An ‘English’ day 

I’m privileged to be staying on a very large English ‘estate. It’s spring , which means the weather is, as it is in Melbourne, a topic for serious consideration. It also means it is quite unpredictable with the weather bureau forecasts a constant ‘go to’

After a very proper breakfast of boiled eggs, toast and tea, we walked around the ‘estate’: so green, verdant lush grass, trees, a creek; if it weren’t for the mud in my boots I could believe I was submerged in a Thomas Hardy novel, but here I am – for real some hundred of years on 😃


A drive along very narrow roads took us to Charmouth, a seaside town on the West Coast – or South coast as always think it should be – I guess it depends how you hold the map 😜

From there we walked to Lyme Regis (even the names are so delightfully ‘British’)




Severe cliff erosion ( a very serious problem here, as it is in parts of Australia) meant we had to walk through the town and golf course instead of  along the cliffs. But this, too was enchanting, steep, out of breath walking, rewarded by stunning views of the coast and a delightful lunch on the beach front. 

We walked on pebble stone beaches, along with others, all making the most of the spring day. Heavily wrapped in jackets, boots, scarves, hats, many with dogs; seagulls hovering, fishing boats resting.  

Did I mention the imported sea sand so children could play on the beach? And did I mention that it is regularly washed away in storms? 


It was all so civilised, so solid, so British and so special. 

A Glorious Day

31/10/2016

When the Mother City chooses to sparkle, she does so like no other city.

Which is why I and hordes of others were up at six to ‘promenade’ along the Sea Point promenade ❤️. This is a ‘public space’ and ‘the public’ are here.

Some are waking from a night sleeping rough and some continue to sleep; well, it would seem, even if rough, as they don’t stir while we, and as I said there are many of us, pass them by. At the risk of denting the exhilaration of this morning, I will dare to wonder how many of these men (only saw men – the women? I know there are women doing it tough) began as someone’s son with plans and dreams – perhaps they sat at a Steytlerville roadside waiting for a break once?

Did I tell you my travelling companion called me last night? At 11.48pm – but that’s another story 😃
People.

The two Italian men. I know they were Italian because they spoke that beautiful singing language. I’ll correct t myself right there; one spoke it, volubly. The one dressed in natty yellow cotton shorts, belted, pocketed and creases perfectly ironed with a natty white shirt. His companion, whom I presume found every word fascinating was silent, all in black, listening attentively as the singing followed me for the length of my ‘promenade’

The young mother, niftily dressed in jogging gear pushing an equally nifty pram in which was, I presume a nifty baby, although all I could see was a cap which had fallen off its head onto its (his or hers, I could not be sure) face so it (he or she, there was no way of telling) could not see a thing. And the nifty mum of course could not see either.

The modern way is to have the baby looking forward in its pram (be it a he or she) and the pusher (be it a he or she, I notice) looking down – surprisingly? at their phone.

What happened to mother and child facing each other as they go out for their walk – a mutually shared experience of talking, singing, ogling each other. Gone with the shared family TV watching I guess. It is, as I said A Brave New World – see me blogging ✍️

Another new mother, or at least I hope a new mother, came jogging towards me with her little one tightly bundled in that nifty pram which is clearly compulsory for promenading. I say I hope newly mothered, meaning there is anticipation of change in the future.
I have been struggling to find a polite description of what came towards ‘us’, me and all the others walking in the opposite direction. I have failed to do so. Giant melons, two of them, advanced in a threatening manner and then we realised there was a body attached to them, and occasionally we spotted a head between the bounces. 👀
I watched those around me and the look, almost without exception was one of incredulity that such anatomical gymnastics was possible without serious damage. Our new mum ( we hope she’s new and this is not a life long condition) seems oblivious of any discomfort either to herself or those approaching her on the path. She returned on the two further occasions I ‘promenaded’.

Everyone, it appears is beckoned by the glorious beauty of this city to emerge and ‘promenade’. A deliciously lived lady of indeterminate age – hunched over so the top of her hat was more readily visible than her face. Her arms and legs as gnarled as the dried white game biltong I used to love, only brown, that leather worn brown that speaks of years of use. Arms and legs moved with a rhythm born from determination rather than ease. And I smiled with admiration.

Big bold muscled young men walked with little dogs (why big men, little dogs?) and ladies were dragged along by their large canine companions. There were also the clearly professional dog walkers, shirts with pictures of dogs and in case you didn’t quite get it, they had dogs, three and on occasion four. 🐶🐕🐩 Each on its own lead and more interesting it’s own agenda. I had to stop and watch with interest – another blog perhaps?

A young man robed in black, white tassels visible under his waistcoat, head appropriately covered walked to or from, with his velvet zipped bag with gold embellishments under his arm and a far away look – apparently oblivious of the world.

Hang gliders , gymnasts, bathers, clothes washers, bird watchers, people watchers, coffee drinkers …..

Sea Point on a glorious day can keep you occupied all day

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Me – Faint Hearted? You

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28/09/2016

You could use many words to describe me – clumsy, forceful, argumentative, lazy, but faint hearted wouldn’t be one that jumps to mind. And as to fitness, well I walk the dog regularly 6-10km, go to gym, even use a personal trainer occasionally thanks to my girls – so when I read the brochure that said :

“This is not for the faint hearted, you have to be physically fit to climb the
this mountain. Your hike to the Ik people will be one of the highlights of your visit to Uganda – not to be forgotten soon. It requires some planning and organisation and a fair degree of fitness or it will be torture”.
I was apprehensive but confident.

What I didn’t have was their benchmark for fitness and fainthearted 😂😂 and I had been declared fit by ‘my trainer’

This was a long SLOG – no other word adequately does it. A day that began in the dark and ended in the dark. We drove to our starting point with a translator on board and started a strenuous walk which had me puffing from the first few steps to the point beyond which we could not travel without an armed escort. ( this area is on the Sudanese border)

Frustratingly but not surprisingly, they were not there and we waited for almost two hours before they lumbered up the hill to us. In the meantime we were the entertainment for the year – no one has walked this trail this year – surrounded as we were by hordes of children and adults discussing us and clearly finding us very amusing. I had in my clumsy way tripped over a stump and ripped a hole in my leg which they were intrigued by – red blood on white skin is far for impressive I think than on dark skin 😂. We amused them by showing them the videos of the lions roaring and then a video of themselves which delighted everyone
With guards, translators, porters and hangers on our little party finally started again – and our bodies had to get warmed all over.

This was by far the toughest hike I have ever done – forget the stunning views : it was all I could do to get my breathe – at times I was dizzy from the effort. Even the appeasements to the mountain we were required to make, guided by the village elder who accompanied us, did little to ease the way , three times we had to put a rock, a piece of wood and then again a rock on a different pile of each along the way.  ( I noticed they were all very small piles, indicative of very few visitors😜)

We reached the top some 6 hours later and as anyone who has climbed knows, the top is never actually the top- there is always more and this was no different – the village was on the other hill 😪
We were dutifully welcomed with a dance and speeches;  exchanges of money were made and we began our descent. Equally strenuous and in the rain which cooled us but made the rocks treacherous and with the delay we found ourself coming down in the dark – not a happy experience.

Finally we made it to the vehicle (surprisingly I arrived a few minutes before the other two) and I was immediately completely surrounded by bodies, very close, talking to me in a language I could not understand in the darkness; and for a few moments I could see neither Neville nor Karen or in fact any face I recognised, which was to say the least, quite disconcerting.

But alls well that ends well and we are here to tell the tale – still upright and smiling

I think though that I will now add fainthearted and unfit to my self descriptions. – but the brochure is correct in that we will not forget the adventure