Monday, October 31, 2011


Hallowe'en is gaining ground here in France, just as it is in the UK, although we are somewhat behind, and of course we are all well behind the USA.

When we were in Indiana 3 years ago, at the time of the presidential election, it was amazing to see the profusion of stuff in gardens as we went out for our morning walk.

There were election posters, Hallowe'en things, Thanksgiving things, and even one or two early Christmas symbols. There were full sized graves, bones and skeletons, ghoulies and ghosties, inflatable turkeys bigger than ostriches, enormous plastic pumpkins, Vote-this-that-and-the-other exhortations, and a few tasteful Santas and wreaths.

It will all be here soon. I blame the television.

Yes, of course we have the bags of chocolates ready!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Steve Jobs And Pancreatic Cancer

I really expected that the sad death of Steve Jobs would have raised the profile of pancreatic cancer and publicised the need for more money for more research in order to get some progress with this disease. There is a desperate need for a cure and for earlier diagnosis.

But in the acres of newsprint and the terabytes of cyberspace devoted to him, I have seen little mention of the illness. And I have seen no mention of any of what must be his vast fortune being diverted to help conquer the serial killer that ended his life too soon - maybe that is in the pipeline.

Of course all other cancers need attention - and I speak as someone who has recently lost a younger brother to brain tumour and who has seen a daughter, in this same year, have to fight cancer of the thyroid. But with most cancers, including those two, there has been immense progress over the years. With pancreatic cancer there has been no improvement in survival rates during the past 40 years.

What can we do? We can continue to help raise funds and awareness. Once again I will be sending no Christmas cards this year but will be placing the equivalent money into my JustGiving account which feeds directly to pancreatic cancer research. I will continue to publicise my book, all proceeds of which go direct to pancreatic cancer research. And I will continue to ask readers of this blog to do the same - you can make a donation via the blue JustGiving button on this page or you can buy the book via the "How to find ..." button on this page. I would also ask you to email, Facebook, Tweet, and use other social media to invite your friends to do any or all of the above.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Anybody Seen Will Fricker?

Vic's Big Walk was conceived in 2008. My preparations and training started then. So did this blog. In November of that year I posted here about John Hillaby, a famous walker from days of yore.

In July 2010 I completed my walk. In October 2011 - in fact yesterday - a gentleman - a mere stripling of 59 called William Fricker put a comment on my blog, attached to the 2008 John Hillaby item, giving me the advice which is below in italics.

If anybody sees William Fricker, can you please tell him that my walk is over and done. I finished on my 70th birthday, last year. It is I, with the experience of walking 17.5 million steps during the whole project, who am now ready and willing to advise him about his projected walk. I would start by agreeing with him about not wearing boots but something sturdy but lighter. I would go on to point out that if he walks from Land's end to John o' Groats he will find himself tripping over many other people doing so, which may dent his sense of achievement. Much better to set himself a unique, personal target and to plough his own furrow. But to follow in other people's footsteps is of course better than to do nothing at all.

He could learn much by reading my book about Vic's Big Walk. If, reading this paragraph, he swivels his eyes to the right, he will see where he can find the book. All will be sweetly, he will learn from my mistakes; have, I am told, a good read; and he will be content in the knowledge that he will be doing good as he reads because all proceeds go direct to pancreatic cancer research.

This is what Will had to say:

I wish you good luck and strong feet. I am 59 and plan to walk next year from Land's End to the tip of Scotland, too, and to prove that life can be fun at 60! I managed a 3,500 trek 30 years ago to Greece, returning on two wheels via North Africa. I can tell you walking is much easier than cycling (with luggage). I suggest plenty of liquid, a plentiful supply of chocolate (it boosts your energy levels at low periods), a comfortable rucksack and knowledge on how to pack it, a walking stick and a dog (two necessary companions). I agree with Hillaby that a light tent is essential for it provides independence, and you can crawl into it when the weather is forbidding. As to footwear, I phoned Hillaby before I set out on my trek and woke him from his siesta (Grumpy)....I started it out with light boots but chucked them after a week (10 blisters per foot) and resorted to adidas leather trainers (3 pairs). You can skip and trot with light footwear. The secret is to be as light as possible and to remember that you will, at times, go mad, and that you will also meet a lot of bores, too. Bon viveur!

Will Fricker

The picture shows John Hillaby's famous book "Walking Through Britain

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Stress Testing

I went for a walk yesterday. So what, you say, are you not the Big Walker, of VBW? Do you not gallop 30 kms before breakfast? Or rather, say the closer followers, 30 kms including ideally two stops for coffee?

Well, yes, I am or was that man. But since early this year I have been plagued by plantar fasciitis - the dread of any runner or walker. In July and August I flew to England 4 times for other reasons, but while there had my pf zapped 4 times by Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy, in the hope of ridding myself of this affliction.

The last treatment was in August. I was advised that it would be 4 to 6 weeks before the benefit fully arrived at the end-of-my-leg thing. But I could cautiously try a bit of walking. I tried a couple of times and detected no improvement. I waited until the six weeks were up. At the time I was doing some incidental walking at altitude - 2 or 3 miles up in the sky in Peru. It was impossible, because of the thin air and the lack of time, to essay an actual hike. Nevertheless I had, especially first thing in the morning, because that is when fp manifests itself, pain in the afflicted part. I contacted the physio who applied the ESWT. He advised that maybe another 4 to 6 weeks should do the trick. I was a little cynical about this response.

