Posted in Inspirational & Observations from Life, Travel & Explore

From one country to another. (A cycle adventure of 306km)

The idea started with a conversation with Peter. He said I sounded tired. And that perhaps a good stint of leave would be good for me. He said to me “why not ride to Wales or something? Make it a pilgrimage (not sure if he said that part?)”

So I booked the leave and planned the journey, loosely.
I told a friend that I wanted to do it as a sort of pilgrimage. On the day I left, she sent me this verse, I quite like it:

So here are some thoughts and itinery of my 6 days away:

DAY 1 (Mon 10th May 2021)
Browns Wood, Milton Keynes – Finstock, Cotswolds (86.63km)

The days before, I was watching the weather frequently and seeing it change constantly (something that is constant in the UK is the inconsistency of the weather). I had an idea of either setting off early (around 7am) or perhaps 9am (after the morning traffic.)
Again, another plan, I held on to, loosely. Be what may.
I woke up around 5am. I guess i was just excited. I packed my sandwiches, made the coffee for my flask. Just before 7am, I was set. And this predicted “bad weather” was nowhere in sight. Yay!
So, I decided I would take full advantage and headed out. I felt good, getting through this side of MK, quickly and out into new area for me (riding wise).
My first coffee stop was a little shelter near a village called Chetwood. It was as if, the shelter was expecting me:

I was feeling fresh at that point. 38km in. (i think before my usual staff meeting at 10:30, I had already done 56km.)
Cycling by the rapeseed fields was absolutely pretty:

I felt truly blessed with how the weather had turned out for me. As you can see, from the above pictures, the sky was blue!! But then, between 40 and 50km, entering Bicester, the heavens opened. I was totally drenched. Head to toe. I even had puddles in my socks. But I felt alive, it didn’t stress me. I just pressed on. And then, amazing, the sun came out in all it’s fullness. (I actually was fully dry on arriving to my first night’s stop.)

So thankful for how waterproofed these pannier bags were

The woods near Kirtlington were pretty.
I had my lunch stop at 75km in Church Hanborough.
I arrived a lot earlier than expected. 1pm. Thankfully, the host of the AirBnB was willing to let me check in earlier. That was perfect! I could unpack and rest my body.

(I noticed there was a little niggle in my right knee at around 60km. I had felt that pain before on other rides, so I wasn’t too bothered.)

I had the greatest nap. But then, do you think, I would rest? (Not a chance.) There was a little village to explore and geocaches to find.
And plus a pub meal and pint in one of the Cotswolds villages sounded perfect…

On entering the Cotswolds area, I noted how hilly it got and how quiant and cute the little villages were. Stone buildings.
I was thinking about my approach to this whole adventure thing. The word “pilgrimage” also came to mind. I didn’t want to have an agenda to the trip. I just wanted to achieve my goal. To ride to Cardiff. But I didn’t close off the idea that God would show me something or speak to me in this pilgrimage. But that was up to Him.
I did think it would be fitting to read the book by Paulo Coelho called Pilgrimage.
(Not the best book, I decided by the end of the week, but I did take a few lessons from it.)

it really did seem that God was favouring me with mostly good weather on that first day when it was forecasted to have a lot of rain…

So back to that afternoon: I ended up walking 14km to various pubs hoping for a pint and something to eat… turns out most pubs are closed on Mondays. So I was getting hangry.
And I could feel a blister starting to form under my foot. Aargh!!
(I had to give in, and order pizza using Just Eat) If anyone knows me well, will know that I despise Just Eat – probably because I have heard the adverts so much and it annoys me that Snoop Dogg has sold out to sing jingles… so lame!!

The blister for me was like my first “trial” on my pilgrimage. How would I respond? Would I let frustration take over?
Finally the pizza came around 20:30. I put on a film. (Mile 22 with Mark Walberg)

That night I slept with books.
There were ar least 200 books on shelves all around me in that room.

Day 1 was good. Thank you Jesus.

DAY 2 (Tues 11th May 2021)
Finstock – Swindon (58.10km)

Knowing this was the shortest day, I had a sense of trying to slow down. But I felt like I wanted to race against the weather… I didn’t really want to be caught in the rain. I could go slower and wander and explore… but in the rain… it’s a bit limiting…

So again, I left early-ish from the Cotswolds… 8:20am. I did add a loop that went in the Cotswolds. A beautiful start to the day. Green and quiet.
I was definitely shown favour with the weather again. (Thank you God, so kind.)
Only got a bit of spitting rain for about 10 minutes. Not even drizzle…

On day two, my right knee starting hurting, only 10km in. (I didn’t want to worry my parents about that.) But I pressed on cautiously. I kept praying about. (At the end of the day, I would Google symptoms and see what it is.) – After finding a helpful article, basically saying after “going from zero to hero” – your body will tell you: ‘hang on, take it easy!’ (Also the article suggested leg exercises which I did from Tues night onwards. That made all the difference!)

I did think though, how with worry and lack of knowledge one can fret unnecessarily about things. (A lesson I learnt on this pilgrimage)

I reminded myself of my focus: “10 km at a time.” Just focus on the ride like that.
I finally got my beer at the end of this day in a pub called The Messenger. And a plate of delicious curry flavoured chips:


I arrived at the Armstrong’s residence at 2pm. Jacky and the kids arrived after 3pm.
So I had an hour to unwind and lie down in the sun baked conservatory. My body welcomed that! Kings of Leon as the background soundtrack.

Great afternoon / evening catching up with Jacky and the kids. (Missed Ed though.)
Beer, fire, wors and good conversation. Thankfully, I could say, my body had had time to rest, after day two’s ride.
Here is a highlight reel of that second day:

Day 3 (Wed 12th May 2021)
Swindon – Severn Beach (86.62km)

My leg felt hundreds today!! I really did “relax the ride” and just take it easy and really take in the scenery around me. Again, the weather was epic! Also, I left early again. Just after 7am. I was anxious to get out of the city (Swindon). Thankfully, there was no need to fret, in Swindon I was 90% of the time on little bike trails going through the city, avoiding the busy morning traffic.

