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

A very long ramble about rambling )
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
I've been meaning for a while to walk to Winchester and back along the Itchen Way and/or the Itchen Navigation, but when deciding where to walk on a day, the extra time and expense of the ferry journey has always led me to reject the idea in favour of a more local walk. Although the lack of daylight hours means that the "and back" part of the plan is not feasible at this time of year, I thought it would be nice to combine the "there" part of it with a nice, leisurely pub lunch, and perhaps a bit of sightseeing in Winchester.

Rolling ones along the Itchen Navigation )
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: (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. )

Boots

Sep. 10th, 2015 08:30 am
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
The time has finally come. My old boots are finally getting thrown out. The bin men will take them away shortly. I clung to them desperately for so long after they started to fall apart. When it became clear that they couldn't go near water without leaking with a sieve, I bought a new pair, after trying on pretty much every pair of boots on the island. I didn't like my new ones. In fact, I HATED my new ones. I did a few short walks with them, grumping all the way, then put them in a cupboard and returned to my old ones. By then, they were leaking even if they as much as glimpsed a drop of dew from 100 yards, but I still clung to them. In my mind, the New Boots were hideous monstrosities that weighed a tonne and had enormous solid heels ten inches thick. I tried repairing the old ones, but they were a lost cause. I scoured the internet for second-hand pairs of the same type, but found none. In the end, I pretty much stopped walking entirely.

Then, after months of impasse, I tried my new boots, and realised that they weren't the hideous, heavy monstrosities I thought they were. I tried ten miles in them, and had no problem. I tried 16, and had sore shins, but it was a walk entirely on hard surfaces, so perhaps that was only to be expected. Grudgingly I had to admit that perhaps I'd misjudged them.

I'd done very little walking this year, but yesterday I did 21 miles in my new boots. No problem at all. No sore shins, and no blisters.* I hate to admit it, but my old boots would have given me blisters on my first walk after a long hiatus. So the time has come: the old boots are going out to the bin men, and will be no more.

It seems a bit harsh, really, after all the good and loyal service they've given me. I feel I ought to be taking them out to my favourite part of the Coastal Path and giving them an honorable burial. Not only would it honour them, it would also baffle future archaeologists.

* Well, actually, I DO have a blister, but can't blame the boots. Not only do I wear boots until they fall apart, I do the same with socks. I ended yesterday's walk with a blister on the sole of my foot. The fact that there turned out to be hole in my sock in exactly that place is, I suspect, significant. Pellinor is now tutting and shaking his head and saying "I told you so," since he doesn't approve of my holey socks, and thinks I should chuck the entire lot out and get a drawer-full of new ones.

The old boots: Rest in Peace )
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: (sneezing lion)
Ooh, I didn't notice at the time, but I appear to have achieved my annual walking target in just over 6 months. (The reason I didn't notice was that I didn't actually set the target on MapMyWalk until January 17th, although I was counting miles from January 1st. Since I couldn't set the target to start in the past, officially I've still got 35 miles to go until I achieve my target. I'm hoping to get these 35 miles done before July 17th, since that would be neat, but I'm not sure I will, since I've just started a cold, and am due to dance all day tomorrow, and the forecast for Sunday is grim. We'll see...)

mapmywalk

"Upgrades"

Jun. 25th, 2014 01:50 pm
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
Grump! I've been using the MapMyWalk app on my phone since January, and have used it to track over 200 walks, ranging from less than a mile to over 30 miles. Barring a few issues with battery use, I've had no problems with it.

Last week, I installed a big upgrade...

After a week of fighting with it, I have had to conclude that the upgrade has made the app unusable on my phone. I don't know if this is because my phone, although less than a year old, is at the budget end of the Smartphone spectrum? I've only managed one successful walk, and that was a simple A to B walk in Southampton, only 2 miles, with no pauses. Otherwise, it refuses to start again when paused. It shouts about not being able to connect to their website - something it never previously moaned about, which is just as well, given the lack of network coverage one tends to encounter on country walks. It sometimes freezes up completely, forcing me to restart my phone. It devours battery life at least twice as fast as the old one, if not more, even when paused.

