on milestones and Nanna magic

today the woman who didn’t walk anywhere completed 700,000 steps.  It is true, in six or so weeks I have walked over 300 miles.  Today I had a companion.  My gorgeous Granddaughter and her Nanna had a day together.

She arrived early, the sun was shining so we headed out to the swings near home.  ‘Push me higher Nanna’,  this little girl loves to fly high.  Next we headed to the slide but warmed by the sunshine this was too hot to use.  We went home and prepared to go into town.

Riding in her buggy she kept a commentary all the way.  ‘The lorries have big wheels Nanna’, ‘I am counting the bricks in the wall Nanna’, life with her is always fun.  We did the boring stuff, went to the bank and a few shops and then of we went to the big park in the middle of town.  Here my little girl tackled the netting up to the slide like a professional. Despite being tiny she held her own with the bigger kids and went up and down time and again.

It was lunch time so we said goodbye to the big park and headed for home.  After lunch and a nap we went to play in Nanna’s shop, where we tested lots of toys and chatted to lots of people.  Time for home again and the pram was not welcome. ‘I walk Nanna’, of course you do, so do I.  So I am pushing the buggy with one hand and tightly holding hands with the other.  Suddenly there is a bump in the road and the gorgeous girl takes a tumble.  Oh my, the tears fell.  ‘I have a hurt knee Nanna’.  I scoop her up and kiss it better, no we don’t want to ride in the pram I am walking Nanna.  Of course you are, just like me!!

Once home we deal with the poorly knee.  To see the trust in her little eyes while Nanna bathed it with her magic water and cloth was beautiful.  I managed to clean it and found very little problem underneath.  Happily we went out to play picnics in the garden, sore knee forgotten.

I had also forgotten how love and care from Mum or Nanna can fix most things.  I read somewhere that ‘kissing it better’ really works.  I am not sure how but the brain recognises the love and all is well.

By the time Daddy comes to collect her the injury is forgotten, she is full of the fun we have had. In the evening I am remembering the precious moments throughout the day and once again am grateful I am now fit enough to enjoy life.

700,000 steps is a very long way, soon I will have done my million, but I am sure I won’t be stopping walking anytime soon

million Steps – day 36 – ups and downs


Today finds me once again in the Welsh hills and it is a warm and sunny morning.  Walking along the sea front I am regretting wearing my leggings, it is far too warm.  I love the sea, but today there is no wind and for once the three mile walk is too hot to be comfortable.

Back at base and hubby is up and about.  We chat about how to spend the rest of the day.  Perhaps another walk?  There are some new circular routes I want to try, but hubby is not convinced.  I suggest the Great Orme, and he says this is a great idea.

For those not familiar with the North Wales landscape the Great and Little Ormes  are hills that sit opposite each other either side of the bay at Llandudno.  The Great Orme being the biggest has a railway and cable cars to take you to the summit.  We decided to try and walk up there.

We walk up a passageway and at the top there is a choice of which way to walk.  We plump for the Invalids Walk, surely that won’t be too difficult.  It isn’t at all but we seem to be walking away from the summit.  We find a path heading up but after a short while we abandon it, the steep drops and uneven ground are not for me.

Heading back we pick up the road and head uphill.  To say the road is steep is not doing it justice.  It is very, very steep.  It is still warm and sunny and soon we are very hot indeed.  We pause for breath and talk about giving up, walking back down to the sea front and getting an ice cream perhaps.  Hubby and I are more determined than that and begin to climb again.  Steeper and steeper, this is not an easy walk, and yet when we pause to look behind up the view is amazing.  Encouraged we continue.  Eventually the road flattens out and we follow grassy paths up towards the top.  By now we are feeling a little bit full of ourselves and are looking on those driving to the top with disdain.

Another couple of stops, this time for photos, not to get our breath back, and we are at the summit.  The views from here are stunning, we can see for miles and miles.  We stop to purchase our ice cream and sit enjoying the view.  How quickly we have forgotten the strain of those first hills, how good do we feel? this is a real achievement.  I am reminded of how life used to be.  When I wouldn’t dare walk far at all as the pains in my joints could at times seize up completely.  Now here I am walking up the Great Orme!!

Ice cream and self-congratulations finished we set off around the summit and begin to climb down. The view on the other side is of a vast expanse of the Irish Sea, and below us we can see the remains of an ancient village on the side of the hill.  I begin to wonder about the families that lived here, it must have been a hard life.

As we wend our way down the grassy paths, we are in great spirits.  Tired, obviously, but buoyed by our determination not to give up and our success on reaching the top.  I find downhill hard on my knees but with my hubby to hold my hand anything is possible.