The countryside outside the city is stunning! The Quiet. The Open spaces.
I rode past a forest that had Blue Bells strewn across the floor, basking in the sunshine:

I entered England’s longest village: Brinkworth (that’s what the sign claimed!) “The village is sometimes described as the longest in England although others such as Meopham, Kent make the same claim.” (Wikipedia)

My first stop at 28km was outside, a cute little church in a small village named Garsdon. Was so glad, I had packed a flask for my adventure:

This was my favourite day of riding! I saw so much the day. From long quiet stretches:

Here are short hand notes I jotted down in the day:

Just cycled a nice stretch, seemingly along a ridge / or highest part of the area, so beautiful to peer to the valley to the left.
Stunning hills and open spaces.
This stretched has been so secluded. I’ve loved it. No-one for miles.
Feeling relaxed

I truly felt so chuffed that my legs weren’t hurting anymore and that I had had no hassles so far. No punctures or any other bike problems. And third day in, and the weather was still being kind to me. And I was also making good time, without even feeling rushed.

Lunch stop in a small village, West End at 62km into my trip.

Then at 76km I stopped for a pint in Old Down.
Only 8.5km left but this pub is so quaint…definitely worth the stop:

“Thank you Jesus!
I’ve loved this ride.
Great sights. Great spirit.”

I arrived by 2pm. It was nice to chill with Carol and just to chat and catch up. I loved my cosy room. The forecasted rain arrived at 4 or 5pm and had set in, so it seemed. But I wasn’t feeling nervous for the next day. ‘I’ll just take it as it comes.’
My Accommodation in Cardiff cancelled. I had to make a new plan – I’m glad it didn’t stress me out. That showed that I’m was in a good space. 🙂

Some photo highlights:

Day 4 (Thurs 13th May 2021)
Severn Beach, England – Cardiff, Wales (74.75km)

I knew the 4th day was a shorter journey (I had 60km in my head. As you can see it was 15km longer. Oops). But I chose to only leave at 10am. So, this morning greeted with me gentle drizzle. I was up, alert and awake for another day – but first I headed for a little stroll around Severn Beach. (Always time to look for a geocache or two.) Some yummy eggs on toast. Then we bid our farewells and I was off, for my last day. Crossing the Severn Bridge was epic! it’s about 2km long.
And then went I entered Wales, it just felt so surreal. It seemed greener. The first bit, I rode in, was very much farmlands, a typical Wales experience.
Some parts on the day was a bit windy. I had to cycle head on through some wind.
My first stop at 17km, tucked in, along one of the farm lanes:

I loved how the hedges were taller than me at some parts of today’s ride. At times, it did feel like “I was in the middle of nowhere.”

“Before Newport, I cycled through a rather “industrious” feeling area called Solar Park.
Reminded me of Holland, lots of little rivers / canals and very green and flat. Except a lot of the rivers today were covered in slime / moss. And instead of windmills there were powerline towers instead.”


I had my last stop and lunch stop in Newport. (I wasn’t too impressed with this town – felt very industrial and common.)
Then I could sense the rain would be coming…

So I headed off for the last 25km in the drizzle. By the time, I got to Cardiff, I was drenched. My legs were a bit sore and the wet weather had dampened my spirit a little.
With just 6km, I heard something rattling on my bike. Thankfully, I wasn’t going too fast.. my pannier rack came loose.. the bags fell off. So there I was, on the pavement, in the rain – repairing the bracket. Surprisingly I was quite calm, not frustrated. (This was another good sign that I was in a good place on this adventure.) I had my google maps, speaking the navigating to me for the last bit (the rain was chucking it down at that point) so I had to strain to hear the directions – then just as I arrived my battery died, but to get the door codes, I had to find a little shelter and put my phone on charge for five minutes. Then, I could in.

I had arrived by 4pm. I spent the next while, taking all my wet things, clothes and bike bags and hanging them all around my room to dry out. The room was alright. Functional.

That night I ate at the local Wetherspoons on the waterfront. A beer and burger went down well. Grabbed some cereal, milk and body wash from a Tesco local on the way back to my room.

Why not flip through my deck of photos from that day:

Day 5 (Friday 14th May 2021)
A day in Cardiff (26km on foot)

I didn’t rush the day. But weirdly each day, this week, I was always up between 5am and 6am. (Crazy, right?)
So, I found a website with places to see in Cardiff for free. So, I plotted a route for the day: City centre, (looking out for street art too), Cardiff Castle, Bute Park, Llandlaff Cathedral, the rugby stadium, a walk along the Taff River (Taff Embankment), then to the Docks at the Waterfront, The Senedd, Wales Millenium Centre, the Norwegian Church Arts Centre and perhaps also walk along the Cardiff Bay Trail.

I left my room, just before 8pm and by 12:30, I had already walked 14km and had found a few geocaches, seen where Roald Dahl lived and even had a sausage bap and coffee at the castle.

I then had a midday recharge – for my phone and me. (After all, how great are these loooong days!) So I read some, whilst my phone charged. then I headed out for part II of my tour of the city. By the end if the day I had done 26km of walking. (Madness!) But I truly felt like I got to see the city. I saw the touristy things and also the “off the beaten path” scenes. I had the same sense I had when I visited Buenos Aires (in 2017) for two weeks – I felt like I was a local. Doing everyday stuff. The Cardiff Bay trail was beautiful. I loved seeing the marinas and also sights of the bay. By the end of the day, I had covered a lot of ground, physically and soulfully. My Toms (shoes) had done their bit. My heart felt full and satisfied. Grateful.

The city feels less claustrophobic than London.
I’m always reminded how I’m seeing this city as a tourist… and locals are array of feelings.
Some tired from a long week.
Some are lonely.
Some are falling in love.
Some are just making ends meet.
Some are excited for the weekend.
Some take this for granted.

