EPISODE 97 -STILL0ENGLAND – AND NOW WALES – ENGLAND FINALE – ONE AND A THIRD MILES ON SOUTHEND PIER TO COMPLETE THE ENGLISH COASTLINE. FOLLOWED BY THE PARTY….

photo[3497]SOUTHEND PIER FINALE

Done it! Rosie, Stan, Rowan Nanny, Bobl, Maisie, Jake and Lauren at what’s left of The Finish Line on Southend Pier… THE BANNER WAS COLOURED IN BY EVERYONE IN THE PICTURE!

 

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Above —  Some of  The Walk Groupies reach the end of Southend Pier – the banner didn’t…

 

 

Map Below….The highlighted O/SMap shows my route all over Essex…..the Pier (bottom left) was the final piece of the English jigsaw

WALKING OVER ESSEX

 

IMG_4128[3591]Earls hall kids

 

Dear Rosie, Lauren, Stan, Jake, Rowan and Maisie,

 

The picture above is part of the class of 1952/1959 Earls Hall Junior School – we first met some 65 years ago……in a class of 53 children. Terry, Martin Bobl and Elizabeth – Michael was present but had departed early. Someone  must photoshop him in….. So where will you all be in 65 years time – you should have finished walking round England and Wales , surely?

photo[3531]poor poo....1Poor Poo Bear

photo[3519allthe kids

 

At last! By walking the final one and a third miles out to sea on Southend Pier, “We’ve” now walked completely round England – making a total of 3,422 and a third miles in 277 days – or  about four years really!

But you’ll have noticed from the title that we’ve now added a country the size of Wales to the target, so the Walk carries on! And maybe when we’ve finished Wales, howabout Scotland………  ? I couldn’t bear to stop my walking so I’ve found an excuse to carry on adding to the aggregate.

Here’s how the Last English Walk unfolded, but not necessarily in the right order – I got a bit emotional and seemed to view events from afar, as if it were not happening to me!

 

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Rosie! Jumping over the Thames Estuary.

 

Some walkers and some trainers……….

 

 

……made it to the finish line..

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….and it’s official we’ve reached the end of Southend Pier….

 

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INSERT THE FOLLOWING CROWD…..do you remember a bystander kindly offered to take the picture of the whole group, until another bystander hijacked the first, so he could be included? Another five minutes and we’d have included everyone  on the Pier.

The picture has temporarily gone walkabout, but we’ll happily insert it when it turns up

please forward if you have a copy!

 

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The RNLI Lifeboat souvenir shop at the Pierhead, contained my Southend Lifeboat mug to add to the collection – Roger and Gill were happy to serve us and many calendars, Christmas Cards and other paraphernalia got snapped up!

 

 

And now we return to The Roslin Hotel for celebrations via the crooked house and other Southend amusements

 

girls, boys, slush, uuggghhhh, the beach and arrrgghhhh!

 

 

 

Inside The Roslin…. the speeches…..the cake and wall to wall grandkids underfoot – it is  THEIR party…

 

 

 

 

Annie Rules – OK?

Inter Table Geographic Photo Quiz

Annie set the teacherly tone by announcing the rules of the ongoing photo party game. Since nearly half the invitees had taught at some stage and the remainder were blighted by teachers, it was important that  it was explained in words of less than one syllable, by one of their own. Although in her Post PGCE year of teaching, Annie impressed, and held the rabble at bay, with only one ex-teacher being told to see her afterwards.

 

Quiz.

Each guest at the table has a photo with a geographical  clue from The Walk written on the back.

The guests on the table collectively guess the place on the photos on their table and fill in the answers on the answer sheet.

They swap photos with people on the other tables so that they have identified all the photos on the four tables and filled in the answers on the sheet.

Annie will give out the answers later in the evening and prizes will be given out to the table which got the most answers right.

 

The competition was won by the Earls Hall contingent, who seemed to have best access to google!

