Day 101 has seen 5 miles walked, some conservation work completed and some new friends made.

The morning walk with Georgie though was spectacular. Crisp with sparkling clear skies the last of the stars winking goodnight as one by one they fade in to the last of the night sky. I was walking a 3 mile route round the ponds and then the new estate so took my time as I poled through the flooded edge of the far pond making sure that the water didn’t top my wellies. Georgie made for an excellent guide through the water as she has an uncanny ability to find the shallower water so together we waded through. Then up the steps on to the farmers track above the village to be met by a golden dawn. I kicked myself for not bringing my phone to take a picture this morning as it was one of the most beautiful Dawns I have ever seen. Perhaps it was a new dawn on the next 100 days of my affirmed commitment to God’s work in the challenge. So magnificent it had to be sent by God so I stood; marvelled at the warming kaleidoscope of pastel colours of yellows, blues and pinks silhouetting the Ochil Hills and the Dumyat hill and thanked God for another day.

I stood that long that when I arrived home I found, much to my delight, that the children had fed themselves and were almost dressed and ready for school. With no last minute panics they were out the door and off for the bus. I had my long list of things to do but this morning I was wrapping up and heading out in to the Ponds to join a work party. I was feeling a little wobbly and had earlier, just before leaving the house, had an annoying fuzziness in the side of my right eye that seemed to be making me a little clumsy as I tried to unload the dishwasher. It wouldn’t go away and I recognised this particular fuzziness as a prelude to a Migraine or even a loss of consciousness, through my sister Isla’s bad experience of them, but had little head pain and apart from the clumsiness could sense no march towards a loss of consciousness. I was looking forward to joining the team at the ponds and thought that some hard work clearing wind blown trees would do me a world of good and was probably exactly what I needed to clear the fuzziness expecially with the watchful eye of the team over me in case something did go wrong. So I was going, packed my kit and went. Georgie was able to come too rather than being left in the house again so tail wagging (hers) and carrying my bow saw and loppers (me!) we set off for the ponds and found the team. I let the skipper Tony know I was feeling a little seizurish so needed a good hard job of work to get the blood pumping but within sight of the group in case something went wrong. He gave me some wind blow clearing to do, ‘but take it steady Archie. Don’t over do it.’ I explained that good bit of hard work was what I needed to blow away the fuzziness but promised to take it steady and set about work.

Georgie and I joining the team at the Doune ponds, as well as visitors from Camphill Blair Drummond
Georgie and I joining the team at the Doune ponds, as well as visitors from Camphill Blair Drummond

Sure enough some sawing, lopping, humping and dumping of large logs was exactly what I needed. The fuzziness cleared after a while and I felt a million dollars. Then a new source of sunshine filtered in to the Ponds and warmed the team as two young men with their driver and carer from Camphill Blair Drummond came into the woods for a visit. Camphill Blair Drummond provides a home-from-home environment with residential care, meaningful activities and friendship for people with learning disabilities and these two young men from Camphill Blair Drummond were tremendously excited about being in the ponds, meeting the team and talking about the possibility of coming to join us for some morning work parties. I was lucky enough to be introduced to Chris and Kevin and was bowled over by their love of life and of other people. I was given a warm welcome by them both and then we set about petting Georgie who was loving all the attention. Kevin was very frightened of dogs and was hiding behind the wonderful driver Hector. I asked Georgie to lie down and she did better than that and rolled on to her side for a tummy tickle too. That won over Kevin. He clearly wanted to confront his fears so asked if he could pat her head. Geogie lying perfectly still as I gently held her head and ruffled her neck was the perfect dog on which Kevin could confront his fears. He found the courage and with Chris’ help Georgie stayed perfectly still for Kevin to lean round from behind Hector and stroke Georgie’s head. He did it!! The delight with himself was clearly and rightly visible. He did it again and again and again and became more comfortable in the presence of dogs. Well done Kevin for finding the courage to face your fears and conquer them. Brilliant.

Chris and I chatted a little about what I was doing in the wood and then it was time for a photo with the team. Another quick chat and then it was time to say farewell as Tony was taking them on a tour of the ponds and to discuss the sort of work they could do. I forgot to write their names down and had lost them in my mind already so ran back up to them to catch their names and write them straight down in to the phone. As I did so I met one of their carers Thomas from Hungary but also said farewell again to Kevin with a handshake and Chris who even gave me a hug!! I was sad to see them both go as I was so impressed by Chris’ love of life and of people and impressed by Kevin’s courage as he faced and conquered his fears. I very much hope that they do decide to come back to work with the team and I for one would be honoured to have them work alongside me.

All my phone calls made that I needed to make it is time for another 2 mile dog walk before cooking the children tea. Smoked Mackerel and Sugar Snap Peas simmered in Coconut Milk with Bay leaves and fresh Parsley.

The challenge in numbers in total since the start:
Days completed: 101
Total Miles Cycled: 555
Total Miles Walked: 515.0
Total Miles Run: 27.9
Total Miles Paddled: 7
Total Distance Cycled, Skied, Ran and Rowed in the gym: 8.4
Total Distance Swum: 500 metres
Total Miles covered under own steam.1113.8
Total Height Gained under own steam: 31,645 feet
Mountains Climbed: 5
Hills Climbed: 17
Days of Voluntary Activity: 6.0
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: 202
Pull Ups: 51
Sit Ups: 202
People Met and Hands Shaken: 341
Pots of tea shared: 22
Prayers joined on the top of a hill: 2
Prayers joined in the street!: 3
Prayers joined in a Train Station: 1
Pills popped: 444
And most important of all – Money Raised as at Day 96 – £5,802.77.

Considering I started this challenge 20 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 £60.44 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. May I also ask however that if you are not sponsoring me to please consider it for as much or as little as you can afford. My rate of revenue raising has slowed from £70.00 a day to £60.00 a day so please sponsor me and encourage your friends to as well.

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