2021 arrived and I decided to take on a huge challenge. Walk from Lands End to John O’Groats (LEJOG). This is Week 9.
(26th Feb 2021)
Sunshine. Glorious sunshine. Up and at them today. Went for a walk around the local area, needing to stop for milk part way. Rang an elderly neighbour to see if they wanted anything (no) then rang another elderly friend to see if she was OK. She’s on her own in residential flats but feels very lonely. Thankfully she’s had her number one jab so feels slightly more cheerful. Today she feels a bit frustrated as there’s a large builder’s van parked outside her flat window which means she can’t see out. She says she doesn’t need anything apart from some colouring pens. Her only solace at the moment are the mindful colouring books and she has asked the support team if they can help but no more pens have appeared. It’s a shame when the only thing keeping someone going is something that is relatively simple to resolve. I’ll try and find some tonight and take them to her, along with another colouring book. I wasn’t sure what pens she meant so stopped by her flat, talking to her through the window, and it was lovely to see her still carrying on. She’s late 90’s and still has all her marbles, as they say.
Coventry has an indoor market, and looking at the online reviews, as one person said ‘it deserves a shout out’. Why? Because it’s more of your traditional one rather than simply housing chain stores. Coventry is also the home of the Coventry Transport Museum, housing the largest display of publicly owned British cars, with more than 200 cars under their roof. Aside from the displays, the museum, as is often the case with museums these days offers educational resources for schools and families to try away from the premises. Take a look online and see if there’s anything spikes your interest.
We cross the Coventry Canal in a couple of places up ahead. That Scout trip I mentioned previously where we holidayed on the canal…I quite fancied us travelling to Coventry, although it was a little far for our timescale. One of the main reason is due to a flight of locks not far from here. Hatton Locks is a series of 21 locks taking a rise of 45 metres, which as you can probably imagine takes a majority of the day to travel through. We were told to allow about 15 minutes per lock when we were planning the journey before. Who’s good at maths?
We take in an almost circular route of Coventry, including walking past St Margaret’s Skatepark. This may not seem like a point of interest to many but the thought of a saint skateboarding made me chuckle, especially the patron saint of childbirth. On the right as we head out of Coventry we can see Caludon Castle ruins, present since the 11th century, and once having a moat. Very little is left now but it was originally a large house that once belonged to the Earl of Chester.
During the afternoon I catch up on much admin that has been missed over the past few days and make some exciting plans for the future. Come the evening we were quite naughty and had a pizza takeout, ordering far too much, but we don’t do it often. In the evening we took in a short walk but did drive a couple of miles to do this. There wasn’t a soul around but it was lovely to explore another part of the city, and in particular, somewhere so quiet that we didn’t think would be. A quick pop in to Sainsburys for items for youth club tomorrow and of course, those colouring items for my elderly friend.
Back at home, a few more steps before bedtime whilst I type (I’m getting good at this), allows me to catch up again. In order to reach the target of 10th May, I have to now do 9 miles per day. That’s a lot, an absolute massive amount for me, but I’m determined to do it. I have no choice.
There’s a fancy dress shop on the right as we head out of Coventry. I always used to love a fancy dress shop. I think it’s the thespian in me. As we get older we lose the ability to be child-like, often because we decide that we have to be responsible. Well, yes, we do, but what is life without fun, and if you’ve ever been in a fancy dress or party shop, how many times have you been enthralled by some of the fun items in there, and have you ever let your gaze wander to other shoppers and seen the excitement on their faces? They’re going back to their youth. They’re allowing that little voice in their brain to have a party. For a brief period, at least until they’re an adult again and have to pay for the items, they’re are a child, full of the wide-eyed wonderment of simply being silly. Soon we’re back on the pavement, clutching our daft purchases tightly in our bags, hiding them from the world in case people think we’re being childish. It’s hard being an adult and worrying what others think of us, isn’t it?
