AMD & Cliff’s Action Plan for AMD


Well seven months later, 11th January 2197 update.

My wet AMD hid the attack by Dry AMD in my left eye. “Both of your eyes have extensive damage from DRYy AMD so we don’t see any benefit of continuing the injections in your left eye.”

I know the extra sight I get after an injection so this proposal appalled me.

I have added a special pocket to many pairs of trousers so as to carry my telescopic white stick all the time just actually using it for the shortest times.

SO WHAT.  I hauled out my boots and went for an eleven mile walk over the South Downs today, just to prove I can

My effective vision is as good as it has ever been.


September 20116 Update:

I’ve had AMD for six to seven years mow. I had early onset Dry AMD in my right eye which later deteriorated to the left eye and with Wet AMD. There have been many ups and downs and I’m pleased to say that my effective vision is better today than at any time since diagnosis.

Since April I have been taking Lipitor at a gradually increasing dosage from 20mg per day to 80 today (September). We have no objective measurements yet and possibly not until January 2017. I bought the Lipitor from pharmacies in Portugal while visiting.

I have stopped carrying a white cane.


August 2014 Cliff’s personal action plan, a  schematic.

develop your own personal plan

1.  Take Food Supplements
Drosen  is dead cells not washed away, so I take Lutein  and Zeaxanthin with the zinc supplement and  vitamin b12. I take 80mg, rather than 10mg because one always lives in hope.
2.  Look  Beyond.
I’m using my brain to instruct my eyes to “look beyond” or round the splodge to get my peripheral vision looking ahead of me.
3. Go Walking.
I go walking in parks or the countryside as its green – relaxing and good for the eyes and the soul. Target, 10,000 paces a day.  This sounds a lot but this is only an hour and a half.

4. Go Further and Even Further.
To move on I need to try to go further in every area of my life, all the time, always rebuilding my self-confidence.

5. Get Visual Impairment certificate.
Gives you reduced prices for your carer and may be some government “Benefits”.

6. Always say YES.
It’s scary but the fastest way to re-develop myself.

7. Get a Tablet
Start with this technology NOW and learn to use it fast as it’s a life-saver, as it keeps you in touch with the world. Without being in touch with the world, quality of life can disappear down the drain.

8. Get and Help Another VIP
A problem shared is a problem halved.

9.  Build up an Exercise Regime
I do Tai Chi and indoor tennis. I run a productive allotment.

Oil and Water. Sighted and unsighted meeting

OIL and WATER? Sighted and the Unsighted

Are we troglodytes?

I think there is a natural collision which makes it difficult for non-sighted people to join and work with sighted people.

The differences that need to be circumvented:

  • travelling to a venue i.e. public transport plus walking or car

  • Getting to a regional meeting locally when the bulk of the public transport links to a hub, like a star formation  whereas by car anyone can go across in any direction
  • counting out change 

  • recognising a face more than five feet away

  • seeing a smile or a scowl, seeing a laugh

  • reading the minutes, accounts, letters etc in a meeting

  • making notes and diary entries

  • finding the toilets

  • pouring a glass of water, white wine or a gin and tonic or even milk into a white cup

  • completing a form

  • reading my debit / credit card details to key them in or to dictate them
  • reading non-verbal signs and body language
  • reading a noticeboard, a label, numberplate, bus tine-table

An endless list, all minor even un-noticeable and normally inconsequential..

Any one of these is taken for granted by the sighted and leaves the unsighted totally at a loss.

AND, my proposition, is that every instance gradually adds to the frustration until the pressure is too much or exhaustion takes over.

Either Explosion or Exhaustion.


September 2015

What a superb weekend, organised by the Macular Society. There were probably sixty ‘unmsighted’ people there.

Y you can relax in each others company because you largely have the same experiences and togther you can laugh about them. Also suddenly the ‘unsighted’ out-numbered the ‘sighted’.

Oh! The luxury of finding others who can read, but only three paragraphs. Then it’s trashed.

I hate the people who cannot write concisely, who pad everything out so it seems more important and the ones who write long inconsequential introductions.

Our eyes, Our Wonderful eyes.

Our Eyes. Our wonderful eyes.

Our eyes were designed for rural and forestry living.

We’ve only had electric or gas lighting for one hundred of the millions of years over which we have developed our eyes. Just one hundred years, less than the blink of an eye, no wonder they are serious risk.

