True to my word I planned out the menus for the week last night and a route for the seven miles this morning. Step one of the great productive weekend plan completed. So for part two of the plan, walk seven miles. The aching back thing was quite a bit better but the forecast was for rain, great, I hate wet walks, but I’d promised I’d get it done and, when I looked out the French window first thing, it looked like just drizzle. At least the trees weren’t waving around like over excited puppies tails which could only be a bonus. Oh well, wet weather gear it was then.
Before all the walking there was the little matter of the weigh in and that blasted two hundred grammes. Funny how two hundred little grammes can be the difference between failure and success. This morning though, there was a whole different two hundred grammes involved, two hundred UNDER the ten stone line. Yes, that’s right, I’m back in the nine stone something’s! I lost a whole pound this week, goodness knows how with hardly any mid week walking although I was pretty much on track with the food. I’ve kept up the clock watching, teeny snacks every two hours and drinks in between if I feel hungry thing and it seems to be doing the trick. So now, instead of being two hundred grammes off of my pre Christmas weight, I’m two hundred below ten stone! Yay for two hundred grammes! Onwards and downwards to get rid of the last seven pounds then, and it starts with a walk…
Something I discovered by accident last night when I was looking at routes on the WalkJogRun is that you can actually follow one of the routes while you walk. I’d always thought that would make things easier but I didn’t think you could do it. Doh! There I was looking through some of the seven mile routes posted by people in my area for inspiration when, instead of pressing the little arrow to look at the map, I pressed just beside it and another button came up, trying to get rid of it and get the map back it came up with a ‘start walk’ button. Why didn’t I see that before? Note to self, read the instructions on these things rather than just pressing random buttons until I get what I want.
Because of the drizzle I put my waterproof leggings on, just to be on the safe side, and my parka, which is not really waterproof but is ok in a shower, plus it’s the best thing I have. Within minutes of actually going out the door the drizzle turned into real rain, typical. If it kept that up I’d be soaked at the end of seven miles for sure. As the first part of my planned walk took me up the Big Hill (get the hills out of the way at the beginning is my motto) I thought I’d pop into Safeburys (that’s not a spelling mistake it’s what we call the Sainsbury’s home and clothes shop that was once a Safeway to distinguish it from the Sainsbury’s food shop across the other side of the precinct) to see if I could pick up a cheap plastic mac. I was in luck, they had some although not what I’d have chosen at any other time, grey with butterflies all over it (hmmm, butterflies what’s that all about?) but better than getting wet. They were huge too, even the small one fit easily over my parka and water bottle with room to spare.
So, suitably covered, I set off again into the rain. Did I ever mention how much I hate walking in the rain? The way it gets all over my glasses so I can’t see properly is a pain. The feeling of the water slowly seeping into my trainers and then my socks is just horrible, not to mention a recipe for blisters. The way it runs down my face and somehow manages to trickle down my neck despite my scarf parka and waterproof mac…well you get the picture. That was pretty much how it was all the way up to the top of Chalk Hill. At least the cars driving through the big puddles didn’t matter because of the waterproof trousers and mac.
The rain seemd to ease up a little at this point but it was still dripping off the trees as I walked under them. At least I was walking down the hill rather than up it. By the time I reached the little thatched cottage at the bottom the rain had more or less stopped. It made me wonder how a thatched roof keeps the rain out. After all, it’s just dried grass stalks right? So why doesn’t the rain just soak through? As the cottage is right on the street and the roof is only just above eye level round the porch I had a good look. It looked pretty wet to me but it is really thick so I suppose that’s how it works, the outside gets wet but it doesn’t soak through to the inside. At least I hope not or the people living there are going to have buckets all over the house at the moment.
On I went, down towards the White Swan and the river. Just before I turned off the road onto the footpath I spotted a flock of seagulls zooming back and forth overhead changing direction as one, a reminder that the river wasn’t far away. The footpath is fairly straight and I could see right away that I had a problem. Right in the middle there was a flooded area right across the path and on either side the grass was churned up into a muddy mess. There wasn’t much for it but to pick my way through the mud, trying to put my feet on the least boggy, slippery bits. With every step I took I could feel the mud squelching through my trainers, lovely!
There was no way I was going to risk the route past the little bridge today. It was almost certain to be flooded with all the rain we’ve had this week so I decided to turn off down Cutbush Lane and pick up the river path at the other end. I haven’t walked down Cutbush Lane for years, once upon a time it was a bit of a rat run for all of us who used to drink at the White Swan, at least the ones living in my village and beyond. These days you can’t drive down it, or ride a motorbike as we did back then, but you can still walk down. Thankfully, although it was wet, it wasn’t actually flooded and, because the cars can no longer drive down there due to the barriers at either end, the lack of footpaths wasn’t a problem.
