Day 120 has seen 240 metres swum and the most glorious message delivered.

This morning very odd things were happening as we passed through the eye of the storm. As I ironed while the children had breakfast I was asked by James what the lowest note I could sing was. I tried my lowest and suddenly found I had become a human Didgeridoo much to the hilarity of the children. Bubbles started to emanate in some quantity from the washing machine. The children were getting on incredibly well. The house was deceptively quiet as the children ate. A gentle hum of energy was very noticeable. A noise constant in any location but seemingly rarely heard. The very gentle hum of life. When I first heard it I spent many days trying to work out its source. Searching under beds. Listening to plug sockets. Sticking my head into cupboards, planting my ear against the speakers of electronic equipment until eventually I understood that it was the very hum of the energy of life itself. It is the noise you hear when all is totally silent. As I ironed in this still silence the whoosh of steam from the iron the only noise my mind turned to the terrible news last night of the trouble flaring in Syria again. My mind was consumed by the anguish felt as I thought of the desperation, cold, gnawing hunger, hardship and all-consuming fear being endured by the people of Syria. Unsettled by this turmoil in the peace of the eye of the storm and concerned about what it might herald for the future I completed my ironing, checked that the children were happy and set off for my appointment at the doctor’s surgery. It was spookily quiet outside too. Even the traffic seemed to be moving on a pocket of air as there was no noise. No roaring motorbikes, no screaming sirens, just a gentle hum of life. A pigeon cooing from the woods. Some garden birds heralding the Dawn of a new day without wind with their beautiful song. There was not the slightest breeze. Just the mist of low cloud slowly lifting. This lifting cloud was being gathered by the mossy branches on the trees and forming drops of moisture gathering at the ends of twigs on the branches. Growing in size to large glittering translucent balls which when looked at closely appeared like a portal to a whole new world. A world without storms. A world without prejudice. A world without greed. A world without jealousy. A world without hatred. A world at peace. As one looked harder, searching for the secret to such harmony the drop slowly grew and grew as the water from the mist trickled, smaller drop by smaller drop off the mossy branch and down the twig to the new world. And as I stared hard through this drop of water to examine this new world it slowly grew heavy under the expectant burden of the burgeoning population wanting to join this harmonious cycle of life. The water drop stretched and elongated into a pear shape hanging almost imperceptibly by the tiniest thread of water. As I stared through it there, as if framed in this perfect world was the unmistakeable form of the crucifix. Just two thick twigs crossing in the background and framed so beautifully in this drop of water that I understood the message perfectly. As the rain drop fell and joined the water in the muddy puddle underneath it the perfect world was lost in amongst the turmoil of the mud. But as we pass through the eye of the storm and stand to face the impending friction and turmoil in the murky muddy mess of our current troubles we mustn’t despair. For as demonstrated by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ who died to save us from our sins we can seize the opportunity to recycle ourselves like drops of water in the water cycle. As we are warmed and energised by the energy and love of the Light of the World and start to evaporate off to cast away our sins let us leave the mud of prejudice, greed, jealousy and hatred behind also. Join together and unify to produce a perfect world of blue green hanging imperceptibly as a shining beacon of God’s glorious creation in the massive, limitless, emptiness of space. I walked on towards the surgery through this eerie silence hopeful that we can find a way through whatever vicious storm of troubles faces us. There is a burgeoning weight of trouble approaching. Most is already perceptible in the form of worldwide climate change, the troubles in the Middle East and the frictions across ideologies but some trouble is hidden and waiting to burst our bubble setting us falling once again towards the mud of desperation. Still we must despair not. For on my journey so far, which has been caught up in the storm, I have met so many wonderful and courageous people and witnessed so many acts so selfless that they reassured me that we really can find our way to a world without prejudice, greed, jealousy and hatred. We can find our way to a world at peace. We just need to leave our baggage behind; walk with our eyes, ears and mind open and follow the light. That in the quiet and still morning, the beauty of the drops of water, and glimpse of twigs in the form of the Cross in the midst of that, I was pointed back to the hope and promise of the Cross, of the salvation that is ours when we look to Christ and trust him in the midst of whatever storms we are battling through. 

As I approached the surgery a crow sat on a television aerial and started to make the most extraordinary noises. Not the usual throaty caw cawing but instead imitating a phone and whistling almost as if he was trying to call me. Then I am certain that it started to speak in this still silence. I stood stock still and slowly reached for my phone. I wanted to video this extraordinary display but it flew off just as I got the camera ready. I still can’t quite work out what it was saying but speak it certainly did. 

Freddy the lifeguard at the swimming pool
Freddy the lifeguard at the swimming pool

In the surgery, as I waited, a daughter came in to inform the receptionist that her mother was here for an appointment but wasn’t well so was just going to wait in the car. I overheard the conversation and identifying that she wasn’t well and was waiting to see the same doctor I went up and offered to slip my appointment to behind the mothers. All were thankful but sadly it was easier for the doctor to get me in first so I was called in. Even though my intention was not possible the very knowledge that I had been aware enough and well enough to be able to offer such a move made me feel good. Made me feel of value. Even better my piles, as a result of the constipation during chemo, were improving and didn’t require examination much to the relief of the student doctor and myself of course! And the morning continued to improve as the sore soles of my feet, in which I at times felt as if I was walking on gravel and even during a curling game felt as if I was having a knife inserted in to my heel that was so painful that I had to walk off the ice, were not due to nerve damage caused during chemo and which would have required another long term course of pills to manage. I had just done so many miles on my feet during and post treatment, at the time when any slight injury would struggle to heal, that I had caused sensitive pockets in my soles that with time and a little cushioning would improve. All I needed was some soft insoles. Ahhhhh! Brilliant and as I came out of the surgery the Mum and her daughter were in the waiting room. Comfortable and beaming their gratitude. I felt great and as I walked home through the silence outside I popped in to the Buttercup Cafe to toast such a great morning with a decaf Mocha while capturing the essence of the morning’s revelation on my phone’s notepage.

