Putting my world to rights

Thought for the day;

“If all men knew what others say of them, there would not be four friends in the world.” Blaine Pascal, philosopher and mathematician. (1623-1662)

I’ve walked a lot since my last blog, and have chalked up quite a few miles, an infected toenail, a couple of blisters and a sprained ankle. How come I can walk 500 miles on the Camino in quite hostile weather and not get any foot problems at all and yet toddling around close to home I am plagued with discomfort?

It’s a simple answer, on the Camino I took care of my feet, duct tape in my heels, gel pads on my toes, and never risking a day without taking these precautions. Once home I decided it was all rather a bother and threw caution to the wind. Sorry feet, it won’t happen again….

Several times I’ve walked north to Ringstead, via the Peddar’s Way, then on to Holm where I joined the North Norfolk Coastal Path to Thornham. To journey back from the coast I walked due south via another track that eventually joins the Peddar’s Way and brings me home. The one remarkable experience is that one day on the way North I passed a perfectly good if unremarkable bungalow; on my return it was reduced to rubble. I was so busy taking this transformation in that I once again twisted my ankle and fell over (although my son, Charlie, insists that once one reaches the magic age of seventy, one does not fall over, one “has a fall”). So, I “had this fall” in front of three burly workman, one called over to ask if I was alright? Of course I wasn’t alright, I actually wanted, but didn’t, cry. I picked myself up dusted myself down, gave a cheery wave and hobbled away…….

The demolished bungalows…..

Now I have to bore you with all the wonderful wild flowers that paved my way….

Poppies on the headland besides the ‘gallops’ very close to my home the start of my walk….

Margareet daisies…….

Buttercups……

Wild honeysuckle……

Clover with a beautiful Chalk Blue butterfly……

And an indication that I am close to the coast, Sea Thrift……..

The Coastal Path…..

From here I turn inland through the village of Thornham and on home.

I absolutely love the scent of Broad Bean flowers, I can smell them for a long way off, if perfume could be made from them then I’d be queuing up for it…..

Home again to be greeted by the resident horses at the end of the drive……

Looking back on these photograph brings the hymn ‘for the beauty of the earth’ into my mind…….

And Remember – Even the ugliest truth is still better than the prettiest lie……

Love Susan x x.

Posted in Country Life, Farming, peace, The Camino de Compostela, The Peddar’s Way, walking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Walking, getting lost, getting found and receiving far more than one gives

Thought for the day:-

We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads are equal in value no matter what their colour. Maya Angelou, poet (1928 – 2014)

Going back a bit, when the world was sunny and the countryside not covered in a cold damp sea fret, the 21st of May to be precise, I walked the southern end of the Peddar’s Way from Little Cressingham, where I’d left off the day before, to Thetford, which is where the Peddar’s Way becomes the Weavers Way…..

The fun began almost immediately with dozens of signs like this along the footpath…..

The path leads on close to the villages of Tottington and Merton…….

Despite the warnings all was quiet and peaceful……

On to Thompson water with its abundance of bird life….

The hedgerows are ridiculously beautiful……..

Around Stow Bedon the landscape undergoes a rapid change, and one is treated to huge pine forests – The Thetford Forest…..

It was just beyond this point, beyond Bridgham, that I tripped and fell over (although my son, Charlie, tells me that at seventy I should actually be saying that “I had a fall”……)

I was bruised but not broken and, as luck would have it, two charming police officers were exercising police horses through the forest and they were so very kind……

The river at Brettenham is quite lovely although this area does flood and becomes very muddy after heavy rain…..

At Shadwell I came across a housing estate for pigs, no variation in the style of housing, no individual colour schemes, no cottage styles, or town houses, poor planning laws, if you ask me…..

And the pigs themselves were as happy as pigs in a water trough ……

And at long last I reached the south end of the Peddar’s Way at Knettishall Heath Nature reserve, where son Charlie very sweetly motored the forty odd miles to pick me up.

Between walking I am making a wedding dress. Sorry, no photos, the bride would kill me…..

