South Coast Wilderness Walks 2022 Volume 5

September 15, 2022

VALLEY OF THE GIANTS TO BOXHALL ROAD

Today we did a 14.5km walk on the Bibbulmun trail, from Howe Road to Boxhall Road and back again, and from there to the Valley of the Giants and back again. As we’ve done so many coastal trails recently, we felt like going back in the forest – and this trail section is just that.

It was cold, drizzly day with a freezing wind blowing, so a good day for being in a forest. We got away early, and didn’t stop until Bow Bridge, where we bought an early and savoury morning tea – Brett a toasted Turkish bread with BLT, me one of their giant home-made sausage rolls. What is a sausage roll? For those of you who don’t live in a British colony, it’s not a sausage in a roll, but a mixture of spiced sausage meat and in the better cases (like at Bow Bridge) vegetables, shaped into a log and encased in puff pastry. In cross-section it appears exactly as your arteries will if you eat these on a regular basis for 20 years. I like getting a combination of salt and protein before a hike, so this fits the bill, plus the people at Bow Bridge aren’t owned by some multinational – they are a truly local business.

Then we turned up off the South Coast Highway into Valley of the Giants Road, where we arrived at our trail at 10am. I had not had to travel reclining across the back seat like for our Sunday outing to Point Possession, but had managed to sit in the passenger seat with a towel roll supporting my lumbar region. I was happy to find I could stand properly stretched out at the end of the journey, but both of us rolled and turned our spines as a precaution before putting on hiking packs – first time I have carried load hiking since my injury Sunday before last.

Our trail section ran across the page on the map.

We took some starting photos at Howe Road.

And then we were off!

The Clematis is in full flower. It’s one of three common flowering climbers in the Southwest, forming clouds of white in springtime. We also have purple-flowering Hardenbergias, which I documented on the Conspicuous Cliff walk, and red-flowering Kennedias.

Some of the National Park areas are old-growth – although sadly, not many. Here’s a relatively old tree.

These are relatively young:

People shouldn’t be fooled by sizes. Most people on this planet have never been to properly old-growth forests, because only tiny pockets remain of what once covered vast areas of land. The older trees have nesting hollows in them which are so important for sheltering possums, cockatoos and many other species, for breeding and as a general refuge. Our local black cockatoo species are now endangered from the wholesale destruction of their habitat and their nesting sites over the last two centuries. These are species that thrived for millennia before colonisation.

This is regrowth forest. Just because it looks more natural and spectacular than what most modern humans ever get to see doesn’t mean it’s a patch ecologically on old-growth forest. What we have destroyed has already driven countless species over the brink and the current rate of loss sits at around 200 species a day worldwide. In the space of my lifetime of half a century, we have also caused the extermination of two-thirds of the wildlife populations that were present when I was born. So, populations of everything except humans, our domestic animals and opportunistic species like rodents are in rapid decline worldwide, and entire species are being wiped out daily. Humans and their domestic animals now have multiple times more total biomass than all the wild species of mammals left on the planet. This is not OK and this is causing ecosystem collapse. You don’t need to bulldoze an area to make that happen, although of course, humans have already bulldozed the natural ecosystems off the vast majority of potentially arable land – over 80% of it in Australia, in less than 250 years.

Unlike the coastal heathlands we visited on our more recent hikes, these forests have already been greatly compromised ecologically, in spite of their picturesqueness. The difference is that the heathlands haven’t been extracted for resources by industrial societies (just wiped off the face of the earth for agriculture and urbanisation, but what is left around the coast in our region is near-pristine – which is not the case for the more isolated pockets that are now islands in a sea of farmland).

More Clematis:

Shelf fungi:

Some examples of potential nesting hollows / shelter areas:

Though it was a cold, overcast day today, and definite thermal wear weather, the sun occasionally broke through to produce some rather brilliant lighting effects.

This is the base of a living, old tree, which has been excavated by a combination of fungi and hundreds of years of periodic bushfires through the landscape. The black marks are charring from bushfire.

Some views off a bridge where we stopped to have a drink.

Due to the considerable uphill-downhill qualities of this trail section, we sorely needed water after an hour’s walking. The dog got hers by swimming and imbibing in the stream itself.

Then it was time to continue.

