And the heavens opened (Fenny Stratford to Stoke Bruerne) - In the name of Thiago - Day 273


What a bloody awful day to be walking nigh on 19 miles in. It rained at the start, it rained in the middle of the day and it continued to come down in fucketfuls for the last hour and a half of today's walk, as darkness descended. But it matters not because I got the job done and I'm still making my little man proud. I'm constantly reminded by everyone I meet how people are amazed by what I'm doing. From my perspective, I just keep putting one foot after the other and I won't stop until I get to Royal Stoke University Hospital on Friday 16 October.

Helping me put one foot after the other today were these lovely people, Dave and Trish Robinson, pictured here outside the Foxy Lady adult sex shop in Fenny Stratford with their daughter Amelia. These guys made such an incredible effort to be with me today, driving up from Brighton last night, meeting myself and Simon for an evening meal and then providing me with a lift down to our starting point for the day.

I've known Trish for nearly a quarter of a century and she's always been there for me. I first met her when she was a podiatry student at Brighton University and it's fair to say that she's changed a lot in many ways since then but she's still fundamentally a wonderful kind-hearted person, who I am very lucky to count as a friend. And as for the podiatry, well I was able to benefit from a treatment this evening. I am ready to go again tomorrow!

Here I am taking refuge under a bridge - just a very brief respite from some fairly unrelenting downpours. That bucket was pretty much filled to bursting today. I'm not quite sure what was in it when we started off today but there was £117 by the end of the day and on a day when it's pretty much hosed down from start to finish, with the exception of a couple of hours in mid to late afternoon, that is a splendid effort. Annoyingly the forecast for tomorrow is for more of the same.

One canalboat donated £23 to the cause and the Welshman Ed, who we spoke to was astounded by what we were doing. He kept asking his mates to come out and have a picture taken. His passion really lifted my spirits. Sometimes you need that from people around you. We asked one chap what he was cooking up in his boat. "Sausage casserole and cannabis" he responded immediately as he stuck a fiver in. On to the next boat where The Stone Roses was blaring out. "Got any fools gold for me?" I asked. More nuggets came my way without question. They are broadly speaking a very generous people these boaty folk.

We eventually got here at shortly after half three. As you'd expect from a Fullers pub, it was fairly shit. It's quite dispiriting to see how many of these canalside pubs are either Fullers or Greene King. Both have fairly scant regard for beer quality and though they can be reasonable for families, you never feel like they particularly care about your experience in their pubs. I ended up the day in Northamptonshire and so I'm really hoping that we start to find more variety in what's on offer as I continue my weary way towards Birmingham.

I keep seeing these bloody signs. I've never heard of Braunston, but I've been seeing signs for it pretty much since we left Brentford. I'm expecting big things but I'm also quite prepared for the likely disappointment. I could just look ahead on my map but at the moment I can only really cope with taking one day at a time. I guess it has more significance for people on the canal rather than those on the towpath. Either way, someone thinks Braunston is the real deal!

Finally in complete darkness I reached the Boat Inn in Stoke Bruerne. It was absolutely superb. Stupendous range of beer, outstanding food and extremely reasonably priced and all provided with a level of service that couldn't fail to make you want to come here again. If I'm ever passing through again, it's an absolute certainty that I will. 

It's fast approaching midnight now and I have another long day ahead of me tomorrow but the fundraising quest continues unabated as far as I'm concerned. So please if you can, do keep making donations and more importantly in many ways - share my story and what I'm doing to support two fabulous NHS hospitals. Thank you and good night everyone.


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