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Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Everest Base Camp - news

News from the Wanderer arrived this morning:

 Just to let you know I am still alive.

I made it to Everest base camp but did not make it to summit of island peak, was about 20 mins away and gave up, the truth is I was terrified but I am using the high winds has my official excuse, guides said they had never seen such strong winds, it was pretty crazy.

I have been suffering with a horrid cold and under something of a grey blanket this week and I can't tell you how much the news has cheered me up!  This is the other side of the two edged sword I wrote about in my last post!!

No photos but if you Google "Everest Base Camp" you'll find plenty though obviously none of the Wanderer!

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Technology a two edged sword?

Is technolgy a double edged sword?  I think e-mails are wonderful and enable me to keep in touch with friends and family without needing to find paper, pen and stamp and then go to the post box and yet........ As you know the Wanderer is away in the Himalayas and in years gone by that would have meant no contact until she got home so I'd be here wondering and worrying (probably no postcards on sale in the mountains either) but with the wonders of modern technology I can receive e-mails from her even though she is so far away for it seems that there is wifi even where she is (though that might not be the case higher into the mountains).  It was wonderful to hear that although she had flown into Lukla airport which is supposed to be the most dangerous and scary airport in the world as the video above will show (if it doesn't play try clicking the bottom left corner or failing that the link instead) she was fine and really enjoying it all so far.  I slept like a log that night.

But then another e-mail arrived yesterday which said that she had been suffering from either a migraine (she used to get these a lot when a teenager but rarely since) or altitude sickness although she was feeling better now, the guide having brought her tea and soup and her trek buddy carrying a small pharmacy with him, and was hopeful that she would be able to continue the trek especially as they were to be a couple of days wherever it is they are now giving her more time to aclimatise.  You can imagine that I was concerned and worried that she might be forced to abort the trek especially as I knew just how frustrated she would be if so.  (I told you I was a good actress didnt I? I personally don't care a jot about her completing the trek of course!)

Now without modern technology I wouldn't have known about any of this and would continue in blissful ignaorance as I wouldn't have known about the airport nor the altitude sickness but neither would I have known whether she'd arrived safely either.  I have a further 3 weeks of worrying to get through till she flies home on 30th!  Yet is she actually any more likely to come to harm in the Himalayas than cycling to work in London?  Can I do anything about any of it?  She is an adult and perfectly capable of making her own decisions and dealing with whatever life throws her way so why are mothers hard-wired to worry all the time - would it be easier if I had several children or would that simply multiply my sleepless nights?

I am learning a lot from her travels though as from barely knowing where Nepal was I now know more about the country, climate, trekking and customs etc having dipped into Lonely Planet Nepal which I got from the library and also reading Michael Palin's Himalaya too.  Now from wondering why on earth anyone would want to go there I can see it might be quite interesting though the long flight from Heathrow (and the short flight from Lukla!), the physicality of trekking for hours along rugged paths, along with sleeping on thin mattresses in tea houses (I know what they are now and have Googled images to see pictures) or as seems likely later on in tents in the freezing cold mean I am unlikely to be following in her footsteps! (I doubt they would accept a 70+ year old trekker with no previous experience anyway)  I will stick with local walks I think as yesterday when I walked through the wood to the post office in the rain slithering about on the mud and needing windscreen wipers on my glasses what a change from earlier in the week when I took the above photos on an earlier trip to post a letter on Monday afternoon.  Might not see Everest on this path but there is no danger of coming face to face with a yeti not of altitude sickness hiking up the slope here!

Thanks for all your supportive comments on my previous posts - glad to know it isn't only me who worries!

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Thoughts on Motherhood

When I sat knitting these tiny lace trimmed moccasins whilst pregnant 35 years ago I had no idea what being a mother might entail.  I was not paying attention when mothering skills were being dished out but even had I been I doubt I would have believed some of  the necessary attributes I would need.
For example I didn't know I would need to be a good actor if  I was to encourage my child to do things she wanted to do whilst inside I wanted to say No don't go there stay home with Mummy where you will be safe!!  As some of you will know I spoke of this back here when the Wanderer wanted to go off to Australia and I am having to do it again now that she is in Nepal and has e-mailed to say she has booked her chosen trek leaving Kathmandu on 5th November for 18 days.  I climb Island Peak and go to Everest base camp, I will be with young Swedish guy for most of the trip, we meet some more people at Island Peak base camp who we will climb with and then from there just me and my guide to Everest base camp. My reply:  Glad you have got a trek booked OK and hope it will prove to be interesting as well as challenging  I have looked up Island Peak - certainly challenging alright but what memories you will have if you make it!  When what I wanted to say was along the lines of come back right now especially once I had checked out the websites here and here. 

Can the tiny shoes in the above photo once have belonged to the young woman who flew off on Friday by herself to Nepal with a backpack and a pair of hiking boots!  I gather that she met up with some Australians who came from Melbourne, not far from where Mr M's sister and her family live, and went out to dinner with them.  They however have gone off on their trek today leaving the Wanderer to make other new friends.

