Sometimes one is just driven. Not literally, since that would be cheating. Driven to push oneself a little bit more than is comfortable. With the boots, the most before today has been 16 miles and “a little bit more than is comfortable” would be around 18-20 miles. So today was something of a marathon, 26 miles actually, so more than something of a marathon, no something about it, just a marathon.
I took a fairly straightforward route to Stubbington and stopped for a coffee. The Times today had a big feature on Jeff Lynne and ELO, looking back on his career and forward to the UK part of the tour. I saw them three times before and they will be great again, though I am not going to see them this time around. A restart found me with slightly stiff legs and I put them out of my mind with some head music, which normally comes naturally but I forced it with one track from each of ELO’s studio albums: 10538 Overture, Roll Over Beethoven, Dreaming of 4000, Mister Kingdom, Down Home Town, Tightrope, Sweet Is The Night, On The Run, All Over The World, The Way Life’s Meant To Be, Bluebird, So Serious, Alright, When I Was A Boy. OK, that really did set me up for a really good stretch along Lee on Solent and down into Stokes Bay.
Having passed through Browndown, I then (as often) shared a path with cyclists. One took the road sign a little too literally, forcing me into evasive action to avoid his bike running me over, but at least he was under 40mph, just. He had a cycle helmet with a camera; no doubt that incident will be quickly and smartly erased.
On to Stokes Bay and this is where I might do the Bill Bryson bit. Gosport is quite possibly the largest town in England without a train station and it has been unfailingly cold and windy whenever I have visited before, especially for football and cricket. But there are some good things about the town. Unlike Portsmouth, it has loads of public toilets open and, much later, even a cemetery had quite reasonable facilities that I did make use of. It also has given me knowledge that I have stored in case of a Pointless question that asks you to name any town or city with a Golden Mile. Scenery is nice on a nice day. I went as far east as I could, round Stokes Bay golf course and through a few streets close to Haslar.
What I do recall from my first couple of visits is that there are very few sign posts to anywhere outside Gosport. It’s as if it is so difficult to attract people to the town that they have a cunning plan to stop you leaving. Even a very good cycle route (that starts close to the Gosport Darts Arena – nothing like overplaying your part, eh?) ends with a dilemma: left or right?
My toes were feeling OK but I did need a second stop, which I took in Fareham. Sat down for 5 minutes when all of a sudden in walked Linvoy Primus and Dave Waterman. I did think about having a selfie but I respectfully kept my distance. When I started again on the five and a half miles home, my toes hurt for a minute or two but soon got into my stride, and included a couple of speed walks to shave about five minutes off my normal time for that section. I bumped into the Sarisbury cricket captain just as I reached my road and we chewed the fat over the forthcoming season for a few minutes.
A nice end to a really good walk today. A better distance than I expected to be able to do. I have a routine hospital appointment tomorrow, but fortunately not until 7:10pm, so a (shorter) walk tomorrow is possible. 101 miles in the Week of Pain, brilliant given the need to wear in new boots.