The NSPCC Sheep Walk 2006 (in Cornwall)

Posted by: torey

The NSPCC Sheep Walk 2006 (in Cornwall) - 24/08/06 07:46 PM

We're here! It's begun. I've just come back from the Longboat Hotel and our first meeting. We passed out the name tags and t-shirts and handed in money.

A big thanks to Skye, who pushed us over our £2000 goal with her second donation!

And no pictures of tonight's meeting because I forgot my camera (and because it has been a confusing day, to say the least!) But it's going to be a fun time.

Stay tuned ...
Posted by: torey

Re: The Sheep Walk in Cornwall - 25/08/06 05:02 PM

Day One

And unfortunately when I got up this morning, it looked like this: Yup. Rain. Not horrible pouring rain, just drizzle (just very, very British rain.)

But that doesn’t deter the shepherd and her flock. Here we are, ready to start.[img] [/img] (I’m going to make some mistakes on names, but I will correct them as I go along. From the left, it’s me, Lubey, Robyn, can’t tell who’s in back, then Carla, Lauren, Sarah, JAF, Charlotte, Lisa, Rachel, Mikko, Helene, and Tola.)

Today we walked from Land’s End to Sennan Cove and back. We sort of cheated on the miles, I’m afraid. Not intentionally. It was only when we got to Land’s End that I realised that no one walking with us actually knew where we were going! (Chelly has a lot to answer for, I fear. She has been a paragon of organization and help, but little did I know that she was doing this all as a mad scheme to lose 20 people at Land’s End.) After a mad scramble to find the route Chelly had put up on the site (thanks to Bados, who even laminated it) and an Ordnance Survey map (thanks to Maggy, who thought to buy one) and Chelly, who pointed us in the right direction, we were off. .

Except Chelly didn’t point us in the right direction. Baa-baa-baa, my mobile rings and it is Chelly telling us she sent us the wrong way!. And then off we go into the mist, the right way: That’s Ann, my publicist fromHarperCollins in front (very different to her usual author work, I’m sure!), Carla, Sarah, further back are Susan, Zoe, and Bados with Milly, who’s five. Milly was amazing. She happily walked the entire way and kept up well with all of us.

Notice, we have one member of the group who lags. This is Photo Lady (otherwise known as JAF) and it is a good thing she posted that picture of herself so you could recognize her, as otherwise, like a rare bird, she never gets close enough. I’m expecting some masterpieces of mist from this.(That's Sarah, Lauren Jay, Carla, and Robyn nearest.)

At last we reach Sennan Cove. I failed to realise we were suppose to walk to the other end of the beach to make our five miles, so we stopped in the village for a break. And here comes Maggy, Carline and Courtney out of the teashop to greet our soggy, dripping group and tell us they have just been eating the loveliest cakes. (Note how excitedly Maggy runs toward us to tell us about the cakes.)(You will be happy to hear no homicide was committed!)

And we pose for a group picture. From left to right:
JAF (with camera!) Sharing, Rachel, me, Mikko, Helene, Robin, Lubey, Sarah, Zoe, Ann(from HarperCollins, looking away from the camera), Susan, Carla, Lauren (Lisa, Charlotte and Bados in back, deep in discussion over something) Tola (looking very pleased with herself) and Maggy.

Posted by: torey

Re: The Sheep Walk in Cornwall - 25/08/06 05:08 PM

Then off we go again, back up the hill on our return journey.

Only one lags behind . . . Photo Lady, taking more pictures of mist.

(A very good picture, by the way, of Sennan Cove and the beautiful sandy beach - albeit it rather more beautiful on a sunny day!)

Then we all stop for a photo opportunity up on top, as we have come to realise this is as nice as the weather is going to get.
(That’s Zoe, Susan, Sarah, Helene, Mikko, Tola and Lisa.)

Only one person isn’t there yet. Guess who?

And then at last we are all back up in the car park at Land’s End, Photo Lady and all, a little tireder and a lot wetter, and the Sheep Walk is finished for Day One.

Posted by: torey

Re: The Sheep Walk in Cornwall - 25/08/06 05:12 PM

Amended to say that you went with us today, but as there was too much rain to keep the avatars dry, you rode along in Zoe's waterproof bag. So you have been to Land's End, but didn't get much of a view. But then neither did we!

