ladyofastolat: (Vectis)
So, I did it. 71 miles in two days, with surprisingly little rain.

A very long ramble about rambling )
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
We were asked to dance at a firework display last night, down on the seafront in Sandown. I don't think I've been to a Bonfire Night firework display since I was... ooh, 9 or 10 years old, when, armed with bags of Bonfire Toffee (which meant black treacle toffee in my house, although to others it's cinder toffee) we headed out to a Field of Mystery. I say Field of Mystery because, chasing down my vague memories the other day, the only conclusion I could come to was that the display had taken place on a recreation ground not far from my parents' current house, where no such rec exists. I asked my parents, who also had a think, and concluded that it had been on a farmer's field not far from their current house, but they had no idea which field, or how on earth any of the audience got in or out.

More on fireworks, including a whole series of absolutely rubbish photographs )

And a few pictures from a death-defying walk )
ladyofastolat: (Vectis)
A walk today through the rural heartland of the island - an area I seldom venture to - then along the coast, past some Geology, before heading inland by way of a Norman church full of bishops, up a big Down, and then along the ridge back to the start.

Pictures, and rambling about rambling )
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
I'd intended to do a full day walk in West Wight, but when the day dawned, I decided that I'd rather spend the morning drinking tea and reading, so instead headed off after an early lunch for a walk that started from the front door.

Things seen )
ladyofastolat: (Vectis)
I started my coastal path walk at 16.10 last Saturday, having managed to leave work a little early. I finished on Monday at 15.06 and 30 seconds. Yes, the 30 seconds is important, since I'd spent the last two miles walking as fast as I could, desperately clock-watching as I aimed the 15.08 bus.

A rather long walk, with pictures )
ladyofastolat: (Vectis)
People in Fantasyland who want to journey into remote haunted wildernesses are very lucky to have reliable, uncomplaining horses, who go wherever them want them to go, and conveniently wait for them while they save the world. People in historical novels who want to elope with a roguish soldier or confront a nemesis in a remote moorland inn or deliver an urgent warning to a secret agent can usually rely on finding a stage coach or a friendly farmer with a wagon who is going exactly the right way at the right time.

How different would such stories be if they involved trying to use a rural bus service on a Bank Holiday! Rings would go undestroyed, and the lanes would be littered with hobbits stranded at isolated bus stops for hours on end. Eloping couples would be tracked down half a mile from home, waiting for a bus. Upon being told, "You must leave your farm and save the world!" the young farm boy would say, "Sorry, there's no bus until next Tuesday."

Since Pellinor's away again this weekend, I thought I'd walk to Coastal Path again, using buses to return home each day. The trouble is, there's a stretch of about 25 miles that is a bus wilderness. There are only a few stops in this stretch, and only a handful of buses each day, with several hours between them. Using the bus this weekend, the earliest I can start a walk from this stretch of the coast is after 11 a.m. - far too late when I've got 25 to 30 miles to walk that day. The last bus is c. 5pm, and after that, nothing. When I did the path in three full days, I've managed to start day 2 at the last well-served bus stop before the wilderness begins, and walk right through the wilderness to the place where buses begin again. But I'm working tomorrow, so can only do a few hours in the evening. The bulk of the walk must be done in just 2 days, and I just can't find a way to do it that doesn't require catching a bus from somewhere in the Land That Buses Forgot.

Many plans have bitten the dust. I am now on something like Plan 23, and have sheets of notes about bus times, back-up plan bus times, back up back up bus times.

Planning an assault on a Dark Lord's fortress might be easier. As long as I didn't have to do it by bus.
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
I must have at least 100 pictures of the Victorian cemetery next to my old workplace. They're all neatly organised in a folder called "cemetery," and a few years ago, I made monthly LJ posts about the flora and fauna of the place.

Today I walked that old route to work for the first time in at least six months. It was unrecognisable! The path I used to take was one of the most overgrown parts of the cemetery. On gloomy days, it had the appearance of a dark forbidding tunnel, where shadowy ruined stone angels lurked in the shadows. The path itself was deeply rutted and very muddy. I had take a longer route throughout the winter months to avoid arriving at work with mud up to my ankles, and even on dry days, I could never walk it after dusk, since the ground was so irregular that I was afraid I'd break my ankle.

