Shine Walk 27th – 28th September 2014

Well I did it!! All 26.2 miles of it. George was off camping with Scouts for the weekend, so Mark, Emily and I left home at 7pm on the saturday to drive to Southwark Park. The organisers had suggested that we park in the local shopping centre, which was free for up to 4 hours, so that was a bonus, and was only a 5 minute walk to the start line. The traffic was horrendous, and we finally parked at about 8.15pm. The whole park was buzzing with excitement. A load of half marathon Shine walkers had set off at 7.15pm, and we saw them as we drove past. But there were hundreds, if not thousands of people walking at the 9pm start, it was wonderful to see. There were 3 starting points “Power Walkers” who aimed to do it in under 6 hours, “Striders” who aimed to do it in 6-9 hours and “Strollers” who aimed to take 9-12 hours. I went for the Striders, as when I did my test walk a couple of weeks before it took me exactly 7 hours. We all had wrist bands that glowed, which was very sensible because London can get very dark at night.

All ready and raring to go.

All ready and raring to go.

Mark and Emily went to stand by the start line, and I was hoping to see them again at about 4am. The Power Walkers went first, and then all of us Striders then got going. I went under the start line at exactly 9.10pm. I saw Mark and Emily, and gave them a wave, and set off into the darkness. The first couple of miles was a bit of a squash. And when you have long legs like I have and am used to walking a certain speed, this can be rather tricky. So I stayed on the outside, so I could overtake as often as I needed. I really should have gone with the Power Walkers, as I caught up with the slower ones after about a mile. I’ll know for next time. We had to stop to cross roads and I got a rather good view of the Shard it all it’s glory. It would be something that we would see a huge amount as we walked around. Sometimes it was very close, other times a really long way off.

The Shard. Something I would be seeing a lot on my travels.

The Shard. Something I would be seeing a lot on my travels.

We crossed the Thames just before mile 2 and went over Tower Bridge and past the Tower of London. I couldn’t see the poppies as it was very dark. We wouldn’t see the Thames again until the very end.

Tower Bridge at night. Fortunately it was down, so we didn't have to jump.

Tower Bridge at night. Fortunately it was down, so we didn’t have to jump.

We passed many sights on our travels from The Gherkin, St Paul’s Cathedral, the British Museum and Marble Arch. This was all before we walked between Hyde Park and Kensington Park. By the time you had gone the first couple of miles, everyone started to spread out a bit, so it was easier to get a pace going that you were used to. By the time you reached the park at about 11 miles, we were all well and truly spread out. You would be following a small group that were just ahead, hoping that they knew where they were going, until you passed them, and then had to focus on another group. They had loads of helpers with glow sticks to show you the way, and there were arrows also helping you along. What also helped was, they had the miles up, so you knew how far you’d walked. This was great as when I was doing my training, I had to guess, and really had no idea how long I had left to go. Seeing the miles go down was a great help, and the people with glow sticks was very encouraging when you walked past. They had about 6 pit stops, which had loos, first aid, water and snacks, and mid way between these stops, there were people with snack. This was brilliant. I’m glad to say that I didn’t use the portaloos, you know I have a thing about them. But sipped water often but sweated it out. Once we’d left the quiet of the parks we headed out down Kensington Road, passed the Royal Albert Hall, and into South Kensington. Loads of very posh people with chauffeurs wondering what all these smelly, sweaty people were doing. They tended to give us a very wide birth, I know I was most probably humming by that time. What also really made me smile, was that loads of people standing outside pubs would give you high fives. I apologised several times that my hands were very sweaty, but they didn’t seem to mind. I’m not sure if they were genuinely excited at what we were doing, or perhaps the alcohol helped. Either way it was a great boost. As we walked past Harrods, I decided that I’d better not go in (it wasn’t even open anyway). I didn’t think they’d have approved of me entering their store looking the way I did, and I had a back pack on and they don’t like those apparently. We then saw Nelson on top of his Column and not a pigeon in sight. Then we were supposed to go past Downing Street, but the road was closed, so we had to take a slight diversion. Then it was on to see the Queen at Buckingham Palace. She didn’t even wave from her balcony, I was very upset. Past Victoria coach station and people with suitcase clogging up the path and not having a clue where they were going. Past Tate Britain, and then just after 23 miles we crosed the Thames again.

A view of the Thames at night. See the Shard in the top left. Gives you some idea of how far we walked.

A view of the Thames at night. See the Shard in the top left. Gives you some idea of how far we walked.