And same for the candy and sweets. Too wet! The treats come out tomorrow.
Posted by: torey

Re: The Sheep Walk in Cornwall - 26/08/06 06:33 PM

Day Two

Things look much better today. This is much more the way Penzance should look. It’s bright with some cloud and about 20C/64F.

Today is the beach walk. We are walking around the bay from Penzance to Malazion, but last night Ann, my publicist, was out investigating things and discovered that the tides will be just right for walking out to St. Michael’s Mount, which is an island in the bay which has a dramatic castle on it. (Here’s a little more information: St. Michael's Mount )
St. Michael’s Mount is accessed by a causeway, which means you can only walk out at low tide, but these conditions were exactly right for the time of our walk. So we decided we’d all walk the five miles together but those who wanted to could continue on to St. Michael’s Mount, an additional three miles. Ann (our sheepdog!) took charge of the St. Michael’s Mount group and I shepherded the others back to Penzance. This is because today is the book-signing, and we decided it would probably be better for Ann to be the one stranded by the tide, if it came to that, than me. I don’t think WHSmith, the bookseller hosting the signing would have appreciated that!

So, here’s our walk. All the way around the bay. The five-mile walkers stop at the village just visible on far left in the distance. The eight-mile walkers continue on to the island you see in the distant right.

And here’s everyone, gathering in the car park:

But first it is time to get all of you out of your plastic bag so you can come along.

First, I must apologise if some of you find yourself “going along” with someone you didn’t expect. I had a master list at home on my computer there and forgot to transfer it to my laptop, so I didn’t have all the original names. Also, we have had some changes, as some people like S-ter couldn’t make it after all. Other people are walking some days and not others for various reasons, so some days they carry. Some days they’re carried. And mysteriously, a few people’s avatar buttons seemed to breed in the bag and suddenly there were two. So if you find you went along with two people, just know you have one of these miraculous avatars! But I did try to match everyone up with the person they wanted to “carry” them, if possible, and we made a few creative decisions as well.

So, here we are with today’s crowd:

Walking with Carla are KathrynS, Ayngel and Tinkerbell.

Walking with Bados are Chloe, Catrina and Boots
And Bados’ foster daughter, game little five-year-old Milly (whom we can’t picture) is carrying Michalin

Walking Maggy are Sean, Vixen, Lauren Jay and Pam (and you can just see how pleased Maggy is about this!)

Walking with Lubey are Jennyren, Joe Cool, Rima, Sheryl and KathrynJ (But Lubey herself has managed to vanish off my camera. We'll catch up with her later.)
Posted by: torey

Re: The Sheep Walk in Cornwall - 26/08/06 06:45 PM

Walking with Susan (who also vanished at this point, so I will get her picture tomorrow!) are Jessie, S-ter and Karenjet

Walking with Val (another member who did a disappearing act at this point) are Kelly and Claire.

Walking with Sarah are Sheashea and IceBlazingFire.

Walking with Helene are Moptop and Cheryl.

Walking with Mikko are Amber and Kate.

Walking with Carol (on the left) is Shrew, JenniferC and Amanda87 and walking with Rachel (on the right) was GrAnnie, Cindy and Daffodil.

Walking with Lisa are Heather Danette, Sara604 and Helene, who has one of the breeding avatars and so is walking with Tola too!

Tola has won the “Miss Popularity” title, by carrying most of Scandinavia on her chest and a bit of the rest of the world as well. Walking with Tola are Linda, Helene, Maria, Muikku (who is still spelled Miukku!) Imon, Phlop, Alex LaChausette and Sirja.

JAF made a good run for the “Miss Popularity” title however, by carrying most of Italy on her chest. Walking with JAF are Massimo, Cinzia, Jes, Levana and FriendofAslan and Firefly, all of whom she made into a lovely necklace.

I’m afraid there was a rather unseemly tug-of-war over Menina until we realized she had one of the breeding avatars. So Menina walked with both Tola and JAF.

My HarperCollins publicist, Ann, was very kindly sponsored by Victoria Janet. So as Lauren Jay couldn’t walk today, Victoria Janet walked with Ann.
Posted by: torey

Re: The Sheep Walk in Cornwall - 26/08/06 06:49 PM

And walking with Robyn are Milly, TiredArtist, Sabzina, Skye and Heidi. And Heidi was another one to have a breeding avatar, so she’s there, twice as nice!! (And yes, that is THAT fox-eared hat, 25+ years old, taken out of mothballs just for the event!) In front of us is Carline’s daughter Courtney, whose own name tag bred in the night to give her two. And in back, Lisa and our much-bedecked Tola, looking very pleased with herself!


