Monday, August 30, 2010


The fund is still rocketing up. It now stands at 113% of the original target.

Philip Ridgway held a book sale at his house yesterday afternoon. He enticed people with curry, so they felt no pain as they disposed of their old books, which they bought or exchanged for somebody else's old reads, and made a donation.

Thanks, Philip.

Friday, August 27, 2010

111% and 40

I'm still walking, and people are still donating.

I walked 24 kms today and it was hot. High 20s, I think, but of course that would be in the shade, where I was not. Yesterday the shade temperature went over 40 degrees. That is unbearable. Fortunately, I was too busy to walk.

It did remind me that the original plan for VBW was that I would start from Blackpool on July 23rd, my birthday, and walk home to France. This means that I would still be on the road now, and of course I would not have had any choice about walking in yesterday's heat. How wise it was to change the plan. ;-)

Donations to Pancreatic Cancer research continue to roll in. Even now, 5 weeks after the event finished, £180 has gone into the fund in the past week. I know there is more to come.

The actual amount raised so far, including the contribution from the tax authorities, is over £9,100.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The End Of V-Force One

Glad to see the back of it? Certainly not, but V-Force One was acquired for one purpose, to house us during VBW. We would love to keep it, but it would be a fiscal drag and would rarely be used. So it has gone back to whence it came.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Too Damned Hot To Move Over

Gay and I toiled down and up from the plateau to Quillan and back yesterday. A normal Saturday morning hike. Always a noticeable bit of effort. Good job we did it in the morning. By the afternoon the temperature was 37 degrees Celsius. Today it has already reached 30 degrees by 11 am. A day for cowering in the shade.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Keeping My Feet In

A rare sight on the Voie Verte - people. I just walked the 24kms home from Lavelanet. About 16kms of this is on the Voie Verte, a superb facility for walking, running, cycling. It must have cost a bit to renovate this old railway line for the benefit of the populace. Yet today, in August, the peak of the French holiday season, I saw this man and his little boy on their bikes, an elderly runner, and two other men on bicycles,

I also saw this tiny pony, which is a regular. It is moored by the trail at St Colombes. So small I could step over it. As my eyes get worse I will probably fall over it.

As I said, I walked 24kms. Just keeping my hand - or rather my feet -in. Did I really do this, or much more, for 70 days on the trot? Why didn't somebody lock me up? Mind you, I don't think it was this hot on many days, if any, during VBW.

Happy Birthday, Alessandro! Auguri!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Walk Of Life

I have put this information on my blog before but I am repeating it, not through vanity, but because people keep asking me if there was any television coverage of the end of VBW.

Only those in the North of England would have seen it live, but Tony White has kindly snagged the news item and put it on YouTube.

You will find it by double-clicking on this link, or copy and paste it into your browser:

During the walk there was some debate on my blog and via e-mail about which song would be the most suitable as a theme tune. Nobody, including myself, realised that there was an ideal candidate. The BBC used it in the news item. Dire Strait's "Walk of Life". Dire Straits/Mark Knopfler are my favourite artists and I particularly like this simple but striking track. Not to mention that there is an obvious tie-in with the life-saving objective of my fund-raising walk.

In fact, if I had thought about it, the walk itself could have been called "The Walk of Life".

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Critical Eye

I did another decent (11 kms) walk yesterday, although I don't know what I am training for now. Just to keep fit, I suppose, as I plunge into my 8th decade.

But mainly I have been concentrating on catching up with the transcription of the daily ramblings which I uttered into a dictaphone during VBW. When I have the whole manuscript available, I will study it with a critical eye, wondering whether it would make The Book of The Walk.

You will note that the eye is purple. Purple is the representative colour of Pancreatic Cancer UK. My fund-raising for that cause now stands at 108% of the target. I know that more is on the way, so am confident of it exceeding 110%. But there is no limit to the amount of good that can be done by PCUK, so I don't want you to be inhibited into thinking there is a limit to the amount to be raised.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

This Donkey Is Not For Sausages

It seems I am a walker still. My legs did not perish in the aftermath of VBW. And Gay is a walker as well, although she has been rather more diligent than me - as far as exercise goes - since we arrived home a week ago - she has been running every other day - she took her running stuff with her on the Big Walk but only managed to get in one gambol with Jean Dolan while we were staying with Jean and Bernard.