A prize of Southend Rock was awarded to each guest on the winning  table.

photo[3564]elizabeth

Stanley in grave danger of being run over while Elizabeth demonstrates her walking style that claimed most guest miles – 50 and counting – and appearances – 5 or 6, and begat several poems  –  so far –  there’s still Wales to come  for Big Andy, Donald, Stanley, Terry, Henry and anyone else to compete. I don’t keep records so you’ll have to keep count yourselves! Poems are optional.

Elizabeth also orchestrated the rendition of G K Chesterton’s  Rolling English Road, aided and abetted by Terry and Martin,  I still chuckle about “….the night we went to Birmingham by way of Beachy Head…”   it’s so appropriate!

 

 

 

Donald’s Speech.

11th November 2017

Mum asked me to say a few words about Dad’s Walk, of course I said Yes – we are extremely proud of what Dad has achieved – but I worried about being able to say only a few words about such a massive achievement!

So right at the start of this, I should say – THE WALK: 3,421 miles, 268 days, round the coastline of England and including Offa’s Dyke and Hadrian’s Wall, as a lone effort or accompanied by countless friends, family and strangers along the way.

Congratulations!

(Cheers and round of applause)

(Andy toast to walk)

It is difficult to remember or even know when it all began.

In hindsight we should have expected something of such magnitude, but it crept up…….As I remember it , there was building a Caterham 7 Sports Car, collecting No 1 Record singles, renovating French property and living a French lifestyle, all mixed in with a hint of self denial about retirement.  We should have realised the challenges were escalating…  and then in August 2010 the idea of a walk was born!

 

The early days of the walk were basic. Dad would set off on a twenty mile route with only a flask of coffee and a packet of Werthers! A caffeine and sugar fuelled walk till you drop, then drive home, bath, eat, sleep, repeat.

Soon he got into a stride, equipped himself with some basic kit , and introduced water and healthy food to the walking routine – the fluid and nutrition strategy to extend walking range.

The email reports got longer and photos were added. It was not long before The Blog was launched. The Walk had now become a serious enterprise!

Gifts for birthdays, Christmases, Father’s Days were easy and from us all Dad was supplied with socks, hats, gloves, gadgets, compasses, whistles.

Confidence increased with each new experience. Safety, communications, transport and logistical back up was provided by Mum. And when Mum was away in NZ for weeks at a time, the walking increased despite the lack of safety and logistical support.

In Mum’s absence we would receive regular random text messages of current grid locations, timings, expected rates of progress, arrivals, departures and each new campsite.

Risks were taken and learnt from. Near death experiences included wading across tidal estuaries, clinging to Great Hangman in a storm and getting lost in sink estates and industrial wastelands. And as you will hear later perhaps the closest and most significant near death experience happened at the dinner table when Dad thought  he’d lost Malcolm – an old friend -of equally determined character but perhaps suffering from an unexpected long day of physical exertion.

Options for accommodation included b&b’s , hotels (if Mum accompanied), campsites, friends, family, friends of family, friends of friends…… but always the preferred option of accommodation was sleeping in the back of the car with heating on and dealing with a flat battery in the morning. And always, sleeping with car keys in the pocket and setting off the car alarm in the night!

Chat at family occasions and between walking trips was about crimson worms, mileage done, mileage to do, no time to lose, probably won’t finish it but will give it a go etc. We got used to seeing the anxious pre-walk trip look and the exhausted 1,000 yard stare post-walk face!

Things got more serious. Some might say obsessive. Kit was added to and refined with increased experience and capability, and with that kit became more specialist. The world’s smallest tent was carefully researched and purchased, and, combined with king sized down duvets, pillows and folded mattress achieved the optimum accommodation solution albeit Dad was unable to get in the tent, and if he could he could not get out! A wide mouthed bottle was also an essential item.

Lightweight telescopic hi-tech carbon fibre walking poles were ….not favoured. But instead a pair of five foot medium diameter heavy oak walking poles were trusty walking companions and added to the sense of physical exertion.

