“Remember to breathe. It is after all, the secret of life.”
— Gregory Maguire.
This is the first post on my new blog. It is also the most basic, easiest and quickest way to relax. If you read only one of my blogs, if you remember only one thing, only one word; then let “breathe” be it.
Yes we are breathing all the time without needing to think about it. Yet do you know that for most day to day activities; we are only using about 20% of our lung capacity. Which means any sudden shock or threat may feel a lot worse; simply because your brain and nervous system does not have enough oxygen. Your heart rate increases and things can get worse and worse!
Yet remember to breathe and breathe deep and everything seems to magically seem better. You do not have to be in the safety of your bed or favourite chair; you can do it commuting to work, waiting in a stressful queue, or dealing with others who are using all their breath to berate you.
Personally, I breathe in through my nostrils until they start to tingle and my chest stops filling against my diaphragm; whilst letting thoughts cross my mind. Then as I breathe out through my nose; those same thoughts now seem only to be good and calm.
The mission of this website is not for me to make money and massage a deluded and vain ego. It is to help others as well as myself. Yes, everything on this website is for me if no one else; simply in order to relax.
I hope you remember everyday in every way; to breathe deep and relax.
A six-month review of a comfortable classic Italian walking boot. Price: £120
The Lomer Keswick MTX walking boot is comfortable, warm and stylish. Made by a respected Italian shoemaker, it is built with both quality leather and expert craftmanship. Longer lasting than any other boot I have known; I really recommend this boot for anyone who enjoys a good walk.
I first had a pair of Lomer boots when I was a teenager. My dear mother bought a pair of that were slightly too big so I could grow into them. I did grow into them, and they kept going with me for well over ten years. Having tried boots from other popular brands; that have fallen apart within a year. Struggling to source another pair of Lomer in England for many years; I bought this pair as soon I saw them by chance on Amazon.
I have worn these on cold winter days to just work in the garden. They have all the flexibility and feedback of a trainer, so it easy to drive in them too. Feathering the clutch, or just not pressing the wrong pedal is no problem in these boots.
For the last six months, I have been on a Sunday walk almost every weekend in these boots. Walking for a distance of anywhere between two and twenty kilometres; they have felt cool in summer and warm in winter.
I have climbed: Scafell Pike and the Corridor Route, the highest mountain in England in these boots. When returning to the car after a week of walking, my feet were not sore, blistered or cold. I have spent fifteen hours climbing: Posets, the second highest mountain in the Pyrenees in these boots. The thirty kilometres of distance and the 2,500 metres in altitude gain had no effect on the comfort of these boots. The low mountain temperatures, sharp rocks and the uneven scree slopes; were no problem for these Lomer boots. The soft but flexible Vibram sole kept me comfortable. The quality leather uppers kept my feet warm but dry from sweat as well as rain. The quality insole and classic lacing system prevented any blisters or skin abrasions.
These Lomer boots are as comfortable as any trainer, shoe or slipper. I would go as far to say that it feels as comfortable as walking through sand with bare feet.
Design and Style
The Lomer Keswick boots is of a classic design. None of those gaudy colours or brand names plastered on like an unwanted cast. The leather on these boots is a smooth chocolate/ coffee brown colour. The uppers are full grain leather that is 2 millimetres thick. Underneath this, there is a patented lining called: MerTex. This membrane allows the foot to breathe whilst being resistant to the ingress of water.
The placement of the lace eyelets allows for a snug but flexible fit. With a line of eyelets further back to maintain tension from the horizontal foot to the the vertical ankle. The boots come with a two-tone colour coded lace as well as the the classic red laces in the photgraph.
On the inside, a smooth leather is used so I have never had problems with blisters or other abrasions. Beneath my feet there is a removable soft foam foot bed. With a: ‘3-millimetre-thick anti torsion mid sole’ to reduce lateral twisting of the foot. For the sole, Lomer has used a soft Vibram sole which flexes well on loose and uneven terrain. However, with a deep tread, you cannot feel sharp and uneven rocks when you step on them.
Lomer started making hiking boots in 1975; in the town of Montebelluna, in Treviso, Italy. An area known for shoemaking for over 100 years, where around 400 companies now employ 6,000 people. Generations of shoemakers have passed down lifetimes of specialist knowledge and skill that is hard to find anywhere else in the world.
