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

Photo Sunday: a windy walk on the Saxon Shore Way

It’s been a few weeks since I blogged here (although there’s still plenty going on over at The Blog of Theatre Things if you fancy a visit!) but I thought I’d pop in to share a few photos from a couple of weeks ago, when a friend and I spontaneously decided to join a local walking group for a Sunday hike.

We started at Newington, a village in Swale, Kent, then headed across to Upchurch and along the Saxon Shore Way to Lower Halstow. After a very welcome pub stop for lunch (it was a freezing cold day and we’d been completely blown to bits walking along the estuary), we made our way back to Newington to head home.

It was great to meet some new people and be out in the fresh air – even if was a bit too fresh at times – after a busy week. And I couldn’t resist taking a few photos, particularly along the estuary, where the skies seemed to change by the second. I do love a dramatic cloud 😉

I hope everyone’s having a great International Day of Happiness, by the way! What made you happy today?

Photo Sunday: a grey day in Gravesend

First, a confession: I’ve been a bit rubbish at blogging lately. This is partly because work’s been busy, but mostly because I’ve been focusing most of my attention on developing my other blog, The Blog of Theatre Things (see what I did there?). So for a bit while I concentrate on that, I probably won’t be blogging here as much, although I’ll still try and post at least once a week. In the meantime, if you’re interested in theatre, it would be great to see you over at The Blog of Theatre Things 🙂

Right. Self-promotion over, and on with Photo Sunday. Today I met up with a couple of friends with a vague plan to go for a walk and get some exercise. But because it’s been very wet lately and we didn’t want to end up knee-deep in mud, we ended up exploring Gravesend instead. (And then accidentally stopping at Costa on the way back to buy cake. Oops.)

Gravesend isn’t the most attractive place at the best of times, but particularly on a grey day like today. But it does have some interesting sights, not least the huge Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara. And when we arrived at the river, we found more swans than I’ve ever seen in one place, trying to decide whether to wade through the mud into the river or turn around and make their way over to the lady throwing out bread. Considering the number of birds swooping in her direction, it’s safe to say that lady was a lot braver than I am (I, being a bit of a wuss where birds are concerned, beat a hasty retreat…).

Photo Sunday: Run or Dye

A few months ago, my friend asked me if I fancied doing Run or Dye, which is a 5k fun run where you get covered in coloured paint. I’ll be honest, I was a bit sceptical (I don’t run, as I think we’ve established before), but I said I’d give it a go – then forgot all about it, until a couple of weeks ago when my friend reminded me, and told me to buy a tutu. Obviously.

And so yesterday morning, we arrived in thick fog at Hever Castle in Kent, shivering in our tutus and trainers, and it wasn’t long before the paint started flying. It’s actually more powder than paint, but the effect is the same – you end up multi-coloured before you even cross the start line, then people throw more paint at you at regular intervals along the course.

The weather was miserable – we thought Hever Castle would be a nice setting, and I’m sure it was; we just couldn’t see it. But apart from that the event was a lot of fun, and we had a great time jumping about in the paint before, during and after the 5k. We may have scared a few other drivers on the way home though…

Photo Sunday: In the City

Considering how much time I spend in London during the week, I actually get to see very little of it (the inside of the District Line doesn’t count). The area where I work is very green and quiet, and quite far away from the centre – to be honest it doesn’t really feel like being in London at all.

This means I only really get to see the City – where all the big business happens – from the train on my way in and out every day. Which is a shame, as that’s where all the interesting buildings are, like the Gherkin and the Walkie Talkie. So when a couple of friends who work over that way suggested we take a photo walk on Wednesday evening, I jumped at the chance.

Naturally, Wednesday would turn out to be the hottest day of the year, with temperatures hitting 36 degrees in some areas, so we quickly settled on a plan B, to go up to the Sky Garden at the top of the Walkie Talkie (20 Fenchurch Street) and drink Pimm’s.

Sadly, that didn’t work out either, because they were having a private event – so we decided to brave the sweltering streets and revert to plan A, take a few photos and then, when it all got too much, go and get tapas.

Our route: from the Walkie Talkie, we passed through Leadenhall Market (where bits of Harry Potter were filmed, apparently) then past Lloyd’s and up to the Gherkin (30 St Mary Axe). From there we headed down past Fenchurch Street station to Clothworkers’ Hall, before stopping for a lovely dinner (which included sangria, naturally) at Camino in Mincing Lane. After dinner, we took a little detour to the beautiful St Dunstan in the East, which was closed – but we were still able to look in through the fence and take a few photos, before heading back to Tower Hill and home.

Anyway, here are a few of the resulting pics from the evening. Enjoy 🙂