I feel rough today. I felt rough last night. It is rare that I feel like this after walking but somehow it just didn’t work for me yesterday. Perhaps I am coming down with a cold or something and yesterday was too much. But it is unusual that 15 and a bit miles should affect me so physically, mostly afterwards not during the walk. Within five minutes of reaching home, I felt really cold and so went to have the shower that I normally have about half an hour after finishing. I came back downstairs and fell asleep on the sofa almost immediately.
The walk itself was mostly uneventful, walking to Fareham and then down Newgate Lane, past HMS Collingwood. Not very eventful at all in fact, or even picturesque. I was becoming a trifle bored and so I took a footpath signposted to Stubbington just for somewhere different. Within a couple of minutes I was paraded by a solar farm on the left and MOD property on the right, both with barbed wire fences. Not that the solar farm would have too much business with a grey and cloudy afternoon all that was on offer. As I walked further, the quiet was deafening and it was as if I was going somewhere I shouldn’t, certainly seeing nobody else on this path. I didn’t know where this path was going to emerge, only that with security cameras everywhere, I felt quite vulnerable and not sure whether to continue. But, of course, I did and nobody bothered me. The sight of a car in the distance did at least comfort me that this path did emerge somewhere and that I would rejoin civilisation. And that was it – the only interesting part of the walk. Probably the least interesting anecdote one could imagine.
The television schedules over the Christmas and New Year period have been quite poor, in my opinion. Unimaginative rather than poor, perhaps. All the Harry Potter films, the dreadful Mrs Brown’s Boys pretty much every day once it gets late and even the normally reliable soap dramas were very diluted to dull mundane affairs. But whenever The Shawshank Redemption comes on, I cannot resist watching some or all of it. Bizarrely, one scene brings back vivid memories of my long walk – though I can never remember exactly where and when. I think it was near the start, certainly before Bath, in the country and I am sure that I walked along a road that looked exactly like this.
Well, not exactly, it didn’t have a sign saying “Buxton” (though I did pass through Buxton in Derbyshire some weeks later) and I wasn’t following Morgan Freeman in a brown suit. But the road, the buildings,….look so familiar. And any time that I get such clear memories of that time, I do think that that was such a wonderful period and that I will never ever have that experience again. Even if I were to do the Lands End to John O’Groats walk again (and I intend to), it wouldn’t be the same. There wouldn’t be the same sense of venturing into the unknown, the same naivety and innocence with which I approached the first attempt, nor (probably) the same doubt and scepticism with which many of my friends viewed the challenge I had set myself. There were many times in the opening fortnight that I felt that I had bitten off more than I could chew. The next time, I know I could do it and the main challenge would be merely to repeat a previous achievement, and to show fighting spirit against advancing age.
It is hard to build up for new challenges when, without doubt, the first challenge was the most challenging I could ever have given myself. But setting goals is the road to being able to keep up the interest and motivation – so watch this space, when I am not feeling quite so rough.