The Dripped On Factor

It is probably for the best that I didn’t post after my last walk last Thursday. It was at the end of a rough two or three days where I really didn’t feel my best and I wanted to get out walking just to feel better. It was only 10 miles but enough to pull me through to a reasonable level of mood and functionality. I accept now that I am going to have rough mental periods but it feels easier to drag myself out of them more quickly now than a few years ago.

Anyway, yes, I do have that South Coast Challenge looming, in two weekends time. I have felt a trifle coldy and sniffly in the last few days, nothing that affects too much except the ability to walk those longer distances that I need for such preparation. The weather forecast has been very much on a “to me – to you” mode between Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with regard to when the rain is coming. On Wednesday, the forecast was very much suggesting that Sunday was the wettest, and Saturday is already earmarked either for cricket or watching the skies at cricket (muttering things like “looks like it’s easing off”, “the weather comes from that direction”, “the forecast said….” and, of course, “what time do they need to be back on?”). So, all in all, Friday looked the best option, and leave was duly booked, at which point the wind and skies turned. The outlook was still mooted as a bit of rain around lunchtime.

A 9am start is never a poor effort for me, in my two layers plus a rain jacket in one of those compact bum bags that are absolutely not bum-related in anything other than name. Very soon appeared sprinkles like an Gelato’s staff away day but nothing too concerning. My very much unwritten rule (though I suppose it is now written) is that any rain jacket or waterproof is not needed until there are more cars with full wipers than intermittent. A quick non-scientific survey scored the ratio of full to intermediate as 19:31 but, as the rain increased I wasn’t going to do a recount; the jacket was on. In hindthought, a sample of “the next 50 cars coming down the road” still has some science behind it, as much social science perhaps as ‘real’ science but maybe let’s not dig further into that. Half an hour of that and the coffee break, which I always planned for whenever the rain was heavy.

It was clear post-coffee that the rain had not eased off, and in fact it became much heavier. It was the wettest in which I have walked for a very long time but, for some lunatic reason, I still did not take a direct route home and extended the distance. I mused as to whether I preferred this to the 30+ Celsius conditions favoured more recently. Rain is not a deal-breaker but when accompanied by wind it becomes unpleasant. Walking in the heat is very much a physical test while in the rain it is more psychological. Thankfully, for a couple of miles, I was backed by said wind, perhaps during the heaviest downfall, but later the cross-wind was not fun. As thunder rumbled, an early finish felt sagacious. 14 miles, certainly not as far as intended, but I am not that disappointed. The little toe on my right foot is quite bruised after I had whacked it with a door – as you do – but that had given me little trouble thankfully. But I found that I did need a nap of about an hour, which is unusual for me, so maybe I am nursing a very minor cold that hasn’t hit the surface. Not something that I hope will bother me too much and I will see on Sunday morning what the weather might bring, in case I can get another few miles in.

Ok, time to look after myself, tomorrow is sorted with cricket / not cricket and how am I feeling? 90% of the time, pretty good. 10% of the time, fdguyrftfdhgvhgdfdfcbfcgcvbnchjrodfravbrsdgfghhgjfdfsdfds. Yeah, sit on that, autocorrect, even I’ve got you beat.




Since records began

Another Friday off work and another leave day ticked off my annual allowance. At some point I had better start working longer hours to build up more flexitime credit. With travelling in the late-afternoon and evening, it was a matter today of getting in what I could against the clock.

It was extremely muggy, the muggiest since records began, at 7.4 Mugs. Incidentally, when did records begin? I can’t remember the first one I ever bought myself, but I did own Benny Hill’s Ernie (The Fastest Milkman In The West) and Rolf Harris’s Jake The Peg, both in about 1970/71, almost certainly bought for me by either my parents or one of my sisters. I wasn’t that interested in music until the late 1970s, my mid-teens, but I did love some of the stuff in the later parts of the 1960s when my parents used to take us out for drives in the car on Sunday afternoons (yes, my Dad was that one pootling along at 30mph in front of you) and had the radio on.

I guess records began in earnest in 1952 with the first singles charts and Al Martino having the first number one. Thomas Edison invented the phonograph in 1877 so he didn’t live to hear Alan Freeman counting down the hits of the day, but I am aware of vinyl records being around well before 1952, before anyone picks me up on this…….

But muggy it was today. 16.5 miles. Thirsty work again. Four weeks to go until the South Coast Challenge. Feeling reasonably fit.