And now we’re ready to set off.

Waving us off is Chelly. I’ve got to put her in here somewhere, not only for her skill in sending us off into the mist yesterday in the wrong direction, but also for the fact that she has almost single-handedly organized our stay in Penzance, sorting out accommodation for everyone, meeting everything off planes, trains and other forms of transport, arranging a place for our celebration dinner, meeting us at the far end of our walks to make sure we’re in the right place at the right time and otherwise making sure the Sheep Walk runs smoothly.

So thumbs up, Chell!

Stay tuned for more. I have a depressingly slow computer when it comes to editing the pictures and an internet connection that goes off at a certain time each night, so I will try to get more up tonight. We have lots more to share!
Posted by: torey

Re: The Sheep Walk in Cornwall - 27/08/06 02:01 PM

OK, we’re off. Here we are starting properly, leaving the car park near Penzance train station.

First we have to go down a narrow concrete walkway alongside the railway line.

(That’s JAF just ahead of me with Courtney in the distance, as well as Robyn, who is skipping with joy at the prospect of an eight mile walk.)

Us more stolid citizens follow up the rear. That’s Charlie, Ann’s friend, on the left, then me, then Ann from HarperCollins. In back are Sarah and Carla.

And to show you Carline’s cleverly designed t-shirts. Mine says ‘I’m shepherd of the flock’. All the members of the board who are sponsored walkers have t-shirts saying ‘I’m one of the flock’ and everyone else, including Ann and Charley have t-shirts saying ‘I’m a sheepdog, caring for the flock’.

Finally we start to get out into the country. (That’s Lisa, then Charley and Ann and Carla in back.)

Finally we go down on the beach and a break. That’s St. Michael’s Mount in the background, which is where the eight-mile walkers are going.

(That’s Sarah on the left, Carla, Robyn and Maggy.)

JAF decides this is a great place for a picture, with Penzance as a background. This isn’t our official group photo, as Sharing, Lauren Jay and Chelly aren’t walking, but we all decide we want photos too. Since Ann isn’t a member of the board, I ask her if she will take a picture of all of us together so that we can get everyone in. Unfortunately, Ann proves that while she is a very game publicist, she is not cut out for a photography career, as she points the camera the wrong way . . .

Ah, but a little persistence and it all pays off.

From left to right in back: Mikko, Carline, Carla, Lisa, me, Charlotte, Rachel, Sarah, Maggy, Carol, JAF, Charley, and Zoe.
In front: Val, Lubey, Courtney, Robyn, Susan, Lisa and Tola.
Posted by: torey

Re: The Sheep Walk in Cornwall - 27/08/06 02:06 PM

Once the pictures were taken, we were off again. (That’s Mikko, Susan and Helene in front and some poor, hapless walker going the other way through our flock.)

Chelly and Sharing meet us in a car park along the way (photographer photographing the photographer!)

This is because Carline is walking for two these days, so Chelly, ever kind and well-organized, made sure she was doing okay with the walk. Happily for us, Carline and Courtney, seven, did great and completed the entire five miles. (And no, I don't think Carline is really whistling a happy tune in this picture . . .)

Indeed, Courtney took a moment out to show us how foxy she is.

Very conveniently, the halfway point where we were to turn around and start back, had an ice-cream shop!!

And when the staff inside found out we were doing a sponsored walk for the NSPCC, they gave us a generous donation. Unfortunately, I didn’t get their names, but if you're reading this, thanks so much, girls!

Then the walkers who were intending to do the eight miles to St. Michael’s Mount and back left us.

And here’s their destination, still almost two miles off

Posted by: torey

Re: The Sheep Walk in Cornwall - 27/08/06 02:20 PM

Meanwhile, I shepherd the five-mile walkers back to Penzance.
That’s Susan, Carla, Lubey and Maggy ahead of me.

And finally we arrive back in the car park in Penzance where we started.

Susan is on the left, Val, behind her, Lauren Jay (who wasn’t able to walk today because of her bee/wasp allergies), Maggy, Bados and Milly. Milly’s amazing. She has done both walks very cheerfully (and more energetically than most of us!) So Michalin can be very proud of being chosen to “walk” with Milly

But the day’s not over, because this afternoon is the book-signing, which is being held at WH Smith in Penzance. And Ann informs us that something really special is happening. Even thought BEAUTIFUL CHILD is not due to be released in Britain until September 4th, they have decided to debut it here at WH Smith in Penzance and it will be on sale here and here only for today.