Technology struggled to keep up with the walking rate of progress. Laptops, cameras, phones, watches, battery charging systems all came and went or were lost or broken or smashed through frustration. Through it all, printed copies of O/S  Maps and marker pens were the most reliable method of navigation and recording progress.

Near the completion of The Walk, and as the end of the challenge was in sight , a stand out performance by Dad was achieving 223 miles in 16 days – which is quite a remarkable physical achievement!

Stanley and I joined in for various trips on the South Coast and Cornish Coast. Stanley quickly got the hang of what was going on and was soon skipping up and down hills- encouraged by doses of chocolate buttons and jelly babies!

And Stanley and I were lucky enough to join Dad and Big Andy for the first part of the Land’s End finish experience. We had a fabulous day’s walk from Land’s End from the north and then finished off with a pint and dinner in the restaurant. It was a very special and memorable moment for us all.

Major Big Andy has been a great supporter of Dad’s walk and has joined him on a few occasions. Andy was able to stay on for a number of days to help organise, navigate and organise support and for the final push to Land’s End from the south. We are hugely grateful to Andy for being there at the end so that Dad was able to share the moment of completion with a familiar face and close family member. These final few days walking were extremely challenging in terms of terrain and mileage covered, I know how tough it was and I know Dad was very pleased to have Major Andy  for company.

 

So Andy, on behalf of us all – family and friends, who could not be there at Land’s End- I would like to present you with a little gift to show our huge appreciation for logistical and moral support you provided- you were a great help indeed!

( Dad present gift to Major Big Andy)

(sum-up)

Two of Dad’s personal qualities that have shone through all of this are his hard work ethic and determination. You’ve shown us all that if you set your mind to it you can be whatever you want to be and achieve anything by hard work and determination. We learnt these qualities from you and Mum as we grew up and we’re pleased that our children are learning the same through your walking adventures.

We observed your meticulous planning and preparation of routes, campsites and transportation, always keen to achieve your daily and weekly mileage targets whatever the weather! Determination and dedication to your task also meant rest periods between walks were actually restless periods when you were itching to get back on a trail again!

We are all immensely proud of your amazing achievement, you are an inspiration to us all and we’re grateful that you put just as much effort into the blog so we could all share your adventure and feel like we were there with you. We hugely enjoyed the miles we managed to walk with you and my only regret is I wish we could have done more! But we look forward to joining you on the Wales Coastal Path!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Andy’s Speech

photo[3586]andyspeech

 

Thanks Donald…

I think there’s one encounter from the walk that you missed….

When Dad was walking a stretch of the North East coastline he saw a bit more of a Geordie chap than he wanted… when he was FLASHED from the other side of a narrow inlet!

It’s a good job the bloke ran off cos he may have had one of dad’s solid oak walking sticks wrapped round his head.

 

We’ll be hearing from Dad in a minute but before we do I’d just like to say a few words.

As I haven’t spoken at an older person’s party before, I took some advice from my wife Caroline who gave a lovely speech at her parents’ 60th birthday a few years ago.

All she said was….’make sure it doesn’t sound like an eulogy!’

 

Anyway. no eulogies this evening. We’re here to enjoy the present, celebrate a birthday and the completion of a long walk.

What I would like to do is tell you about some of Dad’s attributes that got him to 70 years of age…and hopefully many more beyond.

 

I want to start by congratulating Dad on his walk around England. It really is a wonderful achievement and we’re all super proud of you.

I’m sure Jake’s teachers don’t believe him when he said that his granddad has walked round England.

And everytime we go to the coast Maisie says ‘Bobl’s been here’….and we know that you have.

 

I think Donald, Ann and I always knew Dad would always complete the walk…not just because he’s a stubborn old git and Mum wanted him out of the house… but because of his CAN DO attitude.

When we were growing up Dad would often say to us ‘I can do anything I want to.’

To which Ann would say… ‘well jump over the house then.’

Then Dad would say….’I can but I don’t want to….’

Now you’ve walked round England Dad I think it’s time you gave jumping over the house a try.

