Journal
Optimum walking weight

Added: 26-4-2007

I am considering issues of weight. As the time comes ever nearer to our departure for the US I am comparing this year’s preparation with last year’s. Last year I was fighting fit, toned and bronzed and fresh from the gym, fresh from Swiss alpine fields even. I was ready to carry, ready to bemoan Dave’s lack of preparation and superconfident that my back could cope with carrying a rucksack containing a small multimedia system and far too many condiments. This year, on the other hand, I appear to have embarked on a mission to become like Brian Wilson when he really lost it, and instead of being fresh from the gym I am fresh from the pub. How did our great long distance walking heroes prepare for their challenges, how did Ken and Marcia Powers get ready for the ADT? How did Jacob and Tamar? How did the orginal Walking Stewart, all those years ago? probably not by spending five months in the pub I imagine, and undertaking little to no cardio vascular exercise.

you see, for the last five months I have had nowhere to live. this has been quite an experience and the huge wall of generosity directed towards me in the form of floor space, meals and, yes, booze, has been immense. the only downside of this generosity is that, for better or for worse, people perceive me as being up for debauchery all the time, or at least I percieve myself as having to offer ‘value’ to my hosts. cue the pub.

of course, I can’t really blame all this on my hosts. but, nevertheless, the constant moving between places (5 months: England, Denmark, Sweden, England, Denmark again, England, Holland, Germany, England, Israel and the West Bank, Holland again, England) kinda put a put a hex on other places I should have been, like the gym. so now, with a matter of days before a US departure, I stand before the mirror asking who invited fat boy along. all my life with a fast metabolism, aided by exercise. take away the exercise (of course I’m still walking everywhere, but cardio has disappeared) and you kinda reach this tipping point where every extra pint settles on top of the last one and nothing disappears.

I don’t want to paint the picture that I am now a true juggernaut, a walking heifer, a mountain man. I am far from it. but my dreams of ultimatewinterfitness are well and truly in tatters. the only way back is to adopt the true man of the road philosophy – I will walk myself in. shouldn’t be a problem. at least that’s how I explained it to the girl and the boxer I just met in one of the few Herne Bay pubs I’d never been in until tonight. I mean if a boxer with a fight on Saturday night can relax with two pints of Guiness in a half hour sitting, it shouldn’t be so hard for me….

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POP POP

Added: 19-4-2007

Ah, something for the good people of England, and the moneyed/bored/desperate partygoers of Europe and America (and anywhere else for that matter) who are desirous of a WalkingTheStates farewell party next Saturday night in London….
POP POP
It’s party time, it’s party time tonight. Well, actually it’s not (it might
be, I know not what you are doing) but it IS next Saturday night at Unit 3G, 55 Wallis Road, Hackney Wick E9. Bring your own booze, then buy from our lil’ bar when that runs out. Like Ritchie, we go ALL NIGHT LONG. If you didn’t get that, it’s:

POP POP
Unit3g
55 Wallis Road
Hackney wick
E9

SATURDAY 28TH APRIL

ALL NIGHT LONG

The third in a series of UK/Denmark/Germany collaborations, Dom and myself are hosting the Mighty Mikkel Mtrkl from Denmark and the esteemed Monkey Dick Music Department straight out of Germany’s biggest port, Hamburg. Expect warehouse moves, foolish dancing and a general sense of the one love that only EU nations can inspire. Denmark brings the Disco, Dom and I put in some of whatever we can find lying around that will make you bounce and then – only then – will we let the Germans loose behind the machines to take us to techno.
For me it’s last chance to dance trance – back off to the USA to finish the long walk on May 1st. Would be great to see y’all, many apologies for the massively short notice on this thing – Dom and I have been scouring venues for only the most isolated warehouse and now we’ve finally found it. Biggup Bekka Rawkins for all your help, really really really hope to see ALL of you, including those of you in foreign countries, on the 28th. I make that 9 days from now, plenty of time to buy new clothes.
IMPORTANT: This party is limited to 100 elite spartan fighters only – reply ASAP to me to get on the Guest List. OK?? Then we send the maps…
When you’re coming, come early – that way you will avoid crushing
disappointment.
Yours in anticipation,
Stuart (back for one night only as Six Chin Wonders, armed with the approx 15 records that I have in the country)
Have a problem? You gone call:
UK: 07758 880509
EURO: 00 45 26 39 03 68
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WTS Update

Added: 4-4-2007 2

If it’s April 4 2007 then there must be less than a month until we return to the US. Dang me if the last five months haven’t gone quickly…when I came back from DC I figured I would have so much time to get stuff done on the walk but no! life seemed to get in the way and it’s only now that I’m finally finding time to sit down to address some of the outstanding issues for the 2007 resumption of our walk…

Therefore, in no particular order:

