I was up and away at a decent time as Chris needed to get to work, not before he knocked us up a cooked breakfast though, this man is incredible. I did question him as to whether he had ever considered becoming a Freemason, he told me that had been invited in the past but he didn't think it was for him. A fair comment and one I hear a lot, I guess it's one of the difficulties we have when encouraging good men to join the fraternity, we can talk in great detail about what we do and why we do it but it is very difficult to convey what being a member does for you as an individual. It means diferent things to different people and the personal benefits are vast, benefits in how you can become a better man, a better dad, a better husband. I believe it would be very difficult to be involved in Freemasonry and not be changed for the better, one of the reasons I love being a member but I guess it's not for everyone.
I jumped on a bus to get back to Whitehaven but the bus route took me back to Workington first which was handy, I'd been contacted by Paul back in May offering support when I got to Cumbria. Paul was a fellow Sapper and an equally enthusiastic Freemason and he was available to meet for a coffee so we agreed to meet in the Wetherspoons opposite the bus station.
Plenty of banter ensued, much of which about the fact that I was in a bar and drinking a coke which I'm glad was caught on camera by Pauls lad, who was also drinking coke !!! Just proves that I'm not a complete drunk, I can enter a boozer and not drink beer, occasionally... We had a good chat, put the world to rights and parted company as I needed to catch the next bus and Paul had to get home to cut the grass, I know which I'd prefer to be doing... Well actually, I thought I knew which one I'd prefer to be doing until I'd been sat on the packed bus for ten minutes on route to Whitehaven. At each stop, the bus continued to fill up with extras from that film, The Hills have Eyes !!! Mouth breathers, leg draggers, a one eyed fat bloke who was sweating like he'd just ran 5 miles to catch the bus, he was very angry and was shouting and swearing at anyone that dared to get eye contact, surprisingly easy to do I found although I wasn't entirely sure if he looked directly at me as the single eye he had, appeared to be a bit wobbed !!! The bus driver threatened to throw cyclops off so he calmed down but stood at the front of the bus menacingly staring at each passenger in turn. At one stop two kids got on with their dad who instructed them to F'ing sit down wherever they could find an F'ing seat. Lucky me, the lad who I guessed was 7 or 8 years old and already 12-13 stone sat down as much on me as the seat next to me. His little chubby snot covered face looked up a couple of times from the TikToK clips he was studying on his phone but I kept starring out of the window to avoid getting into any in depth converastion. As much to filter the stench of stale urine my little mate was emanating, as to avoid catching any gopping airborne disease, I discreetly eased my shirt up over my mouth and nose in an attempt to create a makeshift filter. Was it 'The Hills Have Eyes' or 'The Village of the Damned' ? Might of even been "The Children of The Corn'....
I couldn't get off the bus fast enough, I grabbed my rucksack and got out into the fresh air to walk into this pair !! There was a carnival going on in Whitehaven so perhaps that bus was full of film extras dressed up to take part in the carnival and were not the unfortunate consequence of living so close to Sellafield...
I had made contact with Eric, you may remember Eric, he was the chap that had driven up to the border to meet me crossing back into England but had somehow missed Neil, Peter and I doing a half hour photoshoot at the border signpost. I told Eric we would be there at about 1pm which we were, we got our photos and left while Eric sat in his car reading a book until 5pm waiting for us to arrive !! Anyway, Eric had agreed to meet me and walk with me for the afternoon which was great. The weather was good, we had a lovely 12 mile cliff top walk to St Bees Head and I very much enjoyed Erics company.
We actually bumped into another Freemason on the cliffs but sadly I never noted down his name and my memory is completely useless at remembering place names, peoples names, Lodge numbers... Sorry brother but it was lovely to meet you..
It was early evening when we decended the cliff from St Bees Head into St Bees, I knew there was a campsite at the bottom of the cliffs so we went straight there to see if I could get in. Eric very kindly paid for my pitch, I set my tent up and we headed over to the hotel for a cold drink before Eric had to sort himself a lift to get home. We were sitting chatting when a guy passing our table walked over and said "hello Chris, hows it going ?". I stood and shook his hand trying to place him in the many places I had recently visited on this Cumbrian coast, it was no good, I couldn't and its not surprising I couldn't ! I had met Peter months ago when I had been walking up the East coast and passing through Durham, that seemed like a life time ago and it made me feel like I'd been away from from home walking for years.
