Friday, 30 December 2011

day 4

Hurray! We have finally established a route that covers 4 miles! It's taken half a week and several tweaks but we've finally got our treck settled. I daren't tell the others but after 6 weeks we're supposed to up our efforts to 6 miles a day, although we do get an hour and a half for that. We're all suited and booted, and had officially decided to abandon the dog and all the burdens the brings, it finally feels like we're ready to rock and roll. We even managed to get Dad out of bed, dressed and stretched (even "LUNGE" only brought on a few minor titters) by 9am, nothing could go wrong, today is our day....
14 minutes in Dad had to retire due to a sock related error - thin socks plus walking boots plus our speedy(ish) pace equals blisters "Go on without me," he gasped, "I believe in you!" he cried after us as we vanished over the horizon, leaving him to limp home. I can only assume his sock malfunction was a genuine mistake, and not some attempt to spite the 9am start. So we'd dropped the dead weight, now was the time for us to power forwards and show what we could really do; when the make the movie of this journey of self discovery (I imagine with Scarlett Johansson playing me) epic music will play at this point, as it reaches the crescendo, the clouds will part and a shaft of heavenly light will illuminate us, the wind will cause my hair to tumble from its ponytail and flow out behind me like a sheet of golden silk... And then Eddie set off, like a royal marine, on steroids, with a rocket up his backside, and I realised that the movie would be more of a comedy./horror, with Jo Brand (can't even have Dawn French now she's lost all that weight) playing me. Eddie strode out ahead, me scurrying along in his wake, I must have looked like roadrunner, my tiny legs taking 3 steps to each of his giant paces. I realsied I'd been using poor old Dad as an excuse, I'm not slow, I'm just keeping pace with the old duffer, I soothed myself, but now I'm sadly sure that I too could do with all the help I could get. There's not much else to say about today, it passed in a huffy puffy blur, I can't speak for Ed but I didnt have enough breath to do anything other than concentrate on staying alive, we did make it home only 3 minutes outside the hour, which I think is pretty impressive considering we had sock realted dramas to deal with. On our return we were berated by Mam for leaving the dog, who had whined and howled the whole time we were gone, so I may have won todays battle to go without him, but it would seem he's going to win the war on being included, no matter how much trouble he makes or how many civilians he savages.
We have the additional excitement of a trip to Go Outdoors, as we have now proved ourselves serious enough about the mission to require equipment, by which I mean extra fluffy walking socks, to give Dad 1 less excuse to duck out of training. Hopefully I can get some pink ones! And i might just give the troops a treat and let them have the day off tomorrow, so that blisters can be popped and muscles rested in time to pwer into the new year.

P.s Didn't even have the energy to contemplate pushing Ed off a mountain today, so much effort was I putting into our might pace, so maybe we are improving.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Day 3

