Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Early Autumn walk

On a beautiful warm and sunny day at the weekend we decided to take another walk from the lovely village of Hannington. We first enjoyed a super lunch at The Vine and then set off on a walk which covered some new territory for us although I have walked part of the route before. It is always fun to walk somewhere different and thanks to an informative leaflet produced by Hampshire County Council called Exploring Hannington we have plenty of routes to choose from.

I hope you enjoy coming along on this walk with us!

Here we are passing the beautiful village green ...

before turning down Ibworth Lane and up the track by Michael's Field which proved to be somewhat muddy, I guess after the heavy rainfall in the week it is to be expected that in shady spots it is going to be muddy and sticky.

As we turn right at the end of the track and onto a more solid surface we suddenly feel that we are on top of the world as we enjoy the panoramic views.

We spot a couple of Wheatear, a Summer visitor to Britain and a bird that mainly frequents the uplands further north from us or heathlands and coastal areas and one which we have only rarely seen.

We pause and watch these birds for a little while as they flit low over the ground with their distinctive white rump showing as they fly. According to my bird book they like to perch on a prominent stone or clod of earth (pleased to say they followed the text book)!

We pass the reservoir and then turn left down a farm track to Summerdown Lane.

After crossing the road I am now back on familiar territory although it is some years since I have walked these parts (must be getting on for 40 years ago as still new territory to DH) and I had forgotten what a steep climb it was up to Plantation Farm.

At the top of the hill we turned left and follow the bridleway across the ridge of the downs with its spectacular views (if you are a regular follower of my blog you will recognise the TV mast on top of the downs in the distance from previous walks we have undertaken).

Time to take a left turn and follow the farm track back towards the village - now we are both on familiar ground and know how steep the hill we still have to climb is, however the thought of a drink when we get back to the village keeps us going. This track proved to be extremely wet and muddy especially in the bottom of the dip but we managed to negotiate it without getting stuck although cleaning our trainers is not going to be fun.

It was a relief to get back to Meadham Lane and hard surfacing and make our way back to the centre of the village. We were delighted to see these cyclamen growing on a bank as we approached the village - so pretty.

Another enjoyable walk (despite the mud) on such a lovely warm day and the drink at the end of the walk certainly went down well!

Sunday, 20 September 2015

The approach of Autumn

Seasons of mists and mellow fruitfulness!
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

The season of mists and mellow fruitfulness from John Keats' poem To Autumn which he composed after taking a walk near Winchester one autumnal evening, a city not very far from where I live. The first stanza of his poem (above) describes early Autumn where the fruits are ripening and the buds still opening in the warm weather. 

On our recent walks there is evidence everywhere of the end of Summer and approaching Autumn, even though the heat of Summer is still with us on occasions.

From the cold misty mornings ...

To fields that have been harvested of their crops ...

To the fruits ripening and what a good year it seems to be for berries, I think the birds are going to have plenty to keep them from going hungry come the Winter ...

and there are signs that the leaves are beginning to turn from green to their beautiful Autumnal shades ...

I have mixed feelings about Autumn - I love to see the Autumn colours emerging and admire the beauty of an Autumnal landscape but don't like the darker evenings. I like the fact that at the moment we are still getting lovely warm days (sometimes), even though the mornings and evenings are decidedly chilly. I love to walk through rustling leaves as they drop from the trees but hate the fact that by the time the leaves have dropped Winter will be just around the corner.

I hope you have enjoyed my look at the beginning of a new season from my part of the world.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

I love my Fitbit!

Just before I went on holiday I purchased a Fitbit to help encourage me with my walking. Would it help? Would it be a waste of money? Was I just jumping on the bandwagon because a lot of my friends had one?

I can honestly say it has been worth every penny, it has motivated me and encouraged me and challenged me.

I set a target of 10,000 steps a day and have managed to reach and succeed that on several occasions now. It really does spur you on to do those extra steps that perhaps you wouldn't normally bother with.

Last week my work colleagues organised a Fitbit Workweek Hustle to see who could complete the most steps from Monday to Friday. I knew I wouldn't come first but I didn't want to come last so that really drove me forward, so much so that I even found myself walking round the block (not a scenic walk at all) to increase my number of steps. Not that I am competitive or anything!!! I am pleased to say that I came fourth and definitely not last.

I cannot walk the long distances that I have done in the past, about 4-5 miles is my limit these days but I can honestly say that my life and sense of well-being has improved greatly this year and walking and enjoying the countryside has contributed a lot to this.

I have always enjoyed walking, I was brought up to walk and appreciate the countryside by my Dad from a very young age but in latter years as my life became more hectic with family and work and I put on far too much weight my walking activities decreased until this time last year I couldn't walk 100 yards without getting out of breath.

Last October I had a wake up call, I turned 60 years of age and was very overweight. I realised that unless I done something about it I would never be able to get out and enjoy our beautiful countryside again and would probably end up hardly being able to put one foot in front of the other. There was always a reason why it wasn't the right time to lose weight and so it went on.

After taking semi-retirement at the end of last year I knew the time was right. I was in a better place, enjoying having more time to spend with my DH and made a decision that once our new kitchen had been installed and I didn't have to live on take-away meals I would go back to Slimming World and start walking again.

I started SW at the end of March and to date have lost 2 st 10 lbs. Part of the SW regime is Body Magic so I started walking again. It really hurt to start with but gradually it has become easier. I still have a lot of weight to lose but I am spurred on by the success I have had this far. DH and I have really enjoyed getting out and about exploring the countryside and we both feel so much better for it.

We are lucky to have some wonderful countryside to walk in not too far away from home and we always have a camera to hand when we are walking. As our range of hobbies includes birdwatching, natural history and photography this walking malarky is satisfying a lot of our interests as well as keeping us fit and healthy. A win win situation.

Photos: Stockbridge Down 6.9.15, a walk we undertook on our 35th Wedding Anniversary.