With a commitment to: “to produce boots and shoes that offer legendary comfort, coupled with style, craftsmanship and exceptional value.” Lomer can boast that their boots are still designed and made in Italy with only the finest materials.
So, all boots and shoes look good on the super fit and healthy models in the online adverts. These Lomer boots still looked good when I first took them out the box and put them on my ugly feet. Yet hiking in the high mountains is no catwalk in a fashion parade. Reliability and comfort are paramount when you are high on the mountain with the risk of a long and cold walk ahead. Thankfully, I can attest these Lomer boots have served me well so far.
Yet I have noticed a number of build issues and signs of wear:
– where the front of the sole meets the front of the toe box, the glue has failed leaving a small gap.
– the top of the toe box has various scrapes from me stumbling, sharp rocks and undergrowth.
– the soft Vibram sole is showing signs of wear in the heel area. Yet this seems average for six months use.
– after walking in the rain for over three hours, water had entered my right boot and was visible on the insole.
– the care advice states to not use soap to clean the outer surfaces. Instead wait until the mud dries, then brush it off. However, muddy clay sticks to the soft leather and does not come off even when dry.
Apart from the tread wear, I feel all of these issues could be solved with a ‘rand’. A waterproof strip that protects the uppers in the high stress areas just above the sole.
To help protect and maintain the leather uppers; I use Renapur balsam wax. Which helps clean as well as protect from the mud and rain.
So, despite the areas of wear, I am very happy with these Lomer boots. I have tried other boots that have started to fall apart within the same time, such as the: Berghaus ‘Expeditor Ridge 2.0’ walking boots review. Therfore, I will be happy to buy them again if these last for at least five years.
As mentioned, they are agile and flexible enough to be worn as day-to-day footwear, around the house and town. They are capable on any level of hill or mountain walking in the United Kingdom and Europe. However, if you are walking in winter and there will be continuous snow and ice on the ground, I would recommend wearing a thicker winter boot.
My funny feet are slightly different in size. With my left foot measuring just under a UK 9.5 (Euro 44 or US 10) and my right being just under a UK10 (Euro 44.5 or US11). Yet a pair of these Lomer boots in UK10 (Euro 44.5 or US11); fit me perfectly whilst wearing a thin office type sock and a thicker wool sock over the top. Without any movement or feeling too tight in the pressure point areas.
My apologies again for not blogging more often. I have plenty of ideas, that will hopefully make for an interesting read. With the long cold nights of winter upon us; I hope to use the time wisely and put all those ideas to paper. Today’s blog is about my ascent of the second highest mountain in the Pyrenees. Standing at 3,369 metres and over ten miles from the nearest road; climbing Posets is a great day out in nature. I have written a full account of my day on Posets; which you can read here: Posets.
If you do not have time to read or just prefer photographs; here below is a photo journal of that day.
A view back down the valley to the Refuge Angel Orus and the approximate route through the trees.
To the Canal Fonda
A view up the Canal Fonda; without snow in early October 2022. The path keeps to the cliff on the left until it reaches the Coll in the top left of the photograph.
Espalda of Posets
Views from the summit of Posets
Taking it steady on the descent
“Climb if you will, but remember that courage and strength are nought without prudence, and that a momentary negligence may destroy the happiness of a lifetime. Do nothing in haste; look well to each step; and from the beginning think what may be the end.” ― Edward Whymper, Scrambles Amongst the Alps
I started walking at 4am and reached the summit around 11am. I am a slow walker, and I was carrying a fairly heavy rucksack with too much emergency clothing and cold weather equipment. The route was easy to follow, yet a headtorch is obviously needed if beginning your walk in the dark. Watch out for the path on the right in a wide grassy valley, approximately an hour above the Refuge Angel Orus.
I spent approximately twenty minutes on the summit; enjoying the views as well as a packed ham and cheese baguette. Having climbed many mountains of similar size; I knew reaching the summit is only halfway. Descending can be just as tiring on your legs and joints. As well as the reduced grip caused by your centre of gravity being slightly behind you as step down. On the higher slopes there are many sections of oose rock or scree. Take care and concentrate on each step.
A route to relax
I stopped many times on the descent to take in the views and rest my now tiring legs. There is a stream in the valley before the Canal Fonda for drinking water. It looks clear yet I used sterilising tablets to be safe.
