Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Always a bit in reserve

Hi. Margie from Toronto gave me the idea for this post, she asks the following questions.....

Do you walk mainly for exercise - or to see the sites - or to have time to yourself - or is it a combination?

All of those Margie, plus a few others. I can't put them in any particular order because they are all equally important. Let's start at the top, I believe it is very important to do some sort of exercise, anything that gets you moving, even those with limited mobility should do something. My hips and knees are holding out for me, and the easiest thing is to put one foot in front of the other, walk until I've had enough and stop.

Enjoying my surroundings is important, seeing new places, learn about how the countryside works, meeting new people and asking questions. I love to find out how other people live their lives. On a long walk I have to limit my chatting because I also want to get on and do the miles. That's where the challenge of exercise comes in. I have to strike a balance. I get a buzz from pushing myself to do more, and feel a great sense of satisfaction that I have covered a lot of ground. Also carrying a big rucksack makes it a bit awkward to be a tourist in a town centre. I have a quick look round while I am there, take a few snaps, that's a nice building etc, but don't expect any in depth historical facts about the place. I would rather linger a bit longer in a quiet and beautiful country setting, than dodge the traffic and shoppers in a concrete jungle.

I already have a lot of time to myself in my daily life, but I am not completely free as I have the responsibility of looking after animals. I am lucky that I have a very good friend who cat sits for me so I am able to get away. If I couldn't leave my local area I would go bonkers, I need to travel.  If I haven't been anywhere for a while I feel trapped and start crawling up the walls. I have to pack a bag and go. I am a free spirit and not used to being stuck in one place. As far back as I can remember I have always had this sense of freedom, that I can go anywhere I like. It started when I left home at 18, I moved around wherever the fancy took me. I suppose I am sort of settled where I am now, because I am at an age where I can make the best life for myself wherever I am, but I still have to go walkabout.

I am well used to spending hours on my own. Driving 300 miles in a truck every day, I have learnt to find enough mental stimulation within my own head. My mind can wander anywhere I want it to, and I can draw on the memories of my past experiences to take me somewhere else. Some people might call that daydreaming, I call it living with my thoughts within my head. I am at peace with myself.

I am a great believer of a healthy body is a healthy mind, the two are connected. So my need for exercise is important to me because it makes me happy. I've been reading an article about an experiment where people waiting for chemo for their cancer treatment were put on a programme of exercise for several weeks until they were called into hospital. Rather than let them wallow in self pity at home while they waited, they had to sign up and commit themselves to workout three times a week. In all cases they recovered more quickly after the chemo, than those who didn't exercise.

When I set off it's like I have cast off the shackles of life. Everything I do for the duration of the walk is up to me, I am in control, I make all the decisions. I walk fast, or slow, or stop, or sit down. I don't have to be anywhere at any particular time. I try and plan where I will be spending the night, but it is always a hit and miss affair. It's the sense of freedom it gives me which ultimately gives me an incredible sense of well being. There are one or two anxious moments, like oh bugger I've missed a turn, but hey, we miss plenty of turns in our lives. We either go back and find the right way, or forge ahead and find a new way. That is life.

There are doubts as to whether I will find a bed every night, but something always turns up. Like the taxi driver who picked me up near Buxton and gave me a bed at his house because all the B & B's were too expensive for me. Or the time I found a pub at 7.30pm but there was no beds left. I carried on walking and found a place at 9pm. Or the time I left Selby in the morning and arrived at the Humber Bridge at 9pm after walking 30 miles in 13 hours. When you think you can't do any more, you can always find a bit in reserve, you've just got to push yourself that bit harder.

Thank you for the questions Margie, I hope I have answered them well enough for you.

Bye for now, Toodle pip.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Planning a walk

It's been a lovely day, I've been outside a lot. Cleaning and waxing my walking boots and wiping the mud from the bottoms of my waterproof trousers. I also took my office outside for a while as I wanted to do some research into possible accommodation for the forthcoming walk. I have a lot of tourist information brochures so I checked through them and made a list of B & B's along the proposed route.

It's taking me a while to sort out a suitable route, I have a rough idea of the places I will be going through, but as I look into it further I might have to tweak it a bit. Nothing is certain until I actually do the walk. A lot of the decisions will be based on timing and how far away is the next overnight stop. As I walk I am constantly watching the time and working out how far to the next village or town. Ideally I would like to walk an average 18 miles a day, starting at 9am and finishing at 6pm, but it won't always work out like that, because there won't always be accommodation where I want it. I remember when I really wanted to stop at 7.30pm because I was so tired, but had to keep walking until 9pm to get to the next town. On the other hand I had an early finish one day because I'd had enough and there was a bed available in a B & B, so I took it. Swings and roundabouts, horses for courses.

The plan so far is to start at the Humber Bridge, I hope to get a lift there as it would save time rather than catching two buses. On the first night I am aiming for Pocklington, but I may only get as far as Market Weighton. Getting to Pocklington in one hit is doable, it's 25 miles, I did in in reverse when I came back that way once, depends what time it is when I hit Market Weighton, I might stop there.

From there on to York, Easingwold, Thirsk, Bedale, Leyburn, Aysgarth, Hawes, Kirkby Stephen, Appleby in Westmorland, finishing at Penrith. Haven't worked out the mileage, at a guess 140 ish. So, this time I shall be walking out and getting a train back.