Small wonder. Our eyes have to handle huge demands and long hours of artificial light, caused by:-

  • office and home lighting

  • shops, arcades, supermarkets and shopping malls

  • searchlights, spotlights and stage lighting

  • photograph / camera flashes

  • ultra-violet lights in clubs

  • street lighting and vehicle headlights ( and rear fog lights)

  • television screens particularly bright white light

  • computer screens, smartphones and tablets

  • lasers

  • plus glare from white painted buildings and glass fronts

  • plus natural hazards from snow glare and glare from lakes, rivers, seas and oceans

Small wonder our eyes can benefit from extra care and attention including extra lutein to supplement the natural lutein in our eyes. The eyes use this as a natural ultra-violet ray protection and for all “blue” light.

Open letter to Macular Society re Lutein v AMD


An Open Letter to the Macular Society about Lutein v AMD


Looking at my local Macular support group only two out of twelve members had heard of Lutein  and both used  it successfully. The others, ten people had never heard of it.


Whilst the Macular Society on their web site support the benefits of Lutein, their quote is buried deep in the turgid detail of a report by scientists. I quote:


“Research supports the theory that high macular pigment levels may reduce your risk of AMD or its progression.Macular pigment can be increased by taking supplements with lutein or zeaxanthin or by changing your diet to include more of them.” Macular Society website.


What they don’t say is that 50% of users found that their eyes stopped deteriorating. They do not state that there is no scientific or statistical support for these same benefits being achieved by changing your diet on its own.

It is my contention that our Macular Society is letting our members down and allowing thousands of members to suffer continuing degradation of their sight unnecessarily.

If I was a cynical person I might think that this situation has occurred because of the financial support given to the Macular Society by the suppliers of assistive technologies. They have a strategic need to find more people with deteriorating eyesight. [They sponsor our annual conference and advertise in our magazine.] But may be that’s unfair.




I Propose a new policy for the Macular Society:


Draft 2 for Lutein Policy for the Macular Society to consider.

(28th september 2014)


“The Facts about Lutein


It is a fact that our eyes have Lutein in the macula.


The AREDS (Age related Eye Disease Study) found that people suffering from AMD got relief from further deterioration by taking supplementary Lutein (with Zeaxanthin) in doses ranging from 10 to 30 mg per day. There were no no side-effects observed.

There is also empirical evidence and some early studies showing that Cataracts cease growing when using the Lutein supplement.

There is increasing professional support of the results of using these supplements and some eye professionals are starting to prescribe them.

The Macular Society is pleased to see these developments and will conduct its own study of our members to try to confirm, or otherwise, the effects of the use of these supplements. In the meantime it is upto each person to find out as much as they can and take their own decision. We will conduct our own study and then we hope to endorse its use fully.


The Macular Society




What Music means for me

Mmmm!,So the Open University and Royal College of Music have launched the Lstening Experiences Database to try to understand the relationship between composers, performers and listeners.. I think that is much too facile. Take me for example….

NOW Listening to Scott Joplin piano rags. Three styles… The Stuart and Bradley James, the man himself and the music for the ballet Suite Elite Syncopations. All started by buying sheet music at a church Jumble Sale. Wonderful.

A crazy mixture of music experiences.

Now its WOAD...very modern. Powerful guitars.

1170 tracks on my tablet, 2200 on my main computer, most recently from Amazon and Spotify. Prior to that vinyl transfers to dpigital plus CDs.

Started with singing church music then learning to play the piano plus Scout campfires and Gang Shows plus the school choir (Walpurgis Night)

Winning piano competition …. Splfeggio. Marriage of Figaro TV broadcast from Big School.

My sudden interest inreacting to the ideaa of the database was caused by a brilliant concert. Berlin Philharmonic / Simon Rattle/ Prokofiev Piano Concerto No.3 / Lang Lang. Four. Geniuses. Wonderful. The camera work was superb.
NOW listening to it (Prokofiev) and the studio sound is even better.

Also over the last three years ballet from the shoi…..Soshtakovich,Tchaikovsky, Katchaachurian, Stravinskiy, Fuare, Mikus, Delibes, and also Brubeck Linchbury

Then here is West Side Story, My Fair Lady, Cabaret, Mamma Mia! With each of these I became emotionally engaged.