I think this route is unsuitable for younger children. I would only consider taking a teenager who wants to do the walk. Similarly, small dogs might struggle with some sections, high on the mountain.
This route is not technically difficult so I would highly recommend to any keen hill walker if you were in the area. My level of fitness was low at the time, so I struggled walking for a few days afterwards.
A memorable day all the same. With many wide and varied views in the natural beauty of the Spanish Pyrenees. I hope you can come and enjoy it too.
An alternative Algarve: The country of Portugal and especially the southern region of the Algarve; are popular places to go for a holiday. The welcoming climate and long sandy beaches are a perfect place to feel happy and relaxed.
Yet, do you feel fed up with the madding crowds of tourists? Are you exhausted from baking on the beach like a ‘Lagosta’ in the local ‘taberna’? Do you want to experience local life; instead of visiting the seemingly transplanted English bars? Do you want to taste the local seafood; instead of the familiar ‘fish & chips’?
Come, come and explore an alternative Algarve.
Check yourself in to a good honest family run hotel; forego the temptation of a late bar, get to sleep as early as you can. So the next morning when you wake up before the alarm; you will hopefully be met by a beautiful sunrise at breakfast.
Do not lie in your bed or return there after breakfast; you can do this on any rainy day in your own country. Have a quick shower to freshen yourself; clean those teeth and get out the hotel long before the cleaners even arrive to your floor.
The Algarve can become unbearably hot from spring until autumn for most northern Europeans. Yet by getting out early to explore the local area is one way of escaping the heat. Or using the midday; to travel in a air-conditioned car. Yet another alternative Algarve trick; is to go to higher cooler places, or find the cool westerly breezes that blow in off the Atlantic.
Voyage / Viagem
For most, the easiest way to get to the Algarve is via aeroplane to the airport at Faro. Low cost flights fly here from all over Europe and beyond. If you can, try to book a flight that arrives at a quieter time; to avoid the stress of the queues at passport control.
Leaving the airport; don’t be lazy and order an expensive taxi or direct airport transfer. The public transport system in Portugal; is as good as any in Europe. In Faro airport; you can walk from the arrivals door to a bus stop in two minutes. Where you will find regular buses that will take you to the nearest bus and rail stations. Personally, I found a brilliant family run hotel on Faro beach; just a ten minute bus ride from the airport: https://www.aeromar.net/en. From where I could reach every part of the Algarve within a few hours.
Therefore, if you need to travel out of the way places; there are many hire car companies at Faro airport. Waiting to the last minute; using website discounts; only hiring the car midweek or just the days you really need it; can all make a hire car a very reasonable form of transport.
If you are going further afield, up the country, to Lisbon and Porto or Spain; then there are regular trains at reasonable prices from Faro train station. For example: a single from Faro to Lisbon in a high speed train; costs me less than £30. In England, a similar distance of 170+ miles on a train; would cost three to four times the amount!
Happy feet off the hot sandy beaches
Although, the idea of lying on one of the many sandy beaches of the Algarve seems dreamy. In reality, the hot sand can burn your feet as the dangerous solar rays cook the rest of you. Relaxing under a parasol whilst reading a good book and taking a dip in the sea can help; as well as the necessary sunscreen. Yet, sometimes it is best to escape the beaches and the crowds and head inland.
In the Algarve, you will find a rich rural hinterland; with orange and lemon groves, quaint white-washed villages and various viewpoints. Hire a car and follow directions to highly recommended restaurant. Climb one of the many hills of the Algarve; such as the mountain of Fóia. Check out my route on this mountain here: Trilho da Fóia (Track of Foia)
Or just go for a joyride through the landscape and experience the big bit of Portugal that comes after the beach.
The wild west coast
There is a whole country to explore beyond the southern shores of Portugal. If you have to stay in the Algarve to catch a return flight home; the quieter west coast is worth exploring. Being bashed by Atlantic swells and gales; the west coast has a more rugged coastline. With countless coves and slightly more inaccessible but deserted beaches. There is a long distance walking path called the Fisherman’s Trail; as well as numerous towns and villages to explore. Check out my walk to a quiet west coast beach here: Castelo Aljezur & Praia Amoreira on the Fisherman’s Trail.