Just as I passed the final barrier and came to the first houses a plane came in to land. They follow the line of the river as they come in and I was getting pretty close to it by then. The plane looked incongruous so close to the houses, it honestly seemed as if it was skimming the tops of the trees and the roofs. There was a surprising lack of noise, just enough to make me look up, there and gone again in a moment. The seagulls earlier seemed louder with their squawking. Even so there are anti airport posters in some of the house windows, I’ve even seen one on a house not far from mine. What is that all about, the planes fly high over our village, you hardly hear them. Obviously, I’m not one of the ‘close the airport’ brigade, after all I work in the travel industry (wow it feels good to be able to say that again) and I’m pretty sure the people with the banners who write regularly to the local paper all fly off on their holidays from an airport somewhere. If they were living under the flight path at Gatwick or Heathrow, with planes landing and taking off every few seconds day and night, I’d have a bit more sympathy.
When I left Cutbush Lane I almost went the wrong way, it wasn’t a getting lost kind of thing but a mindless heading towards home because that was the way I always went thing. After about three steps I realised my mistake and turned one hundred and eighty degrees towards the river. The end of Cutbush Lane is about half a mile from the river and not far into that half mile the WalkJog run buzzed to let me know I’d passed mile three. Sweetie time! This week I didn’t buy any sweets in the village as I still had wine gums left in my bum bag from the fourteen mile epic and the three mile mark was where I’d told myself I could eat some. The great thing about wine gums (although my dentist would most definitley not agree) is that each one lasts ages if you can stop yourself chewing them. Two wine gums later and I was almost there (ok, I admit it, I chewed the first one). Another plane came in to land. At one point it looked as if it was sitting on the roof of one of the houses for a second.
Down the hill a little way, across the road and there was the path to the park. The flooded path. There’s a barrier to stop people riding motorbikes onto the park and the only way I found a dry bit of ground to walk on was squeezing round the side of it. I couldn’t have done that a few years ago for sure. Even then it was a touch on the squelchy side. The trainers were looking pretty dirty by this time. This path come out about a quarter of a mile from the little bridge by the White Swan so I headed to the river path and started off towards Woodmill.
The river was high and flowing fast when I reached it. The little streams that go off to the sides were all tumbling white water and I could see the woods beyond were pretty flooded. A little way along the path a pair of swans were close beside me preening their feathers. They ignored me as I passed. Further on an elderly couple were walking a poodle in a tartan coat, the woman pulled a handful of bread from her little hessian bag and threw it to some ducks swimming close to the path. Within seconds a mass of seagulls swooped down out of nowhere and started snatching the bread, almost from the mouths of the ducks. I turned and watched them fly after the old couple, waiting for the next handful of bread. Honestly, seagulls are so greedy, wherever there’s food round here there seem to be seagulls waiting to dive on it.
As I reached the final bend in the river before the end of the park the clouds were gathering. Dark, rain filled clouds. The sun, high above them, reflected off the puddles and the river almost blinding me. I was close to the bridge by now, the swans were trotting around on the mud because someone else had just thrown some bread. Funny how they look so elegant bobbing about on the water but quite clumsy on two feet plodding through the mud.
At the bridge and the steep slope up to the road I was not much more than a mile from home although I’d not long passed the four and a half mark. The plan wasn’t to go straight home though, I still had two and a half miles to walk and I wanted to pass by the butchers on the way back too. Of course this meant hills. No matter which way you look at it there is no way of getting up to the village without a hill of some kind but, when I planned the route, I went for long and gentle rather than the Big Hill which wouldn’t have given me the mileage anyway.
Gentle is probably not the best word to describe the last part of my walk. The incline is not one you’d want to walk on the treadmill for too long but better than the calf burning Big Hill, the trouble is it goes on and on… I trudged up to the top, marvelling at how fresh and clean the gardens looked after the rain, all the colours bright and crisp. By the time I came to the top I was close to the six mile mark, just one more mile to go. Rather than turning left and trotting up to the village I turned right and walked down the avenue for a while, circling round the common onto the little road that runs behind it. This was all part of the master plan for seven unflooded miles, not quite as unflooded as expected granted but no actual wading through water which is always a bonus. I was now walking back up towards the village at last, edging ever closer to the seven miles.
I turned off the WalkJogRun as I dashed through Sainsbury’s, grabed a bottle of chocolate milk, paid and dashed across the precinct to the butchers. With a bag full of meat and some jalapeño jack cheese that looked rather exciting, I remembered to turn the WalkJogRun back on (this has not always been the case in the past much to my annoyance) and finally started for home. The plan had been to walk back down the little hill and around The Crescent but I was almost at seven miles so I decided to go off plan and walk down the Big Hill instead. Halfway down the WalkJog run buzzed to tell me I’d done it. Walk complete.
My trainers were so filthy I had to take them off and leave them on the decking, they’re bound for the washing machine later. It may only have been seven miles this week but I think I earned my chocolate milk shake. It was cold and wet, there were puddles and floods not to mention mud and there were hills. I burned almost eight hundred calories too. Commando always has a chocolate milk sports drink after his runs, in fact, when I got in he’d just finished one because he’d been for a run while I was out. They are supposed to be the perfect thing after exercise, carbs, protein, calcium, Commando swears by it and I’ve read several articles extolling its virtues. I don’t go for the fancy sports drink because it has way more calories than a bottle of Frijj but the Frijj has the same basic indgredients, plus it tastes great. They are fast becoming an after walk routine and who can argue with chocolate after all?