Day one. Boudicca the litter collector of Colchester. We collected a dustbin sack full of cans, plastic wrap, fag packets, plastic bottles… Mostly all plastic. Sadly we filled a sack within a quarter of a mile, before we had to stop to recycle it. It actually felt like an ocean we couldn’t content with. We ceremoniously marked the sealing of the first sack by advertising the work of #extinctionrebellion in the form of wall papering a bus stop with some beautiful XR posters – You’re welcome.
Theresa, Janet and myself walked on, leaving the town behind for the main road out of Colchester, before leaving the beaten track for the tranquility of birdsong from hedgerows in country lanes; far less litter here. We passed a farm, with three tractors planting potatoes on a very small field; disproportionate for three machines; the three of us just watched, no words needed…. Shared yet unspoken calculations regarding pollution, energy and yield. The maths just doesn’t add up; the answer certainly doesn’t benefit us.
Day…. What day is it? Thursday 11th. After a tough walk to D’Arcy yesterday, i slept brilliantly. Fab campsite, hot showers and in bed by 7:45 – the only way to stay warm. Q: What’s the one thing every peri menopausal woman dreads whilst camping in the freezing cold? A: surprise period! Excellent. Luckily, i did pack two bullets for my pistol, just in case. Even luckier, our next door neighbour in the caravan managed to find a random tampon in her make up bag. Lady, i am eternally grateful. This may be an overshare; get over it. This has made me think about what it’s like for women sleeping rough; just something else bloody awful to contend with (‘scuse the pun). It was a bloody cold night, but it was mouse free and i slept really well. Theresa and i got ourselves packed up and set off at 10 this morning, as we were to part company at Tolleshunt Knights. On arriving there we discovered the bus service had been axed, but a kind Catalonian woman in the form Gloria, (79, district nurse) gave Theresa a ride to Tollesbury, after a great discussion about the Franco regime and introducing us to her friend Ines who serenaded me on the pavement with a Spanish song, before bestowing a leaflet about Jesus on me. Simply blown away by random acts of kindness.
Day four. Friday 12th. Danbury – Writtle. Despite it being only 7.5 miles, I’m being forced to take the day off. After 13 miles yesterday I’ve developed two really awful blisters, which are incredibly painful, preventing me from walking. Today I have no choice but to rest at my friend’s house with Poppy keeping me company. Due to this, my plans changed from camping tonight to sofa surfing courtesy of Miriam, an XR friend in Chelmsford. It also seems that I may not have dodged the bug…. I’m about to go back to bed in the hope I can shake this off a dreadful headache, sore throat and streaming nose. If I surface in a couple of hours feeling better, I shall make my way to Writtle, as the plan tonight is to meet up with Chelmsford rebels to make banners and keep warm before Miriam rescues me and let’s me sleep on her sofa. Fingers crossed this is just fatigue. I’m not done yet.
Day 5 – Saturday 13th – back home, currently game over. Ended up having to come home. It seems I didn’t escape Sophia’s bug. It was a hard decision to make, my best friend Bee looked after me in her home brilliantly, however there’s no place like home when you develop a temperature of 39 degrees. Those of you that know me well will know that my default position on everything is nearly always confrontational; I fight; but when it comes to health I believe that when your body shouts loudest you should listen; it’s your vehicle that will get you to your destination – so requires love and care. I’m glad I listened, because this morning I don’t feel well at all.
Part of the capitalist rhetoric – the “no pain, no gain” ethos is in stark contrast to regenerative culture; it is non compassion at the deepest level; something I am trying to change in nursing culture; a concept that formed a book chapter to inspire change in the way we socialise students into the profession.
So here I am, after a night of rigours and sweats; grateful to be warm in my home with my family, and not suffering the cold and damp in my tent.
Today, I would have been walking from Writtle to Kelvedon Hatch, having met up with fellow travellers Bob and Colin. Colin has taken the baton from me now, and Bob has sorted me out a place to sleep tomorrow night if I’m back in the game – which I intend to be. I want to thank so many people for their support, effort and care….. Too numerous to mention in my current state of being; you know who you are – all of you XXX