Now I've got to go over the Ordnance Survey maps again, looking for possible paths and tracks, and check river crossings. When is this going to take place? Soon. If anyone thinks they may be able to meet me please leave a comment with your details, place and phone number, which I won't publish, and I will contact you. You can email if you like. I have just changed the address on the side, for some reason I can't access the emails to the other address on this small computer.

This will be my seventh long walk and I am looking forward to the challenge. As long as my health and fitness hold out I shall keep walking. I love the freedom of setting off not knowing where I will be sleeping that night. I'll be carrying minimum gear, probably wear the same clothes the whole time, ha ha. Don't get too close, and I will be reporting in every night, signal permitting.

I'm going to have an hour on the settee reading a book now. Toodle pip.  

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Double dose today. Making things last.

Happy Easter everyone, and what are you doing on this cool and breezy Sunday? The post today is a double  dose of this and that, to make up for a lack of words yesterday. But not to worry, if I go awol you can be sure I will come back. I am spending time working out the details of my forthcoming walk, so my brain is a bit preoccupied at the moment.
Yesterday morning I got my arse into gear and did the 5k Parkrun. Another personal best which now stands at 34 minutes 43 seconds. Yippeeeee. Got a bit of a stitch half way round but not as much as before. Won't be long before I crack the 30 minutes I am aiming for. 
This morning I have been engaging in a bit of DIY, that is, making things last a bit longer by mending something that's broken. My plastic gate which I found in a skip several years ago has taken a bit of a battering in the wind, and is starting to crack on two opposite corners. It's not like it's a security gate, not lockable, it just fills a gap. The cats can get round the side of it.  
The two posts are hollow so I bashed a piece of broken gazebo frame into the ground with a big hammer, and slid the gate onto it. The other side was just loose propped up against the wheelie bin.

How to mend the broken bit. Drill two holes in the cross bar and secure to the post with cable ties.

The bit that was the foot at the bottom is now moved to the top to make the post on the other side a bit stronger, and cable ties attached to hold it together.

Now a new pole is bashed into the ground, it's a metal tube from a long gone small plastic greenhouse. Always keep bits that might come in useful. This is about two feet high. It doesn't need to be the same height as the other pole, because the idea is to lift the gate up to open it. 
And there you have it, no more flapping in the wind. The gate will last a bit longer. Mayze wants to come in, she can get round the side of it.

Bugsy is in his favourite place, in the back window. Not much sun today, overcast and windy.

Oh my, look at naughty Heidi. She loves to get up onto the greenhouse roof. She ruins the plastic sides with her claws as she climbs up the corner post. Good job the roof is heavy duty plastic and can stand her weight. She is looking over the hedge into the garden at the back of mine. She spends a lot of time over there, good job they are cat lovers.

My raised beds have got some wooden posts and cross bars on them because I used to drape plastic over  to make a mini polytunnel. I don't bother now but have left the posts because they are handy to hold onto when I am working on the beds. Heidi walks up and down on them like a balancing act at the circus. 
Look at me mum, I can wash my belly and not fall off.

And I can balance on three legs while I wash my foot. She is so funny.

Hey look at this. I've scanned and copied my final two bills from British Gas. They are telling me I am in credit, which they returned. All well and good, my new supplier is Ebico, I moved across in January, so I don't expect to hear anything more from BG. 
Now what's going on here? I have three more final bills, dated February, March, and April, all exactly the same and all stating I have nothing to pay. Now why would they waste time and money to send these? It doesn't make sense. Let's see if another one turns up in May.
In the meantime things have been sorted about the mix up with the meter readings with Ebico, and it should all run smoothly from now on. I have got rid of the standing charge that Brit Gas wanted to charge me, now I am only paying for the gas and electricity which I use, after I have used it. I don't get penalized for choosing to pay quarterly on receipt of a bill. So all's good.

Enjoy the rest of the day, and don't forget, it's a Bank Holiday tomorrow so you don't have to go to work :o) unless you are retired in which case every day is a Bank Holiday. Catch you tomorrow. Toodle pip.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Now which way is a good way to go.

Sunny day outside, and I'm playing with maps inside. My next door neighbour is chopping a tree down so I keep looking out of the window to see how he is doing. Not a very big tree, but in the wrong place. Now it's getting a bit technical, he's just tied a rope to it. I think a branch needs to fall towards the road so it doesn't bring down the telephone wire. There are three men on the job and none of them are wearing any protective equipment whatsoever. No helmets, no goggles, and just an ordinary ladder to shimmy up the tree. Now the rope has been taken off and re positioned higher up. There's a lot of conversation going on, do it this way, no do it that way.  There goes a big branch, must stop being nosey and get on with this. 
Maps, now which route should I take? First look on an atlas. 
Then stick some pins in a bigger map on a board. Guess the route at this stage.
Aha, another use for pegs. Borrow some Ordnance Survey maps from the library, fold and peg them together and lay them on the floor. 
Now look at the maps in more detail, searching for the best options, not too far from civilization for a better chance of finding a bed for the night. Note down on a piece of paper several possible routes, then check the footpaths between towns and villages. 
Simple isn't it. The last big branch has come down, just three tall stumps left now to chop down. I'll carry on with the map reading. Have a nice day. Catch you tomorrow. Toodle pip.