Day 88 Has seen 5 miles walked in glorious sunshine, another extraordinary meeting, inspiration listened to and orders followed. 

Worcester Cathedral
Worcester Cathedral

I was really keen to do a walk today and explore this new area Mum had moved to called Evesham. I am really excited by all I see around me and very much look forward to exploring more of this magnificent area In the heart of England when I pop back down to visit Mum in the future. Today I was privileged to have brother Harry join me and drive. So no buses but 5 miles of Cotswold countryside and villages to look forward to on a loop through Bourton-on-the-hill and Blockley. 

It was a lovely walk through rolling Cotswold countryside. No rain!! A cool breeze, flocks of red wings and fields of sheep being our only distraction. Once in Blockley I had the most unusual meeting. 

As we walked up a street, a group of four people older than I who were walking in the opposite direction on the opposite pavement looked over at Harry and I and smiled. We smiled back, waved good morning and walked on by. Several meters on and I received a very strong urge to turn, call after them and tell them about the challenge. As I invited them to enjoy a glass of wine with a video the lady to whom I had passed the flyer looked up at me and asked ‘is it you that has the Brain Tumour?’ ‘Yes’ I replied. She fixed me as she said ‘I have a brain tumour’ and then looked me firmly in the eye and without hesitation said, ‘You are going to be just fine’ and nodded with a reassuring smile. Wow. The group shook my hand and departed. I joined back with Harry and started to question what had just happened. We had seen no one else at all in the first 2.5 miles. Yet suddenly this group appears sais hello and I find myself talking to a woman also with a brain tumour who then reassures me in such a way that it sounded like a message from God that all was going to be okay. That just cannot be another coincidence. How amazing that it keeps happening. It was fantastic to meet them. I just wish that I had the presence of mind to get a photo and their names. I do hope that they come and find me, join the journey and find hope and encouragement such as they have given me this morning. We carried on with the walk through the village and back towards Bourton-on-the-hill. Once in Bourton we were passing the church of St Lawrence. I glanced at it and found the church to be pleasing to the eye but nothing extraordinary. Just a pretty little church but I found a very strong pull towards her. I couldn’t keep my eyes off her and even heard ‘go inside’. I didn’t want to. I wanted to push on with the walk so replied ‘NO’. I suddenly felt like a child who had just done wrong and was expecting to be scolded. I realised I had to go in. ‘Harry sorry but we need to go in to the church. I don’t know why but I feel that we have to go in. ‘ Being a Wednesday late morning I didn’t expect it to be open but the door was ajar and inviting us in. ‘I don’t know what we’re going to find. I don’t know who we’re going to meet. I don’t know who’s going to come in but I do know we have to go in. You don’t have to come. I could just meet you at the car.’ Harry shook his head. He was coming. We stepped in to the porch dropped off our kit and stepped in. Nothing, nobody, just a pretty empty church. I thought that there had to be a reason for being pulled in and started to explore the walls inch by inch, slightly nervous about what I might find. Nothing. Just a pretty church and memorials to good people. I felt a need to pray so sat in a pew and prayed:

‘Father thank you for giving me this day.
Thank you for every breath I take.
Thank you for the sunshine.
Thank you for the breeze and the sights, sounds and smells it carries to me.
Thank you for your glorious creation and the people we meet. 
Thank you for your message of hope and encouragement this day.
And thank you for Harry to share this day with me.
Finally father I thank you for giving us your son whose birth we shortly celebrate.
Thank you. Amen. 

Amusing nearby sign

I was ready to leave but then saw the final memorial on the wall.

‘William Gibbs Esq. Whose Industry, integrity and economy enabled him under Providence during a long life widely to dispense the blessings of Benevolence and to perpetuate his charities for ages yet to come. He lived and died a sincere Christian at the age of 88 years.’ Then I received my orders. ‘Reader – as far as thou art able. Go and do likewise.’ Well if there was ever any doubt; I had my orders. The challenge continues. Harry found a visitors book. I signed it ‘Archie Douglas, Doune Stirlingshire. William Gibbs Esq thank you. I am. Beat the Beast Challenge.’

The walk finished we popped in to Broadway Worcestershire to see Mum in work. Met her boss, Stacey, and convinced, I think, Stacey to enjoy a glass of wine with a video this evening!! Stacey very kindly let us take Mum out for a coffee so celebrated the walk completed with a Mocha and some lemon drizzle cake. No flapjacks in Broadway!! I very much hope that Stacey comes to find me on the challenge and join the journey.

Tonight I received a rare treat. My sister Isla took me to Worcester Cathedral for the service of nine lessons and Carols. We arrived early so we could enjoy the extraordinary interior of the Cathedral founded in 680 AD. Frankly it was so enchanting we felt that there was no option but to get a seat and soak in the ambiance of this space. Then the organ struck up. I knew that we were in for a treat. The choral music was beautiful with the harmonies and descants flowing so perfectly through the music that they bathed us in a reflection of the beauty of God’s creation. The lessons were read beautifully and especially well by an 8 year old member of the Junior Church. When she finished reading and started to descend from the pulpit you could hear a very audible sigh of adoration from the 1,000 strong congregation. Tonight was a beautiful way to start Christmas so I end with that wonderful reflection on Christmas sent earlier. Have a very Happy Christmas.

Immanuel – God with us.
 It’s Christmas.
 All that tinsel and sparkle.
All that emotion and ‘feel good factor’.
But what if I don’t ‘feel good’?
What if the tinsel and hype seem shallow and unreal?
Where does that leave me?
I’m on the black and white edge of a world of gold and red.
Why do I celebrate Christmas?
What is it really all about?
Immanuel – God with us.
That’s what it’s about.
God with us.
God with me.
In the good times and the bad.
When I’m having fun with lots of friends.
When I’m on my own and wish I wasn’t.
Sometimes I know He’s with me – I can feel it, my spirit is light and my faith is strong. Sometimes it isn’t so easy to believe He is with me – the evidence seems to suggest the opposite.
But He’s still there.
He’s with me when I’m lying sick in a hospital bed.
He’s with me when I’m sailing on a turquoise sea.
He’s with me when my world feels just right.
He’s with me when it doesn’t.
He’s with me when I have more questions than answers.
He’s with me when all else is gone.
That’s why I will celebrate Christmas.
However I feel.
Christmas celebrates His coming to be with me.
Look through the tinsel and on behind the fairy lights.
To see a humble stable.
That was just the beginning.
Immanuel – God with us.

So the challenge in numbers total since the start:
Days completed: 88
Total Miles Cycled: 477
Total Miles Walked: 437.5
Total Miles Run: 25.6
Total Distance Cycled, Skied, Ran and Rowed in the gym: 8.4 
Total Distance Swum: 300 metres
Total Miles covered under own steam.949.5
Total Height Gained under own steam: 31,645 feet
Mountains Climbed: 5
Hills Climbed: 17
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: 4
Press Ups: 188
Pull Ups: 48
Sit Ups: 188
People Met and Hands Shaken: 307
Pots of tea shared: 20
Prayers joined on the top of a hill: 2
Prayers joined in the street!: 3
Prayers joined in a Train Station: 1
Pills popped: 370
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.

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Yours aye