Monday, March 28, 2011

Jan's Big Walk

I have added a link to another walk blog. You will find the link to "My Great Adventure" on the left hand side of this page, but here is the address so you can go directly to it.

Jan recently turned 50 and discovered walking. She took on one challenge, demolished it, turned to a far bigger one, and is due to start that on 4th April. The fact that she calls me a guru is not the only reason why I am encouraging her and will be following her with interest as she attacks the 600-mile South West Coastal Path Walk (in the UK). Her story is inspiring.

In 2007 she found herself facing the future with no partner, young adult offspring still living at home, and a home that she liked but did not feel was her own. I get the impression that the future looked a little frightening and that, like many women and men in such a situation – starting out on a new life in her middle years - she doubted herself and her ability to cope.

Her experiences working with young people and the realisation that she was not too afraid to face new challenges (such as rock-climbing!) started to boost her confidence and encouraged her to face her fears.

She listed things she wanted to do as she passed 50 last year. One of these targets was to walk 50 miles to celebrate her birthday, although she had never done anything so strenuous before.

So on 4th April 2010 she set off to walk from Faversham to Folkestone following the Saxon Shore Path. The walking bug claimed a new victim – not only did she reach her target but decided to complete the 160 mile route. She did this later in the year.

While researching the Saxon Shore Walk she came upon details of the South West Coast Path Walk and decided this should be her next challenge. She will walk from Poole to Minehead, probably in instalments. She has lost her job in the South-East and had hoped to gain a new one in the South-West, which would have given her the ideal base for her challenge. However, that job has fallen through. As some have pointed out, there are not 600 miles between Poole and Minehead – if you drive – but Janet will be walking round the coast, which is extremely indented. The official website divides the walk into 53 one-day sections.

Janet says she weighs 17stone and is very unhealthy. She loves food and is a bit of a fair weather walker. Her map reading and orienteering has, up until this point, consisted of an OS walking book and good friends. She has never carried a rucksack and is a very slow walker.

She has considered doing the walk for a charity but as she is “not technically doing it all in one go and it is purely for me to discover and confirm the real ME I feel that any suggestions for sponsorship would be misleading and hard to prove/verify”. She adds “BUT if you enjoy reading my blog and want to follow it and think I should do it for a charity then feel free to put some coins into a collection box of your choice when thinking of me!”

Please add Janet’s blog address to your favourites and follow her progress, encourage her with comments to her blog, and applaud her as she steps out on another adventure in her new life.

The picture is from the official website for the South West Coastal Walk Path

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


One week today we leave New Zealand, after a very pleasant 3 months punctuated by a one-week trip to Tasmania, a catastrophic earthquake in Christchurch.

Our walking, or rather mine, was interrupted by a damaged heel, but is now back to normal. We left Alexandra 10 days ago, spent one night in Christchurch, 5 in Akaroa - where we managed several strenuous Round the Mountain walks, and we have been in Hanmer Springs for 4 days. The weather has been closed in here, so we have so far accomplished only one Waterfall Walk (800 metres altitude).

As usual, we shall leave New Zealand with the feeling that this is, as they say here, Godzone (God's own country), and we shall certainly be back next year. Christchurch is largely in ruins, but it will be fascinating to see it rebuilt. And there is so much more in the country to see and experience.

This is the place to be.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

On The Road Again ..

... in two ways.

I mentioned that severe heel pain stopped me walking. We went to the Catlins for a week, staying with Lyn, Selwyn and Otto at Cardno's accommodation, as usual. Another thing that is usual there is that we have a daily morning walk from Kaka Point to the Nugget Point lighthouse and back - about 18 kms - which sets us up for the day. This time, not a step was walked. Gay managed to get a few runs in while I slothed around the house. Nevertheless, we had a wonderful week with the Cardno's, who have become very good friends. They are going to visit us in France next year, and we are even going to Paris with them - a place we have never been. This will be only their second trip overseas.

Last Friday we came back to Alexandra. Before leaving for Kaka Point, I had ordered some heel spur support cushions from Amazon. I asked for them to be delivered to Alexandra and when we returned after 7 days, they had already been here for several days - pretty impressive, over 20,000 kms.

The cushions, from LP Support, are made of gel and the bit directly under the heel bone is a void. I put them in my shoes and started walking. Since Sunday morning I have walked 100 kms in 5 days, and the heel has been better each day. I recommend these to anybody with heel pain.

And the second point about "On the road again"? Having just (more or less) got to grips with "Always on my mind", I am about to start learning to play this other Willie Nelson favourite on the guitar.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Crazy Colonel

My foot injury is keeping me off the roads at the moment. This gives me more time to consider the odd things and strange people which seem to people much of the world.

And they don't come much stranger than Colonel Gaddafi, with his wild collection of designer frocks.

I have only ever met one Libyan. I was sitting next to him on a plane. We were speaking together of things Libyan, so I asked him what he thought of Gaddafi.

There was no hesitation. "He's a lunatic. Everybody in Libya thinks he's a lunatic".

But he has ruled Libya for over 40 years.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

New Zealand Is Srill Open For Business ...

... and so is my foot. I have made arrangements to see my podiatrist in Christchurch in a couple of weeks time. Not in the Central Business District, which is cordoned off to all visitors, on account of the continuing recovery effort and the danger of falling masonry. Over 750 buildings in the CDB will have to be demolished.

I think Nick will have to adjust my orthotics because, strangely enough, the problem which caused me to need them seems to be correcting itself. In the meantime he has given me some advice which - hooray - means that I can go for a walk tomorrow morning.

It is important to realise that, appalling though Christchurch's earthquake tragedy is, most of New Zealand is unaffected. It is still the most beautiful country on earth, with the most friendly people. Tourists should not stay away. In fact they need you more than ever. The cost of renewing Christchurch will be immense - 20 billion dollars being the starting point - and they need your money. And you need the balm for your soul which is provided by sights such as the above scene in Doubtful Sound.