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Month: May 2016

Day 6 – Middleton in Teesdale to Blanchland

Day 6 – Middleton in Teesdale to Blanchland

Area: North Pennines, Weardale
Starting point: Middleton In Teesdale
Ending point: Blanchland
Date of walk: 13th May 2016
Trails: unmarked paths & road walking
Distance: 20.09 miles
Difficulty: Moderate – Hard
Terrain: Road walking, hills
Weather: Cloudy, light rain

Today was a test mentally. As I gained height out of Middleton In Teesdale and hit the moorland, visibility was severely reduced due to rain and clouds. The footpath (if you can call it that) was lost pretty quickly and I find myself once again up and over walls. I’ve warned by locals, to be careful walking the fells to Stanhope as Adders reside here on the rocks, especially in the sun we have been getting. However, I can’t imagine they’ll be sunbathing in today’s weather. Either way, this is their home, so I better watch my footing more so, I don’t fancy getting bitten by a snake today.

dav
Bleak cloudy moors
dav
More bleak moors…

I’m up on the moors, exposed once again, and today is the first and only day I have my waterproof jacket on. It has also dropped considerably in temperature. Map and compass is used through the first half of day, until I find my way over the hills and joined back on towards  the long road into Stanhope. Stanhope is a stopped off point for people stopping off on the coast to coast walking/cycling route. I think its the last stop, so its a busy little village. As I enter into stanhope again, the 1st lady I come across says ‘oh you look weary’ LOL, Thanks love. Well I suppose I do, I take a little stop off a stanhope until once again I take the long road again into a small village called Blanchland. This is where I’ll be stopping, until I come back for Leg 2.

mde

dav

mde

dav

Day 5 – Keld to Middleton In Teesdale

Day 5 – Keld to Middleton In Teesdale

Area: Yorkshire Dales & Weardale
Starting point: Keld
Ending point: Middleton In Teesdale
Date of walk: 12th May 2016
Trails: Pennine Way
Distance: 21.10 miles
Difficulty: Moderate – Hard
Terrain: Moorland
Weather: Sunny & cloudy

 

 

Keld Waterfall - today's starting point
Keld Waterfall – today’s starting point

Today has blown me away. For many reasons, this was one of those days where you think could this get any better? and life pleasantly reminds you of the kindness which flows through this world, and the gentle souls who reside on this planet. 7:15am I start the misty uphill slog out of Keld through Moorland. It’s Moorland all day today & I’m moving at 3 – 4 miles per hour for most of the day. The 1st stop is the Tan Hill Inn 4 miles from Keld. A pub in the middle of nowhere initially built for serve the miners. This is the highest pub in Great Britain. Upon entering I expect a dull worn old place, but I’m greeted with the biggest smile & offerings for tea. I sit on a table with some fellow southerners who happen to be doing a nationwide pub/brewery crawl. Banter is exchanged & spirits are lifted on both ends.

Tan Hill Inn - Highest pub in GB
Tan Hill Inn – Highest pub in GB

I make pace & by now the sun has lifted the mist. As I pass the Tan Hill I’m sad to leave Yorkshire but enter into the Moorlands of County Durham with open arms. Underfoot is wet & boggy which is a relief as the terrain is easy on my blistered feet. A foot wrong somewhere however and my leg is upto my knee in bog juice.. The sky is clear, and this is a good day. Miles and miles of moorland, not a soul in sight.

Teesdale Moors
Teesdale Moors

No keeno walkers bragging about ‘the pennine way’. This is my first time in Durham & Teesdale & its truly spectacular. I note a place to come back to with the family. Very different from the Yorkshire Dales. As I come out of Moorland and reach the 1st reservoir  I’m looking for a place to eat lunch in the shade. I spot a bloke lying on the grass loving up life. I join him for lunch, we humbly discuss walking routes across the UK.

dav
Overlooking resevouir

As I continue, more reservoirs, brief moorland & pockets of trees are to be seen frequently. The air is fresh. Feet ache a bit but this cant dent my feeling of joy & peace throughout the day.

