Walking – Why you should do both countryside and city walks…

So now I’m back from my travels and everything is back to normal, I’m realising a revival of two pastimes which I’ve always loved. Reading and long walks.

This year, the walks have become more prevalent and enjoyable. I’m fact, it was something I was looking forward to returning to, when gallivanting around the world. Walking with Oscar, through the cold, winter countryside. Yes, really. I do actually love where I live. Do you?

Also, amongst the wandering around my local area, I’ve gone walking with a walking group and a jaunt up to busy old London too!

The walking group went around East Malling and even though it was a cold day we were lucky enough to have some sunshine and it was quite glorious. Love walks like this because they are so invigorating and the English landscape is so flipping wonderful. It is good for the soul.

The London walk was from the book Walking London -Soho to Trafalgar Square. As much as I love walking around local farmland, orchards and woodlands, the London walks (or any interesting city) are gratifyingly fascinating too. Particularly, if you follow a written walk and it is a good way to investigate hidden city gems as well.

During the stroll, it became obvious Soho isn’t a red light district anymore but a cosmopolitan blend of cafes, fashionistas, theatre and quirky historical areas juxtaposed with modernity such as the BT tower.

On the corner of Scalia Street is Pollocks Toy Museum. Benjamin Pollock 1937, and is one of the last producers of toy theatre scenery. Strolling down the back streets, with pretty gardens, pubs and wine bars is great as you try aimlessly to imagine how unglamorous it would have been, just a century before.

Soho is now a busy place. The whole area has improved and it is great to see the busy emporiums amongst the historical architecture. We devoured coffee and cake and decided we must frequent Ronnie Scott’s club (below), before too long…

The main aspects of this jaunt included Berwick Street Market, Broadwick Street, birthplace of William Blake, Carnaby Street, China Town, the National Gallery and Trafalgar Square.

China town is colourful with the red lanterns and leads you into the always manic Leicester Square.

Must admit to really enjoying a long city walk and looking at all of the sights. A self guided walk is the best solution to independently experiencing the city and even if you live near it, there will always be surprises in store for you. Also, places change. Soho has made radical changes during recent times. Walking and exploring is free, environmentally friendly and good exercise. Can highly recommend doing both countryside and city walks.

Nash’s Arcade (above)

 

 

 

Ninety mile beach, a massive tree and travelling…

Before today’s travelling and exploring we sat on the local beach. The beach was extremely busy as you can see. Actually, it was completely deserted. I’ve never, ever been on a completely deserted beach before. It’s a Sunday and I’m wondering where everyone is?

What is amazing is the weather is warm and sunny. In fact, cloudless. Can understand why people don’t go on a beach like this at home (England) as may be chilly, but I’m shocked here because it is so beautiful and warm. Took off my shoes and socks and splashed in the sea shouting with joy like a kid.

The beach is aptly named the 90 mile beach and you can see for miles and miles. It goes from Kaitaia towards Cape Reinga along the Aupouri Peninsula and is on the western coast, north of the North Island and really only 55 miles long. The beach is used as an alternative route to the road when it floods (State Highway 1).

Here is a fun fact for you…During 2013, Jeremy Clarkson drove the length of the beach in a Corolla, with other crew including James May for the TV programme Top Gear. Bet that wasn’t a skid free journey. We did see a couple of wagons go along the beach. They waved to us as they raced by and we waved back hoping they hadn’t broken into our car which was languishing in a deserted car park. They hadn’t.

 

Also, we popped along to look at the dunes but didn’t succumb to bodyboarding. We were shocked at the size of the dunes. The dunes appear much like a desert landscape. Quite extraordinary.

 

On the way to the ferry at Kohukohu we stopped for lunch. Had a yummy chicken salad Sammie which was delicious. As I was eating, four sparrows were standing watching me enjoy my lunch. The owner proclaimed how she’d done everything to ‘get rid of them’. Told her I wasn’t complaining and just surprised how tame they are here. Sparrows in England, don’t come anywhere near humans. Birds are more prevalent and colourful here too and I enjoy watching them flutter around even if they are hoping to eat my lunch.