We had several more stream crossings and took no more photos getting to Boxhall Road, as we were pretty busy with the steep gradients in the final section of today’s walk. Also, the act of swinging my backpack up onto my back with my left arm caused a re-aggravation of my still repairing back injury after one our our drink stops. This was causing partial back spasm which affected my stride length and required stretching and deliberate concentration on extending stride length to free up my back again. This is also why I will not be riding until my back is properly healed – both because the twisting motion when mounting and the potential shocks to the back in the upright position by false moves on behalf of either party are likely to cause re-injury, and because the consequences of having stabbing nerve pain and being frozen up on a horse could well cause a fall. Hiking is far more conducive to recovery from back injury than horse riding or mountain biking. The actual walking part is highly therapeutic.

We eventually took some more photos when we stopped to have lunch at the first bridge on our way back from Boxhall Road.

This was the view of the stream from where I was sitting.

After I shared my lunch of carrot/cheese/lemon juice/cayenne pepper salad with Jess, she snuggled right in and Brett got a photo of that.

I was eating a tangelo – my favourite type of citrus, only available for a short time every year. We’ve got a tree starting to yield in the garden, but it will take a few more years before we don’t have to buy any. Tangelos are grapefruit/mandarin crosses the size of an orange. They have the juiciness oranges used to have in my childhood, together with an acidity you don’t find in mandarins, and a beautiful flavour if you prefer tart fruit to sweet, as we do. Give us berries, and apples harvested slightly early, and pears, peaches, apricots and nectarines while they are still firm, lower in sugar and higher in acid – delicious. And I prefer my bananas green, and won’t eat them ripe – too sweet, mushy and pungent then, for my taste. A banana peel sitting in an office bin after lunch in summer was always enough to make me gag. 🀒 Also, if I eat bananas that are too far progressed towards ripe, I get painful blisters on the inside lining of my mouth.

The dog is very happy to share fruit with us. She isn’t a huge fan of citrus, but develops a taste for it when we’re doing long hikes. So she said yes to tangelo today.

But you can see her going, “Oh, that’s sour!”

This is a fabulous dog – just the best hiking companion you could have, besides, in my case, my lovely spouse. ❀ As today’s track section was one we had never walked before, she was extra happy and wagging her tail freely a lot of the way. She always loves to walk, but actually looks even happier when she’s somewhere totally new. Maybe she also enjoys going to completely uncharted territory, as we do.

Next, we spotted a strawberry slime mould.

Here’s a proper macro shot from one of these on our own place a few years ago.

These are eucaryotic cells (i.e. with an organised nucleus – so not bacteria, but like fungi, amoebae, protists in general) that live single-celled and separate in the environment for most of the time, but will secrete a chemical signal when they want to coalesce with others of their kind, find each other, and form this sort of colony, which is also used for DNA exchange for breeding. The colony is mobile and capable of crawling around. Eventually it grows into a fruiting body which releases spores, which in turn hatch into amoeba-like single cells that go live on their own before starting the cycle all over again. More information on these fascinating critters here.

While we really enjoyed the walk to Boxhall Road, on the way back we were preoccupied with getting back, and with the ice cream that was awaiting us on the way home. This was the last track crossing before Howe Road:

A loooong uphill followed before we were back at our car, where we ditched the backpacks, had hot tea from thermoses and a slice of spice cake each, and then set off to finish the trail section by completing the short walk into Valley of the Giants, which is where our famous Tree Top Walk is. This gave us about 20 minutes of walking without backpacks to close out the hike and stretch out properly again. It also means we have now completed all of the Bibbulmun track from Peaceful Bay to Frankland River Camp Site, there and back again, in sections (and some of them multiple times). That’s 42km one way, 84km return, and well over 100km if you count our “repeat” sections on this trail. Of course, we’ve walked several hundred kilometres on the Bibbulmun over the years, over various sections. The total length of the track is 600km from Kalamunda near Perth down to Albany; we have about half of that total near the South Coast and the forests surrounding Walpole, Northcliffe and Pemberton.

14.5km with a fair amount of gradient left us well exercised and with the beginnings of sore feet. We had earnt our ice cream today, on our habitual stop-off at the Meadery near Denmark. This time I remembered to take photos.

That’s hazelnut, my perennial favourite, on the bottom, and rose and almond at the top. πŸ˜‹

Brett had coffee on the bottom, ginger at the top – and a big smile on his face.