Going further north, above Lisbon; you can explore the Silver coast and then the Green coast; more info here: https://www.visitportugal.com/en. Both of which are much quieter options and an ‘alternative Algarve’. For example: approximately halfway up the west coast of Portugal is the coastal town of Nazaré. A place known for its big wave surfing; where waves of over 80ft have been surfed! If you cannot even stand up on a surfboard; you can still enjoy a stroll on the beach and watch man pit himself against the full force of nature!
You cannot come to Portugal and the Algarve without tasting the local food. I made a conscious effort to not enter any restaurant with a English menu outside. I stayed away from the more attractive but expensive restaurants on the main thoroughfares and followed the locals to where they eat.
I tried to eat many different seafood dishes in the Algarve; from the juicy bowls of Cataplana, grilled sardines to the countless ways to cook ‘Bacalhau’ or cod. Arriving to Porto in the north; I couldn’t resist the taste of a ‘Francesinha’: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/user/213143/recipe/francesinha
Going up the country
If you are in no rush to go home; why not hop on a train to Lisbon? The centre of Lisbon has some sights worth seeing; from its trams to old architecture. Yet at times, the amount of tourists seems too much; like a Kafkaesque theme park of foreign travel. So I enjoyed escaping to the modern expo district that stretch along the banks of the Tagus River.
Heading further north on the train; I arrived to the world famous city of Porto and the Douro Valley. Where instead of following the crowds to the the expensive wine tasting bars; I went for a walk in the hills: Douro Valley Vineyard Walk
To the beach
So if you really must just escape to the beach and forget about trying to do much on a holiday. Then why not choose a beach far off the beaten track? Looking on a map there are various islands off the coast of the Algarve; between Faro and the Spanish border. Culatra, Tavira and the Armona Island are all within easy reach via a boat from the town of Olhão.
Pack a picnic and a parasol then arrive early for the ferry in Olhão port. Then when you have got to a island; keep walking away from the boat terminal until you find your own secret spot to relax. Saúde
A cool, colourful and comfortable off-road trainer
I decided to take up running last autumn; as a way to keep fit in the long nights of a English winter. Check out my previous post: Run to relax; for my views as a new runner. Having used a pair of Adidas Terrex for these four months; I noticed they were beginning to show signs of wear. Therefore, after weeks of online research; I decided to buy and try these Salomon Speedcross 5 trainers. Designed for trail running; these work perfectly in soft or broken ground, well away from the knee beating tarmac.
Designed in France and made in China
I had heard of the Salomon brand from friends who own and run in these fashionable French trainers. So like a magpie; the bright orange sole and the ‘Crystal Teal/ Barrier Reef Blue’ uppers caught my eye too. Realising a huge part of running, is having the motivation to get out and run; I thought investing in these trainers would give me extra drive to go for run. In addition, spending £120 on these trainers; has given me the confidence to enjoy a run and not just see it as a necessary evil to keep fit.
However, experience replaces naivety day by day; so I am well aware of the questionable build quality and strength of these Chinese made shoes. The upper materials are paper thin and the sole is glued on; so I am open minded about these possibly Icarus like trainers.
Cool and clever features
Salomon has a range of features that make this shoe worthy of wearing on a long off road run. It has ‘SensiFit’ which uses soft rubber to help mold the shoe to shape of your foot. It has ‘EnergyCell+’ which is a midsole compound; that helps return some of the downward energy to your foot as you lift to take the next step. Traditional laces are replaced by a lighter drawstring cord that stow neatly in the tongue. It also has ‘Molded OrthoLite® sockliner’ which helps cushion your foot as well as allowing breathability which is important on a longer run.
Yet this is all packed into a trainer that weighs just 320 grams (11.28oz); which feels incredibly light as you run through heavy mud or grass. The thick 5mm tread lugs give reassuring grip in mud and grass; yet don’t feel too slow on hard concrete. With uppers made from a material that reminds me of fibreglass; these trainers are amazing just to look at, let alone wear!
A six-month review of a comfortable classic Italian walking boot. Price: £120 The Lomer Keswick MTX walking boot is comfortable, warm and stylish. Made by a respected Italian shoemaker, it is built with both quality leather and expert craftmanship. Longer lasting than any other boot I have known; I really recommend this boot for anyone […]
The second highest mountain in the Pyrenees. My apologies again for not blogging more often. I have plenty of ideas, that will hopefully make for an interesting read. With the long cold nights of winter upon us; I hope to use the time wisely and put all those ideas to paper. Today’s blog is about […]
An alternative Algarve:The country of Portugal and especially the southern region of the Algarve; are popular places to go for a holiday. The welcoming climate and long sandy beaches are a perfect place to feel happy and relaxed. Yet, do you feel fed up with the madding crowds of tourists? Are you exhausted from baking […]
Find some decent trainers, a quiet path and time every few days to go for a short run. In just a few weeks, you will be running further and longer; you will be running to relax.
