Day 79 has seen an Upper Body Session, 14 miles walked, 8 miles cycled, 2 poor nights sleep but a great day in the sunshine.

I have made Day 79 a mash up of yesterday and today because I felt that I just didn’t get enough done yesterday to be able to justify calling it a good challenge day. I was supposed to be climbing a Munro with friends yesterday but the weather forecast sadly put an end to that plan as a neat way of rounding off a rubbish week of weather that had ridden a coach and horses through my challenge plans. I went for a 3 mile walk feeling a little frustrated but it is now December so hardly unexpected and I instead should be thankful that I wasn’t having to deal with the terrible aftermath of flooding through my own home. My heart goes out to the poor people that have been flooded recently and I pray that they get all the help and assistance that they require to help them get back on their feet in a clean, safe and secure home environment. The British Red Cross of course do such a lot at times like these to help those stricken communities which of course reinforces my original reasoning for including them as one of my 5 charities while also reinforcing in my own mind last night that I needed to get out there and fulfill a proper challenge day to try and raise some more money by raising my profile further whatever the weather forecast brought. So after coming back from an upper body session in the gym yesterday I planned a Bike, Cycle in the local area that could be done come hail or snow. Then I went and took Georgie for a further 2 mile walk before attempting to cook Mexican Brekkie Eggs for the children and I. I thought I might turn it into a wrap for a bit of fun for the children. They were not impressed. But then I have to admit that I wasn’t either. With Black Beans, Tomatoes, Mushrooms, fresh coriander and eggs, all of which we love and are jolly good for us, they should have been a hit but I just got it terribly wrong!! Och well. I know for next time!! I was still not feeling great. I hadn’t fully recovered from all the nonsense going on in my head while Curling on Thursday night. I didn’t have an epileptic type seizure but was having all those funny aura type sensations and was still not completely together after yesterday. My oncology team had warned me that the next 6 months were going to be a succession of peaks and very deep troughs. The last 18 months of treatment was all completely focused on my brain so it is inevitable that I am going to keep fizzing for some months still and certainly something is going on in the right temporal lobe. At times it almost feels like two tiny little people are having a proper rolling around fisticuffs type of fight just under the skull of the temporal area and viciously so. A little like feeling a baby kicking in a mother’s tummy when you place a hand on the tummy I found myself placing my hand on my right temporal area to see if I could feel the ruff and tumble going on up there just under the skin. A sort of random pulsating perhaps. Nothing. Just a good focal headache. Last night I felt like a big pulsating heart. My whole body seemed to be expanding and contracting like a big red and bloody pulsating mass. Slowly at first. Pumppump………………….Pumppump……………………Pumppump……………….then rapidly bobobobobobobobobobobobobobobobobobobobobobobobobobobobobobob almost as if I was sat on top of one of those road thumping machines my whole body was pulsating. I stopped work on the computer and for the first time in many weeks sat and tried to watch a programme on the television other than the news at 10pm. It was uncomfortable but I had at least experienced something reasonably similar before which saw me in hospital for tests overnight one time but which all proved negative so I did at least know it was going to pass. I drifted off to sleep and woke during the news. I was no longer a big pulsating mass of heart tissue. I was Archie again and off to bed.

So what I needed was a really good nights sleep. Nope 3am on both Friday and Saturday mornings. I managed to snatch some random 30 min dozes after a good attempt at trying to focus on outside noises to ground myself in the here and now rather than thinking too deeply about whatever pops in to my head. So by listening and breathing slow deep breathes for quite some time I do seem to manage to snatch some time in sleep. But it wasn’t the quality nights I felt I needed to get back on to an even keel.

All too soon I was up and took Georgie out for a short 1 mile walk. I wasn’t feeling top dollar and just felt that I needed to preserve energy, have breakfast and get going on my sensible adventure. I really wasn’t at all well and wasn’t at all sure that I should be going so I checked the weather forecast, perhaps hoping for an excuse to not go. It was going to be sunny all day. Cold but sunny with no wind. My heart sank but then I remembered my first walk up Ben Aan with my brother Harry when feeling rubbish and how much better that made me feel. Maybe a week of only short runs and light weights sessions in the gym had not been enough for me. Perhaps I just needed to get the body working properly for a sustained period again. I was going. Made a quick packed lunch jumped on the bike and headed for Dunblane. Along the cycle track, over the main road, up the wee slope and onto the mud track towards Dunblane. I was already starting to feel a little better and was enjoying myself. The weather wasn’t sunny but dry and clear so I was having a great time as I wizzed through the puddles raising my feet up high and giggling. Over the A9 on a footbridge and then off whooshing down the hill into Dunblane. 4 miles done and feeling better. I locked up the bike and headed in to the Dun Bhlathain (pronounced Dun Flahan) Café for a pre walk Mocha. There I was served by 3 delightful people who were clearly on facebook with lots of friends. I was definitely feeling better because before I knew what was happening I was (having checked they were over 18!!) saying ‘pour a glass of wine and log on to the Beat the Beast Challenge………’ Interest piqued, Mocha in hand I bade farewell to square myself away for the walk. 7 miles – Dunblane to Kinbuck via Ashfield.

