Catching up on a day of ranting

A lovely cool day for walking and a fairly clearly defined route for me today, 15 miles. Potentially a day for me to gather my thoughts and muse over whatever came into my mind. Recently I have been thinking a lot about, or possibly reliving, some of the moments from my long walk. I do enjoy these local walks now even though they might appear to be a bit boring to outsiders, but there is nearly always an incident or two to remember or regale. Today there appeared to be more than usual. I gave myself a target of getting to Southampton City Centre within two hours, a tough ask with a number of roads to cross and their potential short delays. Target achieved almost exactly to the minute. So what were the incidents of note:

  • After almost three miles, I noticed a man, a younger woman (his partner or daughter, perhaps) and a boy, who was likely his son, attaching a sign to a lamp post advertising Christmas trees for sale. He sensed me walking in his direction and actually asked me if I wanted to buy a tree. Without exactly transferring all my thoughts to my voice, I politely declined, to which he said, “Look, you can take it away now”. Yeah right, I’m walking along the road, I am not driving a car, so you expect me just to carry this home, looking a complete prat. By the way, the month is still November. So I just smiled politely, perhaps sneered slightly, turned on my heels and continued walking.
  • Having left home at 11:20, I reckoned on reaching Bitterne just in time for the 12:45 kick off between West Bromwich Albion and Arsenal. I said to myself that I wouldn’t turn on my radio until I reached the precinct there, only to find that the radio was dead, having been left on, presumably since I last used it, which I think was last Sunday. Ok, hearing Berahino net buckets of points for my Fantasy League team would have to wait. I bought batteries and then it took a full 10 minutes until I even heard his name mentioned. 5 games since I signed him, and no goals, and a drink driving charge. No doubt a jail sentence as well, just to the end of April. What is it about this season that I am the antithesis of Midas to every player I sign? Ah, a cunning plan. How much do Pelle, Tadic and all those Saints defenders cost?
  • I reached Southampton and took a deserved break in Starbucks. I think their coffee tastes at least as nice as those at Café Nero or Costa, but they always seem to let themselves down some way or another. After quenching my thirst, I nipped off to the loo only to find that there is a keypad and that the code would be on my receipt. Receipt? I hadn’t got one or even offered one. I went to one of the baristas and it was soon clear I was going to get no luck here. “It’s on your receipt.” “I didn’t get a receipt.” “I can’t get you another one unless you buy something else.” On that, I once again just turned on my heels and walked out rather than make a scene. Hopefully he was embarrassed at the whole situation. I wasn’t absolutely desperate and there are some free public toilets further up in the City Centre. No more Starbucks for a while. So all three have niggled me recently. Starbucks here, Costa by the rudeness of a barista who responded to my question as to whether I had enough loyalty card points to pay for my coffee with “No, you ain’t.” Not even an “Oo, not quite. Nearly, you’ve got 272, so perhaps your next one.”, and Café Nero just by their inadequacy in having sufficient servers to prevent an almost 15 minute wait, despite having two other staff wandering about doing I don’t know what.
  • During the second half of the aforementioned West Brom – Arsenal game, the commentator said that their featured 3 o’clock game was a cracker. Man United v Hull. And, not only that, there was a full programme in midweek, with the commentary game being Man United v Stoke. Look, that team is not particularly good, and even if they were, they could find one or two other interesting ones, even if only for a balanced coverage. Probably today, the most important game that might affect a key issue was QPR v Leicester, one that if it was in April would be drooled over as a relegation 6-pointer. And as it turned out, it sounded the most exciting of the day.
  • Ok. I wasn’t going to listen to Radio Five in any case. Pompey and BBC Radio Solent. All the hope and optimism then. I did everything I could when I was out walking, avoiding three particular roads which always seem to coincide with us conceding. There was certainly no way I was going anywhere near Bitterne Road (a road along which I was once walking when we conceded four goals in about 15 minutes at Swindon) and so I returned to Sarisbury taking the Itchen Bridge. I even strode purpsefullyo my head music, a relentless 15 or 20 minutes of “Andy Awford’s Blue and White Army”. What good did it do me, or them? None.
  • And I nearly got run over as I crossed across the end of someone’s drive just as the home dweller turned in. Quite why he was honking and sticking his fingers up, I don’t know. Am I supposed to look behind me every time I pass in front of someone’s house? How suspicious would that look.

At least the weather stayed fair, just getting sufficiently chilly for me to don my gloves in the last few miles. I can brush off football as ‘just a game’ as easily now as when Pompey were beating nearly all before them in the Premier League and FA Cup, but the same hope and optimism will return in time for the big game against Accrington Stanley in a fortnight. Yes, the big game against Accrington Stanley, that’s how far we’ve fallen. But we’ll be back, never mind that.