At the end of the day, I sat at Hubbox. A place that specializes in burgers and beers. Sounds perfect, right? Yep it was! Their local beers were so delicious!! So smooth.

(Maybe, I was just that thirsty, after that much mileage.)

Flip, those seagulls outside my windows were so flipping annoying!! (haha!)

Day 6 (Saturday 15th May 2021) – The way back…
The train trip back.

I finished the book. (The Pilgrimage – Paulo Coelho) – I sneakily left it on the train with the simple prayer, that the person was meant to read the book, would pick it up and be encouraged.

By the way, it was so good to be on a train again, just gazing out the window. England is a beautiful country!

The bummer thing of the day, was wearing a mask for most of the day – on the platform for two hours. And then on the train itself for another three hours. (I can’t wait till life without masks.)

Riding only 9.5km back home from the train station, was a breeze! 😉



A Disclaimer: I find that I have this weird and annoying habit of switching tense when I write. Sorry about that.


Posted in Inspirational & Observations from Life, Travel & Explore, Wonder and Beauty

The Rugged and Wild coastline of Cornwall.

Why not grab a cup of coffee or a cup of tea and sit with me?
I want to share some photos and some words from my recent trip to Cornwall.
Last week, in the October half term – my cousin, her husband (Tom) and I headed to the Cornish coast.
Last year (2019) we walked some of the Coastal Path down there.
We decided to walk some more sections of it this year.
These are the sections we covered:

1) Penberth Cove to Land’s End (14.8km) – Thurs 29 Oct 2020

2) Pendeed Lighthouse to Gurnard’s Head (9.44km) – Fri 30 Oct 2020

As the age old adage goes, a painting paints a thousand words – why not take a look at my slideshow?

And sometimes, one liners are all we need to get the gist of the story. Here are some one liners that come to mind:

  • Being back at Cornwall, was so good for the soul.
  • There is just something about staring out at the ocean.
  • The rugged and wonderful coastline is breathtaking!
  • Even if the weather was grey, rainy and windy – it was still an adventure nonetheless
  • At one or two points, my cousin (Katie) and I just sat and looked out to the sea. It was incredible to witness the power of the ocean. The waves smashing against the cliff face!
  • Can you believe it? When we got to Land’s End, there was a kiosk by the well known sign. They wanted to charge us to have our photo taken by it? Crazy!! The lyrics from Counting Crows came to mind “they paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”
  • Katie knows lots of people, so we had some friends join us on the Friday. – I love how life has little shared adventures!
  • Each morning, as part of my 50 day cycling challenge, I would head out on my bike and explore the local area around St Just.
  • Exploring a place on wheels or by running is the coolest thing! One notices a lot more!
  • If my bike had the ability to speak – would you sit with it? And hear’s it stories of the various terrains it has covered.
  • In the evening, it was great to sit by our fire place and just chill. Reading, boardgames, and a bottle of wine.

Thanks as always, for visiting my blog and reading about my adventures.

Posted in Travel & Explore

14 things I have learnt from 50 days on my bicycle:

I did it! Woohoo!

50 days of riding!

This is how this challenge came about. I decided to take part in the https://www.lovetoride.net/ #CycleSeptember challenge. I only really awoke to the idea on the 15th September. (Besides, from the 8th to 14th September, I was on holiday with my dad – so didn’t have my bicycle anyway.)

So I commited to ride for each day from the 15th for at least 10km (or half an hour). I cruised through the last remnants of spring. But it felt incomplete only doing half a month. So I made a personal challenge to go to the 15 Oct. That would make it a month! But stopping something half way through a month, didn’t seem right. So why not just go till the end of Oct?

I did the math, it would get me to 47 days. Now, that’s an random number to end on. How about I just go for 50 days. Ending on 3rd Nov. So that’s what I have done!

And these are 14 things I learnt from those two wheels:

1 DEDICATION
Any challenge or goal takes dedication and commitment. If you’re study for an exam – you need to be put in the hours of learning. if you’re running a marathon – you need to put in the training 3 time a week (I know, I ran my first two marathons in 2020.)
Likewise, with this challenge – I had to be committed it to it. Some days, I didn’t “feel keen” to go out – but I fought those feelings and went for the ride.

2 RESPECT TO COMMUTERS (SUNSHINE OR RAIN)
It was easy to go riding when the sun was shining!
It was a lot more difficult, when it was cold and rainy 😦
I am doing this 50 day riding challenge – for exactly that: A challenge. * (see point 14)
After this on rainy and cold days, I can decide to commute by car or not go on a fun ride on those miserable days – BUT THERE ARE SOME COMMUTERS who don’t have that luxury. They need to get to work – regardless of the weather! Respect to those people!

3 GOOD FOR THE SOUL (AS MY MOM SAID)
The other day, I was telling my mom about my cycle challenge and she replied saying that “it must be good for the soul.”
I liked that!
It is, riding IS GOOD for the soul!
Try it and you will see!

4 GREAT TO SEE THE WORLD FROM TWO WHEELS
This is one of the MAIN reasons I ride. I like the view. I see and notice different things. When we are closed up in a four doored box (a car) our senses are dulled. We don’t always see as much. PLUS, as a driver, your concentration levels are heightened for obvious reasons.

However from two wheels, we activate more of our senses. We feel the crisp morning air or the warmth of the sunshine. We see flowers, the colours of autumns, birds flying around. I can look into little ravines as I ride by. I can greet people as I ride by.
Life on two wheels is just so delightful!

5 GOOD THOUGHTS COME FROM THOSE TWO WHEELS
When your senses are heightened so is your creativity. I have often prepared and got ideas for talks / youth ideas / sermons (I work for a church) when on my bicycle.

