Our first full day walking as a three turned out the be very interesting. The boys really enjoyed it because for the first time the entire day was spent walking across fields and not on the roads. I was feeling OK, though after the day before, a little apprehensive. Onwards and upwards, the walk started by climbing and carried on that way. This path would take in 3 trig points which should give you an indication as to how high we were going.
There was rain in the warm air and a very slight breeze. Something about the open hills, the relentless upness of it, and my own personal feelings of not being as capable of this challenge as my non-Samoan friends. My non-attorneys were a few steps ahead of me as the enormity of the outside world feel on my thoughts. A darkness loomed and as the clouds grew blacker, so did my spirit. As we reached the first trig point I was holding myself together. That’s when the rain started.
At first, it was just heavy warm water falling from the clouds close enough to touch. Then came the wind. A howling monster whipping raindrops as big as your fist thundered against us causing me to exaggerate. We pressed on, fighting the elements. Soon the rain stopped however, the winds decided to stick around. Everything was going OK. We had found a coffee van which gave us a rest bite and a much needed hot chocolate. Mick and Steve drank coffee, they’ve always been much more grown up than me.
This part of the walk seemed very popular with many other walkers joining the path. Quite a few of the elderly enthusiasts out for a Saturday stroll with their sticks raced past us. They reminded me of Landstriders from ‘The Dark Crystal’
The terrane became harsher and more violent. The Romans had picked quite the most inhospitable site to build the highest part of their wall. Sheer cliff faces gave us some quite breathtaking views. Though with the wind pushing us in the direction of the drop, quite scary ones too. By the second trig point my mind was racing with fear, excitement, despair and doubt. Being up on the hill getting battered by the wind was thrilling, but in the back of my mind demons where plotting.
The walk continued over the very rough landscape. Through woodlands and over rocky climbs. Steve trundled off in front for a bit while me and Mick chatted silliness about the state of Roman building regulations. We found Steve waiting for us by a very large pile of ruins. It looked like a fort. This was also the most people we had seen, all clambering about the wall and the fallen stronghold, despite what the signs were telling them. We passed through and up a small but steep hill to an avenue. It was here that my mind fell in on me.
By the time I caught up with my friends I was struggling. Not just physically, though my legs were hurting, but mentally. We had at least 8km of this relentless rock path to go before we could stop and I had entered a personal crisis that only I could sort out. I told the boys to carry on, stop waiting for me. Reluctantly, and only because this part of the path was well populated, they agreed.
So now I was on a journey to beat my own mind. Up and down of rocks and hills. Just pushing through. Not allowing myself to give up. Tears and turmoil ravaged my thoughts. At one particularly low point, both mentally and geographically, I got talking to some people we had seen a few times on the trail. I chatted with them for a short while before they kicked on towards their destination. This small interaction helped me more than they would ever know.
Time marched on and I did too. Then came a phone call. Mick was telling me they could see the pub we were stopping at. From checking the distances I wasn’t far behind them. I pressed on through the fields, finding the easier paths rather than the dangerous looking rock climbs. Soon I could see the little white build my friends had reached. Pushing against the wind I fought on through. Hurting and emotional I got to the Twice Brewed public house. The first people I saw was the group from the hill. I gave them big hug before sitting down with the boys. They had already ordered me some food and for that, I was so grateful.
I decided that was it for me, so after food, I got a taxi to our next digs while the boys went back on the hillside for another couple of hours. But there was no time to rest. As soon as I got to the guesthouse I was told I had to get ready to go to the pub as Malcome, the guest house owner, had it all arranged that the bys would be meeting me there. One very painful and quick turn around later and I was meeting some lovely people while waiting. My friends soon arrived and the plan for the next day was decided.
