Sunday, 13 November 2011


For the last thirty years I have been living dangerously; my last seven homes all had their foundations barely above Ordnance Datum. With Global Warming threatening to raise sea levels, I was very lucky not to have drowned in my sleep.

Living at such low elevations made for difficulties when readying myself for any walk involving the physical effort of clambering up mountains. East Anglia is not renowned for its summits.

Over the years I have been fortunate in having Lord Elpus & Miss Whiplash close by: They whipped me into action every Autumn to drag me round the Suffolk Munros: all the hills 100m above Her Madge’s Imperial Sea Level. Happily, this usually involved meeting at a public house where we could slump into armchairs in front of roaring fires with a few pints of Greene King IPA, until Miss W finally kicked us out into the chilled afternoon dampness and the sludge of the Suffolk clay. This weekly fix was enough to keep the walking frame ticking over during the winter months so that when we needed to raise our game, to lug rucksacks about, it wasn’t too much of a shock.

I now live down in Berkshire. The shock statistic of my new location is that I live 250 feet above sea level on the side of a hill. This feels a little bit like cheating really as I am now Training At Altitude. With the new regime over at Challenge Control, there may well be dope tests at every start point on the TGO Challenge. I had better prepare a blood sample before I set off, just in case.

It was a sunny day today and so there were no excuses for not getting out there and going for a walk. I chose North, by North West as my direction and struck out fully provisioned with two apples and a granola bar. You can’t be too careful. And I was sporting clean pants. Just in case I was to be run over.

I left it a little too late to walk far but made a mental note to turn round at 3:00pm and see how far I would get. I was heading towards the Chiltern Hills.

M4 Motorway

I made it to the M4 motorway. What a great destination, eh? I know how to pick them! Stuff was whizzing past me at incredible speed. Everybody seemed to be in a desperate hurry to be somewhere else.

Returning Home

Miss Whiplash would have been pleased with the mileage and my efforts to increase her financial well-being. 10 miles in 3 hours including a stop for a pint of Greene King IPA. She’s a good girl; she has shares in Greene King. I even managed a few hills as well.

The burgeoning comedy belly will soon be a thing of the past.


  1. Welcome to the rarefied air of Royal Berkshire. I shall have to tread carefully whenever passing a pub now lest I disturb your altitude acclimatisation. I too can gaze upon the mighty M4 after less than one day's march from the Queen's racecourse.

  2. All the best Alan in your new residence. Keep a stock of altitude tablets handy and do some revision of the local brown squiggly things. Contours i mean.
    As for the belly! The Green King travels well and once he has a grip it’s difficult to shake off.

  3. The Chiltern Hills are lovely, Alan. Many a mile I've walked round there. Next time I'm down that way is at Christmas - I'll knock on your door and we can go few a few pints ;)

  4. What? Just the one? That will never do - no wonder you averaged 3.3mph. Lord E would be appalled at such haste.

    Three pints is a minimum requirement for proper hydration and nutrition. Remember your training - you'll thank me for it in May!

    Oh yes you will ;-)

    Miss W.

  5. Good luck in the new abode, Alan. Have you moved into the celebrity belt with Parkinson and Rolf Harris?

    Do you now own a stretch of the Thames?

  6. Foundations eh? Luxury!
    Contours, though, eh?. I think they have some in Berkshire, I once went for a walk to a pub in Berkshire.

  7. Hi Jon: I admit to being a native of these parts: Berkshire born & bred so it's a bit like coming home after a long voyage to the other side of the world! The weird thing is that it is the same as when I left here almost 40 years ago, but they have been changing things! Roads have now become footpaths and there are new roads all over the shop! And, they didn't ask me if it was okay to do all this! I am still getting used to the new geography.

  8. AlanR: The green King had travelled remarkably well. It was a well kept pint but in a dismal pub; it is part of a chain that turns pubs into places for families to go out and eat... All very hygienic bit no atmosphere at all apart from the books on the shelves that they bought by the metre.

  9. terrybnd: Wotcha! Blowing the froth off the top of a few pints sounds like an excellent plan. How's the planning for that weekend's clouds inversions going? I have just booked my train tickets online for the trip (it was easier to get to than your place) An email to follow later today.

  10. Miss Whiplash: I think we have an imposter in our midst. I cannot believe that our dominatrix would be encouraging me to have *more* pints! That sounds uncannily like Lord Elpus's words. I limit myself to "just the one" to cut the belly down to size, which has grown almost to it's comedic best recently.

    Phil & I *always* thank you for it in May as we have a another couple to toast your health whilst having a drag on Phil's illicit fags.

  11. Byeways: I have my eyes set on a little jaunt to the little foodie places in Bray. I understand that Parky & Rolf enjoy a decent lunch there, testing Heston's various chemical soups and vacuumed syllabubs.
    The Thames is a little out of my league, but I am a stones throw from one of it's tributaries. I used to build dams across it when I was a kid and get chased by the Green man...

  12. Michael: "once" went to a pub... Was it that bad?
    The contours are a real novelty. I search them out and throw myself across them eagerly (in an upward direction) as I have a walk coming up in a hilly place with some fit blokes who are all younger than me. There will be pain. There might well be tears.

  13. Craggy Berkshire, eh Alan? Almost exactly the same altitude as high-plains Woodbury, Conneticut. Life as training at altitude.

    Hoping you've had a grand housewarming, with lots of that terrific beer. I'm going into my annual decline, largely, I've always thought, due partially to a lack of decent bitter. American PA/IPA you can have.

    Hoist a few for me, will you?

  14. Mark: Consider them hoisted, Sir! I thought there were a few micro-breweries over there now producing a few decent ales that you can buy on-line?
    I shall look into it.

  15. 250 ft, eh? Surely that must be in the running for highest permanently inhabited settlement in England?

    Can you get diamox on tap?

    Oh, BTW, I have it on good authority (no less than my good lady wife) that calories at altitude don't count. So no problem with the beer, then.

  16. Please pass on my best regards to Mrs Jules: obviously a lady of intellect and discernment.


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