And what a reception! We are met by Gary, the manager of the shop and the staff are simply lovely. As Ann and I arrive, we see the queue!

So, now at last Ann, on the left, gets to do her real job. And so do I!

(Note Tinker's t-shirt being drafted in to act as a sign for our NSPCC donation basket. So it is, when there are no printers around!)

So I sign

(and our crowd waits patiently in the background)

And I sign:

Posted by: torey

Re: The Sheep Walk in Cornwall - 27/08/06 02:36 PM

Finally it is the turn of the flock.

Here Carline and Courtney bring their books. (That’s Sarah, Carla and Lauren in the background.)

Then Lubey brought her parachute jump shirt to be signed.

Lauren gets her turn, with Carla and Sarah

Tola brings a Swedish edition of MECHANICAL CAT to be signed. (And Maggy is behind her.)

And finally Photo Lady herself (JAF) gets in the picture!

And then it is all over and only Ann is left to clear up (and then take me for a wonderful Cornish cream tea afterwards!!!

Posted by: torey

Re: The Sheep Walk in Cornwall - 27/08/06 04:54 PM

Day Three

Day Three got off to a problematic start. Or rather, Day Two ended that way, because the internet access went down in my hotel. (I will say here I’m staying in the most marvelous little hotel in Penzance – only six bedrooms –with the nicest, most helpful staff imaginable, but the internet access is a little quirky. I can only get it via wireless when sitting in the very tiny entranceway of the hotel and no one actually knows whose I’m using!) Anyhow, it went down last night and so I couldn’t lift any of yesterday’s pictures until today. However, it also meant I did not have access to the information about where the walk was starting today. In other words, I didn’t have a clue where to go!

On Friday night, Chelly had provided everyone with copies of directions to the three walks but I had not taken one at the time and had been getting the directions directly from her, as we were coming in a different car from everyone else. But I forgot to do this after the walk yesterday. So, I went to phone Chelly and discovered that the piece of paper I’d written her and Maggy’s phone numbers on had got wet during the Friday walk and the ink had run. I then spent about 30 minutes standing out in the street in front of the hotel (because the reception for my phone service is crap in Penzance!) trying to access the message board on my mobile phone, because I knew I’d posted at least the general location of the walk. What fun THAT was!. Yes, I discovered, my phone does access ordinary websites just fine. However, I wasn’t logged in on the message board and couldn’t get the phone to open the next page of topics to get to where I thought the list was. So I logged in (arduously using my keypad) and the effect that had was to massively increase the size of the print, so that I could only see about two words at a time on my phone screen.

Yada, yada, yada. Suffice it to say that I spent a lot of frustrating time and had no success. Finally I resorted to trying to decode the running ink on the paper where I’d written down the numbers. Tried what I thought was Chelly’s and got some answering service. Kept trying, got what I hoped was her voicemail, but not Chelly. So I tried Maggy. AT LAST! Maggy answered. However, she was just parking and trying to talk to the guy at the ticket booth at the same time. And of course, she didn’t really know where she was, so she couldn’t give me directions! But I asked her to have Chelly phone me when they finally met up.

A long way around to saying that I missed the first third of the walk, as I did not want to make everyone very late. Chelly told me to come to the Hellmouth, a local beauty spot where the path everyone was walking would meet up with a small car park and café. So, at long last I got there and got to join the waiting crew of Chelly, Lauren Jay and Carline.

The weather is bright and sunny with some clouds (which unfortunately never came over the sun, so it was actually just about too warm.) So we had spectacular views of the Cornish coast. Chelly pointed out where we should be able to see the walkers coming, as the path comes down over the far distant hill and then up over the near hill in the picture.

So, we waited. And waited. And waited. Then one lone figure came into view.

Robyn must have eaten her Wheaties this morning, because it was she, power walking down the hill all on her own, miles ahead of everyone else.

So we waited for the rest of them.

And waited.

And waited some more.

Finally Mikko and Helene came into view.

Then we waited for the rest.

And waited.

And waited.

At last we started to see some numbers.

Clearly this was a group in need of a shepherd, because then we waited and waited some more. But they did come eventually. And last but not least, Photo Lady crests the hill.

