As I've said before, I've never done anything like this before, never mind organised anything like it, but I'm amazed at how well it's all gone. So amazed in fact, that I'm just waiting for something to go wrong but fingers crossed it won't!
As this is the final few days before we start on Saturday, I've been out and about around work with my begging bowl and I'm amazed at how generous people have been. Just about every single one of my 150+ colleagues at work have donated, friends have donated, strangers on Twitter have donated, strangers on Facebook have donated and on Thursday I'm off to visit the pub my Dad frequented to see if I can get people to donate the price of a pint in his memory. So far, I've raised about £1400 towards the £2000 target and I know the other walkers have raised a lot too so we should smash the target but the more we get, the more we can help the charities and the young people that rely on their services.
The press have been really enthusiastic and taken the walk on and I now have newspapers in a lot of the towns we're visiting. Some haven't replied to me email so if you're reading this and you work for one of those papers, call me or email me!!
I now have a team of 3 other people coming with me which is great news for my boredom threshold! There's Carol, a teacher from Newark, Andrew, a recent graduate from Spalding and Gus Cannon who is preparing to walk around the world! Gus has taught me a hell of a lot for which I will be eternally grateful and I owe everyone involved a hell of a lot with all the support and encouragement they've given me. They're a great bunch and I'm really looking forward to spending the week with them.
IT'S NOT TOO LATE TO GET INVOLVED!
If you'd like to join us but don't fancy doing the whole 180 miles (I understand not everyone is an idiot like me!), you're more than welcome to join us for an hour, a morning, a day or even longer if you wish. Simply send me an email through the contact link at the top of the page and I'll email you all the details you need. Even if you don't raise any money for us, a fresh face will cheer us all up, especially after a week of blisters! My mobile number will also be published on the route page so feel free to call/text me if you want to get involved.
As I've got so much to do between now and Saturday, this will probably be the final blog entry before we head off so I'd like to take this opportunity to everyone that's helped me get this off the gound and make it happen, everyone who has donated money and to my fellow walkers who have, probably foolishly, signed up to head off with me on this adventure.
Unless I can find a field with a computer in it, I'll not be able to post updates on here until we get back, but updates and pictures will be posted on Facebook and Twitter regularly (see the links page above) so please follow me and join the Facebook group to see how we're getting on.
So, until then, it's goodbye and I'll see you all when we get back.
I've taken part in many charity events in the past, but I've never organised anything before so this walk has been a VERY steep learning curve.
The main idea behind the walk is to raise awareness of the tens of thousands of young people dealing with the addiction of someone close to them and money to support the charities who do such a great job supporting them so I've been doing media interviews to raise awareness and pestering people I know for money (If you know me and you've not been pestered yet then don't worry, you're still on my hit list!). A lot of friends and work colleagues have donated, the local press have been supportive and given me quite a few column inches and I'm extremely grateful to everyone for their help and support, but...
I've also tried my best to get support from large corporations (Tesco, Asda, The North Face, Blacks, Milletts et al) for donations of money and equipment and I've been met with a wall of ignorance and silence. I've sent hundreds of emails and I can count the responses I've received on the fingers of one hand. From now on, I'll not be spending any of my money with these faceless corporations, instead all my money will go to small traders where the profits go to support a family rather than line a millionaire's pocket. Here's why...
Throughout the planning of this walk I've had an incredible response from individuals and small companies all over the country, who just like me want to do what they can and make a small difference. There's The Waggon and Horses in Royston who have offered me half price camping for the night, There's Meteodale Technologies who kindly let me have all the Ordnance Survey maps I need at cost price, there's Steve from Beyond First Aid who sent me a brilliant first aid kit in the post, there's Rachael who got in touch today to offer her garden to 4 strangers for free, there's Jo in Peterborough who has offered her house for us to stay in for a night, there's a farmer friend of a friend who has offered his field for the night, there are all the strangers who have kindly donated through Just Giving and so the list goes on. I don't know most of these people, but they're helping me to help these young people and for that I am eternally grateful.
These are the people in this world that make a difference. Not the politicians or the monarchy or anyone else in power, not the multinational companies that offer you £2.50 off a tank of fuel if you buy half a million toilet rolls and four tins of tuna, it's the people on the ground. We're bottom of the food chain but there are some fantastic people out there and there is hope for the human race yet. If everyone was a lot more like these guys and less selfish and ignorant then the world would be a much better place.