I've had to retire my dashing orange wellies; they make me walk "like a duck wearing a full nappy" (thankyou Mother) and I'm going to take this opportunity to blame my aching legs on them too as I'm having to get rid of them anyway. So I'm now clad in much more sensible, if much less adorable, sturdy brown walking boots. The styling of the whole team seemed due a shake up today, as Dad tried out a variety of hats, from bank robber style black dut through to denim sun hat, finally settling on a knitted little pom-pommed number in grey (think Dappy from N-Dubz) After the blustery conditions yesterday Eddie learned his lesson and abandoned the Indiana Jones hat. I had just come from the hairdressers, and my hair looked sleek, glossy, grogeous, quickly turning to ratty, sweaty and forced into a scraped back ponytail. All in all we were an attractive troupe this morning.
At last too it waould seem that we have perfected the route too. Yesterdays timing triumph was marred slightly by the realisation that we had actually only walked 3.8 miles (thankyou google maps) and so today we added a small loop to the beginning of the walk to make up the all important point 2 of a mile. The sky looked dark and looming, and a sensible person may have predicted rain. However, as this is the Allison family you are dealing with we didnt give the clouds a second thought and gathered round the back door, ready for the Training Captains first innovative improvement to the regime; stretches - "and LUNGE!" was met with a chorus of giggles from the boys as I launched my leg forward in demostration. I maintained my dignity (and if you'll believe that you'll believe anything) and continued gracefully throught a series of stretches tailored by me to improve our experience (by which I'm sure you'll have realised from what you know by now to in reality have been more a random flailing of limbs until I considered us ready to proceed)
My aforementioned hair appointment having delayed the time of training we set off at 12.23 today, stomping fairly well accross the unfamiliar new starting 0.2 miles, the pace slightly hindered by the dog, who Eddie had decided - forgetting the cyclist incident on day 1, and preferring the fun memory of Mam squealing by yesterday - would be better off back with the main section of the group. If you are anything like me considering the evidence gathered on this subject, you would probably think it best to leave the dog at home, away from the group alltogether, but Eddie solemly swore he could control the beast, and so I, trusting to a fault, trusted him and allowed Newbir to re-join the team. My trust was not well placed, within minutes the dog had tripped me over and wound his lead around Dads legs. Everyone found this hilareous, I did not. I may have snapped, my friends, there's a tiny chance I may have overreacted, but its hard for me to convey how flipping irritating my brother can be. So reasonable words were exchanged (by which of course I mean I gave Eddie and an apparently unrepentant Newbie a good screaming at) and Edward made the mature decision to flounce off home. Having lost precious minutes arguing, I urged Dad to cut our losses and go on without him. It was five minutes after this (when Eddie would have just arrived back at our warm cosy chocolate filled house) that the rain began. When I say rain, I mean ungodly lashings of icey sleet cascaded down on us, chilling us to our very bones and putting us at risk of being washed away by imminent flash flooding. (Ignore, I repeat Ignore! any weather reports that you should see which pass what we went through off as "light drizzle in the North East today" they dont know what it was like out there, I'm lucky to have made it let me tell you!) with rain hailing down on us like bullets, Dads Dappy hat stuck soddenly to his head, we soldiered on in an effort I can only describe as heroic, Brain and Steve would have been proud of, nay amazed at our heroism in the face of such peril. Despite the majority of the walk passing in this sullen and soggy fashion Dad and I made it home not in only in 1 piece, but only 10 minutes behind time. This may appear as not such an achievement, as this is the same time as we set yesterday, but dont forget that cheeky extra 0.2 of a mile! On our return home we managed to laugh off Eddies stupid, petty, childish hissy fit and everyone agreed that I was right, but aren't I always. Still can't wait to chuck the little twerp off a mountain though, the things we do for you Granddad.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Day 2