I took up running this year as a way to keep fit in the long dark evenings of the English winter. I normally keep fit by riding my bike; yet starting and finishing work in the dark has meant that I would be riding in the dark after work. Although I could obviously use bike lights to show the way through the dark; I sadly feel unsafe cycling on the busy roads near my house. So deciding to taking up running was the only logical option for me.
Dusting off a pair of older trainers; my running life began in early autumn. Thinking of a few quiet places I could run on the drive home from work. I remember that first evening, like the slow kid on a school sports day; I tied my shoes laces and locked the car. Climbing over a stile, I was met with the view of the long avenue in the photograph above.
Conscious that I was out of shape; aware that someone might be watching; expectations of the coming pain; I started walking faster and faster. A fast walk became a jog, a jog became a run and I was there! I laughed as I was doing the seemingly impossible; I laughed at the freedom and the speeds I could reach. Drinking in the air for all its oxygen as I constantly changed my untrained pace. After what seemed forever; I slowed to a walk to recover and catch my breath. I looked around to see the distant I had covered; it could not have been more than a 100 metres!
Yet I had took the first steps and I knew that the only way was forward.
Routes and running shoes
When you first start running; your choice of training routes is the key to success, enjoyment and relaxation. Local running clubs choose to run around the estate where I live; probably because it is flat pavement and well lit with streetlights. However, I prefer to run on grass or muddy trails because I believe this helps cushion the impact on my knees.
I prefer routes far away from roads as well. This to not only avoid the danger of vehicles and their pollution but the stress of worrying about crossing roads or giving way to other pedestrians and obstacles. In addition, to make running for interesting; I always try to run a different route every time. This helps the distance feel shorter as I concentrate on the differing landscape.
If you feel conscious about your appearance; then wait until dusk, when there are a fewer people outside. Or use a map to find remote footpaths or find a friend who is willing to go running with you.
Eucles and the runners of the Sahara are able to run in bare foot; soldiers are trained to run in boots; yet we are lucky to be able to choose well designed comfy running shoes. If you are new to running and not sure if it is for you; then you can find cheaper running shoes for about £20 in shops like Sports Direct. Yet, use Google to research the vast choice of shoes available and choose a pair to fit your budget, style and foot size of course.
I started running with a pair of Adidas that I had already bought as a pair of casual shoes. Although the trainers have a well cushioned sole with tread by Continental rubber; they have a small toe box for my wide feet. They are well made, with quality materials; yet within just a few months of running in them, I can see signs of wear.
Discipline, goals and just doing it
So in just a few months I have gone from not being able to run for a bus; to running ten kilometres. I started off with the target of five kilometres. I have found Strava to be very helpful because you can keep a record of your times over chosen distances. In the beginning I would walk more than I could run to recover; my pace was too fast and my arms flapped like a drunk ostrich.
Yet with the discipline of running at least twice a week; my stamina has grown. I can now run five kilometres without needing to stop once to rest. My pace is slowly increasing every time. I have learnt that a gentle swing of the arms helps the legs and body weight on to the next step. I have seen new places in my local area; in my need for new routes.
I weigh just over 100 kilograms; so I am happy with my new fitness. Yet I am aware of my limitations and know I need to protect my joints as I am past the age of forty. If I run fast one week yet slower the next time; I am not worried, for I know I am exercising the same. My goals are to reduce weight through dieting as my running strength increases. I have a dream that I can one day do a Olympic length triathlon; not for competition or praise but just to know I am at a standard of fitness that will help me enjoy this life.
So go on; get out there too and just do it. Enjoy it, relax and run.
A cool, colourful and comfortable off-road trainer New runner I decided to take up running last autumn; as a way to keep fit in the long nights of a English winter. Check out my previous post: Run to relax; for my views as a new runner. Having used a pair of Adidas Terrex for these […]
To paraphrase Lennon and McCartney: ‘there is nothing you can write; that has not been wrote. There is nothing you can do that cannot be done’So stop worrying and start writing a blog that helps you relax into a peace of the mind. Knowing your limitations It is too easy to focus on your message, […]
To paraphrase Lennon and McCartney: ‘there is nothing you can write; that has not been wrote. There is nothing you can do that cannot be done’ So stop worrying and start writing a blog that helps you relax into a peace of the mind.