Riding is OBVIOUSLY slower than DRIVING (in most cases)
HOWEVER – that time on the bike, allows for thinking.
The ride to work helps one get in the game for the day.
And the ride home, allow one to unwind before arriving back at the house.


When riding we can mull over a certain thought getting the clarity we need.
Darrel Hofland

6 GOOD FOR YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
This one should be obvious! Being outside, getting fresh air and doing exercise will beat any bout of depression or anxiety. Get outside, everyday, regardless of the weather and go ride (walk) in the fresh air – it WILL make a difference!

So on 21 October 2020, it was a rainy day. (Thankfully, I get Wednesdays off) and so, I started the morning sitting in bed, reading The Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter #5) – But knew I had to get out for my daily ride. The rain carried on.
But I decided (most of life starts with your thoughts) to get on. Rain gear on – and I head into the rain. Besides, 10km only takes me 30 minutes. I’d be back in no time!
I LOVED IT! I went on for 20km and just emrbaced getting absolutely soaked. There were puddles in my shoes. My clothes were drenched. I felt sooooo alive!

Riding is good for your mental health!

7 DETOUR FROM THE USUAL ROUTE
Especially if commuting – change it up!
If you’re like me – you would get bored of the same route.
Cycle new ways to work – even if slightly longer.
There is so much of your town / city to explore – so why do that – even on you commute.
In autumn now – you would cycle past new lovely colours of autumns, you may cycle past a brook you haven’t seen before.

8 WEAR A HELMET, ALWAYS
Please, please wear a helmet! There is no excuse to not be wearing one. One doesn’t wear them for fashion. They’re there to protect your head. (There are some horrific injury stories from people who haven’t worn helmets. Learn from them – NOT from your own epxerience.)

9 DON’T ALWAYS LISTEN TO MUSIC
As a personal rule, if I am listening to music, it’s only one earpiece.
I want one ear available always to hear the sounds around me: the street, the cars etc.
But on occassion (and seemingly more often now) – I ride without music!
I love it!
Tuning into the sounds around me. Yesterday, I heard the rare sound of a Green Woodpecker.

10 ENJOY THE JOURNEY
This is a good philosphy for life!!
How often, we get focused and hone in on the destination, forgetting about the journey?
I have to remind myself to be present in each ride.
Taking in my current surroudings.

11 CARBON CRUSHERS

(From the website: https://www.lovetoride.net/miltonkeynes/pages/info )

The stat that most trips to work are under 5 miles is a scary one. Meaning, a lot more people could ride to work.
I know that in bigger cities, some cyclists have opted to wear masks (even before Covid19 times) to prevent them inhaling the exhaust fumes.

Next time, you’re stuck in a traffic queue – think about these two things:
i) Look at all exhaust fumes (One notices it more on crisp colder morning.)
ii) Instead of being stuck in this traffic, I could be whizzing by on a bicycle 😉

12 CYCLING FOR COFFEE 🙂
If you live in the Milton Keynes #Buckinghamshire area then I can point out some local coffee shops worth checking out. Because, a good day out on a bike often includes a stop at a coffee shop or a local pub. There are some coffee shops that are aimed at cyclists such as:

  1. The George and Dragon (Quainton)
    I visited this back in May. On a sunny day, it was wonderful to see cyclists sitting on the grass, below the windmill and soaking in the sunshine enjoying a cup of coffee.
  2. Surfin’ Cafe (Ampthill)
    This place, I discovered by accident. I rounded the corner in Ampthill it looked so invited. I was lured in to stop – ending up having a delicious milkshake.
  3. Cafe Belge (Near Beachhampton)
    This place was delightful! A big Belgian influence. it was a warm day – and a Belgian beer was a must! But I’ve been told their coffee is good too.

    See some photos from each place below:

13 MUDGUARDS ARE USEFUL, BUT…
On the rainy days – oh how mudguards would be useful. Especially for regular commuters!
However, the other day, I was cycling home (knowing there is a shower at the destination) in the rain, I could see the spray from my tyres splashing upwards and I giggled with delight. I cycled with reckless abandon knowing I was getting soaked and that classic mud / water spray down the back of my clothing. But IT WAS FUN.
A good reminder: RIDING IS FUN!

14 MORE THAN A CHALLENGE*
In point number 2, I said that this was just a challenge! But after doing this for 50 days, I know I will me more mindful of using my bicycle instead of my car. I don’t want this just to remaina challenge that I did – but rather that it would affect my lifestyle! I would make better, greener, carbon crushing choices!

Thanks for reading – Now I am off for a ride! 🙂

Posted in Inspirational & Observations from Life, People, Travel & Explore

There’s something about London

There is something about London,
I never get tired of it.

It’s a Friday afternoon,
And I enter the city,
My windscreen, a cinema screen to a busy world:

I notice the sensory overload
But I am strangely calm
Because it’s the wonder and excitement that accompany me
These streets, this city is soooo busy
So full of life.

I notice the famous London buses
I see the delivery bikes whizzing through the hundreds of cars
I notice cyclists riding by in bike lanes or just on the side of the road
I see the pedestrians walking to and fro.
I notice some people sitting at the pub enjoying a pint and each other’s company (After all, the weekend has arrived)
I see a man sitting by himself by a (chain) coffee shop, having a smoke – accompanied by his latte.
I spot a resident peering out from his first floor apartment.
Runners, jog by as the traffic crawls
Those push scooters, seem popular and some folks scoot by…
I observe some venders on the pavements, with pop up stalls.
I drive by all sorts of shops and businesses:
Some shoddy looking ones.
Some classy ones.
London is an array of people
Locals and tourists.
People, trying to get by.
People, thriving.
Ordinary life.
And for some, an extraordinary one.
Some see the city with gloom in their souls,
Others see it with light in their eyes.
How do you see it?

There is just something about London,
This hive of activity
These millions of lives.
I am humbled.
I am marvelled.
I am thrilled.
I am a small fish in a very large ocean.

