Surprise matters more than we might think. It's the basis for most jokes. Winning battles. Creating memories. Learning. Making life interesting in general. On the walk there've been many little surprises. For example, in the picturesque village of Bosham Hoe we passed a house called Moonraker. And next door was Goldfinger. Another one was being built next door to that. Lots more titles to choose from. But three larger surprises from this walk so far:
1. A thought-provoking surprise: litter. So far I've walked well over 100 miles, about 40% along beaches, 40% around estuaries and around 10% next to roads. I was expecting to see lots of litter. I'd even thought about bringing a bag to pick it up; so far this hasn't turned into action. But there was no need: there's been virtually no litter at all on the beaches (apart from some "urban beaches" near towns) and along the estuaries. The only places I saw litter was next to roads. So it seems that the English are happy to throw their litter out of the windows of their cars, but at the same time to respect the natural environment when they are walking through it or sitting on the beach. And some of those cars may be driving to the waste transfer stations, where there are always long lines of cars waiting to drop off carefully sorted trash. This is a puzzle waiting for a solution.
2. A "never thought about that" surprise: choo-choo train occupants. I was walking along the promenade at Bognor Regis, when suddenly behind me there was a gentle "toot". I leapt out of the way, and a choo-choo train passed, driving along the pavement. It was completely full, with perhaps 50+ passengers, many waving. But not a child in sight. In fact everybody was over 75, including the driver. Hmm, that's interesting, I thought. A window into the future: that could be me, in a few years time.
3. A surprise around motivation and kindness. I hadn't really thought about this until starting this little escapade. I'm surprised by how much goodwill it generates. Lots of people who don't know me have contributed money or time. And I've been overwhelmed by how many people are interested in doing something - joining the walk for a leg, drawing a map, helping to design the logo, translating the video, assisting with the marketing, buying lunch while watching the football - the list is endless. The picture above shows Melitta's older sister Sasha and her son Max in front of the camper van, which they painted. And the one below shows a friend, Bayo, his brother-in-law, Jide, and me tucking into Sunday lunch before going on our walk. Just about to watch the football...