Walking from Land’s End to John O’Groats for charity

Here’s a fun thing I am doing virtually with Fitbit and the internet: attempting a long distance walk largely within my classroom.

Towards the end of last year, people in the Fitbit UK facebook group pointed me at a charity group in which a bunch of people attempt to walk the length of the UK – 605 miles.

The group doesn’t mind at all how you do the miles – walk, run or zimmer frame, its description says – so long as you post periodically how you are doing.

Fitbit send me a weekly summary email so all I do is take that, convert KM to miles and post each week. The mail comes through on a Monday, and last week’s put me well over 100 miles already this year, largely done at work. That puts me kind beyond Bristol and in Wales already and suggests I will have done the whole walk by around June / July.

Whoever runs it posts regular status updates to tell walkers what milestone they have reached, along with a lovely photo from somewhere in the UK.

ALEX FOSTER at 110/605 miles you are outside Swansea in Killay; The village of Killay evolved as a direct result of the south Wales coal industry. There were a good number of mines in Killay, the Clyne valley and in the neighbouring village of Dunvant dating back as far as the 14th century. The largest company, but also one of the latest, to mine coal in the district was the Killan Colliery Company, which began operations in 1899.

Someone not much further forward – 161 miles – has just passed St Lawrence’s church in Ludlow and there are a lot of people in the group at various milestones in Shropshire at the minute. The first few people have already completed the race and there’s a significant minority crossing the border into Scotland already.

Better still, your modest annual sub also pays for them to post you a real postcard from time to time from where you have supposedly got to – I got one at the end of January from the English Riviera.

If you’re interested in something like this, there is another Facebook group for virtual runs.

Milestone post

This, according to the wordpress system, is my 3,000th post since I began this blog in September 2004 with some initial jottings.

That post has some artwork which pokes fun at Ed Fordham, newly famous for his work on equal marriage, and nailbitingly close to beating Glenda Jackson in the last general election. At the time in 2004 his was a name that Simon Hoggart didn’t know – and Hoggart left us recently too.

There’s a link to Caf√©press shop I’d forgotten I had with two designs – one about swearing in French and one about not like Skegness very much. How time changes a person.

If 3,000 posts in a little under 10 years seems a lot to you, bear in mind that for a large chunk in the middle, automatic posts of some sort or another were happening. I had a responsibility to provide content on Lib Dem Voice, which was automatically reproduced here by a machine that permanently knackered my categories. And for a long while, my prolific tweets were also munged into blog posts before the gizmo that did that stopped working as well.

These days the tone has changed as my work has moved from politics to education, and there has been the suggestion made on more than one occasion that living one’s life so publicly on the internet is a bad idea for a teacher. Although the writing contained herein is not worth a hill’o’beans it is perhaps the one project in my life that has some sustained continuity to it and it holds a great deal of sentimental value for me. As it happens, I don’t think what I write is of interest to my students, so although the blog has vanishingly rarely led to questions in the classroom like “what on earth are Mr Brain’s Faggots, sir?” I think I can continue with it without too much concern.

Indeed although some of the things I write about has a little interest for people other than me, most hours the hits to the blog are in single figures these days.

I’ve always struggled with the difference between personal and professional blogging, and mixed the two up merrily with scant regard for building an audience. I write, sometimes at length, what I want to, when I want to. It’s a personal archive as much as anything else and when I want to try and remember something I’ll often come here first. Had I wanted to be a solely political blogger, or these days, a blogger with a focus on education, I’d have had to follow the instructions better; write more tersely and remember Duffett’s first law – it’s not about you, it’s about them.

Cold brew, butter infused coffee

Last night as I was inputting my food data into Myfitnesspal my eye was drawn by a forum post about butter coffee.

I like butter, I thought, I like coffee, maybe this is for me.

From the details, it turns out you put a good wodge of unsalted, grass-fed butter in a hot black coffee and run it through the blender to emulsify it and stop getting a thick layer of melted butter on top of normal coffee.

The idea is apparently this is a low-carb diet friendly breakfast that helps you feel full for most of the day. It is mainly hawked in the US by someone promoting “bulletproof coffee” and most of the other links about it seem to link back to him.

Not even sure whether butter in the UK is “grass fed” or not and only had salted butter in the fridge, so didn’t make a rush on this idea. I also have a few concerns about putting butter in the blender as that looks much harder to clean out than the smoothies it usually gets used for.

However, whilst reading around on butter coffee I also hit on a few links for cold brew coffee, and that looked both more promising and possible to make with everything I already had in the house at 10pm.

There were lots of complicated things you could use – including this beautiful but expensive and house-filling lab kit and Cory Doctorow’s combo of bucket and tights – but reading a bit through the comments, the easiest thing to do was put the coffee in the camping cafeti√®re in the fridge overnight. It took a while to find a sensible amount of metric quantities – the American sites mostly have quarts and pounds – but in the end I put 75g of coffee with 500mls of water and left it going.

This morning after a bit of a stir, so the grounds didn’t get caught on the mesh, I pushed the plunger and poured, then diluted the mix with hot water for my first three cups of coffee today. The first one slightly less than 1:1, the next one slightly more, the third even more.

The flavour – well, nothing particularly special. I am getting a bit more of a caffeine rush, eventually.

All in all, the faff, the extra use of coffee, which I already spend too much money on, and the mess of using a French press instead of a filter machine, mean this isn’t something I’m in a hurry to repeat.

Perhaps the butter next week…