In search of bluebells

In a week that had snow, rain, sleet and thunder, it was a bit of a surprise to wake up yesterday to blue skies and sunshine (on a Bank Holiday weekend – what?!). And just as well, because my friends and I had planned to head out for a walk and find some bluebells, after an aborted attempt a few weeks ago when we were still in the depths of winter.

We started in Chilham, a village between Ashford and Canterbury, with a pub lunch in the sun at the Woolpack Inn (no, not that Woolpack). Then we headed off on a six-mile walk inspired by Jane Austen, who apparently used to visit the neighbouring village of Godmersham and dined regularly at Chilham Castle. In fact I think the route was even called Mr Darcy’s Chilham Walk, although unfortunately we didn’t run into him.

It all started well; we set out from Chilham Castle, admiring the beautiful houses we could never afford, and into the woods where we finally found some bluebells. We crossed a pretty river, disturbed a flock of sheep and climbed over some very wobbly stiles. Despite a few wrong turns, we were well on track to make it back in the estimated three hours… and then we went quite spectacularly wrong. After climbing the world’s steepest hill* and continuing for quite a long way at the top in the stubborn belief that if we kept going long enough we’d eventually find a right turn to get us back on track, we realised that what we’d identified as a fence might actually have been a gate. (It was a gate.)

So what was supposed to be a six-mile walk ended up closer to nine, we ended up power walking the last mile (the last bit of which was also uphill), and my legs hate me today… but hey, at least we worked off the pub lunch.

*possibly an exaggeration

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Photo Sunday: In search of bluebells

Now that spring is well and truly here, I set out this afternoon with my sister and a couple of friends, to look for bluebells. We started from Toys Hill near Westerham in Kent, on a walk that took us along the Octavia Hill Centenary Trail, through Scords Wood, the village of Ide Green and the lovely Emmetts Garden – which has a very nice tea shop, by the way.

Along the way, we climbed a lot of hills, admired several beautiful houses (come on, lottery…) – and we did find bluebells. Lots of them.

100 happy days – week 7

I’m now over half way through the 100 Happy Days challenge! Still quite a way to go but so far so good…

Day 46 – on Monday evening, my book club team won the local pub quiz, and as a result we left with some extra cash and a sheep called Mabel. (Although Mabel’s just on loan.) Anyone who read the blog yesterday will know she and I had quite an adventure in London, thanks to a challenge set by the pub staff. Can’t wait to see what the next one will be…SheepDay 47 – thanks to one of the rounds in the quiz on Monday night, on Tuesday I had musicals on my mind. So after work I went on a quick tour of the West End to take some photos of a few of my favourite shows for a blog post. I’m pretty sure everyone thought I was a tourist, but hopefully not a really annoying one. I did at least check there was nobody behind me before I stopped to take my pictures.

Les Mis, LondonDay 48 – on Wednesday, for the first time this year, I left work and it was still light. I’m aware this happens every year, but for some reason it always surprises me. Now I’m waiting for the day it’s still light when I get home, although that may still be some way off…

DaylightDay 49 – on Thursday I discovered that Magnum now do strawberry and white ice creams; this is one of my favourite combinations so I was quite excited and nearly had a little meltdown (ha – I didn’t even plan that!) in the middle of Asda’s freezer section. I can also now confirm that they are just as good as I expected.

MagnumDay 50 – Not just halfway through, but also Friday and payday. Need I say more?

PaydayDay 51 – here’s Mabel again, enjoying a trip on the London Underground. She also went to Notting Hill and the London Eye, and had a nice cup of tea when all the excitement got a bit too much. It was a very odd but really fun day; sometimes it’s fun to be a ‘crazy sheep lady’.

Mabel gets the tubeDay 52 – after yesterday’s excitement, today I decided to stay local and go for a walk with my sister. We had a vague plan to take some photos for a future blog post, but unfortunately the weather had other ideas. After a couple of hours, we were quite windswept and when it started raining, we gave up and went home. But it was nice to get out in the fresh air, and we managed over five miles so we were quite pleased with ourselves.