Now Its Raining Men


1947 Wind up gramophone with Puccini Madame Butterfly, One Fine Day. Then Sunday School and hymn singing starts. AND Frere Jacques, Sur le pant D’Avignon,
Allouette, gentile Allouette,
1948 Started to learn to play the piano, Schubert Mozart Chopin, Bach,
1952 Watched Mikado and other G&S a other amateur operetta’s
1953 Coronation marching bands plus later Military Tattoos and also Colliery Brass Bands,… The Post Horn Ga!lop.
1956 Stopped learning piano. Saw Ruxolf Nureyev dancing Le Corsaire.
1957 Mi!itary band for Queen Sout marchpast at Windsor Castle; Carol singing; Dancing g Rock and Roll,skip Jive; Country Dancing
1858, Week of Operas at the Alec, standing at the back.
1959 Abide with me. family funerals.
1966 Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring at our wedding; Vacationes enan Mallorca… Hava Nagula
1968 Rumania Circocilia and folk dancing
1976 Songs sung in Mandarin, extraordinary, so melifulous
1980 Singing the Marseillaise as we sail into a French harbours. Yacht club Dinner Dances for jive, rock and somtimes even a quick step, waltz.
2010 Found ballet again.Bright Stream, Spartacus, Le Corsaire, Concerto (BRB),
2014 Concert Simon Rartle , Lang Lang, Prokofiev Piano Concerto 3 with Berliner Philharmonic. Bought the down!oad from Anazon.

Stopped Spotify subscription.

Now Spirit in the Sky

Star Wars, Gladiator. Happy Feet animation ballet, Fantasia animation ballet.

Then there is exquisite playing eg Nigel Kennedy, Vanessa Mae, Kyung Wha Chung, Julian Lloyd Webber, Rachmaninov, Bernstein, Ray Charles, Elvis Presley,

And La petite Piaf, Marlene Dietrich, Esther Ofarim, The Carpenters, neil Diamond,

So for me music comes in all shapes and sizes. There are composers and performers and listeners. There are a!so extemporisers ( both jazz and church organ introits) and amateur performers, including karaoke, plus active, participating listenrs eg dancers,skaters and then sedentary listeners. People wander across a few, many or all categories.

My preference is now the combination of people interpreting music in all forms whether skating or stage dancing or ballet or The Prottopopovs, Torville and Dean, Kenneth Macmillan, Frederick Ashton, even the choreographers on Strictly Dancing.

For me for the future I need to crack, the problem 9f sheet music for my digital piano and / or to learn the auto-backing in the CDP 220 and create my own music.

NOW listening to Liebestraum by Liszt

AND the good news is tioday’s break-through because rather than waiting to try to get on my (Ubuntu) computer I decided to adopt a more classic approach by getting a music stand and drilling a hole through my desk so tht the music is directly in front of my eyes. I mmediately rang the RNIB muusic Team to request a copy of large print score for Brahms wltz in A Flat. Let’s see how I get on.

AMD -Hints and tips for coping

Hints and tips, strategies for coping with AMD or other Visual Impairmentg

Hold your left thumbnail straight down and use this as a rest of when slicing onions etc. And similar for sawing !ogs though using your knuckle instead of your nail.

Throw away mugs with dark inside as it needs to contrast with the liquid, coffee etc

Always a contrast, brown eggs not white. For growing or cut flowers lways look at contrast. Green with yellow. Purple with white. Green with white. Cream with red.
Yellow with black.

Boots I reckon are a must, because of rough walking … kerbs and bad pavements. Clothing for any weather is also critical.
Work out your safest route, starting with a short walk, gradually working further afield.

Learnt this week, gently tap a nail in, then spot the head accurately and let the hammer swing on to it

Learn to use a tablet or Smartphone. Future-proof Moto G £ 153.

Large print picture childrens books, for reading to grandchildren

AND then there’s the Nexus. for I calendar, news, weather, books, notes, email, music, reminders, camera, magnifier, crossword puzzles, web site favorites, to do list, phone no’s, pictures and photos.

Always choose colourful food, not mashed pots, cauliflower, poached plaice. . Choose squash, roast pots, peas, carrots, meat etc

Get certificate for Visual Impairment / bus pass. MUST

Use tablet for audible alams / alerts

Monocular, for reading bus,plane and train destination / departure boards.

Only drink RED wine and always get screw top bottles.


