Walking in the World

Monthly Archives: August 2015

Walking with Big Red

Big Red

I’m a bona fide gadget queen who has wanted a red laptop for a long time, and this seems to be the year that I’m finally galloping away from basic black techno-gadgets. My new phone (for photographing my walks) is a classy gold (so that I won’t always be searching for a black phone in the depths of my black bags). And today I splashed out on a laptop that is bigger and brighter than the tiny black one I have been using (and cursing) for a good long time. Frankly speaking, it will make my blogging a whole lot easier and more pleasant — and it might even encourage me to keep up with my email, too.

Big Red won’t be coming along on my walks, but it will sure be nice to know that she’s waiting to receive my words and images when I get home! My team is coming together quite nicely.

28 Aug 2015

Colourful London

Seven Dials

August is flying past. My creative spark has been reignited, and my energy has been pulled away from my computer and towards my wool, beads, art supplies, and interesting projects. Today, though, I went into London with a friend and managed to combine a whole lot of my current interests with my love of walking and exploring the world. We started at Seven Dials (near Covent Garden), then wandered towards the colourful shops and cafes of  Neal’s Yard:


before walking over to spend a very long time perusing the bead treats at the Bead Shop. I was fairly restrained in my purchases because I knew that our next stop was going to be at my personal Happy Place, the London Graphics Centre. How can one shop manage to have so many things I need want?


As you can see, by afternoon, the clouds had cleared and yesterday’s rain left things looking shiny and bright, a perfect day for meandering.


27 Aug 2015

Cold Coffee!


Pinaglis has added frappucinos to their menu, and Neal was willing to go one step further and make me cold coffee over ice. Just espresso, no milk. That just isn’t really done over here, but it is my favourite drink. I guess I might be walking in that direction quite regularly now, especially while our weather is beautiful and warm like it was today!

22 Aug 2015

Life, Death, & Art



Our wandering took us to a favourite place today, the Watts Chapel and Gallery in Compton. For me, this is a place of pilgrimage on many levels. There are labyrinths and pilgrim crosses to be seen, great (gluten free) cakes to be eaten, and interesting art exhibits to be experienced. We always enjoy ourselves, and every visit seems better than the last. (You can read about our last visit here.)


The current exhibit features the Victorian artist Richard Dadd who, despite spending much of his adult life in psychiatric hospitals, left a legacy of amazingly intricate and imaginative Shakespearean and fairy paintings. Not only is his art strikingly beautiful, but his keen perception and brilliant expressions of his inner world moved me to my core.This is a close-up of one section of his stunning masterpiece Contradiction: Oberon and Titania.


The Gallery is also hosting a long-term exhibit of works by William and Evelyn De Morgan, which literally made me weep with emotion. I don’t often have that reaction to art, and I felt positively enlivened as stood in front of Evelyn’s vivid portrayals of classical scenes and insightful characterizations. The Angel of Death touches me in a deeply personal place, reassuring me of the love with which one is carefully carried across the threshold of death. At this time in my life when I am increasingly aware of my own mortality, I am grateful for reassurances like this. Morbid? Not at all.

WattsPilgrim Cross

The old pilgrimage trail runs through this little corner of Compton, and no visit is complete without a visit to the cross erected by Mary Watts after the death of her husband G.F. Watts. As a pilgrim, I treasure every re-connection to the Path that means so much to me.


20 Aug 2015

The Dengie


In direct contrast to my trip to London a couple of days ago, we drove out to the Dengie today. A peninsula on the Essex coast that lies between two rivers, the Blackwater and the Crouch, the Dengie is always breezy, and can be quite bleak in the winter, but today it was mild and moody. I love the peace that I find there, and am always happy for an excuse to head in that direction.


We went first to Tiptree for lunch at the locally famous jam factory, a delightful place that is a throwback to earlier times, decorated with equipment from the storage sheds.


They also serve a darned good lunch, with plenty of gluten-free options: My choice today was a traditional ham and cheese ploughman’s:


We then drove through picturesque Maldon before heading to the Dengie and our favourite mini-pilgrimage destination, the ancient chapel of St. Peter ad Muram. A long footpath leads out from the car park to the chapel which stands on what was once the walls of an old Roman Fort. Built by St. Cedd in 654 AD, the chapel is the oldest continually occupied chapel in the British Isles, though it wasn’t continually used as a chapel.


The tide was in, so after visiting the chapel we walked for a ways along the sea wall, then dropped down onto the beach for a bit of North Sea beachcombing. We dipped our toes into the water, but there were quite a few people going for a real swim, and we simply watched admiringly. Walking back towards the car, I was moved by this view of the chapel flanked by the giant windmills of a nearby wind farm.  What a contrast of old and new. Modern technology supplying energy and power alongside an ancient chapel that has for centuries given spiritual energy and power to pilgrims and seekers.

