Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Progress - and it shows

When I declared in the first post of this blog that Bryn and I were going to walk part of the The Cleveland Way, I also declared that fitness was an issue. Furthermore, that I aimed to reduce my weight and improve my fitness and stamina. I feel that I have made significant progress with part of that aim; I have reduced my weight by a stone. That's 14lbs off the targetted 20lbs reduction before we set off on our walk in August.

I have shed the 14lbs over 7 weeks by eating less and exercising more. Exercise so far has consisted of walking rather than driving to work most days (it's almost a 5 mile return trip), occasional slightly longer walks with my dog and some bicycle rides of 5-10 miles. Exercise gets bumped up this week though as I move into Phase 2!

My gym membership has been reactivated and I have been swimming. I'm not a strong/fast swimmer - it's more a case of moving whilst floating, and that movement doesn't come easily. It's takes maximum effort. It doesn't look pretty but those in the pool at the same time should take comfort from the fact that I do not displace as much water as I used to though. I start the gym workouts followed by swims this Wednesday and Friday and thereafter twice a week. I plan to ride my bicycle further and more often too.

There has been progess this week on another front as well. I reached the ripe old age of 63.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Kit - Part 3, Shangri-La 1

Cantonese is a sing-song language. Unaccountably, I love the sound of it. Not that I would have the faintest idea about what was being said. It's just so appealing. In the jumble of sounds there's a flat "a" - similar to the sound you would make as the sides of your mouth rise into a smile to say Cumbrian "path" rather than The Thames "Parth". "La la laahh" - the last word stretched out and at a lower frequency. La la laahh. It's what I am reminded of when I say Shangri-La; "Shan gri laaahh ..". Ahh so - perhaps now you know what I'm on about. Yes - my shelter has arrived. My very own GoLite Shangri-La 1 [*Initial comments below]. She's the 2009 version in evergreen rather than the Chinesey bamboo (yellow). She looks like a Helen to me.

Here she is; Helen (pronounced Herren) Shangri Rahhhh ....

GoLite Shangri-La 1

Agnes is here too. Big Agnes Clearview Air Pad, who weighs in at 460g (plus a net bag at 15g). It should have been the lighter Mummy version (a minimised, Egyptian Mummy shape) but the on-line supplier sent the wrong one - a Rectangle; that's not an insulting description of the supplier, it's the shape of the pad. I had the option of returning it but my impatience won the day when I just had to try it out on my living room floor. I can live (for the time being) with the extra couple of ounces.

It takes a little more that a dozen big puffs (no sniggers at the back please) to get the pad into shape. Worryingly, then amusingly, it hisses slightly (like Gollum in the book) as your body changes positon on its surface. What a treat though - to move on to my side and not feel my hip touch the floor. Excellent. Impressive for the brief spell on the hard level floor of my living room. I'm hopeful it performs as well overnight on a less even pitch.

* Shangri-La 1. The shelter is supplied without guys but I prefer to use some front and rear so I have borrowed two from elsewhere. It came with six pegs but I have supplemented them with another three; two for my guy lines and one for the open door flap. The tops of the issued pegs are quite sharp, so they dig into the hand as they are pushed into the ground. I will be swopping them for another type of peg.

The poles inside the tent are 7' (feet) apart. The high point, inside at the front pole is 3' and at the rear pole 2', although the height can be adjusted somewhat by raising or lowering the poles - walking poles in my case. There is a 7' spread between the two front pegs and a 4' spread at rear. The tent's front flap, shown open in the photograph, can be sealed closed with what seems like a strong zip.

It's easy to fold the shelter and slide it into its small sack.

My Weight: 14-20 April -2lbs. Since 9 Mar (6 wks) -12lbs.

In case you noticed/wondered - that's a blackbird near the tent. It's pulling out a worm to take back to it's young, in their nest nearby.

Monday, 13 April 2009

These boots are made for walkin'

These boots are made for walkin'
and that's just what they're for.
One of these days these boots are
goin'tut walk a Yorkshire moor.
(With apologies to Lee Hazlewood & Nancy Sinatra)

My new boots are such beautiful looking objects, they wouldn't seem out of place, to my eye, on a mantelpiece. It would be tempting to keep them, unused and in pristine condition for that purpose. However, they were made for walking and that's what they have been doing. Not far though. On Saturday we wandered through Putnoe Wood and then on into North Bedfordshire.

Putnoe Wood, Bedford

Then on Sunday, we followed the bank of the River Great Ouse, upstream through Bedford.

River Great Ouse, Bedford

Properly christened, my boots rest now in the dark of my understairs cupboard with their tongues hanging out. Muddied, no mantelpiece for them now.

Weight Watch: 7-13 April -2lbs. Since 9 Mar (5 wks) -10lbs.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Kit - Part 2

All of a sudden, shoe sizes are a complicated mystery. An internet search for shoe size comparisons produces fine looking tables but each shows different results. UK shoe size 9.5 is European size 44 on one table and 43.5 on another. UK 10 is 44 or 44.5 and so on. However, none of that really matters because boots have to be tried on in a shop and that is what I did. I now own a pair of Scarpa ZG65 XCRs (labelled as: UK 10.5, EU 45 and USm 11.5 - what ever that is). And they are within sight as I write. They encase my feet. Earlier, on their first outing, fellow dog walkers spied them almost before they caught sight of the rest of me and "ooohs" & "ahhs" followed. More about boots in due course - after they, hopefully, have moulded to the shape of my feet.

A feature of new boots, like many other things new, is that they tend to stand out, showing up the things around them as shabby. In this case my trousers. New trousers will have to wait though as I should like to try those on before buying them when I am a size smaller. I'll need a pair that don't clash with my new, flashy walking poles - Black Diamond Contour Elliptic Compact.

I have not used walking poles before but having read good things about them felt that I should like to give them a go. Having deliberated for ages about this model or that, I thought it was time to just go for it and the knowledgeable chap in the Outdoor Shop at Stony Stratford made the decision easier for me. With luck these will be just fine. A lighter, tougher model might follow, although I suspect I'll grow fond of the ones I now have and they'll become trusted friends. Alan Sloman (see link in right hand column) has his Wanda tent. If they graduate then I may have Piotr and Petra poles.

What else is new? Well my sleeping mat is. It's just that it hasn't arrived yet. I ordered and paid for a Big Agnes Clearview Pad but a UK dealer dashed my immediate hopes by refunding my money and saying sorry but they were out of stock - despite what it showed, and still shows, on their online store. Another one is on order elsewhere and I expect to receive it later this week. As I mentioned in a previous post, I have only slept on a foam mat before and I'm impatient to try out one of the lightweight inflatable mats. The Big Agnes Mummy seems to fit the bill for a Summer trek. Its 20" x 72" should accomodate me and its 2.5" depth should soak up some, hopefully all, of my hip pressure (I wish I could sleep on my back). The price of thirty something and a weight of 396g (14oz) sounds excellent too. A NeoAir has been suggested but that is not available yet and, perversely perhaps, I'd like to progress to that after experiencing a next-step-up in the evolutionary chain from my wide, fairly lightweight, thorn ripped, hard foam mat. The unnamed foam mat was never my friend but it was a quantum leap from a ground sheet.

Finally, for this post, I've been looking at images of Montane jackets and trousers. I have a Berghaus goretex jacket which I consider uneccessarily heavy for The Cleveland Way in the Summer. The Montane Litespeed Jacket and the Featherlite Waterproof Trousers, in the region of 170g each, look better than good. They may feature in a future Kit - Part 3.

Weight Watch: 31 Mar - 6 April -3lbs. Since 9 March (4 wks) -8 lbs.