How to show your opponents a clean pair of heels
Sarah HallWeeks of pounding the streets, meeting and greeting and trying to convince the public they are worth voting comes to an end tonight for Norfolk's would-be MPs.Sarah Hall
"My advice to anyone standing in a general election is to invest in a good pair of shoes."
So says Liberal Democrat candidate Dan Roper who swears by the Clarks shoes he treated himself to before embarking on the campaign trail in the new Broadland constituency.
He's not alone. A similar ringing endorsement came from John Cook who hopes to win Norwich North back for Labour from the Conservatives.
He bought his shoes three weeks ago and reckons they will just about last until the count tonight.
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The candidates' reliance on good footwear reflects just how much of their campaign involves the good old-fashioned tactic of trekking up and down streets to bang on doors to spread their political message.
In these days of Twitter and Facebook, seats can still be won and lost depending on who comes across best on the doorstep, and candidates admit the relentless pounding of streets does take its toll.
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Mr Cook said: "You are running on adrenaline by this stage in the campaign. This is the 24th April I've had of campaigning because I'm usually involved as an agent or as a candidate in local elections.
"You start flat out and you working seven long days a week, but I've got used to it and expect it as part of what I do."
Mr Cook said grabbing a bite to eat could be a struggle, but said his friends and his mum, who lives in Norwich, were always on hand to rustle up a good home-cooked meal.
And he added: "Porridge gets me started every morning. That's a good source of energy which helps get me through the day.
"But I've already built up lots of casework from the campaigning, so I know, if elected, I'll have plenty of work to do. So I've got plenty of energy for that."
Brandon Lewis, the Conservative candidate for Great Yarmouth, says running a couple of marathons helped get him in shape for the campaign trail.
He said: "I started all this two-and-a-half years ago, but it really began in earnest in January. I enjoy it and when you get such positive responses on the doorstep, that helps you keep going.
"I must be walking something like 15 to 20 miles a day and I'm starting at 7.30am and finishing at gone 9.30pm at night.
"But I'm pretty fit, with the marathons I've done, so I feel pretty strong. I don't sleep that much anyway, so I'm usually asleep at 1am and up by 5am."
However, he said grabbing a bite to eat could be tough.
He said: "It's mainly eating out and grabbing something on the hoof."
And he admitted family had been forced to play second fiddle during the campaign.
He said: "They are very, very understanding, that this is a relatively short period of time and that I have had to give this 100pc."
Mr Roper, who is taking part in his first election campaign and hoping to win the new Broadland seat was enjoying a pub lunch in Hemblington when the EDP contacted him.
He said: "I wouldn't like to add up how far I've walked, but it's a big constituency, ranging from Fakenham to Acle.
"I've lost half a stone since the campaign started and people have commented that I look a bit slimmer in the later leaflets we produced compared to the first ones.
"My best investment was to buy some comfortable Clarks walking boots before the campaign started!
"But I'm a people person, so it has been great being out and about meeting all sorts of people."
Mr Roper said he was managing to make time for meals around the family table, but said it was tricky to switch off at the end of long days.
He said: "You find yourself thinking about all the places you still want to visit, but there's a lot of planning you do at the outset. It is hard work, but you just get on and do it."
Adrian Ramsay, Green candidate for Norwich South, said: "It is exhausting, but you cope and keep going, especially because of the positive responses we have been getting and because so many volunteers are supporting what you are doing for free.
"I am tired, because I'm doing days from 8am until midnight and it is tough. But you can see the finishing post and know that it is achievable, so you keep going."
Mr Ramsay said snacking on Fairtrade bananas and nuts were giving him energy, while he tried to have a meal at home each day.
He added: "There is simply no substitute for the old-fashioned campaigning of knocking on doors and talking to people.
"We think we've knocked on every door in Norwich South, but that's what I enjoy and have been doing every day."