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Walk from Walmer to Kingsdown, Kent

By 22 June 2014 Life, Lifestyle, Outdoors
Walking from Walmer to Kingsdown

As today was such a lovely day I was determined to get out of the house. So we left the washing up on the side and the bathrooms dirty and got in the car.

I wanted hubby to see Kingsdown because it’s so pretty. I’d never been there until we walked through it on one of our Yorkshire Three Peaks preparation walks. We parked up in Walmer near the bandstand. The Gurkha band were playing and the green was packed with people sitting and enjoying the music.

We grabbed some chips from the chippie and started walking towards the sea. All along the front there’s a level path for pedestrians and a cycle path. There were loads of families out on bikes, which was lovely to see. As you start to leave Walmer the grass disappears and the wild flowers take over.

Walmer is a quiet seaside town 6 miles north of Dover. You’d think nothing much happens here but a quick look on Wikipedia reveals that Caesar’s legions landed upon Walmer beach in 55BC and the castle was built on Henry VIII’s orders when he feared a backlash from Rome after his falling out with the Pope. The castle is in the south of the town and still standing; it’s now owned by English Heritage and open to visitors. You can see the castle from the coastal path.

Hubby at Walmer

Between Walmer and Kingsdown

Purple flower on the beach

Rachel Birchley

Beach huts at Kingsdown

Boats and huts Kingsdown

Hut on the beach at Kingsdown

Could never be mistaken for franks

You know you’re arriving in Kingsdown as the houses pop up along the beachfront road. There’s a real mishmash of buildings from cute little bungalows to modernist edifices. Whatever the house looks like, it’s sure to be worth a fortune due to location alone. Right on the beach, at the end of the main road from the village is the pub, The Zetland Arms, named after a lugger that ran aground up the coast at the end of the 19th century.

Passing the pub, we went straight onto the beach where hubby skimmed stones. I can’t do that, I obviously don’t have the technique. My stones just splosh straight into the water. After a few minutes of sitting on the beach we set back on the path towards Walmer, stopping at the pub for a quick drink before we left. Hubby was disappointed that we had to walk back the same way we’d come but I didn’t know how else to get back so that was what we did.
The walk back to the car was much quicker, probably because I didn’t keep stopping to take photographs!

The distance from Walmer bandstand to Kingsdown is 2 miles. It’s a really easy walk along a beautiful stretch of coastline. The path forms part of the Saxon Shore Way, a long distance (160 miles) footpath that winds its way along the coast from Hastings in East Sussex to Gravesend on the Thames estuary.

How was your weekend? Did you make the most of the gorgeous weather?

Rachel x

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Preparing for the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge

By 15 June 2014 Life, Lifestyle, Outdoors
Walking in the woods

This time in 6 weeks, I’m going to be about halfway through the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge with 9 of my work mates! We’re travelling up to the Yorkshire Dales on Friday after work, ready to start walking about 6am Saturday. The walk itself is about 24 miles and takes in the three peaks of the Yorkshire Dales: Pen y Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough. The aim is to get the walk done is less than 12 hours.

Now I’m not being modest when I tell you that I am not the fittest of people. This is going to be a massive challenge. So I’m having to do some preparation to make sure I’m not going to be left to die on the top of a mountain. But it’s for charity so what are you gonna do? We’re raising money for Combat Stress.

Practice walks

Now I walk all the time but when it comes to hills I’ve never been much good. To try and get some practice in, and wear in my new boots and other equipment, I’ve organised some practice walks.

The first walk was the Tolsford Trek, which was supposed to be about 8 miles but we ended up walking nearly 10 because we took a wrong turn. Oops! There was only one hill climb in this walk, and it was puny compared to any of the Yorkshire Three Peaks. The best bit was the lovely cup of tea back at the country park where we’d parked our cars. 80p for a mug of tea. Bargain.

A couple of weeks ago we did another walk, but this time there was no accompanying leaflet. I simply made it up. An OS map and a highlighter were my tools! We started at my colleague’s house in Walmer and walked across the fields, along country lanes and battled many overgrown footpaths through the Kentish countryside. The last couple of miles were along the seafront from Kingsdown back towards Deal, which was completely flat, very warm and very pretty. We walked 11 miles in 4 hours. By the time we got back to my friend’s house we were all knackered and our feet were killing us! God knows how we’re going to walk 24 miles!