The road trip along the coast was enjoyable although the bendy roads can be tedious. On the way, we stopped at Waipoua Forest to look at Tane Mahuta ancient tree which has been standing for 2000 years. We cleaned our shoes, as requested on a rather grand machine, went through the forest to a clearing and there it is, the most huge tree you’ve ever seen with a Maori lady to welcome you. It is the fourth largest tree in the world. Quite spellbinding.

The tree is a remnant of the ancient subtropical rainforest that grew in the North Auckland Peninsula. This giant tree is the most famous in NZ and was discovered in 1924 by workers who were surveying the State Highway 12 road through the forest.

 

After this we stopped to take photos of the panorama views on the way to Baylys Beach and eventually arrived early evening at the camp site. We stayed in this cute wooden hut with terrace. Dumped our cases and walked to the local cafe Sharky’s. We enjoyed a delicious roast lamb dinner with lots of much needed vegetables.

After our humongous dinner, we sat at the bar and chatted to the locals about where we’d been on our travels, where they’d been, what we did (travel atm), local haunted hotels, etc, etc, and it turned out to be another interesting and fun evening.

More travelling tomorrow and thanks for reading my blog.

Where two oceans meet… New Zealand

We decided to stop at Paihia despite a disparaging opinion in the Lonely Planet NZ book. It suggests going to Russell, because it is prettier. Although it is pretty, we found Paihia pretty too and more vibrant. Plus it had a good craft beer pub. (Haha)

Paihia is a bustling village and significant, due to being the gateway of the Bay of Islands. It is an attractive and well set out village with an array of shops, cafes, restaurants and a barbers that is not open when it says it is! Yes, hubby is desperate for a haircut.

However, on the plus side, the village has, according to the sign, the most scrumptious ice scream establishment for the last 18 years. As I discovered, if you ask for a one scoop cornet, you are given a two scoop cornet and it is huge although considered ‘small’. Oh dear, I only wanted a small ice cream. Nevermind haha. Crikey, it was tasty.

A splendid sea view from the craft beer pub called Thirty30 Craft Beer bar is always very much appreciated. We both devoured the most delicious seafood chowder with thick brown bread. After this bowl of deliciousness, and a long day touring, I had an early night.

Before our road trip, the next day, we popped along to Waitangi Treaty Grounds to view the giant Maori sea faring vessel. The vessel signifies the founding of modern New Zealand. It is a certainly an interesting experience to explore this part of New Zealand.

We then drove towards the famous (top of New Zealand) Cape Reinga. This is where two oceans meet; the Tasman sea and Pacific.

As we were travelling to Cape Reginga, I booked a room at Awanui about 50km away. Must mention that our traveller mobile has been a great success for booking last minute accommodation as we tour around NZ. This village turned out to be a quiet place which looked a bit wild west but the motel was great, Large room with bed, lounge area and kitchen. The owner left a box of chocolate almonds for us. They didn’t last very long. Of course, I fell for the ‘last room available’ note on the internet. Only three other lots of residents were staying and they turned up late. My panic to book turned out to be unnecessary although it was a Saturday so you can’t be too careful.

The drive to Cape Reinga took about 80 minutes and was worth the trip. Great scenery, little traffic and not a cloud in the sky. Always helps when you have sunny weather, don’t you think?

Cape Reinga is an important area because according to Maori legend, this is where a person’s spirit comes after death and departs for their eternal home. We found many wooden boards explaining historic facts relating to Cape Reinga, as you explore the site, which makes the climbing and walking even more worthwhile. As you walk around this magnificent area it is compelling to look at the panoramic views where the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean come crashing together.

The solitary iconic lighthouse is also a serene and spectacular vision and is said to be where the point of the colliding oceans swirl together. Amazing!

Well worth a visit and the historical details are interesting. Also, the area is a recognised home to many threatened plants and animals such as the tiny orchids and endangered flax snail.

Thanks for stopping by 🤗 .