We’re joining the M69 now. I’ve seen a couple of supporters recently in the street who’ve said ‘this isn’t the virtual bit is it?’ Yes and no. For the most part, where I can, I am trying to get out in nature and document these moments, enjoying seeing parts of the area I’ve seen before in different ways, but also, a vast chunk of my steps are being done inside the house still, often in the evening as I type. It may not be as exciting and interesting, but the main challenge was to be able to get from Lands End to John O’Groats by a set date, which meant doubling my daily mileage. This, as you know, expanded to not only include raising money for Restore, but documenting it, even if that meant showing what’s happening to my own mental health, warts and all. That certainly happens. If I can’t get out or do not complete enough steps outside, they have to be done indoors before the bed beckons, and at the moment it happens with my typing whilst the laptop is placed on top of the hob, with a hot chocolate to my left (a spoonful of biscoff spread stirred in is lovely), the black worktop spread out either side, and the wall of terracotta coloured tiles with white grout in front of me (not the greatest view). All the while the family enjoy the TV in the next room. I have walked around the living room before but it’s quite distracting. It’s also a different feel carpet versus tiles. All these little senses that we often take for granted.
Through rolling fields we can imagine we’re travelling once more, past the village of Shilton, which in the Doomsday Book, was noted as only having eight properties. Another small place is the village of Bramcote, a short distance up the road. The last known population was a total of 321 and two thirds of those were on the barracks which dominates the land here. The barracks are actually called Gamecock Barracks because, well, why not? We’ve had some random names along the length of the journey so far. Formally an RAF base formed in 1959, it was named Gamecock after the HMS of the same name. The barracks are still in use today and it’s good to see that as per their friends further south, they too are accommodating and allowing me to stop the night in a spare bunk.
(27th Feb 2021)
Having awoken in an army barracks, I make my move and continue up the road.
This morning it’s youth club again and we’re out for a wellbeing walk in nature. This is the second one and we’re in luck, as although we’re going to walk the same route, we have sun and the ground should be generally dryer and firmer. I pop to the club first to make hot chocolate and ensure I have all that I need (first aid kit, etc) and head to the drop off location. We walk for two hours around the woods, talk about life and the wildlife, jump in muddy puddles, and even manage to sit for a few minutes listening to the birds. The young people will return to school soon and it’s surprising that they don’t seem especially nervous about it. For them, it’s now a way of life and if they were to get locked down again, I think they’d bounce back pretty well. Either that or they’re hiding it really well.
Back at home there’s a brief time before I have a video call with some opposite numbers in other parts of the country. We’re trying to put together various resources for children and young people to use when they return to school to aid their wellbeing. Before we knew it, we’d been talking for two hours, and we could probably have managed another two but I have a click and collect that runs out soon so have to leave.
My miles out and about this morning have allowed me to reach the outskirts of Hinkley, and as such the 40% mark of the route. This means I’ve now planted two trees. Hooray. Apt really considering I was out amongst them this morning teaching youngsters about nature.
Returning home I call in on my elderly friend from yesterday. You may remember her disappointment in not yet getting replacement colouring pens for her mindful colouring book. Well, I have bought pens, a new colouring book, and some chocolates. This has not cost me a great deal but has meant that a lonely elderly lady can keep her mind busy and active and feel connected to somebody for a while longer. She was ecstatic, so much so that she wanted to show me all of the colouring she had been doing so far. It was beautiful. She said that this afternoon she’d sat there wondering what she would do with herself and really fancied chocolate but didn’t have any. A small box of Maltesers had cheered her up. It’s the little things that really can make a big difference. Something that seems small to one is huge to others.
After a tasty steak and chips dinner and a live video for work (not of my dinner eating I hasten to add), we have a short stroll just around the next couple of streets to clear the mind after a busy day. Back at home there’s plenty I could and should be doing but I take to watching nonsense on Youtube, as well as a couple of new videos I’ve stumbled across which I really like. They’re quite deep and dramatic and I won’t suggest them as they could hold triggers for many who may be reading this, but I try and ensure I watch them from a creative/storytelling point of view and it feels better.
So, having ended the day with more miles at the kitchen hob – sounds like the starter for the title of a book (‘My Daily Commute at the Kitchen Hob’), I’ve progressed well along the route.
I mentioned Hinkley and although classed as a market town, it’s a pretty large one, and they were once big in hosiery, which sounds slightly wrong. It has the canal running through it, and at one point two quarries which were creatively called Big Pit and Little Pit. I presume this helped differentiate their size difference for those who couldn’t tell. The smaller is now a site of ecological interest whilst the largest is controversial due to the want of developers to transform the land into space for 60 houses. It’s a haven for wildlife and looking at news articles, there’s proof that the average person in the street can always fight back against the developers as the plans have been rejected several times now.
