NINE DAYS WONDER - DAY 8

Badby to Naesby.

Estimated 11.3 miles Pedometer reading 14.49 miles

Start 10.20 am Finish 6.30 pm

After finishing jigging on day seven, we received word that a reception was being organised for us at Kelmarsh Hall on the ninth day at 10 in the morning. We are not immediately overjoyed at this, for although we have made good time we had planned on an early afternoon arrival, This will mean jigging extra distance today until we are within striking distance of our finish. With feet running very sore, and blisters bursting, we had hoped for an easy last two days.

Still, we grit our teeth and gird our loins. The reception is, after all, for our benefit.   We start from the bus stop at Badby. As I do up my shoes a bus pulls up and the driver opens the doors.

"I am the English Heritage National Jester, jigging from my home in Bristol to the Festival of History at Kelmarsh Hall," I say extending my arm, "Can I say hello?"

"All right," says the driver, "There are only two people on."

There is no reaction at all as I step up and wave, although there is one more passenger than he had admitted to. He closes the doors and moves off. Maybe it is a little early in the morning for fools on buses.

Our route takes us through Daventry, Welton, Watford, West Haddon, Cold Ashby and Naesby. The weather is fine and, for once, not too hot with a pleasant breeze blowing.

In Daventry we meet Athena-Jo and her young son Fynn and she tells us of the legend of King Charles I killing   Captain Stafford in the building outside which we stand before the Battle of   Naesby. It had been called the Wheatsheaf Inn. I promise her that I will try and check and see if there are any reliable   sources.

Both Athena-Jo and Fynne are named after great Myths and I ask her if   she is married,

"No, divorced," she tells me with a big smile

"How would you like a new Daddy?" I ask Fynn. He steps heavily right on the sorest point of my right foot and I limp away.

At the Market Square we meet Gillian, Hazel and Jane, three barge dwelling friends who have met up whilst moored in Daventry. They jig with us, and a passer by called Steve takes a picture on Gillian's camera. They like the   idea of   free tickets to the Festival.

"You're one log off a full load." they tell us.

Just Past the village of Welton we meet Sue and Annika Chorzelzki, Mother and Daughter, travelling to pick friends up from the bus station.

"Te yestech barzo guippe," they tell us, but they cannot tell us how to spell it.

When I ask Sue for her hand in marriage she agrees but confesses that she will have to get a divorce first. I think she might have been toying   with my emotions.

As we jig along the road, Nicholas' legs appear to grow shorter; he has always been half a head below me, but today he doesn't seem able to keep up. I am reminded again of a scurrying hamster. Just short of the motorway he dives off into the bushes and I think I have lost him.

"I just wanted to see what a 'pocket park' looked like," he   says, having seen a sign for one. 'It was quite thin."   He appears strangely satisfied.

We cross Watling Street, or the A5 as it is more commonly known today. We then leap the Watford Gap. This is a slight indentation in the relief through which have been laid, road, canal and railway from time almost immemorial We Have a picture taken with the modern service station as our back ground.

The village of Watford seems to us a little unremarkable, but we are not looking hard. We press on.

In West Haddon we meet Brian and Carolyn Hyde and Sylvio, their 14 year old guest from Sardinia.

"Sei tutto scemo" he tells   us   in Italian and then "Ses tottu scimpru" in Sardinian for good measure.

The Hydes run a guest house called 'Pear Tree Country House' and offer us water before taking a picture of   Carolyn jigging   with us.

IN Cold Ashby, Colion and   Liz Garret come   running   across the road; they saw us as they drove past and must get a picture. When they learn they can win a free ticket to the Festival they get excited and call all their neighbours. I ask Colin if his daughter is available for marriage and Liz kisses me full on the lips and cries "Yes, I think you're fantastic!"

I feel that I may have won this promise by false flatteries.

As we   come   to the day's   end   in Naesby, we are met by Nigel and Jane Deller. She is originally from Yorkshire and tells us:

"You're as daft as a brush," but they jig with us and take a picture.

I nearly collapse and am supported once again by Nicholas   as we take the final picture of the day.

Only four miles left to go, but we have to start jigging at 7.30 on Wednesday Morning!