Leaving the South, by Issy

Leaving London

Two weeks on the road, or rather the footpath, have gone in a flash. I imagined we’d have plenty of time to reflect on the events of each day, write our blog and read.  Sadly, that hasn’t been the case:  this is my first opportunity to write a blog and  Eckhart Tolle and Paulo Coelho will have to stay at the bottom of my pack for now.

Issy, Scarlett from Crowdcaster and Katrin from Projects For All

In reality, our days walking seem to be filled with conversations along the lines of: Where are we staying tonight? Is it warm enough to camp (errr, no)?  How many miles have we done? Any Pilgrim’s Choice for a sandwich? Is there a pub in the next village? Have you called your Mum?  You get the picture… 

Jed in his allotment in St. Albans.

In amongst the organizing and practicalities there have been many magical moments: the people we meet, the stories we hear, the towns and villages we pass and the nature that surrounds us. From the great send-off we had by friends and family when we left London, the numerous people who have welcomed us into their homes, the generosity we’ve been shown by so many, to Jed in St Albans, who gave us an armful of rhubarb from his allotment.

We have heard about the pain of losing loved ones, as well as the great strength, courage and determination of the human spirit.  Although since leaving London, walking through rural England we’ve had little contact with recent migrants, we have heard many extraordinary family stories, such as Karen, whose grandparents fled Revolutionary Russia and Steve who’s parents fled Poland during WW2.

The countryside has also been pretty magical: stumbling across carpets of bluebells, seeing the first swallow, finding an oasis of green in the middle of an urban jungle, the dawn chorus, leaping lambs, the smell of wild garlic, lime green buds and seemingly endless glorious clouds of blossom.

However, for all of these magical moments, we’ve had some tough conversations, heard views and seen things that I’ve found hard to stomach. They’ve been few and far between –  the veiled racist comment slipped in and the single piece if vile graffiti that we hastily concealed.

Due to illness in my family I’ve had to miss four days of walking. However, this gave me time to set up valuable meetings in Nottingham – officially ‘The North’. We’ve had an amazingly rich couple of days of encounters and discussions, which we’ll post about very soon…

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