This picture doesn’t do justice (it was taken on a moody weathered Saturday):

20200815_145755

(However here (above) is a ‘sample’ of a London street.)
This one is in fact, not too busy…


Another random blog.
Have a good week!

Posted in Inspirational & Observations from Life, Travel & Explore

I found this list…

My friend who blogs HERE shared this list with me:

https://www.cntraveler.com/galleries/2016-05-31/the-most-beautiful-small-towns-in-the-uk?verso=true

Weymouth, Ballintoy, Bakewell, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Rye, Crail, Burford, Bowness-on-Windermere, Portmeirion, Whitby, Mousehole, Lavenham, Blakeney, Tobermory, Upper and Lower Slaughter

(Imagine a place called Slaughter??!!)

The list of towns welcomed a challenge that grew in me. Let’s try and visit these towns on this list. In time…

I was surprised that I had only visited one of the 15 previously:

Bakewell. Here is a picture of my dad and I doing a road trip back in the day (2010) trying the famous Bakewell Tart:

I think I have been through some part of Windermere in The Lakes District… but not 100% sure…

Next on the list is Berwick-Upon-Tweed. My dad and I will get to through next month: Sept 2020.

BUT TODAY, I got to visit Burford. Here are some pics of that quaint little village in the Cotswolds:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Thanks for visiting, yet another random blog of mine:

“OH THE PLACES YOU’LL GO.” – DR. SEUSS

“I HAVEN’T BEEN EVERYWHERE, BUT IT’S ON MY LIST.”- SUSAN SONTAG

Posted in Inspirational & Observations from Life, People, Travel & Explore

My walking thoughts

Yesterday (Sunday 12th July) I walked around the city of Norwich.
My thoughts and I, wetrolled the streets.

20200712_082254

Here are some of my thoughts from that stroll and also from my drive back home.
There is no particular order to these thoughts, so here goes:

of the city of stories:

Every place carries a story. An origin. Interesting facts!
What is the story of the city (town, village, place) you live in?
Shouldn’t we make an effort to know a little bit about where we live?
I dislike it when someone says: “Milton Keynes (insert your own town name) is boring!”
Seriously? That reply is actually BORING! Not the place!

This (MK) is a great city!
The point is: wherever you are, you need to be a “tourguide” of your city? What could you tell others about it? Be an ambassador for where you are.

So I was taking photos of Norwich catherdral and I wondered what birds were circuling the spire and making quite a noise.

20200712_080322-EFFECTS

Turns out they were Peregrine Falcons. Who told me, you may wonder? Locals.
People from Norwich. See, simple – they were able to share an interesting fact about their town.

By the way, the Peregrine Falcon is a spectacular looking bird of prey. Thanks Google Images:

Peregrine Falcon IMAGES

So, you may be wondering what 5 things I would recommend when visting Milton Keynes? So these are my five:

1) The towering beautiful trees of Bow Brickhill. Go take a stroll in those magnificent woods.
2) There are some pretty lakes around Milton Keynes. Do check out Willen Lake and Caldecotte. Willen Lake has an interesting labyrinth to walk along.
3) I like the Three Locks Pub. That’s between Milton Keynes and Leighton Buzzard alongside the canal.
4) Also do check out the aqueduct in Costgrove. Quite spectacular!
5) Do ride around the city along the redways and see it from two wheels. A good ride with wonderful little surprises along the way:  eg. the concrete cows

And what is also great is that each of us – could say various things beacuse of our different interests. What would you suggest about where you live?

Are you a tourguide to your own city  What three things would you suggest?

of insignificance:
Weirdly on that Sunday morning, I also felt so insignificant. In a good way, though. It’s the same feeling I get from when I am in airports.

Or in the words of the Dave Matthews Band: “People in every direction, no words exchanged, no time to exchange… all these little ants are marching”

There are just so many people in the world. Love it!
I dislike small town syndrome: People who think they’re the big fish in their pond. But that’s exactly it… just a pond.
In the world, we are just one little fish in an entire ocean of people.
There is something freeing and profound about that. Well, that’s how I feel…

As I walked the city, I noticed and thought of all sorts of things.

Sometimes ordinary life is just so beautiful!

of ordinary life:
while I was walking the streets as a solo visitor,
I saw people enjoying a Sunday drink. The chatter of people.
I saw some people dining out. A Sunday lunch, perhaps?
I saw a young girl sitting on a bench, alongside the canal. She sat there, reading.
I saw people, doing some shopping.
I thought about how others are at home. Some doing work. Some lounging around.
Each day, every moment, is filled with all sorts of things going on.
The company, the connection, the solitude, the isolation.
It’s all part of the human experience.
We delve it in all.

of driving – of England being big… the world is very big:
I once heard people say about England. (I think they meant London.) But actually a lot of towns are similar. “People live on top of one another”
Meaning thatlife in towns feels so congested.
I mean in a square mile, there can be a lot of people living. Properties are smaller. A lot more seemed to be shoved into these towns…

But then, I always marvel when I am driving (or sitting on the train) at the vast countryside that I go by. Fields and fields for as far as the eye can see.
I then drive through a massive wooded area. A natural forest.
I see hundreds of sheep grazing on the rolling green hills.
The landscape seems so vast and I sense that England is pretty big.
I just drove for a mere two hours (ish) on Saturday and back on Sunday and I covered a lot of ground. I was just amazed! And this is “little” England.
Imagine, the larger countries. Coming from South Africa, I remember driving for a very long time acrosss the Karoo with hardly anyone in sight…

The world is big!!!!
From England, to South Africa, to the States to India…. wherever.
There are a WHOLE LOT of people in the world.

That got me thinking… (again) we are insignificant.
But we are ALSO KNOWN.
(God knows us. If only we’d believe in that mysterious and joyful truth.)
But also, in our own towns and neighbourhoods and communities, we can be known.
If we let people in. if we become part of the community.
(It’s very easy for anyone to isolate themselves…)

Back to my thought.
Truth is.