Catatonia once more

It was a long long day yesterday but I was determined to get a reasonable walk in on the Sunday. I was up by 8am, at least to make myself a cup of tea, though I faffed about for much of the morning, reading yesterday’s paper and whatever. After a shower and breakfast, I was out on the road just after 11.

Yes, yesterday was a long long day (no, not just a long day but a long long one) – out of the house by 7:20am and back home at 10:30pm. Over 15 hours and it was hard but it was in the cause of doing something I love. It’s not quite like a surgeon, doctor or nurse putting in a 15 hour shift, it really isn’t. Anyway, I had to force myself a little today but I was fine in having my coffee break at about the 4 mile mark in Hedge End.

I shouldn’t complain about people being friendly and chatty but there are times when everyone just wants a bit of peace and quiet. The barista had clearly been trained at the Hairdresser School of Baristaing – how are you today, are you well, have you been on your holidays yet, sir? Ok, I made the last one up but I would not have been surprised. When I responded that I’d had a 15 hour day yesterday (the truth – but entirely misleading), he couldn’t resist asking if I was working later. Anyway, I must have left him with the impression that I was employed by the NHS, given that I fiddled about with my coins as if I was strapped for cash. All I needed was for him to ask, “Is that a stethoscope in your pocket or….?” It was a decent coffee though in a rather quiet corner of a quiet coffee shop. As I left, the barista wished me a “nice rest of the day”. Ok, he was harmless and simply trying to be personable. Perhaps there should be more of that.

To explain the blog post title, Catatonia had a massive hit with Road Rage, a song I should like but often find exceptionally annoying. And two instances or at least variations of road rage were really the only other happenings of interest in a gentle-ish walk of just over 14 miles. Firstly, I noticed a couple of young lads (maybe early 20s – that’s young to me) with bikes acting suspiciously in a side road but didn’t think that much of it thereafter, until about 10 minutes later when I was walking in a northerly direction, m’lord…. I heard a prolonged horn honk behind me, causing me to turn around and see one of the lads on ‘his’ bike come straight at me. Fortunately there was room for me to dive – metaphorically – into a driveway as both lads veered off the road onto the pavement. No apologies, no nothing, the lads rode off into the distance, laughing. Strike (or not) One.

Much later, I was walking between Hedge End and West End when a motorist stopped and let their passenger out. They continued a conversation for at least 30 seconds while traffic built up behind them, with cars coming the other way preventing any overtaking. Not unreasonably, some of this queue were rather irritated. As the driver pulled away, the third or fourth car driver then stopped by the erstwhile passenger, now walking along the pavement, and gave him a horrendous vent of spleen. I wasn’t sure on whose side I was, to be honest. But really, some people have no awareness of the effect of their behaviour on people around them. Strike (or not) Two.

I have a belief that things very often happen in threes and I was so careful crossing the road after that, avoiding a Strike Three and Out. Happy with a decent walk on another very warm day – no distance really but enough to keep me ticking over. Five weeks left to the South Coast Challenge. I need to find walking time for next weekend, when we’re away, but I’m feeling decently fit, both in body and in mind. One disappointment, though I may not feel that way on the day, is to have such a late start time – 9:30. I had asked for one between 8 and 9 o’clock, but that was very much an over-subscribed start window. Any way, it’s 100 km, whatever time you start. Looking forward to it.


Everyday is a winding road

Still riding the current wave of positivity and feeling a buoyant 9 out of 10, perhaps slightly down from last week but not significantly. It’s not as if I need to go walking to handle stress or any other mental or psychological deficiency at the moment, but to get really fit for the South Coast Challenge on 25/26 August. And that seems to be going well despite not so much opportunity to get out on the road and, what with plenty of cricket and a spell of blisteringly hot weather, I have fallen behind – a little – on the 1,000 mile target for the year. Today at least took me over the 500 mark to 522, so still not bad.

Facebook friends will know that I play music while I do the washing up and sometimes a song gets stuck in my head, though sometimes it is one I hear on the radio, and one that I haven’t heard for a long time. That’s ok if it is a song that is bearable and thankfully at the moment it is very much more than that: Everyday is a winding road, I get a little bit closer, Everyday is a faded sign, I get a little bit closer feeling fine. Yes, that is Sheryl Crow and, at the moment, every day can be a winding road, the poignant lyrics coming just before that chorus: Everybody gets high, everybody gets low, These are the days when anything goes. Very meaningful for me, to accept the rough with the smooth and feel that better is only just round the corner, not to catastrophise anything and everything that isn’t perfect.

