Reconnecting with an old friend - In the name of Thiago - Day 307
As the blog title says, I've been drawing on a special relationship today. For the tail end of September and two and a half weeks last month I grew to love the canals of the UK and today three weeks after my 350 walk came to an end at Royal Stoke University Hospital, I headed back there - this time with my good lady by my side.
We drove down to Barlaston, parking up near the Plume of Feathers. For the first week of November, you really couldn't have asked for much more on the weather front, which is just as well as I'm still sticking very much to my new religion of not wearing anything close to resembling a pair of trousers.
Elisa stayed at home. It's fair to say that she's really not a walker and besides, with all the pubs shut once again, there was nothing to entice her out.
It really is a lovely bit of the canal - Barlaston down to Stone. I'd often do this as one of my regular training walks when I was getting into shape for my autumn mission. Occasional outbreaks of sunshine together with the views as you trundle along have a very restorative impact on the soul. And it was lovely to do this with Angelica, who has been struggling with a nasty knee injury lately and was putting it to the test today. Needless to say the spring chicken came through the test with flying colours.
This was on the way down to Stone. In the distance Compo, Clegg and Foggy took their positions above Bridge no 101 I think it was. I stopped for a brief chat with Clegg and Foggy, (Compo was busy on the blower), and we compared canal life notes. A canal bridge is a damn fine place to stop for a social, though it's a little harder now of course, as everyone awkwardly keeps their distance.
On that note, it's interesting to see how people are treating the lockdown slightly differently this time round, though maybe that will change as the numbers head north. In April, people would do anything to keep two metres apart from each other, I'm not getting that sense second time round.
I love this tunnel as you come into Stone. I remember fondly the excitement of all the fabulous people that joined me on October 16 as the yellow army made its way steadily from Stone town centre to the hospital. Angelica wasn't able to make the walk that day as her knee was in too much pain, so I really enjoyed re-treading some of those steps with her today. My life partner, my gorgeous girl.
Just before we made it into Stone out of the corner of our eyes, we spied this fella tending to his barbecue on his patio with what appeared to be a space pod out front. Now this chap seems to have the right idea I thought, then as we got closer I realised it was my mate Rob whose daughter Izzy ice-skates with Elisa. We shouted at each other across the Severn, Trent and Mersey and he kindly offered to provide a coffee when we wandered back up the towpath.
It was lovely speaking to Rob and Lesley today, they are just brilliant people and as I've written on this blog before, I'll always be extremely grateful to Rob for his personal support in making my fundraiser such a success.
Speaking of kind, generous people, I'd also like to say another thank you here to James Froggatt, who owns and runs the two splendid Ten Green Bottles bars in Newcastle and Stone. His clientele and the man himself made a very generous donation to the fundraiser today. I will be winding it up soon but there are still bits and pieces coming into the fund.
On that front, it would be very remiss of me not to mention my very good friend and three day walking partner Simon Eastland, who gave me the wonderful news last night that his employers were match funding his personal fundraising effort to my cause, to the tune of £500. This alone takes me well over the £23,000 mark, which is a pretty good place to consider a declaration I think! It's been a happy day - even my stomach has eased off complaining.