Posted by: torey

Re: The Sheep Walk in Cornwall - 27/08/06 05:08 PM

This appears to simply have been a disaster-prone day, as when we were all together at last, I got to hear about everyone else’s escapades. Lisa from Sweden, who had negotiated the roughest rocks at Land’s End on Friday went afoul of the stairs in her hotel last night. Fortunately, she’s all right but very stiff and sore, so it wasn’t a good idea that she join us. Sarah also had to leave today. Happily, however, Lubey was able to stay walk with us today, but she and Zoe and Susan had had a rather good time celebrating this change of circumstance last night and some folks were a little worse for wear this morning . . .

This meant there had been a great deal of shifting around of who was carrying whose avatar and Robyn was quite insistent you would want to know about this. So, if you find yourself with a new person today, it could be Robyn, who looks like this:

Or Lubey (note the friendly hands keeping her upright.)


Then at last we were off, shepherd included.

The scenery around the coast of Cornwall is just so incredibly beautiful that even I kept playing Photo Lady.

The path is, however, right along the cliff edge. (That’s Maggy and Veronica stopping to admire the view.)

And the cliffs are VERY high. That speck down there is a proper commercial fishing boat!

Where the path went inland a bit, there were gorgeous fields of blooming heather interspersed with gorse (the yellow).

And for you who have not seen wild heather up close, a special picture:

Posted by: torey

Re: The Sheep Walk in Cornwall - 28/08/06 09:09 AM

So, on we went. As it turned out, not only did I get a late start but everyone in general had. The traffic was bad to the drop-off point for the start of the walk and that delayed some; others had been late getting away from Penzance and so forth, so we were walking later in the morning than on the other two walks. And for the first time we actually had serious sun. It wasn’t hot – still only 22C – but the August sun is hot whenever it comes out and we were approaching midday, so the sun cream was coming out and we were feeling the heat. This was also our longest walk. Day One fell short of five miles, Day Two was five miles and the idea was that we’d be ‘broken in’ for the longest walk of the three on Day Three. I must say that this was very much the most beautiful walk and quickly became the favourite for almost everyone (although, admittedly, Day One would have been just as beautiful, had we actually been able to see it!)

Anyway, this is to say, there was a lot of walking. (That’s Veronica and her husband Mark)

There was also a lot of peering over the cliffs, as the view was so spectacular. (That’s Robyn peering):

And more walking (That’s Robyn, Lubey and Tola just ahead.)

And more peering (Lubey, this time)

And walking and peering (and removing stones from shoes)

It’s during all this walking and peering that Sheashea gets a little antsy and takes off by herself. Fortunately, Veronica notices. This is possibly because this is Veronica’s first day of walking, so she is a little brighter than the rest of us. She rescues Sheashea from a gorse bush, and as obviously Sheashea isn’t being shepherded properly, we decide Veronica better take over this task.

Posted by: torey

Re: The Sheep Walk in Cornwall - 28/08/06 09:14 AM

Then we see a car park in the distance and everyone assumes that’s the car park, as the walk is feeling a bit long and hot by now, but there’s no Chelly waiting for us midst the parked cars. Consulting the the instructions, we realise we still have about a mile to go, so we sit down and have a rest and wait for everyone to catch up.

Then off we go, peering and walking again (with Lubey striding purposefully forward)

And the views continue to be breath-taking:

Finally, there’s the right car park and (if you look closely) the sheepdogs sitting on the railing, waiting for us.

The first lot come in. That’s JAF (You notice that I have learned to shepherd Photo Lady right to the front of the flock) Veronica (and Sheashea, now well-behaved), Mark and Mikko. (If you want focused walkers, get guys. I’ve decided this.)

Soon the second lot are there. (I will make no comment on Susan’s hunched posture and crossed legs in this picture nor say what Helene, who took pity on her kindly did.)

Posted by: torey

Re: The Sheep Walk in Cornwall - 28/08/06 09:22 AM

The person we are missing is Maggy. I’ve been concerned about Maggy because she developed breathing problems on the first leg of the walk. Chelly has been following parallel to us in the car and so offered to pick her up at any point, but Maggy said she had her inhaler and she was determined she was going to complete the whole thing. At the car park, when we stopped for a rest, Maggy did say she might have to take it quite slowly and not to wait for her, but this is rather different to losing a member of the party altogether. I am now concerned because the group has all been walking pretty close together since I joined (being a good shepherd and all that) and last time I’d looked, Maggy was there. So, I’m worried she may be in trouble, particularly as it appears everyone else has come in. That’s Then someone reassures me that Tola is with her. As Tola is our first aid person, I reckon I’ll give it a few minutes before going back to find them.