I arrive in Middleton In Teesdale, and my mind is thinking about food. There is a chippy in village, so I grab some & sit outside on a bench eating away. I get talking to an older couple, who are keen to know what I’m up to. I explain my journey to date, & also mention that I’ve lost my sleeping mat which will probably make tonight’s sleep very uncomfortable. We continue to talk about anything & everything. Upon leaving the gentleman says, ‘give me your phone number, and I’ll see if I can sort something out with you’re mat. I may have a yoga mat as home you can use tonight’ Ofcourse gratitude is deeply expressed. I head to the Co op to grab some milk, but on the way I pass a small newsagent. I’m drawn to go in & get chatting to the shop keeper in the shop about my sleeping mat. Another lady interrupts and says I have a bag full of cardboard in the car you can use for insulation, so she runs to the car and gives it to me and departs. The shop keeper lady says, leave that, I’ll get you a duvet, just wait until I lock up. So we head to her house behind the shop, we talk over tea, I grab a shower, she takes my laundry & gives me a duvet. woah, amazing. She says come back in the morning, ‘bring back the duvet and your laundry will be dry and ironed’. I’ve overwhelmed by the motherly love and again express my sincere thank yous.

The following morning, I go to the cafe before returning to the shop, I get talking once again to another couple at breakfast. A great start to the day, as I go to pay for my meal, I’m told the bill is settled already. Middleton In Teesdale, your kindness has killed me, thank you. My heart pours, and I’m reminded that opportunities to help ourselves and others are not far away…

bahh

Day 4 – Hawes to Keld

Day 4 – Hawes to Keld

Area: Yorkshire Dales
Starting point: Hawes
Ending point: Keld
Date of walk: 11th May 2016
Trails: Pennine Way
Distance: 12.03 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Terrain: Mountain & road walking
Weather: Sunny & cloudy

Really getting into the swing of things now. Body seems to be getting stronger by the day & experiencing this ever changing environment which I am walking through is truly a blessing. I opt for the later start this morning, as I need to visit the village pharmacy for some Sudocrem & an outdoor shop to try a different walking sock. I’m out and about in the village by 8am, but the shops don’t open til 9. So i pay a visit to the church. As I enter I’m greeted by a kind lady, I take a brief walk around before sitting down in uninterrupted silence for the hour. Quiet meditation & prayer is how my days are always started, and to be in this little village church is serene. I exit joyous, and thank the kind lady for her hospitality.

Hawes Church
Hawes Church
Hawes
Hawes

An unusual start to the day, I follow the pennine way. The pennine way, the pennine way, I’ll be dreaming about the pennine way months after this week. But I loose track and vier of it slightly. I either walk back, or I cut across farms over dry stone walls to reach back onto it. The 2nd seems the quicker option. Something happened today which I wasn’t expecting. As I was cutting across the fields. 1 of the fields was full of sheep, they all mysteriously looked at me. The look in their eyes is somewhat suspicious, there is 30 odd of them & 1 of me. I walk quietly along the walk trying not to disturb them, especially in this time of lambing. But, all of a sudden, kabang, they all come close, than eventually start charging. I flee like a bullet leaving the gun of its chamber & quickly climb and hop over a wall. Talk about getting the blood pumping first thing. You really start to think to yourself, where did I go wrong in life when you’re getting bullied by sheep.

Today’s walk it pretty much all about going over the Great Shunner Fell, another pretty incredible mountain. I first reach the village of Hardraw where I find a pub called the green dragon with this sign outside..

Today is more of a stroll, than a hike, even up the Great Shunner Fell. To get to the top of Great Shunner fell takes a bit of time however, as soon as you think you’re at the top, you’re not and you see another summit. That’s the running theme, they may aswel have named this one ‘blind summit’. Sun is back out in full force again & I walk alone. As I reach the top, I stop for lunch. What spectacular far reaching views from this one.

