Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy!

Today has been a pretty busy day for Roman and I. The first thing on my list of things to do was to return the tent, sleeping bag and sleeping mat to Great Outdoors. Vango had not been able to get hold of their rep so I asked Holly to give the store a quick ring to explain what had happened. They were fine with it but, rather than get a refund, I decided to get an exchange – they had been good enough to agree to everything so I thought the least I could do was actually put the money back into the store.

I had been thinking for the past few days about walking boots or trainers. I have a cheap pair of walking trainers that would be fine for back up but I felt I needed some good quality ones that provide decent ankle support and are also fully waterproof. Another of the things I had on my shopping list were some decent socks – I have plenty of thin cotton socks I can use as lining socks but didn’t have any decent walking socks (not socks that walk, obviously!)

The lady that Holly had spoken to on the phone, Sandy, was really good and managed to help me out with everything I needed. After trying a few different trainers and boots on I decided to opt for a pair of Merrell boots. The boots in question are Gore-Tex so will not only keep my feet dry but also allow them to breath. They were deceptively comfortable for walking boots and cost just £90 – a small price if they don’t cut my feet to pieces!

I also asked Sandy about socks – I don’t know about you but I know very little about the technical details of such things. She recommended a couple of different types but said the ones that she would go for if she were buying them would be the X Socks. I must say, they are also pretty comfortable – they have padding in all the right places and are also breathable. They were £12.99 a pair so I picked up 4 pairs of them.

Holly also said that Vango would be happy to give me more stuff so recommended that I go on the website and take a look at their range. They said I could pick a different tent if I felt another would be more suitable. I decided to stick with the one I had picked – although it is fairly bulky it also gives the benefit of lots of space for Roman, me and all of our stuff!

I decided to ask for a few more things but didn’t want to be too extravagant. I chose a rucksack that would be able to carry a fair amount of stuff – although all of our stuff will be kept in the stroller it would be good to be able to split clothes and electricals from the rest of the stuff in there. I also chose a chair and a self inflating pillow – I hadn’t even thought about that until I spotted it. Holly said that this would be no problem and should be sending the stuff first thing tomorrow morning. I think I should get it just in the nick of time!

Vango have really been brilliant with me and I am very grateful for all the help they have provided. Most companies have refused to help altogether but Vango have gone out of their way to provide me with as much support as they can. I’d like to take the opportunity to publicly thank them for their support and also to thank Holly who has been excellent throughout.

This afternoon I took Roman to the vets to have a general health check before we leave. Everything, as presumed, is fine with him and we now have the all clear for our trip. It was pretty hot today here so it was a good opportunity to see how he coped with that. He did pretty well really. In total we walked around seven or eight miles by the time we made it to my dad’s afterwards and he was ready to go again within about half an hour!

I had read on the DEFRA site that Roman would need a health check prior to leaving so had booked in at the vets but they think he may need to have one within a certain number of hours of the trip. I will be ringing DEFRA tomorrow to see what their stance is on this. If he does need one just before we board the ferry then I will have to locate a vet in Dover but this will not be a problem as I had already decided to factor in a rest day in Dover – lucky really!

My dad has managed to print a few hundred posters out for me today so tomorrow will also see me going around local businesses in Chester trying to gain support and get our posters put up in as many places as possible. I hope we get well received, I’m sure we will be by local businesses though. I am also going to see about getting some cards printed up, kind of like business cards. I am sure I will be stopped along the way by many people and it would be handy to be able to give them a card with my blog address on.

Roman had his first proper walk in his new boots today and, after the initial bewilderment, it seemed to go pretty well. After about a mile he seemed to be used to them and they didn’t seem to bother him in the slightest. I love that about Roman – he adapts to new situations so well! I am going to try walking him with the stroller tomorrow so that he can get used to its presence.

I managed to speak with my friend from Nuneaton on Facebook last night and it seems that he may be able to put us up for the evening. I am quite excited about seeing him again – we met in Tunisia on a holiday a few years back and always intended to meet up for a drink but it never happened. It will be a good opportunity to have a few beers together and catch up. If you’re reading, thanks Brad!

Day Eleven

Our eleventh consecutive day of walking will take us from Newington to Canterbury. We will be passing through Sittingbourne and Faversham along the way before I journey takes us rural once more. There will probably be about 8 miles of rural walking and this will make a nice change after a couple of days of urban walking.

The trip from Newington to Canterbury is about 21 miles in total and I am hoping to arrive in Canterbury by late afternoon. I have decided to take the first of our rest days here as it is said to be a very interesting place with much to see. Although it is a rest day I am sure we will still do a fair amount of walking!

I was hoping to meet up with a guy I have mentioned before in here called Benedict Protheroe. He walked from Canterbury to Rome last year. I spoke to him earlier on the phone and, unfortunately, he is off to Canada next week for 9 weeks working. Instead, I will look to locate a launderette and an internet café so that I can do some washing and update my blog!

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