A few people have suggested I should take some of the best pictures from the walk and create a 2015 calendar that I could sell, with all profits going to the charity. I am having a number made up and if anyone does wish to purchase one of these, with A3 pages on glossy paper (150gsm) – they would make a lovely Christmas present or equally nice for yourself – they will be available from me in a few days, estimated date of arrival 11 or 12 December (at a very competitive price of £8). Please let me know, since they are available on a first come first served basis. If you have already told me, no need to tell me again – I have a list of people who have posted on Facebook and spoken to me at work. There are some really generous people around and still the walk is often the first topic of conversation with people I don’t meet that often.

Ok, I’ve cheered up a bit now. I’m not that much of a moaner, really. 15 miles, as I said. Feeling very very good about myself. But I know I do dwell on things so tomorrow could be another day. Well actually it is.


Calendars, cops and cramps

Have taken the first steps toward putting together the calendar with pictures taken during the long walk earlier in the year. Difficult to establish the demand for such a thing? and, with a lower unit cost price for higher numbers, I have rather optimistically plumped for 50. Still have to work out a reasonable price to charge, balancing the profit margin against deterring potential buyers. Have pretty much chosen the 12 pictures. Watch this space.

The weather forecast for this weekend has looked grim all week and I seriously considered a non-walking weekend. Some of those animated forecasts showed just a covering of blue (rain) over the southern parts of Hampshire for the whole of Saturday and much of Sunday. As it turns out, it is very grey, there are light showers but hardly the apocalypse.

A rather drab opening three miles, very much in tone with the skies above, but toward Thornhill three police cars, two police vans, two canopies covering the footpath, 200 yards of which was closed, at least provided something of interest. Shortly after, the ner-ner ner-ner of an ambulance entered earshot and so I will be watching the local news later for any, er, local news, while quite a few drivers allowed themselves to drive without due care and attention in rubbernecking as I was trying, rather perilously, to cross the road.

Walking down into Sholing, I noticed that a number 3 bus was followed less than two minutes later by another number 3, and indeed a third number 3 around five minutes after that. It reminded me of a scene from Torn Curtain, which I think was the first Hitchcock film I ever saw. You only see part of that scene fleetingly here in the trailer below, but it is a reasonable film, with fairly unconvincing performances from both Paul Newman and Julie Andrews. Certainly worth a watch, but it is not a Hitchcock classic.

Up and across from Sholing to the northern part of Woolston, through Bitterne and down Chalk Hill and then back home pretty directly. A total of 13.5 miles, avoiding getting too wet with just a couple of light showers. Legs felt a bit heavy but also I didn’t feel quite the fitness gain that I sometimes feel when I complete a walk. It is as if I had something weighing heavily on my stomach. I’m sure a big poo will sort it all out. On that note,……….

Being boring

An occasional view of my stats shows that my blog followers have dropped from 35 to 30. I must be getting boring or something!

Decided after all to have a walk on Sunday. Back to near full strength and felt pretty stuffed after eating only about the normal amount on a Saturday. Clearly the week has taken its toll, just a little, nothing serious.

I am going through a strange period at the moment. Slightly insecure and feeling a bit down at times without being able to put my finger on why. I know there are issues at work, nothing to do with anything others are doing or how they’re behaving, nothing like that, but everyone makes decisions in good faith at one time or another that then make things difficult for themselves some way down the road. Nothing major, just an irritant really, but they are just lingering in my mind enough to nip away at confidence. They certainly are not significantly major to be causing a troubled mind.

But I have been through this before. I know this will pass, and probably fairly quickly. Medication, good sleep, exercise. That normally works for me. Not to say it would work for anyone else – everyone has to find a solution that works for them as an individual. So, for me, a walk is definitely needed. A number of long cuts through side roads to Fareham where I nipped into a coffee house. I then saw such an archetypically English scene, with just one person serving, and a queue into double figures, many of whom were muttering and chuntering under their breath, but none leaving. Despite a wait of almost 15 minutes, I patiently stood in line and had my coffee and sandwich. Just enough time to reach Fareham Station to see Matt off on the train back to Cardiff (with engineering works meaning that Bristol to Newport was covered by a bus service – ah, the perils of train journeys on a Sunday).

So far, the weather had been grey and ranging between drizzly and light showers. And that continued, meaning the odd spell of the hood being up. About half an hour on, as I neared a crossroads with traffic lights, the sounds of ambulance sirens brought everyone to a halt. That is, except one driver who continued and turned left, right into the path of the ambulance that was carefully overtaking other drivers waiting at the red light. An impasse took place for a few seconds. The motorist, with a possibly personalised number plate on his sports car, was not for moving and was possibly not too far short of saying, “Don’t you know who I am?” Sometimes you despair at people. No doubt he felt much more important than the potential accident victim. Fortunately it wasn’t too long before the traffic was moving in front of the ambulance as the lights turned. But it doesn’t hide the fact that that bloke showed no fear or guilt at potentially putting a life or lives at risk.

A bit tired by the end, having reached home within the target time of 85 minutes from Fareham Station. Decent enough, given the bug over the last week. 15 miles in total. Absolutely delighted. Easier to be enthused with a goal looming, but for now it is a case of keeping fit and healthy.

