Mainly Studying

Day 72 – 84 16th Oct – 27th Oct

On 16th October, I drove up to Birmingham with Ronni and Jimmy in the car, and have settled into another base camp (my friend Moyra’s house) where my main activity will be writing and studying with some diversions for shopping, walking, having good coffee and seeing old friends local to this part of the world. The walking round here is surprisingly rural looking! Though it was all a bit of shock when it snowed today when we were out.

Ronni and Jimmy have taken a little while to settle, especially Jimmy who seems to be frightened of pretty much everything and spent much of his first 24 hours here behind the sofa or under the dining table. He has been here before, so this was a slightly extreme reaction! He is much more relaxed now but prone to hiding at any unfamiliar noise. He is not keen on fireworks, which are beginning to feature as bonfire night and Diwali approach!

I have been consolidating my reading on “leading with emotional intelligence” and started to pull together some training material primarily aimed at clergykind. In a more playful and creative mood, I have decided to create this through a master powerpoint, with working through it as and when at your own pace in mind (and probably primarily sharing the material with people via datasticks/CDs). I should be able to use the specific topics in interactive sessions too.  I have found it a bit difficult to distil my studies into applicable chunks, as there is a lot of theory and not enough application (in my opinion). There is much to learn and muse on, and I have found my own reflections on the material really helpful. I have separated out and concentrated on the work of Edwin Friedman on leadership, which though this builds on the family systems theory work of Bowen, has enough wisdom within it to be of value in understanding church leadership without getting overwhelmed in stuff specific to our families of origin.

As I have finished my owl embroidery (but still need to mount it), I have moved into experimenting with beading alongside my current knitting project. Various snowflakes are beginning to emerge and I shall probably use these as examples for the coming craft retreat up in a couple of week’s time.

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Out and about

Day 59-71 3rd -15th Oct

A variety of activities have filled the last 10 days or so. I enjoyed my birthday, with a trip into London to see the stage show version of Mamma Mia and caught up with some old friends. I had some annual leave with HF walking holidays in lovely, lovely Shropshire. I spent this last weekend back in Basingstoke, where I was the curate between 2004 and 2007. It was great to share in the celebration for Stephen Leach becoming a Licensed Lay Minister with that church family.  It was also good to see seeds sown in my time, so much a part of Church life, including quality work with children and thriving home groups.

I have also been consolidating my reading on ‘leading with emotional intelligence’, off to my new base for writing the training material tomorrow.

Dragons

Day 55-58 29th Sept – 2nd Oct

Enjoying some days back home, regrouping before more travelling, studying and no doubt more adventures! I have communed quite a lot with all things domestic and with the washing, and it has been good to resume the role of cat servant to Ronni and Jimmy. (On that front I am very grateful to Rhiannon from South Nutfield Pet sitting who took care of them while I was in Wales).

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This Sunday morning, I worshipped at Emmanuel Church in South Croydon and it was good and very helpful to hear the lovely Peter Graystone preach on one of the my favourite passages from Ephesians (2:11-22) (Peter looks after the “Growing in faith and life course” amongst other things for Southwark Diocese, and I tutor on that course (and helped in its inception/design). The worship had a deep sense of God’s Spirit, and I particularly enjoyed singing 10,000 reasons, and King of Kings, Majesty – which seems to always speak profoundly to my heart. Here is Jarrod Cooper talking about it before playing it on Songs of Praise.

Ephesians 2: 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. New International Version – UK (NIVUK)

Meanwhile I thought you might enjoy my collection of “dragon of the day’ from my welsh adventures. I was sending them to a friend of mine as I encountered them on my travels. Here’s the whole selection… Not sure why so many of them were outside static caravan parks!

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Magnificent Mwnt, dolphins, seals and home

Day Fifty two to Fifty four (26-28 Sept) Walk Day 24 and 25

Day 52 Llangrannog to Aberporth Walk Day 26 Sept

Phone stats: 19981 steps, 8.44 miles, walking time 3hr 16 minutes

The morning began with a return visit from the heffer!

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Unusually this day’s walk started from base camp and had a bus ride in the middle. I walked from base camp out to the coast, and then over the ridge to Llangrannog, where I had finished yesterday. I communed with St Carannog’s statue which looks over the bay. The descent was quite steep, and there was enough time to enjoy a coffee in Llangrannog before getting the Cardi bach bus to Aberporth. Whilst I was enjoying the coffee in the warm sunshine, the peace was somewhat shattered by a school party but it was fun to see the children enjoying the beach.