The lady in the shop gave him a spoon because the bottom scoop was very soft-serve today and needed a bit of attention before the whole of the top scoop could be eaten. Brett always enjoys his ice cream – but today it all seemed turned up to 11 for him, so I gave him the bottom two thirds of my waffle cone as well, filled with hazelnut ice cream. I don’t particularly like sweetened waffles – he does; and anyway, he’d let me have more than half of the packet of salt and vinegar chips today because I’d enjoyed that so much – so after eating what was on top of the cone, I’d already pretty much reached capacity! πŸ™‚

I thought he’d earnt it – also because he was totally amazing when we had a general life de-briefing in the car on the way out to the hike this morning. I don’t have work meetings anymore because I work alone; so Brett and I will have meetings in which I can discuss with him various frustrations and problems with the work I do, and how to put the former in perspective and solve the latter; also we discuss priotities, both for the farm/homestead, and for life itself. It just happened I was a bit disappointed because the first three days of my working week had really just consisted of one giant wash day, a day mostly planting three new fruit trees (it involves excavating, backfilling with a mix of home-made compost, soil and dolomite, planting, watering, staking, mulching and making a protective cage for each tree), and a day mostly planting 25 native tree/bush seedlings in our roadverge rehabilitation area (involves planting, watering, and erecting tree protectors; in this case requiring me to cut over 50 stakes by hand from dead branches because we only had about 30 lengths of bamboo left for re-use), plus various other everyday tasks. I found that depressing because there is so much that needs doing, both useful stuff and the ridiculous tick-box busywork paperwork that bureaucracies increasingly require, which have absolutely no economic return for us nor anything else of practical benefit to our lives. πŸ˜•

Like the Tax Department decided to drop the electronic business portal I’d used for years, a couple of years ago. Their new system is only accessible by smartphone and I don’t have one, nor do we have useful phone reception out on our farm. This means I had to go back to doing all the business activity statements on paper forms and sending those in four times a year, so if there is a mistake in anything it’s almost impossible to get that through retrospectively to the Department, whereas before I could just go electronically update it. Plus, the electronic entry form for our personal income tax has an actual bug in it that doesn’t allow us to complete one section correctly. I have sent them several letters about it in the mail, starting two years ago, each of them requesting a response, and they have ignored us completely – we did not get any written response. Meanwhile they keep sending us messages to phone them, when we can’t do that and have previously multiple times asked them to either write to us on paper or email us.

Brett has tried phoning them from town in his lunch breaks, but he never stops being on hold for his entire 45 minute break and then he has to go back to work. He once spent hours in town after work trying to get a person on the phone but to no avail – nobody picking up, “You have progressed in the queue” – that’s what happens if governments keep cutting staff numbers in public service departments. Twenty years ago, you could get straight through to people in the ATO unless you were calling in the peak tax months. Now it’s almost impossible, and we’ve given up trying. I suppose I will send yet more appeals to them to contact us by email or in writing with the next lot of paperwork, and I suppose they will ignore us yet again and then threaten us with fines if we don’t phone them by such and such a date. It’s very frustrating.

Anyway, I felt so much better about all of these things after discussing it with Brett, who lends perspective, helps me not to stress about this stuff and counsels just to do the best I can. We are only alive for a short time, and are determined to minimise the impact of all this useless stuff on our existence, to do mostly useful things, and to properly enjoy each other and the beautiful things about this universe before we drop back into the velvet black that was before.

♦ β™₯ ♦

By the way, for anyone wondering how it is my husband has such superabundant hair at his age, here’s a slight clue. He’s got South English DNA, and superabundant hair is legendary in the south of England:

Some southern English chappies back in the day displaying superabundant hair and what it looks like when you grow and encourage it. The fella on the left has particularly thick hair even to this day, despite being more than a decade older than us, and happens to have ancestry hailing from Surrey. Brett has his superabundant hair courtesy of his mother, who still has it as an octogenarian (his father is very thin on top) – and his mother’s ancestry is also from Surrey. So there’s good hair DNA to be had from Surrey populations, obviously. 🧐

FOREST MUSIC

I was thinking about music that is about or evokes forests – and find that there is far less of that than for seascapes, mountains, meadows, the starry sky, and the weather. This directly reflects the fact that relatively little of modern human experience is set in forests, and that the other things on that list can’t be annihilated as easily.

Here is the first piece of music that came to mind when I thought about music written for forests, and for the people in it. Those of you who lived through the 90s will almost certainly know this track. It was specifically composed to bring attention to the threat to the world’s remaining forests and the Indigenous people still clinging on there. It’s surprising to me that it works so well, since most of it is electronic, and the voices are sampled from UNESCO recordings and reconstituted into the music – but it does:

Something acoustic that fits the bill, from an alternative band that’s been my favourite Australian band to listen to since I was about 14.

