Today walked: 18.80 miles
Total walked: 294.60 miles
Today raised: £10.00 + 4,900.00 RMB
Total raised: £8,533.38 + 44,890.45 RMB
Having lived in the England all my life and travelled extensively within it through politics, it is therefore unusual to visit places for the first time. Today I started in Kidderminster in Worcestershire, walked to Wolverhampton in Staffordshire and then made a very special visit to Telford in Shropshire–none of these places I had ever visited before.
I confess that as I woke up in my extremely comfortable bed at Hogarths Hotel and looked outside and it was dark and pouring with rain I felt like a child in not wanting to go to schools today. Xuelin looked as if she could be persuaded. I told my story of a mother shouting up the stairs on a similar day:
“Stephen get up now or you will be late for school”
“I don’t want to go to school today its cold and its raining” came the reply
A few minutes later another shout: “Stephen get down here now your breakfast is waiting and you will be late for school”
Stephen replied: “I don’t want to go to school. I don’t understand the work and everyone just makes fun of me.”
A few minutes later heavy footsteps come upstairs and the bedroom door opens:
“Stephen this is the last time. Get up. You are going to school even if I have to drag you there myself.”
“Why?” says Stephen almost in tears
“Because you are the headmaster!”
I don’t think Xuelin got the story either but I did. I hadn’t sacrificed my rest day yesterday to get back on track in order to fall behind again today. It was time to ‘man-up’ and get going.
So it was back to Weavers Wharf car park in Kidderminster.
As we pulled in a man pulling into a neighbouring space came across to ask about our car. He had been thinking of getting a similar one but was worried about reliability. We got talking about we were doing and why. He was so kind and positive and immediately pulled out a £10 note for the British red Cross. Xuelin who never misses a detail when it comes to fundraising (or business) went to the boot to retrieve a Gift Aid form so the Red Cross could claim back the 25% tax paid on the donation making it £12.50. It was a great start to the day.
It wasn’t a long walk today, about 18 miles, but I was mindful of the problems with my right foot so I was treading cautiously. When I arrived in Wall Heath the rain stopped and the clouds parted revealing beautiful sunshine. I sat for a while on a seat at the junction of Dudley Road and High Street. It was a perfect location to rest. I noticed that the seat was dedicated to the memory of ‘Barry Hickman'[ Barry the Gas].
I thought it was a nice touch. I have often thought I would like to leave a seat for people to enjoy a special view after I am gone. I had though Saltwell Park in Gateshead, but what made this seat special was that it was donated by the people of the village. Clearly ‘Barry the Gas’ a much loved member of the local community and his memory is still giving rest and enjoyment long after he has gone.
My finishing point for the day was outside Molineux Park the home of Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club and as football is my specialist subject I shall say a little (a lot) more about that great club tomorrow because, I am running short of space for the main news of the day. Our invitation to visit the Chinese Arts & Culture Centre in Telford
We had been invited by Madam Grace Tong and Faye Li Yip who run the centre and are friends of Xuelin’s and had been following our progress via the Chinese blog on WeChat. Grace is away abroad and Faye had been so kind and generous and said that she wanted to get us to visit the Centre in Telford. I love Chinese Culture, Chinese people and Chinese food so I needed no persuasion to make the 15 mile journey (by car) to Telford.
We arrived at the Stafford Park 15 at 6:30pm and we were greeted by a spectacular array of children and adults in traditional Chinese dress. We had not just one dancing lion, but two and the Mayor of Telford and Wrekin, Cllr. Stephen Reynolds was there to offer support for the walk from the wider community. Xuelin and I were overwhelmed. We had imagined a dozen guests and a simple meal, but there were over fifty, there were performances of Tai-Chi, Kung Fu and Lion Dancing and all followed by a wonderful banquet.
It was a wonderful evening and there were some amazing people there. Madam Faye’s father was one of the leading masters of Tai Chi and Qigong in China and she is married to another Master, Tary Yip. They are a very special family and do incredible work through the Centre in promoting understanding of Chinese Culture amongst the local community.
In fact one of Madam Faye’s students, Nicola Day an English born primary school teacher is heading off to China later this year to compete in the World Championships with the real prospect that she could win.
I asked Nicola, Madam Faye and Master Yip what the judges would be looking for in the Tai Chi world champion. They all said the same thing, it is not just the moves it is the felling you pour into the moves which bring them alive. I could immediately recognise this–we all want to see people who are not just going through the moves but who bring passion and belief to what they are doing.
It doesn’t matter whether you are judging Tai Chi, any sport, acting, singing, teaching, nursing, in business or politics people crave for leaders who don’t just act but believe because through this they feel that can connect. It reminded me of some lines from E M Forster’s classic book ‘Howard’s End’:
Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted,
And human love will be seen at its height.
Live in fragments no longer.