Walking with the orange light on

It’s happened to us all. Driving serenely along the motorway when the orange light comes on. Running out of fuel – you realise you’d forgotten to fill up before you left home – and suddenly all energies are concentrated on getting to the next services – which is always about 20 miles away. The light indicates 25-30 miles of fuel left, but who knows, you’ve never pushed that to the limit and never want to. There’s no point stopping; you just have to keep going. Turn off the air conditioning and any other in-car function that might just drain the fuel just that little bit more. Drive as close as you can to the optimum 56 mph and avoid any sudden braking or change in direction, obviously driving in the highest gear possible. Once you reach the service station, breathe a huge sigh of relief, fill up as much as you might need, and move on, refreshed, all well with the world.

My walk today had some parallels. All has been well in my own little world and though I didn’t feel I needed the mental side of a walk, I needed to keep up some level of fitness given I’ve got this gig in September. I took in a bit of Holly Hill before returning to the road, Warsash, Titchfield village, Stubbington (coffee) and then up Peak Lane, turning right towards HMS Collingwood. Without feeling anything other than ok, it was an ok run out after a couple of weeks and looking like a run of the mill walk. But suddenly, figuratively speaking, my orange light came on and I felt absolutely bereft of energy, my legs were aching and even slightly light-headed. There’s no point stopping; you just have to keep going. The worst thing is to stop, since it’s much more difficult to restart and then keep going. It’s ok to slow down to a comfortable pace – my normal pace is around 3.5 mph, and about 3.2-3.3 mph is still fine (don’t ask how I know this, it must be an autistic thing), walk as economically as you can, no excessive energy, think good thoughts if you can. Eventually I reached Fareham and refuelled. Not normal for me to have a hot sausage roll and a bit of bread pudding but I felt that that 600 calories or so would make the last stage – just under six miles – somewhere near calorie neutral. Though my legs did feel the after-effects of walking with the light on, so to speak, I felt all the better for that and reached home after just about 16.5 miles.

On that last stage, I thought hard about what happened and it felt quite analogous in turn to my well-being, and no doubt that of some others. Sometimes life can be fine but knocked sometimes by one or two events that might seem quite harmless on the outside, but that have the potential to disturb an individual. It’s as if life becomes life with the orange light on, until you can find something that helps you refuel. Lately, I had been troubled somewhat by a number of things that threatened to make me very bitter with the world but I have been very well refuelled and have plenty of happiness in the tank. However, I can’t always rely on having friends available for decent chats, a son and girlfriend getting first class degrees, a son’s and girlfriend’s graduations, Bryan Adams singing live (just for us) and my cricket team winning three matches in a row (after a first half season of relative struggle).

Looking at that list, you might be surprised to see cricket in the list but it is hard for anyone who doesn’t play sport, participate in sport or support a sporting team or individual to understand what a boost it can be to see them succeed. It is wonderful to chat with your friends over a drink having tasted success at whatever level and cricket did play a massive, yes massive, part in helping me to recover from a long period of difficulty in 2010 and 2011, not that very many at our club knew about it at the time. It was one of my occasional confidants, Paul Tosdevin, who passed away earlier this year and my Thames Path Trail Challenge is in aid of his charity – the Rocky Appeal. Still a few weeks to go but please think about donating:


or text SBOY80 10 to 70070 to donate £10.

You might think that I’ve done this sort of thing before so it should be easy. Take it from me, it isn’t and it won’t be. Even any small donation will be very gratefully received.



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