I went through hell on those hills, but like the sun spreading warmth as the cloud moves out of the way, my friends helped me back to my version of normality without having to do anything. That and the kindness of people. The world can seem like a dark and lonely place at times. Today I was reminded that there is still hope.
https://www.theworldofcolin.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/TWOC-340px.png00Colin Davieshttps://www.theworldofcolin.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/TWOC-340px.pngColin Davies2018-07-30 10:18:242018-08-01 18:17:24The Trial (Is there anybody out there walking the wall? pt 4)
So it has begun. This morning I woke at 5 am, left the house at 6 am and hit the road, destination Bowness-on-Solway. But first a diversion. The day before a lorry drove rather inconveniently into a bridge spanning the M6 between the M55 and the Lancaster turn off, otherwise known as, the bit I wanted to get on the M6 at. The driver is not dead and accounts claim him to be much less injured than one would expect from the photos. This has pushed all the traffic heading to and from Scotland onto the A6, which is never a good thing.
So I decided to head to Lancaster via Shard Bridge. With the sun hanging low in the east, a light early morning mist rising from the fields and Kate Bush’s ‘The Man with the Child in his Eyes’ playing, a moment of contentment happened. My smile was heartfelt and the day seemed right.
With the help of GPS, I found Bowness-on-Solway, parked the car, gathered my pack and headed off in the direction of Carlisle train station some 22km away. Radiohead was playing in my ears and I will admit a slight bounce in my step. For the next couple of hours, I walked the twisted roads of Cumbria. Radiohead turned into Jethro Tull and ‘Aqualung’ became the soundtrack for the adventure.
Now I might be making this sound nice and easy. Trust me when I say this, it wasn’t. In fact, it was as tough as I thought it was going to be, and being as I have been trying to talk myself out of it for months, I thought it was going to be pretty tough. You see this first bit for me was on my own and with a full pack. The rest of the walk will be hard, don’t get me wrong, however, we have paid for a firm to take our heavy bugs from digs to digs, so we will only have our day packs with us. And the extra weight makes quite the difference. On top of this, which I found out later, all the sugary stuff I bought to give me that extra boost when needed as in fact sugar-free. So as I was walking in the oppressive heat of the sun, without a cloud in the sky to hide it, my energy levels were just continuing to drop.
I viewed this part of the walk as akin to writing. Being alone with my own thoughts, seeing beauty all around, struggling every so often to find the right path, finding it a drudge and just having to push on no matter what, hating it, loving it and ultimately having to push really hard to get to the end. There was one part of the road that summed it all up. 3km of open land, a straight road that you can see the end of but never seemed to get any nearer. Bulls just wondering around and cars flying past you at daunting speeds. This section took some mental strength.
Time moved on and the destination moved closer, only thing was, I was getting weaker. I reached the outskirts of Carlisle, a mere 5km from the train station, that’s when it started to bite. I started to think about resting up for half an hour. Maybe in the next pub, get some food and a pint of cold. But the next pub never came. Another 2km down the road and I hit the wall. Everything was hurting but mainly my shoulders. The pack was feeling very heavy, my hands were shaking. I had to stop but there were no shaded areas. I just halted and sat on a garden wall, that’s when a panic set in. Shortness of breath, thoughts of not being able to carry on. I took the pack off just to release the pressure. I started to calm down. I just needed energy, that’s when it hit me.
My friend Simon Jay, feels like this from the moment he wakes from his restless sleep to the moment he returns to the bed for another go at slumber. Rich Davenport has these aches and pains just sitting down to watch the telly. Suffers of ME have to endure this kind of fatigue all the time. I can stop this, in fact, I did. Once I got to the station, waited half an hour for the train to Hexham. Sat resting on the tracks for 50 minutes. I left the station, looked at the 2-hour walk ahead of me, and got in a taxi. I couldn’t take the weight of the full pack anymore.
So now I am here in the hotel waiting for the boys to arrive. They will undoubtedly be naked from their endeavours of the day. Now I have rested I feel I little more confident about tomorrow.