This morning we returned to our pre-VBW Saturday morning activity of climbing down into Quillan and up again - a fall of about 300 metres, followed by a climb of over 350 metres, and a distance covered of 13 kms.

There is a small market at Quillan of a Saturday, which is whence the pictures hail. The donkey is the advance marketing and PR representative of a team which finds itself hired out as pack-donkeys for wayfarers. So it should survive longer than all those donkeys I saw as I ploughed through France, which I eventually realised are destined for the sausage machine.

The other picture, also from the market, is of the famous Curry Fred. Fred is having great success in supplying various curry sauces to the folk of the area. He is also engendering a bit of surprise in a big proportion of his customers is French. The French are not known for their love of spices so it must be Fred's silver tongue which is leading them down the hot road.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Sloth Awakes!

Three weeks ago today I finished Vic's Big Walk, after 70 days of effort. As I said the other day, I have not walked since, for all the excuses I gave then.

Today I shook myself from the torpor and legged it from Nebias to home. Only 6 kms, so it seemed almost not worth getting changed for, but in truth it is a decent bit of exercise. And for the first time since May 15th, when I set off in a northerly direction, I was walking towards Puivert castle rather than away from it. And what a fine sight it is, especially with those sunflowers in the foreground.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Ten-Toed Sloth

Since finishing VBW on 23rd July, I have not been for a walk. Sure, I have walked around town, even walked 7 or 8 kms into town and back, for instance while we were staying at a caravan park outside Ambleside. But I have not donned my shoes in earnest and set off walking for either exercise or pleasure.

This is partly because there has been such a round of visiting, entertaining, being entertained, wining, dining, travelling and generally basking in the warmth of success. Partly I have convinced myself that my body needed to recover from the sustained effort of walking more than two thirds of a marathon every day for 70 days - even though I did not feel tired after the walk or even often during it. Partly because I could let myself believe that I am now old. Partly because I have been there, done that, and am wondering what to do next.

Basically, I have not taken any exercise for 3 weeks, and have therefore put back the 2 or 3 kilos lost during the Big Walk. Monday, I started to correct my course. I did 20 minutes on the static bicycle (far more effort than if I took the bike off the stand and out into the open air). Yesterday I did 30 mins on the bike and 10 minutes on the NordicTrack ski-trainer. Both efforts left me drenched, but it is quite warm hereabouts just now. Today it was supposed to be 30 minutes on each machine, as part of the build-up to some sort of regular exercise program. But our friends John and Gail from Brisbane have been in town for some time while we were away. We almost missed them and only caught up with them yesterday. Today is their last day. We went for lunch with them in Quillan. After lunch it was too hot to exercise. Excuses, excuses? Watch this space. By Saturday I may even have been for a walk - Gay and I plan, weather permitting, to climb down to Quillan and up again, as we did so many times during training for VBW.

Monday, August 9, 2010


The fund-raising now stands at 108% of the £7,000 target.

What am I bid to get it up to 110%?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Hustle And Bustle

To prove to ourselves that we are really home, we are off to our local market at Esperaza this morning. This is a habitual Sunday morning activity. We like to get there early and witness the hustle and bustle while the market is setting up. The photo was taken at the market by Lorenzo during his and Jane's last visit from Indiana.

I mentioned some time ago that Gay's sister Dana had asked if I had time to muse on my past life a bit more than my blog entries indicate. I said that I had not, but this may not be true. The blog entries were posted soon after I finished the walk each day, were necessarily brief, and were part of my memories of each day's walk.

However, I carried a dictaphone with me while walking and recorded about 1,500 words per day, which I transcribed each evening. Those notes recorded events and my thoughts as they happened, and in much more detail than the blog entries. I now have to trawl through them as part of deciding whether I will write a book. I am not sure they contain much musing about my past life, but there may be a reason for that. You see, I have already written my autobiography, for private circulation and the benefit of my children and grandchildren. So I have already done the musing Dana was asking about. And I will incorporate the relevant bits into any book about VBW.