When I got to Aberporth, I did some sorting out for tomorrow and established an end point for tomorrow’s walk at this splendid dolphin statue touching point, and also to be clear where the bus stops were to get the bus to Gwbert (there was one bus a day so it was important not to mess up!). Eventually I set off proper, round the beach and then on an inclusive access section of coast path – which was fab  and relatively easy going. I was pleased to see this having enjoyed another inclusive action section at Druidston in Pembrokeshire on previous welsh holidays. This included passing some very well placed converted railway carriages, which were being used as holiday lets.

The inclusive access path ended, and more normal path quality resumed. It eventually came out on the beach at Tresarth – I had hoped to have some lunch there – but the café was heaving so I carried on (it was a lovely day and lunch time!). This meant tackling the first big ascent of the day (in the photo below the right hand one of the cliffs – base camp is beyond the horizon on the left hand one of the cliffs). I had a breather and a snack half way up on the edge of the path. The path was very narrow and the edge was close on the ascent – thankfully wider and less exposed on the way down. The views were amazing and it was warm and sunny.

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About 3pm I reached the national trust café at Penbryn, following a descent through another wooded valley and had a very welcome welsh cheddar and chutney sandwich. I was a bit concerned about the ascent back up to base camp, but there was no need, as it was more of a farm track than the earlier path. I was soon working my way back, and it was good to see base camp come into view down a hedged track! The heffer had gone!

 

Day 53 Gwbert to Aberporth Sept 27th  Walk Day 25

Phone stats: 25827 steps, 10.91 miles, walking time 4hr 16 minutes

Another early start, to enable me to get the bus from Aberporth to Gwbert. It was a beautiful morning, and turned out to be the only day I walked entirely in a T-shirt with no fleece or waterproof over the top! After an eventful bus ride (where the driver had to back a long way when we met a huge double tanker on a narrow lane) – I was ready to go from Gwbert at 10:45 – having established a touching point for another day by the entrance to the Cliff Hotel. Gwbert was another of the destinations for childhood holidays in Wales – I did remember this one!

It was about ¾ of a mile of up on the road, and then out to join the coast through fields. The conditions were calm, warm and sunny. Once we reached the coast, I was soon spotting dolphins, and helped another couple of walkers to see the dolphins (one of them had never seen them before in the wild and was very excited). I have seen dolphins in this area of the Ceredigion coast often! The first mile of the coastal section of the path was easy going and then it got much more strenuous, narrow and up and down. The journey was enriched by being able to see the mountains round Cardigan bay, including Yr Wyddfa, clearly in the distance in the clarity of a stunning day.

After about an hour, the magnificent Mwnt came into view. This is one of the most beautiful places I know, and has a special place in my heart. I had an icecream at the National Trust booth, and used the facilities, and then went to the churchyard. This is one of the two places where my dear friend Jane is remembered, and spent some time there. I first came with her to Mwnt during my first year at Theological College in 2003, and a number of times subsequently. It is good to give thanks for how much her friendship enriched my life, and it was important that this was part of my walking journey.

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I visited the church of the Holy Cross, and had a chat with a couple about my walk. I realised I was only about 1/3 of the way I needed to travel so I walked on – looking back until the church was no longer visible behind. The going was strenuous, narrow, clinging to the cliffs and lots of ups and downs, and progress was slow. I had lunch about an hour further on and watched the seals swimming in crystal clear blue sea. I am not going to lie this was a challenging walk! And I was on the narrow cliff path from Mwnt heading towards Aberporth for 2 and a half hours. I was very relieved after two false dawns to reach the treelined valley route out. Again another beautiful autumnal colours valley – looking across to the DERA base and firing range on the next ridge. I wondered how it was going to work out as I was the other side of the valley to where I needed to be! But as is the way with these things it did work out, without too much more ascent.

Once I had made my way round the base, it was about a mile of descent back to the front at Aberporth. I touched the glorious dolphin statue touching point to mark the end of my walk. I put my rucksack, boots, poles and stuff in the car, and then went down on the beach and paddled my tired feet in the sea. It was very cold but refreshing.

It had been a fantastic and beyond beautiful final day.

I went home – refuelled and did the maths…. My final totals are a staggering 558,118 steps and 237 miles… Here’s the maps – the first is my whole trip and the second what I have covered this week.

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Day 54 Travelling home

After packing up and clearing base camp. I was on the road bright and early, I was keen not to end up on the M25 at the wrong time on a Friday. It was cooler but still bright and sunny. My final glimpses of the Ceredigion coast as I turned east was blessed with a  clear view of the mountains beyond. I thanked God for that, which brought me deep joy.