It makes me think of the life we have built together, how we have faced really tricky times, times when it would have been so easy to give up, and yet we didn’t.  Together we made it through.  In fact life has been just like our walk today.  Times when progress was slow, when we needed to stop and breathe, to make decisions, do we carry on or change our route? Times when I was too tired and sore to move, and times when the sun has been on our backs and life is good.

It seems to me that we are not only defined by what we achieve, but we also defined by what we try to achieve, and what we learn along the way.

Eventually we are back in town and we decide to treat ourselves to fish and chips. As we sit in the late afternoon sunshine, we decide that this has been a wonderful day.  I am once again thankful to Diabetes UK for giving me the motivation to move, and to my hubby for always walking by my side throughout all our ups and downs.

Today I added over 21,000 steps to my total, the million is firmly in sight. Tomorrow I may rest awhile.

million steps – day twenty nine – fruit and football

The early morning walk this morning set me up for a very busy day.  I needed to buy fruit before breakfast so changed my walk in order to call at the supermarket on the way home. It made a nice change.  I walked through the shopping streets and along a busy enough road, for a minute there was no traffic and I was amazed to hear so much bird song, just shows what is hidden behind the noise of everyday life.

Anyway fruit was purchased and I made my way the last quarter of a mile towards home. Again carrying a heavy bag I was reminded of how much weight I used to carry with me all the time, at least this burden is put down once I get home.

The rest of the day was busy, big changes in our little shop meant moving lots of heavy items around.  This is something I would not have been able to do just three months ago. Eventually it is done and it is time to pop home to get ready to go out.

When a football club invites you to talk about your charity there are a number of things you may well expect to happen.  It is a function, in a club bar.  There are over a hundred and fifty people there.  What I didn’t expect was to be in such a welcoming and nurturing space.  The walls are decked with banners, they read:  Football has no gender, We are all immigrants, refugees welcome.  It is an extraordinary place.  It is run mostly by men, who all decided that they wanted to do football differently.  And that is what they do.  We were made so welcome and our talk went down really well.  The rest of the evening was great fun too.

It taught me a lesson. Once again I was forced to acknowledge how my preconceptions can be so far off the mark.  My colleague who was with me commented on the way home how the evening felt very much like an evening we attended at a Church Fellowship.  I knew exactly what she meant.  That night was run by women of a certain age, who made tea, sold items and listened equally attentively to our talk.  They also welcomed us and were interested in what we do.  So very different and yet so much alike.

I suppose the lesson I take away is that kindness is everywhere.  People reach out to help and support from every area of life.  The clever trick is to make sure you are open to see what is around.  From birdsong behind the traffic noise, to warmth on a football pitch, it is there if you look for it.

By the end of the night, and it was a late one, I had clocked up over 16,000 steps towards my million steps.  Today was a good day.

Million steps – weekend walking – days twenty three and twenty four

it has been another bright warm and sunny weekend, great for getting out and about and walking.  Sadly on Saturday my body felt otherwise.  I was up early and out of the door before 6.30am but I just couldn’t get going.  I felt sluggish, tired and was generally not feeling it at all.  I stopped often, took photographs, seeing the town in the early morning glow was great, I decided not to worry, at least I was out and about, and any exercise is better than none.

A busy afternoon in the shop followed by fun with my Granddaughter clocked up enough steps for the day, and by evening I was feeling fit again.  I was thinking hard about how to vary my steps and decided to do something different on Sunday.

Sunday morning I had a lie in, I was up and out by 8.30am and planned to combine walking with swimming, to give me a change in activity.  Rather than walk the direct route to the pool I set off on my usual route, eventually arriving in the park and at the pool.  I used to love swimming, in my youth I was always in the water, the sea, the swimming pool, where ever I could swim I swam.

The last time I tried to swim my pains were strong and I was fearful of not being able to climb out of the water.  I decided to give up.  That was a few months ago, things have changed.  Once in the pool and swimming I remembered how much I love being in water. I managed a few lengths and felt well.  I walked the rest of my usual route home, feeling quite energetic and back on track.

By late afternoon I had completed chores, walked to the supermarket and then spent too long on my laptop.  I decided it was time to get outdoors.  Hubby agreed to come with me and we set off together.  We did a quickish circuit from home, winding down a country lane, enjoying the green and pleasant land all around us.  Almost home and the rain started, falling light at first it quickly became heavy.  It was deliciously cooling and refreshing.  We made it back before we were too wet.