Think about that next time someone asks you for a hand...
Now, I'm quite familiar with reading OS maps. I know what all the symbols mean, the different types of roads and footpaths, even the contour lines, so when the police lady told me of something happening in the town I was planning to walk through that would involve a rather large police presence, I grabbed my maps and planned a route in the opposite direction. I was going where no man had gone before. Well, when I say 'no man', what I actually mean is 'me'.
I spent the afternoon filling my backpack with all sorts to simulate the weight of carrying my tent etc (I've not bought it yet and I know it's daft that I've only started carrying weight only 4 weeks before the trip - lesson learned!), I even took the Argos book with me knowing that if it all got too much, it could be jettisoned into the nearest bin. A small pile of clothes, some food, a lot of water and some camping cooking utensils later, I was all set for the off.
My alarm went off at 4.30am. I turned it off. I got up at 6am and left the house half an hour later. I was on my merry way. I don't know what the weather has been like where you are, but we've had glorious, unbroken sunshine all day with barely a cloud in sight. Perfect weather for being out and about unless you're bald and have no hat or sun lotion. I had to manipulate a spare t shirt over my head (think 'nun') to protect and all was well.
The route I'd planned took me through about 10 local villages and after about 15 miles, I took a wrong turning. That's what happens when you don't erase mistakes when marking your map. I checked the map, saw a bridge over the river about 8 miles away, worked out exactly where I was and planned a slightly different route through what can only be described as the middle of nowhere. That's where the trouble started.
It turns out I should have looked at the map a little closer and for a little longer. After another 8 miles, my legs starting to ache and my feet starting to blister, I reached my final turning before the river, signposted 'NO THROUGH ROAD'. Ha, I was on foot and there was a bridge at the end of the road that would put me on the home straight. I struggled on through the pain, catching shade in the trees along the verge every 15 minutes or so until I turned the corner, saw the end of the road and the bridge over the river. Or so I though.
I was right, there was a bridge at the end of the road. It went over a dyke. What it didn't go over was the 40ft wide river running parallel to it. I'd had enough. A quick phone call later, and then another five giving directions and I was on my way home.
Next time I plan a route I've not done before, it'll be planned a lot more meticulously. It took me a week to plan each day of the full Lincoln to London route, checking footpaths etc on Google and looking for the signposts, I only wish I'd done the same with this walk.
I did get some rather nice pictures though...
Work, work, work, work, work, rain, rain is a typical week for me and also for the rest of working Britons. I spend 8 hours a day sat behind a desk staring at a computer screen, occasionally stealing a quick glance through the window at the sunshine in a cloudless sky. Couple my 8 hour working day with a 90 minute commute every morning and the same again in the afternoon and I don't get a great deal of time to train for this walk.
Today is Saturday, and after glorious sunshine all week I was looking forward to more of the same over the weekend so I could get some miles in. In reality, I knew the weather was busy conspiring against me and it's raining more than I've seen in a long time. What I need is a treadmill, and that's where my problems start...
In the past year, I've owned two treadmills, both bought second hand on eBay. One was a manual treadmill that I bought for £5, and one was an all singing, all dancing motorised one that I paid about £50 for and managed to get home in the back of a 3 door Corsa! When I got them in the garage, I looked at them, realised what I bargain I'd got and sold both of them for a rather large profit, so now I'm stuck with a decision; sit at home with a coffee, or go outside in the rain for about 6 hours. In theory I know what I should do, but in practice it's not that easy, especially when I can find some paperwork to do instead of walking.
In light of all the above, I think my best option is to pretend I'm a cat, stand in the centre of the room and follow my tail all day
Twitter is something I've never really understood the fascination with along with Facebook, Myspace and all other sites of the same ilk. I think of them like soaps on TV and to me, soaps are watched by people whose lives are so boring that they have to watch the make believe lives of other people to make their lives complete. Thanks, but no thanks.
I've got a Facebook account and it's mainly used for posting jokes and making people laugh. It just helps me pass the time when I'm bored which isn't very often at the minute. I also have a Twitter account that I never used until a few months ago when I started planning this walk. I decided that I would try to put it to use and see how it could help me with the promotional side of things. Until today it's been rather neglected because I've been incredibly busy, but today I've 'tweeted' some celebrities and to my surprise, some have actually helped me by 'retweeting' a link to the website and in just one morning, my message had the potential to reach up to 250,000 people!
