November 2006

You know it’s going to be a bad day when…

…You’ve walked to work, worked up a good sweat, go have a shower… and then the fire alarm goes off *rolls eyes*. I’m going to catch my death…

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These Feet Are Made For Walking - Part 2

It’s over a week since my last post on this subject and after receiving quite a bit of encouragement both online and in ‘The Real World’ I thought I’d post an update.

Earlier today I noticed that a fellow member of the Tips From The Top Floor forums, Mandy, had obviously traced my blog (not hard, it’s in my sig on every post there) and left me some very encouraging words. Although weight loss wasn’t a primary initiative for starting to walk into work, thinking about it - it ain’t a bad bonus! I had no idea how many calories I would burn up doing the walk and finding out (roughly) has rather surprised me!

Okay, here’s the truth. I have no idea how much I weigh. Well, I’ll revise that a bit, I do have some idea, but that idea is a very nasty one and I don’t want to step on a pair of scales to find out. So, in looking at charts to find out how many calories I’m burning I’m making a rough guess, a very rough guess. But it is going to be over 1000 calories a day, pretty well over I think. Of course, the law of diminishing returns is going to apply here - as I start to lose weight it’ll take less effort to walk so I’ll use fewer calories - bummer!

I keep looking down to see if there’s any signs of my feet poking out from beneath my belly, but they remain distant strangers. Which is probably just as well considering what I’ve put them through recently! A few people have said that I look as if I’ve lost some weight, but I’ve not noticed any change myself and I think they are just being ‘encouraging’ - and thanks to them for that!

The blisters I gave myself a couple of weeks ago are still healing really but they’re not a problem. No, the problems seem to be working up from my feet. At the moment it’s my ankles and shins which seem to be feeling the punishment most. I guess it might be the impact of walking on concrete and tarmac all the time, but there really isn’t an alternative on my route into work.

I am working my way up gradually, that’s something I’d not pointed out before. So I started at a couple of days a week, I’m up to three days now. As Mandy pointed out in her comment, it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to go from nothing to 45 miles a week. I’m at 27 miles a week now, and that’s 27 miles more than I did before. Today I had a ‘rest day’ and used the car. The only side of driving into work that I like is that I can get out of bed later. I really would rather be walking it now.

Why do I prefer walking? Well, as I said in my first posting on this subject it gives me time to think about things and it means I get to work less stressed. Okay, I do get to work hotter and sweatier - but there are showers so that’s not a problem. Walking also helps me to actually see some of the world around. Sure, it’s all through suburbia so nothing stunning to look at, but I notice things more when I’m walking - the leaves on the trees, the smells in the air (bleugh - exhaust fumes) - there’s a baker about half way in that I didn’t even know was there before and now I get a wonderful blast of fresh baked bread as I walk by. You get to see the same people every day too - others walking back from work or University or whatever. The same faces - you get to recognise people and give them a nod and a smile as you walk by.

I have at least endured a couple of wet morning walks into work now. I was wondering if that would put me off, but it hasn’t. It has shown me that my coat is total pants however! It’s supposed to be waterproof and breathable and it’s neither. It probably started out that way, but I’ve had it for years and I guess it has just given up now. I could really do with a new one anyway. The old one is bright yellow as well as being poor at the job it’s designed for. I bought it with hill walking in mind, thinking that Mountain Rescue would see me more easily in something bright yellow. I’ll have to wait for a bit to get a replacement though given current financial circumstances.

This has been long and rambling, so I’ll finish for now by saying that I do feel so much better since starting the walk. Okay, my legs have ached, my feet have been sore, I’ve got wet, I’ve got cold but the payback is that I’m already feeling much more able to do physical activity of all kinds. Can only be a good thing!

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Remembrance Sunday

Okay, I’m a day late posting this!

Yesterday morning I decided to head down to Leicester’s Welford Road Cemetery with my camera. Now, I know some of you may think that’s an odd thing to do, but this isn’t just any old cemetery you see. Welford Road Cemetery was only the third of the great municipal cemeteries to open in the country. It has been described as ‘The Highgate of the Midlands’. There are lots of wonderful Victorian ‘gothicesque’ monuments and like most places of this kind, it’s a little green haven of peace and quiet in the middle of the city.