This was great news as I knew that I was nearly at the finish line. We then walked past the Houses of Parliament, but by this time I was getting very tired in more ways that one, so my tweets were getting quite sarcastic by this point. I believe I wrote “I’d like to see some of them do this walk. They could do with loosing a bit of weight”. Then past the London Eye (I’ve still never been on this) and along the Thames past the wibbly wobbly bridge or the Millennium Bridge to give it it’s official name. Past The Globe Theatre, and I said hello to Mr Shakespeare. Then finally over the Thames for the very last time at just before 26 miles, and then I needed to find the Monument. I was looking at my map at this point, and said “Where’s the Monument?” I looked up, and there it was right in front of me. It’s a huge thing, can’t be missed, except by me apparently!! Then the final push to the finish. Mark was there waiting for me (Emily was at home fast asleep), and we had to go up some stairs and inside a room to get to the finish line, where they had music playing and loads of lights shining, they made it really special. We had our photos taken and Mark took one of me. Please excuse the rather strange look on my face, I was rather emotional and rather tired at the time. I have no idea why.

At the finish line. Can I go home now?

At the finish line. Can I go home now?

I then asked Mark if he could carry me to the car, but he wouldn’t, to be honest I don’t blame him. When I got home I had a quick bath before going to bed. I woke later about 10am, had breakfast did some things (nothing too strenuous), and after lunch had another nap for a couple of hours. I was then asleep again by 10pm. I felt like a baby yesterday, sleep, wake, eat, burp and repeat. But no nappies or crying. In all the months I’ve been training I have only got one small blister, and that was on the side of my foot and on week 3 of training. When doing the walk I managed to get a blister under one of my toes!! How that happened I have no idea. I was a little stiff on Sunday, but today is Monday and  I have no aches at all. Sorry about that.

The Course map.

The Course map.

A massive thank you to everyone who sponsored me, I really appreciate it, and if you would still like to sponsor me you can, just click on my Just Giving Page and follow the instructions.

Oh, and I know that you’re all dying to know how long it took me, well….6 hours and 57 minutes!! A new personal best.

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Chilli Festival at Victoriana Nursery Gardens.

Challock Chilli & Craft Fest – 27 & 28 September 2014

It’s that time of year here at the nursery where we go Chilli mad! Earlier in the year we decided we just didn’t grow enough varieties of Chilli – so we doubled the size of our growing house and more than doubled the number of varieties we are growing. We’ve had an excellent fruit set this year and they’ve hotted up more than nicely!

So if you’d care to come and taste over 70 varieties from the cool to the blistering do pop along and see us this weekend (27th & 28th September) – we’ll have every variety on taste test and would very much appreciate your help in voting for which of the varieties we have trialled this year that you’d like us to add to our listings. Along with the Chillies, there will also be more than 20 Craft and Food Stalls – all of which will have at least one Chilli based item on sale (food or craft). Full information can be found at Challock Chilli Fest

We’d love to see as many of our gardening friends as possible but for those who can’t make it we’ll be tweeting on the day using the hashtag #ChallockChilliFest (you can find us on Twitter @Victoriana_NG) – and of course we’ll feature it in next month’s video clip

20% Off All Fruit

Autumn is creeping up on us now and it wont be long until we’re lifting fruit trees and bushes. If you’re planning on planting Fruit this Autumn and Winter, get your order in now with us and receive a 20% discount simply by using the offer code OCT14. So take a look at our range of Tree Fruit & Soft Fruit now – but be quick as the offer is only valid until the 31 October 2014!

Happy Gardening!

All At Victoriana

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This is totally awesome dude!!

Oh, the innocence of the more mature members of society. I’m not sure if I could get away with that at my age though. Maybe when I’m about 100 I can get away with this, then I can say it’s medicinal. You rock Patricia Hewitson!! 

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Friday 26th September 2014 – I must save my energy.

I popped to see what I could do for just a couple of hours today. I’ve got to conserve my energy for tomorrow evening when I do my Shine Walk. The weather looks good, which is great news. So I took it rather leisurely today on my plot, well leisurely to me, maybe not for other people. I turned over the bed where the Sweet Corn grew this year, and removed some rather nasty growing stinging nettles. I managed to not get stung by these. Which is more than can said for the ant bite I got yesterday. It is itching like made, and still red and swollen. If only I could find something that would make them not want to live in my allotment, I’d be very happy. So with that all done, it was time to come home for some lunch. I’ll let you know how I get on with my walk. I’ll take lots of photos, and hopefully tweet as I go round. I will blog about it, but not as soon as I get home as I’ll need to sleep first. Good luck to everyone who is taking part, whether you are doing the half or the full marathon. Shine like a star!!

