30 September 2008


All day 3 pics here. Map at end of post.

The third day of our walk began with a bit of a rush after we dallied somewhat over breakfast and had to rush out to make sure we caught the hourly bus into Chinnor. Our packs seemed extremely heavy as we crossed the railway out of town (well, mine did!), and we weren’t particularly relishing the idea of another day like the previous one. We’d decided that if it stopped being fun, we would hop on a bus to get to the end! We climbed up and around Bledlow Ridge, enjoying the cool canopy, the autumnal colours, and avoiding the muddy sections of the path, and we met a lovely man with three gorgeous Dalmatians. He stopped to talk for a while and let us take a couple of pictures of his dogs. We liked him because he made all the right comments about the walk not being too long, but also being impressed with our pack-carrying.

Out of the woods, we walked through paddocks of cows, fields of wheat and poppies, up and down hills (including one grassy knoll), through a number of kissing gates and over a couple of stiles. There is a law that you have to kiss at kissing gates, you know. *shifty eyes*

The author of our guidebook seemed to have a very subtle sense of humour, as throughout the day we went up and down a number of hills. By the middle of the day, we were reading sentences like, “After you reach the peak, the path begins its inevitable descent to the valley below” [GET QUOTE]. Hills unfortunately tend to look less steep in pictures, so we engaged in some stunt-walking for the camera.

Fortunately, the hills each afforded us some lovely views of our destination and the surrounding countryside, and the HUGE Whiteleaf Hill above Princes Risborough has a New Stone Age long barrow and lots of informative history signs around the place. We stopped for a while, several times, and soaked up the atmosphere. I also used the opportunity to stick bandaids all over my sore foot. Well, 2 bandaids. And then we began our inevitable descent to our lunch spot – the Plough at Cadsden, where we ate 5 kinds of potatoes, and they provided bags for muddy walking boots. They also have what I kept reading as “Bearded Baby Plaice” on their menu.

The highlight of the early afternoon was taking refreshments at Chequers, the PM’s country house. The path hilariously goes between the gatehouse with all the security and the house itself, crossing the road and bordered with signs reminding us that we’d be TERRORISTS if we crossed the invisible lines. I made everyone stop beside the road within the boundaries so I could have a bite to eat and a mouthful of water and claim that I’d taken refreshments at Chequers. And now I have. It’s my favourite story.

We climbed up to the next ridge and walked along through the quite airy woods, emerging to amazing views of the Vale of Aylesbury. We stopped for tea at the Wendover monument, where we sat and conversed slightly hysterically before OUR NEMESISISES powered along, stopped for a few words with us and a brief look over the view, then sped off down the hillside. Again, we were put to shame by SRS WALKERS. Wendover proved to be quite pretty, and SJ and D bought some picnic supplies for our dinner before we hopped on a bus and arrived, sore-footed, at the shittest place I’ve had the misfortune of staying on this trip.

If you are ever in the area, I suggest you avoid The Five Bells and Weston Turville. They couldn’t find our key, they had builders in, the builders had used our room (which was littered with plaster, and someone had left us a lovely little surprise in the toilet), our key then didn’t work, so we were locked out. We had a picnic on SJ and E’s bed, and E (bless her ferociousness) sorted things out for us. They brought us up a bottle of wine and some profuse apologies, but really – if you are not running a full service (i.e. not checking that the room is clean, taking 20 mins to check us in, having undertrained staff), don’t charge full price. I will be writing for at least a partial refund, and if I don’t get it I will be reviewing it badly wherever I can. As an indicator of how bad it was, I haven’t even got any pictures of it – usually I make an effort to snap an outside view, a view from the window, and a pic of the room.

However, apart from that, the third day was lovely! We had some amazing views, and after a slightly difficult start and very sore feet by the end of the day, we were quite well. I recommend this area for day walks or shorter walks to everyone – and the autumn colours would be gorgeous right now! Here is a map of the day - possibly we were feeling better because it wasn't humongously long.

25 September 2008


ok, not really, but we had a lovely day involving camden today. first up we did a bit of admin stuff (spent most of yesterday doing same, actually) and went shopping for food to make veg and gluten free dishes for rosh hashanah on monday. when we got back, es and sajee were waiting for us! yay! they were dropping off/picking up stuff on their way to paris for a few days, and it was so good to see them. hung out for an hour or two before they drove off to the airport, and then db's grandmother (who is awesome!) drove us to the tube, which conveyed us to warwick avenue to meet ROSS! YAY ROSS! HE IS MY FAVOURITE ROSS! it was so good chatting to him and catching up. we had a look around the ambitiously named and predictably disappointing 'little venice', had a shit cup of coffee on a canal boat cafe (but it was on a boat, therefore awesome), then walked along regent's canal past london zoo to camden. at camden we looked hard for rude and/or tacky and/or dullest possible postcards, had some lunch, then walked down the street to have better coffee in my old fave cafe. on the way there i tried on one of those... short top hats (what are they called again?). it quite suited me. when i say that, i mean that i looked in the mirror and thought i was being pickpocketed by the artful dodger. fun times. this evening we went to el and leah's place for a lovely relaxing dinner (we also had a good evening at em and rich's place last night, and saw MIKE! YAY MIKE! HE IS MY FAVOURITE MIKE! and uly. YAY ULY! etc.)

in conclusion, i didn't get some nice trousers but i did go to camden, people are fun and food is good. tomorrow we go and pick up our hire car then drive to bristol for lunch and a stroll with i and j, head to hay-on-wye for a couple of nights, drive up to chester to stay with the lovely f and co., then back to london on monday via warrington (to see ddd) and birmingham (ww), arriving in time for rosh hashanah dinner. phew!

meanwhile, i've uploaded all the day 3 pics and will blog about it soon.

