Certified

Well blog posts are becoming rarer as the days go on. Still I get involved in discussions about my walk. Gradually I am coming to terms with what I actually achieved. I almost (for the first time since my walk, and for some time before then) went through a whole workday yesterday without someone referring to or mentioning my walk. I don’t think I will ever tire of talking about it; it was such a wonderful experience and I have had flashbacks to several moments, not necessarily particularly notable ones, such as a conversation with a shopkeeper in Somerset who recalled being immortalised in a book written by two End to Enders who started from Land’s End with only the clothes on their body and had to beg for bikes, food etc. She had given them out of date sandwiches that would otherwise have been thrown away (as requested by the two guys, rather than any that were still for sale).

I finally received my certificate yesterday:

image

To be framed and have pride of place, why not, in our front room. Also, if you were wondering what I did with my walking boots, I still have them. Many reaching John O’Groats actually throw them in the bin or into the sea, but I instead took the idea from a very early sight on my walk and donated them to horticulture and they are in our back garden.

image

image

Next to Gnightsy the gnome.

When shall I walk again? Soon, soon, but at the moment I don’t quite have the urge to give up four, five or more hours.

Advertisements

Wake up

A strange day for me, or really a strange afternoon of reminiscing and regaling. My former maths teacher and mentor Geoffrey Elderfield passed away on 28 June and I attended his ‘wake’ at Portsmouth Cricket Club this afternoon.  Truth be told, I barely recognised a soul apart from another former teacher who apparently went to school with ‘Sir’, so would have known him for over 70 years. I chatted with a couple of others who looked similarly lost and it seems we all had similar memories, though from different schools.

Sir was a great teacher who really instilled enthusiasm into many of his pupils, including me, and fear of the flying chalk or board rubber. He also loved his cricket, though I didn’t understand how much until an incident when I was 17 in the summer of 1981. A few of us were watching the Headingley Test match during lunch break in the school TV room, with a Botham and Willis inspired England getting close to victory. His double maths lesson was on the agenda for the afternoon but he allowed us to carry on watching until the end, around 25 minutes into the afternoon lesson. We then went back to the classroom and got our books out, intending to work really hard to make up for that lost time. However, Sir had other ideas, first asking us about the match and then going into great detail on the days he skipped sixth form to watch Bradman’s great 1948 Australian side.

I hadn’t seen him very much since school, only bumping into him a couple of times, but he was very well known in cricket circles. I saw a few people today I recognised by face, and there were men in various club blazers present. But, to be honest, I felt a bit out of place. There was a nice speech by someone from Portsmouth CC and stories that sounded quite typical of Geoffrey. I wasn’t able to stay for (free) food and drinks at Eastney Tavern, but I’m glad I paid my respects.

OK, this is a blog about walking and this post was nothing about walking. But what people are today is only a result of the input from loads of people whom they have encountered and events that have occurred, and Mr Elderfield, Sir, Uncle Geoffrey – he played one of the greatest parts in my development between the ages of 13 and 18. It would be a bit trite to say that everything I have achieved is down to him, but I would certainly be a lot less if he’d never lived. Perhaps he even instilled the character that helped on one or two really difficult days during the walk. I’m not saying that I did think it, but if I had imagined him saying, “Spicer, dear boy. You’re not thinking of giving up are you?”, you would have read a far more positive blog at those times.

image

Uncle Geoffrey is the man on the very right of the photo, second row up, next to the head teacher. This photo is taken before I knew him, so please nobody ask where I am in this picture, because I’m not there!

Foot faults

It was about time that I got back on the road and a Sunday friendly cricket game down in Gosport was at least as good a reason as any for walking down there and back. So I set off through Titchfield, through Stubbington, quickening my pace so that I avoided any pitchfork wielding UKIP supporters trying to get me deported due to our household’s non-white ethnic mix, and then to Lee-on-Solent, where I walked all along the sea front with a lovely breeze. The weather was flirty, with a number of short but fairly light showers and after turning north I reached Privett Park, where I took in around half an hour of the match, chatting to a couple of players as they fielded. I enjoyed watching a couple of the younger players who have really impressed this season – I don’t get to watch them much now due to my commitments with the first team.

