ANYONE who’s kept tabs on my preparations for the ever looming 60 mile slog along the Thames Path will recall I confessed at the start to being a terrible gym-goer.

In the cobweb strewn annals of my past I have joined and ultimately quit several of these palaces of fitness - each time vowing next time will be different.

So let this be by way of an apology to the wonderful staff and managers at Chiswick’s Hogarth Health Club who, having not seen me for several weeks, probably thought history was repeating itself yet again.

Yes, I confess, I have not walked through your doors in ages, I should have been there and I wasn’t.

I can only imagine how many excuses you have heard over the 30 years you’ve been in business, but all I have to say in my defence is there are reasons for my absence and I promise they are damn-good ones.

I am reluctant to share the precise details with the wider world, but those who know me know what caused me to be AWOL and I am confident they understand fully and would be more than willing to provide character references galore in support of my plea.

So members of the Hogarth Health Club jury, there is my defence and I throw myself upon the mercy of your court!!

A trifle over-dramatic I know, but the fact is I was and remain incredibly grateful to Hogarth for their generosity in allowing me to use their facilities to train for my walk from Putney to Henley on September 14 and I never thought for one moment that circumstances would keep me away for as long as they did.

The good news at the end of all this rambling, is last week I returned triumphantly to the venue in Airedale Avenue for two solid hours of workout courtesy of its incredibly well-equipped Artis Room.

I strode confidently on the treadmill, swung happily along on the cross trainer and pedalled for all I was worth on the exercise bike.

As the sweat poured off me I put my body through the rigors of the trunk rotating machine, gave my arms a burn with the dumbbells and crunched some muscles courtesy of the ab cruncher.

All the while I was able to watch telly, listen to music, stop and chat with the smashing staff and basically put every thought other than getting ready for the longest walk of my life out of my head.

I really cannot praise this place highly enough, other gyms I’ve been a member of can’t resist nagging you to do more and try new things, here you’re left in peace to do things at your own pace and time.

Rest assured between now and the 14th I will be down there a lot putting the finishing touches to my regime.

It’s now or never!

I was totally idle during my time away from the gym, recently I took part in the fantastic Walk 10 Denbighes Event which was a 10k sunset walk along the North Downs Way near Dorking in Surrey.