It's all gone Blair Witch - show us your nostrils (Tring to Bletchley) - In the name of Thiago - Day 271
I almost succumbed to complete madness today as well. The planned 17 mile walk today stretched to 20 after the sodding mile and a half walk from Tring town centre to the railway station. I have spent much of today simply being grateful that the Grand Union Canal (GUC) cuts through this part of the country as there doesn't seem to much else going on round here. Then again, I have just arrived in Milton Keynes for my night's stay, which is right up there as far as being one of the most dispiriting places to be in Britain.
Here they are your motley crew for the day, yours truly: my old chums from the BBC Helen Bailey and Andrew Hawes and of course the man himself Mr S Eastland esq.
It's been an absolutely crazy day. This was the day that threatened to break me and I didn't let it. We were walking along a canal towpath for almost an hour at one point in the dark and we didn't quite make it to the very final destination of the pub, which had stopped serving food by the time I called them at 7.35. I was starting to go a little mad and wasn't particularly thinking straight but we made it to Bletchley and that was the aim of the day.
Whatever the disappointments that Buckinghamshire has had to throw at me, the majesty that parts of the GUC returns are a reasonable if not a complete compensation. It really is quite beautiful and I have been so incredibly blessed with the weather. For the first day of October, today was absolutely sensational. My cheeks are still glowing from just how glorious it was.
The generosity of the boating fraternity is another reason why I've loved walking along the canal so much. Most people just love the opportunity to stop and talk to you, find out what you are doing and in many cases donate to the cause. It really does gladden the soul and makes me feel so proud.
This is Jose and Amy who we met on the canal bridge by Tesco Extra a romantic setting if ever there was one. They were entwined as I approached but still stopped to talk to me as I passed. I exchanged a few words in Portuguese with Jose who is from Madeira and they both donated to the cause. Simply two lovely young people. This is what it's all about I reckon, meeting people, making memories and fundraising for two glorious hospitals. I'm loving every minute, apart from the walking in the dark tonight. That was shit, although I did have some mid-90s nostalgia on Spotify to keep spirits up. It kind of worked.
I knew when we arrived for our lunch time pint and nosebag shortly after 3 that we were probably in a fair bit of trouble. But I had a steely determination about me today, After I'd walked 20 miles I actually started running up a road to get to the pub. I aborted that mission when our wheels arrived to take us to the Godawful shithole that is Milton Keynes, but the point is that I feel I actually still have a lot to give and that's an exciting feeling. I started doing my stretches in the car park once we'd finished for the night as well.
It's sad but it's the truth that whenever I think of the little man that brought me to be where I am today, I feel utterly painful sadness of a type that I have never experienced before and that is truly heart-breaking. But on many other occasions I feel simply indestructible. Not bad for a middle-aged man eh?
Don't get too excited folks, I'm only at the halfway point but as I was feeling pretty pissed off with the ocean of nothingness that is the four or five mile stretch between Bletchley to Milton Keynes, it was nice to have a visual sign of where I'm heading.
I am now at the halfway point of this life-changing journey and with the money that came into the bucket today, I am delighted to say that I have passed my second target of £15,000. I am so grateful for all your efforts in helping me to achieve this, but it mustn't stop yet - there are still two weeks to go! It means so much to me and I know that that it means an awful lot to Royal Stoke University Hospital and Birmingham Children's Hospital. Thank you.