So, another weekend in this crazy challenge,  I managed to walk about 27, 000 steps towards a fitter me and closer to completing Diabetes UK’s challenge.

million steps – day twenty one – going red

A quicker than normal walk this morning meant I was playing catch up with steps all day long.  Lots of exercise though.  We had hundreds of rubble sacks to load onto a van, most had to be moved up a flight of stairs too, so lots of energy was required.

Home after lunch I was waiting for my lovely hairdresser to come and cut my hair.  Since losing weight I am choosing a shorter style,  but it was time for a new colour.  When reaching for my ‘normal’ colour in the supermarket my eye was drawn to different shades.

I picked a lovely reddish brown, dark and warm and more like my original colour.   Anyway half an hour or so later and it was done.  I looked so different, but in a good way. Hairdresser arrived and cut it all just a little bit shorter, just what I wanted.

Since starting this challenge for Diabetes UK I have made so many changes.  Less food, more exercise, lots more walking and less sweet treats.  However becoming a redhead albeit reddish brown, is the most striking change yet.  I love it.  Oh and yes I managed to achieve 13,000 odd steps too.


million steps – day eighteen

to be honest a million steps is a lot of steps to walk.  At least that is what I was thinking on my morning walk today.  I was on my usual route, with a slightly longer diversion, to avoid boredom, as I clocked up about 7500 steps.  At least it was dry and a very pleasant morning to walk in.  But a million steps is still a lot of steps.

When I reached the 300,000 mark I thought I was well on my way, and I suppose that is true.  However there is still over 600,000 steps to do to reach my target.  I am beginning to wonder how many different routes I can devise to make this more interesting.

Later I drove to join my lovely hubby at our caravan in North Wales.  After almost two hours driving I was ready to move, so as soon as we had had lunch we drove the short way to the coast and walked along the seafront.  Steps done with company disappear much more quickly that those done alone, and by the time we returned I had clocked up enough to make the days tally respectable.

I always knew it would be a challenge, the woman who didn’t move much for ten years or more is certainly more active that I would have dreamed possible, but 600,000 is a mission.  Luckily I am sure I am up to it, and if I can do it anyone can.  Thanks to Diabetes UK for motivating me, I really am doing the best I can.


million steps – day seventeen – lazy Sunday afternoon

Summer arrived today.  Unannounced and unexpected, the day became warmer and warmer.  Out walking in the early morning, there was a lot of cloud but it felt warm and there was, for once, no rain.

Home again after breakfast the sun was peeping through the kitchen window so I took my book outside to sit on the decking for a while.  I soon came indoors to change into cooler clothing and as I sat and sat outside I could feel the warmth on my face increasing by the minute.

Our back yard is a sociable space.  Our house is the second in a terrace of six, in a terrace street of lots of houses.  From our decking we can see our neighbours and they can see us. As ever the sunshine is bringing people outside and soon I am joined by a neighbour on my decking.  As we chat about all that we believe to be going wrong in this world, another neighbour comes out and joins in.  So there we are, in the sunshine, putting the world to rights and mostly, but not completely in agreement.

I was very glad I had done a longer early morning walk today, for I did very little after that. Today is possibly my lowest step count since the challenge for Diabetes UK began.  By bedtime I had clocked up a miserable 11,000 odd steps.  Still within my daily target but not good enough.  Tomorrow is another day.


Million steps – day 16 – new life in an old place

Today’s walking was mainly done in a city I once knew so well.  The city I lived and worked in for twenty odd years, the city where,as a child, I spent time with Mum and Dad, a city I still think of as a home.

This time I was there with a new friend who was unfamiliar with the city and it was my great pleasure to share with her my favourite haunts.  I proudly showed off the wonderful landmarks, and enjoyed her reaction to the buildings, the history and the people all around us.

It was somewhat surprising to me to find so many changes have been made.  I knew about the regeneration of the centre, the new shops and galleries but here there were some changes I hadn’t noticed in my previous visits.  We walked in an enormous circle, almost 25,000 steps or 10 miles of pavement passed below our feet, stopping here and there we took photographs and ate good food while chatting with friends old and new.

The area that astonished me was one I once walked through often.  Below the might of a cathedral, the warehouses lining the streets had once buzzed with cargo, with workers and the noise of commerce.  This had been on my way home when I was a student I would save the bus fare and walk from college to our shared house.  Back then the city was in decline, the docks beginning to close, the warehouses were shadows of their former selves.Now, at first glance they seem much the same.  There are no broken windows any more and although many are unlit, through some windows there are clues that there maybe homes within.  From outside they mostly look neglected and unloved.