Here’s a super gorgeous track with a lot of forest imagery. The words are a WB Yeats poem set beautifully to music. It’s so lovely it often makes me cry.

That is from an entire album of WB Yeats poems, one more of which you will hear later. However, this was not the first foray of this artist into Yeats’ poetry – here was his first, which always made me catch my breath from the first time I heard it as a teenager. It’s narrated by an Irish traditional singer from Galway, TomΓ‘s Mac Eoin. Information from the album notes:

TomΓ‘s Mac Eoin

Here’s the piece, which is also filled with forest imagery, with a beautifully made clip.

The Gaelic folk tales about faeries in forests are similar to Indigenous Australian tales about spirits of place – it’s really a metaphor for things that are otherwise hard to convey, but contain a truth that needs expression.

Another forest song, which to me has always been a running-in-the-forest song…

You really get a sense of being surrounded by tall trees in this one.

Here’s a famous classical piece that works for a forest setting, for me, but is really about flight and anywhere that happens, and about the beauty and fragility of the bird flying, also as a metaphor for other things.

Changing genres, here’s a foresty sort of Cure song – though when we’re watching recent performances of this song, I’m always saying to Brett, “Look at the backdrop images…that’s not a forest, that’s just a plantation monoculture!” 😱

The clip of this particular performance shows the putting-together-musically of a composition like this very well, and also highlights bassist Simon Gallup’s rather hilarious and endearing tendency to, dare I say it, gallup all over the stage visiting all his bandmates. Now there’s a bit of nominative determinism… ;) I can never watch this kind of thing without wanting to put a pedometer on him to work out how many miles he averages in a show. He’s a poster child for incidental exercise, as well as deliberate exercise (avid mountain biker etc) – and 59 in this clip. I also would like to work out which of either him or their drummer Jason Cooper use the most calories in a performance, because I think it’s a close contest.

I will go out with a fitting sad tune, about the mortality and extinction of the faery folk, which fits also the annihilation of the world’s forests, and by metaphor, our own mortality. WB Yeats’ words again.

Soon shall our wings be stilled
And our laughter over and done
So let us dance on the waves
Let us dance in the sun



POINT POSSESSION SOCIAL TRAIL WALK

September 11, 2022

This sunny, very still Sunday morning we made our way to Albany for a group trail walk organised by Brett’s colleagues at The Surgery – with yours truly ignominiously installed reclining across the back seat so as not to further aggravate my aggrieved back. Sitting in any kind of chair is still not advisable, and in the car it’s even worse because the seat slopes upwards. Walking, and especially lots of uphill-downhills, is excellent at this stage of recovery – and Point Possession delivers those gradients in spades.

This is the track map:

I have not traced the trail outline here, but the track starts near the white knobble underneath the letter a in Whaling Cove, traces its way northwest around the coastline to the tombolo, and from there makes a circuit around the tombolo’s beaches and Point Possession at the end. Usually we recommend doing that clockwise so that the inner harbour beach can be properly enjoyed and not be an anticlimax after the spectacular, world-class ocean beach, but today the organisers of the outing decided to go widdershins.

Here’s a historic map of Kind George Sound to give you all a better idea of the general coastline while indulging our love of old documents:

Ecoregion World Map Atlas Art

The view of Whaling Cove from the car park:

The white crescent of sand nestled in the bay is locally known as Fisheries Beach and happens to be our nudist beach. Mostly that seems to be an academic zoning, but one of my past students did assure me she needed brain bleach after encountering an older male teacher of hers on that beach, not knowing it was designated for au naturel enthusiasts.

The folks that were meeting up for the walk:

They’re a healthy-looking bunch, as is befitting for people professionally involved in health – lead by example etc.

We’re in the next photo – although since I was documenting this walk, you will have to make do with my shadow until later on, when Brett gets a few snaps of me. You can see there’s another farm kelpie in attendance, which Jess is very interested in.

I went ahead of the pack for the first stretch of walk so I could get shots of the whole group face-on. Brett and I have an insane top walking speed, because we’re both lifelong enthusiastic hikers. I can’t run well, but I do have very long legs that give me an unfair advantage for walking. Brett has normal length legs, but appears to be rocket-boosted; so our speeds are well-matched. The distances we can do it for depend on our fitness; our record for a day walk last year was 25km, from Parry Beach to Boat Harbour and back – very remote and totally scintillating, one of the most incredible hikes I’ve ever done – and you can see a simple slide show of that walk here – use the right arrow to go forward!

