December book review

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Book number 22

Book read: The Bolivian Diary by Ernesto Che Guevara

This book was compiled from the notes Che Guevara made during his final mission before he was captured and executed by the Bolivian army. It is a first hand account of the progress Che and his team of revolutionaries made through the Bolivian jungle as Che attempted to ‘find recruits’ i.e. enlist the help of peasants in an attempt to overthrow the Bolivian government.

Che provides an incredible insight into the tough daily life they led. From his own perspective Che notes the health issues including dealing with his own asthma and lack of medical supplies, the hunger and thirst and tactics to avoid capture.

The book ends abruptly on 7th October 1967 with Che’s final diary entry… it leaves a chill as you know this was the moment just before he was captured…

From a personal perspective I found this another inspiring and slightly life shaping book. Us westerners moan and complain about the slightest little discomfort: “It’s 11:30 and I’m starving… is it nearly lunchtime?” or “I got soaked to the skin” when walking in the rain back to their warm comfy home and hot bath; or “I could never sleep in a tent”… a small waterproof tent with a few beers and a sleeping bag for a weekend is a luxury compared with sleeping under trees in a jungle in the rain for months on end with little food; insects biting you; foreign armies trying to shoot you and having to spend the next day tired and exhausted as you continue your trek with soaking kit and damp clothes…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week 51 walking update

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Bremen Christmas Market

Running total (to week 50): 2073

Miles walked in week 51: 28

Total walked so far in 2018: 2101

Below average again… I walked 5 miles in Germany on the first day of week 51 (Monday) before we flew back to Stansted on Monday evening. I worked from home twice during this week however I’ve been so busy that I didn’t have a chance to have a lunch break where I would usually walk 3 or 4 miles. Not good and hopefully I’ll have an improved work/life balance where I have enough time to maintain my walking routine in 2019!

 

 

 

 

Week 50 walking update

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Bremen Christmas Market

Running total (to week 49): 2029

Miles walked in week 50: 44

Total walked so far in 2018: 2073

I reached my second target of 2050 miles to walk in 2018 on 12th December which was on the Wednesday of week 50! This walk in itself was nothing exciting, just a mile to my local Co-op and back to get out during my lunch break.

The Saturday and Sunday of this week were spent wandering around Christmas markets in the German town’s of Bremen and Hamburg where I walked an estimated 4 or 5 miles each day.

 

 

 

 

 

Week 49 walking update

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Paignton, Devon

Running total (to week 48): 1,998

Miles walked in week 49: 31

Total walked so far in 2018: 2,029

I passed the 2,000 mile mark during this week and I’m now just 21 miles short of my revised target to walk 2050 miles in 2018!

Slightly less than average again this week however I walked two very short sections of the South West Coast Path yesterday and this morning during a weekend in Paignton, Devon. The weather has been rainy again this weekend and the above photo was taken early this morning shortly after sunrise.

 

 

 

December weigh-in

Weight on 1st December 2018: 8 st 4 lb

Thankfully I’ve lost most of the weight I gained while on holiday at the beginning of November although I’m still keen to lose another lb or two. This might be difficult now we are coming up to the festive season 🎄

The cheese picture above was taken last weekend where I overindulged (again) at a fab activity weekend. As well as lazer clay pigeon shooting, segway riding and axe throwing, the other activities were drinking Prosecco, gin, wine, Baileys and consuming huge amounts of food. I’m just about managing to keep my weight down by burning hundreds of calories at the gym and walking over 40 miles a week…

I’ll do a final 2018 post at the end of December, right after Christmas!

Week 48 walking update

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Running total (to week 47): 1954

Miles walked in week 48: 44

Total walked so far in 2018: 1998

Almost at 2000 miles!

For my revised target of 2050 miles to walk in 2018 I have just 52 left to go and 4 weeks to do it in!

I’ve just spent a weekend in Kent exploring a small section of the North Downs Way. The weather was a bit rubbish but its still great to go somewhere different and get out and about in the countryside.