It was still warm today but there was a very welcome breeze for much of the time, especially along the sea front at one of my favourite walking spots, Lee on Solent. I had soon drunk the contents of my drinks bottle, which is around 750ml in capacity, and it became an exercise in finding cheap water based drinks at every opportunity. To give you an idea of the extent of this, I quaffed over 4 litres in the course of the walk – that is over 7 pints – and only needed the toilet once. The danger of dehydration was ever-present, and that one pee was about the same colour as Castrol GTX, though thankfully not of a similar viscosity. I can’t say that I ever felt really thirsty but I knew that I did need plenty of fluids.

The route took me through Warsash, Titchfield, Stubbington, Lee on Solent and Stokes Bay. Near Gosport the demarcation of what is a public way and private land was rather blurred and I had to double back at one point away from MOD territory, and then traverse around the perimeter of Stokes Bay Golf Club. There was one grumpy-features who mumbled that I shouldn’t be on the course because I wasn’t a member (how he knew that must have been a guess, though I doubt that educated) but, to be fair to me, I stayed within a yard or two of the MOD fenced boundary so that if I was in someone’s way, they must be a very terrible golfer. Some times, there are people who just like to moan about stuff, even if it has no real effect on them.

From Gosport, it was a longish trawl up to Fareham and then home to Sarisbury. 29 miles and not really feeling achy at all. I must be a bit fit, I suppose, and I’m still drinking the water. Not too much, though, or at least not a dangerous amount…..

Six weeks to go and well on track. There will be plenty there who won’t have walked anything like this distance before the event. Think I need one walk a week and this coming Sunday will be the last one when I will have cricket. So Sundays will be the usual walking day. Sorted.

More popular than Brexit

Feeling very fine with life at the moment, what with receiving an award at work, work generally being okay, Sarisbury cricket going from strength to strength, England doing better than many expected at the World Cup, I am feeling trimmer than I have done and, of course, Pammy and Matt being Pammy and Matt. At any time, everyone has issues, troubles or difficulties but mine are minor and all very much First World problems, such as our printer giving up the ghost long after the spectre of age had loomed.

It is quite a while since I have taken a longer gap between walks and not really felt the need to de-stress. But I do have a 100km event walk (South Coast Challenge: Eastbourne to Arundel) at the end of August and I did need to get out to maintain some level of fitness. I have lost around a stone over the last three months purely by not eating between meals – it is amazing to think how much I must previously have been snacking. So I set out for an early start to get a decent walk in before the 3pm football today, out of the house by 8:50am, and believe you me, that is early. It did become very warm as it reached late morning and by 2:35pm, when I reached home, I did feel a bit tired. I had had around two and a half litres of fluids during that time, not including the large latte in a slightly leisurely coffee break. I still devoured a post-walk large mug of milk and then have been pretty constantly drinking weak squash since. All the fluids were water based and very low in sugar, which I find best.

Very pleased with 17.5 miles, in what must have been near 30 Celsius temperatures by the end, but it did bring home to me how hard that late-August event will be if this heatwave continues, as it will, according to the Daily Express (who are forever forecasting some sort of freak apocalyptic weather conditions). I was very minded today to get to the shady side of the street whenever there was one and tree-lined paths were welcome at various points.

So that sounds all great. But have I got any niggles at the moment? Well yes, a minor irritation but I’m not losing any sleep over it, at least no more than is due to the hot weather at night. I can’t believe there are some people who want England to lose and are very happy to tell everyone about it. Prior to the tournament, I heard a pundit say that around one-quarter of the population were really in to the World Cup and would watch every game they could, one-quarter would dip in and out of it and have some interest, and one-half would have little or no interest. Sounds about right, and I respect anyone and their own interests – I have no problem with people who dislike football.

After all, I really dislike rugby and the whole holier-than-thou legitimised thuggery-buggery but, if I am pressed, I do want England to win, whomever they are playing. I should say at this point that I, along with many other footie fans, are not over-enamoured with footie having so much diving, rolling around, complaining to the ref, and it is amazing how some players who clearly are able to stand needles to the extent of repeated visits to tattoo parlours can suddenly have such a low pain threshold when they get on a football pitch. I read one Facebook thread along the lines of the previous sentence concluding with disappointment that England had beaten Colombia. I think that they didn’t have a clue as to the irony of that conclusion.

So come on England. If the UK EU Referendum vote, with 17.4 million voting to leave the EU, reflected the “will of the people”, then reflect on a TV viewing figure of 24 million (even with the vastly inferior ITV coverage) for the England – Colombia game. Even those who hate football, you have friends (probably), and friends who love football and/or really want England to win. Think about that one. Think about your friends – surely you want your friends to be happy. Why want England to lose? I do respect that you dislike football, but not that you hate your country. Come on England!

