Day 70 has seen 8 Miles walked, a boat visited, some upper body strength training and a very black day survived.

A 2 mile walk with Georgie first thing then I was off and I survived Black Friday. I didn’t even know it was on today. I thought it happened around Boxing Day! I got a tip off as I waited for the bus to go to a meeting but on seeing my obvious confusion and panic the lady reassured me that it would be over by lunchtime. I was thankful for a late morning meeting with the Scottish Fire Service.

I was off to look at a boat. Not just any boat but a fire service boat. But not just any fire service boat but a boat to be rowed across the Atlantic by the Stirling Station of the Scottish Fire Service!

The Stirling Station of the Scottish Fire Service first came across the Beat the Beast Challenge when they came to the house to conduct a fire safety inspection. They brought one of their trucks and while the children had fun playing with all the gadgets on the truck we went around the house and received excellent advice and guidance on how to be fire safe. We moved in to general chit chat and inevitably I seized the opportunity to inform them about the challenge. The three in the inspection were seized by the whole idea of the challenge and took it back to the station with them and as a result, firefighter by firefighter, the number of supporters from the Scottish Fire Service has steadily increased. So I guess I was already in the conscious of their row team coordinator Kristopher Elliot who saw a fabulous opportunity to get me involved in some of their preparatory activity such as rowing training and survival training as a means of assisting me with physical activity and cognitive and Motor function coordinative training to Beat the Beast but of also continuing to raise awareness of the challenge further. Of course by doing such a great thing my daily reports of what I had been up to with the Scottish Fire Service would in itself also help raise awareness of their gallant efforts to raise some money to support the families of fallen firefighters as well as help in the convalescence of injured firefighters, all of which happens through the Firefighter’s Charity. Almost immediately the harrowing memorial I spotted at St Abbs for the families of the fishermen lost at sea and that captivated the horror and sheer terror resultant from such an unexpected but sudden loss came to mind. I had raised a significant amount for the Army Benevolent Fund now renamed the Soldier’s Charity by leading a team through the Western Isles Challenge back in 1996 and was now of course fundraising for Help for Heroes as one of my 5 charities so it was all blending together nicely. It was perfect. By inviting me to join in with their preparation they were helping me to Beat the Beast while improving the lives and life chances of so many more people by jointly raising awareness further of the Beat the Beast Challenge and the Gallant attempt to Row across the Atlantic to raise funds for the Firefighter’s Charity.

They have named the team, Team Noble after a former Watch Manager and friend of the team John Noble who was tragically killed when the fire appliance he was travelling in to an emergency call at a local school was involved in a traffic collision. Noble by name, Noble by nature I was so impressed by the progress the team had made so far in their planning and preparation that I was hooked. I then started to ask more questions and discovered that the row was called the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge and is a 3,000 mile endurance race across the world’s most dangerous ocean, the Atlantic. No engine, No sail and No assistance is the basis of the race with teams rowing 23ft rowing boats from start to finish. The intrepid teams pitch themselves against each other while battling 40ft waves, sleep deprivation and shark attacks while carrying all food and water on board to sustain them for the full 100 days that it may take. The intention was to enter the race in December 2017. 2 years time. I immediately felt a chill rumble down my spine as I thought of the cold Atlantic in December and then I heard that they were starting in the Canary Islands and finishing in the West Indies. ‘Did they need a reserve?’ I heard myself asking, and before I could stop myself ‘because if you do. I’m your man!!’ I apologised profusely for being so forward after such a generous offer to join them in their training but it all made perfect sense to me. I have spent a long time at sea from Dinghy Sailing to Offshore Sailing in Yachts to being professional crew on tall ships in Australia, love the sea, love a good challenge, love people and a good team and will be joining in the training. It was 2 years away…… but I was going to Beat the Beast and be growing in strength having fully recovered from the treatment so why not? Clearly it had to be Fire Service first when selecting the team but if they are short a reserve?……I stuck my hand up good and proper. Kristopher thought it a great idea but he clearly needed to speak with his team first and ensure that they were happy with the idea of having me on the team as a reserve and is going to let me know at the start of next week. I can hardly wait!! In the meantime I had better speak with my Oncology team but I am sure that I read somewhere of a very famous explorer who was diagnosed with a Brain Tumour so set off to sail the world single handed and came back without one. It all makes perfect sense!!