I took a different route back, cutting northwards past HMS Sultan and then along some cycle routes, eventually up to Fareham. After a reasonable distance, the feet get hot and expand and this is when my problems today began. The distance itself (around 22 miles) was not the problem, but the expansion of the feet led to some rubbing against the boot. Perhaps these new-ish boots shouldn’t be used by me for much more than 14 or 15 miles. In Fareham town centre, I could easily have phoned Pam, knowing that the shortest distance to home is precisely 5.8 miles and it would be bound to hurt. But I walked, and it was the longest 5.8 miles I have ever walked. Think of a body part below the hip and it was hurting. Worst was my left knee, followed by my right ankle and bronze medal was taken by some nasty chafing in the groin area. You’ll be thankful to learn there are no pictures from today, since, as well as the above, on my eventual arrival home I found I had a blister near my big toe about the size of a Smartie but, even more shocking was one on my left heel about the size of the hemisphere of a table tennis ball. Yes, it really was that big.

I was determined to finish today. But really, as Pam said, I have nothing to prove. I have walked a thousand miles and done something that, though possible with dedication and effort, very few people have done or committed to doing. My own pig-headedness has now made it difficult to even walk around the house tonight. 22 miles, yeah, brilliant, easily the longest walk since the ‘long walk’ but why do I still need to push myself sooo much?

My grammar once told me

It’s easy to be critical when you don’t know what someone is going through. Behaviour can be irrational, and from my own experience one can sometimes do things while even knowing that they are not the right things to do. One can try to cover up one’s own troubles and just be open to more criticism, afraid that talking about it can be painful. This week, former Portsmouth goalkeeper John Sullivan said he was retiring from professional football since he couldn’t cope with his depression. Being a professional footballer would seem to be a dream job, but anyone can have a troubled mind. After his catastrophe at the York game, his last for Pompey, there was immense criticism, some scathing. Football fans are an emotional bunch, and spend hundreds of pounds on a regular basis, and so they are entitled to criticise. But it can be hard being on the end of that. Hats off to John for being so brave to talk about his problems. Good luck to him and I really hope he comes through it.

Very aware that I haven’t blogged much just recently. Obsessions are an obsession of mine – the current is fantasy football. It would be nice to enjoy the football for what it is, given there have been some great matches, rather than cheering on just one or two players in each match. The fact that I am top of the works fantasy football league doesn’t help me with my obsession. Winnings could be as much as £20, with £15 and £10 for second and third. Anything I win will be going to SANDS, and one other manager has promised the same with his prospective winnings. Normally I would say that the winning is the most important thing, rather than the money, but this time, there is a financial incentive too to do well.

The said World Cup is taking its toll with a number of late nights and so many of those late games going to extra time and even penalties. Nearly over now, just another 8 games to go (and to hang on to my lead). Plans to expand the future finals from 32 to 48 or even 64 teams cannot be sensible. Some of us need to lead a life around football!

Feeling a bit run down, and need, in order of importance, to sleep more, to eat more sensibly and to regain/maintain some level of fitness. Considering taking Friday off for a long walk just to keep my feet and legs in shape, not to mention my stomach. Have been taking the stairs, four floors worth, once again and am having aches in my left knee, probably the only medium term negative physical effect of doing that 11 week trot up country. Seems fine when I walk distances, but it’s just stairs that trouble me.

Friday is another massive day in the calendar. It’s English Grammar Day. So if for some reason I am at work, perhaps if the weather is particularly bad or I need to finish off something, you need to be careful if you speak to me, since I intend to turn into a grammar Nazi and correct every grammatical foible that I hear. I will also be undertaking spot checks on Facebook during the day. You had better steer clear of me with your “the data is”, ” when I was younger”, “to be honest”, ” whose/who’s”, “your/you’re”, ” its/it’s”, “affect/effect” etc. if you know what’s good for you.