Through the rolling fields we continue and there’s another farm shop on the left. Haven’t seen one of those for a little while. This is the Woodhouse Farm Shop, which offers ‘quality meats’ and hog roasts for those of that nature.
They like their quarries around here as there’s another one ahead on the right. This is Croft Quarry and looks very deep. It is. Approximately 90 metres from what I can find out, and exposing rocks that are 452 million years old. I position the tent a little way away and bed down for the night.
(28th March 2021)
I knew camping in a field by the edge of the M69 would be noisy but I wasn’t expecting to have other tents around me. Turns out my neighbours a few tents away are something of the party animals and haven’t realised how thin the canvas is and I end up having to listen to the music in the wee small hours of the morning. By 3am I can’t cope and I am up and wandering the local area, my anxiety on red alert, and I’m feeling quite depressed. Thankfully, with the right support, I manage to get some sleep but it does mean that for the rest of the day I’m am exhausted and quite on edge. This is what the condition can do, and it’s not helped by external factors. We have a long way to go to educate people.
When I finally have a little energy, I have a couple of deliveries to do for youth club and equipment to return. This takes my mind off of things and is a car matter as it’s just a little too far to walk. I do enjoy being able to continue working now that youth work has been classed as an essential service. It keeps the brain busy and young people occupied too. Back at home, a bit of editing and reading allows me some escapism. There is literally no point attempting anything too strenuous because today is a bit of a write off. Disappointing as the plan was to go for a walk that would be long enough to clock up much needed miles.
When the evening arrives we do decide to go out and have a leisurely stroll. It’s lovely out and we cross the back of the hospital. It looks like they are changing the location of the helipad under the cover of darkness. Back at home, I found out this is the case. The helipad is having a temporary relocation for two years to allow essential repairs to the main helipad and the exterior of the hospital. It’s going to be a tight squeeze and in all honesty it’s in a silly location. Not just the helipad, but the hospital as a whole. At one point it was one hospital, but as it merged with the Old Radcliffe and as the population has expanded the building has been pushed and squeezed in every direction. The roads get busy around here. You’d think somebody with planning foresight would have built a new super hospital on the business park when the land there came up for sale years ago. Ambulances could have come straight off the bypass and there would have been room for parking and expansion. Maybe that’s just me posing a silly idea though. I’m not the only one who’s thought this.
Back to the route. As we know, there’s no way I’ve got as many steps in today as I’ve needed to but I’ve tried as hard as I can without making myself ill.
As I reach Leicester I pass a large industrial and shopping estate where I pick up some food for the next few days of the journey. The Aylestone Meadows Local Nature Reserve is slightly off the beaten track but worth a visit. Slightly shy of nine hectares (about 10 football pitches if my maths is right) it is the largest nature reserve locally and acts as a flood plain. Another old train line, now a walking and cycling route, borders the reserve. There are some important and lovely named plants in this reserve, including one I like called Lady’s Smock. It reminds me of a period film. It’s also known as the Cuckoo Flower and is an important plant for caterpillars with dainty white and pink petals with often deep purple veins clear to the eye. The Grand Union Canal also passes through here.
There’s a little B&B here called South Fork Guest House and it’s where I’m stopping for the evening. I can get a room for £52 including breakfast. That will do fine. It beats putting the tent up. Let’s hope those in the next room aren’t the sort to have a party at silly AM. Time for an early night.
(1st March 2021)
Awoke to a beautiful blue sky, yet when I looked outside, it wasn’t. That’s right. A Facebook friend has posted a picture from their part of the world. Oh well. Bright skies will shine again. They always do.
In Leicester, I move off from the B&B. Leicester is one of the place names that looks nothing like it sounds. It’s ‘Lester’ like Jester if you’re not sure. It’s a city, which means, as we’ve learnt already, that it’s big and likely has a cathedral, and is in fact one of the oldest cities in England with roots in the Roman times. It is the most populated area in the East Midlands and 13th most populated in the country.
There is so much that could be written about it that I really don’t have the space. What is interesting though is that Leicester has been classified, then demoted, and then had this reinstated across the years, often as a result of who was attempting to conquer it at the time. Of course, with so much history there is a lot of architectural change to be seen, with buildings showing the typical Tudor design of black and white, and the Stuart’s who certainly went for stone grandeur.