Kingsdown - Saxon Shore Way

Beautiful wild flowers at Kingsdown

The next walk I’m planning is the length of the Elham Valley Way. This 22 mile long-distance path winds its way from Hythe, by the sea, to the historic city of Canterbury. Some of the route runs along the disused railway line, which closed after the Second World Way. It needs to take us less than 12 hours, otherwise we’ll never complete the Yorkshire Three Peak Challenge!

I went to school in Canterbury and the old railway line was at the bottom of one the fields. My friends told me that the line was haunted and that you could sometimes still hear the steam trains. Strangely enough, I never heard any!

Overgrown footpath - Whitecliffs Country Trail

There’s a footpath through here somewhere!

Trekking clothing and equipment

To ensure my comfort while on this arduous trek, I’m investing in some decent trekking clothing. Well, I say investing, but really I mean buying stuff that’s on special offer! I don’t want to spend a fortune but at the same time I want the equipment to last as we’re off on our holidays to the Lake District and Scotland in September, so they’re going to get a lot of use.

I bought my walking boots from Sports Direct and they seem relatively comfortable. I think I need to spend out on the socks though. From what I’ve read, your choice of socks can make or break a trek.

For trousers, I picked up some convertible trousers from Sports Direct. They can be rolled up to make 3/4 lengths and zipped off just below my knee to make shorts. Pretty handy I think since we’re doing this walk in July, it could still be cold in the morning but it might get pretty warm in the middle of the day.

I’ve just done a shop at Mountain Warehouse for a few other bits and pieces. They’ve got half price off everything this week, plus I’ve got a discount code for 15% off that came with my last order. I bought:

    • a 35l rucksack that is designed to hold a hydration bladder and has plenty of pockets to make it ideal for a long hike
    • a pair of walking poles because I’ve heard that they’ll help my feet out by spreading the pressure
    • a short sleeve technical t-shirt that’s wicking, quick dry and has built in SPF 30
    • a compass so we don’t get lost!
    • waterproof gaiters to stop my ankles getting wet/water getting in my boots
    • and lastly a retainer headstrap for my sunglasses to stop them falling off my face! I’m going to look like a bit of a prat but they’re prescription sunglasses so quite expensive to replace.

All that cost £60. Not bad, eh?

All that’s left to buy now is some anti-blister socks, a hydration bladder and smaller things like first aid kit, anti-bac hand gel, a map and some food.

Even though it’s going to be really hard work, I’m looking forward to this trip so much. It’s going to be a weekend away with my mates, just with a 12 hour trek in the middle! We’re staying in a bunkhouse, which I’ve booked just for our group, so we’re going to have the run of the place. I think it’s going to be awesome!

Fundraising for Combat Stress

But what we mustn’t forget is why we’re going this walk. Yes it’s going to be fun, but it’s also majorly challenging, especially for the less fit of the group. The reason why we’re doing this trek is to raise money for Combat Stress. This charity relies on fundraising and donations to continue its good work treating ex-Service men and women who are suffering with the psychological injuries of combat such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.

If you wish, you can sponsor me by visiting my Just Giving page.

Have you done any long-distance walking? Do you have any tips you can share?

Rachel x

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Fly Folkestone: Folkestone Airshow 2014

By 9 June 2014 Folkestone, Life, Lifestyle, Travel
Folkestone Airshow collage

This weekend saw the welcome return of the Folkestone Airshow. And the sun didn’t half come out to say hello!

After a spectacular downpour, the sky gradually cleared and turned into a real scorcher. Hubby and I just made it to The Leas in time for the Red Arrows display to start. We should have got there earlier to secure a decent spot. It was really hard to see the planes through the trees. For the last airshow we camped out on the beach for the day and I think that needs to be the plan for the next one.

Red Arrows downwards branch out

Red Arrows flying away

Red Arrows flying in formation with the red white and blue smoke

Red Arrows flying to the sun

Red Arrows soaring up high

I love the Red Arrows and I even felt myself get a tad emotional during their display. Yes, I know I’m a weirdo. Luckily I kept it together.

