The Home Stretch and Beyond
After the triumphant home coming of the Cardiff gig, in the city where Chris and I studied and we could have sold out the Norwegian church at least twice over, there were still 3 days to go to complete the tour and complete the journey. Having nipped back to the Welsh capital a couple times in recent days as somewhere easy to stay, in these last days we were back to good ol’ classic CERDD//ED times- a gig at a church (St Mary’s, Magor) and a night at the vicarage, a trip to the corner shop in the morning for coast path-friendly food and yet more pretty good luck with the weather. Except the last day.
On haloween, day 59, the Welsh weather gods had obviously heard us constantly telling people how lucky we’d been (although, as mentioned in last week’s blog, the conditions are hardly something we should be celebrating, climatically speaking), and threw everything at us. Bright sun, heavy rain, a biting wind at the end of the day, like all the weather of the last 2 months had come back to remind us what we’ve experienced.
The heavy rain hit simultaneously to Seth’s phone blowing up with what can only be described as a media storm to accompany the real one happening overhead. Radio and newspapers from across the BBC and beyond had heard about the story, could see we were pretty much there and ran with it. It’s been surreal to see the answers we’ve been giving to people at the merch stall for weeks appear in digital and physical print in so many places.
Reaching the end was so surreal. The clouds cleared and Chepstow came into view, this almost mystical place that we’ve spoken so much about for months. My mum appeared by the old town wall, with a replacement hat for the one I lost, Chris’ parents arrived half a mile from the end and Seth’s parents and grandmother pulled up alongside just a hundred metres or so from the end point, allowing us all to arrive together. When we arrived, our videographer Alex was there taking pics, the parents had a banner and a balloon, and even some genuine Filkin’s fans had arrived with literal bells and whistles to congratulate us. We had pictures on the bench and by the sign and then did the first 2 minutes of Offa’s Dyke to straddle the Cymru/England border with Seth in his native Gloucestershire and Chris with a foot in Monmouthshire.
More radio interviews and a reservation for 12 at a nearby pub meant taking in the moment was tricky but it was glorious. Tears started to well up in the first half of the (massively well attended and in fact, over subscribed) final gig, and then I properly choked up when I said farewell to Seth (don’t take it personally Chris, you and I were going back to the same place that evening, so it wasn’t goodbye!).
Thinking back to week 1 and my first blog post ‘Flora and Fauna with Freddie’, the trip is still delighting with wildlife, including as yet un-ticked-off species. As we reached more built up areas, an urban fox showed itself, darting out of a bush to cross the road and disappearing into the fragment of undergrowth on the other side (maybe it was chasing the chicken?)
At Fairwater station as I prepared to embark on my journey back to Bodmin Parkway, from where I departed on August 28th to meet the guys at Broadcasting House for their appearance on Radio 3’s In Tune show,
a rabbit hopped around on the steep railway embankment, as sure footed as the feral goats we saw on day 4 on the Great Orme near Llandudno.
We’ve already begun our post tour activities. Chris has reverted to a clean shaven state, Seth had returned to his beloved boat, and I’ve permanently inked myself in the form of a Wales Coast Path dragon shell tattoo to remember this incredible trip by.
It’s difficult to summarise everything from this remarkable project in just a few words, so hopefully my many from the last few weeks have given you a sense of what it’s been like and what thoughts and feelings it elicited in us. To everyone who saw a gig, put us up, fed us, liked an Instagram post, enjoyed Welsh Word of the Day, bought an EP, or read these blogs- and to Chris and Seth for inviting and trusting me to assist them on their amazing tour- Diolch yn fawr iawn.