Not 35

I’m going through a strange phase with life in general that has even perpetuated in my walking. I am flitting between being very positive and enthusiastic and (now and again) just being a bit fed up with anything and everything – not terrible downs but just a bit fed up at times. I had booked on to the Sarsen Trail about three weeks ago but was not up for it at all – and the forecast of thunder and lightning made the decision for me. As it happened, there was some drizzle and light rain but nothing more than that, but I can’t say that I was heartbroken to miss it.

Today was ok. It was that sort of in-between temperature where it wasn’t absolutely clear to me whether or not I needed a hoodie on top of two thin layers. In the end, I wore one and never took it off, with a breeze emerging at regular intervals, and I didn’t find it easy to decide whether to walk on the sunny or shady side of the street. The walk was pretty much two half-walks, each of around three hours, and included some off-road footpath sections, though I wondered on one occasion whether I had drifted onto private ground, half waiting for a big bloke with big dog to appear.

Before I start, Pammy always asks me how far I am going to walk, and typically I might say, “around 15 to 18 miles”, before trotting out 22. It is almost always the case that I end up going further than I had said. Last night, I was asked the question, and responded, “Not 35”, with reference to the 35 miles of my last walk, which was an exceptional distance for me. This morning, the same routine……..not 35…… and I was never going to walk anywhere near that. 20.5 miles, in fact. Pretty decent. Soles of my feet just starting to become sore, but nothing too serious.

Looking further to the future, I have signed up to the South Coast Challenge on 25-26 August, which is another in the suite of 100 km walks, this one from Eastbourne to Arundel.

I suspect it is going to be tougher than either London to Brighton or the Thames Path Trail, the two that I have completed. Hopefully it is not as gruelling as the Wight Challenge, where the weather dealt us a nasty hand and made every step a challenge in itself. Quite looking forward to it, but I must admit to raising an eyebrow or two at the cost of £185, though there are reductions if one has competed in previous challenges, and considerably cheaper if you endeavour to raise a certain amount for charity. I’ve asked plenty of times before and I can’t keep asking – and I feel a bit less pressure if I’m not performing for sponsors. You do get a fair amount for your money and the organisation and support is generally excellent.

So it’s the build up now, ten weeks to go. Mostly it’s about keeping fit and healthy, keeping up the miles.

I’m sorry I Havant a clue

If I am going to take a day’s leave off work to go walking, I am not settling for 10 or 12 miles, it’s going to be a significant and testing distance. But I have to say that I pushed myself too far and too hard today. So much so that I felt quite dispirited not to say knackered for the last ten miles or so.

I left the house at a decently early 9:20am and the plan was to walk to Havant and back. Even the quickest or shortest route each way would see me getting somewhere very close to 30 miles and I felt 9 or 10 out of 10 both physically and mentally, having a real spring in my step even despite the morning soon becoming pretty muggy. I had a coffee stop in Cosham after just short of 11 miles and then had a planned route through the side streets to Farlington. Unfortunately, as I have found before, Google Maps and Street View don’t necessarily reflect reality on the ground as I came across a restricted access road and gated community and I wasn’t getting through there with a couple of threatening dog signs fairly prominent. So it became a different route through Drayton and I was only really aware of going in something like the right direction as I found myself in Bidbury Mead. I knew the way from there, at least.

I walked around Havant Park, being either slightly angry or slightly amused or both as three young lads rode their bikes right across the cricket square and what could quite possibly be tomorrow’s pitch for Havant’s match. After a few minutes’ rest, I returned west through Bedhampton and toward and up Portsdown Hill – crikey that is a long uphill trawl from there. Despite starting to feel it in my legs, for some reason I opted to take the right fork at the top toward Southwick and Wickham rather than the considerably shorter left fork toward Portchester. With no pavement for at least three or four miles, this was tough going even on pretty wide and quite walkable grass verges. By the time I reached Wickham, I was shattered. Unfortunately, there is still at least 8 miles left via any sensible walking route.

Ok, so I did it, I got home. There have been quite a few drivers honking in a friendly way to me but I have no idea who any of them were. I was almost honking myself as I had a break around an hour and a half from home with a litre of flavoured milk. I normally find that extremely energising but it was probably too much work for it today. Every part of my legs took turns in hurting and I was extremely dispirited. In days to come, I know I will look on the distance of 35 miles in a different light to how I do at the moment. There is no doubt that I pushed myself too hard today and I will do well to get up in the morning to travel to cricket. At least I’m not playing.