Today the path was a broad, smooth path of scattered bark and wood chippings. All the overshadowing trees had gone. Suddenly there were rhodedendrons visible, previously lost in the gloom, and views out of the buildings beyond. The health centre car park next door is transformed, too - no longer enclosed and dark, but seeming twice the size now that it's got a view into the cemetery beyond.

Is is like a totally different place - so different that I found myself struggling to remember exactly how it had looked for all those years I had walked it.

And do I have a single picture of that particular part of the cemetery - the path I walked more than any other path - in my collection of my 100+ pictures?

Of course not!

Moral: photograph everything, just in case it suddenly changes.
ladyofastolat: (Vectis)
Pellinor's away LARPing all weekend, so the house held no Morris man who was duty bound to get up before dawn to dance in the summer. I decided to head out and watch the dancing, anyway. The plan was that I would join them for their post-dancing cooked breakfast, then go on a nice long walk out in West Wight, and be home by lunch. Most of this plan went very well. For once, the sun actually put in an appearance, and the sunrise was glorious. Breakfast was lovely. On my walk, the early morning sunshine was so perfect that everyone I met for the first hour, instead of just saying the usual "Good morning," said "What a glorious day!" and passed me, beaming. (Well, except for the man who was busy cleaning up after his dog, who gave me a big rant about whoever it was who hadn't cleaned up after their dog a few hundred yards back, but when he'd finished ranting, even HE said "glorious weather, isn't it?") The sea was dark blue, the cliffs were gleaming, the bluebells were like oceans, and everything was rather wonderful...

Except for the whole "and be home by lunch" part of it. I'd planned my walk in a sort of modular fashion, and although I knew the rough milage of each module, I never bothered to add them up. After I'd walked non-stop for 3 hours, I suddenly thought, "hang on. There's 14 miles of coastal path between here and the car!" I had to buy food on the way home, so didn't get home until 15.30, having left home at 04.15. So much for having a nap in the afternoon.

But the walk itself - and the sunrise - was rather wonderful.

Many pictures of May Day on the Wight )
ladyofastolat: (Vectis)
I spent rather too many hours reading in bed this morning on my day off, so decided to do a walk that started from the front door, rather than spend an hour driving out to and back from a car park in a more pretty place.

Here be many pictures of a walk dogged by trolls, monsters and many, many warnings of deadly danger. )
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
I did a Big Walk today, my first in a good long while, and was pleased to discover that I can still do such things without ending up stiff, or falling by the wayside on the big hills. I didn't take my camera, because I've photographed these places so many times, but visibility was perfect. The sea was a lovely deep blue, and the cliffs and downs were strewn with brightly coloured flowers.

I am pleased to report that I have finally been reconciled to the dreaded New Boots. My beloved old ones finally became more hole than boot, and even a small dusting of dew gave me drenched feet. Not even the power of Sugru could repair them. I grumped and glowered at my new ones, which had a less rounded heel than my old ones, and in my mind, I'd built them up into great clumping ginormous montrosities. It wasn't helped by the fact that I laced them too tightly the first few times I wore them (my old ones needed to be laced tightly or I got blisters) and they pressed on my ankles. They're still a bit clumpy on roads, but are fine on soft paths. I've never got a blister from them. I hate to admit it about my beloved Old Boots, but had I done a walk like today's, after over a month without a long walk, I'd have finished with blisters.

Half of my walk took me around the West Wight triangle: about 12 miles around the perimeter of the pointy bit at the west of the island. Every few miles, there was a cluster of marshals and tables of water. However, although they were clearly following much the same route as me, I never saw any runners. I asked the Last Marshals what they were marshalling, and they said it was a half marathon. "It's over now, really," they said cheerily, "but we've lost 8 runners somewhere on the cliffs." Another one had binoculars, and reported that "the sweepers" were coming down from the top of the Downs. Is this the crew that goes round with broomsticks and gathers up the remains of the lost?