If this article has been of help to you, I’d love you to say thanks by making a small donation to JustGiving for the Macular Society. All the monies route directly to the Macular Society, particularly for research into a cure.
Thank you very much,

AMD- Three years on AND NOW THERE’S MORE

13th November 2013. Life is all about finding ways to do what you wnat to do. I have been unable to read a story to my grandsochildren. TODAY I actually read a story to my grandd-daughter Lana.

The solution I found from a laeflet published jointly by the National Blind Chrilddren’s society and the RNIB. This pointed me t the libraruy service who have 434 Large Print story books. OK they’re created for children but they solved my problem, WONDERFUL. AND the way to get at them:
Here is the procedure for searching for large print books on the library catalogue.
Go the the west sussex county council (or your local one ) website
* Press ‘L’ on the alphabet
* Click on ‘Library catalogue’
* Go to advanced search
* In box 1 click on class from the drop down menu
* In box 1 on the right hand side write in STO
* Don’t tick the ‘junior box’
* Box 2 should be left on ‘All branches’
* Go to box 2 and scroll down to ‘Large Print Paperback’ or ‘Large Print Hardback’
* Press search JustGiving for the Macular Society.
* Click on STO
* There will then be a list of all the books
* Click on ‘Reserve now’ or ‘Add to basket’ if you want more than one.
* Enter your pin number and library card number
EASY really!!

Bring it on
AMD Three Years On, and now for the next thirty years,

Well, these three years have been a real roller-coaster. With many ups and downs and many sharp corners, always changing almost always getting better.

There IS a day One – the day I realised that I really have a loss of sight, in my case due to AMD Age-related Degeneration, and that it’s probably going to be forever. That was a bad day.

What happened next was critical. I was lucky because I was furious that I’d been hit so young. I wasn’t supposed to go old this soon or so suddenly! My fury was almost palpable, as Angie and Jon at the Macular Society and my family and friends will all confirm. My anger was so strong that I decided that I couldn’t use my white stick!

For me the result was, and still is, a mix of bad days and good days. Good days are when I work on what I can do (as opposed to what I can’t do, they’re bad days) and then striving to push the boundaries of what I can do.

My basic attack is supplements – Lutein may halt further deterioration and there’s a whisper that it may do better eighty mg per day plus Vitamin B12 (since Sept 2012) twenty / thirty mg per day. B12 apparently is good for cell regeneration.) The firm belief that this really will help underlies my confidence and my determination to ‘push the boundaries’ – attacking on all fronts.

Initially for me ‘pushing the boundaries’ included:

– choosing one eye and training it to look round the ‘splodge’ and also to look further and further away up the road

– getting out and walking miles, preferably in green surroundings, pounding out my anger whilst resting my eyes,

– training my brain to memorise what I’ve just looked at so that as I move my view (slowly) it automatically fills in the missing patch

-training my brain to sweep from side-to-side to spot obstacles, whether dogs, leads, children, bikes or cyclists, or even cars and buses

– training my brain to accept that the first look at a word is wrong and to wait for me to start the word again (there’s a world of difference between public concern and pubic concern, but quite fun!)

– getting the right seats at the cinema and theatre, see note1

– developing a rapport with my carer to define and agree what help I do like … and no more

– training myself to use my Nexus 7 so that I can read Google News and the Daily Telegraph; read my favourite books purchased from Google Play and Kindle Books; review my picture gallery; read PDFs arriving by email; listen to music from Amazon, Google, Spotify and my own tracks brought together over the years; to use Notepad for making notes of to-dos etc.; use it as a mobile phone; use my dictionary; PLUS my diary / calendar; see note 2 one device to handle so many needs, smart, modern, low cost and portable. AND I can even dictate my emails!

As I achieve some progress, no matter how small a change, my confidence gradually improves (not evenly I still have bad days, but the ratio of good and bad improves) so I can then push new boundaries:

– breaking out of my hermit existence (OH! Yes it happens to all of us, it’snatural; while I examined myself to assess the damage and then to start – learning how to cope and to start healing myself, besides which everything immediately seems either too difficult or too risky to do)

– unassisted independent travel (I’ve visited London, Paris, Dijon, Lymington, York, Birmingham, Bettws-y-Coed and Snowdonia, even doing some climbing) I’ve also been up the Shard

– making new friends, I’m using my volunteer role with the Macular Society to help me, first with their Speakers training course and then getting speaking appointments and actually speaking