So here’s our walking group at the outset:

That’s Brett at the head there, with lovely Lauren behind – studied Fashion Design, and is incredibly arty – she’s crocheted Grogu from Star Wars for us and at least a dozen other people. You can see some of her creations here…including hand-made bags and upcycled shoes. Best of all though are her costumes and her photoshoots in those, in her Cosplay section – as a Disney princess, Dorothy, and a cowgirl. She also does musicals – we saw her in Beauty and the Beast a few years ago. It’s pretty amazing what some of the office staff at Brett’s workplace get up to in their other incarnations! 😎

This was the trail ahead.

I now have to apologise in advance for the many imperfectly lined up horizons you’re going to get today – I had very little time to set up photos while documenting this walk as they were walking like soldiers on a training march! πŸ˜„

A quick snap of King George Sound:

Views north to the Porongurup Range 50km away in the distance, behind the flat stretch which is actually the town beach – Middleton Beach:

A detail of the floor of a little woodland we passed through:

The view back – Lauren at the head, and Hedi from Estonia behind – Brett had backtracked to see what our dog was getting up to!

Michaelmas and Breaksea Islands in the background!

Nurse Dee coming into view here, in a little stand of Christmas trees:

Jess, Hedi and Lauren:

That’s Princess Royal Harbour up ahead, with the industrial area and quay smack bang in the middle of the photo and behind it the Albany town CBD between Mt Melville and Mt Clarence.

And this is the tombolo leading to Point Possession, with Princess Royal Harbour to the left and King George Sound to the right…

And this is the tombolo leading to Point Possession, with Princess Royal Harbour to the left and King George Sound to the right…

If you really, really zoom in on the horizon on the right of the photo, you will see the triangular outline of a mountain in the far distance, 100km away. That is Mt Toolbrunup, the toughest and most jagged climb in the Stirling Ranges – on the summit of which Brett proposed to me back in November 2007! πŸ’ž  

The back section of the trail group:

Another shot of the tombolo, this time with a little “Japanese Garden” in the foreground – as we nickname the flora communities typical of granite outcrops.

The King George Sound again – I’ve always loved how the huge cargo ships look like toy paper boats in a bathtub, when set against the massive coastal landscape here.

A “Japanese Garden” detail – Milkmaids (Burchardia sp). These have a tuber underground which was part of the Indigenous diet. – Some people have the attitude, “Huh, those savages ate flowers!” – apparently forgetting that “civilised” humans bulldoze and thereby exterminate the entire ecosystem so they can grow cereals to harvest on an industrial scale, graze cattle on introduced pasture species, etc. The Indigenous Australians always left enough plants and animals for natural regeneration of their numbers. They did not take every single Burchardia out there, just a fraction of what they could have, because they understood that you have to steward, not exploit to the last drop.

That was Brett at the tail of the group, walking in front of me, as we started making our way down to sea level. Next we have a pink-flowering variety of climbing sundew (Drosera sp). Most of this species flowers in white.

The sundew part is to the left of the flowers. This is a carnivorous plant, catching midges and other small insects as fertiliser, for their mineral content. They secrete sticky sap on their catching structures, which traps insects like flypaper and digests them. Because Western Australia has some of the poorest soils in the world – ancient and leached for millennia – we also have a sizeable fraction of the world’s carnivorous plant species.

And here we were, going widdershins straight to the ocean beach!

I have no idea who called this Vancouver Beach (on the sign) – the locals have always called it Outer Bramble Beach.

And there is Jess, “below” Michaelmas Island, doing one of her favourite things – playing in water.

So I let everyone else go ahead, and stayed with my dog.

Because there was some serious water play being had…and I wanted photos. ❀  

I love watching this dog round up waves…

Next I attempted to get a “between-the-ears” photo from my dog’s perspective. This is as close as that came.

We were putting on our 7-mile boots to catch up with the others.

The Earth didn’t seem very straight today… 😜

It seemed to tilt even more when I got Brett into view… 😬

I don’t know what was up with the universe. 😯

It really is a lovely beach…

Just look at Jess in the background again, chasing more waves… πŸ’•

Now Brett, Jess and I were chasing the rest of the group up Point Possession. Frankly, we were surprised nobody stopped to swim!

And lo, they didst appear.

Mt Adelaide visible across the channel next and the dogs just before they suddenly decided they weren’t going to be friends anymore.

