In last week's column, I mentioned I'm walking across England this July with my childhood friend Doni Perkins. Since then, I've had a lot of questions about our plans, so I thought I'd take a minute to answer them. Here goes.
Question • Seriously? You're walking across northern England? That sounds like fun to you?
Answer • Yeah. It does actually.
Q. • Why?
A. • Because walking is awesome. I've been doing it for years now ever since my first birthday. When you walk (as opposed to drive) you get to see stuff up close and personal.
Also, I had several close friends pass away in the past few years. What hits you when that happens is that life is short. If you want to do something and you still have two good knees, you should try to make it happen.
Q. • Why England?
A. • I'm a straight-up Anglophile. I get this from my maternal grandmother who made us open all our presents on Christmas Eve because that's how they do it in the U.K. Also (this is the truth) she made us pronounce the word "neither" with a "y" so that we said "nyther." My brothers and I were possibly the only children in Utah County who talked this way, which explains why the other kids stole our lunches and beat us up at recess.
Another thing: I lived in England during the '70's, and I'm curious to see if things have changed much. Back then it was a capital offense if you "jumped the queue," i.e., "butted in the line at the bus stop." Old ladies shouted at you if you did that, after which the bobbies all clubbed you with nightsticks. They were polite about it, though.
Q. • Are you really walking coast to coast?
A. • Sort of. Pretty much. We start somewhere in the east and end up somewhere in the west. Along the way we'll see a lot of Hadrian's Wall. "Oh, look," I imagine we'll say to each other at least 20 times a day, "there's Hadrian's Wall!"
Q. • What is Hadrian's Wall, anyway?
A. • It's the ancient barrier the Romans built to keep the Picts out. You know how Picts are always bringing the crazy and not necessarily in a good way. No wonder the Romans wanted them off the party list.
Q. • How many days will this take?
A. • About eight. Allegedly.
Q. • Will you be camping out in the beautiful English countryside?
A. • Only if we get lost. Meanwhile, there will be bed and breakfast inns waiting for us along the way. I'm especially interested in the "breakfast" part. Unlike the French, who toss a croissant your way and expect you to be all merci beaucoup, the British commit in an epic way to the first meal of the day. Toast! Sausages! Bacon! Eggs! Stewed tomatoes! Kippers, because who doesn't love a little fish first thing in the morning!
Q. • How many miles a day will you cover?
A. • Eleven to 17. Wait. What?! Eleven? Seventeen? Maybe this isn't such a good idea after all…
Q. • Surely, you've been training for the experience?
A. • To steal a line from Leslie Nielsen, my name isn't Shirley. And yes. I've been walking and/or running at least seven miles a day. I hike through the old Salt Lake cemetery up to 11th Avenue and beyond whenever possible. Also, to keep my strength up, I eat a lot of cupcakes from Mini's. Especially the chocolate ones.
Q. • Why isn't your husband going with you?
A. • He thinks walking across England is overrated. He's very grateful to Doni for lining this up so he didn't have to.
Q. • Clearly you're crazy. But have fun.
A. • Oh, trust me. I will. Meanwhile, cheerio! (And please reassure my mother that I'll be fine.)
Ann Cannon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/columnistcannon.