My Brush with Homelessness

I have just had an email from the Big Issue Foundation warning that Britain faces a homelessness crisis (even worse than usual) this autumn, and asking me to do three things.   The first was to sign their petition  asking for government reforms to prevent homelessness.   I have now done this. Secondly, the email encouraged people to fundraise for the Big Issue Foundation, which I am already doing .   My sponsored walk grew from 200 to 300 miles, and I have currently completed 291. But thirdly, when I clicked to sign the petition, the Big Issue Foundation asked whether I could take various actions to help them, including telling the story of my experience of coming close to homelessness. I am lucky enough never to have had to sleep on the streets.   In 2013 I could have been at risk of homelessness, as, after four years of unemployment, I had started working on a zero-hours contract.   This made my situation much more precarious than when I was unemployed, because I might have no

Miles to Go - Day Seventeen

  Saturday 17 th July 2021 Considering how hot it has been lately, I decided it was time to start setting out for walks first thing in the morning, the way I had originally intended.   No more reading aloud for over an hour, going downstairs for a leisurely breakfast, and then getting washed and dressed.   Instead, I would get up straight away, get washed and dressed immediately, have a quick bite to eat, and set off. Of course, I wasn’t all that organised, but after nearly setting out, nipping back to fetch two maps and a sunhat, forgetting to collect a mask (oh well, I’d got a disposable one in my bag for emergencies), I was finally on my way by 7.30.   It was early enough that most of the goats at a nearby farm were still in their stalls, butting at the walls and calling to be let out, apart from one who had found a way out. I needed two maps today because, as I had time for an all-day walk, I wanted to see whether I could cope with walking to Wells and back.   The weather was

Miles to Go - Day Sixteen - Here Be Dragons

  Friday 16 th June 2021 Today started off cheerfully, with a short morning walk to Oakhill and back with PDB11 , passing across the recreation ground.   My friend Doom Metal Singer had mentioned seeing people holding yoga classes outside on the grass of the recreation ground, so as to maximise their fresh air, and how awkward it felt sitting near them without meaning to gate-crash the party.   This morning, we saw some, looking very relaxed. For myself, what I found most relaxing, after days of long walks in sturdy boots, was to slip my sandals off and walk across the cool, dewy grass in bare feet.   Admittedly, the coolest parts of the recreation ground were under trees, and therefore the most likely to have knobbly bits of twig, but it was worth it – and so was looking up at the pattern of leaves above us.   I tried to keep up the practice I had tried out yesterday, of repeating a mantra to myself with every footstep, as well. I thought that I had left enough time for a prope

Miles to Go - Days Fourteen and Fifteen

  Wednesday 14 th July 2021 Of late, I have not been blogging regularly about my walks.   It would be nice if this were because I was too busy doing all-day walks every day, but I’m not.   It would be nice if it were because I was busy with other things like writing stories, writing letters to friends, making home-made birthday cards for friends who have birthdays, and spending quality time with PDB11  – not to mention doing mundane things like housework – but the truth is that I have let all these slide as well. In reality, what I have mostly been doing is feeling sorry for myself.   My routine has settled into something like: wake up, decide to get the day off to a good start by making hot drinks and reading aloud for over an hour (we are currently reading Dodger  by Terry Pratchett, which is an exciting story with fairly long chapters).   Find something to worry about anyway, have breakfast, spend the next few hours wallowing in angst, picking arguments with PDB11 even though I

Miles to Go - Day Thirteen

  Tuesday 13th July 2021 After a couple of days of idling, I thought that it was high time that I got back to doing some walking.   Nonetheless, as my feet were still aching a little from last week’s all-day walk – not blistered, but with an ache in the muscles of my feet – pitching straight back into another all-day walk seemed a bad idea.   So instead, as I had run out of milk anyway, I decided to split things up, with a walk into Gurney Slade in the morning to buy milk, followed by cooking several days’ worth of Bolognese sauce as a quick meal with pasta, followed by another walk in the afternoon. The walk to Gurney Slade was pleasantly sociable.   My friend Doom Metal Singer had plans that morning, but I chatted to several other people I met along the way: a man cleaning off a wet Labrador dog after a walk in Harridge Wood; a friend who told me about growing basil from a cutting in a glass of water; neighbours whose gooseberry-garden I admired, who reassured me that the fruit b

Miles to Go - Day Ten

  Saturday 10 th July This afternoon, I decided to take a walk through Maesbury Castle again, and see whether I could get some decent photographs this time.   I was also hoping to find somewhere to donate The Wave Theory of Angels , and, as there were numerous phone symbols all over the map and I knew that plenty of phone boxes have been converted into informal book-exchanges, I decided to plot a route which took me past phone symbols at Oakhill, Dalleston near Binegar, Old Down, and maybe Clapton.   If not, I could always leave the book behind at some cafĂ© or something. I set off up Ash Lane (empty phone box not doing anything in particular at the top) and into Oakhill (no sign of a surviving phone box).   I had never seen a phone box in the many times in the past when I had been there, but I knew I was unobservant enough to have failed to notice something nine feet high and bright red. Even in the overcast weather, Maesbury Castle was looking beautiful, but wasn’t in a mood to