Sunday, 31 May 2009

Roman And His Obedience Class!

Today was a much better day for us in terms of mileage – we managed 15 miles today and I have also played football this evening in the 6 a side league in Chester – we won 2-0 if you’re interested! I got up nice and early – about 8am – despite not managing to get my early night (I didn’t go to bed until 2am!) I left the house just after 9am and managed to get 8 miles in before I got to the dog obedience training place. I go to a place called FIDO for anyone in Chester who is interested.

I decided to take a t shirt with me this morning after yesterday – I don’t want to put myself out of commission! Also, not sure whether the dog obedience class would appreciate me walking around topless with them! I was careful to make sure I wore my t shirt when the sun was on my back but took it off when it was on my front – the front always catches the sun slower!

Training went really well this week – we have only been to 2 sessions so far but I have been really happy with Roman so far. The problems I have with him are the result of other dogs – either strays running loose or idiot owners that can’t control their dogs. I like to think I am pretty responsible with Roman and I always put myself in the middle and make him sit behind me whenever dogs approach aggressively which, believe it or not, is actually quite often where I live!

The first class I went to was an indoor class and that was interesting. There were 5 dogs at that class but one was a recent rescue dog who was very worked up. As a result it just wouldn’t stop barking! Naturally the other dogs therefore got worked up but the rescue dog left after about 10 minutes – they do one on one sessions too – and all of the remaining dogs calmed down considerably! Roman was still very excitable and this can be quite difficult behaviour to handle when your dog is 9 stone of muscle!

This week we all took a walk into town – there were 3 dogs this week and one was a 6 month old Rottweiler bitch called Amber (Roman and Amber seemed to get on well!) – and stop off at a café for a coffee. I had never really thought about doing something like this but it was very beneficial. Roman surprised me – the nature of the other dogs seemed to rub off on him as he behaved really well. He walked really well on the lead and left the other dogs alone!

Once we got to the café the dogs just lay by our feet and, again, Roman behaved really well. The idea behind this is that it is teaching your dog to be able to deal with everyday distractions such as other people walking by and general conversations between us. I think the fact that the owners were in a relaxed state talking probably rubbed off on the dogs too.

I have really enjoyed myself this weekend and feel I have made good progress so far in publicising my plans. I never really thought about how much work goes into publicising this kind of stuff but I certainly have an idea now! I am enjoying every minute of it so far although it can be frustrating at times. My group on Facebook now has 159 members and a further 900 invitations outstanding. I have members from all over the world already – Greece, India, Argentina and many more. I have found the Social Me app on Facebook to be very handy for this so far! I am hoping that as the numbers rise the rate will start to proliferate.

Well, back to work tomorrow (unfortunately!) but at least I now have some groundwork done with this and I can see the end in sight! Thanks for reading.

Saturday, 30 May 2009


Well, my 15 to 20 miles was a little ambitious! I totally underestimated just how warm it was today… Everything went to plan this morning – I was up at 8.30am and chilled out with Roman until about 10.30am. We set off for our walk with me having decided I was going to just wear a pair of shorts. Within a couple of miles it became clear how warm it was.

We managed to walk about 8 miles in just under 2 hours so got home at about 12.30pm – traditionally the hottest part of the day. I stood outside my brother’s house – he lives about 50 yards away from me – and Roman was delighted to be given a couple of litres of water. We stood there for what must have been an hour talking so I took Roman home shortly before 2pm.

I took the opportunity to get something to eat and then decided to go back to my brother’s house to watch the FA Cup Final – I wish I hadn’t bothered to be honest as it wasn’t the result I had wanted! Yes, I am a die hard Liverpool fan but I feel it’s always nice to have trophies on Merseyside even if Liverpool don’t win them and I don’t have much time for Chelsea anyway.

After the match we took my nephew, Reece, out to play football for half an hour before returning to my brother’s house. It was whilst playing football that it dawned on me just how hot the day had been. My body has turned a fairly pink colour and, considering I shaved my head to a grade 0 to take advantage of the sun, I was a little worse for wear!

I applied lots of aftersun but I’m afraid the damage had already done! I was a little gutted to be honest as I was looking forward to another walk with Roman this evening but I have not been feeling too great to be honest! I have been getting the sunstroke shivers all evening and I think it was a wise decision to leave it this evening…

I have had a headache for most of this evening – I am not sure whether this is because of the sun or the few litres of pear cider I drank this afternoon whilst watching the football but I had to have a couple of Paracetamol and a powernap a little earlier to help sort my head out. I’m feeling a little tired now so I think I will be getting an early night!

Me and Roman have dog training in the morning – our usual session is at 12pm but Angela, the instructor, has asked me to go at 11am tomorrow. This is no problem to me as I am not up to much else tomorrow but this means we will need to be up at about 8am as I always like to walk Roman 8 miles before I go as this helps to take away a little of the excess energy he has – it’s easier to deal with him around other dogs if he has been walked a fair distance!

Oh, just thought too – I mentioned yesterday that I have started a group on Facebook but realised today that I never posted a link to it in here so here it is:

The group now has 110 members, which isn’t bad considering I only set it up a day or two ago! I am pleased to see that about 25% of this is people I don’t know so it seems that word is beginning to get around about my plans. Thanks to everyone who has helped with this!

Friday, 29 May 2009

Only 22 More Working Days!!

