This made me happy, the daffodils, the dawn chorus, the rain falling wet outside as I lay dry on a dusting of dead leaves and bat shit in a quiet, long forgotten building. Deep swellings of joy came with the rediscovery of positive sensation, that a beautiful world still existed away from suburbs and hospitals.
My feet felt better, the pain of long overuse dimmed by inactivity so that I could feel the gentler sensations of the stretching and strength of my leg muscles.
I've enjoyed it, lots of this week. But I've also felt deeply sad, there's a lot of shock that needs to trickle out of me. Normally I'd hide, hibernate. I'm 35 years old and I know my ways by now, the ways I deal with stress and they are - solitude and unhealthy food. You may think that an extended daily walk would provide the solitude I need but it doesn't somehow. I need to hibernate, not sit alone on a rock in an open landscape with a farmer on a quad bike ready to come buzzing over the horizon or fellow sensibly clad walker nearby, I need undisturbed alone.
So I've done my best with what I've got. First it was a caravan in the garden of Dianna, Dyffryn Ardudwy. I made my excuses as soon as I was able, escaping to the caravan sofa balancing a tray containing teabags, a jug of milk. I stayed with her for three nights, eating chocolate cake and drinking blackcurrant whisky as I walked down from Maentwrog to Llwyngwyril, Dianna very kindly ferrying me daily between pick up and drop off points.
Then I went straight to Abergynolwen, a full day of road walking, turning inland from the coastal path towards Llanfihangel-y-pennant, the beginning of the Mary Jones Walk, a 56 mile detour to Bala and back. "My house is empty" said Sarah, another lovely woman that I'd previously stayed with on the Coast to Coast walk, on my way between Swansea and Conwy, "I could leave the key under a rock by the front door".
What I meant to do was arrive Saturday afternoon and leave the next morning, walk along the route, probably to Bala before hitching to Bristol on Wednesday morning to arrive for a hospital check-up, 2.45pm.
What I've actually done is stay there until now, today, Tuesday. Sleeping until ten every morning, walking around six miles on Sunday, around to the next valley and back again, visiting the house of Mary Jones, staying in the house all day Monday, trying to write, mostly succeeding.
I've felt bad about this at many points during the weekend. I'm here to walk, I should be walking. My limited budget is stretched to breaking point, there is no time to hang around, I need to keep going, keep pushing onwards, keep bloody walking....I am on a long distance walk after all. But the other side of me says Calm down, you can take as long about this as you need, it's been an intense two months, take the time alone to do nothing that you clearly need.
It's hard. I guess is the shortened version of this entire post. Now I'm in Cardiff, having successfully hitched down here with a nice elderly couple from Abergynolwen and a nice lorry driver from Senghenydd (hi Trevor and Jane, hi Tucker). Next thing I'll do is get a train to Bristol, tomorrow I'll go to hospital to check to see if my cancer has come back (prediction in advance - probably not) and then I'll hitch to Nottingham to see my brother for the weekend.
Then, next Monday I'll head back to Abergynolwen to continue walking. Perhaps I was right to take that break where I could. Now I write it all down it seems pretty hectic, actually.