Goats, boats and tomfoolery (Warwick to Lapworth) - In the name of Thiago - Day 278


I had a pretty leisurely start to the day today and didn't actually leave the breakfast table in Warwick until gone 10. I said my goodbyes to Fiona - my walking partner of the last two days - and started to think about the day ahead. 

The dynamics of what I'm doing have changed now. When I tell people that I'm walking to Stoke-on-Trent, they are not necessarily all that impressed, so it's time to put the emphasis on the where I've come from part. As Mr Jamie Hickey put to me tonight, I am three quarters of the way through my journey now. Tomorrow, I will be arriving in Birmingham where I'll have my first proper welcome rather than the usual have you scanned the Covid track and trace app!

Here was the starting point today - that's Warwick station if you can't quite make out the sign. And here are the latest 'In the name of Thiago' walk debutants Gary and Mary. It's been a very steady stroll today. After a couple of false starts, down to Gary getting a puncture on the way down and then me having a bit of a faff when I couldn't find my cards, we eventually set off at midday. 

I've had a great day with Gary and Mary, they've been so keen to help. Mary was running plasters down to me for the start of the day and also offered to run my bag up to me after we'd finished our walk. As I seem to get more and more tired as my final destination gets nearer and nearer, I'm always looking for anything to give a bit of a lift. Today's leg of the journey was quite a short one and Mary and Gary were absolutely brilliant at lifting spirits, I have to say. One of the best things about this whole trip has been the dynamics of walking with different people and different characters. Each day brings a fresh angle and a new situation. It's never dull!

We stopped here for a pint today, I'm not sure why I'm sloping off to the left there the way I am. I know my posture is lame as shit but I'm fairly sure it's not that. I'm also not sure why this pub in deepest Warwickshire is named the Durham Ox. I did ask but nothing was forthcoming. Mary and Gary insisted that lunch was on them, which is ridiculous really as they've already dome more than enough for me. It was a lovely stop off anyway, and not all that easy to get going again. I just about sat far enough away from the fire!

The Shrewley Tunnel is only 396 metres long but there's no route through it for pedestrians, so after we'd left the juicer we made our way down here in all its echoey and eerie glory. The temperature dipped immediately and before long I reached for my raincoat. We only had another five miles to go at this point and we didn't really see all that many people after this, but the people we did meet were as friendly as so many that had gone before.

There was also plenty of time for tomfoolery, which is fast becoming my specialist subject. A couple of Gary's mates had offered to double their donations if he went 'in the cut' I'd heard of in the drink before but I think that was more for sea water than the canal version. Either way, it fell upon me to stage a dunking in the hope of securing more donations. Naturally I was only too happy to intervene. The fundraising has gone really well tomorrow. With any luck, I should top the £17,000 mark tomorrow. With the gift aid included I'm already beyond the £20k mark, which I'm really proud of. 

I do like a goat. These little fellas were only too happy to make an appearance in my blog today with a little encouragement from Gary who has a fairly decent level of farmyard noises in his repertoire. I met him for the first time today and am already worried about his wellbeing!

These lovely people Neil and Lindsey stopped to speak to us for a few moments and also made a generous donation. I've said it so many times on here already but the people I've met wandering along the towpath have really shown the level of generosity that is actually more prevalent in our society than we sometimes give credit for. We were almost at the end of today's stage at this point and I made my way to our end destination with more than just a bit of a spring in my step. It's been a very happy day.

A pint was had here and then Gary gave me a lift to my dwellings for the night at Hockley House - a lovely little spot on the outskirts of Solihull. This was the last night I'll be spending away from my home, I'm really looking forward to seeing my girls and not having to put anything other than train travel on my credit card when I'm already broke anyway. But it really is all worth it.

I had a very warm welcome from the lovely Marek and Nicole at Hockley House. It was a fairly quiet evening for them tonight, so I got plenty of attention and they're planning on sharing my story as well, which is very kind of them.

I'm going to ask you to continue sharing my story and fundraiser as well and if you can make a donation, that would be very gratefully received as well. Tomorrow Birmingham...


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