It’s a real hub for transport, with the canal running through the centre of it, former train lines still evident, modern train lines even more evident, and a motorway that skirts the perimeter. These transport links were particularly essential in the days of old when the city was a hive of textile manufacturing and engineering. Today, some of this still remains, however, as with virtually everywhere in the country, much of its modern day success relies heavily on tourism, although if you’re a Walkers crisp fan, you’re in luck as they were created here in the upstairs of a factory by a pork butcher. The tatties used to be cut by hand.
Leicester made the news a lot in 2020 due to being badly hit by coronavirus, to the point that even when other areas of the country were having restrictions eased, Leicester was still struggling.
Leicester is, to all intents and purposes, one of those places that seems out of this world, and on that particularly poor segue, it’s home to the National Space Centre, really because this city is pretty much the only place in this country you can study space science.
Abbey Park has a lovely park with pond and fountain. I reached that quite easily this morning as I took my own stroll around a favourite park here in Oxford. Best of all, there was only about two others there today which made a lovely change. You could really hear the birdsong. I used my app to tune in and apparently it detected a Kingfisher, which was quite surprising. I’ve seen a kingfisher before, and managed to a bit of a picture of one on a holiday in the Weymouth area on an off road tour. Quite something with its striking orange and blue feathers.
The afternoon is taken up with work, including a useful webinar on returning to youth work. I wonder what we’ll all do when the pandemic is over and we’re no longer having zoom meetings with words such as ‘roadmap’. Will those words disappear into history, only heard of when we look back on this period of time?
A walk between afternoon and evening appointments – I’m a key speaker tonight at a conference – I manage to squeeze another walk in. This walk takes me to the off licence. It takes my mind off falling in the drink as I walk up the canal in Leicester which then merges into the River Soar. The river is 59 miles in length, and started in Warwickshire. It has 18 locks to navigate.
As I rejoin the road, I come across Leicester’s World Tree sculpture. Standing at an impressive 5 metres high (about 15 feet), the steel branches have lights inside them shining bright, reminding passers by of the GE Thorn Lighting factory that was once sited there.
On the left now are several man made lakes which form the Watermead Country Park and the Birstall Nature Reserve. It is hear that you can sit a while, enjoy the fine woodland walks, fish, or even run a section of it as part of the Leicester Marathon.
There’s a reason this post is all about Leicester. Despite getting all my miles in today, it’s a big place, but I’m reaching the outskirts now. I follow the River Wreake a short distance and find a pub called Gate Hangs Well. It’s under new management (by about a month) and I’m lucky enough to be able to pitch my tent in the river-side garden. Peaceful.
(2nd March 2021)
Packed the tent up and leaped straight onto Youtube to do one of those low impact but lots of steps videos I mentioned before (Get Fit With Rick). This gave me a good start to the day both mentally and physically. Physical activity in the morning wakes you up but it forces you up too. Not wanting to get out of bed? Tell yourself you’ve an appointment to go to and force yourself up. It’s one step forward getting out of bed and at least you’ve done something with the day.
There was the usual admin to do on the business today amongst other things, then after that I took time to have an afternoon stroll, which was lovely. I decided to stick to roads and did a lot of doubling back but that was also good. I passed the same people a few times who must have thought I’d lost direction, but who cares? It’s my life, my walk, and I’ll do it my way.
Those few miles this morning didn’t progress me too far. In fact I reach the next village which is called Ratcliffe on the Wreake – what a name! I’ve picked this name out to pause at due to the church name. It’s called St Botolphs, named after the saint who was known for trade, travel, and farming. More importantly in my eyes, it reminds me of the song by Richard Stilgoe and Peter Skellern called Mrs Beamish, which I link to on the left.
I continue on the A46. It passes the Leicester City Football Training Ground. Built on a former golf course at a cost of £100m and opening last year, it is impressive with 14 pitches and a 499 seater pitch for youth teams.
