The World's Most Confusing Signpost
The World's Most Confusing Signpost

We had wondered in advance which would be our “hump day”, as the Americans call it. This might possibly have rather different connotations in the UK, but in the context of an all-female hiking group it means the toughest day, when the aches and pains have kicked in but the new fitness levels haven’t.

I’m rather hoping that today was the hump day, because if we get much more decrepit than this we might be in trouble. We were not helped today by some very muddy sections, that in mere minutes added pounds of clodded earth to our boots and further slowed our weary legs.
Jane’s feet were causing her some problems, even though her boots are very well worn in, so she decided to start a new trend – hiking loafers. Her evening shoes provided a welcome break for her feet. They did the trick surprisingly well, at least until we were able to stop at a garden centre for our lunch break and she bought some very fetching pink wellies. Of course, what she REALLY needs is some Keen boots, but we tried phoning around nearby outdoor shops, to no avail, alas.
Dodgy knees are an occupational hazard of the extreme skier, and Alison’s have undergone 8 surgeries in their lifetime. She calls them her Frankenstein knees. Today she was finding it more comfortable to jog gently rather than walk, as jogging brought into play her well-developed skier’s thighs and took the pressure off her calves.

I’m feeling a little bit of general tiredness in my ankles and hips, but otherwise not too bad. And Laura is still fit as a fiddle.

We’re all generally holding it together, and spirits are good as ever, but we are lining up a few contingency plans just in case – possibly renting a couple of bicycles for a few days when we get to Holland. We just hope that our navigator, Jane, stays the course. She might get a lot of abuse during the final “Jane miles” of the day, but we’d be lost – literally! – without her.

Tonight we are staying in Marks Tey, at the home of Laura’s brother. Luckily he wasn’t here to see 4 bedraggled, mud-coated women traipse up his driveway just before dusk.

As I sit here typing this, Jane has gone into Colchester to seek better footwear. Alison is hobbling around getting organized. Laura, as the most able-bodied member of the team and at least a near relative of the homeowner, is on cooking duties. And Mary is on her way back to her studies at the University of Essex. We are hoping her absence is only temporarily, as we’re trying to press-gang her into coming over to Holland to help us out with logistics. She has proved herself so indispensable that we will drug and abduct her if need be.

It is quite amazing how the team has already gelled. For a very random assortment of distant acquaintances, we are getting along famously. Even our various decrepitudes have not caused tempers to fray. What a team – BB2B, or not 2B…. boom, boom!


  • I am full of admiration! The weather has been truly awful today, and yet you all still remain cheerful! very good luck, have a good sleep and looking forward to your blog tommorow

  • If I am unsuccessful in my begging and pleading with tutors and employers for an excused absence from a week of lectures and work, an abduction might be necessary. Stand by with get away bicycles. (No drugs necessary except for making it look like I was taken against my will.) Missing you girls already!

  • If you’re already thinking about bikes, you could do worse than take a detour through Middelburg and coax Derk Thijs into lending you some.
    Might not be to the taste of your fellow travellers, but I’m sure you’d have a whale of a time.
    I can vouch for he fact that 100 miles a day, whilst not a piece of cake, is quite easily doable, especially on the flat. And you laugh at headwinds!

  • Seeing those photos in yesterdays blog,brought back fond memories of my childhood in the country. I was evacuated there away from the bombing in London. I have been in America now for 50 years, but always remember the beautiful English countryside.

  • Roz, at last you’re doing something that I’ve done too! I love country walking and I agree that the accumulated weight of mud can be a real hindrance, and pain. As with many things in life, rhythm is the key – keep to as regular a pace as you can under the circumstances and you’ll find it easier going, I promise. Also, a regular pace lets you get a good tune going in your head, or singing, which somehow seems to help eat up the miles too. Best wishes, Steve Maskell

  • While us Yanks may call it hump day, I might suggest, given your current conditions, slump day, or lump day, or maybe even rump day (if that is not too graphic)…there always seem to be the low ebb moment in those marathon like ventures–can remember such moments while doing the Equinox marathon in hiking boots or slogging through snow on the Pacific Crest Trail with a 60 lb pack after day three–yes those were truly slump, lump, and rump days…have you ever tried soaking feet and/or body in Johnson’s Foot Soap–a good Yank bromide–full of epsom salts and other deliciously soothing salts…hang in as tomorrow is bound to ease as your bodies catch up to your spirits…

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