventured back to camp for a ‘nice cup of tea’, before heading off.

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Some statements are well over used…but this genuinely is an experience I will endeavour never to forget….it was a Challenge, an adventure, life affirming and absolutely worth losing a nights sleep in a comfy bed for.  I am slightly ashamed to say it…but I felt brave.  Thanks Debbie for such an uplifting experience.

Hahahahhaha…and yes…I even had a wee in the undergrowth !!!

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Willow Work (Complete a piece of art) – Challenge No 42 ( and No 7)

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There is always such a great pleasure in trying an activity for the time; it combines the fear you might be completely rubbish mingled with the hope you may absolutely love it.  I particularly enjoy creative art and even though my track record is littered with failed attempts….such as the disaster pottery lessons turned into and wishy washy water colours,  I am always excited to have a go at something new and just sometimes you hit the jackpot (in my case calligraphy).  So when Debbie, who is both my niece and friend, picked a day learning willow work as my challenge ( well part of my challenge but more about that later..) I was thrilled.

We were blessed with amazing weather and a group of 8 of us, together with our talented instructor  Carole (her web link is below), sat outside enjoying the breathtaking Derbyshire views from Debbie’s garden over Matlock and across to Stanton Moor….you could not fail to be inspired.

http://www.carolebeavis.co.uk/index.php

The majority of the group plumped for making free form light pods so Carol then guided us through how to make willow circlets, which we joined and built up then moulded holes. (The hilarity of this aspect can’t be recreated so I won’t even try, you can use your imaginations 😉).  As an all female group activity we bonded, relaxed, laughed, teased and the dynamic atmosphere reflected the ebb and flow of conversation and concentration.  I really enjoy male company but there is also something particularly pleasing about solely being in the company of people of your own gender and this day was a perfect example of that. Then, before our eyes strange pods appeared, all starting the same and somehow each taking on their own identity…tightly woven or lose and free, straight, curved and in my case…onion-shaped!!  We stopped for tea and cake ( too scrummy), then later again for a feast of a lunch which collectively was made and shared and fuelled us to continue.

Finally, our creations ( many light pods and one completely adorable puddle duck ) were complete, we had in and outed, woven, tied, secatoured, twisted and often doubted then been delighted and now….they were done.  And, without exception, they looked stunning.

And here I return to what I said at the beginning, as just sometimes you strike lucky and find something you love!! I LOVE willow weaving…it was accessible, so therapeutic, you could not really go wrong as there are so many small or large projects you can do producing functional and/or artistic pieces. It is a tactile, physical and, fortunately for me, Carole had enough willow for me to buy some and bring back to Kent so I can have another go soon.  A perfect day.

This was an inspired challenge by Debbie and I am so grateful she helped me to find another new hobby; however it was only part of her ‘connecting with nature’ challenge to me…..so stay tuned to find out how she then ended the day by completely taking me out of my comfort zone!!!!

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Complete another 2-5 day walk – challenge No 6

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When Chris took some time off work for the first time we took up walking as a hobby and loved it.  The Kent countryside opened up before us ( as did the wonderful country pubs) and this all culminated in us spending two days walking the Royal Military Canal, beautifully flat with plenty of history and wildlife along the way…and plenty of blisters for me too.  However, since then we have carried on walking, but not as much hence this challenge.  I wanted to know if I could manage more than one day of non flat walking ( bearing in mind I am asthmatic, and no lithe beauty like the old days hahahaha ).

We took the lazy option and booked with a company ( brilliant organisation so see below for company and route) who arranged the walk, sent us detailed maps, booked nice places to stay and transported your luggage in between venues….I know….not real walkers ( but I never profess to be a real walker as I like to stop, chat to people,  look at views, take photos, smell plants and smile at the animals hoping they won’t run at us!!)

http://www.cotswoldwalks.com/windrush-way

The route was an easy to moderate, 15 miles both days.  The Cotswolds were idyllic and I particularly liked Upper and Lower Slaughter.  We coped well with the inclines….me making them up and Chris for not killing me as I moaned about them.  We have been a bit busy and plumped for two days but we most certainly could have achieved 3-4 ( especially with my new walking shoes….no blister 😊 However I do now have fewer toenails than when I started out 😱) We were so lucky with the weather which was due to be rain both days but turned out to be only two showers, hooray.  I love walking, we saw so few people and were in the midst of stunning scenery…each county has so much to offer, and so different.  Where to next is our next question……?

Day One

Day Two

The challenge I could not say outloud!!! – Challenge No 5

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This 50@50 Challenge I could not even write down, just in case I could not summon up the courage to actually complete it……Its a bit of an emotional one for me as I wanted to see Quella again.

How do you appease a teenage daughter who wants a dog, a husband who does not want a dog and a son who does not care…answer…….you have a Guide Dog Puppy for one year? And so Our beloved Quella entered our life.  

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She was a stunning looking puppy and we all fell in love instantly.  It was hard work as she was never ours, she had to be trained in a specific way, we were trained too….how to walk her and treat her and there were no cuddles on the sofa; but she loved to play and we became a dog loving family.  It was an amazing experience ( highs and lows) and when the day came that she left us I thought mine and Chris’ hearts would break.  However, an even harder day came when she failed her training ( a complete shock as she had been creamed off as one of their best potentials) and out of the blue we received a call asking if we wanted her back.  I knew, for a variety of reasons, that at that time we could not take her and reluctantly said no. ………And that decision has caused me heartache ever since.

The great news is that she became part of Roger and Margarets family and we keep in touch twice a year and I know she is well.  She spends half the year raising funds for the Guide Dog association….she is such an affectionate dog and therefore a huge draw.  The rest of the year she spends on a canal boat, enjoying the outdoor life.

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I have had the chance of seeing her before but balked at it, feeling guilty, but my mother in law has seen her and my son, daughter in law and granddaughter have all seen her.  So this year, knowing she was going to be at the Kent County Show I decided I should do it.  How glad am I that I did!! We were warmly nuzzled, licked and greeted…..but she did not recognise us….and that strangely gave me the greatest pleasure.  She had moved on, and so completely that my guilt was washed away, allowing me to move on too and look at the situation afresh.  We gave her a great start as a puppy ( she could not have been more loved) and after that initial hiccup at training when she left us she has turned into a fabulous dog, adored and doing some great work.  She leads a better life with Roger and Margaret than we could have offered her and I was thrilled to see how well she looked.  With the help of Quella, who will be 6 at the end of the month, and her owners their stand raised over £2,000 for the charity….takings are always up with the dogs there…not surprising when they are this cute ( and I feel absolutely no shame for the pouty, gushy, kissy face I am pulling!!)

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