But why didn't I see any runners? There were chalk arrows on the ground, showing that they were going in the same direction as me. If they were behind me, they would have overtaken me. They might have been way ahead of me, but if they were ahead of me when I saw the first marshal, they must surely have been FAR ahead of me by the last one, but all the tables of water had eager water bearers, standing poised with cups. Where were the runners?

On a stile above the Last Marshals, a man was sitting. He was in view of them, I realised later, but wasn't facing them. Every minute, he clapped his hands three times. It was an out-in-the-front clap, not an over-the-head clap, as you would expect if he was giving a signal. Why was he doing it? Is this another example of the secret dwarvish sign language that we discovered the other week?

EDIT: I've checked the half marathon's route, and they did exactly the same route as me, at round about the same time. According to the Last Marshal, there were over 300 of them. There were two places where I cut corners by going to places where runners dare not tread, but only two, and they weren't long. I am really quite baffled by this. Even if I missed the main pack while taking my short cut, surely there must have been stragglers. WHERE WERE THEY?
ladyofastolat: (Vectis)
I had today off in lieu of Saturday, and was determined to do a long walk, even though the weather wasn't anything like as pretty as they were saying a few days ago that it was going to be. The first 7 miles or so were along familiar territory, then I spent a couple of hours exploring downs that I've walked a few times, although not without navigation mishap, and then I plunged into unknown territory for the second half of the walk.

Given how much walking I do on the island, I'm always a bit surprised when I find huge tracts of land that I have never trod. I marvel at quaint, unknown road names (my favourite today was the junction of Beacon Alley and Bagwich Lane) and isolated farms and hidden valleys. I also tend to get lost. A lot. The reason I don't often plunge into the rural midlands of the island is that I always end up following confident, hopeful signs into wild fields, only to find that there's no sign of any walked way at all and no apparent way out of the field. I've even chosen named bridlepaths today (The Worsley Trail, then The Shepherds' Trail) thinking they would be better labelled, but only about a third of the path junctions had useful signs on them. At times, I was reduced to following horse hoofprints, on the assumption that the horse must know best. Other times, with no hoofprints visible, I even found myself going, "cowpat. Cowpat. Cowpat. Cowpat. Horse manure! Yay! I'm on track!"

Anyway... Here are some pictures of random things seen along the way. )
ladyofastolat: (Vectis)
Since we can't do Walk the Wight this year, due to being in Italy, I thought I'd do the route of its second half today, coming back by a more scenic route that took in the coast and lots of bluebells.

Here be far too many pictures )
ladyofastolat: (Vectis)
We've walked the entire coastal path this weekend: 28.5 miles on Friday (of which 27 were officially on the coastal path, and the rest was getting to and from it), 28.5 on Saturday, and 19 yesterday, in torrential, non-stop rain.

I've walked all of this before, some parts of it many, many times, so I only took my camera with me on day one, when the weather was lovely. Carrying it is a bit awkward, so I didn't bother on the other two days. I wrote a full account of the entire route, with many photos, when I walked it all in 4 days a couple of years ago: here, here, here and here.

Write-up, with a few pictures of Day One )
ladyofastolat: (Vectis)
We walked to Carisbrooke and back today. This was much the same walk that I did a month ago, although we took a different random meandering route through the forest, and instead of popping into the church, we popped into the castle and had lunch (and, um, bought a bottle of subtly mint-scented mead from the gift shop and consumed it on the green). There's still some squelch around, but everywhere is a lot more summery than a month ago, with tall green grass to wade through, instead of stumpy stalks on brown fields.

A few pictures )
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
A few days ago, the front page of the online version of our local newspaper showed 6 or 7 main stories. These included:

- Fire engines raced to a house to deal with a small grill fire. It had been put out by the time they arrived.

- Fire engines raced to a house to deal with a small kitchen fire. By the time they got there, a neighbour had put it out.

- Fire engines raced to a public building because somebody had reported a smell of smoke in the vicinity of a beer cooler. They could not find anything wrong, and reported the building safe.