– similarly I need to try to create ‘eye contact’ so that people will trust me better whether to believe my message or to possibly even sponsor me

– if I can make ‘eye contact’ I’m confident my brain will create a new face recognition system so I no longer ‘ignore’ friends and acquaintances, but I don’t know how close I will need to be as I’ll be using just one eye

– I’ve also adopted a local pub as ‘my club’ as they have good food and a beautiful garden overlooking the river plus a manageress and staff who are delightful; … so I can meet people there, and it’s got excellent WiFi

– I’ve even got the local council coming round to find out how we can get me back into some sort of work

– my next project is to create a Sponsorship event, not climbing Kilimanjaro, rather something simpler that I can achieve on my own, for more details please see

I think my vision is improving albeit slowly but last year’s OCT scan didn’t show any change. Nowadays I think I am starting to see with both eyes simultaneously again and with only a small ‘splodge’ in the way. Is this my brain working hard or is it my eyes improving or is it both? I can’t tell yet.

In the meantime I’m waiting in eager anticipation for for replacement stem cells as hopefully they will recover my sight loss. thank you…

Now for the next thirty years, bring it on!

Cliff Jenkins

A bit about me: Aged 71; Dry AMD both eyes; wet AMD left eye with a small void in right eye.

Note 1.If registered ‘Visually impaired’ then you can confidently get a ticket for your carer free of charge. There’s also a hefty reduction on the railways

Note 2. With the Nexus 7 2 I’ll have a forward-looking camera; a lighter unit; better power; better screen resolution for sharp characters; and faster processing;


If this article has been of help or benefit to you, I’d love you to say thanks by making a small donation to JustGiving for the Macular Society. All the monies route directly to the Macular Society, particularly for research into a cure.
Thank you very much,

MUSIC and my CDP220


I’ve started with the Casio Digital Piano, I ve had some brilliant intuition and tuition from my music teacher which is leading me to really get back into playing the piano. She’s given me back the flow and the beauty of the ‘keys’ of B Flat. D major etc, now it’s upto me to get the fingers working.

Separately I need to be able to read the music and am working with the RNIB to achieve that. They will transcribe the music onto a larger font etc so that I can read it – just. So I’m also looking at software to get it on my computer screen. At the moment the transcription is done using ‘Sibelius’ software and that software does not produce ‘musicXml’ format files which I need. We progress.

I’ve just joined Amazon Clod Player and naturally their software and the service offer is superior to anyone else’s. I am in the process of therefore getting all my tracks into MP3 format and can then upload them to my Nexus.

‘Spotify’ who’s service I’ve raved about for two years is now under query, firstly because their screen design is appalling and does not subscribe to the w3C conventions, secondly they no longer sell albums. Amazon do.

I think I’m now upto probably twelve hundred MP3 tracks and I can listen to them without being online.

Next stage is to use Musescore on-screen music to actually play from.

Then the next stage will be to create my own arrangements, down-loading them to Musescore for creating sheet music.!! We’ll have to see whether I can do anything really good. All I know Is that this keyboards, this compter and this software will keep intellectually challenged for years, I may even have to also learn the Theory of Music. ERGH!

AMD – getting better (?)

getting better (?)

I was appalled when I learned I had Dry AMD, but then at my age I had been using my computer a lot and the screen was bright.
Three actions:
– reduce brightness of screen
– reduce hours of computer use
– take 40mg of Luiein a day (2 X 20mg FSC, not ICAPS) The original tests were based on 20-30mg per day, but I’m a big lad so I reckoned 40mg would be handy.Results in six weeks: now reading the newspaper again; watching TV better; seeing oncoming traffic more easily; focusing on faces better; no longer adjusting font sizes on computer.

Cured, no, it’s ‘age-related’ so it’ll come back. Getting better probably. Due for another test in July when we can measure any improvement by comparing OCT images.

HISTORY: My optician decided I had a problem and referred me to the senior partner (an Ophthalmologist) for an OCT examine 31st July 2010; identified Dry AMD using latest OCT machine with 127 images per eye, producing classic pictures of the damage; four weeks later Eye Hospital found no AMD but they were using an old OCT machine with three images per eye; eight weeks later second opinion at different eye hospital, they found NO Dry AMD but again using an old OCT machine with seven images per eye. Followed up with research on Internet found about Lutein and started about six weeks ago.