The journey was uneventful and long! Thoughts turned to when I could continue the journey I have started on the Wales Coast Path – I have only done just over a quarter of it. Maybe I can pick up next September where I left off at Gwbert.

The magnitude of the distance I have walked only really sank in – when I realised my drive home was just 8 miles more than I had walked over the past six weeks! So I was on the M25 approaching Reigate when I got to the 237 mile point… The cats appear to be pleased to see me and are currently staying close.

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And when they were up they were up, and when they were down they were down

Day forty nine to fifty one (23-25 Sept) Walk Day 22 and 23

Day 49 Day of rest

Another leisurely Sunday! I went to church in Penbryn, and what was billed as an 11:15 communion, turned out to be a baptism (with a puppet). The fact it was a baptism was obvious as soon as I reached the car park! There were two great bits of scripture read, but very little attempt to explain them. The high point was singing Calon Lan in welsh. I am no welsh speaker (and I am sure I sounded like the policeman in ‘allo ‘allo!) but this is a spiritual experience to sing and I find the ideas behind the words challenging but inspiring. Here’s a link to Katharine Jenkins singing it with the translation.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EadntTQ0AkA

I went on to a very scenic lunch in a beach hut café in Aberporth, which was served on entirely recyclable containers including wood utensils (similar to lolly sticks). I then retreated to base camp for a session of knitting and watching the new Star Trek series.

Day 50 Aberaeron to New Quay Sept 24th Walk Day 22

Phone stats: 14500 steps, 7.3 miles, walking time 3hr 1 minute

It was cool but the sunshine was very welcome. I drove to Aberaeron, and was soon on the trail after touching the touching point I established on Saturday morning. The route rose gently out of the town, and in the distance views of the hills and wide expanse of the coastline (and the path I have travelled opened out!). It was distant but by the end of the day I was pretty sure I could see Yr Wydffa, and the outline of the Llein peninsula and Bardsey, opening out the trail I have travelled. Looking forward, New Quay was in view for most of the day, which was encouraging too.

The route got steeper and rose up and down a number of times. It was also quite warm, and my efforts to dress appropriately were not entirely successful (and I ended up carrying a lot of kit!). I had a coffee stop shortly after a very scenic holiday village, and then the route went down virtually to beach level, where a stream cut through a section of zigzag strata. It was then a bit of a struggle back up and then a more gentle climb, before winding down to Llanina and past the inevitable static caravan park. Eventually I reached the beach, and had my lunch sitting on a rock watching the waves (which were very Robinson Crusoe-esq).

The final mile or so around the beach was a delight and I was much reminded of a previous visit to New Quay with Jane and Jasper (a cavalier king Charles dog). We had a short break near Aberaeron on October 2007. It was a significant time in Jane’s first round of cancer treatment, and I distinctly remembered taking the elderly Jasper on to the beach down a slope, and a café with a terrace (both still there). Jane loved this part of Wales, and it is good remembering her and our times together.

I struggled up the hill to connect with the bus back to Aberaeron, using a curry house as the touching post (as that was near to where the coast path will go tomorrow). I waited in the sun for about 20 minutes and then the bus came. It is always very satisfying to see the journey back!

When I got back to the base camp – there was a cow in the garden!

Day 50 New Quay to Llangrannog Sept 25th Walk Day 24

Phone stats: 26146 steps, 11.04 miles, walking time 4hr 20 minutes

The cow was still in the garden when I left for the day. I drove to the free car park in Llangrannog, and walked down to the bus stop.

Today I was using the Cardi Bach Bus for the first time (which runs twice a day to connect the remote places between Aberteifi and New Quay and to help walkers!) This turned out to be quite a stomach churning experience, as the driver took the bus down some lanes I would have thought twice about driving down… I am not the best bus traveller.

I was back in New Quay by 10:30, and touching the curry house and heading off uphill. The initial ascent was pretty near the edge and up higher than previously! But then the next mile or so out to the coast guard station was reasonably ok. And then….. Up and down precipitous cliff walking. Stunning, scary and exhilarating. Due to the tricky conditions, it took nearly 3 hours to get the 3.5 miles to get to Cwmtydu, with seals and a couple of seal pups on route too. I could see the dolphin watching boats but didn’t see any dolphins myself (I was concentrating on my footing)

There were options on what to do next, and the next bit of the cliff path had a serious health warning, so I took a delightful alternative route inland, clinging to the high edge of a tree filled valley. This first involved climbing out of Cwmtydu, on one of the roads the bus had used earlier! I had lunch at the start of the tree filled valley section. The path finding was a bit challenging, but ordnance survey map app was really helpful along side the Ceridigion council footprint signs. I was conscious that I was also a bit of a spent force (and had already done 9 and a half miles), at the point the inland route was due to rejoin the coast path, I took an ‘unauthorised’ road route back to Llangrannog, which also ended near where the car was parked.