So we wait.

And we wait.

And at last Tola and Maggy come into view:

I am feeling great relief until Maggy and Tola start to regale us with what they were really doing that put them so far behind – blackberrying!!!

And so ended our third and final walk (with everyone still in thrall to Maggy and Tola's excited tales of blackberries!) and we prepared to be ferried back to the cars in the starting car park.

Posted by: torey

Re: The Sheep Walk in Cornwall - 28/08/06 12:48 PM

The Celebration Meal

And now we’re almost to the end. Our last activity is the meal to celebrate completing our sponsored walk and also to celebrate what has been just such an astonishing, amazing experience together. So there’s going to be lots of pictures. How fast I manage to get them up is another matter.

But here’s the first lot, because now it is finally time to crack out all the THBB food experiences. And, of course, pride of place is the Pop Rock Experience. Most of the members on the Sheep Walk have never, ever tried Pop Rocks, so when the American members alluded to our now famous (and deleted!) conversation about Pop Rocks (and interesting places you can put them!) most of the non-US members didn’t have a clue what was being talked about. So the American Flock kindly supplied us with Pop Rocks for the Sheep Walk and tonight I passed them out.

I started in the foyer of the restaurant, as we were waiting to be seated.

Carla volunteered to go first. Quite an experience!

Then Robyn and Lauren Jay. Robyn, coming from Canada, knew all about Pop Rocks, so she's good. Lauren got a bit of surprise.

Then on to the Europeans. Lisa bravely goes first. And goes a little wild-eyed.

Tola, meanwhile, has been telling me that once upon a time Sweden had a candy like Pop Rocks but it is now illegal. She goes ahead and tries the Pop Rocks, hey, what’s the big deal? Tola clearly knows all about illegal substances.

Helene’s up next. Ermmmmm . . .

Zoe . . . well, Zoe is just overcome.

JAF is sceptical, so Robyn shows her how it’s done.

JAF gamely tries. And gamely manages to keep them in her mouth.

Posted by: torey

Re: The Sheep Walk in Cornwall - 28/08/06 12:53 PM

Mikko is certain he is man enough for this experience and knocks his Pop Rocks back. (Note Helene standing next to him, thinking “Just wait.”)

And then they hit.

Carol and Rachel are two more local Cornish THBB members and they have spent the last three days telling us all about the local area and its treats, so it is nice to be able to give them a treat too. As you can see, they both really enjoyed their Pop Rocks. . .

Meanwhile the rest of the gang has gone on into the restaurant and been seated. But no, they are not going to escape the great Pop Rock Tasting Experience.

Carline, Lubey and Susan just love Pop Rocks.

Courtney thought she liked them. Then they started popping.

Maggy and Sarah . . . well, Sarah’s young. She did just fine. Mainly because, she was too transfixed by Maggy’s reaction. Maggy was quickly ready to move to Pop Rocks Level Two: Other Orifices. But at least she kept her teeth in. Which has not always been the case.

Chelly showed the typical Cornishwoman’s reaction to Pop Rocks. Like Carol and Rachel, she just loved them.

And last but not least came Veronica and Mark. Mark’s a musician and, like Tola, has mastered illegal substances. So they went down with a smile. Veronica is another of our THBB-ers from Argentina, now living in England. During the walk I had been helpfully teaching her new English words like “dog poo”. When she didn’t quite learn fast enough, there were negative consequences. So Veronica was rather uncertain about this next helpful experience of mine, but like a good THBB-er she just kept smiling through it all.

Posted by: torey

Re: The Sheep Walk in Cornwall - 28/08/06 03:20 PM

So, time for the celebration meal. And as with everything else, Chelly has endeavoured to give us a special Cornish experience, so we are eating in a "meadery" - where food is served and mead is drunk. Mead is a kind of honey wine which was much loved in medieval times but has more or less died out as a drink in the rest of Britain and, indeed, the rest of the world. But it's still very popular in Cornwall and there are several meaderies in Penzance.

These were very, very brave people to take on the Sheep Walkers but they did their best to accommodate us. We were seated at two very large tables.

