Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Suggestions from Rob - Accommodation, 70 days?, UK route

E-mail from Rob Lyons

I've read your blog and it all looks very interesting, I would like to raise a couple of points with you however.

First In regard to your travel arrangements. I note that you would prefer to be left alone (both of you) during your overnight restperiods. This sounds ok to me but does leave your driver in an awkward situation regarding his accommodation. I would therefore suggest that rather than a battle bus or a mobile home you use a caravan ( modern of course) this would allow your driver to move to a pre-determined destination and leave the caravan on one of the many excellent municipal camp site's, with all the facilities for a good night's rest ie. electric hook up, hot showers etc. but still to remain mobile and available should you require his services for any other reason. He/She could also do any shopping (green stuff! ) or even prepare a meal for your arrival and then shoot off to his/her B&B.

I'm sure most British Caravan Manufacturers would be only to pleased to help out with a loan in return for the publicity and this would then relieve you of the problem of buying and re-selling of a very expensive motor home and give you plenty of roomy accommodation.

My old rallying partner Vic Ryland spent a lot of his working life in the caravan industry and
we often borrowed a new caravan in order to enter (and win) The Caravan Club International Economy Run, I'm sure if I asked him nicely he would be prepared to make some enquiries on your behalf, so let me know what you think.

Secondly ! taking into consideration your going to be doing this in your 70th year and I fully understand the target of 70 days, I feel that you would be better off dropping the "70 day bit"
and just setting off to walk to "Blairway" if you do it in 70 days, "what a magnificent achievement!" if you don't, "what a magnificent achievement!" -- in essence don't put your self under the uneccessary pressure of a target that may not be achieveable.

I have much more to add but will return at a later date,cos I want to watch this guy who cycled around the world averaging 100 miles a day which is on TV shortly.

In response to your request for your route up from Portsmouth, of course I will gladly help out.
I assume you want the most direct route, avoiding as much "A" road as possible but with the best walking facilities?. Leave that with me and I will get back to you in the near future.

My e-mail reply to Rob after much thought and re-examination of these matters during a long walk.

Just walked back from Quillan (16kms with climb from 305 to 650 metres then back down to our level at 500 metres. I was thinking of doing the other half after lunch (19 kms to Lavelanet) but then I heard all the guns blasting away and realised this is the first Wednesday of the hunting season - Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays being the real hunting days. It's always a dangerous business, being out and about on hunting days, but even more so in the first couple of weeks, when they are at their most excitable - they usually shoot a few of each other - no kidding. The road to Lavelanet climbs through some woods where the shooting was coming from. So - another day.

As I said in my brief reply, your e-mail, and the fact that you are giving thought to the various problems and opportunities raised by VBW, were most welcome.

Rather amused by your expression "your driver". Who is this mythical creature? He seems to be a chauffeur, butler and vegetarian chef rolled into one. Wonderful if we could find him - but only if we were then in a position to pay him as an employee (which we are not). If he exists among the pantheon of our wonderful friends, we could not possibly accept that sort of help - to drive and "do" for us, then to fade away until we need his services again. Not to mention the cost of his B&B. We would indeed be scurvy knaves to treat somebody like that.

But let me explain why we would not want someone around most of the time. This is not standoffishness, although I do admit that I am not a party animal. Nor is it just the awareness and observation over many years that when people go on holiday together it does not always work (sometimes it does) and is less likely to do so over a period of 10 weeks.

The truth is that we shall not only be early to bed every day because the morning walk will commence as soon as it is light, but until bedtime, we shall be very busy. I shall be beavering away on this very laptop, at the very least keeping up with communication and the blog, also hopefully writing a book about the venture. Also, Gay and I will be taking our musical instruments with us and we shall need to practice every day - we started late in life and need to apply ourselves.

So there won't be much time for socialising. I don't mean there will be no time - if we manage to get people to occasionally drive a leg for us so that we can both walk, we would expect to be all together in the evening. It's just that on a large scale, that would scupper us in some ways.

Your offer of involving Vic Ryland to drum up a caravan for us (or presumably a motorcaravan) is kind too, but I have already been down the road of thinking about commercial sponsorship or backing, and have rejected it, for reasons given.

Now to your comments about the pressures on myself, of saying that I am going to do it in 70 days. I understand your concern, but the fact is that I have already made this widely known among my friends, who are the only people I would feel embarrassed about if I fail to pull it off.

As you say, if I had just said "I am going to walk to Bardsway (not Blairway, Rob, an understandable slip of the keyboard.
I should explain to other blog readers that Rob and I grew up close to each other. Blairway was a street which intervened between our two homes) It would be "what a magnificent achievement" if I did it in 70 days, or the same response if I took slightly longer. Given a continuation of my current level of health and fitness, I think the target is perfectly achievable. Also, I am leaving a "spare" day per week which could be used to catch up if there are any problems. And I have been a competitive athlete (running) for most of my adult life and have always known, at whatever event I was competing, that there are factors which can prevent success, and that there is no shame in not winning, so long as you try.

My objective, rather than the 70 days as such (and I am sure you know this is a symbolic figure) is to arrive on that same doorstep on my 70th birthday, where I stunned the world by my initial appearance exactly 70 years before. If something holds me up and I get there a few days later, c'est la vie.

I look forward to receiving your advice about a safe walking route from Portsmouth to Blackpool. You are correct in the assumption that A roads should be avoided (and motorways) so that there is not so much traffic, but the route should of course be as near as possible to a straight line - five miles extra when walking is a long way.

Do you have any contact with cycling organisations in France, who might be able to give similar advice about a safe walking route from Puivert to Caen? Walking organisations here would of course say that the GRs (long distance walking paths) are the best places to walk. And they are, but unfortunately they meander all over the place and would double the distance (I would definitely have to forget the 70 days if I went that way).

So, thanks once again. Please do not feel that your advice was a waste of time. It really concentrates my mind wonderfully.

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