Hmm, that's difficult. Here are a few of the questions I've been asked on the walk so far.
1. Have you worn out any shoes yet?
Yes - my favourite pair of walking boots literally fell to pieces sometime in July. Right in the middle of a walk. Luckily I was about half a mile from a beach shop selling flip flops. The next day I bought walking shoes from Mountain Warehouse and was surprised and delighted to see that they are guaranteed for 5,000 miles! They've been great so far.
2. Have you slept in the camper van yet?
Yes, once. There were about 10 of us sleeping in a rented cottage and there simply wasn't enough room, so I decamped to the van. To be honest, I prefer the comfort and company of the Airbnb hosts. I've met some wonderful and most hospitable people, all of whom have great stories (subject of another blog). And, I've stayed with two separate couples who have daughters/nieces in their 20s who had cervical cancer (one died at 23 and the other is doing well). [Which reminds me, there’s a change.org petition to lower the age at which cervical screening is offered in the UK from the current age of 25, to 18 for high risk groups. Over 370,000 people have signed. Here’s a link if you’re interested.]
3. What has surprised you most about England?
Two things. One is the number of boats. They're everywhere. I know that walking by the sea means that one is likely to see boats. Still, I was taken by surprise. In some places there isn't enough room for the boats on the water so they have multi-storey boat parks.
It brings to mind the quote from the Wind in the Willows:
"Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing... about in boats — or with boats. In or out of ’em, it doesn't matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that's the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don't; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you're always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you've done it there's always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you'd much better not."
And the second surprise is just how many people are doing internet dating, and how successful it is. I've stayed with several couples who met via dating sites, and several other single people who are doing it. And some people who are Airbnb hosts in order to meet possible matches.
After listening to their stories, I've learnt - and realize I'm naive for not knowing this already - that no one quite tells the full truth. The pictures might be a from a few years ago, the age a little blurry, the amount of exercise a trifle over-stated...still, it seems to be working. As many people said : where can you go nowadays to meet others?
4. What have you seen that was unusual?
An 84 year old lady about to complete the 630-mile south west coast path. A large group of twitchers waiting for the royal tern, a bird hardly ever seen in Britain, which had been spotted on a remote part of the West Sussex coast at 4.30am that morning. Suddenly coming upon a sculpture park, right next to the coastal path. David Donaldson popping into a tiny shop in one of those little Cornish villages which feature in TV series, to buy a scrunchie - and finding one!