Walking by numbers

Ok, current estimates…….

  • 1,039 miles
  • 73 days in total
  • 63 days walking
  • 10 days resting
  • 16.5 miles average per day
  • 25 miles longest day
  • 5 miles shortest day (and the last one)
  • 120,000 calories burnt (very much estimated)
  • £5,000 target
  • £3,374 raised
  • 67% of target raised
  • 4 people who have said they are saving their donation for when they can push me past £5,000
  • 1 pair of walking boots
  • 1 pair of running shoes
  • 4 pairs of walking socks
  • 8 pairs of underpants
  • £2,800 cost of accommodation (with breakfasts)
  • 14 degrees Centigrade, the warmest temperature forecast during my walk
  • 2 weddings that I will miss
  • 11 weeks off work
  • 5 weeks unpaid leave
  • 2 knee operations needed after I return

Barry White is in the house, not paying me anything (otherwise I’d have to declare it)

A bit grumpy today with the start of a cold. But I have cheered up immensely now having completed my tax self assessment on-line. What a pain that is, and I then had to pay HMRC for the pleasure of navigating their labyrinth-like website and filling in their very poorly designed form, interpreting the various vagueness as I went. but feeling smugly pleased with myself. Believe me, a whole day before the deadline, that is seriously early for me to do something.

Anyway, onto happier money related things and we are holding our charity bingo night on Saturday in aid of SANDS at Sarisbury Athletic Cricket Club. Aiming to raise around £300-400, not quite in the realms of £926 that was raised at the quiz night in November, but certainly a significant amount of dosh. We have sufficient numbers of people now and hopefully they will all spend their life savings on bingo cards and raffle tickets.

The total raised is up to £3,373.70 now. Blimey, that odd 70 pence is bugging me. I like nice round numbers. If there is a young child reading this and they have their 30p a week pocket money to spare for women who have lost babies, then you could donate that using http://www.justgiving.com/Keith-Spicer1 and you could make a 50 year old man very happy. Mmm, perhaps that needs redrafting, it sounds a bit pervy. Er, you could make women very happy. No, that sounds just as bad. Just give us the 30p and just be proud, very proud, that you helped. You could just text SACC63 0.30 to 70070 if you’re too young to have a credit or debit card. Please ask your parents or guardians before you do this, and get them to check out the page. If another child has already kindly rounded to the nearest pound by giving 30p, then you could give another 30p yourself. All we would need is around 5,400 children to do the same and we would reach that £5,000 target.

Incidentally, and finally, I am aware of four people who are waiting to donate so that they can be the person who takes me over the target. As long as there are others willing to take me closer, then that’s fine……

I mentioned my cold. The second or third day of my colds often hear me sounding like Barry White. Bad news for anyone wanting to induce me to have a lengthy conversation, but good news (perhaps) for my Pammy. Darling, I love you just the way you are! A bit of sympathy from a few people but, to be honest (not that I am ever anything else so there is no need for this qualification), I don’t mind having a cold now if it means greater immunity between 16 February and 29 April. If it’s any worse by the weekend, I will take a break from walking (it does explain the achy legs earlier in the week), but there’s no escape once the big walk starts. Vitamins, supplements, fruit, Day Nurse, etc etc.

Always take the weather with you


Noticeable today that, despite a rainy day, the days are becoming longer. As I was strolling back to Moorgate Tube Station, there was still plenty of light at a time when it would have been pitch black at the corresponding time a couple of months ago. It didn’t feel cold at all despite my tablet reading 4 degrees (Centigrade). Neither was I particularly troubled by the rain – perhaps I have become hardened to the British weather through my walking. I have had more than one violent hailstorm thrown at me and nothing can be worse than that.

Writing that did get me thinking – what was the unit of measure for hail before golf was invented? One for you to think about.

Just for a laugh, because I know that weather forecasts vary from hour to hour, let alone day to day, I spent a little time looking at these for the current position on weather and conditions over my walk. The sunrise and sunset times are going to be fairly predictable, though a gloomy day may make the sunset feel earlier than it really is.

