Today, the first day of week 9 I had to do something I absolutely hate doing: I had to say goodbye to two great people I had just gotten to know – Anne Telford and her son Gary – and move on.

I walked fifteen or so miles to Sunderland in occasional rain, occasional sunshine and occasionally stifling humidity. Not quite a full day’s March but I am building back up to 20 miles a day or thereabouts after I wore myself out going at it like a stray from Mao Zedong’s Long March.

The walk itself was uneventful and the scenery pleasant but not exceptional. However, one interlude around lunchtime made my day. This was when I was fortunate to meet a very nice young man named Richie, who even offered to carry my rucksack for me. Richie introduced me to his sister, Gail, who runs the Village Inn in Easington, County Durham ( I spent a very pleasant hour with Gail and Richie, who even bought me lunch! I really appreciate their good will, hospitality and encouragement.

I may moan and bitch sometimes about how hard this walk is but there are times when it seems more like an honour and a privilege to be doing it because it has given me the chance to meet day in and day out such genuinely decent and likeable people. The nature of what I am doing demands that I keep moving but I will never forget such magical moments.

So Ann and Gary, then Gail and Richie made it a great day and I arrived in Sunderland where I am staying tonight with friends, feeling tired but buoyant in spirit.

Tomorrow I head for Blyth wondering what new experiences the day will bring. Nothing bad for sure – except maybe the ruddy weather.


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