I don’t know what it is about planes. I’m fascinated by them. I briefly worked near Gatwick and could see the planes taking off from just outside work, and I’d frequently get the bus to the airport to get the train rather than using my nearest station just to experience the atmosphere at the airport. It’s probably because it reminds me of my travels.

Anyhoo, I digress. Back to the airshow. It was packed and it was fantastic to see. We’d totally worn the wrong clothes though and ended up having to walk home mid afternoon for a quick shower and change of outfit. Coming back out in summer clothing was much more comfortable! We walked all the way along The Leas, went on a Eurofighter flight simulator and kept walking until we left all the crowds behind.

Spitfire at Folkestone Airshow

Looking down toward the beach, you could almost be in the south of France. The sea was a beautiful colour on Saturday.

Sandgate Beach

Dinner was fish and chips eaten out the paper on the beach at Sandgate. Bliss. Even if I did have to ignore the seagulls circling hungrily above my head just praying that I wasn’t going to eat all my fish. Those birds obviously don’t know me at all.

We strolled home with full bellies and the sun still warm on our bodies along the seafront and back into Folkestone, where the harbour was looking magnificent in the late evening sunlight.

Folkestone harbour with clouds

Folkestone Harbour

The organisers were hoping to continue the airshow as an annual affair but from what I’ve heard they might not have raised enough money this year so it might not be happening in 2015. I think that would be a real shame.

Meanwhile, I’m scoping out tickets to Farnborough International Airshow but unlike Folkestone this isn’t free to enter. It’s £45 each! Mmm… anyone want to buy me a ticket or two?

Do you like airshows? Where have you seen the Red Arrows?

Rachel x

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A Weekend Wander in Wye

By 4 June 2014 Kent, Life, Lifestyle, Travel, United Kingdom
Weekend wander in Wye

Apologies, posts have been a bit sporadic lately. After doing Blog Every Day in May for three and a half weeks, I felt like having a little bit of a rest. Posting everyday is pretty demanding! From BEDM, I learnt that it’s great to have a schedule and the topic prompts really gave me something to work with.

So I’m going to start working out a plan to keep me in posts for weeks to come. Not sure when though since it’s the Folkestone Airshow this weekend and hubby’s taking me out for Sunday lunch!

How gorgeous was the weather last weekend?

Last weekend, we took advantage of the lovely weather and went for a little jaunt over to a very pretty village not too far from us. Wye is about 4 miles outside of Ashford in Kent and it’s so lovely. I’d never been there before but I’ve always had this feeling that I’d want to live there. And I do! As soon as we got there I felt instantly at home.

We parked the car in the main street and went for a little wander around the village. Not forgetting to visit the pub of course, which is called The Tickled Trout! It’s not the only pub in the village, there are another two, but this is the only one that’s situated right next to the river with a gorgeous beer garden where you can enjoy a drink with the river flowing by.

The Tickled Trout, Wye

Pub beer garden at The Tickled Trout

This photo makes it look like we had the pub beer garden to ourselves. That was definitely not the case!

Marc at the pub

Hubby doing the honours opening the nuts!

The village is lined with gorgeous cottages and matching cottage gardens bursting with colour. How I’d love to transform our patch of pavement at the front of our house, which is home to the wheelie bins and a lonely, straggly dandelion, into a quaint cottage garden. Not likely!

Critically acclaimed village

Apparently, it’s quite normal that I should want to live there. Wye was named third best place to live in the UK by the Sunday Times in 2013, or something along those lines according to the 100% accurate source of information that is Wikipedia.

Pretty cottages in Wye

Wye church

There’s even a primary school (not needed just yet but handy to plan ahead) and one of those much-debated ‘free schools’ for secondary aged kids. The main street houses a butchers, post office, bakery and other little independent shops.

Strolling down the streets late on a Saturday afternoon we hardly saw another soul and traffic was minimal. It was pure bliss. Worlds away from our house with the trains running past, cars revving, and sirens blaring down the main road.

