Click here to edit
                        Living in America vs England



January blog 2017

Posted by dawngriffis on January 16, 2017 at 5:00 PM

In an effort to put the Trump fiasco into the back of my thoughts, fears and dread; I have been working on something a little different for this blog.

We have our usual poems from our friend Beverley Coleman, plus one written by someone we think is sadly no longer with us, but submitted by Edd Frost another member of Banbury Friends Facebook page. Banbury Friends won’t be going on walks again until February, so not so many local walks pictures from them. Aynho walks continue all winter, and so I have a couple of those. A new member to Banbury Friends is Alison Davis formerly from Banbury now living on Cape Cod Massachusetts. Alison has been hiking on the Appalachian Trail for some time, as with most people she is doing it in segments, her latest one in December, January was in Pennsylvania. I have several of her pictures to post.

First we will have the poems and England’s pictures, then Alison’s for this side of the pond.

New Year’s first day

By Beverley Coleman


I'm pleased I woke this morning

Then I can say to you

"Good Morning " it's a brand new year

Hope your not feeling blue.

No hangovers to talk about

No hang- ups come your way

Let's start the day by smiling

To help us on our way.

Be positive happy

That's all I ask of you

Just stand up and be counted

Make sure your there in view.

Don't hide away ...walk to the front

This brand new year must start

It's all about your attitude

Don't keep it in your heart.

So folks as you are waking

On this first day of the year

Just take a glance behind you

Say Good-bye and never fear.


Banbury Cross and town centre submitted by Robert Bowman photographer unknown

Dorchester Abbey through the arch and rain by Anthony Morris for bBC South weather channel


By Beverley Coleman


Gone are the days of Daisy chains

And Buttercups under your chin

Of skipping in the playground

Things childhood days did bring.


The days of roaming over fields

A sandwich for a snack

To last us till it's teatime

When our folks expect us back.


Holding hands and kiss chase

Love letters passed around

Underneath the lamp light

Sitting on the ground.


Talking till the cows come home

All innocent and tame

Boys and Girls together

Playing a childhood game.


Nothing like it is today

The pace was oh so slow

No mobile phones to check on us

We were allowed to go.


Where we want..when we want

Hours and hours on end

Magic days remember them

If you don't you won't offend.


I will just jog your memory

Cos this is what I do

So you can reminisce some more

These thoughts from me to you.

The following pictures are ones about what I think about when I reminisce, what are yours?


View from my grandparent's home in the 1940s

Laburnum tree my Gramp planted between 1906 -1913 when they lived in the house.

 Red telephone box at the top of Hollow Road and it's still there

Fields I walked as a child now they are walked regularly by Aynho walkers photo by Les Horley

English robin by Anthony Morris this and all the following bird pictures were taken by him in his garden -they are also the ones I miss

Blue Tit, smaller than American chickadee


Bull finch

For those not familiar with the Appalachian Trail this is from Wikipedia

The Appalachian Trail is a marked hiking trail in the eastern United States, between Springer Mountain in Georgia and Mount Katahdin in Maine. The trail is about 2,200 long, though the precise length changes as parts are modified or rerouted. The trail passes through 14 states. Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. The trail was completed in 1937 after more than a decade of work, although improvements and changes continue. It is maintained by 31 trail clubs and multiple partnerships, and managed by the National Park Service, United States Forest Service, and the nonprofit Appalachian Trail Conservancy. The majority of the trail is in forest or wild lands, although some portions traverse towns, roads and farms. The trail conservancy claims that the Appalachian Trail is the longest hiking trail in the world




Here is Alison’s story about her latest hike on the AT and a little about herself.

l arrived from Banbury to Cape Cod in 1982 after being married to a man from Chatham.

