Tuesday 20th April
Stone to Wolverhampton, through Stafford and Penkridge. 24 miles
Not having made it to Stone last night we set off early from just outside Newcastle. It was a glorious, sunny day again. Along the London Road we were stopped by a group of boys from St John Fisher Catholic High School who put some of their pocket money in our collection tubs! Later today we were scheduled to meet with Trevor Jones of Wolverhampton Lions club, who would accompany us to the Civic Centre to be welcomed into the City by the Mayor, John Rowley. Mayor Rowley presented me with a cheque for The Myelin Project and asked me to pass on his compliments to the other Mayors that I met on my journey.
By 8pm I had made it to the Connaught hotel in Wolves, my accommodation for the evening, and the venue for a most enjoyable meal in the company of the munificent Lions, all of which was paid for by Wolverhampton Lions. The Lions also presented me with a cheque for The Myelin Project that evening.
One of the Lions was in turmoil, because a Japanese soldier had been invited to give a speech at the Lions club the following month, and he himself had seen with his very own eyes the atrocities the Japs had committed during WWII. Whether the event actually went ahead I never found out.
|From Mrs Boyle, in Swadlincote - Please find enclosed cheque for £20 to keep towards Andy collecting the money we hope to aid MS research. My friend Sarah of South Normanton made me aware of this walk. Sarah suffers from MS & in the years I've known her have watched the devastating effect it has had on her. I only wish I were not an 83 year old pensioner as I would have liked to have sent a much larger contribution. Wishing Andy every success & God bless & protect him. Yours Sincerely....|
Wednesday 21st April
Wolverhampton to Upton upon Severn, through Stourbridge, Kidderminster, and Worcester. 40 miles
I was on my own this morning, Greg had organised his transport back to Bury and was working on a good excuse to present to his tutor for taking the last three days off college unannounced. I don't know what excuse he came up with but I do know that he will have hobbled into college the next day footsore from the eighty mile trek uphill and down dale.
At around lunchtime the mobile rang, it was Danny Kelly of BBC West Midlands, who wanted to talk about the walk on his programme. The wind was howling, and it had just started to rain, so I climbed over a wall and sheltered behind it in a field full of sheep. The first thing he asked me was what football team I supported, but by the sound of his voice he had an ulterior motive for asking, so, unsure of what the outcome might be I wouldn't let on. He persisted, and even accused me of being a Liverpool supporter; that was a bit below the belt! Danny really showed a genuine interest in the walk and gave it some excellent coverage, and a generous donation of twenty five pounds for The Myelin Project.
Now it was pouring down, and for the rest of the day, until about half an hour before I arrived in Worcester, that's all it did. Still, I had a good set of waterproofs, generously donated by Regatta, so I put my head down and stepped up the pace.
First stop in Worcester was to be the Cardinal's Hat in the City centre, from where I had received a very welcome invite for food and drink, not necessarily in that order, from the lovely Austrian owner Andrea Limlei (on the left in the photo). After an excellent meal I had the heady pleasure of sampling each one of the beers that Andrea imports from her home country. The Cardinals Hat was terrific, one of the friendliest bars I've been in. It was almost 11pm before I left the bar, so there wasn't much chance of making Upton upon Severn tonight. Hick..
Thursday 22nd April
Worcester to Stroud, through Gloucester. 30 miles
Grim determination took over this morning to make up the miles that I should have covered yesterday. It was a hard slog too, there were some steep hills to contend with, but the beautiful countryside was an added inspiration, and I was really looking forward to reaching Gloucester 'The crossroads of England and the gateway to the West of England'. Alas, by the time I arrived my itinerary would only afford me a miserly quarter of an hour to look around the fabulous cathedral, and no time to enjoy the City centre or the historic docks. At least I was back on schedule as I headed South out of the City towards the welcome sight of blue sky and sunshine.
Friday 23rd April
Stroud to Bath via Corsham. 28 miles
It was a glorious morning, and I was heading South East towards Malmesbury, England's oldest Borough, reputedly established in 880AD. The rolling landscape was aflare with the reflection of the sun on the Rape, there was a gentle breeze, and not a sound other than that of the birds and the occasional distant sound of horses hooves. At around 6.00pm I arrived at the World Heritage Site of Bath.
On Saturday morning at 8.45am the Severnside Military Vehicle Trust descended on Bath on a mission, with half a dozen WWII military vehicles. On the way in they efficiently dismissed a traffic wardens attempt at turning them away, and promptly blocked off Bath Street opposite the Roman Baths. The weather was glorious, the hottest day of the year so far, and the vehicles were a formidable prescence in the centre of such an historic City, as were the Trust members in their WWII uniforms, armed with rifles and knives.
The attention that the vehicles and the Trust members attracted brought in £394 in donations, and a visit from Superman who flew in to lend a hand with the fundraising. At the same time another mild mannered reporter from the Bath Chronicle was at the scene taking photos, and at one point a Roman re-enactor ran out of the Roman Baths to find out what was going on, and he quickly phoned a couple of journalists he knew, joined in the photo shoots, and was so interested in it all that he joined the MVT there and then.
Later in the day a group of protesters appeared and started shouting at the Trust members. How ludicrous I thought, for such a dedicated group of people who are keeping a memory alive of a period in history that is vital knowledge to our future generations, and who had gone out of their way to help raise much needed funds for MS research, to be verbally abused by rowdies who hadn't even bothered to ask what their mission was before they started haranguing them. The Trust members told me to stay schtum, but if my father had been there he would have fettled the lot of them.
Another highlight of the day was to meet the beautiful Stephanie Millward who came to Bath to offer her suppport. Stephanie's dream was to swim for Britain in the Sydney Olympics but that was wrecked by MS. She was 17, and training with the British Olympic Squad when MS struck, but she has since soldiered on to win numerous Gold medals at the Paralympics.
David and Lion Dawn accommodated me in Bath for two nights, and they went out of their way to make my stay so enjoyable, and they helped to get things started in the centre of Bath on Saturday morning. It was one awesome weekend in a bustling and historic City, made all the more amazing by everyone I met there.