It was a pleasant 7 miles as I strode through the countryside smelling the wonderful musky rural smells, squelching through mud, splashing through puddles and enjoying the views and a clear head. I bumped in to Lum with his dog. An African now living in Ashfield he had one of the happiest faces I have ever come across. I very much hope that he comes to find me and if you do Lum – welcome to the journey – so lovely to have met you. The walk traced the line of the railway line and the Allan Water giving the lovely background roar of the river as it ran in full flow down the valley rather reminding me of the roar of the curling stones on the ice. Ashfield is a delightful hamlet that time forgot. It looks so like the idyllic post war hamlet of clusters of houses around their own little communal gardens with charming old cottages and the excited deafening chatter of flocks of finches making the most of the feast to be found in such a well managed environment. I was lost in time, floating through time for a while as I immersed myself into the sights, sounds and smells of the village as I drifted through, ducks quacking on the small flooded area off to my right, great skeins of geese honking their noisy way over head as they made the most of the weather window and headed South for winter grazing. I was really enjoying myself and as I smiled at a lady in the communal garden she gave me a slightly funny look and I suddenly realised that I had been singing to myself as I walked along. I stopped singing but the tune stuck with me. One of my favourites from my school days. Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven. I didn’t really know the words very well but knew the rhythm of the tune very well and the start of some of the lines so then just made up words around some of the lines I could for some reason and completely randomly remember as I walked. I was through Ashfield and making my way to Kinbuck.

‘There’s a man here who’s sure all that’s round him is God’s. And he’s building a stairway to heaven. If he gets there he knows, that all his pain will be gone. With a word he can get what he came for. Ooh, ooh, and he’s building a stairway to heaven.

The writings on the wall but he wants to be sure. ‘Cause you know sometimes words have two meanings. In a tree by the brook, there’s a songbird that sings. Sometimes all of our thoughts are mistaken.

Ooh, it makes me wonder. Ooh, it makes me wonder.

There’s a feeling I get when I look to the heavens. That my spirit is crying for healing. In my thoughts I have seen, so many random things. And the voices of those whom I know not.

Ooh it makes me wonder. Ooh it really makes me wonder.

And it’s whispered that soon, if I keep singing the tune. That the piper will lead me to healing. And a new day will dawn for those who believe. And the challenge will breath life in to so many.

I could have gone on and on but this was about all that I could remember (thankfully!!) from the walk and by this stage had hit Kinbuck so rather wisely stopped singing as I wandered through the village. To the North of Kinbuck I connected with the very quiet road that would take me back to Dunblane and crossed the Allan Water via an old bridge. And as I did the troubled water underneath stirred a memory of another favourite from my childhood. Probably a parents favourite. ‘Bridge over troubled water’ by Simon and Garfunkel. I could remember a lot of the words but was struggling to transition the tune in my head from Stairway to Heaven and then I got it. Checked around me, saw all was clear on this lonely road, and went for it. As I sang more and more I became more and more confident but also realised that I really couldn’t sing terribly well. Nor could I write songs terribly well but I was having a ball. More country smells, delightful sights such as this year’s calves sheltering from the cold, snow dusting the higher hillsides but sadly the roaring from the A9 slowly replaced the roaring of the Allan Water. But if we want the convenience of a good communications network that comes with a downside but I have to say it is blended quite well through the hillsides and is I think relatively unobtrusive considering that the A9 is the very spine of Scotland. It was nice to get away from the noise of the traffic though as I closed in on Dunblane. 7 miles completed. Another Mocha and a photograph of the delightful Abi, Keir and Rhiannon in the Dun Bhlathain Café. Thank you for looking after me so well. I hope you come and find me and if you do I hope you enjoy the journey. Mocha drank and dressed for the bike I headed for home. The final 4 miles back up the old Doune Road, over the A9, along the muddy track, across the main road and onto the cycle track to enjoy the backdrop of Ben Ledi covered in snow as I cycled for home.

I arrived home happy, tired but happy. No funny feelings just the sense to sit down and write down as many words to the song as I could remember before I forgot them all. A shower and then time to get ready. I was going to the theatre to watch James in his Panto in the Dunblane Centre ‘Aladdin.’ I was very excited. James? He was just chilling in his onesie!!

It was a great fun Pantomime. Well cast with a great script and great adlibbing it was thoroughly good fun throughout. James sang his heart out. Well done James.

Maybe I’ll learn to sing one day.

The challenge in numbers total since the start:
Days completed: 79
Total Miles Cycled: 477
Total Miles Walked: 370.5
Total Miles Run: 23.3
Total Distance Swum: 300 metres
Total Miles covered under own steam.935.8
Total Height Gained under own steam: 29,897 feet
Mountains Climbed: 5
Hills Climbed: 15
Days of Voluntary Activity: 5.5
Organ tunes learnt and performed: 5
Salmon Caught: 0!
Curling Matches played in: 4
Curling stones placed on the button (the centre of the target): 1
Weight Training Sessions: 8
Aerobic Circuit Sessions: 3
Press Ups: 174
Pull Ups: 45
Sit Ups: 174
People Met and Hands Shaken: 284
Pots of tea shared: 18
Prayers joined on the top of a hill: 2
Prayers joined in the street!: 1
Pills popped: 338
And most important of all – Money Raised as at Day 77 – £5,395.

Considering I started this challenge 12 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 £70.06 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