 

 

 

Week 47 walking update

Running total (to week 46): 1906

Miles walked in week 47: 48

Total walked so far in 2018: 1954

I’ve not walked anywhere exciting this week and did no walking this weekend. The majority of these 48 miles were walked between Mon – Fri and are the result of 5 x gym sessions and 4 x walking to and from train stations with having spent 4 days in the office. The extra gym session took place at Luton Hoo during a spa day (along with 3 outdoor miles!).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week 46 walking update

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Woburn

Running total (to week 45): 1866

Miles walked in week 46: 40

Total walked so far in 2018: 1906

I worked in the office in London for just one day during week 46 and these are the days I am able to tot up a few extra miles as it is over 5 miles to walk to and from stations and I do around 5 miles in the gym. When I work at home however I can only manage 3 or 4 miles by walking around my local town (e.g. to our big local supermarket or our local retail park) at lunchtime. So still a lower than average mileage rate for this week. Thankfully this was topped up by 10.5 miles today during another lovely autumn walk in Woburn which is not too far from where I live.

 

 

 

 

 

November book review

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Havana

Good effort with 3 books read within the last month 🙂

Book number 19

Book read: Step by Step: The Life in my Journeys by Simon Reeve

An awesome book from TV presenter Simon Reeve and possibly my favourite book so far this year. Simon gives an honest account of his incredibly interesting life and he opened my eyes to important global issues.

Simon comes from a modest ‘normal’ background where he grew up in West London with his teacher father, mother and his younger brother. He describes his difficult teenage years where he left school with few qualifications, battled with depression and basically didn’t feel he had much hope in his life.

He got into journalism with a job in the post room and became involved in research. He wrote a book on terrorism before the terrorist attacks of 9-11 after which he became well known as an author, leading to TV appearances and a TV career.

Simon’s first TV travel adventure was called ‘Meet the Stans’ and at the beginning of Chapter 13 he describes the anticlimax felt when he arrived back in London after filming the first half of the series. For me, coming back from any trip and back to the routine of life is always an anticlimax although, as Simon points out, travelling around the world is an “abnormal privilege” and something unthinkable for the vast majority of the world’s population.

Simon describes the issue of migrant workers in Chapter 18, whereby countries such as the UK save money by recruiting Ghanaian health workers which is more than the money they give to Ghana in health aid! This is an issue I’ve never previously considered… how much of this goes on? ‘Rich’ countries making themselves look good with foreign aid donations while simultaneously saving millions with cheap migrant labour!

I resonated with a paragraph at the end of Chapter 19 where Simon suggests we should add meaning and adventure to our trips; for example, by going to strange places, taking chances and embracing risk, rather than “lying horizontal by the pool”. So delving into the culture of a place and not sticking within the confines of the hotel.

Furthermore, Chapter 21 was also close to my heart and values and offers Simon’s take on the environmental consequences of travel. He advises we seek out authentic travel experiences and understand that when we pay our national park entrance fees, we are helping to preserve  “the greatest wildlife on the planet”.

All in all, a brilliant and highly recommended book!

 

Book number 20

Book read: It’s on the Meter: One taxi, Three Mates and 43,000 Miles of Misadventure Around the World by Paul Archer and Johno Ellison

This was another inspiring travel and adventure book! This is about 3 lads who, after a drunken evening, agreed to buy a London taxi and embark on ‘the longest taxi journey in the world…’

A short while later they were en-route from London to Sydney… the beginning, the Europe section was ‘laddish’ with tales of getting drunk almost every evening with their couch surfing hosts. I had no problem with this given they were all in their 20’s and it was fun to read of their antics.

The book got more interesting as they ventured towards Central Asia and described the issues they faced with their journey across borders into countries such as Iran and Pakistan. And their drive across the highest point in the world, Everest Basecamp!

Their adventure was event featured in the Daily Mail!

Another exciting ‘hard to put down’ book!

 

Book number 21

Book read: Remembering Che: My Life With Che Guevara by Aleida March

I picked up this book in Varadero airport at the end of my trip to Cuba where, throughout a week of seeing his iconic image at almost every turn, I was intrigued to learn more about Che Guevara and the Cuban Revolution.

Of over 20 books I’ve now read so far this year, this is only the third paperback with the rest being Kindle books as downloaded to my iPad. However with a recent holiday to Grenada I had saved this book until then.

Learning about history has interested me much more as I’ve got older; having seen places around the world I can now relate to them in a way that they seem much more real than ever being taught from a text book at school. To be honest, I was never keen on history lessons back then.

This book was written by Aleida March who was Che’s wife and the mother of 4 of his 5 children. Argentinian Che met Cuban born Aleida when they were both guerrillas in the Cuban Revolutionary army. The book describes her early life and her life with Che until the point he was assassinated in Bolivia in 1967.

This is an incredible story of her militant life back in the day when many women were housewives. The book was difficult to follow at times but gave a fascinating account of  Cuban history and a side of Che Guevara that would previously have been unknown.

Another fascinating book!