My fiancé Finbarr who comes from Dublin, Ireland arrived in 1977 to complete an education in Horticulture at the University of Massachusetts. l later studied horticulture at our local community college. When we first met in 2013 l had a gardening business in Chatham MA, and Fin owned his own landscape company in Hyannis Port, so we decided to combine our businesses and live together. Fin had always been interested in the Appalachian trail and it was on a 2013 hike in Maine while surveying the land below us after climbing to the summit of Mt. Katahdin in Baxter State Park, Maine that our idea of a section hike was born, two weeks later we found ourselves dropping of our car at a trailhead in Massachusetts and having our friend Bill Ross pick us up and deposit us at a trailhead just before Connecticut. After Bill drove off l said omg what have we just done! Realization had finally sunk in that we now have to walk to Massachusetts. The weather was beautiful on that particular section; apart from a little chilly the sun was smiling upon us throughout Connecticut. The beauty of being a section hiker is that for the most part you can pick and choose when to go and can thus try to pick the best weather possible; after all we wanted this to be fun. We had also decided to work on our completion of the trail in the traditional way which is South to North. Connecticut was perfect for us to pick as our first state to hike, it had a lovely flat river walk for several miles and the terrain did not seem to be impossible to complete in the time we had allowed ourselves to finish it which was 3 days. At our very first shelter we slept in we even had a porcupine visitor and l had no idea they could climb trees. We also had our first experience of trail magic at the end of the river walk with a Boy Scout group offering coffee and doughnuts, lucky us. Along the river walk we also came up with our trail names, Fin chose "Mad Paddy" and l became "Teapot", although l am now known as "Twisted Blister" due to the fact l seem to be plagued with them on most hikes. The last few miles hiking into Massachusetts were the hardest part of our hike, we were tired or rather l was tired and the mountains seemed much higher than in CT, Fin can go on and on all day long whereas l am a slower hiker so that last push was really difficult for me. Thankfully we had our headlamps so could find our way back to the car in the dark. Our first hike we carried everything we thought we would possibly need and even though we still carry some weight we have streamlined our backpacks as we learn what is really necessary and what is not, although sometimes wine, cheese and crackers are absolutely necessary. Our next state was our own home state in the beautiful Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts and we loved Mt Greylock so much we day hiked it again later on in 2' snow drifts. This was followed by Maryland where history abounds, New Jersey which is really much more beautiful than l could ever have imagined (only knowing the turnpike). New York was next which offers some stunning views, a mad dash across both sides of the palisades Pkwy (yes we have this on video) and a walk up Bear Mountain and a jaunt through the zoo. Vermont affectionately known as the Green Tunnel was next on our list and is still my favorite state to walk through, l think it reminds me more of home back in the UK with its pastoral views. We ended up in Hanover NH and that was going to be our next state to hike but alas the weather beat us and we then decided to tackle the great state of Rocksyvania! Oops haha Kerhonkson, NJ s sorry l meant Pennsylvania. l can fully understand why many thru hikers loathe this state with its incessant rocks especially in the more northern part of the state although they are sprinkled everywhere except the Cumberland Valley which was a nice easy walk through fields and my favourite town so far, Boiling Springs. Many a hiker have hung their broken boots from a tree. The northern part was like walking in a riverbed, and there were some areas where there were no rocks to the left and right of us but no, we had the riverbed to follow. This last trip we took down to complete Pennsylvania started us out in Port Clinton. We parked our car in Lehigh Gap and took a hiker shuttle down to Port Clinton. Our driver Joyce was very entertaining to talk to and before we knew it we were being dropped off at the Port Clinton hotel for our one night stay so we could disembark early the next morning. Lucky for us the hotel had a great restaurant where we could carb up and even luckier a candy shop right next door where we purchased some delicious sweets for our trip although l think most of them were eaten that night in our hotel room, less weight to carry was our logic on that one!