Slightly off the beaten track ahead, when you look at Google Earth and wiggle the little man over it (I’m sure you know what I mean) there’s a series of dots. Must be something interesting. I take a look and it’s Hanwell Wine Estate. I’m not a wine drinker but it is here that they tend to their crop to make English Sparkling Wine. If anyone ever asks me to choose wine for them be warned that unless you tell me what you want it will be purchased purely on the design of the label. This is proof how important image is. If something looks appealing or interesting, we go for it or it makes us feel good. We can apply this to almost anything I reckon. Furnishings, yes. Food, yes. Clothes, yes. Each of these could have a massive impact on our lives. Surround yourself with the good stuff. Throw stuff that doesn’t make your heart sing (if you can afford to, and if you can’t, why not sell it so you can buy something that does?).
After running class this afternoon I have dinner and then head out for an evening walk. This helps boost the mileage. I may be pounding the streets, but in my mind I’m walking through the fields on the way up towards Nottingham. In reality, if I were really doing this, I can guarantee I wouldn’t be walking at the time of night I went out for my walk. I’d be pitching the tent and settling in with a book. I’m actually quite enjoying my current book, which I’m surprised by. I wouldn’t normally choose it, but it’s recommended and I like the cover (there’s that thing about image again). In fact, I think I might head up the stairs and read before bed. I’ll be glad to get off this main road again too. It’s honestly not a lot of fun camping by the motorway.
Oh, I was a bit naughty today. Well, very naughty. Two jam doughnuts and two Belgian buns. At one point towards the start of the year I decided I would eat more healthily but you know what, you only get one go at life, and as long as you’re not eating the rubbish foods to excess, then I’m going to eat what I want. At the moment, it’s not making a massive external difference anyway the amount of miles I’m completing each day.
(3rd March 2021)
Woke up relatively alert which was surprising considering it took a while to get off to sleep. A few external factors which riled me before bedtime played on my mind and isn’t it often the way that as soon as we wake, our minds start on them again. And that was the beginning of a day set to spiral.
TRIGGER WARNING – Anxiety/Stress/Depression
A lot of the rest of the day was difficult. The following may seem like it doesn’t require a trigger warning but I know for some it may be tricky to read.
Things didn’t work out with a work project, primarily due to a host of external factors. I ended up cursing and swearing. The things from yesterday were playing on my mind still and everything was really building to a head. My head was in a vice and none of my usual strategies were working. I think it’s important to note this because I work in the field of mental health, but I am human, and we all struggle at times.
As time passed, not only was the stress building, but I slowly developed the belief that I was worthless, rubbish at what I did, better off not around because I was a fraud in the field. Many will know this as the imposter syndrome where your thoughts are self-negating your abilities.
Thankfully there was the briefest moment of respite when a call from Restore came. It was time for a review. Once you’re in the system with Restore, they’re really good at checking in on you periodically, and ensuring that if you need support, it’s there. I didn’t realise how much I needed to speak to somebody who was not close to me. It’s always the way, isn’t it? I thought we’d probably only be 10 minutes. Half an hour later, we finally finished.
Whilst the call was useful, further external factors emerged and eventually I was turning angry and feeling a tightness in my chest. It was a bursting sensation and I had a choice of letting it control me or I would have to control it. It got to the point where even things that shouldn’t The energy in the house was turning toxic and whilst the family weren’t turning against each other we left the house and forced ourselves out for a walk.
Getting out, and in nature, had a massive effect. We weren’t out for long, but long enough to hear the chorus of birds at Shotover Country Park, a 117-hectare wildlife wonderland. We got a bit wet but it really didn’t matter. A massive breath of fresh air was absorbed and made me feel a lot better.
Unfortunately, back at home, issues with technology meant work was still slow and other factors continued to impact the day. It was youth club tonight and we played with Lego, undertaking a variety of construction challenges. It raised a smile but I knew I was still tense. I said to a friend it was like being a coiled spring. Having liaised with a client afterwards I took a late walk.
The walk started OK but clearly the stress was getting to me. About halfway round I felt horrendously ill. My head was spinning, a pain crept across my chest, and I thought I was going to fall down. It harked back to when I was first diagnosed, although this time wasn’t quite as awful because then it felt like a heart attack. We made it back indoors and I headed upstairs. I stumbled across an album I’d not played for a while and downloaded in a random moment and it made the world of difference.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, music has such a profound effect on our minds and bodies, and after another check in with a couple of friends, I went for an evening drink before bed.
You’ll notice that it’s been a tricky day from this report and not a lot has happened. Yes, a little bit of walking has happened, but not masses. Having woken up next to the dual carriageway, I managed to peel off and head in a north-westerly direction. It’s a quieter road with rolling fields and views in the distance of Nottingham, which is the next destination.