Re: getting better (?) EXTRA

Postby cliffjenkins » Thu Feb 10, 2011 9:23 am

Since writing the previous post, I realise that I failed to adequately describe my white hot fury at the pompous ‘eye specialists’ who told me there was nothing wrong.
I then went on to write a piece of prose about the loss of my sight, that I was going to send to the press but I decided that it wouldn’t have any effect. I have since published it as part of ‘An Englishman’s Life’ available at the Kindle Store for 91p.In writing this piece of prose it is possible that I told my brain just how important my eyesight was, it suddenly realised that this was serious and itself kicked into gear to help out. Certainly the distortion I was also getting from right eye is getting less and I really don’t think that’s anything to do with Lutein.

I am very serious in my opinion about the power of our brains, I think we may be under-estimating its strength possibly by as much as a thousand fold.


PS I also forgot to mention that I got a Kindle so that I could read books and magazines more easily. Brilliant.

Walking The South Downs Way, Gluten Free,

Walking The South Downs Way, Gluten Free. Cliff’s South Downs Walk

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31st May 2009 – 5th June,

Sadness and beauty; peace and noise; nature and construction; pathways and motorways
People enjoying its beauty and in so doing destroying that beauty
White cliffs, white horses, white wine, white windmills, cabbage white butterflies, blazing white paths, white cottages, white clouds,

Accurate maps versus hidden sign posts, off the map and extra miles,
Kestrels, lapwings, skylarks, falcons, woodpeckers, pheasants, crows, cuckoos, black headed gulls, goldfinches; blue tits; thrushes, sparrows and willow warblers
Painted ladies, red admirals, yellow butterflies and chalkhill blues
Hang-gliders; Chinook helicopters; model aircraft and high flying jets
Blue sky and grey sky; puffy white clouds suspended over yellow fields and red fields and green and white striped fields; green fields and golden fields
Fields of rape, fields of poppies, vineyards, unripe wheat and barley fields and fields already cropped for hay.

Abandoned industrial works and vibrant agricultural enterprises
Power lines and placid fish farms
Lambs and calves; sheep-shearing; even clay-pigeon shooting;
A hare desperately searching for its young

Winchester followed by watering holes at Meonstoke, Cocking, Amberley, Pyecombe, Alfriston, to Eastbourne
Via Old Winchester Hill, Whiteworld Pool, Salt Hill, Butser Hill, Sunwood Farm and Chanctonbury Ring
Beacon Hill and Firle Beacon, all the key beacon sites.

Calling in at The Bucks Head, The Sportsmen, The Black Horse, The Greyhound, The Plough, Hobbs Cottage
With Fresh pineapple; orange juice, fresh black coffee
Bacon and eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms, baked beans,
Roast beef and fresh seasonal vegetables; Sea bass and salad; sea bream and new potatoes; Mexican pork and rice
Gluten free, sin gluten, glutenfrei,

‘The lie of the land’ crossing the M3, A24, A286, A283, A23, A27; crossing the railways and crossing the rivers. The Adur, Ouse, Arun, Meon, Cuckmere, each time walking down to the bottom of a Down and then climbing up to the top of the next Down,
Queen Elizabeth and the Seven Sisters Country Parks, lots of Nation Trust land, memorials to people who loved this land, and for some who died defending it
Pleasant English pubs, beautiful English food (fresh fish, salads, superb breakfasts, strawberries and cream) varied English cheeses for lunch with hard-boiled eggs; Stilton and Red Leicester and Cheddar and Cheshire; home-made nut, date and raisin goody bags;

Helpful landlords and friendly landladies, sociable walkers, hard-working cyclists and busy tourists
Cool green woods, baking hot downland, vistas to the sea and the Isle of Wight and vistas to the North Downs, the flats, the flood plain of the Arun, drained centuries ago, the meandering river, the sea, the chalk cliffs, the squawking chattering frogs
Steep hills up and steep hills down, flat rolling hilltops, steep escarpments,

Soft green sward nibbled flat by the sheep, genuine Roman road, flat springy floor under the beech woods, dirty harsh track, lumpy flint stones on hard chalk, flat tarmac, narrow ruts, slippery stones on steep paths

Busy places and empty places,

Historic places and literature places,

Religious places and druidic places

Iron Age places and electronics places

Freedom to roam versus locked gates and razor wire topped fences

Unmanned railway level crossing; rickety wooden bridge; tunnel under motorway; running across busy highways; running across busy minor roads; private bridges, walking along busy main roads after dark;

