The start was grotty. I felt grotty. The sort of grotty that you get after a good night on a mix of whisky, gin and strong IPA. The familiar and haunting sound of a fox in the distance reminds me of the first time I ever heard it. Horrified by it, wandering what the hell could make such an eerie sound. Now I just smile.
It wasn’t quite as cold as previous days, but still… The wetness persisted and infiltrated my sleeping arrangement, making for that not quite warm, not quite freezing that stops all sleep. Breakfast was eaten. Not sure why I even eat muesli. Seems to provide no umph in the engine and creates a dark cream paste at the other end. I left with enough time to cover 13km to Delsbo, said with a slight cockney accent and some swagger. The shop opens at 10. The one at Friggesund, just 2km away open at 12. Superb planning on my part.
I walk with purpose up the hill. In fact I walk the lot. I feel like that cold (the virus, not the temperature version) has gotten a whole new grip on me. A lady pulls up…
‘vill du ett lyft?’ She says and I reply ‘sorry, I don’t speak swedish’
She repeats in English and I explain the whole running thing. She asks about where I slept last night and breaths out in a kind of ‘bloody hell!’ way. She then says that she drove passed me twice yesterday and was amazed at how far I’d gotten on between her seeing me. That’s a bit of fuel for the engine. Then she wishes me good luck and drives off. A tiny bit more fuel and I’m runnig suddenly. The landscape the same beautiful forests and lakes.
‘Really need to get these things posted to England!?’ Is the thought as I lift them and place my journals back in my backpack. They’re pretty weighty, eating more than the 350g solar panel I’m carrying (another piece of ‘needs to be posted’ equipment. I’ve worked out that with some clever kit tweaks I can reduce my pack weight (not including food) by around 1kg. I just need to put the whole idea on trial first before I go and shoot myself in the nuts. I would say foot but it would be a might more disastrous that a foot with a hole.
Shopping purchased, food eaten, I’m off. Back to no man’s land I go and it’s mostly uphill. Still… Google says 6hrs and I say 4:30hrs. 28km to go and I suddenly feel that adventure sausage (in the form of sliced salami) kick in. I start to run the downhills. All feels good. Now the flats get a run. A few hills here and there to make me warmer. I run passed a couple getting the fallen leaves off their lawn, the lady looking up, smiling and waving as I run passed. More fuel for that engine. Then a farm and two young boys on bikes. I wander what they think of the sight they see. Old bloke, red coat, rucksack, leggings, multicoloured beard. I say hey and wave, a little concerned by the rifle on of the boys in carrying on his bike. Waving it around like its a wand and he’s Harry Potter casting a patronous charm.
Then a series of cars go by and I wave and say thanks to each one. I recognise the last one, the lady driving waves enthusiastically, smiling. Was that the lady from the morning? Pointless question, uttered loudly for the ears of the trees. Then I suddenly stop. The wind has disturbed the trees and they shed their leaves. I stand in a flurry of yellow falling flakes. It’s beautiful to watch. I try to record it but sadly the reality of the moment may never be communicated in the way t was perceived. More running. I’ve been tagging a bunch of mile stones, not realising what they are until suddenly one says 1 Mil. Then the boundary between Delsbo and Jarvso appears and I know I’m over half way.
Run in is running but a times I want to whoop. I whistle and sing as I run. The health benefits of the running balancing out the criminal act of creating such noise pollution. Jarvso apears and for the first time a cafe that’s open. I’m in…
‘Sorry I don’t speak Swedish’
‘Can I grab a coffee please?’
‘Help yourself to anything you want’
‘There’s a long way to go yet. Too much has gone by for me to stop for no reason. Or no good reason.’ Is my reply without even a moments consideration. She smiles and nods in agreement. I et ready to leave, get my money out and count out some coins…
‘The coffee is free. You don’t need to pay for it’
‘Really?! Tak! Tak lots! Have an amazing evening’
‘And you. Good luck’
I’m off. More fuel in the tank, or is it the caffeine? The next shop is reached quickly, about 1km out of my way but I need a tad extra for the two days ahead. A couple of young girls stop in their tracks as they see me appear in one of the isles. I look straight at them both, smile then laugh, walking off. Food bought, I run towards a hotel. I need to dry my tent and sleeping bag but if they are more than £50 I’m not staying. I arrive, the lady explains the cheapest they have is close to £90 and then kindly starts to call other places. She gets me a room for £25 and I decide to take it. More running, straight passed the place, then back to it.
The elderly lady at the door speaks no English, her husband only the tiniest bit. I thanks them for showing me what I need to know and pay. Time to recharge batteries, drink water, sleep. For a day where nothing much really happens, there is lots to say for human kindness. The lady at the hotel insisted I find a place to stay web when I said I have a tent and not to go to too much trouble. Again thanks isn’t a big enough word and even saying tack så mycket seems a paltry way to express my gratitude.