My first day, Sunday 16 February: After solid rain in the week 3-7 February, it is a changeable week and there is a smidgen of rain (0.6 mm) and a day temperature of 6 degrees. However, under the column “feels like”, the entry is 0. This is due to (here is the bad news) 34 mph winds (and here is the good news) but it will predominantly be behind me. Sunset will be at 17:14 which should give me good time to start in the morning and stomp out around 19 miles. I don’t want to be walking in the dark at any time during the walk – when you’re not familiar with the area darkness is not going to make navigation any easier. The only days where this apparently could be a challenge are three days later in February after 22+ miles and sunset between 17:30 and 17:45.

Tuesday 18 February doesn’t look good on account of rain, but not desperately heavy. The worst days look like Tuesday 11 March, just to the south-east of Birmingham, and 22 March, on the edge of North Yorkshire. As I get into Scotland, I am fortunate that 4 April (10 miles to Lanark) and 8 April (17 miles to Dryden, north of Glasgow) are not desperately long days, with light dustings of snow forecast. But the last 9 walking days currently have no rain forecast, and the final walk into John O’Groats on Tuesday 29 April will be almost sub-Saharan at 11 degrees. By that time, sunset will be at 20:24, reminding me that the cricket season will be upon us. First league match for Sarisbury on the following Saturday.

So overall it is not too bad. There is no stretch of more than two days with any significant rain and, even on those, it may be possible to scuttle between the showers. But, hey, these are forecasts, and if I wrote this post again tomorrow it might be a completely different picture.


A bit stiff this morning – even though I walked on Saturday. Should be fit enough now not to be suffering after a 16 mile walk. I remember two years ago when 16 miles left me unable to do the shopping the next morning but I haven’t felt like this for a while. So with my hypochondriac hat on, there must be something awry.

It is, as I say, the first bout of post-walking stiffness for a long time. I must make sure I have sufficient hydration; I didn’t have as much as usual but didn’t feel particularly thirsty. I am aware that, by the time you feel thirsty, you are already around one-third dehydrated but what you know and what you do often collide in cognitive dissonance.

The other possibility is that I’m getting a bug of some sort, hopefully quite minor if that is the case. Better now than three weeks’ time. I don’t like to think about the scenario that I get a bad cold five weeks into the task. Hopefully hypothetical. But can you imagine a world with no hypothetical scenarios? Think about it.

So the regime must start in earnest now. At least 3 pieces of fruit every day, and I don’ t mean 3 grapes. Milk, protein. Vegetarians may scoff (not literally), and I’m sure that there are many who have succeeded at similarly physically demanding tasks, but I do need chicken on a regular basis. Perhaps I haven’t looked after myself so well in the last few days – a few late nights and a bit more picking on less healthy food between meals. Need to behave now.

Draining viewing

Now Street Viewed over half of my walk, 32 of the 63 walking days and made good notes on all of them. But it is draining, having to concentrate really hard and consider alternative routes. This process is also bring slowed down by the unavailability of some b&bs that I had earmarked, and some prices that don’t fairly reflect what is on their website.

You might ask why I am booking accommodation so late. I could ask myself the same question indeed. Never one to do stuff before the last possible moment – this is actually quite early for me. I have kept some options open, especially some offers of accommodation from friends. I did book up Travelodges before Christmas on the basis that I could get a good deal if I booked both early and in good numbers. The major towns are pretty much sorted on that account.

But today I have spent about 6 hours replanning a particularly tricky section in the north of England, booking different b&bs to those originally planned. I have to say that people on the whole are very understanding when I cancel provisional bookings. In one case it was because I had seen the place on Street View and it looked a bit run down. Another was a bit Bates Motel ish. They probably think I’m a bit weird myself, given how apologetic I am. It’s OK, Keith, that’s why the bookings are called provisional.