I have completed something that I never thought I could, and actually, during it, never thought I was going to.
https://www.theworldofcolin.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/TWOC-340px.png00Colin Davieshttps://www.theworldofcolin.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/TWOC-340px.pngColin Davies2018-07-27 18:56:142018-08-01 18:32:37Hitting the Wall (Is there anybody out there walking the wall? pt3)
So it has begun, the boys have completed their first day while I was still stuck in an over-warm office. The only communication I have had with them has been via Facebook as they have briefly updated their statuses.
This, however, has caused me some trepidation. You see in this world of technology we are now able to monitor our activities and produce numbers we never had before. Like the walk the boys have done today. In the past they would have reached their stop off point, having walked about 20 odd miles, it would have been quite warm and taken about 7 hours.
But we now have Fitbits and Garmin watches. We now know it was 20.6 miles, had an average temperature of 28 degrees Celsius and, according to Mick’s Fitbit, took 43500 steps. When the stats are wooly it makes it easier to face. 43500 steps seem like an awful lot. I know Mick has little legs, but not so short as to make a massive difference in the step count between us.
On top of this Steve, the supper fit channel swimming challenge setter, has posted that after that first day’s walk he is ‘tired’. So Mr Adventure is feeling the burn, what hope do I have? Me, who sees 5000 steps a day as exceeding his goal.
Well, tomorrow is when reality bites. I shall stride forward with a determination to succeed. With kindness in my heart, the love of my friends & family, and the words of my late father in my ears as I recount exactly what he used to say when others would take on such challenges. “What the bloody hell do you want to that for. Go back to bed!”
https://www.theworldofcolin.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/TWOC-340px.png00Colin Davieshttps://www.theworldofcolin.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/TWOC-340px.pngColin Davies2018-07-26 20:03:502018-08-01 18:36:42The journey of many steps starts with a Fitbit. (Is there anybody out there walking the wall ? pt2)
Before I take 1 step, pack 1 item or drive 1 mile towards the challenge I feel I must explain a few things. My name is Colin Davies and I’m about to walk, most of Hadrian’s Wall.
Here is the plan. I will be driving up to Bowness-on-Solway early on the Friday morning. Here I will park the car before walking the 14 and a half miles to Carlisle to catch a train that will take me to Hexham. From there I will then walk the 5.9 miles to Chollerford where I’ll meet up with the ‘boys’
I call them the ‘boys’ due to the fact that they both identify as male, though I think Steve identifies as more male than Mick, even though Mick would probably disagree. Let’s just say they are both fit from all the running and the swimming. I, on the other hand, have been getting fit, mainly through swimming though I do run very badly.
The ‘boys’ start their walk from Wallsend on Thursday and will have covered about 30 miles by the time we meet. So across the entire walk, I will be about 10 miles behind them. I’m quite pleased about that. I was disappointed that I couldn’t spend the time to do the whole journey with them. When mentioning this excursion many people that know me and my lack of interest in exploring the great outdoors have said to me “Wow! How did that come about?”
The whole idea started when Steve was up in Blackpool on one of his Christmas visits. I’ve known Mick for 30 years and he has Known Steve for even longer. Steve loves Blackpool. He moved away to get educated which proved successful because he never moved back. We went out for our annual curry, a modern tradition but one I like. During the many conversations where we were asking Steve what his next challenge would be, 2017 saw him take part in a cross-channel relay where he swam the final third of the distance, he mentioned that he fancied walking Hadrian’s Wall, and so it was agreed. Though I must admit when I heard him say “Who’s in?” I thought he was asking about ordering poppadom for the meal.
So the idea was born and before I could pull out of it Steve had it organised. We picked the dates and now it’s a reality. That lead me to think, if I’m doing this stupid thing anyway, why not do it for a good cause. So I set up a Just Giving page to raise money and awareness for ME.
