Firstly, I apologise for my delay in putting a Blog out to keep you updated with my progress and to explain why there haven't been any blogs for a while. I've recieved lots of messages checking to see if I'm ok and I thank you for them.
I managed to get as far as Porthmadog in North Wales by the end of November, my blogs were a couple of days late at that point so I still need to get them finished, I'll do that over the next few days.
As you are aware, I was having a reoccurring problem with my feet, particularly my left foot. I had returned home and had some treatment to break down a calcium build up which was causing me a lot of discomfort, my podiatrist had also concluded that I was suffering from plantar fasciitis, a stretching of the plantar tendon caused by the arches of my feet not being suitably supported while repeadly walking long distances. If you have ever suffered with this ailment, you don't need me to tell you how painful it is, particularly first thing in the morning when you get up and try to walk, the pain is relentless but because I have been suffering with it for so long, I think I have been putting up with it and convincing myself, my feet are bound to be sore, I'm doing a lot of walking... Stupid boy Jones !!! I've got a problem and I've been making it worse by not getting it sorted out !!!
Anyway, following my last treatment at the beginning of November, a follow up appointment was booked so my insoles could be checked and have the final adjustments made, I was hoping that my feet would have improved eough so I could cancel the appointment and crack on with the walk. However, during the two weeks leading up to that appointment, the pain in my left foot was getting worse every day, normally, when I got into my tent at night, after a good 'wet wipe' shower and after massaging some deep heat into my foot, it would settle down and I'd get a good nights sleep. It was getting so that the pain and the never ending throbbing was waking me up at night and each day I was in agony when I tried to stand up, something else had clearly gone wrong and the pain was getting too much to put up with every day.
I'd nearly finished walking around the LLeyn Peninsula so got a bus the last few miles into Porthmadog to catch a train home. We all know how lucky I am with the trains, they weren't running from Porthmadog for some reason so I had to catch two buses to get me to Barmouth where I could get a train to Birmingham, change for Nottingham and then onto Lincoln. 9 1/2 hours later, Michelle picked me up from Lincoln... Oh how I love travelling on the trains in the UK... 🤬
I attended the appointment with the podiatrist but left feeling very disappointed that the insoles had done nothing for me apart from cause more pain and the podiatrist could only advise me that the new insoles were likely to be painful while my feet adjusted to them. I was fed up so I called my doctor and they advised me to get an X-Ray. I went straight to Lincoln A & E, had an X-Ray and returned the following week to see the consultant who confirmed that there was a black line on my left heel bone which could be a stress fracture but he wasn't sure. The only way to find out for sure would be to have an MRI Scan which I had on Saturday in Louth...
I was performing like a moron trying to fasten up my rather fetching nighty around the back so I wore it the wrong way around and tied it up at the front. Forty minutes of lying in a big noisy and very windy tube and it was done. I now have to wait until 8th January to return to the consultant who will hopefully have some answers as to what has gone wrong with the heel of my foot. The pain has eased but it is still very painful when I get up and start walking on it so there's nothing I can do but rest, wait and enjoy my favourite time of the year, Christmas !!! Great... 😬
I wasn't entirely sure how Christmas was going to work out anyway, I wanted to carry on with the walk but I didn't want Michelle to spend Christmas Day on her own so we were trying to work out whether she would come to me somewhere in Wales. We don't have to worry now, she is stuck with my miserable gob right through Christmas and New Year and she can't get rid of me... 🙄 sorry darling, I will try to be cheerful, I promise... 😘
It's not all bad news, I have managed to see my kids and grandkids which has been lovely, Niamh is now four so she's very excited about Santa making an appearance, Reggie is only two so he hasn't got a clue what's going on although that doesn't stop him from being very excited and Ava being ten, well clearly she knows exactly what's going on and she knows that on Christmas morning, her bedroom will be packed with all sorts of lovely things.... I also got to pick Ava up from school a couple of times so we could sneak off by ourselves and have hot chocolate with marshmallows, our special time to catch up without her little brother getting all of the attention...
