As far as resuming my travel plans goes… I intend to do so (having been informed of my civic duty to do so) but I can’t see me doing this before the end of 2020 and it’s unlikely I’ll do so before Autumn 2021.
There are a couple of reasons for this: 1. There is far too much uncertainty around borders remaining open; 2. I came back to a job working in Public Health and we are fairly busy at present and likely to be for some time; and 3. I really fancy the idea of spending the next Summer going to gigs and festivals… if we are able to do those again.
So no travel plans at all?
Well, there is one… my friend Chris is undertaking a walk from Eastbourne on the South Coast of England to Stoke-on-Trent in the Midlands and I thought I’d join him for a couple of the days in October 2020.
He had been planning to do this walk this Summer but Covid-19 but an end to those intentions. Now that the walk has shifted to Autumn and I’m back in the country, I thought I’d tag along.
To be honest, it’s not one of the famous treks or walking routes of the UK but there’s a reason for this journey and a story behind it.
Chris’s son Thiago Frederick Leite Gibbs came into the world on 4 February 2019 and left it on 28 November later that year. I never met Thiago but Chris says that in the short time he was alive, Thiago brought joy, love and happiness to his family, friends and the medics caring for him.
Thiago was born with complications with his heart and though both University Hospital Stoke and Birmingham Children’s Hospital did everything they could for him in his short life, it wasn’t to be. He died peacefully in the arms of Chris and his wife.
Chris says: “While Thiago was in my life – and spiritually he will always be there – he taught me a valuable lesson, one that I am finally going to heed. And that was to focus on the positive, be glass half full rather than glass half empty and do something about the things in life that you can control if it will make life better.”
This mantra led Chris to plan a hike.
Starting on Saturday 19 September, in his home town of Eastbourne and ending in Stoke-on-Trent at the main entrance of the hospital Thiago was born in, on Friday 16 October, he shall be undertaking a month-long trek.
All in all, it’s 282 miles but probably more like 300+ taking into account all the wrong turns he reckons he will make.
Roughly the route will take in some of the Sussex Downs from the South coast to London, the Birmingham to London canal path before the final northbound section.
I’m joining Chris in October for a stretch hiking towards Warwick. I’ve spent quite a lot of the last few months making sure I’m ready for this with early morning walks along the river Ribble, exploring Preston and also heading out for longer hikes at weekends.
Chris’s hike serves two incredible purposes: “I’ll be doing this both to remember the son that I’ll never get to see grow up and marry and also to raise as much as I physically can for two wonderful hospital charities, which cared for him with such extraordinary levels of compassion.”
If you would like to help Chris reach his target of £10,000 which he has already raised over £8,000 towards, please donate here.
If you want to find out more, Chris has also been writing an incredibly personal blog about planning the hike and dealing with his grief for Thiago.
Sometimes it’s raw, sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it’s about coping with grief while dealing with continuing daily life and its weirdness during Lockdown… but it’s always honest.