Not to be while I feel sorry for myself

It was not to be. Operation Hench started really well but last weekend I caught some sort of bug that left me with stomach cramps, stomach pain and generally not feeling that chipper at all. So it was pretty much no food for two days, then only very plain food for a couple more, no chocolate, no cheese, no dairy products, the absolute minimum of toast and very little processed food at all in order to kick it. Lunch at work on both Thursday and Friday was fat free crisps, fruit and fibre biscuits, a banana and as much water as I could drink. A few sugary fruit lollies helped to keep the energy to a reasonable level.

Yes, I lost the requisite weight but not in the intended way. I didn’t feel up to dressing up and collecting for Children in Need on Friday – and it wouldn’t have been the right message to send after I’d taken three days off work to them come back and prance around in a Hawaiian costume. Work colleagues Colin, Aimee and Lorraine did a sterling job, collecting £363. Brilliant stuff.

While I was off, a knock on the door in the afternoon led to two charity collectors. A very high profile (and worthy) charity and I won’t mention the specific one, but it is not one that I would imagine struggles for fund raisers. High pressure selling and they didn’t feel the slightest guilt in making me feel as guilty as is possible, and even after I mentioned my raising over 11 grand for SANDS, they didn’t appear to show any genuine interest. No doubt others were made to feel they just had to donate on a monthly basis. But I do dislike door to door selling, even if it is for charity. If I want to give to charity, I will do, and on my terms.

Unlikely that I will go walking this weekend. Time just to recharge in readiness for the final month at work before the  Christmas break. Matt is home too, so it would be nice to catch up. Walking can wait, while energy reserves are low.

Wet weekend doesn’t deter determined duo

Operation Hench has started with two decent gym sessions, and continued today with a walk with Pammy. With a charity event to attend in the evening, we made an early-ish start at around 10:30, down towards Titchfield and then down Brownwich Lane. I had never walked down here previously and it was a pleasant walk – we had a nice chat and reminisced about times past (incidentally, can one reminisce about anything other than that?). About halfway down, a few larger puddles appeared and then more at more regular intervals. It was fun, sort of, for us to negotiate these around the edges, and we eventually reached the beach.

Bournemouth in the summer it was not. The tide was high but we were holding on, and the wind was making conditions a bit rough. We both crossed water, both getting trousers and socks wet, causing discomfort for a while. Pammy had already been covered in mud after that omnipresent “only playing” dog had jumped up at her along Brownwich Lane. The waves at Meon Shore were flying over onto the road and, so, rather than keep on to the cafe, we decided to take the path back to Titchfield through the woods.

Further puddles ensued and an excessively muddy 100 yards just short of the road saw both of us slipping and slithering away. We had to spend a bit of time clearing mud from our boots before going into a shop for drinks, but the final three miles was pretty tough. I was perhaps aching from the gym work and this was a decent distance in heavy energy sapping conditions for Pammy. Just as we thought we were over the worst, a monsoon arrived, at which point Pammy realised that her waterproof jacket didn’t have a hood. I manfully offered her mine, but she simply took off her own jacket and held it over her head.

So an incident packed 12 and a bit miles. After an omelette snack, we rested and then went to the Hampshire Tortoise Society evening, which raised £300. Good stuff.

Operation Hench

So next Friday it is Children In Need and I am going to dressing up / down again in order to raise money from work colleagues. I have chosen my costume and will need to really get trim in a short space of time.

Hence,……Operation Hench. Gym sessions every day until then. Healthy eating. Dancing while washing up. All the stops being pulled out. All in the name of charity, and my own reputation.

Pain in the arse

In two minds whether to go for a walk today after a longer distance yesterday and some intermittent rain forecast today and, after doing the weekly food shop this morning, set out pretty late for what was never going to be one of my longer treks. With the Manchester derby and then Villa v Spurs on the radio, I had plenty to distract and entertain in approximately equal measure as I took a fairly routine route up and then down to Chalk Hill, then up, along, down and up back home.

No reaction to yesterday’s walk. In fact, I felt positively invigorated in the first few miles, not really feeling any pain and little to irritate with just some light-ish rain for 15 or 20 minutes at around the four or five mile mark. However, the urban routes’ only peril can be drivers and cyclists. Sometimes they are meaning to be helpful, and you are only trying to be helpful in return. With about two miles left and darkness just creeping in, a driver kindly waved me across the road as he slowed. I felt a twinge in my buttock as I just quickly skipped in front of him. Didn’t appear to be too serious, but every time I then stepped off the kerb, I felt a sharp pain. Not much more than an annoying niggle, I think, I hope, and I don’t think I was limping noticeably since it was only stepping up or down when I could feel it. A&E not on standby!

Of course, if I was an overpaid Premier League footballer, I would have been rolling around holding my face, while ten of my mates would have been crowding around the car driver and any other pedestrians demanding removal of the driver’s licence. Fortunately, for my own sanity, I am not a footballer but a mere statistician and I was happy simply to count the miles. 11, bang on, perhaps ± 0.2 miles. With 95% confidence. Assuming normality. And don’t let anyone else say anything different – it’s the data are, the data are, the data are, not data is.