Here it was, my final day. I had always intended this venture to finish in mid-October, however much I had achieved. Given all hat had gone before, it felt remarkably like any other day.
With Gavin and Liam I left Brighton by the Palace Pier at 11 and within a minute was greeted by Paul and Lesley, whom we’d met by pure chance on Bognor seafront way back on Day 2. It was never going to take too long to drift along to Shoreham so I’d allowed plenty of time to stop and chat. Two ladies stopped us in Hove and slipped a donation – thank you.
Past King Alfred to Hove Lagoon and Carolyn turned up with Janet on their bikes, having cycled in from Shoreham. We caught up with them again at Carats café where Dave and Maggie joined us. Mum and Dad were at Shoreham lifeboat station.
By any scenic measure both the port road and the road to Shoreham rank low, but now it was the home straight. I noticed almost nothing except the pinkish light and a feeling of calm. It was all very different to the kaleidoscope of emotions I experienced as Wayne and I looked down from 1000m on Banyuls sur Mer at the end of our Pyrenees trek in 2011. I had been on familiar ground since Hastings, so maybe the transition to the ending was gentler, the homeliness more tangible. There will be much more to reflect on, though, for sure.
So by the footbridge, the little crowd now joined by John and Martyn, I reached the end point, the place whence I had started on Feb 10. A quiet and understated finish was what I wanted.
Within a couple of minutes, an extraordinary, apocalyptic orange sky had drifted over Shoreham. For an hour from 2:30 it became dark like I had never experienced before, like the sky was falling down. What kind of message was this after the quiet, warm stroll we had enjoyed? As if the return to normality was going to be anything but …
My day finished with a delightful family meal out, Carolyn and our boys and their girls all together. Important things in life seems all the more so after long excursions.
This has been an extraordinary adventure, on which there is much to reflect and to write. And I’ll do so later. In the meantime, one HUGE thankyou to my family and friends, to Leigh-Beth and her dedicated fundraising team at Parkinson’s UK, to the friendly volunteers and crew at the RNLI stations who have welcomed me by, and to all of you who have taken an interest. Having you there in the background has been a great lift every day whether I have needed it or not.