Too much computer screen time today, now have a slight headache, starting to get delirious. Some of this walk looks a bit hard. Time for bed.

How can it be that….

Quite enjoying making those final arrangements and booking up accommodation. But frustrating or irritating sometimes too.

How can it be that….

  • a b&b with single rooms advertised on their website as “From £30” charges £70 just because it’s over the Easter weekend?
  • a b&b is in a road called Primrose Crescent and yet there is neither flora nor fauna anywhere to be seen? Indeed, why can roads be called Church Road when there isn’t a church within half a mile?
  • the shortest “walking” distance on Google Maps so often includes 10 miles up a dual-carriageway A road with grass verges about 6 inches wide?
  • a b&b price is sometimes given with “breakfast extra”
  • you have to be out of your room by 10am but not allowed in until 4pm; six hours to clean a room? Should be charged for 3/4 of a day not one day
  • a b&b just 400 yards from the Great Glen Way stipulates “No walkers”?
  • a b&b will only take cash when there are no cashpoints for miles around?
  • a b&b can charge £10 a day for Wi-Fi when around (or perhaps over) half have it available free of charge despite being a similar cost of staying the night?


History in the future?

A pleasant late morning saw me out of the door in a thin fleece, a cap rather than the woolly hat. Not too chilly and no rain until around 6pm according to the forecast. So the lack of enthusiasm earlier in the day gave me to a relaxed stroll through a couple of miles before gaining momentum both in pace and mood. Yes, I know that momentum is mass x velocity so you can’t gain momentum in speed, only gain momentum in, er, momentum. Flirting more than usually with side streets previously untrodden by Spicer boots, I crept up unnoticed behind the back of Fareham before shouting ‘Boo!’ 7.2 miles so far according to Google Maps.

The customary Costa and a couple of high energy biscuits. I was served by a very attractive and shapely barista, but the second most impressive rack was that holding the newspapers, a tremendous selection, so I settled down with The Times. With a feature on the forthcoming anniversary of the start of the First World War, my memory was nudged back to a conversation during a journey with Matt and three of his friends. The band Franz Ferdinand came on the CD player and I asked the boys who Franz Ferdinand was. One of them muttered something about him being that bloke killed before World War One. “And did you know, boys”, I continued, “that he was Rio Ferdinand’s great grandfather?” The guffaws in the car when Matt responded, “Was he?” were to behold.

I found World War I much more interesting than World War II and was my favourite part of my History ‘O’ Level (covering 1871-1945), in which I got a B (an A* at A Level in today’s money). 100 years ago this year, so we will see a lot of fascinating stuff on TV, no doubt dumbed down. This is real history, not some other apparently life-changing moment like when David Beckham scored that free kick v Greece. An estimated 9 million people were killed in World War I, which is almost precisely the number of people watching that Beckham goal live on TV in England. Puts it in context, I think. Still the arguments go on, according to the article I was reading, about whether children can learn about WWI by watching Blackadder Goes Forth. I would say that, if it enthuses children in history, and gives at least some insight into the horrors, then it is worth watching. I worked with one criminology lecturer who said quite openly that students could learn as much about Police and Criminal Evidence Act (P.A.C.E.) from watching The Bill as any lecture (mmm, she said it!).

When I was studying statistics at university, I did set myself a goal later in life of getting a degree in an entirely different discipline, and I had earmarked History. With fees and other ties, it seems much less likely now but, when you’re young, anything seems possible. I am not a political animal at all but I was reading recently about the 1936 Jarrow Crusade – a protest march about unemployment from Jarrow, in the North East, to London. 281 miles in 22 days, but what struck me was that none of the 207 marchers carried a sponsor form. And when my late grandfather asked them whether they had a Just Giving page, they just looked at him in a very strange way. Charming! No wonder none of them had a job.

After that rather directionless digression, there were more digressions, and a total of just over 16 miles. Hailstorm, wet, cold, but enthusiasm replenished.