Just after this photo they had a fight and we had to separate them and keep them on leads after. It’s strange they should have suddenly become hostile after getting on in the first half of our walk, but it is possible this is because we weren’t walking, and the dogs were getting jealous/defensive in the people situation above. My own dog is worst when she thinks another dog is trying to get a slice of my attention and the other kelpie could well have been the same. Both are grumpy old ladies – Jess 10 and the other 13 and both always alpha and ornery with other dogs.

Strangely too, there were no further signs of aggression from either of them after this episode, and later on we had them off the leash again some of the time.

This is taken from Point Possession back over the tombolo and the Torndirrup Peninsula.

I first came to Albany for my first professional posting out of university – to work on land capability and conservation research and recommendations. I was 22 years old, with 5 years of tertiary study behind me and a gap year between my science degree and my postgraduate diploma in education – and I had never been to the South Coast before. Pre-Internet, the only photos I had seen were in a library book, but there wasn’t much, just some town photos and one of the harbour.

So I was completely unprepared for how spectacular this part of the world is, and to say that I fell in love doesn’t begin to fathom it. This place is so grand it makes you feel your own smallness and insignificance in a very profound way, like when you look at the stars at night – when you really, really look at them, and reflect. I’ve never been to a more beautiful place in the whole world. Tasmania is as beautiful, and there is more of it, but these two places are equally heart-stopping.

Now for some more people photos!

Hedi and Imogen in the foreground. Imogen always lends us her Robert Galbraith and JP Delaney books – which are incredibly excellent, I should post some book reviews I’ve done for those! ❀ So I’ve lent her a Camilla Lackberg book, and Joanne Harris’ Gentlemen & Players, which has the biggest plot twist I have ever encountered in literature – the kind that had me immediately going back to the start of the book to see how the author had concealed it! Also Imogen and I share a love of cooking. She gave us some home-made tomato sauce and chutney recently; today I could reciprocate with some slices of that soft gingerbread with the nuts and spices that I made on Friday.

Next we began the descent to Inner Bramble Beach.

The buildings across the bay are Quaranup, the erstwhile quarantine station for new arrivals to Albany. Nowadays it is a camp used by schools, organisations and private individuals. I’ve stayed there a number of times with students from different schools, when I was teaching here. If you zoom in over the point, you can see an old whale chaser run aground behind the erstwhile munition storage building.

Just as this last photo was taken, Imogen up ahead got into a patch of the washed-up seagrass that was like a bog underneath, and fell through them nearly up to her backside, into the cold water that was contained in the seagrass mass like in a saturated sponge. We were tailing everyone so couldn’t warn people! You can see Bonnie, in the blue top, and her daughter in the black, looking. Dee is walking in front of me.

Soon we were on our way again. Imogen was the person who came up with the idea of doing this walk as a group, so it’s not nice that she fell into a bog for her troubles. Therefore I spent a lot of time talking to her after this. She hadn’t really hiked before and wanted to give it a go, and I wanted to make sure this wasn’t going to put her off – also the fact that the group had gone so fast, I was saying that this is not how you normally start hiking! You build up your fitness gradually and you can stop to smell the flowers, go swimming, take photos, have picnics and chats etc, to break your walking. It was just that most of the group were fitness fanatics. Several people at The Surgery cycle 60km before breakfast on a regular basis. And several of those are in their 60s!

I stopped taking photos when we got back full circle to the ascent, and instead Imogen, her sister and I were talking about bras and their perils as we were climbing the steep hill back up. It happened they were wearing sports bras they thoroughly recommended, which have a lot of surface area and nothing that makes point pressure, and they gave me the name of the person who is the rep for them at The Surgery. Also they make good exercise tights apparently!

When we got back to the car park, an instant picnic occurred. People were coming up offering us strawberries, sourdough bread baked that morning, slices of watermelon, olives, and also there was a pear upside-down cake with ginger in the base that Dee made, which was totally delicious. We bequeathed her some of our own gingerbread, and I wished I’d brought the lot – I had no idea there would be a shared picnic, Brett thought it was supposed to be self-catering! Still, there was more food already than anyone could eat with about half the people present bringing extra things to share. Plus, I’m now thinking of doing a day our at our place for the crew, and catering a few things while they’re here. We’ve got orchid season coming up, plus a few of the staff have young children who would loooove our donkeys.

It was a super enjoyable outing, and the exercise was also very good for my back. I could feel concavity between my lumbar muscles for the first time in a week as a result of the uphill-downhill work. That’s when I know things are going to be properly on the mend.

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