So you can imagine my pleasure when I accomplished 6 kms yesterday, with a bit of climbing up to our local chateau, and arrived home with only a slight twinge in the heel. More stress testing will ensue. Watch this space, but please cross your fingers.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Force Is Not With Us

A huge relief this week. At last we have sold V-Force One, the campervan we bought solely for the purpose of being our base during VBW. The walk finished in July last year, but it has taken until now to sell the vehicle. We have made a huge loss, but at least we no longer have the anxiety of wondering if it would ever be sold.

It has become obvious to us, through various comments made, that there has been a widespread impression that the vehicle was donated to us by our sponsors Columbia. No. Columbia very kindly designed, manufactured and fitted the "adhesiveage", incorporating the "Vic's Big Walk" logo and websites, the Satmap logo, and, rather mdestly, I thought, their own logo. But the vehicle was purchased and owned by Yours Truly and of course Mrs Truly. It was a lovely vehicle but we had no further use for it and have been embarrassed by our continuing ownership of it. We are happy to say goodbye. And so is our bank manager.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Is It Worth It?

This is me from now on.
As I was lying on my couch pondering the problems of the WORLD,
I rapidly realized that I don't really give a HOOT.
It's the tortoise life for me! (Read on...)


1. If walking/cycling is good for your health,the
Postman would be immortal.
2. A whale swims all day, only eats fish, drinks
Water and is fat.
3. A rabbit runs and hops and only lives 15 years.
4. A tortoise doesn't run, does nothing ...yet lives
For 450 years.


I'm retired, go around me!

I am indebted to kind friend Bob, who sent this to me. It seemed so opposite to my life that I just had to appropriate it for my blog.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Fitness For Cancer Patients

This blog is principally about me walking (and writing) to help sufferers from a particular type of cancer. But exercise can help cancer sufferers themselves.

David Haas is an advocate for cancer patients and wants to make a difference in their lives because cancer has devastated so many people in this world. The following is a guest post from him because recently he has been researching and writing about how beneficial cancer support networks and also staying physically fit is to people going through treatments, in remission, and even family members of cancer patients.

I have also added a link to David's Blog "Haas Blaag". This can be found on the left side of this page.


The Best Exercises For Cancer Patients

What is the best exercise for someone with cancer? Generally speaking, most people can engage in any physical activity they like, within limits. While surgery may limit a breast cancer patient from certain types of exercises, and conversely, breathing difficulties may affect those in mesothelioma treatment; most cancer patients can benefit from gentle or moderate exercise.

There is not one best exercise for every cancer patient. The right exercise for any patient depends on a number of factors, including personal fitness level, cancer treatment type, and general health. The important thing is to choose an enjoyable activity and stick with it.

Determining The Best Exercise

The American Cancer Society (ACS) suggests several ways to choose an appropriate physical activity. For example, cancer patients should ask themselves if they enjoy socializing with others or prefer time alone. Do they need an energy boost, or a way to reduce stress? Do they require structure in their exercise programs, or do they thrive best with a flexible routine?

These questions can help patients determine the best exercise for them. Once they have chosen their game, it is important to engage in the activity on a regular basis. The ACS suggests 30 minutes of activity, five or more days a week. Patients should start with gentle or moderate activities. In time, they can slowly increase the exercise intensity, frequency, and duration according to their fitness level.

Fitness Programs Versus Daily Activities

People who want to follow an exercise program should include aerobic activities as well as flexibility exercises and resistance training. Walking, running, bicycling, and swimming are examples of aerobic exercises that work the heart, lungs, and large muscle groups. Stretching, yoga, and Pilates are common flexibility activities for cancer patients. Weight training and isometric exercises are good resistance activities.

For cancer patients who are not enamored with fitness programs and gyms, there are other ways to stay active in daily life. Gardening, dancing, bike riding, stair climbing, walking in the garden or down the street -- even vigorous housework -- can provide adequate exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle.

Fitness Benefits For Cancer Patients

Research shows that physical activity reduces the risk of developing some types of cancer, and it may also reduce the risk of recurrence. Certainly, it helps cancer patients cope with the symptoms of their disease, as well as the side effects of cancer treatment.

Whether someone is facing prostate cancer, skin tumors, rare mesothelioma, or another illness, they can benefit from staying active through exercise. However, some activities are not recommended for people with certain types of cancer. So it is important for cancer patients to talk to a doctor or therapist before starting a fitness program or engaging in a physical activity.

By: David Haas


My book "Vic's Big Walk" can be found on (Kindle) or (Kindle), Barnes&Noble Nook or Apple iBookstore (also soon from Sony Reader) for less than the price of a couple of coffees. All proceeds go direct to pancreatic cancer research.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Visit Machu Picchu With Us

Today we leave Peru after a most memorable and enjoyable holiday.

If you would like to share our experience of visiting Machu Picchu, double-click here for an amazing 360 degrees panorama. You will think you were there.

For details of where to find my book "Vic's Big Walk from SW France to NW England" double click on this.