The farm house

William has this fantastic farm house in a village the lies in the shadows of the wall.

On my first trip to China, this is where all the planning happened. This is also where I took my first hike up to the wall. I can recall that sheer exhilaration of putting my foot onto the wall for the first time 12 years ago. Emotions rushed into me as here was the opportunity to live a dream of mine and in doing so carry the dreams of so many children that they would, through this journey, also see a dream of living a normal life turn to a reality.

On this journey William’s home also became a big goal; when we reached the farm, this meant that the worst part of the mountain section would be completed, the dangerous treacherous bits where the wall traps you into cliffs, rock faces and leaves you stranded 1000 metres up with nowhere to go but retrace your steps and start again. Then you can also find yourself perched on knife edge ridges of rock, crumbling wall around you with no option but to find a way forward, there is no option here, it’s up or down the cliff as you have worked yourself into a position of no return.

The wall began to look familiar, memories began to rush back. Williams’s son Jimmy was with us filming with the drone. I then heard him shout.

“Guys, drop down to the right of the path and follow it to the village in the valley.”
It was a home-coming.

The whole Lindsay family had driven up from Beijing to meet us. What a fantastic feeling.

We were met with hot coffee, walnut cake and beautiful sunshine. We all sat around and reminisced about the previous journey, comparing the mountains and conditions to the last time. The one noticeable change was the deterioration in the condition of the wall and in many places massive sections have now collapsed and cascaded down the mountainside leaving huge gashes/wounds in the side of the ‘Sleeping Dragon.’

Will mother time eventually slay this beast?

A feast was prepared for the evening, Qi, Williams’s wife, Dragon the team leader and Piau another crew member were all in the kitchen cooking away for hours. I will never forget the first meal that I had at the farm house’ steamed local river trout with black bean sauce which today still remains as one of the most memorable meals I have ever had. Dinner was served; braised pork belly, cracked cucumber garlic and chili salad, Tofu… and on the dishes rolled. William even managed to find a bottle of red and white wine just to round off the meal.

To me what really made the evening was just to sit there and listen to everyone’s stories about the wall, then new ones, the old ones and then the mystical ones and the murmur of voices just carry your mind away into the mountains and mist as you visualise and bring it to life in your mind.

Continue reading: The ‘Bog’ stops

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