Great Shunner Fell
Great Shunner Fell
Great Shunner Fell
Great Shunner Fell

I stop and talk to a couple, an interesting conversation. They are from Nottingham, and they decide to want to talk to me about the poverty from in the major cities of London and Nottingham. ‘Really?’ I think to myself, you want to talk about this now, on top of this hill, on your holiday, you want to talk about this. Anyway, I briefly entertain the conversation. There is silence, followed by the question ‘Are you in or out’? And by that they mean the EU Referendum. I literally laugh out loud, I’m in hysterics, than I realize it was a serious question. I compose myself once again, and simply say ‘I walk up mountains, camp in forests, help myself and those around me, but voting, voting is something I do not do’. It’s all a very serious conversation on top of this mountain, I try to get a chuckle out of them, but a half hearted smile is all that is shown. Never the less, I ask to join them on there walk down, and we all continue down. We reach the bottom, They continue on the pennine way & I take the high road into Keld…

Angram village on the high road to Keld
Angram village on the high road to Keld
Angram
Angram
Day 3 – Malham to Hawes

Day 3 – Malham to Hawes

Area: Yorkshire Dales
Starting point: Malham
Ending point: Hawes
Date of walk: 10th May 2016
Trails: Pennine Way, Dales way, A Pennine Journey
Distance: 22.49 miles
Difficulty: Hard
Terrain: Straight up Dales, mountains, road walking
Weather: Sun, light clouds

Spending time alone, walking, walking, and more walking, up and down through the hills & valleys. Expectably people ask on the way why I go for such long walks. The short answer is, because is brings me true happiness. And this day, reflects strongly this. Spending time alone can get more and more difficult by the untold amount of reasons, especially in this day and age. However, ultimately in the end the choice is ours as to what we do. If we are not there in person with another, we are there on the phone, connected via some sort of device. Which is great. However, whats often forgotten, is that everything is contained in spirit. Walking alone, step by step, being present & focused is good walking & a good way to be reminded of those things which are truly important. When walking through bleak moors and the sometimes annoying dales, I personally learn a lot about myself & my connections with people and how they affect me. Know Thy Self. The body is alone, with none other but the sheep, cows and beetles on the floor. But in spirit all is connected.

For no particular reason, today is a day I’ll never forget. One of those days, that by the end of it, you tap yourself on the back and say well done. I woke up at the crack of dawn, feet are getting more blistered by the day. But today that doesn’t seem to matter. A long walk ahead, but today I’m not focused on the end, or how many miles I need to cover, I’m focused on the now. The present moment.

Malham itself is a popular village located in the heart of the Pennines. As I exit Malham on the Pennine Way I first reach Malham Cove, which is a steep climb upto the top. Today, thank god for clouds. Today they nicely block the scorching sun, and that gentle breeze well needed. I walk amongst 3 major trails, and alot of unmarked one’s today. It’s one of those as the crow flies days, up and over a few mountains.

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Approaching Malham Cove
Looking back over Malham
Looking back over Malham

For another couple of miles I come across a glacial lake called Malham Tarn which is the highest lake in England. Pretty windy up here & the lake does look grand..

Highest lake in England
Highest lake in England 

From Malham Tarn, we only go higher, onto our first mountain of the day, Fountains Fell. This is spectacular, a beautiful mountain in a beautiful part of the world..

View going up Cross fells
View going up Cross fells 

I bump into some helpful locals on top of Cross fells, they help me plan out a good route on my map to my destination of Hawes. They also kindly offer to take a photo of me by the Cairn..

Caaiirrrrnnn
Caaiirrrrnnn

On the way down, Pen – Y – Ghant seen in the distance..

Pen Y Ghant
Pen Y Ghant seen from cross fells

At the foot of Cross fells, I turn right with a bit of road walking, my 1st time off the Pennine way and get out the map and compass for some orienteering across unmarked, barely pathed moors. I walk down the road less traveled, crossing more bleakness, through territory people rarely walk down. You can generally tell by the way the animals behave. The sheep are acting strange, extremely defensive, and giving it the large. I don’t think I’ve ever been moved on by sheep before! well what do you know, Fearless sheep. It’s lambing season, so they are protecting their young.

Lambs pon road
Lambs pon road 

I reach the tiny hamlet of Halton Gill, near enough the half way point for the day. I sit and rest, eat some oatbran cake and head out of the village on a trail called A Pennine Journey. Although I’m only this for 10 minute until I branch off over the fells back down into another little village called Oughtershaw. I bump into 3 ladies walking the Dales Way, we slowly walk together. It’s moments like this, that really give you a push and bursts of energy come from nowhere. The 3 lovely ladies are from Matlock, Tansley to be more precise. They offer some encouragement, which I am grateful for. Than we part ways, I find out later on that evening they have donated for the cause. Puts a big smile on my face, 2 people so far on just passing by walking have now donated. They must see the weary look on my face, and my strange limping walk due to my blistered feet. Perhaps they take pity. haha. The rest of today is the road in Hawes for 5 miles, up and down again. Road walking is tricky, as it burns the feet a lot. But I grit and bear it, as I hoddle into another wonderful North Yorkshire village…

on the road into Hawes
on the road into Hawes
stumbling into Hawes
stumbling into Hawes
Day 2 – Earby to Malham