When we were very new on the island, I remember seeing an article that can be summarised as "small fire in pile of leaves in park put out with glass of water!" Then, of course, there was the notorious Sandwich Throwing Incident, which was the main headline on the front page. Somebody threw a sandwich at the MPs car, causing the MP to stop the car in the middle of town, leap out, and give chase, since it was "rather substantial egg sandwich."

I think somebody should make an emergency services TV series based around events like this. The important thing, though, is that it mustn't be played for laughs. Anyone can play something like this for laughs; that's easy. But what I want is a series done entirely straight faced, using all the dramatic music, dramatic cuts, and dramatic close-up shots of beads of sweat on tense firemen's brows. I want something that can get the viewers to actually care, and be on the edge of their seat as the intrepid fire crews race to get to the small fire in a pile of leaves that is threatening nobody. Will they get there in time? The camera shows an approaching jogger, a water bottle clutched in this hand. Will the jogger get there first? Oh, God, I can't bear the tension! I can't watch!

And the suspense! The cliffhangers! "We have recovered the sandwich, sir," says forensic person, in a solemn, portentous tone. "To be continued," appears on the screen, causing the forums to go WILD with speculation. Huge fandom wars will result between those who think it is OBVIOUSLY an egg sandwich, and those who still cling to the Ham Theory.

It needs to be done.
ladyofastolat: (Vectis)
Yesterday we incorporated a trip to Brading Roman Villa into a day-long walk across the island

Pictures, rude Romans, a vanished manor and a lost lifeboat )
ladyofastolat: (Vectis)
Lovely weather this weekend, so I've spent much of it outside and walking.

Landslips in West Wight )

Changed plans and churches )
ladyofastolat: (Vectis)
Today I found myself with an hour to kill on the south coast, in between storytimes, so stopped en route to look at some of the changes the recent weather has wrought. I couldn't get to the big things: the big cliff falls, the collapsed sea walls, and, worst of all, the stretch of main road - full of houses - that has half disappeared. But I did get a few pictures of the somewhat less drastic things: )

Travel news

Jan. 3rd, 2014 01:05 pm
ladyofastolat: (Vectis)
Checking the local paper's website for the latest news on storms/floods/storm surges/WE'RE ALL DOOMED! I see that the latest travel-related announcement is this:

"There is a lot of cauliflower on the road in Canteen Road, Whitely Bank. Please drive carefully."

Oh no! We really are doomed!

EDIT: Updated news: "After the earlier cauliflowers, we've now had reports of lots of sheep on the road. We are trying to locate the owner."
ladyofastolat: (Vectis)
We went for a walk today on the Back of the Wight, through deserted Chines and smuggler haunts. It was good walking weather - cold, but not too cold when walking, and very sunny.

Here are some pics )
ladyofastolat: (Vectis)
I've not done any proper walking for a few months. Since I've got several days leave still to take before the end of the year, and the weather forecast was good, I took today off to go for a walk in West Wight. I've done it all many times before, but that didn't stop me taking loads of pictures.

Shrooms, not-sunsets, cliffs and the like )
ladyofastolat: (Vectis)
Things seen on an evening walk along the seafront:

Crowds of local young men in their 20s, all topless and wearing very low-slung shorts, kicking footballs around on the Green, or cooking smoky things on the beach. How do their shorts stay up? Do they ever have embarrassing accidents?

Hordes of yachties spilling out of the pubs nearest to the Yacht Haven. Outside Pub No. 1, it was white Polo shirts, khaki knee-length shorts and canvas shoes without socks. Outside Pub No. 2, attire was more varied, but the footwear was the same. Who polices the yachties' dress code?

Lots of men in black tie and ladies in long dresses, heading to a posh yacht club for some purpose or other. "You've got fluff on your cuff!" I heard a lady say to her man, sounding quite horrified.

Lots of families with young children, enjoying the sunshine before bedtime. Learning To Ride A Bike was the theme of the evening.

Lots of teeny, flailing boats with brightly coloured sails, each with one person aboard. From one such boat, a loud voice shouted instructions, seemingly in vain.

A very [edit: add "large" here] cargo ship full of crates. I cannot accept that these things can stay afloat. I'm sorry, but they can't. The only explanation is magic.

