I vividly remember a lesson I learned during one exercise in the army: We were dropped off in a remote location, shown where we were on the map, and told where we had to get to. Except that we'd deliberately been shown the wrong starting point. It took us quite a while to work it out, and it meant that our trek was all that much longer because of it.
Unfortunately,we don't always remember these lessons when we are keen and eager. On this particular trip I actually dropped MYSELF off at a different location to the one I had planned. It didn't take me as long to work it out this time though, and I kicked myself more for my initial mistake. Luckily, it was an error which was quickly accounted for.
I retained the 15kg backpack weight I'd been carrying on previous trips and the trek took me through green fields, woods and pathways. I passed a pub with a very neglected playground, and I discovered that many of the public footpaths in Worcestershire cut directly through the middle of farmer's fields. At this time of year, many of them have recently been harvested or ploughed. The harvested ones leave short, sharp stalks of straw sticking up - you would not want to stumble and put your hand out onto these. The ploughed ones are even harder to cross if it's been raining, as the mud sticks to your boots, making you taller and heavier. When you cut across these fields, it's generally necessary to take a bearing to where you're trying to get to, as there are no paths to lead the way.
The highlight of this trip for me was the necessity to cross a railway track via a pedestrian crossing. I can't recall ever having had to do this before. It's strange to stand (albeit very briefly) in between the tracks, looking down the line.
After a 15km trek, Esta met me again the The Retreat in Norton, as we had to head over to catch the Warriors match against Wasps. (Warriors lost, but it was a good match).
Totally unrelated to the Channel Swim or the book... I trekked up to a small town in Tenerife called Masca on Sunday 20th August. Here is a video capturing the experience. It's a 13km round trip.... 6.5km uphill, and then back down!
So here it is... after three years, several stops and re-starts, my story behind the BBC4 'Swim the Channel' documentary is available on Amazon.
Buy the book here.
It's been a long journey, and the story seems somewhat surreal to me now, as if it's something that happened to someone else.
Time for a new challenge!
Photo courtesy of FT Images
The local paper have picked up on the upcoming TV show. Here is an article:
One time soldier, part-time author, full-time training manager, husband and father.