The Final Haul

Posted by Jenny Steele, on November 4 2018 in: One Man And His Dog

I have been reflecting about the last 15 days and what we will miss.  Mindfulness is powerful, and I  have just finished attending “Time to be Still” the theme this month the Tree of Life – I would just like to share two readings:

“Stand Tall and proud
Sink your roots deeply into the earth
Reflect the light of a greater source
Think long term
Go out on a limb
Remember your place among all living beings
Embrace with Joy the changing seasons
For each yields its own abundance
The energy and birth of Spring
The growth and contentment of summer
The wisdom to let go of leaves in the fall
The rest and quiet renewal of winter”

(Advice from a Tree – llan Shamir)


“May my solitude be truthful,
Like a book which lies open
In which all may read the pages of your wisdom
And the secrets of your mercy
And the searching of your ways.
May my solitude be truthful”

(Praying like a Woman – Nicola Slee)

The next session is 3rd February – Bradford on Avon – Christchurch,  all are welcome – multi faith and reflective. If you have 45 minutes I would urge you to go.

The tour – the experience, has come to an end. It has been a life changing experience, that we could walk the distance was never in doubt, even less as day after day my body developed energy and strength associated to a time in the past.  Myrtle and I had a routine and we stuck to it religiously, that helps and so to –  and this has been one of the greatest thrills is working with a wide team – who worked together in a way that they had not before – across community engagement – (Steve Dale and Louise Clapton)- PR and Communications (Jen Steele, Ali Wilkins, Hollie Gale, Matt Carter, Biddy Walcott ( with her famous film production son, George Hopkins) and fundraising (Don Kennedy, Emily Knight, Verity Clark, Yvonne Brunton, Henrietta Beard, Phillippa Watson) and quiz master, Paul Hewitt. The band of volunteers who drove the car from A to B, the retail teams who stayed behind and horrors, even had their photos taken, and the 71 walkers who accompanied me.

Thank you to Tara at Weston Village who stayed open until 17.20 on Friday as Myrtle and I romped across town to fulfil our promise to walk to every shop within our area – Salisbury I am sorry , you will have to be next year!!

I am minded that one of the key effects – and I had nothing to do with this – has been to help gel/bond  a well oiled professional, well rehearsed team.  No one can underestimate the work that went behind the morning and evening community meetings, the breadth of media coverage for Dorothy House, the physical engagement with hard to reach communities, the chance to celebrate, to cheer, to explain how DH wants to engage support and enable. To work with our community and to empower and not to dominate them.

None of this would have happened or have been possible without the willingness of the teams to work together in such a professional and commendable manner…we should all thank them. They delivered the effect and impact, Myrtle and I just had to walk and that was the easy part.

Thank you all for your direct support and companionship. As always it’s the notable absence of others, which is always commented upon, intriguing, but that is the world we live in – we are all busy.  I also hear on the grapevine that the ‘Blake’ evening, led and organised by the Malmesbury friends, nurtured by Phillippa and Ambassador Andrew Roberts, may have generated even more funds – so in truth on Friday evening, the teams had a great night – thank you.

Friday was a happy and a sad day.  Happy as we might get a lie in, sad because we all had heavy heads from the Thursday party at Timbrells yard. The world appeared, many because the round was on me, but we had fun and a few dances on a beer mat.  The choice of music was a bit weird, has anyone else heard of spotify?  The walkers stayed, the wives, husbands  and children appeared…what fun.  Fortunately I discovered the credit card key in my wallet, the one a pub swaps for your card as one creates a bar tab and I was able to recover it on Saturday, before I went shopping to Sainsbury’s.  Humbug (Ben Prater’s Hound and Myrtle) realised they don’t do sharing, something we have in common. Thank you to you all for coming and making it so special.

Friday continued- heavy head but routine followed. We met St Margaret’s Surgery and Michelle Donelan the Chippenham MP (hats off she really supports the Hospice), we had a great two hours – cake and tea, but the real focus was on their social prescribing and community engagement, the room hummed.  I left focused on the journey ahead, mind racing with new ideas and concepts…so much to do, only to return, as yet again Myrtle and I had left something behind. My mother use to say if you leave something behind it’s because one wants to return, in my case its becoming rather repetitive.

The band of merry walkers well dressed and prepared, met outside Bradford on Avon. Departing at an eager pace we receive abuse early in the adventure as Myrtle and I sought to take a short cut, because every metre counts, failing to cross by the pedestrian crossing…luckily I remembered I was branded from my head to toe, so I apologised profusely, scrambled ignominiously  across the road, regained my pride and off we went.

When we were training for this walk , I remember writing a blog about who owns the right of way along the  pathway….barges (obviously not as they are or should be in the water), walkers absolutely because we are in control and on our feet, cyclists with bells…perhaps…but cyclists without bells (although they holler “ping ping”) never…absolutely not. Indeed one cyclist crashed into me – it was probably my fault as I was looking at my phone. “see and he is on his phone” she shouted, in my defence I was not- well I was checking the time, but the cycling group well dressed with flashing lights… (what’s 20 cyclist called charging one behind the other?) – were in no mood for a discussion and anyway they were much bigger than us, although how I avoided that accidental stumble and push I will never know.  Myrtle decided to do a final dart in front of her, but alas the cyclists got away.

One thing canals have are pubs a plenty, so we have learnt to pace and select.  We arrived at the bottom of DH Santa Dash Hill much earlier than anticipated, so we went to the Cross Guns at Avoncliff.   What we love about walking groups is their drink selection …latte, light, double mix, decaff with a twist and double shot and Gin. How  I love the Gin selectors – 11.30 totally acceptable.  Finished and refreshed we climb the hill, some faster than others, we passed an individual who wants to buy one of our pink bibs…buy.. how strange?  No-one could have been more touched than us by the welcome we received at Winsley. Thank you all, including the cake and tea, (but no sausage rolls – but congratulations on the coffee award catering team) .



Tick Tock  – time is passing as Ali has booked three on the go interviews and we have a promise to get to Weston Village come hell or high water.  Our Sandwiches devoured, a new selection, well same selection but fresh not three days old. George films with a drone, we all wonder at his dexterity and skills, how does anyone fly and film at the same time and he is not even an Apache pilot.

We hit the canal and attain various speeds along the way, Hannah Rudd, discreetly produces her sat nav – no mistakes in this area will be tolerated. We are all tired but she shrugs off the pressure with aplomb and a ready smile and cheeks bright with sun. We head off with confidence via short cuts. The temperature has dropped distinctly, there is a real chill, the sun has set and a light but cold mist hits us all and simply encourages us all to walk faster. Morrison’s and Bath Furniture, a great week, well done and then it was head down into Weston Village.



We got there and a passer by kindly took the final photo of the tour and simply said ‘and thank you for looking after my sister’ it does not get better than that.

The adventure came to an end at the ‘Pig and Fiddle.’ How Don organised the event I will never know, a previous life, expertise, relationships and simply a zip. We were entertained by ‘Bite the Buffalo’  https://www.blu.com/en/GB/blog/bite-the-buffalo/get-to-know-bite-the-buffalo/get-to-know-bite-the-buffalo.html.  The evening as others hummed with real excitement…thank you, Don.

It has come to an end and now we need to build on the wide and various relationships and publicity that we as a team have generated. It’s really exciting, there is much to do, but do you know you will do it and do it in spades. There is nothing like Dorothy House, you are awesome.

Signing off and thank you all for reading and supporting us through our adventure.  It’s been a great experience.