Preach the Gospel and if necessary use words. St Francis of Assisi
This quote was given to me by Judith who was also staying at the retreat centre. Well, I won’t be preaching any Gospel, but I will be using words to describe our pilgrimage.
Tuesday, 5th May, Setting Off, Lindisfarne to Kimmerston: 17.83 miles
As day dawns, I am filled with dismay. It’s raining and as it turns out, it doesn’t let up for the entire day. There is a sea mist hanging over the place. I decide not to put Tommy’s ribbons on because I don’t want them to get wet and blow around too much. Having fetched Tommy from the paddock, the bin lorry seems to upset him on the way back because he stands shivering with anxiety when I tether him. I’ve never seen him like this before. Maybe he has picked up my nerves too which I am trying very hard not to show, but there is no getting away from the fact that I am flustered too and our normal routine tacking up is rather a fumbled affair. This is obviously going to be a day of firsts. I have never tacked him up standing out in the rain before and he is very fidgety. For the first time since I’ve had him, he steps on my big toe. Ouch.
I lead him round to the post office where a small gathering of people from Marygate House have kindly come to see us off. The umbrellas don’t go down too well but he is pretty good even when they come close. (That bit of training has worked out at least). I’m eager to get away because I’ve been told Tuesday is coach day but I’m waiting for the PO to open at 9 so I can get my book stamped and post off the first of many parcels to lighten the load. A fond farewell to Don and Sam from the retreat centre, using the bench to mount, I’m off, in a rather ramshackled way, the RDA balloon I am holding for the occasion is flapping about so much above Tommy, it puts him on his toes and I let it go as we dance our way down the high street and out onto the causeway.
I can see the glow of distant headlights from the cars and coaches coming out of the mist towards us. Then the hearse and its entourage pass us on their way to the funeral at St Mary’s at 10 o’clock adding pathos to this moment. It’s a long and lonely trek in the gloom. This is not what I had imagined. But hey, we are on our way. After a good hour we arrive at the rescue tower where I dismount to lead Tommy past it and along the narrow stretch of road where a coach on the other side waits patiently for us to cross. We’ve made it and I stop to take this picture.
I decide to walk with him for a while longer which is what I plan to do anyway and we make it across the East Coast railway line that runs from Newcastle to Edinburgh just before a train comes along and over the busy A1 and out into the country lanes where we stop to adjust the packs and wring out my sopping wet gloves. I fish out my iPhone to check if I have a signal and notice with horror water has got under my Survivor cover. We plod on regardless, me on foot for a lot of the way to keep warm as much as anything, and 6 hours after we set off from Lindisfarne, 6 hours of constant, drenching rain, we arrive at Kimmerston Riding Centre, like two drowned rats, and where we meet Sue Wade from the RDA who happens to be there and helps me begin to dry out our sodden tack with a very welcome cup of coffee. Extremely grateful for a dry stable in a large old barn out of the wind for Tommy and a bed in one of the empty holiday cottages for me where thankfully I am able to dry out all my stuff on the radiators overnight. Marilyn very kindly gives me some freshly laid eggs, a tin of baked beans and some porridge for breakfast.
Nothing has escaped the soaking. Even my small amount of cash in notes all need to be dried out separately. They make quite a sight all lined up on top of the radiator. I did my best with the cheque book. Soggy cheques are pretty useless. Peeling off my socks I inspect the damage to my big toe. (I did take a photo but it’s not a pretty sight). Luckily I had put my iPad into a dry bag and after dismantling my iPhone from its case I was able to dry it out without any lasting damage. The only thing is, I can’t get a signal here anywhere and so it’s pretty useless at the moment. Forecast is for gales and storms tomorrow. Another day of drenching to look forward to. But for now the sun has decided to shine and this is the view from the cottage window. This first day has been a very steep learning curve.