Yes, I am using the free version of the app, rather than paying to get the more advanced version. I accept that this gives me very limited right to complain. I am not a paying customer, and they owe me nothing. But I'm still grumped about it. I'm 88% of the way through my "walk 1000 miles" target on MapMyWalk, so I don't want to move away from it until I've completed that. I can map walks manually - easy when you walk on roads; rather more challenging when you go cross country - but it's so much easier to have a magic device in your pocket doing all the counting for you.

Grump!
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: (sneezing lion)
You know how it is when a little voice pipes up inside your head, and says, "Hey! I've got a great idea!" It proceeds to suggest some wild, crazy, stupid goal or challenge, and tells you it would be SUCH FUN and SO SATISFYING if you managed to do watch an entire TV series boxed set in a single day/do every single workout DVD you possess on the same day*/get gold medals in every single Survival challenge in Left4Dead**/kill the President of Paraguay with a fork.***

Internal dialogue )

A foolish challenge )

You can guess the result )

Footnotes )
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: (sneezing lion)
I'm working today, which is a little annoying, since the weather is lovely, but I did manage to get a quick 4 miles in before work, and a further 3 miles over lunch. I'll probably wander around in Parkhurst Forest after work, too, en route to the supermarket. It wasn't in my walking repertoire until a few weeks ago, but it really is very pretty. Got to dance on Monday. I might walk there and back, but only if I can cope with 18 miles spent with bells jingling away in my rucksack.

Fluffy stuff is blowing off the trees beside the cycle path, and at a quick glance, the ground beneath the trees looks as if it's been wrapped in a shroud woven by a horde of over-enthusiastic spiders. Fluff is piled up inches thick along the grass verges. I kept coming across cyclists who had dismounted to prod at it in amazement. Other parts of the path are carpeted with russet and white catkinny things that look like the severed tails of so many thousands of baby red squirrels. There are also some extraordinarily tall dark purple orchids that I have yet to identify. I've never been very good at orchids. At least I acknowledge their existence. White umbellifiers and dandeloids have always baffled me so much that I walk past them on the other side of the path, firmly telling myself that they do not exist.

While walking at lunch today, I decided to try and find out how many steps I was doing per mile on the fast, easy, flat terrain of the cycle path. My GPS walk tracker suggested 19 steps to each 100th of a mile, so I decided to test this by counting my steps all the way up to 1900. (Or, rather, by counting to 190 10 times, keeping count on my fingers.) As I reached 1900, up piped the voice in my pocket, announcing another mile. It was so exactly right, down to the last step, that I will never, ever count steps ever again, because it was doubtless sheer chance, but I can at least tell myself that it was brilliance. :-D
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 )

Boots

Mar. 30th, 2014 11:39 am
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
There are only so many holes you can accept in a pair of walking boots before you have to face the cold, hard truth: they need to be replaced. I am very fond of my walking boots. They have seen me through well over a thousand miles, and I really don't want to have to replace them. They have seen through so many quagmires that they look utterly vile - so seeped through with old mud that I feel embarrassed wearing them into cafes and museums. Vileness I can live with, but holes are less acceptable.

I had a few hours' lieu time on Friday afternoon, so armed with spare walking socks, I went boot shopping. I must have tried on every women's walking boot in Newport, most of them in both size 38 and size 39, just in case. After much umming and ahing (which I just wrote repeatedly as "aging". I took so long about it that I think the poor shop assistant probably did feel as if she was ageing considerably during the course of my visit.) Anyway... after much umming and ahing, I settled on a pair of Berghaus boots. Nothing makes boots feel more uncomfortable than subjecting them to intense attention, actively thinking, "will these do?" They feel heavy and stiff, but so did my old ones when I put them on yesterday and actively thought about them, only to fade into unawareness once I got going.

