Tuesday, 30 June 2009

At the Gym

It’s a struggle going to the gym.

I didn’t attend at all last week. Various appointments, work and otherwise, conspired to keep me away [Prodnose: “Yeah, yeah. Excuses, excuses.”] but I’m determined to put in as many appearances as possible during the coming month [Prodnose: “Manana methinks …” Me: “HUSH!”]. Getting fit enough to walk the walk was one of the aims listed in my first post on this blog. It’s the vital preparation. There was a time when I could get fit and improve stamina on the go. Not now though. I remind myself I’ll not make it let alone enjoy the trek if unfit, so I need to get on with it. [“Prodnose: I’ll believe that when I s……” Me: “Enough!”]

Why is it a struggle? Well, my more affordable Off-Peak membership limits attendance times and to weekdays. I have to fit the sessions into my working day between noon and 2 o’clock, and around the other things that have to be done during that period. And, the fact is, I don’t really enjoy working out.

A session is about 40 minutes in the gym and 15 minutes in the pool. The swim is more a wallow to cool me down but there is movement. It’s a struggle all the same.

Prodnose: A Beachcomber character; favourite reading for me as a schoolboy.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Knee pain

I’m troubled by knee pain as reported here and elsewhere in this blog so a visit to an osteopath seemed in order. The osteopath informed me that one of my legs is longer than the other by one centimetre. Hard to believe but there it is. I couldn’t help thinking “Thank God for metric! If talking imperial the difference might have been greater: half an inch.”

I lie on my side as instructed, (not quite wild-eyed, looking for, yet not wanting to see, the surgical saw) wondering what comes next. Fingers (his) was the answer - prodding and pushing, with great force, the stuff (tissue? ligaments?) in my thigh. This is because I have, as he put it, “Right sacroiliac dysfunction.” Which means, as I understand it, that the right side of my pelvis is rotated to compensate for the fact that a joint isn’t working. This appears to make the leg on that side longer and, misaligned, puts pressure on the knee, (which has also suffered wear and tear) causing, he believes, the pain. By the end of the session, magically, cleverly, my legs are now the same length; metrically and imperially. I have special exercises to carry out in order to strengthen the muscles in that area and I’m boosted by the thought that the pain may disappear in the weeks to come.

He didn’t like the look of my feet though (I’m not too pleased with them either) so he referred me to a podiatrist. I’ve seen him. He’s seen my feet. Done scrapy things to them with a scalpel - ever so gently, such that I hardly felt a thing (and he assured me that was down to his skill rather than me being ankle dead). He cut my toe nails and instructed me how to look after them properly too; essentially, don’t cut them again. Just file them once a week.

A note to myself: (“Pay attention in the rear rank - this is important!”) If I’ve got a problem then don’t delay. Sort it.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Karaoke & Keswick

It was 50 years since I had last visited Keswick. I was a Boy Scout then. Wandering around the town again on Sunday I remembered nothing of the place or the experience save for a couple of presents I had bought as a boy. A brooch for my mother; an actual bird's foot with embedded gemstone. And a record, on a postcard, for my brother; Hoots Mon, There’s a Moose Loose aboot this Hoose - Lord Rockingham’s XI. Such taste. Lasting memories of Sunday will include Keswick as a shopping Mecca for walkers and that the Steak & Gravy Pasty followed by a Cornish Pasty, from The Cornish Pasty shop on Lake Street, were delicious.

There were unforgettable events the day before when I’d been visiting family in South Cumbria. A pub Karaoke night with sister, brother-in-law and nephew till the early hours of Sunday wasn’t something I had thought could be so enjoyable.

I’ll be passing through Keswick again in July when I walk The Cumbria Way. I might have to settle for something tasty from the excellent Booths supermarket if I make the early start I’d prefer on that day.

After a good look around the area - driving as far north as Caldbeck, which will be another stop-over on The Cumbria Way, and a pint of Jennings Bitter in the Oddfellows Arms, we (me and Holly, my dog) were back home before mid-night.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

The Happy Wanderer

Sure signs that a long distance walk is in the offing: an occasionally cracked face as a smile appears uncontrollably and without apparent reason (“Ooo, ‘ee looks really ‘appy!”), a spring in my step, a sprong in my heart - "Val-deri, Val-dera, Val-deri, Val-dera-ha-ha….", and maps spread out on my table.

All are evident. Evidence, if needed, that I will be happily wandering soon. Next month actually when I plan to walk The Cumbria Way trail. OK - so it’s not a Polar crossing but it’s my version of a demanding trek with a knapsack on my back as final preparation for The Cleveland Way.

Knees and feet “Live long and prosper” (“Dif-tor heh smusma” in Vulcan). Gallons of Lake District rain & pints of bitter. I can’t wait.

The maps are out

Friday, 5 June 2009

Kit - Part 4, Rucksack Weight

Limiting my fully packed rucksack’s weight to 20lbs (9.07kg) is challenging me. I will have to revise my Kit List down further to stay within that limit or increase the weight allowance. Revise the list down I think.

I’ve replaced most of my equipment with the lightest alternative, yet the weight, as I write, is 18.7lbs (8.5kg). That is before stowing the final few items including food though. There is still scope to save a few ounces here and there - with the relevant software I could print out some map sheets rather than carry the OS Explorer Maps for instance. I'm considering MSR’s PocketRocket Stove (or a Primus), Titan Kettle and Cup. I haven’t bought them yet so the weights shown on my spreadsheet are unverified. I may do without the cup. There were one or two lighter options for some of my new things but the cost was prohibitive for me. No, I will have to take less.

I could do some creative accounting. For example, moving walking poles (see my spreadsheet) from the “rucksack” to the “worn” category would save me 1lb 4oz (575g). My own version of “quantitive easing”. I think not.

It seems to me that the problem stemmed from a wish to take more spare clothes. Touristly - I arrive at a night stop, shower, change into some glad rags and go down the pub. It’s feasible; The Cleveland Way is not a wilderness walk. Bryn and I will use bed and breakfasts as well as tents. So cut the pub or don't dress for the ball. Methinks - a wash, the pub? Yes, definitely, but less sartorial.

Spare footwear is included in my kit list but the weight is not accounted for yet. I would like to take them but my North Face Hedgehogs, UK size 10, weigh in at 2lbs 1oz (940 grams). On-line searches reveal lighter makes, however, the choice is bewildering.

I’ve decided. It’s a compromise (not a cop-out). The 20lb limit applies to everything including food and water but I can exceed that weight to accommodate spare footwear. Hedgehogs, for the time being at least, you’re coming with me.

Hedgehogs - A temporary reprieve?

PS. Tuesday 9th June.

Purchased a Primus Micron Stove, MSR Titan Kettle & Cup - total weight (including gas canister) 440g (15.25 oz)