Over-cooked food or the finest cuisine; desperately gulping pints or quarts of water or sipping fine wines and delicate fruit juices

Laughing unicyclist; chatty tourists; sweating walkers staggering with huge packs;

Elderly ladies with Scotty dogs; haughty horse riders; sweating runners with water packs;

Local people with Geordie accents; people from Holland and people on a day out from London;

Welsh mountain goats visiting relatives in Brighton; people getting half an hour’s exercise from their busy lives;

And people who didn’t know enough English to read maps or signs;

Caps and hats and scarves and Nordic Walking sticks

People on their own; people in pairs; people in teams; people in groups, people in parties

Calm balloonists suspended in the sunset

Ferries plying out of Newhaven and Dover and sailing in the Solent

17000 ft of altitude over a 100 mile walk over a six day journey, 2000 paces per mile, 200,000 paces, one at a time, for a maximum seven hours per day, thirty fours walking.

My pack at 18lbs compared with others at 12lbs, 27lbs (camping) and 55lbs (camping)

And average speed approximately 3mph including stops and breaks

No blisters, no stinging nettles, no sunburn, saved with the taste of banana-flavoured lip salve

Walking all day and then going for a stroll in the evening or then fetching the morning paper

Castles, turrets, look-out towers, churches, inns, small houses, mansions, cafes, shops and windmills

Archimedes Screw for making holes for fence posts;

Pythagoras Theorem for calculating the extra distance going round a field.

The Ghosts of Anglo Saxons, of Gauls, of French, of Roman Legionaries, of Norman Conquerors, of English long-bowmen, of religious leaders, of civil war, religious revolution and of royal escape

Oaks for our ships, limestone for our concrete,

The Greenwich Meridian ‘0’ Longitude, the start of navigation,

Admiralty Charts, free to the world, with Greenwich Meantime,

Trig points and mapping, chalk cliffs and lighthouses

Telephone calls on the top of the Downs,

My family joining in and having dinner with me at The Sportsmen and The Plough,

Socks from my sister, rucksack from my son, concern from my daughter, and support from my wife

And who would have thought that there were so many ways of fastening a gate, even for those gates standing proud and independent and separate from any fences

England, our England

A superb week

Feeling fitter than I’ve felt for years.

12th June 2009

28th May 2009. Yesterday only six miles but raining and cold and SW Force 5-6. Today walked the long way round to The Old Tollgate, now moved the pedometer to a better place on my belt, probably 16 miles, with 16lbs weight, 2300ft altitude. That’s the weight I’m now targetting for. A lovely walk and maintained speed to the end. Result.

26th May 2009. First time I’ve packed everything, or I thought I had, but I had omitted the GF bread. So whilst it was all OK though weighing in a twenty pounds, it now means that I don’t have room for the eeePC. Back to notebook and pen. Anyway I carried the full twenty lbs, for six and a half hours covering eighteeen miles with 2800′ altitude. My new Technicals shirts are superb. Now using OS Maps. Also I’ve adopted my old yachting routine of entering the log (Lat, Long, log reading, wind etc) and having some refreshment every hour. It works well.

22nd May 2009. Been carrying on with preparations. Upto 16 miles in five hours, with 2300ft altitude, down to 12lbs weight and going well. Still experimenting with the menu. Now to get lightwieght clothes etc I’d like to get the weight to 14lbs including my eeePC (at 3 lbs.) I’m unhappy with the Harvey South Downs Way map. I’m a traditionalist I like to see Lat and Long not some other convention and I want a wider view of the surrounding area so that I can identify distant points of interest, may be even calculate my position rather than using my GPS. But yes I reckon it needs four maps.

14th May 2009. I’ve booked the final night at YHA in Alfriston. Separately I’ve tested the a small modern rucksack, thanks to my son. I can just get the minimum gear into it and then in total the weight is less than 20lbs. I wore it for five hours with a 18lb load. Lovely. On gluten free I’m just concentrating on GF bread for toast at breakfast (with bacon and eggs etc), for the rest lunches will be water and something simple; for dinner I expect it’ll be meat, cheese or fish with salad plus new potatoes. Anything better than survival will be wonderful.

