The Great Big Walk video diary

From 10th June for 9 days, I walked and talked to community projects from Llanwrtyd Wells to Penarth. I met such inspiring people, and have come through it feeling invigorated. I kept a video diary each day…

On the last day a lovely chap from Melbourne, Courtney, followed us about with his fancy-pants camera:

Find out more about the Great Big Walk and Eden Project here.

Fleurs and Tears on the Great Big Walk

The Great Big Walk was inspired by the Great Get Together, organised by Jo Cox’s family. Jo’s life was taken last year, and her statement that we have far more in common than divides us stayed with me the whole time I was talking to all the amazing people we met on this walk. There are people across the whole of the UK, and across the world, working together to make their communities strong.

Along my way I began picking little bunches of flowers. It’s something my mum Latifah used to do, and I found it a nice way to mark the end of a walk, either passing on the flowers to somebody, or leaving them somewhere. I picked flowers for my mum on our walk through the woods to the Sea at Pembrey, which I let go into the sea for her, along with a massive release of tears and grief which I didn’t realise was still there inside me.

When Lowri introduced me to a lady at the Adamsdown Big Lunch, who had put together a bunch of flowers for Jo Cox it was so fitting with my journey I felt a bit adrift, until my focus was gently brought back again with some watermelon from Vaida – thank you x

The lady with the flowers is called Dance. I’d just been dancing my sox off to the fantastic samba band, and had a couple of nice exchanges with some of the younger locals, who had started out so shy, but joined in with gusto and then got on the mic to beat-box our departure. Dance had been overwhelmed by the fact that her daughter had not only been taught in school about Jo Cox, but had felt so moved by her that she’d come home to make sure her mother also knew how inspiring she was. They had put together a bunch of roses and brought them to the Big Lunch in Jo’s memory, and she passed them on to me.

I felt honoured to carry these beautiful flowers with me for the final day of the walk, to set them in the sea at Penarth, remembering Jo and all that she stood for. Andrew Carnegie (below) penned a poem which he read as we walked into Penarth, releasing the tears I’d held for Jo, and for the horrific tragedy at Grenfell Tower, reminding me of the power of poetry to connect far deeper than mere conversation.

 

These boots were made for walking…

A while ago I attended an Arts Council Wales training session, where I met an artist called Richard. He told me of a project he was about to start which involved walking from Yorkshire to Wales. This is the kind of project that I always fancy doing, but never do because I need to look after the children. This time I spoke to Owen about it, and his response was ‘we’ll figure it out’. AMAZING. Turns out I was putting the block in my own way and the girls are old enough now to cope with me being away for a week.

On Saturday I’ll be joining Richard for the second leg of ‘The Great Big Walk’. It’s organised by The Eden Project, inspired by the Great Get Together. Friends and family of the late MP Jo Cox started the Great Get Together, with the aim of connecting people and building stronger communities.

Jo was murdered last year and fittingly, I included her name in two pieces of work about 118 women killed by men in 2016. Jo’s belief that we have far more in common than divides us, is something that I’ll be honoured to celebrate with this project.

I’ll be walking from Llanwrtyd Wells, taking in Carmarthen, Llanelli, Swansea, Neath, a moonlit walk to Merthyr and on through Caerphilly to Cardiff. Along the way I’ll be meeting and talking to community groups about their projects. I’ll be finding out what people are doing, but not necessarily shouting about, to strengthen their communities. And I’m SUPER EXCITED!

I know it’s going to be tough going as my knees are pretty weak and my hips aren’t great, but I’m taking a tennis ball to roll out my muscles along the way. Thanks to Caryn for the boots and to Pyklops for the bag of PROPER gear, I feel up to the challenge. Follow my progress, and the progress of the other walkers (heading to Ireland, Scotland, Cornwall and London) on twitter #GreatBigWalk.

Maybe you can build up your own appetite for The Big Lunch – taking place all around the UK on 18th June, when all the walkers will be arriving home from our adventures…

https://www.edenprojectcommunities.com/the-great-big-walk