Preaching to the converted

Almost four years ago, I went into a shop in Fareham and one of the youngsters from our cricket club served me. He asked what I was doing in the area and I explained that I had walked from home (almost 6 miles) and was in training for Lands End to John O’Groats. He was quite puzzled and couldn’t understand why I was doing it. There was nobody in the queue so I did have a conversation about the charity, well-being and the personal challenge and he still couldn’t get it. I had no chance of convincing him that it was worthwhile for a number of reasons. He even said it was just bonkers; to be fair he could have said worse!

Now if you are reading this (and you obviously are) then you probably don’t need the explanation – you have bought into all sorts of stuff about my walking. For the most part, I am preaching to the converted and you won’t react to the news that I walked 25 miles today with “Why?”. I do have friends who don’t get it, but that’s fine, it’s how I spend a good deal of my free time and they spend their free time how they want – that’s not for me to judge, though some of the things they do are not for me either. It’s freedom of choice.

I thought about this during the week when I was on social media and during today’s coffee break when I had a wider than usual choice of reading material. Regarding the forthcoming Election it is clear that different newspapers have different agendas and many ignore all the weaknesses of their party of choice and all the strengths of others in their coverage and editorials. Yet the people they are trying to convince are already convinced – that’s why they have purchased that particular newspaper. It is preaching to the already very much converted. I have also seen articles from supporters of a number of sides on social media. The comments convince me that virtually nobody changes their vote on the basis of reading these articles. Views seem entrenched among many or perhaps most and, similar to the press, there is casual ignorance of any possible positive points from the other sides (though all would quite possibly say that there is nothing positive and worthwhile to be said about the other sides). But it is pretty much preaching to the converted or, at least, the unconvertible.

I have never enjoyed getting into discussions about politics since I rarely find things black and white and any conversation will pick up on the grey areas and aspects of difference. I am very thankful therefore that I am a civil servant subject to purdah – that is the time period that prevents central and local government from making announcements about any new or controversial government initiatives (such as modernisation initiatives or administrative and legislative changes) which could be seen to be advantageous to any candidates or parties in the forthcoming election. Where a court determines that actual advantage has been given to a candidate, this may amount to a breach of Section 2 of the Local Government Act 1986. (I copied and pasted that from Wikipedia, incidentally) That hasn’t necessarily prevented some of my colleagues from spouting their views, but that’s up to them – I’m not about to name them or report anyone – but I doubt whether they are changing anyone’s opinion, only reinforcing them. I have just been happy that I don’t feel awkward about not airing any views; it’s that I’m not allowed to.

It was a hard walk today. I like routine and often take similar routes, but I went in the opposite direction to one favourite one, by walking down to Gosport from Fareham, right down to the ferry terminal. To make it slightly more different still, I was on the other side of the road for much of the way so it felt more unfamiliar than it should have been. I got a bit disorientated going west from there and went through some roads and paths where I hadn’t previously been, and the promenade satisfied my unwritten rule that any sea walk will always be into the wind, whichever direction one is travelling. Ok, that is now written, I know. I took the longer road home through Lee-on-Solent, where it began to rain, having earlier been really breezy, then close, then quite cool.

I was in a bit of pain with still six or seven miles left. It was such that I even considered catching a bus or getting a taxi, but that would have played on my mind in the way that it did after I gave up on the Wight Challenge (after 80 km of 106). My back, thighs, calves, feet and toes were taking turns to ache – the only one that concerned me greatly was my back, but that appeared to ease with the other aches taking my mind off it. Some eight hours after leaving home, I was back. 25 miles. Still over three months to the Thames Path Trail and no need to push myself so hard just yet. Maybe I am bonkers.


The return of the breakfast box?

I do sometimes surprise myself. Having not gone walking for two weeks, on a pretty warm day, I trotted out 23 miles and even did a little dance at the end in the front room. Ok, it was the Robot dance to celebrate what is quite likely to Peter Crouch’s final Premier League goal, but a dance it was. The main thing is that I hardly feel like I’ve walked that far – except that a couple of my toes are a little sore with a bit of pressure as my feet expanded with the heat and distance. Nothing much.