We are guided by a friend who knows this place and soon we come across a painted wooden doorway.  Entering I am amazed at what is within.  Colour hits the eye, bright walls and fake green grass surround tables and chairs in the sunshine.  Booths made from bamboo line one wall and the music lifts our spirits. We have great food, we have cocktails and we feel as if we have found another world. This is not the only surprise this afternoon for behind many of these imposing, somewhat sad structures there is a vibrancy and energy I would never have dreamt of.

Fed and watered we begin our way back towards the station and home.  As we walk the many, many steps of the day, we are drawn to sculptures and art everywhere.  The streets seem alive with colour and as we leave the warehouses and rejoin the shops there are thousands of people all around us, each living their lives in the city.  Going home, shopping, out for fun, people are everywhere and it feels good to be a part of this urban life.

Later, on the train heading back to the hills we are chatting about our day.  Neither of us noticed how far we had walked, instead we were buoyed by the sunshine and so much to see.  Tired but happy we go our separate ways home.

In the past whenever I travelled home by train I have always either been picked up at the station or hailed a taxi home.  Often the almost a mile climb up the hill from the train has been too much to ask after a day out.  Today I am much cheered as  I am able to walk it with ease. It would seem another fifteen hundred or so steps is a breeze as I walk through the town that is now my home.  Here there are also people out and about on a Saturday night, in a small town in the countryside.  I feel so lucky to have roots in two very different but beautiful places.


million steps – day fifteen – walking backwards

today I decided to vary my route. I have developed several ways to walk three miles, my early morning start to the day, some take me down long hills and back up again, others offer shortcuts and I always avoid busy roads.  Walking to the traffic noises is not on my list of favourite things to do.  Anyway, each of the routes has its good bits and bad bits, most of them I don’t even think about which direction I am taking, but let the road lead me home.

So, setting out in what looked to be the making of a fine and bright morning, I decided to do my most frequent route, but to do it back to front. I began with the circle of the field, always the last thing I do, and set off following the route.  This time I had to think about which way I was going, the natural ‘sat nav’ in my brain was finding it more difficult to direct me.  Anyway, walking streets in a different direction allowed me to notice different things.  The trees from the other side of the street looked more shady, the shadows were different.  The road that always signals half way was just the same, and still half way but the wrong way, it felt very odd.

Just on the halfway point the bright and clear morning changed.  The first couple of drops of rain were barely noticeable but those that followed were a very different story.  I switched route to cut down towards the theatre as I knew there was a large canopy that would give me some shelter.  I stayed for a few minutes until the cloud passed over, before continuing my walk.  Oh dear, not only was I going backwards I was now off route completely.  Feeling a bit damp and disconcerted, I arrived home from the ‘wrong’ direction.  It was all a bit of a muddle.

Still a healthy step count today, helped by lots of walking up and down in the shop later, means I am getting nearer my million steps.  I hope Diabetes UK makes lots of money from this challenge, it is a genius way to get people like me walking.

million steps – day 14 – two weeks in

today marks the end of the second week of my million step challenge and things are getting easier.  Another long walk today, hubby again dropped me at the edge of town and I walked back home through new streets.  I am noticing I am walking more quickly.  In the beginning my average pace was 2.4 miles an hour, I am now up to 3 miles an hour without really thinking about it.  I am also finding the hills easier to manage and seldom become breathless.

This is all important as it means as well as raising money for Diabetes UK and losing weight I am also increasing my fitness and my stamina.  In total I have been daily walking for about five weeks now, before July 1st I was practising and wandering a bit.  I was explaining to colleagues yesterday how my walking has developed.

My first walk was literally around the field in front of my house.   I know now this is about 900 steps and it took me a while to walk it. I remember feeling a bit self conscious, hoping no one would notice me.   The next day I did it again and the day after that I walked around it twice.  A couple of days of that and then  I walked down the road and then round the field and then the next day down a couple more roads before walking around the field home.  Step by step I did a little bit more each day, and now 3 miles in a hour is not difficult at all!  I am averaging about 15,000 steps a day, just under 7 miles, it is incredible.

I enjoy varying my route but every walk either begins or ends with the walk around the field.  It is very much part of my routine and it would feel all wrong if I didn’t do it each day. There is still some way to go to a million steps, I think this weeks walking should see me a quarter of the way there, well on track to complete it before the end of September.

There are so many positives about this challenge, the thinking time I have while walking, the gorgeous countryside and views I am seeing, the weight I am losing, the energy I now have, but the very best thing it that it is becoming normal. It is has simply become what I do.