"You can return them within a month," the assistant told me, "as long as you haven't worn them outside." But I think the only way to discover if they fit properly is to do an actual walk with them, so I'm about to take the plunge, with a seafront circuit. I'll try the new boots for short walks, but keep the old ones for long walks, at least for now. Then I might need to give them a sad and sorrowful ritual burial, perhaps beneath the still undiminished Eternal Soup Mountain. Explain that, future reptilian archaeologists!
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)
- I've been recording my walking with MapMyWalk on my phone. What do points mean? Who knows! )

- I am always amused by the fact that whenever it is possible to cut a corner on a country walk, even if by doing so you save mere inches, people will do so. You can be on a path literally miles from any vehicular access, where the only people who ever go there are people specifically out to Do A Walk - i.e. to cover lots of miles merely for pleasure. Even so, whenever the marked path turns a sharp corner, you'll find a well-worn shortcut cutting that corner, as people try to take 3 steps off their 12 mile walk. And, yes, I do exactly the same.

- The black ladrador thing started as a bit of a joke, but it's true! It really is! The coastal path really is dominated by black labradoids, in a way that other island footpaths are not. Yesterday, I was walking in Ryde during my lunch break: many and varied dogs in the backstreets; black labradoids and nothing but black labradoids when my path took me along the coastal path. The Ridgeway, in contrast, was markedly free of the things, but riddled with golden labradoids, a being I've hardly ever seen on island paths. I have also noticed that sighthounds always come in twos - I have no seldom seen one alone that I will claim 30 points when I finally see one - as do Cavalier King Charles spaniels. All other spaniels always come alone.
ladyofastolat: (Probably ritual)
We've spent the last two days walking on and around the Ridgeway, and the day before that walking around Stonehenge. The weather couldn't have been better; today, especially, felt like a pleasant June day. Well, actually, today's weather couldn't have been better... for people who actually remembered to put on sun cream, rather than walk for 6 hours in the sunshine while carrying it unopened in their rucksack. Rather sunburnt now, but surprisingly unhobbly, given that we walked 57 miles in 3 days.

Photos and write-up of Stonehenge, The Ridgeway and associated sites )
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)
Miles away from anywhere, we sit on top of a hill with our backs against an 18th century monument in a vain attempt to get shelter from the howling gale. Thick fog billows in from the sea, hiding any semblance of a view. Hands are freezing. Boots are caked with mud, and mud is thickly splashed all the way up to our knees, and higher. Valiantly we eat ham sandwiches from a plastic bag, and drink tea from a flask. "What a nice walk!" Pellinor says, with no irony whatsover. I agree.

Yes, it has finally happened. We have turned into our parents.
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
I had to pop into town today to buy a few small things*, and decided to walk, since the weather had turned out nicer than forecast. After spending over a year dithering over which Garmin to buy, I've downloaded a GPS walk-mapping app on my phone instead, and this was my first attempt at using it for anything more than my daily walk to work. What I didn't realise was that it talks to me. There I was, strolling along all by myself, when suddenly a disembodied voice piped up and told me that I'd walked one mile in 14.36 minutes.

Now, anyone who knows what I'm like with computer games will know how I reacted to that. Challenge accepted! thought I. 14.36 minutes? I'll beat that! Unfortunately, as well as being competitive, I also appear to be very forgetful, since I constantly got distracted by goldfinches and coots and teenage girls on pink skateboards and elegant whippets and pretty catkins, and forgot that I was supposed to be walking fast, with the result that my fastest mile was 14.20 minutes, and my slowest (in the middle of town, weaving through crowds) was 15.01, and the average over 9.82 miles was 14.48.

I fear this could turn out to be something of a mixed blessing. I do want to track my mileage, but I don't want to dismiss a walk as a failure just because I don't set a new high score and earn any new XBox achievements for it. I might have to turn the shouty voice off.

However, on the plus side, the website has given me some points, ten for climbing a very small hill indeed, and ten for walking a set route that some other user has entered on the site. Points are good! Points keep me motivated! I like points!

