Today I woke to the sound of rain and to be honest walking doesn’t seem so much fun when you are unpacking waterproofs — however Helen and Frankie (the dog) kept me company at breakfast and whilst chatting the rain passed on and a light drizzle definitely felt more doable.
The church in Digby was open…the first to be open so far on the Spires and Steeples route and it was both peaceful and dry. The reproduction of the plague list was salutary, the village had a population of 300 but in one year the plague reduced this to 163. Everyone must have felt so vulnerable, Ebola did the same recently. In Dorrington the next village on the route there was an amazing carving commemorating the plague victims.
I walked through my first field of bullocks wishing my waterproof wasn’t red and began to consider how I could make my fortune designing walking socks that resisted spikey grasses working their way into your ankles.
In the church in Ruskington I arrived in time for a morning service led cheerfully and chattily by the lady vicar…”has anyone got a lighter for the candles mine are damp and don’t forget the bake off at 3 pm”. The sermon was interrupted as a spider made its way up the unlit candle throwing the vicar into state of distraction — the verger too went into reverse, a plea to the congregation — my moment of fame and glory as I plucked it off and cast it carefully into the side chapel. Of course this is very easy if you are not frightened.
We emerged from battling through 4 hymns to a shaky single line accompaniment from the stand in organist into bright sunshine and a positively cocktail party level of friendly interactions including 2 residents from the local special needs community.
I arrived in Ruskington and struggling with Google maps resorted to asking passers by where to find Sheila’s house where the offer of “tea and a wee” had been made. Sheila is a Mum and Grandmother with one grandson on the autism spectrum. Sheila was quite clear. The diagnosis was a shock and she did wonder would her grandson ever get married or find a job. She worried for her daughter too. However she says family is really important, you just get on and love the child even if they are cheeky and have difficult behaviour. Sheila felt that the most important thing as a granny is to offer practical help, to give parents a break, to hang in there good days and bad. Sheila’s pride in Monty’s progress is obvious, she admires his quirky interests and loves his sense of humour. A great granny to have around.
I walked on refreshed and relieved and met a group of walkers wearing “spires and steeples challenge” t-shirts and was welcomed into the group to walk with them into Sleaford .The group was led by Mike Lock who had devised the route and punctuated the walk with information, history and local tales. I walked alongside one woman who at 58 had taken 18months to walk round the world on her own and a man who had taken up walking to control type 2 diabetes. It is fascinating to have time to really listen to people’s stories, tales of working in local government, getting stuck in Mexico, walking across Canada and the life of a bread delivery man who worked a 60 hour week from aged 16 to 60 years old. I never did find out why one young man was on a banana diet, he eats 15 – 30 bananas a day and no he doesn’t ‘get bored’ with them as he fries/bakes/liquidises them. It’s not just those on the spectrum who have food related things going on then!
We finished in Sleaford with a Buck’s Fizz reception, that went down both well and fast with huge plates of sandwiches and cakes in the Arts and Crafts centre. The whole group was given access to 2 exhibitions as well. I wasn’t sure about the horse sculptures though …
Today started with me feeling a touch forlorn but it turned into an amazing day with just so many interesting things and people. My tank of curiosity overflows!