Oh. My. God. Everything hurts! What fools we were yesterday, blithely wandering into a world of pain! Who knew walking could be so strenuous?! (Apart from those who read my account of it yesterday, only you know the true horrors of excersize, be warned!) I think stretching may be the key, but it's too late to worry about that now for today. After I crawled from my bed, already 4 minutes behind schedule as I had not accomodated for getting-out-of-bed-gasping-in-agony-with-muscles-I-didn't-even-know-I-had-screaming-at-me time, and hobbled down the stairs, one crippling flop at a time, I collapsed onto the sofa which was an error, as it then took 3 more minutes (and the help of Mam and Ed) to get me out again.
Dad then approached, at a slow and painfull speed, offering excuses from legs that felt broken to sore eyeballs as reasons why he should be excused from training today. I refused. I have the power to do so you see because in an exciting turn (following bitter sniping and bickering) yesterday I was appointed Training Captain; this means that I dictate time, location and distance of training, and am in charge of rallying thr troops... ah the power! This does mean though that I had to allow Eddie to take the role of Mountain Leader, which means that on the day he's in charge. I'm comforted by the fact that this event (should we make it) is still 6 months away, or 6 years, judging by the looks of me and Dad this morning.
 We have a sneaking suspicion however, that Eddie has given us a deceptive impression of his physical condition; while me and Dad clutch each other and stagger from the living room to kitchen, with the gait and pace of a pair of 90 year olds, Eddie springs spritely down the back steps and limbers up!
Owing to our route calculation disaster yesterday, Dad extensively googled last night and discovered that we actually walked 6 miles not 4. Because of this he demanded that we only walk 2 miles today to even out the average. Denied. So genuinely bright and early this time (09.32!) we set off again, not exactly the tenacious light hearted group we were yesterday, more a pair of waddling buffons, griping and groaning along, and Edward, smugly striding ahead... someones going to see himself shoved in a ditch... if I ever catch up to him (damn you tiny legs) Mam had made life even easier for herself by toddling along behind on her bike! I feel like a modern day suffragette, marching for women kind while she makes sandwiches in the background.
With youth on our side Ed and I ploughed ahead, calling back "keep up Dad!" with grunted replies of "I'm 51 years old you know!" (he had enough breath to complain but not to keep up with the pace) eventually we elected to drop back and match the speed of the slowest man, amidst much grumbling from Dad who would much rather we left him alone it seemed. The hightlight of the hike today came when the wind blew Eds hat off and he had to chase it into a field, I for one was filled with the warm sense of justice as he scrambled through the nettles. The next drama to rock our motley crew was Shoelace Gate; Dads shoe came undone and he was unable to bend down to fasten it. Edward, the secret athlete, although in the best posititon (i.e with enough muscle power) to bend down tie the lace in question and regain a standing position again, had to reveal a disturbing lack of shoelace tying skills, so precious time was wasted arguing, and then hoisting Dad back to an upright position once he had manged to grapple with the lace of doom.
In the mean time Mam had been having her own troubles; thinking the had found a clever way of avoiding any effort at all she had lashed the dog to her bike, and far from being blissfully pulled like some sort of cycling Inuit she was being dragged by our hyperactive terrier, squealing as the peddles smacked her as they whirred round beyond her control. Far from lagging behind us she nearly threw us all into the bushes ans she barged past, the dog running and barking happily, so good fun was had by all.
I am pleased to report that we completed the walk today only 9 minutes behind time, although it is not as yet known whether this was due to us having a route of a better (by which of course I mean shorter) length, or because 2 days in we have become walkers extrordinaire, move over Brian and Steve, those mountains aren't going to know whats hit them. And neither will Eddie as my fantasies of throwing him off one of the mountains grow daily.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

It starts...

Hi. I'm Rosie, I'm 20, I'm a law student at Kings College London, and my Granddad died of pancreatic cancer in November.