Here's Table One, the normal table, where people chatted and looked at menus:

And here's Table Two, where Maggy sat. Maggy was really getting into her Pop Rocks experience by this point and had worked her way onto other facial orifices, which had pretty much mesmerized the rest of the table. I and my camera weren't much competition. Except for Veronica, who was pretty keen on those Pop Rocks too. And worldly Mark, who had seen it all before.

Pop Rocks gone at last, Maggy recovered enough to present me with the very special Monopoloy game Sean had made to keep everyone amused on the long drive down to Penzance.

And this is really clever. I've taken some pictures of it this morning so that you can better see the detail.

(Although I am a little alarmed to see Hayden Towers is worth less than the Cat Chat on the message board!!)

Then Courtney had a little something for me too.

And doesn't it look great sitting on the dresser in my hotel?

Posted by: torey

Re: The Sheep Walk in Cornwall - 28/08/06 04:59 PM

Meanwhile, back at dinner. The traditional food in a meadery is "chicken on wood" - chicken served on a trencher and pulled apart and eaten with the fingers. This alarmed some of our rather better mannered European members, but it turned out that fortunately, those who ordered salad with their chicken got forks.

I was going to show you the nice food except unfortunately the bottles were already getting in the way.

Then when it came time for dessert, I asked the waitresses to bring us portions of plain vanilla ice cream (Cornish ice cream, made with Cornish clotted cream, I must add!) That's when I surprised everyone with my dulce de leche.

(Lisa, having just recovered from Pop Rocks, is a little alarmed at the prospect of another THBB treat.)

Lauren Jay has arranged a special surprise for THBB-er Victoria Janet, who has been very supportive of Lauren's efforts to come on the Sheep Walk. So while we are waiting for our ice cream, Lauren phones Victoria Janet in Argentina and I say hello.

While I was talking to Victoria Janet, I was getting hotter and hotter and JAF, who was sitting next to me picked up a menu and fanned me. I said, "Hey, thanks!" And she replied, without batting an eyelash, "Well, I am JustAFan, after all." Groan.

Then came the ice cream and the dulce de leche. It wasn't quite as nice and brown as it should be - blame it on my cantankerous Aga - but it was greatly enjoyed. (Although you wouldn't actually know it from this picture. Indeed, we've even managed to wipe the smile off Mark's face.)

Only Susan was a dulce de leche party-pooper. Ewwww. She couldn't scrape it off her ice cream fast enough.

As we finished the meal, we were finally coming to the time to say thank you to everyone who has contributed so much time and effort in making this such a wonderful event. To each person I gave a specially signed copy of BEAUTIFUL CHILD (which was meant to be really special, as it isn't released yet, but then WH Smith and HarperCollins couldn't resist putting it out on Saturday, but that's another tale.) Anyway, first up was Carline who has single-handedly managed the t-shirts, buying them, printing them, getting them out to everyone on time and fighting hard with the printers to get us a really good price.

I, of course, want to show you pictures of this. And Photo Lady herself was in charge of my camera. Unfortunately, what followed were perhaps the five worst pictures JAF has ever taken (not her fault, I must add, nor that of the camera. I suspect the subject . . . ) But they are so bad, in fact, that you are not going to get to see a couple of them, and will just have to take my word that I thanked these other people.

So here we have Carline more interested in her menu than me; Lubey shying away, Susan driven to drink, all possibly because I have chosen this moment to burst into song. This has a galvanizing effect on other diners, who develop flame-throwing eyes.

And next comes Susan's book. Susan has taken care of all the financial aspects of the Sheep Walk, including registration, sending out and collecting all the sponsor forms and toting up our final figure.

So, here we have Susan, who has perhaps not washed after the Sheep Walk, as Lubey shies even further away and I can't face her. And the lady with the flame-throwing eyes begins to pray.

Posted by: torey

Re: The Sheep Walk in Cornwall - 28/08/06 07:36 PM

You are going to be spared the other four photos. Trust me, you’re not missing anything at all. But the other awards of recognition went to:

Courtney, who managed to get the most sponsorship money of all of us: £242! And she received a whole box of American candy just for herself.

Maggy received a signed book in recognition of her hard work on the avatars (right up to the last minute) and also for her willingness to rent minibuses, drive long distances, collect people (and Toreyopoly games!) from all over the north of England and take responsibility for our youngest Sheep Walkers, including camping with them in a very wet field, so that they could attend.

