It all seemed like a simple idea. Set off from the Irish Sea coast in front of Blackpool Tower, start playing music while walking and don't stop till you reach the North Sea coast at Filey. On the way raise money for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance. Easy.
So a cart was built, the bouzouki was waxed and oiled to brave the elements and all was prepared. Even the thoughts in the back of my mind about such a huge undertaking were cast aside.
By the morning of the start I was on the train to Blackpool and one of the carts wheels was already failing and there was no turning back. We tried to find anyone in Blackpool who could re-wheel it, to no avail, and so a rucksack was bought and the cart was left for the Blackpool dustmen and we were away, watching the sea fall behind. In suburban Blackpool I got my first 'on the move' donation, as well as a cool drink from a couple in their garden and stopped for a meal at Marton, which was given free to help me on my way. The rucksack was weighing heavy, the load having been planned for the cart, the sun was scorching and it was getting late by Preston, but the first nights stop was made. Next morning, a Sunday, off to Burnley, but sadly on the way the soft case for the bouzouki was lost off my bag. On the plus side an invite to a garden party in Blackburn saw more free food and a good collection. And in the evening wife and friend came and took away all the stuff I could do without, leaving my load half the weight.
Sun still burning it was away to Skipton, with a short busking stop in Nelson and the classic knocking on the door and asking for a glass of water and an overnight stop with a friend. The blisters on my feet were now very, very painful, though the muscles were fine after, what? 50 miles or so. In view of that I decided to play for an hour in Skipton and then get the bus to Blubberhouses to avoid the hard climb. And shame on Skipton. I made £1.20. Now these are hard times, people don't have spare cash, but despite being well signed, Tshirt, posters etc. well heeled Skiptonions gave me dirty looks. How dare I try to do good in their town? The hot walk to Harrogate had many an incident. Bistro 67 on the A59 came out and offered me a drink and scones, then produced £50 for the fund, the Police pulled over to see what I was up to, and friends met me en route with blister plasters and food. The hotel at Harrogate was welcome and cool.
Away to York next morning and a group of women said, 'Oh, it's you, we've heard all about you on the radio.' Really? Seems people had been ringing Stray FM talking about me and asking what I was up to. I gave them a call and spoke live on the air. From that point buses pulled over to give, wagons honked and gave thumbs up and I was a local attraction.
York overnight was a first for me, a hostel, and a meet with someone I only knew from playing Scrabble on Facebook.
On Thursday it was my birthday (59 as you ask) and the rain was coming down as I headed out of York for Malton. I was happy to reach the town, though less so to find that the hotel was in Old Molton, another couple of miles further on. Still, a good meal, a hot bath and a couple of pints and we were ready for the morning.
My speed was slow but steady, the blisters were burst and hardening and there were additional problems. My left arms muscles were going in spasms from being bent and chording the bouzouki for six hours a day and the emotion of the challenge was getting to me; as I saw the sign for entering Scarborough I started sobbing, not with pain, but with the release of having bloody walked coast to coast. Nearly in sight of the sea I was invited in to a special needs centre to play, have a cup of tea and add to the collection. Just by the valley gardens there was the sea, and I climbed into the town for the nights stop. The sea edge was for the last day.
I was in the same hotel for two nights, Filey was full for bank holiday, so the next day I intended to do the last stretch without the rucksack, but that bag had been my only companion for all those miles and I couldn't deny it the final miles, so empty apart from strings and capos it was on my back as I walked the coast road, closing in on the goal, wagons, taxis and cars had all heard about me and horns and waves and thumbs all cheered my tattered feet along the road, tears still coming unbidden at stages along the tarmac. A final stop for tea and cake at a farm shop, more collecting, and there was the stone block telling me I was entering Filey, the end was in sight. I started singing my own songs, this was my triumph, buildings and shops grew more plentiful, I started improvising the words for a new song, 'The World is a Wonderful Place' and despite the pain, the cracking voice and the tears I went down the final slope to the seafront and stood looking out to sea. I ordered Horlicks and a chip sandwich and sat down, feet throbbing, and rang my wife.
What an experience. What did I sing? You name it; Alright Now, To Be A Pilgrim, Lord Bateman, Hey Jude, John Cale songs. In quite areas by myself I would attempt to sing the whole of favourite albums. And at the time of writing the total raised is just over £1000. If you still want to give you can by going to www.justgiving.com/tim-moon
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