Well, there's another day done and another day closer to the end of my current employment. With me due to finish on 30th June that means I now have another 22 working days to go before I am officially free to get on with things and I'm now beginning to get pretty excited about the whole thing although it is also quite frustrating having to go to work when I could be at home preparing!

I now have the whole of the weekend off and, with the weather forecast telling me we're in for some nice sunny weather for the rest of the weekend, at least I can put my mind firmly on exercise for me and Roman. I am planning to get up at about 9 tomorrow (I'm allowed a lie in - it is my day off!) and, once we have both had breakfast, we will be going out at about 10am to try and get a good 15 to 20 miles walking in under the sun.

I have been slightly surprised also at just how quickly interest in this has begun to build. I decided to publicise this in a few ways:

1. I have sent a message to every single one of my friends on Facebook asking them to join a group I have started on there with a link to this blog and have asked them to also invite their friends.

2. I have been posting on internet forum sites and have received many kind comments. I would like to thank eveybody who has so far given me words of encouragement - it's nice to know so many people think so highly of what I plan to do.

3. I have decided to approach as many large organisations as possible and ask if they would be able to post a link to my blog on their intranets - I am not sure whether they will do this or not but if they will then it could really help to raise interest.

4. I will be speaking to my vets soon - as my dog is taking part and some of the money raised will be going to a Rottweiler charity I think it would be a good idea to try and get in touch with as many animal organisations as possible so the vet should be a good place to start with this.

5. I have been thinking about sponsorship and have decided that, once I have decided on the charities I hope to raise money for, I will approach organisations that have direct links to the charities in an effort to raise interest.

6. Again, once I have decided on the charities, I will be getting in touch with as many media sources as I can to try and raise interest. Once I have a firm offer on the house and, therefore, a better idea of when I will be setting off I will be able to draw up a plan of where I will be at certain points of the journey so I will be hoping to co-ordinate events in this way.

I am really looking forward to getting started on a lot of this stuff and know that I will be kept really busy with a lot of it. I think my first job now is to get cracking on deciding which charities to support. I am open to ideas at the moment but, please, don't be offended if I choose a different charity!

Thursday, 28 May 2009

I'm Going To Walk To Rome!

I decided a few months back that I wanted to do something different and, after a lot of thought, decided I wanted to walk from Chester in the UK to Rome in Italy with my dog, Roman the Rottweiler, and raise money for charity along the way. I have been researching various things over the past couple of months with a view to finding out exactly what would need to be done for me to be successful in my quest.

First on my list was getting a passport for Roman. This entailed a few trips to the vets - 2 so that he could have some anti Rabies injections and a subsequent trip for the results of the blood test and to pick up his passport. Ordinarily, I would have had to have got him chipped but, as I did this when I got him, there was no need. Still, it cost me about £180 to get him his passport!!

Next on my list was my own passport - I did have a passport but lost it towards the end of last year so had to reapply. Normally this wouldn't be a problem - after all, who really likes their old passport photos??? - only on this occasion I had only had my passport for a few months before I lost it!! So, about £80 and a few weeks later I also now have a passport.

One of the biggest challenges ahead of me is undoubtedly learning a new language. I have a desire to remain in Rome once I get there so it is pretty important that I am as fluent as possible in Italian by the time I set off. I started using Rosetta Stone a couple of weeks ago and have been making steady progress but there is so much to do and so little time!

As if that wasn't bad enough I could also do with learning a bit of French too - after all, I will be spending a fair amount of time walking through France so will need to be able to communicate with people properly for the duration of my stay there. Luckily, I was pretty good at French in school so, although I did leave 11 years ago, I can't see me struggling too much here - I will wait until I have completed all of the Italian courses before I try and learn a little more French.

Other things that I have had to consider over the past few weeks include issues surrounding dog laws in France and Italy, how to register myself in Rome once I get there, how to set up a bank account, how to go about arranging accomodation, making sure both myself and the dog are both fit enough and many other things too....

Over the past few weeks I have been walking as much as possible with the dog and recently, as I have had to spend some time learning Italian, I have changed these walks into runs. The walks tend to range between 4 and 13 miles at the moment depending on time available and the runs tend to be 4 or 5 miles, although I have done one 8 mile run to date.

I placed my house up for sale about 3 weeks ago and am hoping that I have priced it competitively enough to attract interest relatively quickly as the quicker the house sells the sooner I am able to go on my little adventure. I have been speaking with the estate agents on a weekly basis to try and gauge the level of interest and am pleased that the interest now seems to have begun, although I am still waiting for the first viewing.

Yesterday I officially handed in my resignation at work and I should finish on Tuesday 30th June - this makes everything a little more real and will hopefully give me plenty of time once I leave to spend arranging everything that I need to in order to make this trip possible. With a bit of luck I will get an offer on the house at the end of June and I should then be ready to set off at the end of August - I am itching to go but have no control over this...

With regards to charities I have been thinking about this long and hard and, as yet, am still undecided on who I want to raise money for! Considering my Rottweiler will be making the arduous trip with me I think that it is only fair that I should raise money for a Rottweiler charity and I do have one in mind although I will not name any charities until I have decided once and for all. Additionally, I want to raise money for 3 national charities - 1 for the UK, 1 for France and 1 for Italy - I think it is important to raise money for the 3 countries if I want to keep interest high along the way and am sure this is a good way of raising the profile of what I am doing.

Anyway, thanks for reading my first post - now you know my plans, I've just got to find a way of making it all happen!!