I returned home to find the cow had gone from the garden, and in fact all the cows in the neighbouring field had also been moved too!

Rain……. and lots of it!

Sorry having techy difficulties, so lots of individual pictures…

Day forty six to forty eight (20-22 Sept) Walk Day 21

Day 46 Sept 20 Wet Day!

The weather forecast was awful and it lived up to the yellow weather warning! The winds of storm Ali were replaced by the torrential rain of storm Bronagh. It was a self-evident truth that walking was not a sensible plan. I went for a brief drive over to Fairbourne to enjoy a ride on the steam trains there.

The weather deteriorated whilst I was there, but it did enable me to reflect on how high my climb had been on Monday as the tree line at the top of this photo is where I ended up! The drive back was not very pleasant, so I decided to stay at base camp for the rest of the day.

I did some reading, walk planning and packing towards transit day. I moved the touching point back to the car – the end is in sight. I can see I will have to miss a couple of possible sections of the walk, so I can finish where I had hoped. On Saturday, weather permitting I will walk from Aberaeron to Llanrhystud in whichever direction best suits the wind! Ceredigion here I come!

Day 47 Transit day Sept 21

I was on the road by about 9:30, and then I realised just how wet it was. There was a lot of obvious flooding round the river Dovey! Then the bridge I wanted to use was shut (pont dyfi) – I followed some other cars down a road heading in approximately the right direction, which eventually came out on the road I needed. Satnav was most unimpressed. There were a couple of patches with water on the road, but it was passable with care. Fortunately once I got beyond Machynlleth, the road seemed to establish itself on slightly higher ground which was a relief. I had a break in a very nice café and then went into Aberystwyth to do some food shopping! I made gentle progress and had lunch looking at the beach from the car at Aberaeron. It was very windy still, cool and occasionally wet with heavy showers.

I arrived at my new base camp – which is attached to a farm house, about 40 minutes further on from Aberaeron. It is about 3 miles down some single-track roads with passing places (with mud and sometimes grass growing up the middle). It is in a fantastic position with sea views, near to a path to the coast path (about ½ a mile away). I am slightly concerned that the bed is rather high up, but it has proved to be very comfortable.

Day 48 Aberaeron to Llanrhystud Sept 22nd Walk Day 21

Phone stats: 22023 steps, 9.3 miles, walking time 3hr 30 minutes

The weather forecast was not exactly good, but it wasn’t anything like as bad as Thursday. I drove to Aberaeron, and I decided to walk from there – I did get an early start, well wrapped up as it was cool, and encased in waterproofs. In the first couple of hours of the walk, there was occasional drizzle. After that the rain was more persistent. (At the start I established a new start touching post as I intend to walk from Aberaeron to New Quay on Monday). Interestingly there are 2 new symbols being used for this part of the walk (I think the Ceredigion coast path is older than the complete Welsh Coast path!)

From virtually the very start when I saw people acting as marshalls, I realised I was walking on part of the route of a bigger event. During the course of my walk, first runners and then a selection of walkers overtook me. After having hardly seen anyone on most of my walking endeavours last week, it was a bit of a surprise to see so many people (about 40 by the end of it!). I was very encouraging as they were doing an impressive challenge from Hydro Dragon Events from New Quay to Aberystwyth – which has to be at least 25 miles probably closer to 30! As I came into LLanrhystud, the race organisers assumed I was one of theirs and offered me refreshments, before the final 10 mile section to Aberystwyth.

The walk was mainly on low cliffs near the beach, I had to take a longish detour into a village, as there was no way to cross one of the gorged streams, this meant I got to visit Llansantffraed church, which had some interesting stained glass. The Abba fan in me – loved their external poster too.

There were 2 tricky sections, early on there was a higher path and the going got a bit slippery on the downward slopes, and then about ½ a mile on stones above a beach near the end – which again were slippery so I took it slowly.

I established a touching point for another time, when I left the coast path, and walked on to the bus stop. I was just getting organised, and hadn’t even got my poles secured to my rucksack when a bus arrived. It was my first transcymru bus, and it took the driver three goes to get me to understand that it was free, which was a surprise! (It was a combination of accents, and me not expecting that answer!). I walked back

Windy and windier!

Day Forty four and forty five (18-19 Sept) Walk Days 19 and 20

Day 44 Llwyngwril to Tonfanau Sept 18th Walk Day 19

Phone stats: 17107 steps, 7.23 miles, walking time 2hr 56 minutes

Walking into a high wind!