What a fabulous offer. The old maxim that it is nice to be asked rings so true. I left Kristopher confirming that I would love to take up his offer of training with them and that I would doubly love to be a reserve but that equally I would of course fully understand if the team say thanks but no thanks.

As I left full of hope I checked my watch and made a brilliant decision. I will walk the 3 miles in to Stirling City Centre and dive head first in to Black Friday. It can’t be that bad can it? It wasn’t. In fact it was all very gentle. Not as many smiley faces, instead a few tired ones from a mornings shopping but it felt like a pre Christmas sort of busy rather than a panic buying busy. It was good to get out of the drizzle as I entered the Thistle Centre and warmed to the throng as I saw Christmas slowly take over the shopping centre with Christmas Decorations from top to bottom and front to back. I love Christmas and even had to stop myself absent mindedly humming along to one of the Christmas jingles when I saw a lady giving me a strange look. Then I saw a group of boys in hysterics as they took pictures on their mobiles of the models in Anne Summers. It took me back to my youth and how amusing I found the Ladies Underwear section of a department store but then I suddenly felt very old as I popped in to a Sports Shop to buy a sports bra for my daughter!! Running shorts and waterproof trousers for James who lost his last pair but only told me as such on the wet November morning in which he was cycling up for a day’s work on his friend’s farm. He’ll learn!! Then it was across the pedestrian road and into Mountain Warehouse to replace my 20 year old daysack that had sadly given up the ghost when coming down from the Dumyat. I found the perfect daysack and even better, as I stood in this empty shop telling the shop assistant about the challenge, he reminded me that it was Black Friday so the daysack was half price!! Brilliant. I not only survived Black Friday but benefitted from the very event that I was earlier grumbling about!! A very happy man I picked up a Mocha and headed for the bus stop. I waited in the correct bay to catch the No59 which was on time and headed for home. It had been a great day so far but I needed to take some Physical Exercise. I was starting to feel a little sluggish. I had 50 minutes to pack some kit and jump on the No59 going North to Callander. I made it and had a great session of Upper Body strength training to help pump up the immune system. Another Mocha and made it back for the bus. Georgie had been in all day so needed a walk. Another 3 miles.

8 Miles walked.
No running for busses today.
No seizures.
Black Friday Survived.
A great session in the gym.
A new day sack at half price.
An amazing possible invitation.

It has been a great day.

The challenge in numbers total since the start:
Days completed: 70
Total Miles Cycled: 394
Total Miles Walked: 304.5
Total Miles Run: 16.6
Total Distance Swum: 150 metres
Total Miles covered under own steam.787.1
Total Height Gained under own steam: 25,837 feet
Mountains Climbed: 5
Hills Climbed: 11
Days of Voluntary Activity: 5.5
Organ tunes learnt and performed: 5
Salmon Caught: 0!
Curling Matches played in: 3
Curling stones placed on the button (the centre of the target): 1
Weight Training Sessions: 6
Aerobic Circuit Sessions: 2
Press Ups: 81
Pull Ups: 21
Sit Ups: 81
People Met and Hands Shaken: 274
Pots of tea shared: 17
Prayers joined on the top of a hill: 2
Prayers joined in the street!: 1
Pills popped: 294
And most important of all – Money Raised as at Day 65 – £5,029.

Considering I started this challenge 9 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 £77.36 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 all for your incredible comments and support. Please continue to spread the word.

If you see me around do please give a cheery hello and shake my hand or toot your horn and give a cheery wave to show your support and encourage me on.

Thank you

Yours aye