Pretending I can move house, just another average day…

Sitting in the pub garden (which seemed to be where everyone was hiding) we even checked Rightmove to choose a house! Turns out we might be able to afford to live there one day – only renting mind. £200,000 for an ickle two-bed cottage. But we’ve pretty much resigned ourselves to the fact that we won’t be able to afford to buy a house for the foreseeable future. Now which political party were talking about rent control?…

As I mentioned above, this weekend heralds the return of the Folkestone Airshow. It used to be an annual event until about 2001, 2002? Not sure. Anyhoo, they cancelled it until 2012 when it came back with a vengeance. The town was rammed. They tried to organise another one for 2013 but couldn’t get the funding sorted in time but we still got the Red Arrows. Seems like they’re non-refundable. A bit like knickers from Primark!

So we won’t dare move the car on Saturday as someone will nick our spot and we won’t be able to park in the town let alone outside our house! Fingers crossed it doesn’t rain and we can take our folding chairs down to The Leas to watch the action.

What are you planning for this weekend?

Rachel x

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#BEDM – Bank Holiday Weekend in the New Forest

By 29 May 2014 Life, Lifestyle, New Forest, Travel, United Kingdom
Foal getting up

So it turns out I couldn’t get any phone signal in the New Forest, so I couldn’t post over the weekend. The break over the weekend spoilt my Blog Every Day in May run and I’ve not got back into the swing of things at all.

Having said that, I think 23 days straight of writing a post every day is pretty good going. I know that posting every day isn’t going to work for me because I don’t have enough time to do the other things that go hand-in-hand with blogging, such as promoting the posts on social media and reading other people’s blogs. Plus, I think I’d rather spend longer on each post rather than rushing something out to meet a deadline.

So, back to the weekend…

Look at this cutie!
Cute foal in the New Forest
I must be daft or something but I seriously had no idea how many horses there are in the New Forest. I thought that there were small numbers that lived out in the wilds and you’d be lucky to see them. That idea very quickly went out the window as soon as we walked out of the cottage and up through the village. There were horses everywhere!

I don’t know if ponies have a ‘mating season’, either that or there’s something in the water, because they were a lot of foals around. And they are adorable. I love how their tails are fluffy.
Mother and baby heading towards me.
This lady looks ready to pop!
Very pregnant donkey
On Sunday, we drove to Burley, mainly because my sister wanted to visit the cider shop! The village centre is pretty and bustling. Happily, we stumbled across a food fair and I chose a particularly yummy scotch egg made with pork and chorizo. It was delicious. I’ve had a real thing for scotch eggs recently. I need to try making them some time.
Burley Stores, New Forest
In Burley, there’s a field just on the edge of the village that is not only used as a car park but is home to a herd of deer! We were going to go on a tractor-drawn trailer ride to spot deer but unfortunately, the tours aren’t running at the moment because a poacher shot one of the stags. But they didn’t kill the deer, instead it bolted, fell into the river and drowned. Sad as this is, I’m not sure how the two correlate.
Deer in the field - Burley, New Forest
Instead, we went on a shire horse wagon ride. This is one of the beautiful steeds, Digger.
Shire horse
All weekend I kept spotting gorgeous cottages that I’d love to live in. How about this lovely rose-covered cottage? Unfortunately, something like this would set you back a cool half a mil. Mmmm…only in my dreams!
Pretty rose covered cottage in the New Forest
In the delightful village of Beaulieu, whose main street is lined with gorgeous independent shops, there’s a garden centre. In this garden centre is a cafe where you can get a cream tea with the biggest scone ever! These pretty flowers adorned one of the tables in the cafe.
Lovely flowers in the garden centre cafe in Beaulieu

All in all, it was a lovely weekend. It’s a shame hubby was working so couldn’t come but it gave me the chance to catch up with my family. The cottage we stayed in was spacious and had a wonderful wood burner that smelled divine. I love the smell of wood smoke, it reminds me of camp fires. It also made me excited for our holiday later this year; the cottage we’ve booked in the Cairngorms has a wood burning stove.

If you haven’t been to the New Forest, I would recommend it. I had less than 3 days there so would definitely like to go back but not during the school holidays and not over a bank holiday! It was pretty hectic traffic-wise.

How was your bank holiday weekend?

Rachel x

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