I strode more slowly now into the centre of the bridge, and all of a sudden, and without warning, the tears came again. It was a hugely emotive moment for me. Whilst I’d passed the half way mark in terms of miles without incident a number of hours ago, this felt like the emotional half way point. A very definite sense of crossing from the North to the South. Essentially it felt like I was now on my way home and –
‘Gee, hey, are you alriiiight, sir?’
I looked up in the concerned face of an American tourist, who was standing next to his – not to put too fine a point on it – enormous children, and who’s worried face showed a genuine concern.
‘Ah, hi yes. I’m fine. I’m... I’m just having a bit of an emotional day, that’s all’.
‘Is there anyone I can call? Anything I can do?’
‘No, no it’s fine. I’ve just... Um...’
My words trailed away as I once again hit the same wall I’d done previously. I was never sure how to explain quickly and efficiently what I was doing. I was always keen not to say too much and risk sounding boastful, but also understood the need to steady people’s concern when they saw me standing by the roadside in tears. ‘I’m doing a very long walk, for charity. And this is the half way point. I’ve walked here from Cambridge’, I explained, not expecting him to know where Cambridge even was.
‘Gee, that’s like fifty miles away at least’, he replied, surprisingly me a little. ‘And you’ve walked here this morning. That’s incredible’.
Oh lordy, I thought. He thinks I’ve done it today, all in one hit. ‘Um, no. I started on Monday and – ‘
‘Oh okay’, he replied looking a little bit deflated. ‘But that’s alright. That’s good too I suppose’.
Yes. Yes it is.
‘Daaaaaaad I’m bored’, said one of the enormous children, rolling his eyes at me. ‘Can we goooooooo?’
Daaaaaaaaaad looked at me with a gee-shucks expression, reached out and pumped my hand furiously. ‘Good luck with the walk, and the camping. Hope you’re not too uncomfortable in the tent’.
‘Well, I... erm... ‘
But with that they were gone, leaving me a little deflated that not only had I taken three days to get this far, but I wasn’t even camping. Lazy, clearly.
But I didn’t care that much. I was South of the river and I was on my way home.