Day 9 – Newhaven to Haywards Heath

by Stephen

Today has been full of swearing, tantrums and tears.

Again the sun has shone and the countryside has been beautiful. I left Newhaven later than planned but I wanted to wait around for breakfast to start so I could get a fry up inside me!

My route stuck to the roads which is a necessary evil at the moment. Direct and relatively dry from the rain soaked fields but busy with traffic and hard under foot. I became increasingly frustrated by the speeding cars and my staggering on uneven verges when there were some. The soles of my boots have also completely soften so the ball of my foot walks on nail points. They don’t rub but the shock from the road is agony. I crawl along at slow pace walking on the outside of my feet in strange contorted positions to avoid the bruised areas. I even tried walking backwards. I am however used to this and if I grin and bear it I can slowly shuffle along the twenty or so miles each day.

The combination of cars, hard road, boots and fatigue did elicit a few tears today promptly followed by a growl and a quick march forward.

I couldn’t help feel saddened by the fast pace of life and the speeding cars. I am so grateful for this walk and the time it has given me to reflect and think. I have noticed so many small details whilst shuffling through the countryside and I worry that those rushing about were missing things around them. At one point I stood at a crossing for five minutes until I could get across the road. No one seemed to spot me bent double trying to get to the other side.

Three people took some time to talk today and I thank them all. Firstly a chap who had dropped his son of at rugby training. We talked a little about what I was doing but it was great to have normal conversation about his hangover and where he was from. To him; thank you for the coffee invite and I am sorry I could not stop for longer.

I also met David in the pub. I found a village pub called The Plough just at the right time in the day for a pint and a roast. Much needed comfort food. I have to admit that I hardly drank the beer as it’s hard to do so when really tired and thirsty. David was a local man who was interested in my walk and we talked at length about the First World War. He told me about his Great Aunt’s diaries from a time when many servicemen were camped nearby. She was young and worked on a farm. Having so many soldiers about was quite an adventure by all accounts. David pointed out the memorial outside to the WW2 Polish airmen who were stationed nearby. I hadn’t noticed it; now who’s missing things! Thank you David for the conversation.

Finally the chap smoking outside the mail sorting centre, I assume on an allowed break. He understood how I felt with how busy everyone was this Sunday, he said ‘it is just modern life’.

I think my point is that we all need to take time to reflect on the past and our own and other’s experiences. This allows us to make a good assessment of our history (I’m not just talking about the war here) in order we can make an informed decision of how we can control our future. Without this time we are doomed to react on a whim and be influenced too easily by others without learning the lessons of the past. I’m now taking that time if in a slightly painful way.