23 September 2008


For all the photos of this day, click here (4 pages). For a map of the second day's walk, scroll to the end of this post.

The second day of our walk dawned brisk and cloudy, and after a delicious breakfast (I was defeated, and couldn’t finish it!), we sent E off with her and SJ’s suitcases to the next place. As with the night before, the taxi driver thought we wanted to go to London. What? D, SJ and I grabbed some Kit Kats from our Egg of Mantombi fridge, said goodbye to our host and started off - through the back of the garden, and into the woods – making our way back to the main trail.

The day before had brought sunshine for most of it, and we had spent the first half of the day beside the Thames on fairly flat footpaths, while the second half had stayed mainly on the line of Grim’s Ditch (lots of little ups and downs, but few major hills). We were hoping that the coolness would keep up as we left the river further behind and started to do some more climbing, and we were generally quite lucky.

Our first wee rest was at Swyncombe Church, which has two main points of interest for me – one is the snowdrops in the church grounds (only in spring), and the other being the fact that one of the stained glass windows has, instead of a traditional religious scene, an RAF biplane and a farmer in a wheat field. My pic of that didn’t turn out so well. Our second rest came not long after, and was instigated by our first rather daunting looking hill, where the path dips down into a valley then climbs straight back up the other side. We stopped to take pictures of flowers and scenery. Good excuse! We used it a lot.

At the church, we were passed by an old man and a lovely dog going the other way. Later in the morning he overtook us again, and asked us where we were headed. “Chinnor,” we replied. “Oh,” said he, “that’s not very far.” We resolved from then on to LIE, LIE, LIE whenever someone asked us where we had come from or where we were going. That resolution was soon forgotten, however, when we came across a pig farm, AND PIGLETS!!! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! This was totally the highlight of the day! The piglets were so small that they could scamper right under the electric fence and they came over to say hello. Cute!

After a short discussion, we decided to go into Watlington for lunch. It’s only about 1km off the track, meaning we were only going to have to walk an extra 2km, but I reserved the right to say at a point 2kms before our destination, “You know, If we hadn’t gone into Watlington, we’d be there by now!” As it turned out, Watlington was quite lovely, and we not only saw lots of Midsomer Murders locations (including a shop from the Orlando Bloom getting stabbed with a pitchfork episode), but found the Granary Delicatessen, which is full of delicious cheese. Needless to say, we ate quite a lot of cheese for lunch.

Unfortunately the deli has, like the other shop we went into in Watlington, a very ‘local shop for local people’ vibe, and the shop people could do with a bit of a lesson in interacting nicely with strangers. However, what can you expect from a town where its major landmark (the triangular white mark on the hill nearby) was allegedly carved by a disgruntled priest in order to create the illusion when he looked from his rectory window that his church had a spire (it did not). ALLEGEDLY. You can see the white mark in the top left of this photo.

We pressed on after lunch, but we were all flagging as we approached the M40, and the Red Kites circled rather menacingly above us. This was a combination of second day weariness (despite our best intentions, we never did more than a day at a time of training), the extra hills, and the muddiness of the path. Mud and puddles (go together like love and cuddles – one of our great walking tunes) means having to cross from side to side all the time, and it means being constantly aware – it’s very draining. SJ stepped in a couple of large puddles, and she was much more good humoured about it than I think I would have been. Kudos to her.

This was us on our afternoon tea break. Exhausted. Tea, however, is our saviour, and we worship it with the kind of zeal usually reserved for cult leaders and football teams.

The tea revived us somewhat, and the blackberries along the path also helped me at least. I did eat quite a lot, as this charming photo shows.

The last stretch felt the longest – partly because it was rather extended, and partly because we kept stopping to read every possible sign, take photos and make slightly hysterical videos (I’ll post them later).

When we eventually stumbled into Chinnor, we sat at the bus stop and stuffed our faces with trail mix (well, I did). We then caught the bus the wrong way, got off, crossed the road, caught the bus the right way, got off, and stayed in a lovely place called the Inn at Emmington. The manager there went out of his way to accommodate vegetarian and gluten free guests, and the mushroom stroganoff was DELICIOUS!!! I highly recommend the Inn for dinner!

Anyway, Day 2 was the hardest day. I think we all agree on that!!! But we didn’t pike, we didn’t give up, and we didn’t break down. Yay team us! Here is the map of where we walked.