Several chaps bent double with the weight of lager they were carrying to some unknown destination.

A teeny teeny little dog in a carrying basket, just unloaded from the car and shouting abuse to all who passed him, sounding like a dog ten times his size. The entire basket was shaking with the force of his fury, almost leaving the ground. A little later, the Biggest Dog Ever (possibly a Pyrenean Mountain Dog?) pacing along like a very placid lion.
ladyofastolat: (Vectis)
I had today off, so headed off on another long walk starting from home.

Pictures of churches, signs, sculpture and a squirrel )
ladyofastolat: (Greenman)
I did a Big Walk today, but instead of just walking non-stop for 7 or 8 hours, as I was doing when training for my big coastal path adventure, I decided to stop off to explore anything interesting that I passed.

Pictures (far too many of them) and historical ramblings about teeny medieval churches, a medieval lighthouse, a holy well and assorted animals )
ladyofastolat: (Vectis)
I stopped my monthly cemetery pictures during the winter, because nothing exciting was happening, except for Unmitigated Squelch. (Band name?) But everything's been waking up nicely during February. Jays are shouting their hearts out, wood pigeons are telling everything that their toes hurt, mother, green woodpeckers are yaffling merrily, and greater spotted woodpeckers are drilling their heads off, posing quite nicely on branches until I make any sort of movement in the direction of my camera, whereupon they scarper. Snowdrops are still conspicuous by their absence, but primroses and daffodils started in late January, followed closely by crocuses. By last week, it was all looking quite impressive, but it's quite hard to convey the flower carpet properly in a photograph. I popped out today, hoping that there would be even more flowers than last week, but it was all too gloomy, so most of the flowers were staying in bed.

A few pictures )
ladyofastolat: (Vectis)
There was a strange and unfamiliar glowing ball of light in the sky this morning, so I thought I'd get out nice and early before it decided to go away again. My knee still isn't up to long walks, so I just did about 6 miles, centred on Five Barrows. Five Barrows, as the name suggests, is a hilltop conglomeration of at least eight barrows. Even the experts don't seem to know how many there are, barrows presumably being like the stones in stone circles when it comes to uncountability. The Megalithic Portal says there's one main barrow and "four or five" smaller ones, but proceeds to tell us that "they supposedly consist of one disc, six bowl and one bell barrow." However, the website does warn me that I may be viewing yesterday's version of the site, and advises me to register in order to receive the most up-to-date information, the world of prehistoric momuments presumably being one so fast moving that yesterday's information is worthless.

Barrows: defying photography since prehistoric times )
ladyofastolat: (Snowy trees)
The light was failing as I walked home from work, but I did what I could.

Snowy graves and their snowy guardian )
ladyofastolat: (Vectis)
Oops. I forgot to take any pictures in the cemetery in October. It was horribly soggy under foot, so I hardly ever ventured into it, and I was out and about quite a bit during the month. Also, I'd been rather discouraged by the brutal September mowing, which chopped down all the lovely flowers I'd been observing.

I took these November pictures a couple of weeks ago - on Remembrance Sunday, in fact. I climbed over the wall into the cemetery at about 10.50, then saw that there were quite a lot of solemn-looking people in the cemetery stationed round various graves, so I hid silently in the trees until 11.02 was safely passed and everyone was leaving. It didn't feel right to shout out, "Oh, look! A pretty mushroom!" when people were using the cemetery for its proper purpose. (Although dog-walking seems to be its most common purpose.)

I don't think I missed anything exciting by skipping October, to be honest. November was pretty, due to the sunlight and the colour of the leaves, but completely devoid of flora.

November in the cemetery )
ladyofastolat: (Vectis)
The weather was lovely today - clear, sunny and surprisingly warm when in the sunshine. We decided to head out for a walk, although I spent so much time dilly-dallying with my camera that we only managed about 11 miles before it was time to head home. Pictures herein )
ladyofastolat: (Default)
I took my August pictures of the cemetery a few days before my computer died, and didn't get round to taking them off my camera. I went out yesterday to photograph all the colourful wild flowers that had sprung up since August - scabious and agrimony and ragwort in copious quantities - only to find two ride-on lawnmowers and four men with strimmers, just retiring for lunch after devastating the whole lot. :-(

The cemetery in August and September )
ladyofastolat: (Vectis)
Five weeks after my last photographic expedition into the cemetery, here comes a rather overgrown and butterfly-filled picture of July.

