The longest day and maybe the shortest blog post and the two aren’t unrelated. Tiredness can affect more than the legs and feet!
It’s not just the walking though, it’s also because of how action-packed these days are. After ending the walking today, outside Stoke Town Hall, we went into the nearby Glebe pub to a warm Stokie welcome (and a pint of Joule’s real ale), and from there went to the Rose of Kashmir for a curry followed by some hard-hitting input from local social workers and activists. Thanks to Sue Kent of BASW for organising this and for ensuring we heard from Kev Chesters, of the Midlands Association of Palliative Care Social Workers, Linda Holt of Keele University, Angela Glendenning and Jennifer Pardue about the impact of austerity locally (this will be documented in more detail elsewhere).
But I’m starting at the end. There were 17.3 miles before all of that, and before that, a wonderful breakfast provided by the House of Bread, an organisation that offers home-cooked meals for vulnerable and homeless people in Stafford. Today it was us they provided bacon rolls for, and cake for later in the day. It’s an amazing operation, set up in recent years by Will Morris, supported by helpers and volunteers. Will told us about the growth of their food bank, from a small cupboard to 4 tons in a warehouse, their drop-in, the baking bread together of a Friday, but we didn’t get time to hear the details of the ASBO they got for helping homeless people.
On to Stafford Market Place and another stirring rally, this time ended with a performance of the Hokey Cokey; yes, Maris, the BASW England manager said she was going to set us a challenge each day, and today we had to do two rounds of this. The #BootOutAusterity walkers are up for a challenge and did this one with gusto!
Onwards - past Stafford Prison, up to the ring road and then a slight change of scenery, up a country road, then footpaths and stiles across fields to the first sight of the Trent and Mersey Canal that we’ll be following long stretches of between now and Runcorn.
Lunch in Stone; then Barlaston, for our afternoon break, where we ate House of Bread cake outside the Plume of Feathers, hoping that Neil Morrisey would be at home, though sadly not. Oh well, the Boot Out Austerity walkers will continue to Behave Badly.
Guy Shennan, BASW Chair