Today I crossed the Devon border; it was a good feeling, though it has rained non stop on me for 20 miles it still couldn’t stop the feeling of elation I felt as I walked a quarter of a mile along the A38 to make a bit of a shortcut just at the point at which the welcome to Devon sign is displayed, just before it crosses the M5 just north of Uffculme.
I have walked in 22 shires since leaving Devon at the end of March; coming to my home county feels good, even though I shall be crossing straight through it heading for Cornwall first.
I muse as I walk on the pleasures of this journey. Though the rain is persistent and my rain gear wet still I am happy and sing to myself as I walk. I have felt neither cold nor bored since setting out, these two for me are the worst of feelings, like not really living; frozen in body, or frozen in mind and heart. I have occasionally felt afraid, like when the herd of cows chased me, and a few times been in pain, like my second day out before my muscles had really worked up to the task ahead, but these are feelings that show we are alive, elicit a response, allow us to be in the moment, where cold and boredom close us down to the present.
I am ready to be on my way home, for all of my feelings of pleasure. It is the beginning of autumn; I have been watching the spectacularly coloured autumnal leaves slowly begin to fall for a fortnight or so now, enjoyed munching blackberries from every hedgerow, and watched the elderberries keenly, waiting to see my first completely ripe bunch. The hips and haws are triumphant as they flaunt their scarlet hues to all who stop to look. This is a good time to be homeward bound, looking forward to be sitting indoors at my desk, writing of my summer adventures, sleeping early as the nights draw in, conserving energy for the creative inward winter time, to see what new projects will emerge ready for the new year.
I have learnt to be in tune with the seasons and I feel completely healthy; cannot remember how it feels to be exhausted and depleted. I have spent 7-8 hours of every day for the past 5 months out of doors feeling the fresh air on my skin, the sun warm on my face and the smell of the country in my nostrils. How will it be, I wonder, to sit shivering, immobile, indoors in front of a computer, senses deadened to the world? What kind of society do we live in where most of us are removed from what is happening outside for the greater part of every day?
I stay tonight with Pat and Dave Regardsoe, retired to Cullumpton, but not so many years ago proud and happy smallholders with pigs, cows, sheep, goats and chickens in 20 acres of land. I hear their tales of life with the animals and the time when Jaspar’s the Abattoir in Launceston was bought out by Tesco’s and suddenly the prices went down and the cost at which they could buy back the fleeces of their own flock went up. Pat used to spin the wool and process the fleeces for rugs too. Dave remembers driving his sheep for an hour, the maximum allowed for sheep to travel to be slaughtered, and then being stuck in a traffic jam outside the abattoir; the French sheep being unloaded. Tesco’s obeyed no law about how far animals travelling before being slaughtered.
Sadly, Cullompton has lost its Co-op thanks to Tesco’s moving in and putting them out of business. When are enough people going to wake up and stop giving their custom to this giant corporation?
Pat talks about local and regional councils. She thinks there are too many layers and wishes for one council for the whole of Devon within which each town could send it representatives. In mid Devon Cullompton and Crediton suffer whilst all the council spending goes on Tiverton, the largest of the mid Devon towns.
I look forward to visiting Simon Mills Integrated Health clinic in the morning. I have heard so much about it, and the great Sustain care initiative to map all the herbs with the pharmaceutical drugs to make it easier to make choices about what type of medicine as well as care to select. I notice as I walk past, on this wet and darkening day, that there is a Cafe Sustain and am excited to know if it based on the same principles as the well being cafe I always envisioned creating at Bowden House; eating for health, individually prepared meals, advice on nutrition, and suggestions for complementary health care all available as customers sit and enjoy socialising with one another and with alternative pratitioners in a comfortable, inviting environment.
I have had a good day, and am pleased the tales of woe I was predicted have remained where they belong; in the heads of those that thought them up. Rain always feels worse to those sitting in their warm homes than to those enjoying being out in the elements, where the body adjusts to its environment.