You might say – yeah, but you’ve done that distance many times before. Indeed but that’s normally when I am really fit, rather than just in the moderate shape I’m in at the moment. It included two or three miles speed walk and a good spell on the stones on the beach, so it was far better than I had expected. I was taking on plenty of fluid and trying to find those shops with the cheap water based drinks with some success. Not getting dehydrated is absolutely the most important thing on a warm day.

It will be the Thames Path Trail for me on the weekend of 9-10 September, 100 kilometres from Putney Bridge to somewhere 100 kilometres (62 and a bit miles) down the path. Henley, I gather. That’s certainly not the distance as the crow flies but a pretty winding way and taking in some of the sights of South West London and the surrounding areas. Hopefully too it will not be the height of temperature that we might see in June or July, and the night will be longer, though I would imagine that there would be more lighting than on other night walks – the Wight Challenge two years ago was chronically dark at various points and treacherous to even find your way. London2Brighton last year was much much better.

I will be walking on behalf of the Rocky Appeal charity – and details will appear of this will appear in time. Just accommodation to sort out. A few Travelodges within a couple of miles of the start and it could be the return of the good old breakfast box for a bit of nostalgia. Or perhaps not.

Just one last thing. I keep seeing that I have more than the odd view of one specific post from 18 months ago and I have no idea why, neither why virtually all of the views appear to be coming from United States. What is it about that post – when others have no views after about a fortnight after posted? As Toyah once said, “It’s a Mystery”.

Overdosing on happiness

Well what a day yesterday was. At its end I was as happy as I have been for a long long time. The first game of the cricket season had ended in a dramatic 1 run win for Sarisbury Athletic, at the same time as the football season was ending for Portsmouth with a 6-1 and other results conspiring to give them the League Two title.

I haven’t been at my best for around a couple of weeks, firstly with a nasty bug that gave me tremendous aches in my legs and back, and a general malaise that has seen me just get through a number of days at work, though puzzlingly become quite productive in some work areas that needed addressing. The elation of Saturday turned into a poor night’s sleep, thinking and then dreaming about both sports and I woke on Sunday with a tired mind and body. I was in a quandary as to whether to go down to Southsea to be part of the Pompey celebrations and trophy presentation – after all, though I don’t go to matches that often these days, I was one of the thousands of fans who stumped up a thousand quid to save the club and am therefore currently a part-owner. Today was the culmination of a real people’s success story of fan ownership – and we must think about the next level and potential significant investment now from outside.

Despite this overdosing on happiness, I know how elation and exhilaration are so transient and that it doesn’t take much to bring me down a whole level. Social media has done my head in recently what with uninformed rubbish everywhere on just about anything you can imagine, and I have cut down time on Facebook to the bare minimum of updating cricket scores. It was with a really heavy heart that I instead took to the road for the sake of my mood. It was a chilly morning so I looked to wear a hoodie that represented any of the sporting successes – could be the blue Pompey hoodie, the (very faded) green Sarisbury hoodie or even a hoodie for my Fantasy Football team that continues to lead the way with only a few matches remaining in the Premier League. Except that I haven’t yet acquired one of those for Fantasy Football, and it would be more than sad if I did. Given I was going west-ish, the Sarisbury one was probably best, and my mood was further lightened by the news that Newcastle United clinched the Championship – which obviously would please my son Matt.

The weather fluctuated from chilly to warm before the temperature rose in the mid-afternoon to make for a sweaty 18.5 miles. It was a day when rehydration was most important and I made sure to take my time and have plenty to drink, as well as a bought cut price (in date) cheese and ham sandwich and a small chocolate flapjack. Yummy. Summer is not the easiest time for me to keep up the distances with every Saturday having cricket and the weather likely to be significantly warmer, and with still nothing in the way of confirmed challenges, motivation is key. Let’s just keep going for the moment and keep taking the tablets.