There have been too many things that have been handy to use as excuses in the past six weeks to stop me going out walking that much. Not least of these has been the weather and cricket. It has been much hotter than I have been used to – in fact I am looking forward to the autumn when it is bound to be a bit cooler and regular 20+ miles will be more than achievable. The ‘all day’ Saturday cricket is a format that I quite like but the concentration that it requires more than saps the energy for the rest of the weekend, and that’s when there isn’t some other cricket on the Sunday to deal with. Very tempted to knock Sunday cricket on the head entirely after the end of this season; it just isn’t fair on the family to have an entire weekend taken up by it – at least with a long walk I can sometimes take Pammy, and that it is doing me some good.
The problem really is that I haven’t got a specific goal like the Land’s End blah blah or the Wight Challenge, which both focussed the mind and body on the fitness required. I will do an ultra challenge next year but I am still to commit to which one. In any case, with a free Sunday at last, I felt like I needed a decent walk and the nearby Manor Farm Country Park is pretty handy on a nice day. Most of my walks from home meander either east or west from here, and northwards is not common for me. So Botley, up to the Pear Tree pub, Hedge End and past the Rose Bowl, West End. Walking up Chalk Hill (which was where my first Southampton student home was) is always a bit tough, but on a hot still afternoon it was tougher still. I barely had a stop on this walk, back through Bitterne for a very quick (15 minute) stop for a cool drink and a very pleasing total of 17.5 miles. Even more pleasing for the fact that I thought anything more than about 12 miles might be beyond me.
It was so warm that I even slapped on some Factor 30. Quite unusual for me when I am walking, partly because I tend to avoid very warm weather, and the mixture of sun screen and sweat gives you a white goo. I will always have a cap or hat in any case, wherever or whenever I go walking. But you can’t be too careful, I suppose.
Yes, this coming weekend sees the Ventnor thing. I hesitate to call it a challenge or even a mini-challenge since it is not even a walk to Ventnor. The background to this has been outlined previously but I will refresh, replenish or just make memories just once more. Last season my team Sarisbury were going for promotion to the Southern Electric Premier Division for the first time in their history. The criteria for the ground appeared to have been satisfied and all we needed to do was to win the league. We were locked in a three-way battle with two other sides and we slipped up more than once in the second half of the season. However, we appeared to be getting lucky with the other sides losing as well and, after yet another away defeat soothed by news from elsewhere, I said, “look, if you guys get us promotion, I will walk to Ventnor next season”. So promotion came to be and the Ventnor (away) game is next weekend. It also appears to be the key match of the season. It is an early start (11:30am) so I will be walking there on the Friday and back on the Sunday. It is around 8 miles to the ferry port in Southampton and around 6 miles the other side to my accommodation – Ventnor play home games only just south of Newport. Contrary to (very many) more than one comment received, I won’t be walking across the Solent. But today was a good workout, ain’t that a fact, but I just hope the weather is cool and dry next weekend. Throwing it down for three days is the worst outcome, walking-wise at least.