Eric had to leave so I left the hotel with him and we walked over into the town so we could visit the Lodge, I'd recieved a call to say that there was a function on that evening in the Lodge and Andrew would let me in to have a look around. Fortunately Andrew lives right next door so he opened up and as we were looking around, the guests were arriving downstairs for the function, Last Night of The Proms was kicking off at 7.30pm on a large TV and I was invited to stay to join in. I was intrigued by the ingenious system for revealing the Tracing Boards, very clever and I was grateful to have a look around St Bega Lodge 8796. Thanks Andrew and good luck next year when you will be installed as The Master of the Lodge.
I did join Andrew for a few beers to watch the Proms but I had to nip out to find some food, I was starving and was most upset when I walked into the first pub to hear they had just finished serving. I quickly left and walked over the road, walked into the bar just as a waiter walked past with a big plate of burger and chips, this was looking better. I queued up for what felt like an age only to learn when I eventually got served that the kitchen had closed, apparently the poor chef had been working since 8am that morning and it was now 8.30pm... I'm not going to rant, move away from the light, go back to the lodge and drink beer, you wont die if you miss a meal I could hear Michelle saying in my ear... So I did, I went straight back to the Lodge and was offered a plate of butties, sadly there were only egg butties left and as the only thing in the world I don't eat is eggs, I tucked into a few sausage rolls and a couple of pints while singing along to Jerusalem and Land of Hope and Glory, flags flying, feet stamping....
Alas, that was more than enough excitement for this boy for one day so I bid my hosts farewell and walked back to the campsite. I nearly made it back but walking past the hotel I was accosted by a group of people getting some fresh air, suitably cooled down they returned to the wedding disco dragging me with them... The reason Peter was over from Durham, it was his mate that had got married that day so naturally, I joined them for a pint, or two... I did draw the line at joining in with the conga though, my feet weren't up for that...
The following morning I woke up feeling a bit rough, I had a head ache, I had a sore throat and my body was aching all over. I'd had a few pints but I wasn't even nearly drunk the night before so fearing I was coming down with something I decided to stay in St Bees for the day, I walked down to the beautiful church in St Bees and sat through the service, back to my tent and slept for a few hours in the afternoon and over to the hotel at tea time to get a meal and to watch the rugby, I managed one game, without alcohol and was back in my tent for 9pm, praying I would be feeling better in the morning and I wasn't coming down with the lurgy.
Monday morning and I woke to the sound of the rain gently falling on my tent. I lay there for a while before I started my daily stretching excercises and I was relieved that I actually felt okay. I was still aching a bit but the sore throat and head ache had been beaten back by the paracetamol so I packed up, nipped to the cafe for a bacon butty and a coffee and hit the trail.
I stopped at Sellafield on the way past hoping that Adam, The Wm of John Dalton Lodge in Cockermouth was free to meet me for a coffee but he was busy on the firing range so I carried on to Seascale where I had some lunch and waited for Adam who had callled to say he was on route to meet me for a brew. It was good to see him but a bit of a pain as it added an hour to my lunch break, it had started raining when I set off again and I still had a few hours until I reached Ravenglass.
I staggered over the foot bridge into Ravenglass just before 7pm after a 19.94 mile walk and went straight to the campsite, I was exhausted but my day wasn't done yet. I'd had a call from Stephen, a good friend of Neils, he offered to pick me up and take me for some dinner and then drive me down to Millom where there had been a meeting that evening so I could meet the guys. Stephen turned up as I was pitching my tent in the rain, I changed my shirt and swapped my boots and socks for my flip flops and we headed down to the local for a lovely meal before driving to Millom, it was only half an hour down the road. It was great to meet the brethren, amongst them a Past Provincial Grand Master and one of the Assistant Provincial Grand Masters, they had just finished their meal and had the raffle, the proceeds they kindly donated to my fund raiser so after some quick introductions and a quick tour of the beautiful lodge room, another purpose built Lodge, we were back in the car driving back to the campsite.
I was absolutely shattered when we got back but I had to get a shower before I crawled into my tent. I lay listening to the rain for a few seconds and noticed it was gone midnight, that was the last thing I noticed as I slipped into a deep sleep, I didn't wake until 8am the next morning when I recieved a text message from Eric who was driving down to walk with me for the day. These Cumbrian boys were looking after me incredibly well but I was getting the feeling there was a bit of tag team play going on, they were trying to kill me !!!