I've been shocked by the sheer power of it and it's put me in touch with some fascinating characters, one of which is planning to be the fastest man on foot around the world (and I thought 180 miles was crazy!). People I've never met or spoken to have offered me support and advice and one kind gent (see the thank you page) has even sent me a complete personal first aid kit as his way of supporting me. The person walking around the world has even offered to come along with me for a few days. Where else could you meet these people? Not in Sainsburys or the local pub, that's for sure!
Until recently, I'd dismissed social networking sites as an egotistical waste of time, but I've been proved wrong and realised that when used correctly, they're powerful tools that can make things happen.
Today has been one of those days where everything seemed to go right and fall into place nicely. The Lincolnshire Echo have kindly printed the interview they did with me a couple of days ago, donations are coming in nicely and I've even had an email from someone else wanting to do the walk.
If you'd like to join in or be involved in any way then there's still plenty of time. Check out the home page where you'll discover all the different ways you can help.
I've now got to spend the weekend fixing my car before taking it to the garage because I've broken more than I've fixed!
After sending emails to every local new outlet I could think of, I got a phone call at work from the Lincolnshire Echo and they want to run a story on the walk! The interview is done and dusted and they're coming to my work in the morning to take a photo.
If you're from the Lincoln area then keep an eye open for my ugly mug in the paper, and for those fortunate enough not to have to look at me over your breakfast, I'll post a link on here.
By the way, there's still time to join me, just email me through the contact page.
Maybe nobody is reading the blog or visiting the website, I don't know and I'm not 'techy' enough to find out, but if anyone is reading it then I apologise for the lack of updates recently.
Unfortunately, I've had very little time for training over the past few weeks, and when someone said to me, 'Isn't it your walk next month?', it finally hit home just how close it is and how quickly time is passing me by. I'll now be out training EVERY weekend come rain or shine until a week before the walk when I'll rest for seven days ready to hit the road. The plan is to be walking at least 100 miles a week, every week for the next 5-6 weeks so with a bit of luck, I'll lose a little weight and be fit as a fiddle ready for the end of August.
A Big Thank You!
I've recently been conversing with a very kind and experienced first aider by the name of Steve, who runs a company called Eventmed UK Ltd. Steve is also an extremely keen walker and understands better than most the challenge that I'm facing, so as his way of sponsoring me, he very generously sent me a large personal first aid kit in the post. Steve, I thank you and I've added a link to your website from my thank you page.
From now on, just in case anyone is reading this page, I'll try to update it more regularly along with some new pictures from training, and in the mean time, if you think walking is easy then go out and do 20 miles then see if you feel the same way!
The past few months have been extremely for me, hence the lack of blog updates for which I apologise if you're trying to keep up with what I'm doing. Most of the jobs I've had are finished and so I started training yesterday with a 15 mile stroll around the local villages. Nothing too taxing, just breaking myself in slowly. Quite different to what I got up to two days ago on a sunny Saturday morning in North Lincolnshire...
One of the things I've always wanted to do in life is a parachute jump and on Saturday 21 May 2011, that's exactly what I did at Hibaldstow Skydive Centre along with a whole bunch of people I work with. A truly amazing experience and to anyone thinking about doing one, stop thinking and just do it! 15,000ft (3 miles) up, hurtling through the air at 125mph, you'll never feel more alive. It was so good, I'm going again, and again, and again!
Anyway, I digress. Training for the walk is going to be hard work. I'm a smoker and 2 stone overweight so all in all, I'm not your typical 'hyper-walker'. In order to make sure I finish, I need to make some huge changes to my lifestyle by eating healthier, exercising more and hopefully cutting out the cigarettes altogether although don't hold me on that last point.
My plan is to do 3-5 miles every night after work Mon-Fri and then 15-25 on a Saturday and Sunday. That's a minimum of 45 miles and a maximum of 85 miles every week which should hold me in good stead to build me up and get in shape.
From now on, this blog will be updated 2-3 times a week with so anyone that wants to, can keep up to date with how things are going. Don't forget, you can also follow me on twitter, befriend me on Facebook or email me using the form at the bottom of the home page.
Adios for now
Well, here we are on a gorgeous spring afternoon and after counteless changes and setbacks with the walk, we're back on track and ready to hit the ground running.
Please check back here regularly for updates on training, sponsorship and everything else to do with the build up to the walk. Don't forget, if you'd like to get involved in any way, please contact me using the form at the bottom of the home page.
All the best