I also got to attend a few Freemasons meetings that I wasn't expecting to get to, The December Quarterly Communications meeting down at Grand Lodge in London being the highlight. It is always a great day out and a bunch of us have been going down for the December meeting for many years so I was a bit miffed that I would miss this year. However, I was home so we requested permission to set up a little stand somewhere in the magnificent Freemasons Hall in an attempt to raise awareness about my challenge, as much to gain some support for the remainder of the walk as to add to the fundraiser. It was a very special day for me, I was given permission to set up my tent and a banner right outside the doors of the Grand Temple which meant I got to see lots of people as they entered the temple for the meeting, people I knew from home as over 90 Lincolnshire Freemasons made the trip to London but also lots of Freemasons I had met on my walk. Stuart and I drove down from Lincoln and got the tube from Cockfosters, it's was a long day but very enjoyable and I'm very grateful to Stuart for accompanying me down to London and supporting me through the day. We had a great laugh and with nearly six hours travelleing to and from Lincolnshire chatting, it should be Stuart writing a book about his travels and experiences, my little walk is nowhere near as interesting....
This picture of the Lincolnshire Freemasons was the idea of our Provincial Grand Master, Stuart then put his mind to the challenge and detailed Simon to run up and down the stairs to the balcony to get the best picture. I felt a little guilty keeping the guys out of the bar while we were sorting ourselves out but what a picture, a few good men working together to get a job done combined with the power of social media, this picture reached over 100,000 people within a few days of the meeting, quite incredible and adding to the national story being seen all over social media, Freemasonry is worth a look. If you are already in, you know, if you're not, have a read, have a chat and come and join us, I'm proud to say that I know every one of the faces in this picture and what a great bunch of guys they are. I can also say that my experience thus far of walking around the coastline, I'm confident that this could easily be 100 Freemasons from Durham or Northumberland or Cumberland & Westmoreland, Lancashire or Cheshire, they would still be the same great guys with the same ethos. Good men, working hard to make themselves better men while working even harder to make the communities we live in, better places. The day was made more special as I was able to join the Masonic Charitable Foundations annual board meeting which was followed by the members meeting, it was fascinating to hear about so many of the charities and beneficiaries that have been supported by the MCF through the past year. It really is an amazing Foundation that supports and changes the lives of so many people, in fact, there is so much going on and so many people being supported, it is impossible for Freemasons to keep up with the numbers, yet alone anyone outside of the fraternity. Hearing about the incredible difference we are making really did enthuse me to get cracking with the walk, both to raise as much money as I can but also to continue to help raise awareness of how much Freemasonry is doing in the wider community.
I also managed to join some fellow FreeWheelers in our quest to travel around the country to visit all of the other Motorcycle Lodges. I travelled with Andy, our Worshipful Master down to Slough to visit the Buckinghamshire Motorcycle Lodge to watch them Initiate two young men into their Lodge. Both keen motorcyclists and neither of them were English, I think Spanish or possibly South American, I meant to ask but never got the chance as it was such a fun packed day, lots of laughter and banter, the Festive Board was brilliant.
The following Saturday, I travelled over to Long Eaton to watch the Derbyshire Motorcycle Lodge Initiate four new members... These guys are doing very well introducing new members into Freemasonry, the combined interest of riding motorcycles and spending time with 'like minded men' is clearly a contributing factor to these special interest lodges increasing their numbers. I drove over to Derbyshire with Ken our Senior Warden and Phil, our Junior Deacon but also met up with Chris, our Assistsant Secretary, he had ridden over there on his bike, despite it being the 16th December !!!! He was actually the only person to turn up on a bike, these guys, like us don't normally meet in the winter months so normally the car park would be rammed with bikes, it was a lovely bright and sunny day which was ideal for a ride out but a boring 3 hour ride home in the dark for Chris....
So that's enough Freemasonry for this year. Apart from a planned meet up on the beach at Skegness on New Years Eve. There will be a good turn out of Masons with their significant others, kids, dogs, parents and grand kids. We will be borrowing our three grandkids for the day and taking them out on the beach for some fresh air.
Until then, I will spend Christmas Day with Michelle and Ted. Our children all have plans so we will catchup with them later in the week, until then we can put our feet up and relax in front of whatever crap they re-run on the telle. We have enough food in to feed the First Battalion The Foot and Mouth, enough booze to start our own pub, I'm not moaning though, my face is aching I'm trying so hard to maintain this smile !!! 😬
Merry Christmas to you all, enjoy those cherished moments with the people that mean the most to you and I hope to catch up on the missing blogs over the next few days and get back to the walk early in the New Year. Cheers. 🥂🎊