Began the day with some further joy in yarn bombing at Llwyngwril. I got the train to Llwyngwril, touched my knitted cow touching point, and after contemplating some more knitted and crochet wonders, and a further closed church – I headed steeply up hill.

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The path “zigzagged” up and down the side of this hill for several miles (which was quite strenuous) and my progress was not improved by the wind (and the path was abit indistinct at times – Ordnance survey map app was a real boon to navigation). This turned into a 2 bull day. The first being the most scary. In the following picture, I have added the line of the path in white and the blue arrow points to the beautiful but large black bull in the paddock! He just looked at me thankfully as I passed but it was much too close to comfort to a standing and very much awake bull! The second bull occurred later on and was surrounded by friends and family (and sitting down thankfully).

As well as the wind, it rained repeatedly (and I was glad I had set off in my waterproofs). Eventually after at least 3 ups and downs, the path led up and over the ridge and down into the valley beyond, which did eventually give a bit of rest bite from the wind. I crossed the main road near Rhosfein, and then started a section which skirted on the sheltered side of one hill and then the exposed side of the second hill. The latter turned out to be quite a challenging path about 1/3 of the way up the hill. It was rough going and overgrown in places. I eventually found a spot out of the wind to have some lunch, and watched the train heading back to Aberdovey from my vantage point.

Yet again I looked to be closer to where I wanted to be than I actually was. The track ran up and into a disused quarry and then I got a bit confused as to how to exit the quarry. I worked it out eventually – by this stage the sun was out which was very welcome. I wound down near to Tonfanau station. I needed to decide whether to proceed or have a lengthy wait for the next train. The route on to Towyn would have involved about two and a half miles of walking,  full into the wind across a low marshy area, and I just didn’t feel I could do it in time to reconnect sensibly with the next train (and I was tired from the opposing wind, as I had used a lot of energy to get to this point!). I established a touching point and then I spent 45 minutes at Tonfanau station sitting in the sun and wind, contemplating the meaning of life and watching the world go by….

Day 45 Aberdovey to Tonfanau

Phone stats: 20485 steps, 8.65 miles, walking time 3hr 10  minutes

Even higher wind from Storm Ali!

Decided to walk with the wind at my back so walked the opposite way round to normal (Sea on the left!). This meant driving to Tonfanau – parking the car near the touching point from yesterday and then getting the train back to Aberdovey and setting off from base camp about 10 minutes later (and establishing a starting touching point). As I was about to set off I realised I was going to need to carry a pair of shoes as I hadn’t left any in the car (and I don’t like driving in my hiking boots). oops!

The walk started on the beach and the first mile was about three quarters into the wind which made it very hard going. I tried the shelter of the dunes for a bit but eventually braved the beach, and found it tricky to keep the blowing sand out of my eyes! Eventually as we passed the end of the headland, the direction of travel came more in line with the direction of the wind. It would be fair to say I was significantly wind assisted (and such a contrast to yesterday). I made good progress arriving at Towyn in time for an early lunch (and to miss the worst of the rain). My premise based on o-level geography was the worst of the rain was likely to hit as the clouds and wind hit the hills and it was a narrow passing front, as I was mostly at sea level it wasn’t going to rain for long.

There was a reasonably comical section just before I left the beach to go into the town where I had risen onto a rough promenade. I had an air of Buster Keaton in a wind machine, as I struggled to stay on the path, with my waterproof trousers doing a good impersonations of sails. My walking poles were too light to manage the conditions too.

It was not a good day to explore the delights of Towyn as it turned out to be early closing. I did get in the church for once. Then I realised I had strayed from the path and had to walk back the way I had come through the town – before branching out into the low marshy area behind the beach that I hadn’t fancied full into the wind yesterday.

It was not great as the direction of travel was about 1/3 off the trajectory of the wind, and I couldn’t use my poles as the wind was too strong. The path was indistinct for at least two thirds of this section, so again it was relying on the ordnance survey map app, and it was lumpy, bumpy, damp and squidgy terrain. I was SO glad I had not attempted it into the wind yesterday! I eventually crossed a very splendid pedestrian and cycle bridge and walked up the road to the touching point of yesterday. The car was another 100 yards further on. I was very glad to see it (and to get out off the wind!)

I had hoped that tomorrow I would start to walk from the other side of the Dovey estuary but the weather forecast is dire!!! (I am approximately underneath where Birmingham is written). Looks highly likely that I will be staying in the dry watching the rain at base camp….20180919_182646