It was perhaps the most horrendous physical pain I have ever felt in my life. I wanted to yell and scream and shout F*** F*** F***, collapse and writhe in agony. But I didn’t want the person I was with (*Twinkle’s father) to know what a state I was in, so I continued to walk, and talk, and smile. The fact was, that being as we were at the top of a mountain there was not all that much that we could have done anyhow, but continue to walk. It was my knee, which I did something to the other day when training in the park. I realised the following day when running to the station that all was not quite right, but hoped it would improve. It was only today, after 2 hours of an uphill hike that I realised that the problem was about to return.

And once we hit the downhill, return it did. Every step felt like someone driving a huge great nail into my knee with a big hammer. Or perhaps a huge masonry bit attached to an electric hammer-drill. It was quite extraordinary. There were times I thought I was going to pass out.

A weapon used in the 17th century to intimidate people passing through the Hakone Checkpoint on their way to Edo, modern day Tokyo. Imagine having parachuted from 10,000 feet, and landing on this. THAT’s how painful my knee was.

I realised that by focusing all my attention on my knee, I was only making the problem worse, so I decided to tell myself it was all in the mind. I told myself, “Joseph, it doesn’t hurt, it doesn’t hurt, all is good”.

This tasteful vessel was adorned with the Union Jack in honour of my visit

And you know what? It continued to hurt like F*** and I continued to want to saw my leg off at the hip.

The legendary Mount Fuji, clearly visible behind the Tori of Lake Ashino, Hakone

I was so grateful when we reached our destination, checkpoint 3 of the 100km Trailwalker hike we’re doing in May. Today, the two of us were trial-walking the trail-walk, checking to see if the map that everyone will be given was easy to follow and that the path was clear. In total we covered about 20km, not too far I know, but put a bloody great mountain and a broken knee in your path and believe me, it feels like a thousand miles.

The HUGE torie (gate thing) of Moto Hakone

A funny thing happened half-way along the route though. We turned onto a fairly big road, which we were to follow for a kilometre or so. It was your average big road, looked pretty much like any other big road. Couldn’t see much around us due to the mist …but there was something about this road. The way the lines were painted. The way the curbstones were slanting – Something oddly familiar…

Then it dawned on me – I’d walked this road 4 years 1 month and 5 days beforehand – on the occasion of my 25th birthday. It was a bit odd, suddenly recognising everything around, when I’d previously been feeling like we were lost in the middle of nowhere.

It also struck me just how accurate my visual memory was – even details like the lights in the roof of the tunnel under the road. So how come it doesn’t perform such memories when I look at a kanji I’ve studied every day for the past god knows how many years?! It’s clearly too busy obsessing Buddhas carved into boulders.

Anyhows, it’s Sunday night, time for a DVD and chocolate in bed. mmmmmmmm