Knowing your limitations
It is too easy to focus on your message, your opinion, your point of view; that you forget and struggle to write the simplest words. If you are trying to describe a subject that is too big, technical or obscure; then break the subject into easy sections and save something for the next blog!
My blog focuses on ways to relax as well as rides and walks that I have enjoyed over the years. I know I will never become rich from Amazon associate links or Google ad-sense because my subject is not so interesting to many people. Yet I am rich in a history of memories of beautiful days out in nature; that I can remember when my day is not so relaxing. Just the other day, whilst driving to work in the sub zero temperatures of a English winter; I thought back to one balmy bike ride in the warm autumn sun of Catalunya: Around the Sant Antoni Reservoir, Tremp
Remember how to write
I feel we spend so long writing boring emails at work or abbreviated messages on WhatsApp; that many us have forgotten how easy writing really can be. Do not become weighted down by ponderous prose; use fancy words or worry about placing that comma or semi-colon. Just enjoy writing every word as if you had just learnt it!
In his short essay: Politics and the English Language; George Orwell explains some brilliantly simple rules of writing that I try to adhere to myself. Yet, at the end of the day; just enjoy your writing as much as the subject or passion you are focused on.
Know your audience
Alfred Hitchcock once said: “Always make the audience suffer as much as possible”. So, unless your blog is about horror; try to make the audience happier and more interested with every word, sentence and blog.
Some blogs may cover very specific subjects; from science and medicine to easier subjects about hobbies and cooking. So do not get despondent, if you only have one view per day on your blog about a rare disease. If your words help just one person down the line; then your blog has been worth all the time and thought.
Unless you are writing a blog about how to find gold at the end of the rainbow or you can prophesise next weeks lottery numbers; you may not have a large subscriber base. Yet if you can sell tea to China or ice to the Inuit’s; then congratulations, I would like to hear about your tales too. So do not worry about the money, the subscribers or the likes; just relax and write what you want.
What is more, if you are lost for words; then turn off the computer. Do not sit there for hours staring at a blank page. Set yourself a time limit of an hour or even less and just write away. Peace.
Find some decent trainers, a quiet path and time every few days to go for a short run. In just a few weeks, you will be running further and longer; you will be running to relax. I took up running this year as a way to keep fit in the long dark evenings of the […]
Back on the route to relax Hello everyone; it has been a while! I hope you are all well. I have been busy with work and the day to day chores of life. Yet I hope to focus once again on this website and finding and sharing ways to relax. Whilst I prepare other pages […]
Start Point If you go down to the sea in Devon; past the bright lights of Torquay and the fishing boats of Brixham. Then on past the safety of the River Dart and long Slapton Sands; you will arrive at the prominent headland of Start Point. Clearly visible from many a mile to seaward; thanks […]
Hello everyone; it has been a while! I hope you are all well. I have been busy with work and the day to day chores of life. Yet I hope to focus once again on this website and finding and sharing ways to relax. Whilst I prepare other pages and posts; I would like to share this photo of a great cloud formation I spotted on a cold autumn day. It reminded me of a poem by Atticus:
𝑪𝒂𝒔𝒕𝒍𝒆 𝒊𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒔𝒌𝒚 Last night I had a dream I built a castle with my hands and put you in it. But you grew wings and flew away and my castle crumbled. Next day you returned and sat amongst the ruins and told me a secret of why birds must fly And so I built you a castle in the sky.
What poems and songs enter your mind as you walk along? I hope you are all well and feeling relaxed. Peace
Letting nature back in Most of us have gardens, balconies, paths and driveways; which can be filled too easily with concrete or paving slabs that are not natural and relaxing to the eye. Gathering a few flower pots and filling them with colourful flowers can brighten up seemingly drab and boring places in our homes. […]
The third Monday in January is supposed to be the most depressing day of the year! Let me explain why it is actually the most exciting third Monday in January! “Blue is the colour of the skyIn the mornin’, when we riseIn the mornin’, when we riseThat’s the time, that’s the timeI love the best…” […]
A long term review of a comfortable but sturdy boot from Berghaus; the Berghaus Expeditor Ridge 2.0 *Read to the end for a update after one more year. My opinion has changed on the quality. A reputation built on miles of family walks My parents and then my siblings and I; have been keen walkers […]
If you go down to the sea in Devon; past the bright lights of Torquay and the fishing boats of Brixham. Then on past the safety of the River Dart and long Slapton Sands; you will arrive at the prominent headland of Start Point.
