You thought I had gone?

I don’t blame you for thinking I had gone! I thought you had all gone too as my journey was over and I had become lax with posting….. I thought you would all be bored with my ramblings but I have been asked several times ‘When are you going to update your blog?’

I have still been struggling with the lack of an ambition now that I have satisfied my lifelong urge to walk from John O’Groats to Lands End.

Yes it is a hard one to follow….

What I do know is that the preparations, the training and the walk itself left me in better shape than I had probably ever been…….. I don’t want to lose that!

Potentially at 65 things can deteriorate very fast……. and I don’t want that to happen.

I am focussed on the need to keep mind and body in good order to get the most from the last section of my life.

What could my next achievement be? I don’t run, I have often passed runners on the road (from the comfort of my car) and thought ‘I don’t get it!’

However could my next challenge be to learn to run and then go on to run a marathon? I haven’t run for about 52 years so that is a very big ask. It would be a big challenge ………….. and then my mind went off into the world of fantasy where I thought could I get fit enough and train to achieve a marathon on my 66th birthday?

I did say it was a world of fantasy ……..could I challenge my 3 sons to run in the same marathon?

This train of thought was getting ridiculous but winter is coming and it is so easy on dark, damp days to stay indoors and not get enough exercise and fresh air. Last year I had the focus of the JOGLE. I had built up my mileage during the long summer of 2018 and when winter came I joined a gym to make sure I had no excuse not to exercise even on the wettest of winter days.

I still have the gym membership and I have been using it to keep my fitness levels up since the big walk. As I mentioned earlier I am in better shape than I have ever been.

I was an overweight child…. I am short, just five foot and come from a long line of short round ancestors!! I have had to be aware of my food intake all my adult life.

At 15 I was 11 stone and I would say that 95% of my adult life I have been within half a stone either side of that weight. Sometimes heavier and very, very occasionally lighter!

Now you can probably can see why I was never a runner……a five foot, eleven and a half stone, flat footed (forgot to mention that before) runner isn’t really a very pretty sight.

I spent many years working as a weight loss consultant trying to help people make changes to keep their weight under control. This was something that was close to my heart as I was constantly aware from my own genetic make up how easy it was to gain stones!

When I became a mum I was very aware that I needed to make sure my children learnt good eating habits so that they didn’t become overweight.

They can all tell you stories of how they got healthy snacks for school where their friends had sweets. They never had sugar in drinks or on cereals (and they didn’t have sugary cereals!) They were all sporty and had good teeth and didn’t get fat so I must have been on the right track!

So back to the present…….. My weight dropped during my training for the JOGLE and I have managed to keep it under control and I am now approx nine and a half stone. This is still borderline overweight for my height but I feel it is a healthy weight for me and I want to maintain it. This is not possible for me unless I eat healthily and exercise regularly……….back to my next challenge…….. it has to make me exercise and eat healthily…….

So let’s forget a marathon…… for now anyway.

I think I have come up with a focus, something Royston and I can do together, something that gives us both a reason to stay fit over the winter……….

Can you guess?

I am so tempted to leave you there on the cliff edge and tempt you to come back to find out but I am not that mean.

My plan is that next June we will do 3 peaks in 3 weeks! I know that is a piece of cake for many young fit folks but it is a sensible challenge for us!

So we will take 3 weeks holiday in the camper during which time we will climb Snowdon, Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis. So potentially I will climb Ben Nevis on my 66th birthday.

We will be able to see more of Scotland, which we fell in love with, and will be able to choose the day’s we climb in order to have the best views from the peaks!

It is something to look forward and a reason to keep fit and healthy through the winter…..

Have I climbed a mountain before? Find out in my next post!

I did it again!

Sorry I can’t believe I let another week pass before writing more.

I have been so busy……

I mentioned the fact that hi viz was needed for the walk…… with some research I found a company online that could print the front and back of a hi viz vest with my details.

See photos

This made me visible and told anyone I talked to or anyone behind me what I was doing.

I had thought this would help with fund raising but it was not as effective as I hoped…

Why ……. Well they might be hi viz but they have become ‘invisible’ !

What I mean is that everyone wears yellow hi viz whether they are cycling, walking their dog, on the way to school, working on the road, fixing broken down vehicles or working as a PCSO. So we all see them and keep them safe but we don’t give a thought to why they are wearing it …….. other than to keep them safe.

So my yellow did keep me safe but it didn’t help me fund raise ……however I was on numerous occasions asked for directions ha! ha!

So if I did the walk again, for the sake of the charity, I would choose a different colour to attract more attention!!

I never imagined I could wear hi viz and be invisible, but it was proved as I walked through a crowd of thousands on their way to a match of the Warrington Wolves and not a soul acknowledged my journey! It should have been a good chance to fundraise? Maybe I am just not ‘pushy’ enough to be a serious fundraiser?

Car boot!

Sorry for leaving you so long but this is the busiest time of year for me…..

Today the weather was good and I had time to go to a local car boot sale to sell my unwanted goods and try to boost my donations to Alzheimer’s Society.

I took my boards saying what I had achieved and a photo of me at the finish post.

It was a small sale but I did manage to raise another £62 in sales and donations.

I will do another one in September when I have accumulated some more items to sell.

By the way my mind keeps wandering back to what I should do next?

I need another personal challenge. I had wanted to do that walk for 58 years ……why did I wait so long?

Will be with you in a couple of days…..

More changes

As I mentioned in a previous post I decided to use a familiar, comfortable coat…… the problem was it was black, not a safe colour for walking on the road. During the training walk from Bristol to Wellington I was also trialling a back pack that I didn’t usually use. The back pack had a waterproof cover which was orange so that helped with visibility from behind but I realised that as you walk towards the oncoming traffic on their side of the road that wasn’t enough for the JOGLE. I would need be visible from all directions.