But here’s a photo to make you smile, the team standing to attention and ready to tackle the out-of-control creeper on the front of the Hall. Two of these guys are my sons, see if you can guess which…..

On Sunday 27th I got up extremely early and cooked for our village open gardens, I made 40 fruit tartlets and 40 apple slices…..

Last Tuesday, despite the rolling sea fret, I decided that I really must finish the very Northern part of the Peddar’s Way which runs from my home here to the coastal village of Holm……

Despite the sea fret, there were little pockets of the path completely fog free and very beautiful……

And the headlands were a mass of wildflowers….

And lots of families taking to the path…..

On Wednesday I walked to Snettisham for a doctors appointment, it’s only 3 miles away but a very heart- lifting 3 miles……

I love the way the hawthorn blossom begins white and changes to a very deep pink….

The dogs roses are in full bloom…..

Buttercups……

Brambles…..

And Elderflower, a favourite of mine, not just for the Elderflower champagne we made in my youth, nor indeed the Elderberry wine although this should definitely not be overlooked… My childhood was not a happy one, and I would escape for hours in my ‘camp’ under the Elderflower bush at the bottom of the garden. The site and smell of this much ignored plant brings me huge comfort so very many years later…

And suddenly it’s half term and my lonely little house is filled with laughing grandchildren, and my lonely little bed hosts Marcel and Eva enjoying a cup of early morning milk and ‘GranPa’s’ biscuits……

But half term all too soon came to an end. My daughter Hatty wanted an early start on Sunday back to Bristol, so we packed up and Hatty drove to the Knights Hill Hotel in Kings Lynn where the three of us had a scrumptious breakfast and then parted, Hatty and Marcel drove off home to Bristol and I set off to walk the 16 miles or so back here.

It was all going so well. From Kings Lynn I walked to Castle Rising, and from there I took the bike/walking path to Sandringham, this path was originally the old road, and is once again a truly lovely walk…..

By the side of this path there grows ‘Horses Tails’ which although only a foot or so high are the oldest trees on the earth. They have been discovered fossilised, millions of years old. I know all this because my husband, the anthropologist, told me.

Close to Babingley I came across hundreds of Funnel spider webs belonging (I think) to the Labyrinth Spider….

And here’s one at home…..

Once on the Sandringham estate, which sits on acid soil, the bracken, foxgloves and rhododendrons are giving quite a display…..

On I plodded, up this road to the Sandringham Visitors Centre…..

This is the point where my walk went just a bit Pear Shaped!

I have been to Sandringham more times than I care to remember, but alas, I got lost, I was so sure of the way but the woods are large, with very many footpaths. And I was literally going around in circles…..

I think there must be a story here, this lovely wedding bouquet was placed in the crook of a tree…..

I tried the google map app on my phone, but it seemed to think I was in a car and kept trying to send me to the busy A149…..

An hour later I arrived back at the visitors centre……

Five hours after parting from my daughter and grandson I arrived home. They had arrived in Bristol an hour earlier…….

Note to self:- Buy a map!

A long blog today, I hope my ramblings don’t bore you…. another note to self, do blog more often, so they are shorter…..

I find the world so lovely, so inspiring that I want everyone to share the wonders I see all around me. I want everyone to find the love I found on the Camino, everyone to be kind to each other. Everyone to “go the extra mile”. You will be ‘let down’ you will be hurt and disappointed. But for everything you give you will be rewarded a hundredfold. In other words what goes around, comes around. Yesterday I came across an old lady complete with walking stick, slowly exercising her dog in the little village of Sherborne, what could I give her? A little of my time maybe? We chatted, she told me that she was ninety and that her and her husband had lived in the village all their lives, we were standing outside the Church, she had been married in that Church, and her children baptised there. Here husband’s father had built the alter in the Church, he’d been a cabinet maker for the Royal Estate. She told me where they had gone mushrooming as children and where they had scrumped apples. She told me what the village was like before the bowling green was built…….She’s going to visit a cousin in Whitby, her daughter is taking her, she has not seen him for fifty years. What did I give her? Nothing, she gave to me a history that has enriched my life. I pass that way often, and from now on the village will be forever alive for me…..