Day 2 – Earby to Malham

Area: Yorkshire Dales
Starting point: Earby
Ending point: Malham
Date of walk: 9th May 2016
Trails: Pennine Way
Distance: 13.01 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Terrain: Straight up Dales, River & village walking
Weather: Sun, blue skies, Scorching

I need to do something about my feet, I need to do something about my feet is the reoccurring loop I wake up with this morning. Every fellow walker I bump into today hears about my feet. Every long distance walker knows the inconvenience of blistered swollen feet, and if they don’t…. well either they know something the rest of us don’t or they’re not long distance walkers at all. When it boils down to it, there are many variables – socks, boots, moisture and there’s no ‘right’ solution as everyone’s foot is totally different. Anyway, for today it’s all about staying focused, simply ignoring the pain and keep on going.

I pick up some supplies at the co-op, and head out of town early towards Thornton In Craven. It’s another one of those days, where the sun is beaming down. A lovely day, but makes for slower than usual walking. Coming out of Thornton, I come to realise I’ve left my walking stick at the hostel. Oh well, item number 2 long gone. It would have really been helpful on today’s walk, especially, once again when I am welcomed by the typical dales, up and down, up and down. However I’m pleasantly surprised once I hit the River Aire. The remainder of the day mostly follows this lovely river through more quiet Yorkshire villages. This place reminds me of Maida Vale area, Grand Union Canal in London. A strange comparison to make, but down the Grand Union Canal, on a quiet day can be equally as peaceful.

River Aire

As I continue for a few miles along the river and out back over the dales (again) heading towards Gargreave, A lady catches up with me and we both stroll together into the village of Gargreave exchanging stories. She than goes on to tell me she’s walked all the way from Zurich since January! That’s quiet a distance I think to myself. We depart ways in Gargreave and I head to the pharmacy to grab some supplies, and to the post office to off load a kilo of weight to post back. Followed by a cup of tea and slice of date, apple & walnut cake in a local cafe. Yummy!

Sweetshop in Malham
Sweetshop in Malham

The rest of today I meet back with the river, and follow it through the small villages of Airton, Hanlith & than finally into Malham. But did I mention, its up and over a hill to get to each village? Oh yes, that common theme of the Yorkshire Dales, Up and Down. Ups and Downs, like a heartbeat. And what is the best way to manage it all? Keep your feet on the ground, no matter how high you are or how low you are. Stay rooted and keep on going. The sun today has turned me into a darker shade of brown & as I enter into Malham, there’s alot going on in this tiny village. I explore a bit, grab some dinner, and jump into the tiny corner shop before it closes to grab some snacks for tomorrows journey. As I exit the shop I notice my phone drop out my pocket, & the screen becomes half smashed. Oh well, item number 3, although this is still functional for now.

The Pennine way is quite a famous walk you see, it is special & I can see why people do it. However, most people walking it, seem to want to talk about them walking the pennine way and how they are walking the Pennine way. Oh, and you mustn’t stray from the Pennine way, because if you do, you’re not a true Pennine wayer and you’ll be struck down by lightning. I’m surprised a lot of these folk don’t have the route tattooed on their foreheads. Anyhow saying that, tomorrow I’m stuffing the Pennine way for a day & heading north through more treacherous territory exploring the Dales way & the Pennine Journey (Other trails)….. and I’m glad I did , as the following day was the best day yet…

Chilling out before heading down into Malham
Chilling out before heading down into Malham
Day 1 – Hebden Bridge to Earby

Day 1 – Hebden Bridge to Earby

Area: Yorkshire Dales
Starting point: Hebden Bridge
Ending point: Earby
Date of walk: 8th May 2016
Trail: Pennine Way
Distance: 22.32 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Terrain: Woodland, Streams, Moorland, Dales
Weather: Sun, blue skies, Scorching