Greenhithe

And now this crazy sheep lady’s off to enjoy a Magnum. Have a great week, everyone! 🙂

100 happy days – week 6

I’m nearly half way through the 100 Happy Days challenge! Thank you to the people who’ve told me they’re enjoying these updates, that makes me happy too 🙂

Day 39 – I always struggle a bit to find my happy thing on Mondays because, well, it’s Monday. And this week was no exception; it was a long, busy day and I was just glad to get home and collapse on the sofa. And then to indulge in some leftover Christmas chocolates (yes, I still have chocolates from Christmas! How good am I?).Chocolate

Day 40 – great excitement in my office on Tuesday because we had a visitor. This is my boss’s dog, and the last time we saw her she was a puppy. She’s grown a lot since then, but still knows how to cause chaos. Mostly it’s just by turning up, because we all get very distracted. Thinking about it, that’s probably why he doesn’t bring her very often…Molly the dog

Day 41 – on my way home from work on Wednesday evening, I was walking up the road from Embankment to Charing Cross when I saw a couple stop to talk to a homeless man. As I passed them, they produced a thermos and made him a coffee. I thought that was pretty cool, especially because they didn’t just give him any old coffee; they’d also brought milk and sugar so they could make it exactly how he wanted it.

Random act of kindness

Day 42 – this is the door of my flat. It’s a long story, which I won’t bore you with, but the short version is that this door, and indeed the rest of the flat, is all mine 🙂 Which it kind of has been for a while, but not really. See, I warned you.

Flat

Day 43 – Friday was a lovely, relaxing day; I had the day off work so was able to get up late and spend some time catching up on things and generally chilling out. I also had to pop out to the post office, which took me dangerously close to the fish and chip shop. I managed to resist, feeling very proud of myself, only to cave minutes later and buy myself a tub of Häagen Dazs strawberry cheesecake ice cream. But it was half price, so I guess it’s not so bad, right?

Ice cream

Day 44 – on Saturday I went for a walk in the sunshine, and started to see the first signs of spring, which, after a miserable winter, was encouraging to say the least. Hopefully I haven’t just spoken too soon. Please don’t hate me if it starts raining again.Spring

Day 45 – I spent today with my family at London Zoo. It wasn’t ideal weather – in fact it was pretty windy and cold for most of the day, but the rain held off and we had fun. My sister Helen got to meet her adopted penguin, Ricky the Rockhopper, and we encountered these otters, who had clearly been observing their neighbours, the meerkats, a little too closely.

OttersWishing everyone a happy week, filled with chocolate and ice cream and confused otters.

Artistic attempts

Today I’ve been out in the sunshine enjoying the delights of Greenhithe. I may be using the term ‘delights’ a little loosely, but it’s certainly true that there’s a lot more to Greenhithe than Bluewater, contrary to popular belief. And it provides a surprising number of opportunities for artistic photography. Or at least it would, to someone with any photographic talent. So, with sincere apologies to all those people, here are my efforts, taken on various occasions over the last couple of years.

This is Ingress Abbey, which is situated rather bizarrely in the middle of a housing development. It’s also home to the world’s shortest heritage trail; I’ve now tried it twice and still have no idea where it’s supposed to go.

Ingress Abbey

I think pretty much everyone who’s ever been to Ingress Park has taken the photo below. It’s a very obvious shot, but had to be done. This was taken from the riverside walk looking back towards Ingress Abbey.

Ingress Abbey

And here it is again, without the wall.

Ingress Park

When you think of the QEII bridge, which connects Essex and Kent, ‘pretty’ probably isn’t the first word that comes to mind. And I’d agree that in murky weather, it’s not much to look at (not to mention the Thames ends up looking like the chocolate river in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). But with the right conditions, the Dartford Crossing is actually pretty impressive.

QEII bridge

Dartford, July 2013

And here’s me attempting some artistic photography with mud. I’m not sure I quite pull it off, but there’s something about this photo that I kind of like.

Mud

Greenhithe used to consist of basically a village and a quarry, but these days every square inch of ground has houses on it (and if it doesn’t, it soon will). This means that Ingress Abbey isn’t the only historic building surrounded by modern housing. Another is Stone Castle, which apparently dates back to the 12th century but is now home to some really boring office (despite the wild speculations of my book club). It also presents further opportunities for dramatic photos.

Stone Castle

Stone Castle in the snow

That last one wasn’t taken today, obviously. In contrast, today there were some signs that spring might have arrived (I hope I don’t live to regret saying that). Like the tree near my house that’s covered in pretty pink blossom. I spent quite a long time taking photos from various angles, trying to get a good one – and no doubt being watched suspiciously by several nearby residents – and in the end I gave up. This was the best I could manage.

Blossom

And then there’s Bluewater, but I don’t have any pictures of that. Maybe next time…