I wish you all peace and beauty in your lives, I wish you memories that make you smile, and gladness and joy in your hearts…..

Love Susan x

Posted in children, churches, Country Life, friendship, HIstory, strangers, The Camino de Compostela, The Peddar’s Way, walking | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The end of a walk, and a thousand voices and a thousand sorrows

30th of May 2008

Thought for the day:-

You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people as you do. – Nicholas de Chamfort writer (1741- 1794)

Today the weather is unforgiving, we are enveloped in a thick sea fret, it seems like a lifetime ago that we were blessed with sunshine, but blessed we were and on the morning of the 20th I drove to Castle Acre to continue my walk along the Peddar’s way with the warm sun on my face. The beginning of this stage of the walk is quite memorable as one walks through the Norman gate……

And from there through the delightful streets of the village and on to the country lane where there is a splendid view of the Norman Priory which stand next to the river where the monks used to supply fish ponds in the Priory grounds. The buildings and foundations cover over 36 acres……..

I’d love a peek back in time to watch all the activity, and I have so many questions to ask…..

The river hasa wooden footbridge, and a ford which I took little notice of at the time. I just took in the view and gloried in the sunshine……

And on I went, past Palgrave and Sporle and a most beautiful stretch of countryside…..

My son made a pertinent remark, “why are woodlands so beautiful in day-light and so frightening in the dark?” I suppose this applies to most places, even our own homes……

A Peddar’s Way monument, the last time I walked this way, many years ago, I could read the inscriptions, now they are covered in lichen and most of the words are impossible to decipher……

I’m not sure if this was a dead snake or a snake skin, either way, I took a wide berth……

My Sunday walk ended at Little Cressingham with its lovely round towered Church and Thatched Cottages….

And a Church yard which appealed to my love of nature….

An SOS for my son Charlie to pick me up and off we set toward home, then things really did get exciting.

We reached the outskirts of Castle Acre where I had parked my car. We were approaching the village when I realised that I had walked that particular very long and narrow lane earlier in the day. At the same time I remembered that there was just a narrow footbridge to cross the river, a second later we spotted a sign DEEP FORD.

“Don’t panic”, says Charlie “this is after all a Land Rover, just hold tight”.

I held tight and closed my eyes. Charlie stopped at the edge of the ford and waited whilst a family, two men, a woman sitting on the bench, two children playing in the water (it really was a hot day) and a grandmother figure took to higher ground. The sign did not exaggerate, the ford is deep, very deep, not only that but there is a deep ledge and we dropped down into the river with some momentum. Charlie, shouted that he didn’t dare stop as he was afraid of getting stuck, so he ploughed on casing a huge bough wave. Opening my eyes I noted that the two men were laughing hysterically, the woman was hastily retrieving bags and towels, the children looked as if we had staged an entertainment just for them, and Grandmother? Grandmother was shaking her fist and cursing…..

on the way home I took this photo of Houghton Hall, with the sheep safely grazing…..

There are literally thousands of bereaved people in this world, this country, this county, this place in which I live. It’s the circle of life, we live and we die. Most of us, but by no means all of us, have friends and family to support us. I suspect that most of us don’t want to worry our friends and families. Most of us become great actors, pasting on a bright smile so those close to us see what, in our hearts, we think that they want to see, indeed maybe what they need to see. It’s ironic that the bereaved can so easily end up by comforting the comforters. Friends have said to me that they can’t bear to see me cry. That Bernard would not have wanted me to grieve, thus adding gilt to the equation. Others suggest that it’s time now to put the past firmly in the past and look to the future, they are right, one should look to the future, but never at the expense of losing the past, the past has made us the people we are, the past is the foundation of our lives, the past contains all the lessons we have learned. The past is still very precious to me…….

Susan x

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Saying goodbye, the healing power of Phillia and a long walk

“I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant has thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.” Samuel 11. Chapter 1.

