Well I am home and now have time to reflect on Day 8 of my tour: Warminster to Trowbridge via Westbury, a distance of some 11 miles – not huge and very manageable. Gone are the days when I could tab great distance, a sign of age although I feel very well in myself and physically too – no aches or pains.
I shower at least twice a day – a habit which drives everyone mad – but this evening I opted for a deep bath and a rather delicious gin and tonic, not too strong as I am at a Polish Church meeting in Trowbridge at 8pm this evening, I would hate to give the wrong impression and as a lapsed Catholic who has not been to confession for years, I would hate to add insult to injury, “Bless me father for I have sinned…” I suspect there will be quite a queue – 40 years is a long time to repent. I digress. The bath was hot, Radox aplenty and my toes poked out of the water, the bath rippling as I wriggled them to see if they are still attached to my feet and to create small waves. We use to have a saying in the military “no gain without pain”, so the training, those endless walks from Winsley to home both morning and evening seems to have an impact – I have never felt better. I lay back and just enjoy the water.
My kit is prepared for tomorrow – less my rations – which will be very important, I wonder what random flavour of crisp I will choose tomorrow. Does it really matter, as I always open my slightly soggy delicious roll to insert four or five crisps – almost as good as a chip sandwich.
Myrtle is asleep, if I were her partner she and I would not be in the same bed. Her snoring, foot twitches and yelps as she chases – left then right the imaginary pheasant, rabbit or hopefully a cat!! Her movements would be intolerable to any human being and fortunately I do not sleep with her so the kitchen door provides some solace, alas the upstairs seems to be lacking any form of soundproofing so I suspect it will be another night sleeping under rather than on the pillow as I seek to block out her nuptial noises. But she is happy, very happy, well fed, watered and loved. She should be, we have been together for four and half years, rarely apart.
I was anxious not to miss Ben Prater of BBC Wiltshire – sometimes media can hunt, be investigatory, sharp and poignant. At other times they can be a real friend and ally and we have no greater ally than BBC Wiltshire – Ben and his production team – I did not want to disappoint them.
Turning up to one of our Dorothy House shops has always been a fascination for me, different people, different lay outs, a new day. Throughout the walk I have been greeted with warmth and kindness. Tea (another cup), chats and an opportunity to walk around and to thank people, the departure is photographed. So later than usual – Jan, Steve, Myrtle and myself set off North – cross country to Westbury. My car departing for Trowbridge. As an aside I have now got use to showing our team of volunteer drivers how to adjust the seat and mirrors, to ensure they drive comfortably and safely. But I only wish I had the BMW technology which returns the seats, mirrors, head rest, car mat, steering wheel, rear view mirror, back tension, thigh length back to MY POSITION. All seem to have been moved, adjusted. I don’t need a physio post walk as I have to curl my body into the weirdest of shapes just to get back into the car for my return journey, let alone reset all the settings.
The journey to Westbury, took us across some wonderful Wiltshire landscape, the birds sing beautifully and fly low across the ground, sharp and eager . I have spent years on Salisbury Plain and Upton Scudamore and love every inch of it, and today in immaculate sunlight under wispy clouds was no exception. The fine dark soil, damp but not clingy, holding onto some seedling crop provides the carpet on which to walk, sometimes the footpath is there, others not and in the main we tried to cling to the edges or go in single file along the path that was. At every twist and turn or unexpected junction I would stop and check the compass “grid to magnetic add, North Pointer, distance” and off we would go again. The skill to read the ground is slowly coming back, but I surprise myself at my cautious approach, I am getting faster with longer breaks between references, but we don’t want to walk further than we need to and I am happy to admit to having been very lost more than once, it’s not fun.
Westbury was warm and generous, Managers and Deputies were a plenty and a welcoming team of patients past present and no doubt future, were awaiting us. Cakes and tea, a facebook encounter and interview with the Wiltshire times. Conversation has never been an issue on this trip nor the vast range of interesting and fulfilling topics. Jan said goodbye to be replaced like a tag team, bouncing into the ring to do a double slam by Biddy Walcot, whose son George is delivering all the film clips – magic and thank you.
It’s important to discuss the route ahead, we did and off we went, almost due North across challenging footpath recognition countryside, a few anxious looks at the map, a scream of help as Steve walked into a bog, his feet becoming wet – arms failing, potential panic, I tried not to laugh at his misfortune, but failed. Biddy simply supervised, and behold we re-found the main track.
On time 16.00 and via a refreshment stop we arrived for the Trowbridge visit. We were welcomed with open arms, photographs and off we went. We always knew that the community is key to our future success and engaging in a clever, honest practical way will be essential if our vision is to succeed. Language, culture or wealth cannot be a barrier.
This evening’s visit went really well. We meet the Chair of the Polish Catholic Community and a trainee nurse keen to develop end of life knowledge and care within the community. We spoke at length and agreed a way ahead to help break down the cacophony of noise and activity around end of life care. The balance between equality of care, personal treatment choice and Treatment Escalation Plans is challenging and with so many players/partners can be very confusing.
It’s been another interesting and fulfilling day, what is there not to be positive about, we are all very fortunate.