On the Ground Moments

My grounded in colours moment  IMG_1109

We are all grounded on the earth <unless you become an astronaut>.  I am not sure about others, but being connected to the earth IS with my boots on the ground or in my most completed happy moments during yoga of Shavasana.

I chose for my family a 7 full day walking holiday. Yeah we accomplished it and the way my math works it was just shy of 74 kilometres.  It was definately a Boots on the Ground trip for the 3 Grants.

We have seen Charlecote Park and the manor house there.  Had a wonderful bowl of soup at the Boars Head pub. Passed by Welcome Hills Country Park.  Saw Shakespeare’s birthplace.  Enjoyed the views of Broadway Tower and Dover Hill.  Missed Hidcote because of rain.   We visited the villages of Chipping Campden (loved Seymour House – Tripadvisor that one!).  Found a lot of blue rinse women that were sweet in Bourton-on-the-water.  Loved the beds and food at the Lion Inn in the village of Winchcombe.

But mostly we learned the following:

– to follow the left hand boundary of the wheat field

– cross the road and find the footpath and turn right

– walk up to the monument

– at the bench take the brick path and walk into the grassy field

– cross the canal until you reach a T-junction

– wander down a shallow cleave beyond which you will enter a woodland

– bear right and find a kissing gate in the meadow corner

– follow the signs to the Heart of England Way

– see a farmhouse: Mickleton Hills Farm

– You are now on the Diamond Way!

– Cross over another little wooden bridge with two distinctive “V” shapes

– See the stile on your left, climb over

– if you’ve reached the fence on the top of the field, you’ve gone too far

– Turn left and go downhill heading towards a large branchless tree (WTF???)

– Follow the waymarker in line with several pollarded willow trees

– Cut through horse pastures with two isolated trees

– Turn left across a stream and into an orchard

We had an amazing journey of “just because we were there” moments.  I tried to photograph as much of this journey to share… but when you have your boots on the ground walking or are in your mindless moments of Shavasana… how do you really let others feel and smell and enjoy being grounded.  I hope this helps…..

IMG_1056 – the love of my life before we hit a hill 

IMG_1081 – here’s some flowers for you

IMG_1085 IMG_1088 – who I love in the wheat fields

Why animals intrigued me – they just simply stare at me like “WTF are you looking at”:

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As I am writing this blog we 3 are sitting on a huge King size bed in one room… a bit of music and we have been “TV free” for a month now.  How can I say that I’m not grounded?

IMG_1090 “hey turn back” it was merely for a photo (we were 1/3 of the way on our walk for the day but hadn’t a clue… we were imaging knights and common folk on this journey into Guiting and St. Michael’s church in the background.

IMG_1091   As we walked to Guiting Manor… the road 

When we got to to Guiting Manor… we had a moment, we paused because we were trying to look up on google if this Manor house was open to the public.  We noticed cars parked at the side of the Manor house and as we stood there a funeral procession came up the drive for our “moment” to be about watching “their moment”….

IMG_1099 –  Susan A. McKinley is brought to the house for her ‘viewing’ 

It is in these moments that I am reminded we can put one foot in front of the other… (I know I’m going to have people reading this shaking their heads but for me, funerals always make me see life when I see people honouring death?)

So back to wandering to our final destination – Winchcombe…… and the roads that never seemed to end when we were tired and thinking cold drink that can be poured in a pub….

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And here’s THE END…. Winchcombe…. Happy 3 Grants!

IMG_1122 Ahhh Lion Inn… decadence down pillows!!!!!

 

 

 

 

“When it doesn’t feel right, go left”

 

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There is something about putting one foot in front of the other and simply walking, moving forward or sometimes as I did today, shuffling sideways in shorts through wheat fields.

You think about the breakfast you had and that it finally wasn’t yet another round of English breakfast with sausages, bacon, grilled tomatoes and toast.   You think about the wheat production and the mini wheats that you use to eat as a kid, as you are walking through one wheat field after another.  You contemplate the ways to walk around cow shit.  You think of the paths you are walking and how many others have walked them before you.

Conversation with us on this ‘walking holiday’ usually commences with what we each read during our coffee and breakfast time, our faces pressed into newspapers, Globe and Mail on line, twitter and Facebook.  Often the stories involve Europe, the IMF, USA politics (Donald Trump is amusing us), local weather news and our Canadian dollar in the toilet.  We read all of the events we have been out of touch with:  Droughts, forest fires, the fall of the Chinese stock market, oldest giant panda turning 37 years old and a multitude of other events that have ‘happened’ that we missed the day before.

Somehow we manage to get all of the ‘reality’ aspects from our morning reading out of the way of discussion within the first 20 minutes walking.  Then begins the pure joy of simply walking.

