A time for reflection - In the name of Thiago - Day 275
This was day one and what an utterly extraordinary day I was blessed with. Phenomenal friends turning up to support and glorious weather to kick start the walk. There was a proper yellow army wandering across the Sussex Downs that day, and speaking to people on the day and after it, everyone was so thrilled to be a part of it. I felt really proud and not the least bit tired. That's adrenaline for you!
This was from day two and the glorious weather was showing no sign of letting up. This was a particularly happy moment as virtually seconds after seeing this sign Moose, Aussie Dan, Nigel, Jamie and myself saw the Half Moon hone into view. We'd peeled off the Downs and were literally being dropped straight in to a lovely country boozer. I couldn't really have asked for more!
Day four now, which in fairness, aside from this architectural magnificence was a fairly dull walking day. But what a piece of architectural magnificence the Ouse Valley Viaduct in Balcombe is. I was lucky to get to appreciate it from several different angles and was equally fortunate to find it to be a happy breeding ground for donations to my fundraiser. And still the glorious weather continued.
Day six: Moose - the man in the middle of your frame there - was steering the ship and within moments we'd found this lovely little woodland spot. Bulldog kept me company on the day and between them these two fellas did a sterling job on the first day that I had started to feel tired. It was also the first day that I had to carry the big backpack as I was travelling to Camilla's in Wimbledon at the end of this day, which ended with a few nice craft beers in Croydon.
This was from day seven and came during a leisurely stroll through Richmond Park. This plonker Tibbals made for excellent entertainment. It's always a great thing when someone is quite happy to play the fool. Good on you, Tibbals lad. It was also the scene of one of my fundraising highs. Tibbals and I staged an outrageous scene where I allowed my hat to blow off and half-heartedly chase it back from where I'd just come, in order to catch up with some toffs who were slightly behind us. Expertly, Tibbals followed with the bucket and another £10 was secured for the NHS. The end justifies the means!
Day nine I think this was and I enjoyed this particular day a lot because of the different characters involved in it. With the exception of day one when everyone had a reasonable idea where we were going, this was the only other day where we had a 'local guide'. Barry in the blue jacket was the man on this occasion, proving to be an adept Hertfordshire host.
What a bunch for this day. Simon Eastland, (far right) who was an outstanding addition to the squad in week two, joined forces with myself and two old broadcasting colleagues from my days at BBC Southern Counties Radio in the early 2000s Helen and Andrew. This was the day that ended in complete darkness in the middle of pretty much nowhere (Bletchley) with just about everyone falling to bits. Oh, and Tring can go and do one.
This was one of the first proper wet days. But in all the wetness and misery that has followed since, the one thing that has been consistent is that the fundraising hasn't slowed. If anything it's stepped up as I'm better able to gauge who best to approach and which tack to use. I could do this professionally you know..
And this was last night as darkness was closing in on this little corner of Northamptonshire. I'm now covered in blisters and more than a little anxious about the days ahead this week. But come what may, I'll get through it with a little help from my friends.
Ten walking days to go now until I'm back in Stoke and properly reunited with my two lovely girls. It's been nice seeing them both today, albeit fairly briefly, especially as Angelica left the house at 6.30 this morning and has only just come back.
Your support has been wonderful on my life-changing journey, please continue to support wherever you can folks whether it's by donation or by the way of some words of encouragement. Both work well!