I met up with an old friend in Bath on Friday and we spoke about our children and said that nobody ever tells you that the tiny little baby in your arms might one day enjoy travelling alone like the Wanderer or like my friend's son join the RAF and have to go to war zones if he is sent or they might want to be and do all sorts of things which we as mothers perceive as dangerous but we have to let them go and all the while encourage them to follow their own dreams even if it means that the sleepless nights we expected when they were babies will never really end as they will always be our "babies"!

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Autumn morning

 I walked into town this morning along the old railway path - noticing the greenery which was growing in the gaps between the bricks and thinking how brave the little ferns and plants were to make their life where they found themselves and seemingly not to wish for more - a lesson we might learn perhaps?

 The shafts of sunlight through the trees were really beautiful.

 Inspirational I thought and it made me think that though there is much wrong with the world so much cruelty, so much greed, wars and killing each other, so many seemingly insurmountable problems to keep us awake at night there is also so much beauty and perhaps all will indeed be well even if humankind is no longer here to spoil things as we do.

 A short walk always does me good and sets me on the right path I find.

Nothing to do with the above - does anyone have any idea what my computer or I might have done to make the font on all my Blogger pages so tiny?  I find writing and reading my posts except in Preview very tiring to the eyes.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Second Instalment of London Trip

If you haven't seen the first installment you might like to see that first as this follows on from that. Another long post I am afraid!

Day 4

Hampstead today.  By bus to Kings Cross where we got the underground to Hampstead.

Hampstead sometimes known as Hampstead Village is more like a small town in the Cotswolds and in some way seems to be separate from the rest of the capital although only 4 miles from Charing Cross or in other words from the centre of London.  It is supposedly known for its intellectual, liberal, artistic, musical and literary associations and also for its heath - and according to Wikipedia it also has more millionaires within its boundary than any other area of London not that we noticed any!

 We had a wander round ...

... looking at this and than and wondering how does the chimney sweep get his brush up here?!

Some lovely houses....

 This one is where Constable (the painter) lived at one time.

Burgh House a museum with a cafe where we decided to have lunch.  The actual museum was closed but the cafe open and they obviously do weddings here too and we enjoyed our soup and cheese scone in the basement cafe whilst watching the wedding guests milling about in the garden minus their heads since we were too low down to see all of them!

The front door of Burgh House

and the courtyard cafe where the guests had been milling about whilst we were inside down the steps on the left of the photo.

Having enjoyed our lunch and the "wedding cabaret" we set off to walk to Kenwood House.

 Our way took us through the woods.

Kenwood House which we had visited back in May but wanted to see again.  This lovely house sits in a beautiful setting with views to a lake and when we were here in May the rhodedendrons were in flower which was stunning.  Sadly there were not as many flowers in bloom in October but it was still beautiiful and what's more FREE!

 When we came before there was a wedding taking place and we thought what a stunning backdrop it all made for the photos.

 This pillar with its wording: May Peace Prevail on Earth caught my eye in the garden and I thought how apt it was just now when there are so many areas on Earth where peace does not prevail at all!

 This rare portrait of James Adam by Antonio Zucchi dated 1763 has not been seen by the public for 150 years and is currently on loan to English Heritage for temporary display at Kenwood House. James Adam, along with his brother Robert, was the architect for Kenwood House. You probably know that paintings are not really my cup of tea, although there are loads of them here at Kenwood which I saw last time, and that I am more fascinated by the stunning architecture and decorations.

 The wonderful ceilings like the one above....

 ..and this ....
 ..and this all apparently refurbished fairly recently and now as they had been intended without lots of gilding and so on.  It reminded me of Wedgewood Jasperware.

And this lovely ironwork - isn't it pretty?

I enjoyed looking at the little museum especially the displays of shoe buckles seen above behind glass so not too clear a photo.

 After a cup of tea in the cafe we set off to walk to the heath across the lawns beneath the trees...

 ... and down to the lake.  The bridge here is interesting since it is a mock bridge and not a bridge at all but just a flat such as might be used in a theatre.

 Looking back towards the house from near the lake  ...

.... the path wends its way behind the mock bridge so you can see the back of it.

 Leaving the estate we made our way past this lovely lake ...

... and eventually came out here where we could see the city in the distance as we climbed higher .....

 .... till we came out on Parliament Hill.  On a clear day the views from here are quite stunning but this particular day it was somewhat misty but we could still see a long way and make out various landmarks.

We made our way down from the Heath to the village passing this post box on the way and I was able to post my postcards sadly too late for the last collection and being a Saturday they would remain in the box till the Monday but at least they would arrive with a London postmark!!  My legs were quite tired by the time I took this photo and I crouched down to take it too which might explain the lean to it!

We got a bus back to Charing Cross and from there another to our hotel - the end of another interesting day..  

