I came a few miles, sat down, walked a few more over to Newchurch, sat down some more - the church there provides drinks for wanderers - and decided to try for a last three to Gladestry. If I made it to Gladestry there was only a hill to walk over to Kington the next morning. In Kington I could dump my rucksack with my mum and walk unencumbered for the day, bliss.
But my feet were hurting and in a serious way. There's a deep ache tendon pain that goes away after a while or there's a sharp burning blister pain that is awful at first but you can walk through it. This was the kind of pressure pain that comes after you've pounded your feet onto the ground, over and over again for far too long. A time to stop walking, this is too much and the pain will not stop kind of pain.
I pulled a piece of plastic out of the hedge, one of those document wallet type things. It was full of water and as I poured it out, out came the sad, saturated body of a mole. So I was walking holding the plastic, irritated by no bin to put it in and how it meant I couldn't hold my walking pole properly.
The sun was setting far away over the hillside and I could see that I would arrive in Gladestry after dark. Then the internet told me that it would rain before dawn. I thought maybe I would find a little piece of woods where I could pitch a shelter; or maybe go for the church porch scenario.
So these were the things that were running through my mind as I came to the sign announcing the start of the village.
There was a house by the road and a caravan in the field opposite; it was a shabby trailer kind of caravan, not a shiny white pristine, Caravan Club type. This was probably a part of my decision making but as I stood in the road, I suddenly thought "I am going to knock on the door of that house and ask if I can sleep in their caravan."
A decision like that is a great departure from my usual self - I feel like an animal when I'm looking for a sleeping spot. I must be safe before I pass into unconsciousness and with no walls or familiarity around me the animal part of my brain fusses and frets and won't go to sleep.
Before I could doublethink myself and slink away, with no more than a pause in my step to mark a decision made and reconsidered, I walked over to the house and knocked on the door.
"Who will be inside?" I wondered. "What will they say? What will I say?"
There were some faded postcards in the porch window, a burnt out tealight; I read into them and felt hopeful at the signs of potential friendly spirits within.
It happened. A woman opened the door, about my age and with a very small baby sitting on her front in a carrier, a blanket wrapped around them both.
I took a deep breath to make sure I spoke calmly and started the unstoppable chain of unknown actions and reactions.
"Hi there, I'm doing a long distance walk around Wales and I'm camping as I go. It looks as if there's going to be rain tonight and so I was wondering if I could sleep in your caravan across the road".
That is how I wound up sleeping on a strangers sofa, while her and her child slept in the next room. The people upstairs, the caravan owners sent down an Indian takeaway and a 20 pound donation. They were all bright eyed, relaxed and friendly - perfectly capapble of coping with an outlandish stranger appearing in their lives.
Again, as in so many other times, T and I shared our stories, ate together and talked about the world. We're both confused people in our thirties, wondering how other people have found it so easy to decide what they want to do with their lives.
I left her a postcard the next morning with the story of the crescent moon bear on the front and on the back - about the woman who goes looking for a cure in the form of a hair from the bears throat, but in the end, finds that the cure is the journey itself. It's the same for all seekers - we will never be successful in finding ourselves, we will only ever find that we were there all along.
Why did I do this? Pat, the American lady who offered me a bed in Monmouth. She said one thing that night that gave me a little internal shiver of Britishness. "When we're on a long distance bike ride in the US" she said, "I knock on people's doors and ask them if I can have a shower."
"Oh I could never do that", I said, imagining the look on a persons face as this stranger asked to take their clothes off inside their house and wash themselves...wierd. "Oh no Pat, that's not me at all."