Hebden Bridge, what a lovely quaint place to start. At first impressions, this place comes across as the land of rich hippies enjoying life in the Yorkshire Dales. Slightly new age, with shops offering ‘super vegan detox shakes’ and other shops selling cheap recycled fabric. ‘Oh right, its one of these places’ I mummer to myself. As I walk through this place on an early Sunday morning I hear most people talking in Southern accents, which is confusing… Isn’t Yorkshire, the land of flatcaps, farmers driving round on quad bikes herding sheep & the setting of Emmerdale? I soon discover further North, Yorkshire is pretty much like that in a nutshell! Hebden Bridge of the Yorkshire Dales is like what Matlock is to the Derbyshire Dales, gateway towns. And as I walk around on this Sunday morning, I need an OS map to know which way to go, but most shops are closed until 10am. I arrive at 9am and I am really needing to set off as I have a 22 mile walk ahead of me. I guess I’ll need to freestyle it today somehow.

Overlooking Hebden Bridge
Overlooking Hebden Bridge

As I walk, with 19 kilos of weight, doing 22 miles on day 1 is probably something I won’t do again. I think what most do is break it in. It only made the days to come alot harder than they should have been. I start by heading out of Hebden, walking through the lovely picturesque Hardcastle Crags. This is absolutely stunning in this beaming sunshine, walking along the river, through forested woodland for some miles. An inspiring start, and I illude myself into thinking this is it, this is what its going to be like…  If I knew that what comes next is bleak, exposed fells, moors & mountains for days I would have stuck around this area for an hour or so to connect with the lively trees. The further more north and out you go , the more and more bleak it is, and the less and less people are to be seen. On This Sunday morning, the valley is thriving with families, walkers & runners.

Hardcastle Craggs
Hardcastle Craggs

I make way along the Hebden Beck and follow it to Acornden Water. I start to gain some height until I cut through the moors and hit the pennine way. Bingo, the infamous Pennine Way. This is said to be the hardest trail in the country. After being on it for a few days in this scorching heat, I can confirm, its bloody tuff. I follow the way down passed a few reservoirs. It’s hot out on these moor today’s, and I’m very tempted to take a dip, but it’s getting on a bit, and I need to get to Earby at a reasonable time.

Walshaw Dean Reservoirs
Walshaw Dean Reservoirs

Past the 2 reservoirs there is a climb up to Withins Heights where I stop and take in the surroundings…

dav

Withins heights
Withins heights

Back down the hill reaching Ponden reservoir & than back up to Maw Stones Hill. I thinking I’m starting to see a pattern here, up and down. Walking 22 miles is 1 thing and sounds easy. But when it’s up and down hills with a load of weight, it’s a completely different ball game. My feet are already feeling it, my shoulders are burning, my hips aren’t doing great either, but I put it all down to my body adjusting to the torture I’m putting it through.

sdr
Just before Cowling

Around the 16 mile mark I reach a village called Cowling where I somehow come off the pennine way and take country roads towards Earby, how I got there is still a mystery to me as I have still have no map at this stage. But as I limp into Earby, the first thing someone said to me was ‘ oh you look weary’. LOL, oh thanks. The body tires, but the spirit remains strong. I make my way towards the YHA as Earby has no campsites & very little places to wild camp due to the exposed bleakness of the Yorkshire Dales. I’m greeted by a gentleman who give’s me a key to the dorm, well its actually 2 beds in 1 room and I have it to myself which is great. As its late all pubs have stopped serving food but I do find a kebab shop. Yes, I go and do it, order the £9 kebab. Go back to the hostel, and stuff down these lumps of protein only to find on returning back to my room my newly purchased fitbit pedometer that was attached to my waistline has now disappeared. So there we go, 1 item lost already.

Earby is a beautiful little village & it’s actually in Lancashire. This is the only time I will be in Lancashire on my walk, and as much as I would like to stick around this little village for a few days, I have a plan to stick too…

 

 

Beeley loop – A walk with water

Beeley loop – A walk with water

Area: Derbyshire – Peak District
Starting point: Beeley Moor (circular walk)
Date of walk: 13th April 2016
Walkers: Me & Yannis
Distance: 4.96m
Difficulty: Easy
Terrain: Woodland, Wateralls, Streams
Weather: Sun, blue skies

This is probably one of my favourite walks in the Chatsworth / Rowsley area of Derbyshire. I’ve done this walk before, & there is a fantastic waterfall on the route. I have the urge to pick up some fruit from the store to make a peace offering during my walk today. It’s warm, and I am only in my t-shirt. We were actually supposed to goto a place called Arbor low stone circle, however the road was closed, so we headed to Beeley instead. The first part of this walk, start in a woodland, and its great. It has a stream with a series of waterfalls running through the woodland complex. Upon hearing the sound of running water, move swiftly through the forest, I can.only describe the feeling as ‘immediately soothing’. Peaceful.