Today we were filled with one path after another.  We walked over 7 miles (11.5 km).  Our bodies loved it, our minds appreciated it and we know that tomorrow is our last day of the walking holiday.  We are choosing the path of left when we are unable to go right.  And as Albert Einstein said, “When it does feel right, go left.  The one who follows the crowd will go no further than the crowd. The one who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever been before.”

The many paths we walked:

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If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep walking.

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Here’s the right direction we faced in the last couple of days…

Through country sides, through villages, in mud, in grass, visiting a falconry, wearing rain coats, wearing t-shirts (on the same day)….

 

IMG_0848Dover Hill with more sheep!

Hoo Cottage

 

 

 

Hoo Cottage

And when it rains in England… we went inside:

Sudeley Castle where King Henry VIII’s last wife, Queen Catherine Parr lived with her husband after King Henry.  The current, Lady Elizabeth Ashcombe opens it up to the public (probably to help pay the HUGE upkeep on this castle).

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BREAK TIME

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And then we crack on more walking….

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How does one realize that they are going the right direction?  Well there often is no predetermined destiny… just a matter of the journey.

Burn Your Boats

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When Alexander the Great arrived on the shores of Persia his army was overwhelmingly outnumbered. Yet he gave the orders to his men to burn the boats. As their only means of retreat went up in flames.  When walking the Cotswolds – Burn Your Boats.  Head down and onward (sometimes through shit) you go!

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The Cotswolds became prosperous in the middle ages from wool production.  Trust me – bleating sheep, stepping around and sometimes in sheep shit and the vast grassy hills IS the Cotswolds.  Of course, I do not discount the beauty of the towns like: Broadway, Chipping Camden to name but two.  Beautiful villages with pretty cottages.

We started this morning walking from Broadway.  So very different to the street we live a block away from in Vancouver.  It’s a quaint village that sells everything from walking gear, postcards, wool sweaters and a good place to stop for a cup ‘o tea!

Three Grants walked up a hill from the village of Broadway to Broadway Tower. Walking with sheep shit sticking to our feet while admiring the AMAZING views.   It was quiet with the natural sounds of sheep bleating, which is quite nice actually.  We loved the horse, of course, as we anticipated feeding an animal or two, we had apples in our back pack.   Here is the trek up:

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IMG_0820 IMG_0821 IMG_0823When you take your daughter on a walk – it turns out she reads books along the way – at least it’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” and is reading poignant parts out loud along our walk…..

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What did I enjoy about the walk – these routes that were the Cotswolds way…. lovely walking with your own thoughts (and Lara talking of course!).

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What Kind of Fuckery is This?

I have to ask – who made these directions up??!!  Note the word – 6 miles… yes we were prepared for this walk.  Had the walking shoes.  Have a map OS 151 – seemed good to me.  But really… read the words:

“follow the elevated path”… mmm where was that?

“follow the left hand boundary of the field to the corner and head down the slope”

Oh AND THIS one is great: “This section is now very poorly maintained with long grass and nettles and a path that is no longer obvious”… Now that is the FUCKERY!?!!

Here’s a couple of pictures of us trying to tried to find these amazing directions given to us:

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Now what you see is Lara walking along the road… simple enough.  Dave coming out of one path that leads to no where.  The open field that had a path leading to it (probably for farm workers) and the path of enlightenment if we chose to take one of them!

Eventually after doubling back a few times, we had to choose the car path and we walked about 2 miles down a major road (not idyllic scenery as semi-trucks and buses are whooshing by us)… as we follow a road map!

Welcome to our next scavenger hunt of clues to how to find things….

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peeing at monument

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find telephone pole

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go thru gate # 8

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oh under 2 telephone poles

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WTF?

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Find castle house

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could have ridden a horse?

 

So you ask WHY the title of “fuckery”… I just believe that the English directions for travelling by the footpaths through their country need to add this extra word to the dictionary under “fuckery walking holidays”.  The definition to include “scavenger hunt like clues for walking through the English country side, where paths may or may not be found”.

After all… you recall the beginning picture that said 6 miles – here’s our end result and both Dave and I believe we are on the fairly intellectual side of reading English… and our cummulative total was:

IMG_0797    Fuckery Walking Holidays!

 

 

Trials and Tribulations of Travel

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After enjoying Poland for the obvious reasons of Tony and Kasia being there; great scenery; good local food; wonderful prices for the weak loonie… we landed in England.

It was not so Jolly of a landing let me tell you.

We have booked a walking tour with the Carter Company, they suggested we stay in Oxford for the first two days and get the “university” experience. This would include staying in St. Stephen’s University rooms and eating in the great hall. Sounds idealistic right? It probably would have been except that I suffer greatly when it comes to the chemicals burned within the product labeled “incense”.

