Padstow – Porthcothan (13.6 miles)
Distance from Minehead – 180.4 miles / Distance to Poole– 452.6 miles
On the outskirts of Padstow, up on the hill, is a war memorial which asks us to remember the men of Padstow who died whilst serving their country in the two World Wars. I don’t know any of these people, but perhaps it is the fact that I am physically exhausted, perhaps it is the magnificence of the statue with the morning light and seascape behind it, perhaps it is simply the moment, but I found myself stopping and just pausing. It seemed right to do so.
Later in the day as I battled the energy sapping headwind I rounded a headland on the approach to Treyamon Bay and was confronted with a whole load of benches. I am not sure what the collective noun for benches is, perhaps a ‘rest’ of benches?? – but whatever it might be it would describe the scene ahead of me. 16 benches of all shapes, sizes, designs and materials all positioned to face the sea. All of them were given by people to commemorate the life of someone who has died. Someone who meant a lot to them. Someone who they wish to be remembered.
Again I found myself pausing and just taking this scene in. I could do with a rest and welcomed the opportunity to stop and rest my weary body, but how could I sit on one bench and not another? Because there was no one else around it felt like I would be choosing the memory of one person above the other. Now I write these words it seems wholly irrational, but at the time, in my tired and perhaps emotional state, I couldn’t bring myself to sit on any of the 16 benches. So I stood and found myself remembering.
I remembered people who have died. People who influenced my life. People who taught me to be the person I am today. People who I loved (and still do). People I miss. Now I am glad that there is no one else around as I lost myself in the remembering. And when I was ready I set out again with a renewed sense of purpose and encouragement.
We all have people who we have lost. People who have loved us for who we are, people who have encouraged us and taught us invaluable lessons for life. Perhaps this is the opportunity to remember them. Perhaps this is the opportunity to give thanks for them. For we are who we are thanks to these ordinary folk who have touched our lives in extraordinary ways.