The main reason for my visit was to try and shoot some of those wonderful Victorian monuments. I’d walked around the place several times before although I hadn’t visited for quite a few years. I guess my memory was jogged as I now walk by here twice a day (I used to drive by, not quite the same) and I enjoy the little stretch of road with relatively fresh air and the smell of forestry.

Over recent years quite a bit of restoration work has been performed at the cemetery. The old wooden fence has been replaced by metal railings, all of the memorials have been checked for safety and many have been worked on, or are being worked on to restore the ravages of vandalism and time.

The site where the chapels used to stand (demolished in 1958) has been marked out with a series of 100 plaques which will in time be used to give details of 100 of the most interesting burials located within the cemetery.

In all, around one million pounds has been spent on the renovation work so far.

So, I started walking around and firing off shots like the one below of some of the wonderful Victorian masonry. I know some people will find this a little macabre, or just plain not to their taste. Others might question my motives in taking photographs of graves. I have to say that what went through my mind as I fired off shot after shot was what would the Victorians who commissioned these grandiose memorials think about images of these being visible to millions of people all over the world?

And as I wondered around the avenues I noticed a couple of things. Firstly, the rich and powerful still dominate even after death. Many of the ‘prime locations’ were taken up with enormous edifices that must have cost a small fortune to install. Secondly I started seeing small crosses bearing poppies on the graves of war dead.

Now I was aware that it was Remembrance Sunday, but I’d never seen this before. I found it quite touching to see these crosses with names, dates and details all meticulously and neatly hand written on them. It also drew my attention to just how many burials there were in this cemetery from the World Wars of the 20th century.

This seemed a little odd to me at first. After all, here I was in Leicester - far away from the battle fields of continental Europe. And yet here were soldiers who had fallen at the Battle of the Somme, and there were some who had died well after hostilities had ended. Then I remembered that Leicester had been home to a military hospital, indeed it had stood very close to the cemetery where the buildings of Leicester University now are. I’m sure that is the explanation for many of the graves I saw - these were the wounded who were returned home and sadly did not make it.

I visited the World War One Memorial within the cemetery. I shot a few photos of all the poppies (see image at start of this posting) and just stood and reflected in silence on the ages I was seeing on all these little crosses. 18 years of age, 22 years old, 37, 19… All of them younger than me when they were killed, some of them half my age or less. Sobering to say the least.

Near the end of my visit I dropped into the new ‘visitor centre’ and chatted with the warden there. He told me that this year they had put out over 500 of these little crosses all over the cemetery, a task that must have taken a considerable effort. And not only in the physical distribution of them all, but also in the research of all of the details for each casualty. Now, after Remembrance Sunday they will all be collected in again and the research will continue for more details of the war dead buried here. It seems like an enormous task.


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These Feet Are Made For Walking

Over the last few weeks I’ve been experimenting with walking to and from work each day. It’s 4.5 miles each way and takes me just over an hour to walk. Now, crazy as it might sound - it can take me very nearly that long to drive to work sometimes. And taking the bus takes about the same as walking from door to door. Weighing things up I decided that it might be worth giving it a bash.

I used to pay money to go to a gym and I remember thinking at the time that if I just walked to the gym rather than driving, well - I wouldn’t need to go to the gym and I could save myself some money!

I’ve learned a lot from my experiments over the last few weeks. Good shoes are essential, as are good socks. I gave myself awful blisters from wearing poor shoes and socks that let my feet slip around too much. So this weekend I invested in some good Merrell shoes and a pair of Thousand Mile walking socks. These have two ’skins’ to prevent your foot from rubbing. Great investment!

The new regime is going pretty well now that I’m over the blister problems. Every time I walk I’m feeling less knackered and I’m sweating less even on a relatively mild day like today. Energy and stamina haven’t been a problem at any point, although I do notice that I’m ‘recovering’ more quickly already.

Walking gives me time to think about things and is one hell of a lot less stressful than driving to work. The traffic is so bad where I live that I would usually arrive at work stressed out before I even began work. Walking gives me time to think about the day ahead and I get to work feeling energised, alert, awake and alive.

I’ll just have to see if I can convince myself to keep up with it during the wet, dark, icy months that are ahead now!


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