What am I doing?
I am attempting to walk from my home in Chandlers Ford to Marble Arch in London during the month of March. Well I am not actually walking to London, that would breach the COVID lockdown restrictions in place at the moment. No, I am doing it virtually. I am walking the equivalent miles; 71 miles according to Google maps; on foot and I am doing a regular blog on the way sharing some fun facts about the places I pass. If I make it before the end of the month (and it is not a given as you will see below), I will take in some of the sights of London.
I appreciate that 71 miles in a month doesn’t sound that remarkable does it? Well, for those that don’t know me, I am a cuddly chunk of a man and have been a sloth through the various lockdowns (all my own doing and all bought and paid for😊). I also have a torn cartilage in my left knee that is getting operated on on 31st March, all being well, and so whilst walking on it doesn’t add to the damage, according to the experts, it does increase the pain I experience. But as they say, NO PAIN NO GAIN, ouch.
Why am I doing it?
Obviously to try and shift some lockdown timber and to try and raise a few quid for the Saints Disabled Supporters’ Association, which is an organisation close to my heart. My Dad introduced me to the Association some years ago before he died. He was a member and he was grateful for all the work they did in supporting disabled Saints fans both at St Marys Stadium and in the local community. Some seven years on and I am now Treasurer of the organisation trying to do my bit to help the great work that they do.
The SDSA as an independent organisation does not receive outside funding or grants and so relies on its own fundraising to support its work and much of this has not been possible as you might imagine, due to COVID so I am trying to do my bit to help them fill the coffers. The SDSA has a GoFundMe page set up to receive any donations and so do please pop in any amount that you can spare to spur me on in my journey. Even if you can’t donate do please send your comments of encouragement or abuse as I make my trek.
INSERT LINK TO GOFUNDME PAGE
Update 1 – Thursday 4th March
Fortunately, the weather has stayed dry, albeit a bit cold. I am four days in and reached Otterbourne on Tuesday, day 2. It is the 10 year census time about now and in the last census in 2011 it recorded a population of about 1,500 people in 600 dwellings (so on average 2.5 people per property!) oh and more importantly, it has three pubs.
I continued north from Otterbourne and eventually arrived in Winchester today (4th). There are loads of facts about Winchester; it was once the capital of England, about the cathedral being one of the biggest in Europe dating back to the 7th century, its 12th century bible, Jane Austen is buried there, King Arthur and his round table (spoiler alert: the one hanging up is a fake by the way) but one story stood out as a little bit different.
There is a portrait of King Charles I, (The one with the really pointy beard not the one with the Kate Bush wig) which hangs in the King Charles Room of the Guildhall and when it was restored in 2017 they found a painting of someone less important underneath painted on to the canvass. So check the photo frames on your Mum’s sideboard. She may now have a pic of her favourite pooch or moggy over your school photo!!
Update 2 – Sunday 7th March
This is a short update to say I am 18 miles into my virtual walk and I am pleased to say that I have reached Micheldever area ahead of schedule.
I am never sure if it is pronounced dever as in ‘ever’ or dever as in ‘diva’ but either way Micheldever is famous for being converted into a secret military base during World War II. It was an intelligence and foreign reconnaissance, used to store and distribute intelligence across the south east until being decommissioned in 1953.
Fun fact - Micheldever Station was the starting point for the first automobile journey in Britain, in 1895. The vehicle, a Daimler-engined Panhard-Levassor, had been ordered from France by the Hon Evelyn Ellis (1843–1913). It was transported across the channel by ferry and then to Micheldever Station by train.
Ellis received delivery on the platform and drove the vehicle to Datchet, and deliberately broke the 4 mile an hour speed limit to test an Act of Parliament that required all self-propelled vehicles on public roads to travel at no more than 4 mph and to be preceded by a man waving a red flag. Whilst Ellis was not arrested, the Act was repealed in 1896 as more and more vehicles were designed to go much faster (and presumably safer). Anyway, now to push on towards Basingstoke.
Update 3 – Wednesday 10th March
I have now arrived in Basingstoke and it is starting to rain, yuk.
Basingstoke is described in the Domesday book but became better known due to its expansion to accommodate the London overspill after the Second World War. As a result of this development it became known as ‘doughnut city’ due to its number of roundabouts, with the craziest being Black Dam with its four lanes and roads cutting through the middle of it north of the town joining the M3 and the ring road.
Fun fact – Four women are creating a new comedy called ‘Dead Town’ based on Basingstoke. I will not pass judgement on the title or connection with the town other than to say, the women are crowdfunding to get the project off the ground and offering a role as an extra if you donate or a walking tour of Basingstoke, your choice !
Update 4 – Friday 12th March
I am closing in on Fleet Services up the M3 now having done just over 32½ miles. Whenever I am on a long drive and coming home to Southampton, when we get to the Southbound Fleet Services, I start to feel like I am nearly home. Wednesday 16th December 2016 was not such a good day for the service station though as fire engulfed the restaurant building which also led to the closure of the motorway.
The footbridge which joins the North and South Fleet services on the M3, is named after BBC Radio1 DJ Scott Mills and it was obviously closed after the fire, however, shortly after the fire Fleet Fire Brigade tweeted: "@scott_mills don't worry, your bridge is safe."