Do I need to care about people in Norwich?
Do they need to care about people?
Do they need to care about people in Milton Keynes?
Do Milton Keynes folk need to care about those in Norwich?
I can go on and on.
Do I need to care for those in Dehli?
Or those in Kingston Town?

Yes, general HUMANITY – we should care for one another!

But a lot of things, happen in various towns (let alone countries) that we pay no mind to.

I am finding it difficult to articulate my thoughts here.
But shucks, this world is huge!
Apparently there are six hundred thousand people in Milton Keynes.
That’s a lot of people. But I find it difficult to quantify that!
There are people who have lived here for 40 years or so and don’t know people on the other side of the city – that’s crazy!

Truth is. Out of those 600 000 people… each of us… in our life time, if we’re lucky through school and work and church etc, will connect with maybe 1000 people.
That’s hardly anything! And then there are eight billion people in the world!

Doesn’t that blow your mind? Yoh!
A few years back, this song came out. I still love it. it’s hit’s the spot!

Give it a listen, you will know what I mean.

of being on the beach – time stood still:

There were two moments I had on the beach, where time seemed to just stand still.
(I am not very good at just being. Well, I am getting better at it) But I often I want to do the next thing. Or fill a moment, with something else too.

But in the morning, I went for a walk along the coastline in Sheringham. At one point, I just sat on the little pebbles looking at the ocean. Taking a sip of coffee from my flask. I just sat there – the flask and I. Watching the waves crash against the groynes. It felt good to be present.

Then later that day, I sat on another beach further down the coast. This one was a lot less mainstream. No promenade, no shops. I seemed to be surrounded only by the locals. I got to swim in the sea. And then I went at sat on my towel, sipping on my Peaky Blinder and reading my book. Time moved slowly. I loved it!

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Although alone, my soul felt so alive!
Another good day of exploring and seeing new things and being outside.

of clouds:
Clouds make for some good photos.

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No but seriously, clouds are just wonderful!
Do yourself a favour, lie on your back and just watch the clouds.

of early morning runs:
I have discovered that a lot of the Brits (well those who live in the UK) seem to be late risers.
Between 6am and 9am, most mornings (most seasons) every town seems so quiet.

So on Sunday morning I got to run around Norwich. It was so quiet.
The streets were empty.
Alongside the canal, hardly anyone in sight.

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I often feel restless or the desire to explore a new place. And so getting to see another area for the first time, was a treat. I feel so grateful!
Thank you Norfolk. Sheringham and Norwich were a treat. I will be back to explore more.

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Posted in Inspirational & Observations from Life, People, Travel & Explore, Wonder and Beauty

A swiss story (Pistes and a weird fondue)

Once there were six friends: Ross, Chandler, Joey and… (oh wait, that’s another story…)

But this one is also about three guys and three girls:
New friendships formed;
And also, friendships deepened and strengthened 🙂

That’s what God can do using the Swiss Alps and it’s incredible views and wonderful moments. This is my attempt and unpacking of our magical week:

A few months back, Charlie invited to go on this Oakhall holiday. I decided it would be a rad adventure in my 40th year. 🙂
So I signed up. And I am so thankful for that! It was such a incredible time!

Sat 15th Feb, was a day of travelling. I love living in Europe… (oh wait, England is not part of that anymore… 😦 )

I wrote about how I find it fascinatng that Saturday morning started with us in Milton Keynes, and then that evening found us in our room in Lauterbrunnen in Switzerland. The joy and wonder of travel. See my thoughts HERE

So from a lift in a car, train trip, flight and then transfer mini coach we get to our destination.

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After putting our bags in our room and unpacking. Us 3 go to get our boards and boots.
Our room was a cosy little room with 4 beds and a view onto to the river running outside. It was so pleasant and dreamy falling asleep to the sound of the river outside. (Were we in a fairytale?)

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The accomodation block is comfortable. I liked the communal dining area. Our evening meetings where there. That’s where we ate our meals and made our lunch.

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So a general day on an Oak Hall Holiday looks like this:

06:30 we woke up
07:15 prayer in the bomb shelter (yes, there is one of those, haha!)
07:30 Making our lunch for the day and breakfast
08:00 we headed out to the bus that took us to the slopes

We “milked those mountains” (A phrase my friends ripped me off about.)

17:00 Arrive back sometime after that
18:00 Supper
20:00 Worship and talk
21:00 Group activity. One night we did a quiz, the other night we had a dessert fondue and the Thurs Night we headed to Wengen to have our evening meeting in a church.
22:30 Bed time

By the time the day ended we were shattered! But a good sort of tired. After pushing it for a whole day on the slopes, that sleep is welcome.

I did chuckle to myself by day 3 after having to get up “so early” – it felt like a school trip. BUT NOT!!! It’s wasn’t like we were forced to get up to go do something SO INCREDIBLY AWESOME!!!

I managed to get to three of the morning prayer sessions. The trip was a gift from God – and how can one be in His magnificent creation and ignore the Creator Himself.
Was good to pray for others.
The verse that came to mind:
“This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118: 24)

Each day, we had to make our own lunch. That was kinda cool. (That we took with us for the day. What a waste it would be to come back to the chalet / accomodation during the day.)

Each day, we had the most incredible scenery accompanying our lunch breaks:

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Plus we had one or two Apres Ski moments:

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A beer that high up is always a winner!

At this point, I am going to switch from a daily journal approach to a highlights reel:

The photos I have shared don’t do justice but it was absolutely breathtaking drinking in those views. The snowcapped and snowcovered mountains for as far as the naked eye (haha, an expression that will catch on) can see.

It was an invitation to God’s back garden that we accepted.
The backdrop of the blue sky. And on the last day, from Bond World (a 007 museum) we were above the clouds. The clouds blanketed the valley below.

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How can one not believe with those views?

