This blog is by Ian Mathieson, an old friend who drove halfway across the country to join the walk.
Five friends and family joined Laurence for the Totton to Calshot section of the walk (in Hampshire). It was supposed to be Day 17 but was in fact Day 16 as Laurence had done two days in one on the previous day to get ahead a bit - that meant over 20 miles in the steady 30 Centigrade heat.
Our common link is St Helena so it was interesting to walk past Tristan Close in Calshot. This is where the Tristan da Cunha islanders (Tristan being a dependency of St Helena) were evacuated to when their island volcano erupted in the South Atlantic in 1961. On local enquiry we found that one islander still lives there. The remaining 200 or so astonished Macmillan’s “never had it so good” nation by saying that they didn’t like it in England and wanted to go home as soon as possible. And this is exactly what they did, much to the government’s annoyance.
There is no coast path around the Solent at all so we struggled along at times holding up traffic on narrow sections of busy roads (we perhaps only imagined cursings of “bloody walkers”) and attracting the interest of the police as we traversed the perimeter of the Fawley oil refinery. Maybe it was our blue T shirts with the cryptic “3500 to End it” that was worrying them. At other times we wandered around meadows looking for the most likely route to get us to our destination.
Laurence remains sublimely confident about the whole project and treats each day as a Sunday afternoon stroll. He is even talking of taking a few days off to do the Berlin marathon. We mutter darkly about the winter but Laurence lives for the moment and sets a terrific example.
Hope to meet up again in Cornwall and next year in Lancashire.