Day 73 has seen 5 miles walked, a Christmas tree decorated, 150metres swum, a party attended and a flat cap retained.

Today was going to be the day of the big activity that I had been hoping to do for a while but the ferocious winds put a real dampener on those plans. So instead today was the day to go with James and select, buy, put up and decorate our Christmas Tree. I know that it is a little early but it has become tradition from quite a young age for James and I to put up the Christmas Tree just after his birthday. It is something I used to do as a boy and thoroughly enjoyed doing so was pleased that James liked to do the same. However with my current situation looming large in my mind today became far more than just the act of putting up a Christmas tree but one of strengthening the bond between James and I by creating happy memories for him to hold on to when times get tough. It was also an opportunity to create an air of confident normality, to reassure James that all was going to be okay. He hadn’t shown any sign recently that such an effort was required and indeed quite the opposite from the reports back from his recent parents evening. James was doing really well but working on the theory that it is never a bad thing to underpin one’s foundations I thought today would be the perfect opportunity for such an underpinning.

The fully decorated Christmas Tree
The fully decorated Christmas Tree

All went really well. He got to pick the tree at the local nursery, Mo Lawn, and watch it get wrapped up tight for transport. He managed to carry it to the car and help me slide it in over the dropped back seat and over the pushed forward front seat just squeezing it in, obliquely, but perfectly. James and I cuddled up on the back seat half under the tree as we were driven home. Putting the tree in its base was often a trial before but today, the thick trunk of the tree James chose made fitting it snuggly and nice and straight in its base really simple. No arguments. In fact we worked well as a team ensuring it was straight. Lights untangled and tested. An old set of lights over heating dramatically we decided to walk to the village store and get a new set. James picked an excellent set of lights and I snuck in a couple of Freddo chocolate bars to munch on as we walked home in the rain ducking behind my big umbrella as cars drove by through some big puddles. We avoided a good soaking thanks in good part to courteous drivers giving us a wide berth but had a good giggle ducking away from the splash from the puddles and once home the lights went on the tree. James was in charge with me in charge of the top bit. I wired on the star and helped James wrap around the lights then together we hung the decorations and before we knew it James was happy we had done enough and could pack away what was left. Job done. Not one cross word from either of us and a good looking tree that even looks sober. Well done James.

I needed some exercise so decided to ask James’ friend Jake next door if he wanted to come swimming. We were going to take the bus up but Jakes Mum Jen offered to give us a lift. He road was really flooded but Jen had a Land Rover so we managed up the road absolutely fine. I was quite tempted to scream weeeeeee as we pushed some spray aside through the big puddles on the road. I am pretty sure that Jen wanted to scream weeeeeee as well and we made it in good order. The children were straight in quick as a flash. I was still a little nervous of the water and wasn’t going to push it so was only planning to swim 6 lengths today. 150ms. I spoke to the life guard, Andy who was on duty and who, as soon as I introduced myself, recognised who I was so needed little further explanation. He asked me to swim along the far edge so he could shadow me without getting in the way of some of the families in the toddler pool. I popped in to the water and went for it. My stroke felt much more coordinated than the last time but still weak. I was short of breath after only 4 lengths so did a length of backstroke which felt good and transitioned in to a final length of butterfly. I lacked power in the kick and the shoulders but managed to coordinate it and gosh it felt really good. I popped out of the pool really pleased and left the children to it as they splashed around with a ball and some diving sticks. Before we knew it – time was up. Jen was coming back to collect us so rallied them out of the pool for a quick shower and back home.

This evening then saw a wonderful evening at a drinks party which I thought was going to be a small affair but was jam packed with the most wonderful people. I had a delightful evening catching up with friends old and new and the party was most definitely going to be a late one. I really wanted to stay but I had a post to write and a big day planned for tomorrow. The weather forecast is not great but good enough to give it a go so I had to come home to get a decent rest before tomorrow’s adventure. I decided to walk home and after an hour of hugs, kisses, handshakes and fond farewells set off for the walk home in a strong breeze gusting at times to gale force. It made for an entertaining walk as I was brought to a standstill a couple of times by the wind but they were quiet roads, the traffic was exceptionally light and the river providing some spectacular sights in full flow. Most importantly of all however I managed to hold on to my cap!!

A lovely day spent with my son and a lovely evening spent with friends thanks to the amazing hospitality of the wonderful Dinwoodies has made Day 73 a delight. Fingers crossed for Day 74.

The challenge in numbers total since the start:
Days completed: 73
Total Miles Cycled: 394
Total Miles Walked: 338.5
Total Miles Run: 18.8
Total Distance Swum: 300 metres
Total Miles covered under own steam.816.3
Total Height Gained under own steam: 28,126 feet
Mountains Climbed: 5
Hills Climbed: 14
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: 7
Aerobic Circuit Sessions: 3
Press Ups: 107
Pull Ups: 27
Sit Ups: 107
People Met and Hands Shaken: 278
Pots of tea shared: 17
Prayers joined on the top of a hill: 2
Prayers joined in the street!: 1
Pills popped: 314
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.