Time has been odd over the last fortnight. Simultaneously rushing and dragging, with some days being hard to adjust to with their glacial slowness, whilst the distance from the end of the walk seemed to hurtle away from me. Going to Edinburgh was a good plan as a decompression zone, even if the first couple of days were a challenge, getting used to lots of people about and engaging with entertainment again. I hadn't really looked at any sort of screen whilst I was walking, apart from my phone to write this. I couldn't settle to watch TV in the evenings. So sitting in a room with a crowd being performed to initially felt quite overwhelming, a sensory overload. But I acclimatised, and my Fringe experience was certainly helped by being really fit, there was no problem dashing from one venue to another to fit in the crazy number of shows that I wanted to go to.
Coming home similarly was difficult to begin with. This walk has been my focus for six years, and getting home meant the end of all the dreams and the planning. Apart from the psychological shock, my body was finding it an adjustment too, with my legs twitching to keep moving. I dealt with it all by being quite quiet, being with my special people, going out walking for as long and as often as I could, trying not to feel disappointed by being in my familiar landscapes, but instead looking for the good things in them. Slowly over the last ten days I've been getting back to doing work and socialising, and I have begun to put the garments of my old life back on. But there have been changes. I have lost a bit of weight, so my clothes feel loose and odd. I have been having extremely vivid and memorable dreams, often waking feeling that my brain has been refiling and reorganising all night. And, simultaneously much of the big thinking that people had assumed I'd have been doing whilst I was away has been happening over the last fortnight. As I think I've said before, it's hard to have big thoughts when you're just concentrating on not falling over. But now I'm not in danger of tripping up so much, there's been a lot of brain work.
The fundraising has been amazingly successful. I had thought that the people who sponsored me last year wouldn't want to do it again, and therefore I set my initial target at what I thought would be a stretch goal of £1000. I was wrong, so many people have been so generous. The fund is currently over £7100. I did my first Samaritans shift since getting back a couple of days ago, and it felt really great to be in the branch where such good work happens, knowing I'd done something to help support that.
At the weekend I took myself off to walk ten miles near Princes Risborough, taking in a bit of the Ridgeway and a bit of the Chiltern Way, which gave me the chance to have some expansive views and to feel the satisfying tiredness from walking a steep hill. It made me settled and happy, and aware that doing this is the time I feel most like me. There was even a bonus windmill.
Many people have asked what the next challenge will be, and I'm currently not sure. Maybe it will be in Wales, as I didn't cross that border during the England leg of the trek. Possibly Offa's Dyke. Or maybe some of the Scottish islands or even as far away as Patagonia. Maybe I'll do a camping experiment to see how that goes. Everything is up for grabs. But aside from the detail of where I will go, I know that I want there to be another trip, and that I want to keep writing. I hope you'll come along for the ride, wherever that will take me.