David’s lament on the death of Jonathan expresses in exquisite simplicity the love of two close friends. The bond which unites friends can be very deep, though it is rarely lamented in public, either through prose, poetry, or song. Bernard Campbell, anthropologist (1930 – 2017)

These are the two components of Phillia – brotherly (or sisterly) love and friendship.

Today, with two close friends, I said goodbye to our dear friend, Joy. The four of us have only known each other for about six months, but we lament her passing as if we had known her all our lives. Indeed, hearing about her life I felt cheated not to have known her all my life and cheated that I am not to know her for the rest of my life. We met at a bereavement group at our local hospice, all of us having lost our husbands in 2017. We immediately found friendship, solace and understanding in each other. Joy was the sort of person who, once met, once befriended, one never wanted to let her go. Today was a testament to this, so many of her friends were there, all with aching hearts. We three were honoured to be called her friends, even for such a short time. We were honoured to be surrounded by her simply wonderful family. Goodbye dear friend, fly high, fly free…….

The long walk…..

I awoke at silly o’clock on Saturday morning, with Churchill’s ‘black dog’ snapping at my heels. The day did not reflect my mood, the dawn was breaking with a promise of sunshine. I had a choice, get up and get out, or put my head under the covers and wish the day away…. miraculously five hours later did not find me still in bed, but at The Ostrich pub in Castle Acre, where my little Jack Russel and I turned up after walking the first part of the Peddar’s Way…..

I set off as the sun was rising and walked the half mile to where the Peddar’s Way crosses over the road to Fring.

Passing our farm barns on the way…..

I love this Oak tree, and mean each month to photograph it and watch the seasons change……

Maybe this year I will…

The oak tree stands at the bottom of this farm track, the wood on the brow of the hill is called The Hanging Wood, not because we villages hung the poachers and the highwaymen from there, but because the wood appears to be hanging onto the side of the rise. Incidentally this is deemed to be the best pheasant drive on the whole estate; the birds fly hard, high, and very fast over the wood….

This part of the walk involves some road walking but the roads were very quiet, something to do with a Royal Wedding? Me, feeling a miserable killjoy, had decided that I just could not bear to watch the wedding, how could I watch all that love and happiness when my life is in such turmoil?

Even my poor bruised heart was uplifted seeing this field-edge crammed with Red Campion and numerous other wild flowers……

I arrived at The Ostrich at noon, and of course, there was the big screen TV, and the happy couple, and the bridesmaids….. Even my sad heart rejoiced (and wept) for them and silently wished them so much joy and happiness on, what for me was, the wonderful journey of marriage……

There have been and still are days when I cannot see the point of carrying on this journey through life without my love. If I’m brutally honest, there are so many quite selfish things I miss, for instance I miss not being the most important person in another person’s life. I am, of course, important to my children and grandchildren. But I am no longer in the centre of someone’s life, mostly I am on the edge of other’s lives and sometimes I am (although lovingly) just tolerated. I know it would be so easy to lean heavily on my young, especially Charlie, who only lives across the park from me. I am determined that I will not burden my children by living my life through them. But never again will I be the most important person in anyone’s life……

So what’s the point of carrying on? This is the point…..

On Saturday my youngest son Charlie picked me up from Castle Acre to bring me home after my walk. He’s the owner of a wedding business and had to call at one of the venues on the way home. He asked me if I minded waiting whilst he met up with the brides family, he had, he said, a couple of issues to sort out. My exhausted dog was curled up in the car, I went to the loo and told Charlie that I would wait for him in the garden, and off he went to iron out the glitches. I settled down on a sun-drenched bench well away from the wedding preparations (the wedding wasn’t until Sunday). And after a fourteen mile walk I (very properly) nodded off in the sun.

Meanwhile Charlie moved his car in order to deliver a barrel of beer to the bar area and left his car around the back of the venue. I snoozed. I woke about three-quarters of an hour later, there was still no sign of Charlie, so I thought I’d text him to see how he was doing. On looking at my phone, I saw I had seven missed calls from him, at this point I realised that my phone was on silent. Oh dear; I returned his call, but his phone was unobtainable (having run out of charge). Eventually he called me again. He had forgotten that I was waiting in the garden and didn’t spot me asleep on the bench. First of all he convinced himself that I’d had a heart attack in the ladies room. After checking he thought that maybe I’d gone to find the car, surmised that I may have thought that he’d gone without me and decided to walk, either to the Church or maybe to the pub or even the ten miles home. He’d got other people driving around the surrounding country lanes looking for me. By the time he made contact with me he was a trembling wreck, he’d had a real scare…….