The fund is at 107%.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Home, Where The Heart Is

This is a view from our very own garden, peeping past our very own fig tree and going on to what we regard as our very own castle - le chateau de Puivert.

We arrived home yesterday, completing the full circle from here to Blackpool and back (with a side trip to the north of Scotland, not necessarily on foot). We left here on 15th May. Shortly before we left, the village was deep in snow. Now it is baking in temperatures lurking above and below 30 degrees Celsius.

And, having spent only 6 weeks here this year, we are extremely glad to be back and will take some shifting for a while.

But the blog lives on. I am pondering the effort of writing a book about Vic's Big Walk and would be interested to hear your views on this.

Also living on is the fund-raising for Pancreatic Cancer UK. Whatever it says on this blog page, the fund now stands at 106% of the £7000 target. I am sure we can get it to at least 110%.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

And Nostaligia Begat Nostalgia ...

... even unto the seventh generation.

This is weird. One thing I expected from Vic's Big Walk was that, as I passed through places where I had spent some of my life, I would experience nostalgia, flashbacks and memories provoked by my return to those places.

But now I am finding that the flashbacks and memories are coming from VBW itself!

On the way down through England, we stopped off in Banbury, last seen on a hot day early in July as I tramped along the canal bank and came off in the town centre for a coffee, perchance muffin, with my beloved.

Now we are in France. Yesterday we were in Chinon (pictured), seen by me but not Gay during the event. Today we passed through Lussac-les-Chateaux and now we are camped up in Vers (which you will remember rhymes with Bears, although there is a village of Bears very close to here, which is pronounced quite differently). We were here on Day 9 of VBW (which must mean we are more than 6 tenths of the way home), 24th May 2010.

I mentioned yesterday that the distances seem much further on four wheels than on foot. Another fact is that the journey is much more tiring this way. There were not many days while walking that I felt fagged out, but I sure do after a days driving/passengering.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Vic's Big Walk - The Movie - Goes Global

The BBC coverage of the final minutes of VBW is now also available on the website of Pancreatic Cancer UK.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


When I was a competitive runner, it always bemused me that, if I drove round a marathon course which I had run, it always seemed to be longer by car.

I have just driven from Lancashire to Portsmouth - a journey which took me almost 4 weeks when I did it - in the other direction - on foot. I can't say it seemed longer today, but it certainly underlined for me the enormity of the walk I now have behind me. And when we arrive in France tomorrow morning, the journey home will be getting on for 3 times as far as today's drive.

And in many ways I prefer the walk version.

Donations to Pancreatic Cancer UK are now at 105% of the £7,000 target, and they are still rolling in. So don't be shy.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Southbound. The Adventure Is Nearly Over

We are back where it all started, or rather where I started life, and VBW ended just over a week ago. We are not quite in Blackpool, in fact, glancing around, one would be forgiven for thinking we are in Texas.

V-Force One is camped at Great Birchwood Caravan and Campsite, at Warton, just outside Blackpool. The site also includes Fort San Antone, a Texas honky-tonk bar transferred to England.

In their own words "The Saloon / Restaurant decorated in the style of the Old West can hold 1,500 people, with seating for 650. It boasts three bars and has two dance floors which give you plenty of room for line dancing. The Restaurant with its full menu allows you to enjoy a good meal while you relax listening to great Country Music."

All this country stuff takes place at weekends only. There is even a shop where you can tog yourself up in country gear so you do not feel out of place.

It is amazing. Check it out at:

Today we set off southwards, staying with friends in Stockport overnight, then straight to the ferry at Portsmouth tomorrow night. Back in our adopted home of France on Wednesday morning. Home by Friday. The adventure is nearly over.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Vic's Big Walk - The Movie

Big Tone has put the BBC news item about the VBW finish onto YouTube.

Many of our friends and supporters overseas have been bewailing the fact that they did not see it. So now here is your chance.

Just click on the link or cut and paste into your browser.

Thanks Tone