03 April 2008

A Job, A Job and A Few More Jobs

Hey Folks,

Yes it’s that time again! We've made it into April and the blog is well overdue another update I suspect. What have I been up to then? Well the short answer I suppose would be working, but whilst this may indeed be an easier and more accurate summation of the last few weeks it hardly makes for an interesting read now does it. In order to completely ignore the work based shenanigans I’ve been enduring since my previous post, I've decided instead to use this entry to try and organise my exponentially expanding "to-do" list into some semblance of order.

The upside of entering the month of April is that we can now enjoy lighter evenings and (in theory) some respite from the wintry weather, the downside is that it means I now have less than two months to try and get everything sorted before I hit the trail. This might seem like a long time and in terms of hours/days I suppose it is, but throw in a full time job and a multitude of house warming parties that require my presence (why have you all chosen April as the month to move!) and it suddenly becomes no time at all. This time deficit is further compounded by the seemingly unending quantity of tasks I appear to have left to do. Every job that I complete seems to somehow spawn two further jobs and I find myself thinking that if only I could replicate this technique with £10 notes then perhaps I could pack in the job and actually have time to do some planning. Hmm, I've just noticed that I seem to be moaning a lot this evening. Apologies, I shall henceforth attempt to be relentlessly chipper, well at least for the remainder of this blog entry anyway. So without further ado, my to-do list as it stands at the mo:


Whilst less is most definitely more on a trip of this nature, my current pile of equipment is bordering on the ambitious side of minimalist. In no particular order, I still need:

- Backpack (I have one on loan from my brother but I suspect it may be a bit on the heavy side)
- Waterproof cover (for said backpack)
- Sewing kit (with so few clothes repair might be the only option)
- Compass (on order)
- Lighter/flint/matches (also on order)
- Emergency survival gear (blanket, whistle, first aid etc)
- Hydration pack (on order)
- Camping food
- Batteries
- Diary
- Youth Hostel membership (not really gear but I need it regardless to save a few pennies)
- Light weight trousers
- Waterproof trousers
- Gaiters
- Light weight shirts
- Printed shirt with 'Rambling Man' logo (has to be done for full cheesy photograph effect)
- Fleece/Jacket/Jumper
- Walking socks
- Bandanna's (got to love the pirate look)
- Gloves
- Smarter shirt (for evenings in the pub)
- Spare shoelaces
- Toiletries
- Water purifying tablets
- Sleeping bag (this is next on my list if I can find one that doesn't require a mortgage)
- Pillow
- Roll mat (on order)
- Gas for stove
- Mug for tea (most important item in the list probably)
- Midge repellent
- Sunscreen

There's probably stuff I've forgotten, but hopefully it will occur to me at some point before I reach Land's End.

- Accommodation

Thanks to the Easter break I now have my list of places to stay each night but I've yet to book any of them. To be honest, I can't really book more than 10 days in advance (and probably less than that) as until I get out on the trail it's very difficult to anticipate when I'll feel like a day off from the walking. Of course, taking a day off at some point will bugger up the schedule for any accommodation I've booked in advance so I'm a bit stuck in that regard. The problem is that some parts of my route follow the popular national trails such as the Pennine Way or Cotswold Way and the quantity of hikers on these during the summer months means that accommodation can get pretty busy. I therefore have two options as I see it, I can either a) book the place and risk losing my deposit if I get delayed on route or b) not book it and risk finding the only place within walking distance already crammed to the rafters with weary ramblers. Decisions Decisions.

- Maps/Food Parcels

As you know from the last post, my maps all sorted but given that I have 54 of them and I'm not quite insane enough to try and carry them all at once, I need to find someway of picking up fresh bundles at regular intervals across the country. The best idea that has been suggested is to work out which ones I'll need between consecutive B&B's and mail the appropriate bundle in advance to be collected as I pass through. This does of course assume the co-operation of the B&B owner and doesn't take into account the potential for packages to go astray in the post, but it’s still the best idea I've heard thus far. Whilst I'm doing this I might as well do the same with food parcels and then at least I'll know I have a stash of supplies every week or so which should take the pressure off trying to find a handy Tesco's in amongst the Pennines.

- Fundraising

I'm sure you’re aware by now that one of the goals of this little jaunt of mine besides the satisfaction of achieving it, is to raise a good chunk of money for Katharine House Hospice. My target is £1000 though at the time of writing I'm a mere 6% of the way there (come on folks break out the card and do your bit for a good cause!!) so there's still plenty of work to be done on that front. I had my first meeting with Adele over at the hospice the other evening and with her help we've come up with a few ideas for trying to exceed that £1000 target. I've now got a list of contacts for the local papers/magazines and hopefully if they're interested I might be able to spread the word and grab a few more donations from the locals. Adele has also kindly agreed (cheers Adele by the way) to get hold of a Katharine House tee shirt for me to wear on my travels. So if you see an unkempt figure go trundling by with a hospice shirt on, be sure to flag me down and add your name to the sponsors list.

- Training

This one needs no real description, I'm going to have to walk a long way this summer and hence I really need to get used to walking a long way before then. The problem is not a lack of enthusiasm (I love to walk, hence the whole 3 month walk thing) or a lack a places to do it, but simply a lack of time. I've read now on numerous blogs that the best advice is to go on a good long multiple day hike in the weeks leading up to your departure. It seems these people either have incredibly understanding employers or else they have rather more resources to fall back on than I do myself. In the weeks leading up to 'my' departure I shall be busy beavering away at the office trying to gather the money to fund this little expedition, so I think I'll have to settle for regular evening/weekend walking instead.

- Blogging

I've decided that I need to be stricter with myself in terms of the frequency of my blog posts. From now on I'm going to try and get at least one post a week and given each post essentially takes up a whole evening in itself, that might be a tall order. I'm not increasing the workload out of pure masochistic insanity but rather I think that this is probably the best way to prepare my muse for the task ahead. I also need to try out the ghost writing system I've arranged with my family to make sure everything's going to work properly and keep you all abreast of my experiences as I meander up the country (albeit a week or so behind the event). That being the case you can expect to enjoy (well you never know) even more rambling accounts over the next couple of months.

So there you have it. Not too much to do really (gulp) though I feel certain that there are still things missing from the list but I'm sure they will reveal themselves at the least convenient moment. If anyone has any suggestions then please don’t be shy about hitting that comment button and letting me know, I'd certainly appreciate the advice.

That’s all for now.

Stay tuned folks.