We started out early wearing our bright orange (lots of hunting here and much of the trail follows State Game Lands) and walked along the Little Schuylkill River for a little while before taking a hard left leaving the river and started our ascent of Blue Mountain. Blue Mountain is a very long mountain range, and l really was beginning to wonder if it would ever end. Most mountains you go up and down and then come to the next one but not Blue Mountain, one day l need to see just how far it goes. We walked about 15.2 miles that first day to get us to the Eckville Shelter for the night. It was a little chilly but we had recently upgraded our sleeping bags to winter bags so l knew we wouldn't freeze. One of the biggest things about PA is the water supply, sometimes the springs are dry so you always need to be on the lookout for a water source. l hate bits floating around in my water so poor Fin has to carry a water filter which is healthier anyways than just iodine tablets (just my opinion but really it’s the bits floating in my tea l cannot stand). We had a restful night at the Eckville Shelter or rather Fin did, l tend to sleep with one eye or both eyes open half expecting a serial killer to come around the corner at any given moment. l can thank my mum Rosemary for my obsession reading true crime, serial killer books and to just top it off like a cherry on a cake, the ID channel, in fact when we talk to each other we always discuss what books we are reading at this particular time, which ones we would pack in our suitcase to deliver on the next visit and how sorry we were that Ann Rule had passed. Thanks Mum l love you. New Year's Eve day arrives and we are on our way to our next destination. When we come upon the Allentown shelter we see a very large gathering of people who wave us over to the shelter. This large gathering of people had a fire going and a ridiculous amount of delicious food in their midst and of course invited us to eat. We had some wonderful conversation with the Allentown Hiking Club members out for their New Year's Eve Day hike and ate some cookies because the more we eat the less they have to hike out, so of course we obliged. It was a cold day and we didn't stay to long so we would get to our next destination for the evening a little early. Fin had made us reservations at The Blue Mountain Summit Inn B&B. We walked in and the owner said he was not expecting us until later and asked us if we had parked our car and at the same time we both said no we walked here from Port Clinton, he shook his head and called us crazy. Our room was wonderful and after a hot shower, a fabulous dinner and great music we retired to our room where l too got a great night's sleep. We arose a little late the next morning thanking our gracious hosts for a lovely evening and great place to stay and continued our Northerly path. It was just a simple walk in the woods until we reached the “Knife Edge". Now the "Knife Edge" is not particularly hard or very long for that matter compared to its notorious namesake at Mt Katahdin, Maine but with just enough snow and ice on the rocks it was interesting to say the least, the views were well worth it though. The rest of the day was pretty uneventful and the rocks were not too bad in this section at all and before we knew it we had walked down the mountain and completed our 13.3 mile hike for the day. With the weather coming in we drove our car up to the Delaware Water Gap area and found a Staybridge hotel to stay in for the next 3 nights, l seriously could live in one of these hotels! When the weather finally broke we arranged to meet our hiker shuttle at the Delaware Gap and have him drive us to Lehigh Gap which is where we left the trail. Lehigh Gap is a short, 1 mile but steep rock scramble climb and extremely exposed, there was a time where Fin took mine and his pack so l could heave myself up the rocks. The views of course were outstanding in this section. This area is an EPA Superfund site after many decades of zinc smelting resulted in contamination of the Lehigh River and the surrounding creeks and also large scale airborne fallout from emissions killed all the forestland and vegetation. We stayed at the Leroy Smith shelter for the night and even though it was cold we had plenty of water (Fin had to travel about 1 mile to the water source) for dinner and drinks and of course toasty warm sleeping bags. The next day was all rocks; people say the last 20 miles is the worst for rocks in PA and l have to agree with them. Wolf rocks were in this section and had some very large rocks to walk on. Wolf Rocks is approximately the southern limit of glaciations along the Appalachian Trail route during the last ice age. It also had some Rhododendron arches to walk under and l can only imagine what this area must look like with the Rhodies in bloom (May require another trip here in the spring). Again the views were truly amazing and we feel so very blessed that we are getting to enjoy them. Only other was 2 or so miles to the Kirkridge shelter, and so this was our home for the evening. Not 1 drop of water to be found here. The retreat center behind the shelter is the water supply for the shelter but for obvious reasons is turned off for the winter, luckily we had not drank much of our water during the day so we feasted on some ramen noodles and bagels with some weird cheese in a cup that had not frozen, what does that say! We cozied up in our sleeping bags but we were awake most of the night, not due to the serial killers but to the clever mice that were raiding some trail magic food left by a previous hiker. Back and forth all night those mice ran but thankfully they did not try to raid our food bags or worse still climb across our faces in the night… The next day was our hike to our car at the water gap and while my feet were happy this hike was coming to an end my heart was not. Coming down Mt Minsi was a little slow due to the ice so we picked our way slowly down the mountain, and as we continued our descent, we came across a beautiful little waterfall called Eureka Creek and at this moment l was just struck by the simple beauty and thought how lucky are we to be doing this hike. We get to play in nature for our work and for our playtime, it cannot get much better than that! We have now completed 723.9 miles of our adventure from Harpers Ferry VA to Hanover NH and with the winter weather upon us will have to travel even further south to continue this beauful journey we have started together…

Now for her photos, all taken by her or Fin.




Knife Edge

Lehigh Gap

View from Lehigh Gap

Rocks, hard to climb

Wolf Rocks

Kirkridge shelter- home for one night

View from Kirkridge shelter next morning

Discarded boots

Eureka Creek

World's largest garden gnome at Kerhonkson New Jersey 

That's it folks, sorry it has taken me so long to post, this is my 7th attempt and many hours of working on it. Between web site going down and not publishing it when I hit publish. I'll try to have February more timely!!!!

Categories: None

Post a Comment


Oops, you forgot something.


The words you entered did not match the given text. Please try again.

Already a member? Sign In