* I needed to buy some beige felt, some dark green felt, a pair of dressmaking scissors and a small fish slice. I bought none of these things. However, I did buy some tan coloured felt, gold sequins, multicoloured sequins, copper wire, gold wire, a wooden spoon, an icing sugar shaker, a ladle, UHU, a pack of assorted brushes, gold paint, copper paint and a bundle of very gaudy gold ribbon. I'm not sure if this counts as a successful shopping trip, or a catastrophic failure.
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: (unbowed)
I am Confused. I walked about 30 miles yesterday, and while my clothes were rather unpleasantly sodden throughout, it was bearable. Now I've just strolled for 10 minutes in the graveyard, without a rucksack and without two layers of socks on my feet, and I found it far worse. Yes, I'm a mile inland here, whereas yesterday I was on the coast and had a sea breeze, and yes, it does seem to be a few degrees hotter today, but it still seems pretty inconsistent.

I'm always happier to walk in hot weather than I am to sit still in it. I find the idea of sunbathing quite hideous. I'd find it quite unbearable to be part of a crowd of spectators on a hot sunny day. But, while climbing mountains or Morris dancing on a hot day falls solidly in the realms of Too Hot, I'm far more okay with (level) country walking than I would have expected, given that I'm not normally good in the heat. It feels... breezier, although the Garmin that I borrowed last year shows that I average a fairly steady 3.8 miles an hour, and I wouldn't have thought that was enough to provide a cooling breeze. But for whatever the reason, I feel far hotter sitting still in the sunshine than moving in it. Odd.
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)
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: (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: (Vectis)
I've got today off work, due to working tomorrow, so decided to go for my first island Big Walk since Walk the Wight, and my first walk of any description since hurting my back. It was gorgeous weather, scenery-wise, although a little hot for my taste. I didn't take a camera, since if I carry it in my rucksack, it's too much of a hassle to use, and if I carry it round my neck, it hurts my back over long distances, but I did rather regret it, since everywhere looked so blue and sparkling and lovely. Purbeck was clearly visible, and the sea below the cliffs of West Wight were completely transparent, and a beautiful blue-green.

There were flowers everywhere, far more than I can remember, and loads of butterflies. Restharrow, yarrow, ragwort and knapweed (and many others) for the first few miles, with various brown butterflies, and a few painted ladies (?) thrown in to the mix. On the chalk downs just east of Freshwater, there were chalkhill blues rising up with every step, though fewer than last year, and I didn't see any adonis blues this time, or the lovely furry caterpillars I remember from September two years ago. Harebells, absolutely thousands of gentians, most of them not quite in flower, eyebright... and lots of others I can't remember. Carpets of pink heather in the occasional places where island geology gets Interesting. I must go back in a week or two and see if all the gentians are in flower.

We're going out to dinner in half an hour or so - or whenever Pellinor gets off the ferry, this being something subject to change, since the Bestival is bringing tens of thousands of people to the island. (They're already emptied Sainsbury's of canned lager and cider this afternoon.) This is our three-weeks-too-late celebration of our wedding anniversary, the correct date clashing with Cowes Week.

My desktop computer has been given up as beyond repair. I've got its sad remains back so I can get data off, and now we need to decide what new one to order. Annoyingly, my laptop is also playing up, frequently denying all knowledge of being connected to a source of power, and draining the battery to empty despite being plugged in. Battery life is ticking down alarmingly as I write this, so I'd better stop.
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: (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:

Photobucket

Two songs, and the above picture, bigger )
ladyofastolat: (Default)
I was buzzed by a swallow today. I was up on Tennyson Down, and a swallow started weaving around me, like Tigger on an expotition. Flying between a few inches and a few feet above the ground, it flew in rapid darting zigzags across my path, sometimes passing barely a foot in front of me, or circled me, sometimes passing what felt like inches from my hair, or flew straight at me, swerving only at the last second. What a great view I'm getting of this swallow! I thought at first, but then it kept this up for at least half a mile, and it made me surprisingly stressed. "Go away!" I was begging it by the end. "Please stop following me!" I really found it quite oppressive and almost... well, not quite scary, but really not nice at all.

It got bored eventually, and decided to go off elsewhere, but a few miles later on, I came across several house martins, darting to and fro not far from the Coastal Path, and found myself flinching whenever they came near me, my heart speeding up with fear.

I had really never expected to go out for a country walk, and come back with a fear of tiny, inoffensive migratory birds.

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