Now I get that we were in a theology university, where people were searching for God. We were not. Our hallway and room smelled like THE gateway to God. Within 10 minutes my head exploded and I felt like I’d been on a two-week bender.

My immediate response was to ask politely (I am Canadian after all) to change rooms. Yes, there is another room available – guess where – RIGHT next door to the incense-burner’s room, not across the hallway. “Brilliant” and ‘no thank you” is a complete sentence right??!

The obvious answer was to call the Carter Company and ask them to substitute the university experience for a hotel/b&b inn experience. Seems simple except that we landed in Oxford during graduation week – thus the house was full – everywhere.

We eventually found an opening at Four Pillars Hotel. We landed in a room that based upon the ‘label’ looked great as we had a bed and Lara would be accommodated in the living room area of the room with an extra bed. That extra bed was set up for a 2-year sized cot. The room windows open merely 2 inches for fear of someone tossing themselves out the 2nd floor window into the farm pasture below the room window. The dying fan sounded like the landing of a 747 in the pasture below!?!

What’s a girl to do? Well I got my ‘bitch on’ and complained. At one point rudely bringing the offending fan into the lobby bar and plugging it in, whilst my husband being the gracious man, went to the bar to order a glass of wine.

Shit happens – it turns out travelling often requires a huge level of patience and bottle of WINE!

We do not remember days, we remember moments

 

How can I share the first 20 days after we left Vancouver?

I have learned to love and respect and appreciate what brought the first Grant to Poland and now has Five Grants together.

Here’s to moments as a family and how we are taught thoughtfulness, kindness, sharing family and giving love.  We laughed together, ate together, sang together, sailed together, swam together, drank wine together, kayaked together, walked together and I’m grateful for every moment we shared in Poland.

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“He who puts out his hand to stop the wheel of history will have his fingers crushed.” – Lech Walesa

As a 3rd generation Canadian – how do I relate to history that is hundreds of years older than my nationality?

Being here in Poland and merely walking through the forest, we come across bunkers that are remnants of WW2.  We walk through a small village and there is a church that is older than Canada as a nation.  We see relics of barns that were built in the 1700’s by serfs.   Our sailing trip made us marvel at the engineering feats of Prussians that created the canals to connect the lakes in Mazury.

What I marvel about is the resilience of the Polish.  They stand fast with culture and language.

From 1795 until 1918 no truly independent Polish state existed, although strong Polish resistance movements operated.

The Second Polish Republic, established in 1918, existed as an independent state until 1939, when Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union destroyed it in their invasion of Poland at the beginning of World War II.

Here are images from our travels in Mazury…

Wolf's Lair Bunker

Wolf’s Lair Bunker

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A feat of engineering to last: Roads & Bunkers – they don’t make them like they use to anymore?!

German road Memerick

German road Mamerki

Memerick bunker WW2

Mamerki bunker WW2

inside WW2 bunker

inside WW2 bunker

Ostrodzie

Ostrodzie

And as for the debate if Vodka was Polish or Russian invention – I am going to have to go with the Polish. The word “vodka” was recorded for the first time in 1405 in Akta Grodzkie, the court documents from the Palatinate of Sandomierz in Poland. Of course this accounts for an afternoon in the sunshine for this man.

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Sailing, sailing – Mazury the land of 2,000 lakes

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Life is meant to be lived… this was once again confirmed by the sailing in Mazury that my lovely Polish daughter organized for us.

The history of the area and lakes is quite amazing when compared to our country, Canada. While Mazury is well known for 2,000 lakes it has been home to Pagans, Old Prussians and Teutonic Knights.  It has been known as the Kingdom of Prussia and a German Empire.  Russia and Germany have tried to conquer the people and the land but Polish people prevailed.  The historical significance during WW2 is evident still today with the long lasting bunkers that were erected by German soldiers and of course Hitler’s infamous “Wolf’s Lair” is here.

Overall a history lesson in the present day of our sailing trip!

We spent our days sailing with Kasia at the helm being directed by Karol. Conversation ranged from favourite Polish meals to the immigration crises affecting Europe and how to sail. We read books in the quiet stillness when there was little wind and played crib and monopoly (unsuccessfully)  What we all shared in common and pure quiet stillness enjoying the sunshine and the beauty of sailing on the lakes.

The Prussians managed to connect the lakes with canals allowed us to sail from Sztynort to dock at night at night in Gizycho and back again through to Sztynort.

We all got off the boat after three days and I’m still a bit wobbly legged today.  Kasia organized a brilliant trip for the family!  (THANK YOU!!)

 

Police pull up... we think because you cannot drink and operate a boat,,, checking this situation...

Police pull up…

Turns out friends, shooting the shit!

shooting the shit

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These are the engineered canals that connect the lakes.

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A woman’s work is never done (Captain Karol) and Kasia at the Helm!

An amazing 3 days of sailing!