And that’s the point. My place now is to be on the periphery of others lives, be it family or friends, or complete strangers. My place is to be here for others, to give whatever little I can, to add whatever I can to other’s lives. Charlie’s fear of “losing” me brought that home to me. It’s not about me, not about me being important, there’s a whole world of grief, of sorrow, of loneliness. If I fail others then I am failing myself…..

And finally a thought for the day

The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another, and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it. J M Barrie, novelist and playwright (1860 – 1937)

Love Susan x

Posted in bereavement, children, churches, death, friendship, strangers, The Peddar’s Way, walking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The miracle of spring, walking in Norfolk and Eva’s first love

Friends have asked me to repeat this quote that I found on the Camino…..

“I want no rites in a darkened room. Why cry for a soul set a free?”

This is the garden my husband gave me for my fiftieth birthday, it’s based on the House of the Vetti brothers in Pompeii. Now twenty years on it’s matured to a point where it’s almost out of control! But looking very splendid for all that….

Please note the stone carving across the front of the pavilion; AMOR VINCIT OMNIA. Love conquers all. This was carved by my husband……

The wisteria has certainly got carried away and will have to be tamed at the end of the year….

Clematis and wisteria on the Theatre. Yes, this really was a theatre. Converted from its original use as the grooms cottage into a theatre by a previous occupant. Apparently the then owner took a particular fancy to a young singer named Clara Dow (1883-1969) who was born in Kings Lynn, he converted the cottage into a theatre where she gave recitals to him and his guests. This was no old man’s fancy as she rose to fame, studied at the Royal College of music, and went on to become a lead soprano…….

The Theatre is now a holiday cottage …….

This week I have cycled to a Holm and walked to Ringstead and back, on the Peddars way, the walk boarders our farm. The walk from Sedgeford begins with walking a little uphill, this but is locally called The Gallops…..

The closer one gets to a Ringstead the more of this wild flower one comes across, it grows profusely in East Anglia, close to the coast, and in other scattered sites. It is often found close ruined castles and abbeys and is not native to England but was introduced from Southern Europe maybe by the returning Crusaders. It was once a valued late-winter green; cooked like spinach with other vegetables and herbs. The flowers were also used in salads. It has a fine pair of names. Alexanders (Smyrnium olusatrum), Alexanders after Macedonia’s most famous son, Alexander the Great, and Smyrna (Greek for the celebrated spice myrrh) because of the plants aromatic smell…..

And great patches of Cow Parsley and Red Campion…….

Forget-me- nots and nettles

When the flowers so beautiful the Father gave a name

Back came a little blue eyed one, and all alone it came

And said, ” dear Lord, the name thou gravest me, alas I have forgot”

Kindly the Father looked him down and said, “Forget me not”……

I love this big Horse Chestnut tree in Ringstead……

And here’s the beautiful Church at Ringstead…….

And here’s a very tired dog with her very best friend……

For the last two days we have be dealing with a thick sea fret, thick wet fog rolling in from the coast, although we are actually five miles from the sea. Now, today, a bitterly cold wind has blown it all away.

Thought for the day……

If only I could live and so serve the world that after me there should never again be birds in cages. Isaiah Dinesen (pen name Karen Blixen) author 1885 – 1962.

Love Susan x

Posted in children, churches, Country Life, Dogs, The Camino de Compostela, walking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Walks on the not so wild side, happy children, trying to keep it together and a thought for the day…..

