I should say that my training hasn’t only just begun. That would be silly to leave it till the last few weeks wouldn’t it ….
In fact, last year we spent part of our summer holiday near Carlisle which gave me a chance to get a feel for walking part of Hadrian’s Wall. I managed to do a couple of good days’ walking as well as visit some of the fascinating places to explore in that part of the country, even if I only scratched the surface of the 84 miles I’ll have to cover at the end of May.
Roman history has long been a fascination for me, going right back to seven years of studying Latin at school in Loughborough and even before I saw the Life of Brian (‘what have the Romans ever done for us?’). I had some brilliant Latin teachers who were so passionate about their subject, it was hard not to be gripped.
Along with Caecilius, Metella, Cerberus the dog and Grumio the cook, I remember learning about Vindolanda and Aquae Sulis and King Cogidubnus’ palace at Fishbourne. Then there were the great writers I got to study at A Level – Virgil, Ovid, Juvenal and Horace. It was always the poets that attracted me rather than the historians and I still remember the verses I had to learn by heart.
There is I think something poetic about Hadrian’s Wall – the way it stretches into the distant horizon and seems to echo with the footsteps of so many past generations.
Walls have had a bit of a bad press recently, built to keep out, or to keep in, or to keep apart, or indeed to keep up with the other egomaniacs trying to show off how great they are. This one’s no different, an artificial boundary ‘qui barbaros Romanosque divideret’ (to separate the barbarians from the Romans), except it’s not very effective at doing any of those things any more, and that in itself speaks volumes.