Well it has been a strange week, after the attacks in Paris. Tremendous respect shown and a breakout of entente cordiale, yet there has been some criticism of the move by many Facebook users to superimpose the French flag on their profile pictures, since there have been other attacks in other countries previously, notably Lebanon, Turkey…. But these are not given great media coverage here – from my travels I know that much news all around the world is parochial and here the proximity of the attacks to Britain has clearly hit home harder. I don’t intend to change my profile picture every time there is an attack but I did post a Mali flag this morning. Every attack, after all, is on human beings, whether they be from Britain, France or any other country and there is a certain randomness to where any one person is born. The events of this week have been on my mind a bit and even within the first two or three miles today, a bitter cold day in the south of England.
Yes, it was very cold indeed with a stiff breeze. Within a couple of hours I felt quite tired and I put that partly down to the temperature and partly down to a few later than normal nights. Sleep is very important for health and fitness and I have neglected myself in that department recently. I also only had a cup of tea and a bowl of corn flakes in the morning so I didn’t exactly have a full tank and all four cylinders behind me. Nevertheless, a walk up to Botley and the Pear Tree Inn, turning round and taking a longer route home past the Rose Bowl, West End and Bitterne before a late coffee stop about an hour from home. I have walked in colder conditions before but it has been a while. Haven’t needed any woollen wear since early in the year but suddenly the woolly hat, gloves and scarf were all required, so much so that I was concerned about being stopped and searched as I skulked the streets.
Often I start a walk in slightly troubled mood but am able to shift that within two or three miles – it has been one of the great benefits of taking up long distance walking over the last four years. Today, however, I felt heavy legged and slightly down for most of the walk. Perhaps it was the cold, perhaps it was the realisation that work is hard and I have a heavy workload before the Christmas break and putting one foot in front of the other repeatedly for five and a bit hours is not going to help that. But I convince myself that there is always someone worse off than me. Reading the opening paragraph of this blog post is enough to realise that. I have a good, well-paid job (despite austerity and cutbacks on pay rises and pensions), I have my health and of course I have my Pammy. I feel better even just for writing that last sentence – a very decent distance, all things considered, 16.5 miles, and I will just soon be going for a soup before an evening in front of the television.
Just a quick line about forthcoming events. London to Brighton in May – self-funding – but I was happy to see a cricket buddy and his sister taking up the same challenge raising money for MacMillan. Their mother passed away some months ago after a long battle. I don’t feel that I can ask people again for sponsorship but, if others were going to sponsor me, or thought about sponsoring me before but didn’t for whatever reason, I would be delighted if they thought about Martin and Claire Lander who are walking in memory of their mother Debbie. https://www.justgiving.com/Martin-claire-walk
Before that, I will no doubt (in March or April) have a Week of Pain when I really build up fitness with six or seven consecutive days walking. In the medium-term pipeline, I intend to increase my catalogue of country domination to four, following walking the length of England, Scotland and, er, Gibraltar with the 177 mile Offa’s Dyke Path that is the length of Wales. Many moons ago I did have some discussions with my niece and nephew about walking up (and down) Kilimanjaro – not sure if I am still doing that, but some of that would feel even colder than today when, rather incongruously, I feel as if I have some slight sunburn on my cheeks.
So that is all for another day or days. Happy for the moment to be home in the warm.