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  • Chris Jones

It’s not all walking…

My last night staying with Charlie and Kara was a pleasure for me but understandably very emotional for them. Kara had filled the fridge with beer and she nipped out for a Chinese takeaway while Charlie and I had a shower, not together of course, we are good friends but his hands are far too soft to be of any use to me in the shower... 😳 I think we watched a film after we ate dinner but I'll be honest, I can never remember any film I watch, I watch and listen but I think my brain switches off because nothing goes in... Kara was clearly very emotional as I was leaving in the morning so she went to bed, she may of course just been tired and still suffering from the lurgy Charlie had given her at the beginning of the week so Charlie and I sat chatting until we had emptied the fridge of beer, sampled a bottle of Port he was saving for a special occasion and being the old farts we are, at 10.30pm we turned in for the night.

Charlie kindly drove me back down to Whitehaven in the morning where we went straight to the lodge to meet some of the Freemasons. The lodge was set up for a Royal Arch Chapter meeting which made a pleasant change and what a Chapter it was.

A stunning lodge room and talking to the guys, a lodge and Chapter that is thriving with a good succession of new members that are keen to get fully involved. It does intrigue me when I visit Lodges and hear the same old stories that the young guys aren't interested to learn the ritual or that the new guys don't want to take on any responsibility. It clearly isn't the case everywhere though as here was another Lodge where all of the Officers wear light blue aprons and the more senior brethren speak of how proud they are to watch the more junior members delivering first class ceremonies. I guess it always comes down to how you work with the junior members, teach them, inspire them and encourage them to progress at their own speed, put this effort in and the rewards for everyone are clear to see.

Another grateful donation made but this time by the Companions of The Lewis Royal Arch Chapter No. 872, the first time I'd recieve a donation by a Chapter, thank you guys and thank you for turning out on mass to meet me, I'm very grateful to you.

As planned, the photographer arrived so we then spent the next two and a half hours taking lots of pictures in the lodge and around the harbour, a little bit embarrassing, draping myself over railings and pretending to walk up and down hills while he clicked away with his camera !!! I think he was satisfied so I wait with baited breath to see the article in the next copy of Freemasonry Today Magazine.

Work done, Charlie very kindly drove me up to

Cockermouth and dropped me off on his way back to Carlisle, there being only one campsite in the town and having researched on their website and studied pictures on Google Maps, I was confident I would be able to camp there so I could attend the Lodge meeting the following night in Cockermouth. I did try to call the site that morning and the day before but got no reply and there was no answer machine for me to leave a message. I can't tell you how annoyed I was after I'd walked up the hill, past their sign confirming I'd be able to camp, all the way into the site to find there was no reception, there was a locked club house but the place was like The Marie Celeste, not a soul to be found anywhere.

I walked to the field where I'd seen caravans and tents on Google Earth and found a battered old toilet block, locked and clearly not in use... Frustrated, angry and spitting expletives to myself, I walked degected out of the 'campsite', turned left and walked the two miles back to town... 🤬 What is wrong with these people ?? I totally understand that businesses sometimes have to change but why wouldn't you change your web site, alter the sign, let everyone know that you've changed ? It would be frustrating enough if I was driving and discovered this but when walking, I'll be blunt, it's a real pain in the arse, and the feet.... I don't know why I'm bothering moaning, the owners of this site will be like so many others I've come across, it's clearly easy money to cover the land in battered old static caravans and charge an annual ground rent. Knickers to touring campers, backpackers and motorhomers... I'm coming to the realisation that I'll be wild camping a lot more on this walk as clearly backpacking is not fashionable, not to a lot of campsite owners anyway...

Sorry, rant over... in such circumstances there is only one solution... Pub.... 🍺

The first pub I came to, I dumped my pack outside to save a table, ordered myself a nice cold pint and sat down with my map, I needed a plan B... within a few minutes I was chatting with a group of ladies who were up here to wild swim in the local tarns, the landlord had offered me a meal on the house and a painter working up a ladder on the property next door, overhearing my predicament had offered me a bed in his house !!! Incredible !!! How quickly things can change when good people put themselves out to help a Freemason in a state of trial...

Tim and Paula from The Bush were lovely, Tim was ex Army, full career before he got out to start in the pub game and he promised me a lovely meal when I was ready. Cheers guys. 😍

Chris was also ex army, he'd served a full

Career in The Prince of Wales Own Regiment of Yorkshire and what a bloke he is. Put aside the fact that he originates from Yorkshire, we've already established that Yorkshire folk aren't all complete tight arses, Chris had literally heard me talking to Tim and Paula while swinging from his ladder above us, climbed down and instantly offered me a bed. Not only that, I actually needed a bed for two nights as my plan was to attend a meeting the following evening at the Lodge but that wasn't a problem for Chris. We left the pub after a woman invited herself to sit at our table, whatever we were talking about she had a very strong opinion and whether we liked it or not, we were getting to hear her opinion. Chris was getting on my nerves and I could see Chris was losing it so we supped up and headed back to Chris's place where he cracked a bottle of wine and laid out an excellent cheese board which we devoured while having a good chat. A hot shower and bed followed as Chris had to be back up that ladder first thing in the morning, that shop front wasn't going to paint itself.

Before Chris left for work, he left out his iron and ironing board so I could sort out my kit and he also left me a key so I could let myself in and out of his house as I had booked a session at the local swimming pool. I always try to find a pool if and when I have a day off so I can do plenty of stretching exercises and actually so I can do some other activity other than just walking.

What an incredibly trusting man Chris is to allow me to come and go in his house while he was out at work. Showered and dressed for the lodge meeting I met Chris first in The Bush for a couple of jars before I headed to the Lodge.

What a beautiful Lodge room, incredible murals of the surrounding fells covered the lodge walls, myself and the other visitors were treated to an excellent ceremony of raising followed by a very enjoyable Festive Board. I won first prize in the raffle, a rare event indeed, a very nice bottle of whiskey which I gave to Chris to thank him for hosting me and the lodge made a very generous donation to my fundraiser. Thank you to the John Dalton Lodge 7577 for a great evening and thank you to Neil, the Provincial Communications Officer for driving for over an hour, again, to host me for the evening. Just incase anyone is wondering, John Dalton was an English Chemist, physicist and meteorologist that was born in Eaglesfield near Cockermouth. He is best known for introducing atomic theory into chemistry and for his research into colour blindness, which he had. A clever chap indeed and it's not known if he was a Freemason.

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