The back pack in question had a frame which is good for air circulation on the back plus spreading the weight but it took up a lot of space in the small camper so this gave me more searching and testing to do before the big adventure.

Also I realised that as I had support I didn’t need to carry as much as I did on the first long training walk. I had contact with the support vehicle by mobile phone, (subject to signal) If I needed a change of shoes I could summon my support, so no need to carry extra shoes!

The problem with backpacks, particularly in the rain, is that to get to anything in it you have to take it off, usually put it on the wet ground, remove the waterproof cover unfasten the pack, rummage and then put everything back, fasten, put the cover on, and put it on your back! A bit of a faff in the rain!

At this stage in the training I had 2 old IPhones on different networks and I was using one of them to listen to audio books. The problem was that my phone batteries ran out very quickly so I needed to carry battery packs to charge the phones so that Royston could track me on Find Friends ( subject to signal) The battery pack had to be plugged into my phone by a charging lead. Very awkward especially in the rain. Hence more trips into the backpack!

Something else to improve before the adventure, more research to do.

Obviously we needed to charge lots of devices in the camper, phones, battery packs, etc etc …….more modifications….. The camper has a solar panel so we needed to install multi charging sockets. We also needed to get usb charging leads for other everyday items, electric toothbrush, camera battery charger, razor etc. This would mean that we didn’t have to rely on campsites with electric hook ups. This would mean we could be off grid and not need to drive lots of extra miles to campsites.

You may be starting to see how important the training walks were…….

More soon!

More training – more choices!

As I mentioned in the last post I did another long training walk. In January I walked from Clifton, Bristol down to Wellington. It was a 3 day 20 mile a day walk and at the worst time of year because the daylight hours were so short!

The plan was to walk to Tiverton, where I started the last training walk but it was a Friday afternoon and the final few miles were on the road. The traffic was heavy and the light and visibility were poor so for safety reasons I stopped when I got to Wellington. I had still walked 60 miles in 3 days.

This walk was a real test but was also amazing!

It was really cold in the mornings. I needed hat and gloves (not really me to wear hat and gloves!) and my fingers were still so cold I couldn’t feel them! As I walked through the suburbs of Bristol I had some massive hill climbs and at this time the majority of my training at home had been on the towpaths! My progress was hindered by the multitudes of discarded Christmas trees strewn across the pavements! I guess it was a good year for real trees.

The walk was certainly one of contrasts. Royston had planned this to be part of the main walk so that it was a another chunk of the JOGLE route that was planned and checked.

I guess that many of you have been to Cheddar Gorge? I walked to, and through, the Cheddar Gorge. It is so surreal to walk through places that have in the past been the destination. When you walk you see so much more than you ever see as a driver or even as a passenger in a car.

It is so hard to explain but I will never be able to get this feeling out of my system or be able to adequately explain it to someone who hasn’t done an end to end or similar. Oh dear I am rambling but writing this has just connected me back to the feelings experienced on the JOGLE. Towns are actually so close together and I couldn’t get over the fact that in England I often walked through 2 major towns in one day. We lose touch with the world when we are in those tin boxes on wheels. In history how many times do we hear that armies marched from one place to another often hundreds or even thousands of miles apart. Somehow the experience of walking the length of the UK connects you with the way we were! We were born to walk!

Right…… back to the training walk. We stayed overnight in the van in Cheddar. A very cold night and when I started walking as soon as it got light there was a very heavy frost and icy roads. After the climb out of Cheddar and spectacular views I was headed for the contrast of the Somerset levels. Quiet, open countryside and it was here that two deer ran across a field, jumped a fence and ran along the road in front of me before disappearing into a field on the other side of the road. Stunning…..

I am missing the experiences of the freedom of walking so much!

If you have ever thought about doing something like this, do it! You cannot buy these experiences, you have to make them happen.

I need a break…… to reflect……. and to connect back to things I need to do today…..

See you tomorrow…….

Back to preparations for the walk!l

After the walk from Tiverton to Camborne we made storage modifications in the van.

I packed all the things we might need on the walk into small labelled containers that fitted in the small storage spaces we had. Actually that sort of thing is right up my street! I like to be organised and know I have everything and where to find it! When we are next in the van I’ll take a photo of the cupboards to show you!

I am better at practical things and whilst I was messing around with small containers and labels Royston was up to his neck in maps, plans, gps devices biographies, google map, iPhones etc plotting a safe but as direct as possible route! He wrote meticulous directions for every mile of the route and I copied them onto index cards to carry with me! This took months of work!

I was still trying to find the right shoes/boots, trousers, tops, coat, backpack etc. This was all trial and error and despite masses of trials when I did the JOGLE there were things that could have been improved!

I have talked about shoes before and since being home have sold off all the unused shoes and boots I bought at a profit! (So my footwear cost nothing!)

Whilst on the 112 mile training walk I had to deal with some torrential rain and had bought a nearly new Berghaus waterproof coat. I soon decided I really didn’t like it! It felt too ‘stiff’. It had loads of pockets that had waterproof zips but trying to use them in the rain was really awkward. I didn’t like the double zip, then flap over etc etc….

After this walk I sold that coat and tried several others! I rejected them all for one reason or another. When I did the next long training walk I used a coat I have had for a long time a Regatta which was very light, comfy and warm as it is fleece lined on the top half. It also was good to roll up, when not needed, and stuff into a small space.

After wearing it on the next long walk to check it. I decided it was the best one to take because it offered warmth and wind protection and I wasn’t sure what weather conditions I would come across in Scotland!

I bought Nikwax Tech Wash and Nikwax In Wash Waterproofer and followed the instructions.

Need to pop off now but I will be back tomorrow for the next instalment!

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