Zoe received a signed book in recognition of her hard work with the photographs, including being willing to do it all at her own expense so that all the money could be donated to the NSPCC. It looks like our £5 registration fee is going to help cover the costs, but Zoe has been very generous with both her time and money.

And, last but certainly not least, Chelly, our “girl on the ground in Cornwall” without whom none of this would have gone as smoothly. Chelly planned walks, drove them, checked them out. She found accommodation for everyone at all ranges of prices, even though it was a bank holiday and Cornwall is such a major tourist area. She met everyone off their trains, planes and cars and made sure everyone was settled and if anything went wrong, she was the first person we called. And despite her own handicap, she came each day, shadowing us with her car and making sure that she was at all the check points along the way in case anyone needed help or couldn’t complete the walk. We really couldn’t have done it without you, Chell.

So, major thanks to these five very selfless people.

But just so we didn’t get too serious, it was at this point that Tola – completely randomly – announced that she had eaten ALL her Pop Rocks. And they have given her a blue tongue.

So, it seemed like a good time to crack out the rest of the American candy.

I passed one box to Maggy for the kids to eat in the minivan on the way home and another box to the people staying at the Longboat Hotel (which was just about everyone,) thinking they could take it back for a midnight feast.

But no. Even though we had had Pop Rocks, dinner and ice cream with dulce de leche, the boxes of candy came open, the Longboat Hotel bunch had their candy open in minutes. Chelly comes over to see what the other table is missing. Carline kindly shows her.

Zoe, Helene and Mikko get in the act, picking those little blue dot candies off their strip of paper.

And then . . . I’m afraid we found the candy cigarettes . . . American Flock, we’re holding you entirely responsible for corrupting Courtney. And Carline. And Lubey. And Susan . . . (Amazing how amusing adults can find candy cigarettes!)

Posted by: torey

Re: The Sheep Walk in Cornwall - 28/08/06 08:27 PM

Tola had one last trick up her sleeve. Unbeknownst to the rest of us, she too had risen to the Pop Rocks challenge and brought her own “interesting” candy - Swedish “salt liquorice fish” candy. In other words, it was very black, shaped like a fish and tasted of a very interesting combination of salt and liquorice.

But I am game. And may I say, how interesting it is!

And Mark was not to be outdone.

(And beware, Claire, the fish are coming your way, I hear!)

By this time, however, it was getting late and some members of our party were beginning to show it.

So at last we said our good-byes and that was the end of the night.

I need to finish this by saying this was one of the most astonishing experiences I’ve ever been involved in. From the moment it was conceived, it has run smoothly. Each person who could do something came forward and did it. There was no politics, no in-fighting, no “I don’t want that job” or “I wanted to do that and you gave it to someone else.” And more than that, everything actually got done. There was no chasing-up, no double-checking, no staying up in the wee hours to do something someone else had said they'd do and didn't. It was just simply amazing seeing it all come together, because while my name is on it, I was only a small cog in the wheel. If ever there was a group effort, this was it. And this was the astonishing part of it – seeing so many people of so many backgrounds, ages, experiences, nationalities all come together and work as one.

And this same thing held true once we were all here and everything was underway. There was no factioning, no cliques, no politics. There were the usual problems – rain, accidents, missed directions – but none of it interfered with what really has been three days of just incredibly good fun.

And, yes, I definitely want to do it again next year. We’re thinking of Hadrian’s Wall next year. I think keeping it in Britain for a second year is a good idea, as it will allow us to refine the logistics. And if that works, we’re hoping for Sweden in 2008. So pencil it into your calendars and we’ll hope many more THBB-ers can participate in the future.

So that’s it. The Sheep Walk 2006 is finished.

Oh, and by the way, from what had started out as nothing more than a few people from a small community in cyberspace wishing they could make a difference, the NSPCC now has £3655 more to carry on their work protecting vulnerable and abused children.

Posted by: torey

Re: The Sheep Walk in Cornwall - 06/09/06 02:50 PM

Our total raised has now officially reached £3986.25. Are we going to break £4000???!

(Please note: our donation website at The Sheep Walk Donation Page will remain open until 15 Oct 2006.)
Posted by: torey

Re: The Sheep Walk in Cornwall - 07/09/06 03:53 AM

Thanks, Sheashea!

£4783 for the NSPCC!