Day 17: 22.10 miles (Total 224.70 miles).
Donations to UK Solidarity Fund today: £30.00 + ¥8,550.00 (Total: £6,633.38 + 19,811.66)
We are entering the third week of the walk and both Xuelin and I are under pressure. Xuelin is feeling the pressure because we are behind on our fundraising target. I am under pressure because I am currently 3 days behind where I should be at this stage of the walk. Pressure is something that should raise our performance, but I am not Mo Farah, and for me pressure just makes me forget things, glasses, power cables, directions, but worst of all today we discovered I has lost my walking stick.
Now I know walking purists will say I shouldn’t walk with a single walking stick, I should have two, but that would just be one more thing to lose in in my present ‘under pressure’ state of mind. It was a serious loss though and I wondered how I was going to face the walking day without the trusty stick that has been at my side for at least the last 4000 miles.
Xuelin and I retraced our steps to try and think where I could have left it. We agreed that it must have been MacDonalds on Monmouth Castle Drive, West side of Newport. It wasn’t far away so we set off in hope rather than expectation. I went in and spoke to the manager, Louie who went off to search lost property in the office and returned……with my walking stick. It was like being re-united with an old friend even though we had only been apart for 24 hours.
It reminded me of the great Joni Mitchell song: ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ which ends with the lyric:
Don’t it always seem to go/That you don’t know what you’ve got till its gone.
How true on so many levels. Anyway, I had been given a second chance with my walking stick thanks to MacDonalds, Newport and I was going to make the most of it.
The walking day started on the south side of Chepstow and finished at an idyllic B&B south side of Gloucester.
The day was a mixture of sunshine and showers so not bad walking conditions although walking along the A48 was a bit edgy because of the speed of traffic, absence of cycle lanes or footpaths and lots of twisting hills and bends.
I stopped in Lydney for lunch at Kaplans café. I read up a bit about the town online whilst waiting for my cheese on toast. Lydney owed its early prosperity to the River Severn dock and the coal, iron and wood from the Forest of Dean. The town grew in prominence after Sir William Winter, Vice Admiral of the Fleet under Queen Elizabeth I was given Lydney Manor for his part in defeating the Spanish Armada in 1588. Much more importantly, The Beatles played a concert in Lydney Town Hall in 1962.
Walking further along I came to Newnham on Severn another fascinating and slightly quirky town. The footpath deviates through the grave yard of St Peter’s Parish Church with magnificent views across the River Severn. One grave stone captured my attention–it was for William Greening of the Royal Navy who was celebrated for his part in the ‘destruction of Washington DC’ in 1814.
In modern day talk of the ‘Special Relationship’ between Britain and the United States it was a reminder of the days when the British Empire took a dim view of didn’t particularly like the idea of being ruled by a foreign country. The Americans punishment this time was to see their splendid new capital city and famous buildings like the Capitol and the White House burned to the ground by the British to ‘teach the young republicans a lesson’. In this period of anniversaries and bi-centenaries of events such as the Battle of Waterloo, I think this event was one the Foreign Office would be happy to see pass without recognition.
There was a great end to the day as Xuelin had booked a fantastic Air B&B called Blakemore in a place called Popes Hill outside Newnham. It was a beautiful and peaceful location and our hostess, Caroline was extremely helpful with routes for the walk to Worcester tomorrow and in highlighting the many things to do in the area–though my agenda was shower, blog, sleep.