Day 36 of the challenge has seen 5 miles walked with a height gain of 500 feet but today started in the most dramatic of fashions. I woke early after a restless sleep, in which I was upset with the fact I had failed to convey one of the key messages of yesterday’s post, that through our food choices, we can not only improve our health but we can also help alleviate poverty through FairTrade choices, reduce hunger through donations to food banks, and reduce environmental damage through purchasing sustainably caught fish and organic foods – where of course we can afford to. I just couldn’t find a way to word it, without it sounding like a lecture. Silly really, because I have just managed it!!

Finishing my walk at the delightful Rowardennan Hotel
Finishing my walk at the delightful Rowardennan Hotel

But it was after conceding that I was not going to get back to sleep before 06:00, so may as well get up and get on with the day, that things started to feel a little strange. After fitting my contact lenses, I tried to shave, but it looked like I was seeing everything in 3D. Not having practised shaving with 3D glasses on, I was finding it increasingly difficult to get the razor to the part of the face I was intending. I just couldn’t get the razor to go where I wanted it to go. Thank goodness for safety razors! However, thinking I must have put one of my lenses in the wrong way round, I took it out and checked. No, all was in order. I put it back in and I was still seeing in 3D. I decided that my morning constitution with Georgie in the fresh air would awaken my senses and get me back to normal. It was a beautiful morning with the first golden glow of sunshine filtering through the mist of a bright Autumn morning.

The walk was on the edge of the West Highland Way, near Loch Ness
The walk was on the edge of the West Highland Way, near Loch Ness

I decided to go via St Modoc’s church and the war memorial, as I had seen some litter on the road near them yesterday and felt that I needed to work the brain with some cognitive and motor function training – litter picking!! I was finding it remarkably difficult to grasp bits of rubbish with litter pickers when seeing in 3D but persevered and thought things were getting better before I discovered what it must truly be like to be blind. The wood area I was walking into with the dog had recently been harvested so a think undergrowth of bracken and brambles had blanketed the ground but it was OK, because I knew where the path was. Then I noticed that I had no depth perception in my eyesight, so couldn’t find the gap in the hedge, behind the war memorial that led to the logging track which connected to a nice solid path through the rough ground and devastation of the deforested area. I knew where I was in relation to the road and the houses and knew the direction of the path from this point but was blinded by the vegetation. I couldn’t see where I was putting my feet. I recently helped a blind man in the village who was heading home from the Spar shop, a route he knew well but it was recycling bin day and he was clearly confused by the assault course of boxes to try and navigate with his white stick. I took his arm and led him through the new labyrinth. Now the litter picker became my white stick, plunging them deep into the undergrowth, searching for firm footing as I tried to navigate the new labyrinth of undergrowth searching for the route through the brambles which were tugging at my legs. I was having to step high to clear the undergrowth but underneath the undergrowth was a fine layer of the pine branches and debris of a recently deforested site. This debris was super slippery in the dank undergrowth. I quickly learned of the anxiety of the blink gentleman of the village must have been feeling as he tried to navigate. This new labyrinth of what was once a familiar path. I felt blink and after my first slip in which I came crashing to the floor, the shopping bag full of litter picked up earlier, flying through the air to land next to me, drew a wee sweary word of shock, swiftly followed by an anxiety about every next step. Evanutally I stumbled upon the clear path for which I had been searching and immediately understand that expression in the face of billy, a blind man who looked after the church for many years, when being led back from the alter after communion that feeling of relief when he feels the familiar carvings of the choir stalls in his hand and knows exactly where he is and where the steps are as if he could see. I could now see and my relief was greeting with the sight of the white powderpuffs of the tails of a pair of Roe hinds bounding with a such a grace away from me through the mist. Sadly however my sense of relief slowly receded. I was happy and thankful for the blessing of sight and a beautiful morning and had even started to hum Amazing Grace. Not my favourite hymn but it seemed appropriate in the circumstances! Slowly however I started to notice a creeping time in the physical senses. My left arm became numb and tingly and then as I tried to call forward Georgie, who had been trotting gently behind me on the path, I realised that my tongue had swollen. I couldn’t speak. It became hard to swallow. I knew it should pass but having experienced that violent gagging reflex seizure when the eel slipped into my windpipe on a previous seizure, I was taking no chances. I was frightened and strode out for home but was trying my hardest to convince myself that I could force these feelings away. As I made it home the feelings did start to dissipate, I was still feeling weak – but I had beaten the beast!

I went to the East side of Loch Lomond to do two shorter walks around a deserted shepherds village of Sallochy
I went to the East side of Loch Lomond to do two shorter walks around a deserted shepherds village of Sallochy

Yet just to be sure I went for a walk. It was too beautiful to sit at home feeling sorry for myself and knew that that would probably make me feel even worse. Instead I went to the East side of Loch Lomond to do two shorter walks around a deserted shepherds village of Sallochy followed by a walk along the edge of the Loch using the West Highland Way to finish at the delightful Rowardennan Hotel at which I managed to meet some great family groups and in particular William and Scott Thomson with 9 year old Kyle and 7 year old Noah. I was drawn to them by the helpful way in which Scott leapt to his feet to open the door to let me out of the restaurant while I tried to balance a Café Latte and a bottle of vinegar (yep busted. I had some chips after the walk to celebrate feeling so much better!!) I was right – they were a lovely family who I very much hope will find me and join the journey. Certainly they offered very sincere encouragement as they left to go home. Once home I cooked tea and felt that Heather needed a treat as she had been working so hard at her rehearsals for the Pantomime in Stirling. Bangers, mash, onion gravy and baked beans promptly followed. It was sensational and I wasn’t feeling too guilty because I did walk around Sallochy with my vegetable pick and mix bag before the chips but still added a big handful of spinach, rocket and watercress to my plate. An interesting addition to baked beans!!

I have a check up in Hospital tomorrow to make sure the Cholesteatoma has stayed away in the right ear. I have been bleeding from the right ear a wee bit but God willing all will be well. On Wednesday I get the results of my CT scan and a complete top to toe medical to ensure I am still surviving after such a long period of treatment. So the next adventure will not be until Thursday but I will of course let you know how I got on before then.

A good bit of exercise was had by all!
A good bit of exercise was had by all!

Until then of course the challenge in numbers in total since the start:
Days completed: 36
Total Miles Cycled: 130
Total Miles Walked: 149
Total Miles Run: 4
Total Miles covered under own steam: 283
Total Height Gained under own steam: 16,748 feet
Mountains Climbed: 5
Hills Climbed: 2
Days of Conservation Activity: 2 1/4
Organ tunes learnt and performed: 5
Salmon Caught: 0!
Curling Matches played in: 1
Curling stones placed on the button (the centre of the target): 0!
Weight Training Sessions: 2
Aerobic Circuit Sessions: 1
People Met and Hands Shaken: 156
Pots of tea shared: 5
Prayers joined on the top of a hill: 1
Pills popped: 158
And most important of all – Money Raised as at Day 30- £2,267.00.

Considering I started this challenge 6 weeks ago very quietly with no target beyond a fiver, thanks to the brilliant advice from a friend of mine, I am absolutely thrilled and again thank you all. So far that is £75.00 for each and every day that I have managed to find the will and energy to do something worthwhile and my goodness it has been worth it for my peace of mind, for my healing and for the five wonderful charities you are supporting through your generosity. Long may it continue.

Thank you

Yours aye