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  • Chris Jones

Day 77 & 78. 18th, 19th May. Kinloss to Ardersier.

I had a lovely break back in Lincolnshire, very busy but it was great to catch up with all of my family and spend some time with the grandkids. There was also a lot of Masonic activity, an Installation and exaltation in my chapter, I visited St Clements lodge in Skegness to see my old mate Trevor being initiated. The FreeWheelers Motorcycle Lodge Installation where I Installed Andy as the new Master and I stood in as Master in my mother Lodge as Master while Shaun was away having his hair permed !!! 🤣 All fantastic occasions but by far the most amazing day was The Lincolnshire Provincial Grand Lodge meeting. A very enjoyable Chapter meeting in the morning followed by a nice lunch, with a glass of wine or two and in the afternoon, the Provincial Craft meeting, as a Master in office, for the last time, it was an honour to be present representing my Lodge. However, the very last item of business, The Provincial Grand Master requested that the Provinvial Grand Director of Ceremonies present me to him. To say I was somewhat embarrassed and overwhelmed as I was paraded to the PGM while the organist blasted out the Proclamers tune, 'I would walk 500 miles' !!! The PGM said some lovely things about the walk and the good work the team were doing in raising awareness about poor mental health and encouraging everyone to open up an talk more about it. He then exclaimed that the Province would like to make a donation to my fundraising efforts, it was when he said that £10,000 would be transferred to the account, I swear I nearly fell over... I'd never heard of such a large donation being made... as I was taken back to my seat the room of nearly 600 Freemasons erupted into a frenzy of clapping, singing and banging their feet while the organist once more blasted out '500 Miles'... an incredible day which was made all the better to see three of the bike lodge guys get Provincial Honours and my good freind Jez, currently the Director of Ceremonies in my mother lodge, get promoted to the Assistant Provincial Grand Master. A group of us celebrated in typical Round Table style. 🍺🍷

A full day on the train got me back up to Inverness getting in just before 11pm, I slept in a hostel that night before jumping on a bus back to Kinloss the following morning. A brief meeting with Bruce, The RSM of 39 Engr Regt where we had a good chat over a coffee and I was back on my feet and walking back to Inverness. After the hectic past few weeks it was nice to get walking again and have time to reflect on everything that had happened. I'd spent some quality time with my family and I was considering the fact that I might not see them again until October when my phone buzzed. It was Michelle on FaceTime with my two youngest grandchildren, Reggie being only one just screams and shouts at the screen while Niamh goes all shy and cowers away from the camera. It's a real moral boost for me to see the kids and Michelle most days on FaceTime.

While I'd been away walking, Andy and Ken had been very busy boys organising our FreeWheelers Ladies night, a great night surrounded my friends both old and new. Chris had travelled all the way down from Northumberland while his girlfriend had driven up from Bristol. Emily is a lady Mason so I had a very interesting chat with her over dinner. Michelle and I had another surprise, a young lad working behind the bar at the venue was one of our students many years ago, it was lovely to see Cory all grown up and doing well.

Anyway, all that madness behind me, Andy now Installed as the Master of the lodge, I'm a free man to crack on with this walk. After putting myself through a load of pain the last time I started back after having a break, I was intending on a nice short day to get back into it. The lack of places to pitch my tent meant I actually walked 18.4 miles so by the time I crawled into Nairn, I was in a mess. I fell into the first pub I saw I sank an ice cold pint in record time, closely followed by another. I had a great curry and was pointed in the direction on the campsite at the bottom of the hill. The site reception was closed but the security guard told me where to pitch and not to bother the office in the morning, there would be no charge.

I wandered past this fascinating Sueno's stone, the tallest surviving cross-slab and the most richly carved example of Pictish art in Scotland. The Picts were descendants of the native born Iron Age tribes from the 3rd century AD, this stone, a seriously old slab of stone was thought to be one of the last to be carved by the Picts in the 9th or 10th century.

Falling out of my tent the following morning, I could hardly move. My legs were like concrete and it took me an age to stretch my body and move enough to pack my kit away. Eventually, I was on my way and walking down the beach at last, I saw my first dolphins. A small group of people were standing looking out over the water pointing and sure enough, two dolphins leapt out of the water a couple of times. They were heading away from me so no chance to get a photo.

It was interesting to read about the Bomber Command training station at Forres. The RAF trained thousands of air crew flying the Whitley Mark V here on the shores of the Moray Firth, over 55,000 later went on to lose their lives on bombing raids over Germany. A further 8403 were injured and 9838 became prisoners of war having been shot down and captured. No childish digs here regarding our illustrious boys in blue, what a truly incredible sacrifice these men made.

It was just over 12 miles today when I got into Ardersier, very tired and still very stiff. I camped on the edge of the water next to a line of Motorhomes with an ice cold breeze blowing in off the Firth. I slept well knowing that a short walk tomorrow into Inverness and I was going to have a day off for my birthday. 🍺

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05. Juni 2023

Just playing catchup myself !! It was brilliant to see you at both FW Installation and the Provincial day. I was sat directly opposite you and the PGM when you was 'presented'. You face was indeed a picture !! 😉😉 and when he stated to £10K transfer I did think you would cry or fall over (or maybe both!!) . It was a truly magical moment to honour your efforts.

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