Another one of Dad’s favourite sayings was ‘if he can do it then why can’t I?’

Which is a great attitude to have and one he has tried to instil in us. But….there are some things Dad needed to practise to make perfect.

For example it wasn’t until Dad had installed 4 wood burners and a bath in every bedroom of the mill that he felt sure he’d mastered those skills.

 

Dad is also very loyal. A nice example of this was when I mentioned to him in passing that Nottingham Uni were closing my town planning course down at the end of my time there.

I thought nothing more of it until Dad phoned a few days later to let me know he’d set up a meeting with our local MP- Claire Short- so I could start my campaign to save my course.

It all felt like too much hard work so I politely declined…but it’s just one example of Dad being there to fight our corner.

Dad has always been protective of us as well…particularly Ann… who is of course the favourite.

As you can imagine, when we were living in inner city Birmingham, Dad was especially concerned for her safety.

One story that sticks in my  mind was Ann wanting to go into town with friends for the New Years eve celebrations. Surprisingly Ann was allowed to go on two conditions;

1.That her little brother came and picked her up…and

2. That she was home by 11:45, which of course was well before the party started

 

Donald talked about Dad’s determination and work ethic which he has in spades.

We saw first hand how hard Dad and Mum worked on their various projects often 7 days a week

I think that example has stood all three of us in good stead with our own families and careers. Whatever Dad applies himself to he puts everything into it.

Except may be watching Spurs and England which is usually done from behind the sofa.

 

Living on the other side of the world…working hard…and keeping three kids busy on various building sites meant that Dad probably didn’t spend as much time keeping up with old friends as he would have liked to…and of course there wasn’t  Facebook back then!

But I know how much Dad has enjoyed reconnecting with Old Southendians in recent years. So it’s great to see Earls Hall and Southend High School represented here today…and I know some of you have joined him on the walk too.

 

So I think that’s enough from me as I know Dad would like to say his own thanks now.

 

Before he does, I would just like to finish with a toast  to Dad….

 

To Dad, Bob, Bobl… Happy Birthday and congratulations  on going round the bend…

I mean Round England.!

 

 

 

Bob’s Speech

photo[3587]bobsspeech

 

{THINK – If you can walk round England, then you can do a bloody speech}

The following is what I meant to say – I cannot now recall what I actually said – I know I missed a complete page of toasts and thanks at the end, but by then the audience was restless and I was racing to get the speech over and done with…..

Here goes…

As the youngest of four competitive siblings, it was a wonder that I reached this exalted age of seventy. I was dragged up, put upon, sat upon and generally called all sorts by my brother and sisters, probably with justification. It wasn’t easy following in the wake of three larger than life characters and I generally made a nuisance of myself to get noticed.

 

Susan, being the revered elder sister could contain me with her developing headmistress skills.

 

John bore the (b)runt of me tagging along and interfering with his social life and made it obvious he would rather Trevor Polson were his brother.

 

Janet developed exclusion zone tactics and if I entered within six feet of her she responded with screaming self defence.

 

I knew my place, which in the brothers’ shared bedroom was the bottom bunk beneath the snoring and farting machine of which I was in awe.

John considered me a terminal hypochondriac developing all the symptoms of the latest Readers Digest medical problem.

The only ever academic advice he offered me was to take the Latin Option. Apparently, it would equip me for following in his footsteps, to get into Oxford via Nepotism, to ‘read’  Sport.  Ever contrary, I used my Latin years later to study Civil Engineering at Sheffield University. Thereafter, I made a point of not doing what John did. It seemed to work….well….

 

 

…….well ….I did rebel a bit, I once disobeyed Susan by not coming home to unwanted (by all) piano lessons from Miss Fielding, previously attended by Susan, John and Janet. It was now my turn. Not if I could help it! She sounded as if she should be playing cricket for Yorkshire – Miss Fielding?? – Ever observant Janet had forewarned me about the bodily noises she made, mainly as she swallowed her tea.

That was enough to distance me from Music forever.