ME (Myalgic Encephalopathy), or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, is an illness that blights the lives of 250,000 people in the UK today. Even the smallest exertion can floor them; their joints and muscles ache unbearably; restful sleep eludes them, and ‘brain fog’ clouds even the smallest judgment. It changes their lives drastically – disrupting education; making employment impossible; and straining family relations to breaking point. People may be housebound or confined to bed for many months or years. There is no known cure. I know people who suffer from this and trust me they do suffer. I will be posting on here every night during the walk to let you all know how things are going, If you are lucky I might have been inspired to write some poetry. If you are really lucky, I might forget to share it.
https://www.theworldofcolin.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/TWOC-340px.png00Colin Davieshttps://www.theworldofcolin.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/TWOC-340px.pngColin Davies2018-07-25 08:55:302018-08-01 18:43:39Is there anybody out there walking the Wall? pt1
Let me tell you a little story. Last year (2016) I was scrolling down my facebook wall when I noticed an advert for the Southport Comic-Con. On the guest list was John Wagner. I’d missed John at the ‘International Film Festival’ in Manchester where he did a Q&A following a screening of ‘Dredd’ and I was gutted.
So I talked my partner, and a couple of friends to take the short drive across the river from Blackpool so I could take my son to meet one of the greats of British comics. Who, for my mind, is also one of the great pioneers of all comics that have lead to the multi-character universes we have in our cinemas today.
The convention was quiet and as we arrived John had left for his lunch. We wondered about a bit, enjoyed the cos-players, investigated the stalls. My son bought a dragon skull but I was waiting to see what Wagner Wears I could get. When he returned I was shocked and delighted that no one was stood at his table. In February of 2017 at the 2000AD 40th convention you couldn’t get near him.
I wondered up, fan boyed it for bit. Told him how amazing I thought he was and thanked him for just being something I really liked. I purchased a signed Judge Dredd poster that also had the signature of Carlos Ezquerra on it. I might have given out an audible squee when I saw this. It was then that John showed me the first issue of ‘Rok of the Reds’ a brand new comic from him and another comic great Alan Grant. I said “cool”, and “the cover is nice”. That is when I learned that the artwork was by Dan Cornwell. John had the first 3 issues and I bought them all because, well, John Wagner told me to.
I was all smiles at home with my poster and threw my signed copies of Rok on my book shelf. About 6 weeks later I was knocking about the house wondering what to do when I saw Cornwell’s Demon looking artwork, wonderfully coloured by Abigail Bulmer, sitting unread. So I picked it up and fell into the world where an alien on the run hides on Earth my morphing in to a body double and then absorbing the persona of a bad boy footballer who had let his career slide down the toilet.
Once Kyle Dixon, the footballer, had been fully extracted his shrunken body was kept safe for when it needed to be returned. Rok needs to go unnoticed so keeps his head down and stops Kyle getting on the wrong side of the law. This leads to Rok falling in love with football, and connecting with the people of the local community.
The story moves through each episode by introducing more of Roks back story and more hope that the Radford Reds can go on a giant killing cup run.
From the first issue I was hooked. It’s a beautiful mix of classic British comic heroes. Dan’s artwork channels Joe Colquhoun while being fresh and exciting. There is a consistency in his work that holds Wagner & Grant’s script together. The 2 Scottish scribes have fused Sci-Fi and sport in a way that’s new, yet somehow feels retro. The humour oozes off the page. Not as smack in the face set-up, knock down jokes. More as a real love for what they do.
The combination of the script, the artwork, Bulmer’s colour choices and Jim Campbell’s choice of font, make ‘Rok of the Reds’ a most pleasing experience. The end may have been a little predictable, but in a good way. Like the taste of your favourite meal cooked by your favourite family member (usually mum but, you know, modern times). It leaves you feeling warm and wanting more.
I can only say thank you to John Wagner for both writing such a fantastic comic, but also for making be buy it in the first place.
All 6 issues are out now, you really should buy them.
https://www.theworldofcolin.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/TWOC-340px.png00Colin Davieshttps://www.theworldofcolin.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/TWOC-340px.pngColin Davies2017-05-16 16:43:572017-05-19 11:14:20'Rok of the Reds' - What a great Comic