21 September 2008


currently in norfolk, walking around, looking through the upstairs telescope at the beach (and people in their boats, MWUAHAHAHA). about to go for a pub lunch and a wander around a nearby village, then a walk along the coast through nature reserve, and back via inland bridleways and such.

in the meantime, have a few dozen ridgeway photographs. these are all from the first day. and here is our before photo:

also, i made a map of where we walked on the first day - apparently we did 23kms!!!

19 September 2008


OK - we are all good, the (80km-ish) walk was frikking amazing - great weather, fantastic views, good company, nice accommodation (mostly), gorgeous scenery, etc!!! I will update when we get back from Norfolk in a few days.

:D :D :D

So much fun!

13 September 2008


Just a quickie to say that we now have an Essie and a Sajee with us in London, although Sajee's luggage is not here. Harrumph. I don't really have the head space for writing too much at the moment, so I shall leave it now, to go off to Hampstead, and crepes for the having thereof.


So, here we are in England after a long and rather boring flight – which is really not a bad thing, I suppose. We’d sneakily booked a window and an aisle seat on the Melbourne to Singapore leg, hoping that the seat between wouldn’t be booked and we could stretch out. This worked rather well for the first hour, but then some guy’s screen packed up and he wanted to move to a seat with a working one, so D shifted over to the middle seat, and we were . . . nice and cosy the rest of the way. Singapore Airlines was fabulous – probably the best I’ve flown with. Staff members were courteous and unobtrusive (unlike the grumpypants people on Qantas), hot towels were plentiful, seats were as good as you can expect in economy class, and food was reasonably tasty (although after four meals of veggies and protein bits in tasty sauce, once with rice and three times with noodles, I was happy to make it to D’s parents’ place and have some toast with delicious French brie). Singapore airport was as attractive (and humid) as it usually is, by all accounts, and most of the 1 hour between disembarking and checking through was spent walking from gate to gate. I swear, we’ve walked several miles through airports in the last however many days it’s been!

After all the asking I did about books to read on planes, I ended up not opening one at all, nor reading one of the uni articles I packed so as to not feel totally guilty for skiving off from the PhD. I can’t really think how I spent the 24 hours apart from gawking out the window and taking numerous photos (only one or two of which do justice to the amazing Australian landscape as seen from the air – the countryside around Melbourne was greener than I’ve ever seen, and central Australia was full of vastness and intriguing geographical formations), playing a few games of killer sudoku, writing a page or two of journal, attempting to sleep, and typing this following piece of amazing travel reportage:
Hello all! I am typing this on a funny little buttony keyboard at an altitude of 10633 metres. SPACE AGE! We are on a spiffy new airbus, and i think what you all really need to know about is the awesomely clever entertainment console. There's a nice big screen, and the controller lives under it, meaning that i'm not accidentally calling an attendant every time i move. As well as 6 thousand CDs and eleventyhundred movies, you can do word processing (see current communique), or listen to and watch your own media via USB. Under the screen is a reading light, for ... reading. And also to illuminate the buttony keyboard so you can write semi-pointless blog entries while flying over Afghanistan. There is a handy little cup holder, so you don't have to put the tray table down if you want a drink, and the tray table – oh the tray table! It folds up in the middle, so as to use less space if you want, and when folded there is a little nifty mirror on top, so you can check your teeth for spinach (or bok choy if you have chosen the 'oriental' meal). I KNOW RIGHT!!? THIS IS THE KIND OF SCINTILLATING TRAVEL WRITING YOU HAVE COME TO EXPECT! But now i have to stop, because the buttony qwerty keyboard is starting to hurt my thumbs, and it's taken about 7 hours* to type this. BTW, I have also collected a toothbrush and paste, razor and shaving cream, and a comb from this flight. Go me! OK BYE!

* D says 15 minutes, but he's the one with the watch, so how would he know?

We’ve made it through most of the day with one proper nap, and have seen D’s parents, both siblings and their partners, the nephew, and D’s grandparents. A few of these people will be back over for dinner tonight – early, so we can get a good night’s sleep before going to pick up SJ and E from the airport tomorrow morning (they land at 7:30am).

As of yet we don’t have a mobile phone number – we will sort that out tomorrow, and let you UK people know ASAP.

Anyway, HOORAY! WE’RE IN ENGLAND! I remember this! Footpaths, the milk man, the greenness, the little English streets, the London traffic, the family . . . EEE! HOLIDAYS ARE GRAND!

11 September 2008


OMG WE LEAVE TODAY. eep! we've packed most stuff up, and we are now tidying up the house so it's nice to come home to.

on sunday we went for a lovely 19km walk down the merri creek, over to the boathouse, then up the yarra river to rosanna. we caught a bus home. here's the map:

and here are a few photos:

thumbs up, dorks!

don't slip!

pretty blossoms

tree love

more pretty blossoms

before it rained

and home!

it was pretty fun! but i have no time to give you a proper run-down, alas. you can find more photos here.

ciao! and next time we speak we'll probably be in the UK. or singapore airport. heh.