Captain’s Log, Stardate 46379.1. There will be some out there who know all the Star Trek stardates by episode, and could tell you exactly when that particular one took place, but I am not one of those. I’ve never been a great Star Trek fan – I watched a few episodes of the original series as a child and was mildly interested but no more than that. I’m not going to knock any Trekkies because everyone has their own hobbies and interests and every person is different. The relevance here is that yesterday I had what I found my best walk of the year so far, apart from London2Brighton, in fact, er, um, my star trek of 2016.
Rain was forecast from around 5pm so I endeavoured to make an early start. A 7:45am alarm on a Saturday may not sound that early to many but, believe me, it is for me. Despite my plans to get a train to the starting point, with her car needing ‘a good run’, Pammy gave me a lift. This is not unheard of – she has driven me to Winchester, Hythe, Brockenhurst and now Chichester. Each time I have managed to walk home; at some time she will finally manage to get rid of me by driving somewhere just a bit too far.
Leaving the Westdale Leisure Centre in Chichester at around 9:30, I was in Hampshire by 11:30 and Havant town centre about 45 minutes later. In the interim, I walked through places of which I was only vaguely aware by them appearing in listings of stations while waiting for trains of my own. Fishbourne, Bosham, Southbourne…. Emsworth was probably the largest town in the whole of Hampshire that I had never visited and it looked a place worth revisiting but, today, it was only fit for walking through on the way to Havant. I just needed to slog on through a difficult morning and places I didn’t know, for a distance that I hadn’t achieved for some time.
After a coffee in Havant, I felt a trifle more energised and enthusiastic about the whole thing. It was a long trawl up through Bedhampton to the outskirts of Cosham, continuing straight on to the top of Portsdown Hill by the Churchillian, finding a 40+ strong queue (mostly bikers!) to the refreshment van, then taking a spell of good paths and greenery off road before turning almost back on myself at the roundabout down the pavemented road to QA Hospital. This felt more familiar territory as I reached the top of Cosham, now with only about 11 or 12 miles to home!
No great dramatics and rain started at around 4pm, though I was more interested and distracted by the football on the radio. I didn’t feel I needed much food but I did get a small snack in Portchester. The distance was taking its toll and my feet were sore for the last hour or so – and have continued to be sore today, along with achy calves. Showers on and off until around 6:15pm when I reached home, and the distance was checked at a totally bonkers 25.5 miles. A really tough but enjoyable walk, and it felt an achievement to step up that far.
Limping around a bit today but I was boosted by weighing myself at under 14 stone now. Not anything particularly to write home about but a step in the right direction. A few more pounds lost would not go amiss and this weekly 20+ mile walking certainly appears to be taking effect. I was thinking at various times yesterday about friends and colleagues of my age and younger who are having health problems that would almost certainly prevent them even attempting to do this sort of thing (even if they wanted to), so I am extremely grateful for my own health.
A new challenge is in my mind but I have no idea when I can do it. The issue is not so much the distance (something like 325-350 miles) but when it could be done. Taking four weeks off work is not straightforward and the cost will be significant, but it is my sort of thing: 15-20 miles a day for something in the region of 100 miles and one rest day each week. My thought is to walk between the three sites of ONS: Titchfield, Newport and London, for which I would hope to get significant publicity within the Office, and therefore significant sponsorship. I haven’t thought even as far as the drawing board stage, to be quite frank, and have no ideas on charity – it ought to be something supported by a number in the Office. I would prefer it to be a smaller charity rather than one of those who always receive loads of support every time any event comes round. Needs some thought and planning – but, as I say, I have no idea when this will be done. Beam me up to that time, if you could…