Yesterday I had connected with a kind couple in the town of Monmouth who had offered to put me up in their home for the night. I had picked the perfect night to ask, since it started raining at about 7pm. Nothing better than a sound roof over your head on a rainy night.
Only at 7pm, I had already walked 10 miles and was still another 10 miles away from their house. And sopping wet.
I had gotten off the path I’d been taking through the hills, and hit a road, intent upon hitchhiking the rest of the way. It had looked like a big road on my map. But by the time it was 8pm, I had walked two miles in the rain, and had only seen one car going in my direction. I had barely been able to get my thumb out, and the car had continued on its merry way.
So I kept going. I was ready to hike another 3 or 4 hours, I just felt bad for the people who were putting me up that night.
(Side note: at this point, I stumbled across the coolest water fountain. It had a spigot for people to get water from, a trough for horses to drink from, and even a lower basin meant just for dogs. It also looked beautiful and had a sign in Welsh that read, “Free Water for All”. How cool is that!?!)
Then I heard the sound of another car coming from behind me. I whipped out my thumb, and the car whizzed by… and then slowed down. Alan waved me into his car and off we went. He was a beekeeper with over 20 hives spread out across Wales, and he had just come from a beekeepers’ meeting. He was on his way to check out some beekeeping equipment for sale, and yes, he would be happy to drive a few miles out of his way to drop me off where I needed to go. In the back of his car he had a demonstration hive which he could take to schools and scout groups to show youngsters how beekeeping works.
Alan and I had a wonderful conversation, he told me about his bees and local history (including the recording studio we passed where Queen recorded Bohemian Rhapsody) I told him about my friend Alex who keeps, and then he managed to drop me off right in the driveway of the place I would be staying.
Patricia and Pete were waiting up for me, worried for my safety. They told me that if I would have asked, they would have come and gotten me.
Patricia is American, and she met Pete, a Brit, in Greece. Pete cooked the most delicious shepherd’s pie for me, and I fear that between dinner and breakfast the next morning I might have eaten them out of house and home. It didn’t help that their food was so delicious.
After dinner they told me I could use their bath or shower. “Bath?” I said, “I haven’t had a bath in ages.”
In fact, about a week ago my mom had recommended that I take a hot bath with some bath salts to ease my aching muscles. “Sure mom,” I had said. “Lots of Bath salts arrived here and plenty of baths,” I laughed. Now I think moms are clairvoyant.
That bath at Patricia and Pete’s—it was like my body ate it up. I guess you don’t appreciate a bath until your muscles are sore and your body is tired like I was that day.
I was able to wash my clothes in their washing machine—a rare treat—and charge up all my batteries.
Patricia cooked me a delicious breakfast and then Pete walked with me along the first mile of my trek that day, from their house and through the quaint little river town of Monmouth. Pete knew everyone and everything, and so it was slow-going, but delightful going.
I wanted to hug him as he headed off.
I walked along the river Wye all day and made it to Tintern Abbey, the picturesque ruins of a Cistercian Abbey along the banks of the river. I am camped out here right now, and I’ve decided to stay a few days to write, write, write my book on Saint Kevin. It’s coming along nicely.
Alan and Patricia and Pete were the soul of hospitality for me. Pete even repaired my broken umbrella and hiking pole.
Today a friend I met the very first hour of my journey sent me a donation to buy myself “a pizza or two”. It came right in the nick of time, for the rain started up again this evening, and I was able to hunker down in a pub, work on my book, and enjoy a delicious pint and steak pie and chips, instead of try to make a fire and eat in the rain.
It’s been exactly one month today since I started walking. 330 miles. I’ve camped out 27 of those 31 nights. I just went through my expenses, and by camping and restocking at Aldi and Lidl I’ve been able to survive off of $13 a day.
Except the truth is that I’ve been surviving especially off of the kindness and generosity of others. Others like the gentleman who gave me a bottle of water when I had run out the other day. Others like my sister Madeline, and my parents, who are kindly watching my dog. Others like Alan the beekeeper/Good Samaritan, or Patricia and Pete the kind kind hosts, or Sammy and Kylie who paid for my dinner tonight.
I am so humbled and grateful and happy.
If you’d like to send a donation for fish and chips, or a cup of coffee, or a pizza, I’m brobigmac on Venmo or email@example.com on PayPal.
Many blessings upon you!!!!