A soothing brook
A soothing brook

I personally sometimes take water which we drink & bathe in for granted. yet it nourishes the earth & nourishes our bodies. A few weeks ago, I was standing out on the moors one night, catering to the fire in the pouring rain. I couldn’t help giggle to myself, like a child, playing in the rain. I couldn’t remember the last time I felt so ecstatic with nothing but the pouring rain dripping off my forehead onto my face. My soul felt soothed at this moment, and to hear the water again, and reconnect with the power of water, felt… Joyous.

A short stroll through this magical woodland let us to the other end out on Beeley Moor. The views from this moor, the clear skies, the birds tweeting in the heather, a profound stillness arises from within. Slow walking, 1 step at a time, across this baron but fruitful moor. We did encounter something strange however. In the middle of nothingness and peace, there is a quiet sound of an engine. We look, and we see a unmarked blacked, near to silent plane whizzing by our heads, within 100 metres! 2 of them! Unbelievable, of course there is discussion of what these jet black unmarked silent planes are doing circling around the moors of Derbyshire

On the moor
On the moor
Planes casually cruising above the moor...
Planes casually cruising above the moor…

All sorts of thoughts arise, and knock us both out of the natural flow we had found ourselves in. Nether the less, strolling continues, aimlessly, feeling like wandering hermits, with nothing to do, nowhere to go, but where are feet take us. We enter into a another woodland which is on the back end of Chatsworth. The old majestic tree’s are greatly appreciated like brothers among us. A genuine hurt is felt for the mass’s of tree’s bought down for whatever human reasons. That voice in my head speaks ‘forgive them, for they know not what they do’.

Through a narrow path, uplifted by the land we walk on, we get to this incredible waterfall. At a moment, we discuss, this is the type of place, you’ll find in an Indiana Jones movie, in the middle of Bolivia. But yes, we are in awe of the beauty. taken again by the power of water. it becomes apparent at this stage of the walk, the water has something to teach me today.

Waterfall
Waterfall

I take a brief dip into the waterfall, and purify myself with the water. You see, water close by the source is pure. Untampered with, close to spirit, close to purity. The water we get coming through our taps at home, has passed through human influence and thinking, lessening the purity. Man’s sinful ways taints the world in so many ways, but who am I to judge? The water teach’s, let life flow, and let it go where it decides to flow, I need not create barriers, blockades of great dams, Fear not of what the water will do. This is why, i step under the waterfall, to allow the water to cleanse, sooth and heal. And yes, needless to say, it feels amazing. Once again I feel child like & innocent. I take some moments to stand among the waterfall with my fruit & a big incense. To make an offering, for what has been provided to me today & to maintain peace within. As I place the fruit on the floor, and connect, it’s obvious I need to do this more often! be by water. My star sign is an earthly one, and what does the earth need more than anything, water. Open up to water, like a flower opens up to it when its about to rain.

bty

dav

After about an hour by this marvel of a place, we walk back a slightly different way creating a loop, we pass by a lake, and back through some woodland, going off path through wild terrain. However, we meet the path again, and there we are back on the Moor strolling back across to where we came from. This time undisturbed by stealth spy planes…

I always find it pleasing, how if we pay attention and be present, signs & symbols are all around us teaching us & guiding us. Today I was reminded something quite simple. We turn on the tap, drink water, throw the rest down the sink, without even thinking. Being present in my actions, starting with the simplest things that I do, makes for good meditation. I am currently in the middle of writing about ‘walking meditation’ with touch’s on this is more depth, and practical ways to incorporate simple living into our lives. In this I will be talking about making offerings, being conscious in walking, being aware and observant, and pursuing the things with bring joy and ecstasy to our lives.

Love always

Azim x