 

As I grew, my heroes departed.

Susan to start her own family with Ian.

John disappeared without me to Oxford, and developed a new accent overnight.

Janet had her glittering athletic career so unfairly cut short. I’ve never told her but I’ve always admired how she handled herself, and I never ever heard her complain. Upon her return home from hospital, I was always fearful of her banging her head and followed her around as a bodyguard.

 

Susan, John, Janet, along with Tab and Cam – it’s your fault – you made me what I am today,  – awkward, bloody minded, determined and mute.

All these traits served me well to complete the Walk Round England.

Thank you!

I think?

 

Good did come of the Latin Option. It brought me into academic contact with David Lloyd, and a more basic education.

Yes! David Lloyd speaks Latin.

Well. No! Probably not. Not really. He was equally awkward, determined, and bloody minded that it should be a forum for his hilarious antics. I elected to self teach elsewhere with Greg Coady,  and enjoyed the comedy while it lasted.

Result; I was one of only two in the lower Latin set to pass  GCE Latin,and with one of my better grades.

Similarly, on the football field, and the changing room afterwards, David had extremely precocious talents, with most sports involving balls, and he was great company.

I learnt a lot from him but I really wouldn’t want him as my brother.

Later in Life I found his biography – “How to succeed in business while really trying”- and sent it to him asking for a signing. It came back with a dedication to my left foot.

Which was slightly unfair, because I could use my head too!

Trevor Polson couldn’t.

My football career ended when David concentrated on tennis, and without him to play off, I went from inside left, to left wing to left back and finally left out….

 

 

But I did have my triumphs. Things got much better when I found Marilyn, and we ran away to Australia and New Zealand, where you find REALLY awkward, bloody minded and determined nations that are not so mute.

 

We eventually returned permanently to the UK  with our other successes of Donald, Annie and Andrew. Much later on; more triumphs with Rosie, Lauren, Stanley, Jake, Rowan and Maisie with help from Tim, Sarah, Caroline and Richard. This is our real success. I feel honoured and privileged to help raise this sub clan and watch them develop. I hope they see that with my Walk round England, you can achieve whatever you want if you put your mind to it.

There were a couple of occasions when the Walk got serious and memorable.

The first occurred on my walk from Hunters Inn to Coombe Martin on the South West Coast Path. The wind was gale force and I was attempting to get to the top of Great Hangman at 215 metres. I lost my way, and unwittingly was heading for a sheer drop, hidden in the undergrowth. I dropped to my knees on the cliff edge and a surge of fear went through me. It took ages to regain my composure and I crawled on hands and knees back the way I came. Marilyn was in VERA and had been talking to locals who said that no one should be out on the cliffs today…. in trouble again.

The other involved Malcolm McLeod. He was always threatening to walk with me in North Essex when his knee permitted. At last we rendezvoused at Harwich to walk to Walton on the Naze. We had a great time punctuated by Malcolm’s humorous anecdotes- he had a captive audience and there might have been one or two stops at public houses following the start from Harwich Pier café complete with coffee and cakes.

Unfortunately, Malcolm’s knee flared up and his pace shortened to a clod but he would not give up. Eventually, we were reduced to a limp- culminating in a vain exercise to administer a knee bandage. I can’t imagine what passing motorists thought as I attempted to slip the too small elastic support up his trouser leg. We eventually made it back to VERA, 16 miles I believe. And home to Malcolm and Diana’s in Maldon where Diana had a chicken casserole waiting which we both devoured. Malcolm is fully conversant with eating alongside the McIntyres- eat it or lose it. But suddenly next to me, I realised Malcolm had slumped forward- his head on his chest. OMG I’ve killed him. Diana was opposite. I looked at her terrified. How do you apologise for killing someone’s husband. But fully in control she uttered these words:

Diana:

Malcolm, WAKE UP!

Nothing

Malcolm, WAKE UP!

Nothing

Malcolm, WAKE UP!