  • Tentative schedule: Dave and I are aiming on returning to US shores on May 1st. From there we will fly to Dayton in Ohio to hook up with the one and only Jon and Kathy Rudolf in Yellow Springs (they of the giant roast pig we ate last September I think). Jon has very kindly offered to help us with our water drops in Utah and whatnot, so a merry caravan will depart for a road trip west some time around the 5th/6th May. Once we’ve buried water essential for our survival later in the year we’ll return to Kansas City, hopefully in time to hook up with Brits International and you guys, Colin and Carly, before we leave properly for the west some time in mid-May
  • Health: health is good, as you all know. At present mine is fine and, matters of unfitness aside, I am well up for getting back on the walk. As mentioned previously on these pages however, like Ivan Drago in Rocky IV I require regular testing to ensure I am at peak fitness i.e. cancer-free. Work has been done on this front, and I am pleased to say that there have been exceedingly kind donations towards my medical bills coming in. I am covered, I think, for my blood tests (nearly $2000). donors, you know who you are and my gratitude is boundless. it literally knows no bounds. But…I still need to raise money for three x-rays and therefore, although it pains and shames me to mention this, if anyone would like to donate to a British walker’s x-ray fund then I would be extremely grateful. in exchange…well, I promise to well, keep heading west, attempt to write amusing stuff and advertise your help in anyway I can (and you see fit). I might even be able to get you copies of the x-rays. it’s weird to be brazenly asking for cash like this, I really find it one of the most unappealing things I could be doing, but desperate times require desperate measures when the devil is driving. or something like that. I figure I need to raise between $1000 and $1500 to cover the three x-rays I need. please contact me via email should you feel a tidal wave of generosity coming on. in the meantime I continue to seek more funding…
  • The Book: it lives. or rather, it will live. Dave and I are working on our book proposal at the moment and will be embarking on a charm offensive to lure agents towards our writing spiel. More news as it happens…

I thought I had more than three bullet points but it was not to be. oh…

  • Party: it looks highly likely that we will be having a going away party in London on Saturday 28th, location as yet unconfirmed, but likely to be somewhere in Hoxton/Old Street. DJ line up from Northern Europe’s finest – Mikkel from Denmark and the Monkeydick collective straight out of Hamburg. Gonna be large, watch the site for updates, all invited…

So yes – four bullet points. Beat that Toolan…

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Balham - Coulsdon

Added: 11-5-2006

After Balham I continued the long walk out of London on the A23. Highlights included Streatham High Road, which was a very long walk filled with nail salons, greasy spoons and Internet cafes (the last Internet cafes for a long time). At the end of the high road I moved into advanced hiking mode – the wearing of shorts, facilitated by some hidden zips on my new hiking trousers and some unseemly fumbling with my boots. The weather was fantastic, even if the fumes from the traffic were an unwelcome counterpoint.

After Streatham  the next town I noted was Croydon, a place I hope I never have to walk around again. Wonderful scenery – industrial estates, car showrooms, giant supermarkets and chav-infested bus stops. My appearance in this area (sweating bloke in shades, carrying large rucksack) caused the same degree of consternation to the locals as Martian fighting machines erupting out of the ground, and I swiftly moved on, although not before a car of lads had pulled up besides me and asked me if I was looking for work. Quite what work they had in mind for an obvious hiker I did not know, although I fantasised from their shiftiness that they wanted me for a getaway driver or something, an inkling backed up five minutes later when I saw their car squeal away at top speed out of a Sainsburys car park.

At this point my feet started to tire of the pavements. Luckily for me, just past the industrial-sized TGI Fridays and the equally impresive Airport House (20th May, Blues Brothers Night!) on the edge of Croydon there was a large swathe of green playing fields,  (short-lived) relief for my feet after miles of concrete.

I kept on, past newsagents keen to advertise the first sighting of Theo Walcott’s bird, and eventually I descended a long hill into Purley, a place which looked nicer than I imagined. I wanted to stop for a pub lunch, but not yet, so I kept going, pausing only to apply plasters to a blister on my right little toe. I went past Stoats Nest Road and asked a bloke whether there was a pub ahead in the next village. He practically collapsed into laughter, although not before he had revealed the existence of a wine bar in Coulsdon.

And indeed it was in Pistols Wine Bar that I had my lunch – a ham roll from the extensive bar menu of ham, cheese or salad rolls. I asked the barman how long it was to Redhill, the next town along, and he said it was way too far to walk. I pressed him, and he eventually revealed it was 5 miles. The papers yesterday revealed that we walk far less than we used to – since the mid-1970s the average number of miles per person travelled on foot each year has dropped by around a quarter. No wonder five miles seems far too far to walk for some people.

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Pimlico-Balham

Added: 10-5-2006

In an effort to see if it is possible for me to walk more than an hour without collapsing I am on the road. London to Brighton, about 50 miles or so along traffic infested streets. it’s a really beautiful route – not.

I set off this morning from central London and as of 10.00am I have reached a bacon butty-selling cafe in Balham. all is good. I have on my new trekking clothes which have led me very quickly to the conclusion that I shall never look cool at any point during the next 18 months, and I am carrying my new rucksack, the complexity of which is rather daunting (I seem to be trailing about 300 straps). I have no map, which is an idea I quite like because I get to put to the test an inclination that I am always able to navigate by some sort of internal compass (something that I think Dave is missing, as yesterday he managed to get lost in Covent Garden). on the other hand, getting out of London without a map isn’t the hardest job in the world – these street signs are really quite handy.

so anyway, I’m gonna try to use the wonders of the UK’s Internet infrastructure to keep this part of the journal updated over the next couple of days. I don’t know how long it will take to get to Brighton, I don’t really care and the feeling of being able to just walk again is really rather good. all I know is that I have to be in town by Friday afternoon to meet my sister for a drink and then to attend our huge and impressive benefit gig on Friday night (please come! all for a good cause! Dave’s band is playing travelling-themed cover versions, and apparently I get to wear dungarees. SMS or email me for more details).

finally, many thanks to all the shop assistants in Covent Garden yesterday who helped us spend shedloads of money (yes Paul, that’s you). new hiking equipment doth make a man excited…

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