Dan Morris: Trees, leaves and mud up my sleeves
Straight on to serious business, I want to say a massive thank you to everyone who has already sponsored my Run 56 Miles Challenge in aid of Cancer Research UK.
Since we dropped the news in Weekend that I'd be getting my trainers on and running for the cause, the response has been immense. Already over £200 has been raised, and I've only just started breaking a sweat.
Everyone who has so far made a kind donation has done so as a cost of living crisis maintains its grip on the country, and so to give is even more admirable than it would have been anyway.
You'll be pleased to know I'm ticking the miles off, spurred on by your support and the smell of the chippy on my route – bellissimo!
I think I'm doing alright so far, but it's way too early to get cocky.
Once again though, thank you. It's a privilege to be able to do my bit, and your support means the world. We'll keep you updated in the paper, but in the meantime you can have a giggle at my progress on Twitter @DMorris_Star.
Since I've started my Cancer Research running, I must say I've happily been bitten by the bug of getting back outside after the cold of the last couple of months. It probably isn't (I haven't checked), but I feel like it's getting a bit warmer, and the winter is slowly but surely bidding us farewell. Fingers crossed – mainly because I've triumphantly kept the boardshorts on since October, and my shins are now such a striking shade of blue I'm expecting to be asked to pose for a Farrow & Ball colour chart any day now.
This weekend, weather permitting, fam, friends and fiends have decided its time for a good ole' woodland stroll – happy days.
I'm a country boy – always have been at heart – and am thrilled at the prospect of getting my boots on for a gentle amble through the trees and leaves with mud up my sleeves.
As an adult, this is a leftover pastime from the pandemic, and one I'm glad has stuck around. Of course, now that the world has returned to normal, said woodland stroll can be rounded off with a swift (or not so swift) visit to a nearby country hostelry for a well-earned liquid repast. Yum, yum, and indeed, yum.
As a young teenager however, this was just life. 20-odd years ago, the humble shire from which I hail did not really offer a great deal in amusement for an adolescent chap, and in the days before online gaming, social media and, yes kids, even the wheel, me and mine were forced to make our own fun outdoors.
On most Saturdays and the occasional Sunday, this involved us stretching our legs to the fullest with something of a cross-country hike. Now before I give you the monstrously-mistaken impression that I belonged to a particularly civilised group of 13-year-old lads, I will swiftly point out that said hikes were anything but. Rather they were an exercise in pratting about shamelessly with whatever we discovered on our routes (usually cowpat), and away from the prying eyes of our parents.
Two decades later, I suppose things haven't really changed. A country walk for me is still an excuse to mess around and get silly (again, usually with cowpat) while in beautiful surroundings that, by removing you from life's daily cares, make it easier to do just that.
Rumour has long had it that our destination chunk of forest for this weekend was once, and in fact quite recently, home to a coven of witches. Perhaps this walk will provide more in terms of intrigue and excitement than the usual bovine excrement after all – time to get the boots on and find out.
As long as, like last time, any said cowpats don't turn out to be bullpats with their 'architect' in alarmingly close proximity, I'm fine.
Now THAT was a running challenge.
Thanks again, folks!