Before that, there’s a little village to pass through called Tollerton. It’s one of those traditional ones that you read about in books with an annual fete. There are two churches, perhaps somewhat unusual for a small village, and an airport, also quite surprising. It’s only suitable for civilian aviation, but if you’ve a plane, why not head on over? It looks as though I’m bedding down in a field again tonight. In reality if I was doing this, I think I’d be pretty pleased. Waking up with the sun is actually quite pleasant and can really change your mood for the rest of the day. Maybe I’ll try and do that tomorrow anyway.
Bonus for today that made me feel good – walking with my mum. She has walking difficulties and although it’s always a very slow pace we have to take, and sometimes I gallop ahead, then come back, walk a bit, and repeat, walks are rare, but they mean a lot to me. Over the years I’ve often asked her to come out for a walk, but I know she finds it difficult so she politely declines, so when she finally is able to manage it, it feels special, and really makes me happy.
(4th March 2021)
Either I slept through the alarm or it didn’t go off. I don’t know. Doesn’t matter. Today was due to be a bit of an easier one, a tad slower on the pace. Always a bonus.
Bit of a rush around the house to start the day. There’s this ongoing ‘project’ that I’ve mentioned on here a few times but I’m keeping it under wraps at the current time. I’ll no doubt mention it at some point, when the time is right.
Eventually I head out to get a few resources for youth club on Saturday. Guess what? Mum came too. Wahoo. Yes, we’re out walking again. Granted through a shop, but that’s two days running. We’ll get her on one of these challenges one day. She could do the English Channel one. It’s the shortest one the company offer at 21 miles.
We did that thing of walking into a shop knowing we only need a few bits but not wanting to appear suspicious so picked up a basket. We ended up filling up a basket in two shops. Naughty! Not all for youth club. Most was for home and is probably stuff that we don’t need, and probably can’t afford, but what’s done is done. We had a few laughs along the way too. We’re quite intuitive in our family. Families, I think, often are, and something one person finds funny, someone else quite often will, and you’ll know it from a sly glance.
Back at home and it’s back to work. My job is primarily helping children and teens with their mental health and wellbeing, as you will know if you’ve scoured the rest of my website. Today we spent most of our online class laughing and dancing. I mean, is there really anything better than being able to bring joy to another human’s life?
Having forgotten something for youth club (typical!) I head back out for a quick dash in and out of the supermarket – impressed with my speed. I could be on Supermarket Sweep (anyone still watch that? I preferred Dale Winton’s version). Back at home, there’s enough time to check a couple of emails off the list but primarily have a chill chatting to a friend and watching a bit of Youtube.
I didn’t get as many miles in again today, but I’m sticking to the idea that each step I take is a step in the right direction. Progress is always progress, whatever form it takes.
I’d woken up outside Tollerton, you’ll remember. After a hearty breakfast, I continue to follow what seems to be a sort of perimeter road to Nottingham. The Wilwell Farm Nature Reserve emerges on the left and is quite small compared to the ones we’ve visited along the rest of the route. It’s a place where sheep graze freely and more than 230 species of wildflower grow. They’ve also recorded 20 species of butterfly. It’s thanks to local opposition that this reserve exists. It’s situated in a cutting between two old railway lines and at when they closed down the land was due to be used for rubbish. Thankfully the residents and common sense prevailed.
We cross the River Trent here. It’s the third longest river in the UK, running a length of 185.7 miles, starting in Staffordshire, and being known for many floods along its route. We divert before the large industrial park and follow the river for a short way. Nottingham is a city and maybe it’s most famous ‘resident’ is Robin Hood, he of thiefdom fame, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. A statue of Robin Hood stands close to Nottingham Castle, a once fortified castle from the Middle Ages, but which rapidly went into decline. It’s in a really prominent position on the hill. Quite imposing. A few years back a £30m restoration was started to give it a well-deserved makeover. A few twists and turns and I end up with a wide choice of hotels for the night. Decisions decisions.
*I know I’m behind on photos and I’d like to apologise for lack of videos this week. As you’ll have seen, it’s been a tricky week, and I’ve also struggled to be able to find people able to be interviewed, as many services are still closed. I hope you are liking my reports still.*