This weekend has been fairly eventful. Yesterday, the wife and I took a trip to Pickering, North Yorkshire, to visit The Ryedale Rambler which Palma had recommended to me as a great place to buy my kit.
The shop looked tiny from the outside but once inside I was overwhelmed by the sheer choice of equipment that confronted me. Where to start? Everyone in the shop seemed to be seasoned walkers who knew exactly what it was they were after but I felt completely out of my depth. Thankfully, the staff (Anne and Jonathan) were fantastic and it wasn't very long before I was taken upstairs to get fitted for my boots.
Anne gave me a look of horror when I told her I was a hiking novice intending to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro but she seemed to think I'd given myself plenty of time to get into shape. She told me that some people came to the shop to buy their boots less than two weeks before engaging on a major climb and they had been known to refuse to serve people who didn't take things seriously enough!
Anyway, after lapping up Anne's great advice, and having tried on several pairs of boots, I finally plumped for a pair of Meindl Burma Pro MFS GTX, which sounds more like a brand of sports car than a pair of shoes. They come with Gortex lining and Memory Foam, which means they are, to use the technical term, the dog's bollocks.
They are certainly the most expensive footwear I've ever bought in my life but they are also the most comfortable.
I also suffered my very first walking-related injury - even though I never actually left the shop. In my haste at making sure that the boots were tight enough I pulled on the laces with such force that I tore all the skin off one of my fingers. Doesn't bode well, does it?
Today, I went on my first substantial walk. Two solid hours on the local cycle track. The first hour was wonderful and I had a bounce in my step (mainly thanks to these incredible shoes that make you feel like you are walking on air) but by the second hour I was battling against icy gale-force winds, sleet and a pain in the groin area that's slightly worrying.
When I returned home the only parts of me that weren't frozen solid were my feet. Result.