19 Aug 2015

Welcome to Rayleigh


Coming from a part of the world where public transport is nearly non-existent, I marvel at what we have here in Britain. We live between two different train lines, either of which can deliver us to central London in less than an hour. Today the train into Rayleigh carried two very special passengers, Carol and Kelly Maurer from Delaware. They’ve been exploring London for the past week, and are staying with us for the last few days of their holiday. I’m loving this opportunity to send time with people from my tribe, am loving this chance to introduce them to my world.


18 Aug 2015

Lovely London!


London is just up the road from us, but it usually takes an out-of-town visitor to lure me into the city. Today I met up with good friends from the US for a day of gentle wandering and exploration. The River Thames has been a major artery for as long as London has been a city, and we spent much of our day wandering along its embankments, appreciating the sense of history and enjoying its international culture and cuisine.

Tower Bridge

We met up at Trinity Gardens just across from the Tower of London, then walked across Tower Bridge and headed west past many of London’s famous landmarks.

ShardThe sun played peek-a-boo with us as we meandered, forming a halo around the Shard as the sky reflected the moods of the rising tide. Just outside the Tate Modern, we stopped to visit with RSPB volunteers who had set up telescopes to let people get a glimpse of the peregrine falcons high up on a neighbouring skyscraper. They were an inspiring pause before we went into the gallery to marvel at mankind’s creative genius as manifested in the array of intriguing, often enigmatic and thought-provoking, art on display.


From there, it was back across the river as we walked on the elegant Millennial Bridge with its stunning views of St Paul’s Cathedral, Christopher Wren’s architectural masterpiece.

Ethiopian FoodWe ate street food at Burrough Market and washed it down with Sangria — because we could!  I just may have fallen in love with Ethiopian food, all of which was gluten free – a real boon for me!


Leaving the mighty River Thames behind, we took the Underground to Oxford Circus – this plaque greeted us as we walked into the London Bridge station.


After the peace and conviviality of our river walk, it was a bit of a shock to emerge at Oxford Circus with its great hordes of frenzied shoppers. We joined the throng, eventually making our way to the lovely Liberty of London where this lovely beribboned creation took our breath away and restored our faith in modern creativity.

Tower Hamlets

Saying goodbye (until tomorrow when my friends will come to stay with us here in Thundersley), I made my way back to Tower Hill and headed back out of London on the train where there was one last surprise in store for me. Glancing up from my book, I was stunned to see this lovely little labyrinth on the edge of the tracks — a complete surprise, one I didn’t know anything about. I didn’t have a chance to grab my camera, so this is a download from Google Earth. (The labyrinth is in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park. I guess that will have  to be a pilgrimage for another day! Information about it can be found in the Labyrinth Locator if you simply enter London into the city field.)

17 Aug 2015

Wonky Bear


I’ve been moving in deep waters this week, struggling to balance my internal and external realities. Some days I’ve had words, other days images, but the two just haven’t come together in coherent form. Nothing’s wrong. I got glutened last weekend (gluten is not my friend!), and my energy has been low all week. As I’ve rested, though, my creativity has finally begun to flow again, for the first time since returning from our travels.

I’ve been walking. Every day. But my focus has been elsewhere, on my art and dreams, and I gave myself permission to let go for a few days, so that I could spend time working on my various projects. I have, for instance, always wanted to be a Maker of Teddy Bears. Seriously. I have books on the subject, and patterns, and ideas — and now I’ve finally moved in to production mode. I can’t really explain why I’ve wanted to make these little guys, but they are among the legacy I want to leave behind. Teddy bears are comforting friends who delight the soul and inspire imagination — and they are a gift I want to be able to give, with my love woven into the stitches and my creative spark sewn into their features. This week, I made my first wonky bear; he’s decidedly lopsided, but I was learning as I went along.

And Bear #2 is nearly finished, a jointed soft pink alpaca wonder…  I can’t wait to see her personality emerge as I assemble her parts and begin to fashion the embellishments that will reflect the unique creature that she is. I’m in love!

15 Aug 2015

Holy Ground

Rayleigh ChurchAnother splendid morning that begged us to enjoy a bit of exploration as we ran our usual errands. Holy Trinity Church stands at the top of the High Street in Rayleigh, watching over the town as it has for centuries. There has been a church on this site since Saxon times, and the tower you see here dates to the 15th century. My imagination goes into overdrive at the thought of the people who have come to this holy ground through the ages, celebrating births and marriages, mourning deaths, and marking the progress of the liturgical year, year after year. I stand in the shadows and wonder about their stories…

I, too, have seen this church accompany us through the seasons. Remember this post from last winter?

10 Aug 2015

Summer Morning


Southern England is quite beautiful at the moment, with sunny days, deep blue skies, and glorious flowers. As we had to do a few errands in Rayleigh early this morning, I took advantage of being out and about and went for a stroll along the High Street. This abundant display is outside the Crown pub, on the corner of Crown Hill.


And while I was admiring the flowers, Jeff was scoping out the goods at Byford’s… I think those pork pies were calling his name! (He now admits that one of them followed him home!)


07 Aug 2015

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