Tuesday, 26 June 2012

I J and the Temple of Brood

I woke just before the alarm went and switched it off. I skulked around the house desperate to be as quiet as possible in case I woke the kids.

 In a small ruck sack I packed the bare essentials; water, a some food, a compass, a map, a little money and my iphone. With my cap on my head, walking boots on my feet, in the semi darkness of my hallway, I opened the front door, as delicately as a Indiana Jones navigating the very last booby trap in the Temple of Brood. And, in the next moment, that might have been directed by Speilberg himself using all the best special effects in the world, my halfway filled with the most beautiful golden light and I stepped, with heart racing, out of the door.

 After days and days of rain, I think June 2012 will go down as one of the wettest ever, I was astonished to be starting my walk in the most glorious of weather. There was not a breath of wind, the morning light sang and, at just after 6pm on a Sunday, there was not a soul around, but me. It was bliss. Utter bliss. I was greeted by a robin on the very corner of my road. He seemed intrigued to see someone up this early. I slowed as I approached him and, to my surprise, he allowed me to stop in touching distant of him. I think we shared a brief moment, more than that I could not say. He stayed and tweeted at me and it was I, smilimg, who moved on. I strolled through deserted streets, drinking in the air.

I felt great; my legs felt strong and my feet felt comfortable. my foot falls beat out the rhythm and in a short while I had crossed several roads, climb over a bridge and along a back road, passed through a copse of trees and I stood on the edge of a field. The view was glorious. So many greens; patchwork fields, billowy dark green trees, and light and shade.

 I brought out my iPhone and snapped away at the scene, something I would do regularly on my walk. I also used the swanky new app I had downloaded. I was a gps thing. It told you exactly where you were on a map to the nearest 3 meters. This gizmo was amazing. I plotted my direction, picked out a landmark and set off.

Monday, 25 June 2012

The Brighton to Brighton Stroll

With terrifying prospect of having to walk 26 miles, across rugged Yorkshire terrain and up and down the 3 tallest peaks the County has to offer, a wise man ( or woman) would suggest that an element of preparation might be a good idea.

Cycling to and from work each day was , I ought , a good start, and it probably is for basic fitness, but putting some miles into my walking boots was the thing. The Macmillan 'Thank You for Suffering for Us' preparation pack, which came through the door was little help.

Ok, it suggested i do a 12 week training regime, which sounded sensible, but it started at walking 5 minutes a day for a week or 2. This built up to 10 minutes a day for several more weeks. Eventually the hardened rambler would reach the heady heights of a full 60 minutes at the end of the 12 weeks.

 How, I thought, is that going to prepare me for a 12 hours slog! It might be good training for the Brighton to the still in Brighton, but with a different view of the pier, charity stroll event, but not for the hardcore foot challenge I faced.

To hell with the book, I thought. Tomorrow it's Sunday and I will get up early, say 6 am, and start walking and walk and walk and walk. No slow build up, no easing the boots in, let's see what these legs can do.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Live by Example

Approaching the big 40 gets-one-a-thinking ( it's amazing how carefree one can be with one's English on a Blog) to doing those things we always wanted. I believe the trick is not to let the opportunity pass us by. Waiting for retirement before starting to explore our dreams is a bad idea. Let every quote about life's regrets speak loudly in our ears. Not only that, take a look around you. I knew of a head teacher who worked for years in Letchworth and was a decent man. Fun, outgoing and generous. He always spoke of the plans he had made for when he retired. The car he would buy, the holidays he would have, the hobbies he would begin. You, of course know, where this is going. At 59 he announced to his closet friends that he was fighting cancer, 6 months later he was given the all clear, one month after that he was dead. Devastating. Poignant.

Lessons on not leaving it too late can be found even closer to home. Take my dear old dad. Just makes sure he comes back exactly as you find him. He of the bandy legs, which he was kind enough to pass on to me, through an unfortunate genetic blue-printing error. I am sure I would be an inch taller if my legs didn't have to travel outwards in brackets formation ( ) ,easy demo opp there, in elongated curves before meeting my ankles.

Any hoo, dad is enjoying retirement,I think, however,since retiring I have never heard him stop complaining about suffering constant aches and pains in joints all around his body, including his infamous pins. What's to say I won't inherit the same pains as he , I have certinly inherited the samw body shape. What's to say that the fate of my head teacher friend does not await me, as I approach the false dawn that is retirement.

 No friends, the time to act is now. Live your dreams, do the things you always wanted to do before it 's too late. You owe it to the younger version of you, the you-child playing in the garden, who ever thrilled at the thought of going on great adventures. To let that-you down would be a tragedy, wouldn't it? And what an example to give to our own children. Let's not create ceiling limits for them, too. Come, come! Lead by example, yes, but we must also ensure that we live by example too.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Oh to Drop into Booby Dingle

Sitting at a lap top, alone, for a man, could lead to anything, or is it that it leads to one thing. Well, whichever it is, on a quiet saturday evening, wife a work , kinds in bed, I found myself searching for good walking sites, yes that isn't a typo. I became a member of Walking World and for a modest subscription was allowed access to 100's of walks around Britain. I loved looking at these maps of walks that, if I was totally honest with myself, i would never do. Of course I was not being honest with myself, I was lost in a fantasy of spending weeks, perhaps months, exploring weird and wonderful places around the British Isles. I thought Shagg in Dorset might be worth a visit, Booby Dingle in Herefordshire sounded intriguing and Cocklick End, in Lancashire, was definitely not one to miss. Seriously though, the maps were thrilling for me and in my mind I planned to undertake my first walk as soon as possible. Only a week went by before I received a letter from a charity asking me to do a walk to raise money from them. This was all the opportunity , or excuse , that I needed.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Hobbit's Wandering Feet

I recently read, if listening to audio books counts as reading as it's all the reading I do at the moment, that ' if you don't watch your feet, when you step outside your door, there is no knowing where they might lead you'. Some may recognise these words as coming from Lord of the Rings or the Hobbit? I mix them up quite often and only really listen to them for their sleep inducing qualities. However, that line really stuck with me. Orcs, dwarfs and Ogres aside, the stories for me as a fantastic travel story. The characters, some of whom are small, big-footed gentle Hobbits and not at all heroic, walk for miles and miles in these stories, over grassy hills, through deep forests and over snow-capped mountains. The level of detail is staggering and not to everyone's taste. It's a thorough travel log and , if you are prepared to persevere with the slow pace of the story line, which plods along every bit as steadily as the Hobbit's huge feet, it can leave you spellbound. And I was. If there was something I was determined to do more of, in my 40th year, it was to walk. Regularly and far.

Sunday, 17 June 2012