The lyrics from Dustin’s Kensrue “What beautiful things”

“I lift my eyes to the the azure skies and sing.
Oh what beautiful things I see”

The first day; it was a Sunday – Arran and I were seperated from the group… so we just hung out.
At some point I turned to him and said “This is my kind of church service.”

I remember during the week, sitting on the chair lifts and just looking across to the mountains. Words were not needed.

Arran and I were lucky to see a artic fox sitting so still in the snow. A rare sighting indeed.

And if anyone knows me well they will know I have a thing for birds. Each day we were greeted by those sweet little creations:

Romans 1: 20 comes to mind:
“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”

Oh yes, I just remembered. One of the peaceful highlights in the morning and afternoon were the train trips up and down the mountain. Just sitting in the train peering out the window, look at the scenery pass you by.

(Again, the video doesn’t do justice)

When last have you just stared out the window of a train?

On the Thursday we got to do the Thrill Walk.
That was epic!
A walk along the side of the mountain and one can see the drop below their feet.
There was a glass section to walk over.
Some netting too.
Love that sort of “playing with heights” thing 😉

Of Snowboarding.
The craziest thing was taking out my ski goggles after 10 years. They’ve travelled with me to South Africa and back. (Always in my suitcase. On call for one day… when the slopes would call me back.)

So after 10 years, when I started on that first run… I was nervous.
And as the day went by… it all came back to me.
And can you just imagine after 6 days…
I found my feet again.
Doing little ollies. Attempting little 180 ollies.
And just carving and leaning more and picking up my speed.
That sound of the snow racing below the board…
Amazing!
The sun hanging overheard cheering you on.
And on one day, I boarded with a sountrack featuring Jeremy Loops and Biffy Clyro.
It was truly epic!

There is a banter in my office about me going on and on about mu holidays. (Oh dear! haha!) So on that note:

From drinking gluhwein next to those flame heaters, to laughter on the chair lifts and around the table. Seeing mountain goats skipping on the mountain above, the sound of the running river, walking in the graveyard on Tues night. Singing This is Our God in a church in Wengen. Eating a cheese fondue and a chocolate one too. From Evelyne throwing wine on me, so classic! Playing darts. Sipping on that refreshing lager on Sunday afternoon. Being fully present on those slopes. Going offpiste – hearing that powder sound. Being above the clouds. Sitting on a chair lift whilst a snow storm hovers over the mountain. Drinking Swiss Hot Chocolate. Playing Curling. Eating those world-famous apple cakes with vanilla sauce at Bergrestaurant Brandegg. What a treat last week was! Thank you Jesus! Thank you Oak Hall.

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Of the weird fondue:
So I almost forgot about the weird fondue night. Wednesday (a week ago today) us six headed for dinner. Swiss themed…

Hilariously we end up in a place called Pasta and More. How Italian!
Then Kiki comes out. She is our waitress. Very forward and almost forecful… making the decisions for us.
I ended “following the crowd” abd ordering fondue too.
(But i knew it was all wrong when it arrived at our table.)
Bread pieces and potatoes.
That’s it! No meat. 🤦‍♂️
I was devastated.
I couldn’t stop laughing…

I should have looked further down the menu…
I’m sure there must have been a meat option.
Then to top it off… there were pictures of cows on each wall of the restaurant:
It’s like they were teasing me: “You should have ordered something with meat.”

From England, from Canada, From South Africa,
Three guys and three ladies who became friends. 🙂

(If you got this far, thank you. I like writing. I like capturing moments and memories.)

Looking at my photos of this past trip I can see I was really beaming in a lot of the photos. Was truly happy! I felt like my soul was truly alive! (Not that it isn’t alive in ordinary daily life.) But this trip was just the cherry on top. So so thankful! 🙂

I once heard this saying: “One doesn’t learn from experiences.”

“One learns from the reflection of experiences.”

Posted in Travel & Explore, Wonder and Beauty

Of here and there

I needed a place to just jot down my thoughts.
So I thought I’d awaken my blog.

This morning, I sit in a little neighbourhood in Milton Keynes.
Before the day ends, I will be in a little cabin (dormitary type thing) in the Swiss Alps.
A little place called Lauterbrunnen.

The wonder of travel.
I am truly thankful.
(I make an effort to count my blessings regularly.)

A lift in a car to the station.
A train trip to the airport
A flight from London Gatwick to Basel, Switzerland
Then a coach (bus) trip up the mountains.

A long day of travel.
But filled with fun.
Looking out the window.
Conversation with friends.
Reading.
Anticipation.
Stunning views.
Meeting new people.

Thank you Jesus!

Sometimes, people who have lived in a first world country all their lives take a lot of things for granted.
Like Public Transport.
I am so thankful that one can get to most places in the UK either by bus or train.

I have not been to Switzerland before,
So I am glad to add another country on my list.
It’s been 10 years since I have snowboarded.
Amped!

Posted in Inspirational & Observations from Life, Travel & Explore

Picture Perfect

Walking back to our accomodation to fetch our luggage; we popped into buy the famous the French ‘merveilleux’ (meringue with lots of whipped cream and chocolate.)
Whilst waiting to pay, I just looked down one of the roads and nonchantly captured this shot:

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I absolutely love it! And how it came out. 🙂
(Okay, #GooglePhotos did a bit of editing with this version of the pic.)

Three angles of thoughts from this picture:

This photo captures Europe well.
Little gems tucked away all over the continent.
Cobblestoned streets
Light spilling out from the quaint shops. (Bakeries and li’l pubs)
Coffee tables sprawled out on the paving.
The invitation for people to meet up and share stories.
Pausing from the busyness of life.
Sat across from one another, exchanging glances and words and smiles.