Clearly visible from many a mile to seaward; thanks to its brilliant white lighthouse. Necessary for the long line of jagged rocks that reach almost four miles out to sea which give this headland its name. With the name Start deriving from the old Saxon word: ‘Steart’; which means: tail.
Too many mariners have sadly lost their lives on these rocks; working hard to feed the nation. So today I feel lucky as I relax on my landlubbers stroll.
Getting to the Start
Getting to Start Point from landward seems just as difficult if you think too much about the windy narrow lanes of Devon. Driving from Totnes, it will still take almost a hour to safely navigate the roads to the small car park. From the main road to Kingswear and Salcombe; look for signs to Start Point. Taking care and remembering every passing place; you will soon arrive at a grassy car park. From here, I could see as far as Exmouth in Lyme Bay to the east and to the west the big blue Atlantic ocean.
Down to the Lighthouse
Walking down the access road to the lighthouse
Like a scene from a classic seafaring yarn; the smooth access road, curved down and around to the lighthouse of Start Point. I was blessed with clear sunny skies and a gentle breeze; birds playfully soared and sang above, the waves lapped the shore and yachts glided gracefully out on the shimmering sea.
Yet the lighthouse is an indication that this place is not always so welcoming to passing mariners. Start Point is a headland; where two tidal streams can meet over a jagged underwater ridge that runs four miles out to sea. In the ‘Great Blizzard’ of 1891; 52 souls lost their lives on these rocks. In another storm; a brave local farmer rescued four men by lowering himself down over the unforgiving rocky cliffs. All sorts of cargo have been lost here too; from tonnes of tea from India to ancient Islamic gold. Luckily, these days, with the invention of radar and GPS; these tragedies are less common.
I stopped for a few minutes and marvelled at the construction of the lighthouse and its brilliant white painted walls and outbuildings lit that shone in the summer sun. It is possible to stay here, at Start Point lighthouse; a great idea anytime of year. To enjoy and gain inspiration from the relaxing sunny summer days or to bear witness to the powerful winter storms. Here is a link to the the official website; to find out more: https://startpointdevon.co.uk/ To see the accommodation availability at the adjoining cottages; look here: https://www.ruralretreats.co.uk/england/devon-holiday-cottages/beacon-cottage_dv066
Seal watching at Pear Tree Point
Retracing my steps back up the access road for about two hundred metres; I arrived at a signpost for the long distance coastal path. It stated it was 168 miles to Poole going east and a whopping 462 miles around the Cornish Peninsula to Minehead on the Bristol Channel! Turning left and up and over a small bluff; a gentle path led us west and into the sun.
From here we could take in more views of: the lighthouse; the treacherous shore and Blackstone Rock; the seals at Pear Tree Point and the wide open sea. The path dropped gradually down to the sea at the next ridge known as Pear Tree Point. I am no psychologist or medical man, yet it seems to have uninterrupted views stretching to the horizon; frees the mind of barriers both inside and out. With less in my way, I did not feel alone; my mind felt open and more relaxed. All the same, I kept my eyes on any trip hazards and took care whilst climbing down a large rocky step in the path.
Reaching a pebbly beach at the shore line; I soon noticed numerous seals bobbing about in the water. Some seemed to be playing whilst others lazed on the rocks. A couple of kids with wetsuits, flippers and snorkels swam out and the seals met them with a friendly curiosity. I wondered what they thought of us; coming into their watery world in strange clothing?
It was relaxing watching the seals relax on this warm summers day. They must use tremendous energy chasing after fish in the strong currents; yet here it seemed their best skill was taking it really easy. Although I could sit on the soft grass or smooth pebbles all day; I knew that just around the corner was the sandy beach of Mattiscombe Sands. Taking care on a short but steep path near a recent landslide; I soon arrived at this beautiful beach.