Thought for the day:-

We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say “It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.” Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes. Fred Rogers, television host, song writer, and author (1928 – 2003)

I cannot seem to get back on track with my life after the Camino. Coming home is still the hardest part of that long and often very difficult walk. The home we lived in is just a house now. I play music, but it only serves to remind me that I’m the only one listening, I try to read, but my mind won’t absorb the words, I try to paint but it’s as if every bit of talent has deserted me……

I have walked here in Norfolk since I got home, mainly to the surrounding villages. The walking does help, but it’s as if here in my native countryside my thoughts are no longer my own. The weather is lovely and I am in the very enviable position of being able to walk out of my door with my dog and roam at will. Apart from the little dog I have no responsibilities…….

The walk to Snettisham……

The walk begins through our own beautiful and wild woods ……..

Then onto a neighbouring estate……

This walk is very similar to parts of the Camino with wide dirt tracks and ….

Narrow footpaths…….

And the wild flowers do gladden my heart….

And there are certainly churches to equal anything on the Camino……

Snettisham Church….

And finally to the local pub….

I spent last weekend in Bristol with my daughter and grandchildren, celebrating Marcel’s sixth birthday. The children adore each other and love the fact that they are cousins…..

The most popular game was finding worms and relocating them to a better part of the garden….

And the climbing frame at the City Farm came a close second…..

I think Granny maybe came a close third or maybe not, probably sixth or seventh……

This is the amazing life I have, I know how blessed I am. I have my darling son and his equally darling wife and sweet Eva living just across the meadow and even though they work terribly hard and have such little time to spare, they still find time for me…..

I could write list after list of my blessings, indeed I do count my blessings, but it’s as if my heart is closed off, empty……

It’s a beautiful sunny day today, yet I want to rant and rave. I want to tell the person that coined the phase “Time will heal”, that it’s a total lie. For me ‘time’ only takes him further away from me. Time – fourteen months today; all time has done for me is made me a better actress. My friends tell me to move on. I’m told to cheer-up as it’s a lovely day, I’m told B had a good life (which he did) that his time had come (which may be true). I’m told to grow a thicker skin. I paste a smile on my face, I crack a stupid joke and I live in a world so alien to me, so, so, unlike the world I lived on the Camino. I’m shocked by people’s rudeness, socked by the motorist who was in such a hurry this morning that he almost knocked me off my bike to get ahead of me. I’m hurt by people who expect me to be over ‘it’, people that make up rumours about me, including one rumour that I am man-hunting!

A friend has died, another friend is dying, and around me the world spins on seemingly indifferent to the troubles and the pain of others……

I wish you all courage and hope, peace and confidence……

Love Susan x

Posted in Art, bereavement, children, churches, confidence, Country Life, courage, daughter-in-laws, death, Dogs, Farming, HOPE, joy, peace, The Camino de Compostela, walking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Home: green on green and maybe a new adventure?

I have just locked doors and closed blinds and am now flopped on my worn but comfortable sofa. The kitchen is a comforting tip, lived in and loved. But as I locked the front door and looked over the meadow toward the oak tree I am struck with just how many greens greet my eyes. Like my kitchen it’s familiar and loved, and like my kitchen, no two days look the same……

I love this place……

We have just planted an avenue of apple trees for Bernard each side of the drive to the cottage, and they are already blossoming. I think apple blossom is the prettiest blossom of all……

I spent this morning at Tapping House, our local hospice. I have found such warmth and friendship there. We are a group of widows and widowers and I realise that our friendship very much echos the Camino, I sincerely believe that we would do anything for each other, just like fellow pilgrims, I feel a great deal of warmth just thinking about these, my very special friends……

My week has been spent drifting from one appointment to the next, teeth – Hygenist, feet, hair, blood test, in short a general MOT, oil change and brake pads anyone?

I am very much missing my walking, yet seem not to have the time to fit in a “good” walk, the dog gets a couple of miles a day but that’s about it…….

But these books arrived this morning, I think I may have a Camino addiction…….

This Camino hugs the northern coast of Spain and overlooks the Bay of Biscay. It’s not as well signed as the Frances but is also less busy in the summer months, how can I resist?

Shall I go? When could I go? When shall I go?

Love Susan x

Posted in bereavement, Country Life, friendship, The Camino de Compostela, the way of St James | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments