Walk and talk … the Hanslope Circular Walk

Someone recently mentioned the ‘Hanslope Circular Walk’ and that was it … Steve was on a new mission. The maps were out, Ordnance Survey app fired up, route investigated, fellow walkers recruited, messenger group set up, details informed – logistics completed. And off we go again. 😎

This was a 20 mile cross country walk conveniently designed in ‘an almost’ figure of 8, which meant we could make two pleasurable circular walks out of it. We plumbed for a 12 mile day on Wednesday and an 8 mile walk Friday. And, to make it even more convenient and pleasurable, both walks ended by a drinking establishment … now that’s planning at its best.

The Hanslope Circular Walk

Wednesday 22nd July 2020

So our fellow walkers were David Rose, Stuart Sullivan and Sheila Quinn. We all met sharpish at 9.00am in Castlethorpe, eager beavers setting off with our rucksacks to cater for all weathers and eventualities – sun gear, rain gear, water and snacks. The only one to walk empty handed was our troop leader Steve, not even water – he’s like a camel.

Despite the early overcast weather, we enjoyed the open countryside walking, chattering as we went. Stumbled across many a farmhouse to envy with views stretching for miles. The sun and blue skies soon appeared so layers started to be removed and suncream applied (be prepared)! As always, many discussions on the crops … is it wheat, is it barley?

The distinctive spire of Hanslope Church
Barley or wheat!?
Barley or wheat!?
Some of the houses were quite remote and so had their 4 legged alarm systems installed! These two friendly but efficient doggies were not going to stop barking till we were well off their land!! 🤣

The route ran alongside Hanslope Park – Her Majesty’s Government Communications Centre. It appeared to be all very ‘secret squirrel’ stuff with its barbed wire fences and security gates. We hoped they didn’t mistake us for Russian spies as we sneaked a few photos. Sheila’s son Dan works there so we were peering (from a distance) through windows and waving – how embarrassing would that be!! 🤣

And so we continued all the way back to Castlethorpe by which time we had packed in 12 miles of rambling and a whole load of chatting. As Redway Runners we’ve known each other for years – but walking gives so much more opportunity to chat and learn about each others’ lives. I do love a chat!

We were so near ‘The Navigation’ pub it would have been rude not to stop for a beer and a bite to eat. David sadly had to leave us due to work – he’s retiring any day now so packing in some last minute handover bits. Sheila, Stuart, Steve and I enjoyed a touch of normality – first time eating out since Lockdown for all of us. We had fun but sadly not the best experience as service was incredibly slow – over an hour until our food arrived … they were very apologetic though and gave us drinks and chips free of charge (and with the wine at £8.95 a glass, we were quids in)!!

View from ‘The Navigation’

Friday 24th July 2020

A shorter route today so we met up at a more civilised time – 10.00am, for an 8 mile circular walk from the Black Horse Pub at Great Linford.

Another scenic day in open countryside – fields and farmland stretching for miles, relatively flat so easy going. Incredibly peaceful and away from civilisation – no face masks required!! Rivers, lakes and canals today as well as woodland. As the name suggests, at all points we could see the distinctive spire of Hanslope Church. And stunning houses and gardens – so much envy.

Stuart settled into his high chair, waiting for his packed lunch!!
Some incredible wildlife photography from David

At Little Linford we had to do some roadside walking and it was fairly busy traffic too. We caught up with a large group of ‘Ramblers’ – there must have been more than 20 of them which surprised us in these ‘regulated’ days … I don’t know, elderly people today!! 🤣

The final stretch took us alongside Redhouse where we viewed some of the artwork trail and then canal side all the way to the finish line at the Black Horse pub. We had made good time too – only two and a half hours (so we were early for our table booking).

Our pub lunch awaits

We enjoyed a fabulous lunch, delicious food and first class service, top marks.

The two days of walking had been so enjoyable – absolutely recommend it … and NO stiles.

And as for the chats … we’d talked about our families, our weddings, the good old days of our childhoods, our past careers … you name it we discussed it. Sheila even enlightened us on the unsavoury after-affects of sugar free gummy bears – oh we learnt so much about each other.

And the great thing is – we all want to come back for more. So it’s head down for Steve, planning our next local walking adventure.

Five go MK rambling …

Day 81 of (gradually easing) Lockdown. 12/06/2020

Today’s walk was from Waterhall to Stony Stratford and our Famous Five gang consisted of me, Steve and Tom … plus Jess and Alli. This was the final leg of the MK Boundary walk and we intended to finish it in style.

A socially-distanced selfie 😎

The day was forecast for a mixed bag of weather so, being the professional walkers we are, we came prepared for all eventualities!

Our route first skirted along the edge of the Lakes Estate – in fact along a particularly overgrown and rubbish strewn path – not the most scenic of starts but we battled our way through. This led us into Newton Leys which seems a very pleasant newish MK development – pretty lakes and landscaped areas. Our OS app then took us through a woodland trail all the way to the fields in Newton Longville (Alli’s home patch).

So, a familiar walking/running area for Alli – we set off down a lane to link up with Route 51. A little way along an elderly couple stopped us in our tracks to explain that the way ahead was closed – believe it or not more bridge reconstruction – these darn bridges!! Naturally we had to go and see this for ourselves so we advanced onwards, with fingers and toes crossed.

And yes there were big red plastic barriers and padlocks and all sorts of signage …. but not a worker in sight. We did a quick ‘risk assessment’ and established that it was safe enough to climb over said red barriers. No extra 4 miles for us today – not playing that game again!!

We picked up Route 51, touched on Tattenhoe Valley Park and onto North Bucks Way. All very scenic and easy enough walking. A mixture of woodland and open fields – sometimes basked in sunshine and sometimes overcast.

Two by two – they walked and talked ….

Lots of fields and lots of stiles. Luckily Tom and Jess were leading and managed to spot some fairly well camouflaged turning points – literally holes in hedges.

As we neared Calverton the heavens absolutely opened … thank goodness for all our sensible waterproofs. I was very envious of Alli’s new North Face autumn patterned shower proof jacket (it’s fab) – but when the rain hit hard she pulled out a full on waterproof from her tiny backpack (that’s Girl Guide level preparation)!

Some slight discussion as to whether to walk on the road from Calverton into Stony Stratford or to continue across fields and along the river path. The latter won. This did involve crossing a little river at one point but nothing too life threatening!!

As we walked along the river path into Stony Stratford – where we had started the route all those days ago – the sun came out in full shine. When we were back at the car we had been walking for 4 hours and had clocked up over 13 miles.

The original guidance had suggested the route was 63.3 miles – our Garmin and Strava totalled almost 70 miles … but then we did get diverted on occasion!

And so in glorious June sunshine, in great euphoria, we tucked into pate, barbecue chicken and egg sarnies, almond kisses (lovingly baked by Jules) … and lashings of fizzy … in fact the real stuff for this occasion – chilled champagne.

It’s been a Lockdown blast … go explore!!! 😎

A bridge too far …. 😫

Day 79 of Lockdown. 10/06/2020

Today’s walk – Salford to Waterhall

Having had two rest days (for Tom’s blister to heal), we set off heartily on this the penultimate leg of the MK Boundary Walk.

Leaving the village of Salford

An early part of the route involved crossing a bridge to take us over the M1 – simple – we just needed to get to the other side. But, oh no, the bridge was closed for construction purposes.

Tearoom in Salford …. (note to ourselves to come for afternoon tea after Lockdown)

Plan B – we just needed to walk a little further out to get to the next bridge … it would add a little extra on but hey ho, we were keen. Next bridge – closed for construction! Steve suggested jumping the barrier and going over anyway but no no, not for anxious me.

On his app Tom identified another bridge a bit further along so no worries, surely this one had to be open. So, adding a bit more on to today’s route we plodded on. As you may guess – No Entry … Construction in Progress. This time, Steve did jump the barrier to investigate – he was gone ages – but finally reappeared to say that there’s was no way through at the end of the bridge. I was imagining Tom going to find Steve and losing them both in the process.

This led to much discussion – do we go back? Do we carry on going further and further out until we find a way to get to the other side? We’d already added 2 miles onto the journey at this point. It looked like the next possibility was junction 13 of the motorway – God knows what that would involve but there had to be a way over somehow. And that’s the path we chose – not the greatest of starts to a day’s walking.

It’s not often during a ‘ramble’ that you find yourselves walking along the edge of a dual carriageway – it was scary stuff. We hoped that we wouldn’t get picked up as illegal immigrants. Afterwards we did laugh – suggesting what the drivers must have been thinking … “All this countryside and they choose to walk here!!”

After some dubious crossing of the M1 Junction 13 slip roads we found ourselves clear of craziness and finally on to the side we needed to be …. and facing a much longer day of walking. The men then got their heads together to work out the next stage – me, I just follow!!

It all got so much better after that. Still a fair amount of roadside walking but through villages rather than high speed thoroughfares. We passed through Husborne Crawley and into Aspley Guise – another day of complete house envy.

From there on it all started to get a bit hilly. We walked through Woburn Sands and into Aspley Woods, soaking up its natural beauty. Spectacularly tall conifers, huge ferns, rhododendrons and wild foxglove. And we skirted parts of the magnificent Woburn Golf Club course.

There were more woods at Brickhill and some particularly narrow prickly paths, then into long grass. It was at this point that I regretted watching Springwatch the previous evening, where they had an item on it being the season for slow worms, grass snakes and adders.

After this we crossed numerous fields, plenty of them with horses – seems to be an equine area … and plenty of horse poo come to that. In one field the horses were keeping company with goats – felt relieved they were all laying down – didn’t like the look of those horns. I was once chased downhill by a goat at a goat sanctuary – he apparently took a liking to my handbag! My sister, Geraldine, found this hilarious.

I was relieved to climb over the stile … but only to come face to face with a ‘kid’ (with horns) who had obviously managed to stray. He looked at us menacingly and then darted between us, turned around and then started towards us. As Tom said “Don’t run” – he and Steve ran and I was left frozen to the spot. As I took off my rucksack to defend myself, Tom came back to rescue me and the ‘kid’ just bleated and let us go on our way.

A pretty straightforward walk after that and so much more level and downhill. Had one scary moment when the path took us through someone’s front garden – really felt for Tom as two pointers charged towards him (he’s not a great dog lover having been chased down the road by a Rottweiler when he was young). He did the right thing by standing still and the dogs turned out to be lovely, not guard dogs after all. It always seems strange when the Public Footpath takes you onto someone’s property.

The last stretch took us along the canal towpath which made a welcome change. And finally we were at Tom’s car at Waterhall car park, our destination for today. I’m not ashamed to admit I was somewhat weary after what turned out to be 14+ miles – it plays with your mind springing an extra 4 miles onto a planned journey but, as Judi Dench once said “It is not good to cross the bridge before you get to it.”

And Jess came too …. 💕

Day 76 of Lockdown (with some easing). 07/06/2020

Being Sunday, Jess was able to join us today – yay, some girlie company!So, once the cars were jiggled into place, we set off from the very attractive village of Turvey. This village has everything you need – a general stores, a post office, a church and two pubs – I’ve sort of fallen for it.

Today’s walk was Turvey to Salford (not Manchester, the Bedfordshire one).

The hot weather has sadly not returned but we consoled ourselves with “good walking weather” … just as we always feel the need to remark “good drying weather” on hideously windy days!

As we left the cars we were checking each other with “do you have keys?” “Do you have water?” … not taking any chances from now on … we’re professionals!! 🤣

Today we crossed field after field after field … and some quite magnificent ones too with a good selection of crop life. Love the neatness of farming in these parts – I’m definitely catching on to Steve’s admiration for straight lines and rows!

As well as the usual cows, sheep and horses, today we also saw a few hares and a brace of pheasants – beautifully depicting the countryside but too quick to photograph. We did however manage some shots of emus (well, we think they’re emus) … not roaming the hills but roaming around someone’s rather sizeable country residence.

There was also a more than usual amount of road walking today – some country lanes and some slightly busier roads. We also passed more people today than the other days – maybe about 12 in total (not exactly Piccadilly Circus I know).

With trepidation we entered through a gate that had a warning – ‘Beware of the Bull.’ Steve assured us it would be OK and I reassured myself that the farmer surely wouldn’t put a bull in a field which was a public footpath. Tom bravely led the way but as his Mum I could tell by his body language and the way his head was constantly scanning that he was indeed terrified. We picked up a fair old pace, funnily enough … and got to the next gate without the whiff of a horn.

There were a few prickly woods with stingers galore. Steve managed to get a few grazes on his head from low lying branches. But all in all another fabulous day of walking.

We had clocked up just over 11 miles by the time we reached Salford. In the village we came across these two beauties – luckily they were safely installed in a field that we didn’t need to walk through – wouldn’t like to get on the end of one of those horns.

Highland Cattle in Salford

We drove back to Turvey and enjoyed a delicious picnic provided by Tom and Jess. (Tom had got up early to make his Dad’s favourite egg sandwiches … and 7.00am on a Sunday is normally when Tom is just going to bed)!

A couple of days rest now as Tom has a nasty blister … we’ll be back on track for Wednesday. 😎

A rescue mission ….

Day 74 of Lockdown. 05/06/2020

Today’s walk – Olney to Turvey

Started off from Olney at a thoughtfully low stile – some of yesterday’s stiles had really been a stretch for my short legs – it’s OK for these 6’4” and 6’7” giants I walk with.

We walked through a farm where the kindly farmer pointed us in the right direction. Miles and miles of crop land neatly maintained … Steve just loves a straight row of plantings! Again various discussions on what crops were what … seem to be plenty of broad beans in these parts.

Tom strode ahead in his newfound ‘Head of Orienteering‘ role and we marched at a fair old pace through farmland, through woods and forests. The sun came out to shine now and then and it felt like it was warming up … what could possibly go wrong?

Some of the woods were particularly low lying – even I had to crouch down … and we all got torn to shreds with nettles and brambles.

Walked near a firing range where there was a sign indicating ‘Shooting in Progress’ …. must have been silent ammunition. Got excited when we spotted a lookout post but there was clear instruction – ‘do not climb’ – spoilsports!

About half way to our destination and at the end of a very long uphill wade through some rather overgrown broad bean crops, Tom ground to a sudden halt. “I think I’ve messed up” he uttered (that’s the polite version)! I presumed he meant that he had led us in the wrong direction but oh no – it had just dawned on him that he’d left his car keys in Steve’s car. (We were walking to Turvey where Tom’s car was parked – but the keys were in Olney). Steve chirped up “That’s OK, I moved them off the car seat and hid them in the glove compartment.” It took some further discussions between them to finally conclude that we’d hit a problem. And to add to the dilemma, not one of us had money on us so a bus or cab were out of the question. We discussed turning back but then made the decision to soldier on … perhaps one of us could run back once we’d reached Turvey (I wonder who)!!?

Wading through crops ….

Thank God for mobiles … another opportunity to remind Tom about the ‘old days’ before mobile phones existed. Tom made a phone call to Emma and John (who had a good laugh at Tom’s expense) but agreed to come to our rescue. And so we were able to walk on a complete the walk without carrying a load of anxiety.

Turvey House

Finally back in the pretty village of Turvey and it had been a fabulous 10 mile walk.

And so it was ‘The Cumminghams’ to the rescue … God Bless family ❤️. They drove Steve back to retrieve his car in Olney and so retrieve Tom’s keys. All the fun of ‘Logistics.’ 🤣

Desperately need a haircut!! 🤣

Follow the leader … but which one!? 😀

Day 72 of Lockdown. 03/06/2020

Todays’s walk – Salcey Forest – Olney.

After weeks of being spoiled with sunshine, today sees a return to cloud and wind and general chilly-ness! Still, we mustn’t grumble! So with a few more layers of clothing and the cars jiggled into place, we set out from Salcey Forest. Steve and Tom sort of co-planning and co-orienteering … while I just followed the two alpha males in my life!! 🤣

Tom said Salcey Forest always reminds him of Jurassic Park so we trod warily – waiting for a Brontosaurus to pop out anytime. To save on the £6 parking fee today we had parked on the roadside – this led to a very nettle stinging entry into the forest – plenty of dock leaves though.

Another day of stunning scenery and practically the whole countryside to ourselves. For this part of the country it was a particularly hilly day … not as severe as some counties I could mention but a few climbs all the same. Walked through a field of cows but luckily they were laying down – as the Old Wives’ Tale goes a clear sign of rain. Most of them were determined to keep their patches dry but a couple of them got up for a good old stare – there were some calves so I guess they were protecting.

Rocking the shades 😎

Tom is definitely mastering the OS app and as the day went on he assumed leadership! Steve checked it out a few times and there was the odd discussion and difference of opinion … but I foresee a gradual handing over of the baton – well maybe on a temporary basis!

Again there was a difference with Steve’s Garmin and Tom’s iPhone strava – so we chose Tom’s 10 mile recording for the day. Felt right. Have come to the decision that Garmin must have been losing GPS at times.

Before heading home, we enjoyed another picnic in the Forest – this time with hot coffee and homemade lemon drizzle cake. 🍰

Day off tomorrow – back for more on Friday 😊

Where’s water?…..

Day 71 of Lockdown. 02/06/2020

Today, Steve, Tom and I set out on the first leg of the 60 mile Milton Keynes Boundary Walk, a little ‘Easing of Lockdown’ project. We are aiming to cover a distance of 10 miles each day or thereabouts. The logistics have been interesting as we needed a car each end, an ordnance survey app, a picnic and last but not least, plenty of water (the weather is still unseasonably hot)!

Today’s walk – Stony Stratford – Salcey Forest.

We met up with Tom in Salcey Forest, parked up for the princely sum of £6 … then drove in Tom’s car back to Stony Stratford. And off we marched at a reasonable pace – remembering to social distance as much as we could.

A beautiful riverside walk and then we were onto the canal path leading to Cosgrove. Had a little blockage along the towpath – a family of swans just resting before a swim – had to be very patient and let them move in their own good time. Some great bird life and insect life along the way – butterflies, dragonflies – all perfect photo opportunities. Wild flowers out in full force too including the spectacular poppies.

Then across miles of farmland with their magnificent crops looking so healthy in the sunshine. Constant discussions as to what the crops are.

At one point we entered a field where the farmer was chopping up some trees – as we walked through the gate there was a stampede of cattle tearing towards us, with a tractor moving speedily behind. Gulp!! Tom, having been chased by cows the previous weekend was a wee bit nervous … and I’m always on edge where our bovine friends are concerned! The farmer shooed them away and told us just to walk and they’d be fine. So, we did as we were told (with a little backward look now and again) … and indeed we were fine.

The day continued to be spectacularly warm and, only a mile or so in, Tom realised that he had left his water bottle on the roof of his car (placed there while putting his walking boots on). So we got to talking about water in bottles and how in the ‘old days’ we would go out all day as kids with no water. Steve, having grown up in a village and being friendly with the son of a Farmer relayed some interesting tales of drinking out of cattle troughs – apparently there is a section where the fresh water is pumped in from the ground. There were plenty of these troughs around today … but Tom was not for trying!!

The orienteering and recording of activity is of course an important element to our walking … and Dad and Son were sharing this well. Tom is relatively new to Strava and has only used the OS app once before, so Steve was enjoying passing on his knowledge and experience …whilst still holding firmly on to the reins of course!! Strange business though … at the end of our journey, Steve’s Garmin watch had clocked up 10 and a half miles while Tom’s Strava on iPhone showed that we had walked 12 miles. And boy it felt like 12 miles – I knew which one I was choosing.

And so we’d reached our destination, Salcey Forest – sun still shining, we settled on a shaded picnic table and enjoyed a feast of rolls, crisps and fruit … with lashings of ice cold water, which had been stored in the cool box.

And then we drove back to drop Tom off at his car – where his trusty water bottle was still standing proudly and faithfully on the car roof …. boiling hot 🥵

Is there ‘light at the end of the tunnel?’

Days 60- 70 of Lockdown. 22nd May – 1st June 2020

So the second half of May has seen some gradual release from full Lockdown. From being allowed to meet with one friend in a public place, we are now allowed to meet in groups of up to 6 people … even in our gardens – from tomorrow that is! Who would have known what joy and excitement that would bring. Who to choose first? Will anyone choose us? This could definitely play with people’s self-esteem!

A surprisingly large section of the population have completely gone to town already. Huge gatherings in the parks, beaches are crowded, littering is worse than ever. I hate to be a party-pooper but why can’t the nation listen and just ease in gradually – dipping our toe in the water so to speak. It’s like a bunch of teenagers pushing the boundaries , except that it’s people of all ages. The pictures this weekend have been a real shock.

Durdle Door in Dorset – Saturday 29th May … when we were still only allowed to be with one other person (other than our household) and 2m social distancing

Of course the Dominic Cummings episode has done little to help matters – “what’s good for the goose” … and all that! I’m still so furious about his behaviour but it doesn’t make me want to risk my own and others lives by not following scientific advice. So despite lockdown release allowances, Steve and I are going to tread carefully for a little while longer.

Walking and running

It’s been such a treat though to meet up with friends for walking/running this last week or so – albeit one at a time. So much to catch up on – plenty of chatting while exercising!

With Alli on a circular walk from Drayton Parslow.
Steve and Alli set out on a run … and I set off alone on a slightly shorter and slower run!!
And beautiful Furzton Lake to run around 😎

The weather over this period has been absolutely gorgeous – it’s like someone up above is looking after us during this grim time – glorious sunshine day after day.

Our garden visitors

I have to confess that we get SO much pleasure out of our feathery friends coming to visit. Steve is regularly updating the type and quality of feeders, analysing which feed is most popular, routinely refilling and chasing the bigger birds away (think we’re missing human company)!! This week there’s been lots of fledgling blue tits who fly to the feeder to be fed by ‘Mum’ and then nervously fly back to the nest, sometimes dive bombing us in the process.

But we did have a real garden visitor this week … our lovely friend Derek drove down from Birmingham to see us. It’s his first trip out since Lockdown and he wanted to give his new motor a run – much car envy!

Sewing face masks

A few requests for face masks received so I’ve been a busy sewing bee this week! They’ll be winging their way to family and friends – one little consignment even going Transatlantic – crossing the ocean to L.A.

So, after 10 weeks in Lockdown there is a feeling of some ‘light at the end of the tunnel.’ But ironically it now seems a bit daunting going out into the big bad world – we’ve all been living in our safe little bubble. Slowly slowly we can do it! Hopefully this ‘Test and Trace’ system will work it’s magic and so keep the ‘R’ down (all this new Covid-19 lingo)!

Steve will get back to his group running shortly and we’ll hopefully be able to have some small gatherings in the garden (for those who can manage without the toilet)!! 🤣. So excited. Longing to have sleepover visitors sometime soon? 😘

Tomorrow, Steve, Tom and I are embarking on the first leg of the 60 mile MK boundary walk – breaking it down into chunks of around 10 miles … will keep you posted.

Is there light at the end of the tunnel ? 😊

Surprise surprise 😀❤️

Days 50-59 of Lockdown. 12th-21st May 2020

So another nine days of Lazy Lockdown living has drifted by. And I know I am getting lazier … I can tell by the snug fitting of my clothes. At the beginning of this Lockdown I was like ‘a man on a mission’ …. each day crammed with a variety of activities. Now, I get up later, get started on things later and finish earlier. I still manage daily exercise and one or two different ‘projects’ but I have slowed down tremendously. Maybe it’s not such a bad thing … even in retirement, Steve and I have continued to live life at quite a pace – and I’m sure we’ll return to that as soon as it’s allowed. So for now, I’m going to learn to be more chilled, there’s always tomorrow!

To address the weight issue however, I have returned to a little running and have upped the workout sessions by switching to Joe Wicks – that really gets the heart racing. Longing for my fitness classes at Shenley Leisure Centre to start again, hate working out alone!

Walks

Still enjoying some fabulous walks every few days. Never tire of being out and about in the countryside and around the pretty walking paths we’re so fortunate to have. One walk this week though got a little hairy at one point for a couple of reasons.

(1) We were quietly ambling along a deserted village road in Upper Weald when we were nearly knocked off our feet by a speeding Mercedes being pursued by a wailing police car … as far as we were able to see that chappie had no intention of stopping.

And (2) … just up the road from that incident our faithful Ordnance Survey app told us to turn left onto a footpath, so taking us off the road. Having been nearly run over we jumped at that chance. At the stile it seemed a little ‘unused’ but we carried on…. and then it just got more and more overgrown – no trace of a footpath … but of course, we just carried on. The last couple of fields we had to plough through before reaching civilisation, the grass was practically up to our waists – God knows what was lurking below. The obvious things lurking were nasty nettles, thistles and all things prickly – our legs were being torn to shreds! And not a dock leaf in sight – we had to resort to spittle!! Oh the joys of rambling!!

There’s always one!!
Some farmers are really kind
Local walking paths in MK

Sewing face masks

Have turned my hand this week to making face masks – these are my first two attempts – they’ll be winging their way to Manchester for Alice and Mel. Happy to make for anyone ‘in need.’

Zoom calls and quizzes

Zoom calls have become such a way of life in Lockdown – having to keep a diary these days for Lockdown appointments! It’s not the real thing but is an amazing substitute when you miss people so much. And loving the quizzes – questions are getting fancier and fancier – dingbats, ‘Have I got news for you,’ Logos, anagrams. Never win but love the fun we have.

Garden visitors

Steve is still keeping a close eye on our feathered visitors – this week’s been all about the Finches – Goldfinch, Greenfinch and Chaffinch …

A return to House-hunting

We’re waiting to see if the offer we had on our house still stands after Lockdown but now that the Estate Agents are back in operation we thought we’d start to take a little mooch around … but only viewing if the houses are empty. Looked at one yesterday in Grange Farm – the Estate Agent goes in first, opens all the doors and anti-bac cleans all the door handles – but we were asked not to touch anything. Well, it’s something different to do!

And more garden visitors ….

The very very BEST thing of all this week was some truly special visitors … all entertained in strict Lockdown style, in the garden. Now that rules have relaxed a little we thought of meeting up with Tom and Jess in a public place – but then we thought what’s the difference between that and our garden. And so, we planned for them to come over on Sunday for a socially distanced barbecue. And as a surprise, Alice drove all the way down from Manchester to join us and, bless her, drove all the way back afterwards. It’s hard to describe how complete it made us feel to have them here … although we weren’t able to physically hug we were together, talking, laughing, feeling close. A perfect afternoon. ❤️

And I made cake for our visitors …. coffee and walnut 💕

Lockdown life is really OK …. we can do this! ❤️

VE Day celebrations, lockdown style 🇬🇧

Day 44 of Lockdown. 06/05/2020

Steve started fixing up the VE Day bunting and banners today. Had hoped that by Friday we might be able to celebrate with family or perhaps have a street party with neighbours … but that looks very unlikely. We intend to mark the occasion nevertheless.

And the best thing to happen in weeks … a visit from Tom (socially distanced of course). How special it was to spend an hour with him in the garden … strange not being able to exchange hugs but it meant the world to have that short face to face time. I even managed to bake him a lemon drizzle cake to takeaway – felt great to be able to do that ‘Mum’ thing!

Day 45 of Lockdown. 07/05/2020

Another beautifully sunny day – we enjoyed a fabulous countryside walk around Whaddon, Nash and Beachampton. 5 miles of pure pleasure.

Day 46 of Lockdown. 08/05/2020

🇬🇧🇬🇧🇬🇧🇬🇧🇬🇧. 75th Anniversary of VE Day 🇬🇧🇬🇧🇬🇧🇬🇧🇬🇧🇬🇧

Sadly we had to spend the day alone … Lockdown rules still applying. We paid tribute to the veterans though in our quiet way and reminisced about the war time stories we knew. We listened to Vera Lynn and to Michael Ball singing with our new hero, Captain Tom. I made scones and we had a scrumptious cream tea in the afternoon, once again enjoying a day of sunshine. After a lovely zoom call with Alice, Steve got going on our first barbecue in Lockdown – it felt like a real occasion even though it was just the two of us. We sat out in the garden till late evening … naturally the wine flowed!

Days 47 and 48 of Lockdown. 09 & 10/05/2020

A couple of quiet weekend days … it doesn’t ever seem like the weekend at the moment … all days roll by in a similar pattern. The weather had taken a drastic turn, from baking to chilly, so we were forced indoors.

I got stuck into sewing scrub bags for the NHS – have joined a local sewing group. It’s been great to dust off the sewing machine – am really loving it. If anyone reading is in MK and has old pillowcases they’re wanting rid of, please let me know – they’re so easy to convert. This assignment of bags are going to Woodhill Prison.

And Steve continued to explore with his camera ….

Of course, we were all waiting for Boris’ announcement on Sunday evening – the roll out of the easing of Lockdown plan – a road map as it was being called.

To say we were left confused is an understatement and I’m not being political. Changing the ‘Stay at Home’ message to ‘Stay Alert’ leaves the decision making very much down to the general public … and really, as a whole, are we up to that? Do our Covid-19 figures allow us the freedom of choice? Are we inviting a 2nd wave? It’s OK for Steve and I as we’re retired – we can just make the decision to continue staying at home and staying safe. But those who need to return to work, possibly the children and teachers returning to school, public transport use gearing up … I pray that no-one is forced into anything before there are safe enough practices in place.

Day 49 of Lockdown. 11/05/2020

Yet another stunning walk today. Having planned to coastal walk and travel in these our early years of retirement, naturally we were a little disappointed that we had to bring our plans to a halt during this pandemic. Having said that, we feel incredibly fortunate that we have packed so much in to the last few years, our experiences have been unbelievable … and the timing SO fortunate.

Discovering our local area of countryside during this Lockdown therefore has brought us amazing pleasure. Not to get too philosophical but the simplicity, availability and beauty of nature is incredibly empowering during this strange period when we feel deprived in other areas of our life. I just hope that in being reminded of the impact of simple and natural elements, that we don’t forget.

…. LEST WE FORGET ❤️