Although this was late summer, this beach was not crowded; probably due to the difficult access. So finding a space to sit down was easy and took off my walking boots. I massaged my feet by rubbing them through the sand and looked out on the sun-kissed sea. A sea so warm; that it was possible to swim in for a short while. I thought I do not need the Caribbean or the Mediterranean when I can relax here in Devon.
As the sun began to set; it was a short climb through a meadow to get back to the car. Do not worry about spending money and time; travelling to far flung places. Stay and relax in merry old England.
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Most of us have gardens, balconies, paths and driveways; which can be filled too easily with concrete or paving slabs that are not natural and relaxing to the eye. Gathering a few flower pots and filling them with colourful flowers can brighten up seemingly drab and boring places in our homes. Which will give us focus nurturing them as well as the reward of seeing their bright blooms.
I should have posted this blog way back in the spring; when it is time to plant seeds for them to bloom throughout the summer. However, now is the time to collect seeds for next year; as most flowers loose their petals and get ready for the first autumn chills. So hopefully I can use this time to also plant the idea of growing flowers to relax in you too; all ready for a new years growth.
Choosing your flower seeds, pots and location
Deciding which flowers to grow was an easy decision for me; a variety of bright colours and plenty of pollen to help the poor bees. A quick google search soon led me to many: variety seed packs with a range of prices. After reading many well written reviews on Amazon; I settled on this pack from prontoseed.co.uk
With twenty four different varieties at a cost of just £10.99; I couldn’t help but smile when I saw the pictures of what would grow with my dedication. From the humble Poppy, the majestic Marigold and the cheerful Candytuft to the forever happy Sunflower; seeds of many bright flowers of varying shapes and sizes to plant and nurture.
I found a few old flower pots from years past in the shed and decided to buy a few more to have enough space to plant all these beautiful flowers. I bought big terracotta coloured plastic pots in DIY stores at a reasonable price and then bought a couple of more expensive pots from garden centres. The packet of wild seeds will normally tell you how much bare earth you need in square metres. So I placed all the pots together until I had approximately the right area.
For soil to fill the pots; I googled top soil and compost. On the Wickes website; I saw a deal for four 25 litre bags of soil for £10. Whilst I was there, I spotted a big 50 litre bag of compost with four months feed; for just £4.
After a long day at work, when the cold March rain had finally relented; I filled the pots with a mixture of the soil and compost. After re reading the planting instructions on the seed packets; I carefully sowed the seeds.
After sowing the seeds; I put growing flowers to the back of mind as I would not expect to see any shoots for at least a week. Everyday, I would come home from work and check to see the pots were well watered; yet the almost constant drizzle was doing this for me. However, glancing out the window one evening; I saw small lumps of soil and compost strewn on the ground around the pots. I realised that this was the work of small birds looking for worms in the bare earth. So finding an old piece of wire netting; I placed it over the pots to prevent them reaching the soil below.
Although I had sowed the seeds in late March; hard overnight frosts are normal in southern England. So every evening I would cover the wire net with old bedsheets and curtains to form a cosy cover for the fragile flower seeds. Then early every morning before work; I would walk out and take off the blankets so they could enjoy the precious hours of early spring daylight.
As the sun warmed the earth enough to stop the overnight frosts and the constant drizzle stopped like a ethereal fixed tap; the first signs of fragile new life pushed their way up through the soil. Just seeing these young shoots break the surface put a smile on my face and filled me with contentment. Yes I had done a little work to make this happen; yet the shear strength and determination of mother nature to make new life is always something that will amaze me.
Sit back and watch the flowers grow
So as the temperatures increased both day and night through April; I saw rapid growth in the once bare flower pots. I remembered to water the plants everyday before going to work and would come home to find almost miracle like daily growth. The first flowers to appear were the: Forget-me-nots. Yet they were soon followed by the Alyssum and Cornflower.
Through April and May it seemed everyday new flowers would bloom. Every imaginable colour and shade of petal were put on display by these proud plants. So everyday after coming home from work that could be stressful; I would instantly relax when I set eyes on this little oasis of floral delights.
… and when autumn comes
now as I write in late August; I look out on the same garden and see the next season starting to arrive. The apple tree in the corner cannot hold its fruit anymore, the blackberries are full and ripe and a cool wind has returned from the north. Most of the flower heads have now dropped their petals and turned into seed heads. Yet I am not sad as I collect seeds for next years blossoms. I have enjoyed this summer with the help of these floral friends and look forward to seeing them all again next year.
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