Choke, splutter, splutter. Malcolm rose from the dead. Miracle. Diana had restarted him. Better than any defibrillator.

I award Malcolm and Diana the Round England Purple Heart for resuscitation.

There are some absent friends I would like to acknowledge.

Yvonne Pedretti played a part in getting this whole walk underway- she is on the first blog. She tasked me with scattering her ashes in selected spots around Essex and Suffolk to the strains of GK Chesterton’s Rolling English Road.

Tim, Rosie and Lauren’s father, who joined me for the finish of Offa’s Dyke Path at Chepstow in 2012. He’d led all the way and kindly moved aside to let me finish first. All described in the last blog when I visited Chepstow again starting the South Wales Coast Path.

Dave Shipp died suddenly last year. He was supposed to be joining in my North Wales Coast Path around Llandudno and Great Orme where he lived. I dedicated my first visit last month to his memory.

(Elizabeth: Rolling English Road GK Chesterton)

All of you have walked with me, some unwittingly if you have visited the Mill-that counts- even Dick with his exploration of the ditches and nettles on our lane. And everyone on the pier finale.

The most ingenious was to temporarily define Chelmsford as Coast while Michael and I watched Essex thrash Yorshire at cricket last September to cement the County Cricket Championship.

If I could single out one participant, nay organiser, it’s Big Andrew. I call on his military skills to manage any tricky bits. In particular he stagemanaged the finish at Land’s End. Thank you. Incidentally, while you’re here could I call up Little Andy, I just want to compare. Who is big and who is little Andy…….

I’m sorry about the blog-it was a necessary evil- I needed to record my moves before they disappeared from memory. I’m continuing it in a briefer way- I find it hard to publish especially when the laptop plays up.

Anyone who wants to join in the walk around Wales- please get in touch. The renewed friendships of old school friends along the walk have been a great bonus and made it fun and rewarding.

Thank you also for coming to this celebration and to everyone involved in organising it. Particularly Marilyn who is marvellous and very , very special.

 

 

 

 

I’m sad to say that I inadvertently missed the last page of toasts – here’s what would have been toasted – I can only suggest you find a drink and settle down with a raised glass for each of the following….

 

TOASTS

To my siblings, Susan, John and Janet

To the spouses of my siblings who have looked after us for 199 years

All those who were born in Essex

All those who were born in Rochford

All who attended Earls Hall Junior School

All who attended Southend High School

All who attended Sheffield University

All Spurs Supporters

All grandchildren

All following from afar downunder.

All who joined the walk around England including Southend Pier, who provided backup and accommodation and all future walkers around Wales

 

 

Thank you so much everybody for taking part

 

Love Bobl.

PS EVER THE ONE TO TAKE CRITICISM TO HEART – I’m stung that Annie thinks I wriggled out of jumping over the house. Let it be said  that this has now been completed to my satisfaction, when I recently erected a scaffold to work on the roof. I made a  platform at ridge height and jumped from one side to the other. Mission accomplished!

 

It wouldn’t have been complete without the cake, singing Happy Birthday and a present.

The cake had an icing replica of my trusty phone and walking gear and was admired by all.

Marilyn’s Speech

There’s one major achievement by Bob that has not so far been mentioned. This is the rebuilding (almost single handedly) of the mill as a home for his family and playground for his grandchildren. If ever true grit determination was needed it was needed here in spades to lift huge oak beams and stones up 3 stories using just pulleys and ropes.

We are very lucky to have a talented artist in the family, Nephew Mark, and he has painted a picture of the mill for Bob so that we will always have a memory of it when we’re too old to live there.

photo[3585]marks painting of the mill

 

The picture has now been unwrapped and is being framed – a picture of the pictureTHE MILL by MARK

painted from pictures taken by Marilyn will appear HERE shortly – meanwhile enjoy the piggy interlude taking place behind Marilyn’s back…..we were streaming random photos from the walk all night and this came up just to embarrass Marilyn.

 

 

 

Surplus picture…… kids..

photo[3541]TOYTABLE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More revellers…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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