Day 5

Sunday morning and we had arranged to meet the Wanderer for lunch at Spitalfields - she had an errand to run in the City so this was a suitable place for us to meet and have lunch and suited us fine.

 As you can see it was another stunning day with blue skies and sunshine.  This is St Martins in the Fields - it is a vibrant church with lots going on and also a very good cafe but today we were heading elsewhere.

 Once again we decided to have a coffee in the cafe opposite St Pauls.

  The Millenium Bridge seen from below just a few yards from St Pauls down St Peters Hill ...

... where I found this pretty garden on the embankment.  There are gardens and little patches of planting everywhere in London I think it is all an attempt to make green corridors for wildlife as well as making everywhere look good and providing oases of peace for people too.

 Sunday in the City - hard to believe that this is London isn't it?  So quiet where is all the traffic?  For those in other countries around the world who may not know the City is a square mile of London and is the major business and financial centre and as such not many workers are there on Sundays so it is quiet.

 The strange building you can see here is nicknamed the Walkie Talkie and has on the top a garden called the Sky Garden which you can visit for free if you book in advance.  We did this back in May but as I said all my photos were lost.  We didn't go again this time as I can remember it all but I would certainly recommend it if you are in London the views from up there are stunning if the weather is clear.

The Bank of England

The Royal Exchange - this is the area where anything financial happens.

 We met the Wanderer here and enjoyed lunch at the Real Greek which was busy but it was good to have time for a chat and to eat together.  We shan't see her again now till after she returns from Nepal at the end of November.  Having eaten and caught up with the news we said goodbye and she set off for home and we had a wander round the market before going towards the Thames and the walk home (well not home itself of course but to our hotel!) along the Thames path which actually runs from the source of the Thames in the Cotswolds to the Thames Barrier at Greenwich - though of course we weren't doing all of it!!

The Path runs along the northern side of the river - I am more familiar with the South Bank so it was good to see things from a different point of view - here looking towards' Tower Bridge.

This flower bedecked bridge is I think Southwark Bridge

The ShardLooking up river towards Blackfriars Bridge.

Here is Shakespeare's Globe Theatre just behind the trees.  It is harder to spot now that the thatch is weathered and dark and of course it was late afternoon when I took this photo.

We walked on and the sky gradually grew darker and misty and the sun sank lower into the sky.

At last we reached Charing Cross where we got a bus back to Kensington.  Having had a full meal at lunch time we wanted just a light snack for supper but it is not easy to find sandwiches and such like in the evening in Kensington and we were not impressed with the bruchetta we eventually had in Cafe Concerto. We went back to the hotel and had a coffee in the bar/breakfast room there and sat reading the day's papers over our drinks till bed time.

Last Day 

We packed our bags and checked out of our hotel leaving the cases there to pick up later in the day.  It was meant to rain today so we set off with our macs in our bags and indeed they were needed!

 Mr M wanted to go to Marks and Spencers as he had seen a pair of shoes he fancied and I wanted to visit the Temple and the Temple Gardens as I have been interested in the Templars ever since we did a walk in Paris entitled The Templars and Medieval Paris.  We got the bus to Oxford Street and Mr M got his shoes (no bags to put them in unless we paid for them as from today (Monday 5th) no plastic bags were to be given free of charge by large stores - I am all for this new rule but although we had a bag with us it wasn't waterproof so we must learn to carry a spare plastic carrier with us in future!)  We had a coffee in the cafe before getting the bus to Aldwych and these photos are of the window displays in Selfridges.

 Always excellent these were really eye catching.

I wasn't the only one taking photos of them but mine were taken from the top deck of the bus!  We found that they were promoting the Apple watch which is apparently the latest must-have though when I checked them out on line to see just what they were I realised that, Luddite that I am, I would manage perfectly well without one and in any case they are small and I wouldn't be able to see the information on their tiny screens.  Maybe they do special glasses to go with them as what the Wanderer who once worked in Claires shop for a time called "add-ons".  Not sure about the watch but I love the flowers!!

 Having got off the bus at Aldwych we walked past the Royal Courts of Justice and crossed the road to visit the Temple.

 We wandered around the area and looked at this garden briefly

 But decided that in view of the weather it might be best to give up on this exploration and come back another time so we got the bus back to Kensington where we went to Maggie Jones again for lunch this time and it was as before excellent.  Once well fed and watered we walked back to our hotel not far awayand the rain had eased by now luckily and we collected our suitcases and got the bus to Charing Cross where we walked across the bridge to the South Bank and on to Waterloo.

The weather had definitely changed for the worse but we had been lucky thus far so had no  complaints.  We were in plenty of time for our train home and our taxi was waiting at the station to take us home.

London is a great place for a short break though it can be tiring especially if you do as we did and walk a lot.  

My computer has just thrown another wobbly and all the text on Blogger is tiny though on Mr M's computer which I am now using it is fine.  I shut down the laptop which took nearly 10 minutes to actually shut down and I think it might be going back to the shop still under guarantee since this is the problem I had before.  So I may be gone a while!!