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Thursday 25th September 2014 – Now that’s more like it.

Today was a much better day than yesterday, in more ways that one. The weather was dry and sometimes sunny, so perfect weather for going to the allotment. I finished off the Onion bed that I had started the day before, but was so rudely interrupted by the rain, and then went on to turn over the bed where the Pumpkins had grown this year. The Pumpkins are still on my garden table, waiting ever so patiently to be carved very soon. Because this bed has had so much manure mixed with it, it’s still wonderful soil, so I don’t think I’ll have to manure this bed for a while. But I expect I’ll get some more manure delivered soon, and have it dumped on that bed so it will get a bit more. I then had some lunch, and then carried on for a bit longer. I also dug up some more Carrots. These were slow to start with, but once they got going they went full steam ahead. They look wonderful and I’m sure they will taste fabulous.

A lovely selection of Carrots, with a couple of Onions that I'd missed.

A lovely selection of Carrots, with a couple of Onions that I’d missed.

I also got bitten by a red ant again. The little bugger got stuck under my glove, and bit me really hard on my left wrist. It really stung for ages, and has now swollen up quite a lot. It’ll itch like mad tomorrow.

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Wednesday 24th September 2014 – Only a short while.

I was very busy this afternoon, so decided that I would pop to the allotment in the morning, to see what I could do. Mark dropped me off at the allotment gates as he had to go into town, so I was without a car. The weather was very cloudy, but no rain was falling when I arrived. As I started to dig the Onion bed over it started to drizzle. This I was a little perturbed by, but it was only a few spit spots. It then became a light drizzle, and then finally a heavy drizzle. This I was not amused by! So after only 40 minutes on my plot, I had to accept defeat and leave to come home. I didn’t even manage to finish digging over the bed I’d started, but hopefully tomorrow will be better so I can carry on.

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Sunday 21st September 2014 – The last of my training walks.

Well off I went this morning on the very last of my training walks for my Shine Walk. I’ve really enjoyed wandering around, although some places have been a little scarier than others. It was lovely to be able to walk on a path for all of my walk today which is something that I’ve not done for a while. Usually at some point I go off road and have to walk towards the cars and bicycles. It was a gentle walk today, only 18 miles or so. I left ringing and walked to the View Point at the top of Boxhill. On the way I walked past a farm, with cows and various other animals. Lots of farmyard smells, especially from a massive pile of cow manure, wonderful for the garden. They also grow Sweet Corn on the farm, which is all looking rather wonderful. Now when I grown my corn on the allotment, I grow it in a little block, like you’re supposed to, but my block is usually 4 plants by 6 plants. On the farm, they grow their corn in a block, but it’s a whole field full. I don’t think the photo does it justice, but it looked amazing.

A whole field of Sweet Corn. It looked so beautiful.

A whole field of Sweet Corn. It looked so beautiful.

Now the walk to the bottom of Boxhill is lovely, but the walk up the bridleway is another thing entirely. Now I’ve walked this same path before, but had to stop half way for a brief moment to guzzle some water, but this time I was determined to make it further, if not to the top without stopping once. There were more people venturing their way up and down the path today. At the very bottom I was over taken by 2 men riding bikes up the bridleway. They over took me at the beginning, but then I was walking at the same speed that they were cycling, so I reached the top only seconds after they had. I was hoping that maybe they’d stop half way, then I would over take them, but they didn’t. I stomped up at my rather brisk pace, and over took many people on my way. “Excuse me” was a frequent phrase of mine! I’m not sure if they thought I was mad at walking at such an alarming speed, but hey ho, I was on a mission. I finally arrived at the top, all red faced and rather hot. I walked to the viewpoint to sit down to have my lunch. I found a rather lovely spot, and ate my sandwiched and other lunch things I bought to nibble.

The view from the Boxhill View Point.

The view from the Boxhill View Point.

After resting for about 20 minutes, I visited the ladies, and then walked back home. The walk home was shorter, but seemed longer. I arrived home just after 3pm, and Mark had a glass of wine waiting, and a cup of tea. I took both to the bath, and then got in my pj’s. I think I’ve trained enough for the 26.2 miles that I’m walking on saturday 27th – sunday 28th September. I don’t think I could have done any more. I start at Southwark Park at 9pm, and am hoping to finish at Old Billingsgate about 4am on the sunday morning. I’ll let you know how I get on. A massive THANK YOU to everyone who’s sponsored me, you are all FABULOUS!! I’ve raised over my target, which is amazing, take a look here!!

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