I think this might be the most exciting year that I have ever been preparing to tuck under the muffly duvet of the past, sent off with an affectionate kiss on its glowing forehead, with a big glass of something cheerful and forward-looking waiting for me downstairs. Goodnight, 2013; I liked you a lot. You just went on and on and on, and you could have hung around for longer – I wouldn’t have minded.
This is the first year that I can remember not feeling at all ambushed by January. For a few months already I’ve found it hard to believe it was still 2013. And so I can only surmise that the way to make life feel longer (and therefore be longer, since all we really have is perception), is to stay in different places for at least half of the year, have new views before your eyes every day, breathe a lot of fresh air, make new friends, and do something that really scares you. Like asking for help, day after day.
Let’s start with moving house every day: come on, it’s the only way! Here are Chico and Flo in their very own borrowed shed, but read on to see how the stats panned out for me and Chico this year.
Sleep all over the place
Gardens/fields/paddocks = 26
Campsites = 26
Beds or floors = 25
Peculiar ‘others’ (including a lighthouse, vintage camper van, tipi etc) = 23
Wild camping = 20
Caravans = 6
Altogether we stayed in 126 different places, over 168 days. (Oh, by the way, I’ve finally finished updating the map, so you can see all the places we stayed here.) Thank you, every host. I have a great deal of people to raise that glass to this evening.
Cheers to you, fantastic new friends of 2013!
In the six weeks since stopping, I have really missed moving. At first I couldn’t bear to look outside because I didn’t think I deserved views if I wasn’t going to be living in them. But slowly I’m getting happier to be a person who lives inside and enjoys outside, and – dammit – it’s the bleak midwinter! The days are already getting longer, and it’s OK to hibernate and plan the future outdoor adventuring. Relax, woman.
It’s not all loss, as the brightness of the journey fades – I’ve realised that I’ve got something stored away that I can enjoy forever. I’ve seen a few pictures of Welsh beaches, and realised with glee that I know them all! I’ve pretty much trodden the lot. Every time I leave Wales, for ever more, I will have to cross the line that I have drawn; I’ll have to step out of my own magic circle. That’s something to hold on to.
Cheers, views and vistas, hills and cwms, the fading and the calcifying memories of 2013!
Chico. My dear furry fellow. I didn’t even know you a year ago, and now… well, I still have no idea what you’re thinking, but I’m starting to wonder if perhaps you are just shy. Thank you for being my companion – for all your curmudgeonliness (and let’s not talk about the Clun valley ever again, eh?), you were more compliant than a human companion would ever have been under the same circumstances – left to sleep in a field, not knowing where we were going, ruffled by dozens of people every day, pulled about by the head.
Cheers, you utter wonderdonkey of 2013. My heart has grown bigger, to accommodate your great big ears!
Ask for help
Somewhere in the middle of March I asked for help, and just didn’t stop (there’s a blog about those early days here). Every day since then, some days many times over, I have asked and asked and asked. And I have received and received and received. I thought it might finish when the walk did, but then I launched this Kickstarter campaign, and underestimated how similar it would be to the walk – just asking and asking and asking some more. But this time I can’t even see the people who are helping me – I can’t offer to wash up, or see you enjoying Chico, or give you a hug as we leave. It’s really strange being so freaking needy! Who knows if it will work? People are so generous and there’s 28 days left, but if we don’t make the £28,000 we don’t get to keep any of it. It’s scary. (There’s more about all that here and the Kickstarter itself is here – please buy the book! Ask ask ask, need need need!)
Cheers, strange dynamics and lessons of 2013! I don’t quite understand yet, but perhaps that’s what 2014 is for…
To you and your kith and kin, your beasts and creatures, your houses and gardens and fields and lighthouses, and open hearts and wallets, for coming along with me and keeping me so cheerful and floored by wonder: thank you, heehaw, and CHEERS! Happy new year!