The cemetery in July )
ladyofastolat: (Default)
The Olympic torch came to the island today, and rather than see it the way most other people get to see it - i.e. on an urban street - we decided to head out to West Wight and combine a torch sighting with a country walk.

Many pictures lurk herein )
ladyofastolat: (Default)
This is the second post in my probably-of-interest-only-to-me series of posts on the flora and fauna of Northwood Cemetery. My last batch of photos was taken exactly four weeks ago today. Here is the cemetery one month on.

The cemetery in June )
ladyofastolat: (Vectis)
I have decided to try to keep a month by month photographic record of the flora and fauna of the Victorian cemetery that's right next door to where I work. I've no idea if I'll keep it up or not, but here is May's entry.

The cemetery in mid May )
ladyofastolat: (Vectis)
Another early early morning in May. Those doing the entire walk have to start between 6.30 and 8, and we've got to queue with a few thousand others to get a bus to the most westerly pointy of the island, so it seemed sensible to go for the earliest time. The earlier we start, the earlier we can get a bus back from the most westerly pointy and have an ENORMOUS MOUNTAIN OF PIZZA.

See you in 27 miles. Well, of course I won't see you at all. It's not even true to say that you'll see me, since you won't, but will just see my words, if I can be bothered to write any, or my pictures, if I can be bothered to carry my camera, which I probably won't be. I'm now off to eat a lot of cold sausages in buns, in the name of calories.

At least the weather gods approve of letting the wight out for its annual walk. After weeks of rain, we have a lovely day out there, although with rain forecast again for tomorrow.
ladyofastolat: (Vectis)
On Sunday, over 10,000 people will set out to Walk the Wight. This has inspired creativity.

Walking the Wight:


Two songs, and the above picture, bigger )


Apr. 5th, 2012 06:45 pm
ladyofastolat: (Vectis)
A huge injustice is revealed in our local paper. According to official Met Office figures, Shanklin in the Isle of Wight has recorded more hours of sunshine in 2010 and 2011 than anywhere else in the country. However, due to unspecified sinister shananigans, we have been robbed of our title, costing the island MILLIONS OF POUNDS of tourism revenue! Hastings and Eastbourne, those dastardly villains, have come in cackling, and claimed the title that was rightfully ours.

What other titles have Hastings and Eastbourne stolen from their rightful recipients, I wonder. Has Hastings had the ear of the authorities for many years? Does this explain why Hastings tops of the list of Battles Wot People Have Heard Of, displacing other worthy candidates such as Bosworth or Naseby.

We danced in Hastings a few years ago. Playing those memories back now, I can clearly see the aura of plotty evil that emanated from the place.

ladyofastolat: (Vectis)
I did it! I really wasn't sure when I started if I'd be able to go the distance, but I've done it! I'm pretty weary now, but still capable of running up and down stairs, rather than hobbling with agonised moans, which just the 14 miles of the latter half of Walk the Wight reduced me to a few years ago.

Route: Just this side of Yarmouth, to the floating bridge at the end of Cowes
Distance: c. 16 miles
Time: 5 hours 35 minutes
Black labradors: None! Ever since I posted last year about how every single dog I ever saw on the coastal path was a black labrador, the things have been conspicuous in their absence, except in West Wight, which is presumably the base of their association of evil. (Or good, I suppose.)
Chines: None.
Estuaries: One great big huge enormous one, that went on for miles
Latest "Good morning!" from a fellow walker: c 11 a.m. We only met one solitary person from the start of the walk until about an hour before the end. Pellinor came up with a new Theory of walk-related "Good mornings!" This one involved large hadron colliders, for some reason.

Day the fourth and last, with the usual gloomy pictures )


ladyofastolat: (Default)

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