12th May 2009. Booked the next night at Pyecombe. Tested the 30lb loads and they are heavy, mind you my rucksack is a Bergans Hi-pack maximum capacity. I think it’s too big so I’m going to test a smaller pack. I completed a 15ml walk with a 30lb pack so I know I can do it. Can I now get fit enough to be able to enjoy the walk.

8th May 2009. Plotted the route on my GPS unit, (‘crow flies’ distance 82miles) and plotted the daily distances with the altitude changes. These distances are still just my estimates. In fact they’re all reasoned estimates.

Day 1 14miles 250m  812ft
Day 2 22miles 1140m 3705ft
Day 3 13miles 540m 1755ft
Day 4 19miles 1260m 4095ft
Day 5 19miles 1400m 4550ft
Day 6 11miles 860m 2795ft
Totals 98miles 5450m  17712ft

Correct me if I’m wrong but this looks like climbing two mountains over the course of the six days. What is good news is that my first practice walk almost matches that first day.

7th May 2009. Had my first training walk today just 11 miles with 30lb pack. Just as well that I’ve got 24 days to go, for more training. The key to fixing the night’s accommodation is finding somewhere for dinner then arrange a pub or B&B. I’ve booked the first three nights – The Bucks Head in Meonstoke; B&B with Ruth Higgins in Cocking, with dinner at the Greyhound; then  the Sportsman inn in Crossgates, Amberley. Then the next night is somewhere between Steyning and Pyecombe and the last night at Alfriston.

5th May 2009. Getting gear organised: boots and socks OK; got rucksack repaired today; found compass and binoculars; set up GPS on PDA; now to get some training in carrying a 35lb pack and also checking out the remaining overnight stops. I may have to revert to carrying a sleeping bag and waterproof bag.

4th May 2009. One of the key calculations is how far to walk in a day. On my planning schedule I have daily distances of 13, 19, 14, 16 then 20 and 17. I’ve just reconnoitred Rodmell the start for the 20 mile day to see whether the pub ‘The Abergavenny Arms’ serves evening meals and I found out that it closed on the 1st January 2009. This means that I need to start that day at Alfriston 7 miles further East and this in turn means that the previous day I need to be (preferably) at Pyecombe. The daily distances then become 13, 19, 14, 22, 20 and 11.

3rd May 2009. It looks as though it’s about 99 miles. I’ve decided to tackle it starting at Winchester so that I’m ‘walking home’ until I’ve got into the swing of it. (I live in Shoreham By Sea so I’ll have to go within about two miles of our home before doing the last third of the walk, passing on towards Lewes and the finish at Eastbourne.)

I reckon I can do probably 15+ miles a day so I’m planning on six days walking. Rather than using OS maps, I’ve found Harveys maps as they show the whole route on one document and to a slightly larger scale than the OS ones. At the moment my planning extends to guessing distances and to plotting some of the pubs on the route!

I’ve decided that I’m not camping because I don’t want to carry a tent, sleeping bag, cooking gear and all the extra food. I will try to get my clothes, emergency gear and food, and everything into a maximum thirty pounds ….. gone are the days when I used to carry sixty pounds! Will the weight allowance cope with my eeePC and the charger for my PDA.

My next step is to identify all the places I can stay at and to find out how and whether they cater comfortably for Coeliacs. My main need is for potatoes, eggs, meat, salad or vegetables without processed foods, bread, cakes, biscuits and I’m very wary of mayonnaise, chips, crisps, ketchup, vinegar, malt.

I reckon my breakfasts will be orange juice, bacon and eggs, fried potatoes or baked beans (some makes), tomatoes, mushrooms and I’ll take my own bread for toast and marmalade. Coffee’s fine.

Snacks will be chocolate, fresh fruit, compressed dates, Kendal mint cake, pea nuts and sultanas.

Lunch will need to be eggs, salad, potatoes, GF crisp-bread.

Dinner should be fine, there’s usually something, the normal fall-back position is fish or steak with salad and new or jacket potatoes. Normally sweet’s are a complete no go, unless they have sorbet or fresh fruit salad.

The next step is to reconnoitre the route to see what I can find out and to load my PDA with GPS software.

Keywords: GPS, Harvey, Sportsman, Inn, Amberley, Meonstoke, Exton, Shoe, the, Downs, planning, map, Way, walking, Harveys, Winchester, South, walks, Walk, tarwevrij, Holidays, glutin, glutenfritt, glutenfri, glutenfree, gluten, gluteeniton, Eastbourne, Coeliac, celiac

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