Back home I grabbed James to come swimming with me. Heather had gone on the bus to Callander to link up with her friends. I have a great intro day on the challenge planned for Heather in the sunshine tomorrow so I was going to have another go at the 12 lengths and if I could do it without a seizure that would be 3 in a row. A huge result and time to raise the stakes. 

It was a great swim shadowed by James in the water and Freddie the lifeguard from the poolside. About the 8th or 9th length I found myself chewing my tongue which was not at all right so stopped. Took a drink of water from my bottle and mentally examined myself. I was good and cracked on to complete the 12. With 12 lengths completed I stretched off, thanked Freddy and let James know he could take his time and enjoy the swim as he played on the floats with some other children. I wrote some more of the post and two hours later decided to go and fetch my prune of a son!!

A late lunch in the Deli Ecosse followed in which James was at his best and charmed Julie and Debbie when they joined us for a chat. As always the service was fantastic and with a smile and the food superb. I even found the service highly entertaining as I caught Julie’s Mum swearing silently at some frustration. Not a sound escaped her lips but it wasn’t hard to lip read. I couldn’t resist a little jibe causing much hilarity.

A late bus home. James squared away for a day working on his friends farm tomorrow and just enough time to gather together all the kit I require for tomorrow’s adventure with Heather before knuckling down to cooking tea. Bread, garlic and extra virgin olive oil for the toasted breadcrumbs. Wholemeal spaghetti, fresh red chilli, anchovy fillets, ground cinnamon, saffron, tiger prawns, more garlic, passata, juice of a lemon, parmesan cheese and fresh basil for the Prawn Linguine. A great dish much loved by the children. All finished just in time for the children’s piano lessons.

Another good day with no seizure. Marvellous.

The challenge so far in numbers in total since the start:
Days completed: 117
Total Miles Cycled: 627
Total Miles Walked: 595.5
Total Miles Run: 35.2
Total Miles Paddled: 7
Total Distance Cycled, Skied, Ran and Rowed in the gym: 19.2 
Total Distance Swum: 1,140 metres
Total Miles covered under own steam.1,401
Total Height Gained under own steam: 31,973 feet
Mountains Climbed: 5
Hills Climbed: 18
Days of Voluntary Activity: 6.5
Organ tunes learnt and performed: 5
Salmon Caught: 0!
Curling Matches played in: 6
Curling stones placed on the button (the centre of the target): 1
Weight Training Sessions: 9
Aerobic Circuit Sessions: 5
Press Ups: 280
Pull Ups: 65
Sit Ups: 280
People Met and Hands Shaken: 362
Pots of tea shared: 25
Prayers joined on the top of a hill: 2
Prayers joined in the street!: 4
Prayers joined in a Train Station: 1
Prayers joined in a Café: 1
Pills popped: 510
Days until Driving Licence (lost to epilepsy) possibly Returned: 729
And most important of all – Money Raised as at Day 112 – £6,050.77

Considering I started this challenge 22 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. That is £54.02 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 to £54.02 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 for joining me on my own personal journey and encouraging me to walk, cycle, climb, paddle, sport and do good deeds each day to ‘Beat the Beast’ while helping to improve the lives and life chances of so many more people through sponsorship. The Five Charities that I have selected to support are:

  1. Cancer Research UK – My Father Succumbed to Lung Cancer; a couple of friends are currently fighting cancer and I am fighting a brain tumour. Let’s Help to Beat Cancer Sooner.
  2. The Prince’s Trust – Inspiring and preparing disadvantaged Young Lives for success.
  3. British Red Cross – helping those in need around the UK and the world whoever and wherever they are.
  4. World Wide Fund for Nature – For a Living Planet and a Future Where People and Nature Thrive.
  5. Help for Heroes – Support for our Wounded and their Families. To learn more about my story that brought me to this point, how I plan to ‘Beat the Beast’, what activities I plan to do within the challenge and why, please see my welcome video on this page.

How to Sponsor Me

The Beat the Beast Challenge is self funding through my own contribution while keeping costs to a minimum with voluntary support and corporate sponsorship in kind. Therefore the entirety of every penny donated will go directly to the 5 charities listed above.

Please sponsor me by completing a standing order form either through your own personal internet banking or by completing a hard copy standing order form in your branch of your bank and then handing it in to the teller.

It is entirely up to you how much you would like to and are able to sponsor me for so do please give as much or as little as you can. Every penny will be very gratefully received.

While I hope you will encourage me to keep going by sponsoring me for every day I survive and am able to find the cognitive and physical capability to complete a day’s task designed to improve my chances of ‘Beating the Beast’ or improving the lives of others, 5 days a week, four weeks a month, for as long as ever I can. Any One off Cash contributions will be most gratefully received and distributed in exactly the same manner to the five charities as the sponsorship. Any one off donations can be made by BACS or cheque.

Thank you for having enough faith in me to sponsor me.

Yours aye