Treading lightly on the earth/mud
Treading lightly on the earth/mud

It’s not easy to tread lightly upon the earth when you have 10lb of mud on each boot, but we try….

If yesterday was the hump day, maybe today was the clump day. The forecast was for sunshine and rain – but we got very little of either. It was a day of grey skies and grey fields. Thank heavens for our bright orange jackets and baseball caps to brighten up the day. I had the feeling that orange – as well as being symbolic of change – would be just the ray of sunshine we needed to boost our spirits on a drab winter’s day. And as I increasingly find as I tune into my intuition, it has turned out to be a great success.

The only dodgy orange moment was when we entered a field past a sign saying “Beware of the bull”. Laura asked the key question: “So what are we supposed to do about it?” To which I replied, “Not wave any red hankies in its direction?” “And what about bright orange jackets?” came the rather too pertinent response.

Shorthorn bull
Shorthorn bull

Luckily the bulls, although large and funny-faced, were mostly benign. After a few faintly hostile glares they ambled off out of our way.

Today the challenges were less bovine, more medical. Jane has some new boots – alas, not Keens, our sponsor’s footwear not being available in Colchester at short notice – and by swapping between her new boots and Laura’s old boots was able to adjust the pressure points on her feet at regular intervals. Alison’s knee is like a melon, but she soldiers on stoically. We are considering how to make it through the rest of our journey without anyone suffering permanent injury, and have lined up a few environmentally friendly contingency plans.

Ouch! Jane's heel
Ouch! Jane's heel

It is fascinating to think that 200 years ago – even 100 years ago – walking was THE way to travel. Our 20th/21st century bodies are just not used to walking long mileages day after day. What softies we’ve become! Yet, no matter the aches and pains, it still feels pleasantly natural and, well, HUMAN to move at walking pace. When we cross over a motorway or major road, the traffic seems to whizz by at an indecently fast pace, the smell of exhaust fumes unpleasant, and the roar of internal combustion engines displeasing to our ears. By contrast walking, for all its limitations, seems to connect us to our human heritage. We have time to notice trees and wonder at their species, we surprise rabbits by approaching unheard, we send pheasants flapping hectically out of hedgerows as we pass. We see people working in their gardens and have time to say “Good morning” and comment on the weather.

It feels good.

Tomorrow night we take the ferry. Not as environmentally low impact as we’d hoped to be, but we didn’t manage to find a sailboat to take us across – and given the weather conditions the ferry is

probably a more reliable bet than sail. Out of interest, here are the CO2 comparisons:

Options for the outwards journey:

Flying from London to Brussels produces approximately 400 kg of CO2 per person.
Train (Eurostar) produces about 20 kg of CO2.
Our choice: Walking (with ferry across the North Sea to Holland) produces only 12 kg.

And for the return journey:

Flying from Copenhagen to London produces over 360 kg of CO2.
Our choice: A train ride from Copenhagen to London produces approximately 55 kg of CO2 per passenger.

walkers and signTo put this in perspective:

‣ The UK’s total carbon footprint is over 500 million tonnes of CO2 per year, the equivalent of over 420 million flights from New York to Los Angeles. Individuals account for 45% of this.
‣ The average carbon footprint per person in the UK is 10 tonnes. The average Indian is less than 2 tonnes and the average American or Saudi is closer to 20 tonnes.

And Alison is sitting here in the Sun Inn, Dedham (home town of the painter Constable) reminding me that if we want to save our snow – and the planet – we ALL need to get down to 2 tonnes. Wow.

Other Stuff:

Lovely mention by Act on Copenhagen, a subdivision of the UK government’s Department of Energy and Climate Change – click here to see it.

Please support my friend David Kroodsma, veteran of the Climate Ride (bicycle ride from New York to DC), tech guy for, long distance cyclist (San Francisco to Tierra del Fuego) and all-round good guy. He is hoping to be selectedby the Huffington Post as their Hopenhagen Ambassador to report back from Copenhagen. I personally would love to see him there, and believe he would make a great correspondent. Please watch his video and vote for him here!

[All photos today: credit to Alison Gannett and her trusty iPhone!]

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  • John Constable’s “Wivenhoe Park, Essex” (1816) has always been one of my very favorite paintings at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. A beautiful estate, with lush green lawns and trees, blue skies and gentle clouds, a lake with swans, cows doing what cows do. I’ve sat and looked at that painting (at various times over the years) for hours. It’s the way life should be.

    You’re doing a wonderful job of taking us along on this journey with you. I’m just sorry that it couldn’t be a little easier on you women, a little more luxurious a la John Constable’s “to the manor born” paintings. Don’t you think that you need a butler along, to massage your sore feet, pour a glass of port, light a fire in the fireplace? But all kidding aside, your comments are very interesting about what happens when one slows the pace down (from our super-fast civilization), and gets back into the natural rhythms of the earth. Thanks for the thoughtful reflections.

  • Hi Roz,

    Still following your progress daily, be it behind the screens.

    I have a story to share with you, one that is strongly connected to Copenhagen, one that you will remember, way beyond Copenhagen.

    You and your pals are invited to rest your feet, be fed and find a pillow to sleep on at our place not far from Brussels. The place is not important, the story is. I will tell my wife that guests are expected.

    Just ask your mom to contact me, she has my details.

    FK in Belgium

  • “Tread lightly on Mother Earth” is my mother’s favorite saying.

    Interesting post and photo’s enjoyed reading the update.

  • Wow! I want to know what the story is that FK in Belgium wants to share with you. What a mysterious comment!

    Aside from that, hearing about your group’s various aches and pains makes me hurt along with you! I especially empathize with Alison’s knees, as I have had 5 knee surgeries myself. Owwww. I’ll be sending all good thoughts your way for sunshine and an easier journey.

    Despite all your discomforts, I do wish that I could be part of your troupe, walking and experiencing all that there is to experience. At least I can live vicariously through your posts!

  • Richard, your comment reminds me of the very first painting my wife and I purchased together: Constable’s The Haywain … fits your description to a tee, minus cows. Thanks for that!

    Roz, this is probably the last thing you expect — or want — to hear, but maybe this will take the BB2B Team’s collective mind off its existential suffering …

    Hundreds Of Icebergs Breaking Off Of Antarctica, Headed For New Zealand
    A flotilla of icebergs descending on New Zealand

    They are heading north and could find their way into your intended course from Kiribati to Oz … silently drifting … something new to consider … radar?

    Uh oh … I sense a haiku emerging …

    ghostly ice afloat
    soggy clump day worlds apart
    silently stalking

  • The first thing that came to mind was the Beatles song, the long and winding road. You however are on the long and muddy road!

  • Hope you have a great Channel crossing today! It’s a different experience trying to track your location across land. It would be cool to have the Roz Tracker functional for this adventure (though perhaps a little more stalker-risky for you). I never realized how tiny and closely placed together the little villages of the UK are. Hope there are some school kids following your trek and learning some geography.

  • Thank you Roz for the shout out! I hope I get to join you in Copenhagen.

    Looks like the walk is quite a challenge! Maybe you should do a triathlon around the world – walk, bike, row!


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