Looking back on 2019, I am super thankful for this year.
Thank you Jesus, Thank you England living.
I have been in 7 countries this year:
1st Jan, I woke up in Berlin (Germany). Spending time with my good friend, Bob.
Then end of Jan found me in Amsterdam (Netherlands) with my bro. He was there for a work trip. (Loved this quality time with him.)
May found me in a quaint cottage in Wales (yes, I am counting that as a country) with my cousin and friends.
In June, I visited Maurituas and South Africa
Then now, mid December I got to visit Lille (France.)
And now I am sitting on a sofa, writing this in England.
What a blessing!
Sadly, in SA, I never got such good opportunities like this.
(Wanderlust wooed me back in 2007, and has never let me go. She’s relentless and inviting!)

On my recent trip, I found in my travel journal, these sentences jotted down.
It made me smile. And still rings true.
In South Africa, our education covers a broad range of information.
Our Geography lessons extends to the Western world.
I remember hearing about places, that really intrigued me and made me day dream and think “one day” and to see these sentences, and some of them have since, been achieved. Amazing!
Here they are:
1) Seeing the white cliffs off Dover. Check.
2) Seeing the Loch Ness. Check.
3) Having coffee in Italy in a corner cafe on cobbled stoned street. Those tables that seem to spill out onto the pavement. Check.
4) Visiting Amsterdam – my roots. Check.
5) See the Northern Lights. First attempt in 2011, unsuccessful. Will try again soonish…
6) Sail in Spain, crack open a bottle of wine, listening to Counting Crows’ “Holiday in Spain.”

I remembered another one: “Imagine studying in Oxford.”
I have never studied there – but I have defintely visited it a few times:
riding canals boats, coffee shops, pubs and even theatre. I actually Bought A Dictionary In Oxford

Posted in Inspirational & Observations from Life, Travel & Explore

The Adventure in the wind and rain (Cornwall Coastal Path)

A week ago, I got back from a magical trip on the Cornwall Coast.
Only 4 days (this time around) – but I will be back.
A lot more to explore.

These are just some of memories and thoughts from that experience:

Living in Milton Keynes I am probably the further-est from the sea by at least 2 hours in every direction…

Having lived close to sea in South Africa, I really enjoy the wide open space of the ocean. The soul stirring invite of the sea.

So on arrival to Perranporth, my soul felt so giddy!

How beautiful is the view from this parking lot?

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These lyrics by Counting Crows came to mind “They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot” (Big Yellow Taxi)

We had to fetch my cousin’s car from this little town.
Next stop was Portreath:

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My cousin (Jess) and I went straight to the water to dip our feet in.
I was so thankful to see such open spaces and see the sea again.
There is just something about the Ocean.

It just draws me to our Creator God.
Swimming in it often feels like a “sort of baptism”
And there is just the whole play factor… being at the beach.

We met the rest of our party (who had been hiking for the day) and then we headed to The Portreath Arms for a delicious meal and meeting some of the locals.

I love moments like that. Sitting in a pub in the middle of a small town. Where time seems to stand still. A beer, a good pub meal, a great ambience… dig it!

The next day, my two cousins and I set our for our 18km hike.

From Portreath to Phillack (near Hayle)

(I remember before heading off to Cornwall to do just two days of the Cornwall Coastal Path) someone had said to me that the weather forecast looked quite rainy…
I replied: We’re going on an adventure. If it rains, then it will be a wet adventure, but an adventure nonetheless.

I remember having a conversation with my aunt: She said that in South Africa, there is the glorious Transkei coast. And it really is breathtaking! A jagged and wild coastline…
But right here in the UK, right there in Cornwall… the coastline is magnificent! It too is wild and jagged.
And absolutely breathtaking!
Cornwall has some sheer cliffs right on the coastline.
And then it has some wide open sandy beaches. (I was reminded of Noordhoek beach in the Western Cape)

I got this shot:

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I figured it would make a good advert for VW Kombis. (Volkswagen) Don’t you agree?

As I walked by the van I noticed a guy sitting inside – he looked to be writing something. What a pensive picture!

On that Friday, we had to walk through some strong winds and some rain that came pelting down from an angle.

On the whole, it was just so amazing to have the ocean accompanying us on the right side. The sheer cliffs. We saw some seals beached in a little cove below. The varied flora. The gradient of the hike was relatively consistent so it was quite easy.

I just couldn’t quite believe, how beautiful it all was!

England, I have discovered has various landscapes.
From beautiful countryside, mountains in the Lakes and Peak districts, stunning green rolling hills, and now the coastline of Cornwall that I was experiencing for the first time.

The self-catering cottage we arrived at was amazing and so homey.
The next day, we had a slow start. The weather outside was pretty dreary, but a certain charm to it. Warm and comfy in a cottage, with the grey and rainy weather outside… felt like a place where good stories are written.

The ladies and myself, (me, being the thorn among the roses – One guy, five ladies.) got to watch the semi final. (ENG vs NZ.) Was so good to see how well ENG played well!

So our Saturday adventure started later and started with a train trip:

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There was a picturesque short train ride along the coast. It felt like the right thing to do. To train into St Ives.

St Ives was just so quaint and wonderful. It felt so European!
I loved the cobbled streets, the older buildings – the buildings also seemed to lean against each other.

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I definitely want to come back here again!
I have this thing I do when I visit places is to send postcards to some people.
But all the postcards I saw at the stores where of St Ives in the sunshine.

But that was not my experience of it, this time. So to keep things authentic:
I chose not to get postcards.

While we ate lunch, it was good to see how the tide came into the bay:

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After a short visit to the lovely St Ives we did the 15km coastal walk back.
The weather improved. No more rain.

So it was perfect!

Again, stunning coastline:

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And they said England is not beautiful… ?
(“They” refers to the bitter ones who go on about the weather.)

Come rain, or clouds, or wind, or sunshine, or vast blue skies…
Every scenery has a certain charm to it.
“What you look for, you will find.”

On the way back to the cottage, my cousin, got this photo of me:

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I am so thankful for the little adventures I get to experience!