A shocking start, but its kind of the point of all this, because as you can imagine we just spent a very emotional first christmas without Granddad at the weekend. Christmas morning my parents bounded into my room at the crack of dawn like excited puppies shouting "He's been! Santa's been!" (yes these are normally the actions of young children, but im sure you'll come to learn that the Allison family are not like your average family) so a while later my brother and I obediently gathered round and opened our presents. Amongst the chocolate; and yes there was a lot of chocolate; clothes, games, and dvds a small book each slipped from shiny wrapping paper, mine was The Official Challenge Guide, by Brian Smailes, and Eddies was Taking Up The Challenge, by Steve Williams. For those who dont instantly recognise those infamous names, and I was certainly amongst you, these men are walkers/hikers/ramblers, lycra-wearing-mountain-climbing-loonies as they are known in the athleticly ungifted Allison household. These books in particular prescribe the method (in the madness) of the notorious 3 Peak Challenge. Anyone who knows anything about walking at this point may recognise the challenge as not exactly notorious, and more of a day of fun, however I've already given you a glimpse into the physical prowess of my family, so I hope you'll forgive the melodramatics. Brian and Steve (after studying their books I consider them close friends) describe the way to success in conquering Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon, a mountaineering epic covering 3 countries and 9,000 feet, in just 24 hours. In the time it had taken me to stuff down a bag of chocolate coins and identify the lumpy green thing on the cover of the book as a mountain (I've seen them in films, but never been up close and personal with 1) Dad had dissolved into tears and it was left to Mam to explain that Dad had thought it would be nice for us to complete this challenge in honour of Granddad; who was always telling us to get off our backsides and do something, and maybe get sponsored to do so, and give the money to cancer research. At this point there were tears all round and we all adamantly declared that we would complete this testement to granddad, and show cancer who's boss while we're at it. Then we cast the books aside and munched through a lot more chocolate, then Christmas dinner, then some more chocolate.
On Boxing Day we all went to Grandmas and ate more chocolate, along with the Allison family traditional Boxing Day battered turkey (we are from the north east, the battered mars bar that shocked the country was more of a standard than a novelty to us in Hartlepool) and the subject of our challenge arose again. Our friends Brian and Steve recommend 6 months training, walking 4 miles in an hour per day. Every day. For 6 months. No problem! We all declared, drunk on pigs in blankets and figgy pudding, when should we start? Tomorrow? Well I'm at the hairdressers tomorrow... The next day? Well I'm going for post-christmas-pre-new-year-drinks... and so the excuses kept cropping up, until we were in metaphorical mid-may before we could even think about thinking about training. No, we all agreed, we'll bite the bullet and have a little assessment day tomorrow, just to see where we stand, or in our case slouch, pie in hand, physically.
Luckily we live on the Castle Eden Walkway in County Durham, so with a quick route calculation from Dad, bright and early (by which i mean at 10.07am) we threw on hoodies and strode out, or in my case stomped; I had aquired some dashing orange wellies for outdoor fun, ready to make mincemeat of a tiny 4 mile walk and be home in time for elevenses. For approximately 6 minutes we had the jolly picturesque time I had expected, the dog lolloped gleefully along beside us wagging his tail, and for out parts too we were bright eyed and bushy tailed, laughing at Eddies Indiana Jones style hat he had on for the "expedition". Mam had early on (sly cow) labelled herself 'technical support' meaning her job on the day would be merely to drive us between mountains rather than climb them, so she strolled at a leisurely pace, morally supporting us from behind, and I suspect hanging around waiting for one of us to have a heart attack so that there'd be someone who could breathe enough to speak to the paramedics in the case of such an event, as we charged off...
"Are (wheeze) we (wheeze) nearly (wheeze) there (wheeze) yet?!" I wheezed
"It's only 10.14, we've barely started!" Eddie bellowed from out in front
Dad and I exchanged glances, but didnt really have enough breath to huff and puff any further complaints to each other. The easy route calculation appeared to have been cocked up slightly, as when we reached what we believed to be the 2 mile marker house, Dad managed to gasp out "right, the bridge where we get to turn round is only half a mile away now" too cold from being inadequately dressed, and too hot and sweaty from moving further than our usual route from the sofa to the fridge, we stuck our heads down and trudged on. On finally reaching the blessed bridge, we found ourselves 16 minutes behind Brian and Steves schedule. Mumbling things I'm glad poor Brian and Steve weren't present to hear panted about them, we turned around and stomped homewards. Apart from a minor incident where Eddie lost control of the dog and he leaped on a passing cyclist (smug git on his bike speeding along) and some slight corner cutting (filthy cheating) from Dad and Ed to "catch up" (read deliberatley undermine the lead I had built up) we arrived home without much else going wrong.
"Nice walk?" Mam asked sweetly, badly suppressing giggles at our dishevelled state as we staggered back throught the gate 40 minutes behind our expected finish time. No-one really had the energy to answer her, Eddie flopping down onto the sofa and Dad retiring straight to bed. My legs hurt already and I can bet now that following 6 months of this torture, when all three of us set off up Ben Nevis on the big day only 2 of us will complete the descent of Snowdon at the end, because I've already envisaged getting to the top of Scafell and pushing Eddie off. But (hopefully) come hell or high water, hangovers or hairdressers appointments, we'll do this, for ourselves as much as for Granddad.

p.s technological wizard that I now am with my blog, I'm hoping to set up one of those clever JustGiving text codes, or at least set up some sort of sponsorship form. So stay tuned if you'd like to sponsor us, or if you just want to laugh at out struggle with elimentary athletics. I'll try and update daily on our walks if I have the strength to type, although I admit today im just running on the adrenaline of it all

So thanks for checking us out, and stay tuned :)